Our picks for the best supporting actors in a drama series from the 2009-2010 TV season.
#16 Walton Goggins, Justified
The criminal who finds God, Goggins’ character was interesting and complex enough to keep us wondering what his true motivations were.
#15 Jim Beaver, Supernatural
It’s easy for some to dismiss Supernatural as a trivial CW series, but veteran actor Jim Beaver did his best acting work ever as the old demon hunter who becomes paralyzed and spiraled into a severe depression.
#14 John Goodman, Treme
In many ways, Goodman is larger than life, and so is his character on this HBO drama, who spouts vehement anti-Bush rants on the Internet in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
#13 Craig T. Nelson, Parenthood
Nelson had a perfectly relatable attitude as a father with a lot of faults, but who still tries to do the best he can.
#12 Campbell Scott, Damages
As the son of a Bernie Madoff-esque scammer, Scott’s journey in season 3 made us feel sorry for him, pity him, and ultimately despise him.
#11 John Slattery, Mad Men
Roger Sterling’s continued frustrations and loneliness in a life without Joan gave him another stellar season.
#10 Terry O’Quinn, Lost
O’Quinn got the chance to shine twice in the final season as the evil Man in Black on the Island and as John Locke in the afterlife alternate reality.
#9 Tate Donovan, Damages
Starting the season by flashing forward to Tom’s death was a great way to motivate Donovan to new greatness as a man desperate to try and fix a bad situation.
#8 Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
If you want proof of how good Aaron Paul is, just look at his vicious and calculated vow to systematically destroy Walter’s DEA agent brother-in-law after his brutal attack.
#7 John Noble, Fringe
Playing the crazy former mental patient Walter Bishop is hard enough, but Noble also played his alternate universe Secretary of Defense doppelganger and a younger version of Walter, all while adding new emotional levels to his performance.
#6 Michael Emerson, Lost
Ben’s creepiness and duplicity was just as good as ever in the final season as he sought redemption and, in a way, found it.
#5 Martin Short, Damages
When we first heard comedian Martin Short was going to be on one of the best dramas on TV, we were skeptical, but his minimalist, chilling performance proved us wrong.
#4 Anil Kapoor, 24
He may have been killed off long before the finale, but Kapoor’s powerful and impressive role as a Middle Eastern president struggling for peace was so great that we didn’t forget it.
#3 Zach Gilford, Friday Night Lights
Gilford wasn’t in much of season 4, but his performance in “The Son” after the death of his character’s father was the single best piece of acting by anyone on any show all season.
#2 John Lithgow, Dexter
From the first time we saw him, Lithgow’s Trinity Killer was a terrifying monster and his brilliant performance helped turn the fourth season of Dexter into its best.
#1 See More Best Drama Lists
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