The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

621k votes 30k voters 484k views 1,656 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.
Collection Photo:  AMC
  • 493 ReRanks
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  1. 1
    + 4,955
    - 4,736


    The Simpsons

    ;
  2. 2
    + 2,947
    - 4,539

    most listed & ranked high on reranks
    The Simpsons

    ;
  3. 3
    + 2,685
    - 4,054

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

    ;
  4. 4
    + 1,732
    - 3,857

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Family Guy

    ;
  5. 5
    + 3,277
    - 3,956

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Family Guy

    ;
  6. 6
    + 4,154
    - 3,146

    ranked low on reranks
    Star Trek: The Original Series

    ;
  7. 7
    + 5,506
    - 3,171

    ranked low on reranks
    Game of Thrones

    ;
  8. 8
    + 4,545
    - 3,337


    House

    ;
  9. 9
    + 4,524
    - 3,161


    The Sopranos

    ;
  10. 10
    + 5,701
    - 5,109

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Breaking Bad

    ;
  11. 11
    + 2,693
    - 2,339


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

    ;
  12. 12
    + 3,982
    - 2,651


    The Big Bang Theory

    ;
  13. 13
    + 4,706
    - 2,940

    ranked low on reranks
    Buffy the Vampire Slayer

    ;
  14. 14
    + 3,412
    - 2,614


    Seinfeld

    ;
  15. 15
    + 2,742
    - 2,287


    Star Trek: The Original Series

    ;
  16. 16
    + 2,592
    - 1,899

    added by ShaneBird
    I Love Lucy

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  17. 17
    + 3,760
    - 2,428

    ranked low on reranks
    Friends

    ;
  18. 18
    + 2,582
    - 2,197


    M*A*S*H

    ;
  19. 19
    + 3,081
    - 2,105

    ranked low on reranks
    Friends

    ;
  20. 20
    + 3,212
    - 2,724


    South Park

    ;
  21. 21
    + 2,746
    - 2,363


    Seinfeld

    ;
  22. 22
    + 1,741
    - 1,776

    added by Richard777
    Columbo

    ;
  23. 23
    + 1,215
    - 2,239

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    South Park

    ;
  24. 24
    + 2,934
    - 2,493


    Married... With Children

    ;
  25. 25
    + 1,600
    - 1,712

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

    ;
  26. 26
    + 2,929
    - 2,834


    Seinfeld

    ;
  27. 27
    + 2,512
    - 3,038

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

    ;
  28. 28
    + 2,498
    - 2,115

    ranked low on reranks
    Friends

    ;
  29. 29
    + 2,170
    - 2,503

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    All in the Family

    ;
  30. 30
    + 2,326
    - 1,878

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

    ;
  31. 31
    + 3,153
    - 2,976


    How I Met Your Mother

    ;
  32. 32
    + 3,644
    - 2,610

    added by PeteBoyle
    Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffyverse

    ;
  33. 33
    + 2,618
    - 1,997


    The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

    ;
  34. 34
    + 1,939
    - 1,594


    Sherlock, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sherlock Holmes

    ;
  35. 35
    + 2,491
    - 2,189


    The Office

    ;
  36. 36
    + 1,838
    - 1,778


    Happy Days

    ;
  37. 37
    + 1,036
    - 1,226

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

    ;
  38. 38
    + 1,862
    - 1,787


    The Walking Dead

    ;
  39. 39
    + 2,034
    - 2,230


    Sam and Friends, The Muppet Movie, The Christmas Toy

    ;
  40. 40
    + 1,688
    - 2,104


    Futurama, Futurama

    ;
  41. 41
    + 1,942
    - 2,257


    Game of Thrones

    ;
  42. 42
    + 1,634
    - 2,066


    Seinfeld

    ;
  43. 43
    + 1,287
    - 1,392


    Golden Girls

    ;
  44. 44
    + 1,756
    - 2,489

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

    ;
  45. 45
    + 1,776
    - 2,267


    Breaking Bad

    ;
  46. 46
    + 1,738
    - 1,913


    Game of Thrones

    ;
  47. 47
    + 1,625
    - 1,880


    Supernatural The Animation, Supernatural, Supernatural

    ;
  48. 48
    + 1,392
    - 1,477


    Frasier, Cheers

    ;
  49. 49
    + 1,334
    - 1,538


    The Addams Family, Addams Family Values, The Addams Family

    ;
  50. 50
    + 914
    - 733

    ranked low on reranks & added by DanielLahaie
    The Walking Dead

    ;
1657 +

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