The return of “Mad Men” this Sunday means the indelible Sally Draper is back on TV. This got me thinking about the best child characters currently on television.
10. Luke Dunphy, “Modern Family”
“Modern Family” has fallen into a total rut, but Luke (Nolan Gould) continues to be a delight, especially in his interactions with dear ol’ dad, Phil. With Phil as a dad, there’s no way this kid won’t turn out to be lovably awesome — and goofy.
9. Lisa Simpson, “The Simpsons”
Yes, everyone thinks “The Simpsons” is in the twilight of its run, but Lisa has evolved over the years — as the series’ Greek Chorus and lone voice of reason — making her still a wonderful little lady.
8. Lil’ Asskicker, “The Walking Dead”
Rick’s (Andrew Lincoln) newborn is the only character on “The Walking Dead” to not act annoyingly stupid … yet. Sorry, Carl, but your juvenile shenanigans in the first two seasons don’t make up for being a badass killing machine now. Nice try though.
7. Arya Stark, “Game of Thrones”
The champion of the Stark brood — a pretty awesome bunch — by far. Maisie Williams is doing a wonderful job turning Arya in to the heart and soul of a series with very little heart or soul.
6. Jenna Hamilton, “Awkward.”
Sure, Jenna (Ashley Rickards) may whine about having two dudes in love with her, but c’mon, she’s got a pretty good head on her shoulders, epitomized by her choice of fantastic — if weird — girlfriends.
5. Joffrey Baratheon, “Game of Thrones”
The character on television we love to hate. Sadistic, misogynistic and downright sociopathic, this little bastard (see what I did there) is the only child it’d be OK to beat — profusely. In fact, whoever gives Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) his comeuppance deserves a permanent seat on the Iron Throne.
4. Walter White Jr., “Breaking Bad”
Best known for eating breakfast and changing his name to Flynn whenever he’s mad, Walt Jr. (R.J. Mitte) is actually an exemplary model of stability given his situation — Dad is a meth kingpin, mom is a buzz-kill meanie, uncle Hank is a D.E.A agent hunting his dad, and that damn adorable Holly gets all the attention.
3. The Belcher trio, “Bob’s Burgers”
Louise (Kristen Schaal), Tina (Dan Mintz) and Gene (Eugene Mirman) are the best part of television’s best animated comedy not named “Archer.”
2. Debbie Gallagher, “Shameless”
All of the Gallagher kids are great (yes, even Carl), but Debbie (Emma Kenney) is a cut above the rest for her combination of sweetness, gumption and lovelorn romanticism. Bonus points for her take no prisoners attitude when people mess with her school projects.
1. Sally Draper, “Mad Men”
Oh Sally (Kiernan Shipka), your wise and screwed-up beyond your years soul is a thing of tragic beauty on a series littered with tragic beauty. It’s depressing to think one day you’ll be the poster child for the therapy boom of the ’80s thanks to your upbringing.