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TV's most delightful characters

What makes for a great television character?

You’ll find some who have an inherent goodness, while others might be tinged with a darker spirit but nonetheless do their best to do good.

Whatever it is, there are just some characters we can’t help but love.

Read on for a list of TV characters who keep us coming back for more.

Kenneth Parcell from '30 Rock'

Kenneth Parcell (Jack McBrayer) is pure gold. The
Photo Credit: © NBC Universal, Inc. / Ali Goldstein

Kenneth Parcell (Jack McBrayer) is pure gold. The perpetual page is incredibly selfless and willing to help others no matter the personal cost or potential embarrassment. Even when he was fired from NBC and working for CBS, Kenneth covertly answered the phones and performed his usual menial tasks for the "TGS" staff. Over the years, Kenneth served as a human sushi tray, stood in for Tracy while his wife was in labor, tested Jenna's illegal beauty products and much more. He's probably immortal, but according to Jack Donaghy, he's only worth about $7.

Dustin Henderson from 'Stranger Things'

Though Barb has become a fan favorite, Dustin
Photo Credit: Netflix / Curtis Baker

Though Barb has become a fan favorite, Dustin Henderson (Gaten Matarazzo) is the real winner. A fiercely loyal friend and often the logical backbone to his friends' bickering over superpowers and girls, Dustin is wonderful. Matarazzo's character was essentially written for him, with spunk and pizazz added to what was essentially meant to be the stereotypical "nerd" character, according to series co-creator Matt Duffer.

Rory Gilmore from 'Gilmore Girls'

We'll forgive her horrible lapse in judgment from
Photo Credit: Netflix

We'll forgive her horrible lapse in judgment from season six when she dropped out of Yale to become a high-society DAR girl -- most of the time, Rory Gilmore (Alexis Bledel) is kindhearted, strong-willed and full of positively charming wit. It doesn't matter if you're team Logan, Jess or Dean -- Rory makes her way in the world as a smart young woman with a love for the truth and adventure. She isn't afraid to eat junk food and drink coffee to her heart's content, and she picks herself back up when she makes mistakes, even when those mistakes include sleeping with her married ex-boyfriend.

Rogelio de la Vega from 'Jane the Virgin'

Telenovela star Rogelio de la Vega (Jaime Camil)
Photo Credit: The CW / Scott Everett White

Telenovela star Rogelio de la Vega (Jaime Camil) is much more than the caricature of a self-obsessed celebrity that he may appear to be. He might be invested in his image and Twitter presence more than the average Joe, but he is a loving father and friend. After discovering he's had a daughter for the past 24 years, he jumps right in, trying to help Jane to find a job as well as herself in the process. His bromance with Jane's fiance, Michael Cordera, is fantastic -- he's found someone to love and obsess over in the way his fans fawn over him. And of course his celebrity friendships add a fantastic spice to the show; Rogelio often name-drops Gloria Estefan and was revealed to have a decadelong feud with pop star Britney Spears. And though it's not official in any way, a Twitter account in his name captures the essence of what his social media account probably would look like in reality.

Paula Proctor from 'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend'

When Rebecca Bunch moves to West Covina, Paula
Photo Credit: The CW / Scott Everett White

When Rebecca Bunch moves to West Covina, Paula Proctor (Donna Lynne Champlin) is quick to become her new best friend after discovering Rebecca's involvement with her old camp boyfriend, Josh Chan. Is Paula living vicariously through Rebecca? Definitely. But aren't we all? Paula is both the voice of reason and the fan cheering on from the sidelines. A mother to young boys and stuck in an unhappy marriage, Paula loves to give advice, even if it's terrible (she sang a song about running with scissors, for goodness sake). Her brief romance with Calvin Young is enough to make anyone's heart flutter (go Paula go!). Paula is a little ridiculous, but let's face it: we are all Paula.

Kimmy Schmidt from 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt'

Not many people would emerge from 15 years
Photo Credit: Netflix

Not many people would emerge from 15 years of being held hostage in an underground bunker with the same relentless optimism as Kimmy Schmidt (Ellie Kemper). Though unwise to the ways of the 21st century, Kimmy plows through her newfound freedom in New York cheerfully and without fear, combating cat-callers and inept lawyers with ease. She helps her boss Jacqueline through a surprisingly un-messy divorce, assists Tituss in fulfilling his dreams of fame and glory, and helps her former bunker-mates adjust to their new lives as well with an unshakeable can-do attitude, with plenty of laughs along the way.

Donnie Hendrix from 'Orphan Black'

Donnie Hendrix is #husbandgoals, honestly. Though he is
Photo Credit: © BBC America / Ken Woroner

Donnie Hendrix is #husbandgoals, honestly. Though he is initially introduced as a bumbling dad-figure connected to the nefarious Neolution movement, Donnie (Kristian Bruun) grows to become a much more real and fleshed-out character in the "Orphan Black" series. When coming on hard times financially, he teams up with his wife to sell drugs to the local suburban moms, complete with a fantastic, nearly naked twerk session in their piles of money. And when the clones are in need of a spy, Donnie plays the perfect gay partner to Sarah's adopted brother Felix. He is fiercely loyal and warmhearted, happily taking the homicidal clone Helena into his home after she is impregnated. Donnie faces a little more than his fair share of terrible circumstances, like kidnappings, jail time and homicidal threats, but does it all with a taste of ridiculousness and fun.

Jessica Huang from 'Fresh Off the Boat'

Jessica Huang is a cool mom. In a
Photo Credit: ABC

Jessica Huang is a cool mom. In a show about Chinese immigrants in the '90s, she shines. Jessica (Constance Wu) isn't relegated to a sideline role, but strikes out to forge her own path -- tired of staying at home, she decides to become a realtor (skipping a step or two along the way, like the realtor exam). Jessica has her own way of getting things done: she drives her car into a set of dine-and-dashers in one episode and in another leads an off-kilter sexual harassment seminar at the family restaurant (where she sexually harasses several employees in the process). Jessica spouts off superb one-liners and witty responses to attacks, and though she's a bit of a penny pincher and plays the role of a strict mother to her three sons, she does so with a confidence and matter-of-fact air that makes you want to cheer.

River Song from 'Doctor Who'

She's spunky, she's smart, she's the Doctor's wife.
Photo Credit: © BBC Worldwide Limited

She's spunky, she's smart, she's the Doctor's wife. A professor of archaeology and time traveler herself, River Song (Alex Kingston) is the perfect companion for the Doctor, except for the fact that their timelines are completely out of sync. The pair constantly must remind each other "no spoilers!" of their past and future encounters, which makes for a delightfully quirky adventure every time -- River's first appearance in the series (and the Doctor's first ever encounter with her) results in her death, so future (chronological) encounters between the two are rife with secrets. The expansion of her character and explanation of her origin in the Ponds' storyline makes for incredible jaw-dropping twists to the universe.

Andy Dwyer from 'Parks and Recreation'

Character development! When we first meet Andy Dwyer
Photo Credit: NBC / Colleen Hayes

Character development! When we first meet Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt) in season 1, he's a bum of a boyfriend, dragging the perfect Ann Perkins down with his antics. But after meeting April Ludgate and marrying her in season three, Andy reveals himself to be a teddy bear of a man. When he hurts April's feelings in one episode, he makes a list of everything he did the day before so that he could never hurt her again. He's supportive of April's career and finds ways to pursue his own dreams, with a career path zigzagging along from failed musician to shoe-shiner to security officer to star of "The Johnny Karate Super Awesome Musical Explosion Show." And as the creator of the perfect death ode, "5,000 Candles in the Wind (Bye Bye Li'l Sebastian)," he's doing just fine in the world of music.

Peggy Olson from 'Mad Men'

Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) is a triumph in
Photo Credit: AMC

Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) is a triumph in the world of the sexist '60s office -- she makes her way from secretary to copywriter, even with a team of men under her command by the later part of the series. She gives birth in season 1, but doesn't let motherhood tear her away from her upward trajectory, instead giving the baby up. Peggy has to fight for what's hers, opposing any categorization the ad men want to place on her and other women. She doesn't put up with Don's attitude and laziness like the others around her, pushing him to be better as he pushed her earlier in the series. She's a refreshing character among the men of Madison Avenue and comes to earn the respect of those around her.

Foggy Nelson from 'Marvel's Daredevil'

Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) has the response that
Photo Credit: Netflix / Myles Aronowitz

Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) has the response that most of us mere mortals might have when discovering that his best friend (who is blind!) is a masked vigilante -- while impressed, he is also hurt by the secrecy and asks him to stop, for, you know, safety and the law, because, well, they're lawyers. Of course, like any good superhero, Daredevil Matt Murdock totally ignores his kind and smart best friend and keeps on with his crusade. Foggy is definitely someone you want to hate for just a minute when he refuses to speak to Matt, but his reaction comes from a place of broken trust. While many sidekick and best friend types are relegated to the loyal puppy position in the fictional universes, Foggy isn't afraid to stand up to his friend and speak his mind -- a refreshing break from the typical. While of course there is an annoying love triangle bit over the affections of Karen, Foggy plays the voice of logic and reason, especially in the law office, picking up the slack that Matt is definitely not helping with.

Penelope Garcia from 'Criminal Minds'

Though her Behavioral Analysis Unit teammates might be
Photo Credit: CBS

Though her Behavioral Analysis Unit teammates might be the ones out in the field, Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness) does her part in searching for the answers with finesse and spunk. Her office might be dark and small, but her personality and wardrobe brighten the space immensely. Who else wears such bright colors and whimsical accessories? She and Derek Morgan keep up a boldly flirtatious banter, and her incredible telephone greetings always keep the team on their toes. Plus, her hacking skills are unparalleled, saving the day on multiple occasions with her quick work. All in all, Penelope serves as a bit of sunshine in an otherwise dark series.

Nick Miller from 'New Girl'

Nick Miller (Jake Johnson) is absolutely a mess,
Photo Credit: FOX / Adam Taylor

Nick Miller (Jake Johnson) is absolutely a mess, but he's a lovable mess. He doesn't have everything figured out, but he's comfortable there. His "inventions" might not be the best (like his cooling device in season three), but he gives them his all. Nick's one-liners are something else -- he knows that what he says is ridiculous, but he says it anyway with intensity and emotion. And as an added bonus, he is an incredibly GIFable character with quotes and dance moves galore immortalized in three-second moving pictures.

Tina Belcher from 'Bob's Burgers'

Tina Belcher (Dan Mintz) is awkward, timid and
Photo Credit: FOX

Tina Belcher (Dan Mintz) is awkward, timid and overtly sexual, often fantasizing about the butts of the men she encounters. She isn't hot-girl material, but she is confident about who she is. Her communication skills are limited, often completely missing social cues -- her most common phrase in the series is probably an extended "uhhhh." She is a shameless geek and avid fan fiction writer, shining in her own weird way. Tina is bounded at times by her anxiety (like when she wasn't able to say anything after calling 911), but when she works up the courage, she is pretty amazing. But it's important to remember, as Tina has said of herself, "I'm no hero, I put my bra on one boob at a time like everyone else."

Leo Fitz from 'Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'

One half of the dynamic
Photo Credit: ABC

One half of the dynamic "Fitz-Simmons" duo, Leo Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) is a weapons and technology expert for the S.H.I.E.L.D. team led by Agent Phil Coulson. He is incredibly loyal to his friends and proves himself to be a quick thinker and essential part of the team. After being nearly killed by Grant Ward and deprived of oxygen for an extended period of time, Fitz was left with significant brain damage, which he struggled to overcome. When his best friend Jemma Simmons was whisked away to another planet, he worked for months on end to engineer a solution to what appeared to be an impossible problem, eventually rescuing her. As time goes on, he leaves the lab more and more often for field work, heroically saving the day on multiple occasions.

Debra Morgan from 'Dexter'

Debra Morgan (Jennifer Carpenter) has quite a colorful
Photo Credit: Showtime

Debra Morgan (Jennifer Carpenter) has quite a colorful vocabulary, putting on a rough-and-tumble persona after growing up with her adopted brother taking most of her father's attention. Following in her father's footsteps at the Miami-Dade police department, she spent a few years in vice undercover before moving to homicide and becoming a detective. Her sense of justice is based more firmly in the law, while Dexter combines it with his urge to kill. As the sister to serial killer Dexter, she acts as a humanizing force in the series, adding morality and emotion into the mix where Dexter might have left them out. She is very protective of her brother, both before and after discovering his secret, but deals with a conflicted conscience when considering how many he has killed. Deb certainly lightens the mood of the series as a fumbling and foul-mouthed cop, but provides a depth to Dexter as well.

Angela Montenegro from 'Bones'

Angela Montenegro (Michaela Conlin) adds a brightness to
Photo Credit: FOX / Jennifer Clasen

Angela Montenegro (Michaela Conlin) adds a brightness to the Jeffersonian with her fun-loving attitude and atypical origins -- before joining the team, Angela worked as an artist, though she does have extensive experience in computer science and biology. Her facial reconstructions are essential to the Jeffersonian team, and she humanizes series lead Temperance "Bones" Brennan through her advice and friendship. For the first several seasons, Angela is relatively free-wheeling, and later is revealed to have had an estranged husband. And as a fun twist, she is the daughter of a fictionalized version of Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top and was born as Pookie Noodlin Pearly-Gates Gibbons.

Lincoln Rice from 'Broad City'

Among the
Photo Credit: Comedy Central / Matt Peyton

Among the "Broad City" bunch, Lincoln Rice (Hannibal Buress) is definitely the closest to having his life together. As a dentist with stability and a car, Lincoln often offers his assistance to Abby and Ilana. After keeping up a very open relationship with Ilana (upon her insistence) for several years, he puts an end to things so that he can start to build something more real with another girl. While the moment is a bit of a painful wake-up call for Ilana, Lincoln's decision is also a little triumphant as he signals his move toward the future. He's been neglected and forgotten by Ilana, but he always offered his friendship and support to both Abby and Ilana, going beyond the typical role of a "sex friend."

Agent Dana Scully from 'The X-Files'

Fox Mulder might have
Photo Credit: FOX / Ed Araquel

Fox Mulder might have "I want to believe" posters hanging all around his basement FBI office, but Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) is a grounding force in the series. She isn't afraid, and she keeps up a healthy sense of skepticism while Mulder traipses off into the X-Files. But Scully isn't a naysayer -- she is willing to consider the impossible. In the real world, Scully's character has inspired many girls to pursue careers in science and law enforcement in what has been called "the Scully Effect." According to a 2013 Vulture article, at a 2013 Comic-Con panel Anderson said, "We got a lot of letters all the time, and I was told quite frequently by girls who were going into the medical world or the science world or the FBI world or other worlds that I reigned, that they were pursuing those pursuits because of the character of Scully. And I said, 'Yay!'"

Cisco Ramon from 'The Flash'

In the lighter of the CW's DC Comics
Photo Credit: The CW / Diyah Pera

In the lighter of the CW's DC Comics shows, Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) is a lovable, brilliant and quirky engineer for S.T.A.R. Labs and good friend of the Flash, Barry Allen. As the team begins to fight the meta-humans created after a particle accelerator explosion, Cisco names each villain they face. His (alternate universe) death in season one was devastating -- the show wouldn't have been the same without the fun-loving Cisco. In season two, it is revealed that he too was affected by the particle accelerator explosion, giving him psychic and vibrational powers -- Cisco is given the moniker "Vibe." With his incredible T-shirt collection, pop culture references and quirky inventions, Cisco livens up the S.T.A.R. Labs team as he engineers his way through each meta-human crime.

Edwin Jarvis from 'Marvel's Agent Carter'

The butler for the Stark family (of Iron
Photo Credit: TNS / Kirk McKoy

The butler for the Stark family (of Iron Man fame), Edwin Jarvis (James D'Arcy) is polished, poised and positively British. Jarvis makes for an excellent sidekick for Peggy Carter, what with his military experience and access to Howard Stark's latest inventions. He is utterly devoted to his wife Ana, whom he rescued from Budapest during World War II, even reconsidering his crime-fighting side gig after she is injured. Jarvis offers a helping hand to Peggy even after she insists that she continue her work on her own, training himself in martial arts and gymnastics in between missions. In the period between "Agent Carter" and the "Iron Man" movies, Jarvis served as the Stark family's butler until his death, at which point Tony Stark immortalized him in the form of J.A.R.V.I.S., an artificial intelligence system.


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