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.
  • 124 ReRanks
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  1. 1
    Up 1645
    Down 1058

    The Sopranos

    open
  2. 2
    Up 1503
    Down 1224

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

    open
  3. 3
    Up 1398
    Down 815

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

    open
  4. 4
    Up 1293
    Down 1036

    House, House Universe

    open
  5. 5
    Up 1711
    Down 1220

    the people's #1 Breaking Bad

    open
  6. 6
    Up 1102
    Down 797

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

    open
  7. 7
    Up 344
    Down 256

    The Big Bang Theory

    open
  8. 8
    Up 1124
    Down 843

    Married... With Children

    open
  9. 9
    Up 1196
    Down 998

    Seinfeld

    open
  10. 10
    Up 988
    Down 820

    The Simpsons, The Tracey Ullman Show, Do the Bartman

    open
  11. 11
    Up 1091
    Down 840

    Seinfeld

    open
  12. 12
    Up 1127
    Down 908

    South Park

    open
  13. 13
    Up 1074
    Down 908

    How I Met Your Mother

    open
  14. 14
    Up 947
    Down 829

    All in the Family

    open
  15. 15
    Up 906
    Down 731

    Family Guy, Family Guy Universe

    open
  16. 16
    Up 974
    Down 690

    Friends

    open
  17. 17
    Up 907
    Down 753

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

    open
  18. 18
    Up 980
    Down 952

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

    open
  19. 19
    Up 1238
    Down 745

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

    open
  20. 20
    Up 1068
    Down 753

    Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffyverse

    open
  21. 21
    Up 504
    Down 353

    Sherlock, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sherlock Holmes

    open
  22. 22
    Up 759
    Down 762

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

    open
  23. 23
    Up 266
    Down 222

    often listed & ranked high on reranks Breaking Bad

    open
  24. 25
    Up 858
    Down 659

    MASH

    open
  25. 26
    Up 632
    Down 334

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

    open
  26. 28
    Up 869
    Down 790

    Sam and Friends, The Muppet Movie, The Christmas Toy

    open
  27. 29
    Up 558
    Down 426

    Friends

    open
  28. 30
    Up 672
    Down 523

    Happy Days

    open
  29. 31
    Up 670
    Down 449

    ranked low on reranks Friends

    open
  30. 32
    Up 796
    Down 693

    The Office

    open
  31. 33
    Up 805
    Down 720

    Seinfeld

    open
  32. 34
    Up 580
    Down 639

    Game of Thrones

    open
  33. 35
    Up 790
    Down 604

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

    open
  34. 36
    Up 621
    Down 709

    Game of Thrones

    open
  35. 37
    Up 432
    Down 488

    Monk, Monk Universe

    open
  36. 38
    Up 676
    Down 671

    Family Guy, Family Guy Universe

    open
  37. 39
    Up 743
    Down 608

    ranked low on reranks The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

    open
  38. 40
    Up 617
    Down 590

    The Cosby Show

    open
  39. 41
    Up 403
    Down 325

    The Addams Family, Addams Family Values, The Addams Family

    open
  40. 42
    Up 713
    Down 709

    The Office

    open
  41. 43
    Up 406
    Down 321

    Game of Thrones

    open
  42. 44
    Up 381
    Down 402

    MacGyver, MacGyver

    open
  43. 45
    Up 581
    Down 670

    The Wire

    open
  44. 46
    Up 669
    Down 830

    Lost, Lost

    open
  45. 47
    Up 432
    Down 448

    added by maniero Dallas

    open
  46. 48
    Up 606
    Down 608

    Futurama, Futurama

    open
  47. 49
    Up 498
    Down 529

    The X-Files, The X Files 2, The X-Files

    open
  48. 50
    Up 351
    Down 455

    often listed & ranked high on reranks Supernatural The Animation, Supernatural, Supernatural

    open
  49. 51
    Up 530
    Down 480

    The Big Bang Theory

    open
  50. 52
    Up 532
    Down 568

    Seinfeld

    open
  51. 382 +

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