Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Greatest Sitcom Character of All Time

Inspired by my hero, ESPN's The Sports Guy, I decided to take his Cheer's vs. Seinfeld argument to the next level (a work of journalistic genius). I am going to try and leap tall buildings in a single bound. Climb Mt. Everest with a bottle of Poland Spring and some trail mix. Take on Tom Brady and the Greatest Offense in National Football League History with a washed up Michael Strahan and some spare parts. Ummm, scratch that. Tom Coughlin did that first.
Where we are going is where no man has gone before. To a galaxy FAR FAR AWAY. It's a bird, it's a plane, it's..................The Top 11 Greatest Sitcom Characters of All Time .

With respect to the G.O.A.T. of sports talk radio, we're gonna kick this off, Mike and the Mad Dog Dog style.........
"ANNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNND, Good afternoon everybotttttttttttty. Mike and the Mad Dog live from TPC Memoral Stadium, we're going to give you................The TEN BEST SITCOM CHARACTERS OF ALL TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
"Dog (in a much too subdued Francessa voice) that's exactly what we're gonna do today. We're gonna bring in the Seinfelds, the Cheers, the Taxi's, some surprises that Gelb's gonna get us. It's gonna be a great show"
"Mikey, I can't even control myself. This is even bigger than Giants Baseball and Arod blowing it again against the 'Sox. Mikey, you don't get bigger than this".
"Dog, you got the Seinfeld crew. Quite possibly the greatest squad, top to bottom of all time. You got "Cheers", you know, Norm, Sammy, hmmm, who can leave out Clavin", you got stuff like "Good Times", "The Honeymooners", Ya Got.
"Mikey, funny you go there with the "Honeymooners", you got some hummmina hummina working over there for you! HAHHAHAHHHAAA Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh BABY!"

With that intro, and respects to J.J. Evans, Mr. Woodman, George Jefferson, Al Bundy, Screech and of course the Big Ragu , in no particular order.............

(ED NOTE: Click on the names of the Characters for some great clips)

Alex P. Keaton- The quintessential Young Republican, born to two former hippies, now Super liberals, Alex defined a generation that moved from the liberal 70's to the Reaganomics of the 80's.

Archie Bunker- Archie was the guy everyone knew growing up in their neighborhood. Bigoted, hard working, hilarious, and deep down a really good guy. His conservative values battling against his son in laws (Rob Reiner's "Meathead") were classic television battles.

Vinny Barbarino- "What?" "Where?" "Why?" Who knew the Head of the Sweathogs would become such a freaked out Scientologist?

Jim Ignatowski- Before there was a Michael Jordan, there was Dr. J. Before there was Guns and Roses there was Led Zep. And before there was a Kramer, there was the Reverend Jim. Maybe the greatest comedic scene of all time took place when the Reverend was taking his drivers test "What does a yellow light mean" "Slow down" "Ah, oka. Whaaaaaaaaat doooooooes a yellooow light meaaaaaan".

Norm Peterson- Quite simply, the creator of the greatest entry in TV history. One such example. "Norm, how's the world treating you". "It's a dog-eat-dog world, Sammy, and I'm wearing Milkbone underwear". Also the title of the Greatest Beer Drinker in TV History.

Sam Malone- Sammy, despite being a former Red Sox pitcher, was the most complex character on the second best show of all time, Cheers, despite his seemingly shallow exterior. Second only to the Fonz as TV's greatest ladies man, Sammy conquered all.

Arthur Fonzerelli- Anyone who grew up in the 70's, and I mean anyone, wanted to be like The Fonz. Everyone wanted to wear a a black leather jacket over his T Shirt and jeans, put their thumbs up and say "Aaaaay". The Fonz just snapped his fingers and the chicks came a running, knocked on the jukebox and the music started playing (ever wonder why Arnold never got upset that The Fonz played the jukebox all those years for free?). Interesting that he started off as a bit character on Happy Days and became it's leading character just a short time in.

Cosmo Kramer- " all right the cat is meeoooow out of the bag. I'm Cosmo Kramer and that's who I'm going to be". Much like Jordan to his Dr. J, Kramer took the zany character that the Reverend Jim created and took it to the next level. Kramer's entrances were classic in that Kramer used pure body movements and wacky sounds to create great comedy.

Ralph Kramden- TV's first great sitcom character, the great Kramden has stood the test of some fifty years and is just as funny today as he was when it all began in 1955. The classic blue collar worker trying to get ahead in post war America, Kramden pulled out all the stops and became one of American Pop culture's most recognized characters. "Baby, your the greatest".

Dr. Frasier Crane- Frasier was the longest running successful character in sitcom history. Starting off as a bit character on Cheers, when Diane left him at the alter, Dr. Crane developed into one of TV's greatest characters. Frasier's constant attempts at breaking in to Upper Class Society was the definition of his character.

George Costanza- The G.O.A.T. of sitcom characters, bar none. George took an unemployed (until he did the opposite) bald man who lived with is parents to unprecedented heights. The key to the G.O.A.T. of TV Sitcoms, George 's demented character was the definition of great comedy. Being I'm not in the mood to get into George in greater detail......."Now you listen to me: I want details and I want them right now. I don’t have job , I have no place to go… you’re not in the mood: well you get in the mood"

"No one’s bigger idiot than me". "Every decision I have ever made in my entire life, has been wrong. My life is the complete opposite of everything I wanted to be. Every instinct I have, in every aspect of life, is it something to wear, something to eat, it’s all been wrong".

"Yeah, I’m a great quitter: it’s one of the few things I do well… I come from a long line of quitters. My father was a quitter, my grandfather was a quitter… I was raised to give up"

"Do you realize in the entire history of western civilization no one has successfully accomplished the roommate switch. In the middle ages you could get locked up for even suggesting it"

"Do you ever just get down on your knees and thank god that you know me and have access to my dementia?"

"I don't want hope. Hope is killing me. My dream is to become hopeless. When you're hopeless you don't care. And when you don't care, that indifference makes you attractive."

Yes George, you might be all those things. You're also the greatest sitcom character of all time.


The Don said...

Great list. I might switch George Jefferson and Alex Keaton though. Off the top of my head I'd add The Honeymooners Ed Norton and Taxi's Latka to the 'respects' list.

The Ducks said...

Was all ready to tackle your Draft analysis but then saw this. Like most of your fantasy performances, your list is solid, but imperfect. How you can leave Seinfeld himself off the list is inexcusable. Perhaps even more inexcusable is the complete omission of any of the Simpsons. You could argue, hey, it's a cartoon, but that would be a copout. Homer Simpson has to be the among the greatest of all time.
You nailed reverend jim, george and archie bunker, but missed the ball with Cheers, a very good comedy that was always very overrated. Yeh, it was funny. But it never made me laugh out lout like the seinfelds or all in the families did. To me, it (and happy days) was not all that different from the Laverne & Shirleys, Mork & Mindys, etc. Good stuff but not all time great.
And here's a few more you really missed:
1. Balki Bartakamous- The funniest sitcom character of all time, IMO, who never gets recognized as such. Utter comic and slapstick brilliance. I HATE slapstick, but he was so good at it that i couldnt help but burst out in laughter. honorary mention, too, to cousin Larry, his straight man.
2. John Ritter- How on earth do you not name Jack Tripper? I mean that's just missing the ball pollan.
3.Eddie from Leave it to Beaver- here's the guy that revolutionized the future "Cockroaches" (Theo Huxtable's friend) and Boners (kirk Cameron's friend).
4. Mr. Ferly-- again, you missed the boat on Three's company.
5. Larry, Darryl & Darryl- maybe not tops, but worth some mention, no? I mean you listed Screech for gosh sake.
6.Cartman- I guess if you're gonna leave out the Simpsons, I can see leaving out Cartman. But both should be in here, really.

I'm sure I'm missing some, but these are just what popped into my head immediately.

ThePeoplesChamp said...

People, it's atop 11 list of all time. MANY great characters were left off.
ReRun, DeWayne Wayne, Loui DePalma, Norton, and many others.
To answer you on the Simpsonns I left off cartoons because they are technically not sitcoms. If they were both Homer and Bart would make the list.
Seinfeld was not a great character. He was a good set up man but on his own he wasnt great.
For a nyone to say Cheers wasnt a great show has lost alll credibility in my book.

Ducks said...

i understand all that, but how are jack tripper, balki and Mr. Ferly NOT ahead of Vinny Barbarino or even Norm. jack and balki CARRIED their shows and were brilliant and hysterical. was vinny barbarino really hysterical. some of the lines the writers fed to norm were great, but was he as a rounded character and actor really briliiant? i think it's a different level.
And I'll stick to my cheers was good but overrated statement. It's kind of like Noach. He was great in his time but who knows if he wouldv'e been emmy worthy today. CHeers was during the cosby show, punky brewster days, hardly 24, Seinfeld, Sopranos.
Cosby would not be considered a great show today and neither would cheers, though I think it Would do ok.

ThePeoplesChamp said...


Most shows are good only during the times they are shown. While I agree that Cheers has many episodes that are dated, it's irrelevant to conversation. Happy Days was dated.
As to compare Balki, Jack Tripper and Mr. Firley to Vinny Barbarino- I'll give you tripper. He was a great character. Firley was a bit character. No one watched the show because of him.
As for Balki. Come on. Your losing it here. He might have been funny, but if you took a poll of everyone who watched TV in the 80's, I would say most wouldnt even know who he was let alone what show he was on.
EVERYONE, and I mean everyone to kid in 2nd grade to your grandmother knew or heard of Vinny Barbarino.

The Ducks said...

your post title was "greatest" character not most popular. everyone knew vinny barbarino is therefore true (and few know of balki) but that doesnt make him funnier or better.

if you were creating a list of the greatest musicians of all time, it would be VERY different than the most popular of all time, wouldn't it?

just some food for thought. i thought balki was absolutely laugh-out-loud crying level funny. but that's just me.

Epstiens Mother said...

Great list but you forgot some great one.

Gilligan. Mr. Howell. Sanford. Johnny Fever. Arnold Jackson. Lou Grant. Louie Depalma. Alex Riger.
Arnold Horeshack and my son.

Anonymous said...

Archie Bunker was supposed to be a laughing stock to make fun of conservative values. The show was not intended to show both sides of the story.

ThePeoplesChamp said...

Mr. Anonymous,

What relevance does your comment have to the conversation?

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Stuie said...

Great list, but it would have been nice to see some modern TV shows get some respect. How about Michael Scott from The Office or Dr. Cox from Scrubs?

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