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TV Squad Ten: Most mysterious characters on television

by Jason Hughes, posted May 13th 2009 2:27PM
Michael Emerson as Benjamin Linus on Everybody loves a good mystery. Well maybe not everybody if the ratings for Harper's Island are any indication. But mysteries and suspense have been a part of television since it's inception. It's one thing for the plot to be full of mysteries. Things like "Who shot J.R.?" can become a part of popular culture. But J.R. himself wasn't a mystery, we knew him pretty well.

But there are those characters we don't know much about. Think about Benjamin Linus from Lost when he first appeared as Henry Gale among the Flight 815 survivors. There were so many secrets and mysteries surrounding him that we couldn't take our eyes off of him when he was on-screen. Well Ben's story may be more or less told, though something tells me there's still more to be gleaned, but there are plenty of familiar faces on television with not so familiar back-stories. And while Ben didn't make the list, that doesn't mean Lost went unrepresented.

If you just want the list, click here.

Most mysterious characters on TV

    10. Dr. Helen Magnus (Sanctuary, SyFy)

    Amanda Tapping originated the role of Dr. Helen Magnus on the Sci Fi web series Sanctuary. But the network saw so much promise in it they brought it to air. Since that time, we've learned more of Helen's secrets, but with 175 years of life under her belt, a genius intellect and the story of how she built the Sanctuary network still untold, there's a lot more to this leading lady than meets the eye.

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    9 - Captain Jack Harkness (Torchwood, BBC America)

    Captain Jack Harkness started as a supporting character on the re-imagining of Doctor Who. But American John Barrowman infused such a likability into the character that eventually a whole show, Torchwood, was built around him. Jack was born in the 51st Century, traveled with the Doctor, became immortal, and ultimately trapped in the past. What happened from there is being slowly revealed in new episodes of both shows.

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    BBC America

    8 - Castiel (Supernatural, The CW)

    A new addition to Supernatural, the angel Castiel is a force for good, but not necessarily "God's will." And while he seems intent on helping Sam and Dean, he's not doing it for them. So what is he doing. We recently learned the story of his human host, played by Misha Collins, but we still don't know the true motivations of the angel itself. We do know that Castiel is joining the show as a regular cast member, which is just divine by me.

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    Sergei Bachlakov, The CW

    7 - Tony Almeida (24, Fox)

    Carlos Bernard was so popular on 24 that even death couldn't keep his character Tony Almeida down. However, what's been going on since his disappearance isn't as clear as we thought. Tony went from a surprise ally to Jack early on this season to a key player in the conspiracy against the government. This Tony is bitter and angry and a little psychotic, but how and why he fell so far is still unclear.

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    Fox Broadcasting

    6 - Angela Petrelli, (Heroes, NBC)

    Cristine Rose plays the role of Angela Petrelli with such conviction that she comes across as one of the most real characters on a show filled with Heroes. She appears to be the last surviving member of the "Generation One" group of people with abilities that founded "The Company." She's been the true puppetmaster behind so much of what the characters have gone throug, and while we've learned some of her past, there are chapters still unexplored.

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    5 - The Devil (Reaper , The CW)

    Is he Sam's father? My vote is no, but it doesn't matter. The Devil is the father of lies, and Ray Wise plays him with such euphoric glee on Reaper that he lights up every scene he's in. It's tragic that The CW has all but officially canceled this show, but I'm still holding out hope for a last minute reprieve. I don't imagine we could ever learn all of the Devil's secrets, and even if everything was revealed, would we believe it?

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    THE CW

    4 - Christina Scofield (Prison Break , Fox)

    Prison Break's recent addition Christina Scofield is the mother of Michael and Lincoln, or at least one of them. But since it's her saying this, I don't know what to believe. She's as brilliantly clever as Michael but much more sinister. We can't trust or believe anything she says about what her ultimate ambitions are, though they seem lofty indeed, and she seems willing to kill at least one of her own sons to get there.

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    3 - The Doctor (Doctor Who, SyFy)

    Currently played by David Tennant, The Doctor is all mystery, even his true name. Cavalier and giddy at times and filled with such pain at others, Doctor Who has kept this character mysterious through ten actors. His past still has deep pockets of mystery, and we still don't know what happened fully to make him the last of the Time Lords. But we love him for what we do know and hope that we can keep learning more for years to come.

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    Sci Fi Channel

    2 - Richard Alpert (Lost, ABC)

    Mysteries certainly abound on Lost. The island itself is a colossal mystery, but with all the flashbacks, one remains a virtual unknown. Richard Alpert, played by Nestor Carbonell, the sometimes leader of "The Others," has not aged for at least five decades, and that's just the start. He seems to have a connection to the Island, and I wouldn't be surprised to find that he's the most important character on the whole show by the time we're through.

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    1 - Walter Bishop (Fringe, Fox)

    Dr. Walter Bishop works because of the Emmy-worthy work of John Noble in the role. He's the classic mad scientist and brings a lot of humor to the show. But there's such pain there, when he can remember. And it looks like Walter is right at the epicenter of everything that is happening on the show. Thank goodness Fox saw sense to give Fringe a chance to get into its mythology so we can learn, with Walter, his full story.

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    Fox Broadcasting

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Ack!!! How was Benjamin Linus / Michael Emerson NOT INCLUDED?!??!??? He's been the best character to come on the tv scene in a very, very long time! He DEFINITELY should've been somewhere on that list... even moreso than Richard Alpert.

June 10 2009 at 4:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Thanks for just the list!

GOB - Where exactly does he live? I always pictured him living in a lighthouse

May 18 2009 at 9:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Morjana Coffman

Thank you for allowing the option of just reading the list!

Looking forward to Sanctuary's second season this fall on the SciFi Channel (or Syfy).

Walter on Fringe is an excellent choice for the #1 spot.

May 14 2009 at 2:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Glad to see the inclusion of The Doctor and Captain Jack.

One small correction, though - John Barrowman's a Scot who was raised in America. He's bidialectal, but his Scottish accent generally only manifests when he's around other Scots. This caused a cute bit of verbal whiplash when he was on Radio 2 with David Tennant (Scot) and Catherine Tate (not) last month.

May 13 2009 at 4:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David S

A lot of Sci-Fi on the list.

May 13 2009 at 3:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's Alpert, Richard Alpert.

May 13 2009 at 3:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's Richard Alpert, not Halpert.

Also, after last night's Fringe, don't you think William Bell is more mysterious than Walter Bishop? Not saying Walter shouldn't be high on the list, though.

Assuming Terminator SCC is not cancelled, I think the Glau-bot Cameron is one of the most mysterious characters on TV.

May 13 2009 at 3:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

When I saw the heading I was hoping Walter Bishop would be on the list. Nice placement at #1. Tough to put him over Alpert though. I was extremely surprised and pleased with the inclusion of Castiel and the Devil. Good list. I'm familiar with about 8 of the characters on there.

May 13 2009 at 2:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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