The Best Characters on Television

From 'The Office' to 'The Walking Dead,' this season's most memorable scene-stealers
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Prashant Gupta / FX

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Ron Perlman as Clay Morrow - 'Sons of Anarchy'

There have been biker outlaws on TV before, but none as cool or terrifying as Clay Morrow, the patriarch of Sons of Anarchy played with lethal charisma by Ron Perlman. As a grizzled Vietnam vet who leads his motorcycle gang ever deeper into violence, he will beat, shoot or stab anyone who gets in his way – all while complaining about his arthritis. To Perlman, Clay's ruthlessness stems from his roots as a warrior. "Most of the motorcycle clubs were the result of veterans coming back from war," he says. "They couldn't assimilate into the culture, so they decided to create a realm of their own, founded on loyalty, honor and family. And so, of course, they're outlaws."

In other words – as Bob Dylan used to sing – to live outside the law, you must be honest? "I quote that line every day," says Perlman, a hardcore Dylan fan. "To me, that's as potent a mirror as you could hold up to the better nature of man."

At 61, Perlman has played tough guys before, including the lead in Hellboy. But Clay is a special challenge. "He has no self-doubt," Perlman says. "Clay's right, and that's the way it is, man. Even when he's wrong."

By Rob Sheffield

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

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