When I look back at this year in television, what I most want to remember is how it affected me. I want to know what I loved or what impressed me and why and that’s exactly what this list and the ones that will be coming out over the next couple weeks set out to document. There is no formula for choosing what went on the list. Nothing here is objective, nor would I want it to be even it were somehow possible to objectively quantify an opinion. It will not look like anyone else’s list, though there will undoubtedly be similarities, and that’s a good thing. So enjoy my picks for my favorite/the best in television of 2014 according to me and please share yours in the comments below.
In any given year, there are a lot of characters I love. I admittedly have a tendency to love the emotionally guarded woman who is learning how to open herself up to love and happiness and this is the year many of those women did that in amazing ways. It was great year for so many of my favorites and the actors who brought them to life. There may have been better, more interesting, or more original characters on TV (if one can quantify characters in that way) but these are the 10 who touched my heart the most.
Kelly Severide (Chicago Fire) Kelly has always been one of my favorite characters but this year (this fall, in particular) has made me love him even more. Thanks to my years of TV watching, I had a horrible suspicion that both Severide and Shay wouldn’t make it out of the events of the s2 finale alive. Their friendship has been one of my favorite things about the show since it started and I was devastated to learn that my suspicions were correct. I watched him grieve for his best friend and turn into kind of a disaster for a few weeks only to wind up marrying a girl in Vegas who he barely knew and managing to turn it into something positive. He’s hurt and grown and has come out stronger. He and Casey have finally gotten their friendship back to where it should be and I have a feeling he’ll continue to be Casey’s support system through his problems with Dawson. If I can’t have his friendship was Shay on the show, I’ll take his friendship with Casey as a backup.
Abbie Mills (Sleepy Hollow) Sleepy Hollow may have fallen apart a bit in season 2 but Abbie Mills is still the best part of the show. She remains fiercely dedicated to her role as Witness, whatever that may entail. Need someone to stay behind in Purgatory so Katrina can do the magic needed to stop an Apocalypse? Abbie volunteers. Katrina needs a second person to help her do magic? Abbie steps up. Sheriff Corbin’s son needs saving? Abbie never gives up on him. She is loyal and true and a fighter and that’s why I love her. The episode where she and Jenny were briefly reunited with their mother and able to learn more about their family’s history was easily the best of the season because the focus was where it should be – on this incredible character and her role in fighting this war.
Emma Swan (Once Upon a Time) What a year it has been for her as a character and all of us as fans. We got more backstory about her heartbreaking past, we saw her be afraid and fall back on her instinct to run away and survive on her own, we saw her open herself up and find not only a home with her son and parents, but a dashing pirate who loves her, and a new friend who understands her. She’s growing and trying to be her best self and letting people help her along the way. It has been so incredibly rewarding to watch her allow herself to be vulnerable, especially as someone who struggles with that herself, and I can’t wait to see her continued growth and relationships with everyone in her life in 2015.
Kate Beckett (Castle) This was a great year to be a Beckett fan. She finally got closure and justice for her mother and she got to marry the man she loves and I couldn’t be happier or more proud of her. Watching her escort Bracken out in handcuffs was one of the best moments on TV for me this year, not for any reason related to the filming or writing, but because it was a huge victory for this character I have loved for years. Then after an emotionally difficult start to season 7, she and Castle decided to leap together and finally get married. I could not have asked for a better set of character moments in one year for one of my all-time favorite characters.
Mellie Grant (Scandal) I was still catching up on Scandal last year when I put Mellie on my list of Characters of the Year last year, but now that I’m officially caught up, I can say with certainty that it was a good choice. Mellie’s defining moment this year was the death of her son and her grieving process while struggling with her duties as First Lady. I have to admit, as heartbreaking as it was to watch Mellie completely fall apart in the early part of season 4, I do love the unfiltered Mellie who just doesn’t have it in her to care any more. She would be hilarious if the reason wasn’t so tragic. The way she pulled herself together for the State of the Union before physically collapsing because it was just too much showed her inner strength and her return to glory at the end of the season was amazing to watch. Her takedown of Elizabeth was exactly the kind of fire and grit that makes Mellie who she is. She’s been through too much to continue to be betrayed or used and she is no longer afraid to let you know it.
Juliette Barnes (Nashville) After a difficult end to season 3 (and the need to incorporate the real-life pregnancy of Hayden Panettiere), Juliette Barnes ended the year on a positive note. After a bad decision and many tearful conversations that led to her temporarily losing the man she loved, Juliette Barnes is in a place where she can finally be happy. She is going to be a mother and she is married to the man she loves and who loves her back, ugly past and all. She has the family that she’s been lacking all her life. She will still struggle with the effects of her past and as their daughter is born, I’m sure some unresolved issues with her mom will arise, but she will work through them all with Avery on her side as they learn to be a team again. She’s no longer alone and as a fan, that’s all I want for her.
Brienne of Tarth (Game of Thrones) This was the year Brienne was recognized (at least by some) for the marvelous character that she is and got to demonstrate all the various ways she is amazing.. Perhaps one of my proudest moments on Game of Thrones this year was when Lady Olenna complemented her and Brienne allowed herself a tiny, proud smile. This kind, strong, dedicated woman was noticed and admired by another woman who is so sure in herself and I couldn’t help but cheer. I’ve always loved how intensely Brienne feels and how strong her sense of duty and honor are and both of those traits were in full force in the Oathkeeper scene (one of my favorite scenes of the year). Finally, there was the battle with The Hound. She held her own against one of the best fighters in Kings Landing, an impressive feat by anyone’s standards. She showed her physical strength and her strength of character in one of her best seasons yet.
Poussey Washington (Orange is the New Black) With such a large cast, there is at least one character for everyone to love on Orange is the New Black. While I love many of the characters (or at least greatly enjoy watching them), none have stolen my heart quite as much as Poussey has. Aside from the fact that Samira Wiley’s smile is like a ray of sunshine, Poussey is half of the best friendship on the show. She cares so much for Taystee and though their friendship was damaged, I know it’ll come back strong. She loves so much and longs for the safety and stability that growing up as a military brat didn’t offer and the fact that she’s found that in less than ideal circumstances and that she can still find a way to smile is admirable to me.
Randy Hill (Enlisted) If I can’t have Randy back on my TV, I want more characters like him. Give me more characters in a traditionally masculine environment who buck stereotypes. Give me the guys who can’t help but cry over Toy Story 3. Give me a show that praises them for their kindness and their strengths, even if they aren’t conventional. Randy wouldn’t make a great soldier on the battlefield – he just doesn’t have the necessary skills or state of mind for it. But he makes a great Rear Detachment soldier. Unlike others in his unit, he is proud to stay behind and help the families of deployed soldiers. He listens to their concerns and helps them with household problems because he has a huge heart. His empathy and love are his primary characteristics and that’s what makes him so loveable. He can be a goof and a bit of a screw-up, but everything he does, he does with the best of intentions.
Danny Castellano (The Mindy Project) Danny has the ability to make me love him and grow in ways that make me so incredibly proud and then turn around and do something that makes me annoyed with him. I love a lot of female characters with pasts that have made them incredibly guarded and other than his gender, Danny fits that mold exactly. He’s struggling and learning how to be in a relationship and what a committed relationship with Mindy will look like and I’m perhaps less patient with him than I should be, but I love watching the process. Also, his was the year of Diamond Dan, so how could he not make this list?
Honorable Mentions: Diane Lockhart, Leslie Knope, Joe West, Jane Villanueva