Recently, TV Blog Coalition member Scooter recently sent out a call for TV bloggers to submit their lists of the top ten TV characters currently on TV. No old folks (not even recent favorites Veronica Mars and Arrested Development) and no one from unscripted TV.
Here’s my list, complete with rationales. I realize that I probably have some glaring omissions, considering there are quite a few critically-hailed shows I don’t watch (so feel free to submit your “what abouts” in the comments)
10. Jack Donaghy – 30 Rock
For this list, I tried to limit myself to one character per show. However, 30 Rock is the one show that has two representatives (this and number seven). The first reason for this is because I don’t know that I watch enough shows to make this a definitive list (although, to be sure, I do watch more TV than is really recommended). The second is that there are so many great characters on 30 Rock it was hard to pick just one. Jack Donaghy isn’t necessarily the most imaginative character (power mad CEO), but between his one-liners (on Liz calling herself a businesswoman: “I don’t think that’s actually a word.”) and his brooding portrayal by Alec Baldwin — it’s just a great role.
9. Noah Bennett – Heroes
Noah’s probably the one character on Heroes that I can’t quite make my mind up about. I hate him sometimes, sometimes I’m rooting for him. And that’s the way he’s written. Regardless, he’s easily the most complicated character on the show.
8. Nick George – Dirty Sexy Money
There are so many wacky characters on Dirty Sexy Money that the one who stands out is the straight man — the protagonist, Nick. There way he responds to the characters around him, all tugging him in their own directions, is one of the best parts of the series.
7. Kenneth the Page – 30 Rock
When I think of Kenneth the Page, I associate him with pure joy. He’s so sweet and weird (not drinking coffee or other hot beverages because they’re at the “devil’s temperature”) — it makes him one of the funniest characters in recent TV memory.
6. Ben Linus – Lost
There are a lot of possibilities for the most interesting character on Lost, but you really can’t get away from Ben. Between Michael Emerson’s dead-eyed portrayal and the seemingly never-ending well of secrets he possesses, Ben is the source of never-ending mystery.
5. Starbuck – Battlestar Galactica
The obvious choice for Battlestar. I’m not going to say anything about this because I’m sure I don’t know the half of it (I’m six episodes from the end of season three — don’t spoil me, even though I know crazy shit goes down).
4. Nancy Botwin – Weeds
Nancy Botwin is probably one of the most complicated characters on television. She makes mind-blowingly awful decisions sometimes, usually motivated out of desperation, but she embodies both strength and weakness
3. Olive Snook – Pushing Daisies
The way I see it, Olive is really the strongest independent character on Pushing Daisies. You’ve got the romantic leads, Ned and Chuck — and while they have clever dialogue and interesting personalities, they’re too caught up in each others’ orbits to really show too much eccentricity. And Emerson is primarily there as both a driving force for the plot and a sour counterbalance to the happy couple’s ultra-sugary romance. Olive is the one character who could really just not be there at all from a plot standpoint. But, as a result, she compensates in quirk. Kristin Chenowith sells the hell out of her, between the singing and the endearing, tiny cutesiness.
2. Dwight Schrute – The Office
Pam and Jim are too cute and ordinary. Michael is too obvious. Phyllis and Stanley are too minor. Dwight is the most original character on The Office. He’s a little terrifying, especially because you probably knew someone exactly like him in high school (or, God forbid, right now). But he’s in his own world that, even though you don’t know anything about it — you know exactly where he’s coming from.
1. Dexter Morgan – Dexter
I chose Dexter as my top character — a decision that I surprised myself with. I think I chose him because he challenges viewers like few other shows on TV. You can’t really back him 100 percent, but you always root for him. During the second half of season two it was like his house of cards was falling, but you couldn’t stop rooting for him — even when the monster within him was bubbling to the surface.
Those were my answers — here are what I and my fellow bloggers decided on for the master list.
1. Kara “Starbuck” Thrace (Battlestar Galactica)
2. Tami Taylor (Friday Night Lights)
3. Barney Stinson (How I Met Your Mother)
4. Benjamin Linus (Lost)
5. Dexter Morgan (Dexter)
6. Coach Eric Taylor (Friday Night Lights)
7. Landry Clarke (Friday Night Lights)
8. Dwight Schrute (The Office)
9. Lily Rush (Cold Case)
10. Omar Little (The Wire)
11. Gaius Baltar (Battlestar Galactica)
12. Olive Snook (Pushing Daisies)
13. Shawn Spencer (Psych)
14. Sheldon Cooper PhD (The Big Bang Theory)
15. Dr. Juliet Burke (Lost)
16. Michael Weston (Burn Notice)
17. Captain Jack Harkness (Torchwood)
18. Dr. Miranda Bailey (Grey’s Anatomy)
19. Chuck Bartowski (Chuck)
20. Brenda Leigh Johnson (The Closer)
21. Emerson Cod (Pushing Daisies)
22. Ned “The Piemaker” (Pushing Daisies)
23. Liz Lemon (30 Rock)
24. Stephanie Lane (My Boys)
25. Stewie Griffin (Family Guy)
Also receiving multiple votes: Desmond Hume (Lost), Major John Casey (Chuck), Jack Donaghy (30 Rock)
Voters: Dan, Ducky, Jo, Kate, Sandie, TVFan, Vance