Famed for starring in the most notoriously canceled television series ever, Nathan Fillion has stamped his mark on a generation. A near-perpetual presence on television for the last 20-odd years, along with popping up in some interesting movies and videogames, ensures he's somebody's favorite part of something. He's reliably engaging and likable to such a degree that whether he's the lead or not, he's going to be remembered fondly. Equally able to be a smooth-talking schmoozer, a befuddled, beset-upon buffoon, and a dozen things around and in between, he's a chameleon you're always happy to recognize.
Either way, you never seem to hear a bad word about him, his work is uniformly top-notch, and he can slot in almost anywhere and make a good thing great and a great thing amazing. If he could just get some shows to stay on the air a little longer...
10 Richard Castle - Castle
Cranking out 8 seasons of the writer/police consultant series gave a lot of people the 'Fillion' they were denied by the cancellation of a certain western sci-fi (we'll get to that later).
One of his great abilities is to channel someone rich, successful, and a little entitled, and still seem irrepressibly endearing. His chemistry with Stana Katic's Detective Kate Beckett is magnetic. The rest of the Castle cast is lifted by his presence, which isn't unusual for him. The abrupt ending to the series can't minimize the fun had along the way.
9 John Nolan - The Rookie
Nathan Fillion's current vehicle for his charming likability. This doesn't stray too far from his previous series, staying with the police setting but letting him be our entry into their world from the perspective of the titular Rookie. It wasn't long before the show found its feet, and surely that has to do with Fillion's reliable presence. He just comes off as genuinely appreciative and gregarious, as well as curious in the new role. Everyone around him benefits from interacting with him. The show is also surprisingly action-packed and visceral in places, and definitely worth checking out.
8 Captain Hammer - Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog
This Joss Whedon web-series rose to fame based purely off of the captivating performances from all involved, Nathan Fillion's among the best. His turn as the smarmy hero known as Captain Hammer let him have some fun being the opposite of his usual charming self.
He puts on the slick smile of a conman and gives Dr. Horrible, co-star Neil Patrick Harris, all the ammo he needs to boil in hatred for the 'hero'. The fact that Hammer is still performing heroic duties with an acidic personality behind the facade gives it a fun depth that Fillion toys with the whole way through.
7 Caleb - Buffy
Fillion personally credits another Joss Whedon role with helping him break out in new ways. That's because he got to play a full-on villain in Buffy for the first time. Affecting a southern accent and introducing a sickly sweet menace turned Fillion into pure horror.
In a series of ever increasing 'Big Bads' the fact that he could come along and appear normal while being unearthly evil at the same time showed off his talents. The bowl-cut look doesn't usually scream 'overwhelming evil' but it does for a zealot Fillion.
6 Johnny Donnelly - 2 Guys, A Girl & A Pizza Place
This was a star-making comedy series that kicked off not only Nathan Fillion's career but Ryan Reynolds' as well. It's not often that the boyfriend of the female lead is a positive addition to a series, but Nathan Fillion was that and more. His presence fleshed out the character of Sharon and he became second only to the dynamic future-Deadpool in sheer laughs per minute. Playing the well-meaning, frugal, and 'don't call him simple' boyfriend catapulted him into the main cast where he shone right through till the finale.
5 Sheriff Bill Pardy - Slither
James Gunn is nowadays lauded as the director of blockbusters like Guardians Of The Galaxy and the upcoming Suicide Squad sequel. Before those efforts is this Fillion collaboration about a police chief dealing with an alien invasion in his small town.
Fillion is hilarious, subverting expectations of brave quips and composure in the face of disaster. Featuring a slew of Gunn's regulars Fillion gets to play the just-brave-enough Sheriff in way over his head. Always the compelling lead, Fillion anchors the movie through both the horror and the humor to a satisfyingly bizarre end.
4 Jacques Snicket - A Series Of Unfortunate Events
Deliciously rich is this portrayal of the series' narrator's brother. The recently ended Netflix show benefited from Nathan Fillion coming aboard in the second season. Lending his suave, enthusiastic, upstanding presence instantly provided levity to the series trademark dour proceedings amid Unfortunate Events.
Fillion provided series lead Niel Patrick Harris (again) the perfect foil to come up against, their banter a whole level above the series' already high standard. Fillion makes a compelling case to play any American spy from the 20th century, possessing everything needed and putting it to great use onscreen.
3 Nathan Drake - Uncharted Fan Film
For years people have been saying that Nathan Fillion shouldn't just voice video game characters. He is noted to bear a striking resemblance to this Playstation icon. It was then awesome to see him adopt the role in a fan-made Uncharted short film.
Clearly an effort to get him the nod for the role which seems poised to go to Spiderman's Tom Holland, this faithful short film nevertheless delivers. The uncanny resemblance is part of it, but the overall tone is synonymous with Fillion to the point they elevate each other. If it's the only time he plays his namesake Drake, it was awesome.
2 Reynolds & Buck - The Halo Series
Fillion is no stranger to voice work and subsequently became a regular within the Halo Universe. After initially playing his Firefly namesake Captain Reynolds in Halo 3, he went on to play series regular and playable character Edward Buck in Halo: ODST, and Halo 5: Guardians, as well as voicing him elsewhere in the series. Fillion's likeness is used for Buck as well, making him unique among the many characters commonly helmeted throughout the series. His rich vocals imbue Buck with that sympathy player's need to care about him above most others. An inherently useful trait of the man.
1 Captain Malcolm Reynolds - Firefly
The unforgettable lead role that made a lot of people fall in love with the man's work. Joss Whedon's criminally aborted series Firefly has only grown in stature and legend since its cancelation, and Nathan Fillion is infinitely critical to that reputation. His Captain Malcolm Reynolds was immediately complex, engaging, admirable, pitiable, and fascinating. He displayed fierce loyalty and cut-throat pragmatism, all with an iron code built from the ruins of lost faith. The series short-lived tenure only magnifies the achievement it was, and Nathan Fillion helmed the experience in every way.