Benson, Bob Benson here. Fine day this is. Where are my manners? Can I get you anything, sir? Coffee? Tea, perhaps, if you’re looking for some, as my father used to say, caffeine minus the mean? I’m not sure what he meant by that. No one did. Horrible drunk. Just horrible. Fancy dresser, though. I have his pair of swimming trunks in my office, in fact. Anyway, please let me know if there’s anything I can do for you…anything. The reason I stand in front of you today — and might I say, sir, you have a delightful office and this photo, well, I just can’t believe how much Lil’ Suzy has grown — is because I, Robert Benson, wanted to thank you for all the opportunities you given here. It seems like only yesterday that I joined the company, but it feels like I’ve been here for at least five years.
I’m certainly not the only one who must feel that way.
1. Erin Hannon
“Michael Scott Paper Company” is one of The Office‘s last truly great episodes, not only because it jump started a show that was stalling and hey, there’s Stringer Bell, but also because it introduced us to Erin Hannon, Pam’s ever-optimistic replacement receptionist. During the lean, later years, when many of the characters either annoyed (Jim) or made you want to throw them out a window (Andy), Erin continued to be a goofy delight. Plus, Hipster Erin.
2. Butters Stotch
OK, this one’s not technically true. Butters has been on South Park since “Cartman Gets an Anal Probe,” and he even briefly appears in South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut, but it wasn’t until season six that Matt Stone and Trey Parker began giving him (or her, with all due respect to Marjorine) stories of his (her) own. He was no longer Student Friend #6 — he was South Park‘s biggest breakout sensation since Cartman, and with the exception of Randy Marsh, no other character on the show is quite as beloved as Professor Chaos, I mean, SIMPSONS DID IT, I mean, Butters. (Also, my fiancée and I named our guinea pig after him, so I might be biased here.)
3. David Puddy
It’s to Seinfeld‘s credit that Puddy, as memorable as any of the show’s recurring characters, didn’t make an appearance until season six’s “The Fusilli Jerry” as Jerry’s mechanic, and was only on the show 11 times total. Patrick Warburton made the most of his few opportunities and provided so many of the show’s most iconic lines, the best being, “Feels like an Arby’s night.” Still waiting for someone to say that without running to the bathroom right after.
4. Tony Blundetto
Until season five, Tony Soprano never mentioned his cousin Tony Blundetto. No one did. And yet there he was, Steve Buscemi, beginning with “Two Tonys,” as essential to the plot as Paulie Walnuts or Silvio Dante. This bothered many fans (I’m fairly certain the name “Roy” popped up once or twice), but it was a typically brilliant decision by David Chase: if you were in the mob, how much time would you spend yakking about one of your own in the slammer? They’re not a sympathetic bunch.
5. Mike Nelson
Team Mike. Moving on…