Least deserving names in opening credits

I’m in the middle of rewatching season 1 of Veronica Mars. And DAMN it is good. Better than I remember it.

Anyhow, as with most TV shows, there are certain actors who show up as part of the opening credits, presumably the “regulars”, and others who show up from time to time as “guest stars” or “also starring” or what have you, but don’t get their names and pictures during the theme music.

So for most of season 1, the opening credits has the correct 6 biggest characters: Veronica, Duncan, Logan, Wallace, Weevil, and Keith.

But for a stretch of episodes near the beginning of the season, Sydney Tamiia Poitier (who, I assume, is Sidney Poitier’s daughter), who plays the journalism teacher, is in the opening credits. Which is just baffling, as she’s never more than an extremely minor character. She’s not even in all the episodes where she’s in the credits, and she’s rarely in more than one scene. She’s VASTLY less important than (for instance) Amanda Seyfried (who plays Lily). It’s very weird.
Who else has undeservedly gotten into the main opening credits for a show? Or who was unfairly left out?

The best example would be Amber Benson in Buffy the Vampire Slayer who was on the opening credits only once…

…In the episode in which she was killed

Another example would be Police Squad in which the week’s guest star appeared only to be killed during the credits !

Most obvious from classic TV: Martin Landau in Mission: Impossible. He was originally hired as a guest star for the pilot, but the producers liked him so much, he appeared in every episode the first season. For contractual reasons, he was listed as a “Special Appearance” in every episode. He was put into the credits later.

For some reason, Edward Hermann was also listed as making a “special appearance” in every episode of Gilmore Girls.

The only two characters who were in the opening credits and in every episode were Veronica and Keith. The budget for the show was not great so everyone else was only hired for a limited number of episodes despite being stars of the show. Dunno what the deal was with STP specifically as far as number of episodes but considering that in a later episode her character has vanished and the newspaper is now being run by the pep squad advisor I would agree that opening credits status is questionable.

As for other examples in this thread, I’m not seeing how the person is undeserving of being in the opening credits. Why didn’t Martin Landau or Edward Herrmann deserve a slot in the credits (same question applies to Heather Locklear as Amanda on Melrose Place, who was billed as a “special guest star” for contractual reasons)? As for the Police Squad credit, that was obviously a joke so “deserving” or “undeserving” is a really odd way of looking at it. Amber Benson was included both as a tribute to her and as a follow-through of something Joss Whedon had planned from the beginning. He had originally wanted to list Eric Balfour as Jesse in the opening credits only to kill him off in the pilot, to send the message that no one was safe, but didn’t have the budget to do two sets of credits.

I could never understand why Debi Mazar’s name was in the opening credits of Entourage. IMDB says she was in 26 episodes, and I’ve watched every one but barely remember seeing her for more than a minute or two.

James “Hell” Brooks makes too many appearances on the Simpsons Halloween Special credits. Whereas “Agent” Scully and Matt Groaning have only appeared once to the best of my knowledge :cool:.

I like it when someone is listed as a Special Guest Star in a MOVIE. Yeah, like normally, when you watch this movie, he’s not in it. But today, in a rare special event, he’s gonna’ be. WTF?

I’ve always been bothered by B.J. Novak’s appearance in the opening credits of The Office. AFAIC, there are 4 main leads, and his Ryan (as well-played as it is) is no more important than Angela or Kevin or Toby.

But Novak’s also an associate producer and writer on the show, so surprise-surprise, he gets much higher billing.

Donald Pleasence is one of the top 4 or 5 billed names in Oh, God!

He has exactly zero lines and is on screen for less than two minutes.

Aren’t these examples of an agent’s negotiating skills though? Managing to get the producers to agree contractually that the agent’s client stands out somehow in the billing: perhaps as a Special Guest Star, even in a one-shot film; or for simply being in the picture, as Pleasance is; or even set off from the rest of the cast as, “and Joe Bigstar as ‘Charlie.’” Underserving of the special attention perhaps, but I think these kind of credits are more of a tribute to the agent’s negotiating skills than anything else.

Lorraine Bracco in “Sopranos” isn’t exactly undeserving, but if not for her name-power, she probably wouldn’t be second billing. She definitely doesn’t deserve to be listed before Edie Falco, but that’s what co-starring in “Goodfellas” gets you, I suppose.

I think that’s a reverse example. AB’s character, Tara, was a major character during both the 5th and 6th seasons, and probably had more screen time that, for example, Marc Blucas, who was in the opening credits almost from his first appearance. If anything, she should have been in the credits for much longer than she was.

Of course, it’s all contractual, plus there are SAG regulations. For instance, between the first and second seasons of Babylon 5, Michael O’Hare as Jeffrey Sinclair just vanished. I believe Straczynski wanted to have him appear on a couple of shows before going, but there were issues that prevented it (IIRC, they’d have to pay him full salary for a year even if he appeared in two episodes), so no transition was done.

I’m thinking that Martin Landau comes into the category of “unfairly left out.” i.e. he was always listed as “special appearance” rather than given his due credit as a star.

Wasn’t Whoopi Goldberg always listed as a “special appearance” on Star Trek:TNG?

That was entirely appropriate. She wasn’t anywhere near a regular, but tended to have significant partsin any episode she appeared in.

You stole what I was going to write…at least until I realized that it was NOT Debi Mazar (Ari’s press agent) I was going to write about, but Perrey Reeves, who started showing up in the credits in season 4. She plays Ari’s wife, and doesn’t appear at ALL in most of the episodes, and even when she does, it’s very brief. Why on earth is SHE in the opening credits, but Rex Lee, who plays Lloyd, who has a bigger part in every episode, is not?

Maybe the credit is a bribe to get her to eat a sammich. She’s way too thin.

Bela Lugosi in Plan 9.

As I remember, the amazing Rich Man, Poor Man miniseries featured not only the names, but illustrated portraits of all the cast members in the opening credits, and kept showing the names and portraits of people long after they stopped being a part of the story. I think maybe 30% of the people in the opening credits (which were the same for every episode) were totally irrelevant characters after the first or second episode.