The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

574k votes 28k voters 455k views 1,665 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.
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  • 485 ReRanks
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  1. 1
    + 4,761
    - 4,295


    The Simpsons

    ;
  2. 2
    + 2,816
    - 4,086

    most listed & ranked high on reranks
    The Simpsons

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  3. 3
    + 2,453
    - 3,657

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

    ;
  4. 4
    + 1,575
    - 3,421

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Family Guy

    ;
  5. 5
    + 3,856
    - 2,919

    ranked low on reranks
    Star Trek: The Original Series

    ;
  6. 6
    + 5,195
    - 2,957

    ranked low on reranks
    Game of Thrones

    ;
  7. 7
    + 3,022
    - 3,620

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Family Guy

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  8. 8
    + 4,384
    - 2,923


    The Sopranos

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  9. 9
    + 4,298
    - 3,128


    House

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  10. 10
    + 5,381
    - 4,902

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Breaking Bad

    ;
  11. 11
    + 4,517
    - 2,732

    ranked low on reranks
    Buffy the Vampire Slayer

    ;
  12. 12
    + 3,722
    - 2,443


    The Big Bang Theory

    ;
  13. 13
    + 3,239
    - 2,424


    Seinfeld

    ;
  14. 14
    + 2,471
    - 2,192

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

    ;
  15. 15
    + 2,556
    - 2,136


    Star Trek: The Original Series

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  16. 16
    + 2,418
    - 1,760

    added by ShaneBird
    I Love Lucy

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  17. 17
    + 3,537
    - 2,246

    ranked low on reranks
    Friends

    ;
  18. 18
    + 2,444
    - 2,049


    M*A*S*H

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  19. 19
    + 2,898
    - 1,932

    ranked low on reranks
    Friends

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  20. 20
    + 3,044
    - 2,525


    South Park

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  21. 21
    + 2,601
    - 2,190


    Seinfeld

    ;
  22. 22
    + 2,820
    - 2,321


    Married... With Children

    ;
  23. 23
    + 1,651
    - 1,607

    added by Richard777
    Columbo

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  24. 24
    + 1,131
    - 2,038

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    South Park

    ;
  25. 25
    + 1,458
    - 1,546

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

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  26. 26
    + 2,793
    - 2,649


    Seinfeld

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  27. 27
    + 2,336
    - 1,940

    ranked low on reranks
    Friends

    ;
  28. 28
    + 2,367
    - 2,869

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

    ;
  29. 29
    + 2,045
    - 2,369

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    All in the Family

    ;
  30. 30
    + 3,520
    - 2,431

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

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  31. 31
    + 2,152
    - 1,763


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

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  32. 32
    + 2,446
    - 1,872

    ranked low on reranks
    The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

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  33. 33
    + 2,971
    - 2,818


    How I Met Your Mother

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  34. 34
    + 1,797
    - 1,476


    Sherlock, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sherlock Holmes

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  35. 35
    + 2,299
    - 2,051


    The Office

    ;
  36. 36
    + 1,712
    - 1,659


    Happy Days

    ;
  37. 37
    + 1,599
    - 1,950


    Futurama, Futurama

    ;
  38. 38
    + 932
    - 1,120

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

    ;
  39. 39
    + 1,901
    - 2,124


    Sam and Friends, The Muppet Movie, The Christmas Toy

    ;
  40. 40
    + 1,534
    - 1,934


    Seinfeld

    ;
  41. 41
    + 1,639
    - 1,670

    ranked low on reranks
    The Walking Dead

    ;
  42. 42
    + 1,808
    - 2,134


    Game of Thrones

    ;
  43. 43
    + 1,200
    - 1,269


    Golden Girls

    ;
  44. 44
    + 1,644
    - 2,374

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

    ;
  45. 45
    + 1,297
    - 1,351


    Frasier, Cheers

    ;
  46. 46
    + 1,625
    - 2,147


    Breaking Bad

    ;
  47. 47
    + 1,589
    - 1,789


    Game of Thrones

    ;
  48. 48
    + 1,479
    - 1,750


    Supernatural The Animation, Supernatural, Supernatural

    ;
  49. 49
    + 783
    - 617

    ranked low on reranks & added by DanielLahaie
    The Walking Dead

    ;
  50. 50
    + 1,060
    - 1,434

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Cheers

    ;
1666 +

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