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Annoying TV Kid Bracket: The Opening Round Goes (Mostly) Chalk

There were only a handful of upsets in the round of 32, but that just means that our exasperating titans will clash soon. Vote in the Sweet 16!

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Television’s so-called Golden Age and the plethora of great options now available on streaming services have yielded some of the most important and influential shows of the medium. (Right now, it seems like everybody’s trying to make the “next Game of Thrones,” and good luck to them.) The downside of this TV boon, however, is exemplified in our illustrious Annoying TV Kid Bracket, since the Golden Age of TV is also synonymous with the Golden Age of Aggravating Small-Screen Youths.

The Brady Bunch’s Cousin Oliver notwithstanding—whom we should note lost to Thrones’ resident teen psychopath Joffrey Baratheon in the first round of our bracket—this is a list primarily featuring child characters whom millennials were subjected to at some point in their TV-viewing lives. You might argue this roster of Annoying TV Kids is more 21st century-leaning because it reflects The Ringer’s own youthful braintrust (relatively—shoutout Donnie “Eat the Cleat” Kwak). Perhaps that’s had some effect on our choices, but if you’re going to issue grievances against our character choices and their respective seedings, I humbly ask that you find a TV Kid so iconically frustrating she was used as a punch line in an SNL sketch. (Homeland’s Dana Brody is definitely the angsty, flannel-loving Duke of this tournament.)

As we’ve whittled down our list of Annoying TV Kids to 16, there were few surprises in the first round, as all of our 1-seeds—the aforementioned Dana, The Sopranos’ A.J. Soprano, The Walking Dead’s Carl Grimes, and The Americans’ Paige Jennings—easily avoided upsets. Before we continue down the line, allow me to provide a quick defense of Paige, a teenager who was (very understandably!) distraught that her normcore parents were actually evil Russian spies, got yelled at for turning to Jesus, and even gave the family business a shot with all the awfulness that entailed. Paige was an interesting character who had a really solid arc across six seasons! If there’s a kid on The Americans who was annoying, it was Henry. Can someone tell me what the hell he ever did, aside from using his secret Russian roots to play hockey super well? I hope Paige gets upset in Round 2, because she’s actually a Good TV Kid and doesn’t deserve such slander. Her spot should have been reserved for Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Dawn Summers, who did, in fact, suck.

Moving on: The biggest upsets from the first round were courtesy of Full House’s Stephanie Tanner, a 7-seed who narrowly defeated the 2-seed of the Chocolate Pudding Region, Mad Men’s Glen Bishop, as well as Mad Men’s Sally Draper taking out another 2-seed, The West Wing’s Zoey Bartlet. Glen Bishop seemed like a safe bet to advance, if only because he doubles as a poster child for nepotism—Glen was portrayed by Marten Holden Weiner, son of series creator Matthew Weiner. Alas, Glen was no match for the might of Full House’s middle child, and now Sally Draper will rather unfairly shoulder the Annoying TV Kid burden for Mad Men the rest of the way.

Here’s how the entire bracket stacks up as we move onto the Sweet 16:

Remember, you can vote right here on this website, on Twitter, and on Instagram until 5 p.m. ET on Tuesday afternoon. May the worst kid win:


The Premature Goatee Region

(1) A.J. Soprano, The Sopranos vs. (4) Lily Tucker-Pritchett, Modern Family

1. A.J. Soprano: I’m getting mad just thinking about this doofus. He of the double meatball, pepperoni, sausage, peppers, onions, and extra mozzarella pizza (A.J. is the only human ever to get snitched on by a slice of pizza), Tony Soprano’s only son was endlessly whiny, entitled, and altogether incapable. The guy got fired from Blockbuster! Sure, A.J. was a product of Tony’s lackluster parenting, but at some point you gotta stop making excuses for people—and that point is usually when they grow awful facial hair.

4. Lily Tucker-Pritchett: Mitchell and Cameron’s adopted daughter on Modern Family began the show as a delightful source of comic relief. But as she grew up, she turned into a little demon child. She assaulted a baby! She listens to screamo! I think that Lily’s attitude was supposed to be funny, but here’s a rule when it comes to kids: A kid being mean is only funny at age 3 or younger; any sassiness displayed after that is just super annoying.

Poll

Which Annoying TV Kid Should Advance?

This poll is closed

  • 63%
    (1) A.J. Soprano, ‘The Sopranos’
    (3616 votes)
  • 36%
    (4) Lily Tucker-Pritchett, ‘Modern Family’
    (2064 votes)
5680 votes total Vote Now

(3) Finn Walden, Homeland vs. (2) Kim Bauer, 24

3. Finn Walden: Your first memories of Timothée Chalamet may be him saying “hella tight” in Lady Bird or doing peach-related things in Call Me by Your Name, but my first memories of Timothée Chalamet are him playing the vice president’s son in Homeland, in which he was a jerky little shit who committed vehicular manslaughter and then later died off-screen. He really sucked.

2. Kim Bauer: It’s actually a little shocking that Kim isn’t a 1-seed. During the second season of 24 in 2003, she revolutionized the Annoying TV Kid trope. By then she was completely irrelevant to the main plot of 24, but the show kept her story line going by having her … get lost in the wilderness and hunted by a mountain lion. There’s now a TV trope known as “Trapped by Mountain Lions”that describes when a character is so disjointed from the main plot of a show that his or her ongoing inclusion becomes deeply unjustifiable. Kim Bauer’s impact.

Poll

Which Annoying TV Kid Should Advance?

This poll is closed

  • 32%
    (3) Finn Walden, ‘Homeland’
    (1596 votes)
  • 67%
    (2) Kim Bauer, ‘24’
    (3272 votes)
4868 votes total Vote Now

The Chocolate Pudding Region

(1) Carl Grimes, The Walking Dead vs. (5) Steve Urkel, Family Matters

1. Carl Grimes: Also known as CORAL, Carl Grimes may be the most angst-ridden, useless child ever depicted on TV. He basically got Dale killed in Season 2; his plan to infiltrate Negan’s compound failed instantly; and in Season 4, in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, this kid posted up on the roof of a house and ate pudding with a grating little smirk on his face. Boo this child.

5. Steve Urkel: Did I do that? Yeah, man, you did! Now please go spend some time with your own family and stop creeping on a girl who’s clearly not interested.

Poll

Which Annoying TV Kid Should Advance?

This poll is closed

  • 52%
    (1) Carl Grimes, ‘The Walking Dead’
    (2991 votes)
  • 47%
    (5) Steve Urkel, ‘Family Matters’
    (2683 votes)
5674 votes total Vote Now

(3) Walt Jr., Breaking Bad vs. (7) Stephanie Tanner, Full House

3. Walt Jr.: This is in no way a comment on RJ Mitte, an actor with cerebral palsy who did a tremendous job hanging with the likes of Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn, and Dean Norris on Breaking Bad. It is simply a comment on Walt Jr., a kid who only ever ate breakfast, who insisted on being called FLYNN, and who wouldn’t ever shut up about his friend Louis. He was also pretty shitty to his mom when she separated from his dad; a real misjudgment of character there.

7. Stephanie Tanner: The middle child always has it rough, and lacks the authority of the oldest and the attention afforded to the youngest. But that’s no excuse for Stephanie Tanner, the ur-Lily Tucker-Pritchett who was neither as funny nor as good at dancing as she thought. “How rude” is a bad catchphrase.

Poll

Which Annoying TV Kid Should Advance?

This poll is closed

  • 43%
    (3) Walt Jr., ‘Breaking Bad’
    (2531 votes)
  • 56%
    (7) Stephanie Tanner, ‘Full House’
    (3268 votes)
5799 votes total Vote Now

The Snitch Region

(1) Paige Jennings, The Americans vs. (4) Julie Taylor, Friday Night Lights

1. Paige Jennings: The eldest daughter of Philip and Elizabeth Jennings on The Americans may be the only kid in TV history to be so hated that fans literally begged the creators to kill her off. Pretty brutal. Then again, Paige did rat out her parents, so … I get it?

4. Julie Taylor: Julie dumped Matt Saracen to date a guy known only as The Swede. I REST MY CASE.

Poll

Which Annoying TV Kid Should Advance?

This poll is closed

  • 45%
    (1) Paige Jennings, ‘The Americans’
    (2286 votes)
  • 54%
    (4) Julie Taylor, ‘Friday Night Lights’
    (2737 votes)
5023 votes total Vote Now

(3) Joffrey Baratheon, Game of Thrones vs. (7) Sally Draper, Mad Men

3. Joffrey Baratheon: I have to admit I’m struggling with this one. Sure, Joffrey sucked. But he wasn’t annoying in a “man, I wish this show would stop focusing on this kid’s wild hormones and get back to the good stuff” kind of way; he was annoying in a “man, I really wish he’d stop murdering hookers with a crossbow” kind of way, which actually had some narrative value in Game of Thrones. It was extremely satisfying when he choked to death in Season 4, but it was also kind of sad, because no one was more fun to hate than Joffrey.

7. Sally Draper: Seen one way, Sally Draper was a smart, intuitive, cool kid who smoked cigarettes. Seen another way, Sally Draper was a rude, entitled, sociopathic twerp who smoked cigarettes. Remember that time she ran down the hall of SCDP and fell on her face? That was pretty annoying.

Poll

Which Annoying TV Kid Should Advance?

This poll is closed

  • 72%
    (3) Joffrey Baratheon, ‘Game of Thrones’
    (4111 votes)
  • 27%
    (7) Sally Draper, ‘Mad Men’
    (1571 votes)
5682 votes total Vote Now

The Oversized Flannel Region

(1) Dana Brody, Homeland vs. (4) Manny Delgado, Modern Family

1. Dana Brody: You know what a show about an American terrorist definitely doesn’t need? Full plot lines devoted to his wildly hormonal daughter, who mostly just mopes/stumbles around the greater Washington, D.C., area in oversize clothes and untied combat boots. Maybe Homeland’s attempt to focus on how Sergeant Brody’s actions affected his family were admirable; but no TV kid has incited more hate—and basically an entire cottage industry of parody—than Dana Brody. Her work as an Annoying TV Kid is sublime and possibly unrivaled.

4. Manny Delgado: Manny Delgado is a try-hard dork who wears bowling shirts despite being 12 years old. He is neither as sophisticated nor as charming as he believes; kids who listen to jazz are not cool, they are lame and annoying.

Poll

Which Annoying TV Kid Should Advance?

This poll is closed

  • 50%
    (1) Dana Brody, ‘Homeland’
    (2660 votes)
  • 49%
    (4) Manny Delgado, ‘Modern Family’
    (2635 votes)
5295 votes total Vote Now

(3) Astor Bennett, Dexter vs. (2) Wesley Crusher, Star Trek: The Next Generation

3. Astor Bennett: Technically, it wasn’t Astor’s fault—she was inundated with trauma her entire childhood, from witnessing her mother be beaten and raped by her father to later being forced to cope with her mother’s death at the hands of a serial killer. But on a show about a bad guy who hunts down and methodically murders other bad guys, we didn’t have much interest in spending time with a progressively hormonal girl. Maybe that sounds mean, but if you’re voting on this bracket, you probably don’t care that much.

2. Wesley Crusher: “He was just kind of around and annoying and nobody gave a damn about his story arc,” a member of the selection committee explained in nominating Wesley, inadvertently summing up the ethos of all Annoying TV Kids.

Poll

Which Annoying TV Kid Should Advance?

This poll is closed

  • 44%
    (3) Astor Bennett, ‘Dexter’
    (2107 votes)
  • 55%
    (2) Wesley Crusher, ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’
    (2634 votes)
4741 votes total Vote Now
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