We've come a long way in terms of diversity on TV, but there's still a lot of progress to be made. Although it's refreshing to see more minority actors take on bigger roles these days, there's still a plethora of shows with all-white casts or only white leads. If we're lucky enough to spot a person of color on these shows, they rarely ever get any screen time. And what's even more problematic is the fact that many minority characters come off as shallow and perpetuate false stereotypes.
Thankfully, though, there are some "token" characters who stand out because they actually have enough depth and complexity to leave a lasting impression. Minority actors are usually hired as a quick fix for lack of diversity, but on screen, these guys make it quite clear that they're not just another prop that's trying to represent an entire ethnic group. Rather, they're unique, relatable and compelling individuals, which is why some of them turned out to be even more memorable than their white counterparts. Still, they're oftentimes totally underrated and their potential only scratches the surface.
She was so much more than Topanga's BFF and Shawn's girlfriend. Raised by a single father, Angela was the most mature and grounded person in her friend group. She was passionate about the arts, intelligent, witty, and not one to wear her heart on her sleeve. But more importantly, she was as a genuine, three-dimensional black girl. One with dreams, fears, and insecurities, just like the rest of us. Her down-to-earth vibe and relatability made her stand out as one of the best characters on the show.
On the show, Lorelai once mentioned that Michel was addicting, and we couldn't agree more. Although it's frustrating that he was only included as the token gay POC (and his sexuality wasn't even canon until the revival), Michel was arguably the best character on Gilmore Girls. He was almost always bitter and sarcastic, and he had no issue with being brutally honest (even if that meant telling his own boss "every day that you breathe you make my life harder"). Still, it was only a matter of time before we fell in love with his sass and unwavering confidence. Michel deserved to be so much more than an amusing prop in everyone else's shadow.
If we could give an award for "Best BFF in the World," Bonnie Bennett would win it by a longshot. We can't even begin to count the ways she sacrificed her own life or well-being for the sake of her loved ones. In fact, had it not been for her, some of the main characters wouldn't have lived to see the final season. Bonnie truly stands out, not only because of her reputation as a martyr but also because has shown more kindness and compassion than most of the characters on that show combined.
We all remember Mr. Moseby as the bossy, extremely uptight manager of the Tipton Hotel. Nothing was more hilarious than seeing him burst into a hysterical fit over the twins' shenanigans, but there was more to him than his outbursts and obsession with maintaining order. You might remember that Mr. Moseby was like a father to London Tipton since he taught her how to ride a bike, roller skate, and even drive. Plus, although he was rather strict with Zack and Cody, it was pretty clear that he actually cared about them. Mr. Moseby had a tough exterior but he also had layers. And in a sense, he was the glue that held everyone together.
As much as we loved Danny and Ben, Tuck Tuck was the one who truly stood out. Tucker was that friend who would tell it like it is. He was quirky, funny, sarcastic, and a major foodie. But what made us fall in love with his character even more was his backstory since it spoke volumes about the kind of person he truly was. For example, he married someone to help them get their green card and he kept his best friend's secret for ages. Deep down, he was a good person! And of course, the fact that Tucker had the best one-liners was a major bonus.
Throughout most of the show, Raj has barely ever taken center stage. He started out with selective mutism, which meant he got to stand around in silence like a prop for quite a few episodes (the fact that Howard constantly made Indian jokes didn't help either). But then Raj got over the mutism and grew to become a rather fascinating character. Because while he's a brilliant astrophysicist with wealthy parents, he also complains about his loneliness and constantly craves validation from others. It would be so great if Raj's storyline got a bit more attention (especially since his humor and awkwardness make him so relatable).
Pete wasn't always perfect, especially since he was so envious of Clark's abilities. But that didn't take away from the fact that he was loyal and trustworthy, even after learning about Clark's powers. He always felt like he was in Clark's shadow, much like his own successful siblings, which added to the complexity of his character. And when they parted ways after school, it seemed like Peter was all but forgotten (well, until he returned in season seven with an axe to grind). Seeing as how he had to deal with the pressure of living up to his family with the burden of Clark's huge secret, all while staying free-spirited and charming guy that he was, we'd say the guy deserves a bit more credit.
Though Gordon was a hunter like the Winchesters, he was 1000 times more terrifying. He technically protected his fellow humans by getting rid of threats, but his methods were disturbing and his no-tolerance policy against all non-humans was rather extreme. In a sense, he kind of blurred the line between good and evil (or rather, hero and villain). And another detail that made his story so intriguing was how he started off as the determined hunter who thought he was doing the right thing, then wound up turning into the very creature that inspired him to start hunting in the first place. It's safe to say that his scenes gave us chills.
She could babble endlessly for days and probably ruin your reputation with a single comment, but still, we simply adore Kelly. And you know what? We think she deserved her own spin-off. She was bold, opinionated, and boy-crazy. But best of all, she gave us epic one-liners, like "I talk a lot, so I learn to tune myself out." Fashion show at lunch, anyone?
Everyone at school hated Malcolm's guts, but Stevie was the one who chose to see the good in him. Despite Malcolm's huge ego and selfishness, Stevie remained a trustworthy and loyal friend. No other character on the show had that kind of patience with Malcolm. But best of all, Stevie didn't let being in a wheelchair control who he was. From the get-go, he a proud genius with a carefree attitude and a passion for adventure. And of course, the fact that he could easily outsmart Malcolm was extra satisfying.
It's kind of impossible to not love the main cast of 3rd Rock, but some fans are quick to forget that Mary's administrative assistant, Nina, was just as phenomenal. Her no-nonsense attitude and fluent sarcasm was a welcome breath of fresh air, especially when she shared scenes with Dick. Seeing a bit more of her on screen, as well as getting the chance to learn more of her backstory, would've made this show even better than it was.
He only appeared in a handful of episodes, but his hilarious parody of the fast-talking Johnnie Cochran was quite memorable. In fact, it almost led to a character spin-off. Phil Morris, the actor who portrayed Jackie, said: "Seinfeld and its creators were taken to task about not having adequate black representation on a show that takes place in New York City. The first spin-off, hopefully, from Seinfeld, will be The Jackie Chiles Show. Not The Kramer Show. Not The George Costanza Show. But my show. What that says is, if you're funny, if you're good, if you're strong, you cannot be denied."
Unfortunately, this show never actually made it to the small screen. We feel like we missed out!
Fez was basically the definition of weird. He was obsessed with acclimating to American culture and often desperate to get girls. Though we'll admit that some of his ways were downright creepy, even so, he was quite lovable and complex. He wasn't another random foreign exchange student who got excluded from the group or got used for jokes. Rather, he was a unique character who was comfortable enough in his skin to be open and honest about his emotions. That quality, along with his oddball tendencies, made him so much more appealing than some of the others on the show.
Andre was that guy that everyone wished they had as a friend. Not only was he incredibly skilled with music, but he was also selfless, compassionate, supportive, and laid-back. He was actually the most the most talented musician in his friend group, but of course, he also had his weaknesses (remember when he developed a huge crush on his best friend's girlfriend?). Sill, Andre's slip-ups and struggles only made him even more relatable and authentic.
Since Helen was the sassy, no-nonsense theater manager with practically no filter, it's fair to say that she was treated more like a token character. She was rather harsh with her employees (especially Josh) and it seemed like she only liked people who looked physically attractive. But even though she could be mean, Helen was by far one of the most hilarious and memorable characters on this show. She pretty much stole every scene with her facial expressions and those sharp one-liners were epic (anyone else remember "That is NOT my job?").
He may be a token fabulous gay black character, but he is literally the highlight of the entire series. We've seen some great character development on his part, like how he learned to maintain healthier relationships and be less selfish. And thankfully, he's also been getting some more screen time compared to the very first season. Here's hoping that the creators will just switch the title to Unbreakable Titus Andromedon (we'd totally be on board).
Kendra may have been Buffy's complete opposite, but she was like the anchor that Buffy never knew she needed. After all, she was the one who'd convinced Buffy that being the vampire slayer was part of who she was and not a burden. But while the no-nonsense slayer was meant to be a sidekick, she ended up being just as awesome as Buffy. She wasn't big on friendships because she was all about getting down to business. It was tough to not love her. She was straight-forward, confident in who she was, and so fierce. Sadly, she didn't stick around for long - but we would've loved it if she did!