It’s Friday the 13th: TV’s Unluckiest Characters, Watch Out!


It’s Friday the 13th, a day laced with paranoia, superstition and the occasional machete-wielding psychopath. On this day of misfortune, it’s wise to cast an eye over your shoulder every once in a while, lest you fall victim to a day feared by many. Even if your’e not particularly triskaidekaphobic, there are lessons to be learned from Friday the 13th — specifically from those characters on television who represent the pitiful end of the luck spectrum.

Some of TV’s most beloved characters are also the medium’s unluckiest, facing pathetic misery in the form of cougars (Kim Bauer!), ripped pants (Jerry Gergich!) and cursed lottery numbers (Hurley!). In honor of Friday the 13th, our writers decided to take a closer look at their favorite unlucky so-and-sos:

Alison Parker - Melrose Place

Alison Parker (Melrose Place)

Sure, there were many twists and turns on Melrose Place (which is 20 years old this week), but the person who always had it the worst was Alison Parker. Not only was she an on-again-off-again alcoholic, but she got pregnant, had a miscarriage, tried to adopt, and then was denied a child when she got caught drinking. Then she married a man who was lost in a boating accident on their damn honeymoon. And this was after she lost her job and was transferred to Hong Kong. Oh, and let’s not forget when she went blind when Kimberly blew up Melrose Place. Don’t stand next to this lady in a thunder storm. — BRIAN MOYLAN

Sookie Stackhouse - True Blood

Sookie Stackhouse (True Blood)

Poor Sookie… how many times has this girl been forced to mop up the blood of loved ones on her Gram’s kitchen room floor? Not to mention all the supernatural creatures that want her dead: 3,000-year-old vampires, Maenads, witches, jealous werewolf girlfriends. The list goes on and on. If it wasn’t for her continuous steamy hookups with insanely hot men, this would be one completely depressing life. — KELLY SCHREMPH

Larry David - Curb Your Enthusiasm

Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm)

Sure, he’s worth probably half a billion dollars, maybe more, but no amount of money will ever enable Larry to escape or reinvent the social mores that plague his daily life — and the often mortifying, always hilarious consequences. For that, though, we the viewers of Curb Your Enthusiasm are very, very lucky, indeed. — BRIAN MARDER

Louis C.K. - Louie

Louie (Louie)

Louis C.K. has been playing unlucky sad sacks since the days of Lucky Louie. While his fate with television success has improved tremendously, his character hasn’t fared nearly as well. Louie has gone on some of the worst dates known to mankind, constantly finds himself in painfully awkward social situations, terrible misunderstandings (“Wave to me!”) and was once made to feel bad by none other than Dane Cook. — ALY SEMIGRAN

Kenny McCormick - South Park

Kenny (South Park)

Let’s see: Volcano, mutant turkey, mosh pit, goldfish — ask for ways in which Kenny hasn’t been killed, and you’d come up with a much shorter list. But it gets worse for South Park‘s resident parka-flanked mumbler: Not only was Kenny forced to regularly suffer death, but Matt Stone and Trey Parker chose to kill him off permanently in Season 5… only to revive him — and kill him all over again — in subsequent seasons. You bastards! — KATE WARD

Hurley - Lost

Hurley (Lost)

Oh, Hurley, you poor soul. After winning the lottery (everyone’s assumed ticket to eternal bliss), the Lost character was treated to a rash of unfortunate events starting with simple things like his new house burning to the ground and not quite ending with his crash landing on the infamous Island. Then comes the heartbreaking moment, just after Hurley’s finally found the Kate to his Jack — Libby — only to have Michael return and murder her in the hatch. It just makes you want to hug your television. But then again, if we’re looking at it Hurley’s way, it’s not really bad luck. It’s all about the numbers he played to win the lottery. The same numbers that reset the ominous switch in the hatch. The numbers that lined up with the potential candidates to replace Jacob as the Island’s protector. The numbers that served as coefficients of an equation that predicted mankind’s extinction. The numbers, man. The numbers. — KELSEA STAHLER

Eugene - Hey Arnold

Eugene (Hey Arnold!)

Poor Eugene is the victim of his own unfortunate fate: he was born on Friday the 13th. That probably explains why the accident-prone, soupcan-haired kid is a total jinx, crying out “I’m okay!” after any pitiful pratfall or bicycling accident. He’s been mugged, had his bike destroyed, his pet fish murdered, and his childhood superhero revealed to be a depressing sham — and yet the ginger remains optimistic! Why? Because he’s in musical theatre. That’s why. — MARC SNETIKER

Ted - Scrubs

Ted (Scrubs)

“Awww…” That’s the sound of a man at the end of this wits. A man who has nothing left to cling onto (except, maybe, a couple of reruns of Gilmore Girls). Ted Buckland, resident attorney at Sacred Heart Teaching Hospital, is this man. Scrubs’ Ted is the definitive sad sack: a loser who has been tricked, insulted, rejected, injured, and resigned of all dignity since his youth. The divorced, incompetent lawyer gets the brunt of Chief of Medicine Dr. Kelso’s malevolence, is constantly ignored or offended by his coworkers, and has an odd proclivity for dropping ice cream… which doesn’t always stop him from eating it. Even when Ted does find love at the end of the series, it doesn’t last… his character reappears in Bill Lawrence’s follow-up series Cougar Town, once again alone, confessing that he “should have seen it coming.” Fortune so bad, it isn’t even confined to your own TV show? Now that’s bad luck. — MICHAEL ARBEITER

Wile E. Coyote

Wile E. Coyote (Looney Tunes)

It would be easy to call Road Runner’s foe lucky — not everyone can survive accordion-like existence after a nearly-fatal piano collision — but he’s waited decades for one of his schemes to work in his favor. What’s a guy gotta do to get ACME’s destructive tools working? Switch to another brand? No one likes change! — KATE WARD

Kim Bauer - 24

Kim Bauer (24)

You know ‘dumb luck’? Kim Bauer didn’t have that. She had dumb un-luck. Part jinx and part dumdum, she was the character to run in the direction of a car bomb, catch on fire, and get caught in an animal trap and be hunted by a cougar. A cougar, people. — MICHELLE LEE

Jerry Gergich - Parks & Rec

Jerry Gergich (Parks & Recreation)

Damnit, Jerry! Jerry Gergich, king of the pointillist “murinal,” is also the “schlemiel” and the “schlemazel” of the Pawnee Parks and Recreation office. And maybe the universe as a whole. The butt of seemingly every joke (ever!), Jerry’s status as happy-go-unlucky office klutz has been cemented from day one. The man just cannot catch a break. Ever. He can’t even lie well: too embarrassed to admit he’d fallen in a stream (come ON, Jerry, really? A stream?), he explained that teenagers  mugged him in a park. The man is constantly asking — nay, begging — for every single taunt and tease he wearily accepts from his P&R cohorts. Wait, his name is Gerald? Gary? Gerry? Garry? Since he thinks it’s too rude to correct us, we may just never know. I heard he played a beautiful Tinkerbell back in ’64, for what it’s worth. Damnit, Jerry! — ALICIA LUTES