It just wouldn’t be a normal sitcom if two characters didn’t have some sort of inexplicable hostility between each other. Sometime it is within the main cast, and sometimes with a recurring guest star. Often they are in-laws who never learned to get along. Other times they are just friends who got off on the wrong foot and remained antagonistic. The thing that annoys me about this cliche, is that very often no matter how much hatred these two characters have they will almost always be friendly at some point before the end of the series. It’s as if the writer’s can’t come up with a way to get keep them rivals so they give up on it even if it hurts the characters (or even the show) a bit.
Of course in TV Tropes these are rivals or “arch enemies”. And of course they are not limited to sitcoms. But we will ignore drama’s for now.
Before I start my list, here is one huge exception:
I give this show a lot of credit. There were times when if this were another sitcom, Newman would have become friends and even a permanent part of Jerry and their little group. At the very least he would have made a regular part of the cast and appeared in every single episode. But this is one show that did not give in to that, and Jerry and Newman were rivals for the whole run of the show. Of course every character had their own rival. Elaine had Sue Anne Mishky, Kramer had Mickey, George had various people including Lloyd Bruan, and Jerry had Kenny Bania.
And yes this is not the only show to keep a good rivalry going. Check out Married..With Children. But most series are unable to do this and fall in thos cliche. Here are some examples :
Here’s one many may know know. When Happy Days was first on, Howard hated Fonzie. He thought that Fonzie was a thug and was annoyed anytime Richie did anything with him. When Fonzie rented that apartment adjacent to the house, well, hijinks! Of course as time went Howard learned that Fonzie was a decent guy and had tremendous respect for him. The series didn’t forget those early days earlier, in a clip show Fonzie brought up that Howard hated him early on. Howard apologized, saying that it was a different time.
The Cosby Show
yes I am aware of recent news which makes talking about this show a little taboo. But I am not talking about the actor, so see no reason not to mention this. If you’d like, feel free to skip ahead. When we first met Elvin everyone, especially Cliff, hated him. Sondra was dating him on and off, and on and off, and he was basically a jerk. But later he matured, became a series regular, and everyone liked him.
A real quick one, but it was clear early on that Kate was not fond of ALF. She wasn’t thrilled with Willie wanting to keep him hidden and when she got mad at him she really got mad at him. Care to guess how long that lasted?
I have talked about this before, but it bears mention here. In the pilot, Benson and the German housemaid Ms.Krause didn’t get off on the right foot. And after that they continued to bicker with each other. Though there were times it was clear they did respect each other, they still teased each other. In the final season Kraus’s character was diluted, and she ended up working as Benson’s aid. Sure they would still do the occasional insult but it was clear they were friends who respected each other and days of being bitter rivals was long gone. This is one time when I can accept the change, since the characters evolved and it sort of made sense. There was also Clayton who spared with Benson on more than one occasion.
They went through this with both landlords I think. Please correct me if I am wrong but Mr.Roper hated Jack at first as did Mr.Furley. They kept a close on him as he lived with two single girls. Both managed to be won over by his charm in the end.
This is one which I always felt was forced, as if a writer somewhere decided they had to have this conflict. At first when this show came on Dan had no great love for Jackie, nor she for him. As the series evolved they learned to appreciate each other, and I never could understand why the animosity was there in the start. Except that maybe Dan thought she was a pest, I don’t remember.
Gee, I wonder who I am going to talk about here? Yeah pretty much every Winslow hated Steve Urkel when he first appeared. He was the pest who couldn’t take a hint that he was not welcome. Except that as time went on he became more welcome, even living with the Winslow’s late in the series run. Heck, even Laura who insisted that she would never have feelings for Steve started to toward the end!
This is another one I can forgive since it shows the growth of the characters. But when Mr.Belvedere first moved in, neither Wesley or George were very fond of him. Wesley was the bratty kid of course so that was no big thing, but George not liking Belvedere was a little more cliche. Why did George hate him anyway? I never watched the show enough to understand it, but that rivalry didn’t last. As for Wesley, he grew up and they agreed it was possible to be friends who drove each other crazy with pranks and gags.
Ok, I may be way off on this. All I am going on are the few early episodes I remember andÂ a line of dialogue. When Jesse and Joey first met, they didn’t like each other. They both cared for Danny and his family so were happy to put up with each others idiosyncrasies. Like how upbeat Joey was compared to Jesse being more moody. When they became ad partners, Danny commented on how remarkable it was that they hated each other at first but now where business partners. This is another change I am Ok with since in the first season the writers tried so hard to make these characters different that they weren’t likable. Maybe that’s why Kimmy Gibbler got a larger role,Â they had to have someone annoying for Jesse hate (even if that made NO SENSE IMHO).
Oh yeah, you may have guessed this would be on here. When Will first moved to Bel Air his Uncle Phil was not pleased. Especially when Will’s urban attitudes clashed with the snooty Bel Air environment. Despite all the suggestions that Phil hated Will it was subsequently shown as the series evolved that he was fond of him. Phil was the real father Will never had. By the finale Uncle Phil said he basically considered Will his son. But man it didn’t start that way.
Saved By The Bell
No I am talking about Screech. Believe it or not, when this show first came on Slater and Zack were not the best of friends. They were rivals for Kelly, and did not get along. For about five episodes or so, before Slater moved on from Kelly and they all became friends with each other. It’s to bad, because keeping Slater and Zack rivals may have made the show more interesting.
This is an interesting example because it seemed to go the way of the cliche, only to have the series reverse course and make the character unliked again. I am of course referring to Janice who Chandler hated even though he dated her, and kept asking her out. Then suddenly he decided he was in love with her! After they broke up, Chandler went back to hating the woman and that remained for the rest of the series.
Sabrina, The Teenage Witch
Sabrina had an antagonist for a few years named Libby. A real witch (pardon the pun) who was also quite selfish. I wondered why they wrote her out until I saw one episode where Libby seemed to be softening and becoming part of Sabrina’s circle of friends. Good call on the writers if they realized their antagonist wasn’t working anymore. By the way I am not forgetting Boy Meets World I am just not familiar enough to discuss it. I know Cory and Mr.Feeney were often at odds and ended up friendly but does that count?
This one pissed me off, and I wasn’t even really a fan of the show! But one of the regular jokes on this show was that the butler Niles and the business partner of Maxwell’s, CC, hated each other. They bickered and teased each other, and some of the funniest one liners came from these squabbles. Then when the series was winding down, it suddenly was revealed that Niles was in love with CC. Then they ended up in bed together, which was never explained. Then they were married and she was pregnant….WTF?????
Will & Grace
When this show first came on it was clear Will and Karen had nothing but bad feelings for each other. I just KNEW that it wouldn’t last. The writers tried for the first season or two to keep them at odds. The only reason Will tolerated Karen was because he was her lawyer. And Karen tolerated Will because she liked Grace. But I was proven correct in the end for as time went on Will and Karen go along just fine. The problem is that unlike with Benson, the change was much more forced and took some away some of what made the show unique and not just another “Friends” rip off. Karen would go on to picking on nemesis Beverly Leslie.
Drew Carey Show
I admit, I never watched this one. But one thing I did know was that Drew hated Mimi and she hated him. They played pranks one each other all the time. I checked to see if they became friends and it does seem like they cooled off when Mimi married Drew’s brother.Â But since I was not a fan I really can’t say much about that.
Coach Fox had a jealous hatred for the women’s Basketball coach, Judy Watkins. Of course the softened until she vanished from the series. Their rivaly was pretty good for awhile there though.
Yeah yeah, it just never lasts does it? Dwight was constantly the butt of Jim’s jokes with various pranks over and over. Despite that they became friends and in the final episode Jim was his best man. I did not watch this show so I won’t pretend I did and maybe this change came naturally. If I am wrong feel free to correct me.
Everybody Loves Raymond
I decided to include this as an example of a time when the writers force the rivalry even it it’s stupid. In one episode Ray had an encounter with a cookie lady named Peggy (long story watch the episode). Now it made sense for Ray to hate her at first, but they kept forcing the issue even though it was made clear Peggy wasn’t really mean at all. While the whole point of this article is how annoying it is when a good rivalry vanishes, that doesn’t mean I like it when the writers force the characters to hate each other either.
I decided to include this because I had a feeling people would be commenting if I did not. One of the running gags of the show was that The Janitor hated J.D. Hate may not even be a strong enough word. It started in the pilot with a penny in a door, and from that one it was one mind game after another. Can you guess who were friends by the final episode? Yep.
The Big Bang Theory
I seem to always say this when we get to this series, but alas I have to say it again. This cliche is alive and well, as we saw when Sheldon went from hating Will Wheaton to being friends with him. To be fair I was getting tired of the “Evil Will Wheaton” episodes. Also, when Amy first came onto the scene no one liked her except Sheldon. Care to guess how long that lasted?
Honorable Mention. Sanford & Son
Every list I found of good rivalries mentionedÂ Fred Sanford and his sister in law Aunt Esther. Problem is I don’t know if that lasted or faded, and quite frankly don’t care enough to find out. But from what I read it was one heck of a rivalry and I thought it was worth a mention.
Did I miss any? Please comment and let me know
Well my friends this was my first article for 2015. I am actually looking for new ideas to focus on this year, maybe something away from sitcoms. Possibly something focusing more on individual characters. Or cartoons from the 80’s. Whatever the case, no matter how many times I think I can’t come up with new ideas it seems more are waiting somewhere in my head. So I guess I will be around for awhile. In a few months I will be hitting my 500th blog, and believe me when I say that is a major milestone for me. But for now, here’s hoping you all have a happy and healthy new year!!!!