The history of television has introduced audiences to countless incredible teachers who love their jobs and work hard to keep their students engaged. But for every genuinely inspiring fictional educator, there's been one that never should have stepped in front of the classroom. You'll be glad these 7 terrible TV teachers aren't real, because they definitely should not have been entrusted with the care of malleable young minds.
That doesn't mean some of these characters aren't complex and fascinating. Antiheroes come in all shapes and sizes, even teachers. While a few entries on this list wouldn't necessarily be ideal at passing on lessons, they're still intriguing to watch because of how complicated they are. However, the same can't be said for every bad TV teacher. Some of them are just inexcusably awful. They abuse their position of power and take advantage of their students. They act like bullies even though they're supposed to be responsible for taking care of the kids in their classes. It's a good thing they're stuck in the world of fiction, because no one would want to cross paths with them out in the real world.
So here are 7 of the worst teachers on television, from morally questionable to outright dreadful.
Mr. Schuester (Glee)
Mr. Schu was beloved by many of the kids on Glee, but that doesn't make up for all the shadiness he engaged in over the course of several seasons. He sang very inappropriate songs to his students! He blackmailed Finn into joining the glee club by planting weed in his locker! He staged an entire production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show with underage kids just to win over his love interest! The lines were seriously blurred with this guy.
Dee Reynolds (It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia)
Dee only had a short jaunt as a substitute teacher, but she sure made the most of it. She used her high school drama class to live out her own dreams as a failed actress, then subjected the kids to a homemade Lethal Weapon sequel (in a bar!) that featured extensive blackface. Luckily her tenure did not last long.
Annalise Keating (How To Get Away With Murder)
Viola Davis is a queen; there's no denying that. Her performance on How to Get Away with Murder is layered and compelling. But Annalise herself is not the best law professor around. She's unprofessional and manipulative with her students as well as her employees. Plus there are all those murders she helps cover up. I don't think that's in the teacher handbook.
Mr. Peterson (Dawson’s Creek)
Mr. Rooks (Veronica Mars)
Though Mr. Rooks seemed like a cool teacher at first on Veronica Mars (as well as being a particular favorite of the titular character), his more devious deeds soon came to light. He had an affair with a student and got her pregnant, then covered the whole thing up and pretended like it never happened. He was the definition of sleazy.
Tamara Jacobs (Dawson’s Creek)
There were no shortage of horrible teachers on Dawson's Creek, but the narrative equivocating about Tamara is especially frustrating. She had sex with Pacey when he was just 15 years old, but it was often treated as a positive romantic relationship for both characters. The fact that it was statutory rape was never treated with any real weight. The storyline ages badly, but it was never okay.
Walter White (Breaking Bad)
Walter White is one of the most famous fictional characters from the last few decades of television in part because of his series-long downward spiral. He started out as an unhappy chemistry teacher but became a meth kingpin, involving a former student in his numerous crimes as well. All that manipulation and murder definitely made him a seriously bad teacher.
As interesting as they can be, these terrible teachers really make you appreciate the good ones even more.