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.
The Case for Walter White
AH: I haven’t watched much of Doctor Who so it’s hard for me to compare these two but it’s impossible not to know how popular and iconic The Doctor is to fans. However, Walter White conquered much of the television world over the past few years. What makes Walter so amazing (besides the phenomenal acting) is how we watched him develop. Season 1, Walter is a quiet science teacher who doesn’t have a backbone to stand up for himself and take what he deserves. By the end of Breaking Bad, Walter is willing to steal, threaten, and kill to get whatever he thinks he deserves. Despite such a drastic change, the moral demise of Walter White felt so slow and drawn out that it wasn’t until you looked back and realized just how many bad things he did, that it really clicked, Walter is no longer the good guy in the story. And even after taking stock of just how far he fell, it still felt right to root for him.
MA: One great point that Alex just brought up was how Walter White became the bad guy in the story. It is very rare to see the main character in a show have that big of a change about him, but still was the focal point of the show. You went through so many different emotions with his character and as time went on Jesse started to become more of the person you wanted to root for. It was just the way it all went about that was amazing to watch unfold as Walter White was playing chess while everyone else was playing checkers. He was always one step ahead of everyone and he also learned from those around him. You can go on and on about the depth of Walter White, but just watching his development over the season was a thing of beauty.
VG: My fellow writers hit the nail on the head here: what is so unique about Walter White is that he undergoes a nontraditional transformation. Throughout most narratives we see our characters change for the better while Walt changed for the worse. You start the series feeling sympathy for the character and by the end of the series you aren’t sure if you should be rooting for him or against him. It’s tough to look across television, literature, or film and find any character that is quite as interesting as Walter White.
MC: As the site’s biggest proponent of the fact that The Doctor is the greatest character in the history of television, I should take a moment to give kudos to the unstoppable force that is Walter White. Watching Breaking Bad over the years (I binged the first 3 seasons and then watched live after that) was the single greatest television experience of my life. And Bryan Cranston may have pulled off the greatest acting feat of any television actor ever. His slow burning transition was beautifully played, constantly surprising and something I’ll never forget. The fact that you still wanted to see a monster like Walt succeed is a testament to the acting and writing at play in BB. BUT…We’re down to the best of the best and there can only be one.
PR: Hey guys! Don’t leave me out I want to write something too!! I can’t really argue that much more for Walter because everything has been said. Watching him transition throughout the show is really unbelievable to see. I am re-watching Breaking Bad at the moment and it really makes me see it even more. I have never seen a character like Walter White and I’m not sure I ever will again.
The Case for The Doctor
MC: Hello again, remember me? I’m right up there ^. See? The guy talking about how much he adores Walt and Breaking Bad. Hopefully my obsession with BB comes through because it should only serve to highlight how deserving the Doctor is when I say that there’s still no doubt in my mind that The Doctor is, far and away, the greatest television character of all time. Check out my arguments here. And here. And lastly, here. As one of the only two Whovians on the Waiver Wire staff I’ve done a lot of writing about the Doctor already and I think it’s best you click on those links for the in depth case. But here are the highlights”
- The Doctor has the unique advantage of 12 different actors taking on the role and fleshing it out throughout its 50 years. Click the links I added above to details on this.
- The Doctor has been great enough to carry a show for 50 years. FIFTY. That doesn’t even count the 100’s of audio dramas, novels and comics devoted to the Doctor’s various incarnations.
- The Doctor is a madman in a box. An ancient alien traveling through time and space going on adventures, exploring history, vanquishing monsters, getting into trouble and saving worlds. He can be a hero of epic proportions, a clown popping in on ancient rome or mars, a simple traveller, a swashbuckler and more. The format of Doctor Who has given the Doctor a canvas on which to paint a history of unparalleled excellence as a TV character.
- The Doctor is almost always hilarious and almost always tragic.
- The Doctor is the Doctor. I understand that if you don’t watch the show this is nonsense. But if you do, it’s the only argument you need. He’s the Doctor. The Oncoming Storm. The Last of the Time Lords. He’s pal-ed around with Van Gogh and Dickens, locked Hitler in a cupboard, travelled to the end of existence and saved countless lives. There’s the Doctor. And then there’s everyone else.