The 30 best characters from 'The Young and the Restless'

Ranking the best

In honor of its 30th consecutive year as daytime’s most-watched drama, we’ve gone back over the long and storied history of The Young and the Restless to identify the show’s 30 best characters (and the terrific actors who made them happen). Some of the roles are long gone from Genoa City but that doesn’t make them any less important to the ratings. So without further ado…


30. Gloria Abbott (Judith Chapman)

The mother of Michael Baldwin married the great John Abbott, much to the chagrin of his children Jack and Ashley. Whoever they hated, we hated — but oh, was she fun to despise! 

29. Sheila Carter (Kimberlin Brown)

A dynamic character that appeared on both Y&R and The Bold and the Beautiful, Sheila was the perfect villain and a frequent sparring partner for Lauren Fenmore. 

28. Lily Winters (Christel Khalil)

The daughter of fan favorites Drucilla and Malcolm has developed into a big fan favorite because of her romance with the hunky Cane Ashby.

27. Ryan McNeil (Scott Reeves)

Oh, did Victor hate him! Ryan deflowered Victoria but ended up marrying the trashier Nina, who was much better in bed, anyway. What a cad! But a handsome one, at that.

26. Daniel Romalotti (Michael Damian)

The rock star was quite a hit with the ladies — specifically Lauren Fenmore, Cricket Blair, and Phyllis Summers. Also, his hair always deserved its own (limited series) spin-off. 

25. Traci Abbott (Beth Maitland)

She always seemed too nice for the Abbott family, which is why she made such a suberb yin to her brother Jack’s yang. 

24. Nina Webster (Tricia Cast)

Flo’s daughter was such a mammoth trainwreck! Much to the chagrin of Katherine and Jill, this trailer park Jezebel seduced and married Phillip Chancellor III and got rich quick.

23. Leanna Randolph (Barbara Crampton)

She was a former mental patient who tried to kill Ashley and then went on to marry Vict. It only got crazier from there. 

22. Christine “Cricket” Blair (Lauralee Bell)

Bell has always been a special part of the soap because she’s the daughter of William J. Bell and Lee Phillip Bell, the series’ creators. Also, her character went from being a teen model to a successful lawyer. Winning!


21. Victoria Newman (Amelia Heinle)

She’s an astute businesswoman and voracious maneater. Then again, what else would you expect from the daughter of Victor Newman?  

20. Sharon Newman (Sharon Case)

She excels at suffering, but at least she knows how to pick good men; she’s been hitched to Jack, Nick, Dylan and…Victor?! Hey, everyone makes mistakes now and then.

19. Drucilla Winters (Victoria Rowell)

Drucilla married Neil but slept with his brother Malcolm. Their illicit union gave us Lily and endless hours of delicious entertainment until Rowell left the show in a blaze of glory. Memories!


18. Kevin Fisher (Greg Rikaart)

Gloria’s son and Michael’s brother was such a delightful little troublemaker. 

17. Billy Abbott (Jason Thompson)

The son of John and Jill is such a royal screw-up, which makes him all the more beloved. 


16. Brad Carlton (Don Diamont) 

The former groundskeeper at the Abbott estate wooed Traci and became an invaluable employee of Jabot Cosmetics. Naturally. Also: humada humada. 

15. Chelsea Lawson (Melissa Claire Egan)

She was such a bad, bad girl (who needs to make a Genoa City comeback, stat). 

14. Phyllis Summers (Gina Tognoni)

The scheming former groupie of rocker Danny Romalotti gave birth to his child Daniel and started a fierce rivalry with Cricket. She’s also the master manipulator of men (see: Jack, Nick).

13. Paul Williams (Doug Davidson)

Genoa City’s private investigator was also the nicest guy in town. I’m sorry, why did he have to leave again? 

12. John Abbott (Jerry Douglas)

Who doesn’t miss the days of this regal patriarch, especially when he called his daughter Ashley “my beauty”? 

11. Malcolm Winters (Shemar Moore)

Poor Neil didn’t have a prayer with the ladies as long as his hot brother Malcolm was around. You’re welcome back anytime, baby boy.

10. Lauren Fenmore (Tracey E. Bregman)

Her relationship with Michael Baldwin makes us all believe in endless love. Maybe it helps that she never really ages?

9. Jill Foster Abbott (Jess Walton)

As one of the drama’s more integral characters, Jill loves big and fights hard.

8. Neil Winters (Kristoff St. John)

A lover, not a fighter, Neil rivals Paul as one of Genoa City’s good guys. 

7. Ashley Abbott (Eileen Davidson) 

Victor never deserved her, but then who was ever really good enough for the queen of Genoa City? 

6. Victor Newman (Eric Braeden)

We can’t put him at No. 1; he’s just too damn infuriating. But that’s also why villains like Victor are so good for business: they know how to drive us mad. 

5. Michael Baldwin (Christian LeBlanc)

A fantastic lawyer and terrific lover who’s also the funniest dude in town. What’s not to like? 

4. Nikki Newman (Melody Thomas Scott)

Anyone who’s endured multiple marriages to The Mustache deserves a top spot on our list. But that’s not the only reason we love Nikki: she’s faithful, tough, and deliciously candy-coated. 

Nick Newman (Joshua Morrow)

We wept when his daughter Cassie was killed in a car accident. Now we just want to set him up with a cape and a super-tight bodysuit because if Genoa City were ever in need of a superhero, Nick would be it. 

Katherine Chancellor (the late Jeanne Cooper)

Daytime’s grand matriarch needs no introduction. We miss you, Duchess.

And the best character on Young and the Restless is…

1. Jack Newman (Peter Bergman)

It would be easy to explain away Jack’s importance to the show as the one character who can take down Victor Newman. But that’s not the primary reason why he’s at the top spot. While he may be volatile and frequently unpredictable, he’s also the bedrock of the show. There is simply no Y&R without Jack.

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