1. Tony Soprano, The Sopranos
Played By: James Gandolfini
Though the anti-hero has been a mainstay in the cinema since before Travis Bickle started driving taxis, the idea of one anchoring a television show is fairly new. The Sopranos was revolutionary in many ways, and we're just now getting the historical distance from the show to realize just how large a leather-clad footprint Tony Soprano left on the television landscape.
No matter how many women he had on the side, and no matter how many crimes he committed or people he killed, it's still difficult to be totally disgusted by Tony. Even at his worst, there was something in his character that was so deeply human, something that kept us connected to him no matter how far down the hell-bound path he drifted.
We don't pardon the suburban Don's sins, but we recognize that, just like the rest of us, Tony Soprano is just trying to keep his head above water the only way he knows how. His way just so happens to involve murder.