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Author of Jesus and The Bachelorette and unapologetic devotee of teen soap operas and police procedurals. knoxmccoy.com

Why Is Ted Mosby So Terrible?

I have a lot of conflicting emotions about How I Met Your Mother. On the one hand, they have tons of funny callbacks they constantly refer to (interventions, slap bets etc). But on the other, they have a laugh track.

On the one hand, they have a compelling premise to the show. On the other, they taunt us with answering this premise to the point that we’re either annoyed by it or ready to just go away and read about it on the internet in 10 years when the show finally ends.

On the one hand, they have an iconic character like Barney Stinson. On the other hand though, they have a character who is the equivalent of a bowel distress: Ted Mosby.

I can’t think of a character in recent memory that has united people in shared contempt like Ted has. We asked a question on Twitter and Facebook recently about people’s favorite HIMYM characters and Ted was always dead last or very close to it. How does that happen? How can a character, who the show essentially revolves around, be so extraordinarily unlikable that people from all different walks of life can uniformly say, “Yes. That guy sucks really, really hard.”

1. His lovelorn-ness is annoying

OMG what? Ted wants to fall in love? That is CRAZY. What a noble and unique concept. We should focus on this because NO ONE else is dealing with wanting to find companionship and agape love for the rest of eternity especially in NYC. Hey, Writers of Ted’s Character? WE GET IT. Ted wants to fall in love. WE GOT IT THE FIRST INFINITY TIMES YOU DROVE THAT POINT HOME.

Also, we get that this desire for love will ultimately result in the revelation of the elusive mother character so it’s worth revisiting. But that doesn’t mean you have to smear this in our faces EVERY EPISODE. We’re moderately smart. Understanding the desire for love is kind of an involuntary thing, so you don’t have to show Ted pouting or doing stupid romantic gestures EVERY episode.

2. His personality is annoying

There’s very little redeeming about Ted. He’s pretentious, condescending, whiny and SUPER self-absorbed. We’re supposed to believe that he is exceedingly intelligent but yet he’s constantly flummoxed by small issues like, I don’t know, thinking every female he interacts with could/should be his wife.

Also? If I hear another architecture joke I’m going to build a skyscraper and then demolition it to fall on the head of the writer who is pushing that series of jokes onto us. THE ARCHITECTURE HUMOR ISN’T LANDING. Seriously. If I can find out who is responsible for that line of jokes, I will run for public office, get elected and sponsor legislation to make sure that writer has to wear a blue french horn on their head for the rest of time. THIS I PROMISE.

3. His role within the show/group is annoying

Let’s face it: 12 times out of 10, we’d all rather watch an episode where the plot hinges on someone other than Ted. Barney with laser tag, Marshall dealing with people trying to destroy the rainforest, Lilly yelling at the kids in her class, Robin doing anything regarding Canada. I’d even rather watch Ranjit than Ted. The less Ted, the perfecter.

But by the nature of the show, these episodes are few and far between because a) each episode must be some kind of commentary on how Ted met his wife so that the show can keep with the idea of Ted telling his kids (those poor, poor kids. They probably don’t even care anymore. They’d probably rather it lit charcoal than have to listen to Ted talk about his younger days) precisely how he met their mother and b) because Ted is the everyman glue character that binds the group together. Not focusing on him makes the show feel disjointed because he’s centrally relevant to not just the plot, but to the group of friends. He’s the bridge that unites everyone. It may be an awful bridge that sways and pieces of it fall off while you’re walking on it and most people just wish the bridge would collapse and go away, but it’s still the thing uniting the characters.

More specifically, Ted’s role on the show is like living in a dumpy house. You can go out and eat at awesome restaurants or go on fantastic trips to exotic locations, but you always have to come back to your awful, dumpy house whose voice is SUPER annoying because that’s where you live.

What’s Ted’s worst quality?

  • http://lauramcclellan.com Laura McClellan

    Disagree. I don’t think Ted is the worst. [I think Robin is the worst because she is the perpetual 5th wheel to this cast, can't seem to get herself together and figure out what she wants, and keeps saying she doesn't want kids or love but then is sad when she doesn't have kids or love. Also i just think i wouldn't like her in real life. She needs an attitude adjustment.]

    Plus I think Ted has his funny moments, and the fact that the rest of the characters make fun of his search for love and lameness makes it acceptable. He’s supposed to be lame. But I don’t think that makes him not likable as a character.

    Also let’s just be honest. He’s Ross. He’s a professor, he has a lame passion (architecture–see Ross’s paleontology), he gets whiny around the girl he loves (robin/rachel)…etc. Even though I still think Rachel should’ve picked joey, I still find Ross hilarious.

    I think Ted plays an important role of anchoring down Barney and Marshalls’ outrageous-ness–he’s a great pairing with either of them. They are complimentary. Like I said about Happy Endings, someone has to be Ross. He brings it back around.

    Just because he’s not the funniest doesn’t make him a bad character. Lawyered.

    • http://www.knoxmccoy.com Knox McCoy

       Is Ted being Ross supposed to be a good thing? Sure, wet blankets exist, but that doesn’t mean we have to wrap them around ourselves and like it. OBJECTION SUSTAINED.

      And Robin is the worst? WHAT ARE YOU SAYING? She’s the only one who hasn’t been forced into a very specific and certain path by the show. In a lot of ways, she’s the most compelling because her character has some possibilities.

      • http://lauramcclellan.com Laura McClellan

        I’m not saying Ted/Ross are people you would want to be BFF with, I’m just saying they can still be valuable as characters. 

        Yes, Robin is the worst. [Except all Canadian references because I am Canadian by birth--judge if you must--and find those parts hilarious.] You’re right, she’s the only one that’s still a little unpredictable. But I think the fact that she hasn’t been forced into any path is the reason why she just wanders aimlessly and we have no idea what she really wants out of life. I feel like if I’ve known someone for this long, I should have some sort of handle on what’s going on in her head. But all I know is that she wants to be a news reporter and she broke Barney’s heart and I’m still mad at her for that. I just want her to get it together, really. I suppose you could argue that she reflects people in real life trying to figure out what they want, but I’m not looking for social commentary in HIMYM.

        But I also kind of like predictable. So there’s that.

        • http://www.knoxmccoy.com Knox McCoy

           Wait. You aren’t watching HIMYM for the social commentary?

          • http://lauramcclellan.com Laura McClellan

            Should I be? Has this entire series had layers I was too blind to see? Crap. I just liked seeing Barney try to pick up girls dressed as a lesbian and Marshall make charts about Cecelia.

      • Connor Murray

        Fact: Robin is the worst.

  • http://mandiemariebee.wordpress.com/ Amanda

    I dated a Mosby once. Ask me how that turned out. JUST ASK ME.

    • http://calebmcnary.com/ Caleb McNary

      How did that turn out? I’m sorry, but when you use all CAPS I must respond. It’s like Cartman having to sing Come Sail Away in it’s entirety if he hears one line.

      • http://mandiemariebee.wordpress.com/ Amanda

         Not so well, Caleb. NOT SO WELL.

      • http://thegboat.net The Joseph Craven

        I’m exactly the same way as Cartman. It’s just unavoidable.

    • http://www.facebook.com/camilo.a.morales.56 Camilo Andres Morales

      wow amanda, kill yourself , lol jk

  • Pingback: TVA: Why Is Ted Mosby So Terrible? | Knox McCoy

  • http://katiemaesdailies.blogspot.com/ Katie Alicea

    I think Ted’s worst quality is that he apparently grows up to be Bob Sagat.  I just can’t get into this show.  I want to like it, but I just can’t.  I think everyone is the worst except Marshall.

  • http://calebmcnary.com/ Caleb McNary

    Might I elevate the conversation to a more general level? First- Knox, can I call you Knox?, you are dead on. But, I feel the same way every time they pull out the “Marshall wants to save the planet, but Lilly likes nice clothes” storyline. When it comes down to it, the writings getting tired, and the cast can’t rise above it. Except NPH, he’s solid gold. So, yes, I hate Ted, but I hate him like a dog that bad owners turned into a neighborhood terror. 

  • guest

    I agree with Laura McClellan.  My wife and I both think Robin is the worst.

    • http://lauramcclellan.com Laura McClellan

      YES. Thank you. :-)

      • Guest

        I agree, but for different reasons. I think Robin is the worst character in the show because she can’t stop sleeping within the group. First she loves Ted, then she loves Barney (who she never seemed to like before), then it’s back to Ted, then back to Barney. Furthermore she can never seem to back away. She sees what she’s doing to these guys and keeps staying with the group. She’s the fifth wheel, she should leave so Barney and Ted can move on.

        I don’t know anyone hates Ted. He’s a genuine nice guy.

  • http://thegboat.net The Joseph Craven

    Ted’s worst quality is his Robin obsession. Though that’s really the worst quality of the writers, since they decided it was a great thing to bring back needlessly a few weeks ago.

    • http://lauramcclellan.com Laura McClellan

      I will definitely agree to that. It seemed like all of a sudden he loved her again.

  • http://www.haleybragg.com/ haleybragg

    I’m not here to really agree/disagree, because I think I would probably MOSTLY agree with you, but also disagree because I feel the need to protect the show. And there’s not really a show without Ted.

    Mostly I want to point out that even though Lily has been the most unnecessary character since the second season, she is STILL less annoying than Ted.

  • Chance

    I actually like Ted. With him, you can pull of a character reciting poetry in a different among the New York cultural elite, only to ditch them for his Mexican wrestling doppleganger.

    In many ways, he’s like the character of Frasier Crane. He’s not the funniest character by far, but he’s the somewhat rational character that binds everyone together. Like Frasier, however, the endless string of romances ultimately going nowhere and the complaints of not finding love are getting old, and we are ready for him to meet The One already.

  • Malachi_Constant

    Just started watching the show in syndication and guess what my first reaction was?  I like that Marshall guy, Barney is a funny hound dog and the girls are cute with differentiating personalities, but WTF is with that douchewad main character?  He’s like Ross from friends but waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay worse (seriously, way fkn worse, Ross was actually funny sometimes but Ted just sucks like week old dirty dishes growing mold in the sink.)  Decent show, but good lord does that guy suck- 

  • http://twitter.com/Smileymoo3 HIMYM stuff

    well i disagree with all of you barney and ted are my tied favourite characters teds lame but in a super cute way hes always obsessing over love is because he thought his search would be over by now and hes really tired to me the worst character is marshall i mean i like him but i like the rest of the characters a whole lot more hes pretty annoying sometimes to me

  • http://www.facebook.com/finger.sniffer Sean Robert Falvey

    I’ve done A poo poo.

  • Fred

    Ted Mosby is just… flat. And desperate, obviously. Anyone normal would just enjoy the life, hoping to meet the one. Not him, no. He’s trying desperately to fall in love, and to find a wife ! Whoever is the girl, as long as she wants to… He was funny at the beginning, now he is just pathetic.

  • Sadiba

    Wtf why is everybody always hating on Ted? I actually really like him he is amazing! I love all the characters and I love the show. People need to stop complaining about every little dam thing. Ted mosby isn’t annoying, he is perfectly fine. But the people who thinks he is annoying are annoying.

    • Mikkah Strong

      Just go off yourself; seriously, just shoot yourself in the face.

      • Liv

        I think you need to calm down.

  • Connor Murray

    I like the whole group except Robin. She is a boring dull pointless character who pretty much ruins the show and pisses me off every time she is on screen. I really can’t stand her at all and her voice annoys me as well.

  • astry

    I googled why Is Ted mosby annoying and landed here….point proven he is annoying.

  • Jacob

    I hate when Ted talks in that serious emotional voice. I don’t know how to describe it exactly. It’s when he lowers his tone and says something emotional. His voice sounds so for lack of a better word gay. I really can’t describe it but it happens a lot when he’s trying to say something meaningful to a girl or something the sound of his voice just changes. It really sounds so whiney and faggy it really annoys me I wish I could describe it better so you would know what I’m talking about. But I really hate the sound of his voice. Among other things. I mean I do hate a lot of other things about Ted the things that are obvious to everyone else. Barney is funny as hell idk I can see why some people wouldn’t like him but hes never annoyed me. And Marshal is always just the lovable guy in the show I mean it’s Jason Segal. Both the girls are annoying Robin by far is way worse than Lilly. I hate Robin it’s annoying how much of a big mouth Lilly is. I really like the show the it’s still pretty entertaining. I can’t believe those kids would sit there and listen to their annoying dad talk for 8 years I mean seriously he’s F’d them out of a social life and they have to already be adults by now can’t he just tell them that they used to Fing smoke weed? And I think they are old enough to hear cuss words by now. Unless he’s just telling them all this crap at once and they’re just listening to their dad talk non stop only taking a break for food and to use the bathroom for several days. Idk which one is more realistic. Bob Sagat is an asshole I mean is all of that crap really necessary? Most of it has nothing to do with how he met their mother. No one would sit their and listen patently like that in reality they would just say. “JUST TELL US THE PART WHERE YOU MET MOM!!!”

  • Luis

    Ted is a son of a bitch. I hate him. Ted, you are a soulless black hole, you are the fucking anti-christ.