Yesterday, we gave you our list of Top 10 Female Characters of 2011. Today, it’s all about the men and looking back over the course of the year, it’s not difficult to appreciate the excellent male characters that had us coming back for more, week after week. Our list includes a meth cook, a crafty Lannister, a software genius, and a dad/former-POW/potential terrorist.
Spoiler alert - The list below contains plot and character details from the course of the last year. Tread lightly if you’re not caught up on your favorite shows!
Here are our picks for the Top 10 Male TV Characters of 2011. Feel free to chime in with a comment to share your favorites!
Walter White - Breaking Bad
Once again, this year, Walter White proved to be one of the most calculating, determined, and in many ways, scary individuals on television. This season took him further down the path of no return as he continued to redefine his moral code for the sake of protecting his family and his way of life. Blowing up Gus in an effort to rid himself of a man who would have likely killed him the moment the opportunity presented himself was one thing, but it was also strongly implied that Walter poisoned a child in an effort to manipulate Jesse and regain his loyalty, which shows just how far Walter will go to get his way.
TroBed - Community
Yes, we know we’re kind of cheating with this one, but let’s face it: Troy and Abed come as a duo or they don’t come at all. The best pair of friends that you will find on television, the compadres found themselves mixed up in some amazingly wacky and hilarious hijinks in 2011, and that was even before they moved in together. How could we forget their time broadcasting news about the student elections? What about when they threw a house party together and created six different timelines? Sure, their friendship is occasionally tested, like when they were both in love with the beautiful redheaded librarian, but they will forever be the best of pals and easily the funniest twosome on television.
Tyrion Lannister- Game of Thrones
We first meet Tyrion Lannister doing what he likes best, namely, visiting local whores. However, his veracious sexual appetite, that of a man three times his size, is only one small reason why the little lion is one of the best characters on television. George R.R. Martin has crafted a wonderful world full of compelling characters but none have captured audiences quite like the The Imp, played to perfection by Peter Dinklage. The only Lannister who cares for anyone or anything outside their own house, Tyrion is the obvious black sheep but also the most intelligent, cunning, honorable, and amusing. Whether making friends at The Wall or enemies at the Vale, he and his ever growing collection of followers provided endless enjoyment (like slapping Joffrey).
Schmidt - New Girl
Schmidt is vain enough to agree to be his office's Sexy Santa, dumb enough to get manipulated into taking the smaller room, and sheltered enough that he grew up rich and doesn't understand any of his roommate Nick's financial problems. But he's also the funniest and most unpredictable character on the show, someone who would probably drive you crazy in real life but who is irresistible to meet up with every week on TV. He's the Joey to this new group of Friends, someone silly and a little dumb but who manages to get into all the best adventures. New Girl is a show with nothing but potential, and while it might be Nick and Jess's lives we're invested in, they wouldn't be nearly as funny without Schmidt in the mix.
Nolan Ross - Revenge
Nolan is slowly becoming one of the best things about ABC’s Revenge and that’s likely because he knows what Emily’s up to, he’s extremely wealthy and resourceful, and because he’s more or less a wild-card. Trying to understand his true motivations is proving to be a tricky task, which is part of the appeal. Does he really want to help Emily? And why does he have such a strong allegiance to her father? Not knowing these things adds some mystery to the character. Meanwhile, his useful, seemly endless supply of money, quick-witted remarks and technological know-how make Gabriel Mann’s character one of the reasons to tune in to this addicting drama.
Ray Hueston - Bored to Death
Ray had a tough time in what turned out to be the final season of Bored to Death, bonding with his son only to have custody rights taken away, getting dumped by his girlfriend after he started an affair with a woman old enough to be his grandmother, and having terrible writer's block while trying to come up with the next issue of the Super Ray comic. But it all ended on such a high note, Ray and his team of fans rescuing Jonathan at Coney Island, then all of them dancing at George's daughter's wedding-- Ray was with his "Elder Love" Belinda, but it was the trio of George, Jonathan and Ray that really mattered. Played by Zach Galifianakis, finally lively after looking so depressed in The Hangover Part II, Ray was the pitiful and odd but always sympathetic wounded heart of a show that's now gone too soon.
Nicholas Brody - Homeland
Showtime's Homeland may be a terrorist thriller but make no mistake the show is primarily focussed on the characters and their complex psyches and relationships. At the beginning of the first season, Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody is found in an Iraqi hole after eight years of captivity. Brody tries to return to a 'normal' life but when whispers of an American POW being turned has the CIA's best analyst focussing her attention squarely on him, his life back home will be anything but normal. Not to mention that we finally learn that he has, in fact, aligned himself with a terrorist cell and yet, it's still not that simple. Damian Lewis shines as an incredibly complex character constantly struggling with whether to remain loyal to the cause or succumb to the temptations of his loving family.
Ron Swanson - Parks & Recreation
If you were to look up the word “man” in the dictionary all you would find is a picture of Ron Swanson drinking a glass of scotch, brandishing a fire arm, and setting fire to some tax forms. Though Ron has been topping the awesome scale since the show began in 2009, this year was a great for fans of the mustachioed one. Sure, it wasn’t too manly when Tammy 1 arrived back in town and our hero went into hiding, but if you look at all the other awesome things he’s done this year – like beating Chris Traeger in a hamburger cook-off, setting his face on fire, or giving a land mine to a 9-year-old – it’s obvious that he has more than earned a fair share of free passes.
Rory Williams- Doctor Who
Rory Williams is the man you want your daughter to marry, the man who is more kind than brave. He’s a loyal friend to Amy Pond from childhood, and when we first meet him in season 5 Rory is a little afraid but still loving. What appears to be a man who adheres to common puppy dog syndrome tropes turns out to be a powerfully faithful and brave guy. This year was an amazing arc for Rory as he was suspicious of the Doctor, and whether Amy loved the Time Lord more than him, while he grew into the man that Amy loves more than any other. Rory is today’s Wesley Wyndam-Price, and came into his own as he faced an entire Cyberman fleet and destroyed it.
Kevin MacArthur - The League
Kevin isn’t great because he’s far funnier than his other buddies. He isn’t great because he’s married and in a wickedly humorous and competent marriage with fellow fantasy football leaguer, Jenny, although that helps us buy into him as a normal, everyday man who just happens to be hysterical. And Kevin is hysterical. Even when he’s freaking out about guinea pigs or succumbing to the tricks his buddies have used to order him around for years, Kevin is always at the heart of some joke or another. This has only increased as The League has found its rhythm and motivation. Maybe it is simply because he isn’t afraid to laugh at himself, but in 2011, Kevin is one of the best characters on television – without ever seeming to have to try for it.