Paging Dr. Melfi: 29 characters on serialized TV shows who outlived their usefulness

by Scott Von Doviak, Phil Dyess-Nugent and the A.V. Club Staff

1. Jennifer Melfi, The Sopranos
It happens on nearly every TV series with even the slightest nod toward serialization: Characters who were vastly important to the show in its first season gradually become less and less important, until they have no real reason to remain on the show. Occasionally, their function will be superseded by other characters. Yet the shows’ writers and producers can’t write those original characters out, so they stick around, continuing to receive occasional episodes focused on them as they play out the string. Take perhaps the most famous case of this, that of Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco), Tony Soprano’s psychiatrist.

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