Top 10 Best Lily Tomlin Roles of All Time This hilarious comedienne is responsible for decades of laughs

Lily Tomlin is a likeable and hilarious comedienne and character actress. Many of her roles are iconic, and she’s been delivering laughs for decades. Curl up and watch one of her classic roles from film and television tonight.

10. The Magic School Bus/The Magic School Bus Rides Again

Magic School Bus Rides Again Netflix

Character: Ms. Valerie Frizzle/Professor Frizzle

While not as iconic as Reading Rainbow, The Magic School Bus is a great educational show from Scholastic. Netflix breathed new life into the 1990s classic with a 2017 revival that’s even more watchable than the original. And Ms. Frizzle gets an academic promotion to professor.

9. I Heart Huckabees

I heart Huckabees lily tomlin

Character: Vivian

I Heart Huckabees is an acclaimed 2004 ensemble comedy with a ton of high-profile actors like Dustin Hoffman and Mark Wahlberg. Still, it’s Tomlin’s character that you won’t be able to get out of your head afterwards.

8. All of Me

Lily Tomlin Steve Martin All of Me

Character: Edwina Cutwater

Carl Reiner directs Tomlin and Steve Martin in this lovable, zany, body-sharing fantasy. Tomlin’s Edwina is a bedridden billionaire who accidentally transfers her dying soul into hapless Roger.

7. Grandma

Grandma Lily Tomlin

Character: Elle

This 2015 film follows a lesbian poet helping her teenage granddaughter raise money for an abortion. It’s a touching tale that gained buzz at Sundance and gained Tomlin, Sam Elliot, and Paul Weitz a lot of award nominations.

6. 9-5

Nine to Five (1980)
Directed by Colin Higgins
Shown from left: Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda

Character: Violet Newstead

This movie classic tells the tale of three woman who overthrow their overbearing, sexist, misogynistic boss. It’s especially heartwarming in the wake of major scandals involving high-profile men sexually abusing female underlings and employees.

5. Grace and Frankie

Character: Frankie Bergstein

This Netflix gem of a show featuring two women forcing a friendship after their husbands divorce them to marry each other. It’s a complicated premise that is simple to fall into and features very lovable and relatable characters. I hope senior programming is this good when I’m older.

4. The Incredible Shrinking Woman


Character: Pat Kramer/Judith Beasley/Telephone Operator

Joel Schumacher’s 1981 action comedy flips the script and features a female lead in a superhero-esque movie. A simple housewife is shrunk by mad scientists and must evade them to stay alive long enough to watch Ant-Man and the Wasp.

3. A Prairie Home Companion

Prairie Home Companion

Character: Rhonda Johnson

Long before he fell from grace for inappropriate sexual behavior toward dozens of women, Garrison Keillor was boring a nation with his tales on Minnesota Public Radio. Tomlin and a cavalcade of stars like Tommy Lee Jones, Woody Harrelson, John C. Reilly, and Meryl Streep breathe life into it on screen though.

2. Big Business

Bett Midler Lily Tomlin Big Business

Character: Rose Shelton/Rose Ratliff

Tomlin and Bette Midler shine as two sets of twin sisters who are switched at birth, leaving two mismatched sisters. One set is raised poor in a small town while the other is raised rich in Manhattan. When they meet, it creates chaos for everyone.

1. Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In

Lily Tomlin Rowan Martin Laugh in

Character: Herself

Tomlin originally wowed audiences as one of the original recurring guests on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. Her sketches are far ahead of sketch institutions like Saturday Night Live, and many of your favorite comedians were watching Tomlin for comedic inspiration before they started.


Dr. Brian Penny is a former Business Analyst and Operations Manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, troll, and freelance writer. You can find his work in Cracked, High Times, HuffPost, Lifewire, Forbes, Fast Company, and dozens of other places, although much of it is no longer under his name. Dr. Penny loves annoying fake media.

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