The Greatest TV Characters of All Time Fictional Characters
Ultimate List
187,967 votes 197,786 views more info

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.
  • 140 ReRanks
    • Women
    • Men
    • Age
    • Region
  • See list ranked by
The List
Comment
Embed
Options
rerank list
  1. 1
    Up 1738
    Down 1370

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

    open
  2. 2
    Up 1474
    Down 1181

    House, House Universe

    open
  3. 3
    Up 1844
    Down 1166

    The Sopranos

    open
  4. 4
    Up 1605
    Down 935

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

    open
  5. 5
    Up 1274
    Down 888

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

    open
  6. 6
    Up 1954
    Down 1492

    the people's #1 Breaking Bad

    open
  7. 7
    Up 595
    Down 385

    The Big Bang Theory

    open
  8. 8
    Up 1256
    Down 953

    Married... With Children

    open
  9. 9
    Up 1315
    Down 1111

    Seinfeld

    open
  10. 10
    Up 1264
    Down 859

    Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffyverse

    open
  11. 11
    Up 1018
    Down 935

    All in the Family

    open
  12. 12
    Up 1113
    Down 928

    The Simpsons, The Tracey Ullman Show, Do the Bartman

    open
  13. 13
    Up 1095
    Down 1089

    Dexter, Dexter: Early Cuts, Dexter Universe

    open
  14. 14
    Up 1226
    Down 1006

    How I Met Your Mother

    open
  15. 15
    Up 1208
    Down 926

    Seinfeld

    open
  16. 16
    Up 1251
    Down 1009

    South Park

    open
  17. 17
    Up 994
    Down 843

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

    open
  18. 18
    Up 945
    Down 744

    MASH

    open
  19. 19
    Up 1041
    Down 823

    Family Guy, Family Guy Universe

    open
  20. 20
    Up 1110
    Down 781

    Friends

    open
  21. 21
    Up 1459
    Down 866

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

    open
  22. 22
    Up 825
    Down 906

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

    open
  23. 23
    Up 581
    Down 451

    Sherlock, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sherlock Holmes

    open
  24. 24
    Up 656
    Down 520

    Friends

    open
  25. 25
    Up 650
    Down 761

    often listed & ranked high on reranks Game of Thrones

    open
  26. 26
    Up 741
    Down 392

    ranked low on reranks Baby Looney Tunes, Big House Bunny, Mutiny on the Bunny

    open
  27. 27
    Up 882
    Down 785

    The Office

    open
  28. 28
    Up 936
    Down 871

    Sam and Friends, The Muppet Movie, The Christmas Toy

    open
  29. 30
    Up 786
    Down 528

    ranked low on reranks Friends

    open
  30. 31
    Up 904
    Down 799

    Seinfeld

    open
  31. 33
    Up 486
    Down 576

    often listed & ranked high on reranks Monk, Monk Universe

    open
  32. 34
    Up 758
    Down 598

    Happy Days

    open
  33. 35
    Up 388
    Down 459

    often listed & ranked high on reranks Breaking Bad

    open
  34. 36
    Up 683
    Down 684

    The Cosby Show

    open
  35. 37
    Up 878
    Down 665

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

    open
  36. 38
    Up 692
    Down 883

    often listed & ranked high on reranks Game of Thrones

    open
  37. 39
    Up 871
    Down 668

    ranked low on reranks The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

    open
  38. 40
    Up 778
    Down 754

    Family Guy, Family Guy Universe

    open
  39. 41
    Up 600
    Down 639

    Seinfeld

    open
  40. 42
    Up 467
    Down 401

    The Addams Family, Addams Family Values, Addams Family Reunion

    open
  41. 43
    Up 450
    Down 535

    ranked high on reranks Supernatural The Animation, Supernatural

    open
  42. 44
    Up 145
    Down 77

    added by ShaneBird Lucy Ricardo I Love Lucy

    open
  43. 45
    Up 447
    Down 468

    MacGyver

    open
  44. 46
    Up 319
    Down 237

    Golden Girls

    open
  45. 47
    Up 310
    Down 312

    Cheers

    open
  46. 48
    Up 115
    Down 89

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

    open
  47. 49
    Up 763
    Down 800

    The Office

    open
  48. 50
    Up 643
    Down 744

    The Wire

    open
  49. 51
    Up 479
    Down 445

    Game of Thrones

    open
  50. 52
    Up 731
    Down 954

    often listed & ranked high on reranks Lost

    open
339 +

Something missing? Add it!

think you can do better?

Rerank This List

got a blog or website?

embed this list

viewers of this list also saw...

more popular lists