It’s the start of a new year which seems like a great time to do a TV list re-boot for TV Tuesday, starting with Lyriquediscorde’s Top Ten Male TV Characters. Though some characters seem laminated in their top spots (i.e. James “Sawyer” Ford), there are some shifts in the list, and a few additions, from the last time I put together a list like this.
Ten was a hard number to narrow down to, thus there are a few well-deserved honorable mentions that were hard to x off the list. Next time around I may need to expand this to Top Twenty. But, for now, I’ll keep to the Top Ten parameters and bring you the 2019 updated Top Ten Male TV Characters list. Let me know in the comments who would be on yours.
Warning – there may be spoilers below. Read on at your own discretion.
Top Ten Male TV Characters
1. James “Sawyer” Ford (Josh Holloway)
from the TV Series Lost (2004-2010)
I’m pretty sure Sawyer will always be my number one male TV character. His spot laminated for always. He stole my heart completely, though honestly, it was never much of a shock to anyone who knew me as he reminds me so much of one of my first fictional/on-screen loves, Han Solo. He’s sarcastic, witty, a “scoundrel”, but he also possesses a well of emotions, heartbreak, pain, and a need to love and be loved. His character grows exponentially through a tremendous story arc, which crosses time and realities. He finds a light through his journey and overcomes (for the most part) the pain of his past while surviving. I always hoped his “happy ending” by the vending machine was a real one.
2. Crosby Braverman (Dax Shepard)
from the TV Series Parenthood (2010-2015)
It was during a re-watch of Parenthood earlier this year that reminded me of how much I love the character of Crosby. The youngest in the family, he is almost always underestimated and seen as immature and selfish. That said, in many ways, Crosby was the heart of the Braverman family, and the show itself. He’s the most realistic, hopeful and loving, but full of flaws. He makes mistakes but always takes responsibility for them, even if there are high personal costs. He has the biggest growth in his story arc, and not only follows his own dream of owning the music studio, The Luncheonette, but helps his sibling, and later his niece, follow theirs. His one-on-one moments with his brother and sisters, nieces and nephew, and son are some of my all-time favorites in the series. I often wonder what happened to him next.
3. Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman)
from the TV Series The Killing (2011-2014)
Oh my stars, Holder is so broken, and so often self-destructive, that I found myself often watching him while holding my breath, and half-covering my eyes. That said, he is also so strong, with a huge heart. He’s beyond complicated, yet also so much exactly what he shows he is – loyal, emotional, rash, raw, real, smart, and sarcastic. He wears his heart so out in the open that it hurts to watch, but it is something I related to, as well, and always hoped for the best for him because of it. I’m going to hope that Linden and Holder are partners still, solving cases and maybe each other, too.
4. Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle McLachlan)
from the TV Series, Twin Peaks (1990-1991, 2017)
“Harry, I’m going to let you in on a little secret: every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don’t plan it; don’t wait for it; just let it happen. It could be a new shirt in a men’s store, a catnap in your office chair, or two cups of good, hot, black, coffee.” That quote is one of the reasons I love Special Agent Cooper. I love the way he sees the world, the vulnerability, the courage, the curiosity, the wit and wisdom, and his complexities – he makes me smile. His character, in many ways, is us – the viewer – a stranger to the town, to the complexities and supernatural aspects, to the darkness, and the light. We enter the town, and the world, of Twin Peaks with him, enjoying the coffee and pie, his tapes to Diane, and feel his pains and joys, too. We enter the black lodge, too. He takes us all on quite a journey. Thankfully there’s coffee along the way.
5. Nate Fisher (Peter Krause)
from the TV Series Six Feet Under (2001-2005)
The character I most relate to on one of my all-time favorite TV shows, Six Feet Under, is Nate Fisher. Especially in the way he feels about his family, the push and pulls in all of it, the wanting to escape versus the wanting back in/being pulled back in. His inner turmoil, vulnerabilities, and missteps always get to me. The way he loved does, too. His character’s death was very hard on me, and even in the glorious finale (best TV finale ever, in my opinion), his presence “after death” still breaks me.
6. Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles)
from the TV Series Supernatural (2005-current)
Flawed, loyal, loving, broken, sarcastic, pop-culture infused wit, trust-issues, persistent and a survivor, Dean has always been the Winchester that has my heart. He has so much pain inside of him, yet he keeps fighting, cherishing family and those he loves, despite his pessimism and a seemingly endless series of tragedies. He can make me both cry and laugh, sometimes within the same episode. Sometimes at the same time. Oh, and he carries around a shoebox of cassettes in “Baby” (his car).
7. Spike (James Marsters)
from the TV Series Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1996-2003)
Heroic and brave with a huge heart. An anti-hero who starts as a villain, but ends up making a huge, ultimate sacrifice, loves big and is often misunderstood. He’s dark and complicated, flawed, funny and intuitive – especially when it comes to Buffy. Both with and without his soul, he still loves big, is loyal and has a fragility about him under all the sarcasm and fierceness, that is always so very human, to me. Bonus points that he’s a vampire, a supernatural “character” genre that I’ve been obsessed with since I was four or five years old. Spike is definitely one of my favorite vampires.
8. The Tenth Doctor (David Tennant)
from the TV Series Doctor Who (1963-1989, 2005-current)
They say that your first doctor is always your favorite, but for me, it was my second (and the series Tenth Doctor) that stole my heart. Though I do love Nine, it is David Tennant’s Ten that captured everything I’d come to love about the series. The anti-hero, the saver of words, the knower of everything and maybe nothing, the tragedy and romance of it all, the unrequited love between him and Rose (which still kills me), his humor and childlike nature that runs in correlation with the weight of his wisdom and sadness.
9. Shane Walsh (Jon Bernthal)
from the TV Series The Walking Dead (2010-current)
I might get kicked out of most Walking Dead conversations for my polarizing view here, but I do love the character of Shane Walsh. At least the television version. He is complex, troubled, loyal, haunted, torn, sometimes misguided, but ultimately a survivor. He does everything from a place of loyalty and protection of the few people he loves in the world. Yes, he is dark and more an anti-hero than hero, but he isn’t a villain, at least not in this reality. And anyway, all the things he did that could be characterized as villainous have now been done by Rick in the hero role. I would have really liked to see where his character would be now had he survived. I think everyone’s reality would be a lot different if he was still alive.
10. Lincoln Lee (Seth Gabel)
from the TV Series, Fringe (2008-2013)
Both reality Lincoln Lee’s are favorites of mine, both of their stories, their hearts, their strengths, their vulnerabilities. He is the relatable lens to look through at first (on the main reality), resistant, fearful, but courageous and curious, too. His feelings and friendship with both Olivia always get to me, too.
So, there you have it. The updated Lyriquediscorde Top Ten Male TV Characters list.
Runners-up/honorable mentions go out to Chandler Bing (Friends), Mark Sloane (Grey’s Anatomy), Jack Pearson (This Is Us), Jess Mariano (Gilmore Girls), Christopher Hayden (Gilmore Girls), Eric Northman (True Blood), Jim Halpert (The Office), Seth Cohen (The OC), Don Draper (Mad Men), and Jim Hopper (Stranger Things).
Check out some moments with each of the Top Ten Male TV Characters via YouTube: