The 9 TV Actors Who Deserve to Break Out This Fall (With Fame, Not Zits)

Between returning favorites and brand-new series, the start of the fall television season always gives us plenty to talk about, but really the main prize is opportunity! I'm talking about the many lesser-known actors who've landed the role of a lifetime or where are getting their foot in the door on brand-new shows. We'll be spending a lot of time with these folks as we binge on fresh TV, and their careers depend on our favor. One of them might even become our next boyfriend or girlfriend, or at least the latest famous person to take out a restraining order against us. (Why won't you return my calls, Katie Cassidy?)

We've spent all summer pre-stalking several of these not-so-familiar faces by watching new pilots, and with some help from my fellow TV.com editors, compiled this list of nine stars-in-the-making we think you should keep an eye out for. Let's meet 'em!


THE SHOW: Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox)

THE TALENT: Stephanie Beatriz as Detective Rose Diaz, Chelsea Peretti as Administrator Gina Linetti

Just like the ensemble comedies it emulates (The Office, Parks and Recreation), Brooklyn Nine-Nine will draw a crowd with its big-name stars (in this case, Saturday Night Live's Andy Samberg and Last Resort's Andre Braugher) but succeed on the strength of its lesser-known supporting cast. Relative unknown Beatriz's Detective Diaz is a frightening figure with a lethal stare, and Peretti—who's already well-known among the stand-up comedy set—goes from writing for Parks and Rec to stealing scenes on Brooklyn Nine-Nine as the goofy Linetti.



THE SHOW: Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC)

THE TALENT: Chloe Bennet as Skye

Bennet jumps from one ABC series to another, having played the slutty record-label assistant Hailey on Nashville next season. It's a big promotion—she's playing a major character in Joss Whedon's highly anticipated hit, and from the trailers we've seen, she's the beneficiary of most of Whedon's trademark wit. The half-Chinese, half-American actress can also sing, so she's in a good place for the Season 5 musical episode.


THE SHOW: Sleepy Hollow (Fox)

THE TALENT: Tom Mison as Ichabod Crane

This one's for the ladies! Brit hunk Mison made some splashes in the BBC/HBO miniseries Parade's End, but he's poised to get his big American break in Fox's gonzo supernatural police show as the time-traveling Crane. Not nearly as gangly or awkward as Disney's interpretation of the legendary character, Mison still manages to add some naive playfulness to Fox's vision of Crane—in addition to the innocent confusion of man who just warped two centuries into the future. This could be the start of a great career for him Stateside.



THE SHOW: Hello Ladies (HBO)

THE TALENT: Stephen Merchant as Stephen

Best known as Ricky Gervais' spindly sidekick and fellow Karl Pilkington-basher on The Ricky Gervais Show, Merchant is funny on his own and wants to prove it to American audiences in his new HBO comedy. He'll take center stage as a British man wooing women in Los Angeles, and we can't think of a better role for the guy.


THE SHOW: Trophy Wife (ABC)

THE TALENT: Michaela Watkins as Jackie

Watkins, a member of the talent-rich improv group The Groundlings, is best known for a short stint on Saturday Night Live in 2008-2009. She was let go after one season, but rebounded nicely in her role as the bitchy Janice on Enlightened (you might also recognize her from playing Schmidt's pregnant boss Gina on New Girl). Watkins' stength is in her dry delivery. As a master of the deadpan, her comedy translates perfectly to Trophy Wife's flighty and oft-confused Jackie, one of the two ex-wives that series star Malin Akerman must deal with in the neo-family comedy. Wait 'til you see what she does with a hamster in the pilot. 


THE SHOW: Reign (The CW)

THE TALENT: Adelaide Kane as Mary Queen of Scots

Australian actress Kane made an impact as Derek's sister Cora in MTV's Teen Wolf, but here on The CW she gets to take control of an entire kingdom. Reign looks like it could be a sleeper hit for the network that specializes in buzzy, social media-friendly series, and Kane is primed to be one who gets hashtagged the most. 


THE SHOW: Enlisted (Fox)

THE TALENT: Parker Young as Private Randy Hill

You know Young and his beefy torso from his propensity for going shirtless as a supporting player on ABC's Suburgatory. In Chatswin, he was Ryan Shay, the dumbbell neighbor who hooked up with Tessa and went bonkers when he found out he was adopted. But Suburgatory's loss is Enlisted's gain as Young once again goes dense to portray the vacant brother in this comedy about three siblings who work at an army base in Florida. Now, we'll get to see him play dumb every Friday night. 

Ed. Note: Just as we were putting the finishing touches on this list, Fox decided to delay Enlisted's series deployment until January. So technically, Young is now a face to look out for in the midseason. Don't shoot the messenger!


THE SHOW: The Blacklist (NBC)

THE TALENT: Megan Boone as Elizabeth Keen

Anyone who can stand toe-to-toe with James Spader's intense Red Reddington and look good doing it deserves a spot on this list, and Boone does just that in NBC's latest biggest hope for the future, The Blacklist. You may remember her for her role as a Deputy D.A. on Law & Order: Los Angeles, or, like me, you may not remember that Law & Order: Los Angeles ever existed. This is a dream role for Boone, and as the likable new FBI agent Keen, she exudes both the confidence and freshness the part requires.

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Sexy ass Chloe Bennet
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actually, the Buffy musical episode was in season 6. ;-)
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The only show that I'm watching from these is SHIELD so I 'll keep an eye for Chloe Bennet
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I wouldn't say Adelaide Kane had an "impact" on Teen Wolf. That's a bit strong. She's kind of cute, but that's about it.

By the way, was it ever explained how she was thought dead on Teen Wolf and then revealed to be alive? How did Derek not know? Didn't the series start with him having just buried her? I may have missed how she survived or ended up with the Alpha Pack, but it's probably because of the way they treated her return in a seemingly dismissive manner - just like they treated the odd disappearance of Bianca Lawson in the finale .


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I would agree with you about her "impact" on teen wolf...I thought her character was rather dull. Although she played Derek's younger sister Cora (whom he thought died in the fire Kate started) and the sister that died at the start of the series was his older sister and 'Alpha' Laura. I am assuming that Cora somehow escaped the fire and was running around on her own all that time. Somewhere in season 3 there was a brief explanation that she had heard there was a Hale Alpha who was starting their own pack so she came to join and got nabbed by the alpha pack on her way. Hope that helped.
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I hope it's Adelaide. Really, every year of tv should have its own Tatiana Maslany.
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What? Adelaide Kane is the lead in Reign? Why has it taken me so long to realise this? Anyway, I'm all for Australians making it big in the US, but seriously, on the shows they were in here in Australia (mostly Neighbours and Home & Away) their acting was bad at best, and Kane has to be the worst I've seen so far. She was horrible in Neighbours. But I do have to hand to her though, she's done well considering she got that role by winning a teen magazine competition, so good on her. I just hope her acting has improved since then.

Out of all the people on this list I'm most excited to see what Chloe Bennett will bring to Agents of SHIELD. From the trailers it looks like she's got the trademark Whedon snark, and has been reminding me a lot of Faith from Buffy.

The most is probably expected from Megan Boone on The Blacklist. Yes, she's going toe-to-toe with Spader, so not only does she need to be up to scratch in that department, but her character will need to be just as compelling as his. I'm thinking its going to be hard for her to be anything more than the second fiddle, and I'm worried who she'll be written. Lets just hope that whatever her character is like she can do the best she possibly can with it.
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Those of us who watched Power Rangers far longer than we should have will also recognize Adelaide Kane as Tenaya-7 from Power Rangers RPM, the last (and arguably best) season of the Disney era.
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I only recognize one of these people, and I hate him. I'm so unhip.
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But this way, you'll know who they are before they are cool. And then you can dump them for being sell-outs! You win!
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I'm not watching any of the shows mentioned...but I may catch up on Brooklyn Nine-Nine in the summer if it gets renewed.
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Loved Trophy Wife pilot. A show that has the charm and wit to have a great first season.
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I have been pissed about SNL letting michaela go for forever now. I just went back and watched her season though and was surprised to find it might not have been a terrible call. mostly because her voice and unique way of speaking made for an inability to really branch out impression wise and also not a great singer. I do love her though, and am enjoying trophy wife thankfully. she also played whats his face's girlfriend on "new christine."


also still very much looking forward to brooklyn nine nine, sleepy hollow and enlisted.
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Yeah, she really stood out on SNL and appeared to make it but after she was let go you kind of realize she didn't really fit in to the style of comedy like all of the others. That was two controversial dismissals in a row for Lorne; Casey Wilson was fired at the same time as well.
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"Biiiiiiitch, pleeeeeeease."
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"Bennet jumps from one ABC series to another, having played the slutty record-label assistant Hailey on Nashville"

When I read this, my first thought was "I guess Tim wrote this article". (I then scrolled up to the top to verify it). I don't think anyone else would describe her as slutty.
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While the character's motivations are clearly not the fault of the actress, you have to admit that aggressively trying to break up Gunnar and Scarlett was pretty much the only purpose her character served.
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I don't remember it clearly. Did she really do that? I thought that she hooked up with Gunnar before Scarlett showed any interest in him, and then she either left Gunnar or got dumped because he was totally into Scarlett.

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Yeah, it was pretty one note and over-the-top, but she did a nice job with it, so hopefully she'll have a little more to work with on Agents of SHIELD.
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I am quiet surprised Stephen Merchant hasn't broken out that side of the pond yet. He's quiet a funny guy.
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Well, has he ever really stepped in front of the camera before with this big of a role? Usually it's small roles.
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His segment was one of the lone bright spots in the utterly awful Movie 43.
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He definitely has for those of us who have watched Ricky Gervais' shows - Extras in particular. Really hoping his new show helps more people realize how brilliant he is though. The stand up tour of the same name was fantastic.
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His stand up is fantastic! He was very under rated in Extras.
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Watkins, a member of the talent-rich improv group The Groundlings, is best known for a short stint on Saturday Night Live in 2008-2009.

She also nicely played Hamish Linklater's girlfriend on The New Adventures of Old Christine. Hamish is an underutilized actor who has made the fatal mistake of leaving The Newsroom for the moronic and soon-to-be cancelled The Crazy Ones.....oh, wait, I forgot, this is America......the soon to be nominated for millions of Emmys The Crazy Ones.
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Chloe Bennet is so pretty in Nashville I was already charmed by her. I am so glad she is getting a role of a BIG series like MARVEL ! I can see how Stephen Merchant can be funny but I hope he is not playing the same type of character he did or Ricky G show or the I give it a year movie, people might find him annoying !
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Parker Young plays another dense character? Aw man! I loved him on Suburgatory, but I was looking forward to seeing him play a different type of role. I'll still watch though, because Ryan Shay was a hilarious character and hopefully PY can bring that same level of funny to Enlisted.
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If I were taking one thing away from the photos here, it's that this is the season of arched eyebrows and noses. Not arched noses, just prominent ones, that look has kinda faded out in the last century.

The lack of more new breakout talent in A.G.E.N.T.S. of Shield has me concerned, but I guess I'll let you know what I think when I get there. Also
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Never do coke with Chelsea Peretti. Or if you do, make sure you go first.
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It's actually time beautiful noses made a comeback, I've been bored with all these button-as-a-nose people on tv.

As for Agents of SHIELD, we shall see. Most of the not-already-known actors there have not been on tv often so it wouldn't be a break-through so much as a "hello, I exist". My guess is TV.com can thus hardly judge them from past secondary performances like they can Bennet, because they have nothing to judge them on at all, save from two trailers.
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Button noses scared me when I was in kindergarten. Seriously.
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