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The Best TV Character of the Century Bracket: Gob Hijacks the Tournament

Very early on into the second round, it was clear something went wrong—the ‘Arrested Development’ failson had become the subject of some bot-aided magic. Now we move on to the Sweet 16.

Ringer illustration

Call it magic. Or just the internet.

If you visited our Best TV Character bracket on Tuesday, you may have seen a shocking result, which was Gob Bluth, a no. 6 seed, absolutely destroying Ron Swanson, a no. 3 seed:

Upsets certainly aren’t new in this bracket (hello, Cartman!), but Bluth received an astonishing 210,176 votes—and no other matchup cracked 100,000 in total. It would be impressive if it weren’t so obviously tampered with. We took a deeper look at the numbers, and, well, just see for yourself:

So yeah, we had some bots voting in Tuesday’s polls. This couldn’t have been the result of a legion of Gob fans—he doesn’t really have any. The only explanation is fraud. You’d think that if internet troublemakers would hack our polls, it would have been to benefit Rick Sanchez, who lost to Tony Soprano in his opening-round matchup on Monday. But Gob couldn’t have been a more hilarious pick. The magic-wielding failson of the Bluth family (well, one of them) would try to pull a stunt like this—and would be equally ham-fisted about it. So in the face of such obvious cheating, what are we at The Ringer to do?

Well, whoever engineered the pro-Gob vote made a huge, tiny mistake. While Gob dominated on the website, the votes were much more Swanson-friendly on our social feeds:

On the website, assuming Swanson’s 27,194 votes were all legitimate, he would have easily beaten Gob if that matchup had received an average number of votes (roughly 45,500). That’d be a win of 59 percent to 41 percent—an 18-point gap that is actually pretty generous to Gob, given that Swanson received 79 percent of the vote on Instagram and 75 percent on Twitter. There really is no controversy here; Swanson is the clear winner. So like most of Gob’s tricks—sorry, “illusions”—this one didn’t work. We’re hurling these fake website votes into the sea.

Swanson is moving on to our Sweet 16 to join 15 other contenders. Let’s have a look at the eight matchups taking place today.

You can vote on this page below, on Twitter, and on Instagram till 6 p.m. ET.

Millennials Region

Arya Stark, a real character, beat out Baby Yoda, a marketing ploy pretending to be a character. Congratulations, internet—you got this one right.

While Season 8 of Game of Thrones was a widely panned disappointment, Arya was better served by the ending than most of the show’s other characters. (Again, that isn’t saying much.) Sure, her leaving to find what’s west of Westeros feels a little bizarre (one line to Lady Crane doesn’t count as foreshadowing) and she never used her Faceless Men powers or grappled with the ethics of her homicidal spree, but hey, she got to kill the Night King! And she knows a killer when she sees one—or, after she sees that killer commit a mass killing.

But let’s not limit Arya to the final seasons of Thrones. This bracket is about the characters in totality, and Arya’s arc from defiant tomboy to anonymous assassin to loyal sibling was one of the more satisfying ones on Thrones.

In the next round Arya has a matchup with Nathan Fielder, who prevailed after an impossibly close matchup against Killing Eve’s Villanelle. Across all platforms, Fielder got just over 52 percent of the vote—this one was teetering on the edge all day:

I expect the matchup with Arya, who I consider a powerhouse, will be a bit less nail-biting.

Poll

Which character should advance?

This poll is closed

  • 24%
    (9) Nathan Fielder, ‘Nathan for You’
    (8264 votes)
  • 75%
    (5) Arya Stark, ‘Game of Thrones’
    (25211 votes)
33475 votes total Vote Now

And in the second matchup in this region, we’ve got Jesse Pinkman versus Cartman, two punks who probably would get along really well if they ever met. Has Cartman also screamed “Magnets, bitch!” before? I feel like he has.

Poll

Which character should advance?

This poll is closed

  • 58%
    (3) Jesse Pinkman, ‘Breaking Bad’
    (19815 votes)
  • 41%
    (15) Cartman, ‘South Park’
    (14201 votes)
34016 votes total Vote Now

Bosses Region

I can’t believe we’ve been deprived of Tony Soprano vs. Don Draper, which would have been the all-time difficult men showdown. Few characters have defined an era of television like Soprano and Draper … but Leslie Knope beat Draper and will now move on to take Soprano. Maybe that’s a good thing after all—this region would be pretty depressing if not for Knope.

On the bottom half, Walter White has won both of his matchups by overwhelming margins, and should be the favorite against Coach Eric Taylor in the Sweet 16. But Taylor is no lightweight—he had a late surge to beat Selina Meyer on Tuesday. A comeback victory for Taylor makes so much sense it’s almost too perfect—and ditto for Selina losing a close election.

Between these three guys and one woman, one thing is for certain: We didn’t name this the “Bosses” region for nothing.

Poll

Which character should advance?

This poll is closed

  • 54%
    (1) Tony Soprano, ‘The Sopranos’
    (18594 votes)
  • 45%
    (4) Leslie Knope, ‘Parks and Recreation’
    (15598 votes)
34192 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Which character should advance?

This poll is closed

  • 18%
    (6) Coach Eric Taylor, ‘Friday Night Lights’
    (6236 votes)
  • 81%
    (2) Walter White, ‘Breaking Bad’
    (27287 votes)
33523 votes total Vote Now

Scene-Stealers Region

Speaking of matchups that feel like they’re coming a round early, Tyrion vs. Dwight is a wild one. With two fan-favorite characters from two of the most wildly popular shows this century, this is the matchup I’ll be watching the closest on Wednesday. Tyrion is one of the most popular characters ever … but then so is Dwight. I have no idea who will come out on top. Whoever does will be facing the winner of the saved-from-fraud Ron Swanson and Cersei Lannister, who came out on top against 2-seed Peggy Olson. Any combination of results here would produce a thrilling Elite Eight matchup: We could be seeing Dwight versus Ron, or even more deliciously, Tyrion versus Cersei.

Poll

Which character should advance?

This poll is closed

  • 49%
    (1) Tyrion Lannister, ‘Game of Thrones’
    (17888 votes)
  • 50%
    (5) Dwight Schrute, ‘The Office’
    (18033 votes)
35921 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Which character should advance?

This poll is closed

  • 50%
    (3) Ron Swanson, ‘Parks and Recreation’
    (123270 votes)
  • 49%
    (7) Cersei Lannister, ‘Game of Thrones’
    (123268 votes)
246538 votes total Vote Now

Wild-Card Region

Michael Scott is going all the way in this region. I just can’t see it playing out any other way.

In his way this round is Saul Goodman, who is no pushover, sure. Goodman is beloved for not one but two different shows, one of which is arguably the most iconic drama of the 21st century. But he’s also not the most notable character from that show, and the same can’t be said about Michael. The Office became the internet’s favorite show because of Michael Scott, and as the show dominates streaming platforms it has remained at the forefront of many peoples’ minds even seven years since it ended. Better Call Saul might be on the air right now, but it still isn’t coming close to the widespread appeal of The Office.

It’s Omar vs. Larry David in the other matchup on this bracket. Assuming Michael moves on to the next round (not to get too far ahead of ourselves), I’d imagine he’s still a massive favorite against either. After all, Michael said it best:

“Come at the king, you best not miss.”

— Omar Little

— Michael Scott.

Poll

Which character should advance?

This poll is closed

  • 38%
    (1) Michael Scott, ‘The Office’
    (25083 votes)
  • 61%
    (5) Saul Goodman, ‘Breaking Bad’/’Better Call Saul’
    (39596 votes)
64679 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Which character should advance?

This poll is closed

  • 45%
    (3) Larry David, ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’
    (15130 votes)
  • 54%
    (2) Omar Little, ‘The Wire’
    (18250 votes)
33380 votes total Vote Now

For each round, you can vote here on the website (except for you, bots!), on Twitter, and on Instagram every day till 6 p.m. ET.

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