The Top 50 Genre Characters of All Time

May 13, 2015 No Comments by

After producing the first five parts of the Top 100 Genre Character Countdown in 2012, other factors soon got in the way of its completion. I attempted a few times to restart the effort to complete the audio countdown production, but I have to be honest with myself and with all of you: I’m never going to find the time or energy to finish this countdown. So I might as well share the results with you here.

Many thanks to all of you who submitted voices and voted in this poll, which was taken in late 2011 (yikes!). And many thanks to Todd W for supplying most of the text you will read below under each of the remaining characters.

Previously on the Top 100 Genre Character of All Time Countdown (psst… click the link to hear the first five parts before you see the top 50).

And now… on with the countdown.

#50: Worf (Star Trek Universe)
Appearing first in 1987’s Star Trek The Next Generation, the klingon federation officer Worf continued on that series until its end in 1994 and then appeared as a series regular in Star Trek Deep Space Nine. The character has appeared not only in multiple Trek series, but also on television comedies and specials, and multiple motion pictures. The character has almost always been played by the actor Michael Dorn.

#49: Zachary Smith (Lost In Space)
Jonathan Harris most famously began playing the whimpy and exccentric stow-away scientist from Lost in Space in 1965. The original television show ran until 1968, after which the character appeared in specials, parodies and even a motion picture remake of the original show.

#48: Rupert Giles (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Rupert Giles debuted in 1997 in the pilot episode of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer. Using a librarian job as a cover during Buffy’s high school years, Giles served as Buffy’s mentor, trainer, and surrogate father-figure. He remained an important character throughout the series, though he was only a recurring character in the last two seasons. The proposed Giles-centric spin-off called Ripper was never developed due to rights disputes over the character. The character of Giles has continued beyond TV in the Buffy comics including the canon Season 8 comics produced & partially written by Joss Whedon. Rupert Giles has always been played on screen by Anthony Steward Head.

#47: Angel (Buffy Universe)
Sired in the mid-1700s and later cursed with a soul to feel guilt for his sins, the vampire known as Angel debuted in 1997 in the first episode of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer. Angel began as a recurring character but became a regular in Buffy’s 2nd & 3rd seasons before being spun off into his own self-titled show that lasted five seasons. Angel was known by other names including Liam from his human days and as Angelus, his evil alter ego. Angel was briefly portrayed by Rance Howard in one season 3 body swapping episode. Otherwise, the character has always been played by David Boreanaz.

#46: Gwen Cooper (Doctor Who Universe)
Gwen Cooper debuted in 2006 in the first episode of Torchwood, a spin-off of Doctor Who. The character appeared in two crossover Doctor Who episodes and was last seen in 2011 in the Torchwood season 4 finale before the show’s indefinite hiatus. The character has always been played on screen by Welsh actress Eve Myles. Myles also voiced the character of Gwen Cooper in seven Torchwood radio plays broadcast on BBC Radio between 2008 and 2011.

#45: Tyrion Lannister (Game of Thrones)
Tyrion Lannister is one of the most prominent characters from HBO’s Game of Thrones, the television adaptation of George R.R. Martins’ Song of Ice & Fire book series. Tyrion made his TV debut as the rich & intelligent but disrespected dwarf in the first episode of the series in 2011. Actor Peter Dinklage has won Emmy, Golden Globe, Satellite, and Scream awards for his portrayal of Tyrion Lannister, and he was the first and only choice of George R.R. Martin and the the Game of Thrones showrunners to play the role.

#44: Emma Peel (The Avengers)
Emma Peel first appeared in 1965 on the British spy-fi show The Avengers. Mrs. Peel served as the assistant to intelligence agent John Steed during the show’s 4th & 5th seasons and made her final appearance in the season 6 premiere. With The Avengers being broadcast in America on ABC at the time, actress Diana Rigg earned Primetime Emmy nominations in 1967 and 1968 for her portrayal of Emma Peel.

#43: Moya (Farscape)
Moya debuted in the premiere episode of Farscape in 1999 and remained a crucial character throughout the series and in the concluding mini-series, The Peacekeeper Wars, in 2004. Moya is from a race of large, sentient, bio-mechanoid creatures called Leviathans who live in space, can reproduce, and can Starburst to cover large distances of space in a short time. Moya is capable of accommodating creatures of other species and serves as the starship for the humanoid characters on the show. The interior of Moya is the orgnanic-looking set in which the other characters live & interact, and her exterior was visualized by computer graphics. Moya interacts with her passengers via small maintenance robots called DRDs and the character Pilot, Moya’s symbiotically linked caretaker portrayed by a large JIm Henson puppet and voiced by Lani Tupu.

#42: Daniel Jackson (Stargate Universe)
Originating on the big screen in the 1994 film Stargate, Dr. Daniel Jackson debuted on television three years later as the civilian archeologist & linguist assisting the U.S. Air Force in the top secret Stargate Program. Jackson appeared in all 10 seasons of Stargate: SG-1, though he was only a recurring character in season 6. The character also appeared in two direct-to-video SG-1 movies, three episodes of Stargate: Atlantis, and four episodes of Stargate Universe. Dr. Jackson was briefly portrayed by Richard Dean Anderson in a season 2 body swapping episode. Otherwise, the character has always been played by Michael Shanks.

Best of the Rest: Claudia Donovan (The Eureka Universe)
Claudia Donovan was first introduced in 2009 in the 4th episode of Warehouse 13 as a sarcastic, teenage hacker needing assistance in an artifact-related situation of her own. Recruited as a Warehouse Agent soon after, Claudia has been a regular character ever since. The character also guest starred in one episode of Eureka. Childhood-aged Claudia was played by Sophi Knight in the character’s debut episode. The teenage & adult Claudia has always been played by Allison Scagliotti.

#41: Dana Scully (The X-Files)
FBI Special Agent Dana Katherine Scully, M.D. first appeared on television in the pilot episode of The X-Files in 1993. Famously partnered with fellow FBI agent Fox Mulder who was less present in the show’s final two seasons, Scully remained a mainstay of The X-Files, appearing in all but four episodes during its nine-year run. Scully was also a major character in both X-Files feature films. Actress Gillian Anderson won an Emmy, a Golden Globe, a Saturn award, and two Screen Actors Guild Awards for her portrayal of Agent Dana Scully.

#40: Jayne Cobb (Firefly)
Just happy to be doing good works and in charge of…”public relations”…aboard Serenity, the gun-loving mercenary Jayne Cobb appeared in all 14 episodes of Firefly which began in 2002 and ended far too soon in 2003. Not very well-schooled but quite effective as the muscle of the Serenity crew, Jayne loved money, women, excitement, naming his many guns, and having his own bunk. The character would also appear in the feature film Serenity, somewhat considered to be a finale to the unfinished TV series. The character continued in the Serenity comic books published by Dark Horse and written mostly by Joss Whedon and his brother Zack. On screen, the character has always been played by Adam Baldwin.

#39: Melody Pond (aka River Song) (Doctor Who)
The enigmatic character River Song debuted in 2008 in the modern Doctor Who season 4 episode “Silence in the Library.” As a prominent recurring character, Professor Song would appear in more than a dozen episodes since then, interacting with both the Tenth Doctor & Eleventh Doctor. The character has gone by several names, has been played by several actors, and has a surprising connection to at least one of the Doctor’s companions. But, going into those details would be…Spoilers. 😉 Let’s just say that the character has been played most often and most famously by British actress Alex Kingston.

#38: Wesley Wyndham Pryce (Buffy Universe)
Wesley Wyndham-Pryce first appeared in “Bad Girls,” a mid-season 3 episode of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer in 1999. The replacement of Rupert Giles as Watcher of Buffy & Faith, Wesley was originally intended to last only a few episodes before being killed off. But, the character proved popular with the producers, and he went on to appear in a total of nine Buffy episodes before joining the spinoff show Angel for exactly 100 more episodes, making him the 8th-most prominent character in the combined Buffy-Angel universe. Actor Alexis Denisof, who just happens to be married to Alyson Hannigan who played Willow on Buffy, received three Saturn Award nominations for his portrayal of Wesley Wyndham-Pryce during his time as a main cast member on Angel.

#37: Sarah Jane Smith (Doctor Who Universe)
Investigative journalist Sarah Jane Smith debuted in December 1973 during season 11 of classic Doctor Who. Sarah Jane served as a companion to the Third, Fourth, and Tenth Doctors and met the First, Second, and Fifth Doctors by way of the 20th anniversary special called “The Five Doctors.” Sarah Jane also met the Eleventh Doctor when he was a guest character on her own spin-off show The Sarah Jane Adventures which lasted five seasons from 2007 to 2011. Younger versions of the character were played briefly by Jessica Ashworth and Jessica Mogridge. The adult Sarah Jane Smith was played by the late Elisabeth Sladen.

#36: Benjamin Linus (Lost)
Benjamin Linus did not join the divisive cult phenomenon Lost until its 39th episode in 2006, though much of his backstory was explored later via flashbacks. Intended as a guest character for only three season 2 episodes, the producers of Lost decided to extend the creepy, mysterious, and cold-hearted character for five additional episodes. He then became a regular character for the remaining four seasons. The pre-teen version of Ben was played by Sterling Beaumon for five episodes. Impressed with his Emmy-winning guest appearance as a serial killer on The Practice, the producers of Lost cast Michael Emerson in the adult role of Benjamin Linus, for which Emerson won another Emmy and a Saturn Award.

#35: Number Six (The Prisoner)
The mysterious character Number Six first appeared in all 17 episodes of The Prisoner, the British spy drama which aired between 1967 and 1968. Six is the number-based designation given to the character when he awakens in the The Village, an elaborate open-air prison where he is held captive after he has resigned from an important British government position, probably within the intelligence branch. The true name & profession of the character is never officially revealed though some fans and possibly even one of the show’s co-creators suspect he was John Drake, the main character from an earlier spy show called Danger Man, starring Patrick McGoohan. The character of Number Six is very much a creation of Patrick McGoohan who co-created and executive-produced The Prisoner, wrote & directed several episodes, and played Number Six on screen. The character was later played by Jim Caviezel in an American remake of The Prisoner which aired in 2009 as a six-episode mini-series on AMC.

#34: Gene Hunt (Life On Mars)
Detective Chief Inspector Gene Hunt first appeared in 2006 on the British time-traveling cop show “Life on Mars,” which lasted two seasons. The character continued in the “Life on Mars” spinoff called “Ashes to Ashes” which started in 2008 and lasted an additional three seasons. The British version of “Life on Mars” inspired adaptations in the U.S., Spain, and Russia, with the U.S. version having a similar character also called Gene Hunt and holding the rank of Lieutenant in command of a detective squad. Mason Kayne played a young Gene Hunt in season 3 of “Ashes to Ashes.” Otherwise, the character has always been played by Philip Glenister in the UK and by Harvey Keitel for the U.S. version’s single season.

#33: Susan Ivanova (Babylon 5 Universe)
Susan Ivanova debuted in 1994 as the first officer of Babylon 5 in “Midnight on the Firing Line,” the first weekly episode of the series. The character replaced Laurel Takashima, the first officer of Babylon 5 during the pilot TV-movie that aired 11 months earlier. Susan Ivanova remained a major character throughout the first four seasons plus the series finale in season 5. Ivanova also appeared in the B5 TV-movie “Thirdspace.” The future of the character and a clone of Ivanova would be explored in two of the six B5 short stories published in magazines after the end of the series. A younger version of the character was seen briefly in the B5 prequel TV-movie “In the Beginning.” At any age, Susan Ivanova has always been played on screen by Claudia Christian.

#32: Londo Mollari (Babylon 5 Universe)
Londo Mollari first appeared in “The Gathering,” the pilot for Babylon 5 which aired as a 2-hour TV movie in 1993, 11 months before the weekly series started in 1994. Londo played a pivotal role throughout the show’s 5-season story arc, mostly as the Centauri Republic’s diplomatic ambassador to Babylon 5 but later serving in two other high-ranking Centauri positions. The life of the character after Babylon 5 would be explored further through the short story “Shadow of His Thoughts” and the Centauri Prime book trilogy collectively entitled “Legions of Fire.” A younger version of Londo appeared in the B5 prequel TV-movie “In the Beginning,” and an older version appeared at various times throughout the TV series. At any age, Londo Mollari has always been played by Peter Jurasik.

Best of the Rest: Jack Carter (The Eureka Universe)
Jack Carter first appeared in 2006 in the pilot episode of Eureka. The often goofy but very competent character began as a U.S. Marshall, but by the end of the first episode he had replaced William Cobb as sheriff of Eureka, a job which required frequent heroics rarely related to actual law enforcement. Sheriff Carter was played by three additional cast members during a season 5 body swapping episode. Otherwise, the character has always been played by Canadian actor Colin Ferguson.

#31: Seven of Nine (Star Trek: Voyager)
The Borg drone designated Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix 01, first came aboard Voyager in the season 4 premiere in 1997. Born as Annika Hansen, Seven of Nine — or simply Seven — was the daughter of exobiologists Magnus & Erin Hansen before she was assimilated by the Borg at the age of six — 18 years before her liberation by the Voyager crew. Seven was occasionally played as a child by Erica Lynne Bryan and Katelin Petersen. During her four seasons as a main character, actress Jeri Ryan won a Saturn Award and a Golden Satellite Award for her portrayal of the adult Seven of Nine.

#30: Chiana (Farscape)
A street-smart survivalist from a grey-skinned race known as Nebari, Chiana debuted in “Durka Returns,” the 15th episode of Farscape. Chiana continued to appear throughout the remainder of season 1 before officially becoming one of the main characters for the following three seasons as well as the TV miniseries “The Peacekeeper Wars” and the canon comic book series. Chiana was briefly portrayed by other Farscape cast members in several body swapping and alternate reality episodes. She was also very briefly played by Amanda Tapping in a quick Farscape-spoofing scene from Stargate SG-1’s 200th episode. Otherwise the character has always been played on screen by Gigi Edgely.

#29: Spike (Buffy Universe)
Spike debuted in 1997 in “School Hard,” an early season 2 episode of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer as a vampire from Angel’s past who once terrorized Europe for two centuries along with fellow vampires Angelus, Darla, and Drusilla. Spike made numerous appearances on Buffy and the spinoff show Angel until officially becoming a main character in Buffy season 4 episode 7 when Spike portrayer James Marsters replaced Oz portrayer Seth Green in the opening credits. Remaining a main character throughout Buffy and the final season of Angel, he appeared in a total of 121 episodes, tying him with Rupert Giles as the 6th-most prevalent character in the combined Buffy/Angel universe. Spike is also the only character to appear in the 100th episodes of both Buffy and Angel and the only character to have met all other regular characters from both shows on screen at least once each. The character has continued in the official Buffy, Angel, and Spike comic books. James Marsters earned numerous Saturn, SFX, Satellite, and Teen Choice Award nominations for the role of Spike, including three consecutive SFX wins from 2002 to 2004, Saturn Award wins in 2001 and 2004, and a Cinescape Genre Face of the Future Award in 2002.

#28: Carl Kolchak (Kolchak: The Night Stalker)
Carl Kolchak, a Las Vegas newspaper reporter investigating mysterious serial killings, first appeared in television on ABC in the 1972 TV movie The Night Stalker, which was based on Jeff Rice’s unpublished novel of the same name. Kolchak moved to Seattle for a 2nd investigation into the supernatural in the 1973 sequel The Night Strangler. These TV movies led to the publishing of the original book and a novelization of the 2nd movie. A 3rd TV movie called “The Night Killers” would have set Kolchak in Hawaii, but instead the character moved to Chicago for a weekly TV series which ran for 20 episodes from 1974 to 1975. The character continued in various novels, short stories, and comic books, including comic book issues that adapted two un-produced scripts that were written before the TV show’s cancellation. The character was always played in the 1970s by Darren McGavin. Stuart Townsend portrayed the character in the short-lived 2005 remake which aired on ABC for six episodes, with four additional produced episodes and two un-produced scripts available on the series DVD set.

#27: Benjamin Sisko (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
A father, widower, and Borg attack survivor, Benjamin Sisko debuted in the first episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in 1993. First a Commander and later promoted to Captain, Sisko served as the commanding officer of both the former Cardassian space station Deep Space Nine and the experimental Federation warship, the U.S.S. Defiant. Among many Bajorans, Sisko was also considered a religious figure called The Emissary, an intermediary between Bajor and powerful wormhole aliens called The Prophets. Actor Avery Brooks received a Saturn Award nomination and two Image Award nominations during his seven-year portrayal of Benjamin Sikso.

#26: Jack O’Neill (Stargate Universe)
Jack O’Neill originated on the big screen in the 1994 film Stargate, but the character debuted on television in 1997 in the 2-part SG-1 pilot “Children of the Gods.” O’Neill was a main character during the first eight years of the Stargate TV franchise, but he later became a recurring character, appearing in four episodes of Stargate SG-1’s final two seasons, four episodes of Stargate Atlantis, six episodes of Stargate Universe, and the direct-to-video movie Stargate: Continuum. During the 14 years of the franchise, O’Neill climbed the U.S. Air Force ranks from a Colonel in charge of the four-man SG-1 team to a Lieutenant General in charge of Homeworld Security. O’Neill’s likes & hobbies include fishing, watching The Simpsons, eating cake, and wishing he could have dinner with actress Mary Steenburgen. Jack O’Neill was briefly portrayed by Michael Shanks and Christopher Judge in a season 2 body-swapping episode of SG-1. A teenage version of the character was once portrayed by Michael Welch. For his long-term portrayal of Colonel Jack O’Neill, Richard Dean Anderson received eight consecutive Saturn Award nominations including a win in 1999.

#25: Kara “Starbuck” Thrace (Battlestar Galactica (2004))
Somewhat based on the male character named Starbuck from the original Battlestar Galactica, Kara Thrace debuted in the re-imagined BSG miniseries in 2003 as a female Viper pilot with “Starbuck” as her call sign. Kara Thrace remained a major character for all four seasons of the series and the TV movie Razor between 2004 and 2009. Though some fans were initially outraged at the character’s gender switch, the new Starbuck has become one of the show’s most popular characters. A childhood aged Kara Thrace was played by Erika-Shaye Gair in flashbacks for two episodes. For her role as the adult Starbuck, Katee Sackoff received four consecutive Saturn Award nominations including a win in 2006.

#24: William Adama (Battlestar Galactica Universe)
Based somewhat on Commander Adama from the original Battlestar Galactica, William Adama was the lead character in the new BSG universe, re-imagined by Ronald D. Moore, and starting with the mini-series in 2003. Tasked with defending the dwindling human race from Cylons and trying to find the mythical planet called Earth, Adama served as Commander of the Galactica and later as Admiral of the remaining Colonial fleet. Adama was very briefly portrayed as an infant by Markus Towfigh in the prequel series Caprica. He was portrayed as a young Colonial pilot by Nico Cortez in flashbacks from the TV movie Razor and by Luke Pasqualino in the prequel web series Blood & Chrome. Throughout BSG, including the two TV movies, the character was primarily played by Edward James Olmos. For his work in the roll, Olmos earned numerous acting award nominations including ALMA wins in 2007 & 2008 and a Saturn Award win in 2009.

#23: Bender (Futurama)
The gambling, alcohol-fueled, cigar-smoking robot named Bender was introduced in the first episode of the animated sci-fi comedy Futurama in 1999 and remained a major character throughout the show’s run. Bender was built as an industrial robot in the year 2997 in Tijiuana, Mexico. His official designation is Bending Unit 22, and his full name is Bender Bending Rodriguez. Despite possessing a variety of negative personality traits, Bender became a friend and roommate to Fry, the show’s human protagonist from 1999 who ends up in the future after being frozen for 1000 years. Bender is played by voice actor John DiMaggio.

#22: Clark Kent (aka Superman) (DC Comics Universe)
Superman, also known as Kal-El and Clark Kent, originated in 1938 in Action Comics issue #1, becoming one of the earliest and most popular superheroes of all time. The character debuted on live-action television in 1952, played by George Reeves for six seasons of “Adventures of Superman” and for one episode of “I Love Lucy” in 1957. From 1988 to 1992, a younger version of Clark Kent was featured in the syndicated half-hour show “Superboy,” played by John Haymes Newton in season 1 and Gerard Christopher for the following three seasons. From 1993 to 1997, actor Dean Cain was paired with Teri Hatcher for four seasons of “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.” And from 2001 to 2011, Tom Welling portrayed a pre-Superman version of Clark Kent for 10 seasons of “Smallville.” Animated versions of Superman have been voiced by dozens of actors, notably Bud Collyer in the 1940s & 1960s, Danny Dark in the ’70s & ’80s, Tim Daly from 1996 to 2012, and George Newbern from 2001 to 2013.

Best of the Rest: Harvey (Farscape)
Named by John Crichton, Harvey is a neural clone, a mental duplication of the Farscape villain Scorpius that exists inside Crichton’s psyche. Harvey gradually gained influence over Crichton’s mind and body starting with the season 2 episode “Crackers Don’t Matter” in the year 2000. Throughout the final two seasons, Crichton is able to regain most of his self control and starts to have influence over the Harvey character. Harvey gradually becomes more of a blending of Crichton and Scorpius, with the manifestation of Harvey often appearing in clothing and settings from Earth. Harvey was occasionally played by other actors such as Ben Browder and Claudia Black, but he was usually portrayed by Wayne Pygram in the same make-up and face mask as his Scorpius character.

#21: River Tam (Firefly)
River Tam first appeared in all 14 episodes of the beloved but short-lived show Firefly between 2002 & 2003 as a traumatized teenage girl who had been rescued from government scientists by her brother Simon. The character was central to the plot of the Firefly feature film Serenity in 2005 and continued further in the Serenity comic books. The character also appeared in the R. Tam Sessions, five unofficial videos released to the internet by Joss Whedon as viral marketing for the Serenity film. Written & directed by Joss Whedon and even co-starring Whedon as a shadowy interrogator, the R. Tam Sessions depicted “counseling” sessions that imply the kind of mind-altering experiments & torture subjected upon River by the Alliance government. The childhood aged River was played by Skylar Roberge in the Firefly episode “Safe” and by Hunter Ansley Wryn in the Serenity movie. The role was played primarily by Summer Glau who was able to incorporate her years of ballet training into the character’s unique fighting style and who won Saturn and SFX awards for playing the character in the Serenity movie.

#20: Leonard “Bones” McCoy (Star Trek)
Dr. Leonard H. McCoy first appeared on September 8, 1966, in “The Man Trap,” the first broadcast episode of the original Star Trek series. Known by his nickname “Bones,” Dr. McCoy served as chief medical officer of the Enterprise for all three seasons when he often delivered the now famous catch phrases, “He’s dead, Jim,” and “I’m a doctor, not a….” The character also appeared in Star Trek: The Animated Series for two seasons from 1973 to 1974, in all six feature films starring the original cast from 1979 to 1991, in Star Trek: The Next Generation’s pilot episode in 1987, and in the two re-imagined Star Trek movies directed by J.J. Abrams released in 2009 and 2013. The character continued in numerous novels, comic books, and video games. The role has been played by John M. Kelley and Larry Nemecek in fan-made continuations of the original series and by New Zealand actor Karl Urban in the two re-imagined films. The late DeForest Kelley is best known for playing Bones throughout the original live action series and movies as well as voicing the character in The Animated Series.

#19: Sam Beckett (Quantum Leap)
In our own time, Dr. Sam Beckett first appeared in 1989 in “Genesis,” the first episode of Quantum Leap in which the phenomenally brilliant scientist first began time traveling by leaping into the bodies of people who lived within his own lifetime. Some of the most notable lives into which Dr. Beckett leaped included: a young man with Down Syndrome, a pregnant woman, a space program test chimp named Bobo, himself as a teenager, his friend Al Calavicci as a young navy ensign, a friend of horror author Stephen King, Marilyn Monroe’s chauffeur, famous sex therapist Dr. Ruth, President Kennedy’s assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, and Elvis Presley. Because each new episode occurred in a different time and place, Sam was one of only two regular cast members for the show’s five year run, with the only other regular character being the guide named Al from 1995 who appeared as a hologram. For his role as Dr. Sam Beckett, Scott Bakula received four consecutive Emmy nominations, three consecutive Golden Globe nominations with a win in 1992, and four consecutive wins from the Viewers for Quality Television Awards.

#18: Dean Winchester (Supernatural)
Dean Winchester first appeared in 2005 as the older brother to Sam Winchester who travel the country together to hunt demons, ghosts, monsters, and other creatures on the long running show Supernatural. Throughout the first eight seasons, Dean has killed several major antagonists, has time traveled at least four times, and has been to Heaven, Hell, Avalon, and Purgatory. Younger versions of Dean, from toddler to teenage years, have been played by four different actors, and an older Dean was once played by Chad Everett. The character has been primarily portrayed by Jensen Ackles who has earned several SFX, People’s Choice, TV Guide, and Teen Choice nominations for the role with a TV Guide Award win in 2011. In Supernatural: The Anime Series, Dean has been voiced by Hiroki Touchi, Andrew Farrar, and Jensen Ackles.

#17: John Sheridan (Babylon 5 Universe)
Never the person to start a fight but always the right person to finish one, John J. Sheridan first appeared in 1994 in “Points of Departure,” Babylon 5’s season 2 premiere, as an Earth Force captain taking command of the diplomatic space station after the former commander Jeffrey Sinclair became Earth’s ambassador to Minbar. John Sheridan remained a central figure for the remaining four seasons of the series, mostly as B5’s commander but eventually taking a more political role and also sharing command of the Rangers. A younger version of Sheridan appeared as the first officer of an Earth Force starship in the B5 prequel TV movie “In the Beginning.” Sheridan also appeared at various ages in two other B5 TV movies, several novels and comic books, one B5 short story, and in one episode of the direct-to-video “Lost Tales” DVD. At all ages, John Sheridan has always been played by Bruce Boxleitner.

#16: Data (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
The character known as Data made his debut in 1987 in “Encounter at Farpoint,” the pilot episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Data held the rank of Lieutenant Commander and served as the second officer and chief operations officer aboard the starships Enterprise-D and Enterprise-E for seven seasons of the TV show and the four Next Generation feature films. A sentient android striving to become more human, Data enjoyed human hobbies such as acting, painting, writing poetry, playing poker, playing several musical instruments, and taking care of his cat named Spot. The character has lived on in a significant number of Star Trek related novels, comic books, and video games. The character has always been played on screen by Brent Spiner who won a Saturn Award in 1997 for the role of Data in Star Trek: First Contact.

#15: Jack Harkness (Doctor Who Universe)
Captain Jack Harkness bebuted in 2005 in “The Empty Child,” an episode of modern Doctor Who’s first season. Jack continued as a recurring character in Doctor Who’s 1st, 3rd, and 4th seasons, plus the 2009 specials. Jack became the starring character in his own spinoff show called Torchwood which aired for four seasons between 2006 and 2011. Jack is significant for being the first openly omnisexual character in televised Doctor Who. The character has continued in various novels and comic books as well as seven BBC Radio Dramas broadcast between 2008 and 2011. The character has always been played on television and radio by Scottish-American actor John Barrowman.

#14: Delenn (Babylon 5 Universe)
When Ambassador Delenn first appeared in “The Gathering,” the pilot for Babylon 5 which aired as a 2-hour TV movie in 1993, she was intended to be a male character who would metamorphose into a female later on. But, when the computer alteration to the actress’s voice was unconvincing in making her sound more masculine, the idea was dropped. Delenn’s appearance was softened and the character was considered fully female when the weekly series started 11 months later in 1994. Delenn was a powerful character throughout the show’s 5-season story arc, primarily as the Minbari Federation’s diplomatic ambassador to Babylon 5, but throughout the series, B5 TV movies, and various published works, she held at least five other major roles including Ranger One, head of the Minbari religious caste, and advisory board member to the Interstellar Alliance. Younger & older versions of the character have been shown in various flashbacks and flashforwards, but the character has always been played on screen by Croatian actress Mira Furlan.

#13: Willow Rosenburg (Buffy Universe)
At first a shy, bookish, computer nerd, Willow Danielle Rosenberg made her debut in 1997 in “Welcome to the Hellmouth,” the premiere episode of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer. Along with Buffy herself, Willow was one of only two characters to appear in all 144 episodes of the show. Having made three guest appearances on the spinoff show Angel compared to Buffy’s two, Willow is technically the second-most prominent character in the Buffy-Angel universe by episode count. She is also notable for identifying herself ethnically and culturally as Jewish, learning magic, becoming a powerful witch, and exploring her sexual preference — eventually coming out definitely as a lesbian. The character has continued after the TV show in the official Buffy Season 8 and Season 9 comic books written by Joss Whedon as well other canonical comic book series Spike, Angel & Faith, and Willow: Wonderland. Willow’s middle name Danielle was never spoken on screen but was mentioned in an early draft of the season 3 episode “Bad Girls.” The character was played one time by Riff Regan in the original, un-aired Buffy pilot which can be found on YouTube. Willow was voiced by Natalie Lander in the Buffy Season 8 Motion Comic and by Alyson Hannigan in the unaired & unsold 4-minute pilot for Buffy: The Animated Series which can also be found on YouTube. For her primary portrayal of Willow, actress Alyson Hannigan received numerous Saturn, SFX, Satellite, Teen Choice, and TV Guide Award nominations with a Teen Choice Award win in 2002 and Saturn & SFX wins in 2003.

#12: Fox Mulder (The X-Files)
Fox Mulder first appeared in 1993 in the pilot episode of “The X-Files” as an FBI Special Agent with a belief in extraterrestrials and government conspiracies motivated by the alleged abduction of his sister as a child. Mulder was paired with the other popular X-Files character Dana Scully, and the two remained a team for the first seven seasons of the show. Fox Mulder continued as a recurring character in the show’s final two seasons and also appeared in the two X-Files feature films and one episode of the spinoff show “The Lone Gunman.” Unofficial versions of Agent Mulder have also appeared in episodes of “Eek the Cat” and “The Simpsons,” both voiced by David Duchovny. A childhood aged Mulder was played by Marcus Turner in the TV series and the first movie. The character was primarily played by David Duchovny who earned a multitude of Emmy, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, Saturn, Satellite, People’s Choice, and TV Guide Award nominations for the role with Golden Globe & Satellite wins in 1997 and a TV Guide Award win in 1999.

Best of the Rest: Olivia Dunham (Fringe)
Olivia Dunham debuted in 2008 in the first episode of Fringe. Dunham is an FBI Special Agent assigned to the Fringe Division, a multi-agency task force of the Department of Homeland Security which investigates supernatural events usually linked to experimental or theoretical science. Thanks to subplots involving a parallel universe and time resetting, we see at least four different versions of Olivia Dunham throughout the show’s five year run, with the secondary version of her having slightly different looks, personality, and motivations from the primary Olivia Dunham. Younger versions of Olivia have been played by at least two actresses, including Ada Breker and Karley Scott Collins. For her portrayal of the adult Olivia Dunham, in all times & dimensions, Australian actress Anna Torv received four consecutive Teen Choice Award nominations and five consecutive Saturn Award nominations with three Saturn wins from 2010 to 2012.

#11: Xena (Hercules Universe)
Xena of Amphipolis, at first known as Destroyer of Nations, debuted in March 1995 in “The Warrior Princess,” a mid-season 1 episode of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. The character began as a cunning & ruthless warlord but started down a path of redemption through two additional appearances in Hercules season 1 and her own spinoff series Xena: Warrior Princess, which premiered in September 1995 and lasted six seasons. The character continued in additional Hercules guest appearances, Xena comic books and video games, and in the animated Hercules & Xena movie “The Battle for Mount Olympus.” The character of Xena has been credited with paving the way for future female action hero shows like Buffy, Dark Angel, and Alias. And, the character has also achieved cult status in the lesbian community for the much discussed & debated subtext between Xena and her close traveling companion Gabrielle. Through various flashbacks, body swaps, and future life incarnations, the character was briefly played by several other actors & actresses. But, the role was primarily portrayed by New Zealand actress Lucy Lawless who also voiced the character in the animated movie.

#10: G’Kar (Babylon 5 Universe)
Ambassador G’Kar of Narn debuted in 1993 in “The Gathering,” the 2-hour pilot for Babylon 5 which aired as a syndicated TV movie. He continued as a central character, experiencing many challenges, torture, and spiritual enlightenment during the show’s five season story arc from 1994 to 1998. As a superb example of character development, G’Kar began the show as a bitter, militant leader of a beaten people desperate for revenge, but by the end of five years, he had gradually become an articular writer, eloquent speaker, unexpected religious figure, and founding advisor of an interstellar alliance based on peaceful co-existence. G’Kar also appeared in the B5 TV movies “In the Beginning” and “Legend of the Rangers,” in the Centauri Prime book trilogy collectively entitled “Legions of Fire,” and in the B5 short stories “Genius Loci” and “True Seeker.” The character was always portrayed on screen by the late actor Andreas Katsulas. For the role of G’Kar, Katsulas won an SFX Award in 1997 and a Universe Reader’s Choice Award in 1995.

#9: John Crichton (Farscape)
The ultimate fish-out-of-water, Commander John Robert Crichton, Jr. debuted in 1999 in the “Premiere” episode of Farscape when the astronaut’s test module Farscape-1 entered a wormhole and emerged in a distant part of the galaxy populated by diverse alien races. Forced to accept his new home aboard a living starship named Moya, John Crichton formed emotional bonds with his alien shipmates and remained the central human character throughout the show’s four seasons, the “Peacekeeper Wars” mini-series, the official comic book series that followed, and the 2002 video game. In fact, he’s the only character to have appeared in every episode as well as the mini-series. For a while, there were actually two versions of Crichton allowing him to participate in two separate, ongoing storylines at once. Younger versions of Crichton were played by Robert Supple and Jamie Croft. The character was briefly portrayed by Claudia Black and voiced by Jonathan Hardy in the season 2 body-swapping episode, “Out of their Minds.” Crichton was very briefly portrayed by Michael Shanks during a quick Farscape-spoofing scene in Stargate: SG-1’s special 200th episode. The role of John Crichton was primarily portrayed by Ben Browder who received four consecutive Saturn Award nominations during the series with a win in 2002 for season 3 and a win in 2005 for “The Peacekeeper Wars.”

#8: Jean-Luc Picard (Star Trek Universe)
Technically French despite how much he acts & sounds British, Captain Jean-Luc Picard made his debut in 1987 in “Encounter at Farpoint,” the 2-hour pilot episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Captain Picard continued as a major character for all seven seasons of the show, the 2-hour Star Trek: Deep Space Nine pilot episode, the four Next Generation feature films, and over half-a-dozen Star Trek video games. Picard became one of the youngest commanding officers in Starfleet history, and during his time commanding the USS Stargazer, USS Enterprise-D, and USS Enterprise-E, he was responsible for first contact with many alien species, including the Ferengi, Borg, and Q Continuum. Picard also had adept knowledge of diplomacy, archeology, physics, and literature, and enjoyed reading, fencing, and horseback riding in his free time. The character may be best known for his love of hot earl grey tea, his conversations about humanity with android officer Data, his command phrases “Engage” and Make it so,” and his traumatizing transformation by the Borg in the season 3 finale which continued to be referenced throughout the show’s remaining four seasons and the feature film Star Trek: First Contact. Younger versions of Picard were played by David Tristan Birkin as a 12-year-old and by Marcus Nash as a Starfleet Ensign. Otherwise, Captain Jean-Luc Picard has always been portrayed on screen by British Shakespearean actor Patrick Stewart, who received a Screen Actors Guild nomination in 1995 for the TV show and Saturn and Blockbuster nominations in 1997 for the film Star Trek: First Contact.

#7: James Kirk (Star Trek)
James Tiberius Kirk first appeared on September 8, 1966, in “The Man Trap,” the first broadcast episode of the original Star Trek series. Kirk continued as one of the most famous and highly-decorated Federation starship captains throughout the original three seasons of the show, the two seasons of Star Trek: The Animated Series, and nine of the various Star Trek feature films. The character is famous for his strong leadership abilities, his sometimes odd mannerisms, and his intensely loyal friendships with fellow officers Spock and Dr. Leonard McCoy. Though Kirk was an admiral for much of his time in Starfleet, his talents were best employed as the commanding officer of a starship, and his “punishment” for one time saving the Earth while an Admiral was to be returned to his rank & post of Captain. Captain Kirk was one time played by Sandra Smith in the body-swapping episode “Turnabout Intruder.” The character has been played by James Cawley and Vic Mignogna in fan-produced continuations of the Original Series. In the two re-imagined films by J.J. Abrams, Kirk was played as a child by Jimmy Bennett and as a young adult by Chris Pine. Captain James T. Kirk is most famously associated with the his long portrayal by Canadian-American actor William Shatner who received Saturn Award nominations for the first four Star Trek films with a Saturn Award win for Star Trek II in 1983 and a Life Career Award in 1980.

#6: Buffy Summers (Buffy Universe)
Buffy Anne Summers originated on the big screen in the 1992 film Buffy the Vampire Slayer as a teenage girl balancing high school & cheerleading with her unexpected destiny as a slayer of vampires, demons, and other monsters. The character was recast five years later and became the central character of the Buffy: The Vampire Slayer TV show which lasted seven critically acclaimed seasons between 1997 and 2003. Buffy also appeared in two episodes of the spinoff show Angel and has continued in several official comic book series, produced and partially written by Joss Whedon. Buffy has been voted a top 10 female TV character by several sources including Entertainment Weekly, AOL, IFC, and AfterEllen.com. The character was briefly played by Eliza Dushku when Buffy and fellow slayer Faith switched bodies in the season 4 episode “Who Are You.” Younger versions of the character were briefly played by Mimi Paley and Alexandra Lee. The character has been voiced by Kelly Albanese in the Buffy Season 8 Motion Comic and by Giselle Loren in two video games and the 4-minute, unsold pilot for Buffy: The Animated Series which is available on YouTube. Buffy Summers was primarily portrayed by Sarah Michelle Gellar who earned numerous accolades for the role including a Golden Globes nomination, a Satellite Award nomination, seven consecutive Saturn Award nominations with a win in 1999, five consecutive Kids’ Choice nominations with a win in 2002, four Teen Choice Award wins, and two SFX Award wins.

#5: Walter Bishop (Fringe)
The brilliant but eccentric Walter Bishop, PhD., first appeared on television in 2008 in the pilot episode of Fringe and continued as a central character for the show’s five-season run. Despite being declared legally insane after a lab incident and undergoing several brain surgeries, Walter was still the wisest and most experienced person to assist his son Peter and FBI agent Olivia Dunham in unusual investigations into fringe science. Aside from his genius, Walter was also known for his love of music, his strange food cravings, his history of illegal drug use, rarely getting the name of his lab assistant right, and carrying heavy guilt over an accidental and well-intentioned wrong he committed decades ago. Walter and his “duplicate” nicknamed Walternate were both portrayed by Australian actor John Noble who received two Satellite Award nominations in 2008 and 2009 and four consecutive Saturn Award nominations with a Saturn win in 2011.

#4: Aeryn Sun (Farscape)
Aeryn Sun made her first appearance in 1999 in the “Premiere” episode of Farscape and remained a primary character throughout the show’s four seasons and the “Peacekeeper Wars” mini-series. The character continued in the official comic book series set after the “Peacekeeper Wars” as well as the 2002 video game. The character was briefly portrayed by Ben Browder and voiced by Jonathan Hardy in the season 2 body-swapping episode “Out of Their Minds.” Aeryn Sun was primarily portrayed by Australian actress Claudia Black who earned four consecutive Saturn Award nominations during the series and won a Saturn Award in 2005 for the “Peacekeeper Wars.” While the actress was playing Vala Mal Doran as a regular on Stargate: SG-1, she very briefly reprised her role of Aeryn Sun in a quick Farscape-spoofing scene during SG-1’s 200th episode.

#3: Malcolm Reynolds (Firefly)
Malcolm Reynolds first aimed to misbehave on television in 2002 with the premiere of the short-lived cult TV show Firefly. Formerly a sergeant on the losing Browncoat side of a Unification War in the early 26th century, the character spent his time in the TV series as the captain of his own Firefly-class cargo ship taking almost any job he could get to keep his crew safe and his ship flying. The character kept flying throughout the show’s 14 episodes, the “Serenity” feature film in 2005, and several official comic books & graphic novels written after the movie. Captain Reynolds has ranked high on character lists from other sources including #51 on Empire magazine’s Top 100 Greatest Movie Characters, #18 on TV Guide’s Greatest Sci-Fi Legends list in 2004, #5 on Paste magazine’s Top 10 Greatest Anti-Heroes list in 2010, and #1 on SFX magazine’s Top 25 Sci-Fantasy Icons of the 21st Century list in 2011. The character has always been portrayed by Nathan Fillion who won a Cinescape Genre Face of the Future Award in 2003 for the Firefly TV show and an SFX Award in 2005 for the Serenity feature film.

#2: Spock (Star Trek Universe)
The logical half-Vulcan, half-Human character named Spock first appeared on television on September 8, 1966, in “The Man Trap,” the first broadcast episode of the original Star Trek series. The iconic character would continue as first officer and science officer of the Enterprise and eventually as a Federation ambassador for three seasons of The Original Series, two seasons of The Animated Series, two episodes of The Next Generation, and eight of the feature films. Always a pivotal character to the Star Trek universe, Spock was the only character to carry over from the original, un-aired pilot “The Cage” to the studio’s 2nd pilot “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” He was also one of only three regular characters of The Original Series to make guest appearances on Star Trek: The Next Generation, and was the one Original Series character chosen to bridge the gap between the prime Star Trek universe and the alternate reality of the J.J. Abrams directed reboot films. Spock has been played by Jeffrey Quinn, Ben Tolpin, Brandon Stacy, and Todd Haberkorn in fan-produced continuations of Star Trek. A childhood aged Spock was played by Jacob Kogan in the 2009 Star Trek film, played by four young actors at different ages in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, and voiced by Billy Simpson in “Yesteryear,” an episode of Star Trek: The Animated Series. Zachary Quinto played an adult Spock in both of the re-imagined films by J.J. Abrams. Otherwise, Spock has primarily been portrayed by Leonard Nimoy who received three consecutive Emmy nominations for the role from 1967 to 1969, Saturn nominations for Star Trek films I and IV, and several Lifetime Achievement Awards.

Best of the Rest: Crowley (Supernatural)
Originally a Scottish human from the 17th century named Fergus Roderick MacLeod, the immortal crossroads demon known as Crowley made his debut in “Abandon All Hope,” a mid-5th season episode of Supernatural. Crowley is a high ranking demon in hell and possesses a multitude of skills & powers including magic, healing, telekinesis, and pyrokinesis. Appearing in over two dozen episodes, he has become the most frequently recurring demon character on the show and was a major antagonist in seasons 6 and 8. Crowley was briefly played by Lauren Tom during a demonic possession but the character is primarily portrayed by British actor Mark Sheppard.

#1: The Doctor (Doctor Who)
The time traveling adventurer known simply as The Doctor first appeared on November 23, 1963, in “An Earthly Child,” the first episode of the classic British show Doctor Who. The character continued on television for 26 seasons until December 6, 1989, and made an additional appearance in a 1996 TV movie. The character returned to television in 2005 with a revival of the series which is still being produced. Over 1000 years old, The Doctor is an extraterrestrial known as a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey, and he travels through time with his companions in a time machine known as a TARDIS. Because of his race’s ability to regenerate into new bodies when mortally wounded, The Doctor has been played by 13 different actors in the following order:

William Hartnell
Patrick Troughton
Jon Pertwee
Tom Baker
Peter Davison
Colin Baker
Sylvester McCoy
Paul McGann
Christopher Eccleston
David Tennant
Matt Smith
John Hurt, and…
Peter Capaldi.

Each Doctor also has their own sense of style and fashion, and the character is often recognized by the extra long scarf Tom Baker wore as the popular and long-running Fourth Doctor. The character has appeared in two feature films in the 1960s, in stage plays in the ’70s & ’80s, and in the spinoff TV show The Sarah Jane Adventures in 2009 & 2010. The character has continued in various novels, short stories, comic books, video games, and audio plays.

Top Genre
No Responses to “The Top 50 Genre Characters of All Time”

Leave a Reply