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.

  • 407 ReRanks
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  1. 1
    + 3225
    - 2514

    The Simpsons

    ) open
  2. 2
    + 2003
    - 2133

    most listed
    The Simpsons

    ) open
  3. 3
    + 1950
    - 1941

    Family Guy

    ) open
  4. 4
    + 837
    - 1456

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Family Guy

    ) open
  5. 5
    + 1448
    - 1965

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

    ) open
  6. 6
    + 2348
    - 1762

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

    ) open
  7. 7
    + 3205
    - 1811

    ranked low on reranks
    Game of Thrones

    ) open
  8. 8
    + 3132
    - 1907

    ranked low on reranks
    The Sopranos

    ) open
  9. 9
    + 2754
    - 2091
    ) open
  10. 10
    + 2883
    - 1780

    ranked low on reranks
    Buffy the Vampire Slayer

    ) open
  11. 11
    + 2114
    - 1583
    ) open
  12. 12
    + 3579
    - 3203

    Breaking Bad

    ) open
  13. 13
    + 2119
    - 1397

    The Big Bang Theory

    ) open
  14. 14
    + 1497
    - 1286

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

    ) open
  15. 15
    + 1398
    - 1090

    added by ShaneBird
    I Love Lucy

    ) open
  16. 16
    + 1582
    - 1337
    ) open
  17. 17
    + 1598
    - 1446

    Star Trek: The Original Series

    ) open
  18. 18
    + 2072
    - 1691

    South Park

    ) open
  19. 19
    + 2141
    - 1431

    ranked low on reranks
    Friends

    ) open
  20. 20
    + 1673
    - 1384
    ) open
  21. 21
    + 666
    - 1107

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    South Park

    ) open
  22. 22
    + 2532
    - 1664

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

    ) open
  23. 23
    + 1924
    - 1630

    Married... With Children

    ) open
  24. 24
    + 984
    - 944

    added by Richard777
    Columbo

    ) open
  25. 25
    + 1643
    - 1173

    ranked low on reranks
    Friends

    ) open
  26. 26
    + 1492
    - 1648

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    All in the Family

    ) open
  27. 27
    + 1627
    - 1172

    ranked low on reranks
    The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

    ) open
  28. 28
    + 2034
    - 1891
    ) open
  29. 29
    + 1707
    - 1985

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

    ) open
  30. 30
    + 1380
    - 1223

    ranked low on reranks
    Friends

    ) open
  31. 31
    + 722
    - 808

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

    ) open
  32. 32
    + 1409
    - 1193

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

    ) open
  33. 33
    + 2057
    - 1936

    How I Met Your Mother

    ) open
  34. 34
    + 1120
    - 931

    Sherlock, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sherlock Holmes

    ) open
  35. 35
    + 1526
    - 1311

    The Office

    ) open
  36. 36
    + 729
    - 637

    Golden Girls

    ) open
  37. 37
    + 538
    - 509

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

    ) open
  38. 38
    + 1104
    - 1177

    Futurama, Futurama

    ) open
  39. 39
    + 1190
    - 1063

    Happy Days

    ) open
  40. 40
    + 1393
    - 1421

    Sam and Friends, The Muppet Movie, The Christmas Toy

    ) open
  41. 41
    + 1042
    - 1216
    ) open
  42. 42
    + 1176
    - 1330

    Game of Thrones

    ) open
  43. 43
    + 648
    - 751
    ) open
  44. 44
    + 885
    - 846

    Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy the Animated Series, Buffyverse

    ) open
  45. 45
    + 991
    - 1210

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    The Wire

    ) open
  46. 46
    + 753
    - 677

    Frasier, Cheers

    ) open
  47. 47
    + 1125
    - 1123

    The Big Bang Theory

    ) open
  48. 48
    + 911
    - 1012

    Supernatural The Animation, Supernatural, Supernatural

    ) open
  49. 49
    + 766
    - 891

    added by maniero
    Dallas

    ) open
  50. 50
    + 830
    - 864

    The Addams Family, Addams Family Values, The Addams Family

    ) open
661 +

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