Everybody loves an underdog. Why? Because they provide a glimmer of hope that with hard work and determination, we can beat the odds no matter how stacked they are against us.
Some of the most iconic characters in history have been underdogs. Take, for example, Lady Gaga, Marie Curie, Audrey Hepburn and Taylor Swift. Though no one would consider these ladies the long-shot now, they didn't start out on top.
And the same is true for fictional characters, too, especially those on TV. Because we tune in week and week out, our emotional investment in these characters can go deep — and that make the payoff when they persevere so, so good.
Below you'll find a list of the 10 strongest underdogs on TV right now — characters who started out at zero but are clawing their way to 100.
It’s never a good idea to get too attached to any character on Game of Thrones, but we will always root for Arya Stark (Maisie Williams). She started out as a tomboy troublemaker but has since evolved into a total badass survivor. Though she's constantly underestimated because of her size and age, she has proven, over and over, that is a bad call.
Saying Peggy Olson (Elizabeth Moss) has a lot of personal problems might be the understatement of the year, but you can't count Mad Men's leading lady out. Even though she’s always dealing with some pretty heavy stuff on her own, she keeps her nose to the grindstone and keeps her workflow right. Sure, she can get a little sour under stress, but being a professional woman in the 1960s was a super nerve-wracking gig.
Notorious vomitter, Richard (Thomas Middleditch) has a lot of things working against him on HBO's Silicon Valley. Even though he’s still the nerdy, high-strung coder living with his awkward buds from Season 1, now he’s created the mother of all algorithms and is about to blow up. After that, he can puke anytime he feels like it.
Being the new kid is always hard, but being the new kid on late-night television is brutal. James Corden took over for Craig Ferguson on The Late, Late Show, and has been killing it since his first night with his self-deprecating humor and irresistible charm. He’s no stranger to celebrity in his native Britain, and it won't be long until he's a household name in the States, too.
Eddie Huang (Hudson Yang) might be a bit of a misfit, but he has definite flair. He's Fresh Off The Boat's resident rap aficionado and a self-proclaimed ladies man. It doesn’t matter that the other kids think he’s weird and his brothers think he’s an underachiever; the kid's got style.
The Royals may not seem like a show with many underdogs, but as the only American, Ophelia (Merritt Patterson) has her work cut out for her if she wants into this hoity-toity family. She may not be as posh as Gemma or as rich as Eleanor, but the Prince doesn't seem to mind.
Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman
Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk), later to be known as Saul Goodman, from Better Call Saulis just trying to make a name for himself that doesn’t include petty crime, con games or bribery. He wants to do better, but there is always something getting in his way. The audience already knows his future (if not, catch up on Breaking Bad on Netlfix ASAP), so there’s a collective sigh of relief to know that it all works out for him… sort of.
As the literal Last Man on Earth, Phil Miller doesn’t really have to have perfect game; he pretty much has his pick of the ladies. Well, mostly. Even when he’s being particularly skeevy, he can still be a pretty endearing dude. Plus, his facial hair game is on point.
It seems a little strange to root for a murderer, but he’s really good at being creepy. He started out on Bates Motel under his mother’s thumb, but Norman (Freddie Highmore) is not a mama’s boy anymore. With a girlfriend, gainful employment and two (alleged) homicides under his belt, Norman has really found his stride as a psychopath.
Sutton Foster plays Liza on TV Land’s Younger, about a 40-something single mom looking to restart her life after a series of really terrible events set her off course. Her recent divorce plunged her into a downward spiral and her decision to pose as a 26 year old was the best thing she could’ve done. She’s got a cool new bestie, played by Hillary Duff, and a dreamy new boyfriend. Seems like this underdog is killing it.