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.