I was discussing TV characters with a good friend recently and we got on the subject of GREAT TV characters. Whom do you consider worthy of a mention in your top ten list? Many of these characters were in brilliant shows and some jumped the shark (as did the characters), but when the show was a hit, the characters were brilliant.
Mine (in no specific order):
1. Tony Soprano
2. Archie Bunker
3. J.R. Ewing
4. Mr. Spock
5. Stewie Griffin
6. Dorothy Zbornak
7. Roseanne Connor
8. Lucille Bluth
9. Carla Tortelli
10. Captain Jean-Luc Picard
Matt Dillon (Gunsmoke)
Granny on Beverly Hillbillies
Al Bundy has to be in there somewhere.
I'm going to name the top ten in terms of my TV experience. Characters like Mary Tyler Moore's in the MTM Show or Archie Bunker were WAY before my time and I feel I don't really have a true grasp of their place in the pantheon (even though I know they belong there), so I'll leave them out:
1. Lucy (the only old school rerun I recall)
2. Magnum PI (my first crush as a young boy)
3. Don Draper (my current crush)
4. Karen Walker (funniest supporting character ever)
5. Rose Nyland (I remember being a kid and loving her)
6. Cliff Huxtable (THE show of my childhood, I wanted Cliff to be my dad)
7. Miles Crane (my favorite character of all time)
8. Roseanne Connor (for all of us poor kids in the early 90s, this character was our mother)
9. Walter White (brilliantly acted)
10.The entire cast of Arrested Development (can't pick one, a true ensemble, and, for me, the best show on TV ever)
This thread will go on forever as no one will ever agree.
I nominate Temperance Brennan from Bones.
A preliminary draft of the first ten that came to mind, reserving the right to update, and in no particular order...
Kevin Conroy's Batmam
William the Bloody a/k/a Spike
Jackie (Roseanne's sister)
Victoria Lord Buchanan
[quote]7. Miles Crane (my favorite character of all time)
Your love is shallow, my friend.
I agree with number 3 on r10's list.
haha, r12. I really fucked up the whole post didn't I?
Victoria Lord Buchanan?
Or is that Nicole Smith? Or Jean Carpenter?
can't have her on this list without having Erica Kane.
In no particular order
Top Lead characters
Cagney et Lacey
J R Ewing
Regina Phalange (aka Phoebe)
Alexis Morrell Carrington Colby Dexter Rowan
Captain James T Kirk
Karen Walker is definitely up there.
Archie Bunker is iconic, as is Mary Tyler Moore.
Cast of Family Ties, especially Alex Keaton.
Rachel Green and Ross Geller
Off the top of my head...
Livia Soprano (The Sopranos)
Tony Soprano (The Sopranos)
Janice Soprano (The Sopranos)
Margaret Chenowith (Six Feet Under)
Omar Little (The Wire)
Bunk Moreland (The Wire)
Niles Crane (Frazier)
Anna Forbes (This Life)
Frank Pembleton (Homicide: Life on the Street)
Al Swearengen (Deadwood)
Fox Mulder and Dana Scully
[R19], Brian Kinney? Then add Bette Porter.
Now, for real (I have only seen most of these in reruns):
Ed Norton and Ralph Kramden, Ben Casey, Perry Mason, Homer Simpson, Morticia Addams (does she count, since the character was from the cartoons?), Maude, Louis de Palma, Miss Piggy, and Livia Soprano.
Jane Mancini - Melrose Place
John Bosley - Charlie's Angels
Officer Reed - Adam 12
Jennifer Keaton - Family Ties
Tracy Partridge - The Partridge Family
Mr. Defazio - Laverne and Shirley
Miss Bliss - Saved by the Bell
Carrie Ingalls - Little House on the Prarie
Belle - Alice
Cindy Snow - Three's Company
Maurice Minnifield - Northern Exposure
Mother Jefferson. Seriously. Aside from maybe Lucy who else hit every line out of the park.
Sheila Carter Grainger Forrester Warrick
Alex P. Keaton
Granny from the Beverly Hillbillies
J. R. Ewing
Spock of course.
Jean Luc Picard.
I'm staying in the recent....,Lucille Ball & MTM are too obvious
Elaine Benes/George Costanza
Larry David (even though it's himself - Curb Your Entusiasm)
The entire Arrested Development cast (was going to say Lucille or Tobias but GOB, Michael, Buster....such an amazing ensemble)
Brenda Leigh Johnson
How in the hay-ull have you gays all forgotten me already?
[aside] Sweetheart, why don't you run on down to the Koreans for me and pick up a pack of Lucky Strikes?
Many of these wonderful characters, but I must add...
1. Archie Bunker
2. Edith Bunker
3. Tony Soprano
4. Omar Little
5. The Fonz
4. Mary Richards
5. Ted Baxter
6. Lou Grant
6. Alex Keaton
7. George Jefferson
8. James Evans
9. Louie from Taxi
10. Cast of Barney Miller
CAROLINE IN THE CITY!
Seriously, she was the prototype for Carrie Bradshaw to follow.
The gays adored CITC in the 90s! An underappreciated show.
Carlton The Doorman
Lisa Douglas and Eb Dawson from "Green Acres"
Love or hate the show, but ALLY MCBEAL must be on the list.
ALLY was iconic 1990s television. Everyone watched it and everyone talked about it.
There's a lot of Eldergays in this thread. Some of the names of the older tv characters I have no idea who they are.
Rob & Laura Petrie
Jim Phelps, Cinnamon Carter, and Rollin Hand
Lucille McGilicuddy Ricardo and Ethel Mae Potter Mertz
Stewart & Sally McMillan
I'm with R43.
Most of you need to be naming the tv shows you're talking about.
Miles drentell, thirtysomething
Lily Ruskin (Spring Byington--December Bride)
Joan Stevens (Joan Davis--I Married Joan)
Margie Albright (Gale Storm--My Little Margie)
Suzanna Pomeroy (Gale Storm--Oh! Suzanna)
Chester A Riley (William Bendix--The Life of Riley)
Bentley Gregg.(John Forsythe--Bachelor Father)
Donna Stone (Donna Reed--The Donna Reed Show)
Robinson Peepers (Wally Cox--Mr Peepers)
Bob Collins (Bob Cummings--Love That Bob)
Connie Brooks (Eve Arden--Our Miss Brooks)
Amos McCoy (Walter Brennan--The Real McCoys)
Mike Nelson (Lloyd Bridges--Sea Hunt)
2. Tony Soprano
3. Tim Bayliss
4. Basil Fawlty
5. Brenda Chenowith
6. Walter White
7. Dorothy Zbornak
8. J.R. Ewing
9. Homer Simpson
10. George Costanza
The Littlest Hobo
R47, are you 80 years old?
R9 should be euthanized.
1. Nobody said Al Swearingen?
2. Maris Crane. Best ever example of a character who is critical to the plot and sensationally memorable, yet never appears.
3. Diane Chambers. There's never been another like her.
4. Jed and Abi Bartlet and Leo McGarry - the administration to have if you can't have Al Swearingen.
5. Basil Fawlty is only the tip of the British iceberg. There's Alf Garnett, Fitz from Cracker, Callan (and Lonely) and many more over the years. Gregory House owes everything to Sherlock Holmes.
R48 is right. A whole generation was emotionally scarred by The Littlest Hobo, so he must be memorable!
Johnny Carson (his on-camera persona was nothing like his private one)
Carlton the Doorman
Dr. Zachary Smith
Mrs. Wolowitz on Big Bang Theory
Jimmy James (Newsradio)
Kerry Weaver (ER)
Lilith Sternin-Crane (Cheers/Frasier)
Det. Munch (Homicide/L&O)
Lennie Brisco (L&O)
Skipper (Gilligan's Island)
In no particular order of merit:
Father Ted Crilly
Arrested Development ensemble
Bonus: Hyacinth Bucket
R55, ever heard of comma's?
mary tyler moore
roger of american dad
sheldon of big banf
r57 - [quote]ever heard of comma's?
Perhaps you should settle your own punctuation issues before you correct others.
Who is this Walter White character other people have mentioned? What show is he from?
Walter White is the main character from Breaking Bad, R60, played brilliantly by Bryan Cranston and who has three Emmys to prove it.
Of course, I can't see how these people can mention Walter White without bringing up his sidekick, Jesse Pinkman, a character every bit as memorable and as glorious as the lead....bitch.
1. Mary Richards, 2. Spock, 3. Maxwell Smart, 4. Basil Fawlty, 5. Karen Walker, 6 & 7 Dana Scully and Fox Mulder, 8. Twin Peaks ensemble, 9. Brenda Chenowith, 10. Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tennison.
Thank you, R61.
I agree with R62 about Twin Peaks ensemble, Mulder and Scully and Spock. I also love George Costanza and Elaine Benes, Jean Luc Picard, James Wilson and Gregory House, Tobias Beecher and Chris Keller, Brian Kinney, Arnold Rimmer
Walter White, Jesse Pinkman, Gustavo Fring, Saul Goodman, Badger, the Skank and Spooge family, Tuco, Tio Hector, Hank Schrader, Gale Boetticher, Wendy, Mike Ehrmantraut, the Salamanca cousins
John Steed and Emma Peel
The Jewish psychiatrist Carmela goes to see on The Sopranos
And thank you, R65. I agree. BEST SHOW EVER, with an amazing cast of characters.
Mulder/Scully---best 'couple' in the history of television couples.
I agree with the poster upthread who mentioned the ensemble of Arrested Development, but for the TOP character, Gob Bluth is a man for the ages.
Another vote for Darlene Connor. Also pitching one in for Lois Griffin.
I can't believe the anti MTM troll hasn't surfaced yet.
1. Tony Soprano
2. Ruth Fisher
3. Omar Little
4. Livia Soprano
5. David Fisher
7. Lorelai Gilmore
8. George Jefferson
9. J. J Evans
1) Lucy Ricardo
2) Ethel Mertz
3) Cordelia Chase
4) Elaine Benes
5) Dr. Marlena Evans
6) Buffy Summers
7) Jill Foster
8) Iris Cory
9) Rachel Davis
10) Kaye Buell
2) Don Draper
4) Omar Little
5) Stringer Bell
6) John Black
7) Maxwell Smart
9) George Costanza
10) Gregory Sumner
Little Joe Cartwright
President Jeb Bartlett
Hot Lips Hoolihan
Beverly La Salle, Archie Bunker's favorite drag queen.
May I do one with a bit of UK flavour to it? I will anyway.
1. Derek Trotter (Del Boy) - Only Fools and Horses
2. Doctor Who (Esp. Tom Baker and David Tennent)
3. Sherlock Holmes (Esp. Benedict Cumberbatch)
4. Captain Mainwaring - Dad's Army
5. Margot - The Good Life
6. Hercule Poirot
7. Phoebe Buffay - Friends
8. Alice Tinker - The Vicar of Dibley
9. Mr Spock - Star Trek
10. Niles Crane - Frazier
we could do ensembles, too:
1. Twin Peaks, 2. Arrested Development, 3. MTM show; 4. Dick Van Dyke Show, 5. Six Feet Under, 6. Sopranos, 7. Breaking Bad, 8. The Office, 9. Parks and Recreation, 11. Will & Grace
Oops! Frasier even.
Jessica Fletcher- Murder, She Wrote
Seth Hazlitt- Murder, She Wrote
Amos Tupper- Murder, She Wrote
Cast of original 90210
Dean and Sam Winchester- Supernatural
Vicki Lawrence- Mama's Family
Brian Hackett- Wings
Eric Brady- Days of Our Lives
John Stamos- Uncle Jesse- Full House
Cast of Facts of Life
Alex P. Keaton- Family Ties
Amanda Woods (Heather Locklear)- Melrose Place
George Jefferson- The Jefferson's
Sondra Clark- 227
Agree the any list without Lucy is a problem. Lucy and Jackie Gleason were TV's first superstars when there were only two or three networks. The reuns of their respective shows still run in most markets.
This place is dead because of primetime.
Mulder and Scully
Walter White, Jesse Pinkman
Hyacinth Bucket (Keeping Up Appearances)
Mrs. Slocombe (Are You Being Served?)
Jack McFarland (Will & Grace)
Uncle Tonoose (Make Room for Daddy)
Artemus Gordon (The Wild, Wild West)
Joe Friday (Dragnet)
Arnold Ziffel (Green Acres)
Sophia Petrillo (Golden Girls)
Ilya Kuriakin (The Man from U.N.C.L.E.)
Sue Ann Nivens (The Mary Tyler Moore Show)
Mary Tyler Moore as Mary Richards
Valerie Harper as Rhoda Morgenstern
Delta Burke as Suzanne Sugarbaker
Dixie Carter as Julia Sugarbaker
Dick Van Dyke as Rob Petrie
Mary Tyler Moore as Laura Petrie
Just a few of my favorites:
Karen (Will & Grace)
Jack (Will & Grace)
Dr. Green (ER)
Lennie Brisco (Law & Order)
Both Diane & Rebecca (Cheers)
Fonzie (Happy Days)
One Ringy Dingy!
Oh chiz, I forgot Cartman! (South Park)
Am I the only one that hates Lucy????
Sydney (Melrose Place)
1. Archie Bunker
2. JR Ewing
3. Cliff Huxtable
4. Lucy Ricardo
5. The Fonz
6. Tony Soprano
7. Rose Nylin
8. Roseanne Connor
9. Karen Walker
10. Louie De Palma
I didn't not watch Mary Tyler Moore or Star Trek so I didn't include them but I know they are iconic but I cannot comment on them personally.
OMG, I need to put George Castanza on my list, I don't know who I will kick off.
Hey House of Dark shadows is on Demand TCM
Oh, no what about Florida Evans, The Ropers (not the show the characters) Phoebe Bouffet
So many good characters. Television was really good. Not as good now but we will see how today's characters hold up next decade.
Benson (from Soap - not his own show)
Sophia Petrillo (Golden Girls)
Holland Taylor as the John Forsythe's wife (he played Governor Powers) in Norman Lear's 1992 "The Powers That Be."
Holland: "People. Don't get me started on people."
R101 Wow! I remember loving that show. It didn't last long, though. Wasn't that the first time we saw David Hyde-Pierce in a series?
Also, Holland Taylor had two other memorable characters: on "Bosom Buddies" and "Two and a Half Men."
Dr. Mark Craig
Dr. Wayne Fiscus
Dr. Jack Morrison
Dr. Philip Chandler
Dr. Daniel Auschlander
Dr. Donald Westphall
Dr. Robert Caldwell
Dr. Seth Griffin
Dr. Peter White
R101, R102. 'The Powers That Be' was hysterical. It made fun of everything and everybody especially the political and wealthy class.
The cast was a riot. Of course it didn't last long...it was an intelligent, witty, smart show starring Holland Taylor, Valerie Mahaffey and David Hyde Pierce pre-'Frasier.' The show was Norman Lear at his best.
Some other favorites:
Little Joe Cartwright and Candy
John Gage, "Emergency!"
Urkel, "Family Matters"
Blaine, film critics, "In Living Color"
The "M-A-S-H" characters
Victoria Barkley, "The Big Valley"
Illya Kuryakin, "The Man from U.N.C.L.E."
The "Mission Impossible" leads.
Ashley Schaeffer - Spin City
Margaret Wyborn - Becker
Ross Gellar - Friends
Cousin Oliver - The Brady Bunch
Dr. Harry Weston - Empty Nest
Lily Tucker Pritchett - Modern Family
Whitney - Whitney
Han Lee - 2 Broke Girls
Sugar Motta - Glee
Jimmy Cooper - The OC
Oh and one honorable mention:
Scooter from The Muppet Show
Can't believe no love for anyone from FNL.
In no particular order:
Coach and Mrs Taylor (can't separate them) - FNL
Frank Furillo and Joyce Davenport - Hill St Blues
Tim Riggins - FNL
Sylar - Heroes
David Fisher - Six Feet Under
Buffy - no reference required
Walter White - Breaking Bad
Jesse Pinkman - Breaking Bad
Dr Green - ER
And since I am British need to add some UK faves
Hilda Ogden - Coronation Street
Malcolm Tucker - The Thick of It
Sorry - more than 10 but can't take any off.
R109's list is hilarious. The inclusion of Ross Gellar is inspired.
Sophia Petrillo (sp?)
(A personal list. It's cartoon heavy. And mom heavy.)
MY TOP 10:
Ginny Wrobliki (One Day at a Time)
Cassie Cranston (It's a Living)
LaVonda (Sordid Lives)
Florence Jean Castleberry
Brassy Broads Troll
Lucy Ricardo. No explanation required period.
The entire cast of "Soap"
The entire cast of the bastard son of "Soap", "Arrested Development."
Sophia in "The Golden Girls" She centered that whole show like how an anchor does a ship.
Alice Kramden "The Honeymooners" Her timing and ability to keep a straight face are both letter perfect.
I can't think of anyone else off hand, sorry.
Dr Marlena Evans
Jill Foster Abbott
India von Halkein
Tina Lord Roberts
One of my favorite Tina scenes at the link. I haven't laughed so hard at a death scene in my life:
Estelle Getty was the worst actress of the Golden Girls, R118. No way was she the "center" of the show. Good with one liners but they all were.
In no certain order-
1. Phoebe Buffay
2. Karen Walker
3. Lucy Ricardo
4. Mary Richards
5. Thelma Harper
6. Suzanne Sugarbaker
7. Rhoda Morgenstern
8. Kath Day-Knight
9. Roseanne Connor
10. Kimberly Craig nee Day
1. Sheila Carter Grainger Forrester Warwick
2. Annie Dutton Lewis
3. Natalie Marlowe Dillon
3. Tina Lord Roberts
4. Gabrielle Medina
6. Cesar Faison
7. Anna Devane
8. Samantha Jean Brady
9. Dr Carly Manning
10. Alexandra Spaulding
[quote]Mike Nelson (Lloyd Bridges--Sea Hunt)
Mike Nelson even has a restaurant named after him "Nelson's" You can't say that about many other TV characters.
Assuming I can only pick one per show (in no order):
Alexis Morell Carrington Colby Dexter Rowan
I assume we're doing American television only. For the UK television shows appearing in the U.S.:
The Dowager Countess
Bender Bending Rodriguez
When there's a thread about worst TV characters, I nominate Ross on Friends and the Nanny.
We Need a Most Annoying TV Characters Thread
Sue Ann Nivens
Bozo the Clown
I sort,have got a lot of mixed signals as a child, didn't I?
75% of Americans have no idea who the hell Lucille Bluth is.
Alexis Carrington Colby
Alex P. Keaton
So start one, R136.
Sgt. Joe Friday
J. Fred Muggs
Woodrow the Woodsman
One of the oldies station started playing WKRP in Cincinnati. I was in middle school when it aired but I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed it. It has held up really, really well. I like all the characters But my favorite on the show was Jennifer Marlowe. I thought it clever how little by little it became apparent that the supposed bimbo ran the place. I really like that character. I wish Loni had a more substantial career.
r10, Bwah! "The Whammy"!
~~Mickey Mouse, for darn sure!
Sue Anne Nivins
"Of all time" doesn't seem to mean much these days. TV didn't begin in the 21st Century.
JR Ewing, Archie Bunker, Mary Richards, Charlie Brown, Homer Simpson, Stewie Griffin, Alexis Colby, Reva Shayne, Abby Ewing, Alex P. Keaton.
Captain Jack Harkness (Dr. Who/Torchwood)
Captain Malcolm Reynolds, Wash, Shepherd Book, Zoe, River (Firefly/Serenity)
Captain Hammer, Dr. Horrible (Dr. Horrible)
Star Trek (main cast rebooted movies)
Tony DiNozzo (NCIS)
The Tick, Bat Manuel, Arthur, Captain Liberty (The Tick, Live Action)
Andy Richter Controls the Universe (main cast)
Karl Urban, Michael Ealy (can't remember the character's names from Almost Human)
TV is over 60 years old. Listing only ten won't cut it. Let's do the Top Twenty.
Thomas Magnum (yum)
Dr. Johnny Fever
We are all going to be influenced by what shows were popular during our generation. Here are mine in no particular order.
1. J.R. Ewing (Dallas). Larry Hagman's characterization of the first villain you love to hate is iconic.
2. Ralph Kramden (The Honeymooners). When I occasionally catch a rerun, I'm amazed that Jackie Gleason's Brooklyn bus driver character from the 1950s holds up today.
3. Roseanne Conner (Roseanne). Roseanne Barr gave a voice to the lower middle class/working class that was missing from TV and was the perfect antidote to the ideal Huxtable family.
4. Darlene Conner (Roseanne). Sara Gilbert's ability to deliver wisecracks as a tomboyish kid stunningly morphed into one of the most realistic portrayals of an angst-ridden teen, and on a sitcom no less. I knew girls like her in high school.
5. Dr. Spock (Star Trek). Leonard Nimoy's portrayal of a half-human, half-Vulcan alien who struggled with his emotions was pitch perfect.
6. Karen Walker (Will & Grace). Probably one of the, if not THE, funniest supporting characters on a sitcom.
7. Tony Soprano (The Sopranos). James Gandolfini must have relished the complex portrayal of a mobster who struggles with anxiety and family issues.
8. Dorothy Zbornak (The Golden Girls). I know Rose Nylund is probably the more popular choice, but for me Bea Arthur was brilliant with her sarcastic quips and could crack me up with just a look. When she left the show and it went on as the dreadful Golden Palace, it was clear what Bea meant to the show. Without her, it wasn't even close to the same.
9. Alicia Florrick (The Good Wife). Juliana Marguiles plays Alicia just perfectly, with all her doubts, moral dilemmas, difficulties in her relationships, work stress, etc. Her character has changed believably over the course of the show. It's been amazing to watch.
10. Diane Chambers (Cheers). Shelly Long's pretentious pseudo-intellectural was a brilliant character. Shelly played it to perfection. Although Cheers went on successfully after she left the show, when I watch it back in reruns, Kirstie Alley doesn't even come close to filling in the gap.