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The Best Characters on Television

From 'The Office' to 'The Walking Dead,' this season's most memorable scene-stealers
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tv best characters
Liane Hentscher/FOX

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Anna Torv as Olivia Dunham - 'Fringe'

At first, when Fringe started playing all those lysergic time-travel tricks on our brains, Anna Torv looked like the normal one. As FBI agent Olivia Dunham, she was the voice of reason in the midst of all the X-Files weirdness, the skeptical Scully who kept her cool while everybody else was prancing around through alternate universes and fretting about an ominous-sounding conspiracy called the Pattern. But now that Olivia is battling it out with Fauxlivia, her evil twin from a parallel reality, she's become a full-fledged player in the Fringe mind games. In a sense, Torv is responsible for two of the best characters on TV – one rooted in our own universe, and one who inhabits a hostile parallel terrain next door. The two worlds are at war, which means the enemy is us. "Fringe is a sci-fi show," says Torv. "But once you go beyond the genre, you're immersed in a profound reality."

Torv is so understated and poised, it's easy to overlook what she brings to Fringe – especially since she's caught between two flashier characters, mad-scientist Walter and charming con man Peter. But last season, thanks to all the loopy plot twists, Torv found herself forced to toggle furiously between Olivia's sweet and tentative uncertainty and Fauxlivia's ass-kicking aggressiveness. Now that a corridor between the parallel realities has brought her two characters face to face, it's about to get even more complicated for Torv. "Last season, the two characters just kind of flipped places in the two universes," she says. "But now that the Olivias will be playing opposite one another, it's going to be fun." 

By Julia Holmes

Click to read the entire Best Characters on TV feature in Rolling Stone.

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