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  • Writer's pictureSusannah Powers Stengel

The Todd Man Out: Ranking My Top TV Todds


Spoilers for: Many Todd duck storylines.

Want to feel awkward?

Want to threaten your own masculinity?

Call a Todd.

If you name your kid Frodo or Adolf or Lilith or Moses, you probably know what you're getting into.

But what banal hells are borne unexpectedly unto those given the name Todd?

Dynamic doofuses one and all, televisual Todds display surreal similarities that fascinate me. What is it about the name Todd that so encapsulates the trope of the bumbling-man child?

Here's to the Todd in all of us--an inevitable lasso that seduces you back to your own need for failure and immature self-sabotage. Let's rank these lovable (mostly) losers and get at the parallels between these Todd bedfellows of the small screen.

#7. Breaking Bad's Todd

Season: 5

Played by: Jesse Plemons

What an insipidly pleasant psychopath. Todd shot Jesse's beloved in the head while Jesse watched trapped in a car from afar. Todd never stopped trying to impress his Uncle Jack. Todd never stopped chasing a feeling of importance that no amount of meth cooking perfectionism, no amount of strangled flirting with Lydia, and no amount of unchecked violence could ever offer. A satisfying villain because he's just some dude searching for success in all the wrong places, and all the empathy he should use for the common man--he offers only to himself, and to common criminals. Todd get your head out of your ass and stop being such a piece of shit, please.

#6. The Office's Todd

Seasons: 1-3, 6-9

Played by: David Koechner

Todd Packer is objectively, the worst. Sexual harasser par excellence, douchebag du jour without talent, consideration, empathy, self-awareness, listening skills, or social empathy. Fucking comic gold, and a delicious foil whereby to track the painstakingly slow evolution of the broken Todd-wannabe himself, Michael Scott. In loving to hate this dick of a pig of a Todd, the culture of The Office can band together in a central understanding of one basic Todd thought--EWwww.

#5. The Simpsons' Todd

Seasons: 1-31

Played by: Nancy Cartwright

Todd and Rod Flanders seem a packaged brotherly pair, but The Simpsons works to push them apart--distinguishing Todd in his smaller stature and in occasionally, in his far higher impressionability. He absorbs the Bible stories swirling around his repressive home as greedily as the curse words Homer lets loose in his nearby yard. A Todd is a high pitched sponge of a kid in this universe. And I want to want to see him in three dimensions--but I don't mind just the two. It suits him and his "Devil's Curly Hair."

#4. The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret's Todd

Seasons: 1, 2, 3

Played by: David Cross

My God. What a Todd. A bumbling, stumbling victim who sets traps for himself everywhere he walks. David Cross plays this American-in-England-corporate-stooge with abominable self-pity and awe-inspiring buffoonery. (Opposite his conniving and idiotic boss, a flawless Will Arnett.) Sent to England to sell and market Thunder Muscle, a putrid energy drink--this idiot has no clue what he's doing and embarrasses himself the most when he denies his own ignorance. A sneaky little treat of a tacitly compliant and totally useless Todd. And I love him.

#3. Scrubs' Todd

Seasons: 1-9

Played by: Robert Maschio

Dr. Todd. "The Todd." A pansexual high-fiving freak, seven days a week. Another example of a Todd-based harasser in the workplace, whose noxious toxic masculinity is somewhat dimmed by an ever-evolving wonder at his own sexuality--comfortably addressing polyamory, object fixation, and bisexuality in an otherwise highly sexually normative mainstream show. This Todd somehow captures the sacred essence of a Todd's power--to innocuously take over spaces that want nothing to do with him.

#2. The Magicians' Todd

Seasons: 1-5

Played by: Adam DiMarco

A comedic warm breeze in Syfy's powerhouse ensemble cast. An unsung hero of loose ends. A plot device. A foil for the radical, revolutionary power unchecked depicted by the upperclassman and primary cast swirling around him. A door mat. A scapegoat. A weird and wonky loser who is out there trying his best, and will never be accepted by those whose opinion he values the most. A party boy who will never be king. Oh Todd. You suck. Best tertiary character on a deliciously stuffed cast of badass talent.

#1. Bojack Horseman's Todd

Seasons: 1-6

Played by: Aaron Paul

This Todd is The Todd for me. A couch-loafing, ambling, restless stoner with no mooring point on his own path in life. Buoyed by some portion of affable charm but largely stalled by the inertia of his own avoidance. He makes bowls of cereal and butts of jokes. He can't get a job or a hold of himself. He ushers in a new era of fruitful self-awareness by finally channeling his Toddliness into a deeper understanding of his own need for very little--he comes out as asexual.

Largely (but not all) gone is the Todd who sucks his own soul out of his belly button to make other people happy without finding much pleasure in assessing himself. When a Todd can wrangle his own Todd-dom with a healthy dose of self-awareness, he can more fully enter the society he thought didn't want him.


Supernatural's Todd

Season: 4

Played by: Ryan Grantham

Doesn't rank amid the slew of schlemiels above, but definitely taps into the ineffable rage and comedy of being named Todd and thirsting for a power the world will attempt to deny you, for being a Todd.

The antithetical televisual Todd thesis: Zap a lightning rod to your inner Todd and don't hide from yourself.




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