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Top 10 Manliest Men in Television

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
Written by Michael Wynands

Television: providing kids with larger-than-life male role models for decades. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Manliest Men in Television.

For this list, we're looking at the manliest characters in the history of television, taking into consideration both classic and contemporary ideas and ideals of masculinity. We're excluding any real life television personalities and people from reality television shows, no matter how manly they might be. Sorry Al Swearengen, but you're totally disqualified. Also, a spoiler alert is in effect because of a few reveals down the line.

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Transcript
Television: providing kids with larger-than-life male role models for decades. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Manliest Men in Television.

For this list, we’re looking at the manliest characters in the history of television, taking into consideration both classic and contemporary ideas and ideals of masculinity. We’re excluding any real life television personalities and people from reality television shows, no matter how manly they might be. Sorry Al Swearengen, but you’re totally disqualified. Also, a spoiler alert is in effect because of a few reveals down the line.

#10: Bosco Albert ‘B.A.’ Baracus
“The A-Team” (1983-87)

It all started in 1983, when the world was first introduced to the image, style and personality of the fictional Bosco Albert “Bad Attitude” Baracus in the series premiere of “The A-Team.” While the show lasted 5 seasons, actor Mr. T kept B.A. Baracus alive for decades. The Sergeant is known for his mechanical wizardry, often producing awesome machinery out of the most rudimentary parts. He’s also a skilled combatant. However, unlike many other manly men of television, he doesn’t touch alcohol. That pairs nicely with the fact that he rarely allows anyone else to drive his trademark van but him. There’s always a designated driver on the A-Team!

#9: Ned Stark
“Game of Thrones” (2011-)


Few television characters live by such a strict set of values as the lord of Winterfell, Eddard Stark. Known as Ned to his friends and family, he was such a righteous man that it blinded him to the deception and cunning of others, ultimately leading to his demise. While some may argue that supposedly siring a bastard is a black a mark on his character, his equal treatment of his bastard son, Jon Snow, and active role as a loving father helps balance the scales. In a kingdom filled with men and women of self-interest, his was perhaps the only moral compass in Westeros to point true north.

#8: Crixus
“Spartacus” (2010-13)

Before he became the truly impressive small-screen incarnation of the DC fan favorite character Deathstroke, Manu Bennett earned the attention of viewers as Crixus. A simple slave, Crixus desired to become a gladiator, and once placed in the arena, he steadily fought his way up to earn his place as one of the greatest combatants of his time. While defined by his pursuit of honor and glory in combat, he is equally driven by the affection he holds for the memory of his fallen family, and for his lover, Naevia. If manliness were measured in bloodshed alone, perhaps he would’ve been number one.

#7: Don Draper
“Mad Men” (2007-15)

Is there anything more manly than determining your own fate? While many men on this list control their destiny through their fists, Don Draper demonstrates that willpower truly makes the man. Over the seven seasons of “Mad Men,” he also showed us that a man could experience deep self-doubt and inner turmoil, while still maintaining an outward appearance of strength and self-assuredness. He began life under a different name, and was the offspring of a prostitute and an alcoholic, only gaining his position in life by stealing the identity of another. But once in that life, he certainly proved he could be worthy of it.

#6: Jack Bauer
“24” (2001-10; 2014)

You’ve got to be a pretty terrible person to NOT get your name on this list after foiling as many terrorist plots as Jack Bauer. Sure, he may step over the line occasionally by using torture, but in the end he’s always fighting the good fight. Jack Bauer is a man who truly believes that the end justifies the means. Well rounded with his Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature and a Master of Science degree in Criminology, he is at the top of his game both intellectually and physically. He was once detained and tortured for 20 months, and never spoke a word. Now, that’s tough.

#5: John Luther
“Luther” (2010-15)

Between “The Wire” and “Luther,” Idris Elba has played some of the most well-written characters on television. While Stringer Bell may be a brilliant businessman, he isn’t half the man Luther is. A tortured yet brilliant detective, Luther firmly believes in justice. Even when the legal system doesn’t agree with him, he’ll go to any lengths to ensure that wrongdoers are punished. He’s willing to plant evidence if he has to and he’s prone to rage and confrontation, as well as so much more in his pursuits. He is a fiercely loyal friend, and a protector of the weak. Deeply flawed, truly human, and undeniably one of the manliest men on TV - he’s John Luther.

#4: James T. Kirk
“Star Trek: The Original Series” (1966-69)

He’s like James Bond, but overly dramatic and… living in space. Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise is strong, capable, daring and most certainly a ladies’ man. In some cases, he was a female aliens’ man too. Captain Kirk is the definition of a larger-than-life character, and although actor William Shatner often pushed his character’s mannerisms to the point where they verged on being downright absurd, it’s impossible not to love the good captain. As a leader, his decisions were often questionable, but he always managed to inspire his crew and overcome. If that’s not the mark of a manly man, what is?

#3: Daryl Dixon
“The Walking Dead” (2010-)

Talk about character development. Who would’ve guessed that Daryl, the quieter of the two racist, violence-loving, motorcycle-riding, redneck Dixon brothers would turn into this series’ most loved character? Alright, to be fair, most of those unsavory qualities were only displayed by Daryl’s brother Merle, but nonetheless, Daryl has come a long way over the years. He is the strong silent type, until he has something important to say. He has a deep capacity for empathy and love, and develops close, protective friendships, especially with female characters. He’s also the most reliable ally that Rick, a manly man himself, could ask for in a zombie world.

#2: Cordell Walker
“Walker, Texas Ranger” (1993-2001)

You don’t become the object of one of the most famous collections of memes and jokes about over-the-top masculine abilities on the Internet unless you are seriously manly. Chuck Norris, the actor behind Cordell Walker, has never shone more brightly than in the role of this Texas Ranger. The only guns Walker liked to use were the two hanging from his shoulders, letting his martial art skills speak for themselves. He’s a man of the people, as moral as they come and a true American hero - but in the cheesiest and most over the top way possible.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
- Omar Little

“The Wire” (2002-08)


- Philip Banks

“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” (1990-96)


- Angus MacGyver

“MacGyver” (1985-92)


- Red Forman

“That ‘70s Show” (1998-2006)


#1: Ron Swanson
“Parks and Recreation” (2009-15)

He is a man of principles. He doesn’t believe in buttering people up with praise. In fact, he doesn’t even support the idea of awards. So let’s recognize Ron Swanson as the manliest man on television in a way he can appreciate - with a series of facts. Ron Swanson is a man. He is receiving this award. He has a moustache that can be described as “exquisite”. He does not share his devilled eggs or bacon-wrapped shrimp with anyone. If you do him a favor, he’ll build you a canoe. He loves drinking scotch. A lot of it. For all these reasons, along with the hilariously restrained performance of Nick Offerman, Swanson soars above the others and tops our list.
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