2013 was a great year for television both here in the UK and across the pond. We said goodbye to our beloved Breaking Bad and Poirot and welcomed a host of exciting new shows to our screens including Breathless, Peaky Blinders and Dracula. These programmes, old and new, wouldn’t be the same without the characters we’ve come to love and loathe over the course of the last twelve months. Whether it was Tyrion Lannister with his witty remarks or Top of the Lake’s anguish-filled Robin Griffin, 2013 delivered more brilliant characters than we could have asked for. Here the Culturefly writers tell you who made television worth watching this year. 

Dowager Countess of Grantham, Downton Abbey – Natalie Xenos

Maggie Smith’s Violet Crawley, aka the Dowager Countess of Grantham, has been the best part of Downton Abbey since the series started in 2010. The character’s frank attitude and hilarious one-liners have become famous over the years but she exceeded herself in series four this year, showing a curiously kind and considerate side we’d hardly seen before. When not flapping her head around like a bemused turkey or sharing classic pearls of wisdom, the Dowager Countess was averting awkward situations right, left and centre like the seasoned pro that she is. A pure delight to watch!

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Robin Griffin, Top Of The Lake – James McAllister

There were many female detectives following in the footsteps of Sarah Lund this year, but few were as so eminently watchable as Robin Griffin. Both a flawed and fascinating character, Robin’s plight as she desperately tried to search for a missing child in the New Zealand Mountains drew you in to its web and refused to let go. Elizabeth Moss’s exemplary performance was one of the highlights of this perfect Kiwi-set thriller that is, without doubt, the finest televisual drama of 2013.

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Tyrion Lannister, Game Of Thrones – Kim Evans

From gaining power as the King’s Hand in Season 2, Tyrion is once again at the bottom of the ladder at the start of Season 3 of Game of Thrones due to the arrival of his cold and calculating father Tywin Lannister at the capital city. This development however offers up some of the best moments of the season, with Tyrion’s dry wit rubbing against Tywin’s cruel scheming in the many scenes they share together. He also has his fair share of heart rending moments, most of which occur in his reluctant arranged marriage with Sansa Stark towards the end of the series. In a series spilling over with loveable and dynamic characters, Tyrion is still one of the best.

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Walter White, Breaking Bad – Nathan Tompkins

Anthony Hopkins called it the greatest acting he’s ever seen, and when you consider the scope, endurance and sheer magnitude of the role I don’t think many would disagree with him, especially for TV in 2013 at least. There’s not much I can say that hasn’t already been plastered on every mainstream culture website the year round. But I will conclude that Breaking Bad was as close to perfect as modern shows come, and Cranston’s acting did much more than illuminate what was already a stellar script – it enhanced it tenfold. Walter White was the face of our year in television, whether you followed the series or not.

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Klaus, The Vampire Diaries – Natalie Xenos

We all love a good villain, particularly a villain like The Vampire Diaries’ Niklaus Mikaelson, otherwise known as Klaus, whose violent manner would be shocking if it didn’t make for such great TV. Witty and sharp, with a fiery temper but a secretly warm heart, Klaus thrilled and amused TVD fans in the second half of season four at the beginning of the year. Whether he was trying to win the affections of fellow vamp Caroline, causing chaos in New Orleans or verbally bashing one of the Salvatore brothers, there was never a dull moment when Klaus was about.

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Fitzsimmons, Agents of SHIELD – Nick Gomez

Fitzsimmons, nicknamed in the very first episode, are easily the best part of the show due to their comical back and forth bickering, genius level intellect and accidentally on purpose flirting. What’s not to love? Long live Fitzsimmons! You can still catch them on Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD on Fridays at 8pm on Channel 4.

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Fiona Goode, American Horror Story: Coven – Clare Lowe

Whilst Jessica Lange outshines most of her costars in every series of American Horror Story, her best character to date is that of Supreme witch Fiona Goode in AHS: Coven, currently airing on Fox. Strong and determined, with a complex personality and a fascinating backstory, Fiona is an vain as she is ruthless and makes Coven a must-see on a weekly basis. She also has some of the best one-liners ever!

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Paul Spector, The Fall – James McAllister

Nearly 6 months since it aired on BBC 1, the memory of Paul Spector is still haunting. This was a loving family man by day and a murderous psychopath by night. It was all thanks to Jamie Dornan’s electrifying performance that effortlessly explored the mind of a killer with a haunting subtlety that still chills months later.

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Hannah Horvath, Girls – Natalie Xenos

At the start of the year, Lena Dunham returned to our screens as dysfunctional yet hilarious Hannah Horvath in HBO’s Girls and it was a joyous occasion for fans of the show. Hannah has become an unlikely heroine for twenty-something girls: she’s fiercely intelligent and confident yet vulnerable and screwed up (see her OCD episodes near the end of season two), making the rest of the female population feel ok about not fitting into any one particular box. If I had to choose the most quotable character of the year it would be Hannah.

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Frank Underwood, House of Cards – Nathan Tompkins

It’s only one season in and already the US interpretation of Dobbs’ famous novel (and the UK mini-series that followed) has thrown us a heavyweight of a lead. Granted the character has been around long enough to be acknowledged in its notoriety, Kevin Spacey’s portrayal of the same role – paired with Fincher’s dark and eloquent directing – has completely reshaped Underwood as a more demanding force on screen.

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Joan Holloway, Mad Men – Rosy Deacon

Like Peggy, Joan has also come a long way from her beginnings as a secretary at Sterling Cooper and, now a partner, this year has seen Joan really make her mark and assert herself as a key player within the firm. It has been a joy to watch her grow into her newfound freedom and finally realise that she doesn’t need a man to depend on. Bold and direct, she’s not afraid to tell it like it is and without her around, SCDP would long ago have burnt to the ground.

Style: "Mad Men"

Tom Weston, The Paradise – Natalie Xenos

When it aired last year, series one of The Paradise lacked a decent baddie, but this year we were treated to the brutally arrogant and unforgiving Tom Weston, who provided a worthy adversary for leading man John Moray. Suspiciously calm one moment and full of intense anger the next, Weston was a character tortured by his own cowardice, persecuting those closest to him simply because he could. He made series two of The Paradise exciting and unpredictable, changing the dynamics of the show and giving us a character we could truly despise.

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Which character made 2013 TV worth watching for you?