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  1. #1
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    Classic Examples: TV show stars upstaged by supporting characters

    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?

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    Happy Days? (Fonzie)
    I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.
    (Edna St Vincent Millay)

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    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.

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

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    Christine Baransksi stole Cybill Shepherd vehicle Cybill.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cygnus View Post
    Happy Days? (Fonzie)
    That's the one I was going to say.
    "The Devil is joining in, and that's never a good sign." Phil Liggett

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

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

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wyliefan View Post
    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.
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jubak View Post
    Will & Grace. Upstaged by Jack & Megan Mulalley's character (can't remember her name)
    Karen. Loved her.

    Quote Originally Posted by caseyedwards View Post
    Christine Baransksi stole Cybill Shepherd vehicle Cybill.
    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.
    When you are up to your arse in alligators it is difficult to remember you were only meant to be draining the swamp.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matryeshka View Post
    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.
    I think that's a bit different - Spike (and Drusilla ) 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.
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    Welcome Back Kotter---Vinnie Barbarino (John Travolta)

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

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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.

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    Niles on Frazier.
    Those who never succeed themselves are always the first to tell you how.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by caseyedwards View Post
    If you look at Dynasty and Dallas neither started as the Alexis and J.R. shows.
    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?)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Matryeshka View Post
    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.
    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.
    Use Yah Blinkah!

  20. #20
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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.

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