10 Sitcom Side Characters Who Stole The Show

While the efforts of the lead character go some way in defining a sitcom’s success (viewers needn’t look further than the ever-relevant Michael Scott), television comedies owe an equal appreciation to their surrounding cast. Although it’s often the Leslie Knope’s and Jerry Seinfield’s of the TV landscape who’ll be afforded most screen time, any comedy actor will tell you that a lead character is only as good as their surrounding ensemble.

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Sometimes, be it through terrific casting or an actor’s commitment to a role, these side characters are funny enough to steal the spotlight. Surpassing their peripheral status, these actors make maximum use of their supporting roles, which in the case of a sitcom, can sometimes mean a few quips or irregular appearances every other episode. Despite their limited screen time, these ten sitcom side characters were funny enough to steal the show.

Legendary Newswoman: Joan Callamezzo (Parks and Recreation)

In a show heavily populated by a revolving door of side characters (do not mention Sue of Sue’s Salads), it’s Today Show host Joan Callamezzo who reigns supreme in Pawnee. Making the best use of her infrequent appearances, comedienne Mo Collins imbues a hilarious level of narcissism into the ‘gotcha’ journalist, be it with her unashamed bias or her tendency to report live while hungover.

Outside the newsroom, Joan takes an unreciprocated interest in Aziz Ansari’s Tom, and touts a floor-to-ceiling self-portrait in her own foyer. It’s all the makings of Parks and Recreation’s undisputed TV personality, which is saying something for a show that’s also home to Perd Haply.


The Finnish Wolf: Minna Häkkinen (Veep)

You can tell that the showrunners of HBO’s Veep enjoy Minna Häkkinen just as much as audiences do. Across the show’s seven-year run, the Finnish Prime Minister makes an appearance at least once a season, providing a series-long foil to Julia-Louis Dreyfus’ brutal Selina Meyer.

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Whether she’s bluntly exposing Selena’s hushed cosmetic surgery or reconciling US-Chinese relations, Minna’s appearances are memorable both for their hilarity and their bearing on Selina’s presidential hopes, to the point where the pair form an (un)reciprocated friendship by the show’s end. It’s a testament to Veep’s script that each of Minna’s quips are loaded with comedy gold, and it’s a feat only enhanced by Sally Phillip’s blunt yet endearing portrayal of the diplomat.

Just Like Her Mom: Brianna Hanson (Grace and Frankie)

With a titular character like Frankie Bergstein (Lily Tomlin) assuming much of the comedic weight, you’d think there’d be little room left for scene-stealers on Grace and Frankie. And yet, with her deadpan delivery and complete lack of filter, June Diane Raphael’s hilarious turn as Brianna Hanson surpasses mere comic relief.

Relishing in her blended family’s dysfunction – to which she majorly contributes – Brianna’s particular brand of ice-cold humor is enough to scare her uncle-turned-stepdad Sol (Sam Watertson). Despite the sarcastic exterior, Brianna is given a powerful arc across the show’s seven seasons, tracing the demise of her cosmetic business to her boyfriend’s surrogacy efforts.

Tight Butthole: Jillian Belk (Workaholics)

On a show composed only of airheaded slackers, it’s office administrator Jillian Belk who somehow takes the cake on Comedy Central’s Workaholics. Perhaps no character more zany has ever graced our screens, with comedienne Jillian Bell’s portrayal of the neurotic secretary rivaling that of the sitcom’s central trio led by Adam DeVine.

Prone to outbursts of incredibly specific rage (she’ll kill a man for tacos), the unashamed cat lady adds a feminine touch to the otherwise bro-ey Workaholics, helped in part by her boss-turned-eviscerator Alice Murphy (Maribeth Monroe).

The Human Form Of The 100 Emoji: Gina Linetti (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)

If sass were personified, it’d look something like Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Gina Linetti. The only civilian on the show’s central cast, the precinct secretary provides a voice for the audience, if that voice was laden with sarcasm and self-congratulation. In the real world, Gina’s mean brand of comedy – deservedly directed at Amy and Charles – wouldn’t fly, but it’s a welcome tonic in the high-stakes universe of the 99th precinct.

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Throughout the series, Gina (played with masterful dryness by Chelsea Peretti) is responsible for the show’s wittiest quips, and provides one of Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s funniest dynamics in her equally blunt duo with Captain Holt.

Later, Skater: Creed Bratton (The Office)

It’s the greatest gift to our collective television sets that Creed Bratton dodged termination in the debut season of NBC’s The Office. Had the Scranton resident been fired, the mockumentary would suffer a one-liner deficit (“You’re not real!”), making the show’s signature comedic rhythm feel incomplete.

From his never-quite-defined role at the paper company to his dubious pre-Dunder Mifflin escapades, Creed remains one The Office’s least explored characters, but that’s exactly his schtick. Creed Bratton, played by the actor of the same name, faced quite the challenge in outshining an ensemble of comedy legends, but he pulled it off with hilarious finesse.

Shut Up, Sandra: Dina Fox (Superstore)

NBC’s Superstore follows Parks and Recreation in its generally optimistic disposition, but the world of Cloud 9 workplace politics receives a welcome dose of cynicism in the form of assistant manager Dina Fox. Brutally honest in her disdain for her subordinates (poor Sandra), the avid birdwatcher verges on sociopathy in the most hilarious of ways, from her frequent Justine burns to her invasive idea of employee privacy.

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While Dina’s antisocialism provides a comedic counterbalance to her boss Glenn’s unshakable cheerfulness, it belies her track record of surprising empathy. Throughout Superstore’s six seasons, Dina agrees to be Glenn’s surrogate, and provides a promising will-they-won’t-they arc with co-worker Garrett.

Earth Is a Mess, Ya’ll: Judge Gen (The Good Place)

The revelation that an all-knowing judge of the universe is in fact a nonchalant, burrito-loving secretary is funny enough, but it’s Maya Rudolph’s affable portrayal that seals the deal. The fact that Judge Gen – who is essentially God in The Good Place universe- is a reality TV junkie with an ear for millennial terminology helps to ground the otherwise lofty ambitions of an interdimensional comedy.

Rudolph’s slapstick gestures and relatable disdain for humanity’s grossness help to cement her place in the cast, despite her late addition in The Good Place’s second season.

The Somehow Likable Kidnapper: Reverend Richard (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt)

As far as cult leaders go, Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne is as funny as they come. Even though his abduction of the titular Kimmy provides some of the show’s darker moments, he’s never shrouded in complete heinousness, and often suffers at the hands of his own misfortune.

From the downright bonkers philosophies of his so-called church (lizard conspiracies included) to his inability to master his own criminal enterprise, Jon Hamm’s part-charming, part-insidious kidnapper is a perfect reflection of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt; dark with a smiley demeanor.

Living Rent-free: Bevers (Broad City)

Epitomizing the loathsome roommate (despite actually being the roommate’s boyfriend), Matt Bevers is responsible for more than a few of Abbi and Illana’s series-long misfortunes in Broad City. The perpetually unemployed couch-surfer lives rent-free in Abbi’s apartment, a fact never lost on the show’s central duo.

A complete misunderstanding of boundaries and tendency to quite literally defecate on Abbi’s romances are a few of Bevers’ irksome traits, but he still remains one of Broad City’s best assets.

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