Perry’s Cyrus — a gay Republican White House chief of staff so fiercely righteous about his boss that he committed election fraud and murder — is a walking contradiction. He’s unlikable, and yet when he agonized over putting out a hit on his husband, we didn’t feel anger, but instead empathy. Are we bad — or is Perry just that good? We’re going with the latter. —Nuzhat Naoreen

House of Cards
Nothing left more of a chill in the icy political drama than the tragic arc of Peter Russo, who was destroyed by supposed mentor Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey). Russo’s descent into drugs and depression was riveting, thanks to Stoll. His final tearful phone call to his estranged daughter was Cards‘ most haunting and emotionally devastating moment. —Tim Stack

For five seasons, the actor’s redemption-questing genius embodied the show’s adventurous creative spirit, magnificent heart, and riotous bugnuttery. Noble shined in ”Black Blotter” — an LSD-assisted trip through Walter’s blasted mind — and his final scenes with his Fringe family in the series finale gave an otherwise so-so swan song the power it deserved. —Jeff Jensen

Happy Endings
The sitcom’s third season confirmed that Brad is the perfect trophy wife, mostly because he immersed himself in the world of candle making, spin classes, and white wines. That kind of stuff could have gone totally wrong, but Wayans played it smartly, letting his freak flag fly just enough to make you want to pledge allegiance to it. —Ray Rahman

Bates Motel
It was hard to envision anyone besides Anthony Perkins playing Norman Bates. But 21-year-old Finding Neverland star Highmore makes the iconic character — a teen struggling with mental problems and a clingy mother — his own in the Psycho prequel, imbuing him with innocence and sadness. Simply put, Highmore humanizes one of pop culture’s most famous monsters. —Tim Stack

Saturday Night Live
Killam’s strength lies in his ability to adapt to each host’s skill level, be he lackluster (Jeremy Renner) or live-wire (Justin Timberlake). He hooked us with his Michael Cera, kept us with a riff on Brad Pitt’s Chanel ad, and weirded us out (in a good way) with digital-short star Mokiki. All the focus may be on cast turnover, but Killam gives us hope for the next great age of SNL. —Lanford Beard