Scene Stealers 2021

Scene stealers: The 30 best TV characters of 2021, ranked

Inverse spotlights the side characters we fell in love with this year.

One thing that separates the good shows from the great is a supporting cast that more than pulls its weight. Inverse’s Scene Stealers 2021 honors 30 side characters who deserve a series all their own.

30. Joe Collie

Midnight Mass

“The fact that Joe even begins a journey towards sobriety is proof of not only what can happen when you are forgiven by someone else, but when you decide to try to forgive yourself — no matter the mistakes you’ve made.” — Alex Welch

29. Toad


“Toad has many strengths. Conviviality isn’t among them.” — Andy Crump

28. Demerzel


“What makes us human? Is it flesh and blood? Is it consciousness? Demerzel may be a machine, but in many ways, she's more human than the reincarnated man she is programmed to serve.” — Meg Walters

27. Kovich

Star Trek: Discovery

“Even if his past is shrouded in mystery, Kovich is boldly going where even Star Trek hasn’t gone before.” — Ryan Britt

26. Blackstar

Jupiter’s Legacy

“Like a petulant, energy-blasting dead ringer for DC’s Darkseid, Blackstar is a control-hungry juggernaut whose presence makes caped crusaders shudder.” — Jeff Spry

25. Milo the Goat

Shadow and Bone

“There is no man, woman, or creature in the Grishaverse as regal, as brilliant, as fluffy as Milo the Goat.” — Olivia Truffaut-Wong

24. The Guide

What We Do in the Shadows

“The Guide becomes an avatar for the everywoman and for fed-up workers all over who have to watch executives make terrible decisions and steal credit for their underlings’ hard work.” — Jessica Scott

23. The Dead Boys Detectives

Doom Patrol

“Not unlike how the Doom Patrol is a dark alternative to the Justice League, the Dead Boy Detectives are macabre Hardy Boys.” — Ben Koziel

22. Danielle Poole

For All Mankind

“With Danielle Poole, For All Mankind subsumes Star Trek to be more in touch with progressive ideals than the source it’s paying homage to and creates a counter-mythology to our predominantly white history of spaceflight.” — Ryan Britt

21. Mike Melsky

Joe Pera Talks With You

“In a show dominated by a character with mannerisms from another era, Mike is the one most tapped into our zeitgeist of fragile, angry wounded-animal masculinity.” — John Wenz

20. Vander


“Vander serves as a noble but cautionary tale about how it is important to care and fight for those closest to you — even if you can also do so to a fault.” — Tomas Franzese

19. Jimmy Woo


“Now, when anti-Asian racism is as commonplace as it was when Jimmy Woo’s first comics hit stands, the need for warm, funny, and most of all, noble lead Asian American protagonists like Jimmy Woo is more critical than ever.” — Eric Francisco

18. Zephyr Halima


“From standing up to tyrannical clones to forgiving confused robots with a loving, knowing touch, T’Nia Miller’s Zephyr Halima is a science fiction character like no other.” — Ryan Britt

17. Cool Thanos

What If...?

“Unlike other variants, ‘Good Guy Thanos’ points to a simple truth about life outside the MCU. Sometimes, all you need is just good advice from a friend.” — Jake Kleinman

16. Theo

Only Murders in the Building

“‘The Boy from 6B’ ascends TV tropes to show Theo’s story as an essential piece of the puzzle. Unfolding the narrative through his perspective shows the value of diverse stories in inclusive and creative ways.” — Gabrielle Bondi

15. Omega

The Bad Batch

“As a genderfluid person, Omega represents to me the ideal of a gender-non-conforming life. Not only is she free to express herself however she wants, at no point is her identity questioned.” — Dais Johnston

14. Beth Deville

Y: The Last Man

“Navigating life as a Black woman has already exposed Beth to the fundamental flaws in the foundation of our national structure; surviving the apocalypse was just the spark needed to light the fuse.” — Chrishaun Baker

13. Allen the Alien


“Allen the Alien shows up for roughly ten minutes in the first season of Amazon Prime Video's Invincible, but it's enough time to leave an impact the size of a crater.” — Aaron Pruner

12. Danny Bailey


“Sporting a pageboy cap, vertiginously high-waisted pants, and a brown turtleneck, Danny is the resident bad boy of Schmigadoon — though, beneath his brooding charisma and power stance, he’s about as threatening as bad boys tend to be in musical theater, which is to say, not very.” — Isaac Feldberg

11. He Who Remains


“With bites of an apple and sips of tea, He Who Remains embodies all the tropes of a quintessential comic book mastermind.” — Eric Francisco

10. Patti Harrison

I Think You Should Leave

“A comedic demolitions expert, Harrison has become a key player on Tim Robinson’s I Think You Should Leave, where her bone-dry wit and confrontational deadpan gradually unhinge every scene she’s in from reality.” — Isaac Feldberg

9. Josh Aaronson


“Aaronson is, fundamentally, a product of the individualistic traits and impulses similarly seen — variously celebrated and denigrated — across the wider Succession ensemble.” — Jack King

8. Baron Zemo

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

“Zemo is a constant reminder of the real-world ramifications of having super-powered individuals fighting battles on Earth.” — Maggie Lovitt

7. Dani Rojas

Ted Lasso

“Importantly, Dani Rojas embodies men feeling unable to show true emotions and struggling with mental health, especially within sport.” — Lauren Entwhistle

6. Ralph Boener


WandaVision, which pays homage to classic TV, reminded us how an absolutely surprising single moment of television still has the power to dominate the cultural conversation.” — Gabrielle Bondi

5. Miss Minutes


“More than even He Who Remains himself, Miss Minutes seems to believe with all her artificial heart in the TVA’s dubious mission.” — Jake Kleinman

4. Isaiah Bradley

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

“Brought to life by under-decorated actor Carl Lumbly, Isaiah Bradley shoulders the burden of injustice as a discarded Super Soldier in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.” — Eric Francisco

3. Agatha Harkness


“There are comic-to-screen performances that feel ripped from the page. Kathryn Hahn as Agatha Harkness is not one of them.” — Tres Dean

2. Kang Sae-byeok

Squid Game

“Every instance Kang Sae-byeok speaks in Squid Game, and every decision she makes, feels purposeful and real.” — Alex Welch

1. Sheriff Hassan

Midnight Mass

“Sheriff Hassan exposes the elemental racism in small towns to the harsh light of the surface.” - Dais Johnston

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