Film and TV

Pop Rocks: Is Pete Campbell the Biggest Tool in TV History? We Have Some Other Contenders.

Last Sunday's Mad Men found the normally unctuous Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser), junior partner and SCDP, in rare form: engineering an office push to get Joan to sleep with a Jaguar big shot in order to secure their account, calling a vote when Don left the room and self-righteously defending his actions when Don called him out.

Seriously, the man is so creepy he makes Goodnight Moon sound unpleasant.

To be fair, Campbell is merely the most obvious dickhead in an office full of them, but Don appears to have lost his mojo, Lane is more pathetic than anything and Roger is actually the coolest guy on the show these days. What's important, therefore, is how Pete Campbell ranks among the worst assholes in TV history.

To be clear, to qualify in this category you can't actually, you know, cause direct harm to others. That sort of moves you beyond "asshole" into "violent criminal." And those are rarely funny, canned laughter or not.

I say this to fend off the inevitable "No Cigarette Smoking Man from X-Files?" comments. He killed Kennedy, people!

Eric Cartman (South Park) He's been a foulmouthed little shit for 16 seasons, which gives him the endurance award in this category. Plus, I'm pretty sure he's the only one who's said "suck my balls" on TV.

Frank Burns (M*A*S*H) Frank was never a worthwhile antagonist, as Hawkeye, Trapper and later B.J. always got the best of him. But I can't put Charles on here because he had too much emotional depth.

Dwight Schrute (The Office) Dwight is as annoying as an all-vuvuzela rendition of Les Misérables, to be sure, but I've never been able to take him very seriously as a tool. His favorite movie is The Crow, for Christ's sake.

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar