The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly of Chuck Bartowski Part III

We have looked at the good and bad sides of Chuck Bartowski, but what about the ugly side? There are really two things that stand out and require some attention. His relationship with Hannah and giving up the Omen virus are examples of how ugly Chuck can be. He was a hero, who can out smart evil organizations and weapons dealers, but at times perceive to make  poor decisions that reflect how much of a buffoon Bartowski acted sometimes. The whole Hannah relationship was really bad timing and bothered a lot of fans more than the virus, and here is why


This is not an attack on Hannah. She would have been better suited  than Lou, but that is here nor there. Hannah did not know the history of Chuck, and his decision that he made prior to being on the very plane he was on.

This all started back in Prague, and a decision to say “I can’t” to Sarah, A lot of fans would complain that season three was terrible writing by the Powers That Be and some consider it the Misery Arc, but the Prague incident Kiss at praguereally was the final test that brought our favorite couple together at the time, but unfortunately Sarah losing her memories would be far worse than this

Chuck’s decision was an honorable one at the time, he did what Bryce taught him in the first two seasons, and that was \spies can’t be in relationships.

He started to believe the only way he could be with Sarah was by  entering her world, but Chuck never heard Sarah’s side of things. She never told him he had to be a spy nor was she given a chance to express herself. Chuck always cut her off before she could get a word in.

Chuck doesn't want to stay on as a spy
I don’t want to leave

Chuck never saw this expression when Sarah found out she would be working with Larkin again, and would be leaving in the morning.
All Chuck heard was she was leaving, and quickly considered her being at the wedding  for cover.

This is bot a cover for SarahChuck does not see the pain and agony in Sarah’s eyes as he walked away. The near tears Sarah Walker was not at Ellie’s Wedding as Agent Walker. He didn’t notice how hard it was for her to say that she was leaving. He didn’t take the soft touch and sigh when she touched his chest as a sign that she was struggling. Chuck was thinking selfishly. All he heard was Bryce was back and again the threat of her leaving was because of Bryce the spy.

Sarah Walker at this point in the story was ready to commit to Chuck. The way she locked on him on the beach. Her eyes fixated on him, showed she was in love. the very reason Bryce said “Your not coming with me are you.” Her love was stronger than protecting the country,

By not noticing all of this happening, Chuck felt it was important to download Intersect 2.0, and what ultimately lead him to tell Sarah he can’t run with her. The thing was no one told him he had to download it. All Bryce said was to destroy the computer. In fact, Bryce told him how the new Intersect was dangerous. Chuck decision to download the Intersect was his, and his alone.

We know what happened in Prague, if you haven’t watch Chuck vs the Pink Slip to understand the Prague Incident. I provided the scene.

After the incident, Sarah was hurt and angry with Chuck, She put her heart out there for him and he denied her. Something she never expected. She was caught off guard, which made it hurt even more. Chuck’s reason for doing this was for the greater good and because he loved her. Really Chuck, because you love her? Then why a month later you are with another woman.

His first solo mission was in Paris, and during his flight he met Hannah. They quickly bonded and had a nice chemistry going, but like with Sarah, Chuck did not notice Hannah was into him. He doesn’t even realize it when she showed up at the Buymore, and started working there.
Hannah was making her move, and Chuck like usual was oblivious. He doesn’t notice until Hannah kisses him in Chuck vs The Mask.Chuck and HannahWhen Hannah kissed Chuck, and Chuck was reciprocating, I screamed at my television because I knew Chuck was going to enjoy it, and all that he said in Prague would go up in flames, which it does.

Hannah and Chuck began dating, and again Sarah had to play second fiddle. My problem with this was if the reason Chuck said “I can’t” to Sarah because he wanted to become a real spy, what made Hannah change his mind This was the only storyline I had a problem with in season 3.
Hannah and Chuck relationship began to evolve more into a serious one. She met Ellie, slept at the apartment, and ate dinner there. Something that hit Sarah hard. She could handle him dating other women. Sarah has been through it enough, but where it struck her in the heart was watching Hannah at the very table and with the very family that she calls hers  my favorite sceneAt this point, Sarah was broken. We need to understand the significances of what the apartment, Chuck’s family and of course him mean to Sarah, and she is watching another woman at the table she ate at. The table where she wants to be. The driving force that leads her to comfy in Shaw. Really Chuck, you said “I can’t” because you wanted to help others, and you love Sarah. It does not seem like it from Sarah’s point of view.

The Apartment, Chuck’s Family and Chuck’s bed

The apartment represented a real home for Sarah, a place that was positive and warm. It was nothing like anything she knew in her life, and Chuck’s family provided that as well. She saw how Ellie and Devon interacted with Chuck and embraced it as well, “You are my home Chuck, you always have been.” it was a refreshing feeling from a life on the run and fake identities. Sarah seeing Hannah in her apartment was the first blow.two lovers where they should be

The second blow was finding out Hannah slept in her bed. After the Truth  Sarah enjoyed sharing the same bed with Chuck. She felt safe and secure with Chuck. Everything felt right for Sarah. Except now another woman laid in her bed. How does Sarah react to the news that another woman slept in her bed?

A woman that was reachingSarah finds out Chuck got laid her limit with how much she can take. Who can blame her? Chuck said, “I can’t” now he was sleeping with someone else. In her bed. Now for the final blow, and one that crushes Sarah. Something more sacred to Sarah than a bed and an apartment. The dinner table with Chuck’s family.  Hannah was sitting at the dinner table, and eating with Ellie, Devon and her Chuck. For Sarah, an agent that was fearless, uncompromising and most importantly not phased by anything. Showed an emotion we never saw from her. One that showed deflation.

She was alive when preparing Chuck’s dinner because she was in the apartment, but after hearing Chuck and Hannah’s voice, reality struck.
She was alive when preparing Chuck’s dinner because she was in the apartment, but after hearing Chuck and Hannah’s voice, reality struck.

She had to leave. Something she has not have to do in the three years she knew him, but in Prague Chuck said “I can’t” because he wanted to train, but now he was eating with another woman in her apartment, with her family, slept in his bed and most importantly was with her Chuck.

This scene was the driving force for Sarah hooking up with Shaw, She didn’t want to be with Shaw, she didn’t want to leave with Shaw, but Chuck broke her down, and the walls he knocked down made her vulnerable. There was really only one person she could comfy in and that was Daniel.

The Omen Virus

Over the course of five seasons, Chuck would do things that would be downright buffoonish. Things under different circumstances Chuck would not do. This is the same man that came up with plans to take down Shaw and lure Volkoff out of hiding. Yet, for a smart man, he would do things that would scratch your head.
The idea that giving the Omen Virus would spare his sister and Devon’s life was so idiotic that it was out of character, and going against his wife’s wishes of going out on his own. We have been critical of Sarah for not backing Chuck at times of trouble, but it was different now. She was his wife, and was by his side. However, the nerd in him reared its ugly head, and he takes off alone.

No intersect, no back up, and no Sarah. It was like the five years of spying taught him nothing. He arrived at the warehouse, and he gave the baddies the virus, who uploaded the virus. What did you think they were going to do Chuck? Everything they said they wouldn’t do on the phone end up happening. They attempted to torture him and he gave up where the virus was. He was in dire straits until the Calvary showed up.

Sarah had every right to be mad at him. What he did was stupid and irresponsible. The two scenes above show you the idiocy of Chuck Bartowski, which was truly an ugly side



  1. To be fair, Chuck and Sarah had made their peace before Hannah came into the picture. Even though Sarah had been hurt, she got what i thought, was a more than adequate explanation for things in Chuck vs The Three words. That whole episode showed that, in spite of Prague, Chuck did this for Sarah and because of Sarah. When she watched the video from the vault and teared up, I though she had started to understand, but she didn’t seem to. Perhaps the rest of it was not wanting to appear vulnerable anymore, but Sarah and Chuck did agree to be friends after Sarah made it pretty clear she wouldn’t reignite their relationship.

    Even though Chuck was officially a “spy” ( mainly due to the presence of the Intersect), he never thought things through logically, because his emotions always trumped the logic ….pathos over logos almost every time. At the same time ethos was always utmost in his mind…thou shalt not kill being uppermost. While this is frustrating to watch many times, it is what Sarah loves about Chuck … his ability to be a human, and not burying those emotions in a deep, dark place. Luckily, Sarah’s logos always trump her pathos ( and even her ethos quite often) and that makes for a pretty good symbiotic relationship for the two of them. As well, once Sarah has saved the day, Chuck’s intelligence usually solves the case or averts disaster, especially when he manages to set his emotions on the back burner.

    So, the ugly is really Chuck’s pathos ALWAYS trumping his logos, but, in essence, it is what we like about Chuck.

  2. Another interesting thing that you seemed to have missed is that when Sarah is showing these wonderful expressions, we, as viewers are seeing what Sarah is trying to convey, but it is not what Chuck sees. Multi-camera TV shows use the technique of showing the back of Chuck’s head if the two actors are face to face. If you see this type of scene, then you know that Chuck is seeing Sarah’s expressions. At the beach, Chuck was not looking at her when she was looking at him, and then turned to Bryce. After Sarah told Chuck she was leaving with Bryce in the morning, the expression that followed was not seen by Chuck ….he was walking the other way. So you should stop blaming Chuck for missing these signals, since, so often, he doesn’t even see them. Plus, add in the fact that men in general, and Chuck in particular, are lousy at reading body language !!
    Secondly, if Chuck had NOT downloaded the Intersect 2.0, they all would have died at the hands of the Ring. Sarah and Casey were handcuffed with no weapons, and Chuck had to save the day. Plus, remember what was going through his head in the voice overs when he was standing in front of the computer. It was Sarah’s voice telling him he could be anything he wanted to be, and that he WAS that guy. You say ( on Twitter ) that she meant he is that analyst guy, but C’mon !!! Every other viewer …AND CHUCK believed that Sarah was telling him he was that spy guy !!! So every move that Chuck did, from downloading the Intersect 2.0 to heading to the facility in Prague, was because of what Sarah urged him to do. The fact that she changed her mind in the opener of Season 3 was not Chuck’s fault……we’ll still blame it on the writers !

  3. Gary,

    Whether Chuck saw it or not is not the question because while I do support Sarah a lot, I do side with Chuck on many issues. like confronting Sarah about the kiss in hard salami.

    Whether Chuck does not see the emotions is one thing fine I can live with that, but he also didn’t see her expression when she was torn between going with Bryce or staying in Burbank, when push came to shove she stayed in burbank. When Chuck had the same situation in front of him Stay with Sarah or go with Jill. He left Burbank. While Bryce returned and Chuck went off in his jealous antics. Sarah told Bryce we should cool it with the andersons.

    Not to mention the deleted scene when she told Chuck that things with Bryce were over. Chuck needs everything spelled out for him in order to understand it. it doesn’t matter though because in the end they get married and that is the final destination we were all able to see. All I am trying to point out is while we praise him for the break up at the end of the truth to point out when he is wrong and vice a versa I didn’t like Sarah running off in Baby just like i though Chuck giving the Omen virus was very season one Chuck.

    As I said Chuck is not innocent in the problems that happened befor S3 E13

    • These are whole different events. Sarah insisted that their relationship was a cover for most of Season 2, and although they were getting closer, Chuck always wanted something real. Sarah never showed him any sign their “cover” relationship would ever go anywhere. So Chuck ends up back with his first love, who wants to rekindle a “real” relationship. Why wouldn’t he go for that ?? He hasn’t been with a girl in 5 years, and Sarah isn’t going to scratch any itches !! Plus, he wasn’t leaving for good…it was a weekend away with Jill.
      In the final episodes of Season 2, though, they have actually moved their relationship forward enough to engage in pillow talk…and finally realized that it could be more than a cover…they had their intimate moment. When Chuck asks Sarah to go away with him ( vacation…big deal…it was romantic), she shoots him down and says she’s leaving with Bryce. When they are dancing, he’s trying to be the good guy by not questioning her about her decision, and, of course (in his self defeating way) lets Sarah know that he can’t compete with Bryce …he’s not That guy. Because Sarah was interrupted by Orion before she could tell Chuck she was staying, Chuck never realized she chose him over Bryce until in the Intersect room.
      The deleted scenes were deleted for a reason…they didn’t move the series or story forward ( at least in the editor’s mind ). In season 3, Chuck was actually faced with 2 Kobayashi Maru …. running with Sarah in Prague or completing his training, and then the red test. Both of these were made impossible by Sarah …either he does the right thing and fulfill his potential, or he loses her. While Sarah would often test Chuck’s patience in the first 2 seasons due to her fear of intimacy, she really was just testing him in Season 3…. often it was her way, or the highway.

  4. S3 did way with the “lovable” traits that caused us all to fall in love with Chuck. By giving Chuck the 2.0 and making him a spy he became more like Bryce and less like Chuck. In fact Chuck as a regular spy was insanely boring. When he had to use his wits instead of the 2.0, he was special and heroic.

    In fact most of Chuck’s “lovable traits were given to Morgan. So much so that in later season the most heartwarming scenes were between Sarah & Morgan and not Chuck.

    • one of the things that stands out about Chuck was ability to be better then the spy. Whether it be Bryce or Shaw he was going to choose morality over duty. It often clashed with the agency and put Sarah in a tough spot. One thing is for sure I don’t like Buffoon Chuck/ I think Chuck who is quick on his feet and can command control of situations.

      Not giving the omen virus because his sister was in danger.

  5. What we were actually witnessing was the growth of Chuck… from a boy to a man, and from a unmotivated buffoon ( with a big heart) into a spy…with a big heart. The agreement here is that Chuck solving issues using his natural skill set rather than the Intersect is quite satisfying. Even Casey told him in Season 4 that he is the ” Second best spy” he knows…even without the intersect. He accomplished a lot on his own…from finding Orion ( sort of ), to saving Sarah in Season 3, to taking down Volkoff and even saving Sarah’s life at the end. He also defeated Shaw and the Omen virus with his own intellect…AND his fighting skills.

    The growth both ways is what made it a great show. 5 years of Chuck the buffoon would have been boring, but seeing Chuck mature into a real man, all the while growing into Sarah’s world, while Sarah also grew emotionally and into Chuck’s world was a wonderful study of the human condition.

    • Well said Gary,

      I can’t say it any better. even as a buffoon Chuck had good intentions. The fact that he had such a big heart makes him do things he feel is right. While some may question it. There no mistaken with his consistency to do the right thing. Even if it meant losing Sarah in the process.

  6. You should also read my comments on Hanna in the Shaw series. You keep writing about Chuck being wrong about dating Hanna because Sarah still loved him, but Sarah NEVER let Chuck know she still loved him. As a matter of fact, after Chuck told her he loved her, Sarah never acknowledged it and suggested that their relationship be friends only. Remember too, that this wasn’t a month after Prague…about 7 months had passed. Even though Chuck told Sarah he loved her, he did realize he screwed up pretty big time, and I think he understood why Sarah was probably never going to be his. So he moved on when Hanna pursued him. I really don’t see anything wrong with that after 7 months apart from any intimacy with Sarah. Sarah’s reaction with Shaw was expected, but not the intensity of her rebound reaction….that was over the top.

    • Gary,

      As I think about it, you are right Sarah never did acknowledge that she heard what he said in the vault. that would be a continuity issue no?

      I can’t argue with the point you made about Chuck, and to be honest sometimes when watching season 3 I get mad at both of them for making childish decisions instead of ironing things out and the more I think about it. The more its confirmed much like it would of been a mistake in having sex in Barstow. I think Prague would of also been a mistake.

      The common problem they faced whether it was not letting Sarah speak her mind after giving her his break up speeches or Sarah not telling Chuck she fell for a normal guy sooner.

      I also tend to think Sarah’s desire for intimacy made her make bad decisions in season 3. She didn’t belong with Shaw. She didn’t want to be with Shaw yet gave in to Shaw after watching Hannah eat at her home.

      Whatever the case may be I still feel that the writers never liked the idea that the romance was overshadowing the spy story. you have to admit though the Wt/WT was far better than when they were together.

  7. Chucks ugly side could be described as Chuck versus the mirror.

    His stupidity was born on the idea that he was a victim with a five year plan. He was protected throughout his life, so when a girl called Jill and a friend called Bryce do something against him – the story gives birth to an upstanding man with many great merits but flawed by his ability to disguise arrogance through self-obsession and pity.

    Don’t get me wrong. Chuck is a nice guy, very likeable and very friendly. But his strengths were his weaknesses and when he decided to fall foul of them. He was ugly.

    Only at one point in the entire series does he see himself as human; and that was because he stood alone – no sarah, no morgan, no parents and a sister he has been lying to. And that was the only point he decided to step outside of himself and start over (v The Beard). And we can see what effect that had on Sarah – she smiled for the first time in how long ?

    It was only when he locked Sarah in the Castle to save Shaw did he become greater than himself (v American Hero).

    His desire to escape his shackles led to Lou.
    His self-flagellation kept in tied to Jill who was clearly bad for him and for those around him (see morgan and ellie’s reaction, nevermind sarah)

    His self-obsession led him to Hannah.
    So in a way he turned her in to a casualty of war, not with with Sarah, but himself. Chuck spent most of the entire series fighting himself and this is something we should recognise.

    He would never listen to Sarah.
    He would always need to speak first. His conversation was always a closed statement rather than an open conversation; and as a result, he never got to hear Sarah.

    He would not react to Sarah. Her face would give him direction but he ignored it. He had to say what he wanted to say, almost as though he rehearsed his lines in his head like speech; and then he would leave and not allow for any reactions or responses.

    I could go on, but its his ‘moments of self doubt’ and ‘his moments of knowing’ that are the ugly side of Chuck. He is not a man capable of living in the extreme – he is a man who enjoys living in the grey areas of life and staying well away from the black and white.

    • Very true on all accounts.

      Its hard not to include Sarah into the mix. after all she is part of the Friends and Family theme of the show. Despite those flaws you mention we root for him because we all have been their in some capacity.

      Sarah and Casey were good role models just look at the difference between the conversations between Ellie and Devon and Morgan in Tango compare to the speech from Casey Sarah and Beckman. Operation Bartowski Sarah was the only voice Chuck would of said. He had no training or field experience, but Casey put it in perspective for us. It’s an Art Auction.

      As Paul said from the intersect Project, Chuck was the handlers of real life for Casey and Sarah., and visa versa.

      Chuck ugly side would often get in the way of succeeding missions, but its those emotions that were able to talk down karl or lure Volkoff out of hiding.

      Great stuff Wireplay

  8. Couldn’t have said it better myself. I’ve always hated how Chuck would talk and talk and talk, and never let Sarah get a word in.

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