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Who are Your Favorite Science Fiction Characters From TV/Film?

As a follow-on to the Who are Your Favorite Literary Science Fiction Characters? post, it seems natural to do the TV/Film version:

Who are Your Favorite Science Fiction Characters From TV/Film?

Some of my favorites:

  • Mal from Firefly/Serenity – For obvious reasons. (Hah! I called him first! Feel free to echo your own Mal-love.) River and Wash come in a very close second.
  • Just about any character in The Fifth Element – All of them were so wonderfully over-the-top, it made the film all the more enjoyable.
  • Jack O’Neill in Stargate-SG1 – A rare find…well-placed and perfectly timed comedy in a serious show.
  • Darth Vader (Episode IV – VI version) – Han Solo was good, but not nearly as cool as Vader. Sadly, I could not think of any other Star Wars characters even though it spawned hundreds of them. This is most likely the result of Lucas’ writing. Star Wars, in fact, probably has the highest number of under-used characters – Boba Fett (not nearly enough screen time), Darth Maul (one of the coolest-looking characters and a double-saber to kick some serious Jedi butt), and, call me sentimental, but I love the look of the Gamorrean Guard (not nearly enough of them on screen).

How about your favorites TV/Film characters? Max Headroom? Bender from Futurama? Doctor McCoy? T2? The new Boomer? The old Boomer? Dr. Zaius? Anybody out there from the Jar-Jar Binks / Wesley Crusher fan club?

(For the celluloid-impaired, feel free to consult Wikipedia’s pages of Science fiction film characters and Science fiction television characters.)

About John DeNardo (13013 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

24 Comments on Who are Your Favorite Science Fiction Characters From TV/Film?

  1. My dream team of characters would be:

    Galen from Crusade. Snarky, sarcastic, and very powerful.

    Kai from Lexx. Emotionless. Lethal.

    Doc Brown from Back to the Future.

    And I’ll stretch the definition a bit by including John Steed. He has fought cyborgs and zombies, as well as been shrunk, so he’s SF to me.

  2. I have to list Hiro from Heroes, to me, the most interesting and sympathetic character on that show. Probably because he is a geek like most of us here. Plus he can stop/move in time. How cool is that?

    From Firefly, I’d have to put Wash first, with Jayne and Mal fighting it out for second. Mal would probably win because he would confuse Jayne, then coldcock (looks at John) him.

    Again, there are a ton if interesting characters, I’m not sure I can remember them all, let alone rank them, or choose a favorite.

  3. Dude, John, those are all men. Uh…not that there’s anything wrong with that. (Speaking of which – there IS something wrong with the tirade Micheal Richards went on yesterday, but I digress.)

    River is a great character and the actress does a good job. The TV episode titled Objects in Space was one of the best TV shows I’ve ever seen and featured her (better than the film I thought.)

    Bender is great – and I was surprised to learn how much of his comedy came from the actor, John Di Maggio. He’s a comedian by trade and does a ton of voiceover work (including games like Gears of War and Kingdom Hearts 2 in addition to live TV and animated TV.)

  4. Aeryn Sun (Farscape) has to be one of the most amazing women out there. When she had the baby and then carried it around shooting everything that moved, I fell in love!

    Princess Leia has always been one of my favorites. I’m not as big a fan of the slave girl outfit as I am of the first time we see her-all hair buns and spunk.

    I’ll stop talking about women now and move on to Rodney McKay from Stargate: Atlantis. I love his cocky attitude and the way that he can do anything once someone says it seems impossible.

    There are tons more, but I have to get back to work.

  5. Aeryn Sun is probably the closest thing to a compelling female character on an SF TV show, but she has too many prolonged stand-around-and-mope sequences for my taste. In fact she was the queen of mope until the new Starbuck came to town.

    Delenn and Lyta Alexander were both good, but both had that whole I’ve-Got-A-Horrible-Secret plot line that just diluted there characters.

    I also like the villain Cassandra from the last two seasons of Dr. Who, just a skein of skin stretched upon a framework. And her motivation for her plots is always pure vanity.

  6. A favorite of mine is the Doctor from Doctor Who – all incarnations. I like some more than others, but he always had character usually an outragerous and outlandish one. He may have seemed crazy, but he knew what was going on and always managed to save the day sometimes sacraficing himself to win.

    I echo Jack O’Neill, Aeryn Sun, and Delenn.

  7. Kristen hits on a good quality for SF characters: competence. So many SF characters on TV lack it. I always admired Cmdr Sisko because he was able to handle an unexpected first contact situation with an omnipotent non-linear intelligence, which is what you’d expect an experienced space explorer to be able to do, not sit around the ready room trying to figure out what to do next.

    The Doctor is competent, as is Capt. Jack on Torchwood. As opposed to Agent Mulder, who was just a lousy FBI agent, and couldn’t close a case until some old man or otherwise knowledgeable character filled in the details for him.

  8. I have long list, it would take too long to list them all or rank them. Here are a few:

    I second JP on Hiro from Heroes.

    Han Solo from Star Wars was cool.

    Neo and Trinity from the Matrix.

    Sarah Connor from the Terminator.

    Judge Dredd (just joking)

    I could go on and on…

  9. Yoda.

    Nuff said.

  10. Zoe from Firefly/Serenity

    Aeryn Sun from Farscape

    Jack O’Neill from SG1

    Starbuck from the (New) Battlestar Gallactica

  11. Charlie, in Flowers for Algernon. Interesting question I prefer science fiction for the science/alternativeness; characters are less important.

    For television, Spock of Star Trek, of course.

    For film, hmmm …, Godzilla.

  12. Too many to list, so a few from the top, in no particular order.

    from TV….

    Jack O’Neill

    Michael Garibaldi

    Starbuck (new BSG)

    From film….

    Han Solo


    On a more primal note…

    Aeryn Sun – all that leather

    Zoe Washburne – smokin hot

    Inara Serra – oh my! Shiny!

    Boomer – oh, I’ve gone all weak in the knees

    T’Pol (in the ‘In A Mirror, Darkly’ episodes) – I almost wet myself…

  13. From TV

    Ditto on Zoe

    Also, Susan Ivanova from Babylon 5.

    Guinan and Q of Star Trek TNG

    Sam from Stargate

    From film

    Tuttle (Deniro’s character) in Brazil

    Bud in Abyss

    Who can pick just one?

  14. From the B5 world, I was always a fan of Londo Molari and G’Kar. The transformation of those characters over the first four seasons is nothing short of amazing.

    Farscape had a list of interesting characters as well, and I will simply say that I liked John Crichton the best since he pretty much represents the smart aleck we all should be in similar situations.

    And while not the best character in SF today, I have to say that Boomer and Six have a special place in my heart (and other regions :))…

  15. Jim Shannon // November 22, 2006 at 5:55 am //

    David Hasselhoff,

    David Duchovny,

    Brabara Bain (then the

    sexiest woman is Sci fi)

    Harrison Ford, Q Star Trek

    and that Elf woman from

    the LOTR movie.

  16. Jim Shannon // November 22, 2006 at 5:56 am //

    Well of course those are

    the acters and actresses

    of those characters. I don’t

    want to type cast anyone πŸ™‚

  17. Gah! How could I have forgotten Londo and G’Kar? Oh and Garibaldi???

    And I’m shocked, shocked!, that Tim actually responded. I didn’t know Vietnam had internet access. And even if they do, I’m shocked, shocked!, that they allow unfettered access to SFSignal, the bastion of science fiction anarchy! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜‰

  18. Tim Morris // November 22, 2006 at 3:36 pm //

    Aeryn Sun and Vala Mal Doran (speaking of all that leather) — so different, so hot, so very Claudia Black.

    River Tam – never fear a dark alley again. The living embodiment of the old Airborne saying “Though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I will fear no evil, for I am the meanest {fellow} in the Valley.”

    Samantha Carter

    Saul Tigh – no kidding, I knew guys just like this. Well, I don’t think any of them had to kill their wives, but hard drinking Colonels who could get your sorry ass out of almost anything – yeah.

    Starbuck 2.0 — speaking of actors, go listen to the interview with Ketee Stackhof on last week’s Slice of SciFi podcast. That’s number 83 and can be found here:

  19. Charlie Green // November 22, 2006 at 7:39 pm //

    Good to see B5 finally show up!

    My choices:

    Q (so over-the-top arrogant, he was a self-parody)

    Harper (before he became totally immersed in the virtual. The ultimate geek smart-ass!)


    John Crichton (the ultimate draftee; no wonder he had attitude)

    Jack O’Neill (who is completely unbelievable as a Col. to any vet but had the best lines)

    Daniel Jackson (great throwaway lines and cynical to boot)

    Teal’c (“Indeed” -arched eyebrow-)

    Michael Garibaldi ([apparently] competent, cynical, and funny)

    Lennier (only because he was always making dire predictions as I recall, some of which came to pass. For some reason, reminded me of the gay guy in Airplane but not as funny)

    Rev Bem (for his funny remarks toward his dietary habits regarding sentients they were fighting)

    Rommie (android, bitch, and all around sarcastic master)

    the two working guys in B5 discussing the war during lunch break (mostly because I could relate to their jobs!)

    while John Sheridan was a cool dude with some cynicism, he just had to keep playing the hero; an honorable mention, at best.

    If you’ve read this far, my choices all have one thing in common: sarcasm/ cynicism/ antihero attitudes. Heroes are relatively easy to create; believable cynics are much harder! It’s like writing in a character who doesn’t buy into the whole scenario the author is writing. OTOH, it could be the cynical remarks in a series is one author being snide with another episode writer.

    Hope I didn’t exceed my quota.

  20. Because it can never been seen enough: Hmmmmmm…Booooooommmmeeerrrrr!


  21. I blogged about this today, but here’s my list again:









    If I could only pick one, it would be Zathras.

  22. Neo (only the first movie) – For obvious reasons, including being *fully awesome*.

    Q – Probably the funniest character in scifi. Ever.

    Daniel Jackson – Great acting, great character growth, always inspired the greatest sympathy from me on the show (despite being less of a victim than, say, Jack or Teal’c)

    Samantha Carter – Because she is awesome. If I could be any scifi character, it would be her.

    Rodney McKay – Gotta love the sarcasm. Great character development over the seasons of Atlantis.

    Data – Because he is a classic. I have always loved the man/machine psychological complex.

    Sylar – The villain that knows he is a villain, and wants to be a villain, and inspires the most sympathy a villain has possibly ever generated from his extensive fan base, and because in the end, we have eyebrows and ice cream, and they have nothing.

    Seven-of-Nine – Again, I’m a sucker for the man(or woman)/machine psychological complex. The show used her as a method of exploring the human condition, and I love that.

    Qui-Gon Jinn – Because he was so fundamentally GOOD. I always admire the hero that follows his own conscience and does what is right, regardless of what the “institution” says.

    Hiro – He makes me smile. He wants to do the right thing. He is awesome. ‘Nuff said.

    Noah Bennett (aka HRG) – “I’m comfortable with morally gray.” Three seasons into the series, several pivotal episodes about HRG, and we STILL don’t know if he’s good or bad. Delightfully infuriating.

    Han Solo – Because. You don’t need a reason. Just because.

    Fox Mulder (earlier seasons) – Wonderful portrayal of a character driven to the brink of insanity (occasionally diving headfirst into it) by his endless persuit of the truth. Poetic.

    Captain Janeway (later seasons) – She really had to grow into her character over the series, but I eventually became a fan.

    My favorite characters are always the ones that question, psychoanalyze, poke, prod, and play mind games with people (particularly their victims, so yes, I love villains, but it’s even better if these people are the heroes.)

  23. My favorite sci-fi characters are:

    1. Jadzia Dax from DS9 (Beautiful, sexy, confident, funny, cool, everything a woman should be)

    2. Worf from TNG and DS9 (I love this Klingon!)

    3. Dana Scully from The X-Files (Simply amazing character)

    4.Captain Picard

    5. Captain Sisco

  24. I love Jadzia Dax, Worf, Sisco, Spock and Odo from Star Treks, Han Solo from Star Wars, Scully, Deep Throat and Sigarette Man from X-fILES, Spike from Buffy and Angel and I’m sure there are many i forget now

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