The great advantage that TV has over film is that the audience is able to spend years and years getting to know the central characters, allowing viewers to forge deeper emotional connections with them. And it's not uncommon for TV series to introduce initially villainous or troubling characters who are, over the course of a show's run, eventually redeemed.
It's certainly satisfying when it works, with Stranger Things' Steve Harrington (Joe Keery) being perhaps the most notable major example in recent years. But make no mistake, a successful redemption arc is extremely tough to pull off.
The biggest hurdle is that it requires considerable effort and commitment to make viewers emotionally believe that a previously heinous character has changed their ways, and also that this change feels totally earned.
And so, inspired by this recent Reddit thread on the subject, we come to ten redeemed TV characters who just didn't deserve that redemption, whether because their history was just too damn sordid for its own good, or the writers categorically bungled their transition from villain to hero.
The lesson here? If you're gonna redeem a character who's spent most of their time being an awful human being, you can't half-ass it...
10. T-Bag - Prison Break
There's no denying that T-Bag (Robert Knepper) was one of Prison Break's most memorable characters, and Robert Knepper's performance in the role is so damn entertaining that the writers evidently felt they could redeem the guy.
But make no mistake, T-Bag isn't merely a violent criminal - he's a rapist who's also implied to be both a pedophile and necrophiliac, three characteristics which should probably put redemption out of reach.
And yet, in the show's fourth season T-Bag began to demonstrate remorse for his unforgiveable past and start shying away from violent acts.
Even though he remains in prison by the end of the show, there was a concerted effort to soften T-Bag as a character and make his brutal history something of a distant memory. Basically, the writers realised they wrote themselves into a corner by tethering such a charming character to such a nauseating rap sheet, and so stopped bringing it up.
Given the nature of his crimes, though, it simply wasn't possible to believe he deserved redemption, no matter how terrifically the part was acted.