Watchworthy
1.2k voters

20 Side Characters That Stole the Spotlight

Updated November 24, 2020 6.1k votes 1.2k voters 69.8k views20 items

List RulesVote up the side characters who are main attractions in their own right.

A list of supporting characters who stole the show so hard that they deserve spinoffs of their own (if they don't have them already). Generally, side characters in film and TV are supposed to be off to the side. Supporting characters are supposed to do just that, helping the leads carry the story. But sometimes, the most compelling characters are on the margins, or at least not front and center. Sometimes it's accidental. Sometimes an actor is just that good, and they elevate their character to new and often iconic heights. 

This list is all about those characters, the ones who grab the spotlight without even seeming to try. Sometimes, scene stealers like these are promoted thanks to spinoffs, but more often than not, their full stories are left untold and fans are left wanting more. You never know how it happens or why producers decide just who ends up starring in a spinoff, but these characters are great, sometimes career-making, and we'd love to see more of them.

From indie films to the most popular TV shows, we've looked through everything to find the best fictional characters that stole the show. Vote up the supporting characters who most memorably overshadowed the leads!

Photo:
...more
  • For three films, the Pirates of the Caribbean series pretended that they weren't really all about Captain Jack Sparrow. Eventually, with the fourth, they gave up on that and made him the lead character. It was obvious that Johnny Depp's shambling yet wily sea captain was at the helm of the franchise, with the ostensible leads always playing second fiddle.
    • Appears In: Pirates of the Caribbean 5, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
    438
    81
    Memorable character?

    More Captain Jack Sparrow 

    #32 of 132 The Most Hardcore Big Screen Action Heroes#208 of 3,512 The Best Movie Characters Of All Time#17 of 20 Which Fictional Fighter Would Destroy All Others In A Sword Fight?

  • Daryl wasn't even in the graphic novels on which this show is based; he was created wholly for the TV series. Over time, Norman Reedus has become a fan favorite of The Walking Dead, so much so that many viewers prefer Daryl over any of the supposed leads. In fact, there's been plenty of demand for a spinoff following Daryl all by himself.
    • Appears In: The Walking Dead
    459
    92
    Memorable character?

    More Daryl Dixon 

    #1 of 60 The Best Walking Dead Characters, Ranked#8 of 91 The Most Hardcore Current TV Characters#44 of 1,287 The Greatest TV Characters of All Time

  • Book readers already knew that, if played correctly, Arya Stark was going to become a fan favorite. From the moment TV viewers saw Maisie Williams's performance, they knew they had a winner. This girl's got a long career ahead of her.
    • Appears In: Game of Thrones, A Song of Ice and Fire
    340
    97
    Memorable character?

    More Arya Stark 

    The Best Arya Stark Quotes#22 of 228 The Greatest Female Characters in Literature, Ranked#5 of 935 The Greatest Female TV Characters of All Time

  • Ron Swanson - Parks and Recreation
    Photo: Parks and Recreation / NBC
    Once Parks and Recreation made Ron Swanson a bigger character, the show truly took off. As Nick Offerman and his alpha-male character became more and more inextricably connected, the result was one of the best characters in comedy history. 
    • Appears In: Parks and Recreation
    239
    65
    Memorable character?

    More Ron Swanson 

    Fan Theories About Ron Swanson From 'Parks And Recreation'#4 of 403 The Funniest TV Characters of All Time#8 of 44 Current TV Characters Who Are the Most Relatable