If the sound of crying children being dragged to back to school sales is any indication, summer is almost over. I know, total bummer, right? But instead of pouting about, why not look reflectively on what made summer TV so great by picking out the new faces that kept us glued to our TV screens?
We asked the TV.com writers for their picks for best new characters from the summer season and compiled the best answers in this quick list below. They could be new characters on returning shows or new characters on new shows. All that mattered was they were new! And on TV! Have a look and then contribute your own in the comments section.
Francis Dolarhyde, Hannibal
Hannibal's take on Francis Dolarhyde has been a long-awaited event, and it hasn't disappointed. The show wisely played up Dolarhyde's inner-conflict with the Great Red Dragon, emphasizing his split nature as a man ready for the freedom the Dragon represents but torn by the sensation of love Reba grants him. He's a damaged victim of inner demons, much like Will Graham, who has found some measure of solace in the arms of an understanding woman but, unlike Will, doesn't know how to keep her safe from the demons.
The Feelers, The Strain
FX's enjoyable but problematic vampire drama needed something to spice up Season 2, and got a whole busload of bonuses when it turned blind schoolchildren into scurrying vampire bloodhounds working with Kelly to find her annoying son. We have no idea how their biology is different from other strigoi or how they came to be that way other than taking a dirt nap in some special soil, but who cares? They can climb walls like spider monkeys and look a bit like murderous Juggalos, something The Strain apparently needed.
Elliot Alderson, Mr. Robot
Sure, he's a total paranoid schizophrenic morphine addict who can only connect with people by trawling their Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, but that's exactly what makes Elliot one of the summer's most intriguing new characters. He is the heart, soul, and absent mind of the best new show on television, and it's his unreliable narration that makes the series click and turns it into something more than you could ever expect. Unlike other messed-up protagonists who have a quirky mental or medical condition that sharpens their character as a gift and a burden, Elliot IS his problems, and they're written into the show perfectly.
Quinn King, UnREAL
Yes, the moral wrestling match at the center of Shiri Appleby's Rachel on Lifetime's reality exposé drama UnReal made Rachel a rare breed in the world of television: the female antihero. And she's certainly deserving of this list. But Constance Zimmer's Quinn said things like, "D.C. is Hollywood for ugly people," and, "Sluts get cut," while coloring this fantasy/reality world with the ruthlessness of a third-world dictator. Precariously hanging on to her perch as overlord of Everlasting, Quinn would tear your throat out with her teeth if it meant moving up in the network ranks.
Sharon and Rob, Catastrophe
The greatness of Amazon's low-key rom-com was built on the backs of its leads and co-creators Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney, who are an absolute delight as a man and woman forced to couple up from an unwanted pregnancy. Their chemistry and comedic timing together is something all rom-coms should strive for, and their realness—they're good people but also have bad streaks—sits in the balance perfectly. A show of this sort is entirely dependent on the main characters, and Catastrophe is one of the best shows of the summer.
Ray Velcoro's mustache, True Detective
Nothing says macho like facial hair that deserves its own SAG card, and the plump caterpillar that latched itself onto Colin Farrell's face for much of this chapter in the True Detectiveanthology saved the season's slumping first half. At least we had that to talk about instead of the meandering and self-righteous disappointment that was Season 2.
Sardonyx, Steven Universe
The fusion of Garnet and Pearl was pretty much worth the wait. In her own words, Sardonyx is "specific, intelligent, accurate, faultless, elegant, controlled, surgical, graceful, powerful." She's also a complete hoot, as if a lounge-lizard comedian was also a lounge-lizard magician. More than any of the other Crystal Gem fusions—not counting Garnet, of course—Sardonyx feels like a fully realized entity, and that's something pretty special.
AMC's robo-drama about synthetic humans didn't pan out like we had hoped, but at least it gave us Niska. This ass-kicking synth with a consciousness was the show's best character because she was exactly what Humans should be about: an artificial intelligence set on loose that can think for herself, as well as a portrait of a sentient machine that was wronged by humans and sold into robo-prostitution. And her decision in the Season 1 finale's most stirring moment (no spoilers here) made us hopeful for what she can do to make Season 2 better than Season 1. While most of Humans was predictable, Niska was not.
Drill, The Whispers
The invisible energy-based child-brainwashing alien at the center of ABC's ho-hum sci-fi horror makes kids kill and torture their parents. Yeah, it's totally silly. But good on ABC to find a workaround for expensive special effects by making Drill invisible and using that gimmick to create a sense of terror that's impossible to ignore.
Netflix's often confusing, always ambitious, and flat-out cray-cray sci-fi series has an expansive international cast, but among the crowded landscape and WTFery was the perpetual optimism and sunniness of African bus driver Capheus. Yeah, Sun has the fighting skills, Kala has the determination, Wolfgang has the badassness, and Lito has the abs, but we'll nudge Capheus ahead of the other Sensates on positive attitude alone.
Who were your favorite new characters or mustaches from the summer TV season?