As the premiere of House of The Dragon approaches, one can only hope it captures the magic that Game of Thrones had in its ensemble of minor characters. How could one forget the swordplay of Ser Brienne of Tarth, the mystery of Jaqen H’ghar, or even the long-awaited finale to “The Hound versus The Mountain” storyline?
Secondary characters are able to make choices free from the burdens of television’s most disliked tropes. Plot armor, over-powered abilities, predictable story outcomes, all the weight that the main character of a story must carry can smother the excitement of an unfolding plot. In those moments secondary characters have a chance to shine through and take the spotlight.
Oberyn Martell – Game Of Thrones
Season four of Game of Thrones introduced a new character to the world: Oberyn Martell. Oberyn immediately proved himself a standout character with his resolve, drive for just vengeance, and battle prowess against The Mountain.
Oberyn Martell brought to the show an element that had been absent since Ned Stark’s execution of season one: Justice. With a small stroke of passion, Oberyn kept the entire season alive and interesting with the fight to avenge Elia, Oberyn’s sister. As a secondary storyline, Oberyn stole the season with humor, honesty, and the dueling skills of a viper.
IG-11 – The Mandalorian
Mando’s disdain for droids is a running theme in season one of the show, but IG-11, voiced by Taika Waititi, puts a wrench in Mando’s conceived notions.
Acting as a foil to Mando, IG-11 first appears as a bounty hunter, then later is repurposed to be one of Mando’s greatest companions. Not only does the character represent the freedom to grow, the audience witnesses IG-11 sacrifice itself for Mando and Grogu, saving them from a squad of troopers. The scene is heartfelt, warm, and memorable, leaving a lasting impression on both the fans and Mando.
Tengen Uzui – Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba Entertainment District Arc featured the most eccentric character we’ve seen to date: The Sound Hashira, Tengen Uzui. With muscles to fill the widescreen, loveable and hilarious “Muscle Mice,” and flashiness to dazzle the world, it’s no wonder why Tengen Uzui is so likable among the Hashira characters.
Though Tengen Uzui holds the title of Hashira, this character takes heavy damage and breaks the protections of plot armor in the final fight. Depth and permanence are often lost in great fantasy shows and anime due to tropes such as plot armor and fan service. A character like Tengen Uzui, the embodiment of fighting prowess and confidence, brings grounding to Demon Slayer’s main character Tanjiro, who often falls into the trope of “friendship is the best weapon.”
Eskel – The Witcher
Eskel is a close friend of Geralt and a Witcher of the School of Wolf Witchers. Fans of the game series may have been upset with Eksel’s short-lived appearance in the show, but, he still captures the spotlight in The Witcher season 2 with his crass attitude and an unfortunate run-in with a Leshy.
Rather than stealing the show with humor, Eskel steals it as an ally to Geralt who is much less likable than that of Yaskier or Yennefer. Eskel represents the stereotypical Witcher in the world; A monster hunter with a higher focus on profit than saving lives. Thus, Eskel becomes a foil to the Witcher side of Geralt, bringing to question the moral dilemma that Geralt faces with the safety of keeping his adopted daughter, Ciri.
Jesper – Shadow And Bone
Jesper is a part of the Crows, a crew in the world of Shadow and Bone focusing on plots, subterfuge, and fulfilling jobs for wealth. Jesper, though lacking magic abilities, proves to be a key character in deepening the power dynamic of the world, along with being a hilarity on his own.
Jesper, along with the other Crows, represents the struggle of the world for those without magic capabilities. The deadeye Crow has honed his gunplay to survive, and Jesper does more than just shoot targets. The gunslinger reminds the audience of an all-important fact: just because one has magical power, does not mean they are immortal. After Jesper’s suspenseful fight with the Darkling’s right-hand sorcerer, Ivan, the question remains: What’s in store for the Crows in season two?
Orangibberish – All Of Us Are Dead
All Of Us Are Dead brought a refreshing take on the long-loved genre of zombie shows, and much of the show’s personality can be attributed to its secondary characters. Orangibberish is one of the many side characters that steal the spotlight despite his minimal screen time.
Orangibberish exists as a social call-out, pointing out the prominence of social media in our real world, and how people go to great lengths for a following. Immediately the audience finds the humor in the character. Who in their right mind would go seeking a zombie apocalypse to vlog? Then the realism sets in. Orangibberish acts as a commentary on the real world, and for that, Orangibberish incites laughter and shame at human nature itself. Far from a main character in the story, Orangibberish acts as one of the funniest, and one of the more representative of the real world today.
Rand’s Mother – The Wheel Of Time
To claim the best fight scene in a fantasy show is a challenge, but to claim it as a character who is giving birth during the fight? That is what puts Rand’s Mother above the rest.
A secondary character to the point of not being given a name, Rand’s Mother leads the cold open of episode seven with the most dynamic fight in the entire first season. Witnessing one fight for their life is a sentiment that any fan can sympathize with, but a warrior giving birth while bashing skulls in? That leaves an impression.
Hama – Avatar: The Last Airbender
Side villains can have as much impact as any other, and Avatar: The Last Airbender proves it early on with the unforgettable episode, “The Puppetmaster,” featuring Hama, the blood-bending Water Tribeswoman. To any child, Hama is scary. To the adults who re-watched once Avatar got its new home on Netflix, Hama is terrifying.
Hama’s episode stands as one of the more memorable. Avatar: The Last Airbender never shied away from its dark roots of war, bloodshed, and tyranny, but Hama represented a different story. Hama showed Team Avatar what hatred and contempt can do to good people. Hama stole the show with her creepy presence and supernatural ability to blood bend, but her effect was everlasting on Katara, who witnessed an image of what she may have become had she ever let her anger take control.
The Judge – The Good Place
Maya Rudolph as The Judge was the addition to The Good Place that the audience didn’t know it needed. With a character powerful enough to allow Rudolph’s effervescent humor to shine through, each scene with The Judge was wholly hers.
Not only down to his humor and presence, but The Judge also offered objectivity to The Good Place, which was necessary for answering its vast and numerous questions on moral ethics. The Judge brought perspective to the show when it was needed most. Rudolph’s humor carried the character to the hearts of the fans, and The Judge’s presence allowed the show to blossom into a world beyond The Neighborhood.
Ekko – Arcane
The lovable boy-genius, Ekko, has been a fan favorite in League of Legends for years. In spite of the limited screen time he had in the first Season of Arcane, he still made for a few of the more magical and hilarious moments of the show.
Of the many excellent fight scenes in the action-packed animation Arcane, stands at the top with his fight against Jinx. Ekko is more than just a fan favorite, though. In Jinx’s fight for her identity, Ekko represents their childhoods together and reflects back on her how things could have been different. Ekko also represents how society can change for the better, revealing the community he has fostered in Zaun and the natural growing tree that surprised even the master scientist, Heimerdinger.