The Radio Times logo

13 of the unluckiest screen characters

In celebration of Friday the 13th we take a look at some TV and film characters who really are down on their luck logo
Published: Tuesday, 13th January 2015 at 8:01 am

It's Friday the 13th, a day traditionally associated with bad luck, and what better way to mark it than to take a look at the screen characters who just can't seem to shake that negative karma, whatever day of the year it is...


Taken: Bryan Mills

Re-tired government operative Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) has had some rotten luck over the three-film run of Taken. First his daughter was kidnapped in Paris, then he and his wife were taken by the same group of criminals and then, to cap it all off, Mills had to go on the run because everyone thought he’d murdered his wife. Best just stay inside and play Scrabble, eh Bryan?

Midsomer Murders: Everyone

This idyllic-looking county has to be one of the most dangerous places on the planet. The police force doesn't spend its time dealing with local scraps about recycling collection; it’s all pre-planned murders, violent attacks, more murders… Cripes, you could pop out for a pint of milk and find yourself with a shovel in the back of the head. Chuck up those For Sale signs now, guys. You might still make it out alive…

Speed: Annie

Fresh from being stuck on a speeding bus rigged with a bomb, Annie (Sandra Bullock) went ahead and found herself trapped on a speeding cruise ship, programmed to crash into an oil tanker. Perhaps best to stick to walking?

Die Hard: John McClane

Very much a wrong place at the wrong time kind of guy, whenever NYPD officer McClane (Bruce Willis) takes a day off, he finds himself in the middle of a terrorist attack (including twice on Christmas Eve!) And where does that idea of police with their feet up eating doughnuts come from?

Grey’s Anatomy: Meredith Grey

Doctor Meredith Grey can barely get through a day without some sort of major life catastrophe – and that’s nothing to do with her job as a surgeon. Whether she’s nearly dying in a freezing lake, almost drowning in the bath, watching as her husband is threatened by a gunman, and then… we still can't talk about it. She’s certainly right when she says her life is “dark and twisty”.

Jurassic Park III: Dr Alan Grant

Dr Alan Grant (Sam Neill) survived one brush with killer dinosaurs, but finds himself tricked back onto another island with even more of them. What are the chances? Not only was he fooled, he turns out to be just about the only one who has any idea what they’re doing and so is tasked with ensuring everyone else’s safety, too. Probably best to stick to bringing back prehistoric plants.

South Park: Kenny

They killed Kenny! About a thousand times... Is there any way that South Park’s indecipherable orange-parker wearing lad hasn't died? He's suffered death by cow, death by roller coaster, death by alien spaceship… even when it seemed like he had escaped to the afterlife, he came back to be killed again.

Ice Age: Scrat

All this saber-toothed squirrel wants is an acorn. Just an acorn. Is that really too much to ask, people? Whether he’s being frozen in a cube of ice, crushed under rocks, or having his acorn pinched by another thieving animal, poor Scrat just can’t seem to catch a break. Or an acorn.

The Hangover: Doug

All Doug wanted to do was get married. He’d met a lovely woman and he was ready to say ‘I Do’. Then he gets inadvertently trapped on top of a Las Vegas hotel during his stag do and almost misses his wedding. He catches a break in the second film (he sensibly stays out of his friends’ next Stag Do antics) but by the third he’s kidnapped by a mob boss and only his hapless friends can save him. It might be time to join a new Wolf Pack…

27 Dresses: Jane

Jane (Katherine Heigl) is the embodiment of the ‘always the bridesmaid, never the bride’, with a wardrobe literally stuffed with the taffeta dresses to prove it. The man of her dreams then falls in love and proposes to her sister, who rips up their deceased mum’s wedding dress to create her own gown before opting to wed exactly where Jane had hoped to have her (as yet unplanned) nuptials. To cap it all off, when Jane thinks she might have met a new nice guy, he’s actually a journalist writing a story about her. Yikes.

Bridget Jones's Diary: Bridget

Oh, Bridget. You can actually put Bridget Jones’s (Renée Zellweger) relationship woes to one side and she’s still pretty unlucky. She can’t cook a bowl of soup without it turning blue, her breakout moment on TV results in her bottom zooming towards the camera, she goes on holiday and gets thrown in a Thai jail… need I go on?

Titanic: Cal Hockley

There’s not a lot of sympathy slung Cal Hockley’s (Billy Zane) way during Titanic. But he’s a man very much down on his luck. His wife-to-be is having an affair right in front of his eyes and plans to run off with her new man the minute the ship docks. He's on a ship that's sinking and when the rescue ship does eventually dock, said wife-to-be has also got his huge diamond necklace hidden in her pocket.

Downton Abbey: Matthew Crawley

It’s hard to talk about Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) without adding ‘poor’ in front of his name. He was injured in the war and lost the ability to walk. His wife-to-be then died of Spanish flu. And just when things finally seemed to be on track – he was married to Mary with a baby on the way – he died in a car crash.


Avoid those black cats today, yeah?


Sponsored content