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 famous 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 top long-running TV show can provide.

Who is the greatest TV character ever? This list contains the names of 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 popular characters aren't represented, go ahead and re-rank the list to contribute to the discussion.

  • 412 ReRanks
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  1. 1
    + 3338
    - 2573

    The Simpsons

    ) open
  2. 2
    + 2060
    - 2204

    most listed
    The Simpsons

    ) open
  3. 3
    + 2005
    - 2022

    Family Guy

    ) open
  4. 4
    + 868
    - 1542

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Family Guy

    ) open
  5. 5
    + 1492
    - 2052

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Family Guy, Family Guy Universe

    ) open
  6. 6
    + 2428
    - 1810

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Star Trek: The Original Series

    ) open
  7. 7
    + 3339
    - 1858

    ranked low on reranks
    Game of Thrones

    ) open
  8. 8
    + 3255
    - 1945

    ranked low on reranks
    The Sopranos

    ) open
  9. 9
    + 2856
    - 2138
    ) open
  10. 10
    + 3018
    - 1841

    ranked low on reranks
    Buffy the Vampire Slayer

    ) open
  11. 11
    + 2213
    - 1627
    ) open
  12. 12
    + 2258
    - 1445

    The Big Bang Theory

    ) open
  13. 13
    + 3687
    - 3344

    Breaking Bad

    ) open
  14. 14
    + 1483
    - 1123

    added by ShaneBird
    I Love Lucy

    ) open
  15. 15
    + 1559
    - 1376

    Baby Looney Tunes, Big House Bunny, Mutiny on the Bunny

    ) open
  16. 16
    + 1661
    - 1378
    ) open
  17. 17
    + 1663
    - 1497

    Star Trek: The Original Series

    ) open
  18. 18
    + 2134
    - 1750

    South Park

    ) open
  19. 19
    + 2248
    - 1491

    ranked low on reranks
    Friends

    ) open
  20. 20
    + 1758
    - 1430
    ) open
  21. 21
    + 2011
    - 1668

    Married... With Children

    ) open
  22. 22
    + 2615
    - 1713

    added by PeteBoyle
    Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffyverse

    ) open
  23. 23
    + 1741
    - 1223
    ) open
  24. 24
    + 693
    - 1186

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    South Park

    ) open
  25. 25
    + 1017
    - 1002

    added by Richard777
    Columbo

    ) open
  26. 26
    + 1548
    - 1691

    All in the Family

    ) open
  27. 27
    + 2090
    - 1946
    ) open
  28. 28
    + 1691
    - 1216

    ranked low on reranks
    The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

    ) open
  29. 29
    + 1753
    - 2048

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Dexter, Dexter: Early Cuts, Dexter Universe

    ) open
  30. 30
    + 1468
    - 1256
    ) open
  31. 31
    + 2118
    - 1994

    How I Met Your Mother

    ) open
  32. 32
    + 1460
    - 1224

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

    ) open
  33. 33
    + 757
    - 850

    often listed & added by MangoStarkey
    Mr. Bean, Mr. Bean, Mr. Bean's Holiday

    ) open
  34. 34
    + 1577
    - 1346

    The Office

    ) open
  35. 35
    + 1164
    - 957

    Sherlock, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sherlock Holmes

    ) open
  36. 36
    + 771
    - 658

    Golden Girls

    ) open
  37. 37
    + 565
    - 534

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

    ) open
  38. 38
    + 1227
    - 1091

    Happy Days

    ) open
  39. 39
    + 1128
    - 1216

    Futurama, Futurama

    ) open
  40. 40
    + 1432
    - 1449

    Sam and Friends, The Muppet Movie, The Christmas Toy

    ) open
  41. 41
    + 1078
    - 1251
    ) open
  42. 42
    + 1224
    - 1358

    Game of Thrones

    ) open
  43. 43
    + 676
    - 775
    ) open
  44. 44
    + 917
    - 881

    Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy the Animated Series, Buffyverse

    ) open
  45. 45
    + 787
    - 702

    Frasier, Cheers

    ) open
  46. 46
    + 959
    - 1048

    Supernatural The Animation, Supernatural, Supernatural

    ) open
  47. 47
    + 1016
    - 1251

    The Wire

    ) open
  48. 48
    + 883
    - 884

    The Walking Dead

    ) open
  49. 49
    + 1168
    - 1154

    The Big Bang Theory

    ) open
  50. 50
    + 861
    - 886

    The Addams Family, Addams Family Values, The Addams Family

    ) open
669 +

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