10 Of The Most Effed Up Parent/Child Relationships On TV Shows

Sometimes we watch a TV show and can’t help but think, “…Wow, what if my relationship with my parents was that effed up.” I’m pretty sure that my first experience with that was watching Helga’s relationship with her parents in Hey Arnold, and since then it has been hard not to identify a dysfunctional parent/child relationship on TV.

Some parents are abusive and some kids want to rebel against their parents’ suffocating, over-protective nature. Either way, it makes for some really messed up episodes that we can’t help but find super memorable. Check out these 10 awful parent/child relationships and see if we included one that stands out for you.

Helga And Her Parents On Hey Arnold

Oh, Helga. This was probably my earliest exposure to a dysfunctional family dynamic on TV in which I actually understood as a little kid that something was just wrong. Her parents dote on her perfect, older sister, Olga, and largely neglect Helga's wants and needs. Her mom is heavily implied to be an alcoholic and her dad is an overbearing pain in the ass. No wonder Helga is so angry all the time!

Source: Hey Arnold/Nickelodeon

Every Parent On Gossip Girl

Poisoning wives, faking deaths, coke binges...yeah, all of the parents on Gossip Girl had some pretty messed up relationships with their kids. And how couldn't they, with all of that going on, on top of the kids' wacky shenanigans? I'm tired just thinking about it.

Source: Gossip Girl/CW

Ellie And Her Mom On Degrassi

I know, I could have picked Manny and her parents or Craig and his awful, abusive dad. But there's something about Ellie's rocky relationship with her mom that is really distressing as well. Her mother was an alcoholic who almost burned the house down and could have died. I can imagine being Ellie in her situation, especially with her dad in the Army. Rough

Source: Degrassi/Teen Nick

Jesse And His Parents On Breaking Bad

Jesse definitely had his problems, and his parents were sympathetic...to a point. You know that things get really tough when you are pretty much straight up disowned from your parents.

Source: Breaking Bad/AMC

Meg And Her Parents On Family Guy

I sort of hate this show but there's something about Meg's awful relationship with her parents in particular that I find pretty unfunny. I get that everybody hating Meg is a big shtick on the show, but it gets so exhausting.

Source: Family Guy/Fox

Kim And Her Mom On Freaks And Geeks

No wonder Kim didn't want anybody hanging out at her place. Her family was a mess, especially her mom who seems to find nothing better to do that criticize and berate her daughter.

Source: Freaks And Geeks/Fox

Timmy Turner And His Parents On Fairly Odd Parents

Okay, I love The Fairly Odd Parents and the parents crack me up...but their relationship with Timmy sorta sucks. Yeah, they love him and all but they are so neglectful!

Source: The Fairly Odd Parents/Nickelodeon

Marissa And Her Mom On The OC

Wow, where to begin with these two? Marissa has her fair share of problems, but you can guarentee that an already turbulent mother/daughter relationship is going to end badly when the mom starts sleeping with the daughter's ex...which is exactly what happened on The OC.

Source: The OC/Fox

Nathan And Lucas' Father On One Tree Hill

Abusive? Check. Emotionally manipulative? Check. Overall a-hole? Big ol' check. With a dad like that it's no surprise that the relationship is so strained.

Source: One Tree Hill/CW

A Bunch Of Parents And Their Kids On Skins

Wow, where do I even begin with the dysfunctional parent/child relationships on Skins. There was Sid and his parents...Cassie and her parents...Effy and her's. Oh, and there was Cook and his parents, and Freddie and his dad...and Nick/Matty and their ridiculous father...Alo and his parents...Grace and her dad. Everybody had whack relationships with their parents on this show, wow.

Source: Skins/E4


Which relationships didn’t make it on the list? Do any of these relationships remind you of the one you have with your parents? Tell us in the comments!

10 Worst Dads of TV and Film

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  • Lauren Meagher

    What about Lex Luthor and his dad Lionel on smallville

  • Sophie

    You Forgot Logan and his Dad on Veronica Mars!

  • Lina

    Tyrion Lannister and his father in Game of Thrones…

  • Audrey

    For the Skins pic, isn’t that Peter Capaldi?

  • John Lennon

    Teen Mom is pretty rough.

  • brianna

    With skins it’s supposed to have dysfunctional families and what not, the show is basically showing young adults all the bad things that can go wrong for a person & what impact it has on people.

  • Anal

    Why is everyone here such a pussy?

  • Emily

    How about Jenna and her mom from Awkward?

  • Alex

    John Winchester from Supernatural

  • morgan

    um what about the lannisters on game of thrones there is insest between the brother and sister and they have a kid who is all f@#! in the head and wants to kill every body!

  • Anonymous

    It’s sadly like this only because children can Connect to these TV shows.

  • archer1985

    What about Danny Fenton/Phantom and his parents? I always felt bad for the poor kid having to deal with his parents constantly embarrassing him AND trying to destroy/capture him.

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  • Anne

    Umm how about Freddie and his mom on iCarly? What even

    • Ellen

      Oh my goodness there was so much dysfunction there. But also Sam and her mom, especially in the episode where her mom shows up.

    • Spunky

      I was thinking the same thing — his mom is VERY strange

  • Hailey

    What really sucks is that my dad thinks it’s hilarious to treat me just like Peter treats Meg on Family Guy. Some people may find it funny on a tv show, but trust me, it’s not when it’s real life.

  • Anne

    I definitely agree with you about Meg on Family Guy–I thought I was the only one who doesn’t find it funny!

    • Jessa

      I know! I feel bad for her sometimes, even though she is a cartoon…oh well.

    • Sydney

      I know!! I thought that too!

  • Aria

    Sam Merlotte’s parents from True Blood…

    • Eli

      And Tara and her mom

  • Beansprout

    Any of the biological parents on the show Shameless.

  • Lissa

    Brooke’s family on One Tree Hill was pretty messed up too. And then there was Peyton, who had two mums and they both died, besides that creepy brother of her… Weird.

  • Sierra

    Lionel and Lex Luthor probably have the weirdest family dynamic in television…

    • Lauren Meagher

      sorry just saw you comment as soon as I wrote mine