Credit: John Paschal/JPI, Howard Wise/JPI (3), Aaron Montgomery/JPI

No one knew it at the time, but the CBS soap had just ushered onto the scene its own future.

When Bryton James first appeared on The Young and the Restless on June 1, 2004, he was no green rookie. Though still a teenager, he’d been in showbiz since he was 2 years old. In fact, he’d gotten his big break, on the TGIF sitcom Family Matters, when he was only 4!

FAMILY MATTERS, Bryton McClure, 1989-1998, © ABC/courtesy Everett Collection

Class photo? No, Family Matters promo shot.

Credit: ABC/Courtesy of the Everett Collection

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Still, no one could have predicted the impact that he’d come to have on the CBS soap. Certainly not James himself. But he was sure game to give it his all. “Once I knew that they valued me and thought that I would be a great fit for this role,” he told Soap Opera Digest in 2020, “I immediately just wanted to get better every day and do the best I could to add to the show. I mean, I didn’t know anything about The Young and the Restless… I didn’t know the legacy that it had…

“But once I did,” he added, “I was very confident and eager to get going.”

At first, James’ character — Devon Hamilton, as if you didn’t know — was sorta the show’s go-to when it wanted to do a “very special” storyline, whether about the foster-care system or deafness or getting stuck in a lion’s cage at the zoo.

OK, maybe that last one wasn’t your run-of-the-mill Afterschool Special.

Shemar Moore, Bryton McClure"The Young and the Restless" Set CBS Television City 4/5/05 ©Brian Lowe/ 310-657-9661 Episode #8130

Malcolm’s reaction when Devon insisted that it could’ve happened to anybody.

Credit: Brian Lowe/JPI

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James, and along with him Devon, evolved — to the point that they’ve become frontburner mainstays. If a plot is hot and getting hotter, odds are you’ll find Neil and Drucilla Winters’ adopted son smack-dab in the middle of it. “I definitely didn’t anticipate this long [a run] or even think that far into the future” when trying out, the Emmy winner told TV Source in 2019. “Never in a million years did I expect it would be this integrated into the canvas of such an iconic show. And now here we are… ”

That, we are. On this joyful occasion, join us, why don’t ya, in paying tribute to James’ accomplishments as Devon by reviewing the character’s “Wait, what?!?” history via the below photo gallery.