Sitcoms are still some of TV’s most popular programs, which is largely thanks to their comedic catharsis and relatable characters. There’s a comforting quality to sitcoms where they’re able to freely indulge in tropes and clichés but use them to deliver broad and hilarious comedy.
Sitcoms often struggle to show restraint, and sometimes, the worst offenders in this department are popular characters who get overused. It’s important to understand that less can be more, but unfortunately, these sitcoms take one of their greatest qualities and turn them into problems.
10 Steve Urkel’s Silly Shenanigans Slowly Take Over The Winslow Family
Family Matters is a 1990s sitcom that was developed to look at the humble lives of the Winslow family. However, it quickly devolved into the unofficial “Steve Urkel” show. The Winslow family’s annoying neighbor, Steve Urkel, sufficiently takes over the sitcom with his sci-fi silliness.
Steve Urkel became the center of the Family Matters universe, but he’s also crossed over with other sitcoms, played a role on Scooby-Doo, and received his own animated holiday special. As such, Urkel has overstayed his welcome in many places, not just Family Matters.
9 Andy Bernard’s Ego And Anger Make For A Maladjusted Regional Manager
The Office helped to rejuvenate workplace sitcoms and popularize the mockumentary film style for a whole generation of audiences. The Office features excellent character-driven storytelling, and it’s no coincidence that so much of the show’s cast have gone on to have major acting careers.
Ed Helms’ Andy Bernard is one of several characters who joins Dunder Mifflin’s Scranton branch in season three. There’s promise to Andy’s character, but his anger issues and oafish nature grow so cumbersome that he becomes a constant anchor to the show’s storytelling and an unfortunate romantic partner for Erin. He is one of the few characters who doesn’t receive redemption by the finale.
8 Stella Zinman Puts Ted Through A Painful Process Of Self-Discovery
How I Met Your Mother
The grandiose love story that’s presented across How I Met Your Mother’s nine seasons has its share of highs and lows. Curiously, it’s the sitcom’s protagonist, Ted Mosby, who receives a lot of the fandom’s frustration. However, Stella Zinman, Ted’s love interest during How I Met Your Mother’s third season, is even more controversial.
Ted goes all in with Stella and even agrees to move to New Jersey, but the two ultimately aren’t meant to be and she leaves him for her ex right before their wedding. Many fans knew that Stella wasn’t right for Ted and that his ongoing dedication to her was just an accident waiting to happen.
7 Ursula Buffay Is An Exaggerated “Evil” Twin
Friends was one of the biggest sitcoms of the 1990s and 2000s, yet it remains one of the most popular series on modern streaming services. Friends comfortably leans into many sitcom stereotypes, but its earlier seasons also display some odder impulses. Lisa Kudrow does double duty as both Phoebe Buffay and her twin sister, Ursula, who was also a character on NBC’s Mad About You.
Ursula never becomes too dominant of a presence in Friends, but she’s a weak character who the show consistently insults for her decisions in life. All of Friends’ Ursula jokes seem even meaner in hindsight, and she doesn’t add anything worthwhile to the show.
6 ALF’s Cat-Hungry Antics Belong Back In Space
ALF only ran for four seasons on NBC, but on some level, it feels like the unusual extraterrestrial has never left the medium. ALF follows the Tanner family, who secretly house this alien oddity while they also learn to enjoy life with him and his mischievous ways.
ALF’s perpetual troublemaking isn’t for everyone and his behavior grows quite predictable. ALF‘s early cancelation is the direct result of audiences having had enough of this heightened sitcom character. Nevertheless, ALF was still pushed in everyone’s faces, as he briefly hosted The Tonight Show as a replacement for Johnny Carson.
5 Bob “Bulldog” Briscoe Is Annoying
Frasier is one of the strongest spin-off series, but it’s also an iconic piece of sitcom history in its own right. The pompous Frasier Crane’s transition from a Boston bar to a Seattle radio station turns out to be the perfect pivot for the character. Frasier’s core cast doesn’t have any weak links, but some of the supporting players at his radio station, KACL, begin to verge on caricatures.
Bob “Bulldog” Briscoe is an extroverted, chauvinist sports radio personality whose aggressive outbursts grow progressively tiring. Bulldog isn’t a nuisance in smaller doses, but Frasier unsuccessfully attempts to give him depth in its later seasons as he pines for Roz.
4 Tobias Fünke And His Endless Double Entendres Wear Out Their Welcomes
Arrested Development helped solidify the success of serialized sitcoms that thrive upon intricate callbacks and jokes that take several episodes to fully play out. Arrested Development adeptly juggles a large cast of characters and dozens of overlapping storylines that all somehow manage to brilliantly dovetail together.
David Cross’ Tobias Fünke is one of Arrested Development’s funniest characters, but his comedy typically comes from his obliviousness toward his true desires and the unfortunate wordplay that he ends up engaging in. These entendres progressively wear out their welcome. It feels like Tobias isn’t allowed the same growth that other Arrested Development characters experience.
3 Susan’s Parents Hang Over George’s Head As Karmic Consequences
Seinfeld deserves infinite accolades for being so hilarious and iconic. The show also helped to normalize Larry David’s signature brand of minutiae-driven comedy. Seinfeld is classically unsentimental with its characters, and it’s not a sitcom that concludes with characters learning lessons.
One of Seinfeld’s more grim decisions is for George’s fiancée, Susan, to perish before their wedding. Susan exits George’s life, but he’s forced to continue to deal with her parents, the Rosses. The Rosses actively resent George for the loss of their daughter and continually bringing them back just feels like unnecessary emotional torture.
2 Benjamin Chang’s Exodus As A Spanish Teacher Only Gets Weirder
Benjamin Chang, the chaotic Spanish teacher on Community, was never meant to be a permanent part of the cast. Chang sheds his authority figure role after season one and Community struggles to figure out how to best use this wild card. A lot of these efforts are just confusing and season four’s extended “Changnesia” storyline is definitely the show’s weakest use of the character.
Curiously, Community’s sixth and final season has some of the best Chang stories from the show’s entire run and the series concludes with some genuine growth on the character’s part. Unfortunately, many fans had already given up on this increasingly broad caricature.
1 Charles Boyle Reaches Diminishing Returns With Each Season
Brooklyn Nine-Nine is one of the stronger workplace sitcoms of the past decade and many episodes are able to elevate standard storylines through the talented cast of comedic actors. Brooklyn Nine-Nine knows how to make its audience both laugh and think, which is becoming a rarity in sitcoms.
Most of Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s cast is guilty of “flanderization” where they become cartoonishly one-note, but Joe Lo Truglio’s Charles Boyle is the biggest offender. Boyle’s most annoying and desperate characteristics begin to dominate the detective until there’s nothing left.
NEXT: 10 Weakest Sitcom Spin-Offs
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