Before they were famous, they were an ensemble: these popular TV shows had more than just a handful of future A-listers. In the cases below, you'll find that the majority of the cast are bona fide celebrities... and they have these shows to thank for their current success.
The show where you know everybody's name! Sam and Diane (Ted Danson and Shelley Long) literally became cultural shorthand for a "will they or won't they" trope long before Ross and Rachel made it onto the screen.
Then there was Rhea Perlman (formerly Mrs. Danny DeVito), George Wendt, John Dezso Ratzenberger (who went on to voice many Pixar characters), Woody Harrelson as Woody Boyd, Bebe Neuwirth, Kirstie Alley, and Kelsey Grammar, who's character, Dr. Frasier Crane, was incredibly the one the show's creators decided to spin-off. The only major player on Cheers that did not go on to fame and fortune was Nicholas Colasanto, aka Coach Ernie Pantusso, who died while the show was still on the air.
Now the cast of Cheers can really go to any bar in the world and have it be a place where everybody knows their name.
- Premiered: September 30, 1982
- Photo: Parks and Recreation / National Broadcasting Company (NBC)
It's strange to think Mike Schur's follow-up to The Office would create more stars than his previous series, in which only a handful of actors ever made it to the A-list. Not to mention that the cast of Parks and Recreation–aside from the already SNL-famous Amy Poehler–weren't conventional celebrity material.
Still, there's no denying that Aziz Ansari, Aubrey Plaza, Nick Offermann, Retta, Jenny Slate, Ben Schwartz, Jason Mantzoukas, Nick Kroll, Billy Eichner, Adam Scott, Rob Lowe and Rashida Jones all benefited from the Parks and Recreation career boost.
Hell, even the guy who played Jerry/Gary/Barry cashed in.
And then there's the elephant in the room: who ever thought the one breakout to come out of Pawnee would be Chris Pratt, who started off the show playing the dumb, overweight, and extremely lazy Andy Dwyer. Due to his success during filming (when he got himself in shape to go after the role of Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy), the writers of Parks and Recreation had to write in a joke about why the previously chunky character had become such a hunk.
- Premiered: April 9, 2009
Okay, fair enough: only two members of the cast ever made it to the super big-time; three if you count Topher Grace. But for anyone who wasn't named Ashton or Mila, That 70's Show is probably the role you're most remembered for.
- Premiered: August 23, 1998
- Photo: Metaweb (FB) / Fair use8
The show that launched Danny DeVito's career must have a Midas touch. Andy Kaufman, Judd Hirsch, Marilu Henner, Carol Cane, eff Conaway, Tony Danza and Christopher Lloyd all have a show about a verbally abusive New York taxi dispatcher and his employees to thank for the their careers. Well, maybe not Kaufman, who famously hated being stereotyped as Latka Gravas.
- Premiered: September 12, 1978