A show’s supporting cast usually comes second place in importance to that of the main characters, which results in a lack of storylines and the potential for stunted overall character development. But, there are times when the supporting characters outshined the main players.
A misconception about supporting characters is that their only significance is to hold up the main character. This couldn’t be further from the truth, as numerous supporting characters stand alone in their own right. Users of Reddit have voiced which of television’s supporting characters have been the most compelling in their eyes.
Sam Axe, Burn Notice
The heat of Burn Notice was matched by its captivating characters. One such character was Sam Axe, with this Reddit user thinking Bruce Campbell in the role was “awesome as usual”. Axe was the tritagonist to protagonist Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan) and deuteragonist Fiona “Fi” Glenanne (Gabrielle Anwar), but his role was every bit as significant.
A former U.S. Navy SEAL, Sam often serves as comedic relief to balance out the show’s intensity, which is seen whenever he uses his alias Chuck Finley. Laughs aside, Sam Axe is highly intelligent and extremely loyal, especially to his best friend Michael Westen.
Karen Walker, Will & Grace
Will & Grace has been groundbreaking in the way of LGBTQ+ representation in mainstream media. The show’s supporting characters were just as vital as the main characters, with Redditor Sonnyjimladdieboyboy saying “Karen always stole the show for me.”
Karen Walker is fashion and chaos wrapped in an enigma, masterfully played by Megan Mullally. Her signature whine and larger-than-life persona made her an indomitable presence, a facade to hide her complexities and flaws. Underneath her diva demeanor, Karen has shown her capabilities of being less narcissistic and even having a softer side.
Peggy Olson, Mad Men
Reddit user balanceofpower thinks that an “amazingly fun, interesting supporting character like Peggy Olson” upstaged Mad Men protagonist Don Draper (Jon Hamm). Mad Men saw some unexpected moments from Peggy, but it only contributed to her tremendous character development.
Play by Elisabeth Moss in a multiple-Emmy nominated performance, Peggy had fantastic growth during the show’s seven-season run. Starting out as Don’s meek secretary, she gains confidence and drive in her journey. Peggy worked her way up the ranks of the male corporate advertising world, establishing herself as an inspiring character representing 1970s feminism.
Seth Cohen, The O.C.
Fox’s The O.C. is peak Y2K television, paving the way for One Tree Hill and Gossip Girl. In addition to being both dramatic and fashionable, the show has great characters. Reddit user Qonic thinks “Seth Cohen was just so much better than Ryan.”.
In a charming performance by Adam Brody, Seth was king of the nerds. His sarcastic humor, creativity, and kind nature make him a compelling deuteragonist and led him to landing Summer Roberts (Rachel Bilson), the girl of his dreams. Furthermore, Seth also coined the phrase “Chrismukkah”, which is Jerry Seinfeld’s “Festivus” for an entirely new generation.
Jessica Pearson, Suits
Overall underrated in its original run, Suits is one of the best legal dramas ever. The USA series had nuanced writing and intriguing characters, which is why Reddit user browneyedguuurl recommending “Jessica-all day, every day” for a compelling supporting character is very apropos.
Beautifully played by Gina Torres, Jessica is not always a perfect character, having resorted to immoral methods to get ahead. Regardless, in her cool presence and chic wardrobe, Jessica exudes several qualities that make her a strong female character. Her fortitude, self-sufficiency, and confidence are excellent factors that made Jessica’s time on Suits compelling.
Ari Gold, Entourage
Entourage is one of HBO’s best comedy series. Loosely based on Mark Wahlberg’s (Entourage‘s executive producer) experiences before hitting superstardom, the series revolves around rising actor Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) and his eccentric posse. Redditor Raptor_Adaptor thinks that Vince’s agent Ari Gold “was the best character in the show”.
A role that won Jeremy Piven three Emmys and was partly inspired by real-life Hollywood agent Ari Emanuel, Gold is tenacious and stubborn in his Hollywood pursuits. Ari Gold may be rude and at times obnoxious, but his care for his clientele makes him a compelling supporting player.
Alice Morgan, Luther
BBC’s Luther solidified Idris Elba’s acting talents, but also introduced the world of television to a rather beguiling deuteragonist. For a supporting character that was compelling, Reddit user Bcatfan08 says “Alice Morgan from Luther. She was phenomenal.”
Alice was a chamaeleon of emotions, which were terrifically played by Ruth Wilson. A highly intelligent research scientist, she is incredibly calculating and manipulative, which makes Luther feel conflicted in their enemies/lovers dynamic, fleshed out by the fiery chemistry.
Daryl Dixon, The Walking Dead
Reddit user Missafya suggests “Walking Dead– Daryl” for a compelling supporting character. Like many characters before him, Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) evolves from a minor character to a significant player in The Walking Dead. Known for his intense demeanor and signature crossbow, Daryl has showcased many layers in eleven seasons.
His character greatly improved from his friendships with Carol Peletier and Judith Grimes. Judith (Cailey Fleming) brought about Dixon’s paternal instincts, while Carol (Melissa McBride) taught Daryl to let his guard down. Through Daryl’s friendship, Carol also became strong and independent.
Kim Wexler, Better Call Saul
Better Call Saul introduced some riveting characters into the Breaking Bad universe. In the way of a compelling supporting character, Reddit user Xtarviust thinks of “Kim Wexler from Better Call Saul, she was amazing there.”. Known for her icy stare and low ponytail, Kim became a fan favorite, with Rhea Seehorn’s performance receiving equal praise.
Kim is quite intelligent and headstrong, standing by her convictions. While Kim has a distinct coldness to her, she has let her guard down to Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk), with her warmth and honesty towards him playing a large part in their undeniable chemistry.
Tywin Lannister, Game of Thrones
Adapted from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, Game of Thrones hosted a buffet of fascinating characters in its eight seasons. Reddit user Inb3456 thinks “Tywin Lannister” is one of the fantasy series’ most compelling supporting characters.
Father of Cersei, Jaime, and Tyrion Lannister, Tywin is rather ruthless and apathetic, which was further nuanced in a brilliant performance by Charles Dance. Cunning like the lion of his house sigil, Tywin’s pursuit revolves solely around himself and which political pawns he can use to increase his power within Westeros.