There have been many, many great sit-com characters over the decades. Here are 10 that were the cream of the crop.
Sophia Petrillo: The Golden Girls
The show was an ensemble, but Petrillo and her sharp tongue and wit often stole the spotlight. She often told long-winded tales that began with “Picture it… ” but behind her acerbic demeanor was a woman who fiercely loved her daughter, Dorothy. The interplay between the two often was the funniest part of the show. Shady Pines’ loss was our gain.
Dr. Perry Cox: Scrubs
The man gave primers on how to give the best long-winded, angry rants that were simultanously hilarious. John C. McGinley was able to show this doctor who had the shortest fuse with anything that he perceived as incompetent as being capable of then turning around and espousing some wisdom that showed the way for people to figure things out. I am still mad though that they couldn’t have a Cox-Dr. Gregory House face-off.
Louie DePalma: Taxi
The dimunitive Danny DeVito gave a heart and personality that was twice his size. In a show that featured such out-sized actors like Christopher Lloyd and Andy Kaufman, DeVito outshone them both.
Frasier Crane: Cheers/Frasier
Kelsey Grammer imbued humanity on someone who could have been viewed as merely pompous. Frasier was someone who often was unable to let his brain and his feelings reconcile while in the pursuit of romance. It didn’t help that he had a neurotic brother who was in the middle of his own romantic crisis.
Cosmo Kramer: Seinfeld
Sure, Kramer was a nut, but Michael Richards added layers to the zaniness. The main lesson that I learned from him though is: Always lock your front door. I never understood why Seinfeld always had the door open. What is it with people who leave their front doors unlocked? Oops. I’m going off on a Seinfeld stand-up joke tangent…
Barney Stinson: How I Met Your Mother
Stinson may be a complete womanizer and near-sociopath, but he’s also loyal to his friends at the very end. He may have been the archetype of hedonistic bachelorhood, but now we’ll find out if he commits to a life with Robin? What makes Barney so great is that while he is a total self-centered buffoon, there’s that little, tiny sliver of humanity in him too.
Archie Bunker: All in the Family
In this ultra PC world, I don’t think Carroll O’Connor would have been allowed to even play the character, even with the depth that he displayed. Actually, he could, but it would have to be on a cable channel like FX. He’s probably be another character on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
Cliff Huxtable: The Cosby Show
Here’s a man who gave a portrayal of a smart and very involved family man – who was black. That hadn’t been seen that often on TV before and Cosby rightfully is hailed for doing so. This was the happy Cosby, not the grumpy one from that different Cosby show that aired years later on another network.
Ralph Kramden: The Honeymooners
One of the first sitcom archetypes — the loud, blowhard husband. Jackie Gleason, made the character his own, though, and no one else could touch the part. Cedric, I’m looking at you. People might not like that “Bam, to the moon!” threat nowadays, but even back then, you just KNEW that if he had actually laid a hand on Alice, he would have wound up wearing his bus steering wheel around his neck.
Roseanne Connor: Roseanne
Sure, her character was supposedly the product of a writer’s imagination, but she was a darn good mother and person on the show, despite her sassy mouth. Under that hard exterior beat a heart of gold. I always loved the back-and-forth with her and Jackie.