SUPPORTING CHARACTERS ARE supposed to stay mostly in the sidelines, working as a foil to the leading character.
But sometimes the intended leads just aren’t a patch on the characters that back them up. Here are 10 shows where this is exactly the case.
Will and Grace – Jack and Karen
Despite being billed as the lead characters in the show, Will and Grace were – let’s put it nicely – boring.
Exactly Karen. This pair, on the other hand, were a riot. Where was the Jack and Karen spinoff? WHERE WAS IT?
(Bonus fact: Megan Mullally, who plays Karen, is married to another breakout character actor – Nick Offerman, who plays the legendary Ron Swanson in Parks and Recreation.)
Arrested Development – Everyone except Michael
We understand that in the opening jingle of the show Michael Bluth is singled out as the ‘one son who had no choice but to keep them all together’.
But in fairness, Michael is probably the least interesting character. How could he stand out when there’s Lucille, George Sr, Gob, Buster, Lindsay and Maeby? And Tobias, of course, who rules them all.
Love/Hate – Fran ‘The Man’ Cooney
Love/Hate is built on breakout characters. Nidge was a mere henchman in the first season before being elevated to ringleader after John Boy kicked the bucket. But over the next few seasons the ruthless, slightly nutty Fran became the fan favourite.
With Nidge getting himself somewhat incapacitated at the end of the last episode, there’s no telling what Fran has up his sleeve.
Gavin and Stacey – Uncle Bryn, Nessa
Again, though Gavin and Stacey are responsible for the show’s title, the lovesick young couple were not what made the show the cute comedy classic it is now.
Stacey’s lovable Uncle Bryn managed to steal every scene he was in, and bolshy Nessa (played by Ruth Jones, who also wrote the series) was just…Nessa.
Breaking Bad – Jesse Pinkman
OK, so you can’t exactly get better than Walter White, no matter how hard you try. But who can deny that by the end of this excellent series, it was Jesse we wanted to come out on top?
After years of being tormented mentally and physically by Walt and his actions, it was impossible not to root for the misguided Jesse. Which is partly why the finale was so, so satisfying.
How I Met Your Mother – Barney Stinson
Question 1) Why did it take them so long to find out who the mother was?
Question 2) Why isn’t Barney the lead character, instead of dull, drippy old Ted?
Fans of this show have many issues with the pacing of the plot, but nobody seems to have a problem with Barney. Kudos to Neil Patrick Harris for creating a memorable character in an otherwise average show.
Downton Abbey – The Dowager Countess, Violet Crawley
Between the many aristocrats and the raft of servants, there’s certainly no shortage of great characters in the hugely popular period drama.
But Dame Maggie Smith owns the room as the Crawley family matriarch, her acid tongue always aimed and ready to fire pithy put-downs at whoever displeases her. What a boss.
Scrubs – Doctor Cox, The Janitor
The friendship between J.D. and Turk was special all right, but many really watched Scrubs for Dr Cox and The Janitor, who delighted in tormenting J.D. in a myriad of belittling ways.
Neil Flynn, who played The Janitor, actually ad-libbed most of his lines. Because he is just that amazing.
House of Cards – Claire Underwood
Robin Wright rightly received an Emmy for her performance as Frank Underwood’s ice-queen wife, Claire.
Where Frank is an over-the-top, almost pantomime villain, Claire is quietly scheming, and in the second season proves herself to be almost if not more evil than her husband. Chilling.
Father Ted – Fr Dougal McGuire
Bit of a cop out seeing as each and every character on this show is a gem, but if you had to choose a favourite, it probably wouldn’t be Ted himself.
It could be argued that it’s the Father Dougal Show really.
Did we catch your favourite supporting character? Who did we miss? Let us know in the comments!