Here are my favorite television characters. They are classic characters that have stuck with me and some more current ones who have proven themselves.
15. David Brent, The Office [BBC]
Before The Office became a hit stateside, it was a massive success in Britian and the ring leader was David Brent (Ricxy Gervais). I love Steve Carrell, but his Michael is not nearly as funny and oft-tilt as David. Where the US version has the mandatory romance plot line, the original series hung on Gervais solid performance as well his supporting cast.
14. Valerie Cherish, The Comeback [HBO]
Lisa Kudrow co-created this character along with Michael Patrick King (Sex in the City) and their creation was just brilliant. Valerie is a washed-up former “it” girl who is dumbfounded by suddenly being a part of two shows: a sitcom and a reality series.The beauty in Valerie lies in the characters ability to portray various emotions with subtle facial movements. The only shame is that the series, The Comeback never caught on with audiences and was canceled after only one sensational season.
13. Jeff Murdock, Coupling [BBC]
The resident sex-expert on the import comedy, Coupling – Jeff Murdock won over audience with his bizarre monologues. Whether it was discussing the significant of the word “hi” or what a “giggle loop” is, he never was predictable. The show was remade for American consumption but a few of the ingredients were substituted, so it was DOA.
12. Dr. Frasier Crane, Cheers & Frasier [NBC]
The longest running character on prime time television, Kelsey Grammar won fans over on Cheers as the know-it-all doctor and brought them along for his spin-off, Frasier. I absolutely loved Cheers and Frasier Crane was one of my favorites, but Frasier was sparse in laughs and hindered his chances at entering the top 10.
11. Rick James, Chappelle’s Show [Comedy Central]
“I’m Rick James, bitch!” Dave Chappelle’s incarnation of the late Soul singer was not only a funny sketch but a pop-culture milestone. The catch phrase was slapped on everything from T-shirts to keychains and became a defining moment in the short-lived series. Despite having watched this particular sketch more than two dozen times, I still laugh like a little girl each time I see it.
10. Dr. Perry Cox, Scrubs [NBC]
No one can resist a tough guy who always comes through at the end. Dr. Perry Cox is the glue behind the show and balances all the wacky attics from its supporting cast. He offers viewers healthy doses of sarcasm, which is lacking in the current crop of sitcoms. The only medical doctor on television worth talking or writing about is hands-down Dr. Cox.
09. Buffy Summers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer [WB]
A show that centers around a teenage girl who fights vampires, demon, werewolves and giant bugs after the seed of virgins was not supposed to work, but it did. And all that is due to a handful of well-written characters and the best among them was the slayer, Buffy Summers. Buffy came to symbolize the embodiment of female power and a great superhero role for girls. While saving the World she managed to become a brand name and almost made us all forget about the ghastly early 1990s feature film, almost.
08. Phoebe Buffay, Friends [NBC]
In a character-driven show such as Friends with six very distinct persona, Phoebe Buffay always stood out delivering some of the show’s most memorable one-liners. An expert in the bizarre, Phoebe kept audiences guessing as to the direction she was heading next from giving birth to her brother’s triplets or explain how she got hepatitis from when a pimp spit in her mouth. She was a welcomed distraction from the show’s melodramatic moments i.e. Ross and Rachel. And you just have to love someone who can sing “Smelly Cat” with such sincerity.
07. Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm [HBO]
Not much playing a character rather than a version of himself, David’s neurotic performance continues to make Curb Your Enthusiasm a must see comedy. David was also one of the men responsible for bringing Seinfeld to the small screen and into our homes. One can only hope that real Larry David is nothing like his televised counterpart because that would mean trouble. Early word is that season six should start production this spring.
06. Patsy Stone, Absolutely Fabulous [BBC]
Edina had described that the reason Patsy hadn’t died of an overdose was “while kids were pinning the tail on the donkey, Patsy was looking for a vein.” Drugs and alcohol have never been so appealing, Patsy Stone has come the binge druggy persona look good. The show centers on two morally corrupt adults and their misadventures. Patsy has given viewers a peak into orgies and beauty secrets (Paralox, similar to botox) all the while never failing to pound the funny bone.
05. Bart Simpson, The Simpsons [FOX]
If I would have written this list ten years earlier, Bart Simpson would have definitely been my number one. Then again He-Man and Megatron would have been competing for the runner-up spot. During the past decade The Simpson’s quality has slipped and it is no longer as cutting edge as it once was. Bart is still one of TV Land’s seminal characters.
04. Micheal Bluth, Arrested Development [FOX]
It is a shame that a great series such as this was canceled while stupid shows such as House and Prison Break are still on. Micheal Bluth (played wonderfully by Jason Bateman) is the head of a family with far too many problems. Michael is modern-slightly better groomed version of Al Bundy except a bit more smooth around the edges. Nevertheless if you are looking for a show with witty banter and creative storyline – look no further.
03. Al Bundy, Married … With Children [FOX]
With many like Bill Cosby and Danny Tanner showing us the non-existent perfect American family, Married … With Children dared to gives the opposite extreme. I have missed the show since it left airwaves in 1997 after 11 successful seasons and Al still holds a special place in my heart. Al Bundy was a hard-working, no luck shoes salesman whose family was slowly sucking the life out of him. But, no matter dysfunctional the family member were, when it mattered they always stood together. Whoa, Bundy!
02. Eric Cartman, South Park [Comedy Central]
The foul mouthed, Jew-hating center of Comedy Central’s South Park, Eric Cartman has captivated a nation for more than 10 years. Though many won’t admit it, He and the rest of the gang has helped to educate us on Scientology, the church of latter day saints and herpes (honestly I didn’t know Chicken pox was herpes until I saw it on South Park). And Eric has been at the forefront of tackling current events, no matter how taboo.
01. Jerry Seinfeld, Seinfeld [NBC]
Seinfeld ruled the roost for much of the 1990s and left a void that still has yet to be filled. Jerry Seinfeld was at the core of the show and made mundane topics such as finding if someone’s boobs are real into an entertaining laugh riot. The show was completely about nothing but that didn’t stop it from being original or unique. We need more Seinfeld, we do! Seriously, in the 5 minutes Jerry Seinfeld was presenting at the Oscars, he was funnier and more entertaining than Ellen was the entire night. Come back, even if it is just for an episode.
Honorable Mentions: Dr. Christian Troy, Nip/Tuck [FX], Ryan O’Riley, Oz [HBO], Tim Taylor, Home Improvement [ABC] and Karen Walker, Will & Grace [NBC].