TV’s greatest characters

I love television, and particularly classic television. I decided to compile my favorite TV characters – 100 male characters and 100 female characters. Obviously with lists like these, there will be some grousing and disagreements of inclusions or positions. I tried to be as inclusive to sci-fi and drama as I could be, given that I rarely watch sci-fi (though the shows I do watch are pretty great), and I tend toward comedies.

So, how did I come up with this list? What were some of the criteria? Some of it is cultural significance – how influential were these characters? Obviously Jackie Gleason’s Ralph Kramden or Lucille Ball’s Lucy Ricardo are giants in TV history. I also thought about which characters I’ve responded to most – so some will wonder why I put Erin Hannon from The Office – I loved Ellie Kemper’s performance as Erin, and thought that she had the unenviable task of injecting humor and heart into a show that was starting to age.

Unfortunately, I don’t watch TV from other countries aside from the US or the UK, so there won’t be any foreign-speaking characters on the show. I will later put together my favorite Britcoms on a post later.

Also, unfortunately, as diverse as I tried to be with my selection, it’s still heavily white – a sad commentary on how homogenous TV can still be despite social progress.

So enjoy!

1) Ralph Kramden, The Honeymooners (Jackie Gleason)/Lucy Ricardo, I Love Lucy (Lucille Ball)

2) Homer Simpson, The Simpsons (voice Dan Castanella)/Mary Richards, The Mary Tyler Moore Show (Mary Tyler Moore)

3) Tony Soprano, The Sopranos (James Gandolfini)/ Roseanne Connor, Roseanne (Roseanne Barr)

4) Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Star Trek: The Next Generation (Patrick Stewart)/ Buffy Summers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Sarah Michelle Gellar)

5) Cliff Huxtable, The Cosby Show (Bill Cosby)/ Ethel Mertz, I Love Lucy (Vivian Vance)

6) Michael Scott, The Office (Steve Carrell)/ Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City (Sarah Jessica Parker)

7) Jerry Seinfeld, Seinfeld (Jerry Seinfeld)/ Miss Piggy, Muppets Tonight (voice Frank Oz)

8) Archie Bunker, All in the Family; Archie Bunker’s Place (Carroll O’Connor)/ Carmela Soprano, The Sopranos (Edie Falco)

9) Don Draper, Mad Men (Jon Hamm)/ Peggy Olson, Mad Men (Elisabeth Moss)

10) Jack Bauer, 24 (Kiefer Sutherland)/ Jessica Fletcher, Murder, She Wrote (Angela Lansbury)

11) Fox Mulder, The X-Files (David Duchovny)/ Murphy Brown, Murphy Brown (Candice Bergen)

12) Mr Spock, Star Trek (Leonard Nimoy)/ Edith Bunker, All in the Family; Archie Bunker’s Place (Jean Stapleton)

13) Fraiser Crane, Cheers; Frasier (Kelsey Grammar)/ Edina Monsoon, Absolutely Fabulous (Jennifer Saunders)

14) Captain Benjamin “Hawkeye” Pierce, M*A*S*H* (Alan Alda)/ Liz Lemon, 30 Rock (Tina Fey)

15) Lieutenant Columbo, Columbo (Peter Falk)/ Mary Beth Lacey, Cagney & Lacey (Tyne Daley)

16) Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Angel (David Boreanz)/ Alexis Carrington Colby Dexter Rowan, Dynasty (Joan Collins)

17) Big Bird, Sesame Street (voice by Carroll Spinner)/ Leslie Knope, Parks and Recreation (Amy Poehler)

18) David Brent, The Office (Ricky Gervais)/ Diane Chambers, Cheers (Shelly Long)

19) Andy Taylor, The Andy Griffith Show (Andy Griffith)/ Willow Rosenberg, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Allyson Hannigan)

20) Niles Crane, Frasier (David Hyde Pierce)/ Angela Chase, My So-Called Life (Claire Danes)

21) The Doctor, Doctor Who (played by various actors)/ Marge Simpson, The Simpsons (voice Julie Kavner)

22) Dr. Gregory House, House (Hugh Laurie)/ Joan Harris, Mad Men (Christina Hendricks)

23) Richard Kimble, The Fugitive (David Janssen)/ Elaine Benes, Seinfeld (Julia Louis-Dreyfus

24) Andy Sipowicz, NYPD Blues (Dennis Franz)/ Laura Roslin, Battlestar Gallactica (Mary McDonnell)

25) John Steed, The Avengers (Patrick Macnee)/ Chris Cagney, Cagney & Lacey (Sharon Gless)

26) Rob Petrie, The Dick Van Dyke Show (Dick Van Dyke)/ Rose Nylund, The Golden Girls; The Golden Palace (Betty White)

27) Alexander Scott, I Spy (Bill Cosby)/ C.J. Cregg, The West Wing (Alison Janney)

28) Basil Fawlty, Fawlty Towers (John Cleese)/ Erica Kane, All My Children (Susan Lucci)

29) Josiah Bartlett, The West Wing (Martin Sheen)/ Dana Scully, The X-Files (Gillian Anderson)

30) Ron Swanson, Parks and Recreation (Nick Offerman)/ Patsy Stone, Absolutely Fabulous (Joanna Lumley)

31) Benson, Soap; Benson (Robert Guillame)/ Lady Violet Crawley, Downton Abbey (Maggie Smith)

32) Roger Sterling, Mad Men (John Slattery)/ Shirley Schmidt, Boston Legal (Candice Bergen)

33) Jack Donaghy, 30 Rock (Alec Baldwin)/ Wilhelmina Slater, Ugly Betty (Vanessa Williams)

34) J.R. Ewing, Dallas (Larry Hagman)/ Samantha Stevens, Bewitched (Elizabeth Montgomery)

35) Bart Simpson, The Simpsons (voice by Nancy Cartwright)/ Karen Walker, Will & Grace (Megan Mullalley

36) Oscar Madison, The Odd Couple (Jack Klugman)/ Emma Peel, The Avengers (Diana Rigg)

37) Jim Rockford, The Rockford Files (James Garner)/ Rhoda Morgenstern, The Mary Tyler Moore; Rhoda (Valerie Harper)

38) Kelly Robinson, I Spy (Robert Culp)/ Phoebe Buffay, Friends (Lisa Kudrow)

39) Dan Connor, Roseanne (John Goodman)/ Jackie Harris, Roseanne (Laurie Metcalf)

40) George Jefferson, The Jeffersons (Sherman Helmsley)/ Laura Petrie, The Dick Van Dyke Show (Mary Tyler Moore)

41) Leland Palmer, Twin Peaks (Ray Wise)/ Maude Findley, Maude (Bea Arthur)

42) Walter White, Breaking Bad (Bryan Cranston)/ Lucille Bluth, Arrested Development (Jessica Walter)

43) Stewie Griffin, Family Guy (voice by Seth MacFarlane/ Patty Hewes, Damages, Glenn Close

44) Dwight Schrute, The Office (Rainn Wilson/ Suzanne Sugarbaker, Designing Women; Women of the House (Delta Burke)

45) Perry Mason, Perry Mason (Raymond Burr)/ Jaime Sommers, The Bionic Woman (Lindsay Wagner)

46) Lt. Theo Kojak, Kojak (Telly Savales)/ Chrissy Snow, Three’s Company (Suzanne Somers)

47) Mr. Humphries, Are You Being Served?; Grace & Favour (John Inman)/ Whitley Gilbert, A Different World (Jasmine Guy)

48) Cosmo Kramer, Seinfeld (Michael Richards)/ Samantha Jones, Sex and the City (Kim Cattrall)

49) Elmo, Sesame Street (voice by Kevin Clash)/Florence Johnston, The Jeffersons; Checking In (Marla Gibbs)

50) Lou Grant, The Mary Tyler Moore Show; Lou Grant (Ed Asner)/ Claire Huxtable, The Cosby Show (Phylicia Rashad)

51) Jack Tripper, Three’s Company; Three’s a Crowd (John Ritter)/ Donna Noble, Doctor Who (Catherine Tate)

52) Fred Sanford, Sanford and Son; Sanford Arms; Sanford (Redd Foxx)/ Tess, Touched by An Angel (Della Reese)

53) Spike, Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Angel (James Marsters)/ Sydney Bristow, Alias (Jennifer Garner)

54) Ben Matlock, Matlock (Andy Griffith)/ Lisa Simpson, The Simpsons (voice by Yeardly Smith)

55) Barney Fife, The Andy Griffith Show (Don Knotts)/ Valerie Cherish, The Comeback (Lisa Kudrow)

56) Ed Norton, The Honeymooners (Art Carney)/ Jean Hardcastle, As Time Goes By (Judi Dench)

57) Ricky Ricardo, I Love Lucy (Desi Arnaz)/ Miranda Hobbes, Sex and the City (Cynthia Nixon)

58) Dexter Morgan, Dexter (Michael C. Hall)/ Jane Marple, Agatha Christie’s Marple (Joan Hickson, Geraldine McEwan, Julia McKenzie)

9) John Locke, Lost (Terry O’Quinn/ Olivia Benson, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (Mariska Hartigay)

60) Sam Malone, Cheers (Ted Danson)/ Jessica Tate, Soap (Katherine Helmond)

61) Alex P. Keaton, Michael J. Fox, Family Ties/ Ally McBeal, Ally McBeal (Calista Flockhart)

62) Ted Baxter, The Mary Tyler Moore Show (Ted Knight)/ Sue Ann Nivens, The Mary Tyler Moore Show (Betty White)

63) Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie’s Poirot (David Suchet)/ Dorothy Zbornak, The Golden Girls (Bea Arthur)

64) Angus MacGyver, MacGyver (Richard Dean Anderson)/ Lt. Deanna Troy, Star Trek: The Next Generation (Marina Sirtis)

65) Sheldon Cooper, The Big Bang Theory (Jim Parsons)/ Jane Tennison, Prime Suspect (Helen Mirren)

66) Ari Gold, Entourage (Jeremy Piven)/ Fran Fine, The Nanny (Fran Drescher)

67) Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch)/ Gloria Pritchett, Modern Family (Sofia Vergara)

68) Fred Mertz, I Love Lucy (William Frawley)/ Sally Draper, Mad Men (Kiernan Shipka)

69) Tracy Jordan, 30 Rock (Tracy Morgan)/ Nyota Uhura, Star Trek (Nichelle Nichols)

70) Lennie Briscoe, Law & Order (Jerry Orbach)/ Sophia Petrillo, The Golden Girls; The Golden Palace; Empty Nest (Estelle Getty)

80) Buddy Sorrell, The Dick Van Dyke Show (Morey Amsterdam)/ Sybil Fawlty, Fawlty Towers (Prunella Scales)

81) Frank Pembleton, Homicide: Life on the Street (Andre Braugher)/ Hyacinth Bucket, Keeping Up Appearances (Patricia Routledge)

82) Oscar Madison, The Odd Couple (Tony Randall)/ Maggie Jacobs, Extras (Ashley Jensen)

83) Norman Buntz, Hill Street Blues (Dennis Franz)/ Maddie Hayes, Moonlighting (Cybill Shephard)

84) Dr. Douglas Ross, ER (George Clooney)/ Gemma Teller, Sons of Anarchy (Katey Sagal)

85) Charles Ingall, Little House on the Prairie (Michael Landon)/ Blanche Devereaux, Golden Girls; The Golden Palace (Rue McClanahan)

86) Andy Millman, Extras (Ricky Gervais)/ Betty Suarez, Ugly Betty (America Ferrera)

87) Kenneth Parcell, 30 Rock (Jack McBrayer)/ Mallory Keaton, Family Ties (Justine Bateman)

88) Bert Cooper, Mad Men (Robert Morse)/ Flo Castleberry, Alice; Flo (Polly Holliday)

89) Jack MacFarland, Will & Grace (Sean Hayes)/ Sandra Clark, 227 (Jackee Harry)

90) Eddie Haskell, Leave It to Beaver (Ken Osmond)/ Edie Britt, Desperate Housewives (Nicolette Sheridan)

91) Chandler Bing, Friends (Matthew Perry)/ Ellen Morgan, Ellen (Ellen DeGeneres)

92) Arthur Spooner, King of Queens (Jerry Stiller)/ Penny, The Big Bang Theory (Kaley Cuoco)

93) Benjamin Linus, Lost (Michael Emerson)/ Grace Adler, Will & Grace (Debra Messing)

94) Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli, Happy Days (Henry Winkler)/ Charlotte York, Sex and the City (Kristen Davis)

95) Rev. Jim Ignatowski, Taxi (Christopher Lloyd)/ April Ludgate, Parks and Recreation (Aubrey Plaza)

96) Luke Spencer, General Hospital (Anthony Geary)/ Phyllis Lindstrom, The Mary Tyler Moore Show; Phyllis

97) Arnold Jackson, Diff’rent Strokes (Gary Coleman)/ Veronica Mars, Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell)

98) Batman, Batman (Adam West)/ Amanda Woodward, Melrose Place (Heather Locklear)

99) Hilton Lucas, Cosby (Bill Cosby)/ Erin Hannon, The Office (Ellie Kemper)

100) Theodore Mooney, The Lucy Show (Gale Gordon)/ Alice Tinker, The Vicar of Dibley (Emma Chambers)

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Filed under Celeb, Comedy, commentary, DVD, Sitcom, Television

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