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The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

Updated December 24, 2020 1.2m votes 67.9k voters 778.2k 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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  • Walter White1
    15,440
    8,817

    Walter White

    Breaking Bad
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  • Tyrion Lannister2
    12,976
    8,469

    Tyrion Lannister

    Game of Thrones
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  • Chandler Bing3
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  • Sherlock Holmes4
    7,265
    4,517

    Sherlock Holmes

    Sherlock, The Hound of the Baskervilles
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  • Michael Scott5
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    Michael Scott

    The Office
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  • Bugs Bunny6
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    Bugs Bunny

    Baby Looney Tunes, Big House Bunny
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  • Tony Soprano7
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    Tony Soprano

    The Sopranos
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  • Jon Snow8
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    3,540

    Jon Snow

    Game of Thrones, A Song of Ice and Fire
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  • Joey Tribbiani9
    8,611
    5,510
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  • Dr. Gregory House10
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  • Jesse Pinkman11
    5,132
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    Jesse Pinkman

    Breaking Bad
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  • Scooby-Doo12
    4,396
    2,331

    Scooby-Doo

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  • Kermit the Frog13
    4,853
    3,683

    Kermit the Frog

    Sam and Friends, The Muppet Movie
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  • Dwight Schrute14
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    Dwight Schrute

    The Office
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  • George Costanza15
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  • Will Smith16
    5,678
    4,183

    Will Smith

    The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
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  • Batman17
    3,490
    2,559

    Batman

    Batman Beyond, Young Justice
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  • Fonzie18
    4,235
    3,608

    Fonzie

    Happy Days
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  • Lucy Ricardo19
    5,827
    5,068

    Lucy Ricardo

    I Love Lucy
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    #7 of 109 Favorite TV Moms Of All Time#12 of 26 The Best Lady BFFs in TV History

  • Mr. Rogers20
    2,661
    1,455
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  • Phoebe Buffay21
    6,250
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  • Jean-Luc Picard22
    4,986
    4,270

    Jean-Luc Picard

    Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek Generations
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  • Cosmo Kramer23
    6,513
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    Cosmo Kramer

    Seinfeld
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  • Arya Stark24
    5,160
    3,859

    Arya Stark

    Game of Thrones
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  • Tom and Jerry25
    3,165
    1,542

    Tom and Jerry

    Pots and Pans
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    #2 of 295 The Best Duos of All Time#199 of 239 The Most Annoying Cartoon Characters of All Time