Most annoying major characters in fiction:
Holden Caulfield, Catcher in the Rye
Cathy & Heathcliff, Wuthering Heights
Marianne Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility
Romeo & Juliet, Romeo & Juliet
Valentine Michael Smith, Stranger in a Strange Land
Chance the Gardener, Being There
Daisy Buchanan, The Great Gatsby
Harry Potter, Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix*
Most annoying major characters from the Big Screen**:
Scarlett O’Hara, Gone with the Wind
Luke Skywalker, Star Wars***
Anakin Skywalker & Padme, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
Ariel, The Little Mermaid
Marlin, Finding Nemo
Shelby Latcherie, Steel Magnolias
Frodo Baggins and Sam Gamgee, The Lord of the Ring: Return of the King
What are yours?
*I know this is an outlier on several fronts but I wanted to include it. I love the HP books, and for most of the series I like Harry. But during most of the fifth book I kept thinking the protagonist needed to be slapped into next week. I also think Snape had some good points about the less exalted parts of Harry’s character — for example, there is no record of Harry ever being grateful to Snape even after he learned that Snape had saved his life during the Quidditch match in The Sorcerer’s Stone, is there?
**Note: being on this list does not mean that I dislike the movie. I own four of the movies on that list: Dogma, Finding Nemo, Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World, The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. Movies with annoying characters can in be redeemed if they write the character well (Finding Nemo), or the other strengths of the movie outweigh having a character that drives me batty (Star Wars). As much as I dislike the character of Jay, for example, Dogma is one my favorite movies simply because a) it raises some interesting questions about the nature of faith and b) even more so, Alan Rickman’s sardonic turn as the voice of God.
***I refuse to refer to this movie as A New Hope. Not gonna happen.