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With more TV shows, and more great TV shows, every year it gets harder to pick what were the singular best performances out of the plethora of phenomenal acting available. But TV Guide's editors are more than up to the task, so here are our picks for the best actors and actresses delivering unique, stunningly different characters each and every week.

And if you disagree, let us know by voting on your own picks for top TV performances of 2016!

10. Chrissy Metz as Kate Pearson, This is Us

Larger body shapes are making a comeback on TV, and Chrissy Metz's Kate is leading the charge. Though Kate struggles with obesity, she hasn't let her weight loss battle completely define her. It realistically influences other aspects of her life, but she hasn't let it hold her back from finding love or a new purpose in life. Kate has shown the power of being vulnerable and allowing your true self to shine, no matter what you look like. She also is finally taking a stand for what she really wants in this life and she won't let anyone derail her from it -- even the man who may be the love of her life. She is the glue of the Pearson family siblings, keeping Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and Kevin (Justin Hartley) not only in line, but connected. Metz's performance is fierce, funny and makes Kate the type of person you'd definitely love to get a glass of wine with -- even if it is 150 calories. -- Megan Vick

9. Pamela Adlon as Sam Fox, Better Things

Better Things' excellent first season may have been overshadowed a bit by the debut of Donald Glover's Atlanta, but the stealth comedy and Pamela Adlon's Sam are as equally worthy of praise as their network neighbor. A strong and dominant female voice leading a quietly radical feminist series, Sam is a working actor and single mother to three daughters who is forced to balance many roles onscreen and off. Although she is far from perfect -- and would be the first person to tell you so -- Sam's fierce dedication to her daughters and the entire spectrum of life's circumstances has led to some of the best mother-daughter relationships depicted on TV. -- Kaitlin Thomas

8. Kelly Bishop as Emily Gilmore, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life

Throughout Gilmore Girls' original seven-season run, Bishop's Emily Gilmore and the WASP-y environment in which she existed was a constant source of drama and conflict for Lorelai (Lauren Graham), who eschewed her privileged upbringing and left home as a single mother at age 16. However, despite this conflict, Emily was a fan favorite character, and in Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, a newly widowed Emily again was a standout. Her grief revealed vulnerability and helped to thaw her heart while also making progress with Lorelai. But if you're looking for a true highlight, look no further than the scene in which a give-no-f---s Emily quit the DAR in epic fashion. If you need us, we'll be trying to figure out how to make her exclamation of "bulls---" our ringtone. -- Kaitlin Thomas

7. Brian Tyree Henry as Alfred "Paper Boi" Miles, Atlanta

On, uh, paper, Paper Boi is drug dealer slash aspiring rapper -- one of the oldest clichés in the hip-hop canon. Henry makes him much more than a one-dimensional stereotype, though, a mishmash of intelligence and confusion, self-awareness and awkwardness. And he's hilarious. -- Malcolm Venable

6. Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven, Stranger Things

Brown's Eleven was so instantly iconic that the rapper 2 Chainz wore a hoodie with her face on it. Stranger Things' psychokinetic preteen took the world by storm, thanks to the eleven-year-old Brit's magnetic, monosyllabic performance. Brown's incredibly expressive face conveys pain and hope in a way that seasoned actors struggle to do with a lot of dialogue. And the blonde wig/bloody nose combo is unforgettable. In a show full of breakout characters (we miss you, Barb), no one else broke out bigger. -- Liam Mathews

5. Riz Ahmed as Nasir "Naz" Khan, The Night Of

Riz Ahmed's tour de force performance carried the series, and was one of the most memorable on television in 2016. As one of very few Muslim characters (let alone lead characters) on TV, Naz allowed The Night Of to tackle difficult issues like Islamophobia and the socioeconomic implications of our country's criminal justice system. Over the course of eight episodes, Naz goes from a wide-eyed kid to a hardened criminal, as viewers debate whether someone like him could actually be capable of murder. By the end of the series, though that question is definitively answered as it relates to the central murder mystery, the real truth is even more murky. -- Liz Raftery

4. Louie Anderson as Christine Baskets, Baskets

Obviously the big story here is that famed comedian Louie Anderson is playing across sexes as Chip Baskets' mother, but what Anderson -- who won an Emmy for his performance -- has done with Christine is create an entirely realistic character that we all know in real life, yet also a character who fits perfectly in this surreal world. Partially based on his own mother, Christine is a mom still trying to rein in her children even though she knows they're beyond her control, yet can't help but meddle because her whole social life depends on their success. And because her biological children aren't that successful -- failed rodeo clown, trade-school dean -- there's just enough hope that she'll be needed that she doesn't have to change her ways. -- Tim Surette

3. Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister, Game of Thrones

It was the year of the women on Game of Thrones, but no one paid quite the price for victory as badly as Cersei Lannister did. Never one to gracefully accept the limits of her gender, this season, Cersei proved exactly how far she was willing to go for a taste of real power -- a move which ultimately cost Cersei the one thing she truly cared about: her final remaining child. With her last ties to her humanity seemingly severed, a newly hardened Cersei wasted no time in crowning herself queen, in a moment we won't soon forget. -- Sadie Gennis

2. Thandie Newton as Maeve Millay, Westworld

In a show full of fascinating personal stories, Sweetwater's brothel madame has the most electric. The show's central theme of emerging consciousness lays heavily on her (and Newton's) artificial shoulders as she slowly learns the truth about Westworld and her role in it; and through her steady stages of accepting the truth and her awareness -- confusion, fear, anger -- she became the one character we felt the most compassion for. Are we rooting for Maeve to escape her dusty prison and raise hell in the outside world, potentially jumpstarting the Singularity and ending human control over the planet? Absolutely. -- Tim Surette

1. Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story

It's both wrong and accurate to call Marcia Clark a "character." She's a real person, obviously, but history demeaned and remembered her as a pitiful caricature of perma-scowl and, well, a perm, thanks in no small part to the media that hated to love her and loved to hate her. That all changed with Sarah Paulson's Emmy-winning turn as the lead prosecutor of the Trial of the Century. Paulson's appealingly authentic portrayal, full of pathos and resolve, single-handedly turned Clark into a feminist icon, shamed our punchline treatment of her and reminded us that there's a human being underneath the "character." -- Joyce Eng

Check out the rest of our Best of 2016:

Best TV Shows of 2016

Best TV Episodes of 2016

...And vote for your own Best of 2016:

Your Best TV Shows of 2016

Your Best TV Performances of 2016

Your Best TV Episodes of 2016

Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 1/17/2017

Season 1 : Episode 12

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Season 1 : Episode 13

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The girl who plays lady mormont in game of thrones was quite a breath of fresh air
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I agree with a lot of this.

A lot of the shows listed here had other great performances, like Hopkins for Westworld, Harbour for Stranger Things, Vance for American Crime Story, and so on.
Of course, you got to have your defaults like Tatiana Maslany and Eva Green, regardless of what you think about those shows, those two are phenomenal.
Even some of the lesser shows this year, have had great performances, like Jon Bernthal in Daredevil.
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Wow...this site LOVED "The People vs. OJ Simpson"...
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you forgot mark paul gosselaar in pitch
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Rick Hoffman as Louis Litt in Suits FTW!!!
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Laurie Metcalf's episode of Horace and Pete was as fine an acting performance as I have ever seen.
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The year of the Woman!
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What? No mention for Ed Hermann? He DOMINATED the Gilmore Girls reunion shows, and he's barely even in them. It's TOTALLY believable that Richard Gilmore has died. What a huge shadow for the other actors to play off of.
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But he did pass away....in end of 2014... so the characters and actors really did pay a great homage to him. He was still ever present.
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Oh and Hugh Dancy and Michelle Monaghan in The Path - especially the former who has been giving us brilliant performances in two great shows - Hannibal and now The Path

Aaron Paul on the other hand has been disappointing, one hit wonder maybe???

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YES Millie Bobby Brown - for someone who i had never seen or heard about, she was fantastic as Eleven - but then again, all of the kids were great in that show (the heart of the show IMO)

I'm glad you labelled what show Sarah Paulson was good on - because if it was Roanoak then you would be laughed at

Thandie Newton's Maeve has been a surprisingly exciting character - and I agree, she is great in it, but Anthony Hopkins' performance has been much better - he's the obvious stand-out in this show full of great talent

As i do every year - i would like to include Viola Davis - giving us some excellent performances in the very underrated HTGAWM - her scene with Liza Weil and Charlie Weber in the past two episodes were incredible and she deserves all the awards IMO - no woman on TV as good as her
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"the very underrated HTGAWM"
That show was horrible... so horrible I had to quit at season 1. The blame falls on the writers rather than the performers, but still... couldn't they find someone in Hollywood, ANYONE, who knows how law works? I don't need perfect... some creative license is necessary to keep TV lawyers from being as boring as real ones... but there's no point in which any of the characters who are supposed to be interested in law gets any detail of law correct. (Sorry to rain on your parade).

Hopkins in Westworld has been great, but he's really barely in it. The parts he IS in are hugely important for the plot development, but... the actors playing hosts have the tougher job, since they have to play robots, in varying stages of achieving consciousness, as we see their narrative loops play out. It's a step beyond even Maslany... who plays multiple characters, but doesn't have to do the exact same scene as multiple characters, the way the Westworld actors do.
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but still... couldn't they find someone in Hollywood, ANYONE, who knows how law works? I don't need perfect... some creative license is necessary to keep TV lawyers from being as boring as real ones... but there's no point in which any of the characters who are supposed to be interested in law gets any detail of law correct. (Sorry to rain on your parade).


Sorry but the realism of Law is not why i watch it - if i want to see real legal cases i'd watch those documentaries on Netflix (realism will NEVER be an aspect for me, it's a work of fiction, suspend your disbelief man) - i watch it for several reasons, characters, storylines, twists, and acting
I fell in love with the show in season 1 and haven't fallen out of love with it (yet)

We all like different things but i see you shitting on everyone's parade - what the hell do you even like???

As for Hopkins not featuring in Westworld much - either you stopped watching it or you're clearly not paying attention - Ford is the most central character and has heap loads of screen-time - and even if he didn't feature much (which he does) - he still deserve nominations and/or wins - as do the majority of the case because pretty much all of them are killing it
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You're spot-on about the actors and actresses portraying the hosts having a tough job. I don't think I've seen robots played this well since BBC's Humans.

Great acting in both shows.
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The site has all but ignored The Crown, but in it you will find many excellent performances. Especially Claire Foy, Matt Smith, and John Lithgow. The list could include just about everyone in the cast.
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True dat!!!
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Claire Foy is pretty remarkable as the queen. Lithgow was surprising as Churchill.
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