Here in the world of television fandom, we rely on our main characters to keep us hooked on our favorites series year in and year out, and it’s inarguably a tough job, both for the actors and for the creative teams. Unlike a movie, in which we only get a limited amount of time to spend with the leads, TV shows last for as long as they need to, sometimes even longer. So it’s truly the cream of the crop that rises to the top of our collective conscious and memories.

For a survey put forth by Empire Magazine, they asked their movie and TV fans to offer up their favorite characters of all time, and the people predictably responded in droves, with around 10,000 of those polled choosing their favored icons. It’s a wonderfully mixed bag of characters that skew somewhat modern and somewhat classic, and though a few of them are actually nice people, many of them are quite deadly. We love our dark dramas! So without further ado, here are the 10 greatest TV characters of all time, according to the fans.

house of cards
10. Frank Underwood (House of Cards)
The one U.S. President (at least in a fictional capacity) to make this list, Kevin Spacey’s Frank Underwood is good at nothing if not getting people on his side with a captivating approach to conversations – he talks directly to his audiences, no matter what side of the screen they sit or stand. Sure, he’s not always the most reputable husband or boss, but TV viewers are neither married to him nor employed by him. We just like seeing how he works, because it’s usually with an iron thumb and the oval office surrounding him. Heaven help us if someone like Frank Underwood ever actually makes it to the White House in real life.

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