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
6,686 8,450
Homer Simpson is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Homer Simpson The Simpsons

2
4,042 8,357
Bart Simpson is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Bart Simpson The Simpsons

3
2,824 7,711
Brian Griffin is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Brian Griffin Family Guy

4
3,928 6,849
Peter Griffin is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Peter Griffin Family Guy, Family Guy Universe

5
6,684 5,313
Spock is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Spock Star Trek: The Original Series

6
4,982 6,931
Stewie Griffin is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Stewie Griffin Family Guy

7
8,784 6,763
Walter White is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Walter White Breaking Bad

8
8,667 5,020
Tyrion Lannister is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Tyrion Lannister Game of Thrones

9
4,590 3,728
Bugs Bunny is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Bugs Bunny Baby Looney Tunes, Big House Bunny, Mutiny on the Bunny

10
6,714 5,173
Dr. Gregory House is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

11
4,376 3,659
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
5,883 4,918
Tony Soprano is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Tony Soprano The Sopranos

13
4,929 4,132
Cosmo Kramer is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Cosmo Kramer Seinfeld

14
6,399 4,573
Buffy Summers is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Buffy Summers Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Child Actors Who Tragically Died Young

15
5,982 4,564
Sheldon Cooper is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Sheldon Cooper The Big Bang Theory

16
4,247 2,964
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
6,015 3,949
Chandler Muriel Bing is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

18
4,722 3,240
Michael Scott is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Michael Scott The Office

19
3,023 3,300
Mr. Bean is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
MangoStarkey added Mr. Bean Mr. Bean, Mr. Bean, Mr. Bean's Holiday

20
5,024 3,619
Joey Tribbiani is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Joey Tribbiani Friends

21
3,965 2,617
Sherlock Holmes is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Sherlock Holmes Sherlock, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sherlock Holmes

The Greatest Female TV Characters of All Time

22
4,090 3,741
Jerry Seinfeld is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Jerry Seinfeld Seinfeld

23
4,644 4,388
Eric Cartman is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Eric Cartman South Park

24
2,710 2,988
Lieutenant Columbo is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Richard777 added Columbo Columbo

25
3,286 3,611
Archie Bunker is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Archie Bunker All in the Family

26
3,689 4,229
Dexter Morgan is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Dexter Morgan Dexter, Dexter: Early Cuts, Dexter Universe

27
3,884 2,781
Jean-Luc Picard is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Jean-Luc Picard Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek Generations, Star Trek: Insurrection

28
1,801 3,990
Stan Marsh is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Stan Marsh South Park

The Creepiest Characters in TV History

29
4,075 3,777
Al Bundy is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Al Bundy Married... With Children

30
4,136 4,004
George Costanza is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
George Costanza Seinfeld

31
4,770 4,217
Barney Stinson is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Barney Stinson How I Met Your Mother

32
3,988 3,453
Phoebe Buffay is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Phoebe Buffay Friends

33
3,030 2,613
Fonzie is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Fonzie Happy Days

34
4,014 3,068
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
3,258 3,055
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

The Conspiracy Theories You Believe Are True

36
2,008 2,026
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
2,844 3,346
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
1,729 938
Scooby-Doo is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Scooby-Doo Scooby-Doo! Pirates Ahoy!, Scooby-Doo, Chill Out

39
2,364 2,130
Sophia Petrillo is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Sophia Petrillo Golden Girls

40
3,038 3,225
Eddard Stark is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Eddard Stark Game of Thrones

41
4,511 3,859
Spike is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
PeteBoyle added Spike Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffyverse

42
3,211 3,687
Daenerys Targaryen is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Daenerys Targaryen Game of Thrones

There's An International Clown Hall Of Fame In Wisconsin To Trigger Your Coulrophobia

43
2,859 2,794
Dean Winchester is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Dean Winchester Supernatural The Animation, Supernatural, Supernatural

44
2,490 2,977
Elaine Benes is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Elaine Benes Seinfeld

45
2,541 3,119
Bender is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Bender Futurama, Futurama

46
3,043 2,875
Daryl Dixon is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Daryl Dixon The Walking Dead

47
3,064 2,929
Arya Stark is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Arya Stark Game of Thrones

48
2,813 3,291
Jesse Pinkman is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Jesse Pinkman Breaking Bad

49
2,221 2,191
Morticia Addams is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Morticia Addams The Addams Family, Addams Family Values, The Addams Family

50
2,336 2,192
Frasier Crane is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Frasier Crane Frasier, Cheers