Welcome to Five by Friday! All of us here at Avenging Force watch a good amount of TV, and love it when we find a show where the characters feel like fully-formed people. Some of them we want to be best friends with, while others should probably be kept at a safe distance, but every one of these characters keeps us faithfully tuning into their show week after week, anxious to see what they’ll do next.
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5. Frank Castle/Punisher, Daredevil (Netflix)
The only reason Frank is not higher on this list is because he’s only had one season in which to establish himself, but what a season it was. Although Daredevil had an overall uneven second season, Jon Bernthal’s portrayal of Frank Castle was a constant highlight. While Punisher rides the line between anti-hero and outright villain, he was portrayed so sympathetically that by the end of the season, I was rooting for him more than the hero.
4. Tyrion Lannister, Game of Thrones (HBO)
I think most of the internet is agreed that Game of Thrones had a rocky fifth season. For a long time, nothing happened, and then when it did, it was kind of awful (and I mean awful in a writing way, not awful in an “everything on Game of Thrones is awful and no one is ever happy” kind of way). However, I’ll keep coming back season after season as long as the show writers keep Tyrion alive. He is not the noblest character on the show, or the nicest, or the bravest, but for my money, he’s the best. All Men Must Die, but if anyone can sidestep the show’s foreboding tagline, it’s Tyrion Lannister.
3. Lagertha, Vikings (History)
Vikings is one of those shows that flies under the radar. It airs on the History channel, a network not known for its original dramatic content, and draws not from medieval European history, with which audiences are far more familiar, but from Norse legends and historical figures. While the show is centered around the exploits of (the likely mythical) Ragnar Lothbrok, the real shining star is not Ragnar, his sons, or his warriors, but his first wife, Lagertha. As a wife, mother, shieldmaiden, and earl, Lagertha is simultaneously warm and powerful, vulnerable and ruthless. She’s one of the strongest and most complex characters on TV today, female or not.
2. Ravi Chakrabarti, iZombie (CW)
It’s been a long time since I found a show as consistently excellent as iZombie, and a large part of that is due to zombie protagonist Liv’s co-worker and confidant, Ravi. There aren’t many shows that let platonic male-female friendships flourish, but Liv and Ravi’s friendship manages to be one of the central relationships of iZombie without there being even a whiff of sexual tension. Plus, Ravi’s smart (and frequently nerdy) banter and zingy one-liners help keep the overall tone of the show light, even when tackling some pretty dark subject matter.
1. Cisco Ramon, The Flash (CW)
There’s this phenomenon I’ve noticed in the Arrowverse where every character becomes instantly more likable by interacting with Cisco Ramon. While The Flash is an overall delightful show full of charming characters, Cisco has the best lines, the best facial expressions, and the best delivery of them all. What’s more, his endearing personality manages to elevate every character who shares the screen with him. Whether he’s coming up with codenames for the villain of the week, explaining time travel theory, or rickrolling a metahuman prisoner, he spins every line he’s given into gold, and is the consistent MVP of both The Flash, and television in general.
5. Stiles Stilinski and Lydia Martin, Teen Wolf (MTV)
Yes I am a grownass woman who actually watches Teen Wolf as it airs on MTV. And I admit that I watch this show basically for these two characters, which is why they get to share the number 5 spot on my list. They’re delightful, ridiculous, intelligent, and fearless. When they’re together on screen the witty banter reminds of of Donna and Josh from The West Wing in the best way possible. And I will watch them fight all of the supernatural beings until the show gets cancelled.
4. Felicity Smoak, Arrow (CW)
I know most people have long since given up on Arrow (and I certainly don’t blame them), but I’m still watching. And I’ll continue to watch as long as Emily Bett Rickards continues to charm and delight me with her portrayal of Felicity. Felicity is the most compassionate and caring character on the show, but don’t be fooled: she’ll stand up and fight fiercely to defend those she cares about. She runs her own tech company, and creates new tech that will benefit the world. In a word, she’s brilliant.
3. Edwin Jarvis, Agent Carter (ABC)
Agent Carter is one of my favorite hours on TV, and as much as I adore Peggy, Jarvis is the reason I keep coming back to the show. He’s an utter delight and the perfect foil to the more brash and impulsive Peggy. He’s far from trained as a spy, yet he more than willingly accompanies Peggy on most of her adventures, often providing crucial assistance. His dry sense of humor and impeccable comedic timing leave me cracking up every time he’s on screen. Not to mention, he someone how manages to put up with both Howard Stark and his flamingos.
2. Lagertha, Vikings (History)
Vikings is one of the best shows on TV that I always feel like not enough people are watching (Maybe because it’s on the History channel and people don’t know it’s there because they associate the channel with Hitler and the Aliens Guy?). In a show that centers around the fictional Norse Viking Ragnar and the exploits and victories of his people, it’s Lagertha who draws me in. As a shieldmaiden she fights just as fiercely as the men, as an Earl she rules sternly but justly, and as a mother she shows warmth and compassion. She’s exactly who I want to be when I grow up.
1. Cisco Ramon, The Flash (CW)
Oh, Cisco. There are many, many compelling reasons why everyone should be watching The Flash (endearing characters, solid storylines, intriguing villains, giant gorillas), but Cisco is at the top of the list. He has most of the best lines on the show, delivering zingers and creating catchy codenames for the villain of the week with the same amount of charm. Besides, how can you not love someone who gleefully rickrolls a captive metahuman as a form of payback?
5. Rogelio de la Vega, Jane the Virgin (CW)
If you’re not watching Jane the Virgin, you’re missing out on some of the snappiest writing on television. This show goes a mile a minute, in true telenovela fashion, and the absurdity of the format is best captured in Rogelio de la Vega, telenovela megastar. He is a caricature, extreme in every regard, but he comes with an enormous heart, which keeps him firmly planted on this side of ridiculous. His desire to be close with his family and to be a part of his daughter and grandson’s lives despite their disparate lifestyles makes him a beacon of delight in what is already a stellar cast of characters. Hashtag Success.
4. Davos Seaworth, Game of Thrones (HBO)
My relationship with Game of Thrones is long and storied. As a book reader, some of the things HBO’s showrunners have done haven’t sat well with me, and my “favorite character” has changed quite a few times over the course of these seasons, because as we all know: in the Game of Thrones, you either win or you die. And a lot of my favorites over time haven’t won much of anything, except perhaps the bad luck lottery (I miss you, dead half of the Stark family). Anyway, at this point in the game, my favorite is actually Davos Seaworth. He’s the only character in Stannis Baratheon’s entire storyline that cared for Shireen (clarification: on the show. Book Stannis vs. Show Stannis is a topic for another time), he shows wisdom and foresight in his endeavor to learn to read, and he seems to be one of the very few characters in the entire overstuffed cast that has any common sense at all.
3. Lagertha, Vikings (History)
I’m not even caught up on this show yet (I’m still recovering from The Event of Which We Shall Not Speak in season 3) but Lagertha has quickly shot up my list of favorites. She’s a no-nonsense shieldmaiden, as fierce in her personal relationships as she is on the battlefield, and she has the coolest hair in Scandinavia (I would know. It’s the land of my people). She is patient, she is resilient, and she is not to be crossed. Every time someone tries, I want to pull out the popcorn gifs, because I just know that there is a swift and brutal retribution coming, and that she will come out victorious. Honestly, I want to be Lagertha.
2. Cisco Ramon, The Flash (CW)
Cisco Ramon, to my mind, is one of those rare characters that combines fantastic writing with fantastic acting to give you something that in all likelihood is a flash in the pan. I am confident that in another actor’s hands, the same lines would fall flat or feel like they were trying too hard, but in the masterful hands of Carlos Valdez they are perfection. Cisco is the guy on The Flash who talks the way the fans of The Flash do. He gives villains their names, he cracks jokes and makes pop culture references all the time, and he’s not afraid to give his opinion of others or tell his friends a hard truth when they need to hear it. He’s that one friend that we all have, the one who’s always making us laugh, but who we know will drop anything to make sure everything’s all right in a crisis.
1. Peggy Carter, Agent Carter (ABC)
I love Peggy Carter. She takes no crap from anyone, she’s confident, she’s brilliant, and most of all she is completely dismissive of judgment or derision leveled at her by other people. She is a role model for women who aspire to be completely comfortable in their own skin. She’s one of those people that owns a room simply by walking into it. She’s defused a bomb using items from her bathroom cupboard, she outsmarts everyone that tries to cross her, and when necessary she will slug someone twice her size without hesitation. She’s a powerhouse, and I’m glad we get someone as great as her on television at all. We are all lucky to know Peggy Carter.