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
    + 3356
    - 2607

    The Simpsons

    ) open
  2. 2
    + 2070
    - 2238

    most listed
    The Simpsons

    ) open
  3. 3
    + 2017
    - 2053

    Family Guy

    ) open
  4. 4
    + 879
    - 1574

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Family Guy

    ) open
  5. 5
    + 1506
    - 2082

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

    ) open
  6. 6
    + 2454
    - 1828

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

    ) open
  7. 7
    + 3364
    - 1878

    ranked low on reranks
    Game of Thrones

    ) open
  8. 8
    + 3280
    - 1960

    ranked low on reranks
    The Sopranos

    ) open
  9. 9
    + 2883
    - 2149
    ) open
  10. 10
    + 3054
    - 1856

    ranked low on reranks
    Buffy the Vampire Slayer

    ) open
  11. 11
    + 2235
    - 1641
    ) open
  12. 12
    + 2287
    - 1460

    The Big Bang Theory

    ) open
  13. 13
    + 3720
    - 3377

    Breaking Bad

    ) open
  14. 14
    + 1508
    - 1129

    added by ShaneBird
    I Love Lucy

    ) open
  15. 15
    + 1572
    - 1397

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

    ) open
  16. 16
    + 1684
    - 1384
    ) open
  17. 17
    + 1681
    - 1507

    Star Trek: The Original Series

    ) open
  18. 18
    + 2154
    - 1767

    South Park

    ) open
  19. 19
    + 2280
    - 1503

    ranked low on reranks
    Friends

    ) open
  20. 20
    + 1777
    - 1442
    ) open
  21. 21
    + 2034
    - 1679

    Married... With Children

    ) open
  22. 22
    + 1767
    - 1234
    ) open
  23. 23
    + 2634
    - 1723

    added by PeteBoyle
    Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffyverse

    ) open
  24. 24
    + 697
    - 1204

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    South Park

    ) open
  25. 25
    + 1033
    - 1011

    added by Richard777
    Columbo

    ) open
  26. 26
    + 1561
    - 1702

    All in the Family

    ) open
  27. 27
    + 2107
    - 1958
    ) open
  28. 28
    + 1705
    - 1227

    ranked low on reranks
    The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

    ) open
  29. 29
    + 1488
    - 1263
    ) open
  30. 30
    + 1766
    - 2060

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

    ) open
  31. 31
    + 2133
    - 2009

    How I Met Your Mother

    ) open
  32. 32
    + 1474
    - 1234

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

    ) open
  33. 33
    + 766
    - 862

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

    ) open
  34. 34
    + 1585
    - 1357

    The Office

    ) open
  35. 35
    + 1176
    - 966

    Sherlock, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sherlock Holmes

    ) open
  36. 36
    + 782
    - 667

    Golden Girls

    ) open
  37. 37
    + 574
    - 542

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

    ) open
  38. 38
    + 1240
    - 1098

    Happy Days

    ) open
  39. 39
    + 1134
    - 1230

    Futurama, Futurama

    ) open
  40. 40
    + 1441
    - 1458

    Sam and Friends, The Muppet Movie, The Christmas Toy

    ) open
  41. 41
    + 1086
    - 1262
    ) open
  42. 42
    + 1235
    - 1368

    Game of Thrones

    ) open
  43. 43
    + 688
    - 782
    ) open
  44. 44
    + 935
    - 893

    Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy the Animated Series, Buffyverse

    ) open
  45. 45
    + 799
    - 711

    Frasier, Cheers

    ) open
  46. 46
    + 968
    - 1059

    Supernatural The Animation, Supernatural, Supernatural

    ) open
  47. 47
    + 1022
    - 1260

    The Wire

    ) open
  48. 48
    + 892
    - 897

    The Walking Dead

    ) open
  49. 49
    + 1178
    - 1165

    The Big Bang Theory

    ) open
  50. 50
    + 869
    - 892

    The Addams Family, Addams Family Values, The Addams Family

    ) open
671 +

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