A recurring character or supporting character is a fictional character, usually in a prime time TV series, who frequently appears from time to time during the series' run.Recurring characters often play major roles in more than one episode, sometimes being the main focus. They may be contrasted with "regular" characters, who typically appear in every or almost every episode of a series. Recurring characters appear less frequently than regulars, but more frequently than guest star characters, who may appear in only one or two episodes without being expected to return.
Recurring characters sometimes start out as guest stars in one episode, who then reappear in future episodes because creators or audiences found the actors or storylines compelling enough to revisit.Sometimes a recurring character eventually becomes part of the main cast of characters; such a character is sometimes called a breakout character. Some notable examples of main characters who were originally recurring characters are: Eli Gold on The Good Wife ; Leo Chingkwake on That '70s Show ; Angel and Oz on Buffy the Vampire Slayer ; Marc St. James on Ugly Betty ; Vanessa Abrams on Gossip Girl ; Zack Allan on Babylon 5 ; Steve Urkel on Family Matters ; Donna Moss on The West Wing ; and Felicity Smoak on Arrow .
In other cases, recurring characters have been given spin-off series of their own, such as Dr. Frasier Crane who originally was a recurring character on Cheers .Kelsey Grammer, along with fellow recurring actor John Ratzenberger were hired for seven episodes, to play Frasier Crane and Cliff Clavin respectively. Cliff was scheduled to recur during the 1982-1983 season, Frasier to recur during 1984-1985 season. Both actors were subsequently upgraded to the main cast, and Crane continued in his own series following the end of Cheers.
On sketch comedy programs, recurring characters are generally a staple. For example, in the sketch comedy series Your Show of Shows , Sid Caesar used the concept frequently:
As we were building and evolving our sketch comedy, we would look for new types of sketches that had legs (not caterpillar legs). We liked the idea of recurring characters and themes. It gave us something we could start with and something the audience could connect with.— Sid Caesar, Caesar's Hours: My Life in Comedy, with Love and Laughter
Usually they appear in their own sketch and the sketch itself can become a regular part of the show. Some notable examples include the Church Ladyand Hans and Franz from Saturday Night Live , the Gumbys from Monty Python's Flying Circus , and Bob and Doug McKenzie from SCTV . However, the characters are not always limited to their own sketches. Sometimes, characters from a recurring sketch go on to appear in other sketches, or develop into their own TV shows. For example, when The Carol Burnett Show was canceled the central character of a popular recurring sketch called The Family, Thelma "Mama" Harper, went on to have her own show Mama's Family . Also, recurring characters in sketch comedy shows can go on to have their own movies. This is especially true with Saturday Night Live which has had many recurring characters turn into movies such as Stuart Smalley, Wayne and Garth of Wayne's World , The Blues Brothers, and The Ladies Man . Recurring characters may even revisit shows long after the actor who played them has left the cast, for example, the character Mary Katherine Gallagher was portrayed by Molly Shannon when she hosted Saturday Night Live in 2007, six years after she left the cast. Sometimes a recurring character from one show appears on another show, such as when Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis hosted Saturday Night Live in 1983 and portrayed Bob and Doug MacKenzie, or when Emily Litella (portrayed by Gilda Radner) from Saturday Night Live appeared on The Muppet Show in 1978. Sacha Baron Cohen's character Ali G is another example, originating on the Channel Four series The Eleven O'Clock Show . The character was such a huge success that Cohen got his own show as the original show was cancelled.
Recurring characters are not limited to television. In the early 20th century, the Saturday Evening Post frequently had recurring characters in their cover art, such as Baby New Year.The Shmoo was a recurring character in the comic strip Li'l Abner, which eventually went on to appear in the TV cartoon series Fred and Barney Meet the Shmoo and The New Shmoo . The Sherlock Holmes series of novels by Arthur Conan Doyle featured well-known recurring characters such as Inspector Lestrade and Mrs. Hudson.
In US daytime soap operas, recurring characters are ones played by actors who do not have a contract. They are not obligated to play the role and have no guarantee of work. Actors on recurring status used to be referred to as day players.
Cheers is an American sitcom television series that ran on NBC from September 30, 1982, to May 20, 1993, with a total of 275 half-hour episodes across eleven seasons. The show was produced by Charles/Burrows Productions in association with Paramount Network Television, and was created by the team of James Burrows, Glen and Les Charles. The show is set in a bar named Cheers Beacon Hill in Boston, Massachusetts, where a group of locals meet to drink, relax, and socialize. The show's main theme song, co-written and performed by Gary Portnoy, lent its refrain "Where Everybody Knows Your Name" as the show's catchphrase.
Frasier is an American sitcom television series that was broadcast on NBC for 11 seasons, premiering on September 16, 1993, and concluding on May 13, 2004. The program was created and produced by David Angell, Peter Casey, and David Lee in association with Grammnet (2004) and Paramount Network Television. The series was created as a spin-off of Cheers, continuing the story of psychiatrist Frasier Crane as he returned to his hometown of Seattle and started building a new life as a radio advice show host while reconnecting with his father and brother and making new friends. Frasier starred Kelsey Grammer, Jane Leeves, David Hyde Pierce, Peri Gilpin, and John Mahoney. The show was critically acclaimed, with the show itself and the cast winning thirty-seven Primetime Emmy Awards, a record at the time for a scripted series. It also won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series for five consecutive years. In 2019, the possibility of a revival was discussed, with original intentions to air in 2020.
Sketch comedy comprises a series of short scenes or vignettes, called "sketches", commonly between one and ten minutes long. Such sketches are performed by a group of comic actors or comedians, either on stage or through an audio or visual medium such as radio and television. Often sketches are first improvised by the actors and sketched down based on the outcome of these improv sessions; however, such improvisation is not necessarily involved in sketch comedy.
Garrett Isaac Morris is an American comedian, actor, and singer. He was part of the original cast of the sketch comedy program Saturday Night Live, appearing from 1975 to 1980. Morris also had a role as Junior "Uncle Junior" King on the sitcom The Jamie Foxx Show, which aired from 1996 to 2001. Morris had a starring role as Earl Washington on the CBS sitcom 2 Broke Girls, from 2011 to 2017. He was also known for his role in the sitcom Martin as Stan Winters, from 1992 to 1995, and the movie Cooley High.
Second City Television, commonly shortened to SCTV and later known as SCTV Network and SCTV Channel, is a Canadian television sketch comedy show that ran between 1976 and 1984. It was created as an offshoot from Toronto's Second City troupe. It is an example of a Canadian show that moved successfully to American TV.
Edward Mayhoff 'Ed' Grimley is a fictional character created and portrayed by Martin Short. Developed amongst The Second City improv comedy troupe, Grimley made his television debut on the sketch comedy show SCTV in 1982, leading to popular success for both Short and the persona. Short continued to portray Grimley on Saturday Night Live and in various other appearances. The character also starred in Hanna-Barbera's 1988 animated series The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimley, and appeared in Short's 2012 comedy special I, Martin Short, Goes Home.
Isaac Sidney Caesar was an American comic actor and writer, best known for two pioneering 1950s live television series: Your Show of Shows, which was a 90-minute weekly show watched by 60 million people, and its successor, Caesar's Hour, both of which influenced later generations of comedians. Your Show of Shows and its cast received seven Emmy nominations between the years 1953 and 1954 and tallied two wins. He also acted in movies; he played Coach Calhoun in Grease (1978) and its sequel Grease 2 (1982) and appeared in the films It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), Silent Movie (1976), History of the World, Part I (1981), Cannonball Run II (1984), and Vegas Vacation (1997).
Dr. Frasier Winslow Crane is a fictional character on the American television sitcoms Cheers and Frasier, portrayed by Kelsey Grammer. The character debuted in the Cheers third-season premiere, "Rebound " (1984), as Diane Chambers's love interest, part of the Sam and Diane story arc. Intended to appear for only a few episodes, Grammer's performance for the role was praised by producers, prompting them to expand his role and to increase his prominence. Later in Cheers, Frasier marries Lilith Sternin and has a son, Frederick. After Cheers ended, the character moved to a spin-off series Frasier, the span of his overall television appearances totaling twenty years. In the spin-off, Frasier moves back to his birthplace Seattle after his divorce from Lilith, who retained custody of Frederick in Boston, and is reunited with a newly-created family: his estranged father Martin and brother Niles.
Wendie Malick is an American-Canadian actress and former fashion model, known for her roles in various television comedies. She starred as Judith Tupper Stone in the HBO sitcom Dream On, and as Nina Van Horn in the NBC sitcom Just Shoot Me!, for which she was nominated for two Primetime Emmys and a Golden Globe Award.
A clip show is an episode of a television series that consists primarily of excerpts from previous episodes. Most clip shows feature the format of a frame story in which cast members recall past events from past installments of the show, depicted with a clip of the event presented as a flashback. Clip shows are also known as cheaters, particularly in the field of animation. Clip shows are often played before series finales, or once syndication becomes highly likely. Other times, however, clip shows are simply produced for budgetary reasons.
David Steinberg is a Canadian comedian, actor, writer, director, and author. At the height of his popularity, during the late 1960s and early 1970s, he was one of the best-known comics in the United States. He appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson more than 130 times and served as guest host 12 times, the youngest person ever to guest-host. Steinberg directed several films and episodes of television situation comedies, including Seinfeld, Friends, Mad About You, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Golden Girls, and Designing Women.
The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimley is an American animated television series produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions and featuring Martin Short's fictional character Ed Grimley. The show aired on NBC from September 10 to December 3, 1988 for a single season of 13 episodes. The show is the only Saturday morning animated adaptation of both an SCTV character and a Saturday Night Live character.
Celebrity Jeopardy! is a series of sketches that aired regularly on the television comedy/variety show Saturday Night Live between 1996 and 2002, the years when Will Ferrell was a cast member. It parodies the same-named special event on the television quiz show Jeopardy! that features competition between notable individuals with all winnings going towards charitable organizations, and significant reductions to the game's level of difficulty. Fifteen sketches aired between December 1996 and February 2015: two sketches per season from 1996 to 2002; and one each in 2005 and 2009, when Ferrell returned to the show as host. The sketch was revived for the Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special on February 15, 2015.
Robin Duke is a Canadian actress, comedian, and voice actress. Duke may be best known for her work on the television comedy series SCTV and, later, Saturday Night Live. She co-founded Women Fully Clothed, a sketch comedy troupe which toured Canada. She teaches writing as a faculty member at Humber College in Toronto and has a recurring role playing Wendy Kurtz in the sitcom Schitt's Creek.
Antonio Rosato was an Italian-Canadian actor and comedian, who appeared in television and films. He was best known as a cast member on both SCTV and Saturday Night Live, and for voicing Luigi in The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World.
Andrew Daly is an American actor, comedian and writer. He starred as Forrest MacNeil on the Comedy Central series Review, and had a supporting role in the HBO comedy series Eastbound & Down as Terrence Cutler. He has also made recurring appearances on television programs such as Silicon Valley, Veep, Modern Family, Black-ish, Trial & Error, the Netflix series The Who Was? Show, Reno 911!, and Comedy Bang! Bang! as well as animated shows such as 2020’s Solar Opposites, Bob's Burgers, Adventure Time, and Harley Quinn.
John Rene Crane is an American writer and actor, best known as the head writer, executive producer and occasional performer on Fox's Saturday late night sketch comedy program, MADtv, and as the Dad from Nickelodeon’s Roundhouse.
Irving Cohen was a character that Martin Short used on SCTV, and brought with him to SNL. Known for his admiration of Al Jolson, Cohen was a caricature of old Tin Pan Alley songsmiths, and the running gag in any sketch where he appeared was that he would claim that he could "write a song about anyt'ing," at which point Irving would call to a pianist off camera, "Give me a 'C', a bouncy, 'C'", and then he would ad-lib lyrics, ending with, "Da-da-da-da-dee, da-da-da-da-dah, ah, whatever da hell else ya wanna put in da t'ing!" This off camera pianist seemed to follow Cohen everywhere, even bursting into song in the middle of a HUAC hearing. Cohen started his interviews by reminiscing about the old days, starting off with, "In the old days, we had a t'ing, called, 'Vau-de-ville'..." He also frequently name-dropped Al Jolson and Sophie Tucker and had a habit of punctuating sentences with the phrase "at this time."
The following is a list of recurring Saturday Night Live characters and sketches introduced between October 6, 1984, and April 13, 1985, the tenth season of SNL.
Jon Daly, sometimes credited as Jonathan C. Daly, Jon C. Daly or Jonathan Barney Daly, is an American actor, comedian, writer, and producer best known for his sketch comedy work on the Comedy Central series Kroll Show. In 2013 he starred as Hobbes in the Amazon Studios original series Betas, and also played Agent Filippo in Zoolander 2 (2016).