All the new fall shows plus new seasons of old favorites means there are a lot of new characters for you to get to know. But who has the time or Purell to shake hands with all of them? Not you, Mr. or Ms. Busybottom. Let us help! We're here to whittle down the fall's freshman class to just a lunch table full of cool kids with our annual picks for best new fictional faces of the season. Some of them are major characters, some of them are supporting, but they all have one thing in common: THEY'RE THE BEST!
Obviously you have opinions, too. And there can only be one bestest best new character of them all, so take a look at our picks, make some clicks in the poll at the bottom of this page, and let's figure it out together.
Red Reddington (James Spader) on The Blacklist
The Blacklist features plenty of ridiculous moments (does Keen even WANT a kid, given all the stupid adoption-related errors she's making?) but sitting comfortably in a lavishly furnished room at the show's thrilling center is The Spader, who either crawled into the skin of most-wanted fugitive Red Reddington or just shows up for work every day and acts like himself. It's hard to tell. But it's perfect for Red, who's found a way to finally emerge from the Hannibal Lecter-shaped shadow that all FBI-helping criminal lunatics are lost in.
Gina Linetti (Chelsea Perretti) on Brooklyn Nine-Nine
If you ask us (you are asking us, right?), the breakout star of Brooklyn Nine-Nine is Chelsea Perretti as office administrator Gina Linetti. In addition to fun hand gestures like the one GIF'd above, this bombastic crazy lady is into weird things like fortune tellers and funky dancing, making the kooky cops she works with look sane by comparison.
Barry Goldberg (Troy Gentile) on The Goldbergs
We (Tim) didn't care for Barry when we (Tim) first met him in The Goldbergs' pilot, but just like the show overall, he's grown on us (Tim) over time. Barry started out as a typical big brother in a loud-mouthed family, but his brutishness started to give way to self-mocking when we learned—as did his family—that he lets off steam by "rolling it out" at the roller rink in short shorts and a headband. From that point on, Barry has continued to reveal his true form: that of a confused teenager who's lost in his dreams. And one who knows how to throw a fit like no other.
Wade and Kives (Nate Torrence and Kevin Weisman) on Hello Ladies
As inept wingmen for the equally inept Stuart (Stephen Merchant) in HBO's funny new comedy about dating in Los Angeles, the charming rogue Kives and sad-sack Wade account for two of three perfect points in the show's Bermuda Triangle of lady luck. Kives serves up plenty of the sliminess you'd expect from the Los Angeles singles' scene, but with the lady-boner-killing obstacle of being in a wheelchair. And Wade, well, he's just pathetic as he pines for his wife while they're separated. Contrast is key here, and these two are wonderful complements to Stuart's awkward desperation.
The Mother (Cristin Milioti) on How I Met Your Mother
It took eight long years, but we finally got our first glimpse of the Mother in last May's Season 8 finale, and we met her for realsies in the Season 9
premiere. And now we're glad to know she eventually met, married, and procreated with Ted,
because she's funny, she's sexy, she enjoys the same weird things that Ted
enjoys, and she can go toe-to-toe with an angry Lily and
come out unscathed. Seriously, girl has been the crown jewel of Season 9 so far, and she's only appeared in two episodes. That's telling, to say the least.
Virginia Johnson (Lizzy Caplan) on Masters of Sex
We were tempted to simply write "Lizzy Caplan, Lizzy Caplan, Lizzy
Caplan" and call it day; she's a huge part of what makes Virginia so
captivating. But there's much more to the single mom and secretary who
moonlights as a sex researcher in the 1950s than Caplan's strong
presence and piercing eyes. She's a rare bird in the world she lives in,
a progressive thinker who's not afraid to pursue what she wants—or to
say it out loud to a man—in the office OR the bedroom.
Which takes, uh, balls, given that so many of her female peers are perfectly happy with their roles as receptionists and
wives. But it's not like Virginia is some sort of cold, militant
feminist; she's also warm, caring, complex, smart, alluring, relatable,
and funny. She'd simply prefer to do something different than what
society has in mind for her, okay? And we love tuning in each week
to watch her try.
Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) on Sleepy Hollow
Sleepy Hollow has done lots of things right, but its most successful move by far has been its re-imagining of the awkward, weird Ichabod Crane from the original "Legend of Sleepy
Hollow" short story as a sexy, sarcastic, Revolutionary War soldier
who loves his now-dated clothing and refuses to conform to today's
Harris Green (Wendell Pierce) on The Michael J. Fox Show
The Bunk lives! Well, sorta. Wendell Pierce has brought some aspects his The Wire character to Mike Henry's friend and boss to create one of comedy's best new supporting characters. He's a ladies man—well, he's at least a smooth talker—who provides Mike's kids with the kind of real-life advice that Mike wants to protect them from.
Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) on Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
The character of Melinda May is still mostly a mystery, but that's one of the reasons why she's pretty awesome. Nicknamed
the Cavalry, you probably don't want to be on her bad side. And even though she's a quiet type who's been out of the field for awhile, when she's given the chance to kick some ass, she does so with such
ease that we can't help but wonder what sidelined her the first place.
Winston Bishop (Lamorne Morris) on New Girl
Come on, you know it's true: Winston is a changed man this
season—so much so that the label of "new" absolutely applies. Not only
is he finally getting dedicated story arcs all to himself, he's also way
more likely to be part of the main plot in any given episode. We can't
say we're clear on where the character is headed in the future—in some
ways he's simply been transformed from "token black guy" to "token
weirdo"—but he's been so entertaining lately that we can't be too upset.
If he maintains his current status as half wackjob, half wiseman, he'll
soon be our favorite character on the show.
Davina Claire (Danielle Campbell) on The Originals
The Originals' Davina started off very one-note, and that note was basically just a question mark. But the more time we spend with this childlike attic witch, the weirder and more intriguing she seems. It could just be that she's one of the few characters on this show who's not prone to didactic speeches about drama from the past, or it could be her insistence on referring to the title characters as the Old Ones. Or it could be that she just destroyed a church with her brain during a standoff between a 1,000-year-old vampire. Either way, she is DEFINITELY a bright spot on show that could use more of them.
Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts) on American Horror Story: Coven
All the characters on the new flavor of American Horror Story are great, and the young student-witches are the hocus-focus of fancy. But teen-celeb-turned-spell-caster Madison is the most fun because she's spoiled, powerful, and knows how to have a good time. So far this season she's flipped a bus of date-rapers, sewn together a "perfect boyfriend" for Zoe out of said date-rapers' body parts, thrown a knife at her new next-door neighbor before setting the lady's curtains on fire with her mind, and compelled a random passer-by to just saunter into traffic. That's a whole season's worth of ridiculousness in just three episodes, and she's just getting started.
Who are your favorite new characters of the season? We've included the dozen listed above plus many others in the poll below. Vote away, and let us know who we missed in the comments!