Great Recurring Character On TV Shows

I was watching Sanford and Son and I was just cracking up with the character of Esther played by the late LaWanda Page. Esther was truly one of the best recurring characters on TV.

What other recurring characters do you think are “GREAT”?

For the purposes of this thread, let’s say that a recurring character is one that isn’t central or needed for the show. For instance, you could easily do Sanford and Son without Aunt Esther but it wouldn’t be as funny.

So definately let’s say if the character’s name ever appears in the opening credits they are not recurring but a secondary character. So that means characters like Urkel or Fraiser which started out that way but moved to secondary or main status wouldn’t count.

(And yes I know it’s your opinion so there will be differences in what a recurring character is. If you’re not sure say it anyway) :slight_smile:

The Ghostfacers and Bobby on Supernatural.

The Local Store owners from A League of Gentlemen. Crack me up every single time.

Going back a while, Exidor (Robert Donner) on Mork & Mindy. The quintessential whackjob.

“Hi, my name is Larry, this is my brother Darryl, and this is my other brother Darryl.”


(oh, sorry, I mean Zathras)

Bewitched had some of the greatest: Aunt Clara, Uncle Arthur, Maurice, Dr. Bombay, various other aunts (usually when Agnes Moorehead was evidently unavailable), Cousin Serena, Queen Hepzibah, Esmerelda.
Northern Exposure had Adam (Adam Arkin), the nutcase hygienically challenged brilliant chef, and Eve (Valerie Mahaffey) as his queen of all hypochondriacs wife (who was Christian Scientist and an heiress). They were great. I also liked Maurice’s on-off sheriff’s deputy girlfriend Barbara Semanski.
Mahaffey was later a recurring character on Wings as Tim Daly’s character’s psychotic ex-girlfriend.

In addition to Aunt Esther Sanford and Son had several other truly great recurring characters, including her alcoholic husband Woody. My favorite was Grady but there was also Bubba, Skillet, Julio, Hoppy, Smitty, Rollo, and Frank Nelson’s “Yessssssssssssss” man (presumably the same character he played on Jack Benny). In the final season Nancy “Miss Jane Hathaway” Kulp joined as Hoppy’s mother and was funny in a couple of episodes (though I’m still not sure why a white cop would have to house his retired and aristocratic seeming/obviously well educated mom in a run down rooming house in Watts).

Several of Fred’s friends on the show were fellow Chitlin’ Circuit comics he’d known before he became famous. Lawanda “Aunt Esther” Page was almost like a sister to him as they’d known each other since childhood and went into show biz about the same time. Redd, Lawanda, and Don “Bubba” Bexley all produced some pretty blue “party albums” as well. (Whitman ‘Grady’ Mayo was odd man out with the old men characters since he was only in his early 40s when he was on the show.)

All in the Family had some good ones as well: the Lorenzo family (Vincent Gardenia and Betty Garrett) who irked Archie for their gender reversal (she worked in construction and he was a house husband), the Jeffersons (before they were spun off), Quigley (the ubiquitous Burt Mustin, official old man of '70s television), and a few others.

Andy Griffith Show had some of its best episodes with Ernest T. Bass (one of the brilliant over-the-top comic performances of TV history), the Darlings, and later from Barney after Don Knotts left the show.

Badger in Firefly.
Willie the Snitch in Buffy.
Q in Star Trek

Vicky & The Big Giant Head on 3rd Rock.
Nana Mary on Roseanne, wonderfully played by Shelly Winters.
Leslie Winkle on Big Bang Theory.

Momma Carlson on WKRP. With a shout out (just like she used to do) to her butler, Hirsch.

Major Hochstetter. It was fun watching him pop a blood vessel. What is this man doing here?

Psychiatrist Dr. Sidney Freedman on MAS*H

Herbert from Family Guy.

The wonderfully insane Callisto, from Xena: Warrior Princess.

No Zathras

You are talking about my brother Zathras.

Jesse James was a mean, dirty killer.

Arrested Development had plenty.

Barry Zuckercorn
Bob Loblaw
Wayne Jarvis
Sally Sitwell
Tony Wonder


The Lone Gunmen from The X-Files (and not on their own short-lived show:
Byers (Bruce Harwood), Frohike (Tom Braidwood) & Langley (Dean Haglund).

My favorite of their appearances was at the spy convention in Las Vegas episode (“Three of a Kind”).

Harry The Hat from Cheers.

Dammit. The first ones that leaped to mind were Exidor and LarryDarrylandDarryl. That’s what I get for being late to the party. sigh

I also agree heartily with Callisto, Sydney Freedman, and The Lone Gunmen. I would also add Col. Flagg.