The Greatest TV Characters of All Time Fictional Characters
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The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

List Criteria: Only fictional characters created for television programs

List of TV's most memorable characters, of all time, chosen by the Ranker community. What makes a character live on in the public's memory, even years after the original run of their respective TV programs? In some cases, it's the amount of depth that the show's writers, actors and other creators were able to bring to the character over the course of many years. For many of the greatest TV characters of all time, audiences feel like they get to know personalities like Dexter Morgan from "Dexter." Even after the show leaves the air, they may not want that relationship to end. (Thankfully, they don't have to, as many shows live on for years after their cancellation on DVD and in syndication.) The best TV characters are ones that you feel like you know and that you'd want to be friends with.

TV has brought many characters to life who have been extremely compelling, even if they are not entirely likeable. Viewers may not wish to know dangerous, shadowy figures like Tony Soprano, Vernon Schillinger and Omar Little in reality, but following their exploits safely from the comfort of your living room can be appealing. Likewise, people who might be aloof or downright unpleasant in real life - think "Mad Men's" Don Draper or Al Swearengen of "Deadwood" - can prove charming, even admirable, when seen at a distance, with the subtext and intricacy that a long-running TV show can provide.

Who is the greatest TV character ever? This list contains the greatest, most fascinating and most enduring fictional characters from TV of all time. Be sure to vote for your favorites, and if some of your favorite characters aren't represented, go ahead and re-rank the list to contribute to the discussion.
  • 142 ReRanks
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  1. 1
    Up 1780
    Down 1394

    most listed The Simpsons, Stand Up to Cancer, Do the Bartman

    open
  2. 2
    Up 1494
    Down 1197

    House, House Universe

    open
  3. 3
    Up 1869
    Down 1179

    The Sopranos

    open
  4. 4
    Up 1638
    Down 949

    ranked low on reranks Game of Thrones, A Song of Ice and Fire

    open
  5. 5
    Up 1300
    Down 904

    Star Trek: The Original Series, Star Trek: The Animated Series, Star Trek: ...

    open
  6. 6
    Up 1985
    Down 1546

    the people's #1 Breaking Bad

    open
  7. 7
    Up 646
    Down 401

    The Big Bang Theory

    open
  8. 8
    Up 1269
    Down 969

    Married... With Children

    open
  9. 9
    Up 1334
    Down 1127

    Seinfeld

    open
  10. 10
    Up 1027
    Down 951

    All in the Family

    open
  11. 11
    Up 1308
    Down 877

    Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffyverse

    open
  12. 12
    Up 1226
    Down 939

    Seinfeld

    open
  13. 13
    Up 1130
    Down 940

    The Simpsons, The Tracey Ullman Show, Do the Bartman

    open
  14. 14
    Up 1110
    Down 1103

    Dexter, Dexter: Early Cuts, Dexter Universe

    open
  15. 15
    Up 1252
    Down 1016

    How I Met Your Mother

    open
  16. 16
    Up 1006
    Down 854

    In Living Color, Star Trek: The Original Series, Star Trek: The Animated ...

    open
  17. 17
    Up 1261
    Down 1024

    South Park

    open
  18. 18
    Up 956
    Down 756

    MASH

    open
  19. 19
    Up 1056
    Down 835

    Family Guy, Family Guy Universe

    open
  20. 20
    Up 1126
    Down 791

    Friends

    open
  21. 21
    Up 1501
    Down 881

    ranked low on reranks & added by PeteBoyle Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffyverse

    open
  22. 22
    Up 834
    Down 932

    often listed & ranked high on reranks The X-Files, The X Files 2, The X-Files Universe

    open
  23. 23
    Up 595
    Down 461

    Sherlock, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sherlock Holmes

    open
  24. 24
    Up 672
    Down 533

    Friends

    open
  25. 25
    Up 661
    Down 773

    often listed & ranked high on reranks Game of Thrones

    open
  26. 26
    Up 897
    Down 794

    The Office

    open
  27. 27
    Up 770
    Down 606

    Happy Days

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  28. 28
    Up 749
    Down 404

    ranked low on reranks Baby Looney Tunes, Big House Bunny, Mutiny on the Bunny

    open
  29. 29
    Up 946
    Down 883

    Sam and Friends, The Muppet Movie, The Christmas Toy

    open
  30. 31
    Up 920
    Down 811

    Seinfeld

    open
  31. 32
    Up 797
    Down 537

    Friends

    open
  32. 34
    Up 495
    Down 584

    Monk, Monk Universe

    open
  33. 35
    Up 887
    Down 671

    Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek Generations, Star Trek: ...

    open
  34. 36
    Up 703
    Down 901

    often listed & ranked high on reranks Game of Thrones

    open
  35. 37
    Up 399
    Down 489

    Breaking Bad

    open
  36. 38
    Up 689
    Down 693

    The Cosby Show

    open
  37. 39
    Up 886
    Down 675

    ranked low on reranks The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

    open
  38. 40
    Up 788
    Down 762

    Family Guy, Family Guy Universe

    open
  39. 41
    Up 608
    Down 646

    Seinfeld

    open
  40. 42
    Up 158
    Down 83

    added by ShaneBird Lucy Ricardo I Love Lucy

    open
  41. 43
    Up 477
    Down 405

    The Addams Family, Addams Family Values, Addams Family Reunion

    open
  42. 44
    Up 460
    Down 541

    Supernatural The Animation, Supernatural

    open
  43. 45
    Up 458
    Down 474

    MacGyver

    open
  44. 46
    Up 329
    Down 242

    Golden Girls

    open
  45. 47
    Up 316
    Down 318

    Cheers

    open
  46. 48
    Up 122
    Down 96

    added by Johnny B The Andy Griffith Show, Return to Mayberry The Andy Griffith Show

    open
  47. 49
    Up 651
    Down 751

    The Wire

    open
  48. 50
    Up 773
    Down 808

    The Office

    open
  49. 51
    Up 744
    Down 975

    Lost

    open
  50. 52
    Up 329
    Down 436

    often listed 30 Rock

    open
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