The “Bad Fan” is a fan who reads a TV show’s purpose wrongly — and in some cases gets it entirely reversed. Often bad fans mistake problematic antiheroes for an admirable ones, or misread a critical take on a shallow world as celebratory.
For the Bad Fan, Tony Soprano is a tough and admirable protagonist, and Walter White is someone to be idolized. The consciousless law firm on The Good Wife is thought to be a fun and vibrant workplace. Sometimes the problem is less ideological, as with the people who watch Game of Thrones for the sex scenes but complain about the labyrinthine plot.
Emily Nussbaum originated the term when writing about the “Problem of the Bad Fan”:
A few weeks ago, during a discussion of “Breaking Bad” on Twitter (my part-time volunteer gig), we all started yakking about the phenomenon of “bad fans.” All shows have them. They’re the “Sopranos” buffs who wanted a show made up of nothing but whackings (and who posted eagerly about how they fast-forwarded past anything else). They’re the “Girls” watchers who were aesthetically outraged by Hannah having sex with Josh(ua). They’re the ones who get furious whenever anyone tries to harsh Don Draper’s mellow. If you create a TV show, you’re probably required to say something in response to these viewers along the lines of, “Well, you know, whatever anyone gets out of the show is fine! It’s not my place to say. I’m just glad people are watching.”
Luckily, I have not created a show. So I will say it: some fans are watching wrong. (Source)
Some people see All in the Family as having one of the original Bad Fan problems. See Bunker’s Backfire
For a literary example, see Sociopathic Whuffie