The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

564k votes 28k voters 442k views 1,639 items tags f p @

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 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.
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  1. 1
    + 4,704
    - 4,182


    The Simpsons

    ;
  2. 2
    + 2,782
    - 3,973
    Bart Simpson is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

    most listed & ranked high on reranks
    Bart Simpson The Simpsons

  3. 3
    + 2,408
    - 3,542
    Peter Griffin is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

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

  4. 4
    + 1,529
    - 3,315
    Brian Griffin is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Brian Griffin Family Guy

  5. 5
    + 2,960
    - 3,538
    Stewie Griffin is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Stewie Griffin Family Guy

  6. 6
    + 3,787
    - 2,839
    Spock is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

    ranked low on reranks
    Spock Star Trek: The Original Series

  7. 7
    + 5,100
    - 2,874
    Tyrion Lannister is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

    ranked low on reranks
    Tyrion Lannister Game of Thrones

  8. 8
    + 4,339
    - 2,855


    The Sopranos

    ;
  9. 9
    + 4,223
    - 3,070
    Dr. Gregory House is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time


    Dr. Gregory House House

  10. 10
    + 5,300
    - 4,828
    Walter White is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Walter White Breaking Bad

  11. 11
    + 3,644
    - 2,364
    Sheldon Cooper is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time


    Sheldon Cooper The Big Bang Theory

  12. 12
    + 4,448
    - 2,687
    Buffy Summers is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

    ranked low on reranks
    Buffy Summers Buffy the Vampire Slayer

  13. 13
    + 3,196
    - 2,385
    Cosmo Kramer is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time


    Cosmo Kramer Seinfeld

  14. 14
    + 2,426
    - 2,145

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Baby Looney Tunes, Big House Bunny, Mutiny on the Bunny

    ;
  15. 15
    + 2,505
    - 2,100
    James T. Kirk is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time


    James T. Kirk Star Trek: The Original Series

  16. 16
    + 2,377
    - 1,724
    Lucy Ricardo is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

    added by ShaneBird
    Lucy Ricardo I Love Lucy

  17. 17
    + 3,467
    - 2,202

    ranked low on reranks
    Friends

    ;
  18. 18
    + 2,410
    - 2,011
    Hawkeye Pierce is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time


    Hawkeye Pierce M*A*S*H

  19. 19
    + 3,008
    - 2,477
    Eric Cartman is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time


    Eric Cartman South Park

  20. 20
    + 2,840
    - 1,892
    Joey Tribbiani is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

    ranked low on reranks
    Joey Tribbiani Friends

  21. 21
    + 2,570
    - 2,148
    Jerry Seinfeld is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time


    Jerry Seinfeld Seinfeld

  22. 22
    + 2,788
    - 2,292


    Married... With Children

    ;
  23. 23
    + 1,630
    - 1,571
    Columbo is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

    added by Richard777
    Columbo Columbo

  24. 24
    + 1,111
    - 1,993
    Stan Marsh is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Stan Marsh South Park

  25. 25
    + 1,412
    - 1,506

    added by MangoStarkey
    Mr. Bean, Mr. Bean, Mr. Bean's Holiday

    ;
  26. 26
    + 2,770
    - 2,599
    George Costanza is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time


    George Costanza Seinfeld

  27. 27
    + 2,286
    - 1,894
    Phoebe Buffay is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

    ranked low on reranks
    Phoebe Buffay Friends

  28. 28
    + 2,331
    - 2,817
    Dexter Morgan is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

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

  29. 29
    + 2,020
    - 2,341
    Archie Bunker is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Archie Bunker All in the Family

  30. 30
    + 3,481
    - 2,395
    Spike is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

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

  31. 31
    + 2,117
    - 1,738
    Jean-Luc Picard is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time


    Jean-Luc Picard Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek Generations, Star Trek: ...

  32. 32
    + 2,926
    - 2,771
    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. 33
    + 2,392
    - 1,844


    The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

    ;
  34. 34
    + 1,768
    - 1,449
    Sherlock Holmes is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time


    Sherlock Holmes Sherlock, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sherlock Holmes

  35. 35
    + 2,259
    - 2,019
    Michael Scott is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time


    Michael Scott The Office

  36. 36
    + 1,694
    - 1,629
    Fonzie is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time


    Fonzie Happy Days

  37. 37
    + 1,878
    - 2,090
    Kermit the Frog is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time


    Kermit the Frog Sam and Friends, The Muppet Movie, The Christmas Toy

  38. 38
    + 913
    - 1,090

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

    ;
  39. 39
    + 1,575
    - 1,910
    Bender is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time


    Bender Futurama, Futurama

  40. 40
    + 1,516
    - 1,894
    Elaine Benes is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time


    Elaine Benes Seinfeld

  41. 41
    + 1,595
    - 1,636

    ranked low on reranks
    The Walking Dead

    ;
  42. 42
    + 1,175
    - 1,240
    Sophia Petrillo is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time


    Sophia Petrillo Golden Girls

  43. 43
    + 1,767
    - 2,101
    Eddard Stark is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time


    Eddard Stark Game of Thrones

  44. 44
    + 1,618
    - 2,340
    Fox Mulder is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

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

  45. 45
    + 758
    - 578
    Carol Peletier is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

    ranked low on reranks & added by DanielLahaie
    Carol Peletier The Walking Dead

  46. 46
    + 1,597
    - 2,108
    Jesse Pinkman is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time


    Jesse Pinkman Breaking Bad

  47. 47
    + 1,270
    - 1,321
    Frasier Crane is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time


    Frasier Crane Frasier, Cheers

  48. 48
    + 1,553
    - 1,748
    Arya Stark is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time


    Arya Stark Game of Thrones

  49. 49
    + 1,044
    - 1,403
    Sam Malone is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Sam Malone Cheers

  50. 50
    + 1,447
    - 1,718
    Dean Winchester is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time


    Dean Winchester Supernatural The Animation, Supernatural, Supernatural

1640 +

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