The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

674k votes 32k voters 506k views 1,687 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
  • 507 ReRanks
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  1. 1
    + 5,165
    - 5,263


    The Simpsons

    ;
  2. 2
    + 3,071
    - 5,097

    most listed & ranked high on reranks
    The Simpsons

    ;
  3. 3
    + 2,946
    - 4,514

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

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  4. 4
    + 1,896
    - 4,392

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Family Guy

    ;
  5. 5
    + 3,574
    - 4,324

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Family Guy

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  6. 6
    + 4,518
    - 3,409

    ranked low on reranks
    Star Trek: The Original Series

    ;
  7. 7
    + 5,838
    - 3,374

    ranked low on reranks
    Game of Thrones

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  8. 8
    + 4,829
    - 3,535

    ranked low on reranks
    House

    ;
  9. 9
    + 6,070
    - 5,297

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Breaking Bad

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  10. 10
    + 4,736
    - 3,361


    The Sopranos

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  11. 11
    + 2,918
    - 2,497

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

    ;
  12. 12
    + 4,233
    - 2,875


    The Big Bang Theory

    ;
  13. 13
    + 4,942
    - 3,134

    ranked low on reranks
    Buffy the Vampire Slayer

    ;
  14. 14
    + 3,594
    - 2,788


    Seinfeld

    ;
  15. 15
    + 2,965
    - 2,415


    Star Trek: The Original Series

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  16. 16
    + 2,804
    - 2,017

    added by ShaneBird
    I Love Lucy

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  17. 17
    + 4,009
    - 2,616

    ranked low on reranks
    Friends

    ;
  18. 18
    + 2,738
    - 2,363


    M*A*S*H

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  19. 19
    + 3,305
    - 2,288

    ranked low on reranks
    Friends

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  20. 20
    + 3,363
    - 2,941


    South Park

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  21. 21
    + 2,914
    - 2,525


    Seinfeld

    ;
  22. 22
    + 1,769
    - 1,867

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

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  23. 23
    + 1,875
    - 1,920

    added by Richard777
    Columbo

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  24. 24
    + 3,076
    - 2,666


    Married... With Children

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  25. 25
    + 1,285
    - 2,470

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    South Park

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  26. 26
    + 2,689
    - 3,180

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

    ;
  27. 27
    + 2,325
    - 2,640

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    All in the Family

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  28. 28
    + 2,569
    - 1,975

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

    ;
  29. 29
    + 2,676
    - 2,274

    ranked low on reranks
    Friends

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  30. 30
    + 3,076
    - 2,996


    Seinfeld

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  31. 31
    + 2,733
    - 2,310


    The Office

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  32. 32
    + 2,168
    - 1,690


    Sherlock, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sherlock Holmes

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  33. 33
    + 3,341
    - 3,141

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    How I Met Your Mother

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  34. 34
    + 2,774
    - 2,129


    The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

    ;
  35. 35
    + 3,799
    - 2,755

    added by PeteBoyle
    Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffyverse

    ;
  36. 36
    + 1,995
    - 1,865


    Happy Days

    ;
  37. 37
    + 1,157
    - 1,324

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

    ;
  38. 38
    + 2,188
    - 2,348


    Sam and Friends, The Muppet Movie, The Christmas Toy

    ;
  39. 39
    + 2,031
    - 1,933


    The Walking Dead

    ;
  40. 40
    + 1,442
    - 1,471


    Golden Girls

    ;
  41. 41
    + 1,799
    - 2,230


    Futurama, Futurama

    ;
  42. 42
    + 2,071
    - 2,375


    Game of Thrones

    ;
  43. 43
    + 1,744
    - 2,185


    Seinfeld

    ;
  44. 44
    + 1,899
    - 2,597

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

    ;
  45. 45
    + 1,913
    - 2,388


    Breaking Bad

    ;
  46. 46
    + 1,781
    - 1,998


    Supernatural The Animation, Supernatural, Supernatural

    ;
  47. 47
    + 1,886
    - 2,036


    Game of Thrones

    ;
  48. 48
    + 1,522
    - 1,573


    Frasier, Cheers

    ;
  49. 49
    + 1,035
    - 844

    added by DanielLahaie
    The Walking Dead

    ;
  50. 50
    + 1,456
    - 1,612


    The Addams Family, Addams Family Values, The Addams Family

    ;
1688 +

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