Top 8 Character Actors on Television

It is time once again for an 8daysageek top 8 list!  As regular readers may have recognized, I am a huge fan of television and today’s list will be no exception.  We happen to be right in the heart of “sweeps” ratings season, and I felt it was time to give some credit where credit is due.  Do you know the name of that guy on that show that appeared in like two episodes?  You know…that guy…who was on that other show you watched as well?  You know you’ve seen him in things before…but you just aren’t sure who he is.  When you have to hit IMDB to figure out where you know him from…those are the guys we are going to take a look at today.  I am going to count down for you, my list of top 8 character actors on television.  You will be familiar with all their work.  However, you probably don’t know their names.  Some have had major roles in shows.  Some always seem to play the bad guy and some always seem to get killed off.  Nonetheless, these actors make our favorite TV shows what they are and I, for one, feel they deserve a little recognition.   So, let’s get straight to it…



Robert Picardo


#8.  Robert Picardo- If you are a science fiction fan, you have seen Robert Picardo.  He has the honor of having the most IMDB credits to his name of any actor on this list.  His first major roles were in shows such as China Beach and The Wonder Years.  Since then, Picardo has joined the ranks of sci-fi steadfasts.  He is probably most well-known for his role in multiple incarnations of Star Trek.  Where he plays either Dr. Lewis Zimmerman or his holographic counterpart aboard the starship Voyager.  He has appeared in all three incarnations of Stargate as Dr. Richard Woolsey.  Geeks may have also seen him in The 4400, Smallville, Supernatural, Chuck, and Castle.  Most recently, you could have seen him on last week’s episode of Bones…or for you gamer fans out there…he also does the voice of Erik Brieghner in Call of Duty: Black Ops II.  He has been nominated for one primetime Emmy for his role on The Wonder Years.  His role on Star Trek: Voyager earned him a Saturn nomination for Best Genre TV Supporting Actor.  He also won a Founder’s Award for his role on China Beach way back in 1988.




Donal Logue


#7.  Donal Logue- Gen X’ers may recognize Logue as Jimmy the Cab Driver, who was a staple of MTV promos during the early 90’s.  Logue starred in the sitcom Grounded for Life, but his best work has been done outside of starring roles.  Guest spots on shows such as The X-Files, Monk, and House have made Logue a recognizable face.  However, the past two television seasons have brought Logue into my home in THREE separate shows and he has been fantastic in all of them.  Roles in Vikings, Copper, and most recently in Sons of Anarchy, have made Logue a regular on my television screen.  His characters in SOA and Copper met deserved bitter ends, however, I’m sure he will show up again in another program I enjoy sooner rather than later.




Garret Dillahunt


#6.  Garret Dillahunt- Garret began his television career on the soap opera One Life to Live.  He then began a stint of guest starring roles that to list them all would take up this entire article.  He has guest starred in just about every single procedural drama on television.  Including playing a paralyzed serial killer on Criminal Minds.  One…actually two…of my favorite of Dillahunt’s roles, were on the series Deadwood.  He actually portrayed two completely separate characters on the HBO drama.  He also appeared in multiple episodes throughout three different seasons of Burn Notice where he played Michael Westin’s psychopathic rival, Simon Escher.  You have probably also seen him on The X-Files, The 4400, White Collar, or The Sarah Connor Chronicles.  The only reason he is not closer to number 1 on this list of character actors is because he is currently one of the stars of Raising Hope where he plays the character of Burt Chance.  It is a very funny show and Dillahunt is fantastic!  However, it is a little too much of a lead-role for me to place him better than six on my list.




Zeljko Ivanek


#5.  Zeljko Ivanek- Ivanek has had an extensive career in films.  However, his supporting television roles are what place him at number five on my list.  More often than not he is cast as the antagonist and does a fantastic job getting the fans to despise him.  Ivanek is another actor who has made an appearance in just about every procedural on television over the last ten years.  That includes THREE separate roles on The Practice.  He has appeared in television hits such as House, Bones, True Blood, and most recently on NBC’s post apocalyptic hit, Revolution as well as one of my favorite USA originals, White Collar.  Zeljko actually won a primetime Emmy for his role on the series, Damages.




Mitch Pileggi


#4.  Mitch Pileggi- Every geek worth their salt remembers Mitch Pileggi as Walter Skinner on The X-Files.  However, don’t think that’s the only thing he has done.  Mitch has had one-off guest spots on not only some of TV’s best dramas but also appeared in some of televisions biggest sitcoms, including That 70’s Show and Dharma and Greg.  He voiced Commissioner Gordon on The Batman and has had multi-episode roles on Stargate Atlantis, Sons of Anarchy, and Supernatural.  He can currently be seen on Dallas, the same television show he made his very first guest appearance on all the way back in 1983.  He and his castmates were nominated for three separate SAG awards for best ensemble cast for their roles on The X-Files in 1997-99.




Mark Pellegrino


#3.  Mark Pellegrino- Many people would recognize Pellegrino as the thug who stuffs The Dude’s head in a toilet in the cult classic movie, The Big Lebowski.  However, he is also one of the busiest character actors on television.  This guy has guest starred in more of my favorite television shows than just about any person besides maybe the final two men on this list.  Mark has made appearances on multiple procedural dramas like others on this list, although playing two separate roles on both CSI and CSI: Miami, might put him in a category all by himself.  He simultaneously played Jacob (a benevolent god-like character) on Lost and Lucifer himself on Supernatural.  Seeing as that one of those shows taped in Vancouver while the other filmed in Hawaii, Mark must have been a very busy guy.  You have probably also seen him in Dexter, Burn Notice, and Being Human.  In 2012 alone…Mark had guest appearances on Chuck, Castle, Grimm, Being Human, Person of Interest, and Revolution.  You can currently see him in the CW’s new sci-fi series, The Tomorrow People. In 2010 he was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Guest Starring Role on Television for-you guessed it-his role of Jacob on Lost.





Titus Welliver


#2.  Titus Welliver- While the man at #3 on the list was playing the benevolent Jacob on Lost, Titus Welliver was playing his brother and nemesis-The Man in Black.  Say what you will about how this particular series ended, but no one can deny that Welliver did an outstanding job as the sinister mind behind the evil happenings on the island.  Titus began his television career with roles on classic dramas such as L.A. Law, Berverly Hills 90210, and The X-Files.  He appeared in multiple episodes of NYPD Blue and Star Trek: Voyager.  However, his role on HBO’s Deadwood has to be considered one of his best.  The cast on that series was amazing…and Welliver was a big part of it.  Since then, he has been in episodes of some of my personal favorite television shows such as Suits, Grimm, Supernatural, White Collar, along with a rather lengthy guest role on Sons of Anarchy.  You have most recently seen him in Marvel: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  Titus was nominated in 2007 for a SAG award along with his cast mates for Best Ensemble in a Drama, for their performances on the aforementioned Deadwood.



Here we are…#1 on the list.  Do you think you know who it is?  As a meme I just saw on the internet recently, stated…if you don’t know this man, turn in your geek card.  There might not be a more true statement when it comes to the actors on this list.  My number one character actor on television…and one of this geek’s personal favorite actors in general….





Mark Sheppard


#1.  Mark Sheppard- Mark actually has the fewest IMDB credits to his name of any actor on this list.  However, in my opinion he has done the most with them.  He has appeared in more television shows that I have loved and watched over the years than any other actor I know.  Sheppard has guest starred in some of the best geek television in history.  His roles in shows such as The X-Files, Star Trek: Voyager, Monk, Chuck, Charmed, and Sliders have all been outstanding.  But, his roles in shows such as Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, Dollhouse, Warehouse 13, Doctor Who, and White Collar have made him unforgettable.  Most recently, he can be seen playing the King of Hell, Crowley, in the CW’s hit Supernatural.  Sheppard has only been nominated for an award for his television performances once; that being a Saturn Award in 2013 for Best Guest Starring Role on Television for his appearances on Leverage.  In my humble opinion this is a travesty.  Sheppard deserves more recognition for the outstanding work he has done in so many television shows that fanboys…and fangirls…have enjoyed for so long.



There you have it folks!  My top eight character actors on television.  Whether they were heroes, villains, gods, or devils, these actors have entertained us for years and hopefully for many more to come.  Do you have a favorite character actor who has appeared in all your favorite geek programming that I didn’t include on this list?  Let me know in the comments below.  You can also email me here at [email protected] or hit me up on Twitter @SeanMLScott.  Until the next time we count down together…allons-y!

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