Sometimes, our favorite TV characters weren’t there from the start. They came in after the first season, and suddenly, the show got even better! Let’s look at five characters who arrived late but made a huge splash.
Castiel – ‘Supernatural’
‘Supernatural’ is a cult-favorite series that chronicles the hair-raising, demon-hunting adventures of brothers Sam and Dean Winchester. The show is known for its intricate mythology, blending elements from various folklore, religions, and urban legends into its narrative.
While the Winchester brothers are undeniably the heart of the series, the arrival of Castiel, played by Misha Collins, in the show’s fourth season profoundly enhances the dynamics of the storyline. Castiel is an angel from Heaven who becomes one of Sam and Dean’s most stalwart allies in their battles against a host of supernatural entities.
Initially, Castiel is stoic and detached, sticking strictly to Heaven’s commands and viewing things in black and white. However, as he spends more time on Earth and with the Winchesters, he starts to develop a distinct personality and a more flexible moral compass. He struggles with understanding human behavior, which results in some hilariously awkward and endearing moments that bring a welcome dose of levity to the series’ typically tense atmosphere.
In Castiel, ‘Supernatural’ found a character who could complement the Winchesters while also challenging them. His otherworldly perspective provides new narrative avenues and deepens the show’s exploration of themes like free will, faith, and redemption. The depth and complexity that Misha Collins brings to the role have cemented Castiel as a fan-favorite character who enhances the ‘Supernatural’ universe immensely.
Saul Goodman – ‘Breaking Bad’
The world of ‘Breaking Bad’ is teeming with complex characters who keep the stakes high and the story engaging. Central to this narrative is the transformation of Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher turned methamphetamine manufacturer. Yet, one character who arrived in season two brought a unique brand of humor and charisma to the otherwise tense and grim narrative—Saul Goodman.
Played by Bob Odenkirk, Saul Goodman is a slick, opportunistic criminal lawyer who becomes an indispensable ally for Walter and his former student, Jesse Pinkman. Saul’s knack for bending the law and his extensive connections in the criminal underworld make him an invaluable asset in their illegal endeavors.
Despite his morally questionable profession and ethics, Saul’s charm, quick wit, and survival instincts make him a standout character. He brings a much-needed sense of levity to ‘Breaking Bad,’ with his colorful metaphors and humorous one-liners offering a break from the show’s intense drama.
Saul’s impact on the series was so profound that he became the central character in the prequel spin-off, ‘Better Call Saul.’ This series explores his backstory and evolution into the criminal lawyer we meet in ‘Breaking Bad,’ solidifying his status as a character who has not only enhanced the original series but also carried a successful show of his own.
Andy Dwyer – ‘Parks and Recreation’
‘Parks and Recreation’ is a show known for its lovable ensemble cast and the unique charm each character brings to the table. Andy Dwyer, played by Chris Pratt, is no exception. Initially introduced as a guest star in the first season, Andy was the slothful, unmotivated boyfriend of Ann Perkins. Due to Pratt’s comedic talents and the character’s endearing appeal, Andy was made a regular cast member from season two onwards, and the show was all the better for it.
Transformed into a naive, enthusiastic, and utterly loyal character, Andy brought an unmatched level of positivity and child-like wonder to the Pawnee Parks Department. Despite his lack of intelligence, his infectious charm and heart of gold made him one of the most loved characters on the show.
Andy’s role expanded as he became the lovable shoeshine boy at city hall, led the band Mouse Rat, and even served as Leslie Knope’s assistant for a time. His relationship with April Ludgate, the department’s apathetic intern, became one of the series’ most endearing storylines. Their contrasting personalities made for some of the show’s best comedic moments and showed that Andy’s character was capable of more than just humor.
Andy Dwyer’s addition as a main character in ‘Parks and Recreation’ added a new layer of humor and heart to the show, making it infinitely better with his presence. His character’s evolution and growth over the course of the series underscore the dynamic and intricate storytelling that ‘Parks and Recreation’ is known for.
Steve Harrington – ‘Stranger Things’
‘Stranger Things’ is a captivating science fiction horror series that quickly became a pop culture sensation after its premiere. The series takes us back to the ’80s, focusing on a group of kids in the small town of Hawkins, Indiana, as they encounter supernatural forces and government conspiracies.
While Steve Harrington, played by Joe Keery, technically debuted in the first season, his character’s transformation in the second season is so profound and unexpected that it warrants inclusion on this list. Initially introduced as a stereotypical jock and the arrogant boyfriend of Nancy Wheeler, Steve isn’t exactly the most likable character in season one. He was self-absorbed, pompous, and seemed to care little about anything beyond his social status.
However, the second season presents an entirely new side of Steve. After his breakup with Nancy, Steve forms an unlikely bond with Dustin Henderson, one of the younger main characters. Their bromance is both heartwarming and comedic, providing some of the show’s best moments. Steve evolves into a de facto older brother and mentor for the younger kids, even taking on the role of a protective ‘babysitter’ during their encounters with the series’ supernatural threats.
Joe Keery’s portrayal of Steve Harrington’s growth and maturation throughout ‘Stranger Things’ is commendable. He transitions seamlessly from a dislikeable high school jock to a brave, caring, and surprisingly endearing character. This transformation makes Steve Harrington one of the most beloved characters on the show and significantly enhances the overall dynamic of the series.
Frank Reynolds – ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’
‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ is a black comedy series that captures the exploits of “The Gang,” a group of morally dubious friends who run Paddy’s Pub in Philadelphia. In the series’ inaugural season, the main ensemble consisted of Charlie, Mac, Dennis, and Dee, whose shenanigans and lack of moral compass gave the show its unique, if sometimes cringeworthy, comedic style.
The second season introduced a new character who would exponentially enhance the show’s overall dynamic: Frank Reynolds, portrayed by the legendary actor Danny DeVito. Frank is the legal father of Dennis and Dee, and later revealed to be the biological father of their friend Charlie.
Frank Reynolds is the embodiment of reckless abandon. He is unabashed, unapologetic, and wildly unpredictable. These qualities, while making him a highly flawed individual, also make him an extremely entertaining character to watch. Frank’s willingness to partake in the gang’s outrageous schemes without any hesitation, his bizarre anecdotes, and his outrageous mannerisms have solidified him as a fan favorite.
While the original members of ‘The Gang’ are certainly compelling characters, Frank Reynolds brought a whole new level of absurdity and comedic value to the show. He fits in seamlessly with the gang’s unhinged dynamic, often acting as the catalyst for some of the series’ most outlandishly funny moments.
Danny DeVito’s brilliant performance makes Frank Reynolds more than just a side character, but an essential part of the show’s ensemble, ensuring that ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ got infinitely better with his arrival in season 2.
Nathaniel Plimpton III – ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’
‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ is a musical dramedy TV series that follows Rebecca Bunch, a high-achieving yet unhappy lawyer, who impulsively gives up her partnership at a prestigious New York law firm to pursue her ex-boyfriend Josh in the suburban town of West Covina, California.
While Rebecca’s quirks and eccentricities make her a uniquely compelling lead character, the introduction of Nathaniel Plimpton III (Scott Michael Foster) in the show’s second season offered a fresh perspective and added a new level of charm and complexity to the series.
Nathaniel is introduced as Rebecca’s boss at the law firm where she works in West Covina, and at first, he is presented as an arrogant, privileged, and seemingly heartless lawyer. However, as the series progresses, Nathaniel’s character evolves and unfolds, revealing hidden depths and vulnerabilities. His initially harsh demeanor is revealed to be a facade masking deep-seated insecurities, resulting from a harsh upbringing and high expectations from his overbearing father.
The relationship between Nathaniel and Rebecca, which starts as mutual antagonism and slowly transitions into romance, adds another layer of emotional complexity to the series. It serves as a catalyst for growth for both characters, allowing them to confront and overcome their personal issues.
Scott Michael Foster’s portrayal of Nathaniel was praised for its nuance and depth. His ability to balance Nathaniel’s initial coldness with his later emotional vulnerability made him a favorite among viewers and critics alike.
In a show full of lovable and complex characters, Nathaniel Plimpton III stands out. His journey from an antagonistic boss to a sympathetic and emotionally open character brought a new dynamic to the series, making ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ infinitely better.
Addison Montgomery – ‘Grey’s Anatomy’
‘Grey’s Anatomy’ is a medical drama series known for its ensemble cast, emotional storytelling, and layered characters. The series initially centers on Meredith Grey, an aspiring surgeon trying to balance her demanding professional life with her personal relationships. While Meredith Grey’s journey forms the crux of the series, it’s often the side characters who bring added depth and dynamism to the narrative.
One such character is Dr. Addison Montgomery, portrayed by Kate Walsh. Addison makes her entrance at the very end of the first season, adding a dramatic twist to the show’s narrative. She is the estranged wife of Dr. Derek Shepherd, Meredith’s love interest, which adds a significant amount of tension and conflict to the series.
Although initially depicted as an antagonist, Addison quickly became a fan favorite due to her assertiveness, professional competence, and complex personality. She’s a highly accomplished neonatal surgeon, and her professional prowess and commanding presence in the operating room often outshine even the series’ lead characters.
Furthermore, Addison’s character undergoes significant growth and development throughout her tenure on the series, transforming from an apparent adversary to a deeply sympathetic and relatable figure. Her personal struggles, including dealing with her failed marriage and her desire to have a child, added depth to her character and helped viewers connect with her on a personal level.
Kate Walsh’s nuanced portrayal of Addison also contributed to the character’s popularity. Walsh brought a perfect blend of toughness, vulnerability, and charm to Addison, making her one of the most memorable characters in the ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ universe.
So, while ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ is undeniably Meredith’s story, it was Addison Montgomery who often stole the limelight, adding a layer of complexity and intrigue that made the show infinitely better.
Larry Paul – ‘Ally McBeal’
‘Ally McBeal’ is a legal comedy-drama television series that follows the life of a young Bostonian lawyer, Ally McBeal, played by Calista Flockhart. The series is widely known for its unique blend of comedy and drama, and its eccentric and sometimes surreal narrative style. Although Ally was the main character, it was often her interactions with the side characters that made the show truly stand out.
One of the most notable of these characters was Larry Paul, played by Robert Downey Jr., who wasn’t introduced until the fourth season. Larry is a charming and thoughtful lawyer who quickly becomes Ally’s boyfriend. His character brought a new energy and complexity to the series that viewers hadn’t seen before.
Despite Ally being the central figure, it was Larry who often captured viewers’ hearts. His witty humor, emotional depth, and undeniable chemistry with Ally provided a refreshing contrast to Ally’s often neurotic tendencies. His character’s honesty, empathy, and care brought a relatable human quality to the show that made Larry Paul a fan-favorite.
Robert Downey Jr.’s performance was also a major reason for Larry’s likability. Downey Jr. brought his trademark charm and charisma to the character, creating a Larry Paul that was both lovable and memorable. His performance was so impactful that he received both a Golden Globe Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award for his role in the series.
So, while Ally McBeal was the lead character, it was Larry Paul who often stole the show, providing a balance of humor and heartfelt sincerity that made ‘Ally McBeal’ infinitely better.
Btw, Downey’s incredible performance also earned him a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor.