We’ve decided to take up the task of determining which TV character is the best. ”Best” is a term that is intentionally left subjective which is really what makes it fun. The Waiver Wire staff listed 170 television characters and ranked them until we found what we thought were the best 64 and put them in a bracket. No doubt we left out some that people will miss but we tried to include any character worthy of being considered the best in the discussion.
We only had 2 rules: no show could have more than 3 characters from it included in the bracket, and the abilities of the actor playing the character can be considered but shouldn’t be the main reason to vote for a character. Over the next few weeks, we’ll open the polls to our readers and see who you think is the best TV Character!
You can view the full bracket here. Make sure to vote on the poll at the end.
#1 The Doctor (Doctor Who) vs. #16 Spock (Star Trek)
Why the Doctor MUST Win
MC: On November 22nd, 1963, BBC launched a science fiction serial called Doctor Who that focused on a mysterious old man in a machine disguised as a police box which he used to go on adventures throughout time and space.
This first incarnation of the show saw the old man, the Doctor (no other name was ever, or has ever, been given), traveled with his granddaughter and two human companions who were at first unwilling, but later became the Doctor’s friends. When William Hartnell, the actor who played the first Doctor – a character who slowly morphed from cruel curmudgeon into a wry, loveable hero – began to struggle with his health, BBC made one of the craziest decisions in television history. Instead of recasting with a similar looking actor and keeping things as is, they introduced a plot element where the Doctor would be revealed as an alien (the species, later on, would be named Time Lord) with the ability to “renew” his body when it got too old or injured.
Hartnell faded away and was replaced by Patrick Troughton, and the rest is history. This recasting process became known, in-show, as “regeneration” and began a 50 year journey that has seen 11 (er, sort of 12…it’s complicated) different actors play the iconic part of the Doctor.
I could go on for 8 years about how great the actual show is. It’s phenomenal, and the constantly changing cast, as well as the simple premise of “adventures in any place and any time period”, has created endless eras for the show to flesh out and then move on from. But through it all, the Doctor and his ship, the Tardis, have remained. Each actor has managed to truly sell the idea that the Doctor is the same basic man throughout each incarnation and that’s been one of the keys to crafting the most unique character in television history.
Having 11/12 (the recent 50th anniversary special introduced a “forgotten” incarnation played by the John Hurt; he f*cking nailed it, too) incarnations of one character over 50 years has allowed for kind of depth and range that no other character in this bracket could hope for. David Tenant’s 10th Doctor is a bombastic, geek chic hero. He is wacky, charming, commanding and terrfying. Tom Baker’s iconic 4th Doctor is alien and bizarre and impossible to take your eyes off of. Matt Smith, the current Doctor, is an old man in a young man’s body, capable of gravitas laden monologues. He’s a gangly mess of physicality and wields a hilarious lack of cool. Christopher Eccelston, the 9th Doctor, is a war-torn badass. Sylvester McCoy, the 7th is a master strategist hiding inside of a wise professor, and John Pertwee’s 3rd Doctor is a sci-fi James Bond, with double the gadgets and Venusian Akido in place of a love life. All of them are the Doctor and these vastly different performances, that all manage to be representative of the same character, forge an absolutely iconic, unforgettable character who is the driving force of a show that’s been great enough to last for 50 years.
This bracket, admittedly, doesn’t do a great job of representing the myriad of phenomenal British television characters out there. Many of us just don’t have the in-depth knowledge/viewing history necessary to do them justice. But the Doctor transcends that, and not just because of Doctor Who’s massive international popularity. The Doctor is a staggering character. The traits all of his incarnations share add up to a character who’s still enchanting audiences in 2013. The Doctor is boundlessly excited about exploring the universe, a hero who can’t help but intervene when he stumbles upon inevitable monsters, villains and plots. He’s always funny, always capable of becoming a terrifying force and always the smartest person in whatever galaxy he’s wandered into. He’s wandering throughout eternity and it can lead to real loneliness and tragedy and each Doctor has always had that lurking inside as well.
The Doctor is hands down the most unique television character of all time and compelling enough to justify 50 years of programming, comic books, audio dramas and novels. He must make it to at least the final four or I’ll give up on life. So do it for me. Do it for the Doctor.
Why Spock Should Win -
JY: I’m not really sure why Spock was nominated for our bracket, since I was the only person to vote for him, and I didn’t nominate him, but I can’t complain. I love Spock, and the 79 episodes of the original Star Trek are wonderfully fun to watch. However, I would like to complain about Spock matching up against the Doctor, since I was one of two people to vote for (and give a perfect score to) the Doctor. This isn’t fair! Two of the greatest sci-fi characters of all time in a head to head battle, where both of the authors agree that one is better. Shit. Well, I’m going to try to put aside all my Doctor Who love, and tell you why Spock is the better character.
For those who don’t know, Spock is a half-human, half-Vulcan who is first officer on board the Enterprise. Along with McCoy and Kirk, he is one of the three main characters in the original run. His Vulcan half allows him to be the cold, calculating, logical counter to the wildcard that is Captain Kirk. He is one half of arguably one of the greatest TV duos of all time. Can you imagine Kirk without Spock? Just try to picture an episode of Star Trek without Spock in it. It just isn’t possible. He’s just as essential to the show as Kirk. And arguably even more essential to the series of films it spawned afterwards. I mean, can you imagine how terrible The Search for Spock would have been if they never found him?! Spoiler alert: If you haven’t seen The Search for Spock, don’t read that last sentence.
Look, it’s hard to argue about Spock being the better character when I don’t really feel that way. But what I can do is defame the person writing about the Doctor, politicians do that all the time. Here are a few things about MC that you might not know. I hope they in no way affect your voting decision.
1) He likes cold toilet seats and soggy cereal.
2) He thinks Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace is a great movie. He even named his dog Jar-Jar.
3) He applauded when Mufasa was killed in The Lion King, and giggled when Bambi’s mom was shot.
4) His favorite show on TV is Keeping Up With The Kardashians.
[Competitor's Note: I can neither confirm or deny any of these rumors...except for #4. I love me some Bruce Jenner]
Cast your votes wisely people.