If you didn't last until season 8 of Stargate: SG-1, you missed out on Vala Mal Doran. A space pirate of sorts, con artist, and thief, she somehow becomes a regular fixture at Stargate Command, eventually joining the SG-1 team. She also plays a big part in the You won't be surprised to learn that underneath everything, she is a good person. Also? She makes pigtails look hot.
Vala first makes an appearance in season 8 of the show (Prometheus Unbound), and she was only intended to be around for one episode. Because of the playful chemistry between Vala and Daniel Jackson and the popularity of the character, she was asked to return in season 9. Claudia Black declined a regular role but guest starred in a six episode arc. Finally, Vala was a regular character in season 10. Vala was witty, mischievous, and added a new dynamic to the show. With the show maybe a bit past its prime and changes like Richard Dean Anderson leaving, a character like Vala was needed. Actually, I don't want to imagine the last two seasons without her. Her presence obviously added a new facet to the team, but Vala was entirely different from any other recurring character. Watching the actors and characters figure out how to interact with her kept me watching. It was also fun to have a strong female character that wasn't a scientist or a Goa'uld. Black played the role perfectly, and she won Saturn and Constellation awards for her portrayal. It is because of Claudia Black that I will eventually watch Farscape.
I like to think that she would be friends with Han Solo. One of the show writers, Damian Kindler, did compare her character growth in season 10 to Lando Calrissian - a former swindler who's gone legit.
Favorite Vala episode:
I'll be reviewing the recently published comic book series about Vala soon!