The 30 Most Underrated Supporting Television Characters

Every television character is not created equal. There are the stars of the show and then there are the supporting players. After all, someone has to play the best friends, the co-workers, the family members that mostly fade to the background and get the secondary storylines.

But some supporting players are too good to go unnoticed. These are the characters that are just too funny, too relatable, and too ridiculous to play second banana. While not everyone can be a star, these supporting actors manage to steal the TV show. Sometimes, without us even realizing it these skillful background players end up becoming the hidden heart of a series. They're the ones who make us laugh or cry the hardest, despite often being relegated to second billing.

This list is in honor of those characters that don’t get the respect they so very much deserve. The characters that endear themselves to us, only to be forgotten, or worse, totally ignored, despite being so good at what they do.

As a way of righting this horrible wrong, here are the 30 most underrated supporting players on TV that deserve your full attention.
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Photo: Craig Blankenhorn/HBO.
Shoshanna Shapiro, Girls

Sure, Shosh started out as a whiny college co-ed who wore feather hats and used emoji way before most of us (a panda, handgun, and wrapped present equal something Ray can’t understand), but over time she’s become the adult of the group. The one most willing to take risks. She's also the go-to honest one in the group who, after a few drinks, actually called Hannah, Marnie, and Jessa out on their shit. This girl deserves a lot more credit for saying what we’re all thinking.
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Photo: Fox.
Winston Bishop, New Girl

Winston is often relegated to the background, which is a shame because he actually may be the funniest of Jess’ friends. Sorry, not sorry Schmidt and Nick. From overzealous puzzle solving to an affinity for his cat named Ferguson, Winston is a man who loves what he loves. He’s also a guy who loves pranks and practical jokes a little too much, like to the point where he takes them too far. They don’t call him Prank Sinatra for nothing.
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Photo: Saeed Adyani/Netflix.
Emily Gilmore, Gilmore Girls

This Daughter of the Revolution may try and stick to the teachings of Emily Post, but she’s at her best when she’s just being good ol’ Emily Gilmore: a strong-willed, maid-firing, back-handed compliment-giving society woman who plays it tough, but is way more sensitive than she’d like to admit. But, she can’t hide it from us — or Lorelai and Rory — which is why this complicated woman is one of the most underrated characters on a show that’s chock-full of standout supporting players.
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Photo: Fox.
Chanel No. 3 (né Sadie Swenson), Scream Queens

Sure, she’s not Chanel No. 1, but with her many, many pairs of designer ear muffs, No. 3 is number one in our hearts. From her monotone delivery of some real talk — like why she doesn’t think love is gender specific — to how her face seems to say everything we’re thinking with the simplest expression, she’s the most authentic Chanel we know.
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Photo: Fox.
Gene Belcher, Bob’s Burgers

Gene’s sister Tina and Louise are so great it’s easy to forget about Bob and Linda’s middle child. Classic, right? But, without him, there would be no one to wear that burger suit. There would be no one to tell it like it is. There would also be no one to write Die Hard: The Musical. Basically, a Gene-less world is just one we wouldn’t want to live in.
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Photo: Netflix.
Maeby Fünke, Arrested Development

Maeby gets to play the straight woman to her crazy family, which is why she doesn’t always get the respect she deserves. Especially for all the crazy shenanigans she's pulled off. She's pretended to be a wheelchair-bound girl named "Surely" suffering from B.S. and been a high-profile Hollywood producer. This all leaves us with only one question, “Marry me?”
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Photo: Fox.
Gina Linetti, Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Gina is certainly not struggling in the confidence department. In her own words, she’s the “Paris of people,” thanks to her late nana’s influence and a little Oprah thrown in for good measure. The sarcastic dancing queen also swears she’d make a good politician because of her great hair, dancing ability and knack for lying. It’s hard not to agree with her there.
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Photo: FX Networks.
Edgar Quintero, You’re The Worst

The Iraq veteran with a heart of gold will make you breakfast nachos, get you laughing with his improv skills and plan the best Sunday Funday you’ve ever experienced. But he’s also got his own PTSD-related demons that he’s trying to conquer. He isn’t the worst, not even close, which is why he deserves a bit more attention for all that he does (for Jimmy, Gretchen and Lindsay) and maybe, a hug.
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Photo: ABC.
Mellie Grant, Scandal

She could have just been the president’s wife; a villain to Olivia Pope’s hero. Instead, this whip-smart first lady is the show's antihero — and hopefully, future president. After helping her husband run the country she's quickly become the politician the U.S.A. needed. She’s someone who sees the big picture, and often does what’s best for everyone else but herself — including her country. Now it’s her turn. Who run the world? Hopefully, Mellie Grant, very soon.
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Photo: Ali Goldstein/Hulu.
Arthur Tack, Difficult People

Julie Kessler’s live-in boyfriend is anything but difficult; in fact, he’s a sweet soul who has a knack for coming up with pet names. (“Thin mint,” “whiffle bat” and “noodles” being a few of his best.) Every new thing you learn about Arthur is just so Arthur. He’s a host at PBS who plays in a basketball league against NPR. His porn of choice includes women who look like Julie: thirtysomething red heads with “big naturals.” He sleep cooks, instead of sleep walks. This guy should definitely be your cup of tea, which he’ll kindly make for you whether he’s awake or asleep.
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Photo: ABC.
Sue Heck, The Middle

Another middle child who doesn’t always get the respect she deserves. But, lovable, socially awkward Sue is too focused on winning cars through feats of endurance or being the best seller of hot potatoes or trying to figure out how teens are really doing things. (She's a frequent visitor to kickingitteenstyle.com) to even notice. She's so hopeful about life that it's hard for her enthusiasm not to wear off on you. Our advice? Just succumb to Sue's eternal optimism.
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Photo: Comedy Central.
Lincoln Rice, Broad City

The broads on this show are so funny, that it’s easy to forget this guy. But, Lincoln is always good for a laugh and, as his blog, the Al Dente Dentist proves, a pasta recipe. Not to mention, he’s the first one you’d call if you cracked your tooth on a piece of candy or need to figure out what celebrity a certain dog looks like. That longhaired dog really did look like Judith Light.
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Photo: Fox.
Carol Pilbasian, Last Man On Earth

Sure, the show is called Last Man, but it’s the supposed last woman that makes this show worth watching week to week. Her end of the world fashion is impeccable, as is her artwork. (Those Grand Canyon drawings are really something!) But, it’s the former hot sauce bottling plant employee’s commitment to rebuilding the world that is really something to admire. Just don’t get on her bad side, she’s known to hold a grudge.
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Photo: HBO.
Susie Greene, Curb Your Enthusiasm

No one can say the F-word quite like Susie Greene. It’s a verb, adjective, and noun that perfectly rolls off her tongue with the vitriol required for calling Larry David out on whatever bullshit he’s trying to pull. Bless you, Susie, bless you.
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Photo: NBC.
Garry (a.k.a Jerry, Larry, Terry, Barry) Gergich, Parks and Recreation

Poor Jerry, he can’t seem to do anything right. But, it’s also the reason why you can’t help but love this awkward everyman, who’s wife looks like a supermodel, has a special breakfast jingle he sings with his family, and had a literal fart attack. For every embarrassing moment — pretending to be mugged after dropping his burrito in a lake and dislocating his shoulder, being just one of many — it’s hard not to root for this Pawnee resident whose favorite vacation spot is Muncie, Indiana. Dammit Jerry, you really are the best.
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Photo: ABC/Ron Batzdorff.
Jessica Huang, Fresh Off The Boat

Jessica is a no nonsense mom who has a knack for selling real estate. Makes sense, since she’s definitely a hard woman to say no to. Basically, you just can't since Jessica strives to be the best at everything and unapologetically instills this in her kids. She’s also pretty good with the one-liners. Especially ones that get at how weird mainstream American (read: white) culture is. Pay attention and you just might learn something.
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Photo: HBO.
Bronn, Game Of Thrones

Tyrion Lannister’s right-hand man may only seem interested in women and money, but he’s always there when the youngest Lannister needs him most. Ser Bronn is a loyal knight who’s always ready for a fight. It certainly helps that he’s a great swordsman. Good enough, in fact, that he's the only reason Tyrion is still alive today. When he’s not fighting for the Lannisters, he’s cracking jokes that bring a bit of whimsy to the Seven Kingdoms. It's why we'd like to sit back and have a glass of wine with him anytime.
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Photo: Netflix.
Princess Carolyn, BoJack Horseman

Before you go feeling sorry for Bojack’s agent, who so often ends up cleaning up his mess and can’t seem to find a guy worthy of her — or even a real guy (we see you, Vincent Adultman), you should know she’s a woman who is in control of her life. So in control that she doesn’t have time to catch up on the Good Wife since she’s got a talent agency to run. She’s the brains behind her entire operation — Boreanaz House? All her — and with her nine lives she has all the time to make sure that Eva Braun movie finally gets made. Your move, Vanessa Gekko.
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Photo: Netflix.
Freddy Hayes, House Of Cards

When Frank Underwood wanted a plate of ribs, it was Freddy who made them for him. But, Freddy’s story doesn’t get a happy ending, just like all those who have close ties to the dastardly president. He lost his restaurant, his son violated his parole, and he ended up working as a gardener at the White House. However, don’t cry for Freddy. He’s one of the few people Frank screwed over who got a chance to set him straight, in the Oval office, nonetheless.
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Photo: Gene Page/AMC.
Carol Peletier, The Walking Dead

Like her fellow survivors, Carol certainly has been through a lot. She’s gone from being a victim to being a survivor, while also being practically everything in-between, including a Susie homemaker, a natural born killer, and a badass hero. No one will soon forget how she used walker camouflage to free the others from cannibals.

Her decisions aren’t always the best, but she also seems to understand this new post-apocalyptic world better than anyone. It's unpredictable, uncaring and unwavering, which is why she has to become the same. It's not a happy ending, but it offers her a new beginning.
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Photo: NBC.
Phyllis Vance, The Office

Phyllis, who is married to Bob Vance of Vance Refrigeration, is a sneaky one. She may seem all sweet and motherly — not to mention she’s a saint for dealing with Michael Scott and his creepy backhanded compliments on the regular — but she can be deliciously vindictive when she wants to be. Just ask Angela.
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Photo: Greg Gayne/The CW.
Rogelio de la Vega, Jane The Virgin

The well-moisturized telenovela star takes his craft very seriously. You can tell this by the fact that he calls acting his “craft.” But, Jane’s dad is good at so many things, like wearing clothes (he looks great in lavender), being friends with celebrities (hey, Britney!) and hashtagging. #GoRo #RogelioMyBrogelio #VivadelaVega. It's why Rogelio's reluctant to call himself a triple-threat, and why we can't help but love him.
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Photo: Eric Liebowitz/Netflix.
Lillian Kaushtupper, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Lillian is certainly not happy with the gentrification of her neighborhood and will go to great lengths to stop it. This includes chaining herself to a bulldozer and painting her own Biggie Smalls mural. But, it’s her past and how she got to this neighborhood that makes her so interesting. With every new detail we learn about her — hello, she dated Robert Durst — we realize, she is one of TV’s best New Yorkers and the show’s secret MVP.
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Photo: Patrick Harbron/HBO.
Jonah Ryan, Veep

The White House staffer everyone hates is always good for a laugh. Sometimes it’s at his blog, West Wing Man. Other times it's his political video series, Ryan-tology. Most recently, it's how he literally shot himself in the foot to become New Hampshire’s newest Congressman.

Somehow Jonah never seems to go away, finding absurd ways to keep his name on the tip of Washington, D.C.’s tongue, including becoming an advocate for testicular cancer after a staffer of the vice president inappropriately touches him. To paraphrase Jonah’s own catchphrase, don’t neglect him, just get used to him always being around, like a gnat, but a way more hilariously annoying one.
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Photo: Amazon.
Shelly Pfefferman, Transparent

Being the matriarch of the Pfefferman family certainly isn’t easy, which Shelly will be quick to tell you. This Jewish mother is always suffering, but her pain is both funny and cringeworthy — often, interchangeably.

It's why no matter how much you want to dismiss her you can't help but feel for her and the real suffering she's done. She's spent her time being in the background of Moira's transition and her three adult kids' late journey to selfhood that she's never been allowed to find herself or deal with her own past. Finally, this is her chance and it's worth paying attention to.
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Photo: USA Network.
Phillip Price, Mr. Robot

The man who puts the evil in E-Corp. is not the best character on Mr. Robot, but he certainly is one of the most mysterious. And that’s saying a lot with this show. Sure, we have no idea how this man with a questionable moral compass got mixed up with Whiterose or why he seems so fond of Angela, but what we do know is he has the power to make the U.S. government do things, making him a man to be respected, feared, and certainly not ignored.
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Photo: Netflix.
Frieda Berlin, Orange Is The New Black

A member of the “Golden Girls,” the seniors of Litchfield, she’s now in charge of the prison’s garden. But she's not some sweet old gardener, Frieda is there because she cut off her husband’s penis. She’s a feisty old broad who will help you hide a dead body, but is not interested in making friends. Every woman for herself is the motto of this no non-sense prisoner. Basically, don’t turn your back on her, because she might take you down. Quite literally, in fact, since she may have a shiv.
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Photo: Evans Vestal Ward/Hulu.
Morgan Tookers, The Mindy Project

Morgan no longer steals cars (see: his stomach tattoo), but he can’t help but take in every dog he sees. That’s just one of the many reasons to love this nurse that is jealous of little Leo because he’s concerned Mindy Lahiri won’t have time for him. Of course, he always has time to do her laundry or pick her up a bear claw or three in the morning. He’s also always right there with great words of advice, like “Diarrhea shuts it down.” Words to live by.
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Photo: FX Networks.
Darius, Atlanta

Sure, this show hasn’t even been on a full season yet, but with all the critical love it’s getting, it’s worth mentioning Paper Boi’s right-hand man who's got a fire one-liner game.

While he shares his wisdom sparingly, it's clear you shouldn't sleep on this well-rounded Atlantan who knows his Steve McQueen trivia, likes Flo Rida ("Moms need rap too), can't shoot a human target at a gun range and can bake a mean batch of cookies.
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Photo: AMC.
Peggy Olson, Mad Men

In our humble opinion, this secretary turned ad woman will never be respected enough for all she did. (Just watch “The Suitcase,” if you don’t believe us.) Luckily, Peggy always knew her worth, even when Don Draper didn’t seem to.
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