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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

    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 Well-Known Member

    Happy Days? (Fonzie)
    gkelly and (deleted member) like this.
  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

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

    caseyedwards Well-Known Member

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

    Garden Kitty Tranquillo

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

    Wyliefan Well-Known Member

    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

    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.
    flutzilla1 and (deleted member) like this.
  9. caseyedwards

    caseyedwards Well-Known Member

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

    Matryeshka Well-Known Member

    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.
    flutzilla1 and (deleted member) like this.
  11. Grannyfan

    Grannyfan Active Member

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

    LuckyCharm Well-Known Member

    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 Hates both vegemite and peanut butter

    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

    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

    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

    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 Will you rise like a phoenix or be a burnt chicken

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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 Master/Mistress of Sneer Staff Member

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

    BigB08822 Well-Known Member

    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 Master/Mistress of Sneer Staff Member

    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 Forever Ogling Ingo

    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. :)
    genevieve and (deleted member) like this.
  27. BigB08822

    BigB08822 Well-Known Member

    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

    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

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

    Gypsy Watching the Leaves Change!

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