The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

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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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  • 478 ReRanks
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  1. 1
    + 4,600
    - 3,962


    The Simpsons

    ;
  2. 2
    + 2,719
    - 3,744

    most listed
    The Simpsons

    ;
  3. 3
    + 2,273
    - 3,365

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

    ;
  4. 4
    + 1,403
    - 3,141

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Family Guy

    ;
  5. 5
    + 2,813
    - 3,387

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Family Guy

    ;
  6. 6
    + 4,942
    - 2,754

    ranked low on reranks
    Game of Thrones

    ;
  7. 7
    + 3,661
    - 2,715

    ranked low on reranks
    Star Trek: The Original Series

    ;
  8. 8
    + 4,272
    - 2,748


    The Sopranos

    ;
  9. 9
    + 4,106
    - 2,975


    House

    ;
  10. 10
    + 5,147
    - 4,729

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Breaking Bad

    ;
  11. 11
    + 4,357
    - 2,599

    ranked low on reranks
    Buffy the Vampire Slayer

    ;
  12. 12
    + 3,550
    - 2,275


    The Big Bang Theory

    ;
  13. 13
    + 3,120
    - 2,313


    Seinfeld

    ;
  14. 14
    + 2,333
    - 2,078

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

    ;
  15. 15
    + 2,324
    - 1,656

    added by ShaneBird
    I Love Lucy

    ;
  16. 16
    + 2,437
    - 2,029


    Star Trek: The Original Series

    ;
  17. 17
    + 3,369
    - 2,133

    ranked low on reranks
    Friends

    ;
  18. 18
    + 2,358
    - 1,949


    M*A*S*H

    ;
  19. 19
    + 2,929
    - 2,401


    South Park

    ;
  20. 20
    + 2,748
    - 1,827

    ranked low on reranks
    Friends

    ;
  21. 21
    + 2,518
    - 2,088


    Seinfeld

    ;
  22. 22
    + 2,736
    - 2,235


    Married... With Children

    ;
  23. 23
    + 1,584
    - 1,515

    added by Richard777
    Columbo

    ;
  24. 24
    + 1,073
    - 1,911

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    South Park

    ;
  25. 25
    + 2,719
    - 2,535


    Seinfeld

    ;
  26. 26
    + 2,215
    - 1,833


    Friends

    ;
  27. 27
    + 1,349
    - 1,444

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

    ;
  28. 28
    + 2,280
    - 2,738

    often listed
    Dexter, Dexter: Early Cuts, Dexter Universe

    ;
  29. 29
    + 1,973
    - 2,281

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    All in the Family

    ;
  30. 30
    + 3,427
    - 2,328

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

    ;
  31. 31
    + 2,054
    - 1,694

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

    ;
  32. 32
    + 2,851
    - 2,712


    How I Met Your Mother

    ;
  33. 33
    + 2,336
    - 1,792


    The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

    ;
  34. 34
    + 1,726
    - 1,401


    Sherlock, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sherlock Holmes

    ;
  35. 35
    + 2,192
    - 1,969


    The Office

    ;
  36. 36
    + 1,652
    - 1,585


    Happy Days

    ;
  37. 37
    + 881
    - 1,048

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

    ;
  38. 38
    + 1,827
    - 2,053


    Sam and Friends, The Muppet Movie, The Christmas Toy

    ;
  39. 39
    + 1,522
    - 1,864


    Futurama, Futurama

    ;
  40. 40
    + 1,486
    - 1,852


    Seinfeld

    ;
  41. 41
    + 1,139
    - 1,203


    Golden Girls

    ;
  42. 42
    + 1,536
    - 1,587


    The Walking Dead

    ;
  43. 43
    + 1,719
    - 2,050


    Game of Thrones

    ;
  44. 44
    + 732
    - 526

    ranked low on reranks & added by DanielLahaie
    The Walking Dead

    ;
  45. 45
    + 1,581
    - 2,302

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

    ;
  46. 46
    + 1,228
    - 1,278


    Frasier, Cheers

    ;
  47. 47
    + 1,527
    - 2,064


    Breaking Bad

    ;
  48. 48
    + 1,495
    - 1,702


    Game of Thrones

    ;
  49. 49
    + 1,015
    - 1,362

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Cheers

    ;
  50. 50
    + 1,399
    - 1,665


    Supernatural The Animation, Supernatural, Supernatural

    ;
1599 +

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