The Takeaway TV Smackdown!

Monday, April 07, 2014

If college basketball isn't for you, try your hand at our TV Smackdown. Why not make a tournament to select the top TV character of all time?

Wondering how we picked these characters? The answer is simple: They're our staff's favorite characters! While these are OUR picks, the winners will be determined by YOUR votes. Make sure you visit us again to cast your ballot. Check out our brackets and vote below.

                            Click to Enlarge                   



T.J. Raphael


Michael Petersen

Comments [584]

Terry from St.Petersburg, Fl.

What a list of lightweights! Homer Simpson is, of course, #1 of the past two decades. But all-time? George 'Kingfish' Stevens, played by the late Tim Moore. Discussion over.

Apr. 08 2014 05:35 PM
Frances Long from Conway, SC

Hawkeye Pierce, without a doubt.

Apr. 08 2014 03:02 PM
Diane Lee from wilmington, de

Yeah, love Data! Actually. love all of the characters in this smack down.

Apr. 07 2014 06:31 PM
Carolun from Florida

Bogus! I liked Data and I loved all of the Star Treks. But to vote Data as best TV character of them all is to also give Brent Spiner credit for being the best TV actor of all time. He was very good at that role, but what have you seen him in lately? Most of the other contestants had careers consistent with their successes. I could easily vote all over again for Alan Alda as best TV actor.

Apr. 07 2014 05:26 PM
Becky from Lincoln NE

Thanks for the comment below, T.J. In spite of the "voter turnout", it was quite enjoyable to reminisce on so many decades of characters which came into our homes and affected our lives.

And I'll say it gain, especially Hawkeye and Archie Bunker.

Apr. 07 2014 03:42 PM
art525 from Park Slope

Stoooo-pid! It gives me a good sense of who listens to this show and it explains a lot.

Apr. 07 2014 03:24 PM
Thom Carpenter from Charlotte, NC

Thank you to The Takeaway for this fun conversation... Yes, trekkies are a rabid group of loyal fans. It is always fun to watch their antics but I can not agree with the final results. Hawkeye is clearly the greatest character in the competition... for all M.A.S.H. showed us of the human condition, our resilience, and our humor.

Apr. 07 2014 03:06 PM

Hi all,

Thanks so much for your comments. On behalf of the entire Takeaway staff, I'd like to say we did NOT rig this vote. Over the weekend we saw that our contest was posted to the front page of Reddit's Star Trek feed asking people to vote for Data. Looks like Star Trek fans came out strong because the results this morning showed that Data had been pushed over the top. Thanks once again for your comments and for participating!

-T. J. Raphael
Digital Content Editor
The Takeaway

Apr. 07 2014 02:09 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

The Takeaway was the real winner of this "Smackdown." So, what competition do you have for us next?

Apr. 07 2014 12:33 PM

The results of this contest are not credible. Hawkeye was ahead by 20% and then in like an hour Data was suddenly ahead. I've read comments that say the voting was hacked, first in favor of Hawkeye, then in favor of Data. However, if you read the comment thread the person that gets mentioned the most is Hawkeye. I don't believe that Data could receive more votes but receive far less comments of support. That does not make sense. This, coupled with the speed that the Hawkeye v Data numbers flipped makes the whole thing highly suspicious. Its a shame. It was a fun idea….

Apr. 07 2014 12:07 PM
anonymouse from it's coming from inside the house!

It's obvious the contest was hacked, silly goobers (talking to you, Takeaway staff). Didn't it seem strange to any of you that Hawkeye gradually built up a steady lead after several days of about 5 to 3 over Data...and then *extremely* quickly the situation was reversed?

I even peeked myself at the page source when I voted (legitimately) and thought "man, this would be easy to mickey mouse".

Hmm, or maybe you did realize it and were too embarrassed to admit as much to your listeners (or your boss). If so, you should be *really* ashamed, instead of merely red-faced.

Apr. 07 2014 11:49 AM
Randy Reed from Aiken, SC

Jeb Clampit / Buddy Ebsen; the best TV father.

Apr. 07 2014 07:08 AM
Darthjanine from Michigan

Brett Maverick or Jim Rockford! Best for decades.

Apr. 06 2014 09:46 PM
Carina Chavez from Salt Lake City

I vote to write in Lisa Simpson!! A young girl for honesty, integrity, and morals? Also smart as a whip and an outcast because of it. She's the perfect character and role model.

Apr. 06 2014 04:25 PM
Rebecca Maker from Walton, OR

What is going on? I do believe that some folks out there stuffed ballets- don't know if the program was logging multiple or alternative votes- but some thing is rotten. At NPR? I thought these (we) were decent folk, but now, here at the end, I see people becoming vicious, making personal comments about others, and showing a lack of respect, both to those who set up the brackets and people who voted. Bad ending to a fun idea. I am disappointed.

Apr. 06 2014 01:49 PM
Clark Simpson from Princeton, IL

Trekkies... A more dedicated and hard-core group you will never find, and I consider myself one of them. I grew up watching TNG religiously, and was very much fascinated an inspired by the show. I had models of numerous Star Trek vessels as a kid, and spent many a class period secretly sketching out detailed depictions of battling starships. I was inspired by the potential of science, and the principle of curiosity and scientific exploration for its own sake. I have watched every scene Data was ever in, and he is quite an inspiring character.

Despite all this however, I had to cast my vote for Hawkeye. I also grew up on M*A*S*H* re-runs, and in terms of TV charcters, I'm not sure Hawkeye can be beat. His complete disregard of the rules coupled with his unwavering drive to always do right and have a good laugh whenever the opportunity presented itself should be a lesson to us all. If we were a little more concerned with humanity, kindness, reflection, humor, determination, jocularity ("jocularity!") among friends even in the darkest of times, and perhaps even a good stiff drink now and then, we would all be the better for it. I'm not much for martinis, but I'll raise a glass of old scotch in honor of Hawkeye and the rest of the 4077 in appreciation for the years of comedy, wisdom, social commentary, and entertaining television they gave us. Cheers!

Apr. 05 2014 06:52 PM
Joseph Ferreira from North Attleborough, MA

I began watching M*A*S*H as a child when it first premiered in 1972 and I still find it to be a more in-depth, poignant and entertaining program today than much of what passes for modern television programming. I still reference situations and lines from the show when teaching my history and theatre classes and, surprisingly, many of my hogh school students STILL know the show and its characters. I hope Hawkeye goes all the way for the victory!

Apr. 05 2014 03:03 PM
Joseph Ferreira from North Attleborough, MA

I began watching M*A*S*H as a child when it first premiered in 1972 and I still find it to be a more in-depth, poignant and entertaining program today than much of what passes for modern television programming. I still reference situations and lines from the show when teaching my history and theatre classes and, surprisingly, many of my hogh school students STILL know the show and its characters. I hope Hawkeye goes all the way for the victory!

Apr. 05 2014 03:02 PM

The genre in which a character is portrayed should not affect the perceived quality of the characterization. And since I am a "Trekkie," technically, Data's highest rank was a field commission as Captain... just saying. Also, he was a better surgeon than Hawkeye (the Borg episodes)... also just saying.

Apr. 05 2014 02:46 PM
Bob B

I caught the tail end of this contest on the radio while driving midweek. The results are disappointing despite being meaningless. I wish I could have voted for Archie Bunker. I remember watching "All in the Family" as a kid thinking that Archie was just a jerk. Now I watch reruns amazed at what a remarkable character Carroll O'Conner created. Archie is the most flawed character in the show and yet he is funny, likable, occasionally poignant, and most of all believable. An ordinary guy, in an ordinary job, with ordinary friends and family, all in a show with something to say. No TV sitcom since has even come close to the edges that "All in the Family" explored. Nor have they tried.

Apr. 05 2014 12:51 PM
Dooglas from Portland

I understand that there are a bunch of Trekkies out there, but why Data in particular? How would 7 of 9 do in this poll? And, while I'm voting for Hawkeye - what happened to George Costanza?

Apr. 05 2014 10:51 AM
Carolyn from Florida

I agree with CJ from Delaware. Something is amiss and unfair about Data. Hawkeye had a huge lead yesterday. These things don't change that fast. The producers should be monitoring this more closely.

Apr. 05 2014 09:34 AM
CJ from Delaware looks like their must be some type of IT virus running for Data to even get out of the first round, let alone to the end. Hawkeye and all of MASH are an obvious winner. How to take such a loathsome situation as a foreign war and turn it into a funny, heart warming, serious 11yr run makes it my choice!

Apr. 05 2014 12:10 AM
Jon A. Gibson from Orlando, FL

One more addition for versions of the, "Mary Tyler Moore", theme, check out a classical take on, "Mozart TV".

Apr. 04 2014 11:21 PM



Apr. 04 2014 10:56 PM

I have seen each of these programs. Despite the respect I have for Mz. Richards and Mr. Pierce, the only character I can quote is Data. I love the end of Mash, but the only TV character (except Spike Spiegel, who is obviously in left field for this) whose final scene caused me to stare tensely at a darkened screen until I gave up on consciousness due to whiskey, is Data. You see, what you fans of other characters failed to understand is that our boy is a martyr. Plus, Data was friends with Lavar freakin Burton. Long live Data.

Apr. 04 2014 10:47 PM
Mary D from South Florida

I've watched all of these shows, and of these three characters, Mary Richards is the only one who had a direct effect on the social mores and on young women. She was the first female character who wasn't dependent on a man, wasn't looking for a husband, lived alone and supported herself with a real job. And she wasn't coy about her age. At a time when women were struggling to find acceptance for choices that did not include marriage and children, Mary Richards helped make that okay. There was no one like her before, but there were plenty modeled after her later. The same cannot be said about the other two characters. The fact that she's lagging behind is a travesty.

Apr. 04 2014 05:11 PM
Margaret Farrell from Saint Hedwig, Texas

I voted for Hawkeye because MASH was consistently outstanding.
I would say however that in your final three choices, I think Lucy from

Apr. 04 2014 05:01 PM
MaryAnn Neblock from Downingtown,PA

I vote for Hawkeye Pierce. M*A*S*H is, hands-down, the best series ever! It has great comedy, great drama, great pathos, political relevancy, social relevancy..what more can you expect from TV entertainment? It's anti-war sentiment is still accurate and applies to Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. All this brilliantly portrayed by Alan Alda as Hawkeye and the best ensemble cast in TV history- both in number, diversity and quality. This was a very important show; it highlighted all that was the worse of war and the best of it- the people who put their lives on the line: day in, day out. I still cry thinking about episodes I saw nearly 40 years ago: when they killed off Col. Blake, the B&W special with Father Mulcahey and the journalist..on and on. Brilliant! My husband and I still use countless "lines" from the show. This was one for the books, with all due respect to Mary Richards.

Apr. 04 2014 04:54 PM
Becky from Lincoln NE

I thought so too, Joyce. Hawkeye was clearly in the lead, but now it looks like Data is stuffing the ballot box. I'm loosing heart that Hawkeye, with so many eloquent posts below, is now in danger. I guess this March Madness could turn into April sadness.

It's all in fun, except when it's not.

Apr. 04 2014 04:51 PM

It's kind of unconscionable that Heathcliff "Cliff" Huxtable of the Cosby Show was not included. Though there are some classics here, this is a pretty weak field overall.

Apr. 04 2014 04:47 PM
Joyce from Manhattan

Did I miss something? Who won? I thought the winner would be announced today.

Apr. 04 2014 04:15 PM
Gene from Sacramento

This contest is rigged.

If you choose Hawkeye it only selects him.

If you choose either of the other two it selects Hawkeye as well.

Boo! Good job on completely invalidating the results guys.

Apr. 04 2014 04:07 PM
Ule Amra

Didn't vote until these final three (I might have made other choices earlier), but I don't personally find it much of a contest. MTM & ST/TNG were fine television shows, but I can't seriously consider either in the same league as the long-running and extraordinary M*A*S*H, a show in turns so funny and so painful, often at the same time.

But even more important, neither Mary nor Data was the dominant presence in their respective shows. Not to diminish MTM's great work, nor ding her for her generosity in sharing the limelight, but Mary Richards was more the hub around which a top-notch comedic ensemble rotated than an extraordinary character in her own right. Data was a great team member, and certainly got more than his share of turns at the center of the action for a given episode, but ST/TNG never got to be anything like The Data Show.

Hawkeye's role in M*A*S*H was an entirely different matter. Strong an ensemble effort as the show was, Hawkeye was the conscience, voice, heart, and soul of the show. It may not be true of the book or film, but while it was possible to have an episode without Hawkeye, the TV series as a whole would be unimaginable without his character's point of view to give it focus and direction. Without him, you had Trapper John M.D.

Apr. 04 2014 03:49 PM
Ron from Manhattan

How about "That Girl"? Come on, Marlo Thomas was the best! This contest is not valid without That Girl! :)

Apr. 04 2014 03:48 PM
Rev. J. Mark Worth from Penobscot, Maine

While I wish zany Gracie Allen was in the running, I'll give my vote to Hawkeye Pierce -- for his line, "They sent us shampoo. Guess they couldn't afford real poo."

Apr. 04 2014 03:41 PM

Doh! Gregory House, MD.

Apr. 04 2014 03:35 PM

Where were Homer Simpson, Walter White, Don Draper, Spock, James T Kirk, Eric Cartman? The finalists are pretty mediocre, imo. Mary Richards over Lucy Ricardo? Hawkeye over Archie Bunker? Travesty! But the biggest omission is from a series SO old that I only remember it from reruns that my parents watched, but who was nevertheless epic: Ralph Kramden in The Honeymooners. Characters of color who should have at least been included; Fred Sanford, Cliff Huxtable and George Jefferson.

Apr. 04 2014 03:32 PM
Rebecca Weiss from Clermont, Florida

Hawkeye! Loved him, even at 8!

Apr. 04 2014 03:10 PM
Don Burns from Beaverton, Oregon

Personally, I would have gone for Buffy Summers or Malcolm Reynolds. But Data will do. It should be noted that Data's antecedent is another Roddenberry TV android named Questor. Also an excellent character.

Apr. 04 2014 02:44 PM
Tom Fenix from Little Rock Arkansas

I have a hard time with the possibility of gender/race bias. I am not familiar with all the characters listed, but it seems overwhelmingly loaded with only one race... if JJ from Good Times were in the final four (instead of final three) I would have voted for him as he was a character (similar to Hawkeye) who found himself in a time of turbulent social reorganization and was learning to define who he was as he learned through the series about how strange/crazy/stupid society still is.

Apr. 04 2014 02:14 PM

Data reminds me of Andy Daly in the new series Review on Comedy Central, a wonderful character performer, who explorers what it is like to live various life experiences, and then rates them on a 1-10 scale from 1/2-5 stars.

Apr. 04 2014 02:11 PM

Data is a bit character. Mary is nice. But Hawkeye is the man!

Apr. 04 2014 02:03 PM
Jim from Norristown PA

I really struggled with this, but I had to pick Data. It's hard not to love a man who has an encyclopedic knowledge of hundreds of thousands of topics but is baffled by the simple concept of a joke. He is stronger, faster and smarter than any of us. He will never get sick or old, and yet his goal is to be like us. That is a beautiful and fascinating story to watch unfold.

Apr. 04 2014 01:51 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

Hawkeye is an inferior Groucho Marx. Data is the future and legacy of humanity.

Apr. 04 2014 01:28 PM

Mary represents the past we've left behind. Data maybe be our eventual future. Hawkeye, in contrast, endures the eternal present condition for most of us; conscripted and embattled. He deals with it as best he can with humor, trying not to be co-opted or undone.

Apr. 04 2014 01:17 PM

What! BUGGS BUNNY is clearly the best TV character EVER!

but... I do know the lines to every episode of MASH and have stolen and use many of the gag lines still to this day. Loved that show in it's day but hasn't held up very well to watch today. Bad laugh track.

Also: Felix and Occar? Jim Rockford? Columbo? Fred Sanford? Perry Mason?

We seem to be thinking quite narrowly too. Fred and Ethel Mertz? Don Knotts. Kermit? It's the best character not LEADING character of a show, right. No shortage of awesome character actors playing supporting roles who always stole the scenes they were in.

Anyways, my $.02 Cheers!

Apr. 04 2014 01:16 PM

Great choices all, however I agree with you guests that the influence of Star Trek is undisputable.
The greatest tv character of all time:
Capt. James T. Kirk!!!

Apr. 04 2014 01:15 PM
Matthew J

Gerry Blank (Amy Sedaris) from "Strangers with Candy" is the best TV character ever!
The Mash character is typical of the slacker generation that seem to be the ones fueling his vote. He talked a good game, in a wise-ass way but he did NOTHING to actually oppose "war" which he was always being critical of. By serving as a doctor he was an enabler. If he truly opposed the war he would have done what many did in WWII, the Korean War, and especially in the Viet Nam war. Those of us who opposed (the) war refused to be part of the war machine, refused the draft, put our bodies on the line and risked arrest, beatings and prison. For everyone of us that refused to go, there was one fewer casualty for the doctors to fix up and send back to engage in an unjust and illegal war. The Mash character was a hypocrite, I hope the listeners of this show don't believe the greatest TV character was a whinny, wise-ass, sexist, enabling, do nothing, hypocrite.

Apr. 04 2014 01:13 PM
Mike from Orlando

Data is by far the most interesting, under-stated and well-crafted character in television. Whereas Mary Tyler Moore and Hawkeye were beneficiaries of shows specifically targeted to showcase already high-profile actors, Data began as a relative unknown actor and a third or fourth stringer behind Picard, Riker, and arguably the Counselor and Worf. But the nature of the character and the performance by Spiner elevated him to the head of the Starfleet Class. It truly was a remarkable accomplishment.

Apr. 04 2014 01:09 PM
susan from NJ (but don't tell anyone)

Hawkeye, hands down my all-time favorite: witty, compassionate, intelligent, sensible, most of all – fun!… enjoyed Mary – inspirational, but dry.

Apr. 04 2014 01:08 PM
Varn from Oregon

So, a Woman’s promoting a ‘Woman,’ and a Guy’s supporting a ‘Guy,’ I’m voting for a Woman who’s supporting an Android seeking humanity ~

Apr. 04 2014 01:08 PM
TLS from Michigan

I voted for Hawkeye. I loved MASH. Re: Data, all the characters in Next Generation were "pale shadows of the original Star Trek" as someone commented.

Apr. 04 2014 01:08 PM


Apr. 04 2014 01:08 PM
Carlotta Holt from St. Louis, Missouri

By the way the voting is going, you should have let your listeners nominate the candidates in the first place. It appears your audience is a little older than your staff.
I should have voted sooner. I wanted to vote for Lucy, but Hawkeye is a great second choice.

Apr. 04 2014 01:06 PM
Bill from Texas

I don't know how Archie Bunker was left behind. He was the best TV character ever. But Hawkeye is a close second.

Apr. 04 2014 01:04 PM
Sheryl Abrams from Austin, TX

I was very torn because I watched both shows (Data isn't even in the running in my book!) but what won me over to Hawkeye was how much I laughed during that show. And my husband, he laughed so hard at Hawkeye's antics, he would cry! Hands down it's Hawkeye.

Apr. 04 2014 01:02 PM
Kristin belz from Portland, or

Absolutely Mary- such a pioneering role model for women, an inspiration and revelation, and a total hoot! I even have started a blog about MTM - Mary Richards paved the way on tv and real life for so many of us. Men and women love her! You're gonna make it after all - blog on Wordpress. Love Hawkeye, sure, but Mary wins March Madness!

Apr. 04 2014 12:59 PM
Tigger from Orlando

Simply the best. A true human being saw that in the last episode

Apr. 04 2014 12:56 PM
Thomas from fort worth from fort worth

what about louie dapalma?

Apr. 04 2014 12:52 PM
Ben from Portland OR

Looks like some Hawkeye fanatic has mis-guidedly hacked your voting checkboxes => this unfortunate situation clearly invalidates the results of this round and you in theory should fix it ASAP and restart the voting --

HOWEVER, IMHPO the net result will be the same since Hawkeye is the best TV character ever (though Archie & Luci, along with the un-recognized Ralph Kramden, are all close 2nds)

Side note: pretty interesting that so many of the top candidates are from comedies (though MASH is more of a "dramady") ...

Apr. 04 2014 12:38 PM
Larry Margolis from Portland, OR

I don't think that there can be an all time 'Best' character. It depends on how old you were when you first influenced by a TV character. How about Milton Berle aka Uncle Miltie?

Apr. 04 2014 12:35 PM
Joel from Dallas

Hawkeye Pierce??!! You've GOT to be kidding. He's nothing more than a politically themed watered-down takeoff on the comic genius of Groucho Marx. The difference is that Groucho had real wit (true wit) and talent. Alan Alda simply did a wooden reading of the writer's script. If this discussion is to have any credibility, it has to consider both Festus Hagen from Gunsmoke, the longest-running television drama in history, and Andy Sipowitz, the tortured, well-intentioned alcoholic homicide detective constantly trying to balance his good intentions and passion for his sense of justice with the constantly shifting grey areas of law, policy and social change. These are both characters of depth and complexity in two of the most seminal and influential television dramas of all time.

Apr. 04 2014 12:34 PM
Monica from Portland, OR

As wonderful as all the candidates are, the most timeless choice is Data. He more than anyone else addresses the perpetual humanity of our species. In striving to be more human, he exemplifes and explores all of our quirks...for better AND worse. And, in his android-ness, he personifies what we hold What we are, he strives for. Who he is, we strive for! Perfect choice.

Apr. 04 2014 12:33 PM
Ann from Houston

The starting choices on this list seem weak, random, and grossly incomplete to me. How is Archie Bunker a better character than Heathcliff Huckstable??? Thank God Hawkeye wound up on there--every character on M*A*S*H is equal to or better than most of the starting characters here.

Apr. 04 2014 12:13 PM
Marilyn L Johnson from Boston MA

This may be a glitch but another commenter mentioned it too. When you click on the box to vote for Mary Richards, 2 boxes get checked...that for Mary and also for Hawkeye Pierce!! If he's getting his own votes as well as those meant for Mary, the vote totals are lopsided. It's like stuffing ballot boxes. I clicked off the check for Hawkeye, so I'm hoping my vote counted only for Mary. Some voters may not have noticed the double checks.

Could this be rigged for Hawkeye to win????

Apr. 04 2014 12:08 PM
Becky from Lincoln, NE

Because Hawkeye is the clear choice? I couldn't help myself.

Apr. 04 2014 11:43 AM
Amy from Miami

I am glad that Hawkeye was finally included. As someone who was born a week after M*A*S*H's final episode,"Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen" aired, I was not a part of the generation that Hawkeye spoke for. But I think it speaks to the strength of the character that he still resonated with a generation that had no memory of the Vietnam war. Even before America was drawn into another 10 years of conflict, watching M*A*S*H reruns in the 1990s, the ragtag group of the 4077th proveded a beautiful example of people doing the best with the meager resources they were given, supporting each other however they could in the face of a seemingly unending and insurmountable obstacle. The characters weren't just cutups- they got sad, angry, suffered from self-doubt and thought about giving up. And part of the beauty of that show was how it showed them pressing on. It was the best show a depressed kid could ever watch. I will always be grateful to Hawkeye, who, as perhaps the most sensitive character in the 4077th, always made me feel like, if he can do that, I can get through this.

Apr. 04 2014 11:41 AM
Rick Evans from 10473

Why is it that when I clicked on the Data check box the Hawkeye check box also was selected?

Apr. 04 2014 11:35 AM
Andy from Boston, MA

Hawkweye over Mary? This shall not stand!

MTM is the best written sitcom of all time and the character of Mary Richards is iconic for good reason. The show remained funny for its entire run and left on a high note, where M*A*S*H jumped the shark several years into its overlong run and became as maudlin and unfunny as Archie Bunker's Place.

Apr. 04 2014 11:33 AM
Carolyn from Florida

To Campbell. I can't find the comment you're referring to, but a reference to the "spirit of the Vietnam War," does not suggest that the author of the comment did not know it was about the Korean War. The show aired while the nation was in the throes of the Vietnam War. So, using the Korean as a backdrop, the ongoing message and commentary was a direct response to the spirit of the Vietnam War.

Apr. 04 2014 10:27 AM
Steve Ag from Everett, WA

Your TV Smackdown had me choking on my granola this morning...breakfast of champions. The choice is difficult for me as I remember all of these characters being part of my formative years. MTM because she embodied the capable, intelligent, independent woman that I wanted for a companion, Data, because of his quiet heroism, using his deep intelligence and unbidden humanity to make a difference without making a lot of fuss. But the character that drove me, the one I use every day with my own patients? Hawkeye Pierce. Amidst the worst carnage that the practice of medicine can deliver, he still cared for his patients as people and treated his coworkers with respect. Each one took a piece of him with them, yet he continued to give what they needed and often more than they expected. When one of my patients comes in the exam room, broken and needy and leaves, relieved or better yet, laughing, I silently thank the lanky, fun-loving, surgeon.

Apr. 04 2014 10:16 AM
Campbell from Schaumburg, IL

Horrified - how do "MASH Fans" not know that the series was about the Korean War - capture the spirit of the Vietnam generation indeed.
Data would not have made this error.

Apr. 04 2014 10:02 AM
Karl in Portland from Portland, OR

While many terrific artists have been acknowledged in this contest; none played such an integral role in awakening American society as Hawkeye Pierce. In a country in which war and firepower has long been equated with might and right, Hawkeye's humor and irreverence caused tens of millions of Americans to better understand war is neither fun, final or necessary.

Apr. 03 2014 09:59 PM
david from Cannon Falls

The final choice must have a timelessness that transcends multiple generations and is recognizable merely by name or image. This choice must also represent an original and unique personality that has not been surpassed before or since their appearance on the screen. This character must be an icon of the technology, future, and imagination that television represented. A character that brought our own humanity into the light by denying those emotions then having them erupt in all their passion when they did rise to the surface. I am, of course, refering the character of Star Trek's Mr. Spock. Hands down, a far more interesting character than Lucy or Mary Richards or Hawkeye and multi-generational than Data.

Apr. 03 2014 09:26 PM
david from Cannon Falls

The final choice must have a timelessness that transcends multiple generations and is recognizable merely by name or image. This choice must also represent an original and unique personality that has not been surpassed before or since their appearance on the screen. This character must be an icon of the technology, future, and imagination that television represented. A character that brought our own humanity into the light by denying those emotions then having them erupt in all their passion when they did rise to the surface. I am, of course, refering the character of Star Trek's Mr. Spock. Hands down, a far more interesting character than Lucy or Mary Richards or Hawkeye and multi-generational than Data.

Apr. 03 2014 09:25 PM
Rebecca Maker from Walton, OR

Thank you for adding Hawkeye as the wild card, as I was one of many that suggested him- and of course he gets my vote. I am curious how he would have done throughout the entire Smackdown as there were several unexpected "upsets". When a favored character is eliminated, does that create a wave that knocks out the previous victor? Data held in there beyond expectation- I've always loved the show and the character but Hawkeye and cast took a concept and used it to educate and comfort the world. I hope I would have been behind him all the way.....though if Picard was up against him, I would have been more likely to waver- another great character whose humanity shone and who grew over time, as did the viewer. Thank you NPR and the Takeaway for reminding me that T.V. has (had?) an upside. Good work Folks and long live RADIO

Apr. 03 2014 09:24 PM

Mary had such great comedic timing, she has my vote. I had a hard time deciding between her and Hawkeye at first, until I remembered Hawkeye's bullying of Frank and his chauvinism and womanizing. Mary is all that is good in the world.

Apr. 03 2014 08:45 PM
Mat from Dallas, Texas

My favorite t.v. character is Detective Robert Goren, from Law And Order: Criminal Intent, portrayed by Vincent DiOnofrio. He was complex, dramatic, and psychologically engaging. There are reasons why he probably could not be considered the greatest character ever, to the general populace, but he was certainly mine.

Apr. 03 2014 08:12 PM

I'm STILL voting for Ralph Kramden as greatest TV character of all time!!

Beaver Cleaver, Eddie Haskell, Matt Dillon, and Barney Fife should have been in the tournament as well.

Apr. 03 2014 08:11 PM
Robert Flood from Texas

I would love it if Alan Alda won this election (then he couldn't refuse to speak to The Takeway).

Alan Alda's great ability to touch the human spirit with humanity and humor is quality that is so lacking today in all forms of the media. For many young people if you haven't watched an episode of M*A*S*H check it out. After viewing one you will wonder what really caused the tears in your eyes? Is it laughing until tears run down your cheeks or sadness because of the effects of war? His show both lifted our hearts and broke them too.

Personally I believe we should say a belated thank you to Mr. Alda for helping US through the years with all the laughter and tears.

Apr. 03 2014 06:53 PM
Nancy from Charleston, SC

You've got to consider Matt Dillon from Gunsmoke. Anybody who can get the bad guy and protect Miss Kitty has my vote!

Apr. 03 2014 04:38 PM
Daniel Wilson from North Carolina

I just wanted to add my thanks, to thetakeaway for letting we trekkies get some note amongst non-fans via Data.But,no question, voting aside my st bias, lol,look, there are SO MANY candidates, who would well vie for the yop slot. I spent my childhood watching Matt Dillon, Lucy, Jim West, Mary TM,Ward Cleaver, Maude...and the wonderful Hawkeye Pierce. I could go on and on....I am lucky to be from that classic tv generation, proud of it.What we need, is a Top Ten List, or better, a Top Fifty, to do justice to all these great names. I think many would agree with me

But, let me advocate for Data one more time-and Star Trek,with whom many miss out on its ability, in its futuristic stories, couched in sf mode,as Gene Roddenberry intended back in '66,to portray in metaphor those ides which then, he could not address on network tv otherwise...prejudice, war, and other world-ills,and as, if given the chance, its other incarnations at their own best have done-showcase the human condition. Don't believe me? Watch Star Trek:The Next Generations' ''Measure of A Man'', and you will see, not aliens, nor starship battles..but the discussion of one of the most core philosophical belief systems, or questions, posed for millenia...and then, ask oneself, 'Is ST 'just a weird sf tv show'?

Thanks for the indulgence, everyone, and LLAP!-from DW, from somewhere in The Delta Quadrant

Apr. 03 2014 04:34 PM
Daniel Wilson from North Carolina

I just wanted to add my thanks, to thetakeaway for letting we trekkies get some note amongst non-fans via Data.But,no question, voting aside my st bias, lol,look, there are SO MANY candidates, who would well vie for the yop slot. I spent my childhood watching Matt Dillon, Lucy, Jim West, Mary TM,Ward Cleaver, Maude...and the wonderful Hawkeye Pierce. I could go on and on....I am lucky to be from that classic tv generation, proud of it.What we need, is a Top Ten List, or better, a Top Fifty, to do justice to all these great names. I think many would agree with me

But, let me advocate for Data one more time-and Star Trek,with whom many miss out on its ability, in its futuristic stories, couched in sf mode,as Gene Roddenberry intended back in '66,to portray in metaphor those ides which then, he could not address on network tv otherwise...prejudice, war, and other world-ills,and as, if given the chance, its other incarnations at their own best have done-showcase the human condition. Don't believe me? Watch Star Trek:The Next Generations' ''Measure of A Man'', and you will see, not aliens, nor starship battles..but the discussion of one of the most core philosophical belief systems, or questions, posed for millenia...and then, ask oneself, 'Is ST 'just a weird sf tv show'?

Thanks for the indulgence, everyone, and LLAP!-from DW, from somewhere in The Delta Quadrant

Apr. 03 2014 04:34 PM
Daniel Wilson from North Carolina

I just wanted to add my thanks, to thetakeaway for letting we trekkies get some note amongst non-fans via Data.But,no question, voting aside my st bias, lol,look, there are SO MANY candidates, who would well vie for the yop slot. I spent my childhood watching Matt Dillon, Lucy, Jim West, Mary TM,Ward Cleaver, Maude...and the wonderful Hawkeye Pierce. I could go on and on....I am lucky to be from that classic tv generation, proud of it.What we need, is a Top Ten List, or better, a Top Fifty, to do justice to all these great names. I think many would agree with me

But, let me advocate for Data one more time-and Star Trek,with whom many miss out on its ability, in its futuristic stories, couched in sf mode,as Gene Roddenberry intended back in '66,to portray in metaphor those ides which then, he could not address on network tv otherwise...prejudice, war, and other world-ills,and as, if given the chance, its other incarnations at their own best have done-showcase the human condition. Don't believe me? Watch Star Trek:The Next Generations' ''Measure of A Man'', and you will see, not aliens, nor starship battles..but the discussion of one of the most core philosophical belief systems, or questions, posed for millenia...and then, ask oneself, 'Is ST 'just a weird sf tv show'?

Thanks for the indulgence, everyone, and LLAP!-from DW, from somewhere in The Delta Quadrant

Apr. 03 2014 04:34 PM
Daniel Wilson from North Carolina

I just wanted to add my thanks, to thetakeaway for letting we trekkies get some note amongst non-fans via Data.But,no question, voting aside my st bias, lol,look, there are SO MANY candidates, who would well vie for the yop slot. I spent my childhood watching Matt Dillon, Lucy, Jim West, Mary TM,Ward Cleaver, Maude...and the wonderful Hawkeye Pierce. I could go on and on....I am lucky to be from that classic tv generation, proud of it.What we need, is a Top Ten List, or better, a Top Fifty, to do justice to all these great names. I think many would agree with me

But, let me advocate for Data one more time-and Star Trek,with whom many miss out on its ability, in its futuristic stories, couched in sf mode,as Gene Roddenberry intended back in '66,to portray in metaphor those ides which then, he could not address on network tv otherwise...prejudice, war, and other world-ills,and as, if given the chance, its other incarnations at their own best have done-showcase the human condition. Don't believe me? Watch Star Trek:The Next Generations' ''Measure of A Man'', and you will see, not aliens, nor starship battles..but the discussion of one of the most core philosophical belief systems, or questions, posed for millenia...and then, ask oneself, 'Is ST 'just a weird sf tv show'?

Thanks for the indulgence, everyone, and LLAP!-from DW, from somewhere in The Delta Quadrant

Apr. 03 2014 04:34 PM
Joyce from NYC

I love Mary Richards but there was no one like Hawkeye Pierce - the number one TV character.

Apr. 03 2014 04:25 PM
Carol from CA

For me, it's Hawkeye Pierce, no question!
His wit evolved into my wit, which people seem to appreciate.
I admired Hawkeye and maybe had a bit of a crush on him. MASH was instrumental in forming who I am today.

Apr. 03 2014 04:23 PM
derac from Chicago

Wow.. you really have an interesting demographic, John. That Data is still on the board [or was on the board to begin with] says it all. May they live long and prosper.. in their make believe world. Homer Simpson maybe if you're going to pick a cartoon character but Data ? Oh well, I never could identify with the trekkies and I'm a nerd. But, oh, the power of social media. Trekkies finally have a voice.

Apr. 03 2014 04:22 PM
Mike Taggart from Dade City, FL

Of course its "Hawkeye", he spoke for the generation. His wit and wisdom and comedic timing were spot on.

Apr. 03 2014 04:05 PM
Q from Sacramento

My three favorite characters of all time: Jean Luc Picard of Star Trek TNG, President Bartlett of The West Wing, and... Hawkeye Piece of MASH.

What they all have in common: strong principals but human flaws, guided by a strong moral compass, navigating their respective worlds with purpose, a sense of service and respect for others. These characters deserve their own hall of fame for showing us something to which we can all aspire.

Apr. 03 2014 03:56 PM
lscoots from Planet Vulcan

I'll vote for Data. He's the only one of the three I would want to sit down and watch. But what the fock.

Apr. 03 2014 03:53 PM

I too, heard the contestants listed, and immediately thought (wistfully) of Hawkeye Pierce. How validating that so many in your audience remember and value one of our few truly heroic media characters.

Apr. 03 2014 03:48 PM
Cindy Valentine

For anybody old enough to remember M.A.S.H. There's no contest--Hawkeye is the MAN. Some years later I got so disgusted with TV I got rid of mine and rely on NPR for anything I need to know--so I don't know who some of these other characters are, but I'm sure they can't compare with Hawkeye Pierce!

Apr. 03 2014 03:48 PM
Lynne from New York

Hawkeye - no contest!

Apr. 03 2014 03:45 PM
Dennis Dinzeo from Las Vegas, NV


Data was not a character.............he was a studio prop.

Hawkeye was a whiner...........if the US had never intervened in Korea he would have complained that we abandoned the South Koreans to tyrants.

Apr. 03 2014 03:39 PM
Anjali Parti from Orlando, FL

I vote for Data!

Apr. 03 2014 03:18 PM
Dian from Corvallis, OR

The final three make for a tough decision. Data appeals to my inner “Trekkie”. Not the going to convention kind but the “seen every episode and movie” kind. Mary embodies all the heartaches and happiness of my young life as single, working women. Hawkeye wins for demonstrating how to use humor to survive and work through the unrelenting horror of war. If you didn't laugh you would never stop crying.

Apr. 03 2014 03:11 PM

M*A*S*H best of all time, hands down.

Apr. 03 2014 02:59 PM
Gillian from University City

I was thrilled to hear that Hawkeye Pierce is now included!!
As soon as heard that you had added someone thanks
to a popular outcry, I knew it was Hawkeye. I heard the music and immediately
felt vindicated. I grew up with MASH and learned what being a good, funny and compassionate
really meant. Thanks for acknowledging your listeners!!!!

Apr. 03 2014 02:50 PM
David from Cosmos, MN

Some of my earliest memories (and best memories) are watching MASH with my dad laying on the living room floor. Hawkeye was his favorite character and as time went on he became mine also. Mr. Alda made this character one of the if not the greatest character in entertainment, not just television.

Apr. 03 2014 02:42 PM
Marianne from Florida

As much as I loved DATA and Mary Richards, each so uniquely different, Hawkeye represents a war that shouldnt have been fought and is usually forgotten. MASH evolved and grew with each season as did its characters. It gets my vote always.

Apr. 03 2014 02:40 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

Who would win between Larry David and Louis C.K.? That's a tough one.

Apr. 03 2014 02:00 PM

I just named my newborn son Hawkeye. So Pierce gets my vote!

Apr. 03 2014 01:43 PM
Bobby from Sarasota

Data is fine but, alas, only an inferior Spock. Vote has to be for Hawkeye.

Apr. 03 2014 01:42 PM
Holly from Arkansas

As much as I will always love Data, there's really no contest here. While Data always aspired to humanity, Alan Alda's Hawkeye achieved it.

Apr. 03 2014 01:40 PM
Dawn Roble from Central Point, Oregon

Definitely - Hawkeye since for some reason Archie Bunker got bumped. How did that happen?

Apr. 03 2014 01:40 PM
Matthew from Beaverton

Star Trek TNG was very influential in my life. It helped me to discover a new way to think about life; varying philosophies, wild thought provoking situations, and countless inspiring moments. The character, Data, encapsulates all of these with an innocents, unbiased, and unmatched intellectual disposition. Aside from Captain Picard, Data must be the number one choice in this contest.

Apr. 03 2014 01:21 PM

JEEZELOUISE! What a bunch of comments! Whew! I am a Trekkie...Spock should have been on here, but Data gets my vote!

Apr. 03 2014 01:12 PM
Ann from Massachusetts

Hawkeye Pierce gets my vote

Apr. 03 2014 01:07 PM
Tony from Savannah, GA

I should have liked to see Sam Malone make the bracket. Notwithstanding Cheers's long run on television, Sam holds up as a character. He was a study in contradictions. Sam was an alcoholic bar owner; a local sage:dumb jock; an elder:a permanent child; a sports celebrity:a has-been; he was sensitive:obtuse; washed up:a ladies man. He was the Fonze, but he could be the but of a joke -he had blind spots. As a young man I liked him for his lady-killing. As I am older, I like him because of his flaws and contradictions. Sam Malone, we missed you in this bracket.

Apr. 03 2014 01:06 PM
Pam from Cherry Hill, NJ

Hawkeye Pierce vs. Data...a difficult choice! (If it'd been Mr. Spock, there would have been no competition. But I digress.) In the end, though, Hawkeye Pierce is the most human being of all.

(...Mary Richards? Meh.)

Apr. 03 2014 12:54 PM
STEVE from Portland

I'm sorry I didn't get my vote in for Archie in time, but I'll settle for Hawkeye now I guess. At least these two have way more substance than Lucy or Mary Richards or Data. Geesh.

Apr. 03 2014 12:45 PM
steve from se

I'm sorry I didn't get my vote in for Archie in time, but I'll settle for Hawkeye now I guess. At least these two have way more substance than Lucy or Mary Richards or Data. Geesh.

Apr. 03 2014 12:42 PM
JoEllen Potchen-Webb from St. Louis, MO

Much as it hurts me to have to decide between Data and Hawkeye, I must choose Hawkeye. He was the great healing element of my generation. Hawkeye Forever!

Apr. 03 2014 12:41 PM


Apr. 03 2014 12:38 PM
Kay Merkel Boruff from Dallas

Good morning, Viet-Nam. 68-70 I lived in Viet-Nam & was married to an Air America pilot KIA flying in Laos 1970. Finally, M.A.S.H.'s Hawkeye gets his due. BRAVO, Alan. [Ms Peggy can take bows next year. This year, she had a wedding dress by 70s red-head Vivienne Westwood. Share the honors.]

Apr. 03 2014 12:38 PM

Hawkeye forever! He brought us through some tough times with more awareness of how decisions made by our government affect our country as well as each individual citizen.

Apr. 03 2014 12:36 PM
Melissah Watts from Seattle

It's Hawkeye - hands down! Now this poll is legit :)

Apr. 03 2014 12:34 PM
T. C. Davis from Sparta, GA

I really think Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman is one of my favorite TV Characters. As well as, "John Boy" -- The Waltons.

Apr. 03 2014 10:41 AM
Becky from Lincoln NE

Yay!! Hawkeye Pierce made the wildcard! Now the voting gets really tough. Archie... Hawkeye... talk about two disparate characters. But both the best of the best. Thanks, Takeaway, this has been fun!

Apr. 03 2014 10:10 AM
Minna Elias from NYC

Thank goodness you saw the light and added Hawkeye Pierce, the best TV character of all time by a mile. Now, how do I vote for him?

Apr. 03 2014 09:36 AM
Pamela from New York

Wow, what a strange list. Where are Hawkeye and Houlihan? Both changing the archetypes of TV characters and sentiments of war (really the whole cast). And Spock? Spock who was the inspiration for Data since Spock was irreplaceable? Spock who is still appearing in Star Trek movies? (as is James Kirk BTW)

I can see Archie Bunker, showing the true face of bigotry on television for the first time. What about Homer or Bart Simpson? Also Buffy, who inspired a lot of girls both with her strength and her weaknesses. For a fantasy show Buffy the Vampire Slayer was often very real. My mother watched it (as an adult) I watched it and now my girls watch it. How on earth did Daenerys get on the list? Finally, J.R Ewing anyone?

Apr. 03 2014 09:13 AM

How about Maude? How could we forget Bea Arthur and what she did for women's lib?!

Apr. 03 2014 08:00 AM
C. David Kearsley from Saint Paul, MN via Croton-on-Hudson, NY

I'm trying very hard to understand how neither Captain James Tiberius Kirk nor Chief Science (and Executive) Officer Spock have been part of this conversation.

Fascinating...and most illogical.

Apr. 03 2014 05:29 AM
Steven Souza from San Leandro, Ca.

Are you kidding me? No Ralph Kramden?? Even Ed Norton should be in the discussion.

Apr. 03 2014 01:37 AM
Kathryn Bankston from United States

Since America's always at war I think Hawkeye's our man.

Apr. 03 2014 12:55 AM
Jeremy Wallenberg from San Francisco, CA

Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce, MASH 4077 should be tops!

Apr. 03 2014 12:32 AM
Susan from St. Louis, MO

Hawkeye Pierce certainly is one of the all time great television characters. Also, how about Matt Dillon from Gunsmoke. It ran over 20 years and he was the quintessential American lawman.

Apr. 03 2014 12:15 AM
Nellie Cichon from Portland Oregon

My write in ballot is for a House. Dr. House. Love able, hate able, vulnerable and egocentric. A real human.

Apr. 02 2014 11:40 PM
John Lambeth-Anderson from Little Rock, AR

Where is Doctor Who?

Apr. 02 2014 10:31 PM

Where is Ralph Kramden ?????? Are you kidding ?

Apr. 02 2014 09:51 PM

Buffy the Vampire Slayer!

Apr. 02 2014 09:39 PM

Hawkeye Pierce gets my vote.

Apr. 02 2014 09:02 PM
David Fox from Anchorage, AK

MASH is one of the all time great TV series & Hawkeye was the soul of the show. Give the doc a chance to show his stuff. C'mon folks

Apr. 02 2014 08:28 PM
Jeff from Scarsdale NY

I never heard of DATA. Have no idea who or what he or she is.

Apr. 02 2014 08:12 PM
Lua from Boston

In the segments on the takeaway many of the arguments center around how the charecter reflects our humanity. Through striving to be clever, admiring cleverness in others, rewarding uniqueness,Not jumping to violence for every solution and stuggeling with the beauty and horror of the ever changing human condition. There is no better example of who we are and what we should strive to be than "The Doctor" of Doctor Who. Regardless of the actor, "Dr Who?" should be The wild card.... Or Kermit the frog perhaps?

Apr. 02 2014 07:48 PM
William Barwinkel

Hawkeye Pierce

An intelligent friendly person who would not be pushed off of his belief system.

Apr. 02 2014 07:38 PM

Hawkeye Pierce (the whole 4077th cast of characters, really). This show was such a ground-breaker; a comedy that most episodes made me cry at some point.

Apr. 02 2014 07:10 PM

Hawkeye Pierce would get my vote.

Apr. 02 2014 06:59 PM
Rob R. from City of Brotherly (and Sisterly) Love, PA.

Where are Jackie Gleason + Leonard Nimoy? U want an allien? I'll take Spock any day of the week and 2x on Sunday :)

Apr. 02 2014 06:23 PM
Linda from Dallas, TX

Hawkeye from Mash should be on the list for sure. All the characters on that show were absolutley memorable until the day I die. They were so well played.

Apr. 02 2014 06:21 PM
Rebecca Maker from Walton, OR

Hawkeye all the way!

Apr. 02 2014 06:10 PM
Aaron from Spencer, Ma.

Heathcliff "Cliff" Huxtable from the Cosby Show is the most formidable character that should be the wild card entry. Using clever but wholesome humor he was a study in parenting skills, relationship building, the value of education, the value of family cohesiveness, morality, building character thru adversity, hard work ethic, etc...the list of good qualities that he and his family modeled goes on & on. Heathcliff however was not only the patriarch but he was the show. His style and charisma were unique and he did it all while maintaining a close & romantic relationship with his wife, Claire .
P.S. I'm not going to mention his race because Heathcliff was a model for every man, but if you feel it is pertinent feel free to make mention on your show.

Apr. 02 2014 05:53 PM
Marilyn from North Carolina

I say Hawkeye from MASH!! Serious, funny, crazy, loving, intelligent, tender.... he could play it all to the max!

Apr. 02 2014 05:03 PM
Patrick from Jax, Florida

Gilligan!! Enough said

Apr. 02 2014 04:43 PM
Daniel Quenqua

I would like to nominate Mr. Rogers as a wild card while he may not be exacly a character he still has had an amazing impact on so many of us and what we can achieve.

Apr. 02 2014 04:31 PM
derac from Chicago, IL

Guys you are totally getting punked with Data. Someone/group is 'fixing' the results. Why ? Who knows but you're gonna look kinda silly announcing that Data won you contest as the best TV character EVER. Dude, he's not even the best character on Star Trek. The smackdown has lost all credibility. Archie Bunker, Tony S, Walter White, Lucille Ball, Milton Berle, Hawkeye Pierce, Mary Richards.. the list is too long to go on and Data isn't one of them. Not in this universe.

Apr. 02 2014 04:20 PM
Molly from Palo Alto, CA

Dexter is my nominee for wild card. He is a cold-blooded serial killer, yet the audience roots for him as he struggles with his "Dark Passenger". Brilliant writing, brilliantly acted.

Apr. 02 2014 04:10 PM

Where are Andy Taylor and Barney Fife? How could both of these be omitted in a bracket on the best TV characters?

Apr. 02 2014 04:09 PM
Carly from East Harlem

I vote Michael Scott (The Office)!
One of the greatest comedic characters AND performances of all time it which went unrecognized by the Emmys each season it aired.

I also vote Murphy Brown! Such an important character taking the next step from Mary Tyler Moore to show a modern single career woman having a baby (see "Dan Quayle")

Apr. 02 2014 04:07 PM
Dennis Dinzeo from Las Vegas, NV

Edith Bunker the Foil was actually more significant than Archie.

As I recall the series ended when she discovered Archie's infidelity. Archie said it was "nuthin'".

Edith's response epitomized the disintegration of American society;

"It's somethin'".

Apr. 02 2014 04:06 PM

Hands down, Omar Little from "The Wire". Saint, sinner, gunman, Robin hood. He was them all. In the end he was replaceable.
The cheese stands alone!

Apr. 02 2014 04:04 PM
Tom Bennett from Louisville KY

Unfortunately we cannot consider "characters" played by more than one actor. If I was voting on a character I would vote for Dr. Who.
Another long time character would be Perry Mason (on radio, books, movies plus TV series). I would give a nod to Raymond Burr.
From MASH I would go with Radar O'Reilly.

Fun contest. Thanks.

Apr. 02 2014 04:03 PM
Cliff from Marin County, CA

John Boy Walton
Ralph Kramden

They all should be there!

Apr. 02 2014 04:00 PM
Hillary from Somers, NY

Say my name. If you are not certain, then I suggest you tread lightly. I'm speaking of the one and only, WALTER WHITE from Breaking Bad (the best show EVER). He was smart and cunning and afraid and ruthless. What a character! How could you not include him. Please you must add the pained, tortured soul of Heisenberg.

Apr. 02 2014 04:00 PM
Dennis Dinzeo from Las Vegas, NV

The omission of Ward Cleaver means either that his profound maxims were lost upon the baby boom generation, or that they were internalized without due credit.

Highlights: he once advised Beaver not to rat out his portly friend Larry Mondello's homework plagiarism even under threat of after school detention. In another episode he asked June what princes in castles dream about. Her response; "Levittown".

Sadly, Ward and his ilk are extinct.

Apr. 02 2014 03:54 PM
oscar from ny

Jack tripper from three's company

Apr. 02 2014 03:53 PM
ayres from honolulu, HI

i nominate mr. rogers for the wildcard

Apr. 02 2014 03:49 PM
Jonathon from San Francisco, California

Definitely Data, simply because he's an android. I believe we all have a desire to become impartial and rational outside of our human-ness to be strong and make perfect decisions, this also allows us to see or feel the importance of empathy and sympathy.

I chose Mary Richards over Lucy because she's the modern woman/man making it with a variety of co-workers and doing it her way. Lucy was creative and inventive in her marriage, yet was always loyal and perhaps limited in her life with Ricky and 2 friends - always the wife at-home, while Ricky was in the club performing in front of his fans.

Apr. 02 2014 03:42 PM
JP from NY

Walter Brennan in The Guns of Will Sonnet - No brag, just fact.

Apr. 02 2014 03:36 PM
Daniel Wilson from North Carolina

I voted Data, as far as those mentioned so far. YES, I am a TREKKIE.However,I must say, among all my beloved st characters,firstly to be offered in this list of greats, is James T. Kirk, played by William Shatner-a character known far and wide, even among non-trekkies.

He is from that great era of tv, which gave us Lucy and others..a Kennedy-esque figure, who represented the optimism that Star Trek put forth, where all races-and all species, were united. In a galaxy where, in time, an android such as Data was not only respected, but beloved, by his peers...and so many fans.

Apr. 02 2014 03:33 PM
Daniel Wilson from North Carolina

I voted Data, as far as those mentioned so far. YES, I am a TREKKIE.However,I must say, among all my beloved st characters,firstly to be offered in this list of greats, is James T. Kirk, played by William Shatner-a character known far and wide, even among non-trekkies.

He is from that great era of tv, which gave us Lucy and others..a Kennedy-esque figure, who represented the optimism that Star Trek put forth, where all races-and all species, were united. In a galaxy where, in time, an android such as Data was not only respected, but beloved, by his peers...and so many fans.

Apr. 02 2014 03:32 PM
Daniel Wilson from North Carolina

I voted Data, as far as those mentioned so far. YES, I am a TREKKIE.However,I must say, among all my beloved st characters,firstly to be offered in this list of greats, is James T. Kirk, played by William Shatner-a character known far and wide, even among non-trekkies.

He is from that great era of tv, which gave us Lucy and others..a Kennedy-esque figure, who represented the optimism that Star Trek put forth, where all races-and all species, were united. In a galaxy where, in time, an android such as Data was not only respected, but beloved, by his peers...and so many fans.

Apr. 02 2014 03:32 PM
Karl Olson from Grand Marais, MN

I nominate Al Bundy for wildcard. He may be lowbrow but nobody represents the average American's struggle against his family, job and society as well as Al does.

Apr. 02 2014 03:30 PM
em from tx

I'm a longtime HIMYM fan and would like to nominate Barney Stinson, a character I think deserving of a deeper look. Barney Stinson is one of a few characters of real depth, and typical of this, is too-easily categorized when skimming the surface.

Apr. 02 2014 03:19 PM
Gretchen from Massachusetts

I expected either Hawkeye Pierce or Walter White to make the list or Cosmos Kramer or Maxwell Smart. What about Ralph Kramden?

Apr. 02 2014 03:18 PM
stephanie from Minneapolis

The greatest has to be LASSIE!

Apr. 02 2014 03:18 PM
Rhonda McCraw from Charleston SC

I don't get to listen to The Takeaway every day, but I have enjoyed the Best TV Character Bracket. After listening to several of the arguments for various characters I thought it could only be Archie Bunker. The man who brought bigotry and racism and narrow mindedness to the forefront. He made people stop and think. I was pleased to see that Archie has made it to the Final Four, and I hope to see him beat out Lucille Ball, who, while funny, did not have the depth of character of Archie. The example of his argument for why it is Congress decides on whether to go to war is a wonderful example of his twisted yet dead-on logic. We watched All in the Family every week. It was an inspirational show and Carroll O'Connor brought Archie to life. Archie is by far the greatest TV character of all time.

Apr. 02 2014 03:01 PM
Kevin Elliott

I'm not sure who I think is the greatest but, when I first heard about this my favorite M*A*S*H character came to mind. Military Intelligence officer Col. Flag. What a pefect example of someone who thinks they have it all figured out and knows absolutly nothing.

Apr. 02 2014 02:45 PM

Hawkeye Pierce from M*A*S*H.

Apr. 02 2014 02:44 PM

I'm late in joining the conversation and vote, but I think any list has to have Jackie Gleason and Art Carney included. Jackie Gleason was a genius and Art Carney - with his facial expressions and hand gestures - still makes me laugh when I think about them! Surely they have to be among the top comedy teams in American TV. Art Carney's character seems to be a precursor to Seinfeld's Kramer.

Apr. 02 2014 02:28 PM
Sharon from Portland, Oregon

You mentioned adding one's own favorite into the mix: my all time favorite from 60 years ago is the originator of the TV sitcom-Gertrude Berg on The Goldbergs. (not the new one-this ran from 1949 to 1956). I still think of her as a matriarchal figure. To get an overview of this show and its importance to development of sit-com format see the documentary "YooHoo, Mrs. Goldberg".It's sad and incomprehensible to me that not one person I've ever mentioned this to has heard of her.

Apr. 02 2014 02:14 PM
Sarah from Bryant, AR

Hawkeye!!!!! Yes all the way. He was ground breaking and his character dealt with a difficult subject with not only humor but grace.

Apr. 02 2014 02:12 PM
Ventifact from California

Yes, Hawkeye should be in this Smack Down. I heard the broadcast as I was pulling into my office parking lot. I rushed in to add Hawkeye and was pleased to see that many more have recommended him. Humor, sensitivity, and courage....Hawkeye is the character I would most like to invite to a dinner party - that is if he were a real person.

Apr. 02 2014 01:45 PM
Gilbert Martinelli from Pennsylvania

Dr.Hawkeye Pierce from M*A*S*H is my pick for the wildcard. Best character of the best TV show of all time.

Apr. 02 2014 01:39 PM
Ryan from KY

Data asks those same pesky questions that children do, but with near omniscience. He relentlessly reaches for the heart of ethics and value. He is an embodiment of a virtue for which all should strive.

Apr. 02 2014 01:33 PM
Ward Cleaver from Mayfield

Wait- Beaver Cleaver's not on the list? As well he should be! That young man taught an entire generation of kids how to grow up properly and not be creeps!
See what's happened since he went off the air? We have creeps EVERYWHERE now!

Apr. 02 2014 01:30 PM
John McDonald from Vancouver, WA

From the beginning of these bracket TV character playoffs, I thought Matt Dillon--the fairest, most accountable and responsible, most level headed and compassionate man on television, ever in my lifetime (66 and going higher),
--deserved a spot.

Even among these finalists, Matt Dillon would get my vote.

Apr. 02 2014 01:26 PM

Hawkeye Pierce is, without question, deserving of a spot!

Apr. 02 2014 01:17 PM
Barbara Poole from CA

What about Robert Duvall as Gus McCrae in Lonesome Dove?
An amazing, very memorable character.

Apr. 02 2014 01:12 PM
LYDIA from Philadelphia, pa

I think Star Trek's Seven of Nine should be considered for best TV character of all time as well.

Apr. 02 2014 01:06 PM
Warren Wright from St Louis

I want to add Captain Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce as a candidate for the Takeaway TV Smackdown.

Apr. 02 2014 01:05 PM
Gilbert M. from PA

Is there a download available(preferably OGG or FLAC) for the remixed Star Trek theme used as the background track in the "Vote for Data" clip?

Apr. 02 2014 01:04 PM
Ann from Texas

Wild card candidates:
Hawkeye Pierce

I'd nominate Captain Kangaroo too, but I wouldn't vote for him over some of these finalists.

Apr. 02 2014 01:00 PM
Esteban A Perez

You guys and gals know deep in your heart that Data is going to win!

Apr. 02 2014 01:00 PM
Breck Henderson from Arlington, TX

You have obviously overlooked the most significant TV character of all time, Marshall Matt Dillon from Gunsmoke. Gunsmoke is still the longest running TV drama of all time, and while I could make a case that Kitty or Festus should be considered in your tournament, Matt Dillon was the sustaining presence in the show.

Dillon was a constant reminder of what is good about American culture. He was strong, fast, fair, and completely honest. He put upholding the law ahead of his own personal life, constantly exposing himself to dangerous criminals because he felt a duty to defend Dodge City.

Yes, Matt Dillon wasn't very talkative when it came to emotional issues. But he could say more with a look or a short period of silence than most TV characters said in long rants. I recall one episode where Dillon is shot by would-be bank robbers for the umpteenth time, and Kitty can't take it any more. After failing to get any meaningful emotional reaction from Matt as he lies in bed recovering, she packs up and leaves for another town. Soon, however, she discovers that the town is run by an unscrupulous businessman and his crew of thugs. Dillon rides to the rescue, but before the job is done it dawns on Kitty that Dodge City could be the same way if not for their Marshall. Without saying a word, Dillon has made his point -- without his special brand of bravery, honor and sense of duty life would be meaningless.

And that is the message that Matt Dillon has delivered better than any other TV character -- duty, honor, courage, and doing the right thing no matter the personal cost. We need more of this in America today.

Apr. 02 2014 12:57 PM

Al Bundy!

Apr. 02 2014 12:57 PM
Mike Allen from NJ

How can Al Bundy not be on your list?

Apr. 02 2014 12:51 PM

I second President Josiah Bartlet from The West Wing. Any one of his soundbites could've trumped the others while restoring a temporary hope in all things American, or at least that fictional rendition of them.

Apr. 02 2014 12:44 PM
Maryellen Small from Aududbon, NJ

I am truly amazed that Josiah Bartlet (Martin Sheen on "The West Wing")wasn't on the list.

Apr. 02 2014 12:44 PM
Andrew from Joseph, OR

Data is the second greatest character of all time -- right behind Captain Picard.

Apr. 02 2014 12:42 PM
Sandra Napier from Arlington, TX

Mary Richards taught us that it is okay to be young, believe in yourself and strike out on our own!
Data has taught us more about ourselves, as frail, complicated, and a contradiction, He has show us our humanism.

Apr. 02 2014 12:41 PM
John D from Boston

The DJ from Northern Exposure, Chris Stevens, always had me running to the bookstore to learn more about what he was talking about. How many TV characters inspire learning? And the part-time character, Adam, from the same series was hilarious!

Apr. 02 2014 12:39 PM
Becky R from Nebraka

Aha! Here I see mention of M*A*SH*! I strongly belief the wild card should be Hawkeye Pierce. Or the ensemble cast of M*A*S*H. I've called myself a Mashaholic for the thousand times through the years I've watched and loved this show and it's unforgettable characters. Especially Hawkeye.

Apr. 02 2014 12:38 PM
Janice Josephine Carney from Largo FL

the wild card..should be "Radar" O' was not easy from him to run a MASH unit full of self centered nuts. I served as a battalion Mail clerk in Vietnam.

Apr. 02 2014 12:09 PM
anne camapbell from Lexington, Ma

What ever happened to Ralph Cramden? He was definitely the best. Maybe I'm just that much order than the other voters who don't remember him. Please add him.

Apr. 02 2014 11:49 AM
Ellen from Dallas, TX

For reals? Any character other than that Data thing. How did that character even beat Don Draper in the first round? Go Archie!

Apr. 02 2014 11:29 AM
Brian from Ohio

MacGyver is the clear choice for the wildcard. How he didn't make it on the list in the first place is beyond me. For Pete's sake---MacGyver is a verb!

Apr. 02 2014 10:55 AM
Otis from Mattapoisett MA

Barney Fife!

Apr. 02 2014 10:48 AM

I would vote for Jack McCoy from Law and Order. Made me feel that there were some honorable lawyers out there.

Apr. 02 2014 10:11 AM
Nick in Jersey from nj

Clearly, this is more a measure of who listens and of
Who is more web active And cter literate than it is of who was the greatest most poplar TV character.

Given than Lucy fans are so old and's amazing and a tribute that she's still in the running.

The whole concept of who is best is a kind of Sophie's choice....which was itself a variation of the Mash finale.

Having said all that.......My love goes to Mary Richards.

Just for the sheer heaven of it...imagine a 90 minute alternate universe
In which all four of these finalists meet up in a dramatically comedic teleplay! If u can do have great and wonderful imagination...and you dont need to be watching much TV. ;)

Apr. 02 2014 09:59 AM

Hi LindsayCurren,

T. J. Raphael here, digital editor for The Takeaway. If you click on the photo above where it says 'Click to Enlarge' you will be able to see all of our 16 choices. Thanks for commenting and for listening!

-T. J.

Apr. 02 2014 09:58 AM
Brian from Columbia SC

Andy Griffith was the greatest. Dedicated to his family, loyal friend, public servant, selfless, humble, funny, always able to find creative solutions to the most vexing human behavior...everything we (should) aspire to be.

Apr. 02 2014 09:45 AM
Stella from Charleston, S.C.

I vote for Mary Richards and Archie Bunker.

Apr. 02 2014 09:45 AM

There were really good choices in an admittedly huge field of possible contenders and I can't see the full 16, only the finalists so I don't know who was in the original.

I would have included Rory Gilmore from The Gilmore Girls.

Which other TV character, beginning in 9th grade, was being raised by a single mom and had a voracious appetite for reading, having spawned a Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge on the Internet in deference to the 250 books Rory was seen reading during the show's 7 seasons. These books ranged from Dorothy Parker to Harry Potter, from Emily the Strange to the Bhagavad Gita, from Catch-22 to Eudora Welty — and her fave spot is hanging in book stores.

Rory also loved music, having posters and tee shirts and popular/sub popular references as diverse as the Go-Gos, Pixies, and Sonic Youth and the show featured several scenes where she was either hunting for music in vinyl record stores or discussing key rock band and other genres with her incredibly musically literate friend Lane. The fact that she doesn't like the Smashing Pumpkins is clearly a reference to Pavement's iconic song Range Life from Crooked Rain Crooked Rain and Pavement itself is featured in a poster.

She also has a comprehensive knowledge of both TV and film across the 20th/21st centuries, name-dropping references that tie together situations or just illuminate absurdities. Superb character. I mean, which shows do that, which characters are wrapped up in this?

In addition to her I would have had to pick someone from Northern Exposure, either Joel Fleischman or Ed Chigliak.

Apr. 02 2014 09:45 AM
Delta from Canton, Ohio

Where is Walter White from Breaking Bad? Talk about a complex character. he is the most intriguing character I have seen on TV in 40 years.

Apr. 02 2014 09:44 AM
D. Millington

Greatest TV personality of all time: Mr. Rogers. Taught us all to listen to each other, treat each other kindly, and develop a conscience.

Apr. 02 2014 09:39 AM
David White from south carolina

I want to give a shoutoout to Mighty Mouse - just because.

Apr. 02 2014 09:36 AM
kmarnyc from NYC

Every time you run this segment, I regret my contribution to WNYC another $10. You actually think wasting your meager hour on a few minutes of this crap adds to our enlightenment at all? Might as well go commercial, bros, and leave us alone when it comes to your quarterly $olicitation pitche$. This is NOT a good omen for public radio's future.

Apr. 02 2014 09:35 AM

Lt. Commander Data vs Archie Bunker. This is a tough call. Both of these characters were apart of my TV watching in my youth and I can appreciate both of them for their contributions to my entertainment and the way that I view the world today. Archie was a gruff American whose personality was reflective of the men who served as my role models. Data an android that quested after humanity during a time in my life where I questioned humanity's desire to become more emotionless. So this is quite a difficult vote for me. But Data edges out Archie, for I still think we have a lot to learn from that Android.

Apr. 02 2014 09:31 AM
Hannah from Brooklyn

I can't believe no one has suggested Roseanne Connor, portrayed brilliantly by Roseanne Barr for nine seasons. Roseanne's ability to laugh through the tough times, find joy in the little things, and raise a family that values honesty and hard work with a signature brand of tough love make her one of TV's most memorable characters. Also, Aunt Jackie is pretty incredible herself.

Apr. 02 2014 09:25 AM

Where is the "vote" button?

Apr. 02 2014 09:23 AM
Mark A. Parker from Nashville, TN

Archie Bunker, hands-down.

Apr. 02 2014 09:23 AM
Nikki from Ft. Lauderdale

Dr. Gregory House, because he's the most brilliant doctor with the worst bedside manner that you can't help but love.

Apr. 02 2014 09:23 AM
Franz bogner from Yardley Pa

Ralph Kramden ! Am I that old?

Apr. 02 2014 08:53 AM
DIana from virginia

Hawkeye or Fonzi!

Apr. 02 2014 07:07 AM
jpan59 from California

How is Homer Simpson not on this list! I would argue there has been no character in TV history as culturally reflective and significant as he.

Apr. 02 2014 03:57 AM
Cheryl from Savannah GA

Michael Scott from the Office!!

Apr. 02 2014 12:14 AM

Hawkeye Pierce
Doctor Who
Denny Crane

Murphy Brown
Leslie Knope
Mary Richards

Apr. 01 2014 11:39 PM
Art Siegel from SRQ, Fla

Kwai Chiang Kane sublime but kicks ass when needed. East juxtaposed against wild west. Foghorn Leghorn. Fred Sanford. Jim Rockford Any villain from Batman. Frank Gorshen, Ceasar Romero,or Eartha Kitt.

Apr. 01 2014 10:34 PM
Bill s from Orlando Fl

Ralph Kramden as wild card! Why? Ask the chef of the future ! He can brive a duss!

Apr. 01 2014 09:57 PM

Walter White
Tyrion Lanister
Adrian Monk

Apr. 01 2014 09:34 PM

Of course Reverend Jim Ignatowski has always been the apple of my eye but I do appreciate those a-holes who would vote for Al Swearengen.

Apr. 01 2014 08:20 PM
Laura from Virginia

Jessica Fletcher for the wildcard!

Apr. 01 2014 08:13 PM
Kent Nelson from Old Saybrook Connecticut

How about Robert Blake in Baretta He was always protecting the weak and defenseless.
Best Theme song Sammy Davis singing Keep your eye on the sparrow Dont due the crime if you cant do the time Awesome show

Apr. 01 2014 08:04 PM
Levi from U.S.A

Doctor Who of course I mean he's awesome and he should be on there.

Apr. 01 2014 08:03 PM
Nate from Kent, OH

Hawkeye Pierce, of course. The man who eloquently and fiercely defended humor, joy, love, and the best of humanity while suffering in the hell of war. And made a mean moonshine cocktail, to boot.

Apr. 01 2014 07:36 PM
MacPadana from Sheboygan, WI

How could Hawkeye not have made this bracket????

Apr. 01 2014 07:22 PM

I am naming my first born Lucy just because of that show!!

Apr. 01 2014 06:34 PM
Johanna from Salt Lake City

Any character from West Wing (especially President Bartlett, CJ, Toby, or Ainsley Hayes), Fox Mulder (XFiles), and Will MacAvoy (Newsroom)
Also--super bummed Don Draper, Omar, and Liz Lemon didn't make the cut. Go Dowager Countess!!

Apr. 01 2014 05:44 PM
Jay from CT

Dr. Heathcliff "Cliff" Huxtable for the wildcard!

Apr. 01 2014 05:34 PM
Loneshark from Brooklyn, NY

I'm spanning some generations here:

Steve Austin
Mal Reynolds
Doctor Who
Artemus Gordon
Sheldon Cooper
Fish (Barney Miller)

Apr. 01 2014 05:12 PM
Dan Stevens from Corvallis, OR

I've been laughing to Bill Cosby since his vinyl records.

Apr. 01 2014 04:57 PM
Mariah from Petaluma, Ca

Dr. Gregory House, he's the best. Brilliant, handsome and a huge pain to work with or be in a relationship with.

Apr. 01 2014 04:54 PM
Tusk from Venice CA

As the Baby Boomers showed their kids "how to got to Sesame Street," they remembered their early mornings with "Captain Kangaroo" with Dancing Bear, Bunny Rabbit, Grandfather Clock, Mister Moose, and Mister Green Jeans.

Apr. 01 2014 04:42 PM
Mark Simpson from Alaska

"Ben Cartright"of Bonanza one of the longest running TV series.Running a ranch and 3+1 sons.

Apr. 01 2014 04:29 PM

Homer Simpson. of course.

Apr. 01 2014 04:24 PM
Jerry from Manhattan

Gracie Burns played by Gracie Allen on the Burns and Allen Show. No one could make me laugh as much as Gracie.

Apr. 01 2014 04:24 PM
Vlad Lojko from Central NJ

My Dark Horse candidate would be Emma Peal of the "Avengers".. she was the essense of female sexuality combined with brains and did not need a man to defend her in a dangerous situation.

Apr. 01 2014 04:07 PM
Frank from New Jersey

I would like to add Walter White from Breaking Bad.

Apr. 01 2014 04:05 PM

Matt Dillon
Mary Richards

Apr. 01 2014 04:05 PM

Walter White, Leslie Knope, Michael Scott, Nate Fisher.

Apr. 01 2014 04:05 PM
Ken Pasture from Caldwell, New Jersey

My first vote. Much less depressing than the smack down where Lucy the Elephant beat Buzz Aldrin.

Apr. 01 2014 04:04 PM
anonymous from nj

Why nothing from the best of children's television? Big Bird. Lambchop. Mr. Rogers.

Apr. 01 2014 04:02 PM
Sally` from sonoma

Hawkeye Pearce from MASH

Apr. 01 2014 03:58 PM
emilie from California

I can guess the demo of your audience by the suggestions. Hawkeye, yes indeed. But a list that doesn't include Walter White is out of touch.

Apr. 01 2014 03:45 PM
Christina RE from San Francisco

Lucy lead to Desilu and Desilu produced StarTrek when Lucille Ball headed the studio. Lucy and all she did continues to feed our future. A sexist world will categorize her as a zany housewife, but she did everything Chaplin and Buster Keaton did and wearing high heels. She is a modern Quixote and Ethel was her Sancho Panza. (I don't know if that makes Ricky Babieca...I digress).

Apr. 01 2014 03:44 PM
Ron from Manhattan

WILD CARD ENTRY: George Costanza of Seinfeld.

Apr. 01 2014 03:42 PM
Skye Christina from Astoria, Queens

Leslie Knope from Parks and Recreation

Apr. 01 2014 03:39 PM
Murray Hardie from Brooklyn


Apr. 01 2014 03:39 PM
Ellie from San Francisco

Gregory House, M.D.! Come on, people!

Apr. 01 2014 03:38 PM

Hawkeye, Julia Sugarbaker and Murphy Brown!

Apr. 01 2014 03:32 PM
Mary Phillips from Canby, Oregon

President Josiah Bartlet
In a perfect world he would be commander in chief now!

Apr. 01 2014 03:29 PM
dave from wisconsin

Hawkeye from MASH and Spock from Star Trek

Apr. 01 2014 03:26 PM
AlexineIL 69866 from Rockford, Il

Murphy Brown -- what other tv character took on a real vice-presidential candidate? And she lasted much longer than he did.

Julia Sugarbaker -- Designing Women--who can forget her monologues on women's issues.

I seriously disagree with Lucy Ricardo, the show was more slapstick than anything else and denigrated women which took years from which to recover. I never even liked her show when I was a child.

Apr. 01 2014 03:22 PM

Doctor Who!!!

Apr. 01 2014 03:16 PM
Jean from Utah

Heathcliff Huxtable!

Apr. 01 2014 03:08 PM
Roberta from Minneapolis

JR from Dallas.

Apr. 01 2014 03:04 PM

Hawkeye ! (How could he NOT be on the list?)

Apr. 01 2014 03:02 PM
jerry from Sebring, FL

Ralph Kramdem is the winner

Apr. 01 2014 02:59 PM
sandi watkins from lynn mass

Murphy Brown

Apr. 01 2014 02:59 PM
Lisa Morgan from MN

Omar Little . The end.

Apr. 01 2014 02:57 PM
E. F. Higgins from Newberg

Xena: Warrior Princess—the ultimate feminist!

Apr. 01 2014 02:54 PM
Julieanna from Northfield, MN

As Wildcard I nominate Rob Morrow as Dr. Joel Fleischman in Northern Exposure

Apr. 01 2014 02:45 PM
listentothewords from Cambridge, MA

There are oversights and there is wimping out. Just because you can't air a clip from Ian McShane in his role as the historical character Al Swearengen in Deadwood doesn't mean he isn't one of the all-time extraordinary TV villain turned sympathetic character. His language and all the dialogue is Shakespearean in tone and vocabulary with a couple of selections peppered throughout. His character's crude actions tend to highlight his amazing speech and he does somehow moves from being the most vile creature to a partner of the more virtuous sheriff. It's an amazing transformation. You know you love him!!

Apr. 01 2014 02:44 PM
Dana from Oregon

Ralph Camden - The Honeymooners

Apr. 01 2014 02:43 PM
Robert Baril

Dr. Gregory House

Apr. 01 2014 02:43 PM

This contest is not complete without Captain Benjamin Franklin Pierce, aka "Hawkeye" on the list. The television series MASH ran for an amazing 11 years, and it is undeniable that it did so due to the beloved antics and admirable ethical revolts of its central character, Hawkeye, played brilliantly, with Groucho Marx like wit and whimsy, by the great Alan Alda. Alda portrayed Hawkeye with a sensitivity that revealed the character’s complex, conflicted nature; Captain Pierce, the doctor who unflinchingly faced the horrors of wartime “meatball surgery” but who still wept when faced with the loss of innocent life; the pacifist soldier who raged against the heartlessness of military bureaucracy but still showed respect for the bravery and sacrifice of individual soldiers. In episode after episode, Captain Pierce showed us how to cling dignity in a system that degrades us, how to live with joy amidst terrible suffering, and how to offer compassion to others-even to one's enemies. Most of all, Captain Pierce demonstrated a deep love and respect for the value of life-which is perhaps the most subversive message a soldier can embody. Few characters in the history of television have left such an enduring mark. Include Alan Alda's Capt. "Hawkeye" Pierce in the top character of all time smack down, and vote for him, because even though he was a pacifist, Hawkeye knew how to take down his rivals.

Apr. 01 2014 02:19 PM
Peter from 87105


Apr. 01 2014 02:06 PM
crgillon from Gloucester

Jason Street FNL: Beautifully written brilliantly acted character whose journey from C7- T1 to love and fatherhood moved me to tears. Clear eyes full hearts

Apr. 01 2014 02:04 PM
Steven Ingle from Madera, california

Edd Byrnes aka "Kookie" on the tv series-77 Sunset strip. He was the coolest cat around daddio!

Apr. 01 2014 02:04 PM
S. Ingle from California

I nominate Bob Denver, aka "Gilligan" and Robin Williams aka "Mork" for the wild card spot.

Apr. 01 2014 01:52 PM
saturnevolved from Rineyville, KY

Being a huge fan of both Data and Lucy I would like to see The Doctor as the wildcard ;)

Apr. 01 2014 01:43 PM

Emma Peel (The Avengers) & Brett Maverick (Maverick).

Apr. 01 2014 01:41 PM
yarnbarn from Florida

My wildcard charater is Dobie Gillis.

Apr. 01 2014 01:38 PM
OF from Portland, Oregon

Wild card choice: Capt. Jean-Luc Picard. Too much of a good thing (i.e., TNG) is always a good thing.

Apr. 01 2014 01:38 PM
Gili Ronen from Philadelphia

The Wire is the greatest television show in history. Omar Little is the best character on The Wire. He is smart, interesting, brave, contradictory, and taught me so much about a life I could never otherwise understand.

Please add him back to the voting.

Apr. 01 2014 01:32 PM
Diann from St. Louis, MO

I think you should start over. J.R. Ewing should have been in the original list as well as Hawkeye, and several others mentioned in these comments. We are talking about the TV character of all time! Some of the original picks I have never heard of. How can they possibly be the TV character of all time? Start over!

Apr. 01 2014 01:31 PM
Diann from St. Louis, Missouri

Really? J.R. Ewing!

Apr. 01 2014 01:23 PM
Dan from Dallas

I would like to add Kramer to this list from Seinfeld

Apr. 01 2014 01:08 PM

In terms of influence, the Wild Card has got to be Homer Simpson.

Apr. 01 2014 01:05 PM
Jeremiah from Memphis, TN

I'm casting my vote for Special Agent Dale Cooper!!

The epitome of the good and just in the world, in a classic series about the fight between good and evil - a tale as old as time. Archie Bunker has never been nearly as loveable as Cooper and nowhere near a hero for me

Apr. 01 2014 01:02 PM
Cat from St. Louis, MO

My Wild Card choice is The Doctor from Doctor Who. The most enduring character on television, both alien and incredibly human at the same time, he always sees the best in any creature, even the bad guys, and always gives them the opportunity to make the wiser choice. A character who, through his portrayal by 12 different actors, each bringing their own interpretation to the screen, struggled and grew as a character while also remaining true to the original concept of a benevolent being from another world. The good Doctor has fans which cross generations - how much better can a TV character be?

Apr. 01 2014 01:02 PM
Bryan from Portland

Spock, the Smoking Man, and Edmund Blackadder should have been in the Sweet 16.

Apr. 01 2014 12:59 PM
Cat Greenberg from St. Louis, MO

My Wild Card choice is The Doctor from Doctor Who. The most enduring character on television, both alien and incredibly human at the same time, he always sees the best in any creature, even the bad guys, and always gives them the opportunity to make the wiser choice. A character who, through his portrayal by 12 different actors, each bringing their own interpretation to the screen, struggled and grew as a character while also remaining true to the original concept of a benevolent being from another world. The good Doctor has fans which cross generations - how much better can a TV character be?

Apr. 01 2014 12:59 PM
gerit from Portland Oregon

Al Swearengen you assholes

Apr. 01 2014 12:58 PM
Cat Greenberg from St. Louis, MO

My Wild Card choice is The Doctor from Doctor Who. The most enduring character on television, both alien and incredibly human at the same time, he always sees the best in any creature, even the bad guys, and always gives them the opportunity to make the wiser choice. A character who, through his portrayal by 12 different actors, each bringing their own interpretation to the screen, struggled and grew as a character while also remaining true to the original concept of a benevolent being from another world. The good Doctor has fans which cross generations - how much better can a TV character be?

Apr. 01 2014 12:49 PM

so sorry Edit Bunker didn't make the finals. Great foil for Archie.

Apr. 01 2014 12:49 PM
Brad from St. Louis

For the wild card, I nominate Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer series. Willow is smart and powerful and was a relatively early "out" main character on a TV series.

On the Men's side, how about Reverend Jim from Taxi?

Apr. 01 2014 12:43 PM
Larry Margolis from Portland, OR

I see a difference between those who actually experienced the earlier actors and those who haven't. There seem to be more of them than there are of us. Us being older.

Apr. 01 2014 12:39 PM
Brenna from new york, ny

Barney Fife (Mayberry RFD) and Lisa Douglas (Green Acres)

Apr. 01 2014 12:38 PM
Bob from Portland

Don't forget DEXTER.... My vote!

Apr. 01 2014 12:37 PM
sam from pdx

The Fonz, Ayyyyy!!!!!

Apr. 01 2014 12:36 PM
Jeff Fields from RI

Norton. Nuff said.

Apr. 01 2014 12:12 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

My wild cards are also jokers.

Thank You for adding a wild card. 1. Buffy for the gals
2. Dr. Who for the aliens

Apr. 01 2014 11:59 AM
Jim Kerr from Pawtucket, RI

I nominate Randy Hickey, delightfully naïve and endearing, I always laughed with him and not at him. If My Name is Earl had continued indefinitely think of how Randy could have been developed on a Candide like track.

Apr. 01 2014 11:47 AM
Truly Godfrey from Boston

Florida Evans - played by Ester Rolle on Maude and Good Times. Brilliantly played she was also an intelligent, witty and very human black woman on TV - something we still rarely see. As a wife who was an equal partner, a mother who was loving and imperfect (though, like all TV moms, not as imperfect as most of us) and the balance of the entire ensemble cast of Good Times, this woman did it all while showing how impossible that really is. And she was funny. I mean, really funny. How can she not be in here? Crazy, just crazy.

Apr. 01 2014 11:15 AM

Hi Ritchard Rodriguez from NYC,

T. J. Raphael here, digital content editor for The Takeaway. Please just leave your suggestions for another character right here in our comments section. We will be going through all of the comments here and determining our wild card character. Thanks for your comment and for participating!

-T. J.

Apr. 01 2014 10:28 AM
Ritchard Rodriguez from NYC

Todd promised there would be a field where we can post who was left out of the race but I fail to see one. My choices are Tony Randall and Jack Klugman from The Odd Couple. It doesn't get better than the four years they gave us.

Apr. 01 2014 10:18 AM
Sharon Brodie from Aiken, SC

Two that should have been included:

Perry Mason - the lawyer who never lost a case; was a gentleman to his assistant Della; was a caring man who would take any case and represent anyone regardless of money

Sheriff Andy Taylor - the lawman who didn't carry a gun but didn't have to in order to maintain peace; was a father who as a widower raised a wonderful son Opie; was an understanding and accepting friend to clumsy Barney who would never have been a deputy in another town.

Apr. 01 2014 10:16 AM
Sara from Yonkers, NY

Captain Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce ~ he was the heart and the funny bone of one of the best shows EVER


Apr. 01 2014 10:01 AM
Jack from The Bronx, NY

Josiah Barlet

Hyacinth Bucket - best British Sit-Com character ever. Best physical comedian ever.

Apr. 01 2014 09:44 AM
Lorna from Ashtabula Ohio

What about Doc Martin!!!

Apr. 01 2014 09:27 AM
Chris mc kenna from plymouth, MA.

Patsy Stone from AbFab. Truly great physical comedy. Unfortunately, like the sublime Sybil Fawlty, probably seen by a comparatively small audience

Apr. 01 2014 06:20 AM
Laura from Ohio

Buffy Summers or Veronica Mars -- these feisty gals deserve some respect. Adrian Monk -- a wonderfully flawed and entirely lovable character.

Mar. 31 2014 11:37 PM
EC from Medellin

Walter White

Mar. 31 2014 11:30 PM

How no iconic Western heroes--Ben Cartwright? Matt Dillon? Gil Favor?

Mar. 31 2014 10:50 PM
Dylan Lesch from New York

Um Walter White...

Mar. 31 2014 10:26 PM
Jose Oliveira from Cranford, NJ

With all due respect, take all the competitors, put them together and they still would not stack up to the all around genius that is Walter White. How he is not in the running is beyond the comprehension of any true fan of great tv characters. Perhaps the winner of this sham bracket will be put into the next bracket with the true elites.

Mar. 31 2014 08:34 PM
sharon from MN

How about:

Murphy Brown (Candice Bergen)

Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie)

These were two excedingly memorable characters!!!!!!!

Mar. 31 2014 07:26 PM
Terrance from San Francisco

As a child of the 70's, and being from WI, I'd like to add Arthur Herbert Fonzarelli (also known as "Fonzie", "Fonz", or "The Fonz")for wildcard consideration. He was everywhere in 1977, t-shirts that read "heeeeeyyy", coffee mugs with the iconic phrase "sit on it" across them, and who we got the idiom "jumping the shark" from. He even has his own life size bronze statue in Milwaukee. Haven't we all tried the jukebox trick at least once... I know I have. Thanks... and oh, Go Badgers!!!!

Mar. 31 2014 07:24 PM

Last suggestion and one of amerika's greatest heroes:
Pete Seeger, from the show "Rainbow Quest".
He was blacklisted off TV, he was convicted (and aquitted) of contempt of Congress for not cooperating with the House Un-American Activities Committee and yet he continued to live and sing for what he believed in. If just everyone in TV did half of what he did this would be a better country and world.
I know few saw his local NY show, I saw it in reruns in the late 60's on KQED in San Francisco. He had all the living greats in "folk" music on his show and many unknowns.
Where have all our heroes gone?

Mar. 31 2014 06:56 PM

No mention of Amy Sedaris? No one from Arrested Development? Come on what do you people watch? How about someone from Reno 911?
and then there are Star Trek TOS, All in the Family, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, I Spy. ground breaking shows, no.
And Steve Colbert, John Steward, and many from SNL.
Finally, who doesn't know and love Warf. Really! He thinks prune juice is a warriors drink, can you beat that for a character?

Mar. 31 2014 06:35 PM
Ted from Berkeley Heights

I think the folks running this missed a bunch, a few that no one else seems to have mentioned:

George Costanza
Brian Griffin
Sheldon Cooper
the shrink played by Gabriel Byrne on "In Treatment" - amazing
Jessica Tate & Jodie Dallas from "Soap"
Alexis Carrington Colby Dexter...from Dynasty
Denny Crane

Mar. 31 2014 06:12 PM

Why is Gerry Blank (aka Amy Sedaris)not here? Her character and Amy's portrayal of a 40 something high school drop out starting over ins high school is some of the greatest TV ever! She gives hope to the hopeless, direction to the lost, drugs to high school kids, what better role model. And what better exploration of the amerikan experience?

Mar. 31 2014 06:04 PM
Terri from Hawaii

All those shown are good characters, but, so far I have not heard anyone mention Hawkeye Pierce (played by Alan Alda) from the tv show "Mash".
An ultimately like able character who was humble enough to admit his faults and arrogant enough to believe he was right (which he was so often).
He had a passionate sense of right and wrong and a compassion for his fellow man that was admirable. Any comments on Hawkeye Pierce?

Note: Please do not use my email for promotions, solicitations.
Thank you.

Mar. 31 2014 05:15 PM
James Key

Female character - Irene Ryan as Daisy "Granny" Moses

Male character - Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper

Very different, but each a classic character. Just say the first name. Everyone knows the show.

Mar. 31 2014 04:42 PM
Jack Novicki from USA - East Coast


CAPTAIN JAMES TIBERIUS KIRK (Character) – played by actor William Shatner on the show Star Trek. Captain Kirk was the moral foundation of the character of many millions of young viewers. It only ran for three seasons but was one of the most rerun series in the history of TV. I believe that the this character (Kirk) deserves at least a nomination.

Mar. 31 2014 04:25 PM
Kelly Eidson from UNIVERSITY CITY, MO


Mar. 31 2014 04:14 PM

Wildcard: Francis Underwood
To bring the reality of Washington to the youth/people of today amidst media frenzy of this age is a major accomplishment. He feels so beyond reality while running it.
And then of course: Claire Underwood, the other kind of pain.

Mar. 31 2014 04:09 PM

Jean Stapleton
She was the first to be a tv feminist and tell Archie to "stuff it" and no other woman talked to spouses that way and she began to be an independent thinker as the show progressed.

Mar. 31 2014 04:05 PM
Esteban from Marin

Need an animated contest; Roger Ramjet vs Underdog, etc.

Mar. 31 2014 04:05 PM
Jack Novicki from USA - East Coast.

What happened to the most popular TV character of all time Captain James Tibrius Kirk (Character) played by William Shatner (Actor).

Mar. 31 2014 04:05 PM
korgy from brooklyn, ny

i would have recommended Joel Fleischman (Rob Morrow) from Northern Exposure -- one of the best TV shows of all time, imo. his frustrating venture as a "big city" transplant to the middle of nowhere in Alaska -- only to find (after many years) that this "nowhere" had almost everything he always needed all along -- is timeless. and he becomes human in the process.

Mar. 31 2014 04:05 PM
Matthew Wolff from Nyc

In such an American centric competition, is there room from elsewhere in the world for one of the most beloved characters of all time? From one of the longest running television shows of all time? I'm speaking, of course, about The Doctor.

Mar. 31 2014 04:01 PM
Dan Jatovsky from Bogota, NJ

Why are you so anthropocentric? Best male character? Best female character?

What about best non-human character???? Think about it:

Flipper vs Lassie
Mr. Ed. vs. Mr. Peabody
Kermit the Frog vs Alf
Mork from Ork vs Dick Solomon

Mar. 31 2014 04:00 PM
Dave K from The City

Hawkeye Pierce from M*A*S*H.

Mar. 31 2014 03:58 PM
Wittol from North Carolina

How about Kaylee Frye from Firefly as a Wildcard? Strong, loyal, mechanic :)

Mar. 31 2014 03:56 PM
michele anna jordan

It's astonishing that The Fugitive's Richard Kimble, played by the great David Janssen, is not here. It is equally surprising that no one from the stellar cast of Six Feet Under made it. You could put the names of the core cast in a hat, draw one out and he or she would be better than almost everyone listed here (Don Draper, Tony Soprano and Omar Little are exceptions). Overall, this seems an exercise in superficiality.

Mar. 31 2014 03:55 PM
April from Louisville, KY

Wildcard - Walter White! Walter White! Walter White!!!!!

Mar. 31 2014 03:50 PM
Johnny from Saint Paul

Nucky Thompson. The man is a puzzle. He has so much wisdom and savvy, and he's from a time that what you said actually meant something!

Mar. 31 2014 03:46 PM
Trish Van Pilsum from Minneapolis

How about Monk as a wild card contender?
Or Hawkeye or Radar from Mash?

Mar. 31 2014 03:45 PM
Michael Beaucontichello from Salt Lake City, Utah

If any person on television on strong independant women other than Mary Tyler Moore, would be several not mentioned. Diane Carroll(first black leading woman on a TV show. Bea Arthur of Maude.Julia Sugarbaker portrayed by Dixie Carter is a hot runner up and Calista Flockhart's, Alley McBeal. But far most the number one winner should be Murphy Brown! She was the first woman not afraid to speak her mind that acted like a man in pants who would call out on questions those who would NEVER dare ask that everyone in America was thinking on people she would interview on Highly untouchable controversial issues.. Being so powerful, she managed to out rage V.P Dan Quayle! There is no contest! Murphy Brown is the number one women that should be on the top of that list right next to Mary!

Mar. 31 2014 03:32 PM
Mommyface from Jersey City

Why do people like Archie Bunker? One of the most annoying people in the world. WHERE IN THE WORLD IS TYRION LANNISTER?? What is going on????

Mar. 31 2014 03:27 PM
Kevin from Ho ho kus nj

My pick for TVs best character ever is Denny Crane , William Shatners character in Boston Legal. How could you forget him.

Mar. 31 2014 03:26 PM
Drew from NY

Data beats Don? Travesty! Where's the depth, where's the humanity? Where's the style and the seduction? How did we reduce ourselves to 1's & 0's and terrible pancake makeup? And a monotonous bichromatic outfit?

Mar. 31 2014 03:22 PM
2muchtube from Michigan

Rowdy Yates?
Radar O'Reilly?!!!!!
Matt Dillon?
Georgette Baxter (wife of Ted)
Swearengen (from Deadwood)!
Diane Chambers!!!! (from Cheers)
Frasier and Niles Crane?
Lilith Crane!!!!
Cast of Carol Burnett
J.R. Ewing
Oh, and Homer, of course

Mar. 31 2014 03:21 PM

Spike, from Buffy...come on, he went from total badass to loyal aide-de-camp (and I do mean camp)

Mar. 31 2014 03:14 PM
randy neely

Stuart Margolis (Angel) on The Rockford Files.

Mar. 31 2014 03:09 PM
Cbird from Somerville, MA

How did you people pick Agent Dale Cooper over Omar Little, a character so amazing that the Wire basically re-wrote the entire show to keep him around? Dorks.

People's passion about TV characters is kind of sweet, though.

Mar. 31 2014 03:05 PM
Tom Sullivan from Minneapolis

Homer Simpson!

Mar. 31 2014 03:01 PM

Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds- Firefly. An incredible show with a full cast of amazing characters, and he is the best!

Mar. 31 2014 02:55 PM
Tom Nelson

Jim Rockford from The Rockford Files is one of the best characters of all time.

Mar. 31 2014 02:52 PM
vicki marlowe from St. Paul, MN

I suppose it may be my age, but I didn't recognize very many of them. My all time choices would be Edith & Archie Bunker. But, I do like Lucy and Tony Soprano.

Mar. 31 2014 02:40 PM

Without looking at anyone else's comments, I came up with this list of overlooked characters in the span of 2 or 3 minutes: Louie from Taxi, Hawkeye from MASH, Frasier from Frasier, Perry Mason, Maxwell Smart from Get Smart, J.R. from Dallas, and Andy Griffith from the show of the same name. I have to admit, I don't even know of at least one-fourth of the characters you listed.

Mar. 31 2014 02:34 PM
Michael G from Tampa, Florida

I think Alan Shore from Boston Legal played by actor James Spader should be on the list. There could have been other actors who could have tried to play that role, but nobody accept James Spader with his history of being one of the Brat pack could have made it more perfect. At a time during the Bush administration with the war in Iraq going on, he was a hero to all of us who were being discouraged to speak out and say anything for fear of loosing our jobs or other means of retaliation. He made an argument and gave voice to every disenfranchised population who could not speak for themselves at that time.

Mar. 31 2014 02:29 PM
JR from Santa Barbara, CA

My favorite eight characters are:
1)Dr. Richard Kimble
2)Shawn Spencer
3)James Rockford
4)Captain James T. Kirk
5)Michael Westen
6)Ralph Kramden
7)Adrian Monk
8)Jack Tripper

Mar. 31 2014 02:28 PM
Veronica Longo from Billings, MT

I agree with today's caller. Sgt. Bilko was an all time great character! What about Marshall Matt Dillon? Lucy Ricardo rises above all the other females. Heck, She is STILL with us! Archie Bunker was a... jerk... !

Mar. 31 2014 01:37 PM

This bracket is fun, but by the looks of the other comments, there are HUNDREDS of characters out there worthy of another competition sometime in the future. I especially like the comment that NEXT time, you might organize the character competition in terms of decades so that the winners of the 1940's and 1950's TV shows might face the winners of other decades of TV shows in a sweet sixteen final bracket.

When you do this (and I hope you do), save these comments to get an exhaustive list of those who were overlooked this time around - like Nathan Fillion's character of Malcolm Reynolds in the series Firefly.
Thanks for the fun.

Mar. 31 2014 01:30 PM
katie from Austin

Jack McCoy all the way!

Mar. 31 2014 01:27 PM
Jerry Ann Fenter from Appleton, WA

Michael Landon from Little House on the Prairie would be the most influential for me. I can always ask what would "Pa" do in a difficult situation.

Mar. 31 2014 01:16 PM
Russell from Florida

This list is awful. You need a field of 64 just to start making up for people you missed. Outside of Tony Soprano, I don't think you have one other person I feel belongs in the top 100.

Mar. 31 2014 01:01 PM
Fran from Orleans Ma

What about Mal, or Jayne or Zoey from Firefly, totally underrated show!!!

Mar. 31 2014 01:00 PM
Nancy from Port Orange, FL

Wildcard entries: Barney Fife or Ed Norton...your choice!

Mar. 31 2014 01:00 PM
Raj Daniels from Dallas

Homer Simpson is by far the best male character on TV

Mar. 31 2014 12:59 PM
Anne Newkirk Niven from Forest Grove, Oregon

Hawkeye Pierce for the win. (And I'm a huge Data/DoctorWho/Captains Kirk and Picard fan.)

Next year, do the brackets by either genre or decade, or both. Some of these matchups are truly .... weird.

Mar. 31 2014 12:59 PM
judi roche from walton or

I vote for edina of abfab!!

Mar. 31 2014 12:59 PM


Mar. 31 2014 12:58 PM
Juanita Blackshear from St. Louis, MO

Lt. Uhura. She was proof that Black people, esp. Black women, would be there to travel into outer space. She was my (s)hero, to this Black girl. And she had a 'Blue Tooth' way before it became popular.

Mar. 31 2014 12:56 PM
marc roche from walton or

I vote for Cartman!!

Mar. 31 2014 12:51 PM
Backus Peel from Pacific University, Forest Grove Oregon

I voted for Data because, Having Asperger's Syndrome myself, he has a lot of the same difficulties fitting into society as I do.

Mar. 31 2014 12:36 PM
Marlene from Portland

Data is all very well, but he doesn't beat the original (reaaaallly original) character with a non-human perspective - where the heck is Spock???

Mar. 31 2014 12:32 PM
Shaun Lowcock from Portland, OR

Where's Walter White?

Mar. 31 2014 12:26 PM
sally newell

I voted for Mary today, but overall? Girls, boys, androids? It's Lucy, baby, Lucy all the way.

Mar. 31 2014 12:22 PM
Jim from on the road

AAAAYY... Where's Fonzie? Come on! What better ambassador for peaceful resistance is there?

Mar. 31 2014 12:22 PM
Ann from Texas

The Takeaway has enough material in the comments here to create endless brackets to come and maybe someday a final shakedown. Play on!

Mar. 31 2014 12:10 PM
Claire from Quincy MA

Damien Lewis' portrayal of character Sgt. Brodie of "Homeland" is utterly compelling and unforgettable: damaged, sympathetic, repellent. Totally kept us guessing what will he do next? The final season was just annoying until he was brought back to the story line. History will be generous to him.

Mar. 31 2014 12:04 PM

How do you leave Homer J. Simpson off this list? He is the lead character on the longest running sitcom of all time, ubiquitously identifiable, and the archetype for the American-male stereotype. There is no contest. Homer Simpson is the greatest character on TV.

Mar. 31 2014 11:50 AM
Dan from North Country NY

The Doctor, hands down! Let's ignore that he's been on TV since 1963 (Actually aired the day of JFK's assassination), and he's the only character in existence that can literally rewrite himself to keep up with the times, is immortal, and is for all intents and purposes a god (although he'd deny it), he pilots the most powerful starship in the universe!

Mar. 31 2014 10:07 AM
Nathan from Hoboken, NJ

Lucille Ball is not funny. I love Lucy is not funny. It is the same joke over and over and over again, with bad acting and even worse plots. I have always been gobsmacked that she is held is such high regard. Yeah, I get it, female trailblazer in media/tv/etc... but she is NOT funny.

Mar. 30 2014 07:05 PM
John M from Dallas

I would just add the nameless secret agent from "The Prisoner", Number 6, to the list of missing TV characters. The series had a short run but exemplified what it was like to be a person and not a number.

Mar. 30 2014 03:00 PM

I'm amazed how many people can't just enjoy this wonderful game and vote for who is here instead of moaning that their favorites are not. It's kind of sad to realize how many listeners have no sense of humor or ability to just go with the flow. What about some of the lessons you learned as kids? Be a good sport, have fun, play the game without whining, or take your toys and go home. Lighten up for Pete's sake!

Mar. 29 2014 03:28 PM
Pearl Bodine from Mattapoisett MA

Maybe I'm just into Granny's spring tonic again but here are three characters I'd like to have over for supper:
Granny fom the Beverly Hillbillies,
Barney Fife from the Andy Griffith Show,
and Festus Hagen from Gunsmoke.
Bring a jug!

Mar. 29 2014 12:32 PM
Judy from Kirkwood, MO

Every single celebrity mentioned that is missing from the vote SHOULD be there. I imagine they just didn't want a contest that lasted forever. and it is comparing apples to oranges. I agree that Hawkeye is so amazing and put him up against Omar Little and I might feel a true conundrum...but I really, really, REALLY think no one compares to ANY character in THE WIRE. McNulty? Bodie? It is endless....

Mar. 28 2014 08:29 PM
Tansy from Portland Oregon

I LOVE Omar!

Mar. 28 2014 06:31 PM
Ashley S from New Jersey

I had the biggest smile on my face when I heard that unmistakable Twin Peaks groove and Dale Cooper's voice.


Mar. 28 2014 04:08 PM
Derac from Chicago

Fawlty Towers ?? WTF is Fawlty Towers ? A 70s show on BBC ? That wouldn't even be a valid nomination for just the 70s let alone all-time. Here's a suggestion, stop being so 'cool' and go for the big time TV icons. There must be 100 women ahead of Sybil Fawlty. Geez, there's three women on Mad Men alone. You should consider you're being punked with Data. Someone's gaming you contest.

Mar. 28 2014 04:02 PM
Tom from Brooklyn NY

Sadly not as many people saw the truly terrible Sybil Fawlty as saw Lucy. If they had, Sybil would win by a landslide. A comic masterpiece of great writing paired with superb acting that still makes me laugh every time I watch. They made just 12 perfect episodes rather than hundreds of Lucy shouting her head off. Viva Sybil !

Mar. 28 2014 03:32 PM
Ben from Portland OR

I totally agree with the person you gave voice to today that how can this possibly be a truly credible competition when Hawkeye Pierce is not included?

As there are also other equally viable omitted candidates as we your appreciative & passionate audience promoted, while the recently added "Wild Card" has merit, it is good but not enough to sate our genuine & legitimate appetite to participate.

Hence, I suggest you parse through the suggestions so far from us of characters you've omitted to create a parallel listener's universe bracket we all can vote on as well, with a final smackdown between the top winners of the two brackets.

Mar. 28 2014 03:31 PM

This is really screwed up. It covers too long a time span. So, OK, here's what you do.

Start all over! Have a bracket for each decade starting with the 50s. That makes 7 brackets.

Allow for ensemble casts, as in Ralph, Ed, Alice and Trixie in the Honeymooners.

Take the top two from each bracket plus the top two remaining vote getters and make a bracket of 16. Then start the final round.

My suggestions for some of these brackets:

George Smiley
Hawkeye Pierce
Ralph Kramden and the Honeymooners cast
Johnnie Carson (can't believe no one mentioned him)
Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca and Howard Morris
Carol Burnett, Tim Conway and Harvey Korman
(and to show I'm not stuck in the 50s-60s)
Jed Bartlett
Don Draper
Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey in House of Cards) and Ian Richardson in the British version, To Kill a King

Mar. 28 2014 03:28 PM
Elle from Centerport, NY

Where is Captain Kirk?

Mar. 28 2014 03:27 PM

Lucy is without equal and the Omar character and other on the Wire were amazing. Must admit I am surprised that both Hawkeye and Frank were left off your list.

Mar. 28 2014 03:02 PM
Richard Hodge from WFPL

Am I right? Hawkeye is not in this. What is the point? Just silly.

Mar. 28 2014 02:56 PM
Judy from Lexington, Massachusetts

I don't know if talkshow or latenight personalities tare included,
if so, where is JOHNNY CARSON?

Mar. 28 2014 02:20 PM
Lily from mn

Where would tvbe without the legacy of Sue Ann Nivens?

Mar. 28 2014 01:48 PM
Katie from Dallas, TX

What's the point in comparing apples, to oranges, to plums, etc? You've succeeded in point out some characters we might have lost in the recesses of our brains but a competition wasn't necessary.

Mar. 28 2014 01:47 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

"T.V. Smackdown" on "The Takeaway," might be the biggest story ever covered by NPR. Can the Producers of the show handle the pressure?

Mar. 28 2014 01:21 PM
David from Portlandia

This survey is flawed. I was forced to vote in both match-ups, one of which I knew nothing about. Longevity should count for something. This should be between Lucy and Hawkeye, with maybe Jackie Gleason and Archie Bunker in the semis. Yes, I'm an aging boomer without cable.

Mar. 28 2014 01:06 PM
Craig from Texas

I don't see how Michael Scott (Steve Carell) of The Office didn't make the bracket! No sitcom character has ever displayed as much versatility and variety as Michael; from his hilariously awkward moments of ignorance, to his genuine soft, compassionate moments, he made that show!

Also... I figured Walt would make the list before Saul would, if we're choosing anybody from Breaking Bad here.

Mar. 28 2014 01:04 PM

Lucy Ricardo was great; so was the Ford Model T. I think she will come out ahead, but I vote for Sybil Fawlty; this audience isn't equipped to make this decision, given the American bias.

Mar. 28 2014 01:02 PM
Christopher Klein from Cottage Grove, OR

Although I agree with everything you said about Lucy, I think that the greatest character of all time is without a doubt Hawkeye from M*A*S*H. His humor was intelligent. His way of coping with the horrible backdrop of war was emotionally moving. He used humor to keep from going insane. No ther show has ever been able to make me laugh and cry both as a teenager when I first watched it to now at 52 years old.

Because I didn't hear every episode of your show I didn't notice if anyone from The West Wing made it, but I think they're the best full cast ensemble of all time!

Mar. 28 2014 01:01 PM
Margaret Siegel from St. Louis

Omar is amazing. One of the most brilliantly written characters I've ever seen. I hope his inclusion in this list will give people the incentive to watch all five seasons of this powerful show. Someone described it as "Baltimore as the cosmos." Thanks for nominating him.

Mar. 28 2014 12:48 PM
MattS from Corvallis, OR

I'm a bit disappointed that Edward James Olmos' Admiral Adama from Battle Star Galactica didn't make an appearance on the bracket.

Mar. 28 2014 12:40 PM

I meant to say they were compiled into two character who were really one inseparable ego and alterego in conflict with itself.

Mar. 28 2014 12:38 PM

AllaN Shore and Denny Crane were by far the best characters from any television show. They are Hamlet, Henry, Lear, and Falstaff all compiled into two characters.

Mar. 28 2014 12:29 PM
robert from salem, or

Tony Soprano is one of the all-time unforgettable tv characters.

Mar. 28 2014 12:24 PM
Sharon Royle from Vancouver, WA

What about Claire Underwood from House of Cards. She is sooooo evil and conniving and yet look and act like an elegant, caring Second Lady.

Mar. 28 2014 12:21 PM
a.j. moses from eugene, oregon

XENA: the Warrior Princess! everyone loves Xena

Mar. 28 2014 12:21 PM
TLS from Michigan

what about Columbo (Peter Falk)?

Mar. 28 2014 12:20 PM

Why no George Frankly and Kate Monday from Mathnet? Kidding... But, really: Joel Flieschman of Northern Exposure.

Mar. 28 2014 10:28 AM
Connie Ryan from Maim

Dr. Hawkeye Pierce from MASH has to be included, with humor he posed the questions of human fragility, war and peace. He must be included

Mar. 28 2014 10:16 AM
neil geminder from Indian Lake, NY

Has anyone come up with a more iconic character than Ralph Kramden? The Honeymooners was not only extremely well written but Gleason's off the script additional dialogue was brilliant and timely.

Mar. 28 2014 10:05 AM
Carl Rosengren

Sargent Joe Friday...just the facts mam.

Mar. 28 2014 09:17 AM

What about Andy Griffith Show-- No TV character had more "character", which forever cast him in American eyes -both positive and negative for his future career- than Barney Fife. Of course no one better represented the perfect self sacrificing, wise, cunning leader than Sheriff Andy Taylor. My personal favorite for least appearances but most memorable in TV ever is Earnest T Bass. His hillbilly character touched my heart being from rural Ohio. I know several Earnest T Bass personalities in real life.

Mar. 28 2014 08:45 AM
Clancy from New York

What about Perry Mason? He was all we could have hoped for in the early 60's: intelligent, brave, stoic...a man's man!

Mar. 28 2014 06:25 AM
Leah from St. Louis

Boy, Columbo sure had it all over Archie Bunker... Too bad.

But you're still missing the one and only, ever-classy Barney Miller.

Mar. 27 2014 10:15 PM

The Seinfeld character that needed to be here is Kramer, not Elaine. Your (The Takeaway's) own arguments in favor of Elaine help prove that.

You refer to Elaine's use of "unbridled enthusiasm." That came from Kramer. It was his review of a manuscript that Elaine was reluctantly quoting. Much to her surprise, the editor/publisher she was talking to liked Kramer's ideas.

Similarly, you refer to Elaine using "yada, yada, yada." That also didn't originate with her in the show, it came from George Costanza's girlfriend yada-yada-ing over shoplifting, it turned out, and, it seemed, over sex.

Admittedly, Elaine used the phrase to good effect when she described yada-yada-ing over the sex but mentioning the lobster bisque soup she had on a date.

It should be Kramer vs. the Dowager Countess in the TV Smackdown finals.

From the candidates above, I'll take Archie Bunker vs. the Dowager Countess. They also have some things in common, like clinging to the past order and resisting the future.

My pick is for the Dowager Countess, and Maggie Smith, to win.

Mar. 27 2014 09:56 PM
Barbara from Great Barrington

Why did you not include Jackie Gleason's Ralph Kramden in "The Honeymooners"?? He and Archie Bunker are my all-time favorites!

Mar. 27 2014 09:38 PM

DCI Jane Tennison(played by Helen Mirren on Prime Suspect) makes Olivia Pope's character look positively 2D! Jane was the archetypal "complicated woman" character. She wasn't "nice", she was divorced, alcoholic, and slept with the "wrong" men, and was damn good at her job. The depiction of how she, not always gracefully, dealt with the discrimination she faced on the job AND the fact that hers was one of the few characters on TV allowed to have an abortion that didn't destroy her and wasn't over-dramatized -- in the mid-90s, no less -- makes her my favorite female character of all time.

And to echo many of the others, where's Hawkeye?! When I was a kid I assumed all "old" TV was naive and unfunny until my dad made me watch reruns of M.A.S.H., and totally flipped my script (thanks, Dad!). That mix of morbid "you have to laugh to keep from crying" humor that thinly veiled his obvious distress over his situation and the absurdity of war, was just so great, and was truly "edgy".

Mar. 27 2014 03:57 PM
Marc from Bayonne

I would cast a vote for Donna Noble (played by Catherine Tate) of Doctor Who. More so than any companion who has ever traveled with the Doctor, Donna Noble embodies all the best of humanity. From her initial appearance where she shouts at the world through her travels she grows in compassion and understanding, even as she struggles with her inner self worth. Funny and Brash at times, who could not help but cry with her when she succumbs to the fear that in the grand scheme of things she doesn't matter, but often rises to the occasion in ways big and small.

If what makes a character great is their ability to inspire, then she definitely belongs on this list.

Mar. 27 2014 03:50 PM
Gary from portland from Portland, OR

So many little time! Got to get back to my DVRs...yes we have more than 1!!

Mar. 27 2014 03:46 PM
Ray from NY


Mar. 27 2014 03:36 PM
Paul Janes-Brown from Maui

Who can beat Lucy? Veeta vita vegamin, the chocolate conveyor belt, her antics are iconic and classic. No one can challenge her.

Mar. 27 2014 03:35 PM
TheColonel47 from Saint Paul, Minnesota

Where is Andy Sipowicz from "NYPD Blue?" Certainly he is a memorable character. Or even Spock from the original Star Trek. (I still can't believe Daenarys lost.) Certainly a couple of the strongest characters on TV today is Ragnar Lothbrok and his estranged wife, Lagetha on History Channel's Vikings.

Mar. 27 2014 03:04 PM
Steve Zielonko from Hinsdale NH

My votes for Walter White. Breaking Bad was probably the best thing on tv since the smurfs. How come Popa Smurf never made the cut as well? I blame the vast right wing conspiracy. Just like elections the best people are never on the ticket.

Mar. 27 2014 02:13 PM
eileen kerry from Tigard, Oregon

OMG, as a former TV Guide editor and Boomer, I am devastated at the narrow field of candidates that demonstrates
your staff's limited exposure to the greater performances captured on 20th Century TV. The story here should not be Take Away's tournament, but the public reaction to same.

Here's my reaction:

Male TV Character Supremo—OK, you are getting this right, hats off and hearts to James Gandolfini and David Chase's Tony Soprano. Because of the writing, and even more, because of the incredibly sensitive, layered performance Gandolfini gave. Troubled, conflicted as a family member and leader, deeply loving, struggling with his identity to the end . . . making us see America through his eyes.

Female TV Character Suprema—Edith Bunker. The late, great Jean Stapleton put more humanity into a few lines than many TV characters get across in an entire season. A "good wife" of her time, but with curiosity, spunk and huge love for the world around her. Edith remains the most memorable, heart-tugging female TV character.

Mar. 27 2014 01:07 PM
Kay Merkel Boruff from Dallas

S.M.A.S.H. & Hawkeye = A+

Mar. 27 2014 12:59 PM

Wow. If you haven't heard of these characters but want Gilligan (no offense, Tom of Portland) turn off Nick at Nite. You're watching the wrong thing. Despite all the nostalgia of old and the abundance of garbage on tv today (CW, I'm looking at you) there has never been a better time for really high quality writing and production than what's on tv in the past ten years. That said, where's Eward James Olmos' Commander Adama from Battlestar Galactica (the good one, not the original).

Mar. 27 2014 12:57 PM
Scott from Fort Worth, TX

No Hawkeye Pierce? Mr. Spock? The Doctor? Kermit the Frog?

Mar. 27 2014 12:53 PM
Tom from Portland

Who came up with this list? I've never heard of some of these characters? Where is Gilligan? Tatoo? Mr. Ed? J.R.? Jeanie? Herman Munster? Thing? Homer?

I watch waaaaay too much TV and I've never heard of Omar Little, Olivia Pope, whoeverthehell Targayen, Sybil Fawlty, Agent Dale Cooper or Lt. Com Data.

Not exactly TV Icons!

Mar. 27 2014 12:41 PM
April from Louisville, KY

How did Walter White not make the list? He IS the best character on television hands down. He was a good guy gone bad, but somehow still had us rooting for him. His transformation from good to bad was epic, and sympathetic. How could Saul make the list and not Walter???

Mar. 27 2014 12:29 PM
Angela from massachusetts

Fox Mulder and Dana Scully

Mar. 27 2014 12:07 PM

Are you kidding me? No Buffy Summers? No Veronica Mars?

Mar. 27 2014 10:35 AM
noteighty from Portland, Or

Are you kidding me? No Buffy Summers, no Veronica Mars?

Mar. 27 2014 10:31 AM
Paul McCarthy from Rochdale, MA

Some part of me can understand leaving out Sam Malone and Rob Petri, but Sheriff Andy Taylor?

Mar. 27 2014 10:01 AM
Bill. Buck from Goldens Bridge

No Hawkeye, no Dr. Huxtable? You've missed some REALLY big ones.

Mar. 27 2014 09:40 AM
James from New York City

Any contest without Frank Pembleton from Homicide is not worth playing.

Mar. 27 2014 09:37 AM

Flipper,,where,s Flipper? What other character can walk backwards on their tail???

Mar. 26 2014 11:09 PM
Tim from SC

You forgetting the worlds longest running character . "Compo" Simmonite from the worlds' longest running sit-com "Last of the Summer Wine" .

Mar. 26 2014 08:39 PM
John Ulstrom from Desdemona, TX

I'd bet 90% of the boys named Matt by their Boomer parents were named for Matt Dillon. Mine was.
How can you leave out a favorite with more than twenty years on TV?

Mar. 26 2014 08:35 PM

You Might as well ask me to cut off my right arm as to have to choose between Archie Bunker and Columbo. I just can't do it.

Mar. 26 2014 08:19 PM

How can this even be a valid bracket without the inclusion of Hawkeye Pierce from M*A*S*H? Alan Alda's character is one of the best male acting performances in Television history.

Mar. 26 2014 07:11 PM
Meg Hambach from Akron, OH

Woah! Where's Walter White?! Saul Goodman was awesome, but Walter White has to be one of the most complex television characters of all time!

Mar. 26 2014 05:38 PM
John Grigsby

You should have included Mr. Hainey and the County Agent from Green Acres.

Mar. 26 2014 04:41 PM
Lord Z from Texas

And why not Ralph,on Green Acres?

Mar. 26 2014 04:18 PM
Jason H from Redding,CT

Actually, the character I loved was Columbo's putative 'wife.'

Mar. 26 2014 03:42 PM
art525 from Park Slope

I guess you think this is cool. You'd be wrong. What a wank. And to think you could actually use the air time to talk about something worthwhile.

Mar. 26 2014 03:39 PM
Niels Koizumi from Broolkyn

I don't understand who chose the original candidates and who is voting. One way or another, the final and clearly most seminal four should end up as 1) Archie Bunker; 2) Tony Soprano; 3) Ralph Kramden & 4) Walter White OR Lucy Ricardo. Anything else is just ignoring history & brute ratings.

Mar. 26 2014 03:28 PM
Larry Fisher from Backin Brooklyn, N.Y.

I'm expecting odds in Vegas any day now on "The Takeaway's Smackdown."

Mar. 26 2014 03:11 PM

I agree with Liz Pence. . The omission of Spock is a travesty. A showdown between Spock and Archie B. would rival any final four game in the NCAA!

Mar. 26 2014 02:54 PM
Billy Rauers from savannah, GA

I was in high school when All in the Family ran. I loved the show and soon realized that Archie Bunker said things 1)that had not been said on TV before and 2)Humorously portrayed ignorance. Ultimately, that's what made him such a great character. The show was ground breaking and I don't think there has been anything quite like it since.

Mar. 26 2014 02:47 PM
Liz Pence from Northfield, MN

How could you not have Dr. Spock from Star Trek on there?

Mar. 26 2014 02:45 PM
marshall from dodge city,kansas

Matt Dillon best TV character ever no contest.

Mar. 26 2014 02:18 PM
Fred from Hot Springs, AR

Greatest TV character was Ernie Kovacs of early 1960's. Not only a performer, but his comedic innovations in the pioneering days of non-CGI TV broadcasting still stand the test of time. If only he'd not died in a Corvair automobile crash in his barely '40s age, who knows what he'd have brought forth? Check him out.

Mar. 26 2014 02:13 PM
Kathie M.

Great Idea! But how could you not include Mickey Mouse.

Mar. 26 2014 01:58 PM
Iona from Conway, AR

Why is Doctor Who not in the running? 50 yrs... I love Columbo, but it's the Doctor all the way!!!

Mar. 26 2014 01:42 PM

I’m a little disappointed with the minority representation on the list Olivia Pope is an amazing character but so was Heathcliff Huxtable. The stamp on the American family is undeniable.

Mar. 26 2014 01:35 PM
Nicole from Omaha

I'm giving my shout for the Doctor! (Who, like Colombo, could give us 50 years? The Doctor!)

But I'll jump on for Buffy and Mal Reynolds any day too.

Mar. 26 2014 01:27 PM
Jerry from Arlington Tx

I can't believe you haven't included Jackie Gleason from the honeymooners. My teenage grandchildren today still love Jackie and the Honeymooners reruns - just as much as I did 55 years ago.

Mar. 26 2014 01:00 PM
James Manning

Archie Bunker was that extreme character that epitomized the worst of American bigotry but the comedy of it allowed us to see the worst in ourselves as if in a mirror but to keep coming back for seconds. His "out there" comments allowed more conversations about our hidden bias than any other character in history, not just on television. Carroll O'Connor's transition into "The Heat of the Night" was a natural to balance his Archie character, with a biracial marriage and acquiesce to a black boss he cut through racial strife his entire career. He was a historic individual at an unparalleled time in American History.

Mar. 26 2014 12:54 PM
Heather from Arlington, TX

Where's Hawkeye Pierce? Samantha Stevens? Jeannie? Cliff Huxtable? Arthur Fonzarelli? Dr. House? Niles or Frasier Crane? Uber-mom Donna Stone? Any Golden Girl...???

Mar. 26 2014 12:49 PM
AJ from the lovely Greater Boston Area

I watched All in the Family as a young, idealistic (and rather literal) child, and I hated, hated, hated Archie Bunker. He was everything that was wrong in the world! Racist, sexist, you name it. Fast forward maybe 15 years, and I catch the show in syndication... and *then* I notice the look in Archie's eyes or the expression on his face when he's confronted with challenges to his world view. I just needed to grow up to get it. Archie is a very real character, brilliantly played by Carol O'Connor, and he definitely gets my vote!

Mar. 26 2014 12:47 PM
Lisa from Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Archie Bunker is by far the FUNNIEST, most ridiculous character ever on tv! Oh, and ah, get me a beer, huh!

Mar. 26 2014 12:43 PM
ruth smith from denver

Your wasting our time. The clear winner is Homer Simpson.

Mar. 26 2014 12:40 PM
Dave from Adirondack Mountains

"Like wow man!" Let's not forget about Maynard G. Krebs & Soupy Sales.
So many greats, my list would be a mile long!

Mar. 26 2014 10:09 AM

Archie Bunker made America take a good hard look at itself and, I think, changed us in a good way. He is historical not just entertaining. Thus the best ever! IMHO

Mar. 26 2014 10:01 AM
Meredith from Milford CT

Archie Bunker definitely wins. My runners-up: Dexter, Dr. House, Lucy Ricardo, Kermit the Frog.

Mar. 26 2014 09:51 AM

Is it even possible that Hawkeye Pierce wasn't considered? I'm so appalled I can't possibly vote. He's the only 3 dimensional character TV ever created. He was real and Alan Alda played him to perfection.

Mar. 26 2014 09:47 AM
Jason from Worcester, MA

Archie Bunker....hands down

Mar. 25 2014 10:01 PM
Lynn from Oakland CA


Mar. 25 2014 07:16 PM
Michael Wilson from Portland OR

I can't believe you missed perhaps the most universal, everyman, salt of the earth character in TV history - Homer J. Simpson. He's been everywhere, done everything, met rock stars, presidents, gone into space, invented the Flaming Moe. What does a animation need to do to get in the bracket?

Mar. 25 2014 06:02 PM
John T from San Francisco

The all-time best (plus qualities): (1) Bugs Bunny (resourcefulness), (2) Emma Peel (beauty & strength), (3) Spock (circumspection), (4) Columbo (humility).

Mar. 25 2014 05:50 PM
Bernie Molitor from St. Paul, MN

It has to be Hawkeye Pierce. Humor, wisdom, compassion, irreverence, truth and justice in a hero for any age.

Mar. 25 2014 04:34 PM
Mary Ann from Springfield, Oregon

Hands down, no doubt in my mind, the best character ever is Dr. Who. Each actor who has played the Doctor has brought something new to the character. We love the show so much, we named our RV "Our Tardis".

Mar. 25 2014 04:28 PM
gary from Oakland

My fav. Fireman Frank, a childrens show host in San Francisco, late 1950-early 60's. His puppet,
was in fact a carrot!

Mar. 25 2014 04:07 PM
zuzu from NYC

What the heck happened to PERRY MASON? His character was the basis for the Law and Order series and was the moral center of the world.

Mar. 25 2014 04:06 PM
Lynn Millar from Fleetwood, pa

Favorite tv character would be Kate Beckett from Castle. There haven't been many women who are so good at their jobs and regularly getting the men out of hot water. She is the best woman yet on TV. Not only that but she is beautiful and a great dresser.

Mar. 25 2014 03:36 PM
Alex from Brooklyn

Cool concept but whats up w this list? Data isn't even the most interesting character on Star Trek NG and agent Cooper but no Fox Mulder?!

Mar. 25 2014 03:31 PM
sebastian from San Francisco

I find this a poor comparison: younger viewers unfamiliar with Mary Tyler Moore's show will have a bias for Scandal, without realizing how much more groundbreaking MTM was. Scandal has not been around long enough to determine it's footprint on history or culture.

Mar. 25 2014 03:26 PM
Daniel H. from North Little Rock, AR

Come on! No Hawkeye Pierce? A model of wit and irreverence, the unhinged anti-hero of the 4077th? One of my earliest role models and clearly the finest TV creations of all time. It's a travesty he is not among your choices.

Mar. 25 2014 01:37 PM
Gene Fahey from Dennis, MA

Archie Bunker, Lucy Ricardo and Mary Richards not only changed TV, but to a certain extent changed society. The same cannot be said of Columbo, Sybil Fawlty, or Olivia Pope(?). Sid Caesar helped invent the medium. With the ever expanding number of lame talk shows, Johnny Carson is still the gold standard. You can't talk TV and not mention those last two names.

Mar. 25 2014 01:34 PM
Zack from Springfield

Man, I got to votes for Omar!

Mar. 25 2014 01:29 PM
Steve from Grays River, WA

There can be no doubt that Archie Bunker (and there might be a case to include Edith and call it "greatest couple") is the greatest character in TV history. And I would vote "All In The Family" easily the most innovative, influential as well as entertaining series of all time. There are many other great ones--Lucy, Ralph Kramden & the Honeymooners, Mary Richards come to mind--but none with the complexity, pith, and social importance of dear Archie. I remember when I first watched that show, thinking how brilliant TV could be; how relevant and revelatory. There just isn't any other character to match Carol O'Conner's Archie Bunker in terms of all-around importance to the medium.

Mar. 25 2014 12:43 PM
ML from Miami FL

I understand how Don Draper can lose out when Mad Men isn't a widely seen show. But I don't understand why Draper would be put up against a robotic character with a fanboy following. Draper has said something of relevance in each episode of that series. Data has never uttered a memorable quote throughout.

Mar. 25 2014 10:20 AM

I've watched a lot of programs over the past 60+ years, and I must say that this new one, Raylin Givins from "Justified" ranks right up there

Mar. 25 2014 09:36 AM
Paula Granucci from San Francisco

(I Love) Lucy wins best female tv character of all time for me.

Mar. 25 2014 01:28 AM

Perhaps there should have been a contemporary bracket, and an all-time bracket?

For me, my contemporary nominee would have been Sherlock.

My all-time? Samantha Stevens. Enchantingly charming and yet her cleverness was her real magical power.

Mar. 24 2014 09:17 PM
Kumbaya Catholic

What about Magnum, P.I.?

Mar. 24 2014 07:22 PM
Karen from Orlando

Barney Fife isn't on this list? That's crazy.

Mar. 24 2014 05:26 PM
Virginia Parrish

The misogynistic, wise-ass, dedicated cop Lennie Briscoe from Law and Order

Mar. 24 2014 04:17 PM
Stubby from Staten Island

Would have liked to have seen a bracket pitting John Kelly from NYPD Blue against Horatio Caine from CSI Miami.
That way, at least one David Caruso would be sure to lose.

Mar. 24 2014 04:11 PM
J-Mac from NJ

TV? My heart will forever belong to James Tiberius Kirk. He and Spock inspired hours of bad overacting in the neighborhood backyards... But my political gut tells me the award belongs to Archie Bunker. His character made America THINK, and presaged the shrinking embattled demographic white men currently find themselves in.

I agree with many here that too many other characters are missing from the list... Homer Simpson was a no brainer (literally), and I guess this is an American TV list... 'cause where are the many Doctor Whos?

Mar. 24 2014 04:10 PM
Robert Thomas from Santa Clara

In the modern era, no character is more purely admirable than

Hank Hill.

Mar. 24 2014 04:00 PM

Sherlock of course!

Mar. 24 2014 03:39 PM
RT from Santa Clara

Wally Cleaver was the most unflappable, most easy-going, most patient, least offensive, most honorable and most loyal older brother in the history of FICTION, let alone television.

Mar. 24 2014 03:36 PM
Kim from San Francisco

I'm split between the Dowager Countess (She's wise and oh-so-very strategic), and Sherlock Holmes (brilliant!).

Mar. 24 2014 03:34 PM

Shane Vendrell (Walton Goggins) from The Shield.

Mar. 24 2014 03:18 PM
derac from Chicago, IL

Given the structure of the TV 'universe' its really unfair to compare network TV to cable TV and/or 'premium' viewing TV [HBO, SHO, etc]. Cable can do things that network TV can't and HBO can do things that neither can do. Its not an even playing field. Also please have a separate category for nerd TV [StarTrek, Dr. Who, Zombies, vampires, etc]. There's no one in the history of that genre that could be considered a 'best' character. Data over Don Draper ? Really ? C'mon, in what universe ?

Mar. 24 2014 03:13 PM
Ben from MN

Captain James T. Kirk

Mar. 24 2014 03:12 PM
Joe from Minneapolis

If this happens again next march, perhaps you guys could divide the shows by decade into 'conferences' to multiply the madness even further!

Mar. 24 2014 03:06 PM
Darryl from MN

Barbara Eden, I dream of Jeannie.

Mar. 24 2014 03:02 PM
Robert Henry from Florida

My favorite TV character was Dr. Joel Fleischman, from the Northern Exposure series. Actually, all of the other characters on the show were equally good. I think Northern Exposure is the best TV series ever shown on commercial television.

Mar. 24 2014 02:41 PM
Justin from Salt Lake City

I was excited to look at this when I heard about it on the radio, but when I saw the field it was pretty disappointing. 64 entries would have allowed a much broader public appeal, in contrast to this inside-the-office group. BTW: Barney Fife and Louie De Palma!

Mar. 24 2014 02:37 PM
Matt from Vancouver, WA

I don't see how any list like this can exclude Ted Baxter from the Mary Tyler Moore Show. Ted Knight's portrayal of the arrogant, buffoonish and clueless anchorman was nothing short of brilliant. He was a character that you simultaneously loved and hated. Knight deftly balanced caricature and character and created what seemed at first to be a shallow, vain character who ended up being deeply human and almost child-like.

Mar. 24 2014 02:12 PM

Shane Vendrell (Walton Goggins) from The Shield.

Mar. 24 2014 01:50 PM
TEE from Spacecoast, Florida

Boyd Crowder from Justified...Straight business man

Mar. 24 2014 01:21 PM
J Michael from San Antonio, TX

Starbuck, Kara Thrace from Battlestar Galactica.
Strong and vulnerable, men and women fall in love with her.

Mar. 24 2014 01:06 PM
Joe huth from SDt. Louis

No one who has seen him will ever forget J.R. Ewing! He has never been topped!

Mar. 24 2014 01:04 PM
Edward Bryant from St. Charles, MO

Commander William Adama (Edward James Olmos)is the coolest character in television.

Mar. 24 2014 12:33 PM
Bryan from Dallas, TX

Omar Little, Heisenberg, and Nucky Thompson were my runner-ups. Clearly we live in a remarkable age of television

Mar. 24 2014 12:25 PM
Michael J. Tobias from rock hill, sc

Archie Bunker, hands down. We need him today more than ever before. Absolutely loveable, cantankerous, ignorant, and above all, hilarious.

Mar. 24 2014 10:22 AM
Adrienne from NYC

No character comes close to Tony Soprano, brought to life by the late great actor James Gandolfini. In terms of credibility, depth, breadth, and truth, Soprano by Gandolfini is unmatched. The others are cartoons and sketches in comparison.

Mar. 24 2014 09:31 AM
James from Long Island

Gotta say it: Eric Cartman from South Park.

Mar. 23 2014 09:19 PM
ron from flushing

the rockford files, jim rockford(james garner) rocky his father(noah berry),the detective(joe santos).a classic if there ever was one. plus the hot firebird possibly camaro.bring back this series.

Mar. 23 2014 07:58 PM
Alex Holland from Nebraska

This is a mainstream list, missing so many amazing characters on the edge. Of all those I've experienced over my decades, the one who has stayed with me the longest is Wayne Pygram's Scorpius in the scifi series Farscape (by Jim Henson Productions, 1998-2002). He gave Breaking Bad's Walter White a template, with Shakespearian colors and depth White only approached.

The complex nature of evil and the torture it can inflict even on its instigator is so fully realized in both the rich writing and Pygram's deeply realized and viscerally powerful character that Scorpi still gives me chills. He has captured my heart forever. Okay, half of it. Doctor Who gets the other half. Both of these non-human characters give credence to the power of myth in defining humanness.

Time to go drag out the old videotapes...

Mar. 22 2014 02:55 PM
Stewart from Nyc

Kramer! Nuf said

Mar. 22 2014 02:28 PM
Heather from Dallas

They should have gone with a full 64 characters. Need The Fonz, JR Ewing, Granny from The Beverly Hillbillies.

I agree with an earlier post that Kramer from Seinfeld should be included.

Finally, I vote for The Mother from How I Met Your Mother. After all, someone whose name is still a mystery has fan's attention after 9 seasons.

Mar. 21 2014 11:10 PM

How could Perry Mason be left off the brackets? Sebastian or Rumpole? Don Draper cannot hold a candle to Mr. Darcy!

Mar. 21 2014 08:09 PM
Fred Balzac from Jay, NY

If John Hockenberry is indeed the oldest person working on "The Takeaway," as he said on-air today, it may explain why this list of TV stars is skewed so much to more recent shows. As a Boomer who has not watched network series regularly since the final, disappointing episode of "Seinfeld," I hardly recognize many of these names. Plus, many greats from earlier TV eras are conspicuously absent, including perhaps the greatest TV actor from the greatest show ever--David Janssen of "The Fugitive," which is to TV what "Crime and Punishment" and "Huckleberry Finn" (as picaresque story) are to literature. Where is Dr. Richard Kimble among your bracketed faceoffs?--on the lam as usual, I guess!

Mar. 21 2014 07:40 PM
Steve from the burbs from Yorktown Hgts NY

Grew up in front of the tube but virtually never watch now.
I vote for the decade brackets.

Mar. 21 2014 05:34 PM
Austin from Gainesville, Florida

I would have liked to have seen Abed from Community. His charm and akwardness make him very relate-able.

I also think you should have done 32 characters, and take 4 characters from each of the last 7 decades of television (starting with the fifties) and the extra four spots would be sort of a wild card entries.

I hope Daenerys ends up winning.

Mar. 21 2014 04:59 PM

OK, here's what you do.

Start all over! Have a bracket for each decade starting with the 50s. That makes 7 brackets.

Allow for ensemble casts, as in Ralph, Ed, Alice and Trixie in the Honeymooners.

Take the top two from each bracket plus the top two remaining vote getters and make a bracket of 16. Then start the final round.

My suggestions for some of these brackets:

George Smiley
Hawkeye Pierce
Ralph Kramden and the Honeymooners cast
Johnnie Carson (can't believe no one mentioned him)
Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca and Howard Morris
Carol Burnett, Tim Conway and Harvey Korman
(and to show I'm not stuck in the 50s-60s)
Jed Bartlett
Don Draper
Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey in House of Cards) and Ian Richardson in the British version, To Kill a King

Mar. 21 2014 04:17 PM

This is bogus in its conception. It should be the best TV character who was on television last year. March Madness is not about the best college basketball team of all time - but the best college basketball team THIS YEAR. The reason there is so much flack is because your premise is flawed. How you came up with the ridiculously flawed group is beyond me. I abstain.

Mar. 21 2014 04:00 PM
M Philips

Gotta second the Emma Peel vote. Right, boomers? The youngsters just don't know.

Mar. 21 2014 03:58 PM
DeBorah in the People's Republic of Brooklyn from Brooklyn

Here in the PRB, Data definitely gets my vote. As a person often considered "other" by many people for as long as I can remember, I've decided investigating the human condition is credible life purpose. Data was an explorer of inner space.

Mar. 21 2014 03:57 PM
Brant from Brooklyn

Nobody loves 30 Rock more than I do BUT Liz was the wrong character to pick from this brilliant show. For the same reason that Elaine was picked over Jerry. Liz, as zany as she is, is the straight man. It's JENNA who should have been picked! She is a character like I've never seen in my life. She's much more audacious than Tracy because she is aware of the crazy and evil things she does.

Mar. 21 2014 03:55 PM
HeathHen from Boston, MA

#1. Maxwell Smart -- "...missed it by THAT much."
#2. Homer Simpson
Daenerys T certainly wins...with her clothes off, but has no place on a list of "best...of all time".
Data instead of Spock? Ha
Olivia Pope? Dowager Countess? Why call it an all-time list if your TV knowledge is less than 15 minutes!
Barney Fife, anyone?

Mar. 21 2014 03:48 PM
Mark Burgess from St. Louis

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dana Scully should have been on the list!

Mar. 21 2014 03:47 PM
kara from Manhattan

Thomas Magnum. done.

Mar. 21 2014 03:30 PM
frandrake from Portland Oregon

OK, what about Denny Crane of Boston Legal???
Talk about moving the conversation forward about the current events of the time... I couldn't wait for this show to come on each week as Boston Legal mirrored the current events of conservatism vs liberalism.

Mar. 21 2014 03:29 PM

Oscar the Grouch!

Mar. 21 2014 03:21 PM
Dakota from Stoughton, MA.

How about Sam Malone from Cheers? Flawed, sexy, honest, well-intentioned, funny, sporty, honorable: a man's man....a woman's man! Or any of the characters from that show, really. They all were singular entities that could hold their own, in their own right. (Frasier being the most successful). But, collaboratively they were a genius ensemble cast.

Mar. 21 2014 03:05 PM
Judy Bailey from Columbia, SC.

Have to go with Archie Bunker. Archie, and his creator Norman Leer, changed TV in the 70's. Archie said and did things we never saw a TV character do before and set the stage for many of the characters from the 80's and 90's that are listed on your bracket. And while I'm at it, where's Edith and Gloris, they absolutely changes the way we looked at women's rols.

Mar. 21 2014 03:00 PM
Brian Jones from Austin, Texas

Tony, Tony, Tony Soprano!

Mar. 21 2014 02:59 PM