The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

574k votes 28k voters 454k views 1,665 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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  • 485 ReRanks
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  1. 1
    + 4,760
    - 4,286


    The Simpsons

    ;
  2. 2
    + 2,816
    - 4,076

    most listed & ranked high on reranks
    The Simpsons

    ;
  3. 3
    + 2,451
    - 3,649

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

    ;
  4. 4
    + 1,574
    - 3,413

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Family Guy

    ;
  5. 5
    + 5,192
    - 2,953

    ranked low on reranks
    Game of Thrones

    ;
  6. 6
    + 3,847
    - 2,917

    ranked low on reranks
    Star Trek: The Original Series

    ;
  7. 7
    + 3,020
    - 3,612

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Family Guy

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  8. 8
    + 4,380
    - 2,920


    The Sopranos

    ;
  9. 9
    + 4,295
    - 3,126


    House

    ;
  10. 10
    + 5,375
    - 4,899

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Breaking Bad

    ;
  11. 11
    + 4,516
    - 2,731

    ranked low on reranks
    Buffy the Vampire Slayer

    ;
  12. 12
    + 3,718
    - 2,440


    The Big Bang Theory

    ;
  13. 13
    + 3,238
    - 2,422


    Seinfeld

    ;
  14. 14
    + 2,466
    - 2,190

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

    ;
  15. 15
    + 2,550
    - 2,136


    Star Trek: The Original Series

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  16. 16
    + 2,416
    - 1,759

    added by ShaneBird
    I Love Lucy

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  17. 17
    + 3,533
    - 2,243

    ranked low on reranks
    Friends

    ;
  18. 18
    + 2,439
    - 2,048


    M*A*S*H

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  19. 19
    + 2,896
    - 1,929

    ranked low on reranks
    Friends

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  20. 20
    + 3,042
    - 2,522


    South Park

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  21. 21
    + 2,598
    - 2,188


    Seinfeld

    ;
  22. 22
    + 2,817
    - 2,319


    Married... With Children

    ;
  23. 23
    + 1,650
    - 1,605

    added by Richard777
    Columbo

    ;
  24. 24
    + 1,130
    - 2,035

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    South Park

    ;
  25. 25
    + 1,457
    - 1,545

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

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  26. 26
    + 2,792
    - 2,647


    Seinfeld

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  27. 27
    + 2,333
    - 1,938

    ranked low on reranks
    Friends

    ;
  28. 28
    + 2,365
    - 2,867

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

    ;
  29. 29
    + 3,520
    - 2,428

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

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  30. 30
    + 2,044
    - 2,368

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    All in the Family

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  31. 31
    + 2,150
    - 1,763


    Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek Generations, Star Trek: ...

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  32. 32
    + 2,445
    - 1,870

    ranked low on reranks
    The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

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  33. 33
    + 2,968
    - 2,817


    How I Met Your Mother

    ;
  34. 34
    + 1,796
    - 1,475


    Sherlock, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sherlock Holmes

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  35. 35
    + 2,296
    - 2,049


    The Office

    ;
  36. 36
    + 1,710
    - 1,659


    Happy Days

    ;
  37. 37
    + 1,598
    - 1,947


    Futurama, Futurama

    ;
  38. 38
    + 930
    - 1,119

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

    ;
  39. 39
    + 1,900
    - 2,123


    Sam and Friends, The Muppet Movie, The Christmas Toy

    ;
  40. 40
    + 1,533
    - 1,932


    Seinfeld

    ;
  41. 41
    + 1,639
    - 1,668

    ranked low on reranks
    The Walking Dead

    ;
  42. 42
    + 1,807
    - 2,132


    Game of Thrones

    ;
  43. 43
    + 1,198
    - 1,268


    Golden Girls

    ;
  44. 44
    + 1,642
    - 2,374

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

    ;
  45. 45
    + 1,294
    - 1,351


    Frasier, Cheers

    ;
  46. 46
    + 1,624
    - 2,145


    Breaking Bad

    ;
  47. 47
    + 1,588
    - 1,787


    Game of Thrones

    ;
  48. 48
    + 783
    - 615

    ranked low on reranks & added by DanielLahaie
    The Walking Dead

    ;
  49. 49
    + 1,479
    - 1,747


    Supernatural The Animation, Supernatural, Supernatural

    ;
  50. 50
    + 1,058
    - 1,433

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Cheers

    ;
1666 +

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