The Greatest TV Characters of All Time Fictional Characters

The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

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82,934 views 342 items 87,377 votes 4,866 voters 144 followers 105reranks
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.

List Criteria: Only fictional characters created for television programs

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  Name
Score
  1. 1
    Up 1081
    Down 627
    The Sopranos More
    93
  2. 2
    Up 944
    Down 682

    most listed &ranked high on reranks
    Homer Simpson

    The Simpsons More
    92
  3. 3
    Up 1400
    Down 727

    the people's #1
    Walter White

    Breaking Bad More
    91
  4. 4
    Up 768
    Down 561

    often listed
    Dr. Gregory House

    House Universe More
    85
  5. 5
    Up 853
    Down 598

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    George Costanza

    Seinfeld More
    83
  6. 6
    Up 775
    Down 454
    Married... With Children More
    82
  7. 7
    Up 849
    Down 566

    ranked low on reranks
    Sheldon Cooper

    The Big Bang Theory More
    82
  8. 8
    Up 722
    Down 483
    A Song of Ice and Fire More
    82
  9. 9
    Up 679
    Down 447
    Star Trek More
    82
  10. 10
    Up 722
    Down 492
    Seinfeld More
    80
  11. 11
    Up 650
    Down 472

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Archie Bunker

    All in the Family More
    78
  12. 12
    Up 597
    Down 419
    Breaking Bad More
    77
  13. 13
    Up 609
    Down 440

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Bart Simpson

    The Simpsons More
    77
  14. 14
    Up 723
    Down 531
    South Park More
    77
  15. 15
    Up 666
    Down 462

    ranked low on reranks
    Barney Stinson

    How I Met Your Mother More
    76
  16. 16
    Up 609
    Down 445

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    James T. Kirk

    Star Trek More
    74
  17. 17
    Up 676
    Down 546

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Dexter Morgan

    Dexter Universe More
    74
  18. 18
    Up 600
    Down 419

    ranked low on reranks
    Kermit the Frog

    The Muppet Show Universe, Sesame Street More
    72
  19. 19
    Up 518
    Down 402

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Stewie Griffin

    Family Guy Universe More
    72
  20. 20
    Up 584
    Down 406

    ranked low on reranks
    Hawkeye Pierce

    MASH More
    72
  21. 21
    Up 539
    Down 352

    ranked low on reranks
    Lucy Ricardo

    I Love Lucy More
    72
  22. 22
    Up 506
    Down 414

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Fox Mulder

    The X-Files Universe More
    71
  23. 23
    Up 555
    Down 418

    ranked low on reranks
    Chandler Muriel Bing

    71
  24. 24
    Up 473
    Down 373

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Columbo

    Columbo More
    69
  25. 25
    Up 410
    Down 275
    Happy Days More
    68
  26. 26
    Up 538
    Down 417

    often listed
    Michael Scott

    The Office More
    68
  27. 27
    Up 654
    Down 410

    ranked low on reranks
    Spike

    Buffyverse More
    67
    added by: PeteBoyle
  28. 28
    Up 569
    Down 450

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Jerry Seinfeld

    Seinfeld More
    67
  29. 29
    Up 587
    Down 455
    Buffyverse More
    67
  30. 30
    Up 530
    Down 372

    ranked low on reranks
    Jean-Luc Picard

    Star Trek More
    66
  31. 31
    Up 509
    Down 429
    The Office More
    65
  32. 32
    Up 407
    Down 359

    often listed
    Heathcliff Huxtable

    The Cosby Show More
    64
  33. 33
    Up 300
    Down 289

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Daenerys Targaryen

    Game of Thrones More
    64
  34. 34
    Up 309
    Down 300

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Eddard Stark

    Game of Thrones More
    63
  35. 35
    Up 286
    Down 132

    ranked low on reranks
    Bugs Bunny

    Looney Tunes Universe More
    63
  36. 36
    Up 182
    Down 135
    Sherlock Holmes Universe More
    62
  37. 37
    Up 459
    Down 491

    often listed &controversial
    John Locke

    Lost More
    62
  38. 38
    Up 176
    Down 105
    62
    added by: Johnny B
    The Andy Griffith Show
  39. 39
    Up 262
    Down 219

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    J.R. Ewing

    Dallas More
    61
    added by: maniero
  40. 40
    Up 393
    Down 370

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Peter Griffin

    Family Guy Universe More
    61
  41. 41
    Up 423
    Down 331

    ranked low on reranks
    Will Smith

    The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air More
    61
  42. 42
    Up 198
    Down 113

    ranked low on reranks
    Morticia Addams

    60
  43. 43
    Up 205
    Down 175

    often listed
    Angus MacGyver

    MacGyver More
    59
  44. 44
    Up 301
    Down 227

    ranked low on reranks
    Joey Tribbiani

    Friends More
    59
  45. 45
    Up 203
    Down 159

    ranked high on reranks
    Phoebe Buffay

    Friends More
    59
  46. 46
    Up 222
    Down 234

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Adrian Monk

    Monk Universe More
    58
  47. 47
    Up 315
    Down 310

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Elaine Benes

    Seinfeld More
    58
  48. 48
    Up 121
    Down 74

    ranked low on reranks
    Sam Malone

    Cheers More
    58
  49. 49
    Up 252
    Down 182

    ranked low on reranks
    Penny

    The Big Bang Theory More
    58
  50. 50
    Up 396
    Down 416

    ranked high on reranks
    Omar Little

    The Wire More
    58
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