By: Jamie Samuelsen
If you’re not watching “Justified” on FX, then you’re missing one of the great shows on TV at the moment.
But you’re also missing the single coolest character ever to appear on the small screen – US Deputy Marshall Raylan Givens. Raylan (played by Timothy Olyphant) is a southern boy who returned to his Kentucky home after getting sent away from his assignment in Miami. (He got into a little trouble after killing a part of a powerful drug cartel in Florida. But the killing was ‘justified’ in Raylan’s mind because, after all, the other guy ‘pulled first.’ If that doesn’t make sense to you, rent the DVDs.)
I watch ‘Justified’ with my wife who I’m rather sure would leave me for Raylan Givens if she had the chance. When I told this to a friend of mine, he responded, “I can’t blame her. I think I’d leave my wife if Raylan gave ME the chance.” And trust me, this friend is not gay. Far from it. Faaaaaaar from it.
So in honor of Raylan, here are the five coolest characters in TV history. These are not necessarily the BEST characters (Tough to beat Archie Bunker, Fred Sanford or George Jefferson.) This list is simply the coolest. For example, Walter White on “Breaking Bad” is a tremendous character. But I think we can all agree, unless he’s got the hat on and is playing the role of Heisenberg, he’s not all that cool. And before you start emailing me, The Fonz was left off the list on purpose. It’s too cliché. And he technically had an office in the men’s room of a local diner. How cool is that?
1) Raylan Givens – “Justified”. Enough said.
2) Omar Little – “The Wire” – I could have gone with Bunk. I could have gone with Stringer Bell. I could have gone with Lester. But Omar is easily the best character on “The Wire”. He has about 100 “best scenes” – but when he testified against Bird, well, that was his masterpiece. The best parts were when he helped the guard with his crossword puzzle…and called the scummy lawyer out for being a leech.
3) Tony Soprano – “The Sopranos” – Tony goes down in history as one the greatest characters and one of the coolest. Hard to call a balding, overweight man in his fifties ‘cool’. But Tony fit the bill. He was a criminal, a murderer, a philanderer and not the Father of the Year. But you still somehow rooted for him to succeed.
4) Don Draper – “Mad Men” In terms of pure cool – Draper would probably be number one on this list. The women adore him. The men want to be him. And he has this cool veneer that never seems to crack unless one of his kids is acting completely insane (Sally) or Peggy really gets under his skin. The reason he’s not higher on the list? He seems like a jerk. I suppose you could say the same about Tony Soprano – but not our boy Raylan. Here’s a quintessential Don Draper scene.
5) Coach Eric Taylor – “Friday Night Lights” If you do NOTHING else that I tell you to do – please do this – rent and watch Friday Night Lights. Even your wife will like it. It’s not about football – but it IS about football. You won’t regret it. Eric is the perfect coach. I never played football past 8th grade and he made me wish I played for like 12 years. Love the show. Love the coach. So I’ll admit this is slightly biased.
Honorable Mention – Dexter Morgan – “Dexter”, Jack Bauer – “24”, Leroy Jethro Gibbs – “NCIS”, Mike Ehrmantraut – “Breaking Bad”, Gustavo Fring – “Breaking Bad”, Tyrion Lannister – “Game of Thrones”, Boyd Crowder – “Justified”, James T. Kirk – “Star Trek”, Zack Morris – “Saved By The Bell”, Al Swearengen – “Deadwood”.