best TV The Greatest TV Characters of All Time  

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List Rules 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.
list ordered by

1
+ - 5,753 6,331
Homer Simpson is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Homer Simpson The Simpsons

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2
+ - 3,459 6,242
Bart Simpson is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Bart Simpson The Simpsons

3
+ - 3,234 5,198
Peter Griffin is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
voting closed at #4 Peter Griffin Family Guy, Family Guy Universe

4
+ - 5,468 4,025
Spock is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Spock Star Trek: The Original Series

5
+ - 2,210 5,633
Brian Griffin is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Brian Griffin Family Guy

6
+ - 4,108 5,250
Stewie Griffin is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Stewie Griffin Family Guy

7
+ - 6,770 3,955
Tyrion Lannister is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Tyrion Lannister Game of Thrones

8
+ - 7,021 5,867
Walter White is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Walter White Breaking Bad

9
+ - 5,586 4,123
Dr. Gregory House is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

10
+ - 3,605 2,920
Bugs Bunny is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Bugs Bunny Baby Looney Tunes, Big House Bunny, Mutiny on the Bunny

11
+ - 5,185 3,907
Tony Soprano is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Tony Soprano The Sopranos

12
+ - 3,587 2,832
James T. Kirk is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
James T. Kirk Star Trek: The Original Series

13
+ - 5,533 3,614
Buffy Summers is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Buffy Summers Buffy the Vampire Slayer

14
+ - 4,098 3,302
Cosmo Kramer is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Cosmo Kramer Seinfeld

15
+ - 4,932 3,465
Sheldon Cooper is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Sheldon Cooper The Big Bang Theory

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16
+ - 3,367 2,351
Lucy Ricardo is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Lucy Ricardo I Love Lucy

17
+ - 4,638 3,122
Chandler Muriel Bing is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

18
+ - 2,260 2,377
Mr. Bean is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Mr. Bean Mr. Bean, Mr. Bean, Mr. Bean's Holiday

19
+ - 3,334 2,980
Jerry Seinfeld is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Jerry Seinfeld Seinfeld

20
+ - 3,816 3,495
Eric Cartman is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Eric Cartman South Park

21
+ - 2,208 2,326
Lieutenant Columbo is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Columbo Columbo

22
+ - 3,873 2,776
Joey Tribbiani is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Joey Tribbiani Friends

23
+ - 1,488 3,054
Stan Marsh is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Stan Marsh South Park

24
+ - 2,842 2,022
Sherlock Holmes is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Sherlock Holmes Sherlock, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sherlock Holmes

25
+ - 3,530 3,059
Al Bundy is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Al Bundy Married... With Children

26
+ - 3,154 2,270
Jean-Luc Picard is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Jean-Luc Picard Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek Generations, Star Trek: Insurrection

27
+ - 2,742 2,995
Archie Bunker is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Archie Bunker All in the Family

28
+ - 3,060 3,620
Dexter Morgan is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Dexter Morgan Dexter, Dexter: Early Cuts, Dexter Universe

29
+ - 3,306 2,680
Michael Scott is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Michael Scott The Office

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30
+ - 3,447 3,416
George Costanza is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
George Costanza Seinfeld

31
+ - 3,154 2,697
Phoebe Buffay is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Phoebe Buffay Friends

32
+ - 3,896 3,508
Barney Stinson is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Barney Stinson How I Met Your Mother

33
+ - 3,261 2,472
Will Smith is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Will Smith The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

34
+ - 2,416 2,153
Fonzie is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Fonzie Happy Days

35
+ - 4,114 3,164
Spike is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Spike Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffyverse

36
+ - 2,631 2,615
Kermit the Frog is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Kermit the Frog Sam and Friends, The Muppet Movie, The Christmas Toy

37
+ - 1,513 1,607
Sheriff Andy Taylor is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Sheriff Andy Taylor The Andy Griffith Show, Return to Mayberry, Return to Mayberry - The Andy Griffith Show

38
+ - 2,288 2,895
Fox Mulder is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Fox Mulder The X-Files, The X Files 2, The X-Files

39
+ - 2,423 2,299
Daryl Dixon is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Daryl Dixon The Walking Dead

40
+ - 2,099 2,617
Bender is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Bender Futurama, Futurama

41
+ - 950 583
Scooby-Doo is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Scooby-Doo Scooby-Doo! Pirates Ahoy!, Scooby-Doo, Chill Out

42
+ - 1,796 1,731
Sophia Petrillo is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Sophia Petrillo Golden Girls

43
+ - 2,428 2,720
Eddard Stark is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Eddard Stark Game of Thrones

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44
+ - 2,029 2,522
Elaine Benes is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Elaine Benes Seinfeld

45
+ - 2,267 2,729
Jesse Pinkman is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Jesse Pinkman Breaking Bad

46
+ - 2,440 3,050
Daenerys Targaryen is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Daenerys Targaryen Game of Thrones

47
+ - 2,179 2,321
Dean Winchester is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Dean Winchester Supernatural The Animation, Supernatural, Supernatural

48
+ - 1,823 1,822
Morticia Addams is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Morticia Addams The Addams Family, Addams Family Values, The Addams Family

49
+ - 2,326 2,378
Arya Stark is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Arya Stark Game of Thrones

50
+ - 1,864 1,836
Frasier Crane is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Frasier Crane Frasier, Cheers