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The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

Updated February 27, 2021 1.2m votes 68.8k voters 784.3k 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
    15,237
    8,668

    Walter White

    Breaking Bad
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  • Tyrion Lannister2
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    Tyrion Lannister

    Game of Thrones
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  • Chandler Bing3
    10,409
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  • Sherlock Holmes4
    7,175
    4,563

    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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  • Jesse Pinkman6
    5,553
    4,114

    Jesse Pinkman

    Breaking Bad
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    #20 of 102 The Greatest Bad Boys in TV History#7 of 110 The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History

  • Tony Soprano7
    8,335
    6,515

    Tony Soprano

    The Sopranos
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  • Bugs Bunny8
    7,373
    5,819

    Bugs Bunny

    Baby Looney Tunes, Big House Bunny
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  • Joey Tribbiani9
    8,434
    5,465
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  • Jon Snow10
    4,578
    3,590

    Jon Snow

    Game of Thrones, A Song of Ice and Fire
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  • Dr. Gregory House11
    8,449
    7,090
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  • Dwight Schrute12
    6,167
    3,751

    Dwight Schrute

    The Office
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  • Scooby-Doo13
    4,309
    2,323

    Scooby-Doo

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  • George Costanza14
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  • Batman15
    3,421
    2,525

    Batman

    Batman Beyond, Young Justice
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  • Kermit the Frog16
    4,759
    3,641

    Kermit the Frog

    Sam and Friends, The Muppet Movie
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    #6 of 196 The Best TV Characters Of The '80s#4 of 46 The Best Green Characters

  • Mr. Rogers17
    2,628
    1,450
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  • Phoebe Buffay18
    6,123
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  • Will Smith19
    5,558
    4,146

    Will Smith

    The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
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  • Lucy Ricardo20
    5,652
    4,944

    Lucy Ricardo

    I Love Lucy
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  • Fonzie21
    4,131
    3,540

    Fonzie

    Happy Days
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  • Cosmo Kramer22
    6,349
    5,521

    Cosmo Kramer

    Seinfeld
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  • Jean-Luc Picard23
    4,832
    4,192

    Jean-Luc Picard

    Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek Generations
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  • Tom and Jerry24
    3,118
    1,543

    Tom and Jerry

    Pots and Pans
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    #2 of 297 The Best Duos of All Time#226 of 239 The Most Annoying Cartoon Characters of All Time

  • Arya Stark25
    5,062
    3,774

    Arya Stark

    Game of Thrones
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