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The Top 5 Best & Worst “Friday Night Lights” Characters


Every year, it’s the same. Fall camp starts, practice updates start rolling in, and you get that first morning where there’s a chill in the air to remind you football is right around the corner. With that, comes my annual viewing of “Friday Night Lights,” the best television show known to man.

Now, I don’t watch all five seasons every year — season two is so terrible I once threw the DVDs away in protest…only to fish them out of the trash the next day — but I do hop around to check in on my favorite characters in Dillon, Texas. Right now, I’m enjoying season three, just wrapping up the episode where Tim Riggins and Jason Street go to New York City, which includes the classic Riggins moment where he tries to convince Street to go see the musical “Gypsy.” Oh, that Tim Riggins. Always a hoot.

I’ve got a LOT of opinions about “Friday Night Lights,” and for years, have been assembling a list of the best and worst characters in my head. Because it’s Friday and why the hell not, I thought I’d share that list with you.

The 5 BEST Characters on “Friday Night Lights”

1. Tami Taylor

AKA the GOAT. AKA the best hair in show business. AKA my role model. Tami Taylor, brilliantly portrayed by Connie Britton, is the TV mom all other TV moms need to bow down to. But she’s so much more than just a mom. She’s a tireless defender of all that’s right in this world, including a nightly glass (or three) of wine. I am not a mother, my husband is not a football coach and I am not a school principal, but in all other aspects of life, I try to model myself after Tami. I even bought aviators, which historically have looked horrible on me, because she wears them. I call them my “Tami Taylors.”

2. Coach Taylor

Strongly considered putting Tami and Coach 1A and 1B, but couldn’t do that to Tami. What can you say about Coach Taylor? He’s also the best. He also has amazing hair. If he told me to eat razorblades, I’d probably do it. Not only is he the pinnacle of good, put up with Buddy Garrity, and gives the best pep talks in the world, he’s the hottest dad on television ever. Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose. Because Coach Taylor says so.

3. Tim Riggins

Riggins is the tragic hero of FNL, the man women want and men want to be. Though he may come off as a really hot, simple guy who wants nothing more than beer, women, and TEXAS FOREVER, we watch Riggins struggle with his destiny and identity throughout the series. He’s the quintessential “what if” character. What if he didn’t drop out of San Antonio State? What if he didn’t take the fall for Billy and go to jail? What if he had never moved into that trailer and saved us all from meeting Becky? That would have been nice.

4. Buddy Garrity

Buddy’s totally over the top, but he’s totally someone I could see living in my hometown. As a person, he’s pretty terrible — cheated on his wife, puts football over family, and generally seems pretty obnoxious — but as a character, he’s awesome. His reaction to finding out his kids don’t eat meat is one of my favorite moments on the show. We all know a Buddy Garrity.

5. Grandma Saracen

A wildcard pick, I’ll admit, but nothing brings a smile to my face more than sassy Grandma Saracen. Her battle with dementia was sad, but she may have produced more laugh-out-loud moments than any other character. For instance: how she insists on calling Coach Taylor “Coach Eric Taylor” every single time she sees him and how she doesn’t hesitate to tell Landry he throws the ball like a girl and is “just a funny looking creature.” Grandma Saracen is the original captain of #TeamNF, and I love it.

Honorable mention:

  • Landry: Great except when you had to hear him sing
  • Tyra: Also great, but mean to Landry
  • Smash: Referred to himself in the third person too much


The 5 WORST Characters on “Friday Night Lights”


1. Julie Taylor

Tami Taylor may be the best, but her daughter Julie is the worst. I’m not sure there are words for how awful Julie is. She’s completely incapable of communicating her emotions, to the point she WRECKED HER OWN CAR because she didn’t want to go back to college. WTF? Not only is she insanely rude to her awesome parents, the only decisions she makes are terrible ones, like cheating on Matt Saracen with the Swedish guy or having an affair with her married TA in college and then running away to Chicago to cry to Saracen about it. Her only saving grace is genetics.

2. Becky

You knew Becky was going to be awful the minute she came on screen singing the national anthem in the kitchen like a banshee. Nobody worth liking sings that loud that early in the morning. Also, the way she throws herself at Tim Riggins is cringe-worthy. “Hello, Tim Riggins!” “Wake up and give me a ride, Tim Riggins!” “Which dress should I wear to my pageant Tim Riggins?” Out of the good of his heart, Riggins eventually becomes her friend, but his initial reaction to her — STFU and go away — is all you need to know.

3. Lyla Garrity

I actually warmed up to Lyla as the series went on (anyone who goes boozing with Mindy goes up a notch in my book), but she had too much ground to make up from the first two seasons. I get that it couldn’t have been easy to cope with your boyfriend going from future NFL superstar to depressed paraplegic, but the solution is never to cheat on him with his best friend, even if that’s Tim Riggins. Between that and her stint as a born-again Christian, Lyla could never figure out who she was. No offense, Minka Kelly, but all Lyla was on this series was a really pretty face.

4. Joe McCoy

I originally had his son, JD, on this list, but swapped. Even though JD is a punk, it’s not his fault his dad’s an abusive asshole. Joe McCoy just looks like a villain, all smug sitting in his big house on top of the hill, drinking his fancy scotch and smoking his cigars. Plus, who the hell leads a coup to fire a coach who just took your team to State? An idiot, that’s who. In terms of boosters, Buddy Garrity >>>>> the parents who collect change at intersections >>>>> the creepy guy selling drugs under the stands >>>>> Joe McCoy.

5. Jason Street

I’ll probably get roasted for this, but I stand by it. Jason Street is nice. Jason Street is sweet. Jason Street is a good person. But he’s also really, really boring. I understand that the series need him to show how football and its fame and fortune can go away in an instant, but did we really have to stick with him through two more seasons? Plus, he’s meant to be this model of good judgment but then he went to Mexico and contemplated getting injected with SHARK DNA so he could walk again. SHARK DNA. I realize Season 2 was the pits, but COME ON.

Honorable mention:

  • Baby Grace: Didn’t contribute anything, looked like an alien
  • Cash, Tyra’s cowboy boyfriend: Because none of us saw that coming at all
  • Waverly, Smash’s bipolar girlfriend: So much drama

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

22 Comments for The Top 5 Best & Worst “Friday Night Lights” Characters

  1. Flippy23
    9:13 pm August 28, 2015 Permalink

    ….one might also give “Smash” Williams a shout out…..and perhaps the intelligent goofy kid that played end and also was in Breaking Bad………love this MTT…..and thanks for the “Inbetweeners” tip………

  2. TravisC
    9:17 pm August 28, 2015 Permalink

    Joe McCoy should be higher, mostly because he got Coach Taylor fired after he stopped Joe from repeatedly punching JD in the rain toward the end of season 3.

  3. UKaye
    9:53 pm August 28, 2015 Permalink

    I’d say Matt Saracen’s dad should be on the worst 5… Even if he was in the military and probably has PTSD…

  4. binarysolo
    10:01 pm August 28, 2015 Permalink

    Landry grew on me so much he became my favorite character. Yeah I agree, that second season murder story arc was a total disaster (it was even acknowledged by showrunner Jason Katims). You know, Crucifictorious might’ve been an abrasive screamo band at first but around the time Devin joined they got all indiepop-y and fun.

    Saracen is my 2nd fave: started out a scrub, thrown to the wolves when Street went down, put up with the Voodoo Tatum drama, became a good qb, then lost the QB1 title to the JD machine. And then got his s#!t tore up by the *hands down* worst character on the show.

    Vince Howard is up there for me too.

    I also think Jesse Plemons, Zach Gilford, and Michael B Jordan did an excellent job playing these characters. One of the reasons I believe Lyla is such a hated character is because, let’s face it, Minka Kelly can’t act.

    I have both a Dillion Panthers shirt and an East Dillion Lions shirt. You can’t make me choose between my love for season 1 Panthers and season 5 Lions!

    • binarysolo
      10:02 pm August 28, 2015 Permalink

      PS- Not for nuthin, but the woman who played Saracen’s mom is the lead on Fear the Walking Dead.

  5. Jewelielou
    10:19 pm August 28, 2015 Permalink

    I totally agree that Saracen’s dad should be on the worst list. Also, Riggins deserves some of the blame as well on the whole Lyla/Riggins fling. Lyla wasn’t in it alone. I think Jess Merriweather deserves to be on the best character list, even though she was only on the last few seasons. She did a great job and her character defied convention being a female trying to get into football coaching but at the same time was relatable.

    As much as I love the show, my rankings for all things Friday Night Lights goes: Book, Movie, Show.

  6. The Real LindaS
    11:25 pm August 28, 2015 Permalink

    who cares, it was just a TV show.

    • Sean
      11:55 pm August 28, 2015 Permalink

      Totally agree. We should only care about the really important stuff. Like amateur athletics.

  7. yeah
    12:17 am August 29, 2015 Permalink

    Stick a fork in its ass

  8. Lance
    7:27 am August 29, 2015 Permalink

    If I remember correctly, Smash’s bipolar girlfriend that went on that weird poetry rant at the Alamo Freeze was actually named Waverly. Noelle was the white girl he was dating when he punched that racist dude out in the movie theatre.

    • Mrs. Tyler Thompson
      7:38 am August 29, 2015 Permalink

      Yes! Good call, my mistake.

    • binarysolo
      10:39 am August 29, 2015 Permalink

      Lance — is your name based on what Coach calls Landry? Because that’s hilarious.

  9. Sand in the crack
    8:07 am August 29, 2015 Permalink

    Julie should get a bumped down some because she provided one of the funniest scenes when coach Taylor told Saracen to get laid then found he was dating his daughter.

    Tyra’s boobs should have been in top 5.

    And Ray’s bbq should have been at least given an honorable mention.

  10. fatbrat
    8:52 am August 29, 2015 Permalink

    I like it a whole lot more when it goes to East Dillon High in the end of the run.

  11. UKfaninLou
    9:03 am August 29, 2015 Permalink

    Spot on although I personally loved Saracen and Landry. Man, I loved Grandma.
    Wtf were they thinking with season 2?
    Loved Tim Riggins enough that I would argue hi, for the #1 spot. Except that I hated him (and everyone else) in True Detective. Actually everything he’s done since FNL is crap.
    Coach and Tami Taylor, however have both moved on to great things.
    Dillon Forever!

    • Mark D
      8:28 am August 30, 2015 Permalink

      Season 2 is when the writers strike took place. The had to clean up to start season 3. One will notice Lyla goes back to being a bad girl.

  12. NavyCat
    11:26 am August 29, 2015 Permalink

    I’d say most of the rankings are spot on, especially the comment on baby Grace looking like an alien, but Tami as #1 is like saying Melanie Hamilton, the sickeningly sweet woman in “Gone With the Wind” is the best character in that movie. She was so sweet that she let her brat daughter, as did dad, talk to her anyway she wanted, do pretty much what she wanted and then we’re left to wonder why she’s such a PITA and darling Tami is left with another glass of wine or two looking out through her rose colored aviators. Tami doesn’t belong in the worst but she isn’t the best of the best either.

  13. Tony Montana
    12:41 pm August 29, 2015 Permalink

    Tami Taylor’s voice is like nails on a chalkboard to me. I cant stand her in anything and she couldnt act her way into a bag.

  14. RigginsRigs
    1:05 pm August 29, 2015 Permalink

    I know he’s a minor character but Billy Riggins was hilarious. Playing linebacker against the East Dillon kids then becoming a coach that screams like a maniac until Coach Taylor calms him down. Great character.

  15. F. Myself
    3:47 pm August 29, 2015 Permalink

    No matter how hard I try, I’ll never get the time back I wasted reading this article.

    • TylerH
      8:40 pm August 29, 2015 Permalink

      No matter how hard I try, I’ll never get back the time I wasted pretending like anybody cares about what you have to say.