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The Role You Likely Forgot Alyson Hannigan Played On Veronica Mars

With the exception of occasional outliers such as "Firefly" or "Freaks and Geeks,"  so-called cult-hit TV shows tend to be largely relegated to streamers and cable channels these days. Back in the late '90s and early 2000s, however, a handful of such ratings-starved, yet fan-adored shows were frequently popping up on UPN and The WB, and eventually The CW network. Few of those series have remained quite as beloved as the network's unabashedly pulpy teen-sleuth saga "Veronica Mars." Even fewer have remained as socially relevant, with the show regularly addressing subject matter that was complex for the era, and much of which remains at the forefront of the cultural landscape today.

Though the tone of the narrative has shifted mightily as characters grew up in the 2014 movie and the recent miniseries revival, in its early days "Veronica Mars" was very much the sort of teen-centric drama The CW has become known for. And just like so many teen-centric shows before it, "Veronica Mars" hit the airwaves with a hot young cast of up-and-comers. Kristen Bell was, of course, fronting the action in the title role. While she's gone on to become a major star herself — as has her old "Veronica Mars" castmate Tessa Thompson — the series' crack casting team made a habit of surrounding her with primetime talent over the years. And yes, that included a few appearances from Alyson Hannigan during the show's first two seasons.

Hannigan played Trina Echolls on the first two seasons of of Veronica Mars

By the time Alyson Hannigan made her first appearance on "Veronica Mars," she'd already made a name for herself via breakout performances on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," and in the blockbuster comedy "American Pie." She'd also turned up on other small screen hits like "Roseanne," "Picket Fences," and "That 70s Show." So it was kind of a big deal when she joined a "Veronica Mars" narrative landscape that was already well-populated with colorful characters.

Hannigan delivered the goods as the shady, shamelessly self-serving actor Trina Echolls, aka the step-sister of Veronica Mars' on-again-off-again beau Logan Echolls (series mainstay Jason Dohring). Hannigan made her first appearance on the show late in its 1st season and promptly shook things up in the fictional, crime-ridden town of Neptune, California. She left an indelible mark on the series even in her debut, doing so via a performance as goofy and infantile as it was unexpectedly soulful. She'd continue to bring that mix to two subsequent appearances on the show, with her Season 2 episode (in which Trina's uncertain parentage plays a major part in one of Veronica's mysteries) arguably ranking among the series' strongest.

Likewise, Hannigan remains one of the most memorable guest stars to ever grace the cast of "Veronica Mars." Though she sadly didn't return for either the movie or the revival, Hannigan apparently remained a "Veronica Mars" loyalist, telling IGN in 2006, "I'm a huge fan of that show."  

The American Pie star wasn't the only famous face to appear on Veronica Mars

According to an Insider piece, Alyson Hannigan was far from the only well-known face to grace a call sheet on "Veronica Mars." She was hardly the biggest either, with names like Aaron Paul, Jessica Chastain, Patton Oswalt, and Paul Rudd also turning up on the show. As one might expect, Rudd's Season 3 appearance is easily one of the best in series history. It's also one of the funniest, with the actor bringing equal parts aimless bravado and affable charm to his turn as a skeezy indie rocker named Desmond Fellows.

Other memorable guest spots came via "Parks and Recreation" star Adam Scott, who played a popular Neptune High School teacher accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a student in Season 1. Max Greenfield was around in Season 1, too, and was probably best known for his recurring role as the flirtatious Neptune Deputy Leo D'Amato prior to breaking out as Schmidt on "New Girl." Needless to say, the charming actor's work in the role is a legit series highlight. So too is the work of Season 2 supporting player Krysten Ritter, who somehow made her patently unlikable character Gia Goodman a tragic figure, a comic foil, and an unsettling caricature of over-privileged naïveté during her scene-stealing run.