MTV News’ Top 50 TV Characters of 2011 continues with a few must-include entries, as well as some visits from surprise guests.
“X-Factor” contestant Astro makes the cut this round as does “Dance Moms” favorite Abby Lee Miller, but you might be surprised to see certain sports and talk-show personalities who yapped their way onto our Best of 2011 list. Keep reading for the latest entries to our Top 50, and make sure to check out characters 50 to 41 over here.
40. Skip Bayless (ESPN’s “First Take”)
One of the nation’s most respected sportswriters, Bayless got his start at the Miami Herald, eventually rising to prominence at the Los Angeles Times and followed by his coverage of the Cowboys for the Dallas Morning News and Dallas Times Herald. Since many of you don’t have an app for those papers, you might know Bayless as the perpetual devil’s advocate on ESPN’s “First Take.” He started as a pundit on ESPN’s “Cold Pizza” in a segment called “First Take,” but thanks to his arguments with other journalists, athletes and even Lil Wayne, “Cold Pizza” evolved into “First Take.” His divisive arguments — most recently his idolatry of Tim Tebow — have garnered the ire of plenty of sports fans, and Skip couldn’t be any happier, especially since he’s right more often than they’d care to admit. -Steven Roberts
39. Victoria Grayson (“Revenge”)
Imagine Blair Waldorf 30 years older and transplanted to the Hamptons, and you’ve got the central villainess of ABC’s newest guilty pleasure “Revenge.” The Queen Bee of the tony enclave, Victoria rules with an iron (not to mention, diamond-laced) fist, scheming against anyone who dares get in her way (lovers and best friends included). But Victoria’s no sociopath — fleeting flashes of guilt and sorrow betray more than a few vulnerable spots. While revenge-seeking Emily is the protagonist here, it’s Madeleine Stowe’s Victoria that steals scenes in this sudsy drama. -Amy Wilkinson
38. Marty Funkhouser (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”)
Funk-man had a short-yet-rewarding arc this season. He commenced his time on “Curb” with a divorce (though they “had a beautiful marriage”), delivered one of the funniest lines of the season (when he asked Richard Lewis when he plans to look at his new girlfriend’s face) and starred in what noted lawyer and academic Alan Dershowitz believes was an episode of television powerful enough to expedite peace in the Middle East — though Larry owed him such shine after leaving his dinner before dessert. -Rya Backer
37. Jimmy Fallon (“Late Night With Jimmy Fallon”)
Outside of his portrayal of Barry “F—ing” Gibb on “The Barry Gibb Show,” Jimmy Fallon didn’t have the most memorable “Saturday Night Live” career. And then there was “Taxi” with Queen Latifah. So expectations weren’t necessarily high when Fallon took over “Late Night” after Conan’s all-too-brief promotion to “The Tonight Show.” But that didn’t stop Jimmy from making his show the most-talked-about the next morning either. His first move once he got the job was to hire the coolest band possible in the Legendary Roots Crew, who, along with the show’s genius music bookers, have brought us amazing performances from Beyoncé, Odd Future and Justin Timberlake. His regular guests are all too eager to play along as well (Google “Gwyneth Paltrow rapping,” please). His viral-worthy segments are perfect water-cooler fodder for those in bed before midnight and on blogs before 9 a.m. -Steven Roberts
36. Abby Lee Miller (“Dance Moms”)
If Corky St. Clair and the God Warrior from “Trading Spouses” had a daughter, she’d resemble the human steamroller that is Abby Lee Miller, Pittsburgh’s leading dance instructor for tweens. When Miller’s not shrieking endlessly quotable gems like “Thou shall not lie, thou shall not steal, and thou shall not disrespect Abby,” she’s placing her young students’ headshots in a pyramid formation based on how much their moms pissed her off that week. But Miller’s irresistible crazy shines brightest when she dreams up wildly inappropriate routines for 8-year-olds to “emotionally execute.” If “Where Have All the Children Gone?” is not nominated for an Emmy, then voters don’t have a soft spot for “child suicide” like Abby Lee Miller. -Jim Cantiello
35. Mags Bennett (“Justified”)
The Bennett matriarch isn’t just one of the finest villains in the two-season run of “Justified,” but one of the greatest baddies on television all year long. There’s a reason nobody batted an eye when Margo Martindale took home the Best Supporting Actress Emmy earlier this year; her Mags is a cold, calculated crime boss dressed up in hillbilly clothing, not one to be underestimated, certainly not when she has the Bennett boys at her disposal. And even though she’ll typically lean on one of her three sons to handle the dirty work, don’t discount Mags’ ability to break bad on her lonesome — needless to say, you should always pass on her apple pie. -Josh Wigler
34. Astro (“The X Factor”)
“The X Factor” worked hard to be the opposite of the aging “American Idol,” and nothing said “We don’t do karaoke” like casting a teenage MC from Brooklyn who spit original rhymes. Each week, Brian “The Astronomical Kid” Bradley, a.k.a. Astro, brought grade-A drama with his defiant hip-hop swagger and dynamic, head-turning verses. The 15-year-old trailblazer wrote his own lyrics and wore his own headphones, and when he landed in the bottom two , he felt like the judges didn’t deserve to hear his “survival song.” So he stopped the live show — and his perceived front-runner momentum — dead in its tracks. Whether you thought he was an arrogant dope or just plain dope (like we do), there’s no denying ‘Stro made “The X Factor” one of TV’s most exciting, unpredictable competitions in a long time. -Jim Cantiello
33. Kalinda Sharma (“The Good Wife”)
Brains. Sexiness. Attitude. Mystery. Add those up and throw in a leather jacket and a pair of knee-high boots and you’ve got Kalinda Sharma, the in-house investigator at Lockhart Gardner, the law firm at the center of “The Good Wife.” Scene-stealing British actor Archie Panjabi won an Emmy last year for playing Kalinda, who remains cloaked in mystery even well into the show’s third season. We saw some chinks in Kalinda’s armor recently when her friendship with Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) fell apart — she did sleep with Alicia’s husband, after all. But those signs of vulnerability make Kalinda even more intriguing. -Tami Katzoff
32. Carla Hall (“Top Chef: All-Stars”)
Hootie hoo! Fan favorite Carla Hall found herself back on “Top Chef” for the All-Stars edition of the competition this year, and boy, were we glad to have her back! Carla is always a great source of much-needed comic relief, but for “All-Stars,” she proved she’s a culinary force to be reckoned with, making it all the way to the finals. -Kevin P. Sullivan
31. A (“Pretty Little Liars”)
Never has a text message been so ominous than at the thumbs of A on “Pretty Little Liars.” The mystery of the unseen menace is the central plotline of ABC Family’s frothy series, and theories abound as to his/her identity — from murderer to dead teen come back to life. It’s likely we’ve already met the treacherous texter, but producers have been clear that we won’t know A’s true identity for a while (perhaps series’ end) — even more reason to keep tuning in week after week. -Amy Wilkinson
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