1. Frank Reynolds - It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia
It's no secret that without Danny DeVito, the weird and wicked smorgasbord of uncomfortable laughs known simply to fans as "It's Sunny" could never have become one of the longest-running comedy shows on television.
In the first season of this Philly-based black comedy, there was no star power to behold. It was a cast of unknowns, who were also the creators and writers of the show, engaging in a series of twisted, repugnant acts -- pretending to have cancer, hitting on women at an abortion rally, getting teenagers drunk and trying to have sex with them. It's easy to see why the ratings were flatlining.
Rob McElhenney (Mac) and Glenn Howerton (Dennis) recalled on The Nerdist podcast how, before Season 2 was to begin, the president of FX told them to add a big name to the show or it would be yanked off the air. They needed a recognizable face to get people talking, because the network had no money to market the show. Hence, Frank Reynolds suddenly re-entering his children's lives.
It's not just that the ratings got a shot in the arm after DeVito came onboard, it's that the show somehow became even weirder once he arrived. Thinking about It's Always Sunny without the ever-bizarre presence of Frank Reynolds now is like picturing WrestleMania III without Hulk Hogan. It could work, but there's no way it becomes as iconic without that missing piece.
Which other TV characters saved struggling shows? Share your picks down in the comments.