Every once in a while a show comes along with a TV character who refuses to play by the rules or be held back by the fact they're technically a member of the supporting cast. In rare cases they shine because the actual lead is kind of insufferable, but it's far more often that a charismatic actor has just been given the right lines at the right time. When this situation happens, it can often lead to the supporting character being given more screentime — or actually becoming the true star of the series.
Here are 10 shows where the lead was eventually eclipsed by someone better.
1. The O.C.
Did you know that Ryan Atwood (Ben McKenzie) was technically the lead of The O.C.? It's OK if you didn't, because Seth Cohen (Adam Brody) — a character the people at Fox hated so much during the pilot process that he was almost aborted — quickly stole the show with his sarcasm and wit. The bromance between the two teens quickly took shape, so while the instantly quotable Seth may have sometimes overshadowed the quiet and brooding Ryan, their relationship was always the focus.
2. New Girl
New Girl's Jessica Day (Zooey Deschanel) was eclipsed on her own show, but that's bound to happen when you have someone as loud and memorable as Schmidt (Max Greenfield) around. Over the course of the show's six seasons, Greenfield's excellent line delivery helped elevate Schmidt and all his neuroses beyond what could have been a fairly annoying one-note character. His relationships with Nick (Jake Johnson) and Cece (Hannah Simone) also certainly helped.
3. Teen Wolf
Scott McCall (Tyler Posey) may be Teen Wolf's titular teenage werewolf, but his best friend Stiles Stilinski (Dylan O'Brien) is the true star of MTV's supernatural drama. O'Brien's excellent comedic timing when delivering hilarious one-liners turned him into a fan favorite early on, but it was his incredible range as an actor that eventually pushed Stiles to the forefront in Season 3 — the show's strongest season.
4. How I Met Your Mother
To be honest, it's not exactly hard to eclipse a lead as insufferable as Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor). You could argue that every single other character on How I Met Your Mother did it at one point or another. But throughout the show's nine-season run, it was Neil Patrick Harris' horn-dog bro Barney Stinson that stole the show again and again and again and again.
5. One Tree Hill
Brooke Davis (Sophie Bush) officially became One Tree Hill's lead character once Chad Michael Murray's Lucas Scott departed Tree Hill for good. But if we're being honest, the series had become The Brooke Show long before that. Even within the show's first season, it was crystal clear there was more to Brooke than meets the eye, and her big heart and great sense of humor made it incredibly easy to fall in love with her. That she would become the heart and soul of the series — and that it would, in turn, come to revolve around her, is hardly a surprise.
6. Dawson's Creek
When it comes to Dawson's Creek, everyone knows that Pacey Witter (Josh Jackson) easily eclipsed Dawson Leery (James Van Der Beek) in the romantic leading man department. But we're not here to talk about the many accomplishments of Pacey, for the true star of Dawson's Creek is Joey Potter (Katie Holmes). The girl who rowed her way down a creek for fun stole the teen drama from its namesake early on. If you need more proof, not only did the show completely revolve around Joey once the gang went off to college, Holmes is the only actor to appear in every episode of the series.
7. Once Upon a Time
It took roughly a season and a half before it became undeniable that Regina (Lana Parrilla) was the real star of Once Upon a Time. The middle seasons were obsessed with her journey from being the Evil Queen to being one of the heroes' strongest assets. She had the most dynamic and compelling storyline, while Emma was stuck struggling with her magical identity and no real development for far too long. The only person to match Regina's prowess on the show was Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle), who took over the spotlight in the most recent seasons of the show. His own redemption struggles made every other storyline on the show pale in comparison.
8. The Walking Dead
Once upon a time, The Walking Dead's Rick (Andrew Lincoln) was the savior-prince-cowboy-hero we believed would guide, protect and woo us until the very end. But after spending an entire season as the shivering little sub to Negan's (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) dom, he's been eclipsed by Daryl (Norman Reedus). Now there's a real badass: breaking out, kicking ass and taking names, all the while marshaling every possible resource to reunite with his friends. Yes, Rick is technically the one who'll be leading the impending war, but in the really long time it took for him to get there, we kind of fell for Daryl. #sorrynotsorry
This one is a little controversial, because Shameless has always been about Fiona (Emmy Rossum) and her role as the caretaker of her younger siblings. But the dark Showtime comedy still pretends to also be about William H. Macy's depraved Frank. The awards attention Macy receives for the role also doesn't help to dispel this notion, but anyone who's ever watched Shameless knows full well who the star of the show truly is.
10. The Vampire Diaries
If a show can write out its lead character and still run for two more seasons, were they really the lead character? It's certainly debatable. But if we look at the CW drama as a whole, the complicated relationship between vampires and brothers Damon (Ian Somerhalder) and Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley) was the driving force of The Vampire Diaries long before Nina Dobrev, who played leading lady Elena Gilbert, left the series after Season 6.
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