Three years ago I posted a list of the character actors that keep cropping up in sci-fi/fantasy series -- the hardworking men and women who are relied on to play every kind of character role, from guest medic to alien commander to the witches' devious major domo. These are the ultimate "Hey, it's that guy!" actors, popping up often when your attention is on the next actor over.
Vancouver-based actors are more likely to recur, since so many shows are made there. But not everyone here is from Vancouver. The list has changed significantly since last time, partly because of methodology and partly because both the kinds of shows and produced and the pools of actors available have shifted.
For this list, I crunched the credited casts of all new episodes of the 62 shows on my roster that have been in production over the last five years. I then scored and tanked unique combinations of actor/show/role.
1. Zak Santiago
The Vancouver-based actor, DJ, and sometime stunt guy has played 10 different parts in the last five years on 10 series, in a total of 17 appearances.
Roles include: Captured Abnormal on Sanctuary, Cecil on Fringe, Cpl. Rivers on Stargate Universe, Deputy Morales on Smallville, Dr. Sebastian Marx on Eureka, John Fierro on V (pictured), Lee Stanley on The Troop, Miller on Continuum, Pann on Caprica, and Prince Henry on Once Upon a Time.
Role you might know him for that's not on this list: He was one of the leads on Pax's Musketeers-based series Young Blades.
2. Mike Dopud
A beefy LA-based actor and stunt performer has a specialty in athletes, soldiers, and other big guys. In the last five years has played 8 different sci-fi/fantasy parts on 8 series, in a total of 34 appearances.
Roles include: James Mason on Beauty and the Beast, Jim Jenkins on Supernatural, Marnassier on Grimm, Mike Madden on Warehouse 13, Sal on Caprica, Security Guard George on Smallville, Stefan Jaworski on Continuum (pictured), and Varro on Stargate Universe.
Role you might know him for that's not on this list: He works regular on actions movies from the latest Die Hard to the latest Mission Impossible to the latest Superman, but he's most visible this year as one of the stars of Mistresses on ABC.
3. Hiro Kanagawa
Chances are any Vancouver call for a skinny older man with a flinty look in his eye will end up casting the praiseworthy Kanagawa, whether the role is meant for a Japanese guy or not. Unusually for this list, he also works as a script writer and a story editor behind the camera, often on stories he's also appearing in like Da Vinci's City Hall. In the last five years has played 8 different parts on 8 series, in a total of 27 appearances.
Roles include: Ark-Fong Li on Sanctuary, Calvin Wilson on The Secret Circle, Cyrus Xander on Caprica (pictured), Dr. Gibson on Continuum, Dr. Neil Lamb on Arrow, Executor on Fringe, and Game Show Host on Supernatural.
Role you might know him for that's not on this list: of course, he was the ill-fated Principal Kwan on Smallville.
4. David Richmond-Peck
The Vancouver-based Richmond-Peck, who appeared on the previous list, has a knack for bland bureaucrats and other apparently unassuming folk but in fact plays a wide range of roles on TV and on stage. In the last five years has played 9 different parts on 8 series, in a total of 20 appearances.
Roles include: CSI Detective Kassel on Fringe, Dane on Beauty and the Beast, Director on Smallville, Dr. Hendricks on Eureka, Garrity on Lost Girl, Georgie Sutton on V (pictured), Jake Polanski on Sanctuary, Meter Man on Smallville, and Olivier Duval on Orphan Black.
Role you might know him for that's not on this list: the polygraph guy in The Day the Earth Stood Still (Keanu version).
5. Ty Olsson
Well, of course Ty Olsson, who really does show up everywhere, was going to appear prominently here. In the last five years has played 10 different parts on 9 series, in a total of 27 appearances.
Roles include: Benny on Supernatural (pictured), Deputy Andy on Eureka, Garnett on Beauty and the Beast, Hordor on Once Upon a Time, Jeffrey on V, Martin Somers on Arrow, Officer Talbert on Smallville, Sgt. Clemmons on Falling Skies, Rolly on Defying Gravity, and Sheriff Andy on Eureka (later replaced by another very visible actor, Kavan Smith).
Role you might know him for that's not on this list: He tends to get not just one-shots but recurring roles, including on shows like Battlestar Galactica and Flash Gordon, and tends to turn up as cops, soldiers, or group leaders in all kinds of movies from X2 to Twilight: Breaking Dawn.
This hard-working actor, not only prolific but in demand especially for meatier character roles that demand talent of his caliber, is the ideal supporting actor, capable of lending heft to any cast in any context; and on top of that by all accounts he's a genuinely nice guy. In the last five years has played 6 different parts on 5 series, in a total of 60 appearances, but that's just his most recent TV sci-fi work.
Roles include: Alastair on Supernatural (pictured), Bigfoot on Sanctuary, Dieter Braun on True Blood, John Druitt on Sanctuary, Kevin Riekel on Caprica, and Zor-El on Smallville.
Role you might know him for that's not on this list: he was the most dissipated of the the tribunal of vampires in the Twilight series, among many other memorable roles.
A moody, unmissable presence regardless of context, the Gemini-nominated actor seems equally at home playing naval officers (Pearl Harbor) or "bearded redneck" (Drive). In the last five years has played 7 different parts on 7 series, in a total of 21 appearances.
Roles include: Dr. William McBride on Smallville, George McCarthy on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Hayden Walker on Grimm, John McClennan on Fringe, Kurt Flynn on Once Upon a Time, Stanton Parish on Alphas (pictured), Xander on Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome, and Tomas Vergis on Caprica.
Role you might know him for that's not on this list: He had a regular role as Joe on Brothers & Sisters
Pellegrino has made a mark for himself with high-profile recurring roles in Being Human and Supernatural, especially as in the latter he made relatable both Nick, the ordinary guy about to be possessed by the devil, and Lucifer himself. He recently joined the cast of the reboot pilot of The Tomorrow People as Dr. Jedikiah Price. In the last five years has played 7 different parts on 5 series, in a total of 30 appearances.
Roles include: Bishop on Being Human (Syfy), Fulcrum agent on Chuck, Hector on Chuck, Jarold Kempfer on Grimm, Jeremy Baker on Revolution, and Lucifer/Nick on Supernatural (pictured).
Role you might know him for that's not on this list: He was Jacob on Lost, and Paul Bennett, Rita's jailbird ex, back in season 1 of Dexter.
9. Lexa Doig
She's runway-model beautiful but they keep casting her as doctors in lab coats. In the last five years has played 6 different parts on 6 series, in a total of 29 appearances.
Roles include: Dr. Anne Young on Eureka, Dr. Christina Lamell on Smallville, Dr. Fridkin on Primeval: New World, Dr. Leah Pearlman on V, Risa on Supernatural, and Sonya Valentine on Continuum.
Role you might know her for that's not on this list: the AI avatar on Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda, and later the replacement doctor on Stargate SG-1.
10. Erica Cerra
We know her best as Jo Lupo, the hard-driving, weapons-friendly deputy-turmned-security-chief on Eureka, but Cerra's always been busy, shjowing up in TV and movies from The L Word to
Roles include: Adrianna Tomaz on Smallville, Deputy Jo Lupo on Eureka (pictured), Emma Correia on Sanctuary, Jillian Whitman on Warehouse 13, Robin on Supernatural, Lex's Aide on Smallville, and Sorority Girl on Smallville.
Role you might know her for that's not on this list: she had a recurring role as Maya in season 3 of Battlestar Galactica.