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    2022’s Best Cast Ensembles

    It is often said there are no small parts, and that is absolutely the case on the best shows this year.

    Every one of the shows on this TV Fanatic team-compiled list sports a collective of talented cast members portraying dynamic characters involved in complex relationships and life situations.

    These ensembles run the gamut from comedy to sci-fi to soaring intergenerational drama, but they are unified in how every performer leans in on the team effort, supporting each other to create a show greater than the sum of their lines.

    2022 Ensemble Collage - Pachinko

    No specific streamer or network holds all the cards when it comes to tight-knit and inspiring ensemble casts.

    Instead, it’s clear that successful showrunners are smart in selecting actors they sense will work well together, pulling in the same direction and telling stories with fulsome and genuine performances.

    Reboot Poster

    Reboot (Hulu)

    Reboot is about the coexistence of different generations of artists. Who could be better to demonstrate that clash of personalities than Paul Reiser and Rachel Bloom as an estranged father and daughter entrusted with co-running a sitcom?

    Reiser is an old-school 90s sitcom star with a comic delivery that borrows a little from Borscht Belt comedy. Rachel Bloom made her way to TV fame as the star and co-creator of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend via YouTube stardom that turned musical theater conventions on their head.

    The pair is complemented by a writing room that echoes Bloom’s Gen Z approach to artistic merit with Riser’s Borscht Belt big laughs approach, and the combination is hilarious.

    On the set of this rebooted show-within-a-show, Keegan-Michael Key, Judy Greer, Johnny Knoxville (who thought of that casting choice?), and Calum Worthy play a quartet of has-been actors who form a found family with healthy doses of comedy and heart.

    The Rookie S5 Poster

    The Rookie (ABC)

    The robust talent of its ensemble cast is one of the things that makes The Rookie a standout cop show.

    Originally billed with Nathan Fillion as the star, as his character began as the oldest rookie in the LAPD, the show has grown far beyond that concept.

    The diversity of the cast means the partnerships never grow stale. Det. Nyla Harper was previously Officer Nolan’s training officer, but this season Harper is partnering with Det. Angela Lopez. The budding bromance between rookie Officer Thorsen and Sgt. Tim Bradford has been an unexpected delight.

    Every character of this group gets their share of the spotlight, and not one has failed to shine.

    For All Mankind SDCC Poster

    For All Mankind (Apple TV+)

    There is no other cast on TV quite like the cast of For All Mankind.

    Each season takes viewers further into the lives of the characters, and the actors consistently deliver strong performances.

    With the fourth season on the way, it leaves plenty more opportunities for these characters to impress.

    It’s a shame the show doesn’t get much awards love because the cast deserves awards for their stellar performances.

    This Is Us Cast Photo

    This is Us (NBC)

    We watched the Pearsons laugh and cry together through triumphs and trials for six years, and in the final season of This Is Us, they still brought it.

    We watched the Big Three struggle as they cared for Rebecca as her health declined and the matriarch died.

    Kate and Toby’s marriage imploded sadly, while Kevin and Sophie reunited

    While many stories were tied up, we would have loved to see a peak into the future to see what happened with Randall’s girls or Kevin’s twins. Mandy Moore and Justin hartley deserved more nominations than they received, sadly.

    The Winchesters Poster

    The Winchesters (The CW)

    It’s hard to continue the legacy of a show that was on for over a decade, but because the cast of The Winchesters is equally magical, it just works.

    The young cast of the Supernatural spin-off has such great chemistry you’d think they’d been hunting together already.

    With Meg Donnelly and Drake Rodger taking over as Mary and John, Jojo Fleites and Nida Khurshid bring their new characters to life in a way that makes you think they’d always been hunting together.

    Bianca Kajlich and Demetria McKinney round out the talented cast, demonstrating that the SPN legacy is in good hands.

    Abbott Elementary Group

    Abbott Elementary (ABC)

    Quinta Brunson’s breakout hit of last year just keeps on getting better and better. Like with many workplace sitcoms, the cast is responsible for a good part of that. They mesh so well together in how they help each other and how they annoy each other.

    With veterans like Sheryl Lee Ralph and Lisa Ann Walter with familiar faces like Tyler James Williams and Chris Perfetti, along with seemingly breakout star Janelle James, the talented Quinta leads an all-star cast that certainly makes the grade.

    The staff of Abbott Elementary is such an eclectic bunch of relatable characters that make us feel like we know them personally, each of them bringing something so fun and unique to the series that it’s must-see television.

    The cast’s chemistry is sublime, making every single installment unmissable and creating a magic that is rarely seen in sitcoms. Like a well-oiled machine, from wholesome Janine all the way down to the hilarious Mr. Johnson, the series doesn’t work the same unless everyone is in it together.

    L - The Whole Team - The Rookie: Feds Season 1 Episode 9

    The Rookie: Feds (ABC)

    Most shows take a season or two before the cast gets comfortable with each other, and it’s translated to the screen.

    The Rookie: Feds, however, hit the ground running.

    Watching the dynamic between the unit, one would think they’ve known each other forever.

    This show truly has a very special cast.

    Chimney Prepares - 9-1-1 Season 6 Episode 4

    9-1-1 (FOX) 

    9-1-1 is now in season six, and if you want to lament some of the creative choices, you’d be within your right. But the series continues to be one of the biggest on broadcast television, thanks in part to its wonderful ensemble.

    The cast is littered with seasoned actors who bring so much to the procedural and make everyone around them better.

    Season six has also given us the core members of the 118 together again, cracking jokes in the fire truck and being one another’s biggest fans.

    One thing you can never take away from this series is this beautiful set of characters and the delicious chemistry.

    Pachinko Poster

    Pachinko (Apple TV+)

    The entire ensemble in Apple TV+’s Pachinko brings their top performances. Led by newcomer Min-ha Kim, Korean heartthrob Lee Min-ho, and Academy Award Winner Yuh-jung Youn, Pachinko is presented in Korean, Japanese, and English.

    Rounding out the cast are Soji Arai, Jin Ha (Devs), Jun-woo Han, In-ji Jeong, Eun-chae Jung, Kaho Minami, Steve Sanghyun Noh, Anna Sawai, and Jimmi Simpson (Westworld).

    The cast will receive the award for Best Ensemble Cast in a New Scripted Series during the 2023 Independent Spirit Awards.

    A second season is currently in production.

    The Gilded Age Cast Photo

    The Gilded Age (HBO)

    HBO’s and Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey) assembled a who’s who of Broadway’s finest for the small screen to bring to life the frothy, soapy period drama that is The Gilded Age.

    There’s Christine Baranski’s acerbic Agnes van Rhijn, the magnificently ambitious Russells (played by Morgan Spector and Carrie Coon), Denée Benton’s grounded but resolute Peggy Scott, as well as some charming supporting turns from Nathan Lane, Kelli O’Hara, Donna Murphy, and Audra MacDonald — just to name of few!

    Television ensembles don’t get any higher caliber than this. 

    Charlie's friend group -- Heartstopper

    Heartstopper (Netflix)

    This cast of characters genuinely feels like friends.

    Each one embodies their character through every scene, and the series gives ample focus to each story so that you understand what’s going on in their relationships.

    Nick and Charlie are the main focus, but every part of the ensemble matters.

    Elle, Tao, Tara, Darcy, and even side characters like Nick’s mom, Imogen, and Tori, to name a few, add plenty of emotional weight to Heartstopper Season 1 that it all simply works amazingly.

    Dynasty Season 5 poster

    Dynasty (The CW)

    This primetime soap loved its ensemble, and we loved them back.

    Fallon’s raw ambition and fashionable sass? Iconic. Alexis and Dominique’s flair for drama? Epic. Our collective wish to see Adam’s downfall? Inspiring.

    Dynasty couldn’t have made it five seasons without the power of its strong cast.

    This year saw the show end on a high note, giving the series and its storylines all the trademark soapiness and drama that the ensemble delivered so well.

    Stargirl Season 3 Poster

    DC’s Stargirl (The CW)

    It’s a shame that DC’s Stargirl Season 3 was the end of this beloved series because it had one of the best TV cast ensembles in the DCEU (let alone any superhero show) this year.

    Every cast member was firing on all cylinders to end the series on a high!

    After two years of growth and exploring the superhero adventures in Blue Valley, the tone felt like every cast member knew their comic book characters and embodied them on the small screen.

    Plus, with it being the final season, there were many surprising and beloved returns that made this farewell season one any Stargirl fan would need to watch now.

    Yellowjackets Season 1 Ensemble

    Yellowjackets (Showtime)

    Only three episodes of Yellowjackets Season 1 aired in 2022, but that’s enough to give this ensemble the kudos it deserves.

    Casting is everything with a show like Yellowjackets, as the characters are featured in both their teen years and again decades later.

    Melanie Lynskey, Tawny Cypress, Juliette Lewis, and Cristina Ricci lead the show, and with their teen counterparts — Sophie Nélisse, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Sophie Hatcher, and Samantha Hanratty, respectively — keep us on our toes as the eye-popping mystery unfolds.

    This sprawling cast is one of the best on TV and part of the reason we’re eagerly awaiting Season 2.

    Back Together - SEAL Team

    SEAL Team (Paramount+)

    It’s too easy to dismiss SEAL Team as just a war drama, but the recently concluded sixth (maybe final) season, with its shocking killing of Clay, showed that it has become so much more.

    Unfortunately, it was inevitable that Max Theriot Jr.’s Clay would be leaving because of the success of his new CBS drama Fire Country, but the other members of Bravo shone as well.

    David Boreanaz’s stoic Jason wrestled with a TBI, AJ Buckley’s Sonny struggled with the blows striking Clay, and Neil Brown’s Ray sought a way to help out forgotten veterans. Even Raffi Barsoumanian’s newbie Omar found a way to smoothly fit into Bravo.

    The result was these warriors’ gripping personal battles on the homefront in between the exciting action scenes.

    Avenue 5 Season 2 Poster

    Avenue 5 (HBO Max)

    Avenue 5 isn’t your typical science fiction. The show focuses on a core group of members trapped on Avenue 5 and incorporates a lot of similar elements to The Office.

    Led by a fantastic multi-accented Hugh Laurie, the cast includes Josh Gad, Zach Woods, Suzy Nakamura, Ethan Phillips, and more.

    Every actor gets their chance to shine as the crew members, the fake crew members, and the passengers form their groups, and insanity ensues.

    Season two saw the ensemble play off each other well, embrace their characters, and provide some much-needed laughs in science fiction television.

    The Team  - Quantum Leap Season 1 Episode 1

    Quantum Leap (NBC)

    Many things set 2022’s Quantum Leap apart from the original 1990s sci-fi, time-traveling adventure — its setting, its tech, and its long-arc plot.

    But the most significant difference has been the Quantum Leap team working to bring Raymond Lee’s Dr. Ben Song back from the (as yet) unexplained and unauthorized leap into the past.

    Where the original centered exclusively on Scott Bakula’s Dr. Sam Beckett and his guide, Dean Stockwell’s Al Calavicci, today’s Quantum Leap Project is a visible team effort, headed by Ernie Hudson’s Herbert “Magic” Williams, with Caitlin Bassett’s Addison Augustine guiding Ben through his leaps.

    Anchoring the team at HQ is no-nonsense security expert Jenn Chou (Nanrisa Lee) and Mason Park Alexander as programming genius Ian Wright. Together, they’ve demonstrated loyalty, ingenuity, and resilience, which has impressed the studios as much as the audience, landing the series an early second-season renewal.

    Discovery A-Team - Star Trek: Discovery

    Star Trek: Discovery (Paramount+)

    Every one of Paramount+’s FIVE Star Trek shows is built on the firm foundation of a crew that trusts in each other and thrives in their bonds of friendship and camaraderie, but top ensemble billing goes to its flagship series, Star Trek: Discovery, which broke wholly new ground in 2017, laying the groundwork for the reborn franchise.

    Sonequa Martin-Green’s Michael Burnham began as a mutineer who triggered a catastrophic war with the Klingons. Over four seasons, we have watched her earn back the respect of her crewmates and realize her role as a leader means lifting others up so they can lead too.

    And rise, they have. This year saw this crew finally actualize the potential that has been there from the beginning. As they hunted for the source of the anomaly, each team member had the opportunity to lead a mission, whether it was an evacuation, rescue, or exploratory.

    Living now in the 32nd Century, Star Trek: Discovery demonstrates that an inclusive, respectful, and loving community of equals is a future of which we all dream.

    Snowpiercer Season 3 Key Art

    Snowpiercer (TNT)

    There are few shows that have Snowpiercer’s track record — see what I did there? — for keeping an ensemble cast together even after  characters have “died.” Repeatedly.

    Daveed Diggs and Jennifer Connelly have led this post-apocalyptic drama as Andre Layton and Melanie Cavill, respectively, for three seasons, with the fourth and final expected in 2023.

    And while their alternatively combative and cooperative relationship has set the tone, it’s been the characters around them that have lent credence and depth to this world on rails.

    Whether its Lena Hall’s Miss Audrey trading her humanity for survival or Mike O’Malley’s Roche making us tear up as he proves himself — once again — to be TV’s Greatest Dad, the citizens of Snowpiercer-Big Alice (not you, Wilford) are everything we would be were we in their situation. Except, maybe, dead.

    How did we do, Fanatics? Did we include your best show team?

    Teamwork makes the dream work, friends.

    Hit our comments section with what we did right and any exceptional cast ensembles we missed!

    Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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