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(Onion AV Club)   28 TV characters who outlived their usefulness. Celia Hodes demands a recount   (avclub.com) divider line 101
    More: Obvious, television shows, human beings, Dr. Melfi, Ian McShane, Lost in Space, serialized dramas, Sookie, love triangles  
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12945 clicks; posted to Entertainment » on 23 Jul 2012 at 11:24 AM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-07-23 09:44:58 AM  
They wrote a much smaller role for McNulty in season 4 because Dominic West had crappy movies to shoot.
 
2012-07-23 10:36:12 AM  
collider.com

As much as I love the character, he needed to die last season
 
2012-07-23 10:43:06 AM  
I have to disagree about Xander in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It seemed that, over the years, pretty much EVERYONE had found some supernatural niche to fill on the show except for him. Buffy's a slayer, so let's make meek little Willow a witch, and her boyfriend a werewolf, and her sister, well, her sister, though she's a mystical key, and oh, let's make Willow a witch lesbian, and oh, let's make Willow a vengeful EVIL witch lesbian, and so on...

They needed someone decidedly UN-super to balance out all the silliness, add a little comic relief.
 
2012-07-23 11:33:51 AM  
I have appreciated the "smaller" role given to Betty this season on Mad Men. January Jones was lucky enough to find the perfect part for her, she plays her so well, but that's it. I hope they don't put Megan in the background next season as Jessica Pare was amazing this time and brought some life into this show by being part of the newer 60's crowd.

I'm semi-serious, but I think Don Draper needs to leave Mad Men. I'm kinda over his story and he'll always be a tortured chauvinistic complex character, but now it's all about how over the hill and how old and out of step he's gotten.

When you turn these characters into Boomers, then it's time to move on.
 
2012-07-23 11:34:57 AM  
Mandy from the West Wing
 
2012-07-23 11:39:18 AM  
guyism.com

Outlived his usefulness before he even appeared on the show
 
2012-07-23 11:40:13 AM  

Mawson of the Antarctic: I have appreciated the "smaller" role given to Betty this season on Mad Men. January Jones was lucky enough to find the perfect part for her, she plays her so well, but that's it. I hope they don't put Megan in the background next season as Jessica Pare was amazing this time and brought some life into this show by being part of the newer 60's crowd.


I never liked her character at all and if she is not back for next season I won't care, what I am really waiting for is Trudy to Kill Pete.
 
2012-07-23 11:40:55 AM  

bhcompy: Outlived his usefulness before he even appeared on the show


but they handled it well they sent him upstairs never to be heard from again.
 
2012-07-23 11:41:09 AM  
comicbook.com

What's this thread about?
 
2012-07-23 11:42:50 AM  
Doug Wilson? fark you, he's hilarious. The show needs some slap-stick comic relief!

Agreed about Ninja Carl though, why isn't he on the list? Kid needs to go now that he did his one deed.
 
2012-07-23 11:44:33 AM  
"Captain I sense great anger from those in that Romulan Warbird who are firing at us."

encrypted-tbn1.google.com

SMACK
 
2012-07-23 11:45:47 AM  

awfulperson: I have to disagree about Xander in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It seemed that, over the years, pretty much EVERYONE had found some supernatural niche to fill on the show except for him. Buffy's a slayer, so let's make meek little Willow a witch, and her boyfriend a werewolf, and her sister, well, her sister, though she's a mystical key, and oh, let's make Willow a witch lesbian, and oh, let's make Willow a vengeful EVIL witch lesbian, and so on...

They needed someone decidedly UN-super to balance out all the silliness, add a little comic relief.


Loved him till he abandon his bride to be at the alter
 
2012-07-23 11:45:52 AM  
Pete Hornberger is awesome. Lutz is even better.
 
2012-07-23 11:46:19 AM  
I think that most shows that have lasted longer than two seasons could use a good 'shake up' now and then with at least one 'hard to write' and one 'fan favorite' bowing out in some dramatic sense (as opposed to the 'Chuck Cunningham' or 'Put him on a bus' tropes) in order to refresh the audience connection a bit. As touched upon in the list, Friends is a good example - by the end of the show's run, it was less 'kooky sitcom' and more 'soap opera with a laugh track'. Dexter seems to suffer from a similar fate - nice and edgy the first couple of seasons, followed by a 'who is dating who this season?' soap opera theme with a little murder mixed in to give Dexter something to do.
 
2012-07-23 11:46:54 AM  
Powers Boothe was originally picked to play Al Swearengen in David Milch's revisionist Western, but he had to be replaced by Ian McShane after taking ill. As a consolation prize, Milch wrote Boothe the part of Cy Tolliver, owner of the Bella Union.

Thank god, I think Ian makes a much better swearengen. Powers Boothe is unlikable in every way except that I picture him more like Stacey Keach than he actually is.
 
2012-07-23 11:47:19 AM  

Mugato: "Captain I sense great anger from those in that Romulan Warbird who are firing at us."

[encrypted-tbn1.google.com image 203x248]

SMACK


You'd think that after she crashed and totalled the first Enterprise that she'd get shown the door i a hurry. But, noooooooooo. They kept her around so she could total another space ship.
 
2012-07-23 11:50:39 AM  

Premeditated_Road_Rage: Dexter seems to suffer from a similar fate - nice and edgy the first couple of seasons, followed by a 'who is dating who this season?' soap opera theme with a little murder mixed in to give Dexter something to do.


Them killing Doakes is a good example of killing a character when it's time for them to go. Doakes hated Dexter and never trusted him so it would eventually come out that he would find out about his dark side. If they had found some BS way to spare his life, I would've been pissed.

See Sons of Anarchy (my example up top) for a bad way of handling a character that needs to die.
 
2012-07-23 11:50:55 AM  
I wish they would do more with Tim on Justified.

He is an awesome character when they use him correctly (mainly as a marksman)
 
2012-07-23 11:51:17 AM  

KingKauff: Mugato: "Captain I sense great anger from those in that Romulan Warbird who are firing at us."

[encrypted-tbn1.google.com image 203x248]

SMACK

You'd think that after she crashed and totalled the first Enterprise that she'd get shown the door i a hurry. But, noooooooooo. They kept her around so she could total another space ship.


Not to mention she got a cushy-ass chair to sit on when she was on the bridge, but the black guys had to stand all day, every day.
 
2012-07-23 11:51:51 AM  

KingKauff: Mugato: "Captain I sense great anger from those in that Romulan Warbird who are firing at us."

[encrypted-tbn1.google.com image 203x248]

SMACK

You'd think that after she crashed and totalled the first Enterprise that she'd get shown the door i a hurry. But, noooooooooo. They kept her around so she could total another space ship.


She crashed the Enterprise-D twice. First into a quantum filament. Then into the planet.

When Starfleet decided to give full command to a woman, she ended up 70 years off-course.
 
2012-07-23 11:52:28 AM  
They forgot to list Will and Grace.
 
2012-07-23 11:53:05 AM  

Big Beef Burrito: KingKauff: Mugato: "Captain I sense great anger from those in that Romulan Warbird who are firing at us."

[encrypted-tbn1.google.com image 203x248]

SMACK

You'd think that after she crashed and totalled the first Enterprise that she'd get shown the door i a hurry. But, noooooooooo. They kept her around so she could total another space ship.

Not to mention she got a cushy-ass chair to sit on when she was on the bridge, but the black guys had to stand all day, every day.


And, as pointed out by Redlettermedia, she had completely forgotten how to play Counselor Troi and sounded like her normal self. Maybe she had incriminating photos on someone?
 
2012-07-23 11:54:19 AM  
I would make an argument for Bart on the Simpsons, he was the focus of the first season. Eventually he was reduced to a background part as the show wore on.
 
2012-07-23 11:54:35 AM  
25. Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan, M*A*S*H
In the first three seasons of M*A*S*H, Loretta Swit's Hot Lips served as the only intelligent foil to the anarchic Hawkeye and Trapper John. When she sputtered, "You're ruining the war for everyone!" she was doing so as a rational person driven by frustration to say something stupid (in contrast to Larry Linville's idiotic Frank Burns). But after her affair with Frank ended and Linville left the show, Houlihan dropped her nickname, kept her legs closed, got an anachronistic 1970s hair style, and became more sympathetic to Hawkeye's anti-war point of view. Essentially, Swit stopped playing a character and simply appeared as herself (or, at least, the talk- and game-show version of herself). At this point, there was no one left to mount a spirited challenge to Alan Alda's increasingly tiresome and self-righteous portrayal of Hawkeye, and M*A*S*H got more and more self-impressed and smug.


nd01.jxs.cz

Sir, are you implying that I was an insufficient foil for Pierce's ego? I was a far better challenge than that Burns fellow I heard so much about. He was, from what I have gathered, a pushover and an incompetent boob -- and I assure you, good sir, that I am, *chuckle*, neither.

www.wearysloth.com

I gotta agree with Charles here, Hawk. I know we're friends and all, but your sanctimony drove me crazy. Why do you think I was always so keen to conspire to make you look foolish? *smug grin*
 
2012-07-23 11:57:06 AM  

Mawson of the Antarctic:
And, as pointed out by Redlettermedia, she had completely forgotten how to play Counselor Troi and sounded like her normal self. Maybe she had incriminating photos on someone boobs?


Obvious correction is obvious
 
2012-07-23 11:57:49 AM  

BKITU: 25. Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan, M*A*S*H
In the first three seasons of M*A*S*H, Loretta Swit's Hot Lips served as the only intelligent foil to the anarchic Hawkeye and Trapper John. When she sputtered, "You're ruining the war for everyone!" she was doing so as a rational person driven by frustration to say something stupid (in contrast to Larry Linville's idiotic Frank Burns). But after her affair with Frank ended and Linville left the show, Houlihan dropped her nickname, kept her legs closed, got an anachronistic 1970s hair style, and became more sympathetic to Hawkeye's anti-war point of view. Essentially, Swit stopped playing a character and simply appeared as herself (or, at least, the talk- and game-show version of herself). At this point, there was no one left to mount a spirited challenge to Alan Alda's increasingly tiresome and self-righteous portrayal of Hawkeye, and M*A*S*H got more and more self-impressed and smug.

[nd01.jxs.cz image 425x318]

Sir, are you implying that I was an insufficient foil for Pierce's ego? I was a far better challenge than that Burns fellow I heard so much about. He was, from what I have gathered, a pushover and an incompetent boob -- and I assure you, good sir, that I am, *chuckle*, neither.

[www.wearysloth.com image 320x240]

I gotta agree with Charles here, Hawk. I know we're friends and all, but your sanctimony drove me crazy. Why do you think I was always so keen to conspire to make you look foolish? *smug grin*


I'm sorry, but Zoidberg was his best foil
 
2012-07-23 11:59:53 AM  

BKITU: 25. Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan, M*A*S*H
In the first three seasons of M*A*S*H, Loretta Swit's Hot Lips served as the only intelligent foil to the anarchic Hawkeye and Trapper John. When she sputtered, "You're ruining the war for everyone!" she was doing so as a rational person driven by frustration to say something stupid (in contrast to Larry Linville's idiotic Frank Burns). But after her affair with Frank ended and Linville left the show, Houlihan dropped her nickname, kept her legs closed, got an anachronistic 1970s hair style, and became more sympathetic to Hawkeye's anti-war point of view. Essentially, Swit stopped playing a character and simply appeared as herself (or, at least, the talk- and game-show version of herself). At this point, there was no one left to mount a spirited challenge to Alan Alda's increasingly tiresome and self-righteous portrayal of Hawkeye, and M*A*S*H got more and more self-impressed and smug.


The whole show got way too preachy once Alan Alda took control. Sure, it had good episodes. But the whole tone of the show changed to something much less "funny" and much more somber, on average.
 
2012-07-23 12:02:23 PM  
4-5. Tim Gutterson and Rachel Brooks,

wtf. Not every character needs to have a huge story and main role to be useful. Its a show focusing on Givens and the town. Givens needs coworkers, and it would be silly to make his coworkers also from that neighborhood. Maybe he shouldn't have a boss either because we have no backstory on him either?
 
2012-07-23 12:02:51 PM  

Mid_mo_mad_man: awfulperson: I have to disagree about Xander in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It seemed that, over the years, pretty much EVERYONE had found some supernatural niche to fill on the show except for him. Buffy's a slayer, so let's make meek little Willow a witch, and her boyfriend a werewolf, and her sister, well, her sister, though she's a mystical key, and oh, let's make Willow a witch lesbian, and oh, let's make Willow a vengeful EVIL witch lesbian, and so on...

They needed someone decidedly UN-super to balance out all the silliness, add a little comic relief.

Loved him till he abandon his bride to be at the alter


That was one of Whedons all time biatch moves. Xander was always the good guy who took his lumps but kept going anyway and we saw a genuine growth in his self-confidence and assertiveness as the show progressed. Whedon completely killed the character arc then desperately tried to revive it over the next 1 1/2 seasons(and failed horribly).
 
2012-07-23 12:04:55 PM  

Mawson of the Antarctic: And, as pointed out by Redlettermedia, she had completely forgotten how to play Counselor Troi and sounded like her normal self. Maybe she had incriminating photos on someone?


They just never knew how to use her. They either forgot she had any powers or they worked out some contrivance to take them away.
 
2012-07-23 12:16:33 PM  

NeoCortex42: The whole show got way too preachy once Alan Alda took control. Sure, it had good episodes. But the whole tone of the show changed to something much less "funny" and much more somber, on average.


Yeah, I know there's a lot of people who don't like the later episodes, and that's cool. I was just countering the assertion that there were no characters remaining who could mount an effective defense against Hawkeye's self-righteousness. Both of his bunkmates (and Potter, as well) were able to knock him down a peg when he got out of control. The Machiavellian alliances of the Winchester era, with any characters willing to conspire against a character who was going crazy, made for a far more entertaining dynamic than "Trapper/BJ & Hawkeye" vs. "Burns & Houlihan" over and over again.

Not that the show didn't get all up its own ass -- it definitely did -- but the idea that Hawkeye's sanctimony went unchecked by other characters is simply false.
 
2012-07-23 12:17:55 PM  
I think that a good chunk of these characters didn't "Outlive Their Usefulness" as much as they were written poorly as time went on. Hiro was great and the show should have focused more on him becoming the bad-ass sword-wielding samurai character we saw a glimpse of in Season 1. Future Hiro was tortured by trying to find the one thread, the one perfect action he could fix with his power that saved the world. The Hiro in the show started on that path and then got tripped up by the writer's strike.

I totally agree about Celia, Subby. Though, I think everyone from the main character on down should have been on this list.
 
2012-07-23 12:19:10 PM  
Gotta agree with Hiro frame Heroes. He was awesome in season 1 (because he believed), but they couldn't figure out how to use him in season 2. And then I stopped watching. I'll never forget that moment in season 1 in which Samurai Hiro travels in time to warn Peter "Save the cheerleader, save the world." We were all excited to see Hiro in hs mature (badass) form.
 
2012-07-23 12:21:20 PM  
Perhaps slightly different but Taggart is a Scottish detective show which began in 1983 with a lead character called DCI Jim Taggart.

However, the actor playing Taggart died in 1994 but the series continued (they had a funeral for the character) with the same name and it is still running (although who the main characters are nowadays I have no idea).

Link
 
2012-07-23 12:26:14 PM  
Yes! Hornberger!
 
2012-07-23 12:29:43 PM  

Hyatus: I think that a good chunk of these characters didn't "Outlive Their Usefulness" as much as they were written poorly as time went on. Hiro was great and the show should have focused more on him becoming the bad-ass sword-wielding samurai character we saw a glimpse of in Season 1. Future Hiro was tortured by trying to find the one thread, the one perfect action he could fix with his power that saved the world. The Hiro in the show started on that path and then got tripped up by the writer's strike.

I totally agree about Celia, Subby. Though, I think everyone from the main character on down should have been on this list.


My problem with Heroes as a whole was that they showed a glimpse of a really cool and interesting future for their world, and then did everything possible to avoid it.
 
2012-07-23 12:32:47 PM  

Flappyhead: Mid_mo_mad_man: awfulperson: I have to disagree about Xander in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It seemed that, over the years, pretty much EVERYONE had found some supernatural niche to fill on the show except for him. Buffy's a slayer, so let's make meek little Willow a witch, and her boyfriend a werewolf, and her sister, well, her sister, though she's a mystical key, and oh, let's make Willow a witch lesbian, and oh, let's make Willow a vengeful EVIL witch lesbian, and so on...

They needed someone decidedly UN-super to balance out all the silliness, add a little comic relief.

Loved him till he abandon his bride to be at the alter

That was one of Whedons all time biatch moves. Xander was always the good guy who took his lumps but kept going anyway and we saw a genuine growth in his self-confidence and assertiveness as the show progressed. Whedon completely killed the character arc then desperately tried to revive it over the next 1 1/2 seasons(and failed horribly).


I disagree. Leaving Anya at the altar was a good thing -- for her. An essay I once wrote on why Xander was the best role model on the show: What Would Xander Do?
 
2012-07-23 12:32:50 PM  
The part about Hiro could be copied and pasted with almost every character's name in it. They had absolutely no forethought when they created the show, and all the main characters were on the path to omnipotent.

At least (future) Hiro had to worry about what he changed in the past and the effects thereof. Everyone else was just like "lol, I'll just steal someone's powers to make it all better". They all got retconned hard, except Sylar who instead just seemed to forget any but the last 3 or so powers he gained.

Near the end of the show my favorite activities were watching Hiro because his were still legitimately entertaining story lines, and pointing out when something happened to Sylar that contradicted a power he gained earlier in the series. Best example that comes to mind: Sylar standing 30 feet away from two people whispering about him and being unaware, when he gained super hearing in an earlier episode.
 
2012-07-23 12:36:03 PM  
www.startrek.com

I realize promoting racial diversity was a controversial idea in the mid-1960s, but there are a limited number of ways you can say "Hailing frequencies open, Captain."
 
2012-07-23 12:49:41 PM  

scottydoesntknow: [collider.com image 500x333]

As much as I love the character, he needed to die last season


It's a soap opera. What do you expect.

/A little more than kin, and less than kind.
 
2012-07-23 12:50:11 PM  
I agree about Heroes, and they never gave us what we really wanted. An actual fight scene between Peter and Sylar. Instead we had fights behind closed doors.
 
2012-07-23 01:05:32 PM  

Mugato: "Captain I sense great anger from those in that Romulan Warbird who are firing at us."

[encrypted-tbn1.google.com image 203x248]

SMACK


They should have made her Captain.....Captain Obvious!
 
2012-07-23 01:17:06 PM  

BKITU: NeoCortex42: The whole show got way too preachy once Alan Alda took control. Sure, it had good episodes. But the whole tone of the show changed to something much less "funny" and much more somber, on average.

Yeah, I know there's a lot of people who don't like the later episodes, and that's cool. I was just countering the assertion that there were no characters remaining who could mount an effective defense against Hawkeye's self-righteousness. Both of his bunkmates (and Potter, as well) were able to knock him down a peg when he got out of control. The Machiavellian alliances of the Winchester era, with any characters willing to conspire against a character who was going crazy, made for a far more entertaining dynamic than "Trapper/BJ & Hawkeye" vs. "Burns & Houlihan" over and over again.

Not that the show didn't get all up its own ass -- it definitely did -- but the idea that Hawkeye's sanctimony went unchecked by other characters is simply false.


I agree with you completely. Winchester was a much much better foil to Hawkeye than ferret-face. Winchester was at least a competent doctor and could be a real human being at times when. Frank was a terrible caricature that would have been fragged by his own side within a month.

I think the good episodes of the latter years were better than the good episodes of the earlier years, but the frequency and severity of the somber/preachy ones was still a bit much.
 
2012-07-23 01:20:52 PM  
13. Fay Furillo, Hill Street Blues

The main problem with the Fay Furillo character is that Barbara Bosson is a FARKING AWFUL actress. Christ, her shrieking one-toned delivery in that grating voice, I'd hit the mute button whenever she showed up on-screen.
 
2012-07-23 01:23:15 PM  

gremzo: I would make an argument for Bart on the Simpsons, he was the focus of the first season. Eventually he was reduced to a background part as the show wore on.


You may be on to something... Bart-focused episodes aren't the best, but I counter that demoting him to secondary character addresses that you can only go so far with our generation's Dennis the Menace. The frustrated nerd and the bumbling everyman, however... gold.

From this list in TFA, I've honestly watched so few of the shows that I can only reflect on Pete Hornberger (fair assessment) and Phoebe (fair assessment).
 
2012-07-23 01:37:41 PM  
No Ted Mosby? Seriously, I watch that show for every character EXCEPT Ted
 
2012-07-23 01:43:11 PM  

bostonguy


Flappyhead: Mid_mo_mad_man: awfulperson: I have to disagree about Xander in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It seemed that, over the years, pretty much EVERYONE had found some supernatural niche to fill on the show except for him. Buffy's a slayer, so let's make meek little Willow a witch, and her boyfriend a werewolf, and her sister, well, her sister, though she's a mystical key, and oh, let's make Willow a witch lesbian, and oh, let's make Willow a vengeful EVIL witch lesbian, and so on...

They needed someone decidedly UN-super to balance out all the silliness, add a little comic relief.

Loved him till he abandon his bride to be at the alter

That was one of Whedons all time biatch moves. Xander was always the good guy who took his lumps but kept going anyway and we saw a genuine growth in his self-confidence and assertiveness as the show progressed. Whedon completely killed the character arc then desperately tried to revive it over the next 1 1/2 seasons(and failed horribly).

I disagree. Leaving Anya at the altar was a good thing -- for her. An essay I once wrote on why Xander was the best role model on the show: What Would Xander Do?


Someone had to be the Zeppo.


He likes the quiet.
 
2012-07-23 01:43:51 PM  

Mike Chewbacca: No Ted Mosby? Seriously, I watch that show for every character EXCEPT Ted


From my understanding, he was supposed to progress into being the person he needed to be to meet the mother. However, he really regressed as the seasons went on.

Also, while Tim in Justified might not get a lot of screen time, he gets some of the best lines in the show (Art clearly gets the best zingers).
 
2012-07-23 01:52:05 PM  

burndtdan: The part about Hiro could be copied and pasted with almost every character's name in it. They had absolutely no forethought when they created the show, and all the main characters were on the path to omnipotent.

At least (future) Hiro had to worry about what he changed in the past and the effects thereof. Everyone else was just like "lol, I'll just steal someone's powers to make it all better". They all got retconned hard, except Sylar who instead just seemed to forget any but the last 3 or so powers he gained.

Near the end of the show my favorite activities were watching Hiro because his were still legitimately entertaining story lines, and pointing out when something happened to Sylar that contradicted a power he gained earlier in the series. Best example that comes to mind: Sylar standing 30 feet away from two people whispering about him and being unaware, when he gained super hearing in an earlier episode.


All super-hero shows tend to go down this same path. They like to ramp up the scale of the superpowers, so after a while you have multiple characters with godlike powers, and the show just isn't interesting anymore. It's boring when the characters could solve each and every problem by using their near-omnipotent powers, and they only don't for pure plot reasons, leaving gigantic plot holes.

Personally, I'd love it if someone tried a super-power themed show again, but with very. limited. powers. And no goddamn time travel!
And here's another problem with superhero shows: Their superpower becomes every character's main and most interesting trait. Watching Heroes, you'd wonder how other shows manage to craft interesting and distinctive characters without any superpowers at all. Shows like Heroes get to the point where every last character has to have a superpower, or else they're not interesting. That's just poor writing.
 
2012-07-23 01:54:18 PM  

Mugato: They just never knew how to use her


I, for one, would have been glad to show them how she should be used

www.cryosites.com
 
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