Because of the formulaic nature of sitcoms, these shows are filled with bidimensional and stereotypical characters who don’t go anywhere. However, in recent years, viewers have demanded more from these series. After all, sitcoms can be both funny and reflective.
Since sitcoms are some viewers’ favorite comfort shows, which makes it the more important to include interesting and relatable characters for all types of audiences. Fortunately, several popular sitcoms feature amazing character development.
10 Penelope Alvarez (One Day At A Time)
Portrayed by Justina Machado, Penelope is a single mother and daughter of Cuban immigrants. While One Day at a Time is a hilarious show, it takes the time to carefully develop several characters, which has made it one of the most iconic modern sitcoms. Penelope, for example, used to be a Staff Sergeant in the United States Army, and the show portrays her struggle with PTSD and depression.
Furthermore, One Day at a Time illustrates the struggles of immigrants as they’re raised within two different cultures. While Penelope values her Cuban heritage, she doesn’t have her mother’s orthodox ideas. However, she isn’t as drastic as her daughter, Elena, so Penelope needs to constantly negotiate her ideology with these two characters. Penelope is a much-needed representation of Latinx in the United States as well as the role of parents in the LGBTQ+ communities.
9 Marshall Eriksen (How I Met Your Mother)
While everyone knows that How I Met Your Mother is a trainwreck, Marshall’s character is one of the few good things that came out of the show. When the series begins, Marshall is engaged with his first girlfriend and getting into law school, but soon enough, this character discovers that his dreams aren’t as easy to achieve.
How I Met Your Mother explores Marshall’s journey from a young adult to a wage earner, husband, and parent. He will, though, go through a break-up with Lily, lose his father, and work several unsatisfying jobs before reaching this plateau. Marshall is the only character in HIMYM who shows a realistic experience of going through one’s 20s.
8 Jake Peralta (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
Jake is an amazing sitcom character who goes from the typical immature, messy, and irresponsible character to a reliable, understanding, and assertive person. While he never stops being hilarious, Jake’s journey as a cop, together with his teammates and Captain Holt, provides him with the tools to grow up.
Throughout Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Jake earns Captain Holt’s respect, marries Amy, and becomes a father. In the last season, he even understands the lackings of the police force, and even though it had been his lifelong dream, he steps off to become a full-time dad and to support his wife.
7 Haley Dunphy (Modern Family)
Haley is one of the more lovable characters in Modern Family. At the beginning of the series, she’s the stereotype of a dim-witted, mean, and shallow teenager, but as she grows older, she becomes more generous, empathetic, and centered.
Unlike the rest of the characters in Modern Family, Haley broke out of her role in the series and eventually found a job that she truly liked while creating a family. This could be a comment on how Haley, being the older one in her generation, is already stepping out of the more conventional stereotypes.
6 Casey Gardner (Atypical)
Sam’s younger sister in Atypical, Casey, is an over-achiever with excellent grades and great athletic skills. However, because her family pays more attention to her brother, she’s often overlooked by her parents. Atypical took the time to portray the struggles of the sister of a person with autism, which is incredibly valuable.
While Casey loves her brother, she has a hard time balancing her family life and her school life because of her mother’s demands. Atypical shows the tension between Casey and her mother and her difficulty with coming out of the closet. However, as Casey grows older, she understands herself and her environment better and learns to put helpful boundaries to have the time to care for herself.
5 Chidi Anagonye (The Good Place)
While most fans focus on Eleanor Shellstrop’s growth throughout The Good Place, many viewers fail to notice Chidi Anagonye’s inconspicuous yet terrific character development. The afterlife forces Chidi to confront his limitations, especially his lack of control over his life.
While Eleanor, Jason, and Tahani obviously weren’t supposed to be in the Good Place, Chidi believed he was supposed to be there. However, soon it becomes clear that Chidi’s lack of assertiveness did more harm than good in his time on Earth, so he has to learn to take a stance.
4 Pam Beesley (The Office)
Pam is one of the most underrated characters in The Office, but she’s also the character with the most growth throughout the series. While most of the characters in this show are Flanderized, especially Dwight and Michael, the show deeply explores Pam’s ambitions, fears, and interests.
At the beginning of The Office, Pam used to doubt herself and question her abilities instead of going for whatever she wanted. This was especially obvious compared to characters who constantly believe themselves to be qualified for jobs they aren’t, such as Michael. However, step by step, Pam learns to take control of her life. First, she decides to go to art school, then she creates her own position in Dunder Mifflin, and eventually, she even achieves her dream of working in the art industry.
Abed is, without a doubt, one of the most interesting characters on TV. He’s one of the younger members of the Spanish study group in Greendale, and he struggles with social cues and understanding emotions. For this reason, he often compares real life with TV, a subject that often brings him comfort.
However, while Abed seems to be just a comedy relief in the first few episodes of Community, the show slowly and steadily dives into Abed’s psyche. This character has a rich internal life, and the show conveys it in several episodes, such as in “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas,” where Abed believes he’s part of an animated Christmas show. Abed learns to cope with reality without having to resort to TV tropes, acquiring tools to be more emotionally involved with people.
2 Alexis Rose (Schitt’s Creek)
Schitt’s Creek is a sitcom with great character arcs all around, but Alexis’ character development is the most amazing one. When she first arrives in Schitt’s Creek, she’s a spoiled and shallow girl who doesn’t create real intimacy with people.
However, as the show progresses, Alexis learns to create closer relationships without becoming codependent. She focuses more on herself and eventually understands that sometimes she needs to put her personal growth over romantic relationships.
1 Chandler Bing (Friends)
Friends is the most iconic sitcom from the ’90s. While some characters don’t go through any character development, Chandler did become one of the most interesting and well-rounded characters on TV. Chandler goes from an insecure man who uses jokes as a coping mechanism to a more assertive and self-assured person throughout the ten seasons of the show.
Furthermore, one of the recurrent gags in the first seasons of Friends is Chandler’s commitmment issues, yet soon enough, he became a part of one of the most beloved and admired couples in television. Chandler manages to overcome his issues and becomes an excellent husband and father.
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