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Underappreciated Reno 911! Characters That Are Pivotal To The Show's Success

This content was paid for by Quibi and created by Looper.

When Quibi announced they were releasing a seventh season of the iconic comedy Reno 911!, they did so with a very pleasant surprise for fans. Every core cast member from the show's first six seasons came back for the new installment, including the ones who were killed off (but not really) in season 5. The new season feels like a continuation of what came before it, and having the original actors in the Reno Sheriff's Department uniforms again is a huge part of the reason why.

As a highly improvised comedy show, characters are at the heart of Reno 911! They may be unlikable and grotesque at times, but after so many years, it's hard to not be excited to see Lieutenant Dangle's (Thomas Lennon) confidence plummet as he realizes he's bungled a case, or hear the next bewildering thing that comes out of Deputy Wiegel's (Kerri Kenney-Silver) mouth. Yes, they are completely over-the-top, but the committed actors make it work.

And while we're talking about Reno 911! characters, let's not forget the unsung heroes of the series. These are the characters who sometimes get overshadowed by their louder and more outrageous colleagues, but are no less hysterical. Today, we want to salute the underappreciated and underrated Reno 911! characters who have made the show the success that it is.

Deputy Johnson is the most undervalued asset of the Reno Sheriff's Department

At the end of its fifth season, Reno 911! made the controversial decision to kill off three of the officers of the Reno Sheriff's Department in a spectacular explosion. No disrespect to Deputies Garcia (Carlos Alazraqui) and Kimball (Mary Birdsong), but the loss of Deputy Johnson (Wendi McLendon-Covey) felt like a massive blow to the show. While Johnson is a more understated character than, say, Dangle or Wiegel, she has consistently been one of the funniest parts of the series.

A large part of what makes Johnson so important to the ecosystem of the show is McLendon-Covey's performance. She plays Johnson's vanity and shocking irresponsibility with a deadpan cheeriness that feels hilariously at odds with what she's actually saying. In the season 5 episode "Baghdad 911," she speaks to a group of teens in a "scared straight" program about the dangers of drunk driving. Sorry, it's actually the dangers of "driving drunk, comma, without knowing how to do it properly." McLendon-Covey delivers the unhinged monologue about Johnson's skills as an impaired driver with the cadence of that aunt you see at the holidays who always forcefully gives you questionable advice.

Johnson doesn't always get as many moments for wild slapstick or easily quotable punchlines, but her presence on the show has always been strong, and when she was gone, it felt like something was missing.

Quibi got it right with Jeffy

It can be difficult to successfully introduce a new character onto an established show. When Quibi re-launched Reno 911! by bringing the series back for a seventh season, the young streaming service took on that challenge. However, where many networks have failed the task by introducing characters that sucked all the air out of the room, Quibi succeeded by giving us Jeffy (Paul Walter Hauser).

Jeffy is an ineffectual and terminally bland private security officer (a.k.a. just some guy in a neon vest) who is hired to guard the door of the police station after a string of break-ins. The embarrassing fact that the police have to hire somebody else to protect their own precinct isn't lost on the other officers. That embarrassment is highlighted to a comical degree by just how unimposing Jeffy actually is. Nobody believes Jeffy could protect the police station from anything, and it only highlights how absurdly incompetent the Reno Sheriff's Department officers actually are.

Jeffy only makes a few appearances throughout season 7, but that's really all the show needs to let this new character bring a sense of freshness to the revival. He's like a subtle ingredient in a dish that that improves the overall flavor.

The Truckee River Killer has been with us since the beginning

Other than our core crew of officers, there aren't very many other people who have had much longevity on Reno 911! For the most part, even the most beloved side characters really only appear in a handful of episodes, and don't have a clear storyline that carries on throughout the seasons. However, that isn't true of Craig Pullin (Kyle Dunnigan), a.k.a. Mr. Trudy Wiegel, a.k.a. the Truckee River Killer.

Craig is introduced in the first season as a love interest of Wiegel's. In many ways, the two are a perfect match, as Craig is also painfully socially awkward. It's not long before the other officers realize that her new boyfriend matches the description of an active serial killer. Ultimately, Craig is apprehended and given the death penalty for his crimes. Just before he's set to be executed, he and Wiegel get married through the glass of the chamber in which he's prepared for lethal injection.

Even after Craig is executed, he continues to make appearances on the show. In season 7, Wiegel goes to one of his crime scenes, where she meets him in spectral form. During their chat, he awkwardly informs her that, in the future, she'll try to cut her own bangs, but it won't go well. In the scene, like every scene he's in prior, Dunnigan brings all of Craig's peculiarities to life in a way that feels specific and special.

Reno 911! is an ensemble, and it's hard to call out any individual character over another. However, these particular oddballs add a little something extra to the show, even if they don't always get the love they deserve.