Friggatriskaidekaphobics, this post may not be for you. On the occasion of this Friday the 13th, I got to thinking about which denizens, past or present, of the TV landscape had a hard time catching a break.
Off the top of my head, five rather unlucky souls came to mind.
George O’Malley, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’: You had to feel for ol’ George (played by T.R. Knight), starting early on when he fell into bed with Meredith – only to make her cry! – up to the very end, when that selfless son of a Celt elected to go to war, only to get blindsided by a bus while en route. In between those crushing events, George saw his impetuous marriage to Callie crash and burn when he engaged in an ill-fated affair with BFF Izzy.
Ross Geller, ‘Friends’: Not to harp on the unlucky-in-love, but it took Ross (David Schwimmer) 10 full seasons to finally get it right with true love Rachel. At first, he concealed his longing. By the time Rachel wised up, Ross had found romance abroad with Julie. When R&R finally did hook up, he really derailed that relationship by jumping into bed with a stranger after their first fight, insisting, “We were on a break!” That freed up Rachel to ultimately turn to (salt, wound!) Joey (yes, Joey). Oh, and did we mention Ross got divorced three times along the way? Then again, “bad luck” is relative – dude held onto Jennifer Aniston! A feat since unrepeated.
Lieutenant Colonel Henry Blake, ‘M*A*S*H’: Henry’s story is akin to George O’Malley’s, but reversed. In the third season of the acclaimed Korean War dramedy, the writers sent exiting cast member McLean Stevenson’s affable army man home. Only he never made it. It fell upon Radar to relay the utterly shocking news – especially in a circa-1970s TV landscape void of spoilers – that Blake was killed when his plane was shot down over the Sea of Japan. Trivia bit: The sad faces in that scene were real; the script they knew had Radar reporting on Henry’s safe return.
Teri Bauer, ’24’: One of TV’s saddest and most unexpected death scenes was preceded by 23 hours and 50-ish minutes of wrong turns, displaced trust (whoa, Richard Burgi isn’t the girl’s father?!) and even a blink-and-you-missed-it, dramatically convenient bout of amnesia. Sure, Teri’s batch of bad luck was compressed into that very first day of ’24,’ but man, was a character’s fate ever sealed.
‘South Park’s Kenny: Oh.. my… god. Need we really get into what those “bastards” did to young Mr. McCormick week in, week out, for the first several seasons of the Comedy Central ‘toon?
Now, I turn to you to beef up this list: Which TV characters, past or present, do you think could have benefited from generous amounts of rabbit feet and four-leaf clovers?