Dumb sitcom characters help to make the lead characters look even better in television comedies. Some become so popular that they achieve successful careers in the acting profession. There are a few who become dear to the hearts of viewers because of their innocence, while other are simply irritating. Some sitcom idiots began as intelligent characters who have gone into a rapid decline. Most characters evolve as a television series progresses, and the longer the series remains on the air, the greater the odds of change. Ideally, a character will mature and gain more wisdom and insight along the way, but some have instead, become dumber. Here is our list of the top 20 television sitcom characters who have become dumber over time.
Homer Simpson “The Simpsons”
The dumbest character who has continued to skid on a downhill slide is Homer Simpson. He has established a solid reputation as a dad that truly is getting dumber all the time. He’s the guy that managed to get both of his hands stuck in a vending machine at the same time. We’ve watched the character decline in his ability to use even the most basic of comprehension skills. Homer just doesn’t get it in most cases. He is the top moron of all our twenty characters. A few more of his low points include: he didn’t know what a napkin was, he thought that a furniture salesman was a therapist and the believed that Batman is a scientist. Even the sound of Homer’s voice comes across as being stupid, but if he were to become truly smart, it might ruin the show, so keep Homer stupid.
Mallory Keaton “Family Ties”
Mallory Keaton was the sister on the sitcom “Family Ties.” The Keatons were not a typical family. Both parents were aging hippies and the kids ended up being the more conservative ones in the house. The show takes place in Columbus, Ohio. It didn’t help the character of Mallory to be opposite her brother who was played by the witty Michael J. Fox. He was smart, but she made him look like a genius in comparison. Mallory was the eldest child in the family. She was a bit on the shallow side, gossipy and highly fashion conscious. It is as though the writers developed her character to be clueless because she wasn’t given any substantial situations to deal with that required thought. Her character was loved, but viewers expected her to remain clueless. Because of the way that the show was structured, there really wasn’t anywhere else for them to take her character, so the writers capitalized on the dumb angle. She comes in at the second dumbest sitcom character of all time.
Joey Tribbiani, “Friends”
Joey Tribbiani didn’t exactly start out being known for his sharp wit, but the character simply didn’t evolve in the right direction. He was a lot smarter at the beginning of the series. It seems that his character just kept getting dumber with every passing season. If you go back in time and watch the first season, then compare him with the last, you’ll see the difference. Joey is a silly character whose love for pizza is adorable, but he’s the kind of guy that wouldn’t make it out there in the real world. He is incapable of functioning at the high levels required to survive. Chandler and Monica are the ones that helped him to make it. At Joey’s lowest points, he thought that he could pass as the twin of a guy he met at a casting call, but they didn’t look alike. In another instance, he thought that he was speaking the French language, but the words that he was saying made no sense. In the beginning, Joey had a certain charm about him. He was a little rough around the edges, but his smile could melt butter. He also had a big heart that endeared him to fans. He had set a few goals for himself and held the dream of becoming a star. He was on his way up, so what happened to all of this along the journey of the “Friends” show? More than anything else, Joey makes people feel sorry for him because he seems so helpless.
Kelly Bundy, “Married…with Children”
Kelly was beautiful, but that was about all that she had going for her. The character was Bud’s older sister, but sadly, his character had more brains at an earlier age. The only truly witty lines that she had was when she was insulting him. She really nailed the sarcasm, but she had a rough time pronouncing words that were simple for most other people to say. She couldn’t read either and this was a sad aspect of the show that was put over as being funny. There really wasn’t a lot of room for her character to evolve, so she became even dumber as the series progressed. Her lowest point in the show was when she believed that because she was born in February, her birth sign in the zodiac was “Aquarium.”
Vinton “Mama’s Family”
Vinton Harper was a guy that lived in his mama’s basement for far too long. When the show first began, he was smart enough, and the first run of the show lasted for two seasons. When it returned, something had happened to the character and he was truly stupid. He was an adult, but he didn’t act like it. During the first run he acted with more maturity, but this was absent by the second go. The writers took his character in an unattractive direction and he seemed to get dumber as time went by.
Andy Dwyer “Parks and Recreation”
Andy was a hard-core rock star in the first season of “Parks and Recreation.” His worst traits were that he was lazy and he didn’t support himself. Instead, he preferred to siphon a living off Anne. Through the evolution of the series, Andy kept getting dumber and dumber. The only saving grace for the character is that he was a likeable guy. It’s just that he did some of the most stupid things like believing he could remake the show “Kazaam” and that Shaquille O’Neal would be his partner in the venture. He did some crappy things. He refused to get a job, he came close to stalking Ann and he had to be the center of attention. When he started a relationship with April it looked like things could possibly turn around for him, but this wasn’t the case. Their stupidity mirrored one another and it was twice as dumb as when they were both single.
Denise Huxtable Kendall “The Cosby Show”
Denise Huxtable began as a smart girl with a bohemian flavor who came from a well-balanced family. She thought outside of the box and spoke her mind, although appropriately. It was after she left for college that things began to change for the character. When she came back, the girl had made a total transformation. Her sharp wit had become dulled and she was on the uninteresting side. She was flightier and seemed to have trouble focusing. She acted much younger after college than she did before she left home. Denise had lost her charm, confidence and her unique way of expressing individualism upon her return to the show.
Jackie Harris “Roseanne”
Jackie Harris is our eighth dumbest sitcom character who kept getting dumber over time. When the character who was Roseanne’s sister first appeared, she was a neurotic and was on the lookout for true happiness. The actress Laurie Metcalf gave an excellent rendering of the character, but for some unknown reasons, she started to act stupid. This trend just picked up the pace with each new season until she didn’t even resemble the same character in intellectual capacity. This was a shame because there were a lot of different directions that the writers could have taken the character, but instead, they left her as a weak support fit only as a springboard for the main characters to launch their insulting jokes from. It seemed like Jackie Harris went totally mental towards the end.
Cindy Brady “The Brady Bunch”
Cindy Brady is the ninth dumbest character of all time. We must make allowances for the fact that she was just a tiny little girl when the show first began. The problem with the character is that she didn’t mature at a normal rate. Was there something wrong with her that the writers were hoping we would assume? Her immaturity was way over the top and it came across more like idiocy than as child-like innocence. The character was never developed in a decent manner. It could be that she was supposed to anchor the show by being the baby of the family forever, but hey, kids grow up, even if they are co-starring in a long running sitcom.
Woody Boyd “Cheers”
Woody Boyd is the tenth dumbest character who kept getting dumber. When he first appeared on “Cheers” in 1985, he may have been a yokel, but he was not a stupid yokel. We watched the character become progressively stupider as the show moved ahead. By the end of the show, he would have a few moments of clarity, but they were few and far between. His phrasing and word usage was over the top in sounding moronic and there was no good reason to take him to this level. He did manage to win his bed for election to the city council. This was a big deal to Woody, but this still didn’t make him any smarter.
Jenna Maroney “30s Rock”
The characters on “30s Rock” were all unique and they were created to allow ample room for some silly humor infusion, but most of them had a type of depth associated with them. Jenna Maroney was the best friend of Liz Lemon. She was written to be a petty and overanxious girl in the first episodes of the series. She clamored after fame and was seeking greater exposure, but she gradually began to lose her intellectual capacity as the show moved ahead. By the time the show ended, she was incapable of reading the most basic of human emotions and she totally did not get social cues. While this was played off in a humorous way, it got to the point of being ridiculous and a lot less funny than if she had retained some of her smarts. Making a social miscue can be quite funny when a character does it sparingly. When the idiocy is laid on too thickly, it ruins the entire effect.
Bull Shannon “Night Court”
Bull Shannon served as the bailiff on the popular series “Night Court.” When the show first started, Bull had that menacing big meanie look about him. He didn’t seem particularly stupid though. Bull was perfect as the tough guy who could make you jitter with his long piercing stares. This was all well and fine, but when they turned him into a bonehead, the character lost some of his appeal. Instead of being an interesting character, he transformed into someone that you wouldn’t choose to be around. There were some humorous scenes, but overall, he just came across as being creepy. Bull Shannon comes in as the twelfth dumbest character that just kept getting dumber over time.
Vera Louise Gorman-Novak “Alice”
Vera Louise Gorman-Novak is the thirteenth dumbest character on our list. When we compare the character in the sitcom with the one from the pilot movie, “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore,” the two do not even closely resemble one another. In the film, Vera was a nervous klutz who was more on the reserved side. In the sitcom, she turned into a real idiot. There wasn’t much about the character that you could say was funny or smart. She made some one liners that initially were funny, but the loud, brash, dumb character that emerged out of the shy and awkward one was truly not an improvement. There is an old saying that goes “it’s better to be thought an idiot than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” In the case of Vera, it applies.
Rose Nylund “The Golden Girls”
Who doesn’t love Betty White? She is the actress who played the role of Rose Nylund in “The Golden Girls.” Rose gave us a bit of Scandinavian culture with her St. Olaf stories and the ethnic phrases that she would occasionally throw out and these were funny. Rose was one of the innocents and her naivety was sweet in the beginning. She soon became the butt of Bea Arthur and Estelle Getty’s jokes and it became a bit over the top. Rose became so dumb that she seemed more like an idiot than an innocent. It’s a shame that the sensitive character had to be taken so far over the edge of stupidity. There is such a thing as being misguided, but in Rose’s case, obtuse is a better descriptor. There were, however, bright moments when she would share a few pearls of wisdom with her housemates, that made good sense. It would have been nice if they had kept her character going in that direction instead of making her the laughing stock that was partially pitied by the other women because she was so unbelievably stupid.
Ted Baxter “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”
Ted Baxter didn’t look dumb at all, unless you heard him speak. In fact, he had a distinguished look about him. When the show first launched, there were discussions about making him a love interest for the main character, Mary. In order for this to happen, Ted Knight, who played the role of Ted Baxter would need to be more of a serious and intelligent character. The executives couldn’t stand to let the creative comedic genius of Knight go untapped in the show. Instead, they turned Baxter into a buffoon. He was the guy that soon became the butt of everybody’s jokes because of his intellectual failings. He was a handsome fellow who could have easily pulled off a dignified persona, but instead, it went the other direction. Unlike some of the other characters who grew progressively dumber over time, Ted Baxter was consistently funny. While it is true that he became dumber, he did it in a way that didn’t get old. In fact, Knight received two Emmy Awards for his role in the show and in addition, six Emmy nominations. It’s tough to argue with this kind of success. Upon reflection, Ted Baxter was the funniest when he shut his mouth and used body language to communicate. Ted Knight was a master at this.
Eric Matthews, “Boy Meets World”
Eric Matthews started out on the sitcom “Boy Meets World” as the older, but certainly not smarter brother of the main character Cory Matthews. The things that he had going for him initially were his extreme coolness and his ability to attract beautiful girls. For the first few seasons, Eric wasn’t that stupid. He was an average student who didn’t pull great grades, but he passed his classes. As the seasons flew by, it seemed that Eric was taking dumb pills or had experienced a traumatic brain injury. He was unable to grasp simple concepts and made multiple mistakes. Viewers could not enjoy a single episode that he was involved in that showed him in a positive light. Although it was meant to be funny, watching the entire family make jokes at his expense really wasn’t that hilarious. He took stupid to an extreme level and it was even a little uncomfortable for some viewers to watch. It also seemed a little unfair that Cory advanced so quickly while his brother seemed to keep taking huge steps backwards.
Chrissy Snow, “Three’s Company”
Chrissy Snow was a character that lived up to every blonde joke in creation. The character was overly stereotypical. Suzanne Sommers did a great job with the role and she wiggled her way into the hearts fans who found her to be adorable. In one of the lowest points for the character, she forgot how to count. Chrissy was an innocent girl who had a great big heart. She would do anything that she could to help someone who was in need. This also meant that she was vulnerable to mistreatment by people who like to take advantage of the innocents. It was only because Jack and Janet, her roommates watched out for her that she was kept safe. Did her character go over the top with stupidity? You bet it did, but for some reason, because it was her, it was okay. Perhaps they took it a bit too far, especially when her character couldn’t laugh without snorting like a pig. She was truly clueless and her character just kept getting dumber and dumber.