1. Wedge Antilles
A minor character in all three of the original Star Wars movies, Wedge has been featured as a major player in the expanded universe of the series, including most notably the Rouge Squadron books and video games.
For years Elmo was a minor character on Sesame Street, appearing the background of scenes that called for large numbers of ‘monsters’. However, after Kevin Clash took over the role popularity of Elmo skyrocketed, to the point of becoming the most popular regularly occurring character on the show.
3. Phil Coulson
Originally hired for three lines as a favor to his friend, Clark Gregg has now appeared in four Marvel movies (including a pivotal role in The Avengers) and his character has now expanded to the animated television series and the comic books.
4. Harley Quinn
Originally a one off henchperson for The Joker on the animated series, her popularity led to her becoming a recurring character and eventually transitioning to the comics, becoming the first animated series character to transition to the comic books in DC history.
5. Brittany S. Pierce
Originally hired to teach cast members the dance moves to “Single Ladies”, Heather Morris impressed producers with an amazing ability to deliver deadpan lines, and was immediately made a recurring character and quickly became one of the shows breakout stars.
6. Boba Fett
George Lucas didn’t anticipate how popular this bounty hunter character with next to no lines would be, otherwise we doubt he would have been killed in Return of the Jedi.
7. Mrs. Landingham
Mrs. Landingham was a minor character on The West Wing, rarely having more than a few lines on the program. However, her characters loving and motherly ways, combined with fantastic performances from Kathryn Joosten, propelled her character to admiration that transcended the program. Mrs. Landingham is probably one of the only fictional characters to have a tribute to her read on the floor of Congress.
8. The Worm Guys
Originally just a one off joke in the first Men in Black movie, they gained a lot of popularity after the first film and were written into the plots of Men in Black II and III, as well as the animated series, in more substantial roles.
9. Miles O’Brien
Originally a minor recurring character on Star Trek: The Next Generation, he was eventually given more story time and later promoted to a more prominent role on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
10. Aaron Pierce
Originally a background character in a few episodes of Season 1, Glenn Morshower’s Aaron Pierce character would eventually become of few reliable cast members on 24’s ever rotating cast, appearing in seven seasons, the most of any non-Jack Bauer character.
11. Leonard Rodriguez
One of Community’s greatest assets is the expansive number of background characters that populate the show. Perhaps none greater than Leonard, the grumpy, bitter old man who proves to be both a foil and occasional ally of the main characters, while delivering some of the show’s funniest lines.
12. Ronnie Gardocki
Originally cast because the team needed another member, Ronnie had five lines in the entire first season of The Shield. However, his character grew in popularity and depth over the show’s run, to the point of eventually becoming a main character.
13. Clinton Jones
Originally a minor recurring Agent, Clinton Jones has been one of the more stable characters on USA’s White Collar, gradually getting more character development and screen time. Sharif Atkins was added to the main cast for season four.
Originally a background character who held a multitude of jobs, he eventually became a more prominent character after landing a permanent position at the janitor for Planet Express on Futurama
15. Buzz McNab
Psych’s go to backup cop, Buzz McNab became a fan favorite after recurring in a few Season 1 episodes, and continues to be brought back each season, as his sweet but dim supporting police work has become a part of the show’s larger universe.
Of course there are countless more examples, so who are some of your favorite minor characters?