Staff Picks: Greatest Gay TV Characters

Yesterday we published a list of the 50 Greatest Gay TV Characters. That list was determined by over thirty thousand write-in votes from our readers. While we’re very pleased with the resulting list and the internet response to the feature has been mostly positive, a question that kept popping up in the comments was how would that list have looked if TheBacklot staff and not readers had determined the rankings. Great question, but a hard one to answer since our writers are an opinionated bunch and it’s hard to get all of us to agree on much of anything. So we thought we’d respond not with a group top 50 list, but by asking our writers and editors if they’d like to share their personal top 10 selections. For anyone who’s curious, here are the responses…

Dennis Ayers

1. Omar Little, The Wire
2. Agron, Spartacus
3. Lafayette Reynolds, True Blood
4. Kevin Walker, Brothers & Sisters
5. David Fisher, Six Feet Under
6. John Cooper, Southland
7. Bryan Collins, The New Normal
8. Jodie Dallas, SOAP
9. Felix Dawkins, Orphan Black
10. Kurt Hummel, Glee

Felix Dawkins (Jordan Gavaris), Orphan Black
Felix Dawkins Orphan Black

Dean Backus

1. Captain Jack Harkness, Torchwood
2. Will Truman, Will & Grace
3. Michael Novotny, Queer as Folk (surprise! One who DIDN’T make the Top 50)
4. Kurt Hummel, Glee
5. David Fisher, Six Feet Under
6. Noah Nicholson, Noah’s Arc
7. Justin Suarez, Ugly Betty
8. John Cooper, Southland
9. Chris Keller, Oz
10. Omar Little, The Wire

Christopher Rosa

1. Will Truman, Will & Grace
2. Jack McFarland, Will & Grace
3. Andrew Van de Kamp, Desperate Housewives
4. Marco Del Rossi, DeGrassi
5. Marc St. James, Ugly Betty
6. Justin Suarez, Ugly Betty
7. Kurt Hummel, Glee
8. Jack McPhee, Dawson’s Creek
9. Eric Van der Woodsen, Gossip Girl
10. Blaine Anderson, Glee

Andrew Van de Kamp (Shawn Pyfrom), Desperate Housewives Shawn Pyfrom Desperate Housewives

Lyle Masaki

1. Captain Jack Harkness, Doctor Who

I’ve yet to see anyone do “lovable rogue” better than John Barrowman. Sorry, River Song.2.

2. John Cooper, Southland

Complicated, tough, a great cop and a man facing demons that didn’t involve being gay. TV hasn’t given us many characters like Officer Cooper.

3. Scotty Wandell, Brothers & Sisters

Sure, things went downhill when he transitioned from being the guy who made Kevin Walker check his effemophobia to the saint with the patience to deal with the Walker clan. Scotty was the one Walker spouse able to last the entire series because he was that lovable.

4. Luke Snyder, As the World Turns

While the rest of ATWT were floundering, it found some real magic in the character of Luke Snyder. Not only did they have powerful performer in Van Hansis, when Luke got a good storyline, it was a highlight for that era of ATWT.

5. Ian Gallagher, Shameless (Showtime)

Antihero dramas have struggled with gay characters, but Shameless is one of the few shows that figured out how to make its gay character just as complicated.

6. Justin Suarez, Ugly Betty

We got to see Justin grow up from an effeminate pre-teen his family presumed would come out as gay someday, to the teen who rebels by insisting he’s straight and finally the boy who falls in love for the first time and realizes nothing matters as much.

7. Sonny Kiriakis, Days of Our Lives

Sometimes I think the most interesting qualities of Sonny are an bit of luck on the writers’ part. He can be an independent spirit but he also seems to be influenced by the people who surround him. Still, Freddie Smith has one of the most dazzling smiles.

8. Kurt Hummel, Glee

Kurt is the character who made it possible for the country to cheer for a gay teen to find love. His success might feel a bit of wish fulfillment, except he’s played by a triple threat who finds time to write a series of novels in between all that singing and dancing.

9. Dr. Reid Oliver, As the World Turns

If ATWT writers had a better sense of history, I would think they were having history repeat itself as Luke met a man as headstrong and snarky as the man his grandmother loved. (That’s Iva Snyder and Kurt Andersen, if you’re wondering.) Either way, Reid managed to bring a spark that promised great things if only ATWT had been allowed to continue.

10. Oscar Martinez, The Office

He was underutilized on The Office (as was most of the supporting cast), but I loved Oscar’s ordinariness, his pretentiousness and the way he had to deal with an idiot boss who was sure Oscar was secretly fabulous because of the power of stereotyping.

Oscar Martinez (Oscar Nunez), The Office
Oscar Nunez the Office

Spencer Barnes

1. Ianto Jones, Torchwood
2. Jack Harkness, Doctor Who/Torchwood
3. Marco Del Rossi, Degrassi
4. Cameron Tucker, Modern Family
5. Devon Banks, 30 Rock
6. Thomas Barrow, Downton Abbey
7. Mitchell Pritchett, Modern Family
8. Marshall Gregson, United States of Tara
9. Kurt Hummel, Glee

 Michael Cornelius

1. Captain Jack Harknes, Torchwood

He was sexual and incidental all at once, and charming as a rogue. Who wasn’t in love with Captain Jack?

2. Will Truman, Will & Grace

A transformational character. Probably the most important gay television character in history.

3. Kurt Hummel, Glee

A Will Truman for the contemporary age. Plus, he sings.

4. Agron, Spartacus

Representing all the Spartacus gays, the most “evolved” and underclothed gay characters on television.

5. Michael Novotny, Queer as Folk

Again, representing the entire cast of Queer as Folk. Michael may have been the most relatable of the group, but the entire show was more important than any one character.

6. Bryan Collins and David Sawyer, The New Normal

How can you separate the first gay couple at the certain of their own show? They were perfect together—if only more people had watched…

7. Steve Jinks, Warehouse 13

My mother often says of me what I say of Jinksy: out of four kids, how is it the gay one is the most normal?

8. Jodie Dallas, SOAP

A seminal figure—he’s the first television gay everyone from my generation knew.

9. Clayton Hollingsworth, The Golden Girls

Blanche’s brother on The Golden Girls is the first gay man on television I remember seeing, and that was significant to me—though his cop partner Doug was definitely hotter.

10. The 1970’s Game Show Gay

Whether Paul Lynde or Charles Nelson Reilly or someone else, these winking gays told outlandish jokes and brought their gayness almost to the forefront of national daytime television nearly forty years ago. They were all characters, to be sure.

Paul Lynde on The Hollywood Squares
Paul Lynde


1. Doug Carter, Hollyoaks
2. Cyrus Beene, Scandal
3. Carter Heywood, Spin City
4. Aaron Livesy, Emmerdale
5. Omar Little, The Wire
6. Vincent Soriano, My Husband’s Lover
7. Dr. Reid Oliver, As The World Turns
8. Jackson Walsh, Emmerdale
9. John Cooper, Southland
10. Eric del Mundo, My Husband’s Lover

Brian Juergens

1. David Fisher, Six Feet Under
2. Ray Gillette, Archer
3. Lafayette Reynolds, True Blood
4. Ian Gallagher, Shameless
5. Marc St. James, Ugly Betty
6. Kurt Hummel, Glee
7. Daffyd Thomas, Little Britain
8. Russell Edgington, True Blood
9. Thor Lundgren, Nurse Jackie
10. Luther Wilson, Don’t Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23

Luther Wilson (Ray Ford), Don’t Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23
Ray Ford, DOn't Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23


1. Scotty Wandell, Brothers & Sisters

Yes, he cheated, but it was only to teach Kevin a valuable life lesson. Mission accomplished!

2. Luke Snyder, As the World Turns

I miss the Pouty Prince every day.

3. Will Horton, Days of Our Lives

Luke Snyder with half the sense and twice the tearducts.

4. Justin Suarez, Ugly Betty

Now Chief Of Staff to Congresswoman Wilhelmina Slater

5. Sonny Kiriakis, Days of Our Lives

I’m still trying to make “Patience Of A Sonny” a thing.

6. Oliver Fish, One Life to Live

My favorite Police Cop FUB

7. Teddy Montgomery, 90210

I like ’em big and stupid

8. Reid Oliver, As the World Turns

As I wrote in my description of Reid in the Top 50 “Obnoxious. Condescending. Self-Centered. Arrogant. Smug. And those are his good qualities.”

9. Kyle Lewis, One Life to Live

I’d like to believe he and Oliver are living happily ever after with Sierra Rose, waiting for Arianna Grace to become old enough for play dates.

10. Steve Jinks, Warehouse 13

I demand a spinoff with him and Claudia … and Claudia’s hot brother.

Steven Frank

1. Russell Edgington (a.k.a. The Vampire King of Mississippi), True Blood
2. Captain Jack Harkness, Torchwood
3. John Cooper, Southland
4. Cyrus Beene, Scandal
5. James Novak, Scandal
6. Marc St. James, Ugly Betty
7. Max Blum, Happy Endings
8. Lafayette Reynolds, True Blood
9. Ianto Jones, Torchwood
10. Michael Tolliver, Tales of the City

Anyone on staff share your tastes? What would your top 10 look like? Let er rip in the comments.