Top 10 Memorable Television Characters of All Time

Script written by Nathan Sharp Countless TV icons have graced the small screen, but these characters have stood the test of time. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the top 10 most memorable TV characters of all time. Special thanks to our user mac121mr0 for submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Nathan Sharp

Top 10 Memorable Television Characters of All Time


Countless TV icons have graced the small screen, but these characters have stood the test of time. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 most memorable TV characters of all time.

#10: Archie Bunker
“All in the Family” (1971-79)

Originally intended to be strongly disliked by audiences, Archie Bunker – husband of Edith, father of Gloria and father-in-law to Meathead – soon became a breakout TV star and an American cultural icon. His extreme, often intolerant, views – including his stances on race and sex – were intended to be a parody of right-wing conservatism, but instead became a hit with American audiences – go figure. His influence spread far beyond the screen, however, to real-world politics, with the term “Archie Bunker Vote” being coined to refer to Caucasian, blue-collar male voters. His famed armchair is even in the National Museum of American History! To call Archie Bunker a cultural icon is putting it mildly.

#9: Tyrion Lannister
“Game of Thrones” (2011-)

With perhaps the biggest ensemble cast in television, this show packs in many memorable characters, including fan favorite Daenerys Targaryen, but Tyrion’s brains and pathos win out. Tyrion is a very intelligent individual, often spouting the most quotable and philosophical statements in the series. He’s also deeply human, ridiculed by everyone for his dwarfism and never respected the way he deserves, but he shows unrelenting bravery in the face of adversity nonetheless. While his brother Jaime is getting better, Tyrion remains arguably the most noble and heartfelt man in all of Westeros, which makes him an all around fantastic character.

#8: Cosmo Kramer
“Seinfeld” (1989-98)

It seems like the supporting characters in sitcoms are always the best, doesn’t it? Between Kramer and George Costanza, “Seinfeld” had a duo of comical supporters, as well as many amusing bit players. Kramer is Jerry’s neighbor, often dramatically bursting into his apartment with news, to steal his food, or for countless other reasons. He’s hilarious, often due to his outrageous ideas and his pure clumsiness. Somewhat the outsider of the group, Kramer was the true star of this beloved comedy and the one that always got the most laughs.

#7: Dr. Heathcliff ‘Cliff’ Huxtable
“The Cosby Show” (1984-92)

Despite the storm of controversy that has tainted Bill Cosby's legacy, the significance and impact of this immensely popular sitcom and the Huxtable family patriarch cannot be overstated." Cliff is always enjoyable to watch, mostly due to his goofy antics towards his family and his friendly competitions with his wife Claire. While Bill Cosby plays the silly, sweater-wearing embarrassing dad perfectly, he also portrays the character’s tender and loving side, as Cliff is extremely dedicated to his family and loves them deeply. That is, despite the fact that he often tries to get his elder children to move out in a running gag. He’s the father everyone wishes they had.

#6: Chandler Bing
“Friends” (1994-2004)

The role that launched Matthew Perry’s career, Chandler had it all in this ensemble comedy about a group of – you guessed it – friends. And by “all,” we mean all the funniest moments, of course. Chandler is the most sarcastic of the gang, often making fun of others or himself in order to get a laugh both from his buddies and the audience. While some may call him too mean, he found the perfect balance between comedy and drama. He was deeply sympathetic to others, especially his best friend Joey and his eventual wife Monica, and this made him not only the funniest, but also the sweetest and the most human of all the “Friends.”

#5: Sam Malone
“Cheers” (1982-93)

Earning actor Ted Danson two Emmy Awards, Sam Malone has become symbolic of the ‘80s and sitcoms in general. Barman at the titular establishment but also a recovering alcoholic, he’s adored by his patrons due to his friendly attitude and good cheer. Not only fun to watch for his camaraderie with his pals, it’s also a blast to see this former pro baseball player’s smooth seductions of women – oh, did we not mention he’s something of a womanizer? Such a memorable character in TV history that he’s become the subject of many academic articles – especially those about masculinity – Sam Malone was the soul of the bar. And, just as everybody at Cheers knew his name, so does the audience.

#4: Tony Soprano
“The Sopranos” (1999-2007)

The man that changed television forever, Tony Soprano has had a huge influence on the development of TV characters. Patriarch of the Soprano mob family and wife to the strong Carmela, Tony is one engaging mobster. He is a true family man at heart, but can kill without remorse. His first on-screen kill in season one changed TV, as a protagonist’s cold-blooded murder of another man was unheard of at the time. Tony is a deeply troubled antihero, and one that not only transformed TV forever, but one that remains deeply relatable and human.


#3: Will Smith
“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” (1990-96)

Launching the acting career of superstar Will Smith, this character showed the world the rapper’s acting abilities and had us all both laughing and crying. With most of the show’s jokes resulting from the culture clash between him and his relatives, especially his diminutive cousin Carlton, Will is an amusing character due to his preconceived notions and his inability to fit in. While mostly sarcastic and immature, he also respects his family deeply, and loves them despite their differences. Hilarious and touching, he is the one man we all loved watching.

#2: The Doctor
“Doctor Who” (1963-89, 2005-)

He’s had faces young and old, but The Doctor has always been a madman with a box. The British cult classic – though it has gone through regenerations of its own with both an original series in 1963 and a revival in 2005 – has maintained a loyal fan base who tune in time and time again to see their favorite Gallifreyan battle Daleks, Cybermen, and anything else threatening the universe. The show’s iconic theme song, villains, as well as the TARDIS have remained a fixture of television to this day. We definitely love him with both our hearts.


Before we look at our most memorable TV character of All Time, here are a few honorable mentions.

Walter White
“Breaking Bad” (2008-13)

Don Draper
“Mad Men” (2007-15)

Francis J. ‘Frank’ Underwood
“House of Cards” (2013-)

Carrie Bradshaw
“Sex and the City” (1998-2004)

Al Bundy
“Married… with Children” (1987-97)

#1: Arthur ‘Fonzie’ Fonzarelli
“Happy Days” (1974-84)

Considered the coolest cat on television possibly ever, Fonzie was originally written as a minor character before enthusiastic fan reception bumped him up to a starring role. Complete with his leather jacket, smokes, sleek hair, and womanizing, Fonzie quickly became TV’s signature cool guy and a pop culture sensation. His trademark catchphrase is still known today, as is his famous Fonzie touch. Memorable enough to merit a statue in his likeness that presides over Milwaukee, Fonzie was not only a popular TV character, but also a significant cultural icon. And if you don’t like it, you can sit on it.

Do you agree with our list? What TV character is your favorite? For more ranked top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.




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