When we get hooked on a Television show what brings us in is the story, the writing, but most importantly the characters. It’s the characters that make or break a great television show.
From The Wire to 24, X-Files to Big Bang Theory, in comedy or in drama, a character can open a huge debate or provide the audience with hours upon hours of entertainment.
Below are 25 important TV characters that we should all appreciate and analyze on their own merits. Here are 25 great television characters that cannot be overlooked.
25. Jack Bauer
One of television’s toughest SOBs, Jack Bauer was the hero of the Fox show 24. A member of the Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU) based in Los Angeles, and working with the FBI in Washington, D.C. Bauer was deductive, intense, and not afraid to use torture to get the information he needed. Bauer is one of the biggest TV heroes of all time.
Fleabag was a dry, sex addicted character that made many mistakes along the way in her quest to be a better person. What made the character great was the ease she was able to break the fourth wall by giving us an intimate look at her character.
23. Dr. House
The intense medical doctor who took a lot of chances to try and better his patients’ lives was a true gem for television. House also had a dry humor that you could not help but fall in love with.
22. Tim Bayliss
On the often overlooked but famed series Homicide Life on the Street, Detective Tim Bayliss was the audience's eyes and ears as we navigate a Baltimore Homicide unit in season 1. As the show progressed the schoolboy image Bayliss presented had inner demons of abuse, regret, and at times a fish out of water. As an audience we experience the decay of a person who walked into our lives with a lot of ideals, all of which were torn down while doing a tough job.
21. Sheldon Cooper
Have we ever loved a nerd so much? The character of Sheldon Cooper would have been loathed in an 80’s movie but on television in the 2010’s he was arguably the most beloved character on television. The ultimate introverted nerd we will remember for a long time.
20. Mark Anthony
On the acclaimed HBO series Rome, Mark Anthony was a sex addicted, powerful general that rose to rule part of the Roman Empire. Vulgar, in your face, and not afraid of a fight, he was a character that commanded respect even though he rarely gave it.
19. Vic Mackey
The ends justify the means? For Vic Mackey and his corrupt way of doing things on The Shield the audience learns that despite being a good family man, a good man can do evil things. Many suffered because of Mackey’ twisted frame of mind.
18. Selina Meyer
Selina Meyer is the price of trying to reach your goals on Veep. Meyer is a bad mother, a horrible person, and just power hungry. Despite getting hit on the chin a few times the persistent Meyer always clawed her way back to the dismay of all around her.
17. Fox Mulder
The X-Files was an ambitious show on a still growing Fox network and it became a cultural phenomenon due to the character of Fox Mulder. Mulder is the star of the show as his search for the truth led to run-ins with strange characters and a corrupt government. Played with a deadpan sense of humor by David Duchovny, the character was extremely interesting.
16. Ryan O'Reily
Few characters in television history have been survivors like Ryan O'Reily. On OZ, a prison series, O'Reily was a sick loner, often playing every side against each other while benefiting himself. O'Reily came close to death on many occasions but snaked his way out. A complex character is there was ever one.
15. Captain Holt
Andre Braugher will be the lone actor who appears twice on this list, first with his interpretation of Captain Holt on Brooklyn 99, a caring, strict, hardworking, prankster police commander. All of that mixed in as he is openly gay and working within the macho world of Police work. Holt was the soul of the Brooklyn 99 series.
14. Frank Pembleton
Braugher’s most complex character was Frank Pembleton on Homicide Life on The Street. Pembleton was at times arrogant, moody, but extremely intelligent and a clear line between right and wrong. His “schooling” of Tim Bayliss is something that today will remind viewers of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman due to their constant bickering. Introverted and antisocial Frank Pembleton was a master at his job but had huge issues with human relationships.
13. Lucy Ricardo
Lucy Ricardo made millions of Americans laugh on I Love Lucy in the golden age of television. Lucy had a huge knack for getting into trouble and needing her husband to bail her out. Nonetheless Lucy had a charm that still holds up today.
12. George Costanza
Seinfeld’s best friend George Costanza was not really a likable guy. Highly opinionated and terrible with women, he’s the creep you avoid at a party. Nonetheless he is played so perfectly by Jason Alexander that you can’t help but want to know him more.
11. Meredith Grey
For well over 15 years, Meredith Grey has grown up before our eyes from a wide-eyed resident to the stateswoman of Seattle Grace Hospital. Despite some shady writing from time to time, Grey continues to be interesting.
10. Michael Scott
We all had one, a dim-witted boss at the office, Michael Scott had a big heart but was a big buffoon. The show suffered a lot without the character of Scott, The Office is The Office because of Michael Scott.
9. Don Draper
Don Draper was an egomaniac but also could be very sweet to those around him in his own cynical way. Don Draper has a yin and yang approach to his life, there is the man and then there is the ad executive.
8. Walter White
Breaking Bad wasn’t about the selling of methamphetamine, it was about how a man who had repressed his life for so long finally came out. Walter White was a horrible human being trapped inside the body of a mild-mannered family man. His cancer from within would ultimately be fatal to many around him.
7. Homer Simpson
The greatest TV dad of all-time, Homer Simpson means well but he is one blunder after another. Not the most intelligent man in the world but certainly the biggest hearted. Where would American TV be without the antics of Homer Simpson?
6. Peggy Bundy
Peggy Bundy was a breath of fresh air in a time when every mother on sitcom TV was wholesome and valued. Her value was living the high life even though she was extremely classless. Feeding her children or getting a job were way down the pecking order to watching Oprah on TV.
5. Saul Goodman
The complex Saul Goodman or Jimmy McGill was a man who always did wrong, it’s just that the childish fun and games or getting over on someone led to a life defending cartel kingpins and murder. Eventually Saul would fall into a world he could not get out of, all the traits that showed how screwed up Jimmy was were always there.
4. Tyrion Lannister
Size doesn’t matter, it's about how smart you are, and Tyrion Lannister is a survivor. First being hated by his own father and going toe to toe with a young and unstable king. The Lannister legacy lives on through the most unlikely person. Tyrion.
3. Tony Soprano
On the surface Tony Soprano was a millionaire mob boss, inside at the core he was an antisocial depressed and unstable human being. Tony Soprano was a bad guy, but the Sopranos is more about why a person is the way they are.
2. Kim Wexler
The rock of Better Call Saul, Kim Wexler was a straight shooter, a hard worker, and extremely independent and intelligent. Her life would have reached great heights if it were not for her one mistake… Jimmy McGill. Portrayed to perfection by Rhea Seehorn there has never been such a layered character on TV ever.
1. Omar Little
Omar Little is a TV character that shows the audience not everyone we think is good is a good or who we think is evil is bad. Omar Little was an opportunist in the vile drug game, as well as a product of a decayed inner city. A smart and intelligent man who survives on his wits in the worst place imaginable… a Baltimore ghetto. It’s all in the game for Omar. Few characters on TV have ever been as intriguing or commanded respect like Omar.