New Character Additions That Saved Popular TV ShowsPublished on November 5, 2018. Updated April 18, 2019
The core cast of characters in a television series can make or break a show, but adding to that cast after the show has already seen success is an even trickier situation. Although some new characters have almost ruined a series, others have saved them and added something to the show that fans didn’t even know was missing. Here are new character additions to popular TV shows that ended up saving the series!
16. The Kahana Crew – Lost
From 2004 to 2010, Lost was one of the most talked about shows on television, but by season three producers could see the end of the show was near if they didn’t find a way to make things more interesting. Luckily, they gave new life to the series with the arrival of the Kahana freighter crew, which with new characters such as Jeff Fahey’s Frank Lapidus and Jeremy Davies’ Daniel Faraday helped to open up storylines and push the show in a different direction which was much needed.
15. Erin Hannon and Andy Bernard – The Office
Many networks have tried adapting British television series for American audiences, but few have been as successful as The Office. Although the series ran for nine seasons from 2005 to 2013, fans will admit that by season five things began to get a little stale. Things took a turn however when Ed Helms as Andy Bernard was introduced in season three before being promoted to a regular character in seasons four and five and finally a main character from seasons six to nine. Then, season five also saw the addition of Ellie Kemper as Erin Hannon, and between Helms and Kemper’s comedic prowess, there was a big improvement in the script and storylines.
14. Negan – The Walking Dead
After its premiere in 2010, The Walking Dead was one of the most buzzed about shows on television before going on to become one of the most iconic series of the decade, but in recent years the buzz has turned to a murmur of disappointment from fans. By seasons four and five, many fans thought The Walking Dead had lost the magic that made it great, but things began to look up in season six when Jeffrey Dean Morgan was added as the villain Negan. Not since the show’s early seasons were so many people talking about the show again because of what Negan brought to the series, and although most fans still think The Walking Dead has outstayed its welcome at nine seasons, the character of Negan certainly helped revitalize the show.
13. Aidan Shaw – Sex and the City
By the time season three of Sex and the City came around, fans of the series felt something needed to change for main character Carrie Bradshaw as her toxic relationship with Mr. Big had become too redundant, and the producers answered in a big way with John Corbett as Aidan Shaw. Aidan’s impact on the show was so huge, that many still claim that Carrie should have ended up with him instead, and their storylines helped breathe new life into the series through much of seasons three and four. Corbett did such a good job of charming audiences as the character that many forget that he only appeared in 22 episodes out of the six seasons as Aidan Shaw!
12. Paige – Charmed
When Charmed first began to air in October, 1998 it was one of the most unique shows on TV and fans flocked to the supernatural drama with three powerful female leads. For three seasons audiences grew to love the Halliwell sisters consisting of Shannen Doherty as Prue, Holly Marie Combs as Piper, and Alyssa Milano as Phoebe and Charmed became a very successful show, but everything changed drastically in the season three finale when Doherty exited the show after her character’s death. Charmed then took a chance by adding Rose McGowan as the Halliwell’s long lost half-sister Paige Matthews. While audiences could have rejected the change in characters which would have spelled doom for the series, they instead embraced Paige who added more personality to the show and the series went on for five more very successful seasons.
11. Mike – Friends
The cast of Friends is widely regarded as having perhaps the best cast chemistry of any television series, but even so, new characters were always thrown into the mix to keep things interesting. Heading into its ninth season, things were winding down with Friends, but a breath of fresh air came when Paul Rudd was added as a series regular as the character Mike Hannigan. Although it seemed no one could penetrate what Ross, Phoebe, Rachel, Joey, Monica and Chandler had built for eight seasons, Mike ended up fitting right in. His zany personality matched Phoebe’s quirkiness but also balanced her out. Mike Hannigan was exactly what Friends needed to freshen up the comedy and storyline for the last two seasons of the iconic series.
10. Charlie – Spin City
Spin City had become one of TV’s most popular sitcoms over four seasons after premiering in 1996, but it seemed the show would meet an untimely end when star Michael J. Fox was forced to leave the show because of his increasing battle with Parkinson’s disease. Instead of axing the show, the network took the risk of introducing a new character in Fox’s place and replaced Fox’s Mike Flaherty with Charlie Sheen’s Charlie Crawford. The addition of Charlie was a huge and surprising success, and along with Heather Locklear who joined the show in season four to take more focus off of Fox’s character, the two new characters helped carry Spin City through two more seasons even without Fox who was the heart and soul of Spin City.
9. Castiel – Supernatural
While there was absolutely nothing wrong with Supernatural when it was led by just Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki as Dean and Sam Winchester, there is no denying that Misha Collins as Castiel elevated the series to a whole other realm of entertainment. Castiel was first introduced in season four, and was only supposed to have a six-episode arc but when everyone fell in love with the character and the actor, things changed. Supernatural probably would have done just fine without the addition of Castiel as a main star alongside Sam and Dean, but fans wouldn’t want to imagine the series without him.
8. Rebecca, Frasier, and Woody – Cheers
When it came to the bar where everybody knows your name, audiences were skeptical about the seemingly continuous casting changes, but they ended up being for the better. Kelsey Grammer was the first to join the series in season three as Frasier Crane followed by Woody Harrelson as Woody Boyd and then Kirstie Alley as Rebecca Howe. Although three new faces joining series Sam, Carla, Cliff and Norm was a major change, they fit in so well that they became invaluable to the series. In fact Frasier became so popular he went on to have his own spinoff series that was just as popular as Cheers itself!
7. Lois and Oliver – Smallville
Many characters came and went over Smallville‘s 10 seasons, but a few had the biggest impact on the series. While the epic and complicated romance between Clark and Lana dominated the early seasons, when it came to Smallville making the transition from the Clark Kent story to the Superman story, the show needed Lois Lane. Erica Durance made her first appearance as Lois Lane in the premiere of season four, and it instantly changed the tone of the series. Two seasons later, Justin Hartley began appearing as Oliver Queen and the show went further into the superhero theme as the Justice League began to form. Thanks in large part to those two characters, Smallville was almost a completely different series in its last half of seasons as they helped guide it from a teen high school drama to a full fledged superhero series.
6. Quinn and Clay – One Tree Hill
After the exit of stars Chad Michael Murray and Hilarie Burton as One Tree Hill‘s central couple Lucas Scott and Peyton Sawyer, many weren’t sure how well the rest of the characters could fill the void. Although even at this point Haley and Nathan had become almost everyone’s favorite couple, and Brooke Davis had stolen everyone hearts, producers still chose to “replace” Lucas and Peyton with Quinn James (Haley’s sister) and Clay Evans (Nathan’s agent). Before long fans were just as invested in the two and their developing relationship as they were the original characters, and their presence helped to build out new storylines and make One Tree Hill feel new again as it went on for three more seasons.
5. Owen, Jackson, and Jo – Grey’s Anatomy
The main original cast of Grey’s Anatomy has changed so much that only three remain with Ellen Pompeo’s Meredith Grey, Chandra Wilson’s Bailey, and Justin Chambers’ Alex Karev. While few shows that kill or write off main characters at the rate that Grey’s Anatomy does actually survive, it has become one of the most successful and longest-running dramas in American television history. A huge testament to that success is the characters that step in to major roles on the show to replace those that left including Owen Hunt played by Kevin McKidd, Jo Wilson played by Camilla Luddington, and Jackson Avery played by Jesse Williams. Although these three characters were introduced well past the first season, they have played a major part in the show’s continued success as it enters its 15th season.
4. Jim – 8 Simple Rules
8 Simple Rules (For Dating My Teenage Daughter) was one of the best family sitcoms on TV in the early 2000s with a perfect cast, but after the shocking and tragic death of main star John Ritter in 2003, many didn’t know how there could be a show without him. Not willing to give up on the fantastic series after the sudden loss, the network scoped out some big names to fill the void, even though fans were skeptical the show could carry on. Legendary actor James Garner ended up taking on the role of Jim Egan, the children’s grandfather, and the results were surprising. It was hard not to love what the addition of Jim brought to the show, and although no one could ever replace Ritter, Garner as Jim and David Spade as CJ were able to save the series from an untimely cancellation.
3. East Dillon – Friday Night Lights
Friday Night Lights may have been critically acclaimed, but the show inexplicably suffered and came close to cancellation a few times. Already in a precarious situation, the show took a huge risk when it removed Coach Eric Taylor from West Dillon and the Panthers to instead coach at East Dillon. With many of the teenage characters of the first three seasons taking a back seat, fans then had to become accustomed to a whole new set of players, their friends and their families, and it worked! Before long, audiences became just as invested in Vince, Luke, Becky, Jess and more and season four became one of the most entertaining seasons. Although the series would only last for one more season afterward, the new cast of season four livened up the series in a big way.
2. Walden – Two and a Half Men
With a powerhouse star like Charlie Sheen leading a show, it was easy for fans of Two and a Half Men to assume the series was not going to make it after Sheen was fired. In a big surprise however, Chuck Lorre wasn’t ready to give up on the show even though he had had enough of its star, and Ashton Kutcher was brought in as Walden Schmidt, a billionaire who wants the house that Alan can no longer afford with Charlie gone. With Walden, the series ended up lasting another four seasons which was incredibly impressive and unexpected.
1. Amy and Bernadette – The Big Bang Theory
For the first two seasons of The Big Bang Theory, the series successfully played off the quirky characteristics of its main characters Sheldon, Leonard, Penny, Howard and Raj, and while the show quickly became the highest-rated comedy on TV, it was still missing something. Melissa Rauch as Bernadette Rostenkowski was introduced to the series in the fifth episode of season three while Mayim Bialik as Amy Farrah Fowler also made her first appearance in season three, just later on. The two characters seamlessly fit into the chemistry that had already been established by the core characters, and better yet added even more humor and talent which opened up a whole new door of storylines for all the characters. It is safe to say that without Amy and Bernadette giving legs to the show, The Big Bang Theory wouldn’t have lasted for all 12 seasons.