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Why Shammy From Magnum P.I. Looks So Familiar

Successfully rebooting a franchise like "Magnum P.I." is no easy task. The series is as signature to '80s style and attitude as "Miami Vice," and forget filling Tom Selleck's shoes in the lead role; the more critical pressing matter would be how to replace that mustache. 

"Magnum P.I." premiered in 2018 with Jay Hernandez taking on the lead role of Thomas Magnum, a private investigator in Hawaii, sans mustache. The original series cast a long shadow, but "Magnum P.I." found its own identity, even surviving a cancellation by CBS by earning a two-season order from NBC in July 2022 (per The Hollywood Reporter). The success came even though original star Selleck essentially wanted nothing to do with it, saying he had no interest in making a cameo appearance in June 2018 to TV Insider

Part of the success of the new series is surrounding Magnum with an ensemble of interesting and diverse personalities. One of those who help Magnum during cases is fellow veteran Kenneth "Shammy" Shamberg (Christopher Thornton). Shammy is a mechanic paralyzed from the waist down during the Iraq War. He finds work with Magnum's team of fellow veterans and quickly becomes a recurring character in the series. 

Shammy may look familiar to some fans as he's appeared in several major shows. He's also got quite the story, overcoming his disability to continue and eventually realize his dream. 

Christopher Thornton appeared in Alias

Christopher Thornton's racked up a wide array of guest spots over the years, one of his most prominent being a two-episode run of "Alias." Thornton appeared as the character Nevil in "Alias" Season 1 Episodes 9 and 10 ("Mea Culpa" and "Spirit"). 

The J.J. Abrams-created series followed Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner, who is totally game for an "Alias" reboot), a spy recruited out of college. Thornton's character Nevil was an audio engineer who helped reporter Will Tippin (Bradley Cooper) investigate a death, finding a listening device in a flower pin and later analyzing a tape of the murder himself. 

Thornton had plenty of acting experience before "Alias," but his career was almost derailed after he lost the use of his legs after a rock climbing accident at 25. According to an interview with the actor in the Los Angeles Times in 2010, Thornton continued acting, racking up theater performances and pilots with the encouragement of friends like fellow actor Mark Ruffalo. Ruffalo even directed a film titled "Sympathy for Delicious," based on a script by Thornton inspired by his own experiences. 

"It's one thing to lose your ability to walk, but if you have a passion in life or an ability in life and you lost that, that's really hard, and even more damaging in a way," Thornton told the LA Times about his journey after the accident. 

He was David Spade's assistant on Rules of Engagement

Christopher Thornton also popped up in multiple episodes of the CBS sitcom "Rules of Engagement." The actor appeared in three episodes in the seventh season as the character Edward. 

Thornton mostly played off of David Spade in the series. Spade portrayed proud bachelor Russell Dunbar, who is forced to hire Edward as his new assistant at his father's real estate business. Dunbar is a softer but still abrasive version of "Entourage" agent Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven). He's as offensive to Edward as he is to other employees, fitting in multiple digs at his new poor assistant. 

Thornton is credited with appearing in "Rules of Engagement" Season 7 Episodes 10, 12, and 13 ("Unpleasant Surprises," "A Wee Problem," and "100th"), though the 10th episode is a credit only (per IMDb). Like "Alias," "Rules of Engagement" had a solid, multiple-season run, and it also counted a big name as one of its producers, just as "Alias" could with J.J. Abrams as Adam Sandler helped produce the series through his Happy Madison company (via Vulture). 

He was Mr. Milner on Vice Principals

Christopher Thornton worked with some more comedy pros when he took on the recurring role of Mr. Milner in "Vice Principals," Danny McBride, and Jody Hill's follow-up to "Eastbound & Down." 

In the HBO series, Mr. Milner was an English teacher at North Jackson High School in South Carolina. Thornton appeared in the second and final season, racking up a total of five episodes ("The King," "Think Change," "The Most Popular Boy," "Venetian Nights," "The Union of the Wizard & the Warrior"). Milner was part of a collection of unique characters at North Jackson, which was the setting for a civil war of sorts as vice principals Neal Gamby (Danny McBride) and Lee Russell (Walton Goggins) plot to take down the principal (Kimberly Hebert Gregory), someone they believe unfairly took over the job that they were battling over.

"Vice Principals" may have only lasted two seasons. Still, it was always intended to be that way, with McBride describing the story as a complete tale that could avoid losing quality over time like so many other shows.

"I think I had been burned by too many TV shows that I invested in, where they started great, and then, with each season, stuff changed, cast members left, and ultimately, at the end of the day, you don't know if you saw the completed thing that the original creators had in mind," he said in 2017 to Entertainment Weekly about the series. 

Will & Grace

"Magnum P.I." isn't the only years-later continuation of a popular series Christopher Thornton has been a part of. The actor also appeared in two episodes of the "Will & Grace" continuation in its 11th season. The show initially ended its run in 2006, but NBC revived the series in 2017, ultimately ending that sequel run in 2020 (per USA Today). 

Thornton portrayed the character Luke in "Will & Grace" Season 11 Episodes 6 and 8 ("Performance Anxiety" and "Lies and Whispers"). Luke ended up dating one of the show's main characters, Karen (Megan Mullally); only things hit a rough patch when Luke felt he was being used as a booty call. When Luke confronts Karen and asks if they couldn't date because of his disability, she shoots this down, and the two realize they are simply at different points in life and need very different things from their partners. 

The breakup scene ends mostly positively, with the two exchanging compliments. Thornton got a chance to prove that a wheelchair doesn't hold him back but instead gives him a wealth of emotions and experience to pull from that other artists may not as easily grab onto. The actor has had an impressive career by any measure, and he continues to impress audiences.