Who's the Most Underutilized Actor on TV?

The big news out of ABC today is that Rob Lowe wants to leave Brothers & Sisters because he feels "underutilized," according to Deadline Hollywood. He's been released from his contract, but ABC is trying to work something out to keep him on the network.

It's tough to get enough camera time for everyone in an ensemble cast, and Brothers & Sisters is loaded with talent. If Lowe wants to leave, it's his prerogative—and probably not a bad idea.

But his decision got us thinking: Who else should leave their big ponds for smaller fish bowls? T.R. Knight recently said goodbye to Grey's Anatomy, and is working in theater now. Is that a win? Who knows.

Here's our quick list:

Lance Reddick, Fringe
We love Broyles, but Reddick is such a commanding actor, we can't help but feel a little cheated that most of his time is spent merely chewing out the Fringe Division.

Everyone, entire Law & Order franchise
The stars of each episode are the suspects, not the people trying them. Imagine Mariska Hargitay as the lead on a show like The Good Wife.

Kevin Rahm and Tuc Watkins, Desperate Housewives
They can be more than just the gay guys on the block.

Katherine Heigl, Grey's Anatomy
Yeah, this one's obvious. And yeah, you can say she brought it on herself by throwing so many tantrums. But she's the closest thing to a movie star the show has, and they're letting her bump uglies with a ghost?

Ken Leung, Lost
Seriously, why is Miles on the show anyway? Give this guy some importance! Ditto for Caesar and Ilana (though I have a sneaking suspicion they'll be huge in Season 6).

Help us fill out our list! Who else do you think is underutilized on TV?

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thanks, I needed that
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NCIS LOS ANGELES. Is it just me or do these episodes ring totally unbelievable?NCIS stories, cast are believable. Los Angeles doesn't even have a medical examiner, and not lab. Just computers. How do you investigate without a lab?
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Allison Mack from smallville, and Leinghton Meester from gossip girl, those shows just get worst and worst, those girls should leave them before is too late,
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Jasika Nicole on Fringe, Ron Rikin on Brothers&Sisters, Emilie de Ravin on Lost for far too many seasons has been underused and underrated. Corbin Berson on Psych.
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I think Brian Dietzen, who plays Jimmy Palmer on NCIS really should be on-screen more : )
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Nobody knew Ken Leung before… He'll have plenty of time to get a lead role once Lost is finished… in a few month.
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Actually, I would also put Jasika Nicole and Joshua jackson (yes, him too) from Fringe on this list as well. The show has spent so much time on Olivia and Walter that Peter and Astrid do not a reason to be there.
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I really see any of those actors as top notch. And honestly those shows suck. I have to say that them being underutilized is probably a good thing. I don't mean to be all negative, but wow, you know how to pick'em. My eyes would bleed watching those shows.
Why not try watching Caprica or Legend of the Seeker or 24 or well, anything else.
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I agree with those who said Enver Gjokaj. He's a fantastic actor and I also hope he finds something very good now that Dollhouse is over.
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The actor on Fringe is just fine the way he is. He is a good actor, he doesn't push his facfe into every scene. Thats why I like him. The most over utilized actor is Lawrence Fishbourne. He takes up the whole screen....that is why I stopped watching the program where he replaced the main character. I did not enjoy his acting. I guess the networks can''t get the message. The Mentalist is getting a replacement and just couldn't leave well enough alone, so I will stop that one too.
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Katherine Heigl, she had to grow on me and then i found out she had one too many tantrums on set because shes a 'movie star' and because i love Greys i think that if Katherine wants to do better then she should, but why would she greys is such a great show,and after they changed thing around so much to suit her for her personal life - other cast member want time for a personal life. Some people would love the chance to be on Greys. I think Miles is pretty awesome on lost.
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In all ensemble shows the actors are, perforce, underutilized. That's the nature of the beast and the actors know, or should know, that going in. Any actor who starts to whine and complain should be killed off to keep it an ensemble. Yes, they should write episodes featuring he "stars". But, otherwise they should shut up or leave.

SVU, getting long in the tooth but, still a good show.I don't hear the stars complain.

B&S, time to trim the tree. Kill off Rob and Calista. When are they going to have Ron Rifkin confess that he stole the 20 million from the pension fund? Lost: they better come up with some "real" answers or I will be PISSED!
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As far as Brothers and Sisters go I agree they don't use Rob Lowe enough but the real underutilized(sp?) actor is Ron Rifkin (Uncle Saul). He's come out of the closet and that's about it. Come people! He's a great actor and kicked ass in Alias.



other people I can think of are:



Peter Jacobson - Taub on House



Ice-T and Richard Belzer - Fin and Munch on Law and Order SVU (which someone already mentioned, I'm just agreeing)



Tome Everett Scott - Southland



Corbin Bernsen - Psych



Tim Daly - Private Practice



Jeff Fahey - Frank Lapedus(sp?) on Lost (they keep bringing him back but he still doesn't do much. Hopefully they'll give him a back story this last season.)



That all I can think of right now.
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Definately Eric Szmanda!! Super Dave and Wendy get more screen time than he does! And Foreman needs less screen time in House, what is the point of him these days? Also anything Andre Royo's in whatever he is in, he could have been awesome in Heroes!
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Eric Szmenda(?) for CSI. He's was pushed aside is season 9 when Laurence Fishbourne and Lauren Lee Smith were added to the cast. Now the LLS is gone and Jorja Fox is back he still isn't being given the screen time he deserves. 10 years with the show he should get more time than he is and more respect than he's been showen.
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Hargitay in lead on THE GOOD WIFE??? My good heavens, No! Saints preserve us! No one can fill those shoes like Julianna Margulies. I have grown so disenchanted with Hargitay and the bleeding-heart liberal faces she pulls. The only ones under-utilized on SVU are Ice-T and Belzer. Their parts get smaller every week.
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Heigl cant act movie star or not. The show is better without her. A lot more of Broyles would be good. The character is too cool not to use than today. Other underutilized actors is Alexander Skarsgard in True Blood, Patrick Warburton in Rules of Engagement and Eric Dane in G.A.
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I think you can add Lisa Edelstein to the list.

Cuddy is a fantastic character and Lisa plays her spot on, and yes she's had some heavy Cuddy episodes but overall, she's very underused.
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necro_dragoon Heroes needs to kill half its cast of if it is to ever recover from the stupid spiral its been in for so long although it would be helpful if NBC just let them crash already



the first season was awesome but they pushed it to the last point before they have to be superheroes and since they seem to wanna avoid that everyone keeps bumping around stupidly and never learning a thing
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I fell that Palimer from NCIS needs more involment and I agree 100% about the BD wong thing he needs a back story and So does the Medical Examiner.
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Shine1light is right on. BD had one episode that he needed to be more than a background character recently. He has always been Underutilized.
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Katherine Heigl doesn't know how to act, have you seen any of her movies? She always plays the same character, she plays herself, always the same. Still, they always give her what she wants. She wanted a big storyline, so they made her character have cancer. And it was pathetic, it it wasn't for other actors of the show the fifth season would have been a total fiasco because of her and her pretensions.
She is not more in the show this season because that's what she wanted, she wanted free time for her own personal reasons. And the writers and producers hve to work hard to search excuses to have her character out, something that afected every other character in the show, it was completely selfish. So it's just laughable that you put her in a list of underused actors. There are underused people in that show, but it's not her. She is too used, she should have been out long ago.
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Just because Caesar got shot doesnt mean hes dead hell Sayid got shot at the end of the season and Im expecting him to make it.
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I agree with jtgreat_20, Rob Lowe is a supporting actor on "Brothers & Sisters" as he was on "The West Wing". I don't think I will miss him if he leaves, all is about the Walker family.
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Dude, Caesar is dead. Ben shot him dead halfway through Season 5. I don't think he's coming back.
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The Haitian on Heroes, He came in season one as a semi-important character than disappeared and continues to just pop into existance when it's convient for them.
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Heigl shot herself in the foot. Any star can be considered a cancer to a show if they aren't willing to be part of the team.
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Definitely, I'd add B.D.Wong (the psychiatrist from L&O SVU) to this list. He is great, and I'd like to see more story-lines develop around his character. The insights his TV persona has into the criminal mind is really compelling...and would be more-so IF he were trying to catch a psychotic killer of the order of a "Hannibal Lechter". Can someone picture a 3-part series marrying all the L&O franchises, with him as a pivotal part of the story? Priceless!
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Katherine Hiegl is a good actress, but she's not great. If Rob Lowe's a whiner than what is she? Bad-mouthing the writer and creator of her show, contemplating quitting but then took a leave of absence? Wow-I wonder if I'd keep my job after publicly insulting my boss. She also criticized the plot of one of her movies she starred in. She's a jerk!
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i like katherine heigl.oneof the reasons why i watch it.along with patrick dempsey
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seriously?no! what about their marriage?it will change the story line. he is an asset to the story.its about brothers and sisters. he is supposed to be a supporting character.
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Re: Law & Order: The point of the show is the crime, isn't it? Or at least the investigation and the prosecution of the offenders. Way to sabotage your own point. Not that I'm necessarily a Greg fan, but it seems like he be substituted for Nick on some of the cases on CSI, like the focus shifted on The Detectives.
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Bethany Joy Galeotti from One Tree Hill. Forget Sophia Bush, at least she gets storylines. Joy's pretty much in the background as either an instrument for Brooke's therapy, character segue (Quentin to Nathan, Sam to Brooke, Quinn to Clay), or be forced to repeat a storyline where she doubts Nathan's fidelity with tramps and psychotic nannies. She's also a prop for the annoying character of Jamie. She has SO much incredible potential and I thought we'd finally get to see Mark let her shine in storylines -- not pertaining to Nathan or music, though new Joy songs are a great thing -- now that Lucas and Peyton are off in the sunset. But all we get is redundancy for her character, when Joy is single-handedly THE best actress on the show. Possibly the entire network (though I don't watch all of the CW's shows, so I can't make that 'possibly' a 'definitely').
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well, if rob lowe is leaving I guess it makes it kind of boaring - all three orig. walker women as singles???? only the gay marriage kind of working?? aren't we over kitty's and roberts marriage problems - they surrvied the "we can't have a baby", "cheating", "cancer" and now what? Robert can't take it that Kitty is "running"????? if the network lets Rob Lowe go it's a huge mistake - they should re-think (all) - and work something out for the good of the show....... a lot of people like it because of Kitty's and Robert's chemistry......guess it would be a big mistake to take this away from us!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Wanda Sykes on New Christine. Jane Lynch on Glee--more or her tude would be great!
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Rob Lowe is annoying. He is always complaining about something he is as bad as Heigl. Heigl gets more screen time on Greys than she should already. Also Ken Leung on Lost is not under utilized its an ensemble cast with tons of characters he had a centric episode last season.
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heigl seriously? she is one of the worst actors on the show - don't give a damn if she is a 'movie star' she cannot act her way out of a paper bag
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I read the title and thought, "Enver Gjokaj. Hands down." And then I read the comments, haha.
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theres so many
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... and Bryan Batt on Mad Men, too! I miss Sal Romano so much.
--stefanie
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Hell yes on Lance Riddick, that guy's amazing. Broyles is practically a set decoration, he needs more time. They already wasted (figuratively and literally) Kirk Acevedo, they should learn from that and make Broyles a more prominant character. Katherine Heigl was instantly my favorite actor when I started watching GA, and Stevens is such a fantastic character, it's a shame she wasn't the lead from the start, she's got a far more compelling backstory than Grey, who at best is sidekick material. Her, Chyler Leigh and Eric Dane are really beyond what that show gives them. Kristen Bell while on Heroes was also an extreme waste of talent. Granted I loved the work she did and Elle was a fantastic character, but Kristen's such a powerful anchor if she's on a series whoever she's playing NEEDS to be a central character (like Veronica Mars). As part of an ensemble the way Heroes is constructed, it was wasteful. Don't even get me started on how they killed her off (I think Tim Kring said they were gonna leave her exit open ended instead they went out of their way to make her DEADdead). Heroes has tended to really waste talent for new regulars and guest stars: David Anders, Ali Larter, Brea Grant, Francis Capra, Stephen Tabolowsky (who also needs to be made a regular on Glee!), Ernie Hudson to name a few. LOST, Ken Leung's amazing (as were his cohorts from seasons 4 and 5 Jeremy Davies, Rebecca Mader, Jeff Fahey and Kevin Durand). Hopefully they don't make the same wasteful mistake they made with Mader, Davies (seriously WTF), and Durand and give both him and Fahey a LOT of screentime in season 6. Also, quick point of triva as most people mentioned "Caeser" got shot point blank by Ben with a SHOTGUN, I have doubts about seeing much "current" timeline stuff with him this season. Dominic Monaghan on FlashForward. Vincent Kartheiser on Mad Men, absolutely! They also under utilize Crista Flanagan and Julie McNiven. Katherine Moennig on Three Rivers was a waste of her talent, though with its cancellation I'm not sure if it's an issue. hopefully she lands on a good series with a chance next time. Peter Krause really got the shaft with Dirty Sexy Money, he was the best actor on Six Feet Under (well, everyone was great) but he really deserves something like Michael C. Hall's got with Dexter so his talent isn't wasted. Hopefully when Frank Darabont's "The Walking Dead" hits AMC he gets Krause for the lead character Rick Grimes. It'll be Emmy time for Kruase! Also, I know we're only two episodes into Human Target, but Jackie Earle Haley needs more screentime! I think I could go on forever about this subject. lol
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oh lol at first i thot u said ken jeung was on lost, i just spent 5 minutes lookin thru his imdb page,lol:(
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Definitely agree wholeheartedly on the comments about Enver Gjokaj. He's such a powerhouse, and steals scenes all over the place. I really hope we see more out of him after Dollhouse ends.
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Jared Padalecki in Supernatural. I mean, I love the guy and I think he's a great actor, but he could do so much better that wall-paper Sam Winchester. In that show lately everything is about Dean, and I don't hate Dean, and Jared is loosing time there. Supernatural has secured Season Sixth and I don't want to see Jared in a show where he's the push bag.
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Sophia Bush on One Tree Hill. I mean, I love her on there but she's one of the best actresses I've ever seen, and that was clear in earlier seasons, but now they have her doing the same things over and over and she's constantly crying. She has way more potential.
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Vincent Karthrieser in Mad Men....
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Enver Gjojak on Dollhouse. I hope that he finds something wonderful to do now that the show is ending!
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well for me rob lowe was always used...maybe a little to much, he's a quitter he quits everything he's in, how about for once mr. lowe ride it out till the bitter in...brother and sisters is one of the best shows to ever be on tv due to the fact that there exactly like my family lol. but i think everyone on Fringe is underused, id like to see more of her sister and her neice. caroline brady and maggie horton on days needs to be used alot more as well.
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How 'bout Rob Morrow on Numbers? Did he want to work less for the same pay or what?
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Didn't Caesar die in season 5 of Lost? But I guess you're right, he'll probably still be around in some fashion. Really, nobody from lost belongs on this list, considering their acting schedules will all be freed up very shortly anyways.


Maybe Caesar will be the lead in the ABC Lost spin-off!
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