Actor Tom Ellis started his professional career in 2000 with a one-episode appearance on the short-lived British sitcom Kiss Me Kate. Since then, he’s become a household name with almost sixty credits under his belt. Likely known to most for his lead role as Lucifer Morningstar in the 2016-2021 supernatural fantasy show Lucifer, he shot to widespread acclaim following the series’ popularity among critics and audiences alike. Despite this arguably being one of his most notable performances, one of his first main characters came when he landed a role in the popular British sitcom Miranda alongside Miranda Hart.

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But atop two of his most prominent parts following swiftly after one another, Ellis has had plenty of experience within the entertainment industry, proving just how versatile he is as an actor. From instantly recognizable TV shows like Merlin and Once Upon A Time to timeless classics like Doctor Who, he’s popped up many times over the years, and it’s always good to see him on screen, with his last TV appearance being in this year’s Players. From The Fades to Rush, we look back at the best Tom Ellis shows.

10 ‘The Fades’ (2011)

Character: Mark Etches

A man looking angry
Tom Ellis in The Fades

BAFTA award-winning TV seriesThe Fades debuted on BBC Three and BBC HD in the UK in September 2011, later hitting BBC America the following year in January 2012 for its six-episode run. The British supernatural drama follows a young man named Paul (played by a young Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s Iain De Caestecker) after he starts having some unnerving apocalyptic dreams.

Mark Etches is a constant presence throughout this highly entertaining show that will keep audiences invested. He’s introduced to viewers in the first episode after bringing a stranger back to his place on a night out, although the evening is cut short when she realizes he’s still living with his separated wife. Mark’s story is explored further as the show progresses, and by the end, audiences get a deeper look into who he truly is.

The Fades

Release Date
September 21, 2011

Creator
Jack Thorne

Seasons
1

Watch on Amazon Prime

9 ‘Trial & Retribution’ (1997 – 2009)

Character: Nick Fisher

Trial & Retribution is a crime drama TV show whose series initially began by releasing no more than two episodes at a time. Between 1997 and 2009, the show had accumulated twelve seasons with only forty-four episodes to make up that total. It’s a feature-length police procedural created for ITV as two-part series episodes.

Given the show’s nature of multiple individual cases that don’t interconnect, new faces, aside from the main police cast, were seen in each new episode, aside from the occasional storyline that would continue in the next one. Tom Ellis wonderfully played Nick Fisher in the two-part 2008 episode entitled “Conviction”; a man with connections to a death that occurred more than a decade ago, and unfortunately for him and his family, the repercussions from that time catch up.

Watch on Hoopla

8 ‘EastEnders’ (1985 – )

Character: Oliver Cousins

Tom Ellis in EastEnders
Image via BBC

Eastenders is one of Britain’s longest-running soap operas. It has been airing on BBC One since the beginning of 1985 and is still going strong today with everything you could want in a show of its kind. What more could one expect from a soap opera with almost forty years of drama, death, and betrayal under its belt?

Tom Ellis appeared on the show for a total of twenty-nine episodes between January and May of 2006. He brought to life a man by the name of Oliver Cousins, Walford’s GP, during his time on the show, leaving after nearly thirty appearances and never returning since. It didn’t end on the happiest note for Oliver, and he left the little English town with a broken heart.

EastEnders

Release Date
February 19, 1985

Creator
Julia Smith, Tony Holland

Seasons
31

Watch on BritBox

7 ‘The Flash’ (2014 – 2023)

Character: Lucifer Morningstar

Tom Ellis as Lucifer on The Flash
Image via The CW

Okay, so maybe this cameo was short and sweet, only lasting a total of roughly two minutes, but it was enough to have fans of both the DCTV Universe abuzz and Lucifer fans feeling exactly the same. However, if anyone was a DC fan with no knowledge of how Lucifer fit into the universe at the time, his appearance was probably very confusing.

At the annual Arrowverse CW crossover event, The Flash, Supergirl, Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow, and Batwoman joined forces in the sixth installment, “Crisis on Infinite Earths.” Without giving too much away, the highly anticipated yearly tradition saw favored superheroes teaming up to prevent the Anti-Monitor from destroying the universe. But when John Constantine (Matt Ryan) needed some supernatural help to retrieve a soul from Hell, Ellis’ iconic character crossed over to Earth-666 for some charmingly devilish assistance.

The Flash

Release Date
October 7, 2014

Seasons
9

6 ‘Rush’ (2014)

Character: Dr. William P. Rush

Rush is a 2014 medical drama from writer and director Jonathan Levine, airing on the USA Network for one season in the summer of its release year. Viewers loved the idea of the new show. It was unique and different from generic medical dramas in the sense that its main character, Will Rush, had some rather unorthodox methods when it came to his private practice.

A brilliant doctor in times of life or death situations, Will doesn’t work for a hospital, having been kicked out after operating on a patient while under the influence of drugs. Based in Los Angeles, Rush is gritty, action-packed, and chock-full of potential, leaving viewers curious about its characters and where it might’ve ended up. It could’ve gone far, but the show was sadly canceled after its only season, leaving audiences on a cliffhanger. Ten years later, it’s sadly unlikely to ever be resolved.

Buy on Amazon

5 ‘Merlin’ (2008 – 2012)

Character: King Cenred

Tom Ellis as Cenred in Merlin
Image via BBC

Multi-award-winning British TV series Merlin had a strong run between September 2008 and December 2012. It aired on BBC One for five seasons, concluding on Christmas Eve. The show stars Colin Morgan as the titular character Merlin in a dramatized adaptation of the Arthurian legends, specifically, the Legend of King Arthur. It takes viewers on a journey to the iconic backdrop of Camelot, one of many ventures into the mystical land since its first mention in 12th-century French literature.

Tom Ellis makes an appearance in four episodes throughout the third season. While he’s mentioned multiple times during the first two seasons and in the fourth, his first physical appearance came in the two-part season three opener entitled, “The Tears of Uther Pendragon: Part One” and “Two.” His time on the series concluded in the first of a two-part finale called, “The Coming of Arthur: Part One,” which became one of Merlin‘s highest-rated episodes on the show. And while Ellis’ presence on the show was short compared to its entirety, he left quite a lasting impression.

Merlin

Release Date
September 20, 2008

Creator
Julian Jones, Jake Michie, Johnny Capps, Julian Murphy

Seasons
5

4 ‘Doctor Who’ (2005 – )

Character: Thomas Milligan

Three people looking at something towards a camera
Image via BBC

Chances are, there are few people on the planet who haven’t at least heard of the time-traveling antics that can be found in the extensive Whoniverse. The multi-award-winning TV shows have garnered an extensive fanbase throughout its nearly two-decade run. But the entertainment provided by the multiple Doctors has been around for over sixty years, first appearing on TV screen in 1963. The original release ran for twenty-six seasons, concluding in 1986.

Throughout the show, many famous faces have popped in for a cameo here and there. From the likes of Simon Pegg and James Corden to Andrew Garfield, Kylie Minogue, and Maisie Williams, the show is no stranger to big-name cameos. In the 2007 season three episode, “Last of the Time Lords,” Tom Ellis was the next celebrity to appear in this iconic series, although this was before he was a household name. He portrayed Thomas Mulligan, an NHS pediatrics doctor, and the love interest of Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman) in an alternate timeline.

3 ‘Once Upon A Time’ (2011 – 2018)

Character: Robin Hood

A woman and a man looking worried in the woods
Image via ABC

How can a one-episode appearance become so memorable among a TV show’s fanbase? Well, a cameo from Tom Ellis isn’t one people forget very quickly. If he pops up on screen, chances are, he’ll make a memorable appearance, and a season two episode of the fantasy adventure show Once Upon A Time was certainly no exception. But while the Robin Hood character was seen consistently from this point forward, it sadly wasn’t Tom behind the face of Sherwood Forest’s iconic thief.

Due to scheduling conflicts, Tom Ellis waved goodbye to the character after his introduction in “Lacey,” after which Sean Maguire took over the role. But to some fans, Ellis always be the original they wish could’ve seen go all the way. Despite the briefness of his time on the show, his portrayal of Robin Hood was an impressionable one, and the One Upon A Time character became a fan favorite despite the actor change.

Once Upon A Time

Release Date
October 23, 2011

Creator
Edward Kitsis, Adam Horowitz

Cast
Lana Parrilla , Colin O’Donoghue , Robert Carlyle , Gabrielle Anwar , Dania Ramirez , Mekia Cox

Seasons
7

Watch on Disney+

2 ‘Miranda’ (2009 – 2015)

Character: Gary Preston

Miranda Heart and Tom Ellis embracing each other in Miranda
Image via BBC

To many Brits, Miranda is a show that’ll stay in their hearts forever. It’s a sitcom based on the life of series star Miranda Hart, having been developed from the actress’s semi-autobiography. She is a character many people will relate to in some way or another. This multi-award-winning show was filmed before a live audience in London throughout its entire six-year run.

Ellis’ character Gary Preston is present in all three seasons of the hilarious Miranda and its Christmas specials. Portrayed by the charming actor, the character is Miranda’s love interest, first introduced in the “Pilot” as an old friend before asking her out for a drink when he gets off work. Their old friendship quickly sparks into more as the show goes on, and watching their characters grow together throughout the series is brilliant to see.

Miranda

Release Date
November 9, 2009

Creator
Miranda Hart

Cast
Miranda Hart , Tom Ellis , Patricia Hodge , Sally Phillips , Adrian Scarborough

Seasons
3

Main Genre
Sitcom

Watch on BritBox

1 ‘Lucifer’ (2016 – 2021)

Character: Lucifer Morningstar

Trixie playing doctor with Tom Ellis as Lucifer in Lucifer.
Image via Netflix

Lucifer is one of those shows that comes along every now and then that can get away with just about anything, no matter how random it may be. And yet, it all makes sense, from an absolutely chaotic demon fight to a gut-wrenching emotional scene or pulling off an epic prank in the blink of an eye. This beloved series became one of Netflix’s most highly viewed TV shows ever and remains one of its most popular. While its first three seasons aired on Fox, the network canceled the show in 2018. The uproar from fans and their determination prompted Netflix to save it, allowing a chance for answers to that massive season three cliffhanger and a fitting end to an incredible series.

Following on from Miranda‘s end the previous year, Tom Ellis returned to screens, this time in a show that would make him even more of a household name. Lucifer‘s success propelled Ellis into the hearts of millions with his devilish charm and charisma oozing through TV screens around the world. He was a character who could get away with anything, which made his development throughout the years incredibly entertaining to watch. It’s one of those shows fans can binge-watch repeatedly and never get bored of seeing.

Lucifer

Release Date
January 25, 2016

Seasons
6

NEXT: ‘Lucifer’ Seasons, Ranked

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