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7 Greatest Comedic Television Anti-Heroes

Updated on April 3, 2014

A Comedy Anti-Hero

When we think of anti-heroes on TV the first characters we probably think of are along the lines of Tony Soprano, Frank Underwood, and Walter White; all very dramatic individuals. But we seldom think of comedic television when we hear the term anti-hero. When in fact there are many popular characters in comedy-based television that fit the bill of an anti-hero quite well. Although maybe not nearly as evil as dramatic anti-heroes, the following seven characters from comedy TV shows are definitely just as morally questionable as most dramatic anti-heroes. Yet we root for them nonetheless.

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Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)

Larry David plays a semi-fictionalized version of himself in this HBO comedy that redefines awkward moments. Larry's character (which he swears is not like himself in real life) is prone to excessive lying, zero discretion, and always saying the wrongest thing at the completely wrongest time. Larry seems to alienate nearly everyone he meets by constantly questioning social norms and through his complete disregard for people's feelings. Although sometimes he is right in the points he tries to make, his insistence on defying every sense of politeness he can makes him one of the funniest yet most insulting anti-heroes in comedy television.

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George Bluth Sr. in Arrested Development (FOX/Netflix)

George Bluth Sr. is the patriarch of the once wealthy Bluth family and was a successful yet crooked land developer. In the pilot episode of Arrested Development George's crimes catch up with him and he is arrested on several charges that range from embezzlement to "light treason." George's ever-worsening legal problems are just half of the reason why he's such an anti-hero. He constantly berates his children, pitting his two oldest sons against each other to make them stronger. He has spent years cheating on his wife, cooking his financial books and creating a hole of disgrace that his spoiled family will spend years climbing out of. And yet he is still a very humorous and beloved character. Jeffery Tambor was nominated for an Emmy for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for playing the polarizing TV dad.

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Ricky in Trailer Park Boys (Showcase/Netflix)

Perhaps much lesser known than the rest of these characters, Ricky (Robb Wells) is a foul-mouth, stoner drug dealer and marijuana grower who constantly breaks the law in this odd yet hilarious Canadian TV series. Ricky is not the smartest bulb in the bunch and he is not afraid to admit this. This is probably why he results to breaking the law in order to make a living for both his daughter and his daughter's mom who he almost married before his wedding was interrupted by Ricky's arrest. Ricky has been to jail more times than anyone can remember and always vows to grow more weed and break the law more when he gets out. Despite this Ricky displays a wealth of heart and emotional depth along with a desire to be a smarter and better person. This show was a hit in Canada from 2001 to 2008 and it is now returning with new seasons on Netflix.

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Dennis Reynolds in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX)

Dennis (Glenn Howerton) is a bar owner and bartender in this ultra-dark comedy series. He is an extremely manipulative, self-centered, and crass individual who totally lacks even the most basic sense of human decency. He is quite frankly a sociopath who suffers from Histrionic Personality Disorder, which in lesser words means he shamelessly seeks excessive attention for being good at nothing in particular. Dennis and his shocking antics do not inspire empathy from the audience, that's not really the point of this show. Viewers tune in to see Dennis and the Gang act as abhorrent as possible so there really isn't a need for Dennis to have any redeeming qualities. It's probably why this show is often referred to as "Seinfeld on Crack."

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Barney Stinson in How I Met Your Mother (CBS)

Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) isn't nearly the worse guy in the world. In fact his boundless charm, dashing good looks, and constant coolness makes him one of the most recognizable TV characters of the last decade. However he is somewhat of an anti-hero. He shamelessly chases women like they are points on a scoreboard. He's probably one of the most legendary womanizers in TV history next to Larry from Three's Company and Joey from Friends. Barney has come up with a seemingly endless amount of tricks and techniques to seduce women, if only for one night. But later in the series Barney seems to grow up a bit even if it takes the last episode to truly show his growth into a mature adult.

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Kenny Powers in Eastbound and Down (HBO)

Kenny Powers (Danny McBride) is a once-great baseball pitcher who, after throwing his career away, is forced back into a life of obscurity. Kenny cannot stand a normal life and will stop at nothing to get his fame back. He is an extremely self-interested and functioning drug addict who alienates his family and friends with his bold and brash attitude. He is simply too intense for most people and can't be tamed. Despite his dominating approach, Kenny constantly puts his inner vulnerability on display causing viewers to empathize with his plight.

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Jack Donaghy in 30 Rock (NBC)

Jack (Alec Baldwin) isn't really an anti-hero if you agree with his bossing style. However if you're not a CEO you probably find fault with Jack's ultra-conservative, pure capitalist business techniques that have no consideration for worker's rights, compassion, or kindness. Jack is overly ambitious, ruthlessly pragmatic, and is never above doing anything necessary to further himself and the company he wishes to one day be the complete boss of. But at times Jack shows he is just as human as everyone else, although these times are limited. Jack is simply a corporate company man who puts business first and leaves emotion out of most decisions. If you think about it, men like Jack built the America we now inhabit.

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