An actor once christened by the media as the "Breakout Performer of 2000," Tom Cavanagh earned that title largely thanks to his assignment headlining the popular prime-time series Ed (2000). In that seriocomedy, Cavanagh starred as Ed Stevens, an attorney who moves back to his hometown of Stuckeyville, OH, where he sets up practice in a bowling alley and strikes up a romance with a girl from high school (Julie Bowen). The series lasted four seasons; in its wake, Cavanagh branched out into movies, with leads in the teen-oriented drama Bang, Bang, You're Dead (2002) and the romantic comedy Gray Matters (2006), as well as a small supporting role in the family-oriented laugher How to Eat Fried Worms (2006). During that time, he'd also taken on a recurring role on the medical comedy series Scrubs, playing Dan Dorian, the brother of lead character J.D. (Zach Braff), thanks in large part to the two actors' resemblance to each other.
Cavanagh returned to regular television work with the 2006 prime-time drama Love Monkey -- headlining that program as a record-company executive who grows disillusioned with the ethos of his corporation and sets up shop with a smaller independent label. He rebounded from the hasty cancellation of that program with more feautures, including a starring role in Laurie Lynd's drama Breakfast With Scot (2007), playing a closeted gay sportscaster whose romantic relationship with a hockey player threatens to be undone by the arrival of the latter's nephew. Cavanagh could soon be seen on the small screen again when he guest-starred on the comedy drama Eli Stone as the titular character's deceased father.