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.
list ordered by

1
6,182 7,274
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
3,735 7,214
Bart Simpson is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Bart Simpson The Simpsons

3
3,458 5,703
Peter Griffin is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Peter Griffin Family Guy, Family Guy Universe

4
2,454 6,534
Brian Griffin is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Brian Griffin Family Guy

5
6,011 4,620
Spock is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Spock Star Trek: The Original Series

6
4,501 6,008
Stewie Griffin is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Stewie Griffin Family Guy

7
7,679 4,445
Tyrion Lannister is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Tyrion Lannister Game of Thrones

8
7,817 6,280
Walter White is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Walter White Breaking Bad

9
6,123 4,603
Dr. Gregory House is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

10
4,065 3,264
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
3,931 3,177
James T. Kirk is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
James T. Kirk Star Trek: The Original Series

12
5,495 4,349
Tony Soprano is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Tony Soprano The Sopranos

13
4,493 3,643
Cosmo Kramer is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Cosmo Kramer Seinfeld

14
5,951 4,028
Buffy Summers is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Buffy Summers Buffy the Vampire Slayer

15
5,402 3,952
Sheldon Cooper is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Sheldon Cooper The Big Bang Theory

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16
3,771 2,593
Lucy Ricardo is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
ShaneBird added Lucy Ricardo I Love Lucy

17
5,223 3,483
Chandler Muriel Bing is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

18
2,598 2,736
Mr. Bean is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
MangoStarkey added Mr. Bean Mr. Bean, Mr. Bean, Mr. Bean's Holiday

19
3,681 3,298
Jerry Seinfeld is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Jerry Seinfeld Seinfeld

20
4,369 3,140
Joey Tribbiani is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Joey Tribbiani Friends

21
4,234 3,877
Eric Cartman is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Eric Cartman South Park

22
2,426 2,616
Lieutenant Columbo is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Richard777 added Columbo Columbo

23
3,345 2,294
Sherlock Holmes is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Sherlock Holmes Sherlock, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sherlock Holmes

24
1,658 3,460
Stan Marsh is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Stan Marsh South Park

25
2,998 3,257
Archie Bunker is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Archie Bunker All in the Family

26
3,514 2,492
Jean-Luc Picard is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Jean-Luc Picard Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek Generations, Star Trek: Insurrection

27
3,893 2,927
Michael Scott is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Michael Scott The Office

28
3,784 3,381
Al Bundy is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Al Bundy Married... With Children

29
3,345 3,899
Dexter Morgan is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Dexter Morgan Dexter, Dexter: Early Cuts, Dexter Universe

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30
3,753 3,687
George Costanza is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
George Costanza Seinfeld

31
3,543 3,032
Phoebe Buffay is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Phoebe Buffay Friends

32
4,302 3,831
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
2,698 2,343
Fonzie is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Fonzie Happy Days

34
3,621 2,734
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
2,891 2,848
Kermit the Frog is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Kermit the Frog Sam and Friends, The Muppet Movie, The Christmas Toy

36
1,742 1,795
Sheriff Andy Taylor is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Johnny B added Sheriff Andy Taylor The Andy Griffith Show, Return to Mayberry, Return to Mayberry - The Andy Griffith Show

37
2,539 3,097
Fox Mulder is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Fox Mulder The X-Files, The X Files 2, The X-Files

38
4,325 3,478
Spike is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
PeteBoyle added Spike Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffyverse

39
1,295 741
Scooby-Doo is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Scooby-Doo Scooby-Doo! Pirates Ahoy!, Scooby-Doo, Chill Out

40
2,085 1,898
Sophia Petrillo is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Sophia Petrillo Golden Girls

41
2,732 2,924
Eddard Stark is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Eddard Stark Game of Thrones

42
2,232 2,714
Elaine Benes is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Elaine Benes Seinfeld

43
2,317 2,850
Bender is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Bender Futurama, Futurama

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44
2,730 2,555
Daryl Dixon is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Daryl Dixon The Walking Dead

45
2,819 3,342
Daenerys Targaryen is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Daenerys Targaryen Game of Thrones

46
2,488 2,554
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
2,023 1,979
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
2,521 2,980
Jesse Pinkman is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Jesse Pinkman Breaking Bad

49
2,683 2,615
Arya Stark is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Arya Stark Game of Thrones

50
570 286
Tom and Jerry is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Tom and Jerry Pots and Pans