Writing a TV show is a long-term commitment, and not everybody has the privilege to know how it's all going to go, or even how long. Despite assurances that showrunners have plans for multiple seasons, things always change. A last-minute fix, improvisation, or casting change affected these shows so drastically that it's hard to imagine what they'd look like otherwise.
The only thing more iconic than Spock's ears are his hands. The Vulcan salute is a typical greeting between "Star Trek" fans or even just geeks, but what most don't realize is that it was created by Leonard Nimoy. It wasn't an accident, but Nimoy put thought into what was supposed to be a simple greeting from a Vulcan to another race.
In his memoir "I Am Spock," Nimoy explains that he borrowed the symbol from Orthodox Judaism. The Kohanim make the gesture to the congregation during the High Holidays as a sign to represent Shaddai, or "Lord." It was supposed to be a one-off action, but it became a long-running tradition in the series and in real life.
"It struck me as a very magical and mystical moment," he said. "I taught myself how to do it without even knowing what it meant, and later I inserted it into 'Star Trek.'"
Steve Urkel (Jaleel White) needs no introduction, and frankly, we don't want to give him one. However, the King of the Geeks on "Family Matters" is a fit for this topic, so here we go. White walked into an audition with a pair of oversized glasses and got cast as Urkel, but only for a few small appearances. But his popularity soared, and so did the shows, so he was written in more. He eventually became the series' protagonist, for better or for worse.
"Saturday Night Live" wouldn't be what it is without the moments where the actors break. The fun of a live show is that you can't correct any mistakes, so when an actor cracks a smile on camera, it's there for all time. Any of the moments -- from Debbie Downer to anything Jimmy Fallon has done -- could make this list, but in the "More Cowbell" sketch, the laughter doesn't just break the scene. It makes it. Fallon said part of it was caused by Will Ferrell showing up with a much smaller shirt than in dress rehearsal.
Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) is the heart of "Breaking Bad," the good-natured but ultimately naive assistant to Walter White. Pinkman was supposed to be killed off in season one, but showrunner Vince Gilligan said they decided to keep him on after his grisly idea for the character's fate didn't sit well with network executives. Other scenarios had writers killing off Skylar White (Anna Gunn), but luckily that didn't pan out either.
Who killed Laura Palmer? When David Lynch and Mark Frost began the series in 1990, they didn't know either.
That changed when they noticed set dresser Frank A. Silva accidentally appearing in one of the shots in the pilot episode (you can briefly see his reflection in the mirror behind Laura's mother as she learns about her daughter's death). They were going to reshoot it but there was just something about Silva that caught Lynch's eye.
That changed when they noticed set dresser Frank A. Silva accidentally appearing in one of the shots in the pilot episode (you can briefly see his reflection in the mirror behind Laura's mother as she learns about her daughter's death). They were going to reshoot it but there was just something about Silva that caught Lynch's eye. "Twin Peaks" viewers know him as Killer Bob -- the entity that possessed Leland Palmer. It was all because he accidentally wandered into a shot.
Across its seven-season run, many characters came and went from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," with many sticking around much longer than anticipated. Harmony started off as Cordelia's friend and then became a vampiric comedic foil. Jonathan started off as an extra. But the one worth mentioning is vengeance demon Anya (Emma Caufield) who originally signed on for a two-episode arc but then became one of the show's most beloved characters in the later seasons. Her song solo in season seven -- long after "Once More With Feeling" -- was added in as well, because of Caufield's talent in the role.
Pregnancies aren't exactly a big deal nowadays, but when Lucille Ball got pregnant while filming "I Love Lucy," it was a huge issue. This was back in the days when a husband-and-wife couple had to sleep in separate beds on TV and you couldn't even say the word "pregnant." Ball's second pregnancy was written into the second season of the sitcom, and was first mentioned when Lucy tried to tell Ricky (Desi Arnez) about the news. It wasn't the first pregnancy on TV, but it's the most memorable, and probably the one most cited for breaking the mold.
One of the standouts from the eight-season run of "Scrubs" has to be Neil Flynn, who played the deadpan, calculating janitor who sought to make J.D.'s (Zach Braff) life a living hell. Over time, he became a part of the Sacred Heart Hospital family, but he was originally not supposed to be there -- at least in reality. The original plan was for the janitor to be a part of J.D.'s imagination, which is why in the first season, you only see the janitor and him interact.
Additionally, most of Flynn's lines were improvised, making almost every aspect of this character a happy accident.
The Cigarette Smoking Man, played by William B. Davis, is one of TV's most memorable villains, but that wasn't the plan. Davis was hired for "The X-Files" pilot as a glorified extra, but kept getting hired back for cameos. He eventually worked his way up to becoming Fox Mulder's ultimate nemesis -- the cold-hearted, manipulative C.G.B. Spender.