Q. In a TV script, how would you introduce a character that only has a very small part in one episode (possibly with even no dialogue) yet you know that character will be returning later in the season in a big role? Should you drop a line into the script letting readers know that this will be someone important later on in the series? Or do you just treat that character like every other back ground character in the scene and instead remind the reader later on (in whichever script the character shows up again) that it is the same person as way back when?
If I'm on staff, I'd do it like this:In walks JOE ROBERTS, 52, mournful cop eyes. (NOTE: HE'S ONSCREEN FOR ABOUT FIVE SECONDS HERE, BUT IN A COUPLE OF EPISODES WE'LL BE SEEING A LOT OF HIM.)
Because I want to make sure casting knows to put a great actor in this role.
A craftier way to do is to give the character some truly memorable lines of dialog, so that the reader (the network exec) and the audience wants to see more of her. Write the part for a star. Give a sense that there's more to that character's story; we're just not seeing it yet.
Of course on staff you don't always know that a bit part is going to become a great part. On CHARLIE JADE, we had problems with some parts where the guy who was cast earlier wasn't up to where the story needed to go with his character.
If you are not on staff -- well, then it doesn't really matter, because you can't control whether that character is coming back.
But what about when the character is coming back later in the script? You can do it one of two ways. You can make clear up front that this is a bigger character than you'd expect to see in a small part like that. You can even flag the character as I did up top.
Or, if you're Joss Whedon, you probably don't give us any warning at all, and the character reveals his true crunchiness in Act Three.
There is no canonical way to do it, because it depends on the effect you want to create. If you want the audience to guess that we'll be seeing more of the character, then hint to the reader. If you don't want them to, don't hint.
Then, when STRUNG-OUT COP shows up again later, and you give him a name, give him both names for a while: STRUNG OUT COP / SGT. FALCO.