There have been literally hundreds of television situational comedies produced all over the world. The sitcom began to gain popularity in the 1940s and is still going strong today; it doesn’t seem as if the sitcom will ever go away. With memorable sitcoms come memorable characters, like Archie Bunker, Cliff Huxtable, George Costanza, etc. Not all sitcoms feature only human characters, however, and some of television’s most memorable sitcom players are animals, robots, or aliens. There were a lot to choose from, so take a look at eleven of the most memorable non-human sitcom characters.
Gordon Shumway – ALF
Gordon Shumway was a small, hairy extraterrestrial that crash landed in the garage of the Tanner family. Nicknamed ALF (for Alien Life Form), Shumway would have to hide from the public so that the authorities would never learn of his existence and his home planet of Melmac. When he wasn’t hiding, Shumway would spend his time trying to eat the family cat or terrorizing Willie Tanner. It seems ALF should have been the least of Willie’s problems, though; it was his penchant for crack that ultimately led to his downfall.
Mork – Mork & Mindy
Mork & Mindy was actually a spinoff series from Happy Days. Mork – played by Robin Williams – was an alien from the planet Ork and arrived on Earth in his egg-shaped spaceship. He is befriended by Mindy, who allows him to move in with her and keeps his status as an alien a secret. I’m not a big fan of Robin Williams when it comes to comedy, but he admittedly was pretty funny as Mork. Naturally, most of the comedy involved Mork’s misunderstanding of human culture and societal norms.
Vicki – Small Wonder
Victoria “Vicki” Ann Smith-Lawson was a robot that looked just like a human girl. The show didn’t really make a lot of sense, as there seemed no good reason to keep Vicki’s identity as a robot a secret. I mean, she even attended school – what’s the point of that? Vicki was incredibly strong, but was also unable to show any real emotion. Worst of all, she talked exactly like how you’d expect a robot to talk…or how you’d expect a little girl pretending to be a robot to talk. And no, the kid who played her brother on the show was not Billy Corgan.
The Cat – Red Dwarf
The Cat is a humanoid descendant of a real cat named Frankenstein in the British sitcom Red Dwarf. His evolution took about 3,000,000 years, facilitated by his species being sealed in a cargo hold for that period of time. The Cat, as you’d expect, acts a lot like a cat, and enjoys dressing in extravagant garb. He refers to his fellow crew members by nicknames, and enjoys emulating James Brown when dancing. The Cat became more human as the show progressed, which was kind of a shame – he eventually stopped marking his territory with urine.
Buck – Married…With Children
He wasn’t featured in every episode, but the Bundy’s family dog Buck was on the show often enough that he deserves a slot in this article. Buck is a Briard, and his voice was often provided by Cheech Marin. He finds the Bundy’s as deplorable and repulsive and the rest of the neighborhood, and the audience is given access to his thoughts. Buck eventually died (both the character and the dog actor), but was later reincarnated as a cocker spaniel named Lucky.
Salem Saberhagen – Sabrina the Teenage Witch
Unlike Buck, whose “voice” is actually just his thoughts made audible to the audience, Salem can actually talk. That’s because Salem wasn’t always a cat; he was a wizard sentenced to 100 years as a cat for crimes he committed in the Other Realm. He still wants to take over the world, but also serves as a mentor and friend to Sabrina. I used to think Melissa Joan Hart was so friggin’ cute. At this point, though, I’m probably out of her league.
Mister Ed- Mister Ed
Of course (heh) everyone knows Mister Ed, the talking horse. What’s amazing to me is that a sitcom with this very basic – and absurd – premise lasted for six full seasons. Mister Ed would talk only to Wilbur and generally cause trouble for him. Mister Ed definitely deserves a spot on this list of non-human sitcom characters, but when it comes to talking horses, I’ll take Don over Mister Ed any day of the week.
Candy, Charlie, and Enoch – The Hathaways
The Hathaways ran in the early 1960s and centered on a husband and wife that served as “parents” for three chimpanzees named Candy, Charlie, and Enoch. It’s shows like this that give chimps a good name and portray them as lovable, friendly, and intelligent animals. I don’t know that this is such a great idea, though. In real life, chimpanzees can be vicious, out-of-control killers that will tear you to shreds. I’d like to see that happen in a sitcom, and I’m pretty sure there’s a Enoch/Eunuch joke to be made. I just don’t want to spend too much time thinking about castration.
Earl Sinclair – Dinosaurs
Earl the Megalosaurus is the father and provider for the Sinclair family, working hard as a tree pusher to support his wife and two children. The baby Sinclair – named Baby – likes to give Earl a difficult time and often hits him in the head while shouting “Not the Mama!” I never understood why a Megalosaur would tolerate that kind of crap. He should have simply opened his jaws and devoured the little brat.
Itchy and Scratchy – The Simpsons
Itchy and Scratchy is a meta-show found in The Simpsons universe. Bart, Lisa, and even Homer are fans of the show, which consists of a cat and mouse (a la Tom and Jerry) trying to kill each other in a brutally violent fashion. Itchy and Scratchy is always funny – and always uber violent. I bet Fox could make some decent money simply by throwing every Itchy and Scratchy clip onto a DVD and selling it to the public. I know I’d buy it.
Bender – Futurama
Quite simply one of the best sitcom characters ever, regardless of species or classification. A kleptomaniac, alcoholic, foul-mouthed, narcissistic robot? Rule.
Are there any non-human sitcom characters you felt were omitted from this article? Let me know in the comments section.