These aren?t the hero-protagonists you?re looking for.
In your typical television show, the protagonist is there to act as the prime mover for the narrative: the show is all about them, after all, and their actions and reactions are supposed to create the story. A lot of the time, the protagonist is the hero of the piece, noble and moral as well as capable and powerful in his or her own way.
But what about those occasions when the show?s narrative stars a fairly traditional hero-protagonist? who then turns out to be something else entirely? If you?re lucky, it?s completely intentional ? the show?s creators are trying to subvert your expectations, to fake one way and then go the other, making watching the show a rewarding experience and adding depth to the narrative.
Of course, that?s not always the case. Sometimes the story gets away from them, or they?re too close to it, and can?t see what?s happening to their central character until the show airs and the fans tell them where they?re going wrong. Sometimes the weight of seasons of continuity means that a character has simply messed up too many times (there may be a reset button at the end of many TV shows, but the fans remember. The fans always remember).
Perhaps the hero isn?t as strong or competent as he?s intended to be, the cumulative effect of his actions making his efforts seem weak or unimportant. Maybe your favourite show features a hero-protagonist who continually seems to screw over her friends, or her lovers, despite being written to be morally above reproach. Or perhaps they?re just written badly, screeds of supposedly witty dialogue coming across as meanspirited and sarcastic instead.
We?ve trawled the depths of the television schedules, past and present, to come up with a list of hero-protagonists that, for whatever reason just don?t live up to the name: the secret worst heroes in television.