Best of 2022: Scene Stealers features spoilers for various shows. Please be advised if there’s something you don’t want to know.
These are the characters you can’t help but be entranced by—the characters you can’t help but be in awe of. And yes, even…when they’re questionable. There’s something about the 2022 Scene Stealers that have been the best part of TV this year.
For more end-of-the-year coverage, be sure to check out our Best of 2022: Romance Novels, the Best of 2022: Performances, the Best of 2022: Characters, the Best of 2022: Found Families, the Best of 2022: Romantic Relationships, and the Best of 2022: TV Episodes.
1. Lenny Bruce
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Luke Kirby, as Lenny Bruce, has been the best kind of scene-stealer since the moment he appeared in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Year after year, his character continues to be the show’s most resounding, inexplicably captivating surprise. Without his presence, the show would flounder in later seasons, becoming redundant and a little lifeless. But everything about Lenny Bruce’s company proves to be the most enamoring kind of jewel in a series that relies on comedy to keep its chops afloat.
Lenny Bruce isn’t just a scene stealer but simultaneously one of the finest characters in the series. Yes, he’s based on a historical figure, but the life Luke Kirby breathes into the character brings nuances to our screen with astounding charisma, heart, and complexities. Everything about Lenny, especially in Season 4 as we watched darker segments of his trauma come to life, played a crucial, beautifully captivating role in showcasing what it means to be a character who will leave a lasting impact.
2. Barbara Howard
When a series features both Sheryl Lee Ralph and Janelle James, it’s nearly impossible to choose a Best of 2022 scene stealer. Abbott Elementary is a masterclass for many reasons, and both women are a large part of why. But if we have to choose, we merely need to look at the single greatest cold-open any show has had this year, Barbara’s shining moment full of misnaming celebrities in Season 2 Episode 2, “Wrong Delivery.”
Sheryl Lee Ralph brilliantly conveys Barbara’s kindness and warmth throughout the series, but once her time comes to voice an opinion, however unpopular, the delivery is unbeatable and so profoundly memorable. She’s a remarkable teacher we’d all remember if we knew her, making her the kind of character who’s utterly sensational to watch on our screens. Barbara is a star in her own right, and Sheryl Lee Ralph is the type of performer who knows how to make her character fiercely compelling through a series of dry humor, heart, and incomparable light.
3. Benedict Bridgerton
Benedict Bridgerton was a scene-stealer from the moment Luke Thompson made his appearance in Bridgerton Season 1, and he amplifies it perfectly in Season 2, particularly during his epic high in Episode 3, “A Bee In Your Bonnet.” Thompson was given a script and directions to act a part, allowing him to provide us with one of the series’s best, most meme-worthy scenes. Carefree and trying to do what he loves, Benedict embraced his privilege as second son this season and let it soar through every episode until the final few moments, where it all came crashing down.
Benedict was already a well-established character in the book series, but Thompson took him to new heights, bringing layers and edges that shine brilliantly throughout the show. He’s charismatic and so ridiculously warm in his approach to everything. Thompson’s light is so bright it bursts through Benedict easily, making the show feel complete. It’s hard to imagine someone else in the role, but it’s even harder to imagine how the second season would’ve been without his spirit bringing us joy. Now let’s get this man Sophie Beckett and brighten every corner of his life further.
4. Camina Drummer
From the moment Cara Gee’s Camina Drummer stepped into our screens, she was easy to adore. She is such an enamoring scene-stealer; the series even allows her the opportunity to be president of the Transport Union. (And this is ultimately the case with all the characters, but considering we put Chrisjen Avasarala front and center last year, we figured we’d give it to Drummer this year.) And Drummer does something so exquisite in the final season of The Expanse that she lets us in on the part of her we hadn’t seen as evidently quite yet. We sensed it—we were drawn to it. Still, in the small quiet moments of the finale, she commanded the scene brilliantly and broke our hearts in the best way while going down in history as one of the most memorable characters in a science fiction TV show.
Camina Drummer is a quiet scene-stealer and yet, an explosively brilliant one. It’s all eyes on her the moment she enters the system to call Marco Inaros a traitor, and then simultaneously, her name alone could evoke unbeatable happiness. So much so that even within the show—Drummer was the character Avasarala needed to meet. She was the character who could put an end to the fights for good. She was a soft yet sturdy light that sped through the systems brilliantly, making a clear statement that unity could only happen through someone like her.
5. Eddie Munson
We can always count on Stranger Things to make us care about their guest stars in a way unlike any other show has managed thus far. We cared about Barb Holland, Bob Newby, Dr. Alexei, and of course, the delightful Chrissy Cunningham. And we especially care about epic, Best of 2022 scene-stealer Eddie Munson, brought to life aptly by Joseph Quinn. Eddie’s warmth and the seamless way he fits in with critical players is something we might never get over. Fans all over social media are still trying to decode ways in which the character could return for the show’s fifth and final season. (And we’re amongst them.)
Eddie’s delightfully lovable grin, giant heart, and desire to fit in made him the kind of character whose every entrance and exit demands to be geeked out over. In our feature honoring the character, we noted that Eddie represents everyone who has been mistreated, ridiculed, and broken. But Eddie also represents the people whose voices should be louder than they are—the ones who throw epic upside-down concerts jamming to Metallica’s “Master of Puppets.” Many have come and gone to Hawkins, but a hero like Eddie Munson will forever remain unmatched.
6. Orla McCool
Orla McCool has been the ultimate scene stealer since Derry Girls premiered, and in the final season, Louisa Harland got to bring her A-game one last time to showcase all the reasons why we adore the character and everything she stands for. Orla is hilarious, yes, but it’s her heart that makes her stand out every time she’s on the screen next to others. Like James, she’s the kindest in a series where the characters are ultimately a little too selfish and a little too immature.
Orla dances to the beat of her own drums, but simultaneously, Orla’s heart beams with the kind of heartwarming adoration you rarely see with a TV character. Without a shadow of a doubt, during every episode, you knew that amid all trials and joy, Orla would be loyal through everything, including to herself and her desires, making everything she does much more delightfully joyous.
7. Matt Murdock
Matt Murdock was only featured briefly in She-Hulk, yet he stole the entire show with unsurprising stamina and his brilliant, hundred-watt smile. His entrance into the She-Hulk universe is one of the most accurate displays of his essence, allowing him to be charming, delightfully open, playful, and whip-smart. Shining perfectly alongside Tatiana Maslany, Charlie Cox cemented the fact that he’s one of the best cast in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, making it that much more thrilling that we get him back on the small screens soon. There’s still so much more story to tell with his character, and Disney’s best call is allowing us to see more of it unfold.
Matt Murdock, as both himself and superhero alter-ego Daredevil, is an underrated class act in the MCU. This fact alone easily makes him a scene stealer everywhere he goes, including his quick appearance in last year’s Spider-Man: No Way Home. Charlie Cox swoops in subtly and steals the show with effortless ease.
8. Enid Sinclair
Wednesday is a brilliant, compelling teen drama for several reasons, and while the titular character is outstanding, Emma Myers’ Enid Sinclair is the kind of Best of 2022 scene-stealer you don’t see coming in the most satisfactory way. Someone like Enid could be frustrating on any other show, but the writing and acting here allow her to be brilliantly multi-faceted and full of singular range.
Enid Sinclair’s light is a noticeable standout character trait, but her unyielding compassion and bravery are where she radiates most. Still, the colors and liveliness aside, Enid glimmers in every form. When we see her transform into a werewolf in the final episode to fight against Tyler, the Hyde monster, Enid Sinclair is at her strongest. In the words of Shakespeare, “though she be but little, she is fierce” embodies Enid pristinely because the detail that she’s often under appreciated makes her gleam the most.
9. Laszlo Cravensworth
What We Do In The Shadows
When it comes to FX’s What We Do In The Shadows, they’re all scene stealers. But Matt Barry as Laszlo is something else entirely, especially in Season 4, Episode 8, “Go Flip Yourself.” TV aficionados everywhere pronounce New York City differently now, and it’s all entirely because of Matt Barry. As he became baby Colin Robinson’s caretaker and manager this season, Laszlo was given more ways to branch out, which Barry did so deliciously.
In the hands of a lesser skilled actor, Laszlo would’ve fallen in the trenches of a character who doesn’t necessarily do much, but Barry makes him a wisecracker and irreplaceable, adding depth and wisdom to him in a way that allows the character to one-up everyone else constantly, Nandor especially.
Annie Murphy as young Ruthie and Elizabeth Ashley as present-day are gifts that keep on giving in Netflix’s Russian Doll. The characters bring an unbeatable fire to the story, which allows their complexities to morph into the narrative like an effortless breeze, coming in when you need it the most after a scorching and humid summer day. They’re bright lights in seas of black that bring a level of warmth that’s hard to find in a dark world, and for Natasha especially, they’re home and hope personified.
The series wouldn’t be the same as Ruthie, and in Season 2 primarily, Murphy’s portrayal of the character showcases more of her significance and a tremendous amount of her heart and spirit. She matches Ashley’s mannerisms brilliantly and grounds a younger version of the character in such a way that makes her an undeniable class act worthy of being one of the Best of 2022 scene stealers.
Honorable Mentions: Leia Organa (Obi-Wan Kenobi), Chrissy Cunningham (Stranger Things), Christopher Herrmann (Chicago Fire), Ava Coleman (Abbott Elementary), Kino Loy (Andor)