Entertainment Weekly recently released an issue featuring “The 100 Greatest Characters of the Last 20 Years”. While I didn’t agree with some of their picks and many of their placements, it did spark a discussion among my friends. Since we’re list makers, we decided to tackle a hefty list with narrower guidelines – our top 100 TV characters of all-time.
Because of the volume of the list (and hopefully to build anticipation.. if anyone cares), I’ve decided to post it 10 characters at a time starting at #100 and working my way to #1. Oh, the excitement!
Let’s do this!
100. Beakman – Beakman’s World
Played by: Paul Zaloom
Wanna watch?: Beakman’s World is currently only airing on Telemundo. Bummer. There is a Best of Beakman’s World DVD available, but you can’t currently get the full series anywhere that I know of. Double bummer.
- While most of you kids were off watching Bill Nye, I was watching the far superior science guy, Beakman. Not only was he educational, he answered kids letters, had gravity defying hair, played various characters and had a dude in a rat suit named Lester for an assistant. Take that, Bill Nye! I mean, IMDB describes it as a cross between Mr. Wizard and Monty Python. How could you not love Beakman?
99. Andy Botwin – Weeds
Played by: Justin Kirk
Wanna watch?: Seasons 1 – 5 of Weeds are available on DVD. Season 6 will air on Showtime in August of 2010.
- In a show full of morally-crooked people doing some despicable things, Andy has managed to win me over. Sure, he’s got a ton of faults, but over the last 5 seasons the writers have shown us that he’s really a good, loving guy at heart.. the same cannot be said for his sister-in-law.. or his nephews.. or his friends.
98. Lucas Wolencak – SeaQuest DSV
Played by: Jonathan Brandis
Wanna watch?: Seasons 1 and 2 of SeaQuest DSV are available on DVD. Season 3 has no planned release date.
- Most of you won’t remember Jonathan Brandis, let alone SeaQuest, but he was my first huge celebrity crush. If you were a pre-teen in 1993, he was probably yours too. As I stated in my “Top 30 TV Shows of All-Time” entry, I can’t tell you if this show is any good or not.. I wasn’t qualified to make that call at 10. What I do remember is my little tween heart fluttering at the sight of Lucas Wolenczak. Think of him as the Wesley Crusher of the sea.. only sexier.
97. Cosmo Kramer – Seinfeld
Played by: Michael Richards
Wanna watch?: Seinfeld is still airing on TBS, CBS and probably other places I don’t even know about. Plus, all 9 seasons are available on DVD. If you wanna watch it, you should have no problems finding it at all.
- Shocked to see Kramer this low on this list? Well, me too honestly. The truth about Seinfeld is that the characters really aren’t really that likable. They said it themselves. The genius of the show is that, even though the characters were awful people, the show was hilarious. So, while Seinfeld did well on my top shows of all-time list, I’m afraid that the characters didn’t fare as well on this list.
96. Zack Morris – Saved by the Bell
Played by: Mark Paul Gosselaar
Wanna watch?: Saved by the Bell still airs mornings on TBS and is available on DVD.
- Come on. You all know if you were a kid in the height of Saved by the Bell fame, all the ladies out there were in love with Zack and all the dudes wanted to be him. He was funny, charming and cute. However, Zack didn’t originally make my list because, let’s face it, Saved by the Bell isn’t really that great of a show. But, after thinking about the countless hours I spent enjoying Zack and all the times my cousins and I “fought” over getting to pretend to be Kelly so Zack would love us (Sarah always won), I just couldn’t leave the guy out.
95. James McNulty – The Wire
Played by: Dominic West
Wanna watch?: I believe BET is airing edited versions of The Wire. If you wanna watch the real deal, you’ll have to buy the DVD set.
- “Who’s Fred Casely?” Why, it’s the same guy as Jimmy McNulty! Most of you know, whether you’ve watched it or not, that The Wire is regarded as one of the best shows of all-time. While the cast is massive (I’d venture to guess over 50 active characters in it’s 5 season span), if I had to pick a lead character, it’d be McNulty. He’s kind of the “every man” which makes him likable and relatable. Jimmy’s got some rough edges, but he’s also funny, smart and determined. Even though he may not be your favorite character, I don’t know how you could be a fan of The Wire without being a fan of McNulty.
P.S. Watch The Wire. Seriously.
94. Peter Griffin – Family Guy
Played by: Seth MacFarlane
Wanna watch?: Re-runs of Family Guy air on Cartoon Network and TBS (I think).. and probably some other networks. Season 8 will be released on DVD in mid-June making all the current seasons available to purchase. Season 9 will begin airing on Fox in September.
- I considered a few different characters in Family Guy when I was nearing the end of my list, but when you break it down, Peter kind of holds the show together. The reason I love Family Guy is because of it’s ability to combine juvenile humor with incredibly clever pop culture references – Peter is the perfect combination of both.
93. Parker Lewis – Parker Lewis Can’t Lewis
Played by: Corin Nemec
Wanna watch?: Well, luckily for you (and me) PLCL seasons 1 and 2 were recently released on DVD. Unfortunately, season 3 has no set release date.
- Raise your hand if you remember Parker Lewis! Anyone other than my brother? Yeah, I thought not. Parker Lewis Can’t Lose aired on Fox for 3 seasons in the early 90s. It followed your typical story of a high school kid, in this case, Parker, who pulled schemes to gain popularity, get the girl, etc. Of course, he didn’t do this alone, he had his cool biker friend, Mikey and his nerdy, lovable friend Jerry to help him with his shenanigans. Where PLCL separated itself from the other high school sitcoms like it, is how experimental it was. Everything was exaggerated from sound effects for arm movements to a brightly colored wardrobe. I re-watched season one recently and thought to myself how ahead of the time it really was. If I had to make a comparison to Parker Lewis, I’d say he’s like Zack Morris. But, as you can see from his placement, is even better. Parker is still as entertaining, cute and funny as he was back then.
92. Bobby Baccalieri – The Sopranos
Played by: Steve Shirripa
Wanna watch?: The edited version of The Sopranos airs on A&E. All seasons of The Sopranos can be (and should be) purchased on DVD.
- If you could call anyone in the mafia a good guy, it would be Bobby. He never killed anyone, he never cheated on his wife and he never caused any problems. Really, Bobby was just a nice guy who liked to play with trains that happened to work for the mob. His character was a nice change from the status quo brutality of The Sopranos. A salut, Bobby.
91. Sid Jenkins – Skins
Played by: Mike Bailey
Wanna watch?: Skins is currently between seasons, but originally airs on UK’s E4. The show has signed to run through season 6. Seasons 1 and 2 are available on DVD in region 1 format, air on BBC America and are also available to view instantly for Netflix customers. Season 3 will be available in region 1 in September, but there is no set region 1 release date set for season 4 yet. All 4 seasons of Skins are available in region 2 format.
- Skins is a new series to me, but would easily make my top 20 shows of all-time after only seeing the first 2 seasons. It starts out like a typical show about teenagers having sex, doing drugs, yadda yadda, but if you stick with it for a few episodes, you’ll find that the characters really have depth to them. My favorite from the beginning and consistently through the first 2 seasons, was Sid. Sid was the nice guy virgin who was in love with his best friend’s girl, had a douchebag for a best friend but remained loyal to him to a fault and was loved by all the other characters on the show. His character goes through a lot changes that I won’t get into as to avoid spoilers, but I will say that he always reminds likable. Sid is the kinda guy I would’ve had a crush on in high school.. and I would probably still have a crush on now.
To be continued..