Lucille Ball may have been I Love Lucy's star (and she also won an Emmy), but Vivian Vance could steal the show as Ethel Mertz. Lucy's husband and club owner, Ricki, never cast Ethel in his fictional show because, unlike Lucy, she can sing and dance.
Mary Tyler Moore won three Emmys in the '70s for her character Mary Richards. It's a groundbreaking role, as she's the first single, thirtysomething career woman to be a show's main character.
Betty White won Emmys in 1975 and '76 (and again for The Golden Girls) for her portrayal of the oppressively cheery host of a cooking show on Mary Tyler Moore. Her perfectionist character has been called a predecessor to Martha Stewart.
Bea Arthur won for her starring role in the '70s comedy Maude, though she earned another in the '80s for The Golden Girls. Her character is the first woman to seek an abortion on television.
I used to pretend I couldn't I sleep so that I could come downstairs and watch Cheers with my parents, and Carla was one of my favorite characters. Rhea Perlman won an Emmy for the role in 1985, but the character kept her tongue sharp until the show ended in 1993.
Rue McClanahan won for her portrayal of Blanche in 1987. Blanche is the original Samantha Jones, and we love her promiscuity, flair for drama, and bold choice of red on red on red.
Estelle Getty took home an Emmy in 1988 for her part as everyone's favorite 80-something. She's remembered for being sassy, sweet, and all-around adorable.
Though she only won once, in 1993, Roseanne Barr and the show are remembered for tackling taboo subjects like birth control, masturbation, abortion, domestic violence, and homosexuality.
Few of us were part of the Murphy Brown demographic, but we can't ignore Candace Bergen's portrayal after winning five Emmys for it. Murphy was a recovering alcoholic who managed a hypersuccessful career as a investigative journalist.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus won an Emmy in 1996 for playing one of the guys as Elaine on Seinfeld while being distinctly feminine. She's remembered for her smarts, sarcasm, and discerning use of the sponge birth control method.
Maybe nobody wants to be a Miranda, but it was good to be her in 2000 when Cynthia Nixon took home an Emmy. Oddly, though, she's the most down to earth and probably the character most of us resemble. She works for everything she has, and she has the apartment to prove it.
Megan Mullally won a best supporting actress Emmy in 2000 for playing boozy socialite Karen Walker. Her voice is high and her glass is always empty, but we love her cutting remarks, lesbian tendencies, and do-as-she-pleases attitude.
Debra Messing won in 2003 for portraying the neurotic and narcissistic thirtysomething on Will and Grace. Despite her flaws, she runs a successful interior design firm and lives and all-around dream life.
Rachel Green was everyone's favorite friend, and Jennifer Aniston finally won an Emmy in 2002 after seven years playing her. Rachel is self-absorbed but sweet and funny, reminding viewers of a friend they know.
Drea de Matteo dates the wrong mobster on The Sopranos, but it earned her an Emmy for best supporting actress in a drama series in 2004. Underneath all that gym, tanning, and laundry is a kind heart and a voice of reason.
If Miranda is our reality, then Carrie is our fantasy. Sarah Jessica Parker took home an Emmy in 2004 after Sex and the City's final season. Carrie has it all — the clothes, the job, the wit, the apartment, and the city.
In 2007, Katherine Heigl won for Grey's Anatomy. Her character takes the moral highroad at work, but her personal life is so stormy we can always relate.
America Ferrera played the lovable Betty and won an Emmy for it in 2007. Her likability and smarts trump her unconventional style to make her a success at Mode magazine.
Tina Fey triumphed in 2008 for her portrayal of comedy writer and emotional eater Liz Lemon. Despite Liz's top-of-the-rock-size list of flaws, she literally runs the show.
If anyone ever deserved an Emmy, it was Toni Collette in 2010 for United States of Tara. She snagged it for playing a Midwestern housewife with dissociative identity disorder. Whatever we think about Tara's decision to go off and on her meds, it's amazing to watch her confront life's problems by using the right personality for the job.