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
6,516 8,121
Homer Simpson is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Homer Simpson The Simpsons

2
3,939 8,032
Bart Simpson is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Bart Simpson The Simpsons

3
2,723 7,339
Brian Griffin is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Brian Griffin Family Guy

4
3,797 6,512
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
6,494 5,091
Spock is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Spock Star Trek: The Original Series

6
4,823 6,662
Stewie Griffin is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Stewie Griffin Family Guy

7
8,490 6,622
Walter White is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Walter White Breaking Bad

8
8,388 4,855
Tyrion Lannister is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Tyrion Lannister Game of Thrones

9
6,537 5,002
Dr. Gregory House is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

10
4,416 3,570
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
4,248 3,506
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
5,749 4,760
Tony Soprano is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Tony Soprano The Sopranos

13
4,800 3,991
Cosmo Kramer is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Cosmo Kramer Seinfeld

14
6,278 4,402
Buffy Summers is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Buffy Summers Buffy the Vampire Slayer

The Most Awkward Movies to Watch with Your Parents

15
5,810 4,371
Sheldon Cooper is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Sheldon Cooper The Big Bang Theory

16
4,116 2,855
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
5,782 3,802
Chandler Muriel Bing is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

18
2,884 3,125
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
4,829 3,469
Joey Tribbiani is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Joey Tribbiani Friends

20
3,969 3,611
Jerry Seinfeld is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Jerry Seinfeld Seinfeld

21
4,446 3,143
Michael Scott is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Michael Scott The Office

The Greatest Female TV Characters of All Time

22
3,798 2,524
Sherlock Holmes is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Sherlock Holmes Sherlock, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sherlock Holmes

23
4,509 4,252
Eric Cartman is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Eric Cartman South Park

24
2,627 2,882
Lieutenant Columbo is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Richard777 added Columbo Columbo

25
3,205 3,517
Archie Bunker is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Archie Bunker All in the Family

26
1,758 3,844
Stan Marsh is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Stan Marsh South Park

27
3,601 4,123
Dexter Morgan is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Dexter Morgan Dexter, Dexter: Early Cuts, Dexter Universe

28
3,788 2,698
Jean-Luc Picard is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Jean-Luc Picard Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek Generations, Star Trek: Insurrection

The Creepiest Characters in TV History

29
3,980 3,675
Al Bundy is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Al Bundy Married... With Children

30
4,016 3,916
George Costanza is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
George Costanza Seinfeld

31
4,623 4,099
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
3,851 3,314
Phoebe Buffay is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Phoebe Buffay Friends

33
2,934 2,546
Fonzie is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Fonzie Happy Days

34
3,899 2,970
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
3,138 3,006
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 Very Best Movie Franchises

36
1,931 1,970
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
2,780 3,274
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
1,612 879
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
2,298 2,068
Sophia Petrillo is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Sophia Petrillo Golden Girls

40
4,476 3,746
Spike is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
PeteBoyle added Spike Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffyverse

41
2,955 3,138
Eddard Stark is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Eddard Stark Game of Thrones

42
2,430 2,900
Elaine Benes is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Elaine Benes Seinfeld

Fan Theories About What Will Happen In Season 2 Of Westworld

43
2,481 3,049
Bender is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Bender Futurama, Futurama

44
2,763 2,722
Dean Winchester is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Dean Winchester Supernatural The Animation, Supernatural, Supernatural

45
3,091 3,589
Daenerys Targaryen is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Daenerys Targaryen Game of Thrones

46
2,965 2,794
Daryl Dixon is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Daryl Dixon The Walking Dead

47
2,966 2,837
Arya Stark is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Arya Stark Game of Thrones

48
2,720 3,206
Jesse Pinkman is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Jesse Pinkman Breaking Bad

49
2,161 2,122
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
2,269 2,126
Frasier Crane is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest TV Characters of All Time
Frasier Crane Frasier, Cheers