WARNING: This list contains characters from many different nerdy properties, and may contain spoilers.
9. Sam Merlotte, True Blood
Sam's life started out rough. He was abandoned by his adoptive parents after they learned that he was a shapeshifter (an ability he inherited from his true parents). He finally settled in Louisiana, where he opened a bar called Merlotte's and hired Sookie Stackhouse as a waitress. Even though he makes no secret about his feelings for Sookie (and it's not like he has to - she can hear his thoughts), he remains a loyal and protective friend to her, even after she gets involved with her vampire squeeze, Bill Compton.
Why he's awesome: He owns his own bar, and he's a shapeshifter. 'Nuff said.
8. Yosemite Sam, Looney Tunes
Yet another character in the long list of those who hate Bugs Bunny with a passion, Sam has the temper and the guns to back it up. Although try as he might, he just can't seem to get the best of Bugs. Sam's harder to fool than Elmer Fudd, but he's also crippled by his inability to back down from a dare and the fact that any means of transportation he uses will never, ever stop at his command. That's tough to work around. And Bugs can usually depend on Sam's religious beliefs ("Say your prayers, rabbit!") to buy enough time to escape whatever trap in which Sam has finally caught him. And after that rascally rabbit gets away yet again, we can always count on Sam for a hearty "Oooh, I hates that rabbit!"
Why he's awesome: Aside from his itchy trigger fingers and the fact that he's a ginger, Sam is named after Yosemite, one of the greatest national parks in the United States.
7. Sam Winchester, Supernatural
One of the brothers Winchester, the demon-hunting duo traipsing around the Midwest, Sam gave up his college life and a future as a lawyer when his girlfriend was killed by the same yellow-eyed demon that killed his and Dean's mother. As Sam's story progresses, he learns more about his own disturbing supernatural abilities and his connection to the yellow-eyed demon. After being on his own for a while after his brother Dean is sent to Hell, Sam is determined to do whatever it takes to become a better hunter. Unfortunately, this leads Sam to become addicted to demon blood, the side effects of which include badass demon mind-powers, becoming slightly evil, and inadvertently starting the Apocalypse. He gets better though, with help from Dean, their friend Bobby, and some angelic assistance from Castiel.
Why he's awesome: Sam makes up for his mistakes by sacrificing himself to stop the Apocalypse. Also, that boy can cry like a champ if he needs to.
6. Sam the Eagle, The Muppet Show
Sam the Eagle is without a doubt the most patriotic Muppet in existence. His love for his country causes him to act like there's a giant stick up his ass, rather than a Muppeteer's hand. He tries in vain to bring in dignity and class to temper the general rowdiness and hilarity that is The Muppet Show, though it's clearly a losing battle. And he seems unable to keep from talking himself into a corner - when he rails against "mis-guided" conservation efforts, he learns that eagles are on the endangered species list. And when he comments on indecency by arguing that everybody is naked under their clothes, he flees in embarassment when he realizes that he's just as naked underneath his feathers.
Why he's awesome: He's not afraid to stand up for what he believes in, even when it's completely ridiculous. Also, he called Alice Cooper a "degenerate, sick, barbaric, naughty Freako", which Cooper took as a compliment.
5. Samantha Carter, Stargate SG-1
The only female member of the Stargate Program's most elite team, Sam Carter has seen it all in her galactic travels. She's been possessed by an alien symbiote, stalked by the hive-mind of the ever-present Replicators, and blown up a star with nothing but a Stargate and a black hole. What with all the hopping around the galaxy battling evil Goa'uld System Lords, the aforementioned Replicators, or simply trying to increase humanity's grast of astrophysics, Sam found it hard to maintain a steady relationship (though it's really difficult when potential romantic partners keep dying). However, fans were left with the implication that Sam and Jack O'Niell finally did get together at the end of the series.
Why she's awesome: She can handle herself in a fight and can engineer her way out of pretty much any impending planetary doom. That's pretty damned awesome.
4. Sam Axe, Burn Notice
Sam Axe is the man with connections. He's got buddies in almost every government organization you can think of, be it federal, state, or local. He's always there for his pal Michael Westen, the burned spy who was put on ice in Miami, and always ready to help a worthy cause or a client in need. As a former Navy Seal, Sam has experience and skill on his side and the talent to improvise in any situation. You can usually find Sam at a cafe, almost always with a few empty beer bottles and a mojito or two in the works.
Why he's awesome: Sam can always be counted on to do the right thing, and the right thing isn't always easy when it comes to the spy world. Also, he's portrayed by the awesome Bruce Campbell. That alone would have been enough to put him on the list.
3. Samuel Vimes, Discworld
Samuel Vimes is the Commander of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, not to mention a Knight, a Duke, and husband to Lady Sybil Ramkin. Under his command, the Watch's most impressive arrests include a large dragon, and the armies of Klatch and Ankh-Morpork. Sam knows the city better than almost anyone, and will follow a case through to the end, no matter what. In the past, Sam has had problems with alcohol (in that one drink is both too many and not enough), but now has it under control. Though he's known to many as Vetinari's terrier, his true devotion has always been to Ankh-Morpork.
Why he's awesome: Sam Vimes is character that grows and learns from his experiences and mistakes, though he might grumble about it. After he learns the benefits of a diverse Watch, he has no problem with swearing in dwarves, trolls, gnomes, zombies, werewolves, golems, and Corporal Nobbs.
2. Sam Beckett, Quantum Leap
Sam Beckett is a time-traveling genius who inadvertently gets lost in time. In the course of his journey back to his own time, he takes the personas of various people to "put right what once went wrong." One of Sam's greatest skills is his adaptability - a requirement for anyone who needs to become different people and fix wrongs in an hour-long show. With help from Al, a hologram only he can see, Sam leaps through time and eventually finds out that his leaps are being guided by some vague greater purpose. Sadly, at the end of the series we learned that Sam was never able to return home.
Why he's awesome: Sam is a true Renaissance man - physicist, musician, you name it. He was a child prodigy, and has many talents that help him in his leaps through time.
1. Samwise Gamgee, The Lord of the Rings
Samwise Gamgee was an integral member of the Fellowship of the Ring. When the Fellowship fractured after leaving Lothlorien, Sam followed Frodo into Mordor. There's no way that the One Ring would have been destroyed if Sam hadn't been there for Frodo. He fought the loathesome spider Shelob, rescued Frodo from orcs, and carried Frodo up the slopes of Mount Doom. He did all this despite never having wanted to leave the Shire in the first place, and he finally marries his sweetheart Rosie almost immediately upon his return.
Why he's awesome: Being both a Hobbit and a humble gardener, Sam was the most practical member of the Fellowship, and had the courage to fight whenever it became necessary. Anyone who can travel "there and back again" the way Sam did is completely awesome.