Now that's an interesting discussion - because frustrating could be used to describe characters I hate, but it could also apply to characters I wanted to like more but didn't, or characters I still loved despite how difficult they were at letting me love them. So why not go for it this week?
These are, in no particular order, my Top Ten Most Frustrating Characters
1. Dobby from J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter novels.
I am currently re-reading Chamber of Secrets and good Lord do I hate this annoying little shit. He takes an absurdly long time to get to his point, he's crazy-annoying, and he's perpetually almost-murdering Harry in his bone-headed quest to save him.
And then he tries to play on your sympathy by saying he gets death threats "five times a day" - maybe the problem isn't them, Dobby. If you're the Taylor Swift of House Elves and every track on your album is about how your masters threatened to kill you because you were ironing your hands instead of the wizarding robes that actually needed to be ironed, maybe the problem is you. Constructive feedback, Dobby - learn how to take it! Then maybe John Meyer won't make you hit yourself with a lamp.
2. Bee Hassi Barahal from Kate Elliot's Cold Magic.
This is the Kate Elliott book that I almost put down after 100 pages. There are a lot of things that annoyed me about this book - the infodumping, the As You Know Bob Dialogue - but most especially the heroine's BFF Bee, who is the human embodiment of Nails on a Chalkboard. And to top it all off, she's a Plot Device character, so she'll likely be in future books, too. An insufferably unrealistic cartoon of a woman, she's basically used as an Emotional Yardstick - always present with FIERY RAGE or FLOODS OF TEARS or UPPITY INDEPENDENT WOMANHOOD to easily telegraph to the dimwitted reader how they are "supposed" to feel. I sincerely hope in the next book she's quickly dropped down a well so that we can focus on the characters who act like actual human beings.
3. Hannah Baker from Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why.
Yes, I know you committed suicide, Hannah Baker, and that's sad, but that doesn't erase the fact that you're a horrible human being who intentionally set out to psychologically scar a bunch of people for life for their petty emotional crimes against you. Sweet Fancy Cheeses, woman, you drew MAPS. You made a SCAVENGER HUNT. Couldn't you have applied that same energy and dedication to, I don't know, NOT KILLING YOURSELF?
Not to mention the fact that you kept the hero's nuts in a vice for three hours' worth of tapes even though he wasn't actually ON your horrifically vindictive list of people to torture. Yes I know your life was sad, but the minute you decided to intentionally blame people FOR YOUR OWN SUICIDE and then blackmail them from beyond the grave, you lost my sympathy. You're horrible and I hope you're burning in the Fictional Hell I read about in Sanctum for being a terrible Fictional Character.
4. Olympia from Laura Kinsale's Seize the Fire.
"Stupid is as stupid does," my dear, and what this Stupid does is almost get the hero violently murdered approximately 1,449,974 times in this 538-page novel by being a flamboyantly incompetent crybaby moron.
5. Hyacinth Bridgerton from Julia Quinn's It's In His Kiss.
Regency England's Best Argument for Birth Control, the last Bridgerton child proved that the eighth time really isn't the charm. After Lady Bridgerton produced seven fully-fledged romantic protagonists, there weren't really any character traits left in her heroic ovaries except for Rampant Narcissism and Contrived Over The Top Wackiness. The result is a screamingly annoying heroine whose brothers are fanatically eager to marry her off to the first hero stupid enough to confuse her outrageous craziness for "Charming Self-Confidence."
6. Malta from Robin Hobb's Liveship Traders Trilogy.
Okay, so Malta's frustrating because I love her by the end of the trilogy, I do, but she spends a great deal of the first two novels as the most evil little brat in existence. Stealing money, lying, manipulating others to gain more attention for herself, and propositioning on her aunt's 25-year-old boyfriend - and she's only thirteen!
7. Margo Roth Spiegelman from John Green's Paper Towns.
Oh good, a selfish, entitled, pretentious manic pixie dream girl who runs off without any thought for consequences or the people she leaves behind. I'm so glad you emotionally bulldozed over so many people so you could teach us a valuable lesson about how People Are Not How They Seem. You're Holden Caulfield with boobs. GO AWAY.
8. Clayton Westmoreland from Judith McNaught's Whitney, My Love.
A walking cesspool of misogynist fail, this guy sexually assaults the heroine to punish her for insulting him, beats her with a riding crop to punish her for cheating at a horse race, and rapes her to punish her for cheating on him (which, surprise! She didn't do! Because he discovers she's a virgin mid-rape!). The frustration with this character comes from the fact that everyone in the book (and the thousands of readers who inexplicably loved this book) thinks he's such a misunderstood romantic charmer.
9. Ellysetta Baristani from C.L. Wilson's Tairen Soul series.
This just in: drop-dead gorgeous and magically powerful redhead who believes she's ugly, unloveable and worthless accidentally saves the world - while all the beautiful, confident, ambitious women in the book turn out to be conniving, promiscuous, shallow villains. Because apparently, real women aren't allowed to think they're worth more than human garbage unless a man tells them otherwise.
10. Burrich from Robin Hobb's Farseer Trilogy.
Oh, Burrich. You are another character I am frustrated with, and yet I love. LOVE. You are kind, and selfless, and a wonderful father-figure to the hero - and yet you are also a stuck-in-your ways bigot whose prejudice against Wit-magic emotionally cripples the hero and drives your own son away! Yes, you frustrate me, because Robin Hobb makes you a wonderful person and yet gives you this BIG GIANT FLAW that does not magically go away!