The Greatest TV Characters of All Time Fictional Characters
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The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

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.

  • 407 ReRanks
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2rerank list
  1. 1
    + 3202
    - 2499

    The Simpsons

    ) open
  2. 2
    + 1991
    - 2116

    most listed
    The Simpsons

    ) open
  3. 3
    + 1940
    - 1925

    Family Guy

    ) open
  4. 4
    + 833
    - 1439

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Family Guy

    ) open
  5. 5
    + 1441
    - 1945

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

    ) open
  6. 6
    + 2332
    - 1753

    ranked low on reranks
    Star Trek: The Original Series

    ) open
  7. 7
    + 3171
    - 1803

    ranked low on reranks
    Game of Thrones

    ) open
  8. 8
    + 3101
    - 1901

    ranked low on reranks
    The Sopranos

    ) open
  9. 9
    + 2732
    - 2087
    ) open
  10. 10
    + 2851
    - 1771

    Buffy the Vampire Slayer

    ) open
  11. 11
    + 2094
    - 1577
    ) open
  12. 12
    + 3543
    - 3170

    Breaking Bad

    ) open
  13. 13
    + 2085
    - 1389

    The Big Bang Theory

    ) open
  14. 14
    + 1485
    - 1271

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

    ) open
  15. 15
    + 1387
    - 1085

    added by ShaneBird
    I Love Lucy

    ) open
  16. 16
    + 1573
    - 1329
    ) open
  17. 17
    + 2061
    - 1680

    South Park

    ) open
  18. 18
    + 1585
    - 1440

    Star Trek: The Original Series

    ) open
  19. 19
    + 2118
    - 1423

    ranked low on reranks
    Friends

    ) open
  20. 20
    + 1654
    - 1378
    ) open
  21. 21
    + 660
    - 1097

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    South Park

    ) open
  22. 22
    + 1913
    - 1623

    Married... With Children

    ) open
  23. 23
    + 2516
    - 1659

    added by PeteBoyle
    Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffyverse

    ) open
  24. 24
    + 975
    - 936

    often listed & added by Richard777
    Columbo

    ) open
  25. 25
    + 1626
    - 1166

    ranked low on reranks
    Friends

    ) open
  26. 26
    + 1485
    - 1643

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    All in the Family

    ) open
  27. 27
    + 1611
    - 1167

    ranked low on reranks
    The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

    ) open
  28. 28
    + 2024
    - 1881
    ) open
  29. 29
    + 1702
    - 1979

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

    ) open
  30. 30
    + 1367
    - 1215
    ) open
  31. 31
    + 2051
    - 1928

    How I Met Your Mother

    ) open
  32. 32
    + 715
    - 804

    often listed & added by MangoStarkey
    Mr. Bean, Mr. Bean, Mr. Bean's Holiday

    ) open
  33. 33
    + 1404
    - 1189

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

    ) open
  34. 34
    + 1108
    - 931

    Sherlock, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sherlock Holmes

    ) open
  35. 35
    + 1517
    - 1311

    The Office

    ) open
  36. 36
    + 729
    - 636

    Golden Girls

    ) open
  37. 37
    + 534
    - 509

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

    ) open
  38. 38
    + 1189
    - 1060

    Happy Days

    ) open
  39. 39
    + 1099
    - 1173

    Futurama, Futurama

    ) open
  40. 40
    + 1388
    - 1417

    Sam and Friends, The Muppet Movie, The Christmas Toy

    ) open
  41. 41
    + 1037
    - 1212
    ) open
  42. 42
    + 1170
    - 1328

    Game of Thrones

    ) open
  43. 43
    + 643
    - 750
    ) open
  44. 44
    + 882
    - 844

    Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy the Animated Series, Buffyverse

    ) open
  45. 45
    + 987
    - 1209

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    The Wire

    ) open
  46. 46
    + 1121
    - 1119

    The Big Bang Theory

    ) open
  47. 47
    + 746
    - 675

    ranked low on reranks
    Frasier, Cheers

    ) open
  48. 48
    + 763
    - 890

    added by maniero
    Dallas

    ) open
  49. 49
    + 904
    - 1008

    Supernatural The Animation, Supernatural, Supernatural

    ) open
  50. 50
    + 828
    - 864

    The Addams Family, Addams Family Values, The Addams Family

    ) open
627 +

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