Skip To Content

    17 Great Actors Who Did Everything In Their Power To Save Bad TV Shows

    They did the best with what they had.

    We recently asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us which great actors almost saved bad TV shows. Here's what they had to say:

    1. Lana Parrilla in Once Upon a Time


    "Lana Parrilla should definitely get herself a good chiropractor because she carried Once Upon a Time on her damn back for seven whole seasons. Regina deserved better from the start and her character's growth was incredible, and Lana's performance was the only thing keeping that show going!"


    "The show was good the first couple of seasons but then went to absolute crap. After that, with the crazy storylines and increasingly unbelievable tie-ins, Lana was always the best part to me."


    2. Evan Peters and Sarah Paulson in American Horror Story


    "American Horror Story has a weirder, yet still weaker, storyline every season. I would’ve stopped watching after maybe around Season 2 if not for Evan Peters and Sarah Paulson."


    3. Naya Rivera as Santana Lopez in Glee


    "Her role as Santana Lopez was probably the funniest role in Glee, but she also had her moments where her character had to be serious, and she portrayed those scenes — like her coming out scene — perfectly. She was emotional, snarky, and amazing."


    4. Chris Colfer as Kurt Hummel in Glee


    "Chris Colfer deserves an Oscar for his work on Glee. Chris Colfer was an amazing actor throughout Kurt's ups and downs, his iconic coming out storyline, and everything else they put Kurt through. He was truly a diamond in the rough."


    5. Viola Davis as Annalise Keating in How to Get Away with Murder


    "The show was great in the earlier seasons. The last two seasons were just a big mess, but Viola's performance didn't change. She continued to give amazing performances until the finale. She never phoned it in and gave her all for each episode. She's the reason I never gave up on the show."


    6. Lili Reinhart as Betty Cooper in Riverdale

    The CW

    "The fact that she manages to make the terrible writing on Riverdale seem even a little bit realistic speaks volumes to her acting. She got trapped in this bad show, but she’s talented."


    7. Tituss Burgess as Titus Andromedon in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt


    "While I love Ellie Kemper, Titus was the whole show and everything he did was iconic."


    8. Dylan O’Brien as Stiles Stilinski in Teen Wolf


    "The show was good, but after Season 4 it went downhill. He brought so much to the show and is a great actor. After Season 2, he really got to show his acting chops with emotional scenes and especially in Season 3. Void Stiles was the best villain of the entire show, all because of O’Brien."


    9. Janel Parrish as Mona Vanderwaal in Pretty Little Liars


    "PLL got pretty ridiculous in its later seasons, but Mona’s character was always consistent and always the best. Her redemption arc was so satisfying to watch, seeing her go from the original 'A' to finally being part of the group. Mona always knew what was going on — often ages before the actual liars — and she was definitely the best part of the show."


    10. Brandon Flynn as Justin Foley in 13 Reasons Why


    "Brandon played Justin so convincingly and had a huge amount of character development in the seasons. He was like a totally different person by the end and gave Justin a lot of layers and depth. His emotional performances always stood out among the rest of the cast."


    11. Emma Roberts as Chanel Oberlin in Scream Queens


    "She carried Scream Queens on her back through the bad acting and the cheesy lines. Her quips were amazing and she had a comeback for everything. Chanel Oberlin is a true mean girl and Emma Roberts played her so well."


    12. Adam Brody as Seth Cohen in The O.C.


    "He was so believable, I really don’t know the difference between the actor and the character."


    13. Yvette Nicole Brown as Dina Rose and Brandon Micheal Hall as Courtney Rose in The Mayor


    "I was pretty excited for this show and was a little disappointed in it. These two actors, playing the mayor and his mother, were the reason I kept watching the show until it was canceled."


    14. Sophia Bush as Brooke Davis in One Tree Hill

    The WB / The CW

    "Even when the writers tried to vilify her character to push the Leyton narrative and all of the other crazy plots of the show, Brooke’s character arc was portrayed flawlessly."


    15. Bethany Joy Lenz as Haley James Scott in One Tree Hill

    The WB / The CW

    "After the two main characters left after Season 6, it was her incredible delivery and performance week after week that kept the show alive for another three seasons. Her acting was very much the backbone of the show."


    16. Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones


    "He gave Tyrion so much charisma and likability that the writers had to scramble to give him more screen time, which meant that the character himself often had either very little to do per episode or make really, REALLY dumb decisions. But Mr. Dinklage carried it through every time, no matter how cringeworthy the writing was."


    17. And Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones


    "Everyone knows the last season was a wreck, and Daenerys had a terrible arc, but Emilia Clarke's facial expressions alone managed to almost make the twist seem plausible. The script was terrible, but she really did so much trying to save it, and her acting really made the last season bearable."


    Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

    Do you agree or disagree with these opinions? Tell us in the comments below!

    TV and Movies

    Get all the best moments in pop culture & entertainment delivered to your inbox.

    Newsletter signup form