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My Top 22 TV Characters - Part II

Updated on February 18, 2020
Marianne D profile image

Ramianne is a TV show & movie enthusiastic who loves to reflect on characters and stories. She is particularly character-driven. She/her

As my 22nd birthday approaches, I wanted to try to do a ranking of my 22 favorite TV characters. Am I going to be able up to the task? That is the challenge that I've given myself as a pre-birthday gift (I will take no comment on how sad my life is).

This is the second part of my ranking from #11 to #1. Check out part I to see which characters are #22 to #12.

11. Death (Supernatural

Death, portrayed here by Julian Richings (Supernatural)
Death, portrayed here by Julian Richings (Supernatural) | Source

It might be surprising to see Death, a side character present in about a dozen episodes max in a show of 300+ episodes, in my top TV characters; and more than that, so high in my ranking. We know barely nothing about him - them? It? - and yet, here he is - let's just settle on the masculine pronouns for this time.

My reasons for putting him here are purely philosophical. Death is like the Pandora box of philosophical questions. He's a metaphysical problem in himself. He pretends he is as old, perhaps even older than God; but God being the creator of life, and Death not being able to exist, in essence, without life, how would this be possible?

After Dean killed him, Billie, a mere reaper, became Death, explaining that the previous Death - the one killed by Dean and portrayed by Julian Richings - was only an incarnation of Death, and she is the new one. So Death isn't a character rather than a concept that embodies a physical form - which is why we can debate on the proper pronouns for this character. But apparently, he is a concept that can express emotions, care and interest. How is that possible if he's not a person? The show obviously doesn't give any answer, but the fact that we can ask ourselves these questions - and many others - is why he is one of my favorite TV characters ever.

You have an inflated sense of your importance. To a thing like me, a thing like you, well... Think how you'd feel if a bacterium sat at your table and started to get snarky. This is one little planet in one tiny solar system in a galaxy that's barely out of its diapers. I'm old, Dean. Very old. So I invite you to contemplate how insignificant I find you.

— Death, Supernatural, season 5 episode 21

10. Nairobi (La Casa de Papel)

Ágata Jiménez aka Nairobi, portrayed by Alba Flores (La Casa de Papel)
Ágata Jiménez aka Nairobi, portrayed by Alba Flores (La Casa de Papel) | Source

Do you remember when I said that I didn't understand why everybody talks about Otis and Maeve in Sex Education when the best character is Eric? (If you don't, go see part I of this ranking). Well I feel pretty much the same about Nairobi. Everyone talks about Tokyo, how badass she is; but let's be honest, everybody knows Nairobi is the real best character in this show.

Nairobi is like an enhanced Tokyo: she has all her best qualities like never backing down, always wanting to protect and defend her friends, but she also doesn't have all her worst flaws. Tokyo is often irrational and too emotional, putting herself, her team and the entire plan in danger; but Nairobi is calm and reasoned in any scenario, and even when she gets emotional, she controls herself and puts her head back in the game in few seconds.

That is why Nairobi is one of the most respected characters in the show. She is respected by The Professor, by the hostages, by all of her peers - even Berlin who's known to be quite the sexist. And yet, even if she's clearly the superior one of the group, no one acknowledges it. It just seems as something granted to anyone. Nairobi is level-headed, ethical, fearless, but that's just normal. When she takes over, it's not to make herself feel good: it's for the good of the plan. She knows she deserves better but she doesn't say anything because she also knows the plan comes before her. What a goddess.

You have to show those losers what you're capable of. Show them you're not afraid. You have to wait patiently for your moment. And then you put yourself in front of them and you say something like "My name is Allison Parker and I'm the fucking boss".

— Nairobi, La Casa De Papel, season 1 episode 10

9. Margo Hanson (The Magicians)

Margo Hanson, portrayed by Summer Bishil (The Magicians)
Margo Hanson, portrayed by Summer Bishil (The Magicians) | Source

I have a confession to make: the only reasons I keep watching The Magicians are Margo and Eliot. I don't know what that tells about the show, but I do know what that means about these characters. In one word: talented, brilliant, incredible, amazing, show-stopping, spectacular, never the same, totally unique, completely not ever been done before...

One might ask: why did I choose Margo and not Eliot? The answer is quite simple: her evolution. When we meet Margo and Eliot for the first time, my reaction to Eliot was "he's the best character of the show" while for Margo it was "I really like her". Now, my feelings for Eliot are more along the lines of "I love him and would do anything for him", but for Margo? "Please let me be worthy of worshipping you".

You want to bow before her. She's a King - not a Queen, and if you watch the show you know what I mean -, always redefining gender roles, always defying the norms, always proving she's the strongest and best one of them all. But what's the point in having such a perfect character? Isn't it boring? No, actually, because Margo's greatest flaw is to believe that she can't have any weakness in order to be the strongest; something that is absolutely untrue, and that makes room for character development, which is what makes her such an amazing and interesting character:

You are not gonna cock out on me. I'd say pussy, but let's be honest, which one's tougher?

— Margo Hanson, The Magicians, season 3 episode 11

8. Polo Benavent (Elite)

Pedro "Polo" Benavent, portrayed by Álvaro Rico (Elite)
Pedro "Polo" Benavent, portrayed by Álvaro Rico (Elite) | Source

SPOILER ALERT: I will use major spoilers in this section - if you have watched the show you probably understand why - so read at your own risks if you haven't watched it yet. Ok, now that you've been warned: I have to talk about Polo. I just love him. I know it's wrong - he's a murderer! - but I just can't help it.

I cannot begin to explain how conflicted I am about Polo. Why do I feel so much love and adoration and wish to protect and care for a character that has murdered someone? And I disagree with his actor on this: Polo is a murderer, his actions were intentional - even though thoroughly tainted by uncontrolled rage. I am not a Polo apologist, not by far. And yet I still love him with every inch of my soul.

Maybe it's because we have a lot in common: we're both bisexual, we're both extremely lonely, subject to panic attacks and severe mental health issues, we both put on a front to keep face, we both have a lot of anger and self-hatred stashed down ourselves, threatening to spill out at any time. But if that was the reason, then I wouldn't mewl his name whenever he graces my screen with my hands on my cheeks and wanting to give him a hug all the time. I cannot explain why I feel so strongly about him; and I guess that's precisely why he's so far up my ranking.

Do you know I've been here for over an hour? Nobody even noticed.

— Polo Benavent, Elite, season 2 episode 3

7. Stiles Stilinski

Mieczyslaw "Stiles" Stilinski, portrayed by Dylan O'Brien (Teen Wolf)
Mieczyslaw "Stiles" Stilinski, portrayed by Dylan O'Brien (Teen Wolf) | Source

I'm kinda shocked, to be honest, that Stiles made it so far up this ranking; not because I don't love him with all my heart - because I do - but because it's been quite a while since I've been "over him", and Sherlock has made it quite far down this same ranking for that specific reason. So why doesn't it apply to Stiles?

I've thought about it quite a bit, and I see only one reason: Stiles changed Teen Wolf to the core. Sherlock didn't change his own show; he was the show, the essence of it. But Stiles was supposed to "just" be the best friend of the hero, not be the hero himself - and yet, if you've seen season 6, that's precisely what it's about. I feel like Stiles - or maybe it's Dylan O'Brien's fault, who knows - has set a standard for the show.

Teen Wolf could have been just another teen supernatural show - and if it had been, it wouldn't have had such a popularity like it had - but because, right from the start, Stiles has been a very complex and layered character, it set the bar for the other characters and for the storylines to be as complex and layered as him.

And also he's extremely funny, smart, has the best lines, and Void!Stiles was just on another level.

You're the True Alpha! Guess what? All of us can't be True Alphas. Some of us have to make mistakes. Some of us have to get our hands a little bloody sometimes. Some of us are human!

— Stiles Stilinski, Teen Wolf, season 5 episode 9

6. Fiona Gallagher (Shameless (US))

Fiona Gallagher, portrayed by Emmy Rossum (Shameless (US))
Fiona Gallagher, portrayed by Emmy Rossum (Shameless (US)) | Source

My first ever article on this site being about how Fiona Gallagher is a miracle in herself, it would have been quite surprising for me not to include her as one of my top TV characters. Of course she's here. What was I supposed to do, leave one of the most complex and original feminine character out of this ranking?

I won't go again over how she's a miracle. I will more focus here on everything she represents for women. In my opinion, she is one of the most important female characters ever. Why? Because she redefines what being a "strong" or "powerful" woman means. A strong woman is not necessarily a woman that needs no one to be happy, or who never breaks down; Fiona needs her family, does mistakes, can't seem to get up and keep going on at some points. But she stands back up and keeps on with her life.

Those aspects of her - and many others, but I can't cite them all - don't make her any less of a strong woman. It is so refreshing to see such a powerful feminine character not having to reach high standards in order to be as strong as men. She is who she is, leads her life the way she wants - and can - and will fight you if you have anything to say about that; and that's why she's a powerful woman.

Helped? I did it all, Franck.

— Fiona Gallagher, Shameless (US), season 9 episode 14

5. Jessica Jones (Jessica Jones / The Defenders)

Jessica Jones, portrayed by Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones / The Defenders)
Jessica Jones, portrayed by Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones / The Defenders) | Source

Top 5. We're getting into the who's who of my ranking. And starting with - unfortunately - the only woman in it: Jessica Jones. As always, I'm going to compare her to another female character that I just talked about: Fiona Gallagher.

I love Jessica Jones pretty much for the same reasons that I explained for Fiona. To me, Jessica Jones is much more of a feminist icon than other adapted female superheroes such as Wonder Woman or Captain Marvel, specifically because she's not depicted as perfect or almost perfect - far from that actually -: she's very flawed, she's not specifically more powerful than her male counterparts - like Luke Cage -, and all that doesn't make her any less of a superhero.

My point in this is that: why do men get to have cynical, alcoholic, sceptical male superheroes that seem not to care about anything when in fact they may care too much - like one incredible Tony Stark for example, a character I absolutely love - but female superheroes have to be semi-Goddesses or have twice the power of her colleagues to be a part of the team? Well, they no longer have to, Jessica Jones proves. She's cynical, lonely, depressed, and much like Fiona Gallagher, that doesn't make her any less of a superhero.

The big part of the job is looking for the worst in people. Turns out I excel at that. Clients hire me to find dirt. And I find it, which shouldn't surprise them, but it does.

— Jessica Jones, Jessica Jones, season 1 episode 1

4. Mickey Milkovich (Shameless (US))

Mikhailo "Mickey" Milkovich, portrayed by Noel Fisher (Shameless (US))
Mikhailo "Mickey" Milkovich, portrayed by Noel Fisher (Shameless (US)) | Source

Is it actually surprising that Mickey is one of my favourite characters? Everybody loves Mickey. I actually believe it is impossible to not be deeply touched and moved by this character. Mickey is so powerful that the social media managers of the show won an award for their communication campaign announcing his return in season 10.

First of all, his character is very well-written and unique. It was the first time, for me, that I saw a gay character dealing with so much homophobia, both internalised and from his daily environment. His story is unfortunately very real for many people out there, and yet I never felt like he was presented as a victim. Despite everything, he's still this strong, tough, snarky, terrified, caring and protective young man from the Southside.

But I think a significant part of the power and intensity of Mickey - and why he's so captivating - is due to his portrayal by Noel Fisher. I didn't necessarily talked about the actors for the other characters in this ranking but I think it's mandatory here. Fisher manages to convey multiple complex emotions through one look, one trembling of the lips or one gesture of the head. Details are fascinating to me and his acting is all in details, and I know it's one of the big reasons why Mickey Milkovich is my number 4.

Not everybody just gets to blurt out how they fucking feel every minute.

— Mickey Milkovich, Shameless (US), season 3 episode 11

3. Lip Gallagher (Shameless (US))

Philip "Lip" Gallagher, portrayed by Jeremy Allen White (Shameless (US))
Philip "Lip" Gallagher, portrayed by Jeremy Allen White (Shameless (US)) | Source

It was so hard for me to decide which one from Mickey or Lip to put in front of the other. I chose Lip in the end solely for the fact that I loved him after his first ten seconds on my screen - and I wish I was exaggerating - whereas it took me until season 3 to really feel something for Mickey.

If I told you that I was addicted to Shameless (US) after the first half of the pilot, that I loved it after its first two minutes, and that I had fallen in love with Lip after his first ten seconds of screen time where all we have is Frank telling us that Lip is smart and we see him running from the cops, you probably would say I'm overly dramatic. Frankly, I usually am not, I like to stay reasoned and calm, but I didn't stand a chance against Lip.

As always with my favourite characters, Lip is a very complex one. I like to call him a "human bomb" character: at the beginning of the show, he seems to have everything figured out, he's this smart sarcastic kid who's more level-headed then most of his siblings, but you understand very quickly that it's just a matter of time before everything falls down on him and he breaks in the most dramatic and beautiful way. And yet, despite everything, he still cares about his family's well-being, respects everyone - except Frank, but that's understandable - and is loyal and pure in his heart. He just doesn't want to be like his father. I told you I didn't stand a chance.

I just need someone to say "Fuck it, this kid deserves a chance".

— Lip Gallagher, Shameless (US), season 5 episode 7

2. Dean Winchester (Supernatural)

Dean Winchester, portrayed by Jensen Ackles (Supernatural)
Dean Winchester, portrayed by Jensen Ackles (Supernatural) | Source

Okay, I have a confession to make. When I first tried to rank all these characters - which is so hard to do -, I put Dean at the fourth position. But then, when I came to write his part - I wrote this ranking from the lowest ranked character to the highest - I just told myself "who are you kidding? Dean Winchester after Mickey and Lip?" And then I put him on the second place.

I think big part of it is because I've known and watched Dean grow for years. I started watching Shameless a year ago, and there are "only" ten seasons of it. But I've watched - almost - fifteen seasons of Supernatural and known Dean Winchester for about eight years now. I've actually grown up with him. It's just impossible to compare the two situations.

It's kind of a miracle how after fifteen season of twenty something episodes, Dean can still have good character development. How is it that there's still material for him to evolve? My theory is that Dean Winchester is the most human character ever. He is what is the purest essence of humanity, and you can't get to the bottom of humanity. That is why we will never get enough of stories and fictions, because we can't get enough of humans and the possibilities of humanity. Just like we can't get enough of Dean Winchester.

I had to be more than just a brother. I had to be a father and I had to be a mother just to keep him safe. And that wasn't fair.

— Dean Winchester, Supernatural, season 12 episode 22

1. Castiel (Supernatural)

Castiel, portrayed by Misha Collins (Supernatural)
Castiel, portrayed by Misha Collins (Supernatural) | Source

If there are some Supernatural fans among you, you may be shocked that I put Dean and Castiel in this ranking and not Sam. While I love Sam, I am not attached to him the way I am attached to Dean and Castiel, or any other character that is in my ranking.

I don't know if putting Castiel in this ranking makes actual sense, because the impact and importance he had and still has on my life is just not comparable to any other character. I love and/or am fascinated by all those other characters that I presented in this ranking, but I don't just love and/or am fascinated by Castiel: he changed my life - and again, you might think I'm just being overly dramatic here, and I wish I was, because that would make it much easier to explain the importance he has for me.

To kind of give you a sense of how much Castiel is important to me, let me tell you a story. I was 14, completely lost as to who I was and who I wanted to be - like many teenagers at that age - and I started watching Supernatural so I could understand a friend that was always talking about it. I didn't expect anything from it; and yet I found myself sucked in, watching fan videos during the night, completely addicted. One night, I fell on a fan video of Castiel, and since I loved him, I clicked on it.

That was the first time I ever cried for a film or a TV show. And it was not just a single tear coming down; I was full on sobbing in the middle of the night, totally confused as to what was happening to me. suddenly it dawned on me that I had such a reaction because I was basically seeing myself in this video. For the first time in my life, I felt truly and deeply understood; today we call it representation.

It changed my life: suddenly I wasn't alone anymore, I wasn't doomed to be misunderstood for all my existence. I could find a path to follow in my life, I could make something out of myself, a real person; I could have a story. The more I watched Castiel, the more I realised he was me and I was him - without the angelic powers though.

That video that I saw eight years ago was just the beginning. Castiel kept creeping in my life, following me through my own journey. That is why he can't be compared to the other characters in this ranking; that's why it is so terrifying to me to know that I won't have him anymore in a few weeks with the ending of the show.

That is why Castiel is and always will be my number 1 character.

Before, I was very self-assured. I was convinced I was on this righteous path. Now I realize that there is no righteous path. It’s just people trying to do their best in a world where it’s far too easy to do your worst.

— Castiel, Supernatural, season 10 episode 9


I've finally finished this ranking. Bear in mind that this is my ranking at this moment in time; it's more than likely to change over time as I "get over" some characters (like I did with Sherlock) and as I discover new shows with possible new favourite characters.

But what did you think of it? Do we have any favourite character in common? Who's your favourite character? Let me know in the comments!

Which article do you want me to write next?

See results

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