Our Seven Favorite TV Presidents

They’re not the leaders of the free world, but they do play one on TV.

“Veep” returns on Sunday night (HBO, 10:30 EST) and we can’t wait to see Selina Meyer in the Oval Office. Our favorite neurotic VP (played impeccably by the ever-charming Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is finally the President, and we believe that she and her dysfunctional team will join the proud legacy of our other favorite TV presidents. To play the P.O.T.U.S. on TV requires grace, authority, and the ability to convince the viewer that you’re capable of leading America to greatness. Here are some others who may or may not have accomplished that, but still left a mark on us:

1. Martin Sheen as President Josiah Bartlet, “The West Wing”

The President of fictional presidents, Josiah Bartlet was stern, yet kind, unwavering, yet understanding. We’ve been writing him onto our ballots ever since. 

2. John Goodman as Acting President Glen Allen Walken, “The West Wing”

Okay, so he was only president for a very brief period of time when Jed’s daughter Zoey was kidnapped. But the thought of John Goodman being P.O.T.U.S. is so hilarious we couldn’t help but include him.

3. Mary McDonnell as Laura Roslin, “Battlestar Galactica”

Technically the President of the Twelve Colonies, she was the 43rd in succession to be in charge but thrust into that role when her homeland was destroyed. And she proved to be a boss, maintaining the survival of the entire human race. 

4. Kevin Spacey as President Frank Underwood, “House of Cards

By Season Three he’s effectively clawed (or more accurately, killed) his way to the Oval Office, making him the most delightfully nefarious President of the bunch.

5. David Palmer as Dennis Haysbert, “24”

President Palmer had a robust domestic social policy but was fairly hawkish abroad – most importantly, he fully trusted Jack Bauer and let him do what he needed to do.

6. Geena Davis as Mackenzie “Mac” Allen, “Commander in Chief”

A one season hit in the mid-aughts, “Commander in Chief” wasn’t great, but Geena Davis shone as the first female president.

7. Dabney Coleman as President George Richmond, “My Date with the President’s Daughter”

A throwback to the golden era of Disney Channel movies, this was a president dealing with every father’s nightmare, but with the entire Secret Service at his disposal. And he had a great moustache.

Photos by HBO