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Most Underrated Sitcom Characters Of All Time

When it comes to great sitcoms, we all know that more often than not, the lead and co-lead characters get to bask in most of the praise, love, and laughter from audiences, leaving the rest of the cast to share whatever crumbs of glory are left behind.

However, these supporting players are the ones who make the sitcom world so weird, wacky, and truly wild. So we've chosen to give the funniest, most-deserving secondary and tertiary characters in sitcom history the appreciation they truly deserve. We're talking about those lower ladder characters who've left a true mark on our hearts and minds thanks to their unique wardrobe choices, clever catchphrases, quirky mannerisms, and emotional appeal. These are the people who made us laugh and cry the most, despite their supposed second-grade status.

So, without further ado, here's to the most exceptional yet unjustly undervalued sitcom characters of all time!

Mrs. Richards – Fawlty Towers

Even though she appeared in just the first episode of Series 2, "Communication Problems," Mrs. Richards is one of the most memorable characters in the British sitcom classic "Fawlty Towers," all thanks to the impeccable acting skills of the late Joan Sanderson .

The easily irritable and selectively deaf Mrs. Richards is perhaps one of the earliest examples of a true "Karen," one who was able to make audiences cackle with laughter while also making them feel a deep sense of empathy for the poor staff at the Fawlty Towers. No wonder hotel owner Basil (John Cleese) was barely able to restrain himself from kicking her out. However, he simply couldn't hold in his sarcasm and quiet insults, which made for some hilarious passive-aggressive interactions between the two.

Griff – Married with Children

As a divorced man in "Married with Children," Harold Sylvester's Griff shared many of Al Bundy's (Ed O'Neill) characteristics as far as work ethic and views on society go. But what truly made us love him, apart from the countless laughs he gifted us with, is the fact that he was actually a big ol' softie who was somehow always getting the short end of the stick.

Yes, Griff didn't get nearly as much screen time as someone like Al's best buddy, Jefferson (Ted McGinley), but man, did he bring so much life and uncontrollable laughter to the show. Also, how many characters in TV history have been able to describe their whole existence with just one great line? For Griff, it was, "Hey, I've got an ex-wife, and I work in a shoe store. I feel no pain." In other words, he was most definitely one of the strongest add-ons to the cast.

Matsuo 'Arnold' Takahashi – Happy Days

Although Pat Morita did pretty well for himself career-wise, staring in beloved hits like "The Karate Kid" and cult action flicks like "Bloodsport," "Happy Days" is the show that truly put this legendary actor on the map as a comedian.

Here, he played Matsuo "Arnold" Takahashi, owner of Arnold's Drive-In, the diner that served as HQ to Henry Winkler's Fonzie. As for the character himself, Arnold's contagious laughter and trademark headshaking — combined with his out-of-place, childish, and often cynical jokes — made him one of biggest yet underappreciated comedic treasures in the sitcom universe.

Oh, and let us not forget that his skillset included running a restaurant, dancing, karate, and speaking fluent Chinese, Japanese, Korean, English, and ... "a little Hungarian!" Sadly, Morita didn't even get close to receiving the credit he truly deserved for playing his part as the nutty owner of Arnold's Drive-In in "Happy Days".

Gareth Keenan – The Office (UK)

No one can deny that Ricky Gervais' first masterpiece had a bulletproof cast, but his own character, David Brent, was the most memorable in the series and catapulted him to global stardom. However, David's idiotic nerd sidekick, Gareth Keenan, was also a truly fantastic character, although not much has been heard of Mackenzie Crook afterwards (apart from a couple of minor roles in "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "Game of Thrones"). But the man made his impact as the OG Dwight Schrute. 

Gareth's silly haircut, his over-the-top, deluded level of self-assuredness, and his inability to take a joke of any kind at his own expense made him so awkwardly funny that he more than held his own against his comedic coworkers. Whether he would partner with his crazy boss in trying to bring order to their dull and boring workplace or be the butt of yet another Tim Canterbury (Martin Freeman) practical joke, Gareth never failed to make us laugh out loud, and for that, he deserves a special place in our hearts.

Esther Anderson – Sanford and Son

The original "crazy eyes" herself, Ester Anderson (LaWanda Page) was so hardcore that she made "Madea" look like Mother Teresa. The minute Fred Sanford's sister-in-law walked into the family home, we all knew that the room was about to get filled with sparks of rage (and laughter) as the two characters had their never-ending back and forths. Some of Esther's signature lines included "fish-eyed fool" and "watch it, sucka." But perhaps her craziest bit was when she threatened, "You've come here with teeth! Do you wanna leave with teeth?"

No one on the show could truly mess with Aunt Esther, and that's why, mostly out of respect, she gets a spot on our list.

Stanley Roper – Three's Company

When it came to secondary characters on "Three's Company," most of the glory went to Richard Kline's Larry Dallas or Don Knott's Ralph Furley. However, we want to sing the praises of Stanley Roper (Norman Fell). This early prototype of Al Bundy had one of the most memorable and contagious smiles, and he wasn't shy to show it off at every little opportunity. Who could forget his unapologetic breaking of the fourth wall by laughing in the direction of the camera every time he cracked a joke only he would find funny? (Well, him and the audience, of course.)

Norman Fell's flawless timing and comedic prowess was on full display in "Three Company," and there's no denying the show owes him a lot for its massive success.

Wanda Sykes – Curb Your Enthusiasm

Ah, Wanda Sykes, aka Larry David's worst nightmare. Although she appeared in just nine episodes as herself, Wanda brought so much laughter to the show that it's painful to think that she never reappeared after Season 8 of "Curb Your Enthusiasm."

Wanda is most definitely the person who Larry actually feared meeting on the street and hesitated to talk back to as she always called him out and put him on the spot for being a racist (probably just to mess with him) anytime he had an awkward encounter with a Black person. The improvisational scenes between these two were so hilarious that sometimes the rest of the cast couldn't help but laugh out loud while Larry was being humiliated by Wanda in front of everyone. Hopefully, we'll see her back sometime in the near future.

Reverend Jim Ignatowski – Taxi

Before playing Doc Brown in "Back to the Future," Christopher Lloyd was mostly known for his role as Jim Ignatowski -– a taxi driver whose excessive drug use and erratic behavior pushed him into some outlandishly funny situations. He was something of a proto-Kramer, one whose memory often failed him, making everything he said questionable. Of course, everything he said was also hilarious, including rambling such as, "I wonder about things, like, if they call an orange an 'orange,' then why don't we call a banana a 'yellow' or an apple a 'red?' Blueberries, I understand. But will someone explain gooseberries to me?"

Yes, Ignatowski might've been somewhat inappropriate, but he was a revolutionary, unique, and extremely funny character back in the '70s, and his shenanigans still make us laugh to this day.

Uncle Leo – Seinfeld

As one of the most successful shows in TV history, "Seinfeld" was packed to the brim with comedic geniuses such as the titular Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander, and Jerry Stiller. But if there's one person who deserved a bigger role than the one that was given to him, it was Len Lesser as Uncle Leo.

Uncle Leo was loud, sneaky, paranoid, passive-aggressive, and totally unaware of what people actually thought about him. (He also didn't mind shoplifting books.) Yet oftentimes, he would turn the world upside down to help those around him. And that's what made him so pure and special –- he was relatable and embodied characteristics we could actually notice in our own family members.

Of course, even when he was about to do a good deed, his eccentric attitude couldn't help but show up. For example, when he thought Jerry was having financial problems, he stuffed some money in his pocket while saying, "If anybody asks you where you got it, you don't know!"

Janice – Friends

Who could ever forget the annoyingly adorable Janice (Maggie Wheeler)? Her squeaky, dragged-out bursts of soul-shattering cackles never failed to raise the hairs on our bodies while making us laugh at the same time. Despite her somewhat cringe persona, Janice was a genuine character who never lied about her feelings for Chandler, even though he was often being a jerk to her.

Although her lack of self-awareness was sometimes just too painful to witness, Janice managed to steal every scene she appeared in. She simply took over and made everything funnier. Also, who could forget her unique, sometimes frightening sense of humor, which she would always use to paralyze the entire room. ("Well, I guess that's two out of three ... Joey!")

Let's not fool ourselves, if anyone deserves her own spinoff show, it's Janice.

Pat MacDougall – Everybody Loves Raymond

Few can deny the top-notch casting of secondary characters such as Marie (Doris Roberts) and Robert Barone (Brad Garrett) in "Everybody Loves Raymond." But one gem of a character who didn't seem to get much attention is that of the painfully honest Pat MacDougall (Georgia Engel).

If you'd lived in the Raymond universe and for some reason ever wanted to hear what someone really thought of you, Pat was your go-to person. It always came as a shock when this timid yet sweet old woman fired deep and painful words of destruction such as, "It's not your fault. We're just not the type of people who would ever want to be with ... you."

Jeez, and that piercing, almost psychopathic look in her eyes while she delivers her lines ... scary yet hilarious!

Stanley Zbornak – Golden Girls

In "Golden Girls," Dorothy's (Bea Arthur) serial cheater, sleazy pest of an ex-husband has never failed to disappoint when it comes to making the audience laugh. There's simply no other character on TV that deserves the "Butt of the Joke" crown more than Stan (Herb Edelman), but we also couldn't help but feel for him as he kept on showing up at Dorothy's door with his signature "hiya babe" and "hi, it's me, Stan" lines, which would always result in the door being slammed in his face or his former wife uttering a deep sigh of exasperation.

But despite his shortcomings (including the fake toupee and funny mustache), we couldn't help but cheer for Stan as he never gave up on trying to win back the heart of his true love and redeem himself in the eyes of the audience. In other words, he's a well-rounded, unforgettable character, and "Golden Girls" simply wouldn't have been the same without him.

Florence Johnston – The Jeffersons

Florence Johnston (Marla Gibbs) — the fiery maid of the Jefferson family — was always able to make every scene she was part of much livelier than it was meant to be. And even though George Jefferson (Sherman Hemsley), who pays her salary, never seemed happy with the neglectful way she was handling her job, no one could deny that she played an integral part in the show. She even managed to finally win her boss' respect (which definitely wasn't an easy task, considering George's bad temper) when she saved him from being tricked into a financial disaster by a greedy businessman. And how did she do it? By being her true self –- nosy and listening in on a conversation she was never supposed to hear.

Despite her negative aura, this hilarious character should be going down in history as one of the funniest fictional maids to ever grace the small screen.

Larry, Darryl, and Darryl – The Bob Newhart Show

Whether it's helping Bob run his café, searching for a missing person, or removing a dead possum from a well, Larry, Darryl, and Darryl (William Sanderson, Tony Papenfuss, and John Voldstad) were the go-to men for any job. Plus, the "Do Anything for a Buck" trio were famous for the hilarious way they always introduced themselves to people. Larry would say, "I'm Larry, this is my brother, Darryl, and this is my other brother, Darryl," while Darryl and Darryl never uttered a word or tried to speak for themselves.

This unique '80s version of "The Three Stooges" didn't appear as regularly in "The Bob Newhart Show" as audiences might have wanted, but they did bring us tons of laughter with their sheer awkwardness, weird behavior, and the mysterious fact that the two Darryls never spoke until the final episode, which brought a funny yet somewhat scary undertone to many scenes in the show.

The truth is, nobody liked turning to the brothers for help, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and some jobs are simply too difficult to stomach for the everyday person.

Geoffrey Butler – The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

Londoner Geoffrey (Joseph Marcell) was the Banks family's cheeky, sarcastic, and sometimes insulting butler. But despite his frustrations with the spoiled Bel-Air family's laziness and over-dependence on him, he had a soft side and truly cared for them all.

The coolest thing about Geoffrey was that, unlike most regular butlers, he was never afraid to speak his mind, even if that could potentially land him in trouble with his employers. His boldness and honesty were the things audiences mostly loved about him — and, of course, the fact that his dialogue scenes were incredibly witty. For example, when Hilary Banks (Karyn Parsons) asked Geoffrey what he knew about wine, he cleverly replied, "I know no one does it better than you, Miss Hilary."

Richie Iannucci – The King of Queens

In real life, Larry Romano is the brother of "Everybody Loves Raymond" star Ray Romano. But in the world of "King of Queens," he was incredibly effective in his role as the fireman Richie Iannucci, the long-time high school buddy of Doug Heffernan (Kevin James), whom he'd cleverly nicknamed "Moose" (after Moose Mason from the Archie Comics). In fact, he was such a unique character that he could've even overtaken Deacon Palmer (Victor Williams) as the main character's strongest comedic partner (apart from Leah Remini's Carrie that is).

However, after just two seasons, Richie left the show and found a new home as Aldo Bonnadonna in NBC's comedy series "Kristin," which was eventually canceled right after its first season. Sadly, the memory of Richie eventually started to fade as "The King of Queens" went on for another seven incredibly strong seasons, but there's one question that will always be on our minds: What would the show have been like had Richie remained a part of the family?

Cody Lambert – Step by Step

Even though he was a down-the-line character, for many of us, Cody Lambert (Sasha Mitchell) carried "Step by Step" the way Steve Urkel carried "Family Matters." The nephew of Frank Lambert (Patrick Duffy), Cody was a one-of-a-kind, silly, wide-smiled fool whose sense of humor was so childish and awkward that it was hard not to laugh at. Cody was the kind of guy constantly dropping golden nuggets, such as, "Whoa, it's like my brain has a mind of its own!"

His comedy, in combination with his charmingly good looks, also made him simply irresistible to a whole generation of young girls. In short, Cody was a true titan of the golden age of '90s sitcoms, one who sadly departed from the show after Season 6, leaving us to wonder what could've been.

Zapp Brannigan – Futurama

Zapp Brannigan (Billy West) — the self-obsessed, loaded-with-imperfection, 25-star general of the Nimbus spaceship — will go down in history as one of funniest Matt Groening creations of all time, despite the fact that he didn't have many appearances on the show.

Contrary to his flawless self image, Zapp has a fairly noticeable beer belly and wears a blond wig to conceal the fact that he's actually bald. But what makes his appearance truly hilarious is his painfully revealing space kilt. It's especially painful for his alien sidekick, Kif Kroker, who gets to see his underwearless captain's privates as he shamelessly crosses his legs from time to time.

There isn't a single weak "Futurama" episode featuring Zapp Brannigan, but if we had to recommend a fan favorite, it would be "Amazon Women in the Mood." Trust us, give it a watch, and you'll quickly find out why.

J-Roc – Trailer Park Boys

Ah yes, J-Roc (Jonathan Torrens), the white wannabe rapper/gangster/pimp who lives in his mom's trailer and says "know what I'm saying'" twice in every sentence. Ironically, one of his biggest scores includes stealing groceries and getting himself arrested on purpose just so he can further his reputation as a contender in the hip-hop game. How pathetic and hilarious is that?

Jonathan Torrens brought an unparalleled comedic vibe to "Trailer Park Boys," and if there's anyone who deserves equal praise alongside Julian, Ricky, and Bubbles, it's the mighty J-Roc ... know what we're saying?

Jian-Yang – Silicon Valley

Jian-Yang (Jimmy O. Yang) is a morally corrupt app developer living in Erlich Bachman's (T.J. Miller) hacker house rent-free. His unique deadpan comedy style and sneaky, remorseless persona make for a genius character who doesn't have a single weak or mediocre moment throughout the whole series.

Another thing that makes Jian-Yang so funny is that he's tiny in size and yet a complete bully (just ask Erlich). Despite the fact that he's featured in most episodes, however, many would agree that Jian-Yang deserved a much bigger role on the show as he was just as funny as some of the top-billed characters.

Carl Winslow – Family Matters

Despite the fact that Carl Winslow (Reginald VelJohnson) was in every single episode of the 9-season show, no one could deny that any time Steve Urkel (Jaleel White) entered the family home, he completely stole the show, putting Carl in the backseat. But would Steve's comedic genius shine so bright without the angry Chicago cop's hilarious reactions? Probably not. As a duo, these two had such powerful chemistry that it's hard to remember one without the other immediately jumping to mind.

Also, we can't help but chuckle at the memory of how seriously Carl took himself as the "man of the house", especially considering that his wife, Harriette (Jo Marie Payton), always found a hilarious way to put him in his place and make him look like a dunce.