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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. Yehudi

    Yehudi Snarks about Volchkova with love

    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.
  2. Bostonfan

    Bostonfan Well-Known Member

    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?
  3. caseyedwards

    caseyedwards Well-Known Member

    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.
  4. genevieve

    genevieve drinky typo pbp, closet hugger Staff Member

    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.
  5. oleada

    oleada Well-Known Member

    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.
  6. Bostonfan

    Bostonfan Well-Known Member

    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.
  7. mag

    mag Well-Known Member

    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.
  8. Bev Johnston

    Bev Johnston Well-Known Member

    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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  9. Seerek

    Seerek Well-Known Member

    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.
  10. 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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  11. Cyn

    Cyn Well-Known Member

    Not sure if this one counts, but That 70's Show was originally supposed to be about the parents, and it ended up being completely about the kids (and of course, Red Forman calling everyone a Dumbass :lol: ).

    Another one that comes to mind is Suzanne Somers on Three's Company - her role as Chrissy pretty much stole the show, and after she left, none of the replacement roommates ever compared to her.
  12. Yehudi

    Yehudi Snarks about Volchkova with love

    Speaking of Jason Bateman, how can anyone forget Valerie/Hogan Family. The title character was actually written out of the show after a dispute with the producers.
  13. Beefcake

    Beefcake Guest

    fishy, I dunno re: DHP/Nile upstaging Kelsey/Frasier on 'Frasier'. Both characters shone [shined?] most during scenes with each other, or the two of them with their Dad. Many episodes they were pretty much co-leads, thanks to Grammer, who was famously generous in letting his costars steal scenes during the run of the series. (Anyway, those gazillions of dollars probably also help ease KG's prospective discomfort of being upstaged go down easy.)

    I call it a draw.

    Now, Eddie ... he upstaged the other actors constantly! Literally chewed the scenery. :p
  14. Bostonfan

    Bostonfan Well-Known Member

    I remembered incorrectly then. I don't remember much about that show other than Jackee. The irony of 227 is that Marla Gibbs often stole scenes in "The Jeffersons". Her popularity on that show is what led to the network giving her her own show. Then she ends up being upstaged by a supporting player.

    A Different World was supposed to be a vehicle for Lisa Bonet. But I seem to recall that her exit had less to do with the popularity of the Whitney character than Bonet herself. She never seemed invested in the show and left to go find herself (and Lenny Kravitz). But had Bonet been interested in staying, I suspect she would have continued with Jasmine playing a popular co-star. She was Bonet's foil. Without Bonet, they had to quickly scramble to make the Whitney character less of a complete caricature and a little more grounded.
  15. genevieve

    genevieve drinky typo pbp, closet hugger Staff Member

    The character was called WhitLey, not Whitney. I don't know why I know that, I rarely watched the show, but the oddness of the name must have stuck with me :lol:

    I loved the show Valerie, too bad it didn't work out with Valerie Harper but Jason Bateman made it work and I stayed with it through its incarnations as Valerie's Family and then The Hogan Family (didn't Cloris Leachman come in at that point?).
  16. AxelAnnie

    AxelAnnie Well-Known Member

    "The Good Wife" - stars Julianne Margolis (who is wonderful) but Kalinda (Archie Panjabi) is REALLY GREAT. Love her!
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  17. genevieve

    genevieve drinky typo pbp, closet hugger Staff Member

    I would agree that Kalinda is definitely a breakout character. The rest of the cast is strong enough that she doesn't exactly upstage the stars or the main focus, but she is definitely one of the reasons this show is so much more than a typical CBS procedural.
  18. skatingfan5

    skatingfan5 Past Prancer's Corridor

    From the classic Britcom, Are You Being Served, John Inman and Molly Sugden (Mr. Humphries and Mrs. Slocombe) both stole the show from Trevor Bannister (Mr. Lucas), for whom the show was originally designed to spotlight (or so I once read -- not sure how his character could ever have been thought to hold a candle to those other two).
  19. rfisher

    rfisher Will you rise like a phoenix or be a burnt chicken

    :lol: ITA re Eddie. That was a great dog! I actually feel sorry for Grammer. His two attempts at comedy since have bombed big time. His latest didn't even last 5 episodes.
  20. Ares

    Ares Guest

    Wasn't there tension between SJP and Kim Cattrall when Samantha started becoming a popular character on Sex and the City? I didn't like either character that much anyway.

    I agree about Karen and Jack, although Grace (and sometimes Will) were really funny in the earlier seasons as well.
  21. Jackie Sparrow

    Jackie Sparrow Well-Known Member


    Couldn't agree more!
  22. kwanette

    kwanette Fetalized since 1998

    I remember that Sandy Duncan came on the show..as the aunt, right?
  23. genevieve

    genevieve drinky typo pbp, closet hugger Staff Member

    You're right, it was Sandy Duncan, not Cloris Leachman. And I'd forgotten that the show switched from ABC to CBS in its last season.
  24. PRlady

    PRlady flipflack

    OK, time for oldies:

    Mr. Spock was a breakout character in the original Star Trek. He became far more popular than Kirk, which given Shatner's ego must have been interesting.

    Man from UNCLE -- Ilya Kuryokin (actor's name?) became the sex symbol, not the lead, whose name I forget because I really was young when this was on.

    Certain characters might only have been on for a story arc but they really dominated. For some reason I'm remembering Miles Drentell, the evil ad agency boss in thirtysomething. He just ate the whole show when he was on.
  25. skatingfan5

    skatingfan5 Past Prancer's Corridor

    Spock! :respec: Kirk squicked me out. :scream:
    I think the lead character's name was Napoleon Solo -- and was played by Robert Vaughn. Ilya Kuryakin (sp.?) was played by David McCallum -- my sister had a big crush on him, I recall. How do I remember these names?!? Must be from reruns. :shuffle: :lol: I know that I preferred The Avengers and The Prisoner -- I don't think they ran concurrently, though.
  26. Cyn

    Cyn Well-Known Member

    David McCallum, who now portrays Dr. Mallard (Duckie), the Forensics/M.E. guru on NCIS - he was quite the :swoon: :grope: when he was on Man from U.N.C.L.E. - for a guy in his 60's he's still looking pretty good :D .

    (I have no idea who the actual star on MFU was :lol: - I only remember - from reruns - Ilya as he was um, a rather nice piece of eye candy.
    Kasey and (deleted member) like this.
  27. MOIJTO

    MOIJTO Banned Member

    NO NO he didn't, he didn't have the recording career and the groopie girls like David he had the sloppy seconds!
  28. rjblue

    rjblue Having a great day!

    When I read the title, I thought maybe it had been inspired by my post yesterday, after I finished watching Dollhouse. Since it wasn't watched by a huge audience, a lot of people missed his performance, but it is clear from reading what fans of the show have to say. The whole cast was good, or great, but Enver Gjokaj is probably one of the best young actors I've ever seen.

    Family Ties and Michael J. Fox is what came to my mind too.
  29. Wyliefan

    Wyliefan Well-Known Member

    I'm partial to Fran Whatshisname myself -- the guy who played Topher -- though they were all good. I just recently saw the episode where Victor was imprinted as Topher, and oh man, I was nearly in hysterics every time the two of them did a scene together. :rofl:
  30. Cheylana

    Cheylana Well-Known Member

    Has J.J. from "Good Times" been mentioned yet? I think his "Dyno-MITE!" schtick took on a life of its own (although in a rather :rolleyes: way), and the actors playing the parents weren't happy about it.

    Also, the TV show "Webster" was originally supposed to focus on the parents (and it wasn't supposed to be called Webster either), but Emmanuel Lewis stole the show, and his "parents" weren't happy about that either!