When watching the pilot of Gotham (which I quite liked) it became clear that in a sea of future superheroes and supervillains, it was the original character Fish Moony, played by Jada Pinkett Smith, who was destined to be the standout performance for the show.
Yet this phenomenon isn’t only seen in Gotham. Characters like Daryl Dixon in The Walking Dead, Felicity Smoak in Arrow and Chloe Sullivan in Smallville all are basically original characters for their respective shows that have all become fan favorites. Why is it that when comic book are translated to tv shows, it is always the entirely new character that fits the most into that world? (Note: I do not know if this theory pertains to Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D., because I don’t watch that.)
It seems to me that it is because they have the most freedom to become who the story organically wants them to become. There is no way that young Bruce Wayne will grow up to be a police officer, for example. But Fish Moony could rise to greater power or could end up being the most tragic character in the show. We don’t know, and that is the great beauty of it.
While other characters, like the future Penguin, Oswald Cobblepot is never going to be shot dead by Jim Gordon, but Fish Moony could. Original characters (especially in prequel series like Gotham) are invaluable.
People are drawn to them because they give the show actual stakes but also because they are the only one’s that the audience has to actually figure out. Sure Alfred is a bit militaristic in this version, but it isn’t like he is just gonna say “Peace out, Bruce. You’re mopping too much, and I just can’t deal.” We know that Alfred’s place in this story is to help form young Bruce’s future.
But with Fish Moony, her purpose is limitless. What makes these original characters interesting is that they could heroes, villains, victims, mentors or even love-interests. Gotham is so tied down by the history that it is leading up to, that it is going to be interesting to see how they handle someone with no prior history at all.