We all remember Michelle as the lovable baby of the extended Tanner family on Full House — I say “remember” because you probably haven’t seen an episode in nearly 20 years — but the funny thing about memory is that it has a tendency to embellish the past, often making people out to be more pleasant than they actually were. By the end of this article, you’ll have a hard time figuring out why you ever rooted for Michelle Tanner growing up or, God forbid, aspired to be like her. Not only was she easily the most devious, manipulative and downright thoughtless member of the Tanner clan, but oftentimes she reveled in it. She is, and always was, a big bully, and it’s about time someone called her on it.
Special note: I wanted to give huge props to my actual baby sister Amber for supplying me all the specific examples on this list needed to hammer the point home (she’s seen every episode of the series multiple times and still watches it in reruns to this day). You’re the true anti-Michelle Tanner behind this whole operation. Thanks, sis!
Michelle Tanner Was A Bratty, Self-Centered Bully
Since these examples will be in no particular order, why not start with the whopper that inspired this list in the first place? In the Season 7 episode “The Last Dance,” Uncle Jesse’s grandfather Papouli passes away while visiting the Tanner household. What you may not have realized at the time is that while this is a devastating blow to Jesse and the entire family, Michelle has no qualms making it all about herself, getting incredibly upset and throwing a tantrum because her grandpa was supposed to come show her class a Greek dance during “show and tell” the next day. Sure, she eventually hashes it out with her uncle, but it devolves very quickly into him making her feel better, even though the whole family has let Michelle know that Jesse was the one person they should try the most not to burden with their sadness. Just to reiterate, this is example number one of many.
Can’t Take a Joke…
The best way to be a fun, likable person is to maintain a good sense of humor about yourself, which everybody in the Tanner family (minus one) possesses in spades. When her older sister Stephanie films her family’s most embarrassing moments for a school project in the Season 7 episode “Wrong-Way Tanner,” buzzkill Michelle brings the room down once she realizes that the video contains footage of her scoring a goal in the wrong net during her most recent soccer game. So instead of the family being proud of Stephanie’s accomplishments, they spend the rest of the episode trying to stop Michelle from quitting the team and bringing the whole room down with her crybaby attitude.
…But Happy to Dish Them Out
Considering Full House lasted eight seasons, you’d think Michelle would have learned some lessons along the way about compassion, especially since she’s on the receiving end of it virtually every episode. But lo and behold, in the series finale “Michelle Rides Again,” as Stephanie is rehearsing Shakespeare with her latest crush, Michelle sees nothing wrong with not only telling the kid that Stephanie has a thing for him, but also that she can’t blame him for not wanting to kiss her dry, cactus lips. Stephanie is humiliated and tells Michelle she will never forgive her. Of course, once Michelle falls off a horse and loses her memory, her sister feels awful about the last thing she said to her. Michelle eventually gets her memory back but never really learns anything about that whole common decency thing most people aspire to possess. Nope, it’s pretty much just back to doing and saying whatever she wants and somehow turning it into everyone feeling sorry for her.
Fair Isn’t Fair…
In life, you eventually figure out how seniority works. But there’s a big difference between understanding it and adhering to it. Michelle “learns this lesson” the hard way in the Season 5 episode “Take My Sister, Please” after oldest sister D.J. demands her own room after getting fed up living with Stephanie. The whole thing should be an easy transition, but Michelle makes Stephanie feel so bad and unwanted in the process that it becomes the focal point of the episode, forcing D.J. and Stephanie to hash things out while not really making any added drama for Michelle. She still eventually moves in with Stephanie, but not until she does maximum damage first.
…Unless It’s Unfair In Her Favor
I honestly could have done an entire piece about how middle child Stephanie gets dumped on repeatedly throughout the entire run of “Full House,” but you would have just come to the same conclusion as this list. Michelle makes Stephanie’s life a living hell at every opportunity, and it’s no more evident than in the two-part Season 6 finale “The House Meets the Mouse.” In it, Michelle takes Stephanie’s turn to rub the magic lamp and becomes “princess for the day” of the whole park, leaving Stephanie understandably jealous and angry. Of course, the power goes to Michelle’s head in no time and her sisters wind up ditching her. Again, this story ends with Michelle eventually kinda-sorta doing the right thing by using her third wish to make Stephanie a princess, as well, but by the that point Stephanie had squandered much of her vacation pouting.
Michelle’s selfish ways know no bounds. Especially when she was young and cute, she’d use it to her full advantage. Take, for example, in the Season 4 episode “Fuller House” when Uncle Jesse decides to move in with his new bride Becky, who lives roughly 10 minutes away on foot. Michelle throws a fit (what else is new?) and winds up guilting Jesse and Becky into simply moving into the family’s attic, where they will eventually raise two children of their own for some reason. But hey, as long as Michelle’s happy.
The Season 5 episode “Happy Birthday, Babies (Part 1)” is vintage bratty Michelle. Her fifth birthday is coming up, and she’s milking it for all it’s worth. After basking in the attention for as long as she can, her dad, Danny, decides it’s time to close the book (literally) on her being the baby of the family, as her Aunt Becky is pregnant and due any day now. Danny tries to put one final photo of Michelle in her baby book, but she refuses and claims she is going to stay four years old forever. Once again, everyone in the family has to stop what they’re doing to convince her she’ll always be special because she’s Michelle. Not exactly the first word I’d use for her, but whatever.
Any time Michelle wasn’t busy making everyone feel sorry for her, you can bet she was formulating plans to get them to do whatever she wanted. That’s how selfish, manipulative people work, after all. The fact that the category of blackmail even made this list is frightening enough, but what’s even scarier is that there were at least two instances where Michelle used leverage against her older sister D.J. to gain the upper hand. One such scenario occurs in the Season 5 episode “Sisters in Crime” when D.J. tries to sneak out to go on a date at the movies, but is forced to take her sisters with her and sneak them in. Otherwise, they’ll rat her out. The other takes place in Season 7’s “Support Your Local Parents” after D.J. gets a speeding ticket. Michelle and Stephanie hold this information against her so they can borrow her clothes whenever they want. Sure, these were more tag team efforts than anything, but they paved the way for even worse behavior from Michelle down the road.
Turning Friends Against Each Other
The Season 7 episode “Be Your Own Best Friend” was practically Blackmail 2.0 for Michelle. Faced with the dilemma of having two best friends and being forced to pick just one for a school project, what do you think Michelle does? If you guessed, “have them fight over who she will choose by making them give her their favorite possessions to try and win her decision,” then congratulations.
Being a Complete Ass
“You Pet It, You Bought It” from Season 8 is a little out there, but it still gets the point across: Michelle thinks of no one but herself and is more than willing to inconvenience everyone around her if it’s ultimately what she wants to do. After earning more than $200 selling lemonade on a hot day, she does what any kid would do in the situation and buys a miniature donkey from a traveling petting zoo. Being Michelle and all, she doesn’t bother inquiring about a return policy, either, leaving the family stuck with the nuisance of a pet until they can give it away. Did I mention it collectively ruins every single person’s day (except for Michelle’s) along the way by destroying things they love? Because that’s sort of the worst part.
Yes, I know she’s literally the baby of the family for the first several seasons, but I’m talking about the kind of baby who loses out on the part of Yankee Doodle in a school play (a role both of her sisters played at her age) and tries to then quit altogether because a clearly better performer was chosen. That’s Michelle’s story in Season 6’s “The Play’s the Thing.” Since it’s her uncles Jesse and Joey running the show, this is obviously (and admittedly) a harsh blow. That these two grown men feel they have to not only apologize to Michelle, but convince her she should be proud of her friend and continue on with the show in a more fitting role shows just how wrapped around her finger she has these poor people.
…And Knows It
As I mentioned earlier, this spoiled rotten brat knows how to play her cards right. Not only that, but she’s also pretty good at showing off that, let’s face it, their dad seems to love her more than the other two. In the Season 4 episode “Crimes and Michelle’s Demeanor,” Danny is having a hard time punishing his “little princess.” Even though she’s instigating her older sisters into trouble, he continues to punish them for it because he believes Michelle is still too little to know better. It takes an entire episode of this nonsense for Danny to figure out that Michelle very clearly understands the difference between right and wrong and simply doesn’t care. She even says it right to his freaking face at one point! She might as well have spit at him.
The Girl Who Cried Wolf (But Learned Nothing)
Speaking of rubbing her sisters’ faces in her triumphs, the Season 4 episode “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” surprisingly only features Michelle in a side story, which is unfortunate considering when less eyes are on her she’s even more of a devious handful. Her plot line this time around involves telling people lies, then saying, “Ha ha, ha ha, ha, I fooled you.” Sounds about right. Her sister Stephanie, being a decent person and all, decides this is the perfect time to teach Michelle a “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”-esque lesson about not tricking people. This would be easily understood and accepted by most people. However, since Michelle tells a fib about her sister D.J. sneaking out of the house that winds up being true, Michelle figures it’s only right to boast to Stephanie that her weak Aesop’s Fables ain’t got nothing on her.
A Little Bit of Everything
What would a list like this be without at least one all-inclusive example of Michelle’s endless quest to be everyone’s number one concern at all times? In the Season 7 finale “A House Divided,” some snooty, rich British guy comes to the Tanner residence and offers to buy it for an absurd amount of money because it was his childhood home. Well, guess what, dude — this is Michelle’s childhood home now, and she’ll fight tooth and nail to convince her family that this matters so they won’t sell. Regardless of it being in everyone’s best interest besides Michelle’s, she’s more than crafty enough after all her years of manipulation and bullying to get everyone (including her friends) to help her succeed. Which she does, of course.
Family Doesn’t Matter
Last but not least, Michelle was the only Tanner member not to return to Netflix’s “Fuller House” earlier this year. Sure, it’s because actresses Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen were too busy being billionaire fashion moguls to be bothered with a corny reunion series, but the fact that they pretty much used that same excuse for the Michelle character and it fit perfectly into her personality says about all there is left to say about the worst role model children of the ’90s grew up admiring.
Then again, things would have been pretty boring without her: