One of my favorite memories is watching the original anti-sitcom Married… with Children with my dad. The show aired on television during what had become “The Cosby Era.”
So much so that while filming, its working title was “Not the Cosbys.” While my family enjoyed watching The Cosby Show, Who’s the Boss, and Growing Pains, they embodied the perfect family that my dysfunctional family was not.
My dad didn’t have the cold beer, but he positioned his hand under his waistband as Al Bundy (Ed O’Neill) did. He’d always say, “Hold on, let me get in position,” before impersonating Al and us watching the show as a family.
The crazy thing is, I don’t remember anything about those other sitcoms, but those memories with dad made Married… with Children stick.
Married… with Children paved the way for other anti-sitcoms to break the status quo. Television series like Roseanne, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and animated series like The Simpsons and Family Guy wouldn’t be here without trailblazing families like the Bundys.
Married… with Children wouldn’t pass the politically correct standards that today’s sitcoms are subject to for unoffensive viewing. For example, jokes about fat shaming, suicide, and offing your family run rampant.
In addition, several stereotypes become common themes throughout the series that would prove problematic in today’s culture. For example, Kelly Bundy (Christina Applegate) plays the objectified “dumb blonde.”
Also, Al Bundy is a male chauvinist who never matures beyond high school football achievements. Nonetheless, for those with a notion of nostalgia, the show is packed with laughter and memorable characters.
The Bundys’ back-and-forth banter sounds like they hate each other, but there are many moments of genuine love within the family. The show is a joke after joke premise, and once you know the characters, it’s side-splitting.
Their delivery is always a calm sarcastic exchange that makes some of the awful things said laughable. Al is the chauvinist shoe salesman, Kelly Bundy isn’t bright, and Peggy Bundy (Katey Sagal) is the lazy housewife who doesn’t cook or clean.
However, she shops and spends and keeps Al generally miserable. Bud Bundy (David Faustino) is the loser kid who grows into a creepy teen who repels girls. But, the Bundys are so much more.
So here are the top 20 episodes of Married… with Children ranked by IMDb with fun trivia about the groundbreaking sitcom.
20. Teacher Pets
“Teacher Pets” encapsulates the epitome that is Bud Bundy. Bud believes his 40-year-old teacher has the hots for him. Of course, everyone laughs at his confession.
But Bud isn’t wrong and juggles two relationships. It’s a hilarious bit that ends with his voiceover narrating the failed outcome.
19. Earth Angel
Bud brings an aspiring artist on her way to New York for art school. Tiffany (Dawn Merrick) is a beautiful, free-spirited blonde who everyone but Marcy likes.
Marcy Rhoades, then D’Arcy (Amanda Bearse), doesn’t like her because Tiffany also has her husband Steve Rhoades’ (David Earl Garrison) attention. So she plots to be rid of her once and for all.
Al Bundy Trivia
Al Bundy scored four touchdowns in a single game while playing for the Polk High School Panthers in the 1966 city championship game versus Andrew Johnson High School– including the game-winning touchdown in the final seconds against his old nemesis, “Spare Tire” Dixon.
This football game is his life’s most outstanding achievement, and he will let everyone know about it.
18. Damn Bundys
Robert Englund, best known as horror legend Freddy Krueger, plays Lucifer in this hilarious episode of Married… with Children. Al sells his soul to the devil in exchange for playing on the Chicago Bears NFL team.
While in hell, Bundy realizes life on Earth is the same. So he challenges Lucifer to a football game in exchange for returning to the living.
17. Married… with Aliens
In one of the funniest episodes, Al believes aliens are stealing his socks. Naturally, no one believes him. However, he obsesses and lays a trap hoping to capture them.
After discovering a tabloid is willing to pay big bucks for pictures, he excitedly takes pictures. But per usual, things aren’t as they seem, and the Bundy’s don’t get their big payoff.
Married… with Children Facts
Married… with Children was Fox’s first prime-time TV series. Michael G. Moye and Ron Leavitt created and aired it for 11 seasons (1987-1997).
The show’s executive producers included Katherine Green, Richard Gurman, Kim Weiskopf, and Pamela Eells O’Connell.
16. Do Ya Think I’m Sexy
After Al moves his neighbor’s couch, rumors spread of a handsome stud in the neighborhood. Kelly informs him the community is saying, “He has the arms of a blacksmith and the legs of a God.”
So Al decides to wash his car shirtless and attracts the attention of the neighborhood’s women. Surprisingly, Peggy becomes bothered and jealous as Al begins showering and wearing suits.
It’s hilarious, and even Marcy becomes bashful around the new confident Al.
15. The Godfather
In one of my favorites, “The Godfather,” Al is angry about a pothole near the driveway so big that falling into it causes him to lose his steering wheel.
When Kelly starts dating a politician, he sees an opportunity to get it fixed. Ultimately, the pothole, a street light, and other neighborhood projects happen.
Soon everyone is thanking Peggy in the street, filling their home with food, and making requests. Bundy takes on the persona of Don Corleone in this hilarious episode of Married… with Children.
Peggy Bundy Trivia
Katey Sagal created Peggy’s look, a parody of 1960s housewives. She wore the famous red wig to audition for the role, and the producers loved it and allowed it into the show.
14. The Gas Station Show
“The Gas Station Show” is filled with laugh-out-loud moments. Al dedicates a day as “Bundy’s Sunday Funday,” but the car runs out of gas.
So Al tells Kelly to put the car in park, and she informs him that she already did that before the rest of the family started pushing it. It’s one of her many moments.
When the serviceman asks Al about filling the four quarts of oil he needs, Al asks, “Hey, how many paychecks do you think I get in a week, pal?”
This episode is packed with joke after joke that lands for a gut-busting experience.
13. The Egg and I
Steve Rhoades (David Garrison) returns to Chicago to attempt reconciliation with Marcy. However, she has remarried her younger boy-toy Jefferson D’Arcy (Ted McGinley).
The Bundys discover Steve is on the run due to stealing a raw Hawk egg and quarrel over friendship vs. reward money. But eventually, the FBI finds Steve hiding at the Bundys, and they are all hauled in.
No one knows who tipped off the feds until Buck, the family dog narrating, gives it away.
Buck the Family Dog
Buck, the sarcastic family dog, was owned and trained by Steven Ritt. Buck appeared in 177 episodes of the show.
The actors loved Buck, especially Ed O’Neill. O’Neill, who had a special bond with him, petting and hanging out with Buck in between shots.
12. Oldies But Young’ Uns
Before he was Joey Tribianni, Matt LeBlanc played Kelly’s date, Vinnie Verducci. Although, I’m pretty sure both characters rocked that same leather jacket.
Al encourages Bud to hang with Vinnie because he’s a ladies’ man. But once he learns he’s Kelly’s date, Al’s tone changes his tone.
Additionally, this episode follows Al’s comical quest to uncover the name of a song that he can’t remember.
11. Movie Show
Before Seinfeld made standing in a Chinese restaurant for a half hour entertaining, Married… with Children did it in a theatre.
Kelly’s boyfriend asks Al if he can take Kelly out for her birthday, and the Bundys realize they forgot her birthday. So Al, knowing she has a date, offers to take her and the entire family to the movies to celebrate.
However, Kelly is so touched that they remember that she agrees, and Al’s plan backfires. At the cinema, Kelly spots her boyfriend with another woman.
She tells Peggy she hates men, and Peggy gives the most Peggy Bundy response ever, “So does God. That’s why he makes them want us.”
Ed O’Neill Trivia
Ed O’Neill reportedly made more than $500,000 per episode by the show’s end, making him one of the highest-paid TV actors ever.
10. Get the Dodge Out of Hell
After stopping at a car wash on the way to Wanker County, the Bundys’ Dodge disappears. The Bundys locate the car after Al remembers it was red when he bought it and no longer brown due to the rust being washed away.
The D’Arcys are also there and run into Marcy’s ex-husband Steve. He pretends to be a successful businessman but is a chauffeur for some comical drama.
Incidentally, the cars used to represent the Dodge in most early seasons are a Blue 1973-1974 Plymouth Duster, a Bronze 1971-1972 Plymouth Gold Duster, and a Red 1972 Plymouth Duster.
9. Dance Show
Peggy wants Al to go out dancing with her, but he is not interested in dancing. So she goes without Al and meets a handsome man named Andy (Sam McMurray).
Peggy meets him again to dance but doesn’t know Andy is gay. Andy’s husband, Pete (Dan Castellaneta), informs Al about the situation and asks for help. He misses Andy.
Al reluctantly concurs after Pete prepares a delicious steak dinner. It’s one of many episodes where Peggy is happy at Al’s perceived jealousy, proving that she loves and desires him.
Married… with Children Trivia
Married… with Children became successful only after an activist began a letter-writing campaign complaining about the show’s anti-family values. Nevertheless, the story boosted the sitcom into the media spotlight and quickly became a hit.
8. Can’t Dance, Don’t Ask Me
After getting in trouble at school for spray painting a bus, Kelly must take tap dance to avoid expulsion. But, of course, she doesn’t want to do it.
Ironically fearing it will ruin her reputation. So on her first day, she wears a wig and sunglasses as a disguise. Students tease her before taking her shoes and tossing them into the sewer.
Steve and Marcy know tap, and Steve comes over to help Kelly out. However, Kelly chooses to give a “Feverish” performance instead.
7. He Thought He Could
Al Bundy has to face his biggest fear yet, the librarian. He developed a fear in childhood and is forced to face it again when he discovers he owes a $2163 fine for a long overdue book (1957).
In a hilarious exchange, Bud asks, “Can you believe it? Dad was alive in 1957.” And Kelly responds with a line that defines her entire character, “Wow, I didn’t even know that was a real year.”
It features chucklesome flashbacks to a young Al Bundy. It’s also when we see Al’s signature move – the first time he puts his hand under the waist of his pants.
Married… with Children Trivia
During the opening credits, the car shown is a shot pulled from 1983’s National Lampoon’s Vacation. If you look closely, you can see the Griswold family station wagon.
6. Eatin’ Out
After a relative leaves the Bundy family a $237 inheritance, they decide to go out to eat at a fancy restaurant. So they get dressed in their best attire and make a reservation for “Mr. Warren Beatty and family.”
The restaurant is high-end, complete with live music and a dance floor. After discovering he left his wallet at home, Al sends the kids home to get it.
However, Kelly and Bud have other ideas. The way the Bundys get out of the check is hysterical and classic Peg Bundy.
5. You Better Watch Out
Every year Santa Claus parachutes into the Lakeside Shopping Mall. However, on Christmas Eve, a drunken Santa Claus plummets to his death in the Bundy’s backyard when his parachute doesn’t open.
So Al masquerades as Santa to appease the neighborhood children outside his front door. It’s one of the funniest Christmas episodes of Married… with Children.
Ed O’Neill Trivia
Ed O’Neill is the only cast member to appear in all 260 episodes of Married… with Children.
In “976-SHOE,” Al has a genius idea to start a shoe hotline and borrows $50,000 from his neighbor Steve.
However, Steve’s boss issues a firm warning after 40 loans he approved have defaulted. So Marcy gives Al a $50,000 loan to pay Steve back.
But Bundy spends that money too after his scheme backfires and no one calls in. As a result, Steve loses his job at the bank, and Marcy gets demoted.
3. You Better Shop Around: Part 2
In part two of “You Better Shop Around,” Marcy tells the grocery store manager about Al cutting in line. So he agrees to allow the D’arcys and Bundys to compete against each other for the $1000 shopping spree.
Whoever ends up with the closest to $1000 in their carts will be declared the winner and take the groceries home. It’s a hilarious race to the finish, and per usual, the Bundys find a way to mess things up.
2. You Better Shop Around: Part 1
The Bundys are experiencing the hottest day of the year, and they beg Al to get an air conditioner. So he concurs but buys an old German air conditioner that ultimately causes a power outage in the neighborhood.
So to avoid the angry neighbors and cool his family down, Al moves them into the cooler aisle of the local grocery store. He impersonates a cheese inspector to avoid suspicion, but the manager recognizes him for writing bad checks.
He forces the Bundys to buy something or face jail time, and they wring enough change for gum. Finally, Al cuts in front of Marcy and becomes the one-millionth customer, winning a $1000 shopping spree.
Married… with Children Fact
Ed O’Neill learned the show was canceled while he was on vacation. He overheard a couple discussing the newspaper article confirming the cancellation. As a result, O’Neill bought the couple a meal to thank them for making him aware.
1. Hot off the Grill
“Hot Off the Grill” is one of the funniest episodes with the most disgusting mishap. Al Bundy decides that instead of going to the beach for Labor Day, they will have a family BBQ.
He called it “Al Bun Day” because it’s a holiday for all working people. It has one of my favorite Married… with Children lines. It’s Al who delivers it to Kelly. He said, “The difference between here and school is you’ll be out of here when you’re 18.”
Anyways, Al designates his family to get the food and charcoal for the BBQ, and things don’t go as planned. He tells Peg she can bring the chairs out and scrape off the bird poo before Marcy shows up with an urn housing her dead aunt. This entire episode is laughs, from start to finish.
Those are the top 20 episodes ranked by IMDb. Did your favorite make this list? The Married… with Children series is available for streaming on Peacock and Hulu.
In May 2022, a Bundy revival with the original cast starring in an animated series was announced. So it will be interesting to see how their humor holds up in the 21st century.
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