Ranking TV’s Greatest Supporting Characters

Kimmy Gibbler, Full House, Tony B., The Sopranos, Alex Kelly, The O.C.

The main characters and lead actors of our favorite shows aren’t always the series’ quick-witted scene stealers. From Kimmy Gibbler on Full House and Al Borland on Home Improvement to the likes of Chris Harrison on The Bachelor and Becky Jackson on Glee, there are so many memorable and iconic supporting characters we’ve loved just as much as the protagonists.

We rank our favorites based on their contribution to their show, their impact on pop culture and their level of television charm. Check out the gallery to see if your beloved TV wingman, BFF or underdog makes our list.

ABC, Home Improvement, Al Borland, Richard Karn

8. Al Borland / Home Improvement (ABC)

Al Borland (Richard Karn) might have been a staple on Home Improvement, but at the end of the day he was Tim Taylor’s (Tim Allen) best friend, sidekick, and co-host of the show-within-a-show, Tool Time. Al’s storyline was most often told through his friendship with Tim, but it was memorable nonetheless. He was a licensed contractor with a genuine interest and extensive knowledge about tools, his favorite movie was My Fair Lady, he just about killed his own mother by asking for permission to get married and his father was almost 60 years old when he was born. Al could have easily had a show himself (outside of Tool Time) with a life like that, which is why fans of Home Improvement clung to him throughout the show – he was just too interesting.

Tony Blundetto, The Sopranos, HBO, Steve Buscemi

7. Tony Blundetto / The Sopranos (HBO)

Tony Soprano, the main character on HBO’s hit series The Sopranos, was notably played by the late James Gandolfini, while Tony Blundetto – better known as Tony B. – was portrayed by Steve Buscemi. The pair played cousins beginning in the Season 5 episode, aptly named “Two Tonys.” Tony B. was a reformed criminal turned family man who people rooted for turned Italian mobster. His death sparked a lot of controversy, for both Tony Soprano himself and for fans. Soprano’s hand in Tony B.’s death was shocking, leading Soprano to even be visited by Blundetto while in a coma later in the series. The Sopranos constantly reminds viewers that everything, even crime, gets more muddled when family is involved.

Chris Harrison, ABC, The Bachelorette

6. Chris Harrison / The Bachelor (ABC)

In the sense of a true, unscripted game show, hosts are not considered part of the cast. They are just that: the host, leading the cast through the episode. In Chris Harrison’s case, though, it is safe to say that at times he plays a much larger role than host. Chris is a confidant to many, a mediator of disputes, a shoulder to cry on and a distributor of roses. He’s an unlikely supporting character, but is truly a series-long wingman for the stars and contestants on the show. Fans of The Bachelor franchise know that seeing Chris Harrison show up in a scene could mean more insight on the show’s consistently explosive drama, making him much more than a simple host.

Jonah Ryan, Veep, HBO, Timothy Simons

5. Jonah Ryan / Veep (HBO)

As much as everyone on and off Veep wants Jonah Ryan (Timothy Simons) gone, they know they can’t live without him and his antics. From being impeached as vice president to mocked by his former running mate, President Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), to running a political mock-YouTube series called Ryantology, this character is the epitome of someone you love to hate. Jonah has been made fun of, removed from office, neglected (although he spends much of the series encouraging people to not do such a thing), diagnosed with cancer and shot… And yet we still get ready for a laugh when he appears in a scene. We love both, but President Meyer overcomes defeat to better herself, her campaign and her strategies, while Jonah Ryan’s growth is limited personally and politically.

Becky Jackson, Lauren Potter, Fox, Glee

4. Becky Jackson / Glee (Fox)

Glee had an abundance of characters, lead, supporting, guest and otherwise. That being said, Becky Jackson (Lauren Potter) was a standout from day one. The high school student was not part of the glee club, not necessarily part of the Cheerios and didn’t break out into song or dance. It was her comedic timing, one-liners and inner monologue (done in a British accent) that people quickly fell in love with – including seemingly cold-hearted Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch), who took Becky under her wing early in the series. Becky was a point of representation that, while done through comedy, was not joked about. Her character, while disabled, was strong, romantic, sassy and looked at as an equal with every other high school student. She was not the same as everyone on the cast, so while casual viewers might have seen her as the underdog, fans and TV lovers alike saw Becky Jackson for what she was: a funny, fierce, headstrong member of society, which is why she is one of our top-ranked supporting characters on TV.

Grandma Jenny Huang, ABC, Fresh Off the Boat, Lucille Soong

3. Grandma Huang / Fresh Off The Boat (ABC)

The Huang family from Fresh Off The Boat had its fair share of interesting relationships over six seasons, from workplace friendships to middle school couplings. One of the most understated, but constant, is the family’s connection to Grandma Jenny Huang (Lucille Soong), the live-in mother of Louis Huang (Randall Park). Jenny only speaks Mandarin Chinese, but fully understands English, and has more facial expressions than months of the year. She’s equally comic relief as much as she is the pinnacle of wisdom due to her off-the-cuff subtitled jokes and adoration for her family’s wellbeing. Although wheelchair bound, Grandma Huang has been exceptionally independent, making her a notable wing woman for her grandsons, best friend to her son and underdog to viewers.

The O.C., Olivia Wilde, Alex Kelly, Fox

2. Alex Kelly / The OC (Fox)

Olivia Wilde may have made a name for herself acting on shows like House and Vinyl, but in the early stages of her career, the star was a recurring supporting character on The O.C.. For many, her character, Alex Kelly, was one of the true saving graces of the teen soap opera, and early 2000s television. Alex was a proud, openly bisexual woman who didn’t back down to anyone, yet still wore her heart on her sleeve. In 2004, a sane, kind, hardworking member of the LGBTQ+ community being portrayed on network TV was rare, not only making the character wonderful within the story arc of lead character Marissa Cooper (Mischa Barton) finding herself, but giving the representation many were yearning for at the time.

Kimmy Gibbler, Full House, ABC, Andrea Barber

1. Kimmy Gibbler / Full House (ABC)

Coming in at Number 1 is DJ Tanner’s (Candace Cameron Bure) lifelong best friend, Kimmy Gibbler. The zany, quick-witted character quickly cemented herself into the hearts of all Full House (and Fuller House) fans and has maintained her place for over three decades. Portrayed by Andrea Barber, Kimmy’s outlandish tendencies, over-the-top outfits and love for the Tanner clan have given pop culture more than enough since she first burst onto our screens exclaiming “Hola Taneritos!” She started out as DJ’s best friend and next door neighbor, but she ended up just as much a member of the lovable Tanner family as anyone else, proving that she is the best TV sidekick and ultimate supporting character.