There’s something special about sitting back and watching your favorite television characters on screen once a week. Unlike movies, television shows have the unique opportunity to provide more depth to their characters. Fans get a better understanding of them and start feeling more connected. There’s growth, insight, depth, and many other things offered in TV shows that movies simply cannot provide. For this reason, there are plenty of television characters fans have seen over the years who they consider likable.
What makes a character likable? It’s not always how nice and kind they are. Watching a television character go through growth and emotional maturity during a show draws in viewers. Nobody is perfect, so being able to watch someone relatable achieve great things in life inspires hope and confidence in a lot of fans.
For example, Iron Man becomes a much better leader during his run in the MCU. However, the process is somewhat sped through because he’s only shown growing during movies. TV shows are different. Characters like Michael Kelso (“That 70s Show”) struggle with growth during every episode, which is something fans adore about him. Once a character in a television show reaches their full potential, it’s satisfying for viewers to see.
Another reason fans find characters likable revolves around their outlook on the world. Watching characters who stay positive gives people hope and excitement for what their future might become. Mr. Peanutbutter in “BoJack Horseman” is a perfect example of someone who thinks every day will be a great day, no matter what. This is what draws viewers in and attaches them to these types of characters.
To narrow down the most likable television characters in history, 24/7 Tempo consulted several entertainment sources. These include IMDb.com, RottenTomatoes.com, and ScreenRant.com. (Click here to read more about classic TV shows no one remembers.)
Here is the list of the most likable TV characters of all time:
- TV show: Ted Lasso (2020-2023)
- Played by: Jason Sudeikis
Even though this show only lasted for three seasons, “Ted Lasso” took the world by storm. Ted Lasso was put in an incredibly uncomfortable situation when he was asked to coach a soccer team in England. He had no prior knowledge of the sport and was only offered the role to spite the owner’s ex-husband. Despite that truth, Lasso was constantly positive. He instilled a belief in his team that they could do anything. The finale of the show had fans crying thanks to the heartwarming conclusion created by Lasso.
- TV show: Schitt’s Creek (2015-2020)
- Played by: Catherine O’Hara
Going from living a lavish lifestyle to being stuck in a motel room would be hard for anyone. Moira Rose tried her best to disassociate from what was going on in her reality. Fans grew to love her sense of humor and her desire to avoid her current reality. Even though they were living in a small town, Rose dressed as though she were going to a five star restaurant. “Schitt’s Creek” has some memorable characters, but not many who are as likable as Moira.
- TV show: SpongeBob Squarepants (1999-Present)
- Played by: Tom Kenny
There likely isn’t a living room in the United States that hasn’t had “SpongeBob SquarePants” playing at some point. Part of the reason the show is so popular is due to the upbeat persona of SpongeBob himself. No matter what goes on in his life, SpongeBob always has a smile on his face. He loves his job as a cook at the Krusty Krab. He wakes up every day ready to “serve up smiles,” as he says. There’s something refreshing about seeing a character who’s always happy and excited each day.
- TV show: New Girl (2011-2018)
- Played by: Max Greenfield
Few television characters have as many quotable one liners as Schmidt from “New Girl.” He constantly tried to flirt with Cece when he first met her, and he somehow was able to end up with her. He was deathly afraid of germs, but the way he expressed those feelings was charming and humorous, not annoying. Schmidt was also caring of his friends and only wanted the best for them. It was easy to aggravate Schmidt, and his friends playfully took advantage of that. Many viewers relate to Schmidt and his feelings towards the world.
- TV show: Friends (1994-2004)
- Played by: Matthew Perry
Plenty of Americans aren’t a huge fan of their jobs, but oftentimes, at least they pay well. This is just one of the many feelings Chandler Bing had to deal with in “Friends.” Chandler found his former roommate Ross’s sister attractive. One of his major issues was trying to figure out how to approach her without hurting Ross’s feelings. For every negative and frustrating moment Chandler had in the show based on love or career, he somehow always made up for it.
- TV show: Growing Pains (1985-1992)
- Played by: Kirk Cameron
Trying to navigate high school is a challenge for plenty of young people. The character of Mike Seaver was no different in the 1980s show “Growing Pains.” Fans would come to love his sense of humor as a typical and realistic teenage boy. His focus was placed on attracting girls at school rather than setting himself up for the future. He tried to act out in a way to get their attention, but that got him into trouble. Regardless, he always had good intentions and grew to be a fan favorite.
- TV show: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005-Present)
- Played by: Charlie Day
One of the longest running television programs ever happens to be “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” This is in large part due to characters like Charlie Kelly. He sees the world through a very unique lens, and he’s usually the brunt of all the jokes. He loves his friends and helps out at Paddy’s Bar however he can. He tries his best to pursue the waitress, but he never attracts her. One funny fact is that Charlie Day and Mary Elizabeth Ellis, the actress who plays the waitress, are married in real life.
- TV show: The Office (2005-2013)
- Played by: Steve Carell
Having a boss like Michael Scott would be a dream come true for almost any employee. He loved his job and the people he managed. His methods weren’t always the best or most conventional, but he always got the job done. Michael occasionally wasn’t as sensitive to others and their situations, but he did so in a humorous way. “The Office” is widely regarded as the greatest sitcom ever, and Michael Scott is one of the main reasons why.
- TV show: Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-1977)
- Played by: Mary Tyler Moore
Mary Richards was the lead on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” when she moved to Minneapolis to pursue a career in television. She was a character who helped women in the 1970s gain the confidence they needed to chase their passions, no matter what they were. It helped that Richards was kind and caring to the people she worked with in the studio, as she climbed her way up the ladder in broadcasting.
Serena van der Woodsen
- TV show: Gossip Girl (2007-2012)
- Played by: Blake Lively
“Gossip Girl” characters are some of the most interesting to watch on television. Just when you start to dislike them for being annoying or failing to see the full picture, they turn around and fix it. Serena van der Woodsen grew up in a blessed situation of wealth and opulence. At first, it seemed like she didn’t have to work hard to achieve anything. She was aloof to that fact until she started going through character development. One reason fans love her is that she never lets anyone steal her shine. She and Blair Waldorf, her best friend, grew up together. Serena prioritized the happiness of others, including Blair, making her an incredibly likable character.
- TV show: BoJack Horseman (2014-2020)
- Played by: Paul F. Tompkins
It can be frustrating when good things happen to people for seemingly no reason. While this is the case for Mr. Peanutbutter in “BoJack Horseman,” it’s easy to root for him when you see how happy and nice he is. He never puts anyone down and always tries to be the light shining in every room he’s in. In the show, Mr. Peanutbutter had a great career in Hollywood, but never let the fame get to his head. He’s always out and about enjoying the blissful life he created for himself.
- TV show: That 70s Show (1998-2006)
- Played by: Ashton Kutcher
Michael Kelso is known for being a womanizer who coasts through life on his looks. While that may have been how he started on “That 70s Show,” he ended up falling in love with Jackie and growing as a character. She gave him a test to kiss any girl in a restaurant at one point, to which he promptly chose her. He didn’t grow the same amount of brain power during that time, but that’s okay. Fans love watching him become a better person who deserves Jackie.
- TV show: Abbott Elementary (2021-Present)
- Played by: Janelle James
One of the newest shows taking the television world by a storm is “Abbott Elementary.” The show follows the same format as “The Office,” and it includes a fictional boss fans absolutely love. Principal Coleman got her job thanks to blackmailing the head of the Philadelphia school system. She spends her days filming TikToks without really knowing what goes on at her school. However, after the second season, she appears to care for the kids and teachers more than fans would’ve guessed.
- TV show: Full House (1987-1995)
- Played by: Dave Coulier
Even though he’s had a devastating life, Joey Gladstone still made every room he walked into feel better in “Full House.” Danny Tanner’s former roommate moved back in after Danny’s wife passed away. He was pursuing a career as a comedian, so he practiced his jokes in the house whenever he could. The jokes might not have impressed his fellow characters, but fans of the show love how optimistic about the future he always was.
- TV show: The Fresh Prince of Bel Air (1990-1996)
- Played by: Will Smith
“The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” allowed us to look into the lives of the Banks family when their cousin Will arrived. Will grew up in Philadelphia in a dangerous neighborhood and had to adjust to the ritzy lifestyle of his other family members. Throughout this process, Will made tons of mistakes and tried to become accepted. Fans love how authentic he was, even breaking character for one of the most memorable moments in television history. When his father left the living room, it’s known that his character was supposed to brush it off. However, Will broke down in an authentic moment that many people understood.
- TV show: Game of Thrones (2011-2019)
- Played by: Peter Dinklage
Not many “Game of Thrones” characters are likable, especially from the Lannister family. Tyrion was the only one with sense, thanks in part to him feeling left out because of his height. Instead of gaining muscle, he grew his brains and proved to be a worthy hand to the king. The king rarely ever listened to him, and Tyrion was usually proven right. Tryion always tried to help the common people out, upsetting the king who wanted to have absolute power.
- TV show: Glee (2009-2015)
- Played by: Naya Rivera
Unlike most of the people in “Glee,” Santana Lopez grew up in a troubled part of New York City. That caused her to be blunt with the people around her, which was refreshing to a lot of viewers. For many viewers, it feels like you can’t trust people when they tell you what you want to hear. Santana cared so much for the people around her that she was willing to be brutally honest. Her honesty helped them become better people. Along with that, her desire to be with Brittany Pierce made her relatable for a lot of people in the LGBTQ community.
- TV show: Breaking Bad (2008-2013)
- Played by: Aaron Paul
Not many characters have had the same growth over the duration of their show like Jesse Pinkman in “Breaking Bad.” At the start of the show, Jesse didn’t care about anyone close to him and how dangerous his life was. He only cared about getting high, regardless of what he had to do to get it. By the end of the show, Jesse grew to have a heart and he realized how dangerous drugs were. He wanted to stop selling drugs and causing harm to people. Part of his growth is attributed to the death of his girlfriend from heroin. It’s amazing to think that Jesse was supposed to be killed off at the end of Season 1, giving him no time to grow and become better. Thankfully, the writers saw the chemistry between him and Walter and decided to keep him.
- TV show: Family Guy (1999-Present)
- Played by: Seth MacFarlane
One of the most flawed characters in television is Peter Griffin. He doesn’t think before he speaks, regardless of who he’s talking to. He doesn’t think about how his actions will impact his family and those around him. Despite all of this, he lives in a way that feels charming. Other than Meg, he loves his family and friends and will do anything to support them. There are even random moments where he reveals that he truly cares for Meg and wants the best for her.
- TV show: Criminal Minds (2005-Present)
- Played by: Matthew Gray Gubler
Being a child prodigy and boy genius is hard to live up to. In “Criminal Minds,” Spencer Reid is able to do it. He uses his brain power to help solve crimes for the FBI. Unlike most people in the FBI, he can barely run a mile and doesn’t rely on his muscles to get the job done. His coworkers love him and are willing to move mountains to save him when he gets kidnapped or held hostage.
- TV show: Brooklyn Nine-Nine (2013-2021)
- Played by: Andre Braugher
Even though Captain Holt’s known for enforcing rules as the captain of his squad, fans love how kind and nice he is when it truly matters. Watching the Captain take his role seriously is nice when his squad sometimes doesn’t do the right things. He loves his team and when Andre Braugher sadly passed away, there were countless posts from fans of the show thanking him for being a light in their lives and so positive.
- TV show: Parks and Recreation (2009-2015)
- Played by: Amy Poehler
It’s easy to get discouraged when you fail, but that’s not what Leslie Knope does when things don’t go her way. In fact, she looks at things in the opposite way, telling herself lies about what really happened to make things feel better. She’s smart and calculated with how she runs her team on “Parks and Recreation.” She’s got clear goals to achieve, but sadly doesn’t always get there. Fans love how relatable she is in that sense and enjoy seeing her continue to chase her dreams, regardless of circumstance.
- TV show: Gilmore Girls (2000-2007)
- Played by: Alexis Bledel
Seeing a young woman be outgoing and confident is what fans always saw when admiring Rory Gilmore in “Gilmore Girls.” The daughter of Lorelai, Rory goes after everything she wants with a burning passion. She’s quick with comebacks whenever someone talks to her, not letting anyone put her down. She loves to have fun and play around with others, while still becoming the best version of herself. Rory is a young woman real girls can look up to with her interest in reading, cultivating friendships, and achieving academic success.
- TV show: Modern Family (2009-2020)
- Played by: Ty Burrell
Phil Dunphy’s goal is to be a friend and parent to his kids. In doing so, he has random outbursts and often makes comments that aren’t taken how he thinks they’ll be. He provides a great life for his family and simply wants everyone he cares for to get along. Phil doesn’t take himself or his life too seriously, though. He tries to put a smile on every face he sees when he walks through the door. Fans love his kind heart and spirit since he seems authentic and pure.