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The 10 Worst Leaders Of The Modern Television Era

I recently just binge-watched four seasons of the AMC series ‘The Walking Dead,’ and it got me thinking about horrible leaders on television shows and thus this list is here. The criteria are: 1. The character has to have people who depend on him/her. 2. The character’s direct actions had to have led to problems for those people under him/her. 3. The character must be unaware of how one or possibly all of his actions have affected those underneath him/her.

That’s it. This is not a list about who was the most hated leader. Most hated leaders actually do a decent job. Besides, leaders have to make tough decisions, and they are almost always unpopular. That’s the risk/reward paradox any leader has to deal with. Also, I picked the “Modern Era” because I don’t have time to survey all television shows.

Besides, it is impossible to make this list comprehensive. I cannot include every show; every leader; every leadership category. If that were the case I’d include every kid’s parent from the show ‘Ghostwriter’. I mean, these kids were solving crimes based on what a ghost wrote in a notebook? Parents have got to take care of their kids better than that.

10. Dougie Daniels (Enlightened)

This series wasn’t watched as much as some of the others on this list so many won’t know Dougie, but all of us should. Dougie was a dope. Dougie was the supervisor of the main character Amy, and the department that tracked employees’ efficiency and basically determined who got raises, promotions, and/or ultimately fired. Dougie thought he was better looking, smarter, and cooler than everyone else. We learned in the middle of season one that he was unable to physically talk to a woman without seeming like an undercover serial killer.

[adinserter block=”1″]He mainly made this list because of his inconceivable lack of self-awareness. Towards the series end, Amy found out that the entire department was going to be fired, because they had done such an efficient job that they were no longer needed. Dougie, the consummate leader, had no clue – He was so “good” at his job that the higher-ups were going to eliminate his department including him. What an idiot.

9. Lieutenant Jon Kavanaugh (The Shield)

Wow, I’m sitting here thinking back on this series and smiling about how well Forrest Whitaker played this role. Lieutenant Kavanaugh was charged with bringing down the ultra-dirty Strike Team and especially their leader Vic Mackey. Kavanaugh started with trying to get Mackey’s subordinate Lem to flip on him, which only led to Lem’s death. He then tried to prove that Mackey killed Lem (which he didn’t,) which only caused all hell to break loose. Mackey of course inflamed the situation when he had sex with Kavanaugh’s mentally unstable wife, but even so, Kavanaugh should have kept his cool and focused on the task at hand. I understand that can be more easily said than done.

Kavanaugh was so crazed that he had a pseudo rape attempt on Mackey’s estranged Corrine. The Barn (the name for the police precinct they worked in) was in disarray, while Kavanaugh tried everything he could to bring about Mackey’s demise. He planted evidence, threatened witnesses, and outright lied to his bosses. He initially thought that he could earn acclaim and a promotion by bringing down Mackey, but he only was able to lose his own freedom in the process.

8. James ‘Jimmy’ Darmody (Boardwalk Empire)

Boardwalk Empire was never the same after Jimmy lost his life. He decided to team up with his absentee father to go against his real-life father-figure Nucky Thompson. Nucky seemingly relented, and for a short-time Jimmy and his group ran Atlantic City into the ground. Jimmy eventually lost his life, and his actions led to the demise of his wife, too. His son ended up parentless (for a short time,) and viewers lost the chance to see Jimmy reach his full potential. Jimmy’s mother eventually ended up in jail, and nearly everyone who had something to do with siding with Jimmy against Nucky paid a very steep price (a lot of times that meant death).

7. President Fitzgerald Grant (Scandal)

President Grant mainly made this list for the exact reason so many people like this show: His affair with the great Olivia Pope. Viewers get so caught up in this supposedly “great” love affair and nobody stopped to really think it all the way through. It is so frustrating to read a Twitter timeline when this show is on. This man is the leader of the free world and all of his decisions are made with his torrid love affair in mind – It’s ridiculous. He is a married man; father of 3 (now 2)… what kind of leader allows himself to be distracted in this manner?

Besides all of that, he has actually killed an already dying elderly woman with his bare hands! Why are people rooting for a love affair that involves a stone-cold 90-year-old woman killer? Never mind the fact that his father raped his wife, people have died in explosions and at the hands of B6-13, and he and his team stole the election that put him in office! None of those things can be directly tied to him, but he is the leader, and as such, must bear the brunt of the responsibility.

6. Junior Soprano (The Sopranos)

The great Uncle Junior. After the death of acting boss Jackie Aprile, Sr., Junior threatens all-out war with this nephew Tony over control of North Jersey. Tony acquiesces, and Junior becomes the new boss… or so he thinks. Tony and the other capos were secretly meeting behind Junior’s back, leaving Junior to be the boss in name only. This brilliant strategy was designed by Tony to put Junior on the front lines to take the fall for the gang’s criminalistics endeavors. In the end, a lot of people died (including 99% of Junior’s crew) and Junior would not/could not admit that he had been played by his nephew. A very poor display of leadership.

In the final season when it seemed like Jack had some sort of direction and true leadership, we find out that Jack isn’t even the “true” leader of the island – It was Hurley!! I hate LOST, and I hate Jack, because he was a supposed leader and character on LOST. The end.

4. Tanya Skagle (Hung)

Not a lot of people watched this show, which is why it was cancelled after season 2, but that doesn’t negate Tanya Skagle’s lack of pimping ability. It is my understanding that being a pimp is easy work. That’s why prostitution is pleasantly coined “the world’s oldest profession.” All Tanya had to do is curate clients for Ray, and let his “gifts” do the work (the show isn’t called Hung for nothing). She couldn’t do it. Lenore came in, out-pimped her, and stirred up trouble that could have been avoided, if only Tanya was a little bit more attentive to her work.

Tanya’s worse leadership work was done when she pimped-out Ray’s friend Mike to a nice woman named Frances. The problem was: MIKE DID NOT KNOW HE WAS A GIGILO!! He actually thought he was in an exciting new relationship with Frances, which means Tanya wasn’t even paying him! How can you be a successful pimp when you are being so dishonest? Things did end up working out for Mike and Frances, but Tanya’s lack of direction really gummed things up for a while. Tanya also lost money, her job, her dignity, and even Ray’s respect during her reign. She was a truly awful leader.

By the way, get this show (Hung) on Netflix or something! It’s only two seasons long, but you won’t be disappointed.

3. Charles Logan (24)

This guy is possibly the dumbest person on this list. I feel pretty good in saying that we have never had a president who was this incompetent in real life, and God help us if we ever do. Throughout his calamity of errors, I never understood just what his real intentions were. He was trying to make money… no wait, he had the country’s best interest at heart… no, he really just wanted to get his wife to love him again… no, he just wants to corner the oil market… argh!

I never got a full grip on Logan’s ineptitude. He started out looking totally unprepared for his new found responsibilities as president but we later learned that he killed David Palmer! I can’t get over that. He killed this country’s first black president (with all apologies to Barack Obama of course). I guess we can pin Jack Bauer’s continuing problems with the Russians on Logan too. Every single thing that he ever tried to do turned to crap. He literally made no good decisions, and caused a lot of death and destruction. I’m still not sure if he was a blithering idiot or an idiot savant.

2. Joffrey Baratheon (Game of Thrones)

[adinserter block=”2″]I don’t even know where to begin. There is explanation needed for everyone else on this list except King Joffrey. He is easily one of the most hated characters in television history (that column might come in the future). He was horrible to those who followed him, he was horrible to his family members (especially Tyrion Lannister), he was responsible for the deaths of many who fought in a war for him (a war that he was too much of a coward to actually partake in), and never once had a redeeming moment. Joffrey is the epitome of why inbreeding is such a bad idea (he is the spawn of his mother’s brother of course). His television death in season four was as close as we have ever come to an instant holiday.

1. Rick Grimes (The Walking Dead)

This guy is number one with a bullet! I watch a lot of television and have analyzed the best of them, and there is no doubt that Rick is the best of the worst leaders. My mind might be clouded by the fact that I just got done watching this entire series through the last season (four). Here are the questions I have asked after watching: How many deaths is Rick responsible for? How much time has he wasted due to his indecision?

Regular viewers of this show probably are wondering why Rick is here, and not Shane, or even the Governor. The devil (as always) is in the details.

I finally caught up with the series “everyone is talking about,” only to see that all of the main characters’ problems center on their chief, Rick! I come to that conclusion because plainly: Rick is not good leader. That’s it. Before Rick showed up, Shane’s camp had peace, harmony, and relative safety. Before the Governor crossed paths with the main characters, his makeshift town was relatively safe. How he accomplished the feat of keeping those people safe is a matter of debate (no real debate, he is a monster), but they were safe nonetheless. That is a leader’s #1 goal.

Rick is not a leader. He does the best he can, but he should know when enough is enough. He once told Shane, “if you’re going to stay here, you’re gonna have to follow my lead.” That’s laughable because almost every decision Rick made got someone killed. The truth is, most of the decisions that Shane made were good decisions, and he just didn’t deliver them in the proper manner. But, at least he had decent leadership qualities.

Look, maybe Rick will turn things around. The series hasn’t ended yet, and anything can happen. As of right now, there’s nobody on any television program that is worse at leading a group of people than this man.

Jack Gotta
Follow Jack on Twitter @JackGotta


  1. What about Jack from Lost, every decision he makes is retarded, and the fact that everyone falls in behind me makes me roll my eyes, Sayid or Sawyer would have made much better leaders than Jack, and for the life of me I can’t understand why nobody stood up to him and told him to shut up, because he is not a good leader, he couldn’t lead himself out of a paper bag let alone a cadre of people. And he is a horrible character too, so self righteous and his morals are unrealistically high.

  2. Raychelle,

    Instead of hashing this out on Google Plus, we should have just done it here. Anyway, like I previously told you, Shane was a great leader, it was his delivery and methods that needed work. Rick should have secured the prison better… Rick should have left that farm sooner and/or took over the farm sooner (they spent way too much time looking for that little girl), people didn’t die in vast numbers until Rick showed up. Under Shane’s supervision, the pack was fully intact. Rick is a nice guy, but nice guys don’t always make the best leaders!!

    Thanks again for reading!!

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