The results are in! We asked readers to name their favorite TV characters of all time and thousands responded. This year, for the first time, we weren’t just asking about favorite gay TV characters. Folks could vote for characters of either gender – and all persuasions. Of course, this being AfterElton we expected gay characters to figure prominently on this list – and they do – but it is interesting to see what female and straight TV roles also resonated with the AfterElton readership.
Before we get to the actual rankings, here are a few statistics.
First, the top fifty came from a broad range of TV shows. Thirty programs were represented, and the two that made the best showing (Glee and Modern Family) placed only four characters each in the rankings.
Second, female characters nabbed 15 of the top 50 spots, or 30%.
Third, obviously a poll like this favors characters from current shows – but our readers did a very good job of reaching back and giving recognition to enduring characters of the past. In fact, exactly half (25) are from shows that are no longer in production.
Finally, while gay characters were well represented here with 20 or 40% of the Top 50, characters of color made a disappointing showing. Only four ranked: two African American men and two Latina women.
Without further ado, here are the results!
50. Phil Dunphy, Modern Family (Ty Burrell)
[On Air: 2009 – Present] The antidote to the typical TV dad? Not exactly, but there’s something just off-kilter enough about suburban father Phil Dunphy to make him far more endearing than the typical “dumb dad” who has taken over TV sitcoms in recent years. He’s like the Kramer of Modern Family: bumbling, lovable, and a great sport. Who can forget Phil trying to become the star of a viral video with son Luke, who repeatedly hit him with a basketball? Ouch!
A supportive brother-in-law to couple Mitchell and Cam and an eager, approval-seeking son-in-law to Jay Pritchett, he can be overly sentimental and emotional too. But he always has good intentions; even his occasionally exasperated wife Claire realizes this. And it doesn’t hurt that he’s also kind of cute!
49. Jack MacFarland, Will & Grace (Sean Hayes)
[On Air: 1998-2006] The title characters, Will and Grace might have been impressive comic creations, but the show could just as easily have been called Jack & Karen. The yin to Karen Walker’s admittedly wacky yang, Jack was much more than Karen’s “monkey.” He was her co-conspirator, her confidant and her alibi … and our endlessly entertaining court jester.
Tapping into his inner teenage girl, Sean Hayes once said, helped him develop the sometimes flamboyant and always outrageous Jack. This Cher-loving, man-chasing, occupation-challenged best friend to Will Truman (Eric McCormack) remains one of the funniest TV characters ever — even almost 6 years after Will & Grace left the airwaves. Think Lucille Ball’s Lucy Ricardo mixed with Three’s Company’s Jack Tripper plus some Paul Lynde and you’ve got the idea. But to those who love him, he’ll always be an original … “Just Jack.” And that’s more than enough.