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20 Best TV Characters of the Past 20 Years

October 27, 2008  |  9:30am
If we're honest with ourselves, we don't have favorite TV shows; just shows featuring our favorite TV characters. Networks have openly acknowledged this reality by creating spin-offs like Joey and Angel, based around characters from established hit shows. Can you imagine an episode of Seinfeld without Kramer bursting through the front door with a crackpot scheme in tow? Great TV characters shape the culture in which we live. They become a sort of adopted relative we all share—that crazy uncle or aunt whose exploits we laugh about and pick over with delight. Even when they're gone, they live on in re-runs like old family movies. If we consider our dogs and cats family, why rule out Homer Simpson? In that spirit, here are Paste's 20 favorite TV characters of the past 20 years (limiting ourselves to one character per show so as not to stack the deck with the entire cast of Arrested Development). Viva la Tivo!


20. Niles Crane (David Hyde Pierce)
Frasier, NBC, 1993-2004

Of all the Crane family’s neuroses, peccadilloes and quirks, Niles’ were always the most ridiculous—and most endearing.

“I’m afraid of what the humidity might do to these loafers. Does calfskin pucker?”

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