The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

644k votes 31k voters 497k views 1,684 items tags f p @

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.
Collection Photo:  AMC
  • 503 ReRanks
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  1. 1
    + 5,066
    - 5,013


    The Simpsons

    ;
  2. 2
    + 3,011
    - 4,829

    most listed & ranked high on reranks
    The Simpsons

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  3. 3
    + 2,839
    - 4,273

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

    ;
  4. 4
    + 1,790
    - 4,167

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Family Guy

    ;
  5. 5
    + 4,334
    - 3,251

    ranked low on reranks
    Star Trek: The Original Series

    ;
  6. 6
    + 3,440
    - 4,149

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Family Guy

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  7. 7
    + 5,670
    - 3,265

    ranked low on reranks
    Game of Thrones

    ;
  8. 8
    + 4,681
    - 3,425

    ranked low on reranks
    House

    ;
  9. 9
    + 5,877
    - 5,207

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Breaking Bad

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  10. 10
    + 4,627
    - 3,252

    ranked low on reranks
    The Sopranos

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  11. 11
    + 2,799
    - 2,423

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Baby Looney Tunes, Big House Bunny, Mutiny on the Bunny

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  12. 12
    + 4,098
    - 2,759


    The Big Bang Theory

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  13. 13
    + 4,823
    - 3,028

    ranked low on reranks
    Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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  14. 14
    + 3,497
    - 2,695


    Seinfeld

    ;
  15. 15
    + 2,851
    - 2,351


    Star Trek: The Original Series

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  16. 16
    + 2,703
    - 1,951

    added by ShaneBird
    I Love Lucy

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  17. 17
    + 3,893
    - 2,504

    ranked low on reranks
    Friends

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  18. 18
    + 2,672
    - 2,277


    M*A*S*H

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  19. 19
    + 3,196
    - 2,186

    ranked low on reranks
    Friends

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  20. 20
    + 2,827
    - 2,442


    Seinfeld

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  21. 21
    + 3,281
    - 2,835


    South Park

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  22. 22
    + 1,803
    - 1,849

    often listed & added by Richard777
    Columbo

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  23. 23
    + 1,678
    - 1,788

    added by MangoStarkey
    Mr. Bean, Mr. Bean, Mr. Bean's Holiday

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  24. 24
    + 3,001
    - 2,577


    Married... With Children

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  25. 25
    + 1,246
    - 2,350

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    South Park

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  26. 26
    + 2,601
    - 2,181

    ranked low on reranks
    Friends

    ;
  27. 27
    + 2,591
    - 3,114

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

    ;
  28. 28
    + 2,238
    - 2,570

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    All in the Family

    ;
  29. 29
    + 2,446
    - 1,924

    ranked low on reranks
    Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek Generations, Star Trek: ...

    ;
  30. 30
    + 2,994
    - 2,919

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Seinfeld

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  31. 31
    + 3,241
    - 3,059


    How I Met Your Mother

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  32. 32
    + 2,591
    - 2,251


    The Office

    ;
  33. 33
    + 3,727
    - 2,676

    added by PeteBoyle
    Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffyverse

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  34. 34
    + 2,025
    - 1,642


    Sherlock, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sherlock Holmes

    ;
  35. 35
    + 2,692
    - 2,057


    The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

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  36. 36
    + 1,905
    - 1,822


    Happy Days

    ;
  37. 37
    + 2,108
    - 2,293


    Sam and Friends, The Muppet Movie, The Christmas Toy

    ;
  38. 38
    + 1,093
    - 1,272

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

    ;
  39. 39
    + 1,951
    - 1,857


    The Walking Dead

    ;
  40. 40
    + 1,740
    - 2,164


    Futurama, Futurama

    ;
  41. 41
    + 1,361
    - 1,432


    Golden Girls

    ;
  42. 42
    + 2,011
    - 2,313


    Game of Thrones

    ;
  43. 43
    + 1,687
    - 2,122


    Seinfeld

    ;
  44. 44
    + 1,820
    - 2,549

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

    ;
  45. 45
    + 1,847
    - 2,337


    Breaking Bad

    ;
  46. 46
    + 1,812
    - 1,978


    Game of Thrones

    ;
  47. 47
    + 1,695
    - 1,939


    Supernatural The Animation, Supernatural, Supernatural

    ;
  48. 48
    + 1,456
    - 1,526

    ranked low on reranks
    Frasier, Cheers

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  49. 49
    + 1,949
    - 2,642

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Game of Thrones

    ;
  50. 50
    + 1,394
    - 1,578


    The Addams Family, Addams Family Values, The Addams Family

    ;
1685 +

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