When you think of the movies and TV shows almost three decades back, you're probably too focused on your favorites — the Angela Chases or Tommy Pickles — to think of all the '90s characters you loved to hate. But, trust me, there were a lot of those. While it may seem to you now that they were a mere annoyance, actually, they were fueling the plot of the shows or movies you were obsessed with.
After all, stories thrive on one thing: conflict. If you have a bunch of characters sitting around, living their best lives, chilling and being happy, that's dreamy for them, but it's watching-paint-dry dull for viewers. So thank goodness for characters like Ferguson from Clarissa Explains It All and his ilk. These were incredible antiheroes, characters so wonderfully irritating that, almost without noticing it, you lit up every time they entered onscreen.
Scrolling through this list, you might notice something else weird. They say time is a great healer, and that goes for your fictional relationships as well as factual. Strangely enough, you might find yourself feeling something close to affection for these characters. Were they that bad? Sure. But were they actually the most entertaining parts of the show or movie? Quite possibly.
1. Helga Pataki From 'Hey Arnold!'
So needlessly spiteful to our titular hero — and all because she was nursing a crush. Seriously, dude. Why you got to be so mean?
2. Kel From 'Kenan & Kel'
Because, even though he was one of the two protagonists, he was always messing up everything he touched. Way too stressful to watch.
3. Steve Urkel From 'Family Matters'
That nasal voice. His habit of dropping in whenever he was least welcome. His walk ("kind of like you've still got the hanger in your shirt"). Urkel was definitely the best character on TV to hate-watch (although now he seems kind of adorable, in retrospect).
4. Angelica Pickles From 'Rugrats'
Conniving, bratty, and entitled... what were we supposed to like about Tommy's cousin, again?
5. Mr. Burns From 'The Simpsons'
Managing to be Springfield's richest entrepreneur and most miserly man is one impressive feat. Only Burns could pull it off. Methinks his lovelorn assistant Waylon Smithers could do better.
6. Amber From 'Clueless'
Love her outfits, but her attitude sucks. She's cliquey, snobby, and spiteful, and when Cher calls her a "Monet" because "up close, it's just a big old mess," this feels less applicable to her looks (LBR, she's cute) and more truthful about her ethics.
7. Libby Chessler From 'Sabrina The Teenage Witch'
Before there was Mean Girls, there was this mean girl. Libby picked on everyone and shamelessly abused her own precarious popularity as head cheerleader. No wonder it felt kind of good to watch Sabrina occasionally using magic to get her own back.
8. Ferguson From 'Clarissa Explains It All'
Because he was a genius at doing that classic younger sibling tattletale thing and yet he was so incapable of defending himself that his big sister had to try and beat up his bully herself.
9. Harry & Marv From 'Home Alone'
Because they got way too invested in taking out an 8-year-old boy while trying to burgle a house. Also, beside the obvious ethical issues of burglary, who robs a property at Christmas? So not okay.
10. Ghostface From 'Scream'
Awful for obvious reasons, but kind of fun, too, given the character's tendency to commit murders based on the conventions of horror movies.
11. Judy From 'Doug'
Because she took pretension to a whole new level. The beat poet look was pretty cool, though.
12. Joey Donner From '10 Things I Hate About You'
Because he dumped Kat after she lost her virginity to him, which is pretty gross. Because he thinks he's the hottest man at Padua High School. Because he then proceeds to pursue Kat's little sister. Please, just stop.
13. Kathryn From 'Cruel Intentions'
Not just because of the moral issues of everything she schemed up with her step-brother (that sexually-charged relationship seems even weirder now), but because the sheer amount of saliva in that kiss that she shared with Cecile presumably put an entire generation off kissing anyone — boys, girls, genderqueer teens — for a few years until the memory faded.
So take a stroll down memory lane until you reach a surprising destination: the realization that these antagonists and antiheroes were at least twice as fun as the characters you were rooting for.