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boomtube-mk2

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I was watching an episode of Quantum Leap the other day and I realized that this program had only two reoccurring characters; Dr Sam Beckett played by Scott Bakula and Admiral Al Calavicci played by Dean Stockwell.
Sure, there were a few characters on QL that appeared in more that a single episode but they certainly weren't "Regulars" by any stretch of the imagination.

This got me to thinking, which leads no good, about other TV series that only had two starring/reoccurring roles and I really couldn't come up with another.
Oddly enough I did think up a couple of shows which had only a single leading role; The Invaders with Roy Thinnes and Run For Your Life with Ben Garraza.

Now there are lots of shows that might have had one or two "Starring Roles" Alias Smith and Jones comes to mind or Maverick but both of those had a lot of other characters that showed up in a lot of episode.

So help me out here and try to name some shows with only one or two characters holding down the fort.
 

jqavins

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Well, I can't name any with certainty. But...

In QL, while there were very, very few characters who showed up in more than one leap, one could make an argument that Gooshie was a recurring (certainly not a regular) character. In addition to being referred to very frequently, he actually appeared in six episodes.

If you don't accept Gooshie as a recurring character, then how many episodes do a recurring character make? Would it be half, a quarter, a tenth?

Depending on where you set the threshold, your mentioned Maverick and Alias Smith and Jones might qualify, as might Wild Wild West, though I don't know any of those well enough to really say. I doubt that any characters other the Felix and Oscar appeared in as many as a quarter of the episodes of The Odd Couple.

I know what you mean about QL, and having so very few that appear any more than once. Still, the question stands, what is a "recurring" character?
 
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GlueckAuf

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Route 66 initially starred only Martin Milner (beating out Robert Redford for the role) and George Maharis. Maharis dropped out of the series’ final seasons from hepatitis, and was replaced by Glenn Corbett.

Corvette sales doubled in the years that the show aired.
 

Peartree

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I'm not old enough to have watched when it was first on, but what about "The Fugitive"?

After that, I'm thinking that The Rockford Files couldn't have had too many.
 

jqavins

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Some of these have (or likely have; I don't know them well enough) characters in the grey zone that require a definition of "recurring":
  • The Six Million Dollar Man had Dr. Rudy Wells.
  • Were there other recurring characters on The Fugitive?
  • Did Culp and Cosby have a recurring handler?
Others are (or might be) in the "only one" category, which is not exactly what we were asked for:
  • Twilight Zone
  • Did The Fugitive have any second regular or recurring character? Someone chasing Kimble? (I don't know how many, from one to more than two. I actually thought of that show yesterday, but I really don't know it.)
  • Did Jim Rockford have friends or associates who showed up often? (But, like The Fugitive, if there was a second I don't know that there wasn't a third.)
So come on, boomtube-mk2, define your terms.

The Millionaire is a two character show. There's the titular millionaire, and he had an assistant. It's unique as far as I know in that the two and only two starring or recurring characters are never seen, only heard.

Quantum Leap and The Millionaire are both anthology shows, rather than episodic. I think anthology shows will be fertile ground, since there are surely others with two (or just one) characters as connecting threads.
 

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Rockford's father, Rocky, Angel, the lieutenant, and Mariette Hartley were common.
 
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Mugs914

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Rockford first occurred to me too (it is one of my all-time favorite shows), but after a little thought there were a quite lot of recurring characters in that show.

That said, the only character that appeared in every episode was Jim Rockford himself.
 

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What about Knight Rider? There was the car and the Hasselhoff, was there someone else?
 

Mugs914

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Does anyone remember the Steve Canyon TV show? I've only ever seen a few episodes on line, but it seemed to be just Steve at a different base with different folks in every episode.
 

jqavins

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Knight Rider had a few others. According to Wikipedia, "Devon Miles, the leader of FLAG, who appeared in every episode to provide mission details to Knight and KITT", and a few more.
 

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"Have Gun -- Will Travel" had two recurring characters, Paladin (Richard Boone) and Hey Boy (Kam Tong). Wikipedia does note that in season 4, Hey Girl (Lisa Lu) replaced Hey Boy due to Mr. Tong working on another TV series.
 

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I initially thought of The Time Tunnel - two main characters but there are two main tunnel controllers and the general so not a match.
 

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The rifleman. Have gun will travel. I don't remember these series well, but they smack of independence
 

boomtube-mk2

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I guess I define starring characters as those occurred right after "Starring" ________ and _______.
If a character shows up in less then 15/20% of the episodes I wouldn't consider them as Co-Starring, so while Michael Dunn as Dr Miguelito Loveless was in 10 episodes of; The Wild, Wild West, he might qualify as a recurring character but he certainly wasn't a Co-Star.

Meanwhile; The Twilight Zone really didn't have any "Starring Roles" so much as it had Rod Serling introducing each episode.
Now in both The Wild, Wild West as well as The Twilight Zone there were actors that showed up in many episodes but not as the same character they either played "Henchmen" in TWWW or background/bit part characters in TWZ.
 

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[EDIT] Let me repeat... before you read my first Mea culpa below... I misread the OP... I've deleted the submissions.
 
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GlueckAuf

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The TV western Branded, starring Chuck Conners as a wrongly-but-willfully-disgraced cavalry officer, usually only featured him in every episode, although there were a few recurring characters, I believe.
 

jd2cylman

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Starsky and Hutch
The Greatest American Hero
The Dukes of Hazzard
CHiPs
Lavern and Shirley
Mork and Mindy
The Odd Couple
I Dream of Genie
Bewitched
The Dukes of Hazzard had several recurring characters. Boss Hog, Uncle Jesse, Enos, Sherrif Rosco, Cooter, Daisy, and of course, Bo and Luke.
Starsky and Hutch, almost always had Huggy Bear and Captain Dobey.
Jeanie had Roger Healy, and Colonel Bellows.
Lavern and Shirley had Lenny and Squiggly in a lot of episodes plus Carmine.
I remember watching TGAH, but don’t recall how many recurring important characters there were. Same with M&M.
 

jqavins

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Mostly ninjad.

See comments in red.
Starsky and Hutch had Fuzzy Bear, or whatever his name was, in lots of episodes.
The Greatest American Hero had "Red Pajama Man" and his FBI handler, and also had his wife.
The Dukes of Hazzard had lots of main or recurring characters. There are the Duke boys, Daisy, Uncle Whoositz, Boss Hog, etc.
CHiPs I don't know but I can't imagine there wasn't at least one superior appearing often if not all the time.
Lavern and Shirley had Lavern's dad, Lenny and Squigy, and Carmine.
Mork and Mindy had the voice of Orson in every episode, Mindy's dad, and some other frequently appearing friends.
The Odd Couple had a few that count as recurring, now that boomtoob-mk2 has stated that ten appearances might be sufficient, and there are a cast of characters with lots more than ten.
I Dream of Genie had, right out of the gate, Roger Heely and Dr. Bellows. And there was a general who showed up now and then.
Bewitched had Mr. Tate, the nosey neighbor across the street, Samantha's mother, and a bunch of her other relatives.
 

K'Tesh

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I misread the OP... My bad...
 

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Simon and Simon. There were some recurring characters (Tim Reid was one) but I don't think they were in every show.
 

Bat-mite

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Starsky and Hutch
The Greatest American Hero
The Dukes of Hazzard
CHiPs
Lavern and Shirley
Mork and Mindy
The Odd Couple
I Dream of Genie
Bewitched
If those count, then this is way too easy. Should be only two recurring characters. Otherwise you could say the first season of Star Trek, since De Kelley didn't get star billing until the second season. I'm not sure about "The Odd Couple," but all of the shows you listed have multiple recurring characters.
 

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However... IIRC in Quantum Leap, you did have Satan/the Devil/evil Al (in that case played by the same actor, but as a different character) who'd turn up once in a while.
 
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jqavins

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However... IIRC in Quantum Leap, you did have Satan/the Devil/evil Al (in that case played by the same actor, but as a different character) who'd turn up once in a while.
The Devil impersonating Al appeared only once.

Alia, the evil leaper, shows up first in a single episode, and then in a two-part episode (which could be considered two separate ones). Her observer, Zoe, is in both (or all three) episodes as well. Their Goosie counterpart, Thames, is also in both parts of the two-parter.

The first evil leaper episode is also the second episode featuring Jimmy LaMotta, also featuring Jimmy's brother and sister-in-law, although this time the sister-in-law is actually Alia.

Abigail Fuller is in all three parts of the three part story arch Trilogy, along with her nemesis, Leta Aider, in parts one and two. Her (and Sam's) daughter, Sammy Jo, is in both parts two and three. (And I think the deputy sherif who is engaged to Abigail, and into whom Sam leaps, in part 2 is also in part 1.) While these parts each stand alone as full episodes, they would still only count as two or three appearances for each character.

Sam's brother appears in two separate but consecutive episodes, one in which Sam has leaped into his teenage self, and the next where Sam has leaped into one of his brother's platoon mates in Viet Nam.

Al's first wife, Beth, is featured in one episode and makes a cameo appearance in the closing moments of the final episode.

Sam's wife, Donna Eleese, appears once as a college student and later, once or twice, as an insider at Project Quantum Leap.

The project's psychiatrist, Dr. Verbena Beeks, appears at least once, and I think it's twice, but I can't place the episode(s).

These are, unless I've missed someone, and I don't think I have, the only characters to appear more than once apart from Sam, Al, and (as mentioned above) Gooshie. And Gooshie appeared in only six episodes.

(I loved that show. Trilogy was awesome.)
 

Bat-mite

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So, I would make the rules as follows:
  1. Two main characters, and
  2. No recurring characters, unless
  3. They are part of a single story arc that spans multiple episodes, or
  4. They appear very infrequently over the duration of the series.
 

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