Tom Selleck’s 10 Best Characters, Ranked

Known for his iconic mustache, Tom Selleck is cinematic royalty. From 80s heartthrob or gunslinger to the no-nonsense cop and plenty of comedic roles in between, Selleck has graced the screen for over 50 years. In that time, he’s earned multiple award nominations, including seven Emmy nominations, and portrayed some of the most memorable characters that have defined decades and genres. After earning conflicting roles, Selleck was forced to let go of Indiana Jones in order to play Thomas Magnum. While he found success in movies, Selleck remains a highly revered television actor for his variety of roles.

In addition to starring in front of the camera, Selleck has narrated, produced, and written several projects of his own. He’s a leading man, a supporting character, and an excellent guest star. Over his distinguished career, Selleck continues to bring class, comedy, grit, and heart to all of his roles.

10 Peter Malloy – ‘In & Out’ (1997)

It is impossible to imagine a role or world where Selleck shaves his iconic mustache, but low and behold it exists! He stars as entertainment reporter Peter Malloy, desperate to get the inside scoop on a Midwestern teacher named Howard (Kevin Kline). Howard is the subject of Hollywood interest after his former student thanks him for the inspiration while accepting an Academy Award, claiming that Howard is gay despite his engagement to a woman.

RELATED: ‘Blue Bloods’: The 10 Best Guest Stars, Ranked

Selleck is entertaining as he turns on his charisma to get just about anyone to comment or interview. He’s a double-sided character, displaying a softer side as an openly gay man willing to help Howard come to terms with his sexuality. In & Out is certainly an example of Selleck’s acting range.

9 Jack Elliot – ‘Mr. Baseball’ (1992)

During a decade saturated with many memorable and nostalgic baseball movies like Major League, The Sandlot, For the Love of the Game, and more, Selleck as the titular Mr. Baseball is an underrated gem. After falling into a slump, former hot-shot baseball star Jack Elliot is traded overseas to play in Japan. There, his ego causes him to butt heads with his new teammates and manager, Uchiyama (Ken Takakura)

Selleck’s burly six-foot frame stands out in Jack’s new surroundings. While it’s certainly not the best baseball movie out there, it’s still entertaining as Selleck brings his usual comedic charm.

8 Ivan Tiggs – ‘Boston Legal’ (2006)

One of many entertaining guest appearances on the legal drama, Selleck as Ivan Tiggs was the perfect fit. Boston Legal starred James Spader and William Shatner, airing from 2004 to 2008 about the exploits and hijinks of the law firm of Crane, Poole, and Schmidt. Selleck appeared as Tiggs in four episodes in season two as the wealthy womanizer and ex-husband of Shirley Schmidt (Candice Bergen).

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During his appearance, Tiggs attempts to woo Shirley back into good graces, all the while being engaged to a much younger woman. As always, Selleck is charming and witty, making his role one of the more memorable appearances in the series.

7 Matthew Quigley – ‘Quigley Down Under’ (1990)

This Western features an epic showdown between Selleck and Alan Rickman in the Australian outback. Matthew Quigley (Selleck) is a sharpshooter from Wyoming who makes his way to Australia to answer a hiring ad posted by the brutal ranch owner Elliot Marston (Rickman). Realizing that the task he was hired to do involves killing the Aboriginals, Quigley turns down the offer only to be beaten and left for dead in the desert. With the help of those he was hired to kill, they plot their revenge.

Selleck and Rickman are masterful opposite each other in this Western tale enjoyed by audiences. Selleck brings his usual charm to the gritty character with a shining performance that carried the film.

6 A.J. Cooper – ‘Las Vegas’ (2007-2008)

In this role, Selleck took the reins from James Caan in the NBC drama, stepping in the fifth and final season. With an exceptional ensemble cast, Las Vegas centered around the operations of the Montecito Resort and Casino and the employees who ran it. Selleck would join the cast as A.J. Cooper, the casino’s newest owner. Caan, who starred as Ed Deline, the president of operations, would depart the series after season five’s first episode.

While the core cast remained the driving force of the series, Selleck arrived to produce the looming authority figure—a combination of former Marine, Wyoming cattle rancher, and wealthy businessman. His presence stirred up the usual rhythm of the casino but proved to be a great fit with the chemistry of an existing cast in its final season.

5 Peter – ‘Three Men and a Baby’ (1987)

An 80s classic co-starring Ted Danson and Steve Guttenberg, Three Men and a Baby is a gold-standard comedic performance from the rising TV star. Just as the title says, three bachelors are forced into co-fatherhood when a mysterious baby appears on their doorstep—the men trying to determine which of their romantic flings may be responsible. Banding together, Peter, Jack, and Michael raise Mary.

Bumbling about trying to figure out diapers, clothing, and feeding the baby proves to be great entertainment as Selleck, Danson, and Guttenberg step up to the plate. With the popularity of the first film and the bond all three form with Mary, a sequel—Three Men and a Little Lady—hit screens in 1990.

4 Jesse Stone – ‘Jesse Stone’ Franchise

In this TV movie franchise, Selleck stars as the titular detective based on the novels by Robert B. Parker. With nine installments, Selleck spent a decade portraying Stone as he shifts from an L.A. cop to New England police chief solving murders from his past and present. In the novels, Stone is introduced at age 35, but producers opted to cast the beloved TV icon, upping the character’s age.

RELATED: Every ‘Jesse Stone’ Movie in Order Chronologically & By Release DateSelleck would earn writing credits for six installments and serve as executive producer for all nine. Jesse Stone is one of the many roles that Selleck seemed born to play as he embodies the weathered law enforcement role in stride with each adaptation. Stone is set to return to the screen as Selleck confirmed a tenth film was in active development.

3 Richard Burke – ‘Friends’ (1996-2000)
Tom Selleck and Courteney Cox as Richard and Monica in Friends

In one of the most iconic TV romances where audiences were always rooting for them, the relationship between Monica (Courtney Cox) and Dr. Richard Burke will always tug on the heartstrings. Appearing on Friends beginning in season two, Richard was a friend of Monica’s parents. Despite the age gap, the pair end up falling for each other after reconnecting when Monica helps cater Richard’s party.

The pair would break up and rekindle a few times in seasons three and six before ultimately calling it quits for good when Richard admits he doesn’t want more children now that he has reached adulthood. The break-up devastated both the characters and the audience.

2 Frank Reagan – ‘Blue Bloods’ (2010-)
Frank (Tom Selleck) in his office on ‘Blue Bloods.’

With 13 seasons and counting under his belt as Police Commissioner Frank Reagan, Blue Bloods is Selleck’s longest-running series. The CBS series centers around a family of New York police officers starring Donnie Wahlberg, Bridget Moynahan, Will Estes, and Len Cariou alongside Selleck. Despite its tenure, the series has only earned one Emmy nomination.

Starring as the Reagan family patriarch, Selleck brings distinguished stoicism to the character that comes with decades of experience in similar roles. Of his many beloved roles, this is yet another portrayal that has solidified his legacy in TV history.

1 Thomas Magnum – ‘Magnum P.I.’ (1980-1988)
magnum pi tom selleck

In the series that put him on the map, Selleck earned seven Golden Globe nominations throughout the series’ run. Magnum P.I. is about the adventures of its titular character as an investigator in Hawaii. This series and role would become cultural icons, elevating Selleck’s status to a leading man. Earning 17 Emmy nominations, the series would only take home two wins, including one for Selleck as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series in 1984.

Even with a modern remake, there’s no Magnum like Selleck’s. Equal parts dramatic crime and action-adventure, the series gave Selleck a platform to show off his acting chops that would set him up for success for decades to come.

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