USA Network’s 15 Best Characters, Ranked
13 mins read

USA Network’s 15 Best Characters, Ranked


  • USA Network’s “blue sky” era defined by comedic series like Psych, Monk, & Burn Notice.
  • Mr. Robot marks a shift to darker stories, drawing in audiences with complex characters.
  • Original USA Network series continue to deliver memorable and celebrated characters.



Many of USA Network‘s popular series feature memorable and entertaining characters, helping to define to network during its “blue sky” era. USA Network’s “blue sky” era, which brought about their famous slogan “Characters Welcome,” focused on comedic and light action and drama series, as opposed to tonally darker shows airing on competing networks. Notable series that came from this era are Psych, Monk, and Burn Notice. The storylines in each series differ from one another, but what they have in common are comparable character dynamics and humor.

However, the tone of USA Network changed when Mr. Robot premiered and the network made a gradual shift towards the dark stories they once avoided (via Variety). This proved to be successful for the network as audiences quickly became engaged with Mr. Robot, drawing interest in the series’ premise and lead character. Despite the change of tone on USA Network, the thing that remains constant is the network’s original series delivering entertaining and celebrated characters.

15 Sharona Fleming (Monk)

Played by Bitty Schram

Sharona looks skeptical in Monk

For three seasons, Sharona Fleming was Adrian Monk’s nurse and assistant. Sharona played a large part in helping Adrian recover following the catatonic state he fell into after his wife’s death. Sharona worked alongside Adrian during investigations, taking over certain elements of cases that Adrian was unable to do due to his OCD and various phobias. Sharona showed a lot of tough love, especially to Adrian, as she was often a strong, sometimes sly, character. The friendship between the two was always heartwarming to see, including her guest appearance in season eight when she reflected on her time with Adrian.

14 Tyrell Wellick (Mr. Robot)

Played by Martin Wallström

Tyrell Wellick (Martin Wallström) in a suit looking at Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek) in Mr Robot

At the start of the series, Tyrell Wellick is the Senior Vice President of Technology at E-Corp but ultimately becomes a member of Mr. Robot‘s hacker group, fsociety. Tyrell is a complicated character who, throughout much of the series, showcases violent tendencies towards others. Some of this can be attributed to his extreme loyalty.

Tyrell’s fate in Mr. Robot‘s season four is one of the times audiences can’t help but empathize with the otherwise extreme character.

It’s evident to others around him that Tyrell is willing to do all that it takes to advance himself forward and prove his worth to others. The complications of Tyrell’s character are also present in his dynamic with Elliot. Tyrell’s fate in Mr. Robot‘s season four is one of the times audiences can’t help but empathize with the otherwise extreme character.

13 Neal Caffrey (White Collar)

Played by Matt Bomer

Neal Caffrey standing with a serious look on his face.

Once a former white-collar criminal, Neal Caffrey now works with the FBI to catch similar criminals across the country, though Neal hasn’t entirely given up on the thrill of his previous lifestyle. Neal is a highly intelligent man with numerous aliases and knowledge of multiple languages. This knowledge, coupled with his natural charm and confidence, leads Neal to success in conning others. Neal’s relationship with others in White Collar, especially with Peter Burke, the FBI agent who took him in, is entertaining to watch and difficult not to root for.

12 Mozzie (White Collar)

Played by Willie Garson

Mozzie sitting down at a table.

As a friend, Mozzie keeps Neal’s connection to the criminal world strong after he begins working with the FBI. Mozzie can often be described as the heart of the show, providing humor and the lighthearted energy expected from a sidekick. Mozzie and Neal work together throughout White Collar and met when they were working individually as conmen. Considering Neal’s two closest and most consistent relationships in the series are with Peter and Mozzie, it’s interesting to see the way each relationship affects Neal. Though Mozzie isn’t a bad guy, he is the one encouraging Neal to stay involved in crime.

11 Fiona Glenanne (Burn Notice)

Played by Gabrielle Anwar

In Burn Notice, Fiona Glenanne works with Michael on his private investigation work. Additionally, Fiona is an unlicensed, but highly skilled bounty hunter and arms dealer. Fiona is characterized by her toughness, which is relieving for audiences, considering her romantic relationship with Michael had the risk of providing little room for Fiona’s independence. Whether it’s through her knowledge of weaponry or her quick line deliveries, Fiona reminds others around her that she is not only able to protect herself but is fully capable of handling all that a risky job might throw her way.

10 Michael Westen (Burn Notice)

Played by Jeffrey Donovan

Michael is wearing sunglasses and looking to the side.

As the lead protagonist in Burn Notice, Michael Westen is a former spy on the hunt for the person who burned him from his previous job. In addition to uncovering the truth about his struggles, Michael is always willing to use his spy skills and knowledge to help others as a private investigator. During investigations, Michael is thoughtful about his work, and it’s through these jobs that his resourcefulness shines through. Michael is most impressive when he thinks outside the box and can use seemingly ordinary items around him to finish jobs.

9 Louis Litt (Suits)

Played by Rick Hoffman

Rick Hoffman as Louis Litt standing in a doorway in Suits

Louis Litt is both highly ambitious and emotional. Louis expects the best of himself and others, so when the best is not received or his abilities are questioned, Louis will have emotional outbursts that can be optimistically attributed to his passion. Due to his bold personality, Louis doesn’t easily process how he appears to others, resulting in some of Suits‘ funniest scenes. Louis’ strictness and high expectations make for a complicated character, because while this makes him unlikeable at times, especially in his rivalry with Harvey Specter, it also proves to benefit his career.

8 Annie Walker (Covert Affairs)

Played by Piper Perabo

Piper Perabo is looking towards the ground with a worried look on her face.

Annie Walker works with the CIA and her growth from trainee to a seasoned officer is chronicled throughout Covert Affairs‘ five seasons. Annie’s character development is fascinating to follow along with and worth rooting for. Though Annie becomes increasingly rugged as she becomes familiar with the job, she never loses her genuine interest in helping others. Annie is known for her compassion and hard work to get the job done if it means advocating for others. These traits of hers make Annie one of the best and most dynamic characters to come from USA Network.

7 Burton “Gus” Guster (Psych)

Played by Dulé Hill

Burton “Gus” Guster is known as the sidekick to Shawn Spencer, but stands out on his own multiple times throughout Psych. Contrasting Shawn’s tendency to be reckless, Gus thinks things through, scaling down the antics before they get too out of control. Additionally, the comedic tone of Psych is expected from a character like Shawn, but is best exhibited by a level-headed character such as Gus. His comedic timing, due to Dulé Hill’s performance, carries the series and gives reason for his popularity among audiences.

6 Sam Axe (Burn Notice)

Played by Bruce Campbell

Sam Axe is sitting in a car while holding up a walkie-talkie. 

A former US Navy SEAL Commander, Sam Axe is now retired and living in Miami with one of his best friends, Michael. The two of them work together as private investigators, but Sam is also involved in uncovering the truth about Michael’s burning. Sam’s interest in helping his friend is the best example of his loyalty to those around him and what makes him a fan-favorite for audiences. Sam was also the subject of Burn Notice‘s only spin-off, Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe. The film acts as a prequel and is set two years before Burn Notice‘s pilot episode.

5 Shawn Spencer (Psych)

Played by James Roday Rodriguez

Shawn Spencer is holding his hand up to his face.

The balanced dynamic between Shawn Spencer and Gus is entertaining and best adheres to the meaning of USA Network’s slogan at the time, “Characters Welcome.” Shawn is an eccentric character, best exemplified by his guise as a psychic at work as a detective. Shawn can be defined by his tendency to be reckless at times. He has no issue diving headfirst into situations, but thankfully, he has Gus to pull him back when needed. However, this characteristic is beneficial at work because Shawn’s lack of concern for risks takes him to unique leads others might’ve been too fearful to explore.

4 Donna Paulsen (Suits)

Played by Sarah Rafferty

As Harvey’s secretary, Donna Paulsen makes a name for herself by being intelligent, confident, and empathetic towards others. With the help of her natural intuition and empathy, Donna frequently believes she knows what’s best and is usually proven right. It’s because of this that she is favored by fans for her ambition and strong on-screen representation of women. In her relationship with Harvey, Donna brings the required contrast to his character. This dynamic helps the development of each character but positively emphasizes how crucial Donna is to others.


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3 Harvey Specter (Suits)

Played by Gabriel Macht

Gabriel Macht as Harvey Specter in the Suits pilot

Harvey Specter is a highly motivated and skilled attorney. Harvey’s willingness to win cases makes him out to be equally admired and envied by fellow attorneys. Harvey has a full array of methods to employ to secure a win, including going down unorthodox paths. His charm and exterior, which he often utilizes through bluffing and persuasion, help Harvey get things his way. Yet, when it comes to emotions, Harvey’s tough exterior prevents him from connecting with others. He regularly distances himself, but, to the audience’s delight, works through this with help from Donna.

2 Elliot Alderson (Mr. Robot)

Played by Rami Malek

Elliot Alderson has a serious expression on his face while standing in the subway station.

Marking a change in USA Network’s programming, Elliot Alderson from Mr. Robot is essential for the network, as well as being an overall captivating character for audiences to watch. Elliot can be described as an anti-hero, making choices audiences don’t always agree with. Though Elliot is more introverted, this doesn’t deter his fight against injustices. Elliot cares for others and uses his knowledge of technology and hacking skills to take down criminals. Elliot’s diagnoses, such as social anxiety, dissociative identity disorder, and depression, make for a layered and complex character, differentiating him from other USA Network characters.

1 Adrian Monk (Monk)

Played by Tony Shalhoub

As a former homicide detective, Adrian Monk began working as a private consultant for the police department, becoming a beloved character over Monk‘s eight seasons. Monk has several phobias and is rigorous when it comes to his routine. One of Monk’s fixations involves symmetry and his need to have things organized and balanced. These sorts of tendencies regularly get in the way of his work, leaving him unable to carry on with certain investigations.

The joy of watching Monk navigate his job while rooting for him to overcome his phobias has lasted for years beyond Monk‘s series finale.

However, there are times when his characteristics give him an advantage, such as his precise attention to detail, which allows him to pick up on clues others might miss. The joy of watching Monk navigate his job while rooting for him to overcome his phobias has lasted for years beyond Monk‘s series finale. The show recently received a sequel film, Mr. Monk’s Last Case: A Monk Movie, suggesting the appreciation of Monk is stronger than ever.

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