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Best TV Characters of 2022

Best TV Characters of 2022

Whether they’re sharp and snarky or thoughtful and kind, TV characters can often feel like real people to us watching along at home. 2022 has delivered some heart-stealing characters who’ve made our lives a little brighter. Here’s a selection of some of the best who’ve kept us company over the last twelve months.

Agnes van Rhijn – The Gilded Age

Channelling the acerbic attitude and upper class snobbery of Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess in Downton Abbey, Christine Baranski’s Agnes van Rhijn is a classic example of the proud old moneyed families of New York City in the 1800s. The world is rapidly changing but Agnes is determined not to let the new money socialites into her world. Baranski delivers every witty barb and cutting one-liner to perfection. She doesn’t even attempt to hide her snobbery or disdain for the nouveau riche Russell family either, which makes the inevitable battle of statuses and wills all the more entertaining. Agnes might have reluctantly been forced to accept the new status quo but her temporary truce is unlikely to last. – Natalie Xenos

Strike & Robin – Strike: Troubled Blood

Their relationship – both personal and professional – hasn’t always been smooth sailing, but this season saw a marked shift in dynamic between private detective Cormoran Strike and his associate Robin Ellacott. Professionally they’re on even footing now that they’re business partners. But it’s the subtle, slow burn changing of their personal relationship that has made Troubled Blood the best series of the show so far. There’s a palpable spark between the two, one masked by awkwardness whenever one of them says or does something that veers close to crossing the line; and one that neither will act on. It helps that Tom Burke and Holliday Grainger have such easy on-screen chemistry too. – Nell Young

Gereon Rath – Babylon Berlin

A detective with a traumatic past and an insatiable thirst for justice… okay, I can hear you yawning and I understand. And yet somehow, as he stalks around the Weimar Republic of Babylon Berlin, Volker Bruch’s Gereon Rath remains an endlessly compelling leading man. Bruch’s excellent Buster Keaton face and mastery of micro-expressions have a lot to do with his appeal, and though the broad strokes of his character may be generic, Gereon’s specific challenges (having to fight the Nazis whilst dealing with being brainwashed by his brother and – oh yes! – attempting to singlehandedly stop the bloody battle of Berlin’s underworld) make for engrossing viewing. – Chloe Walker

Eddie Munson – Stranger Things

In a show where any of the characters could be featured on this list, it takes a special something extra to single just one out. As this year’s newcomer to the monster fighting gang, Eddie Munson became an instant fan favourite. Not only was he a misunderstood outcast but he proved himself to be more fearless and brave than even he believed he was. Eddie was a true hero until the end. His electric guitar rendition of Metallica’s ‘Master of Puppets’ will go down as one of the most memorable moments in Stranger Things history. And Eddie will go down as one of the most memorable characters. – Natalie Xenos

Deborah Vance – Hacks

Although her Joan Collin’s-esque comic repartee initially makes her seem a daunting presence, the more we’ve got to know Deborah Vance, the more we’ve been allowed to see the vulnerability beneath the prickly wit. Evicted from her long-time professional home and forced to go back to basics this season, she’s gained a new understanding of who she is, and why she’s made the choices she has, and what she wants from this late-career swerve. It’s been a tumultuous journey, but she’s come out the other side stronger for it.  – Chloe Walker

Kate Sharma – Bridgerton

As a new addition for season two, Simone Ashley had a lot to live up to. Viewers had fallen hard for Daphne and Simon in season one and it was difficult to believe that anyone could top their chemistry. Enter Kate Sharma. Smart, sensible and unafraid of speaking her mind where one Anthony Bridgerton was concerned, Kate instantly proved herself to be the kind of strong-willed and capable woman that a man like Anthony – a man with impossibly high standards – could easily fall in love with. And fall he did. As did all of us watching along at home. – Natalie Xenos

Barbara – Abbott Elementary

Whilst the Jim/Pam budding love affair between newly qualified teachers Janine and Gregory is fun to see progress, the real heart of the first season of Abbott Elementary was Janine’s endless quest to win the approval of her revered elder colleague, Barbara. And who can blame her? Sheryl Lee Ralph’s Barbara is regal and glamorous and utterly dedicated to her job; truly a goddess amongst mere mortals.  (And if you somehow missed Ralph’s incredible Emmy acceptance speech earlier this year, rectify that now). – Chloe Walker

Jackson Lamb – Slow Horses

On the surface, Jackson Lamb is thoroughly objectionable. He spends his days sprawled in his gloomy office, swearing, smoking, farting and being openly offensive to his team. But underneath the slovenliness and unpleasant demeanour is someone who knows exactly what he’s doing. Lamb is a seasoned and shrewd intelligence officer, and deep down he genuinely cares about his team, even if he’s allergic to saying anything nice to them. Gary Oldman is so good in the role too. It’s impossible to dislike him, despite how unlikeable he is. – Michael Harrison

Karen Pirie – Karen Pirie

It’s rare for a detective in a British drama to not be plagued by a haunting past or tortured childhood. Yet Karen Pirie is a delightfully straightforward character – diligent and determined, and just downright good at her job. Her position as a young woman is also crucial to the plot. Nobody expects her to be intuitive or to dig deep. Nobody expects much of her at all. Which is why it’s so incredibly satisfying when she solves the historic crime at the heart of the show. – Natalie Xenos

Detective Terry Seattle – Murderville

Will Arnett’s brilliance in Murderville is two-fold. Firstly, his evocation of the schlubby detective Terry Seattle (that name! that moustache!) is a work of art. But perhaps even more entertaining is watching the way he as Terry shepherds his celebrity charges through their improvisation challenges; helping out those who are clearly struggling (poor Annie Murphy…) and gleefully making life harder for those who can obviously handle the extra push (poor Conan O’Brien and Kumail Nanjiani…). – Chloe Walker

Clance Morgan – A League of Their Own

This adaptation of the 1992 film of the same name is full of bold, impressive and forward-thinking women characters. Centred on the formation of a World War-II era women’s professional baseball team, it’s actually Clance’s best friend Max who is one of the central protagonists. But it’s secretly nerdy comic-book artist Clance who absolutely shines whenever she’s on screen. Clance is always trying to lift her friend up, and though she doesn’t have as many scenes as some of the other characters, she never fails to raise a smile. Gbemisola Ikumelo is an absolute joy to watch. – Natalie Xenos

DS Dodds – McDonald & Dodds

The word quirky springs to mind when thinking of DS Dodds. Introverted and awkward but terribly clever, he’s not a natural people person. Yet it’s these idiosyncrasies that make him such an endearing character, not to mention one who’s incredibly observant too. When he originally teamed up with the outspoken and ambitious DCI McDonald, it was difficult to see how their partnership would work. But three series in and they’ve become a solid team, bringing out the best in each other. Dodds is such an inconspicuous character but he makes a big impression. – Nell Young

Arthur Parker – Sanditon

When Sanditon first aired, who’d have thought Arthur would end up being one of the most adored characters in the show? The youngest, unmarried Parker brother started out as a hypochondriac who enjoyed overindulging and was glued to his older sister’s side. But by giving Arthur more independence in series two, the writers allow him to truly come into his own. As the episodes progress, he proves himself to be kind, thoughtful, unassuming and non-judgemental. He becomes the emotional support for wealthy heiress Georgiana Lambe – someone she can trust without fear of ulterior motives, which is a rarity. And let’s not forget Arthur’s heroics with the escapee hot air balloon. He truly did save the day. – Natalie Xenos

Devi Vishwakumar – Never Have I Ever

You’d think a character that makes such an endless stream of terrible decisions would be impossibly frustrating, and yet the charming heart-on-her-sleeve performance of Maitreyi Ramakrishnan means Devi is surprisingly easy to love. As she’s carried on stumbling her way toward growth this year, we’ve watched her continue to come to terms with her lingering grief over the death of her father, lose two boyfriends, cheat at a debate tournament, and make an enormous decision about her future – and through it all, it’s been a privilege to root for her.  – Chloe Walker

Cornelia Locke & Eli Whipp – The English

Brutal, unflinching and bloody, The English centres around Englishwoman Lady Cornelia Locke, who arrives in the American West seeking revenge for the death of her son, and Pawnee ex-cavalry scout Eli Whipp, who’s intent on claiming the land he’s owed for helping the US army. These two lonely souls couldn’t be more different and yet, on a journey fraught with danger and death, they find a precious companionship and friendship with each other. As Cornelia, Emily Blunt simmers with a quiet fury and devastating bone-deep grief that’s palpable. Eli is much more stoic but Cornelia brings out a softness in him that he doesn’t allow anyone else to see. You’re unlikely to find a more formidable duo on any series this year. – Natalie Xenos

Honourable Mentions: Charlie/Nick (Heartstopper), Jack Reacher (Reacher), Tom Kapoor (Starstruck), Julia Child (Julia), Boyd Stevens (From), Chris Carson (The Responder), Wednesday Addams (Wednesday), Jared Vasquez (Manifest), Helen Chambers (The Tourist)

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