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.

  • 401 ReRanks
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2rerank list
  1. 1
    + 3101
    - 2418


    The Simpsons

    ) open
  2. 2
    + 1935
    - 2028

    most listed
    The Simpsons

    ) open
  3. 3
    + 1858
    - 1858


    Family Guy

    ) open
  4. 4
    + 783
    - 1356

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Family Guy

    ) open
  5. 5
    + 1386
    - 1865

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

    ) open
  6. 6
    + 2257
    - 1697

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

    ) open
  7. 7
    + 3033
    - 1769

    ranked low on reranks
    Game of Thrones

    ) open
  8. 8
    + 3020
    - 1854

    ranked low on reranks
    The Sopranos

    ) open
  9. 9
    + 2636
    - 2039
    ) open
  10. 10
    + 2752
    - 1711

    ranked low on reranks
    Buffy the Vampire Slayer

    ) open
  11. 11
    + 2017
    - 1526


    Seinfeld

    ) open
  12. 12
    + 3442
    - 3065


    Breaking Bad

    ) open
  13. 13
    + 1995
    - 1333


    The Big Bang Theory

    ) open
  14. 14
    + 1429
    - 1204


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

    ) open
  15. 15
    + 1316
    - 1050

    added by ShaneBird
    I Love Lucy

    ) open
  16. 16
    + 1516
    - 1290
    ) open
  17. 17
    + 1996
    - 1631


    South Park

    ) open
  18. 18
    + 1535
    - 1390


    Star Trek: The Original Series

    ) open
  19. 19
    + 2024
    - 1373

    ranked low on reranks
    Friends

    ) open
  20. 20
    + 1595
    - 1327


    Seinfeld

    ) open
  21. 21
    + 626
    - 1042

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    South Park

    ) open
  22. 22
    + 1856
    - 1570


    Married... With Children

    ) open
  23. 23
    + 938
    - 884

    added by Richard777
    Columbo

    ) open
  24. 24
    + 2457
    - 1627

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

    ) open
  25. 25
    + 1457
    - 1591

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    All in the Family

    ) open
  26. 26
    + 1549
    - 1132

    ranked low on reranks
    Friends

    ) open
  27. 27
    + 1984
    - 1832
    ) open
  28. 28
    + 1669
    - 1923

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

    ) open
  29. 29
    + 1539
    - 1132

    ranked low on reranks
    The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

    ) open
  30. 30
    + 686
    - 766

    often listed & added by MangoStarkey
    Mr. Bean, Mr. Bean's Holiday, The London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony: ...

    ) open
  31. 31
    + 1991
    - 1880


    How I Met Your Mother

    ) open
  32. 32
    + 1300
    - 1190
    ) open
  33. 33
    + 1366
    - 1157


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

    ) open
  34. 34
    + 1482
    - 1273


    The Office

    ) open
  35. 35
    + 1065
    - 914


    Sherlock, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sherlock Holmes

    ) open
  36. 36
    + 698
    - 612


    Golden Girls

    ) open
  37. 37
    + 1072
    - 1146


    Futurama

    ) open
  38. 38
    + 505
    - 486

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

    ) open
  39. 39
    + 1160
    - 1037


    Happy Days

    ) open
  40. 40
    + 1355
    - 1390


    Sam and Friends, The Muppet Movie, The Christmas Toy

    ) open
  41. 41
    + 1008
    - 1190


    Seinfeld

    ) open
  42. 42
    + 1127
    - 1311


    Game of Thrones

    ) open
  43. 43
    + 621
    - 725


    Cheers

    ) open
  44. 44
    + 861
    - 816

    ranked low on reranks
    Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy the Animated Series, Buffyverse

    ) open
  45. 45
    + 967
    - 1182


    The Wire

    ) open
  46. 46
    + 723
    - 649

    ranked low on reranks
    Frasier, Cheers

    ) open
  47. 47
    + 801
    - 813


    The Walking Dead

    ) open
  48. 48
    + 881
    - 980


    Supernatural The Animation, Supernatural

    ) open
  49. 49
    + 804
    - 848


    The Addams Family, Addams Family Values, Addams Family Reunion

    ) open
  50. 50
    + 960
    - 1160


    The Cosby Show

    ) open
606 +

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