Sometimes you don’t know whether a secondary cast member’s schedule will allow a certain storyline, sometimes you don’t know whether a main character might want to leave the show, sometimes the guy you cast ended up not having the chops, and other times one of the guys intended to be a bit part comes in and owns the show.
Ultimately, TV shows can only ever have vague guidelines behind anything in the season. Usually, this is hidden and simply seems like the way it was all meant to be. But occasionally, you can see the bloody stump of an aborted line of thought.
Let’s list them!
The first name in the billing during the credits is Timothy Olyphant. The opening scene is of him. Yet…it is quite clearly the Ian McShane show. I suspect that he was intended to be the main character but then ended up being of little purpose as an actor except for giving a nice crazy glare. And then of course Ian just stole the show. You have to wonder how it all would have been different if it had focused around the law-preserving rather than the law-breaking side of things.
Also from Deadwood:
[spoiler]A couple of white dope fiends kill a Chinaman and steal his delivery of opium. Swerengen decides to kill his own guy (one of the dope fiends) and leave his rival’s guy alive because otherwise his rival might try and stir up resentment against the Chinese. As it turns out, the rival plots to do exactly that anyways.
But…the big Chinaman crusade never happens. Nothing comes of this.[/spoiler]
From Sons of Anarchy:
In the first season, Half-Sack is chosen by a woman to be her hubby. Second season comes and…we never see her again.