Entertainment

11 Long-Standing Character Feuds that Captured TV Audiences

There’s a difference between “feud” and “archrivalry.” Most viewers understand that there is generally an antagonist and a protagonist, even if the lines of morality are often blurry.

We aren’t talking about an ongoing argument, either. This isn’t a list of significant others arguing over whose turn it is to take out the garbage or wash the dishes.

No, these character feuds tend to be dynamic, historical (at least in the minds of many viewers), and ongoing, drawing the audience in with the acrimony between the two.

The Final Battle - The Expanse
(SyFy)

Instead of an argument, it’s a struggle that weaves itself into the story, sometimes even becoming the story (or, at least, the only part of the story the audience becomes heavily invested in).

Related: TV’s Best, Most Passionate (Fictional) On-Screen Breakdowns

If you’ve ever seen 12 Angry Men (and you should definitely check it out for the genius of the dialogue alone), then you know the value of pitting personalities against one another, even if the only actions are words.

Ser Gawain - HotD S02E04 - A Dance of Dragons - House of the DragonSer Gawain - HotD S02E04 - A Dance of Dragons - House of the Dragon
(Theo Whiteman/HBO)

That said, here is a nifty list of fantastic and long-term character feuds that did much for their respective shows. And no, this won’t be a carbon copy of similar lists you’ve probably stumbled upon across the web.

Beth Dutton vs. Jamie Dutton – Yellowstone

There’s nothing quite like a sibling rivalry unless you’re up against the likes of Beth Dutton, one of TV’s fiercest, take-no-prisoners characters. Unlike her reputation, however, this rivalry draws out Beth’s emotional core, which is far less antagonistic than she projects.

It makes her one of the more complex characters in Yellowstone. Her background is one of betrayal at the hands of her own brother, Jamie. It’s easy to fling around the word “betrayal,” though Jamie was young and made a stupid decision on her behalf.

It resulted in a lifetime of animosity between the two. On the one hand, Jamie is beholden to political ambitions, while Beth is perfectly positioned to undermine them.

Cooking Up a Plan - Yellowstone Season 1 Episode 7Cooking Up a Plan - Yellowstone Season 1 Episode 7
(Emerson Miller / Paramount)

The result is one of the most interesting family dynamics on TV in a long time.

Daredevil vs. The Punisher – Daredevil

It’s fascinating how often Netflix’s Daredevil series is shunted to the side, deep within the shadow of Disney’s acquisition of everything Marvel.

To the undiscerning viewer, with little information on Marvel’s colossal comic character lineup, Daredevil and Punisher are supposed to both be protagonists — the good guys in an unremitting battle against evil.

Related: Daredevil Born Again: Everything We Know So Far About the Superhero Revival

Daredevil season 2 proved the opposite, as the comics so often do. Daredevil’s enemies quickly became a matter of background significance when The Punisher and Daredevil physically crossed paths for the first time.

Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock - DaredevilCharlie Cox as Matt Murdock - Daredevil
(Netflix)

Both heroes exchange more than just physical blows in an epic fight across the rooftops.

The dialogue throughout the fight is essential to each character, laying the groundwork for their motivations and irreconcilable differences, which play out for the rest of the season.

Fox Mulder vs. Alex Krycek – The X-Files

It’s hard not to imagine a world where the only opposition to Mulder’s search for the truth is none other than the Smoking Man (aptly named for his chain-smoking habit).

However, The X-Files doesn’t always play black and white with its characters’ moral inclinations. Alex Krycek is a much more fascinating opponent to Mulder’s endeavors, partly because his goals shift as his character arc plays out.

Cracking A Case - The X-FilesCracking A Case - The X-Files
(Fox)

Krycek starts out as Mulder’s partner, ostensibly to spy on him in Scully’s place. Things head south quickly, and he becomes a primary antagonist. If that were the end of it, Krycek would have become nothing more than an X-File monster of the week.

Later, as events continue to impact him viciously and subtly, Krycek waffles, seemingly unable to commit to one side or the other. Ultimately, his rivalry with Mulder leads him down a semi-redemption path.

Related: The Witcher Season 4: Everything We Know So Far

Though the Smoking Man will always be the Darth Vader of the X-Files universe, Mulder clashed with Krycek far more often, ultimately coming to terms with who Krycek was.

Uhtred Ragnarson vs. King Alfred – The Last Kingdom

Nothing is more exciting than two opposing forces that work for the same team. Such a pairing is often difficult to write, though The Last Kingdom is a lasting example of what can be done with two such characters.

King Alfred - The Last KingdomKing Alfred - The Last Kingdom
(Netflix (Screenshot))

King Alfred is portrayed as a highly capable strategic and tactical monarch who is fiercely religious in the Catholic faith. Uhtred, on the other hand, worships the gods of the Vikings, though he finds himself in King Alfred’s service.

King Alfred and Uhtred revolve around this antagonistic religious nucleus, clashing repeatedly. Uhtred still serves Alfred’s ends while retaining some of his own ambitions and goals.

The juxtaposition between the two is a fascinating story all by itself. They both hate and respect one another, often coming close to killing each other outright.

No matter what anyone thinks of The Last Kingdom, the dynamic of Uhtred and King Alfred is easily the series’ highlight.

Jim Holden vs. Marco Inaros – The Expanse

The Expanse Season 4 PosterThe Expanse Season 4 Poster
(Amazon)

No matter how much history is behind us, one thing will always remain a certainty: Two men obsessed with one woman will almost always descend into a pit of unrelenting stupidity.

On The Expanse, both Marco and Jim are capable commanders of their own vessels. However, Marco simply cannot resist going after Holden, regardless of the danger at hand or the unforeseen forces arrayed before him.

Related: House of the Dragon Renewed For Third Season On HBO

In response, Holden reacts emotionally, allowing Marco to live to save Naomi’s son. Regardless of what you may think of acts of nobility, they often come at a cost.

Needless to say, countless lives were lost due to Holden’s decision and countless more due to Marco’s obsessions.

The best part of Marco and Holden’s rivalry is how it reveals Naomi’s growth. Holden isn’t perfect, but he’s far from the Marco character she confided in as a young woman.

Naomi Nagata, Trapped  - The ExpanseNaomi Nagata, Trapped  - The Expanse
(Amazon Studios)

Ultimately, Naomi’s engineering mastery and relationship with Holden drive Marcus into her trap, ending the confrontation between Holden and Marco for good.

Rhaenyra vs. Queen Alicent – House of the Dragon

In a show that’s all about politics, power plays, and war, there are bound to be numerous feuds between and among favorite characters.

During King Visery’s reign on House of the Dragon, he announced that his daughter, Rhaenyra, would succeed him on the throne because he lacked a male heir.

Of course, nothing is ever that simple, and when he passes, his desire for succession doesn’t go as planned. Within unraveling the entire plot, Queen Alicent and Rhaenyra become opposing forces, the former thanks to her son, Aegon II, taking the throne upon the death of Viserys.

The Most Regal Queen - HOTD S02E03 - House of the DragonThe Most Regal Queen - HOTD S02E03 - House of the Dragon
(Theo Whiteman/HBO)

What makes the feud so dynamic is both women’s reluctance to go to war with each other, not to mention the atrocities that naturally occur during such times.

The rivalry between these two elevates the otherwise remarkable ensemble to a new level, with bitter brothers, sons, wives, daughters, fathers, and mothers at war with each other.

Related: 13 Deeply Flawed Characters We Can’t Get Out of Our Heads

Rust Cole vs Marty Hart – True Detective Season 1

One of the more unique aspects of True Detective Season 1 is the dynamic between the season’s two main detectives. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more polarizing pairing anywhere on television.

Rust is a dark, broody, poetic cynic, while Marty is a more optimistic prototypical protagonist with a solid professional resume and reputation and a darker family history.

Rust Cohle Looking Frustrated - True DetectiveRust Cohle Looking Frustrated - True Detective
(HBO (Trailer Screenshot))

Such a pairing is not easy to pull off, yet the interlacing storyline between these two characters is endlessly fascinating.

Mysterious and shocking storyline aside, Rust and Marty could probably star in a series about lavatory cleaning and make it somehow intriguing.

They constantly rub each other the wrong way, even separating for years before coming back to solve the case that drove both of them in opposite directions.

Catherine the Great vs. Peter II – The Great

Like House of the Dragon, the feud between Peter and Catherine is over the monarchical rule of Russia. Unlike House of the Dragon, The Great is a study in farcical, grotesque humor of the crudest sort.

Catherine in The Great Season 1 FinaleCatherine in The Great Season 1 Finale
(Andrea Pirrello/Hulu)

Catherine and Peter rarely see eye to eye, but the series pulled an interesting cat out of the hat when Catherine fell in love with her arch-nemesis.

Sure, other enemies are creeping around in the wings, but the ups and downs between what would become one of Russia’s most prolific women rulers and her bumbling, savage, and lewd husband drive the series forward almost entirely on its own.

Related: Nine Mysteries We Should Have Been Able To Solve

Jeremy Clarkson vs. Charlie – Clarkson’s Farm

On its surface, Clarkson’s Farm is a reality comedy about a man who has no idea how to run a farm, running a farm. Clarkson is the primary personality, and Charlie is his Land Agent.

The thing is, Charlie is not Clarkson’s enemy in any way, shape, or form. However, that’s where a part of the show’s brilliance shines through.

Jeremy Clarkson - Clarkson's FarmJeremy Clarkson - Clarkson's Farm
(Credit: Amazon MGM Studios)

When serving as Land Agent, Charlie simultaneously represents the guiding force in Clarkson’s farming decisions and the bureaucracy seemingly arrayed against the agricultural industry.

Someone, somewhere, once said, “If you want to see how the government works, go to the DMV. It’s like living at the DMV for farmers, but only on a more massive scale.

Despite being a friend to Clarkson, Charlie is the stand-in for the massive, bloated, bureaucratic red tape farmers must navigate.

Cersei vs. Tyrion –  Game of Thrones

To be brutally honest, Cersei Lannister is known for hating everyone and everything other than herself. However, Tyrion Lannister is the target of her deepest, most vile hatred.

Deep Blue Eyes - Game of ThronesDeep Blue Eyes - Game of Thrones
(HBO (Screenshot))

In fact, her hatred is so deep that Cersei fails to recognize Tyrion’s usefulness and capabilities, ultimately pushing him away and turning her own brother into one of her staunchest enemies.

This hatred is compounded when she believes that Tyrion is responsible for her son’s murder (King Joffrey Baratheon). Cersei is the enemy we love to hate, while Tyrion is the protagonist underdog we love to pull for.

Related: Fixated Females: 17 Duos Who Obsess Over Each Other

Like House of the Dragon (which serves as the prequel to Game of Thrones), the antagonism of two powerful characters becomes part of the foundations of war, turning family against family.

Walter White vs Gustavo Fring – Breaking Bad

Giancarlo Esposito is just one of those actors who really sells their role. Gustavo is clearly Walter’s intellectual equal and more than a capable opponent.

Walter White - Breaking BadWalter White - Breaking Bad
(Credit: AMC)

Their relationship starts out with a degree of hesitancy, especially on Gus’s part, but rapidly devolves into outright hostility.

In truth, there really is no good guy here, so it’s nice to see a full-blown feud between two bad guys play out in the long-term format of a TV series rather than a short, two-hour movie.

On Breaking Bad, Walter and Gus represent the damage two intellectual combatants can do to others around them and within each other’s circles.

Do you have a character feud in mind that captured your attention? Let us know in the comments!

Source

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button