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September 3, 2015

Seven new characters that worked

by Kelly Woo, posted Sep 30th 2008 2:01PM
Amy RyanThe genius that was Amy Ryan's Holly beatboxing on The Office last week got me thinking about other cast additions that have made shows better.

The first that came to mind was actually another Amy Ryan role -- Beadie on season two of The Wire. It took awhile for me to get into the whole dockworkers storyline, but it was Beadie that helped me through.

If a show plans to stay on air for awhile, it needs fresh blood -- but the process of introducing new characters isn't easy (witness how reviled Maya was on Heroes). The best new additions combine great actors with well-written characters.

Here are seven other (fairly recent) new characters that succeeded.

1. Desmond on Lost: His and Penny's love story always brings a tear to my eye, and 'The Constant' was the best episode of Season 4. And I'm not gonna argue with adding even more man candy to Lost.

2. Ben on Lost: I didn't want to highlight more than one character from a show, but it's impossible to leave Ben (Michael Emerson) off this list. Ben Linus is one of the creepiest, most manipulative and fascinating characters on TV. He's basically the reason I watch mindless reality TV after Lost (so as not to have bad dreams).

3. Amber AKA "Cutthroat Bitch" on House: Yeah, they killed her off, but before (and after) she died, Amber shook things up between House and Wilson -- much needed on a long-running procedural.

4. Archie Morris on ER: Scott Grimes came on as an inept resident who provided some comic relief to all the bloody drama. But he stuck around and became the heart, if not the lead, of the show. His reaction to Pratt's death last week proved it.

5. Katharine Mayfair on Desperate Housewives: We can all agree the show was circling the drain after the failed Applewhite mystery. But Dana Delany brought a breath of fresh air to Wisteria Lane -- and made a great foil for Marcia Cross. I can't wait to see them continue to cross knives.

6. Mahone on Prison Break: He started off as Michael Scofield's nemesis in season two and turned into an uneasy ally. And Mahone's infinitely more interesting than Lincoln, Sucre, Bellick, etc. William Fichtner rocks.

7. Callie on Grey's Anatomy: If nothing else, Sara Ramirez's ortho doc helped break up the incestuous sludge that was George/Meredith/Alex/Izzie/Cristina -- at least for a little while. But we'll have to wait and see on the Callie/Hahn hook-up.

Promising additions this season (but too soon for a final judgment)
Major Hunt (Kevin McKidd) on Grey's Anatomy
Daphne (Brea Grant) on Heroes

Who do you think were the most successful TV cast additions recently?

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Paige in Charmed: quite a classic example of a series beginning a fresh start w/ a new character (I loved Prue though).

Mr. Petrelli (the father) on Heroes: wow, the show has changed with the addition of his character, although many people had suspicions as to his death.

October 23 2008 at 4:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I can't believe you forgot Sweets on Bones! He's the best.

October 01 2008 at 1:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Al's comment

yes!!! i love that character!!!

October 03 2008 at 3:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kelly Woo

I agree about Taylor on 'The OC' too -- the show was so much better that last season after they killed off Marissa and Taylor was a major character.

October 01 2008 at 11:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Ben & Desmond, 100% yes! And I agree with Jenn, Taylor on The O.C. was excellent.

I do not agree that Callie was a good addition, not bad, just not worthy of a list like this. Addison was definitely a better addition. I miss her :(

October 01 2008 at 9:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I would have said Addison from Grey's, she turned a 5 episode arc into getting her own show, but then I saw that mediocore of a spinoff, but then again I haven't watched Grey's since she left.

Taylor Townshend from the OC. I love her. Never really like Marissa so I was thrilled when she finally died.

October 01 2008 at 4:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

How about Leo on That 70's Show? That was the perfect show for him.

October 01 2008 at 3:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

First one I thought of was Natalie on Monk

September 30 2008 at 5:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Hannah on Everwood. A great example of how to make people very quickly care about a character.

September 30 2008 at 4:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Woody on Cheers. The best one ever.

And Robby Rist was great as Oliver on the Brady Bunch! It was the awkwardly aging Brady kids that brought that show down.

September 30 2008 at 4:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think this warrants a "worst of" post now as there are plenty I can think of on that front!

September 30 2008 at 4:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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