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Who'd they play best? 12 TV actors and their top roles

Opie and Richie. Maude and Dorothy. Peggy and Gemma. An actor is lucky if they have one defining TV character. So what about those with two (or even more)?

The EW Community takes a look at some of our favorite TV actors and the top roles they brought to life. And here’s the big question: Which is the better character? Let’s get to it. There can only be one winner!

Alyson Hannigan:
Willow Rosenberg (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 1997–2003) vs. Lily Aldrin (How I Met Your Mother, 2005-2014)

Alyson Hannigan - Willow vs Lily

One was a brainy witch; the other an artistic kindergarten teacher. Both were endearing, had lesbian tendencies, and yet they were completely their own characters. Throughout her nine-year run, we see a lifetime of Lily (and Marshall) through breakups, weddings, hairstyles, slaps, births, and deaths. Yet Willow prevails. Our favorite little witch went from goofy sidekick to supreme being, and played a central part in saving the world—a lot. Am I just bitter over HIMYM‘s finale? Nah, Willow wins. Always.
Winner: Willow Rosenberg.Joanna Skrabala

Keri Russell:
Felicity Porter (Felicity, 1998–2002) vs. Elizabeth Jennings (The Americans, 2013–present)

Keri Russell - Felicity vs Elizabeth

What made Felicity Porter a perfect WB heroine would get Elizabeth Jennings killed. Keri Russell infused Felicity‘s freshman with naïve passion and earnestness—a teenager unsure of her future, finding drama in every dorm and coffee shop. Now she plays The Americans’ Elizabeth as a confident killer, trained as a child to serve Russia and shut off emotions. Verdict: Felicity inspires nostalgia, but it’s more fun watching Elizabeth in disguise tending bullet wounds and hiding bodies.
Winner: Elizabeth Jennings. —Wendy Hathaway

Michael C. Hall:
David Fisher (Six Feet Under, 2001–2005) vs. Dexter Morgan (Dexter, 2006–2013)

Michael C. Hall - David vs Dexter

Michael C. Hall portrayed repressed, gay funeral director David Fisher’s tumultuous journey of self-acceptance for five seasons on Six Feet Under. As vigilante serial killer Dexter Morgan on Dexter, he spent seven seasons killing (mostly) other criminals. The whole of Six Feet Under is greater than the sum of its parts, whereas the character of Mr. Morgan is Dexter‘s legacy, making the latter Hall’s most defining role.
Winner: Dexter Morgan. —Erin Conley

Marcia Cross:
Kimberly Shaw (Melrose Place, 1992–1997) vs. Bree Van de Kamp (Desperate Housewives, 2004–2012)

Marcia Cross - Kimberly vs Bree

Marcia Cross has played two polarizing characters on primetime soaps: the “perfect mother” Bree Van de Kamp on Desperate Housewives, and the villainous Dr. Kimberly Shaw on Melrose Place. Both battled torrid love affairs and soapy drama, but it’s the role of Bree that reigns supreme. Marcia brought a mix of witty charm and stoic grace to the role that made Bree a character to root for and support.
Winner: Bree Van de Kamp. —Justin Carreiro

Peter Krause:
Nate Fisher (Six Feet Under, 2001–2005) vs. Adam Braverman (Parenthood, 2010–2015)

Peter Krause - Nate vs Adam

Nate is a little (a lot) emotionally unstable, he’s unlucky, and he definitely made some bad decisions. But his earnestness in trying to choose his own path is enough to make him someone to root for. Adam is the role model you want your kids to have, the husband you want your partner to be, and the genuinely good human you desperately want to hold onto (in other words, a certifiable jackpot). I think Nate represents in most of us that preternatural urge to find your own way, to fight an unwanted destiny, and the eternal struggle to just be. Because of that, Krause (and all of us) is destined to live on in Nate forever.
Winner: Nate Fisher. —Brandi McCormick

Sarah Jessica Parker:
Patty Green (Square Pegs, 1982–1983) vs. Carrie Bradshaw (Sex and the City, 1998–2004)

Sarah Jessica Parker - Patty vs Carrie

Before putting glasses on a pretty girl became a ’90s cliché, Sarah Jessica Parker donned glasses and a geeky wardrobe as half of the nerdy title duo in the early-’80s one-season hit Square Pegs. Patty Greene was awkward, intelligent, and always on the outside of fitting in with the “cool kids.” Fast-forward 15 years: Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw was the epitome of the fashion-forward career gal who, yes, was still often pretty awkward.
Winner: Carrie Bradshaw. —Karen Belgrad

Larry Hagman:
Major Tony Nelson (I Dream of Jeannie, 1965–1970) vs. J.R. Ewing (Dallas, 1978–1991, 2012–2013)

Larry Hagman - Nelson vs JR

Major Nelson was the consummate straight man to the shenanigans of the titular Jeannie on I Dream of Jeannie. Eight years after wrapping as the lead on a comedy, Larry Hagman proved himself capable of a complete reversal as the duplicitous, scheming, and bed-hopping J.R. Ewing on Dallas. J.R.’s mischievous grin and Stetson hat became so iconic that one of those signature hats now resides in the Smithsonian.
Winner: J.R. Ewing. —Karen Belgrad

Timothy Olyphant:
Sheriff Seth Bullock (Deadwood, 2004–2006) vs. Marshal Raylan Givens (Justified, 2010–2015)

Timothy Olyphant - Bullock vs Givens

When comparing the two television roles that Timothy Olyphant will best be remembered for—Deadwood‘s Sheriff Bullock and Justified‘s Marshal Givens—one must ask: Would Givens exist without Bullock? Yes, both characters were around long before the actor stepped into their shoes (in Bullock’s case, literally). But once he did, he owned them. Both are archetypal heroes who have the no-nonsense swagger missing from modern good guys in film and television. But Givens’ cool-under-pressure attitude definitely gives him the edge. And we’ll definitely get closure this time!
Winner: Marshal Raylan Givens. —Shant Istamboulian

Alyssa Milano:
Samantha Micelli (Who’s the Boss?, 1984–1992) vs. Phoebe Halliwell (Charmed, 1998–2006)

Alyssa Milano - Samanth vs Phoebe

Alyssa Milano made her TV debut in 1984 at the age of 10, when she was cast as Tony Danza’s daughter, Samantha Micelli, in Who’s the Boss? While that sitcom continues to be a favorite of that era, Milano is best known and loved for her turn as Phoebe Halliwell in 1998’s Charmed. Her role as one of three powerful witch sisters established her as a star, sex symbol, and role model for young women.
Winner: Phoebe Halliwell.Terri Clark

Sophia Bush:
Brooke Davis (One Tree Hill, 2003–2012) vs. Det. Erin Lindsey (Chicago PD, 2013–2015).

Sophia Bush - Brooke vs Erin

Sophia Bush played the beloved Brooke Davis on One Tree Hill. She took Brooke from a self-involved cheerleader to a strong and confident woman. Now Bush portrays Detective Erin Lindsey each week on Chicago P.D., a character who has overcome a lot to get where she is and kicks butt on a daily basis. Brooke Davis is the more defining character of Bush’s career (so far). We saw Bush grow up on screen as Brooke Davis, and she’s taken that maturity into her new role.
Winner: Brooke Davis. —Emily Glover

Connie Britton:
Tami Taylor (Friday Night Lights, 2006–2011) vs. Rayna James (Nashville, 2012–present)

Connie Britton - Tami vs Rayna

Connie Britton thrives at portraying fierce leading women. As Tami Taylor, she stayed loyal to her dreams, her principles never wavered, and she built a career for herself while being the greatest and most supportive wife and mother television has ever seen. Rayna James is a country music star who is constantly working to achieve more. She is also the mother of two extremely talented girls, and she always makes them her priority, protecting them at all costs.
Winner: Tami Taylor. It’s not Rayna’s fault, though; Tami is tough to beat. —Tamar Barbash

Liza Weil:
Paris Gellar (Gilmore Girls, 2000–2007) vs. Amanda Tanner (Scandal, 2012) vs. Bonnie Winterbottom (How to Get Away with Murder, 2014–present)

Liza Weil - Paris vs Amanda vs Bonnie

Liza Weil is a genius of television adaptation, but in a perfect world, it’s nice to imagine her roles on Gilmore Girls, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder could be connected. Her role as Paris Gellar set the pace for Weil’s collection of complex and quirky characters—so much so that it’s almost believable that the onetime neurotic schoolgirl might have slept with the President before going AWOL and coming back as a cold, harsh lawyer.
Winner: Paris Gellar, as if she ever stopped being Paris to begin with.Justin Kirkland

Compiling a definitive list is nearly impossible—for now. So it’s your turn to voice some of your favorites. What other TV actors made several names for themselves? Do we have any Julia Louis-Dreyfus fans out there—Elaine or Selina (or Christine)?

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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