Classic Examples: TV show stars upstaged by supporting characters

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by Seerek, Apr 27, 2010.

  1. Seerek

    Seerek Well-Known Member

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    What would be the best example of a TV show originally designed to showcase a main star/protagonist but that person ended up being upstaged eventually By
    a more popular supporting character?
  2. cygnus

    cygnus Liberal Furry

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    Happy Days? (Fonzie)
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  3. soxxy

    soxxy Guest

    Mary Tyler Moore by Rhoda, Lou, Ted, Georgia (?) and Betty White's pre-Martha Stewart creation.....but that was part of Mary's character, usually being the sensible one. (Although one of my favorite episodes was her cracking up at Chuckles the Clown's wake).

    Bill Cosby by little Rudi on the Cosby show.
  4. Jubak

    Jubak Well-Known Member

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    Will & Grace. Upstaged by Jack & Megan Mulalley's character (can't remember her name)
  5. caseyedwards

    caseyedwards Well-Known Member

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    Christine Baransksi stole Cybill Shepherd vehicle Cybill.
  6. Garden Kitty

    Garden Kitty Tranquillo

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    That's the one I was going to say.
  7. Wyliefan

    Wyliefan Well-Known Member

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    Urkel on Family Matters . . . though I don't know if you could call that the "best" example of anything. :) I liked the show when I was little, but it was really pretty bad. And just kept getting worse.
  8. ilovesalchows

    ilovesalchows Well-Known Member

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    Jason Batemen on Silver Spoons was hotter than Ricky Schroeder. Of course, I was like 7 or 8 at the time and they were some serious studs. consuming my world.
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  9. caseyedwards

    caseyedwards Well-Known Member

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    If you look at Dynasty and Dallas neither started as the Alexis and J.R. shows.
  10. Matryeshka

    Matryeshka Well-Known Member

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    Spike on Buffy. He was supposed to die in Season 2 when the church crashed in on him and Drusilla, but Joss just couldn't bear to see him die.
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  11. Grannyfan

    Grannyfan Active Member

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    Don Knotts' Barney on the old Andy Griffith Show. It wasn't the same show after he left.
  12. LuckyCharm

    LuckyCharm Well-Known Member

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    That's an iconic example. That was actually a source of much controversy at the time. The quality of the show was actually pretty strong when it started, at least on par with the other family oriented sitcoms of the day. When Urkel became popular, the writers/producers allowed it to deteriorate into bad slapstick to the dismay of many of the other cast members and some of the original fan base.

    I might be in the minority, but I have to add Seinfeld. As far as I was concerned, Jerry could have been written out of the show. George, Elaine, and even Kramer were much more interesting.
  13. Aussie Willy

    Aussie Willy Well-Known Member

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    Karen. Loved her.

    I love Christine Baranski for her role in that show. She was in a episode of Big Bang Theory as Leonard's mother. Hilarious.

    Salem the cat in Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
  14. genevieve

    genevieve drinky typo pbp, closet hugger Staff Member

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    I think that's a bit different - Spike (and Drusilla :cheer2: ) definitely became fan favorites and Spike ended up being a major player on the show, but I don't think he ever upstaged the main crew - he just joined them. I think the strongest recent example is Jack/Karen on Will & grace, as they were far more interesting than either of the stars.

    I would say ALL of the supporting characters upstaged Meredith/Derek when Grey's Anatomy started. She was whiny and annoying and he was nothing but eye candy; the only reason to watch the show was to see Bailey and the other residents. The show has become more of an ensemble over the years, but the Meh/Der storyline to me has always been the weakest thing about it.
  15. MOIJTO

    MOIJTO Banned Member

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    Welcome Back Kotter---Vinnie Barbarino (John Travolta)

    Moonlighting----Bruce Willis

    Family Ties---Alex P Keaton (Michael J. Fox)

    ER---George Clooney
  16. PDilemma

    PDilemma Well-Known Member

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    Family Ties is the better example than some of the others. It was intended that the show would focus on the parents. Within half a season, many episodes focused on the character of Alex instead.

    Shows like Andy Griffith did have iconic characters like Knotts' Barney, but the show still focused on the character of Andy.
  17. rfisher

    rfisher Satisfied skating fan

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    Niles on Frazier.
  18. soxxy

    soxxy Guest

    Good ones, I was only thinking comedy. In that case, Heather Locklear on the old Melrose Place. Was she even on the first season? (For that matter, was Joan Collins the first season of Dynasty?)
  19. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

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    I think that Angel was also a character who was only supposed to be on for a limited number of episodes, but was so popular that his run got extended. And extended. And then he got his own series.

    But I don't think that either David Boreanz or James Marsters upstaged the Buffy character. It's more that they added something to the show, rather than detracting from the main character.
  20. Veronika

    Veronika gold dust woman

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    For better or worse: Urkel!

    Wikipedia has quite a list of these, they call them breakout characters: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breakout_character

    Spike was a very controversial character, fan-wise. Most people either loved him or hated him. I didn't mind him, but I didn't understand the hype. My husband loves him though.
  21. Seerek

    Seerek Well-Known Member

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    Of these examples - which ones actually caused jealousy and/or rift between the cast members due to this shift in attention/popularity?
  22. Kukucachoo

    Kukucachoo New Member

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    Can we count Jennifer Aniston's hair during the first two seasons of Friends? I have not seen a salon rush like that since Farrah and our Dorothy in the 70's and Princess Diana in the 80's.
  23. allezfred

    allezfred Prick Admin Staff Member

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    Betty in Ugly Betty by Wilhelmina Slater, Marc & Amanda, Justin & Hilda, etc. :p
  24. BigB08822

    BigB08822 Well-Known Member

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    No way! I loved those characters but the show was always focused on Betty. Amanda was my favorite, though! :lol: I wish she could get her own spin off.

    I definitely agree about Karen on Will and Grace. She ended up getting so much screen time and all the good lines.
  25. allezfred

    allezfred Prick Admin Staff Member

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    Maybe that's why it's being cancelled. Betty was always such a boring, goodie twoshoes. :yawn:

    Anyway, I still maintain that while she may have been the focus of the show she was constantly being upstaged by just about everybody else on the cast. :p
  26. flutzilla1

    flutzilla1 Well-Known Member

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    I was about 11 when the show started and I always thought Jason Bateman was so much cuter than Ricky "the Ricker" Shroeder. I was also an avid viewer of Jason's short lived 'It's Your Move' sitcom post Silver Spoons. :)
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  27. BigB08822

    BigB08822 Well-Known Member

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    Possibly but I still think the show was doomed when they began moving it around and eventually put it on Friday nights. No show EVER survives Friday nights on the major networks. I think they moved it way too quickly, if they had left it where it was it could have seen a rise in ratings because this season was the very best of all. Oh well, I will miss this show so much.
  28. reckless

    reckless Well-Known Member

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    Both the shows mentioned with Cybill Shepherd. She particularly hated being upstaged by Bruce Willis in Moonlighting and when it happened again on Cybill, there was a lot of acrimony between her and Baranski.

    My apologies if it was mentioned, but the most obvious current examples of character who has overshadowed the originally intended leads are Barney on How I Met Your Mother and Sheldon on Big Bang Theory. (Depending on what happens with the direction that Glee takes next year, I wouldn't be surprised to see Kurt begin to overshadow Cory and Rachel, plus there is Sue.)

    In dramas, I would toss out as breakout characters Eric on TrueBlood and Ben and Desmond on Lost, but I don't think they upstage the main cast, since the shows are ensembles to begin with.
  29. Wyliefan

    Wyliefan Well-Known Member

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    Interesting lists. I had no idea Opus started out in such a small way in the Bloom County strip! :)
  30. Gypsy

    Gypsy Thunder & Lightning!!!

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    Going back a ways, Danny Bonaduce upstaged David Cassidy on the Partridge Family quite often.
  31. Yehudi

    Yehudi Well-Known Member

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    Chuck on Gossip Girl. It's gotten to the point where all anyone cares about is whether he and Blair are going to get back together.
  32. Bostonfan

    Bostonfan Well-Known Member

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    I disagree. ER was an ensemble show without any title character. Clooney's character was always featured from Day 1, along with Noah Wylie, Anthony Edwards, Eric LaSalle, etc. His post-ER career has been more successful than his co-stars, but he technically wasn't a supporting character on ER.

    My classic example would be "Karen" and "Jack". Considering the show was called "Will and Grace", the Karen and Jack supporting characters quickly asserted themselves.

    There's another one I'm thinking of but can't remember the name of the show or characters. Was in the 1980's. It was about an African American family. It had some kind of street name in the title IIRC (Something "321"?). They seemed to always be on their stoop. The supporting character was Jacquee (I don't know how she spelled it). She overpowered the main characters so much that the "leads" eventually left and they renamed the show to feature Jacquee. Anyone know which show I'm talking about?
  33. caseyedwards

    caseyedwards Well-Known Member

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    Locklear was added halfway through the first season of Melrose and Collins the first episode of the second season.

    227! That is a good example.
  34. genevieve

    genevieve drinky typo pbp, closet hugger Staff Member

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    Didn't Rob Lowe leave The West Wing because he was supposed to be the main character when it began and he felt other characters were getting more/better storylines after the first season? I think Lowe's decision to leave Brothers & Sisters is also in part because he didn't think his character was going anywhere, although he was never intended to be a main character there...

    Another West Wing tidbit - I believe that Martin Sheen was not originally intended to be a major presence on that show, but audience response was big so they increased the role of the President.
  35. oleada

    oleada Well-Known Member

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    Seriously. I know Meester and Lively are technically co-leads, but seriously, that show would not live without Chuck and Blair. They're the heart of it. They're certainly the only characters I care about.
  36. Bostonfan

    Bostonfan Well-Known Member

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    That's correct. I'm a diehard West Winger (I have every season on DVD). Originally Sorkin intended to show life behind the scenes of the White House by focusing on the core team that surrounds the president, but not feature the president as a main character. This is evident from the pilot episode where the President comes into the episode in the last 10 minutes of the show. However they quickly realized that they couldn't make it work, and Sheen was agreeable (if not eager) to expand his role. Lowe was originally sold on the idea that his character would play more of a prominent role. He sucked it up and stayed for 4 seasons before moving on.

    If you ever listen to the DVD commentary on the Christmas episode from Season 2 (Noel), they tell a story about how a sub-plot heavily featured Lowe's character, but it had to be cut due to time and he was pretty upset by it but took one for the team.
  37. mag

    mag Well-Known Member

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    I think Aniston quickly started to outshine Courtney Cox, who, I believe, was the star going into the series. Cox was the ones with the name coming off of Family Ties. They seemed to have worked it out and formed more of an ensemble cast which, IMHO, made the show stronger.
  38. Bev Johnston

    Bev Johnston New Member

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    A Different World was supposed to be centered around Lisa Bonet's "Denise", who had the love interest (Dwayne Wayne) and everything, but came to be centered around Jasmine Guy's character instead.

    Re: Jason Bateman, I STILL think he's to die for!
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  39. Seerek

    Seerek Well-Known Member

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    Did Marla Gibbs actually leave 227?

    It does say this in Wiki

    So Marla must have not been happy, but I don't think she officially left.

    It says that Jackee actually went on the win an Emmy for that role too.
  40. Beefcake

    Beefcake Guest

    :respec: The man has perfect comedic timing, and he's both sexy and approachable. A Greg Kinnear for a smarter audience.

    Speaking of Jason in terms of the subject matter, his "Arrested Development" was the perfect show. Everyone upstaged everyone, multiple times within the same 21 minutes of an episode. Bateman, the lead, never faded into the background despite being the ONLY "normal"/button-down character on the show. Incredible accomplishment by Jason and the writers.
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