The Greatest Sitcom Characters Sidekicks Ever

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Given we've interviewed Aziz Ansari - easily the best thing in Parks and Recreation - in the July issue of Esquire, it got us thinking about the other sitcom supporting characters who frequently end up stealing the show. Here's our rundown.

10. Hal, Malcolm in the Middle

Before Bryan Cranston was your favourite/least favourite chemistry teacher/meth cook (depending on which season of Breaking Bad you’re up to), he was Hal — no surname (a running gag) — the bumbling, indecisive, work-shy, put-upon father of the titular Malcolm (and no, he wasn’t the boss of him).

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He lives in fear of his wife Lois and blames his five boys for every misfortune to befall him (even actually scapegoating them when he and one of his drinking buddies accidentally knock down his bedroom wall).

His efforts to guide his sons through life generally result in his and their humiliation, but he does offer each of them “one free pass” for something so horrendous that their mother can never find out about — from getting handcuffed to the stage at a strip club to strapping roller skates to a horse and killing it.

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Notably Malcolm used his free pass on a chemistry setmishap that leaves Hal bald — a look that Walter White could get with, even if he didn’t agree with the misuse of science.

Hal’s guide to parenting (involves bribery):

9. Michael, I'm Alan Partridge
As with Alan himself, the tragedy is never too far from the comedy when it comes to Geordie maintenance man turned petrol station cashier Michael. While his incomprehensible one-liners and dark anecdotes are good on their own, it's as a straight man to Partridge that he comes into his own, providing a naive and patient foil to some of Alan's greatest rants. Played expertly by the underrated Simon Greenall.

 
8. Norm Peterson, Cheers

A stalwart of Boston's Cheers bar, Norm pulled of the impressive feat of appearing in every single episode of the classic TV show as he propped up the same bar spot with best mate Cliff Clavin, who affectionately dubbed him "Normy".

Norm also provided a couple of the show's best running gags - his wife Vera was barely ever seen but often the butt of his jokes, while the astronomical bar tab he ran up was also something Cheers kept circling back to.

Norm figures out a way to reclaim his bar spot:

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7. Father Dougal McGuire, Father Ted

Dougal is a wide-eyed, innocent, unbelievably dense Catholic priest without even a basic understanding of the Catholicism — although he does believe in the Phantom of the Opera and Darth Vader.

He met the Pope once, but doesn’t think that he’s “a celebrity in the true sense of the word”. He’s scared of nuns and women in general. He can’t tell the difference between small things and things that are far away and has problems distinguishing between dreams and reality.

He sleeps in a Republic of Ireland football shirt, with a He-Man bed spread and is addicted to rollerblading.

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Father Ted co-creator Graham Linehan said that Father Dougal was written as a cross between Woody from Cheers and Trigger from Only Fools and Horses.

Father Dougal looks forward to the impending visit of the Funland fairground:

Father Dougal is reminded to forget Bishop Brennan’s legitimate mistake:

6. Dwight Kurt Schrute III, The Office

Those that stuck with the American version of The Office after realising that it was a very different beast to its British counterpart were rewarded with a very different egomaniacal office weirdo to our own Gareth Keenan.

Still a papersalesman with limited social skills, Schrute could also legitimately insert “beet farmer” among the array of low-to-middling job titles on his CV.

He has a purple belt in Goju-Ryu karate, is a former volunteer sheriff’s deputy and troublingly owns a substantial weapons arsenal. He also claims to have been the youngest pilot in Pan Am’s history.

He likes all of his colleagues “with four exceptions”. The character is played by comic Rainn Wilson, who modeled Schrute’s haircut on the one he had when he was 16.

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Mark it: Dwight Schrute's battle of wits with colleague Jim Halpert:

Some of Dwight Schrute’s best moments:

5. General Sir Anthony Cecil Hogmanay Melchett, Blackadder Goes Forth

A brash, entitled, pompous, inbred, borderline insane warmonger with an inability to comprehend modern-day (First World War) trench warfare (or spot a man in a dress). General Melchett doesn’t so much bark orders as belch incomprehensible guttural noises. General Melchett is, however, always right behind his men — some 35 miles behind them.

General Melchett will be combing women out of his moustache for weeks:

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General Melchett visits the troops:

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4. Mike Watt, Spaced

Weapons expert, Robot Wars fanatic, usually armed with at least a semi-automatic firearm, Watt is sadly ineligible for enlisting in the British Army after detaching his retinas in a childhood incident.

In adult life he gets barred from the Territorial Army after commandeering a Chieftain tank and trying to invade Paris (his plan fails when he makes a diversion via Euro Disney, where he is apprehended at Space Mountain) and resorts to joining the Sea Scouts until the TA agree to take him back.

The character was based on a joke between real-life best friends Simon Pegg andNick Frost — a running gag has the two holding hands.

Mike Watt undergoes psychological assessment as part of his readmission into the TA:

Mike Watt saves his best friend Tim’s bacon at paintball:

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3. Gob, Arrested Development
George Oscar Bluth - hence Gob - is possibly the least self-aware of all the Bluths, and that really is saying something. Maybe it's the Segway, maybe it's the ridiculously poor magic tricks but Gob has already written his place into sitcom folklore largely thanks to Will Arnett's flawless deadpan delivery.

Gob shows off his puppet skills with Franklin:

2. Hank, The Larry Sanders Show

Hank 'Hey Now' Kingsley's character is built around a central problem - he plays a would-be charming and funny sidekick to US chat show host Larry Sanders, but he has no sense of humour or charm. In fact he takes self-obsession to never-before-seen heights, always ready to sell out a close friend or family member if he believes it'll take him any closer to the small-time recognition and fame that he craves. Dark, complex, brilliant and that's before you give character comedian Jeffrey Tambor for making this role so hellishly believeable. This scene explains how he got the worse catchphrase in show business:

 

1. George Costanza, Seinfeld
Short, stocky, bald, uptight, slow-witted, lazy, neurotic, myopic, still lives with his bickering parents, the inventor of the “it’s not you, it’s me” — those are his good points. When he’s not pretending to be an architect, he’s dreaming of being draped in velvet.

Did we mention miserly? Like the time he scrimped on wedding invitations, only for his fiancée to die of cheap-envelope-glue poisoning. Or a compulsive liar? Like the time he’s forced to attempt saving a beached whale because he told his girlfriend that he was a marine biologist.

Before he branched out with Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David was the co-creator of sitcom Seinfeld and Costanza was as good as David’s alter ego — like David, Costanza once threw into a blind rage and quit his job (in Costanza’s case after being banned from using the executive toilet), only to turn up at work on the Monday pretending that he never quit. He’s also oddly exactly My Cousin Vinny’s Marisa Tormei’s type.

The George Costanza guide to risk management:

George gets caught by his mother treating his body like an amusement park: