best TV The Greatest TV Characters of All Time  

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List Rules 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.

1
+ - 5,605 6,082
Homer Simpson is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Homer Simpson The Simpsons

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2
+ - 3,368 5,964
Bart Simpson is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Bart Simpson The Simpsons

3
+ - 5,281 3,854
Spock is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Spock Star Trek: The Original Series

4
+ - 3,234 5,198
Peter Griffin is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
voting closed at #4 Peter Griffin Family Guy, Family Guy Universe

5
+ - 2,145 5,358
Brian Griffin is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Brian Griffin Family Guy

6
+ - 4,013 5,036
Stewie Griffin is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Stewie Griffin Family Guy

7
+ - 6,496 3,836
Tyrion Lannister is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Tyrion Lannister Game of Thrones

8
+ - 6,779 5,715
Walter White is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Walter White Breaking Bad

9
+ - 5,382 4,007
Dr. Gregory House is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

10
+ - 3,469 2,800
Bugs Bunny is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Bugs Bunny Baby Looney Tunes, Big House Bunny, Mutiny on the Bunny

11
+ - 5,065 3,794
Tony Soprano is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Tony Soprano The Sopranos

12
+ - 3,468 2,720
James T. Kirk is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
James T. Kirk Star Trek: The Original Series

13
+ - 5,392 3,505
Buffy Summers is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Buffy Summers Buffy the Vampire Slayer

14
+ - 4,767 3,340
Sheldon Cooper is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Sheldon Cooper The Big Bang Theory

15
+ - 4,010 3,180
Cosmo Kramer is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Cosmo Kramer Seinfeld

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16
+ - 3,271 2,266
Lucy Ricardo is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Lucy Ricardo I Love Lucy

17
+ - 4,472 3,008
Chandler Muriel Bing is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

18
+ - 2,144 2,260
Mr. Bean is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Mr. Bean Mr. Bean, Mr. Bean, Mr. Bean's Holiday

19
+ - 3,713 3,378
Eric Cartman is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Eric Cartman South Park

20
+ - 3,247 2,869
Jerry Seinfeld is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Jerry Seinfeld Seinfeld

21
+ - 2,147 2,227
Lieutenant Columbo is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Columbo Columbo

22
+ - 3,734 2,667
Joey Tribbiani is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Joey Tribbiani Friends

23
+ - 1,446 2,916
Stan Marsh is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Stan Marsh South Park

24
+ - 3,028 2,197
Jean-Luc Picard is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Jean-Luc Picard Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek Generations, Star Trek: Insurrection

25
+ - 3,435 2,976
Al Bundy is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Al Bundy Married... With Children

26
+ - 2,662 2,902
Archie Bunker is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Archie Bunker All in the Family

27
+ - 2,681 1,941
Sherlock Holmes is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Sherlock Holmes Sherlock, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sherlock Holmes

28
+ - 2,969 3,506
Dexter Morgan is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Dexter Morgan Dexter, Dexter: Early Cuts, Dexter Universe

29
+ - 3,363 3,316
George Costanza is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
George Costanza Seinfeld

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30
+ - 3,020 2,609
Phoebe Buffay is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Phoebe Buffay Friends

31
+ - 3,171 2,586
Michael Scott is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Michael Scott The Office

32
+ - 3,753 3,423
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
+ - 2,354 2,071
Fonzie is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Fonzie Happy Days

34
+ - 3,151 2,400
Will Smith is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Will Smith The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

35
+ - 4,032 3,083
Spike is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Spike Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffyverse

36
+ - 1,455 1,530
Sheriff Andy Taylor is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Sheriff Andy Taylor The Andy Griffith Show, Return to Mayberry, Return to Mayberry - The Andy Griffith Show

37
+ - 2,543 2,542
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
+ - 2,208 2,823
Fox Mulder is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Fox Mulder The X-Files, The X Files 2, The X-Files

39
+ - 2,331 2,208
Daryl Dixon is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Daryl Dixon The Walking Dead

40
+ - 1,727 1,666
Sophia Petrillo is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Sophia Petrillo Golden Girls

41
+ - 2,030 2,539
Bender is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Bender Futurama, Futurama

42
+ - 851 527
Scooby-Doo is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Scooby-Doo Scooby-Doo! Pirates Ahoy!, Scooby-Doo, Chill Out

43
+ - 2,327 2,645
Eddard Stark is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Eddard Stark Game of Thrones

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44
+ - 1,961 2,449
Elaine Benes is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Elaine Benes Seinfeld

45
+ - 2,170 2,649
Jesse Pinkman is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Jesse Pinkman Breaking Bad

46
+ - 2,093 2,246
Dean Winchester is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Dean Winchester Supernatural The Animation, Supernatural, Supernatural

47
+ - 1,743 1,772
Morticia Addams is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Morticia Addams The Addams Family, Addams Family Values, The Addams Family

48
+ - 2,319 2,961
Daenerys Targaryen is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Daenerys Targaryen Game of Thrones

49
+ - 1,091 911
Leonard McCoy is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Leonard McCoy Star Trek: The Animated Series, Star Trek: The Original Series, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

50
+ - 2,198 2,296
Arya Stark is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Arya Stark Game of Thrones