TV in 2020 is not what it was in 2000.  When this century began,

The 100 Greatest TV Characters of the 21st Century

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2024-06-09 04:00:04

TV in 2020 is not what it was in 2000. When this century began, "streaming" was something that might refer to a river, not a way to watch TV shows and movies. The big four broadcast networks still reigned. People sat through commercials to get their nightly programming fix. Over the two decades that followed, the medium has gone through multiple Golden Ages, as Difficult Men dramas gave way to Complicated Women Sagas, and the rise of streaming services flooded our screens with Too Much TV.

It's with all of this in mind that we set about arguing out this list of the greatest television characters of the 21st century, an excruciating endeavor that will surely make some readers mad. And yet we went ahead with this fool's errand because TV has never been more vital. We've realized this while sitting at home for the past few months, holding our Netflix subscriptions close to our chests and bingeing all that we can to quiet the chaos of the world outside.

Looking at the characters we've chosen, you can get a good sense of how tastes and formats have changed over the past 20 years, and just how vast the landscape has become. We've tried to include a little bit of everything: animation, sketch comedy, prestige dramas, network sitcoms. The one area we didn't touch is reality TV; that's a whole other can of worms. More ground rules: We limited ourselves to only one character from each show (our discussion of Arrested Development got particularly heated), and we only considered shows that began on or after January 1, 2000 (so, no The Sopranos).

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