That still leaves us with a great field!
Remember, these rankings consider if these characters squared off against each other on a neutral grass field in Mankato, Minnesota.
1) Isiah Edwards: Yes, it's been said that the man drinks too much, uses crude language, smells too much, and other offenses...and that's just what Caroline has said! But he's a great pal for not just Charles, but the whole Ingalls family, and he is a fine family man in his own right.
2) Doc Baker: He's not perfect--no doctor is (well, except hopefully mine)--but Hiram Baker seems a fundamentally decent guy. His handling of the frostbite outbreak in "Blizzard" is superb.
3) Nels Oleson: This man put up with so much every day, all while running a mercantile in a town where half the eligible buyers had no money half the time. It's a wonder he didn't snap.
4) Nellie Oleson: This placement might be controversial. Some fans may think she's too low, while others may think I give too much credit. When I was growing up, she had "go away heat" with me, and I thought the character was insufferable without being all that entertaining. I appreciate her more now, and also I think she was featured in a lot less episodes than I would have guessed.
5) Jonathan Garvey: It's Merlin Olsen. 'Nuff said.
6) Lars Hansen: One of the more underrated characters on the show, Hansen ran the mill with a kind heart without sacrificing good business principles. Considering his role in founding the town, he could have been an imperious presence but instead was a great neighbor and friend.
7) Harriet Oleson: See #4, but imagine someone twice as annoying. She's a great heel on the show, though.
8) Miss Eva Beadle: OK, one can question her judgment in sending the kids out into a blizzard, but overall she wanted the best for those children. Or at least most of them.
9) Reverend Alden: You can't tell me Alden ever puts his hand in the till in an inappropriate way! The spiritual leader of Walnut Grove is a source of inspiration and leadership for the community, though he seems oddly powerless before Harriet.
10) Grace Edwards: Isiah's wife puts up with him, so anything her character does has to be seen through that filter.
Also receiving votes: Willie Oleson (a paste eater), Nancy Oleson (basically a Nellie replacement), Mrs. Whipple (a nice employer for Mary), the Edwards and Garvey kids.