1. George Costanza, Seinfeld- I think why he’s my favorite is summed up in one succint quote of his, “I am Costanza! Lord of the idiots”. For anyone who’s ever known me, I don’t think there can be much question as to why George is number one.
2. Ted Mosby, How I Met Your Mother- I strongly debated putting him at one, but George won out, barely. It’s not something said by Ted that best epitomizes why I like him as a character, it’s what is said to him. “Just because I don’t love you the way you want me to, doesn’t mean I don’t love you.” Those words can be reassuring and genuine, and at the same time as painful and heart breaking as any, and I can completely relate to Ted on that one.
3. Ross Geller, Friends- He would have had a secure hold on number two before Ted came along. Ross gives me hope that indeed a guy can “outkick his coverage” and make it last. But his dorky goofiness was fun to watch, and I guess I relate best to him in an exchange with Joey where Joey says, “not knowing when to shut-up”. To which Ross confirms, “yep, that’s my thing”.
4. Barney Fife, Andy Griffith Show- Barney was the inspiration for many characters in televison, and none but George could ever live up to him. George wins because, unlike Barney, his intentions were rarely pure, which made the things the befelled him more appropriate, and more humorous. With Barney though, you had to pull for the guy. I think if Andy had known me, “you beat everything, you know that?” would have likely been his favorite phrase for me too.
5. Sterling Archer, Archer- Everyone knows I like Barney Stinson’s character on How I Met Your Mother, but Archer takes that too a new level. He’s the same guy, except as opposed to a wealthy banker playboy, he’s a CIA spy playboy. He takes “awesome”, to a whole ‘nother level. “No, Cyril, when they’re dead, they’re just hookers”, just classic stuff.
6. Opie Taylor, Andy Griffith Show- No offense to any Olsen twin fans out there, but I don’t think any child actor did a better job than Ron Howard did playing Opie. Particularly in the first few seasons, Opie was as pivotal a character as there was in the show, and as a young kid, he was too darned cute not to love. I think my favorite scene with Opie was Andy trying to explain to Opie about needy boys. He tells him there is 1 1/2 every square mile. At which point, Opie is affixiated on the notion that there is “half a boy”. When Andy tells him it’s a ratio, Opie can only respond, “Poor Horatio”.
7. Ray Barone, Everybody Loves Raymond- The husband who can never do right, that IS Ray Barone. While he has the never ending, almost creepy, love of his mother, and the envy of his brother, his wife, never seems to be happy with him. He’s the husband and father I’d rather not be, but something tells me might be the case, as illustrated by an exchange on a day Ray was planning to play golf. He has his clubs heading out the door and Debra asks him what he’s doing. He tells her he already told her he wanted to play golf. Debra responds, “yeah, and I said too bad”. Ray, in classic Ray sense answers, “I thought that meant for you”. Idiot.
8. Kevin Arnold, The Wonder Years- I don’t know of many people who don’t like Kevin Arnold, and his adolescent long quest for Winnie Cooper. There’s little about Kevin that some of us can’t relate, in fact, I’d say most of us can relate to just about all of what The Wonder Years was all about. In some ways he reminds us that the innocence, and freedom, and joy we thought we had back in those days, really, it wasn’t that great. Things sucked just as bad then too. But I don’t think any teenage couple ever captivated us like Kevin and Winnie. Come to think of it, not many adult ones did either.
9. Alex P. Keaton, Family Ties- Before he was Marty McFly, he was Alex P. Keaton, and boy was Michael J. Fox good at it. A conservative of the most extreme way, and a lover of all things money, somehow Alex managed to make you like him, and make you pull for him. I’m really not sure I can think of many other actors who could have pulled this character off and made it work. Sure, part of why I like Alex is because Malorie (Justine Bateman) is his sister, and I absolutely had a crush on her. But Alex was funny, in his insitence on his way was the right way, and his clash against his parents far more hippy and left wing views. As I look at tv now and watch the Hub for those older shows of my youth, there was Kevin, child of the 70s, Alex, of the 80s, and Cory Matthews, child of the 90s. In some ways, it’s like I grew up with all three of them.
10. Kramer, Seinfeld- I had a friend once who used to call me at random days and simply say, “I have an idea”. The immediate thought it my head was, “uh-oh”. His ideas, much like Kramer’s were so off the wall, and so absurd, that sometimes, they actually had the potential to work. But of course, something wrong always came up, but it didn’t stop us from trying them out and enjoying the ride. Much the same with Kramer, whether it was wide lanes, or a high pressure shower system, the ideas were creative and plentiful. The results? Hilarious.
11. Gomer Pyle, Andy Griffith Show- How indeilible was Gomer’s character on the Andy Griffith Show? He only appeared in 23 episodes, ever, and yet, his character is as synonymous with that show as any other. Gomer always meant well, was always trying to be friendly, but was the classic example of being too friendly, and saying too much, too often. I think even non Andy Griffith Show fans know where, “Citizens Arrest, Citizens Arrest!!!” and “Shezzam” both come from.
12. Andy Taylor, Andy Griffith Show- While Barney and Gomer may be more memorable, and perhaps had more outright funny moments, and Opie was, well, Opie, Andy was still the glue that held it all together. By himself, I don’t think of him as a character I particularly liked more than the others. Oh, he was good alright, but what made him great was the way he played off everyone in that show. I think the fact that once Barney left, the show really, really fell off for me, says a lot. Andy still held it together for a while, but with a grown Opie, and no Barney, there wasn’t as much left for Andy to play off, and it showed. But I can certainly relate to him when he says, “You see that foot? That grrrrreeat big foot? How can all of it fit in my mouth?”
13. Stewie Griffin, Family Guy- Who can not like Stewie? Okay, I know my mother can’t, but other than that? The diabolic, football shaped head, little child is one of the more creative, more unique characters I can think of on television. His never ending hatred for his mother and desire to pay her back, as well as his on going little “rivalry” with his best friend Brian makes for great comedic television, and without the drama and heart wrenching tear jerk episodes so many other “comedies” (that I love myself) give you. I doubt many of us can relate to this, at least I hope not, but it’s what perfectly sums up Stewie’s mission in life, “Damn you, vile woman! You’ve impeded my work since the day I escaped from your wretched womb”.
14. Aunt Becky, Full House- Okay, this has basically absolutely nothing to do with the character she played, or what she stood for, or anything like that. It is simply a matter of her being hot, and she was arguably the very first crush I ever had.
15. Gregory House, House- The show, and the story, was often the same, and for that, I don’t rank House as high as I might be tempted to, or some might think I should. The montony was prevalent a lot in my opinion. But that doesn’t detract from the fact that despite that montony I tuned in to watch because of House. He could take the same story over and over again and still make it enjoyable. For a while, I tried to shy away from shows involving doctors, and hospitals, for obvious reasons, especially while IN a hospital (will give you nightmares, I swear, ha ha), but House was more about the character than the show itself, hence, the show wasn’t named “Princeton Plainsboro”.
17. Michael Scofield, Prison Break- While the last couple seasons fell by the wayside once they were actually out of prison, the first couple were some of the best television I can remember watching. The plausibility of it all? Probably very little. That didn’t detract from the show to me though, and Scofield is why. His quiet low key demeanor that hid a pure genius, was great acting work, and great character development. The intricate plan set forth to free his brother from a prison he shouldn’t have been in, and the manner in which he dealt with hiccups along the way was fascinating to watch for a couple of seasons. When Michael tells his brother his plans to get him out of prison, his brother tells him that it’s impossible. To which Scofield, an architect, says, “Not if you designed the place, it isn’t”.
18. Brain, Pinky and the Brain- Before there was Stewie and his evil plots to take over a world where everything was much larger than him, there were Pinky and The Brain. While Brain, unlike Stewie wasn’t after his mother, he was after world domination. And I think most people of my generation know exactly what comes after, “Hey Brain, what are we going to do today?”
19. Cory Matthews, Boy Meets World- Man, it was almost like watching Kevin Arnold’s little brother grow up in the 90s…….
20. Diane Chambers, Cheers- She was such an awful, awful person, and so dreadfully annoying, that somehow, someway, you were drawn to her in some sick and twisted way. Strangely, you didn’t fault Sam for going after this stuffy, condescending, manipulative, lying woman. Instead, you simply felt bad for him whenever he lost her, and ultimately, you felt even worse when they didn’t wind up together. I think little else describes how everyone felt about her than when Frasier is rubbing her shoulders at the bar and all he can think about is how badly he’d like to just ring her neck. I think at times, everyone did. And yet still, it’s the TV couple everyone wishes had been….
21. Debra Barone, Everybody Loves Raymond- I don’t think any woman has ever portrayed the bitchy, angry cuss, hate my husband because he can’t do anything right, my mother in-law hates me wife, than Patricia Heaton. She is absolutely perfect for this role, and when she gives an evil look towards Ray, sometimes you have to wonder if she’s acting, or is she, Patricia Heaton, actually ticked off at the actor, Ray Romano, they’re that real. But can you blame her, she got sucked into the Barone family, which she puts into words I can relate to if someone were to describe mine. When Robert’s girlfriend Amy has a bewildered and stunned look on her face after a ridiculous argument has taken place between the family, Deb looks at her and says, “I keep forgetting what a freak show this family is until somebody new comes along and looks at us like that. That was me once. And now I’m one of them”.
22. Jerry Seinfeld, Seinfeld- I have lots of little idiocyncrasies myself, although some would just tell you they’re signals of my insanity. I disagree. Jerry can’t stand high talkers, can’t stand low talkers, and most certainly can’t stand close talkers. But that’s not where it ends, and if you watch the show you know what I’m talking about. The fact that he can’t date a woman because of how she eats her peas may seem asinine to you. But to me? It’s perfectly normal.
22. Barney Stinson, How I Met Your Mother- I only put this here because at times they just go way too far with it. However, “awesome”, and “legen….wait for it….dary” are no woven into the fabric of my every day life, so I have to acknowledge that. Not to mention, episodes like “The Playbook”, and “The Perfect Week”, however preposterous they may seem, are still pretty damn funny.
23. MacGyver- Seriously, the guy could take a toenail, some spit, and some aloe from a nearby plant and create a bomb. The ingenuity and creativity of this character was something else. Watching him figure his way out of bad situation after bad situation, and then wondering if that would really work, was all part of the allure.
24. Joey Potter, Dawson’s Creek- So, I had to pick someone from that show, and it might as well be the person who I have most been associated with. But I swear, if one more person tells me, “you’re like her Dawson”, about any other girl I meet, I’m running, running far, far away.
25. Alf, Alf- If you know why he’s here, then you know. If you don’t, maybe you can get somebody to tell you.
Olivia Benson, Law and Order SVU
Frasier Crane, Frasier
Chandler Bing, Friends
Paul Buchman, Mad About You
Dr. Carter, E.R.
I’m fully aware many of you will question this list, hence it’s not titled the “25 Best TV Characters of All-Time”, but it’s about my favorite. Each person will think differently, but I’d be very interested to hear your opinions on the matter. I know Jack Bauer is one I’ll probably be scolded for leaving off, but the truth is I never really watched 24. Other shows like Heros, or Dexter, just shows I never watched, so I couldn’t have an opinion on those characters. Some shows, like LOST, Law and Order, Cold Case or E.R. that I really, really liked, were about the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. And others, like Sons of Anarchy, and maybe even Parenthood or Nashville (Hayden Panettiere will surely find her way then) after I watch them a little while longer will certainly develop characters I have a strong affinity for. Until then, these are my 25 favorite of all-time.