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My Top 22 TV Characters - Part I

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 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 first part of my ranking from #22 to #12. Check out part II to see which character made it to my top 11!

22. Angel Evangelista (Pose)

Angel Evangelista, portrayed by Indya Moore (Pose)
Angel Evangelista, portrayed by Indya Moore (Pose) | Source

Let's begin with one of my biggest revelations: Angel Evangelista. When I first heard of Pose, I thought that what I would love the most about it would be the stories and the cultural significance of the show, not the characters. Little did I know.

Not only did I immediately fell under the charms of Indya Moore at first sight (look at her!), I also fell for Angel's purity of emotions. She is very much like a child emotionally - not in her actions nor her reflections. She is a dreamer that never fails to hope for better things, whose trust and love are like crystals that can break in the easiest way.

She's like a diamond: if you take care of her and polish her like Bianca does, she will glow the brightest; but if you fail her and let her down, she will shatter on the ground in thousands of pieces. That doesn't mean that she's weak; she also knows how to pick herself back and reconstruct herself to keep glowing, because no matter what you'll do to her, you'll never turn off her light.

I’m tired of being humiliated. I deserve more. I’m worthy of better. I just need to know somebody has my back.

— Angel Evangelista, Pose, season 1 episode 1

21. Toby Damon (This Is Us)

Toby Damon, portrayed by Chris Sullivan (This Is Us)
Toby Damon, portrayed by Chris Sullivan (This Is Us) | Source

Oh Toby, if only we could all have you in our lives. We all need a Toby. That's a fact. He's this kind of character that is here for you, genuinely likes or loves you, would do everything he could to make you happy, but would never overstep. He would just open his arms but wait for you to come in them, not force the hug on you. Plus he's funny.

Surely someone seemingly so perfect can't exist. Is there anything wrong with Toby? Well, as a matter of fact, there is; and it is precisely because there is that he's in my top characters. He has a history of mental illness; more precisely depression and suicidal ideation. As a person who also tends to forget herself when giving everything she has to others, this dimension of Toby is what tied me to him in a very personal way. It makes him a complex, very well-written character, who you can't but love and care for.

Toby is like a beautiful flower: he gives you the best he has and brightens your day all the time, but can also fade if you're not paying attention and taking everything he offers without taking care of him as well.

The hardest part about seeing someone you love in pain is not being able to do anything about it, except try not to make it worse.

— Toby Damon, This Is Us, season 2 episode 9

20. John Murphy (The 100)

John Murphy, portrayed by Richard Harmon (The 100)
John Murphy, portrayed by Richard Harmon (The 100) | Source

My relationship with Murphy is exactly an Enemies to Lovers one. In season 1, I couldn't stand him and wished for him to disappear, probably in a permanent way - like, I believe, any person that has watched the first season of The 100. And yet season 2 begins, and something shifts.

I believe my opinion changed about him the moment he first talked with Raven in the premiere of season 2 (and oh how I could talk about their relationship; maybe for another article). I started to understand him - which doesn't mean I liked him yet though. And then I started to discover him, from this new unbiased, intrigued point of view. I discovered that he has values and principles but constantly betrays them in order to survive.

Granted, that makes him kind of a dick: he's individualist and will always prioritise his own survival over anything else, even though that means not doing the "right thing". But that doesn't mean he doesn't care. He just prefers to survive, even if that means he has to hate himself for it. And I just love that level of complexity in a character.

Yeah, I would have shot me too

— John Murphy, The 100, season 2 episode 1

19. Pray Tell (Pose)

Pray Tell, portrayed by Billy Porter (Pose)
Pray Tell, portrayed by Billy Porter (Pose) | Source

Sometimes I just wonder how was my life before I discovered Pose and, with it, the extravaganza of ball culture. How life must have seemed dull. It still does, but at least now, when life seems to become too grey, when it begins to lose all its colours, I come back to Pose and I suddenly am reminded of all the colours the world has to offer.

To be completely honest, when I started Pose I thought Pray Tell would only be a side character, a counsellor for Bianca, and pretty much would not be too deepened as the show is about Houses and their members, and Pray Tell is not a member of any of them. But slowly, we got to know more about him and his life, about what he endures, and I believe it is impossible not to feel empathetic towards him.

Not only does he live in constant grief and fear of AIDS, he also seems to bear a much heavier weight than the others. He's conscious of the issues that affect his community on a much deeper and more heightened level than his comparses, and it feels like he's the only one to do so. He's crushed by it, doesn't ever stop to think about it; and yet, when it comes to lighten the ball, he's always here to bring his eternal colours to brighten the room - and our world.

I've buried more friends in the last year than any of you can count! And when it's all over who knows how many of us will be left? So I don't need a bunch of immature 20-somethings, who just figured out how to wipe their own asses telling me how to act or feel! When y'all have walked a mile in my shoes, y'all come find me.

— Pray Tell, Pose, season 1 episode 6

18. Lana Winters (American Horror Story: Asylum)

Lana Winters, portrayed by Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story: Asylum)
Lana Winters, portrayed by Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story: Asylum) | Source

I believe my worship of Ryan Murphy's work has peaked when I watched American Horror Story: Asylum. It is the season that made me understand the most his genius, the season that shot American Horror Story straight up to my favorite TV shows, and the one that opened my eyes before the greatness that is Sarah Paulson's acting.

Lana Winters is a one-of-a-kind character. You just can't describe her. You can try: she's a journalist, she's a lesbian, she's a rape, torture and conversion therapy survivor. You can add as many phrases as you want; it will never successfully describe her. Why? Because we will never know her.

That's the brilliance of Asylum: the season ends with us questioning everything we know about Lana. Is she really the hero of the story like we thought she was? She keeps surprising us, ever doing what we never thought she could do, and when we finally believe we start to understand her, she does it again; leaving us with the feeling that we finished the season knowing less of her than in the beginning. Genius.

I am tough, but I'm no cookie.

— Lana Winters, American Horror Story, season 2 (Asylum) episode 10

17. Sherlock Holmes (Sherlock)

Sherlock Holmes, portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock)
Sherlock Holmes, portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) | Source

The only reason that Sherlock is so "low" in my ranking is because it has been a few years since we last saw him, and even more since we last saw him significantly (no, I didn't like season 4). That means I had some time to process my love for this character and that I am currently more focused on characters that I watch as of today.

Sherlock is one of the first TV shows I watched, one of the first I became addicted to (in a strong sense). I was astounded by it: the brilliance of the plot, the complexity of the characters, the unique cinematography, everything. I spent years with a few friends fangirling over the genius and overall greatness of Benedict Cumberbatch.

But what makes Sherlock, this Sherlock, so special to me, is that I see myself in him. The previous characters I've presented are characters I am deeply interested in, but I don't necessarily identify with them. On the other hand, I see a lot of myself - and a lot of my poor social skills -, in this Sherlock; or at least I used too. So he made me feel good, thinking that I was just like him, too smart for this world. Too bad I realised over time I'm nothing special. Could have done without the mental illness that comes with it.

What is it like in your funny little brains? It must be so boring.

— Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock, season 1 episode 1

16. Beth Pearson (This Is Us)

Beth Pearson, portrayed bu Susan Kelechi Watson (This Is Us)
Beth Pearson, portrayed bu Susan Kelechi Watson (This Is Us) | Source

It is not surprising that a show like This Is Us strikes two characters in my top TV characters. It may be more surprising that the two in question are not directly members of the main family; after all, we always talk about the greatness of Jack or Rebecca or Randall, but what about his wife?

Beth is kind of everything I want to become as a woman. Talk about a role model: she's funny, intelligent, wise, loving, respectful of herself and her loved ones, doesn't let anything about her define who she is. She is a mother but that doesn't define her; she is a wife but that doesn't define her; she is Black but that doesn't define her. She has this unique personality that you just sit back and contemplate, wondering how you are able to witness such a wonder of a human.

But what makes her a real role model to me is her wisdom. She constantly seems to have a step back prior to anyone; she always seems to know before anyone what is going on. It is a burden sometimes, but also one of her most admirable qualities. A virtue that I always wished to have, even as a child. So thank you Beth Pearson for being the embodiment of the woman 7-years-old me always wanted to become.

How you present yourself on the outside reflects how you feel on the inside.

— Beth Pearson, This Is Us, season 2 episode 9

15. Noora Amali Sætre (SKAM)

Noora Amali Sætre, portrayed by Josefine Frida Pettersen (SKAM)
Noora Amali Sætre, portrayed by Josefine Frida Pettersen (SKAM) | Source

Noora, please stop. Stop being that character that I know would have ruined me during my highschool days. I know that, had she been a fellow classmate, I would have been obsessed with her all year long; kind of like the way I am obsessed with her now, even though she's only a fictional character.

Noora is incredibly interesting to me: not only is she everything I am attracted to (if you haven't watched SKAM and you think she's already physically attracting, wait til you see who she is), she's also everything I wanted to be in highschool. She's smart, compassionate, always ready to stand up for what she believes is right - especially when it comes to respect -, and does it in the coolest, most admirable way. She is committed to her values and principles and will never betray them for anything, even for her own sake; basically, she would roast Murphy like nobody else.

But her willingness to fight for what she believes in, and to always try to see the best in people, makes her sometimes forget about herself. In a way, she is very similar to Toby on that point. And that is why I also relate to her. The remakes have tried, but none of them do it like the original (special shoutout though to her German counterpart Mia Winter portrayed by Milena Tscharntke).

People experience horrible things every day, and they still manage to be nice to each other. Being an asshole isn't something you're born with, or something you just become; it's a choice.

— Noora Amali Sætre, SKAM, season 1 episode 5

14. Raven Reyes (The 100)

Raven Reyes, protrayed by Lindsey Morgan (The 100)
Raven Reyes, protrayed by Lindsey Morgan (The 100) | Source

I didn't even pay attention to it when I ranked these characters, but it is quite funny that Raven comes straight after Noora, as they are, in my opinion, two very similar characters, with whom I have a similar bond.

There are two main differences which explain why Raven is higher in my ranking than Noora. The first one is her absolute resilience. Granted, in a show like The 100, you have to be resilient; otherwise, you die. But she shows it to an extent that, I believe, no one in the show matches. And not only does she always pulls herself back up and keeps thriving; she does so while keeping all her values and love she has in her heart.

Which brings me to my second point: the difference between her relationship with Murphy, and the one Noora has with William. In SKAM, William and Noora play a game of seduction, and William starts to change - if we ever believe that he does - only after he got together with Noora; a relationship I'm not very fond of. But in The 100, Murphy doesn't want to seduce Raven in any way; he just changes because he's craving her respect. Her resilience and the power of her respect are two things I am fascinated by, and some of the main reasons why she's my favorite character of the show.

This is not your fault, Murphy. I can deal with losing my leg, but losing my mind?

— Raven Reyes, The 100, season 4 episode 9

13. Nathan Young (Misfits)

Nathan Young, portrayed by Robert Sheehan (Misfits)
Nathan Young, portrayed by Robert Sheehan (Misfits) | Source

Let me tell you a little story about teenage me who's falling in love for the first time with a fictional character. And that character can't be anyone else but the one and only Nathan Young. In my defence, I also had back then a crush on a guy in my class that had a somewhat - very vague - resemblance with Nathan, so there was some mixed up things going on as well.

I haven't met a person that has watched Misfits that didn't at least like Nathan. Just like I haven't met a person that doesn't think the best Misfits seasons are the first two; and when you ask them why, there's a huge chance their answer will start with an N and end with "athan". He's the favorite Misfits character of most people, the most memorable one - no offense to the others, but let's just be honest here.

And what is there not to love about Nathan Young? He's a bratty, insolent, disrespectful young delinquent whose craving love and a family. Most of what he says or does is awful, and should it have been said or done by any other character of any other show, I would have despised them or even hated them for being this disrespectful. But it only makes Nathan more lovable, because it's him, and not anybody else. Is it a good thing? Probably not, but we don't care, because that's the magic of Nathan Young.

And you, didn't you say you wanted to piss on her tits?! Probably best to keep that kinda thing between you and your internet service provider.

— Nathan Young, Misfits, season 1 episode 3

12. Eric Effiong (Sex Education)

Eric Effiong, portrayed by Ncuti Gatwa (Sex Education)
Eric Effiong, portrayed by Ncuti Gatwa (Sex Education) | Source

Beautiful, inspiring, liberating Eric. He is one of the most refreshing characters currently on TV. Starting Sex Education, I would have never guessed how much I would come to love and admire Eric. When people talked about the show around me, they never mentioned him; they mainly talked about Otis and Maeve, and I figured I would not focus on him. Oh boy.

Is it weird that I consider Eric the main character of Sex Education? He steals every scene he's in. The world seems brighter when he's here, and darker when he's not. A feeling, I guess, every character around him feels, especially one Adam Groff. He is unapologetically himself, never afraid of letting his bright colours shine; or more precisely, he is, but he much prefers fearing retaliation than staying in denial of himself.

I've read people saying he's a model for young LGBTQ+ kids to be who they are, but to me he's an icon for each and everyone of us. We're all a little weird sometimes, we're all afraid of showing parts of ourselves that might not be accepted by everyone; in the end, we're all a little bit of Eric. So let's be him, fully and wholly; let's make our colours shine bright in the world, and whoever can't accept that can stay in their dark corner of the world, because that's not where we want to live.

I'll be hurt either way; isn't it better to be who I am?

— Eric Effiong, Sex Education, season 1 episode 7

Where to see the rest?

If you want to know which characters made it to my top 11, check out part II of this ranking!


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