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 Top 20 TV Presidents

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Top 20 TV Presidents

20. President Matthew Santos

Show: 'The West Wing'
Played by: Jimmy Smits

After a tough primary fight, following on the heels of two Bartlet terms, Texas congressman Santos won a razor-close race over longtime West Wing conservative nemesis Arnold Vinick (Alan Alda). Despite his veep dying on election night, the handsome, wholesome Persian War vet Santos became the first Latino President.


19. Mayor Johnston Green

Show: 'Jericho'
Played by: Gerald McRaney

Johnston fought the battle of Jericho in the wake of several nukes. The town's mayor for 25 years, Green brought the citizens together while reconciling with prodigal son Jake. Johnston croaked defending his town at the end of Jericho's first season and the series didn't last long without him, dying a few episodes later.

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18. Mayor Randall Winston

Show: 'Spin City'
Played by: Barry Bostwick

Sometimes, image is everything, and distinguished chief exec Winston definitely looked the part of the NYC Mayor. A loose cannon prone to shoot his mouth off randomly, he nonetheless projected pure, executive cool. He wisely let his deputy mayors (Michael J. Fox, later Charlie Sheen) clean up his many messes. Leadership 101: It's called delegating.

17. Senator Martha Kent

Show: 'Smallville'
Played by: Annette O'Toole

Superman's adoptive mom not only taught him moral values, she's also super in her own right, representing Smallville in the Kansas legislature before moving up to the U.S. Senate. Unfortunately, political success killed her role on the series: Moving to D.C. removed her from the show.

16. Senator/Future President Nathan Petrelli

Show: 'Heroes'
Played by: Adrian Pasdar

Not your average flighty politician, Petrelli can actually fly. He's also gifted with a good-guy demeanor and a "save the world" bravado that every superhero (AND super pol) needs. Whether his prophesied presidency in post-nuclear future USA ever actually comes to pass, he seems sure to be on a winning ticket.

15. Emperor Julius Caesar

Show: 'Rome'
Played by: Ciaran Hinds

Posing as reforming savior of the Republic, this Caesar is actually the deviously calculating creator of the original evil empire. Based on the historical Caesar, HBO's emperor swashbuckles through speeches and swordplay as his career soars with the trajectory of an arrow. He ultimately falls to Earth, backstabbed (and front-stabbed) by former allies on the floor of the senate.

14. Mayor E. B. Farnum

Show: 'Deadwood'
Played by: William Sanderson

Mayor by default, Farnum takes the job and imbues it with laughable seriousness. As operator of the Grand Central Hotel, and co-conspirator/lackey of Swearengen ('Deadwood''s top bottomfeeder), E.B. brings a unique (and unprintable) blend of profanity mixed with inanity. Like Yosemite Sam with Tourette's syndrome.

13. Councilman David Aceveda

Show: 'The Shield'
Played by: Benito Martinez

A police captain-turned-politico, Aceveda was a politician even on the force, always playing the angles as he eyes a move up to mayor. He's opposed to Vic Mackey's brutal tactics and tries to take the Strike Team down until he and Vic need each other. Mackey's dirty politics are contagious and Aceveda's murky rise involves rape, blackmail and murder.


12. President Charles Logan

Show: '24'
Played by: Gregory Itzin

Logan's the Nixonian prez you love to hate, a saber-rattling poseur who suffers brain-lock during crisis -- which drives Agent Bauer (and us) bonkers. Logan brings in ex President Palmer to save his ass, then thanks Palmer privately while taking public credit. Later he "thanks" Palmer again by being complicit in his assassination. What a tool.


11. Senator Robert McCallister

Show: 'Brothers & Sisters'
Played by: Rob Lowe

The former 'West Wing' politico veers to the right as a republican senator thrust into the Cali soap opera of the Walker family. He somehow deals with dual stresses of a failed presidential campaign and getting hitched to wackadoodle Calista Flockhart. How? It turns out that Senator Square-jaw's family is crazier than hers.


10. Deputy Mayor Mike Flaherty

Show: 'Spin City'
Played by: Michael J. Fox

Because his buddy, mayor Winston (Barry Bostwick) didn't take the job very seriously, workaholic Mike picked up the slack -- resolving a garbage strike here, finding a mislaid Olympic torch there. And when the mayor tarnishes his credibility by befriending a mobster, Mike has himself fired to cover for his boss. What a guy!


audius is the "stammering fool" protagonist whose impediment gives him cover in this miniseries ruled by ancient Rome's royal debaucheries. With his relatives marrying horses, bedding family members and burning down the town, Emperor Claudius wisely played dumb and lived to tell the tale. When in Rome, don't do as the emperors did.


8. Mayor Clarence V. Royce

Show: 'The Wire'
Played by: 'Glynn Turman'

A slick political opportunist who rose by exploiting the demolition of druggie Baltimore housing projects, Royce deftly balanced the needs of shady developers and dirty police. But when rising crime and corruption made him vulnerable, he wound up washed out of office and down the swirling toilet of "Balmer" politics.


noble opposition has rarely been more noble than this maverick Cali Senator. Too liberal for his own party, the principled pol nonetheless persevered. Ironically, only death cheated Vinick of the top job. 'West Wing' writers had tapped him to win, but switched their support to Jimmy Smits after Smits' veep (John Spencer) passed away in real life.

6. Lt. Gov. Benson DuBois

Show: 'Benson'
Played by: Robert Guillaume

Wisecracking butler to governor Gatling, Benson found politics late in life ... or late in the series anyway, becoming Lt. Governor and later running for Gov. In the series finale, Benson and his opponent, his former boss, watch election returns together. Before the winner is announced, the series ends. Governor Benson? We can only dream.

5. President Mackenzie Allen

Show: 'Commander in Chief'
Played by: Geena Davis

Coming in on a 'West Wing' and a prayer, Mac landed the job in 2005 before Hillary made her first big run. As Veep, she inherited the job after the Prez's passing, Mac ignored calls to step down, and rose to the occasion. Unlike the show, which started strong but rapidly slid. Better luck next time, ladies.

4. President David Palmer

Show: '24'
Played by: Dennis Haysbert

Getting assassinated in season 5 probably seemed like the easy part after dealing with crazy Jack Bauer for so long. Cool customer Palmer avoided a nuclear holocaust in L.A., dodged death threats, averted WWIII and got ousted in a coup while getting blackmailed by his wife. Life goes on: Now the former head of state is a pitchman for Allstate and super-special ops leader on 'The Unit.'


3. Mayor Joe Quimby

Show: 'The Simpsons'
Voiced by: Dan Castellaneta

Corrupt, immoral, indecent, incumbent -- everything you expect from a pol. That's why Mayor Joe Quimby gets our vote. When His Dishonor is not bedding Miss Springfield or other strumpets, this Kennedy-esque statesman prefers overseas travel, prompting the local paper's classic headline: "Mayor Visits City."


2. President Laura Roslin

Show: 'Battlestar Galactica'
Played by: Mary McDonnell

Redefining the term "long-suffering," terminally ill bureaucrat Roslin gets promoted to Prez when everyone higher ranking is killed in a Cylon attack. She leads the surviving human nomads on a search for Earth, as she navigates political intrigues while battling cancer AND evil space robots. One. Tough. Cookie.


1. President Josiah "Jed" Bartlet

Show: 'The West Wing'
Played by: Martin Sheen

A better Prez than some who did the job in real life, Bartlet survived assassination, grappled with African genocide and coped with multiple sclerosis. All this amidst precious staff quips (courtesy of writer Aaron Sorkin), rampant policy-wonkism and potboiling political intrigue. The result: A thoroughly satisfying seven-season term.

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