17 thoughts on “Who Was the Best Recurring Guest Star on a TV Show?

  1. He was good enough that they apparently offered him a regular role, but he turned it down. It would have made him a little less special, I think, as he would have been involved in every story, and he worked better in stories made just for him. He was also so good that Alda had conversations with him about the mind and mental health where Arbus had to remind him he wasn’t actually a psychiatrist.

  2. Harry the Hat, Cheers? I guess he’s only a Guest Star on the post Night Court appearances, but I think there are enough of those.

    Or Scott Bakula as Chuck’s dad in Chuck, for whom the requirements seem customized to just barely allow.

  3. Your requirements are so specific that I could only think of one candidate off the top of my head—Susie Essman, who played Iliana’s mother Bobbi Wexler in 8 episodes over the 5 seasons of Broad City.

    The first episode in which she appeared made you think “Of course, who else could possibly play that role,” and every subsequent appearance just reaffirmed her comedic genius in a show full of comedic geniuses.

  4. First one that comes to mind is John de Lancie as Q on both TNG and Voyager. He appeared 7 times in 7 seasons of TNG (twice in season 1, none in the 5th) and thrice in Voyager (also once in DS9. I guess the creatives on that show didn’t really have a good recurring role for him). He appeared in 9 episodes of Picard, though, which only ran 3 seasons, so that one wouldn’t count.

  5. “Your requirements are so specific that I could only think of one candidate off the top of my head”

    There’s LOTS of examples over the years, it’s just that whenever people hear “Recurring,” they want to go with, like, Newman from Seinfeld or The Smoking Man from X-Files, characters who appeared in DOZENS of episodes, so that’s why I had to go strict with the requirements. I eased it up, though, to allow characters who had one errant three-episode appearance in an season (as Harry the Hat is a perfect choice, for instance, but he appeared three times in Season 1, so the adjusted rule allows him to get in there).

  6. “He was good enough that they apparently offered him a regular role, but he turned it down. ”

    Amusingly enough, I’ve been meaning to write about that for months now (for serious! I have it written down in a note from a while ago).

  7. I would say Shran from Enterprise, but he appeared in too many episodes to count, unless we use loophole abuse to say that Babel One/United/The Aenar was one story and discount TATV as an random-ass episode of TNG that was tacked on to the end of season 4…

  8. My second thought is Puddy on Seinfeld. I can’t find out how many episodes per season he was in but he was in 11 over 9 seasons.

  9. Hans Conried, as “Uncle Tonoose”, on Make Room for Daddy/The Danny Thomas Show.

  10. How about Brent Spiner as Bob Wheeler from “NIGHT COURT”? He shows up 7 times across seasons 3-5. I guess he breaks the rule in the 5th season, where he is credited with 3 appearances, but it’s really the role Spiner was known for before being cast as Data in ST:TNG.

  11. How has nobody mentioned Charo as April Lopez on “The Love Boat” yet? 😃
    But seriously, Sidney (or “Milton”, as he was called in his first appearance on M*A*S*H) would probably be my top choice too, and Col. Flagg (that’s not his real name) would be up there as well.

  12. My pick is Leslie Nielsen as Buck Frobisher in Due South (just qualifies with 4 episodes)

  13. I got really tired of Doug Judy on Brooklyn Nine Nine. His appearances were so repetitive, it felt like they were just ticking a checklist by having him on each season, rather than actually having a good story idea for why he’d be there (I felt the same way about the heist episodes after awhile).

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