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
6,184 7,278
Homer Simpson is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Homer Simpson The Simpsons

Celebrities Who Weren't Born Where You Think The Greatest Female TV Characters of All Time

2
3,737 7,219
Bart Simpson is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Bart Simpson The Simpsons

3
3,460 5,708
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
2,456 6,540
Brian Griffin is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Brian Griffin Family Guy

5
6,017 4,624
Spock is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Spock Star Trek: The Original Series

6
4,504 6,013
Stewie Griffin is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Stewie Griffin Family Guy

7
7,682 4,447
Tyrion Lannister is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Tyrion Lannister Game of Thrones

8
7,821 6,281
Walter White is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Walter White Breaking Bad

9
6,125 4,606
Dr. Gregory House is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

10
4,069 3,266
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
3,933 3,179
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
5,498 4,350
Tony Soprano is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Tony Soprano The Sopranos

13
4,497 3,643
Cosmo Kramer is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Cosmo Kramer Seinfeld

14
5,955 4,029
Buffy Summers is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Buffy Summers Buffy the Vampire Slayer

15
5,407 3,953
Sheldon Cooper is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Sheldon Cooper The Big Bang Theory

The Creepiest Characters in TV History The Top Must-Read Books of All-Time

16
3,773 2,594
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
5,228 3,484
Chandler Muriel Bing is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

18
2,599 2,737
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
3,686 3,298
Jerry Seinfeld is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Jerry Seinfeld Seinfeld

20
4,374 3,141
Joey Tribbiani is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Joey Tribbiani Friends

21
4,237 3,878
Eric Cartman is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Eric Cartman South Park

22
2,426 2,617
Lieutenant Columbo is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Richard777 added Columbo Columbo

23
3,348 2,295
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 3,462
Stan Marsh is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Stan Marsh South Park

25
2,999 3,258
Archie Bunker is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Archie Bunker All in the Family

26
3,517 2,493
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
3,897 2,928
Michael Scott is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Michael Scott The Office

28
3,787 3,382
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 3,901
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

Finding Bigfoot Is The Most Ridiculous Show On TV, And Not Just For The Obvious Reasons Famous People with Stupid Tattoos

30
3,757 3,688
George Costanza is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
George Costanza Seinfeld

31
3,547 3,033
Phoebe Buffay is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Phoebe Buffay Friends

32
4,305 3,833
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
2,699 2,345
Fonzie is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Fonzie Happy Days

34
3,622 2,736
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
1,745 1,796
Sheriff Andy Taylor is listed (or ranked) 35 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

36
2,892 2,849
Kermit the Frog is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Kermit the Frog Sam and Friends, The Muppet Movie, The Christmas Toy

37
2,541 3,098
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
4,327 3,479
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
1,296 741
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 1,899
Sophia Petrillo is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Sophia Petrillo Golden Girls

41
2,733 2,926
Eddard Stark is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Eddard Stark Game of Thrones

42
2,234 2,715
Elaine Benes is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Elaine Benes Seinfeld

43
2,319 2,850
Bender is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Bender Futurama, Futurama

The Best EDM YouTube Channels The Best Science Podcasts

44
2,730 2,557
Daryl Dixon is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Daryl Dixon The Walking Dead

45
2,820 3,344
Daenerys Targaryen is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Daenerys Targaryen Game of Thrones

46
2,490 2,556
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
2,025 1,980
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
2,523 2,980
Jesse Pinkman is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Jesse Pinkman Breaking Bad

49
2,684 2,617
Arya Stark is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Arya Stark Game of Thrones

50
571 287
Tom and Jerry is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Tom and Jerry Pots and Pans