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Top 10 Minor TV Characters That Became Series Regulars

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Nick Spake They’re the breakout characters with the most staying power. In this video, counts down our picks for the top 10 minor TV characters that became series regulars. For this list, we’re taking a look at TV characters that were originally intended to have minimal roles, but proved to be such scene-stealers that their parts were eventually expanded upon. Special thanks to our users badguygeorge, Criss Oko and Anthony Mayfield for submitting the idea on our Suggestion Tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Top 10 Minor TV Characters That Became Series Regulars

They’re the breakout characters with the most staying power. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 minor TV characters that became series regulars.

For this list, we’re taking a look at TV characters that were originally intended to have minimal roles, but proved to be such scene-stealers that their parts were eventually expanded upon.

#10: Saul Goodman
“Breaking Bad” (2008-13)

First introduced in season two of “Breaking Bad,” this sleazy lawyer becomes a crucial middleman who hooks Walter up with major players in the meth business. Given his tacky TV ads and even tackier wardrobe, Saul might not seem like the most competent consultant. As the series progresses, however, he goes from primarily being a source of comedic relief to being a voice of reason. With street smarts, book smarts, and powerful connections, Saul cemented himself as one of the show’s craftiest characters, and one who was tailor-made for a spinoff.

#9: Bernadette Rostenkowski
“The Big Bang Theory” (2007-)

While Amy Farrah Fowler remains an invaluable addition to this show, Bernadette Rostenkowski took the first step forward in expanding upon the male-dominant ensemble with more members of the fairer sex. Starting off as a potential love interest for Howard, Bernadette evolved into a great character in her own right, being sweet and soft-spoken one minute, and spiteful and loud-mouthed the next. Over the years, this petite microbiologist has only gotten funnier as her voice has become more high-pitched. We couldn’t have imagined how good this show would get from the moment that we met you, Bernadette.

#8: Benjamin ‘Ben’ Linus
“Lost” (2004-10)

Initially slated to only appear in three episodes, Michael Emerson was quickly brought on board full time as Benjamin Linus after his first appearance in season two. Formally known as Henry Gale, Ben broke out as one of the show’s most complex and enigmatic characters. Always keeping the audience guessing, it was rarely clear if the mysterious leader of the Others was a diabolical mastermind manipulating everyone else, or another lost soul searching for answers. All we knew for sure was that everybody on the island treated him like a human punching bag. Whether he deserved it is up to you…

#7: Frasier Crane
“Cheers” (1982-93)

After breaking things off with Sam Malone, bar waitress Diane Chambers soon found a new romantic partner in her psychiatrist, Dr. Frasier Crane. It would have been easy to make Frasier a throwaway rebound guy, but the show’s writing staff and Kelsey Grammer’s performance moulded him into an immortal character. Even after Diane broke his heart, Frasier still stuck around to provide the occasional unwanted psychoanalysis for his less sophisticated friends. Then when “Cheers” ended its historic run in 1993, Frasier continued to live on with an equally successful and long-running series of his own.

#6: Harley Quinn
“Batman: The Animated Series” (1992-95)

Created by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, Harley Quinn started off as a henchwoman for the Joker. Since debuting in 1992, however, this fan favorite has exploded as arguably the most beloved baddie in Batman’s rogue’s gallery. Where the other dames on “Batman” always looked so serious, Harley was funny, ditsy, and surprisingly lovable. At the same time, she could also be homicidal, cunning, and posed a genuine threat to the caped crusader. Plus, Harley possessed one of the show’s darkest backstories and an identifiable hopeless devotion to her abusive puddin’.

#5: Daryl Dixon
“The Walking Dead” (2010-)

This is a show where almost any character can die at any time, but Daryl Dixon is one character we all hope makes it to the end. Originally conceived as a redneck loner, Daryl got off to a rocky start with his group – no thanks to his brother, Merle. Since then, however, this crossbow-wielding survivalist has developed into a loyal second-in-command and truly part of the family. Experienced in hunting and willing to get his hands dirty when others won’t or can’t, he is somebody we would all want on our side during a walker apocalypse.

#4: Elmo
“Sesame Street” (1969-)

Elmo is the very epitome of adorableness, which is saying a lot given the other lovable monsters that populate Sesame Street. A background character for years until the mid-‘80s, Puppeteer Kevin Clash fashioned Elmo into a timeless character with childlike innocence and wide-eyed optimism. Since his rise to stardom, Elmo has made appearances on talk shows, starred in various TV specials, and has even gotten his own segment on the long-running educational kids’ show. Through “Elmo’s World,” he continues to teach youngsters all about everyday life, and how to constantly refer to oneself in the third person.

#3: Leopold ‘Butters’ Stotch
“South Park” (1997-)

Another character that blended into the background for a while, Butters slowly progressed into one of the series’ creators’ favorite South Park residents. When Kenny seemingly got killed off for good in season 5, this naive lackey was a natural choice to fill the fourth friend spot. He has since been shunned by his so-called pals, but is still frequently used as a pawn in their schemes. Despite constantly getting ridiculed by his schoolmates and wrongfully grounded by his parents, Butters remains a cheerful ray of sunshine – that is, until Professor Chaos shows up.

#2: Arthur ‘Fonzie’ Fonzarelli
“Happy Days” (1974-84)

Although he appeared in every episode of “Happy Days,” The Fonz was not intended to be more than a secondary character at first. As the personality grew in popularity, though, he matured and became Richie’s closest chum, a tenant at the Cunningham household, and the series’ top-billed star. At one point, ABC even suggested retitling the show, “Fonzie’s Happy Days.” Encompassing everything one could want in a best friend, it isn’t that surprising Fonzie won the whole world over. Even after jumping the shark, he was still the king of cool.

Before we promote our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Dean Pelton
“Community” (2009-)

- Spike
“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (1997-2003)

- The Janitor
“Scrubs” (2001-10)

- Andy Dwyer
“Parks and Recreation” (2009-15)

- Andy Bernard
“The Office” (2005-13)

#1: Steve Urkel
“Family Matters” (1989-98)

It’s hard to believe Steve Urkel didn’t appear in the first several episodes of this long-running show. When the character made a guest appearance halfway through season one, however, he literally stole the show from the Winslows. Through Urkel’s influence, “Family Matters” became less of a family sitcom and at times more of a sci-fi comedy. The Winslows remained a major part of the ludicrous stories, with Urkel’s inventions taking them everywhere from Paris to back in time. But let’s be honest, this iconic nerd is the heart and soul that kept “Family Matters” going for nine years.

Do you agree with our list? What other minor characters rightfully got upgraded to regulars? For more entertaining Top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to

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