Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Best New Girl Guest Stars Ranked

"New Girl" is perhaps television's most criminally underrated sitcom of the past 20 years, one that always seemed to struggle in the ratings department despite having incredibly funny characters. That it managed seven seasons is a testament to the network's belief in the show.

But thanks to a Netflix streaming deal, it has found new life as an under-appreciated gem. Newcomers are discovering just how good "New Girl" is, and that Jess, Nick, Schmidt, Winston, Cece, and Coach comprise one of the best sets of housemates in sitcom history. They're also being introduced to the long list of big-name guest stars that popped up week after week, whose appearances would charm audiences even with limited screentime. With so many memorable performances, even longtime fans may not remember all of them.

From walk-on parts by the likes of Prince and Linda Cardinelli, to recurring guest appearances from some of Hollywood's heaviest hitters, we thought it might help old and new viewers alike to assemble and rank the best "New Girl" guest stars.

14. Megan Fox

Superstar movie actress Megan Fox had a recurring role as Reagan, a glamourous out-of-towner subletting Jess's room across the hall from Nick, who predictably develops a serious crush on his new housemate. (The on-screen explanation for Jess's absence is that she is sequestered for jury duty, while actress Zooey Deschanel was actually on maternity leave.) Nick eventually works up the nerve to make a move, and Reagan and Nick start a relationship just as Reagan has to leave town. After Coach moves to New York during the following season, Reagan returns to the loft full time to be closer to long-distance lover Nick. Things don't work out, however, pushing Nick and Jess back together.

Fox's appearance as Reagan was polarizing among fans, to say the least, and she frequently pops up on both "best" and "worst" lists for "New Girl" characters. For that reason, we're keeping her at the bottom, but however you feel about her, you can't deny it was a big deal when Megan Fox snagged the recurring role.

13. Fred Armisen

Megan Fox wasn't the only notable guest star to pop into the loft when star Zooey Deschanel was having her baby. With Jess sequestered for jury duty for a high-profile murder case, the producers used the absence of their star to their benefit, with several new housemates coming and going. In "No Girl," Nick rents out Jess's room to help pay for Schmidt's bachelor party, and the first boarder is none other than Fred Armisen. The "Saturday Night Live" alum plays Brandon, an oddball author suffering from a case of writer's block, and looking for a change of scenery to finish his novel.

Armisen's character at first appears like any other peculiar one-off character the cast might bump into in the course of some sitcom shenanigans, until he goes from being a quirky creative type to someone considerably more unstable. Armisen only appears in a handful of scenes, but just as we see in his hit show "Portlandia," he's able to make the most of his single appearance, turning a couple of brief bits into a hilariously memorable guest character.

12. Sonequa Martin-Green

Did you think Sonequa Martin-Green wouldn't make this list? Well, you just got Rhonda'd. In the Season 5 episode "Jeff Day," we meet one of Winston's many new dating partners: U.S. Marine reservist Rhonda, played by "The Walking Dead" star Sonequa Martin-Green. Schmidt and CeCe balk at the idea that Winston is going to bring her as his date to their wedding, not wanting him to bring someone he'd just met to their special day. But that's not what really irks them — it's Rhonda's constant pranks that prove to be both annoying and bizarre. 

From faking a stabbing to salting their wine, there's seemingly no end to the jokes Rhonda plays, both to Winston's amusement and the gang's utter bewilderment. And just when she and Winston prank the gang by getting married so they can go to the wedding as a couple, Rhonda one-ups even Winston by not going through with the annulment before being shipped off to a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Rhonda would briefly reappear the following season for one more prank before finally giving Winston his divorce, but we can't help but wish we could have seen a bit more of Green as the eccentric prankster.

11. Justin Long

Journeyman character actor and "Live Free & Die Hard" star Justin Long had a brief stint as Paul Genzlinger, Jess's first boyfriend after her split from Spencer in the series premiere. A fellow teacher at the school where Jess works, it takes some time for the pair to get matched up, despite the clear chemistry. Both are simply too awkward to make the first move. But once they do, they become a truly good match. 

The pairing doesn't last, as Jess gets scared off when Paul tells her he loves her, and she can't respond. Realizing she doesn't feel the same way and isn't ready for a serious relationship, the couple parts ways ... for a time. Three whole seasons later, Paul pops up as a surprise sexual backslide for Jess, who learns that he's actually on the verge of getting married, and she may have just screwed things up for the soon-to-be newlyweds. Despite their troubles, Paul's pure-hearted and sensitive nature is a good compliment to Jess' goofy and eager exuberance. Paul is utterly endearing, and the lengths he'll go to in order to make Jess happy (especially in bed) are genuinely touching.

10. Adam Brody

In Season 3 of "New Girl," housemates Jess and Nick are finally in an actual relationship. Jess encourages Nick to be friends with his ex-girlfriend Caroline, to which Nick steadfastly refuses, saying that remaining friends with exes is impossible. Jess claims to still be good friends with an ex-boyfriend named Berkley — played by guest star Adam Brody — a stay-at-home dad whose entire life revolves around his family. Nick counters by asserting that the possibility of sex is the only reason people stay friends with their exes. Jess sets out to prove Nick wrong, inviting Berkley to spend some time with her and Nick so she can show how two exes can remain platonic post-break-up.

Of course, things don't go as planned. After an evening of fun banter, Berkley confesses his love for Jess and tells her he's ready to leave his family so they can get back together. Despite the predictable turn, the comedy comes from both Nick's reaction and Jess' cluelessness, as well as Brody's earnest portrayal of the wistful ex-lover. The former "O.C." star plays the lovelorn Berkley with a freshness and sincerity that is at the same time both charming and obnoxious, making him one of the best guest stars on "New Girl."

9. Dylan O'Brien

In "Virgins," the gang trades stories about their first sexual experiences. Jess tells the gang about Teddy, the man to whom she lost her virginity on prom night. Everyone — the audience included — expects Teddy to be the awkward boy she takes back to her hotel room. In standard fashion though, Jess screws up her chances with her date and winds up in the hallway alone when she bumps into a good-looking fellow teenager, played by Dylan O'Brien, who leans in for a kiss. 

But just when you think the show is going to zig, it takes a typical "New Girl" zag. Jess's attempts at prom night sex are first interrupted by her bleeding prom date, then by O'Brien's bout with impotence, and neither turns out to be Jess's first lover (who we eventually discover was a firefighter who rescued her from a playground mishap). O'Brien's appearance may be short, but it's a worthy inclusion simply for how memorably unconventional it is: a perfect summation of "New Girl."

8. Taran Killam

"New Girl" began its first episode with Jess discovering — in a most hilariously undignified way — that her boyfriend Spencer was cheating on her, leading the couple to split up. One of the series' main motifs is Jess' hopeful (and often hopeless) pursuit of love, with different boyfriends entering and exiting the picture. What made "New Girl" so unique, however, is that although her prospective suiters didn't have much in common with one another, there was almost always strong chemistry between her and her partners.

Not so with guest star Taran Killam: His character Fred in the episode "What About Fred" has absolutely no chemistry whatsoever with Jess, and it's plainly obvious to everyone. Everyone except Fred, that is, who is arguably the most boring character ever seen on a sitcom. But there are two reasons Jess is reluctant to split with Killam's white bread Fred: his parents Flip and Nancy, played by fellow guest stars Henry Winkler ("Happy Days") and Julie Hagerty ("What About Bob"). Flip and Nancy love spending time with Jess and are desperate to find their son a girlfriend, ultimately offering to do whatever it takes to keep them together. What makes Killam the standout of the three guest stars, though, is his uncanny ability to somehow make an intentionally bland character incredibly funny.

7. Carla Gugino

Schmidt isn't just part owner of a bar, he's also a hotshot account executive at a Los Angeles marketing firm dominated by women. You'd think that Schmidt, the self-described ladies' man of the loft, would have relished being surrounded by female coworkers. But as the only man at the company, he is openly mocked, and refers to his coworkers as "a bunch of pants-suited corporate She-Hulks." This hostility all comes to a head in a three-episode arc when he becomes the target of a sexual power struggle with his new boss Emma Sharp. 

Played by Carla Gugino, Emma is a tough, overbearing, sexually aggressive executive who uses her power over Schmidt to get him to do what she wants, even coercing him to sign a contract dictating their sexual relationship. It's a unique dynamic that flips the script on the typical workplace sexual harassment storyline, and it could have come across as terribly tone-deaf. But it works because of Gugino's quick-witted and charismatic performance as the inappropriate aggressor.

6. Josh Gad

Before he was Olaf in "Frozen," Josh Gad made an impression on "New Girl" as the clumsy, obtuse suitor of Jess' singularly named "Bearclaw." He first appears in the show's Season 2 episode "Katie," where Jess mistakenly wins the affections of two different men on two different dates under two different names. She meets Sam, a handsome doctor, when she pretends to be Katie, the blind date he's waiting for. Her evening as "Katie" goes swimmingly at first, but when Nick mistakenly gives her number to a goofy friend played by Josh Gad, things get sticky, and she winds up in a classic sitcom predicament, stuck on two dates at once. The situation nearly comes to blows when the simple-minded Bearclaw discovers Jess with her other date, but his broken heart — and him calling her by her real name in front of Sam — ends the evening for everyone.

Gad is brilliant as the slow-witted suitor hoping to win Jess' affections, playing Bearclaw with an innocence and naivety that's endearing rather than mocking. He'd pop up twice more, including in the Season 5 episode "Walk of Shame" where he and Jess spend an evening together, but instead of having sex, they write and perform a hilarious "Woodland Creatures Musical."

5. Jessica Biel

One of the central themes of "New Girl" is the housemates' relentless pursuit of love and sex, and in "The Last Wedding" all five of them set out to get lucky at a wedding they're attending. But it's the reluctant Jess who needs it the most, having not dated anyone since her break up with Nick. As Schmidt declares, it's their last chance to take advantage of the sexual opportunities that a wedding provides, and while at first, she's not enthusiastic, Jess eventually becomes the most gung-ho for the "sex fist" (her metaphor, not ours) by the end of the night.

As Jess zeroes in on the party's best option, Ted, she runs into competition from guest star Jessica Biel as Kat, a shrewd and beautiful wedding guest who's equally — if not more — determined than she is. What starts out as some friendly sparring quickly turns into a near-literal fight, as the two women's attempts to impress Ted escalate to the point of hysterical ridiculousness. In the end, Ted doesn't turn out to be quite the catch they thought he was, but the episode's bright spot is Biel, whose unexpected comedic chops makes her one of the top guest spots in the show's run.

4. Dermot Mulroney

Appearing in a total of eight episodes across the series' run, Dermot Mulroney played Russell Shiller, the wealthy father of Jess's student. Russell starts out as an adversary for Jess, but sparks quickly fly between the two, despite their age and wealth gap. Mulroney is impeccably cast in the role of the suave and charismatic older man who beguiles Jessica Day, but not with deviousness, but with sincerity. Through the actor's performance, Russell goes from what appears to be a smug, classist jerk, into a kind-hearted match for Jess. They have a solid relationship that's so hard to criticize that even the jaded and cynical Nick adores him.

Their romance would come to an end when Jess becomes resentful of the passion and "fire" that exists between Russell and his ex-wife; although he values stability in a relationship, she's still looking for that excitement. Dermot Mulroney would show up a few more times, and even though Russell and Jess wouldn't last, his feelings for her wouldn't go away. In his last appearance during the show's final season, he even confesses his love for her on her wedding day.

3. Linda Cardellini

In the three-part episode "Sisters" from Season 3 of "New Girl," we're introduced to Jess's troublesome, wayward older sister Abby, played by Linda Cardellini. After Abby is released from jail, Jess is tasked with picking her up and putting her on a flight back to her mother's place. But Nick is excited to meet his girlfriend's older sister, unaware that Abby is the trainwreck of the family and that Jess is embarrassed by her. In a classic sitcom mixup, Nick mistakes Jess' attempts to prevent them from meeting for her being ashamed of him. The confusion is made all the funnier by Abby's wild and over-the-top antics: her out-of-control behavior increasingly annoys her sister as she attempts to sleep with Coach immediately after her arrival and puts the moves on Schmidt before she leaves. 

Cardellini's loveable charm makes Abby more adorable than obnoxious. In the role of Abby Day, the actress plays the part with a reckless abandon that can't help but make you smile. The only shame of her appearance is that we never saw her again, with Abby's guest spot in the three-parter being her only showing. But even in those three episodes, Cardellini makes her mark as one of the best guest stars on the show.

2. Jamie Lee Curtis & Rob Reiner

In the history of sitcoms, it's the lead character's parents that often make for the funniest characters, from Jerry Stiller on "Seinfeld" to Shelley Long on "Modern Family." Not to be outdone, "New Girl" followed this classic sitcom tradition by casting legendary Hollywood stars Jamie Lee Curtis ("Halloween") and actor-turned-director Rob Reiner as Jess's parents Joan and Bob Day. Making their first appearance in the Season 2 episode "Parents," where, although Joan and Bob have been divorced for over a decade, Jess attempts to "Parent Trap" them when they come to town for Thanksgiving.

It doesn't work, of course, and the pair continue to bicker their way through subsequent appearances. Without a doubt, Curtis and Reiner are among the funniest guest performances in the series, with surprising chemistry as the divorced couple who still have a spark, even if they kind of hate each other. They'd each appear separately in other episodes but were always at their best when they appeared together. 

1. Prince

When it comes to guest stars on "New Girl" there's nobody as big a star or as charming a guest as Prince. He was not the kind of star to pop up on any old sitcom: He rarely appeared on television and granted few interviews even at the height of his career. But as star Zooey Deschanel revealed on "Conan," Prince had been such a big admirer of "New Girl" that he asked to appear on the series, and producers were more than happy to oblige. The result is what many consider to be the best episode in the series: a Season 3 outing simply entitled "Prince."

Rather than give him merely a cameo role, "New Girl" didn't waste the superstar, centering the entire plot of the episode around him as the gang attends a private party at his residence. He doesn't just turn up for a musical number, either: Prince has a bigger role to play, at one point ending up alone with Jess and giving her important advice that helps the growth of her relationship with Nick.