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The Greatest TV Characters Who Weren't in Season 1

Updated September 18, 2020 16.2k votes 3.4k voters 171.3k views19 items

List RulesSeries regulars who did not appear in the first season of the show only. Vote up the ones you now can't imagine the series without.

Some of the best TV shows - the ones that eventually soar to critical acclaim and garner millions of die-hard fans - don't always hit the ground running. It can be pretty hard to find your footing that first year. In fact, there are a lot of TV characters added after Season 1 that went on to become integral to their shows.

One of the most tried and true methods that showrunners use to stabilize a shaky first season is introducing new characters. A new character can energize a lagging plot line, or even lead to a new plot line entirely, taking the show in directions that may not have been originally intended.

Not all new characters work. Many are summarily dismissed. But some of these new characters feel so enmeshed in the fabric of the show, it's hard to believe that there was a time when they weren't a part of it at all.

This is a list of the greatest television characters who weren't in the first season. Vote up the series regulars who became most integral to their series. And if you don't like the order this list is in, feel free to rerank it. In fact, it's highly encouraged. Make your voice heard for the best TV characters who weren't in Season 1.
  • Frank Reynolds
    Photo: FX

    Wait, you mean Frank Reynolds wasn't always there? It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia existed without him?

    It's true. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia had a seven-episode first season where there was no Danny DeVito to be found. He joined the gang at the start of Season 2 in "Charlie Gets Crippled" and has been deplorable and hilarious ever since.
    • Series: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
    • Actor: Danny DeVito
    • Episode: Season 2, Episode 1 "Charlie Gets Crippled"
    Glad s/he's on the show?
  • Butters Stotch
    Photo: Metaweb (FB) / Fair use
    Aw, Butters. Sweet, happy, wholesome Butters Stotch had been a friend of Stan, Kyle, Kenny, and Cartman on South Park for years, but he was never actually introduced (or allowed to speak) until midway through Season 3 in an episode called "Two Guys Naked in a Hot Tub." Even when he's (poorly) planning destruction as his alter ego "Professor Chaos," you just can't help but root for the lovable little guy.
    • Series: South Park
    • Actor: Matt Stone
    • Episode: Season 3, Episode 8 "Two Guys Naked in a Hot Tub"
    Glad s/he's on the show?
  • Brienne of Tarth
    Photo: HBO
    Has there ever been a more loyal and fully realized female character than Brienne of Tarth? Gwendolyn Christie brings a touching humanity and a sly sense of humor to this powerful warrior, though we don't get to meet her until the third episode of Season 2, "What Is Dead May Never Die." Game of Thrones is not short on powerful women, to be sure. But Brienne has a true heart (and a great sword) that elevates her above all around her.  
    • Series: Game of Thrones
    • Actor: Gwendoline Christie
    • Episode: Season 2, Episode 3 "What is Dead May Never Die"
    Glad s/he's on the show?

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  • Ben Wyatt
    Photo: Metaweb / CC-BY
    What is Leslie Knope without Ben Wyatt? Parks & Recreation had a shaky start and a lot of early characters (like Paul Schneider's Mark Brendanawicz) didn't make it out alive. But the show found its footing when Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) and Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe) came to Pawnee late in Season 2 in "The Master Plan." The relationship that followed between Leslie and Ben truly gave Parks & Rec the heart that balanced out the comedy which made the show so special.
    • Series: Parks and Recreation
    • Actor: Adam Scott
    • Episode: Season 2, Episode 23 "The Master Plan"
    Glad s/he's on the show?