Can You Name One TV Show With More "That Guys" Than HBO's "Oz"?

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Can You Name One TV Show With More "That Guys" Than HBO's "Oz"?

By Dustin Rowles | Seriously Random Lists | October 30, 2012 | Comments ()


Most folks attribute the change in the television drama landscape to "The Sopranos" and "Six Feet Under," and while they do deserve much of that credit, it was HBO'z "Oz" that paved the way for "The Sopranos." It was HBO's first one-hour drama, and being on HBO, it was the first drama that could really feature a lot of profanity, drug use, violence, and nudity, and as a result, it was more intense, more provocative, and more bleak than anything else on television (it's one drawback, perhaps, was that -- like Tom Fontana's current show on BBC America, "Copper," -- it was exposition heavy).

It was also one of the first American shows to limit the number of episodes in a season (all seasons of "Oz" had eight episodes, except the fourth, which had 16). Most importantly, is that it happened to also be a hot bed of talent, especially for character actors, many of whom got their break-out roles on "Oz," and many of whom currently populate television's best dramas (and occasional comedies) in mostly "That Guy" roles.

Take a look at the "That Guy" talent assembled on a drama that is too often overlooked

J.K. Simmons


Harold Perrineau


Kirk Acevedo


Christopher Meloni


Bobby Cannavale


Judy Reyes

Judy Reyes-thumb-450x295-20239.jpeg

Lance Reddick

Lance Reddick 00.jpg

Luis Guzman


Željko Ivanek


Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje


Andrea Anders


Terry Kinney

Lee Terguson


B.D. Wong


Dean Winters


Eamonn Walker


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  • Elena

    Actually the name is Lee Tergesen, and he is one of the best actor I've ever seen.

  • Snoopy

    And Seth Gilliam (The Wire), Edie Falco (Sopranos, Nurse Jackie),
    Lauren Velez (Dexter), David Zayas (Dexter), Luke Perry (BH 90210), Wood
    Harris (The Wire), JD Williams (The Wire), Erik King (Dexter), Mark
    Margolis (Breaking Bad), Reg E. Cathey (The Wire), John Doman (The
    Wire), Domenick Lombardozzi (The Wire), Frankie Faison (The Wire),
    Clarke Peters (The Wire, Treme), Paul Schulze, (Sopranos, Nurse Jackie),
    Jon Seda (Treme), Robert Clohessy (Boardwalk Empire) and many others.

  • athena23

    My introduction to Oz was a bizarre one. My husband was a huge fan of the show and I started watching with him late at night after our (beautiful but utterly sleepless) daughter was born. Somehow, the combination of the violence and compassion of the show blended seamlessly with my forced awakeness. I look blearily back on her early months and have odd memories of prison life. No wonder I still haven't finished her scrapbook...

  • Morgan_LaFai

    Yep, tots just read that as "the gays" instead of "that guys". I was going to get up on my soap box and questions whether forced acts of homosexuality and rape count. I was also going to mention Queer as Folk (both US and UK). But then I read the introduction and quickly realized my mistake.

    However, I will now get on a different soap box and say that Dean Winters will never be a that guy. He's Mayhem. Some people might not remember his name (I call these people idiots), but they remember Mayhem. Having a character name remembered is almost as good as having your own name remembered. Or does that only work for the Prince of Bel Air?

  • Pawesl

    this list is so funny because I JUST started watching this show like 2 day ago then this comes up. I swear at least one person that was on this show is currently in every show that I watch now. Holy crap did they have some great actors.

  • Adrienne Marie

    I had an unhealthy obsession with Ryan O'Reilly. He was just so. fucking. hot.

    And oooohhhhh Meloni. Unf.

  • Pajiba_Pragmatist

    I assume this is all leading up to a review of the documentary "That guy...who was in that thing". oh, and Željko Ivanek is actually one of the actors in the documentary.

  • Nadine


  • athena23

    I miss that hat so was its own character (at least in my odd little mind).

  • Nadine

    To this day I can't figure out how it stayed on.

  • TheShitWizard

    Fucking McManus.

  • Rocabarra

    But was there a statue of Luis Guzman???

  • dmm

    Well, there were lots of reason why OZ was so good:

    1) It had Luis Guzman in it
    5) ...

  • Shonda

    God damn. I loved Oz. Oh, what a great show. The O'Reilly brothers? Whew. Naked Meloni should always be naked.

    Side note: I remember that one guy (random internet guy, not a "That Guy") had a fan page for JK Simmons while Oz was still on the air and he had to shut it down because he kept getting hate mail. Simmons was so good at playing Schillinger that people thought Schillinger was real and it was a Schillinger/Nazi fan page. Does that make sense? In fact, I thought he might have trouble ever getting cast as something else because he was so believable. (God, what a horrible character.)

  • prince_of_montagu

    and i saw JK Simmons in other projects before Oz so it was a bit of a shock to see him as such a hateful bastard, but he knocked that shit out of the park.

  • prince_of_montagu

    ah, that header picture takes me back. Beecher and Keller had one of the most touching romances (gay or straight) that i've ever seen on TV. I don't 'ship' but if i did, i'd firmly do it for them.

    I mean, there was the whole emotional and physical abuse, lying, murder and all of that, but damn, those two made it work. Meloni and Tergesen had loads and loads of chemistry. Plus, Meloni's Chris Keller is such an interesting character. I was always happy to see him in an episode.

    crap, i might end up watching the whole series again after this.

  • e jerry powell

    Terry Kinney was married to Kathryn Erbe (Shirley Bellinger for Fontana/Alexandra Eames for Dick Wolf).

    Just about every character actor from Oz did, in fact, end up on one or more Law & Order shows in some capacity. Rita Moreno played Bobby Goren's mother, David Zayas had two or three guest spots across the franchises, Acevedo was a regular on Trial by Jury, Cannavale, Perrineau, Ivanek, everyone. It's like Tom Fontana and Dick Wolf had their own NYC/Baltimore repertory company.

  • Sirilicious

    Thank you Dustin for giving us some awesome manboob to brighten the day. I understand why you couldn't give us Meloni Peni, even if there's plenty of them in Oz. This will do.

    Also, Oz is awesome.

  • e jerry powell

    The world needs more naked Meloni. And don't think Meloni doesn't know it.

  • linnyloo

    Jeebus, Chris Meloni. I'm just gonna sit back and admire.

  • PerpetualIntern

    I'm gonna go hump the fridge.

  • Az

    Number one on my freebie five. Those few episodes of True Blood made my summer. Oh my lord of the rings he is just so, so hot.

  • Maguita NYC

    I swoon at the memory of his frontals in Oz, and still cuss a vicious blue streak at the bitter disappointment that was his role on True Blood. Not sure I'll get over that one.

  • Az

    While disappointing it was worth it... I had that whole scene were he's covered in blood on repeat for, like, a month. If Sutter cast him on Sons of Anarchy I might start watching again. might.

  • TheShitWizard

    You and me both, Maguita. Keller should have been introduced instead of the Authority. Just imagine the possibilities - they might have broken every one of Bill's limbs, for a start. If only just for him to grow super long nails and...y'know...

  • Maguita NYC


    There were so many possibilities in term of story lines, and in comparison to what was last season, almost anyone could have done so much better. Especially when you have an actor of Meloni's caliber.

    The problem with TB was the writing, the dialogue, or the lack of it. That "Authority" story line could have been so much better if the TB writers got their heads out of their own asses. I mean, just look at the amazingness that is Peter Menzah, and how poorly his role was written last season.

    All I can do now is weep at the lost potential.

  • Az

    Good God, I can't even type. Or spell. Such is the power of Meloni!

  • Maguita NYC

    That man... With his deep stare, those eyes, that big long head, and simply thinking of what is further down below... Did you know that he has a delicious bubble-butt?

    Someone who does make-up had said before that she worked on him, and when he got up and walked away, she couldn't help but be absolutely mesmerized!


  • Bedewcrock

    Although with those groin muscles all I can imagine is him dry humping a moving refrigerator.

  • PerpetualIntern

    Damn you beat me to it. I didn't see this until I scrolled down.

  • pumpkin

    Nice reference. :)

  • e jerry powell
  • Bedewcrock

    More Fondle My Sweaters:

  • lowercase_ryan

    I'm not sure if it's really fair to compare the two but have you ever really looked at some of the guest stars that Law & Order has had over the years? The list is staggering (and actually includes a lot of people on this list).

  • TheShitWizard

    Hands down my favourite show ever, rewatched a million times and still awesome (well, mostly, if you don't count the majority of season 6).

    Ryan O'Reilly/Dean Winters is my number 1 Freebie Five-r for all time.

  • e jerry powell

    Watch out for Mayhem like him...

  • TheShitWizard

    I've been watching, dammit, and he's not showed up yet...

  • e jerry powell

    Okay, are you being sarcastic, or just ignoring all those Allstate commercials?

  • TheShitWizard

    I'm in the UK. I haunt YouTube in hope of new material...

  • e jerry powell

    Ah, okay.

    He has an entire campaign for Allstate Insurance here, where he plays a creepy character called Mayhem.

  • TheShitWizard
    After this, I'm praying we get raccoons this winter. I'm not sure we even have raccoons in this country, nor do I pray, but I sure as fuck would if I found Ryan O'' Reilly in my non-existent basement this winter.

  • e jerry powell

    Well, on the heads of Royal Fusiliers...

  • Guest

    Thank very, very much. I'll be in my bunk *don't care if this phrase is banned, it's where I am*

  • John G.

    was BD Wong the scientist in Jurassic Park?

  • Captain_Tuttle


  • Guest

    There isn't a character in that list I don't love.

    Weirdness: I somehow managed to forget Lance Reddick was in Oz. Damn.

  • I am Lea Thrace

    That's not Judy Reyes by the way... The doctor was Lauren Velez.

  • I am Lea Thrace

    Dammit. Should read other comments before posting!

  • lowercase_ryan

    BD Wong is not "That Guy", he's that guy.

  • junierizzle

    I loved this show. The last episode was the bleakest thing I have ever seen. Ahead of its time for sure.

  • EshinX

    That doesn't even mention Tom Mardirosian, Chuck Zito, Robert Clohessy, David Zayas, Reg E. Cathey, Skipp Sudduth, Bill Fagerbakke, and Aasif Mandvi. Great, great show with great casting.

  • shelley

    looks almost like a law and order reunion...

  • e jerry powell

    Doesn't hurt that Dick Wolf and Tom Fontana are friends from way back.

  • Fredo

    If you watched JK Simmons on Oz, nothing shocked you more to then see him on Law & Order and not seeing him being brutally violent. Or worse, when you found out he was the voice of the Peanut M&M.

    That one blew my mind.

  • kellyo

    And he voices Tenzin on Avatar: The Legend of Korra. When I realized that was the same guy, I had a moment.

  • Jill

    I'd never seen Simmons before Oz so, as is sometimes the case, my only way of viewing him was as a brutally violent psycopath. Ever since Oz, I feel like I've ONLY seen him in comedic roles. And yet, 10+ years later, I still get the feeling he could snap at any moment. Wonderful actor.

  • Nieve 'The Threadkiller Queen'

    My EXACT feelings!

    True Story I was in a mall in LA in a rain storm and I walked past JK Simmons I wanted to run over and grab him and yell you are amazing but I feared he would Schillinger me so I just said to my friend 'OMG That guys the best actor on TV!!' I cant be sure he heard me but he gave me the tiniest smile as he went passed.
    Its so weird watching him in the closer as Chief Of Police, Im waiting for him to kill Brenda Leigh.

    Man I miss OZ.

  • TheShitWizard

    You and me both. Arguably, Spidey 3 might have been improved if they'd let Vern beat the emo out of Pete instead of just shouting at him...

  • dmm

    Yeah, I watched Juno before I watched Oz, so mind blown over here as well. That being said, Oz has got to be one of my favourite shows ever - the acting was fantastic.

  • Guest

    Yeah, "Vern" was my first ever JKS, so...

  • Claire

    'Judy Reyes" up there in the photo is actually Lauren Velez (Lt. Maria LaGuerta from Dexter,) but they should both be on this list!

  • Even Stevens

    THANK YOU, that was driving me nuts, I was looking at that picture going "I know her from somewhere..."

  • pajiba

    Sorry about that. Weird brain fart. Corrected.

  • zeke_the_pig

    Holy shit, J.K. Simmons!

    Looking at that picture is like finding out that my neighbour's awesome but lazy dog once passed messages between the trenches in World War 1.

    Or the Rodney-Dangerfield-in-Natural-Born-Killers effect.

  • Blake

    Where is Edie Falco? Or Kristin Rohde?

    "Can You Name One TV Show With More "That Guys" Than HBO's "Oz"?

    Generation Kill?

    Or Band of Brothers?

  • Blake

    Or Daniels DAMN IT!? Lance Reddick / Johnny Basil was one of my favorite story lines.

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