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The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

Updated March 20, 2021 1.1m votes 69.9k voters 794.1k views1.3k items

List RulesOnly 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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  • 1
    15,299
    8,634

    Walter White

    Breaking Bad

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  • 2
    12,650
    8,372

    Tyrion Lannister

    Game of Thrones

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  • 3
    10,414
    7,126
  • 4
    7,147
    4,666

    Sherlock Holmes

    Sherlock, The Hound of the Baskervilles

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  • 5
    11,139
    4,847

    Michael Scott

    The Office

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    Michael Scott Is A Bad Person And You're Also A Bad Person For Liking Him#1 of 73 The Greatest Fictional Bosses

  • 6
    8,431
    6,407

    Tony Soprano

    The Sopranos

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    #8 of 20 Iconic Roles That Nobody Else Should Ever, Ever Play#56 of 103 The Greatest Bad Boys in TV History

  • 7
    5,700
    4,115

    Jesse Pinkman

    Breaking Bad

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    #7 of 110 The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History#26 of 67 The Biggest Pimps In Television History

  • 8
    7,274
    5,765

    Bugs Bunny

    Baby Looney Tunes, Big House Bunny

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  • 9
    8,375
    5,484

    More Joey Tribbiani 

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  • 10
    4,637
    3,658

    Jon Snow

    Game of Thrones, A Song of Ice and Fire

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  • 11
    6,254
    3,711

    Dwight Schrute

    The Office

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  • 12
    4,268
    2,352

    Scooby-Doo

    Scooby-Doo! Pirates Ahoy!, Scooby-Doo

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    #27 of 99 The Funniest Characters Currently on TV#4 of 196 The Greatest Fictional Pets You Wish You Could Actually Own

  • 13
    8,323
    6,973

    More Dr. Gregory House 

    #44 of 69 The Best Fictional Characters You'd Leave Your Man For#8 of 176 The Most Likeable TV Anti-Heroes

  • 14
    5,617
    4,721

    More George Costanza 

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  • 15
    4,670
    3,601

    Kermit the Frog

    Sam and Friends, The Muppet Movie

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    #4 of 47 The Best Green Characters#4 of 32 The Most Interesting Muppet Show Characters

  • 16
    2,602
    1,450

    More Mr. Rogers 

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  • 17
    6,278
    5,381

    Cosmo Kramer

    Seinfeld

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    #2 of 49 The Best Seinfeld Characters#68 of 97 The Greatest Geeks in TV History

  • 18
    6,082
    4,919

    More Phoebe Buffay 

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  • 19
    3,363
    2,517

    Batman

    Batman Beyond, Young Justice

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  • 20
    5,494
    4,075

    Will Smith

    The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

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    #5 of 85 The Funniest Black TV Characters of All Time, Ranked#1 of 71 The Funniest Kid Characters in TV History

  • 21
    4,067
    3,473

    Fonzie

    Happy Days

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    #7 of 56 The Greatest Only Children in TV History#8 of 43 The Greatest Perpetual Bachelors in TV History

  • 22
    5,519
    4,829

    Lucy Ricardo

    I Love Lucy

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    #7 of 109 Favorite TV Moms Of All Time#13 of 26 The Best Lady BFFs in TV History

  • 23
    5,037
    3,701

    Arya Stark

    Game of Thrones

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  • 24
    4,744
    4,079

    Jean-Luc Picard

    Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek Generations

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  • 25
    3,105
    1,534

    Tom and Jerry

    Pots and Pans

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    #2 of 298 The Best Duos of All Time#226 of 239 The Most Annoying Cartoon Characters of All Time