Inventory: The late greats: 18-plus TV characters who buoyed shows midstream

Characters added in the middle of a TV show’s run get a bad rap. For every Cousin Oliver or Scrappy-Doo, there are characters who actually added something to their show, even rejuvenating a longrunning series’ later seasons. Some start as stand-ins for departed cast members, then take on expanded roles—others begin as guest stars in one season, before returning as regular players down the line. (In rare instances, sometimes they’re the sole reason for watching the declining years of a formerly great show.) But one thing unites these anti-Cousin Olivers and non-Scrappy-Doos: They helped keep their shows afloat—some to the very end.

1. Rebecca Howe, Cheers

In 1987, the producers of Cheers faced an impossible dilemma. The show had become one of the most popular sitcoms on TV, in large part because audiences were so invested in the show’s central romance. Then Shelley Long, the …

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