It takes only 5 characters to make any sitcom comedy article

It takes only 5 characters to make any sitcom

Yes, exactly five characters that you have been watching in every sitcom but never realized that. You might think there were dozens or hundreds of characters in American sitcoms, but actually there were only five the whole time.

by Comedy Series

In United States there are about 100 sitcoms written every year, not many of them make it to pilot stage, only few actually make it to production stage. It would be logical assumption that it takes a lot of time and effort to create so many characters every year to fill all the sitcoms every year, but to be exact it takes only 5, at least to fill those that will reach your TV. Yes, exactly five: straight man, eye candy, village idiot, the pig and weirdo.

Straight man
The straight man (or woman) has nothing to do with sexuality, it is stock character in comedy, especially double acts. It is the person that acts absolutely normal, so the other character or characters would seem so wacky and funny. Him/her being so normal makes all the people around seem weird and he is the one the viewer should identify with. Usually the straight man is put in the script as an outsider that is dropped into strange reality (like in Northern Exposure, IT Crowd, Doc Martin) and through his eyes we see how weird the reality is.

Eye candy
The eye candy character has only one purpose - be attractive. Our little minds makes us all want to be surrounded by beautiful people, because then we will feel more attractive ourselves (sad, but true). Those characters in sitcoms are often linked to the straight man (f.e. they are dating, married or just good friends). The eye candy character usually take only marginal part in the plots, they ofter are used simply as decoration that would gather attention of the male viewers.

Village idiot
The character of the village idiot is classic in American sitcoms, their purpose is obvious - to do stupid things or act witless. Of course they don’t have to be idiots per se, they just have to be or seem dumber than the other characters. In another words the village idiot is someone others look down on. Also village idiots are often mixed other type of characters - the weirdo.

The pig
The pig is also classic character and just like the village idiot it isn’t always how it sounds. The pig is often someone mean, who always speaks out hss mind even if it’s hurtful to someone around (or motivated by hurting someone). The pig could be slimy, obnoxious, annoying to the others, obsessed in sex (in slimy way), but doesn’t have to be. One of the main features of the pig character is that he says the things others would not say (although they may think them).

Every group has a weirdo in it - if you don’t know who the weirdo is in your group then it must be you. In sitcoms weirdo plays role similar to village idiot, although weirdo just has to be weird, he might be smarter that the other, but they don’t take him seriously, since he’s a weirdo. The oddity of the weirdo doesn’t have to be something big or something really "out there", weirdo just has his own ways of doing things and those ways are completely different from the ways others would choose. In some cases the weirdo is mixed with village idiot, since mixing those two creates super-idiot or super-weirdo.

How does it work? Let’s see on few examples in no particular order:

Caroline in the City
Straight man: Caroline
Eye candy: Caroline
Village idiot: Charlie
The pig: Annie, Del
Weirdo: Richard
The character of Del is a mixture between the pig and village idiot, but rest of it stands rather clear.

Straight man: Joe
Eye candy: Helen
Village idiot: Lowell
The pig: Roy
Weirdo: Lowell, Fey
All the characters (especially Lowell and Roy) are pretty much icons of their types.

Straight man: Jake
Eye candy: Reggie, Linda
Village idiot: Linda
The pig: Bob
Weirdo: Becker
Unusual situation when main character isn’t a straight man, but out of the bunch Jake seems to be the most normal one.

Straight man: Ross, Chandler
Eye candy: Rachel, Monica
Village idiot: Joey, Phoebe
The pig: Phoebe
Weirdo: Chandler, Phoebe
Phoebe is not typical pig type, but she does speak her mind out loud, even if it is hurtful truth to someone around. She also shares the part of village idiot with Joey.

Just Shoot Me!
Straight man: Maya
Eye candy: Maya
Village idiot: Nina
The pig: Finch, Nina
Weirdo: Kevin, Jack
The only character from main cast that is ommited from the list is Eliott, who is somewhere between straight man and weirdo.

Straight man: Seinfeld
Eye candy: Elaine
Village idiot: George
The pig: Newman
Weirdo: Kramer
No explanation needed - all characters are rather typical, although they might have been mixed (Elaine is slightly the pig, Kramer is partly village idiot, George is partly weirdo).

Drew Carey Show
Straight man: Drew
Eye candy: Kate
Village idiot: Oswald
The pig: Mimi, Lewis
Weirdo: Mimi, Lewis
Again - the list is rather self-explenatory - all the characters are painfully typical for yhr 5 characters rule.

That ’70s Show
Straight man: Forman
Eye candy: Donna
Village idiot: Kelso, Jacky
The pig: Hyde
Weirdo: Fez
All the characters are fiting well in the rule.

Big Bang Theory
Straight man: Leonard
Eye candy: Penny
Village idiot: Raj
The pig: Howard
Weirdo: Sheldon, Raj
Although most of the characters in Big Bang Theory could be described as weird Leonard is the most normal of them while Raj is the one others look down on.

Straight man: Jeff
Eye candy: Britta
Village idiot: Chang, Troy
The pig: Pierce
Weirdo: Abed
Troy isn’t typical village idiot, altough he seem dumber than the others.

Straight man: Alex
Eye candy: Elaine
Village idiot: Latka, Tony, Jim
The pig: Louie
Weirdo: Jim, Latka
Taxi was spoiled for choice when it comes to village idiots, but rest of the characters are rather typical.

Straight man: Dave
Eye candy: Lisa
Village idiot: Matthew
The pig: Bill
Weirdo: Matthew, Beth, Jimmy
Newsradio was full of weird characters (even Joe could be counted as one of them), but in other categories there is less competition.

King of Queens
Straight man: Doug
Eye candy: Carrie
Village idiot: Spence
The pig: Arthur
Weirdo: Spence, Arthur
Arthur is another not very typical pig characters - he often does or says some hurtful things, but usually they are motivated by his temper rather than any typical characteristics of pig.

Straight man: Dorian, Carla
Eye candy: Elliot, Carla
Village idiot: Todd
The pig: Todd, Kelso, Janitor, Jordan
Weirdo: Janitor
Strangely as it sounds Dorian seems to be the most straight man in the bunch even though he is childish and rather irresponsible, but surrounded by characters like Bob kelso or Janitor he really does seem to be quite normal.

2 Broke Girls
Straight man: Caroline
Eye candy: Max
Village idiot: Han
The pig: Oleg, Sophie
Weirdo: Sophie
No explanation needed I guess - all the characters are straight clones of the 5 types.

30 Rock
Straight man: Liz
Eye candy: Cerie
Village idiot: Kenneth, Tracy, Jenna
The pig: Frank
Weirdo: Kenneth
Quite few characters in 30rock could end up in the weirdo category, but Kenneth leaves them all far behind.

According to Jim
Straight man: Cheryl
Eye candy: Cheryl, Dana
Village idiot: Andy
The pig: Jim
Weirdo: Andy
One of very few examples of the family sitcom that has all the characters to fit the 5 characters rule.

Straight man: Willie
Eye candy: Kate
Village idiot: Ochmonek, Willie
The pig: ALF
Weirdo: Ochmonek
Unusual case of family sitcom in which the straight man is also village idiot. Willie isn’t actually idiot character, but he walks into so many Alf’s tricks that he deserves to be on the village idiots list.

Anger Management
Straight man: Charlie
Eye candy: Kate, Lacey
Village idiot: Nolan
The pig: Ed, Lacey
Weirdo: Nolan
Most of Charlie’s patients are quite weird, but Nolan is definitely in the lead.

Straight man: Diane
Eye candy: Diane
Village idiot: Coach, Woody, Cliff
The pig: Carla
Weirdo: Norm, Cliff
Another unusual case - the main character of Sam doesn’t exactly fit any of the categories, although he has elements of straight man and eye candy (at least as far as man can be eye candy).

Cougar Town
Straight man: Josh
Eye candy: Jules, Ellie
Village idiot: Andy
The pig: Laurie, Ellie
Weirdo: Bobby
Another sitcom that fits perfectly the 5 characters rules.

Dharma & Greg
Straight man: Greg
Eye candy: Dharma
Village idiot: Larry
The pig: Jane
Weirdo: Dharma, Larry
Character of Pete is not on the list - he could be placed in the village idiot, weirdo or the pig section, but the characters of Larry and Jane outrank him completely.

Everybody Loves Raymond
Straight man: Debra, Raymond
Eye candy: Debra
Village idiot: Robert
The pig: Frank, Marie
Weirdo: Robert
Marie is slightly character of the pig - she is intentionally hurtful to the others - although her husband is a master in that category. Same story with Raymond, who is partly weirdo, but his brother is far weirder.

Straight man: Frasier
Eye candy: Roz
Village idiot: Kenny
The pig: Bulldog
Weirdo: Daphne, Niles
Frasier is not typical sitcom and thus the characters don’t fit the categories as perfectly as in the other series. Frasier is the straight man, but also is slightly weird. Niles is definately weird, Daphne sometimes is. Bulldog and Kenny are typical characters, but they are not main cast. Roz is slightly from pig category, but she is far from the level of Bulldog.

Home Improvement
Straight man: Jill
Eye candy: Heidi
Village idiot: Al
The pig: Tim
Weirdo: Wilson
All the 5 characters fit perfectly.

How I Met Your Mother
Straight man: Ted
Eye candy: Robin
Village idiot: Marshall
The pig: Barney
Weirdo: Lilly, Ted
The characters in How I Met Your Mother are very similar to each other (except for Barney), so the choice wasn’t easy especially when it comed to weirdo.

Straight man: Alex, Michael
Eye candy: Alex
Village idiot: Joey
The pig: Gina
Weirdo: Michael
Simple sitcom with simple characters that fit the 5 typical characters.

Less Than Perfect
Straight man: Claude
Eye candy: Lydia
Village idiot: Owen, Carl
The pig: Lydia, Kipp
Weirdo: Owen
Despite quite large cast the characters were very typical.

Straight man: Hawkeye, McIntyre
Eye candy: Margaret, the nurses
Village idiot: Henry
The pig: Frank
Weirdo: Henry, Radar, Klinger
Again sitcom with wide choice of weirdos.

Mike & Molly
Straight man: Mike, Molly
Eye candy: Victoria
Village idiot: Victoria
The pig: Karl, Joyce
Weirdo: Vince
Another set of typical characters.

My Name is Earl
Straight man: Earl
Eye candy: Joy, Catalina
Village idiot: Randy
The pig: Joy
Weirdo: Randy
None of the characters in My Name is Earl could be classified as typical, but they fit the basic 5 categories.

Night Court
Straight man: Christine, Lana, Billie
Eye candy: Christine, Lana, Billie
Village idiot: Bull
The pig: Dan
Weirdo: Harry, Bull
Just like in case of Becker we have here the main character that is a weirdo while other characters (his assistants) are actually the straight man. Bull is not typical village idiot character, but is considered to be looked down on by the others.

Straight man: Todd
Eye candy: Asha, Tonya
Village idiot: Gupta
The pig: Rajiv
Weirdo: Charlie
Although set in India this sitcom also fits the 5 basic characters rule.

Rules of Engagement
Straight man: Timmy
Eye candy: Audrey, Jennifer
Village idiot: Adam
The pig: Russell, Jeff
Weirdo: Adam
Another case of not main character to be the straight man, also Timmy was added to replace Audrey as the straight man (as strangely as it sounds).

Spin City
Straight man: Mike
Eye candy: Nikki, Stacey
Village idiot: Paul, James
The pig: Stuart
Weirdo: Paul, James
No surprises there - all the typical characters are used.

Two and a Half Men
Straight man: Alan
Eye candy: Rose
Village idiot: Jake
The pig: Charlie, Evelyn, Berta
Weirdo: Evelyn, Berta
Two and a Half Men is full of cynincal characters, so it is not easy to spot the single pig - 3 characters share this category.

$#*! My Dad Says
Straight man: Henry
Eye candy: Bonnie
Village idiot: Vince
The pig: Ed
Weirdo: Ed
Bonnie is not typical eye candy (she is partly the straight man), but is the only female character.

Married with Children
Straight man: Bud
Eye candy: Kelly
Village idiot: Ted
The pig: Al, Peggy, Marcy
Weirdo: Bud
One of the sitcom in which it is hard to spot the straight man, but comparing to others Bud fits the characteristics. Unfortunately he is also a weirdo.

Malcolm in the Middle
Straight man: Malcolm
Eye candy: Lois
Village idiot: Hal, Dewey
The pig: Reese
Weirdo: Dewey
Just like in case of $#*! My Dad Says finding the eye candy was problem (there is only one main female character), but rest of them were rather easy to place in the categories.

Will & Grace
Straight man: Grace, Will
Eye candy: Grace
Village idiot: Shaun, Megan
The pig: Megan
Weirdo: Shaun
Even though there were only 4 main characters they managed to fill all the 5 categories.

Yes, Dear
Straight man: Greg
Eye candy: Kim
Village idiot: Jimmy
The pig: Christine
Weirdo: Greg
Although being family sitcom Yes, Dear has all the 5 basic characters.

The Exes
Straight man: Stuart
Eye candy: Holly, Eden
Village idiot: Stuart
The pig: Haskell
Weirdo: Stuart
Just like in case of How I Met Your Mother here we have main characters that has absolutely no distinctive features, but Stuart seemes to be filling 3 categories.

Hot in Cleveland
Straight man: Melanie
Eye candy: Melanie
Village idiot: Victoria
The pig: Elka
Weirdo: Joy
Even though the main cast is completely female Hot in Cleveland fits the 5 basic characters.

The only American sitcoms that don’t seem to fit the 5 basice characters rule are the family sitcoms (like The Cosby Show, The Middle, 8 Simple Rules), where usually the pig character is missing from the puzzle.

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