Behind every leading woman or man in television, there's one character setting them up and opening the door for them to shimmy on through. At their best, supporting actors are stealing scenes from their higher-paid compadres, and at their worst, they're dragging a show into the ground and being deservedly killed off.
We're going to focus on the former in this list, which covers our favorite new supporting characters from this television season. Are these in any particular order? Sort of. Is this the definitive list? Absolutely not. We're just opening up the discussion and want to hear who would have made your list.
10. Charlotte Lewis, Lost (played by Rebecca Mader)
As one of the Freighter Folk on ABC's best show, Charlotte entranced us as soon as we saw her hanging upside-down from a tree in season four's second episode. We have lots to learn about her past, which links her to the island more than any of the Oceanic Six.
VIDEO: Rebecca Mader Interview
9. Castiel, Supernatural (played by Misha Collins)
Forget his character and all that--how about that introduction with those gigantic angel wings! As the heaven-sent servant ordered by the big man upstairs to help guide Sam and Dean Winchester, Castiel, with his brooding gaze and menacing voice, makes it clear: he ain't no ordinary angel, and he don't need no harp.
Q&A;: Supernatural's Misha Collins
8. Big Mike, Chuck (played by Mark Christopher Lawrence)
Yeah, we know he's not exactly new, but he's become a bigger part of the Buy More storylines this season after barely a peep last year, and we love the writers for it. Mike perfectly embodies the top of the retail food-chain: a boss who doesn't want to do any work and instead passes tasks on to his underpaid underlings.
6. Lew Ashby, Californication (played by Callum Keith Rennie)
The rock-and-roll god who asked Hank Moody to write his biography was memorable for many reasons, but we love the stereotypical ridiculousness of the character: guns, groupies, drugs. Rest in peace, lil' buddy.
5. Debbie, The Life and Times of Tim (voiced by Bob Morrow)
The only animated character to make the list, Debbie is also the only multiracial prostitute on the list. I know, shocking! She's always drinking and smoking and wears business suits with the ass cut out of them. Plus, she's voiced by a man. Frankly, I'm surprised she's not number one.
4. Gemma Teller-Morrow, Sons of Anarchy (played by Katey Sagal)
As the matriarch of SAMCRO, Peg Bundy, I mean Gemma, is in a position of supreme power and she isn't willing to give it up. Gemma is exactly what you would think a motorcycle club vixen would be--tough, scheming, and downright nasty.
3. Lt. Gene Hunt/Detective Ray Carling, Life on Mars (played by Harvey Keitel/Michael Imperioli)
These two 1970s cops turn a good new show into a great new show. The fast-talking duo are masters of excessive force, and Carling has some of the best dialogue in television today. And how about that sweet 'stache?
VIDEO: Q&A; with Michael Imperioli and Jason O'Mara
2. Daniel Faraday, Lost (played by Jeremy Davies)
Whoa--another Freighter Folkie? (Heck, we wanted to add Miles Straum, too!) Faraday is a fantastic addition to the cast, and a key tool for Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse to help explain season four's technical mumbo jumbo. And that skinny tie just screams physics nerd.
1. Lafayette Reynolds, True Blood (played by Nelsan Ellis)
Merlotte's gay cook steals so many scenes, he must have a rap sheet thicker than the Twilight books. He sells vampire blood, makes pornographic Web cam shows, and dresses flamboyantly, but make no mistake--he can kick your butt. Let's hope that wasn't his foot in the backseat of the car in the finale!
OK, let's hear your lists. Remember, no stars and they have to be new this year.