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Old February 24 2013, 09:36 PM   #1
The Borgified Corpse
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Unexpected fan favorites who take over the show?

You know, those characters who are initially set up as supporting characters but prove so popular with fans that they eventually evolve far beyond their initial parameters and overshadow the show's ostensible lead.

Some of my favorites right off:

Abed on Community. Ostensibly, the show was originally set up from Jeff's point of view. Abed was just the weird guy with Aspergers who occasionally made pop culture references. However, Abed proved to be one of the most likable and versatile characters on the show. The show's creators compared him to Snoopy in the way that he would have all these fun adventures in his own imaginary fantasy world. On a show with a great deal of geek appeal, Abed is the uber-geek we all aspire to.

Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Originally, he was supposed to be a one-off villain. But his scathing sarcasm earned him a reprieve from early staking in Season 2. In Season 4, they promoted him to regular status once the writers realized that they needed a new sarcastic character in the cast. (Cordelia, the previous queen of snark, had already left for the Angel spin-off.) He was mostly used for comic relief until mid-Season 5 when they wrote a storyline with him falling in love with Buffy. (It was easy for fans to latch onto that idea after the year-long snooze fest that was Buffy/Riley.) After that, Spike's portrayal on the show got more & more serious, culminating in him regaining his soul in Season 7. At that point, he eclipsed Buffy as the lead on her own show. Even when he wasn't on screen, it seemed like the other characters were always talking about him. He was such a fan favorite that, when Buffy ended, he jumped to the spin-off Angel; despite the fact that he died in the Buffy finale.

Wesley on Angel. He started off as a slapsticky comic relief character who would spout exposition about the monster-of-the-week. By Season 3, he'd become a serious hero. Then, after he got himself thrown out of Angel Investigations for kidnapping Angel's son, he became a shotgun toting basass! His dominance of the series became even more pronounced during the 5-part arc in Season 4 when Angel turned evil.
It didn't last. After everyone got their memories erased in Season 5, Wesley took a step back. He became an exposition-focused supporting player again. But Season 4 could just as well have been called Wesley instead of Angel.

Who are some of your fan favorites who ended up taking over the show?
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Old February 24 2013, 10:00 PM   #2
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Re: Unexpected fan favorites who take over the show?

Right off the bat, I was thinking of the Fonze from Happy Days. I think he started as a very minor side-character. Soon he basically was the guy that was the ,mascot for the show.
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Old February 24 2013, 10:02 PM   #3
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Re: Unexpected fan favorites who take over the show?

Spock.
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Old February 24 2013, 10:06 PM   #4
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Re: Unexpected fan favorites who take over the show?

Alex P Keaton, Family Ties

A show that was originally supposed to be about hippie parents raisin' a family in the Reagon era '80s, the focus shifted to the teenage son thanks to Michael J Fox's sheer awesomeness.
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Old February 24 2013, 10:40 PM   #5
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Re: Unexpected fan favorites who take over the show?

Not quite the same thing, but I don't think anybody ever expected Frasier Crane to become such a big part of CHEERS--and his own long-running series.

He was originally just a temporary obstacle between Sam and Diane getting together, but ended up having arguably more character development that any other character on CHEERS: a marriage, a kid, a divorce . . . .
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Old February 24 2013, 10:49 PM   #6
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Re: Unexpected fan favorites who take over the show?

^Honestly, I've never been able to get into Cheers, despite being a huge Frasier fan. I keep hoping that they'll eventually release a Cheers DVD that just includes the most prominent Frasier episodes.

But that does remind me of...

Niles on Frasier. Season 1 was very much Frasier's show. But from Season 2 onwards, it was more Frasier & Niles as a double act. This became more pronounced as the series went on. There are some later episodes where we spend more time in Niles' apartment than in Frasier's apartment. There are some episodes ("Moon Dance," "Head Game") where Frasier hardly appears at all and the episode is entirely about Niles. And while the show sometimes struggled to find a narrative through-line for Frasier, audiences immediately latched onto the Niles/Daphne romance. In Seasons 6 & 7, it sometimes seemed as if the show never spoke of anything else besides Niles/Daphne.

Greg Cox wrote: View Post
Spock.
I suppose, as a mascot for the show, Spock is the more iconic character. But he never really eclipsed Captain Kirk on the show itself. Plus, Kirk, Spock, & McCoy are each such vital components of what made the show work. They need each other. A Spock show without Kirk would be kinda boring. (Plus, Spock was the only character that was there right from the original pilot. You could argue that Captain Kirk intruded on his show in the first place.)
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Old February 24 2013, 10:56 PM   #7
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Re: Unexpected fan favorites who take over the show?

I think when the show was first run Spock did end up getting more fan mail, etc.

Speaking of 60s sci- fi, I'd add Dr Smith from Lost in Space to the mix. Originally the show's villain, the series quickly became 'the Dr Smith and Will Robinson show.'
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Old February 24 2013, 10:59 PM   #8
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Re: Unexpected fan favorites who take over the show?

Will, Dr. Smith & the Robot
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Old February 24 2013, 11:11 PM   #9
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Re: Unexpected fan favorites who take over the show?

I saw the pilot for Family Matters once and Urkel seemed like a fairly minor character. The show focused on the family more. Then most of the family got harvested by temporal aliens and erased from everybody's memories and the show became all about Urkel.

Battlestar Galactica, Tyrol.

CSI, I forget his name but the DNA guy.
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Old February 24 2013, 11:13 PM   #10
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Re: Unexpected fan favorites who take over the show?

Flying Spaghetti Monster wrote: View Post
Right off the bat, I was thinking of the Fonze from Happy Days. I think he started as a very minor side-character. Soon he basically was the guy that was the ,mascot for the show.
Fonzie is probably the most prominent example. The other big ones would be Urkel from "Family Matters" and JJ on "Good Times" (which was originally supposed to be about the parents).

Also, now that I think about it, President Bartlett on "the West Wing" was originally supposed to be a supporting character, with Sam the main lead.
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Old February 24 2013, 11:24 PM   #11
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Re: Unexpected fan favorites who take over the show?

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Old February 24 2013, 11:25 PM   #12
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Re: Unexpected fan favorites who take over the show?

Heroes: Sylar was supposed to die after the first season. Instead he practically became the star of the show (and, to some, its downfall).
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Old February 24 2013, 11:55 PM   #13
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Re: Unexpected fan favorites who take over the show?

i never liked abed on community. too annoying. needed people to just say no and not go along with his bullshit.
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Old February 24 2013, 11:55 PM   #14
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Re: Unexpected fan favorites who take over the show?

The obvious example that first came to my mind was Barney on How I Met Your Mother.
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Old February 25 2013, 12:46 AM   #15
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Re: Unexpected fan favorites who take over the show?

the G-man wrote: View Post
Heroes: Sylar was supposed to die after the first season. Instead he practically became the star of the show (and, to some, its downfall).
I always thought the downfall of Heroes was its inability for any character to be doing the same thing for more than two episodes in a row after the first season.

Was Hurley in Lost originally intended to have such a large role? He looks just a little bit like a Mary Sue, but then again he was the last original main character to have a flashback and his first non-comic relief role was when he was gathering the census in episode 9 or so.

Your comment about Sylar reminded me of one more: Jesse in Breaking Bad.

Jesse would have died in the first season if there hadn't been a writer's strike.
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