What do Mandy Patinkin, Anthony Bourdain and Aaron Paul all have in common? They’re all on MTV News’ list of the Top 50 TV Characters of 2011, for one thing — and for very different reasons too!
Whether it’s Patinkin busting terrorists as the Jewish Jack Bauer on “Homeland,” Bourdain traveling the globe for his two Travel Channel shows or Paul up to no good again on “Breaking Bad,” each one of these actors — and more, mind you — are easily among the best television characters of the year.
See who else ranked up there with Mandy, Tony and Aaron as our countdown of 2011’s Top 50 TV Characters continues!
30. Adam Demamp (“Workaholics”)
“Workaholics” is the best new show on television, and Adam is the best character. I can’t actually verbalize why he’s so amazing, so here’s a list of memories: 1. When he entered a bodybuilding contest; 2. When he couldn’t party at Hedonism II because his penis fell off; 3. When he explained that Fred Durst is “a dry guy.” Honestly, you kind of had to be there. But rest assured, it’s worth going! -Rya Backer
29. Tammy One (“Parks and Recreation”)
As you read this, Tammy 1 might be out there in the world plotting some terrible ways to make Ron Swanson’s life a living nightmare. Cold, calculated and a complete sociopath, Patricia Clarkson’s interpretation of the most feared person to ever walk through Pawnee, Indiana, is nothing less than brilliant. Plus, any woman who can convince Ron that voluntarily shaving off his signature mustache is good for him gets a free pass to be on this list. -Jocelyn Vena
28. Saul Berenson (“Homeland”)
To the young patriots out there who are thinking about a career with the CIA, please first consider the life of Saul Berenson, Mandy Patinkin’s character on “Homeland.” It’s a life filled with high-pressure days and lonely nights that often include eating in a dark, empty office, spreading peanut butter with a ruler found in a desk drawer. Yet even while carrying the weight — and fate — of the world on his shoulders, Berenson manages to do it with a wicked sense of humor. And mellow, even-keeled Berenson is a great foil for his moody, impulsive protégé Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes). Patinkin has had larger roles on shows like “Criminal Minds” and “Chicago Hope,” but we prefer him in smaller doses; we sincerely hope Berenson doesn’t end up taking a bullet for his country. -Tami Katzoff
27. Klaus (“The Vampire Diaries”)
The vilest of all vampires, Klaus had been nothing more than a whispered foe until he made his big, bad debut on the CW’s “Vampire Diaries” earlier this year. The hybrid (he’s half bloodsucker and half wolf) is nearly impossible to kill, and we’ve got to believe he’s used his nefarious powers of compulsion on us, because we certainly didn’t expect to find him so … appealing. Klaus (played by Joseph Morgan) is the quintessential emotionally battered bad boy (daddy issues!) who girls can’t help but find utterly irresistible. It doesn’t hurt that he’s easy on the eyes (if not the carotid) either. -Amy Wilkinson
26. River Song (“Doctor Who”)
With a breezy “Hello Sweetie,” River Song strode her way into the Doctor’s life, and fans’ hearts. When she first appeared, “Doctor Who” fans didn’t know what to make of the enigmatic archeologist. Equally intriguing and infuriating, River Song (played by the fabulous Alex Kingston) knows more about the Doctor than anyone, including his real name, but refuses to explain, saying only “Spoilers!” Even after fans finally learned who she is this season, we are still left with more questions than answers. River’s flirty banter and aggressive nature make her a perfect foil to the witty-but-reserved Doctor. She pushes when he pulls and shoots when he runs. We may never know everything about River Song, but that’s just the way we like it. -Christina Beale
25. Abed (“Community”)
Abed may be a complete oddball, but we love him all the more for it, and now he needs our love more than ever. With “Community” on the bench at NBC, fans have shown their support with the “Save Greendale” campaign. And as long as we get more of Abed riffing on Christian Bale’s Batman voice, you can count on our support. -Kevin P. Sullivan
24. Anthony Bourdain (“No Reservations,” “The Layover”)
The ultimate travel companion, Bourdain knows food and has the attitude to hold his own in any foreign city. We get to live vicariously through Bourdain as he travels the globe, trying new foods and generally living a cooler life than any of his viewers could ever hope to live. The reason we still love him is because he does it with style. -Kevin P. Sullivan
23. Wayne Unser (“Sons of Anarchy”)
If it was up to me, every single member of SAMCRO would be on this list. We’ll let good old Wayne Unser, played exceptionally by “Deadwood” vet Dayton Callie, represent the “Sons” instead. Retired from his post as Charming’s chief of police, hopelessly in love with a woman he can’t have and staring death in the face every single day, the cancer-stricken Unser is a ticking time bomb determined to right his wrongdoing past before the clock runs out. As Clay so wisely put it, there’s nothing more dangerous than a guy who already knows he’s dead. That’s Unser to the letter — and that’s why we can’t get enough of him. -Josh Wigler
22. Coach Taylor (“Friday Night Lights”)
I dare you right now, if you haven’t already, to go watch the entire series of “Friday Night Lights” and not fall in love with Coach Eric Taylor. You can’t. He is the perfect husband, father and coach. This year, we said goodbye to the coach, but he will live on forever because “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.” Dammit, now I’m crying again! -Kevin P. Sullivan
21. Jesse Pinkman (“Breaking Bad”)
Aaron Paul’s Jesse Pinkman can’t win, and it’s heartbreaking to watch. Seemingly destined always to be the pawn and to fall short of his heroic aspirations, this meth cook-turned-reluctant assassin basically didn’t talk for the first half of the season, just floated around all dead inside, then spent the second half embracing newfound compassion and conviction. That moral renewal was all the more tragic because you just knew this unlucky kid would still end up getting pwned by season’s end. Yet we root for him nonetheless. We need Jesse to become a hero. -Eric Ditzian
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