15 TV Stars Who Are Always Worth Watching (PHOTOS)

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Dirty John - Season 1 - Connie Britton as Debra Newell
Jordin Althaus/Bravo

Connie Britton

Because Britton doesn’t have to play a saint (Friday Night Lights) to win our loyalty: Her essential goodness — as a damaged emergency call operator on 9-1-1 or a lovelorn mark on Dirty John — positively radiates.

AWW gallery allison janney
Jessica Brooks/CBS

Allison Janney

Because she’s a study in aspirational contradictions — dignified and vulnerable (Masters of Sex), approachable and confident (The West Wing), hilarious and heartbreaking (Mom).

Luther S4
Steffan Hill/BBC

Idris Elba

Because, sure, the Luther star is crazy handsome and lousy with talent. But if we’re being completely honest, the real draw is that he’s so gobsmackingly cool that deep down we’re convinced some of that is just bound to rub off on us. (Right?)

Walt Disney Television/Paula Lobo

Alex Trebek

Because he’s the most respected game show host of all time, calmly steering the ship at Jeopardy! since 1984. Now that he’s battling pancreatic cancer, he’s teaching us another lesson: Never take a treasured member of your household for granted.

AWW gallery sarah paulson
Kurt Iswarienko/FX

Sarah Paulson

Because she’s not so much a chameleon as a crab, thoroughly and convincingly able to settle into each new shell (American Horror Story, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story) even as she maintains her own distinct identity underneath.

ABC/Eric McCandless

Nathan Fillion

Because when he’s having fun, we’re having fun. Whatever the material — Firefly, Castle, The Rookie — he delivers his lines with a conspiratorial twinkle, reassuring the audience that we’re in on the joke.

AWW gallery christine baranski
Elizabeth Fisher/CBS

Christine Baranski

Because the Broadway veteran uses her gravitas to make a meal out of each episode of The Good Fight (as she did with its predecessor, The Good Wife) without ever chewing the scenery.

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Judge Judy

Because not only does she refuse to suffer fools in her courtroom, but her glorious dressing down of said fools still feels electric, even after 22 years of syndication. The verdict: If loving Her Honor is a crime, then lock us up.

Jim Parsons

Jim Parsons

Because losing Sheldon might be the worst part of saying goodbye to The Big Bang Theory. Parsons made the guy so darn real — infuriating, intractable and endearing — that we can’t fathom our world without him in the equation.

George Kraychyk/Hulu

Elisabeth Moss

Because of the untold suffering in Moss’s eyes. They offer a direct window into her soul, then proceed to up the ante by reflecting humanity’s systemic weaknesses — the ugly sexism of Mad Men, the horrific dystopian power struggles in The Handmaid’s Tale — back at us.

This Is Us - Season 2
Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Sterling K. Brown

Because, on This Is Us, Brown made us fall for superdad and husband extraordinaire Randall…and then took that perfect façade back down to the studs of human vulnerability.

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Henry Winkler

Because when an actor gets more than one role of a lifetime — the Fonz on Happy Days and then, 34 years later, acting coach Gene Cousineau on Barry — it’s not luck. It’s greatness.

William Shatner's One-Man Show
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

William Shatner

Because we can never tell if the guy is serious. And still, whether it’s Star Trek, Boston Legal or even those Priceline commercials, he moves us. O Captain! Our Captain!

AWW gallery tina fey

Tina Fey

Because every time another season goes by without Tina Fey on the air — RIP, 30 Rock — an angel loses her wings. Thank heavens, then, that Netflix is bringing her back for Wine Country, a new movie directed by her sublime pal Amy Poehler.

Betty White celebrates her 93rd birthday on the set of Hot in Cleveland
Mark Davis/Getty Images for TV Land

Betty White

Because despite her current shtick — the innocent elderly lady with a delightfully discordant filthy streak — it’s those acting muscles that she flexed over and over (The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Golden Girls, etc.) that have made White a national treasure.

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Right around now, you’re probably thinking: “This is an outrage! How could [insert favorite TV personality here] possibly not make the Top 10 list of TV’s biggest stars? He/she is a revelation/institution!”

We hear you…and we agree. In that spirit, here’s a small sampling of some of the other deserving all-stars who continually light up our living rooms.

This is an abbreviated version of TV Guide Magazine’s latest cover story. For more, pick up the issue, on newsstands now.