Take one part martyred matriarch and two parts badass. Mix with audacious fashion and iconic clapbacks and bake for 17 years in a cold prison. The finished product is Fox’s “Empire’s” Cookie Lyon. Played with fierce finesse by Golden Globe winner Taraji P. Henson, Cookie is currently television’s most dynamic character, and is redefining what it means to be a powerful black woman in television, entertainment and life.
It’s hard to believe that “Supernatural’s” Sam Winchester—who clocks in at redonkulous 6’5’’—is the show’s resident nerd. He also has a heart of gold that astonishingly remains untarnished after losing the love of his life, dealing with a supernatural drug addiction and spending centuries being the devil’s hottest punching bag. “Supernatural’s” winter finale found our beloved Sammy (Jared Padalecki) engaging in an actual cagematch with Lucifer, and even though we’re all worried for him, we know that Sam Winchester never stops fighting.
Normally, I'm turned off by the Type-A, neurotic overachievers. It's a character cliché that has been done to death, because they’re generally one gratingly high-strung note. Thanks to the whimsical and surreal universe in which "Jane The Virgin's" Jane Villanueva lives and Golden Globe winning star Gina Rodriguez's insane chops, it totally works. Jane gets to embrace all of the dynamic facets of her personality in part through cartoonish fantasies. And when she's a working class college student who was accidentally artificial inseminated by the sister of the rich hotelier she once kissed years ago, even the most even keeled perfectionist will be understandably unbalanced and emotional. All of that drama makes for terrific television.
Are you a fan of ugly cries? You’d have to be to love this dramatic duo on CW's awesome superhero saga, "The Flash." Grant Gustin and Jesse L. Martin make up the surrogate father-son team that transcends race and even the tragedy that brought them together. Gustin is spectacular as Barry Allen, geek-turned-superhero. Martin is heartbreakingly awesome as his adoptive father. Together they are some kind of super-emo duo intent to destroy hearts one tear at a time. At least all those tears are great for the skin.
Honestly, the entire cast of ABC’s uproarious family comedy, “black-ish” deserve to be on this countdown, but I’m singling out the best of the best otherwise this countdown would have 217 entries. At just 11, Marsai Martin deserves to be Golden Globe nominated along with her TV mother, Tracee Ellis Ross, for her comedic timing and sheer talent. She holds her own with the adults on the show, including the hilarious and no-holds-barred Ross, and even guest stars like Tyra Banks and veteran actors Jenifer Lews and Laurence Fishburne.
If society created Hulu's “The Mindy Project’s” Mindy Lahiri, then it can’t be all bad, right? Don’t let the M.D and the multiple fancy medical practices fool you, Dr. Mindy Lahri (Mindy Kaling) is a junk food and rom-com obsessed, celebrity gossip-guzzling, foul-mouthed monster, and somehow she is fabulously relatable. Or maybe I'm just a terrible person? It’s a rarity to see women playing clueless, trainwreckian disasters, and Kaling’s Lahiri is one of the first mighty trailblazers. There is a warrior on the frontlines in the battle for gender equality, and her name is Beyonce Pad Thai.
CBS’ “Limitless”—the television continuation of the Bradley Cooper-led movie—may be a freshman procedural, but it's presented one of the most infectiously fun characters since “Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s” Jake Peralta. Brian Finch (Jake McDorman) is an immature, sarcastic manchild who has no focus until he takes a little clear pill that allows him to access his entire brain. Fortunately, the drug doesn’t turn him into an arrogant know-it-all ala Sherlock Holmes in both the CBS and BBC series, it only hones in his inner potential and amplifies his zany personality. Never change, Brian. Mike and Ike need you!
I was born on Inauguration Day, so I've always wondered by the president was called the "Commander-In-Chief" and got his own theme music while the First Lady hosted Easter Egg Hunts and was judged on her fashion sense. "Scandal's" Mellie Grant, played with stunning precision by Bellamy Young, is the embodiment of my young observations. Brilliant and educated in her own right, she might have been a better president than her ex-husband, Fitzgerald Grant. After five seasons of her enduring Fitz's infidelity, volatility, alcohol abuse and empty promises, she is seizing the power that she sacrificed decades ago. As a freshman Senator who executed the longest (and spontaneous) filibuster in U.S. History to protect Planned Parenthood's funding, and she'll march into 2016 with her eyes set on the White House. All hail the future chief!
These definitely aren't all of my favorite characters so I'm sure they'll be another countdown soon! Hit up the comments section to tell me yours!