The best genre television characters of 2018

Contributed by
Dec 22, 2018, 12:00 PM EST

With all the new television series for us to consume, separating the wheat from the chaff often comes down to the quality of the characters that grip us with their stories. If audiences fall in love with them, we will often forgive a myriad of plot sins.

And when it comes to genre shows, we've been gifted some incredible characters on our smaller screens in 2018. SYFY WIRE is celebrating the cream of the crop that have changed the television landscape for the better this year. - Tara Bennett

(Spoiler content in the character descriptions below)


Finn the Human (voiced by Jeremy Shada), Adventure Time (Cartoon Network)

Since premiering on the Cartoon Network in 2010, Finn the Human has gone on 283 adventures with his best friend, Jake the Dog, in the Land of Ooo. In 2018, however, they took their last adventure in a beautifully poignant farewell episode. Many characters changed -- physically and psychologically -- throughout the course of the show, but the growth of Finn has been at the center of Adventure Time's progression, as he learned lessons including heartache, friendship, and sadness. - Matt Dorville

American Horror Story Apocalypse - Michael hero

Credit: FX

Michael Langdon (played by Cody Fern), American Horror Story: Apocalypse (FX)

He has a talent; call it a kind of night vision of the soul. Those are his words, but AHS: Apocalypse's warlock, Michael Langdon, is so deliciously arrogant you can't help but be mesmerized by every half-truth that leaves his lips. He knows how to choose his words to convince anyone they're one of the chosen elite, and can even talk seemingly innocent Mallory into believing evil lurks inside her. Just when you think he's been defeated (again), he's outsmarted someone else, and there will be a corpse to show for it. - Liz Rayne

Castle Rock

The Kid (played by Bill Skarsgård), Castle Rock (Hulu)

Castle Rock creators Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason did the seemingly impossible in 2018: They created a Stephen King adaption that didn't come from a book, short story, or novella written by the prolific horror author. Bill Skarsgård's "The Kid" is one of the series' highlights, a mysterious character that raises more questions than answers. Is he just a poor soul trapped from another universe, or something much more sinister? The Kid's dead-eyed glare, imposing stature, slow-moving gait, and measured diction make him one of the most chilling and memorable characters of the year. - Josh Weiss

Castlevania Monument

Credit: Netflix

Trevor Belmont (voiced by Richard Armitage), Castlevania, (Netflix)

Vampire hunter Trevor has broken out of the video game and brought his unrelenting determination with him to Netflix. If anyone can take down Dracula, it's a Cyclops-bashing, whip-cracking loner who will not give up until Vlad Tepes is dust. But you kind of expect that from the last surviving member of a family known for generations of monster killers. He might seem frozen as the icy wilderness he traverses, but Trevor's passion for destroying evil could melt iron. His steadfast loyalty to his friends, even when one of them is a backtalking vampire, gives the rest of us hope. - Liz Rayne

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Kiernan Shipka

Credit: Netflix

Sabrina Spellman (played by Kiernan Shipka), Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Netflix)

Praise Satan! Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa's wonderfully dark Chilling Adventures of Sabrina reboots the quirky character made famous by Melissa Joan Hart as a brilliantly mischievous witch. Sabrina is confident and smart, yet, like many teenagers, doesn't see the danger she's in as the forces of evil grapple for control of her soul. Kiernan Shipka, who most viewers remember as Don Draper's daughter in Mad Men, plays the title role with such devilish bravado that it's easy to see why Satan is so obsessed with her. - Matt Dorville


Harry Lloyd as Quayle in Counterpart Season 2

Peter Quayle (played by Harry Lloyd), Counterpart (Starz)

When you first meet Peter Quayle, the director of strategy at a shadowy organization, you won't like him. He'll come off as smug, privileged, a product of nepotism -- the epitome of the mediocre white male who fails to recognize his own mediocrity. (Even worse, he's cheating on his pregnant wife with prostitutes.) And then everything unravels, not just for him, but for our perception of him, as well. Watching Peter Quayle figure out his new world order and decide what kind of person he's going to be is one of the unexpected gifts of this brilliant, strange show. - Jennifer Vineyard


Bradley Walsh as Graham O’Brien in Doctor Who

Graham O'Brien (played by Bradley Walsh), Doctor Who (BBC America)

Jodie Whittaker is utterly brilliant as the 13th Doctor, but that's no real surprise. What was surprising was how much we'd grow to care about her new allies, especially Bradley Walsh's Graham O'Brien. From the first episode of the season to the last, he's been the beating heart of the team. Walsh can go from hilarious to grave at the drop of a witchfinder's hat, and he plays beautifully off of Whittaker, Ryan (Tosin Cole), and Mandip Gill (Yaz). He's a fantastic addition to this new age of the show. - Brian Silliman


Maya Rudolph as June in Forever

June (played by Maya Rudolph), Forever (Amazon Prime)

We all know Maya Rudolph is a comedic revelation, but Forever lets her showcase her dramatic side in a way that reminds us just how wonderful she is at crafting resonant characters. As June, she lets us see into the soul of a vibrant woman who is stuck, both literally and figuratively. She's sleepwalking through life and a not-miserable but stagnant marriage to Oscar (Fred Armisen). It's only when something life-changing happens to them both that we get to follow her existential journey of self-discovery, which is equal parts weird, exhilarating, utterly relatable, vulnerable, and, eventually, empowering. - Tara Bennett

The Haunting of Hill House

Nell Crain (played by Victoria Pedretti and Violet McGraw), The Haunting of Hill House (Netflix)

While each member of the Crain clan is compelling in their own way, it's the fragile and tortured Nell who becomes the emotional fulcrum for the family... and the audience. While it's heartbreaking watching her terrifying childhood in Hill House, or her equally crushing adult life navigating ghosts plaguing her like a cloak of mental illness, Nell is stalwart as love personified. No one -- not her siblings or the audience -- wants to see her suffer, but she does, with sometimes brutal repercussions. Her capacity to remain hopeful enough to fight past the pain, however, makes her a character that leaves us wanting to connect to our better selves. - Tara Bennett

colleen wing

Jessica Henwick as Colleen Wing in Iron Fist

Colleen Wing (played by Jessica Henwick), Marvel's Iron Fist (Netflix)

Iron Fist was never the best of the Netflix Marvel shows, but it featured one of that universe's best characters, and she shone even brighter in the show's second season. Colleen Wing stole every scene from the show's star (Finn Jones) once again, and managed to almost grow a spinoff within the series thanks to team-ups with fellow scene-stealer Misty Knight (Simone Missick). By the end of Iron Fist Season 2, Colleen was poised to become something even better than the fierce character she already was, and knowing we probably won't see it only makes us want it more. - Matthew Jackson


Stella Maeve as Julia Wicker The Magicians Season 3

Julia Wicker (played by Stella Maeve), The Magicians (SYFY)

Of all the character arcs on The Magicians so far, perhaps none has been equally as challenging and cathartic to watch as Julia Wicker's. Lately, we've seen Julia wrestle with the source of her abilities as someone who is "god-touched," trying to reconcile them against the brutal circumstances she had to endure in order to come out stronger than she was. Julia is a terrific genre character, not only for all she's been through on her path to literal goddess status, but for the way in which The Magicians has carefully and thoughtfully handled her story as a rape survivor. She's powerful and empowering, and, in spite of her past trauma, she continues to ascend. - Carly Lane


Billy Turner in The Man in the High Castle Season 3

Billy Turner (played by Giles Panton), The Man in the High Castle (Amazon Prime)

The entirety of Amazon's adaption of The Man in the High Castle is predicated on sweet, sweet worldbuilding. In Season 3, we are introduced to America's Minister of Propaganda, Billy Turner. He's a Don Draper-esque ad pusher with a crisp suit and Brylcreem-ed hair, using his talents of persuasion to sell the Fascist ideals of Nazism. It's an incredible bit of topsy-turvy worldbuilding in which Mad Men types still exist in this version of the '60s, but are being used for incredibly nefarious ends. Bravo. - Josh Weiss


Credit: SYFY

Waverly Earp (played by Dominique Provost-Chalkley), Wynonna Earp (SYFY)

A genre hero needs her team, but no team is complete without its beating heart — and for Team Earp, that heart is perfectly encapsulated in Wynonna's sister, Waverly. Out of all the seasons of Wynonna Earp that have aired thus far, its third was one of the hardest in terms of the truths Waverly finally had to confront, not just about herself and her origins, but about understanding, and acknowledging her value and sense of self-worth. Waverly reminds us that we're all worth saving — and even though the Season 3 finale left us clamoring for resolution on her and Doc Holliday's fates, we know that big sister Wynonna and the rest of Team Earp will be coming to her rescue, guns blazing. - Carly Lane

Westworld Thandie Newton


Maeve Millay (played by Thandie Newton), Westworld (HBO)

Maeve Millay, the courtesan turned Jedi/AI "host" of Westworld, comes into her own in Season 2. She gains the power to control every other host in the system as her counterpart, Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), is hell-bent on the annihilation of the park and everything in it. But Maeve, who could wipe out the entire park with a thought, is ruled by empathy. This is demonstrated in the season's climax, a Neo-inspired scene in which Maeve commands the entire park into stillness to save a child she knows isn't really hers. - Karama Horne