Despite actual heroes like St. Wenceslas and Franz Kafka, the current leader in the popular poll is Jara Cimrman, a fictional character who first appeared in a 1967 satirical play.
Since then he has been found to have helped design the Eiffel Tower and rewrite an Anton Chekhov novel, among other imaginary exploits.
Officials of the Czech Television contest say fictional characters cannot win the top prize, but can receive votes.
"We'd like to stress that although viewers can vote for anyone," CT spokesman Martin Krafl said, "Cimrman can't win because he's not real."
Votes are cast by mail, Internet and cell phone text messages. Balloting ends at the end of January. Each of the top 10 finalists will be the subject of a 40-minute documentary, to be shown in May.