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 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 long-running TV show can provide.

Who is the greatest TV character ever? This list contains 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 characters aren't represented, go ahead and re-rank the list to contribute to the discussion.
  • 168 ReRanks
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  1. 1
    Up 2092
    Down 1619

    most listed The Simpsons, Stand Up to Cancer, Do the Bartman

    open
  2. 2
    Up 1458
    Down 1117

    Star Trek: The Original Series, Star Trek: The Animated Series, Star Trek: ...

    open
  3. 3
    Up 2112
    Down 1340

    The Sopranos

    open
  4. 4
    Up 1668
    Down 1401

    often listed House, House Universe

    open
  5. 5
    Up 1893
    Down 1096

    ranked low on reranks Game of Thrones, A Song of Ice and Fire

    open
  6. 6
    Up 1275
    Down 1069

    often listed & ranked high on reranks The Simpsons, The Tracey Ullman Show, Do the Bartman

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  7. 7
    Up 988
    Down 579

    The Big Bang Theory

    open
  8. 8
    Up 2268
    Down 1833

    the people's #1 Breaking Bad

    open
  9. 9
    Up 1587
    Down 1035

    Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffyverse

    open
  10. 10
    Up 1202
    Down 956

    Family Guy, Family Guy Universe

    open
  11. 11
    Up 1393
    Down 1109

    Married... With Children

    open
  12. 12
    Up 1131
    Down 1085

    All in the Family

    open
  13. 13
    Up 1231
    Down 1280

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

    open
  14. 14
    Up 1083
    Down 861

    MASH

    open
  15. 15
    Up 1404
    Down 1143

    South Park

    open
  16. 16
    Up 1361
    Down 1054

    Seinfeld

    open
  17. 17
    Up 1465
    Down 1244

    Seinfeld

    open
  18. 18
    Up 1104
    Down 974

    In Living Color, Star Trek: The Original Series, Star Trek: The Animated ...

    open
  19. 19
    Up 1413
    Down 1199

    How I Met Your Mother

    open
  20. 20
    Up 1318
    Down 906

    Friends

    open
  21. 21
    Up 901
    Down 892

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

    open
  22. 22
    Up 881
    Down 484

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

    open
  23. 23
    Up 1726
    Down 1019

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

    open
  24. 24
    Up 808
    Down 658

    Friends

    open
  25. 25
    Up 962
    Down 629

    Friends

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  26. 26
    Up 302
    Down 168

    added by ShaneBird Lucy Ricardo I Love Lucy

    open
  27. 27
    Up 683
    Down 550

    Sherlock, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sherlock Holmes

    open
  28. 28
    Up 922
    Down 1084

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

    open
  29. 29
    Up 1045
    Down 903

    Seinfeld

    open
  30. 30
    Up 1049
    Down 960

    Sam and Friends, The Muppet Movie, The Christmas Toy

    open
  31. 31
    Up 1020
    Down 875

    The Office

    open
  32. 32
    Up 860
    Down 691

    Happy Days

    open
  33. 34
    Up 1005
    Down 755

    The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

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  34. 35
    Up 692
    Down 745

    Seinfeld

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  35. 36
    Up 757
    Down 812

    The Cosby Show

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  36. 37
    Up 556
    Down 684

    often listed & ranked high on reranks Monk, Monk Universe

    open
  37. 39
    Up 733
    Down 923

    often listed & ranked high on reranks Game of Thrones

    open
  38. 40
    Up 971
    Down 757

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

    open
  39. 41
    Up 425
    Down 316

    Golden Girls

    open
  40. 42
    Up 310
    Down 315

    Family Guy, Family Guy Universe

    open
  41. 43
    Up 307
    Down 289

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

    open
  42. 44
    Up 207
    Down 177

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

    open
  43. 45
    Up 763
    Down 760

    Futurama

    open
  44. 46
    Up 522
    Down 684

    Breaking Bad

    open
  45. 47
    Up 560
    Down 629

    Supernatural The Animation, Supernatural

    open
  46. 48
    Up 777
    Down 1079

    Game of Thrones

    open
  47. 49
    Up 723
    Down 839

    The Wire

    open
  48. 50
    Up 549
    Down 601

    added by maniero Dallas

    open
  49. 51
    Up 383
    Down 401

    Cheers

    open
  50. 52
    Up 515
    Down 563

    MacGyver

    open
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