Principal Skinner: If this episode has taught us anything, it's that nothing works better than the status quo. Bart, you're promoted back to the fourth grade.Change isn't always a good thing, nor necessary. Likewise some characters, be they Round or Flat, will end a story with much the same personality and traits they began with. These Static Characters can go entire seasons or books without changing or experiencing the Character Development that a more Dynamic Character does. This is NOT necessarily a bad thing, as some characters don't need Character Development. A Badass does not have to decay into The Woobie to stay an interesting character—while some consumers may embrace the evolution, others will cry out, "We Want Our Jerk Back!" Such characters are useful in secondary roles, serving as yardsticks against which your central (and Dynamic) character's growth can be contrasted. If you want your Static Character in the central role, just enforce it internally, using a Pygmalion Snapback or a painful collision with Status Quo Is God. Some comedies built around characters whose personalities are set in stone and will not change, whatever happens. For that matter, every tragedy is built around characters whose personalities are set in stone and will not change, whatever happens. Also note that a Static Character is not by definition boring. Obviously, it helps if you've got a Round Character, as exploring all their pre-existing facets can entertain without requiring character evolution. Furthermore, the introduction of Hidden Depths or an exploration of a Dark and Troubled Past accomplishes similar things; while the character is technically not evolving, the audience's perception of the character very much does. And these characters are ripe for internal conflict, since we already know a fair bit about them. Interest can also be wrung out of exploring how and why the character stays so constant in the face of the dramatic events of the plot — this can in itself be evidence of unusual self-assurance, determination or unflappability. Having said that, Flat Characters who are also Static may get dull unless the author takes care to make them entertaining somehow, be they the Butt Monkey or perpetual Fish out of Water. Despite their unchanging nature, Early Installment Weirdness is still a distinct a possibility; Static Characters are frequently the result of Flanderization.
Principal Skinner: And Lisa, you have a choice. You may continue to be challenged in third grade, or return to second grade and be merely a big fish in a little pond.
Lisa: Big fish! Big fish!
Principal Skinner: That's just sad.
Principal Skinner: And Lisa, you have a choice. You may continue to be challenged in third grade, or return to second grade and be merely a big fish in a little pond.
Lisa: Big fish! Big fish!
Principal Skinner: That's just sad.
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Anime and Manga
- Lina Inverse from Slayers is actually a good example of how a Static Character can still be quite unique. She changes in subtle ways, going from an Anti-Hero to more a conventional hero, from loner into someone with a team, but in terms of her actual behavior, she can pretty much be expected to do certain things, such as put restaurants out of business with her appetite, and blowing up cities with her magical powers.
- Ogami Itto from Lone Wolf and Cub.
- Homura Mitokado and Koharu Utatane from Naruto do not change a bit in the series. While nearly every major character in Konohagakure has the Will of Fire, the two are more militant and only concern themselves with protecting the actual village itself, and often lean in favor of Danzo's view points. Their static status is possibly due to their little interaction with other characters (aside from Hiruzen, Danzo, Tsunade, Shizune, and Itachi) and the fact that Naruto has yet to influence them like everyone else he has come in contact yet.
- Jiraiya is accused of being this posthumously by Orochimaru, who claims he died without changing anything about himself.
- Shu from Now and Then, Here and There is a rare example of a static protagonist. He faces torture, the deaths of several beloved characters at the hands of his friends, and somehow manages to stick to his principles. That he managed to both survive and avoid compromising his core self shows just how Bad Ass he is. Oh, and surviving oodles of torture.
- Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei is adamant about not giving any of its characters any Character Development whatsoever beyond their one "unique" trait.
- Cowboy Bebop has Ed and Ein, contrasting the more dynamic main trio. Jet is also arguably rather static as he goes through several instances of cleaning up his own past without it affecting his current outlook and lifestyle.
- Bleach has a tendency to do this to anyone who isn't important, making them into this, Flat Characters, or monsters. However, it's subverted with some of the Arrancar except the fact that they never get to do anything with their character development.
- Suzy Mizuno from Zatch Bell! is a prime example, seeing as how she remains a ditz throughout the whole series, while receiving no character development or any involvement in the Mamodo battles.
- Elmer C. Albatross of Baccano! is a case that's both lampshaded and deliberately maintained - Over the 300 or so years that they've known him, all of the surviving Advena Avis immortals have noticed that Elmer hasn't changed in character at all, and this is one of the many reasons he unsettles most of them. It turns out he's doing it at Huey's request, though it wasn't actually very difficult for him.
- Erika Kurumi/Cure Marine from HeartCatch Pretty Cure! is the only member of her team to not undergo significant Character Development. As explained here, she has no problem accepting herself, and her character arc revolves her struggle with having others accept her.
- In Kotoura-san, Yoshihisa Manabe is this in contrast to everyone else, notably Haruka. He's okay with who he is and how people see him, especially from Haruka's point of view.
- Nagisa Hazuki in the first season of Free!...but in Eternal Summer it's averted. His optimism is broken when faced with the threat of being forced to quit swimming due to his falling grades in school.
- Outside of deciding to officially join the TSAB (which she was probably already considering), Nanoha from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha doesn't change in the slightest over the course of A's. She went through all her Character Development fairly early on in the first series, and even then it amounted to deciding to gather the Jewel Seeds because she wanted to the right thing, rather than because she was helping Yuuno. This actually makes a lot of sense, since she doesn't have any emotional baggage or a Dark and Troubled Past that would require her to change (unlike everyone else). She's more about helping others go through their character arc's rather than going through one of her own.
- Rorschach from Watchmen. We do see him change into what he is at the time of the story via Flash Back but within the main plot itself he's probably the only character that doesn't change in some way. He's definitely a tragic example of this trope. He's totally unable to give in or alter his moral code based on the situation which leads to his unavoidable death.
- Batman usually suffers from little Character Development except in some Alternative Continuity stories like Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.
- Most comic book villains, at least after their tragic backstories. And that's part of what makes them villains; they don't change. The Joker will always be a psychotic murdering clown, and he shouldn't be anything else. Any changes that do occur are due to Alternative Character Interpretation Depending on the Writer as opposed to character development per se.
- Wolverine from the X-Men is a great character when he has little character development.
- The cast of Peanuts haven't changed much throughout their extremely long run. Frankly, it would be fairly disturbing if they did.
- Many other daily cartoons behave this way.
- This is the trope driving Dream from The Sandman to his choice to commit suicide
- Kind of. He did change a bit. That was the whole point of the conversation with Destruction. He only didn't change according to himself, but others (especially those who haven't seen him in a long time, like Destruction) are probably better judges in that regard.
- In All Fall Down, we have Paradigm. Of everyone who's suffered a loss, he is essentially the same person afterwards as before.
- Superman. Then again, part of his appeal is the fact that he very rarely gets into any dark and edgy personality traits. While he's oft-derided as a "boy scout", the fact that he still holds a moral code stronger than almost anyone else after all the crap he and the entire DCU have gone through, including dying and coming back to life in various ways, keeps him as the shining beacon for Metropolis and in fact most of the world. Attempts to alter him (besides serious threats that let him let his full strength out once in a while) are usually downcried far more strongly than any complaints about his "old fashioned" truth, justice and the American way outlook.
- Tintin has always been the same character in all of his adventures. He has no backstory, no family, not even a last name. He is intentionally designed to be as bland and generic of a character as possible.
- Throughout the entirety of Judge Dredd's career, his sole defining character trait has been JUSTICE.
- According to Garth Ennis, Wee Hughie from The Boys ultimately won because he refused to let all of the crap the series put him through change him. At the end of the series Hughie's more or less the same person he was at the very beginning.
- A subversion of a subversion is played beautifully by Michelle Pfeiffer in Stardust. By the end, when the heroes have killed her two sisters, she breaks down and laments that the only people in the world who she loved are dead, and immortality without them (by stealing Yvaine's heart) would be intolerable, and so she says she'll let the heroes go. Then she telekinetically locks the doors, cackles, and starts exploding glass all around the heroes, thanking them for killing her sisters so that she doesn't have to share immortality. Of course, given that all her sisters did throughout the film was nag her and act like Jerkasses, one can see why she wouldn't be inclined to mourn them.
- James Bond. Although 007 is portrayed differently by each actor (Connery and Brosnan are more suave, Lazenby is subdued, Moore is comical, Dalton and Craig are brutish), its always essentially the same guy, and these minor changes in personality are rarely portrayed as being the result of Character Development.
- Somewhat averted by the Craig films which provide a bit of the back story to how Bond became 007.
- The Man with No Name is quite possibly the ultimate static character, in that he doesn't even have a name. We are told nothing about his backstory (save for a little snippet in A Fistful of Dollars when he reunites a husband and wife), and the only change he ever goes through in his films is the size of his wallet.
- Indiana Jones, to a certain extent. In terms of character arcs, he only goes through extremely minor changes in personality. Sure, he may go from non-believer to believer in each of his adventures, but it doesn't really cause him to do things any differently. The most jarring example is how he gains a respect for the power of the Shankara Stones in The Temple of Doom but goes straight back to being an atheist in Raiders of the Lost Ark. The Last Crusade and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull can be considered exceptions.
- Averting this with Wolverine was one of the criticisms of X-Men Origins: Wolverine ("Although it can take credit for clearing up some of the mysteries surround the title character's identity, those revelations serve to make Wolverine less compelling").
- Captain America: The First Avenger and its sequel, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, revolve around this trope. The last words said to Cap by his mentor are "No matter what happens, stay who you are. Not a perfect soldier, but a good man." Steve fulfills this request, remaining roughly the same good-natured, if brash, person he always was (with maybe a little more savvy and seasoning as time goes on). In the second film, this becomes a MAJOR plot point, as the world around him has changed in a darker direction, which he doesn't accept and slowly forces others to wake up and realize as well.
- The titular character of Monk went through almost the entire show without much of a change, despite a dizzying array of both traumatic and hopeful events. It was only at the end that he overcame many of his difficulties.
- M*A*S*H: From his first episode to his last, Major Frank Burns was a whiny, self-absorbed, power-mongering hypocrite who could barely perform surgery.
- Star Trek: Voyager. Ensign Harry Kim starts off as an ensign and seven years later is still the same rookie doing the same things, apparently because Rick Berman believes that every iteration of Trek needs a Wesley — which is actually a disservice to Wesley, who formed relationships, found new interests (abandoning his science studies to train as a pilot, and later becoming a sympathizer to the Maquis rebellion), and was unrecognizable seven years later. Despite being one of the main characters and thus subject to all the traumatic events that befall a Star Trek character (in fact, he died enough times to become a fan joke) Harry ended his series as the exact same, thinly-sketched person from the pilot. The most notable thing to happen to him was a "promotion" to — the night shift, with no advancement in rank or any other commendations. Hence why "Timeless", the Bad Future episode featuring a bitter, cynical Harry suffering from post-traumatic stress is widely considered the only time Harry came close to an intriguing character.
Joe Ford: A fascinating peek into the life of Harry Kim on Earth is ruined by the fact that it is Harry Kim that we are examining. He’s so completely bland that rather than greet his girlfriend with a kiss and a smile he becomes stiffer than ever and starts treating her like an alien abductor! I realise she is an alien abductor but that’s not the point…you would think he would at least show some gratitude to be home considering he is the one who yearns for it the most. Imagine how interesting this episode could have been if it had been the same premise but focused on Janeway and Mark instead. You just knew Harry would have model spaceships and all the certificates of his achievements in his house, didn’t you?
- Star Trek: Enterprise, Ensign Travis Mayweather was mixture of this and a Flat Character. Despite being born in deep space and having more field experience than even the Captain, he was nonetheless relegated to being a low-ranking Ensign to fill the Wesley void. He had very few plotlines (that didn't involve being injured, killed, or otherwise incapicitated), let alone a mandatory line in most episodes. He was there, consuming oxygen, but got about as much development as the chair he was sitting on. According to rumor Brannon Braga was solely tempted to kill him off, but was hamstrung by syndication concerns.
- Sam from iCarly started off as a mean, bullying jerk, and ended the show as a mean, bullying jerk. There was no development, no self-awareness, and only the out of universe realisation from the writers that she was going into a Spin-Off and couldn't be the lead and behave like she did meant there was even a little toning down towards the end of the show.
- Joey from Friends is a prime example of this. When he was one out of six characters in an ensemble, and had little (to no) development, he was great. And when he received a Spin-Off, Joey, it didn't work at all.
- All the main (and most of the supporting) characters from Seinfeld, being the Sadist Show that it is. While the status quo does change, it mostly has to do with how much the characters could get away with rather than any actual Character Development. Kramer, being The Fool, usually manages to avoid the consequences of his actions and, therefore, develop the least.
- Pretty much all the members of The A-Team are fairly rounded, but they never really develop, except for Face, possibly, who starts out as a fairly generic Con Man and ends up a Handsome Lech who is in touch with his inner math/finance geek (and revels in that).
- Aisha Campbell is this during her stint in Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. She is also considered the least-developed Ranger in the entire franchise!
- Furio from Power Rangers Lost Galaxy is just a standard Dragon to the Big Bad Scorpius. Especially compared to his replacements, Treacheron and Villamax, who are both NobleDemons. And Deviot, who is a Dragon with an Agenda.
- Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory. He suffers from some episodic out of character behavior, but he always reverts to his "normal" self.
- Many of the mains on Battlestar Galactica remained unchanged from beginning to end; Starbuck, for instance, gets new traits but doesn't really overcome her original flaws. (This was a show that lived on the gloomy end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism.)
- Tom Baker often says in interviews that the Doctor in Doctor Who is "not an acting role" as the Doctor's character never changes that much - "he'll never turn towards evil, he'll never become interested in romancenote ...". Of course, this isn't quite true - the Doctor certainly changes a lot over time, in as literal a manner as possible - but within those incarnations, some Doctors develop, some remain relatively static, some remain static for as long as possible before slowly developing into someone contemptible just in time for a regeneration, and some change inorganically between several mostly-static archetypes as soon as a new producer is brought in. Tom Baker's Doctor was something of the last one.
- Pride and Prejudice:
- Lydia is, from beginning to end, a spoiled brat who cares for nothing except flirting and officers. Interestingly, her mother, Mrs. Bennet, is also a Static Character. While she does change opinion rapidly about a suitor based on how likely they are to want to marry one of her daughters, this never varies through the whole novel.
- Mr. Collins is a static character too. Frankly, he wouldn't be nearly as entertaining if he wasn't.
- Sherlock Holmes is basically the same in every single book.
- He does get some minor developments, though not enough to move him out of this territory. In A Study In Scarlet, he doesn't know that the earth revolves around the sun, deeming it unimportant to detective work, but later his knowledge of things unrelated to detective work is seen to increase substantially. The most recent TV adaptation, being a bit of a Compressed Adaptation, is an aversion only because Sherlock's relatively modest Character Development took place over a matter of months rather than a couple of decades.
- J. R. R. Tolkien claimed that in heroic sagas like those of the Vikings or the Ancient Greeks, characters do not develop; instead, different aspects of their fixed, essential nature are revealed by new circumstances.
- He put this theory into practice in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings: the modern, anti-heroic characters (the hobbits) are dynamic and get Character Development, while the archaic, heroic characters like Thorin and Aragorn are static.
- For example, at the end of The Lord of the Rings we know a lot more about Aragorn (and he knows more about himself) than when we met him in Bree, but who he is hasn't changed. Ditto for Legolas, Gimli, and Gandalf. Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin, on the other hand, have changed a lot. Note that Peter Jackson changed this in his films, making Aragorn a dynamic character, and even Legolas and Gimli have a few shades of further development now.
- Gandalf is actually a mixed case. He did undergo development of a sort, one that Merry and Pippin observed, but that change came with his death and rebirth, so it may have been development reached on his own, or development from an outside force.
- It also isn't clear if he really changed at all, or just became/revealed more who and what he is.
- The vampires of Twilight. Word of God is that a vampire is forever frozen at the level of emotional maturity they had when they died: hence how Edward can be an Emo Teen at over a hundred years old.
- A similar setup exists in Angela Sommer-Bodenburg's Little Vampire series, where one of the characters was unfortunate enough to become a vampire while in the middle of puberty.
- On a different level, the only real difference in Bella Swan's character from the beginning of Twilight to the end is the fact that at the end, she has everything she's ever wanted. Her character and personality are never particularly changed.
- Albus Dumbledore is an example of the static-character-as-yardstick device. He is a Cool Old Guy and former trope namer for the Eccentric Mentor, but his role in the story is to foster Harry Potter's character development, not have his own. (Because, as we find out belatedly, he's already had a ton.)
- The Main Character Palinor in Knowledge Of Angels is a Static Character, though this may be excused by the book being something of an Author Tract, with Palinor being the Author Avatar.
- Lampshaded in Prince Caspian by Trufflehunter the badger. According to him, all of Narnia's Talking Beasts have this as their Hat.
Trufflehunter: I'm a beast, I am, and a Badger what's more. We don't change. We hold on.
- BIONICLE has many due to its Loads and Loads of Characters, but Onua and Pohatu stand out in particular, as they're the two main characters who've been around for the line's entirety yet still haven't changed much. Onua's the wise and solemn but incredibly badass kind of guy, and Pohatu's a perpetually optimistic friend-to-everyone, so their only roles are complementing their other four teammates and soothing the tension between them if need be, with Onua at times doing tasks that the others can't bring themselves to do.
- Final Fantasy VI has Edgar Figaro, why does he never change? Because he already has his act together by the time we first meet him.
- Asch in Tales of the Abyss. This is in sharp contrast to Luke (significant because Luke is a clone of Asch), who goes through many stages of Character Development.
- Keyblade Master Aqua of Kingdom Hearts fame. She stays the same kind, strong-willed, Badass invidual that made her presence known in the very beginning and doesn't change, whereas her two male friends Terra and Ven end up different (and much less happy) people.
- Jacob Taylor fits this in Mass Effect 2. Unlike his teammates, Jacob doesn't carry any emotional baggage, so most of his dialog tends to be focused on the present mission. It's even lampshaded in his Shadow Broker file, which notes that he was put on Shepard's team as much for the stabilising elements of his personality as his combat skills. However, since he rarely has anything interesting to say and almost never interacts with other characters he instead comes closer to The Generic Guy than anything else.
- Ambassador Udina. His character changes very little throughout the series, except for being a massive Jerkass to Shepard in all three games, even if you nominated him as Councillor instead of Anderson. His only real plotline comes in the third game, where he sells out the Council to Cerberus, but even then, it's left ambiguous whether he was Indoctrinated, desperate, or just plain greedy.
- Iori Yagami. Not only he actually was one of the many characters to keep the same outfit till XII came out, but his vendetta with Kyo became a literal running line for the entire series.
- Members of Ikari and Art of Fighting teams are also these, except you couldn't expect Robert and Leona changing outfits all of a sudden.
- Franziska Von Karma from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice for All is pretty much the same through the series as of Ace Attorney Investigations, the most development she gets are the revelations of some Hidden Depths regarding her rivalry with Edgeworth.
- Although Mao of Disgaea 3 goes through several character revelations, by the following scene he returns to acting to his old stuck-up friendship-hating violent ill-tempered rude demon self.
- While most character in Tales of Rebirth end up developing their characters in one way or another, Eugene Gallardo remains the sensible Team Dad and Cool Old Guy. This is even lampshaded in a skit.
- An odd case in Assassin's Creed, in the 2nd game Ezio goes through a character arc from naive young man, to badass assassin. Then by the time the next game roles around, we're still playing as the badass, tough as nails Ezio and there isn't much more development to even do.
- The Sonic the Hedgehog series features quite a bit of Character Development, especially in the Dreamcast era, but the title character himself isn't the subject of any of it. This is because the development of other characters usually plays off of him, such as Tails learning to be less dependent on Sonic, or Blaze learning about friendship from him.
- The cast of Sheldon is fairly static. As one webcomic critic pointed out, this is not a bad thing, as they're well-rounded, interesting, and funny, which is pretty much all a simple gag-a-day strip of this sort needs.
- Portrayed on the second example of this comic strip.
- Durkon from the Order of the Stick has largely stayed the same as when we first saw him, although a flashback from a prequel book showed he was surly and irritable when he met Roy, due to the way he had been treated in human lands. He finally got a bit of development after befriending a fellow cleric, which was promptly subverted when he turned against said cleric with the revelation he was a vampire. This was then double subverted when his new "friend" slays him and raises him as a vampire.
- And then triple-subverted as vampire!Durkon is actually a dark spirit holding Durkon's soul prisoner. The real Durkon remains unchanged personality-wise... though he is immensely pissed off at the situation.
- An interesting variation with Roommates ' Erik. He does get somewhat better over the course of the story, but whether it's spontaneous deaging or a the dreaded Rule 63 (his roommate's Jareth) he's still a murderous psycho note . Though Kid!Erik strangling Jareth is pretty funny . . .
- Bun-bun from Sluggy Freelance hasn't changed over the run of the comic. Lampshaded by the Ocean's Unmoving plotline, in which the reader can't tell the present character from the one from before the strip started. That wouldn't work with any other major character in the strip.
- Enforced with Caliborn in Homestuck. Because of how his species works, the act of taking a shortcut to predominating over his sister by murdering her dreamself freezes his mentality. He is literally incapable of developing new personality traits or ditching old ones, and he will never mentally mature to adulthood.
- The Nostalgia Chick argues that Ariel of The Little Mermaid is this trope, which is why the movie fails as a Coming-of-Age Story. She actually prefers to think of Triton as the protagonist, since he has to change over the course of the movie.
- Ultra Fast Pony
Twilight: Well, have you tried having some character development?
- "Now With a Sound Effect" lampshades this. After talking at some length about her shyness, Fluttershy declares "I hope all my episodes revolve around me being shy!" This is immediately followed by an image of Fluttershy shrugging, over the caption "Character development?"
- It happens again in "So Random!"
Pinkie: Well, I was going to, but apparently only Rarity's allowed to do that.
Twilight: Hey! I had character development!
Pinkie: Bro, that was like, one time at the start of the very first season. You haven't changed since then at all.
- Mr. Plinkett argues in his review of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull that Indy works best as one of these, as he's meant to be someone the audience can project themselves onto, and the movie made a mistake in trying to force too much character development on him.
- The overwhelming majority of over-the-top comedic characters, from Bugs Bunny to Donald Duck, to Yakko/Wakko/Dot to Johnny Bravo to The Fairly OddParents to Phineas and Ferb. Most likely, because of the Rule of Funny. note
- Many of the secondary characters from Avatar: The Last Airbender — Suki, Ty Lee and Iroh in particular — precisely because they're secondary characters. However, Toph doesn't particularly evolve either, able to get through the entire series on her existing personality except for becoming a bit softer and more willing to work with others (of course, she never got to go on a life-changing field trip with Zuko like the other three did).
- Iroh is justified as he had already gone through a life-changing experience before the series started. His job was to help others, primarily his nephew Zuko, develop.
- Skeletor, from pretty much any incarnation of Masters of the Universe and related series. Despite his undeniable iconic status, he's one of the most one-dimensional characters in the entire franchise. Why is he evil? Because he wants to conquer Eternia. Why does he want to conquer Eternia? Because he's ''evil''. And not one of the fascinating kinds of evil. (According to Paul Dini, writers on the Filmation series were actually told by Mattel to not do anything interesting with Skeletor. He was to be the boss of the bad guys. Period.)
- Most of the characters on Phineas and Ferb, though Phineas has a bit of Characterization Marches On from his first appearance.
- Gizmo from Teen Titans. He didn't really get any Character Development. He just stayed Gizmo.
- Soundwave of Transformers fame, especially in the show Transformers Prime, where his status as The Voiceless (not to mention The Faceless) and well nigh emotionless listener adds a lot to his creepy factor. He's broken his vow of silence for a single sentence only to gloat, but that's the deepest his character has gone.
- There is very little character development in Code Lyoko to begin with aside from Aelita, Jeremy and (surprisingly) Sissi, but Odd is a particularly egregious example. He eats a lot, he dates a lot, and he makes bad jokes. And that never changes.
- Sergeant Cosgrove from Freakazoid! is mostly this, until you realize that he is the sole character in the series capable of calming down the manic superhero.
- Applejack from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has been said to be this, as her character's main motivation and goals have already been fulfilled and maintained (working at Sweet Apple Acres). So far, her personal story arcs in all seasons thus far tend to revolve around one of two things: her family and her stubbornness. Some fans have joked that she is the best background character that the show has.