TV Year in Review: Impact Players

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No offense, Jon Hamm, Hugh Laurie, Kate Walsh and many other stars. But the TV world has grown accustomed to your greatness.

We still appreciate it every episode, but you'll be recognized at numerous award shows in 2010.

In this feature, we'd like to acknowledge the surprise actors and actresses that made a major impact on the small screen in 2009. Some are totally new to the scene, while others re-invented themselves with hilarious or frightening recurring roles...

Simon Helberg as Howard Wolowitz on The Big Bang Theory: Move over for a few moments, Leonard and Sheldon. Neither of you can compete with the nerdy swagger Wolowitz walks around with. Helberg has made a big impression on Big Bang viewers.

Howard Wolowitz Sings

John Lithgow as Arthur Mitchell on Dexter: Events from the season finale left fans buzzing, but Lithgow's terrifying, wide-ranging performance as the Trinity Killer still leaves them shaking. Simply brilliant, we were almost rooting for Lithgow instead of Michael C. Hall this year.

Lithgow on Dexter

Jane Lynch as Sue Sylvester on Glee: Sarcastic, insensitive, driven and a tad racist, Sylvester was the stand-out character on Fox's singing sensation in 2009... without so much as humming a single note. We challenge viewers to look at Lynch in the role and not laugh.

A Glee Feud
Adam Arkin as Ethan Zobelle on Sons of Anarchy: Who knew he had it in him? Arkin, known for quiet, sensitive roles throughout his career (the guy played the President's shrink on The West Wing!) broke his typical mold as a white supremicist on season two of this FX drama.
Major Confrontation

Ian Somerhalder as Damon Salvatore on The Vampire Diaries: On Lost, as Boone, he served as John Locke's pawn. On this CW series, Somerhalder is completely in charge, stealing every scene with a wink, a one-liner or a flashing of his fangs. Robert Pattinson who?!?

An Evil Smile

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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I like the idea of this, the battle of the underdogs, the up-and-comers, whatever you want to call it.