14 Characters Who Upgraded From Cameos To Starring Roles

These characters weren’t supposed to last as long as they did

Not all TV characters are created equal, but thankfully, some truly amazing ones end up with more screen time than initially planned. While many actors are hired to play a one-off character or to appear in just a couple episodes, a lucky few of them get upgraded to either a main or recurring character.

A prime example is Aaron Paul on Breaking Bad. His character, Jesse Pinkman, has been enshrined in pop culture — but he was nearly killed off in Season 1. Paul became a fan favorite and went on to star in all 62 episodes. Thank god.

Check out some other faves who were initially supposed to be short-lived.

Traci from Hannah Montana


Hannah Montana

Hannah's nasally congested friend was supposed to be "a one-time guest star," but Romi Dames's audition with that iconic voice — which was completely improvised — inspired the writers to keep her around.

Andy Dwyer from Parks and Recreation

Danny Feld/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Parks and Recreation - Chris Pratt

Chris Pratt wasn't supposed to be a series regular on the show that would eventually make him a household name. "I was just a guest star that came on for six episodes, and then they ended up keeping me on and putting me in every episode all seven seasons," he told Ellen DeGeneres.

Castiel from Supernatural

Diyah Pera/The CW


Without everyone's favorite angel, poor Dean Winchester would still be rotting in hell. Misha Collins originally signed on for three episodes, and now he's a series regular (not to mention a favorite of fans).

Sheriff Jody Mills from Supernatural

Katie Yu/The CW


"Jody was a one and done," Kim Rhodes told MTV News about her kick-ass character. If that had actually happened, Sam and Dean would've ended up in a lot more trouble.

Elijah Krantz from Girls

Craig Blankenhorn

Girls - Andrew Rannells

"It started as one episode in the first season, and it wasn't supposed to go much beyond that — or, beyond that at all," Andrew Rannells admitted on Late Night.

Coconut Head from Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide


Ned's Declassified

It's virtually impossible to think of Ned's and not picture Coconut Head. However, that almost wasn't the case. Speaking about the initial audition, actor Rob Pinkston told MTV News, "[Coconut Head] was a very small role when I auditioned for it — in fact it didn’t even have any lines."

Morris L. "Mo" Tibbs from Smart Guy

Buena Vista Television

Smart Guy

Omar Gooding played the comic-relief character beloved by fans. However, Mo was originally "supposed to be sort of an in-and-out neighbor character," Tahj Mowry confessed to MTV News, adding that he became a regular because he "was so freakin’ funny."

Elijah Mikaelson from The Vampire Diaries

Quantrell Colbert/The CW


After working on TVD for years, not to mention also appearing on every episode of the spin-off show The Originals, it's shocking to learn that Elijah wasn't initially supposed to be around for long. Daniel Gillies told, "In the beginning I was a very old vampire who was going to live, like, two episodes."

Stacey Dillsen from Zoey 101


Zoey 101

Abby Wilde's hilariously bizarre character was only meant to be a one-time gag character. After she filmed her episode, Nickelodeon brought her back. "The next time I came in I had a first name, and the next time I came in I had a first name and a last name," Wilde explained to MTV News. "Then one day I came in and I had a bedroom. Then I did 31 episodes."

Jeremiah Trottman from Zoey 101


Zoey 101

Though PCA's trusty news reporter didn't play as big of a role on the show as wacky Stacey, he was also originally intended to be a one-time thing. Jeremiah "wasn't supposed to be a recurring character, but it just kinda stuck," Creagen Dow told MTV News. "I was actually quite surprised when they called and were like, 'We want you to come back and play Jeremiah again.'"

Detective Odafin "Fin" Tutuola from Law & Order: SVU

Michael Parmelee/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Law & Order: SVU - Ice T

He's shot nearly 400 episodes, but way back in Season 2, Ice-T was a new detective hired to replace Det. Monique Jeffries (Michelle Hurd) after she was transferred to Vice. "I came on the show to do four episodes, and now we're just wrapping up our 18th season," Ice-T told Seth Meyers.

Captain Hook from Once Upon a Time

Jack Rowand/ABC

Once Upon a Time

Can you imagine the show without the presence of Captain Hook?! Colin O'Donoghue told E! News, "I came in on Episode 4 of the second season and I just thought I was going to be a guest star for a couple of episodes, and here I am still!" And we're all the better for it.

Summer Roberts from The O.C.


The O.C.

Rachel Bilson wasn't supposed to stick around Orange County for as long as she did. "She was a guest star," series creator Josh Schwartz told MTV News. "She had three lines in the pilot, one of which was, 'I have to pee. You have to pee?' So, not any profound monologues for her to deliver. But she was so winning and adorable and brought such a good energy to the show. And she was such a nice contrast to Marissa, in terms of height and temperament."

Esteban Julio Ricardo Montoya De La Rosa Ramirez from The Suite Life of Zack and Cody


The Suite Life of Zack and Cody

The Tipton Hotel wouldn't have been the same without its trusty employee Esteban. "My role was intended for only two episodes but then turned into a series regular," Adrian R'Mante told MTV News. From there, R'Mante reprised the role on The Suite Life on Deck and also worked on "several Disney Channel specials."