It’s been 15 years to the day since Friday Night Lights the series blessed us with its clear-eyed, full-hearted glory. The five-season drama from creator Peter Berg gave us iconic one-liners like “Texas forever” and stunning cinematography that became as much a part of the show’s fabric as football and good friends livin’ large.

But of course, FNL wouldn’t be the indelible entertainment milestone it’s now regarded as without some truly stunning performances. It’s no easy task to flesh out every character on this kind of ensemble, let alone to do it with effort and empathy. And remarkably, most of FNL‘s lead characters are crushes…which is why we decided to rank no less than 35 of them for this momentous occasion.

Whether you’re a diehard for Tim Riggins or Vince Howard Forever, FNL really fed its viewers over five seasons. Come for the football, if you’re Buddy Garrity or something, but stay for the vibes.

35. Joe McCoy

Man, we thought Buddy Garrity was annoying, and then along came super-booster Joe McCoy, a rich a-hole helicopter dad who goes as far as bribing Coach Eric Taylor to make his son QB1. Cloudy eyes and an empty heart.

Pros: V nice house.

Cons: Manipulative, controlling, abusive. Big nope from us.

34. Mac McGill

Mac is honestly not a crush but he’s in the show a lot so it felt dutiful to include. Sorry you lost the head coach job to Eric Taylor, buddy, but you can see why.

Pros: Maybe employed? Who knows.

Cons: Confirmed racist.

33. Buddy Garrity

Ugh.

Ugh.
Credit: BILL RECORDS / NBCU PHOTO BANK / NBCUNIVERSAL VIA GETTY IMAGES

Dillons HBIC (Head Booster in Charge) is all up in the business of high school football, something that he used to be part of approximately 98374927 years ago.

Pros: Great pronunciation of “Lyla,” loves bumper cars, helps Santiago get back on his feet after juvie.

Cons: Cheats on his wife Pam, loses Lyla’s college fund, is annoying.

32. Derek Bishop

Julie clearly has a thing for educators in the series. First there was that high school English teacher, and later she falls for Derek Bishop, a married college TA with whom she has an affair (even though he was hella cocky about football when they met at a party). Derek, dude, don’t sleep with a student and don’t cheat on your wife!

Pros: Sorry to this man, can’t think of any.

Cons: Cheats on his wife, crosses student/TA boundaries.

31. Wade Aikman

Nothing flaunts J.D. McCoy’s privilege quite like bringing on his own private coach. Wade had to know he was working for some Grade A douchebags, but he stood by and let the chips fall when his boss got Coach fired.

Pros: Maybe this is all an eat-the-rich long con?

Cons: Works for the worst people ever to set foot in Dillon

30. Noah Barnett

Remember the hot young English teacher at Dillon High who Julie started hanging out with? If not, it’s probably because the character — played by Austin Nichols — only had a short two-episode stint in Season 2 before Tami laid into him for getting a little too close to her daughter.

Pros: Hopefully he’s at least well-read.

Cons: Clearly oversteps some student/teacher boundaries.

29. Julie Taylor

Let Matt live

Let Matt live
Credit: BILL RECORDS / NBCU PHOTO BANK / NBCUniversal via Getty Images

It’s cruel that the universe sought to balance the awesomeness of Coach and Tami Taylor with their frankly atrocious daughter. Raised in a home surrounded by love and empathy, Julie grew up to be, quite simply, the worst. Even years of dating Matt Saracen didn’t make her better, and that’s pretty damning.

Pros: Hot, cool parents.

Cons: The worst.

28. Angela Collette

Unfortunately the least explored of the powerful Collette women, Tyra and Mindy’s mother is mostly defined by her relationships with men.

Pros: She seems nice.

Cons: Manipulated by the patriarchy! Had an affair with Buddy Garrity. 🙁

27. Billy Riggins

Derek Phillips as Coach Billy RIggins .

Derek Phillips as Coach Billy RIggins .
Credit: BILL RECORDS / NBC / NBCU PHOTO BANK via Getty Images

Tim’s older brother struggled to grow up, but we couldn’t help feeling for him along his journey. By series’ end he’s a proud husband and father who also let Tim go to jail for him.

Pros: Well-intentioned.

Cons: Horrible influence on Tim, has made so many bad decisions.

26. Jackie Miller

For those who’ve understandably blocked Jackie from memory, she was one of the worst crushes (and neighbors) of all time. After she and her son Bo (who rules in comparison) moved next door to Tim, Tim started spending time with them and eventually fell for her. What did she do in response? She hooked up with our fragile #33, broke it off because of the age difference, then got with Tim’s brother BILLY. The nerve.

Pros: Has a son who doesn’t completely suck.

Cons: Breaks hearts, drives a wedge between brothers, stressful neighbor.

25. J.D. McCoy

Jeremy Sumpter as J.D. McCoy, ugh.

Jeremy Sumpter as J.D. McCoy, ugh.
Credit: BILL RECORDS / NBC / NBCU PHOTO BANK via Getty Images

Just because Smash graduated didn’t mean the Panthers were clamoring for a new cocksure wunderkind. J.D. McCoy may have the makings of a star QB, but he’s got a lot to learn about respect.

Pros: Played by certified early-aughts hunk Jeremy Sumptor.

Cons: A lot of them stem from his awful dad, but the difference between J.D. and Voodoo’s bad attitudes is money and power (see below).

24. Ray “Voodoo” Tatum

Yet another player who feels entitled because of his ability, a case not helped by Buddy Garrity showing up fangirling at this guy’s door. Voodoo isn’t happy to be in Texas (his family was displaced by Hurricane Katrina), and takes it out on the Panthers by being a rogue player and rude teammate.

Pros: Mostly quiet.

Cons: When not quiet may potentially have an outburst that leads to Panthers having to forfeit a game.

23. Glenn Morshower

We loved that Tami had a work friend to vent to after she came back from maternity leave, but Glenn, please don’t mess with mom and dad.

Pros: Solid listener, good with kids.

Cons: Makes poor happy hour choices.

22. The Swede

Remember in Season 2 when Julie briefly gave up on Saracen for that piece of eye candy at the pool? A detour absolutely no one needed!

Pros: Can probably save your life if you’re drowning. Good summer crush.

Cons: Parties too much and crucially isn’t interested in a serious relationship.

21. Cheryl Sproles

It should have been a lot weirder to residents of Dillon and the wider viewing public that Tim Riggins was fully sexing married adult women on this show, but we were blinded by adult man Taylor Kitsch (and all those ~lights). Anyway, Becky’s mom had it goin’ on.

Pros: Hard worker who loves her daughter and wants her to have a better life.

Cons: A little impulsive, especially when it comes to sleeping with and/or kicking out Tim Riggins.

20. Erin Street

FNL took a big swing in the later seasons by pairing Day 1 Dillon Panther Jason Street with an unknown waitress with whom he had a one-night stand. But Erin brings surprising maturity and depth to the show, ultimately leading to a satisfying arc for Street, too.

Pros: Practical — wasn’t sure about having a child when she did and made the tough call to move home so she could support him.

Cons: Kind of a rando.

19. Mindy Collette-Riggins

Tyra’s older sister started out as a 2D background character, but in true FNL fashion turns into a complex and compelling character. People tried to shame her profession, but she holds her head high with admirable confidence and charisma.

Pros: Self-assured, will lend a helping hand.

Cons: A bit of a hothead.

18. Becky Sproles

Madison Burge as Becky Sproles.

Madison Burge as Becky Sproles.
Credit: BILL RECORDS / NBC / NBCU PHOTO BANK via Getty Images

Becky had the misfortune of being introduced as a recurring nuisance that Time can’t shake, but throughout Seasons 4 and 5 grows into the kind of depth we expect from FNL characters. She chooses Luke despite being repeatedly drawn to Tim, showing a level of maturity the writers of this piece still have yet to achieve.

Pros: Doesn’t take shit from people, goes after what she wants.

Cons: Takes some warming up to. A lot, actually.

17. Chris Kennedy

Look at that hair.

Look at that hair.
Credit: BILL RECORDS / NBCU PHOTO BANK / NBCUNIVERSAL VIA GETTY IMAGES

Matt Czuchry? Great crush. Matt Czuchry playing a DJ on a Christian radio station in Texas? Eh. He’s no Logan Huntzberger, that’s for sure.

Pros: Agreeable, respectful, good radio voice.

Cons: Not Tim Riggins.

16. Carlotta Alonso

Miss you, Carlotta.

Miss you, Carlotta.
Credit: BILL RECORDS / NBCU PHOTO BANK / NBCUNIVERSAL VIA GETTY IMAGES

Matt Saracen’s world got a bit brighter when Carlotta, a ridiculously gorgeous live-in caregiver, came to the aid of his grandma, Lorraine. Though their relationship started out a bit tense, Carlotta and Matt loosened up, ended up dating, and he eventually lost his virginity to her before she hastily moved back to Guatemala to be with her family. NBD!

Pros: Empathetic, gentle, cares about Grandma Lorraine.

Cons: Moved to Guatemala! 🙁

15. Hastings Ruckle

Hello, sir.



Hello, sir.
Credit: BILL RECORDS / NBCU PHOTO BANK / NBCUNIVERSAL VIA GETTY IMAGES

Full disclosure: We had to Google this man. We sort of forgot that Hastings Ruckle was recruited by ol’ Buddy Garrity in Season 5 and he goes on to help the East Dillon Lions win State.

Pros: IDK, seems like a promising crush based solely off the fact that he’s played by actor Grey Damon.

Cons: Deeply unmemorable, name is hot but sounds fake.

14. Smash Williams

Gaius Charles giving a classic Brian "Smash" Williams glance

Gaius Charles giving a classic Brian “Smash” Williams glance
Credit: BILL RECORDS / NBCU PHOTO BANK / NBCUNIVERSAL VIA GETTY IMAGES

FNL was always excellent at character growth, which is why the devilishly charming but cocky-as-hell running back from the pilot turned into a lovable friend and mentor by his exit in Season 3.

Pros: Loves his family and (sometimes) his teammates, 10/10 smile.

Cons: Enormous ego before it deflates a little, slept with Tyra just to mess with Tim.

13. Landry Clarke

Jesse Plemons trying not to get arrested for murder, probably.

Jesse Plemons trying not to get arrested for murder, probably.
Credit: Nbc-Tv / Kobal / Shutterstock

Dillon historians will wonder why so many people slept on “Lance,” but we knew this guy had something special from the beginning.

Pros: Will literally kill for you.

Cons: He actually did. This man is a murderer. [Editor’s note: WHAT was that storyline!?]

12. Lyla Garrity

It’s hard to live up to the legend when you are basically a walking dream crush archetype, and poor Lyla had her struggles with being the woman everyone saw her as while understanding the girl she truly was. 

Pros: A textbook crush! Beautiful, smart, kind.

Cons: Human and therefore flawed!

11. Jason Street

Street begins a challenging journey in the pilot but strives to respond to everything life throws at him with gratitude and grace. He has every right to feel regret and anger — see also: Mexico — but his desire to be a good man and live an honest life usually win out.

Pros: Extremely kind and respectful, good Texas boi.

Cons: Sometimes angry and sad, but like, we get it!

10. Santiago Herrera

We watched Santiago display captivating strength as he transitioned from life in juvie to life with Buddy Garrity and the Dillon Panthers. We only wish we got to watch him… do literally anything else after Season 2. He deserved a better ending!

Pros: Hardworking, visually stunning man, has absolutely nailed the whole quiet brooding thing.

Cons: Straight-up disappeared from our lives.

9. Luke Cafferty

Season 4 naysayers thought Luke was just Matt Saracen redux, which even if it were true is not a bad thing! Luke is a hard worker and team player who handles the move to East Dillon like a champ.

Pros: Adaptable and mature, even if it terrifies him.

Cons: His parents can be… a lot.

8. Vince Howard

Lil MBJ :')

Lil MBJ :’)
Credit: BILL RECORDS / NBCU PHOTO BANK / NBCUNIVERSAL VIA GETTY IMAGES

Would seasons 4 and 5 have been nearly as good as they were without Vince Howard? Absolutely not. We watched the dreamy East Dillon Lions QB try to turn his life around while carrying a whole-ass team and supporting his parents. He didn’t always make the best choices, but he was a teen! He worked hard to care for his loved ones and should be protected at all costs.

Pros: Has a whole lot of heart, shows up for the people in his life, is played by young Michael B. Jordan (What more do you need?!)

Cons: Occasional ego issues. Vince’s home life is turbulent, to say the least. It’s not his fault, but it’s a lot to take on with a crush.

7. Jess Merriweather

Jurnee Smollett as the bubbly Jess Merriweather.

Jurnee Smollett as the bubbly Jess Merriweather.
Credit: BILL RECORDS / NBC / NBCU PHOTO BANK via Getty Images

Jurnee Smollett’s FNL character, Jess Merriweather, was a real breath of fresh air. She joined the show when East Dillon was introduced in Season 4, went on to date Landry and eventually Vince, and brought a big personality and one hell of a work ethic to everything she did. When she wasn’t helping her dad out at his restaurant or watching her younger brothers, Jess tried to learn all she could about coaching. She shadowed Coach Taylor in hopes of one day becoming a coach herself, and even though she moves to Dallas at the end of the series she didn’t let her dream die.

Pros: Knows what she wants and goes after it, brings out the best in Vince.

Cons: Can be stubborn and hotheaded, like Vince! Also moved to Dallas. 🙁

6. Matt Saracen

Zach Gilford as good boy Matt Saracen.

Zach Gilford as good boy Matt Saracen.
Credit: BILL RECORDS / NBCU PHOTO BANK / NBCUNIVERSAL VIA GETTY IMAGES

They don’t make crushes like good ol’ QB1 anymore. Soft-spoken, perseverant Matt went from comfortably warming the bench to leading the Panthers and getting into college, living out dreams he once didn’t even dare to have.

Pros: Just the sweetest boy, quite possibly the best grandson of all time.

Cons: Can’t get over Julie FREAKING Taylor.

5. Tyra Collette

Adrianne Palicki killed (almost literally!) as Tyra Collette.

Adrianne Palicki killed (almost literally!) as Tyra Collette.
Credit: BILL RECORDS / NBCU PHOTO BANK / NBCUNIVERSAL VIA GETTY IMAGES

Tyra embodies Friday Night Lights’ character development at its best. To say this teen goes through a lot over the course of the series would be an understatement, but she survives and emerges from each challenge with more grit, clarity, self respect, and bigger dreams.

Pros: Smart, strong, independent lady!

Cons: Still BFFs with her hot hot ex.

4. Dallas Tinker

Never underestimate the power of an unproblematic fave. Dallas Tinker a.k.a. Tink is a man of few words who mostly minds his own business and then does stuff like help Luke on his parents’ farm. Your crush would never.

Pros: Always lifts up his friends.

Cons: We don’t really know him that well, which is probably why he flew past so many more established characters. The show ended before we saw his flaws and for that we are grateful.

3. Tim Riggins

Taylor Kitsch's hair is almost unfair.

Taylor Kitsch’s hair is almost unfair.
Credit: BILL RECORDS / NBCU PHOTO BANK / NBCUniversal via Getty Images

The crush heard ’round Texas and beyond; our favorite 28-year-old teen.

Pros: Loyal, stoic, swoon-worthy hair, ugh-hot-ugh.

Cons: Check if he has your mom’s number in his phone.

2. Coach Eric Taylor

Kyle Chandler, King of Clear Eyes.

Kyle Chandler, King of Clear Eyes.
Credit: Nbc-Tv / Kobal / Shutterstock

Hot dad, caring coach, and all-around stand up human. Eric Taylor was the Ted Lasso of the early-2000s, a time when TV masculinity wasn’t quite ready for raw vulnerability and compassion, but undeniably paving the way for the men who would follow.

Pros: King of clear eyes. Has a full heart. Doesn’t lose (mostly).

Cons: He can be a bit selfish, as Tami reasonably points out. Life is tough at the top but that’s no reason to steamroll your incredible wife!

1. Tami Taylor

Connie Britton slaying on "Friday Night Lights."

Connie Britton slaying on “Friday Night Lights.”
Credit: BILL RECORDS / NBC PHOTO BANK / NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Tami Taylor does it all. She selflessly balances the role of supportive wife, caring mother, and counselor/volleyball coach/principal/all around mentor while still somehow finding time for a glass of wine.

Pros: Endlessly loving, empathetic, and strong. Her hair is a national treasure.

Cons: None. :’)

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