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The Most Well-Acted Characters of All Time

Updated June 12, 2019 12.3k votes 1.9k voters 11.2k views44 items

There’s such a huge different when discussing television characters versus film characters. The main distinction is that we get to know our TV characters much better. Instead of a two-hour movie, we get to see television characters in different situations, often over the course of several seasons and many years. We feel like we know them personally, and in some scenarios they might seem like our dad, sister, or best friend. Nothing affects how a television character comes across to a spectator like the person playing the role. Even the most mundane script or unfunny sitcom can be saved by an actor’s performance. These are the best-acted characters on television of all time.

This list includes both the best -cted characters currently on TV and old characters from the small screen's past. Nearly every genre is covered from sitcoms to police procedurals to political dramas. Some of these are cantankerous sorts (we’re looking at you, Dr. House), others have had incredible obstacles to overcome (we knew you could beat cancer, Christina Braverman), and a few of these characters are entertainingly evil (everyone feels guilty rooting for Francis Underwood.)

We’ve cried along with these characters and believed their every emotion. These well-acted television characters are what stays with fans when they shut off the television for the night. Of course, dialogue and story are imperative on any successful television program, but without the actor to deliver those lines and sell the narrative, the television screen may as well stay blank.

Make your voice heard. Be sure to vote up all the best acted current TV characters and the most expertly acted TV characters from previous eras of television.
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  • Walter White
    Photo: Metaweb / CC-BY
    Walter White goes from mild-mannered middle-aged high school science teacher to meth drug lord in convincing fashion. Cranston took home the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series three years in a row and a total of four times for his portrayal of the kingpin who became Heisenberg.
    • Series: Breaking Bad
    • Actor: Bryan Cranston
    • Occupation: Teacher, Business Owner
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  • Dr. Gregory House
    Photo: Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY
    Imagine having to play someone as mean as House. Dr. House is a genius, but his bedside manner could use some definite refining. A lot of credit has to be given to Hugh Laurie for making audiences fall in love with House, despite his cantankerous ways. House was so popular that he overtook David Hasselhoff in 2011's Guinness Book of World Records as the most watched man on television. Laurie earned two Golden Globes and six Emmy nominations for his portrayal of House.
    • Series: House
    • Actor: Hugh Laurie
    • Occupation: Physician
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    • Series: Game of Thrones
    • Actor: Peter Dinklage
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    • Series: Game of Thrones
    • Actor: Jack Gleeson
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