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69.8k voters

The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

Updated March 20, 2021 1.1m votes 69.8k voters 793.1k 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
    15,248
    8,608

    Walter White

    Breaking Bad

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  • 2
    12,621
    8,336

    Tyrion Lannister

    Game of Thrones

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  • 3
    10,377
    7,085
  • 4
    7,131
    4,637

    Sherlock Holmes

    Sherlock, The Hound of the Baskervilles

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  • 5
    11,093
    4,830

    Michael Scott

    The Office

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  • 6
    8,391
    6,394

    Tony Soprano

    The Sopranos

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  • 7
    5,669
    4,095

    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
    7,264
    5,751

    Bugs Bunny

    Baby Looney Tunes, Big House Bunny

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  • 9
    8,358
    5,464

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  • 10
    4,619
    3,638

    Jon Snow

    Game of Thrones, A Song of Ice and Fire

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  • 11
    6,226
    3,699

    Dwight Schrute

    The Office

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  • 12
    4,266
    2,340

    Scooby-Doo

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

  • 13
    8,313
    6,958

    More Dr. Gregory House 

    #39 of 67 The Best Fictional Characters You'd Leave Your Man For#8 of 176 The Most Likeable TV Anti-Heroes

  • 14
    5,600
    4,712

    More George Costanza 

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  • 15
    2,595
    1,439

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  • 16
    4,660
    3,592

    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

  • 17
    3,357
    2,507

    Batman

    Batman Beyond, Young Justice

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  • 18
    6,068
    4,905

    More Phoebe Buffay 

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  • 19
    5,484
    4,070

    Will Smith

    The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

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    #1 of 126 The Greatest Characters We Watched Grow Up on TV#5 of 85 The Funniest Black TV Characters of All Time, Ranked

  • 20
    4,056
    3,466

    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

  • 21
    5,510
    4,822

    Lucy Ricardo

    I Love Lucy

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    #9 of 109 Favorite TV Moms Of All Time#12 of 26 The Best Lady BFFs in TV History

  • 22
    6,261
    5,376

    Cosmo Kramer

    Seinfeld

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    #3 of 13 10 Fictional Characters Who Are Way Richer Than You Think (And 3 Who Are Poorer)#67 of 97 The Greatest Geeks in TV History

  • 23
    5,025
    3,694

    Arya Stark

    Game of Thrones

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  • 24
    4,739
    4,072

    Jean-Luc Picard

    Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek Generations

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  • 25
    3,093
    1,531

    Tom and Jerry

    Pots and Pans

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    #2 of 298 The Best Duos of All Time#604 of 737 The Most Annoying TV and Film Characters Ever