20 Favorite TV Sidekicks Who Totally Stole the Show (PHOTOS)

Damarys Ocaña Perez | Oct 20, 2015 TV
20 Favorite TV Sidekicks Who Totally Stole the Show (PHOTOS)

Imagine a TV sitcom world without Costanza, Dwight, Ethel, or Urkel. Boring, right? We may start watching a show for the lead actor or actress, but we we often stick around for the sidekicks — the wacky, wisecracking, outrageous, sarcastic, and sometimes even amoral characters who steal scenes and often score the most laughs. 

Here are 20 sitcom characters who ate up the screen as unforgettable sidekicks. Which one is your favorite?

 

Image via NBC

  • Karen Walker on 'Will & Grace'

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    Image via YouTube

    Allow Karen Walker to introduce herself: "I'm fabulous, OK? I'm an incredible dresser. I've got buckets of money, I'm a hoot and a half, and I've got a killer rack." Also, she's an amoral sex- and vodka-holic. She was supposed to be a minor character on Will & Grace, but Megan Mullally's pitch-perfect, slightly unhinged performance was a fan favorite, prompting Karen's outrageous storylines to grow and grow.

  • Phoebe Buffay on 'Friends'

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    Image via NBC

    Let's face it: Phoebe was the second-tier friend. After all, she didn't even live in the same building as the rest of the Friends gang. But she often did what really good sidekicks do: steal scenes, whether she was singing about a smelly cat or pushing out triplets as a surrogate mother to his brother and much older sister-in-law. She also had a heart of gold. 

  • Rhoda Morgenstern on 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show'

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    Image via CBS

    Valerie Harper was so good at playing Rhoda, Mary's wisecracking, fashion-forward Jewish BFF on the '70s classic Mary Tyler Moore Show, that after four seasons she scored her own sitcom. Rhoda quickly broke viewership records for an episode in which the character gets married, and went on to last five seasons.  

  • Jack McFarland on 'Will & Grace"

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    Image via YouTube

    Will's gay best friend, Jack McFarland (Sean Hayes), was every bit as self-absorbed as Karen, so it's no wonder that Will & Grace writers went to town creating situations for the two supporting actors to go nuts. Played with manic brilliance by Sean Hayes, he was the flighty job-hopping counterpoint to the stable, conservative Will. He also gave new meaning to the term, "jazz hands."

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  • April Ludgate on 'Parks and Recreation'

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    Image via NBC

    There wasn't a topic or question that April Ludgate couldn't handle with a savage but insightful deadpanned one-liner. No wonder Aubrey Plaza's Parks and Recreation character turned into an instant meme favorite. But the character is a case of art imitating life. April was actually modeled on Plaza herself, after the show's creators found her to be a perfect fit for a show about misfits.

  • Niles Crane on 'Frasier'

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    Image via YouTube

    He was the perfect foil for his snobbish brother, Frasier by being an even bigger opera-loving, French-food-eating, social-climbing snob, on Frasier. David Hyde Pierce's perfect comic timing and surprisingly physical acting, turned Niles Crane into the character viewers most hoped would ring Frasier's doorbell. His not-so-secret pining for Daphne also made his character endearing.

  • Elaine Benes on 'Seinfeld'

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    Image via NBC

    The ultimate New York woman: Neurotic, obsessive (midnight odyssey to scoop up the last-ever boxes of sponge contraceptives!), assertive, and single. Given Julia Louis-Dreyfus' vast comic talent (hello, Veep), it's a shock to learn that she was hired because NBC execs insisted the show was too masculine. For many, she ended up being the heart of the show.

  • Steve Urkel on 'Family Matters'

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    Image via ABC

    He might have been the show's main character by the time Family Matters ended but Steve Urkel began as a sidekick. He was the dweeby neighbor who rocked suspenders, a pocket protector, and thick glasses, and he loved cheese. But Jaleel White's no-holds-barred portrayal of Urkel as simultaneously annoying, loving, and loyal won fans over, and the rest is pop culture history.

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  • Sophia Petrillo on 'Golden Girls'

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    Image via NBC

    Don't let the fluffly white hair and the wicker handbag fool you. Sophia was a walking, talking, punch in the face. As Dorothy's mom on The Golden Girls, she'd just as soon deliver a cutting remark laced with sarcasm as pass you a slice of cheesecake. Played by Estelle Getty, Sophia managed to stand out among four other outstanding leading ladies.

  • Tobias Funke on 'Arrested Development'

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    Image via YouTube

    David Cross endowed Arrested Development character Tobias Funke with such a ferocious sense of desperation that you couldn't help but root for him. A disbarred psychologist, he pursued acting with zero success but hilarious results (including a sad stint with the Blue Man Group). He also had a strange phobia, wearing several layers of clothing, including strategically placed tube socks, to ensure he was never naked.

  • Dwight Schrute III on 'The Office'

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    Image via NBC

    If Rainn Wilson is associated with Dwight Schrute from The Office for the rest of his career, he has only himself to blame for turning in one of the most committed performances in TV history. Dwight is simultaneously arrogant, deluded, clever, romantic, pedantic, ambitious, and kind of a loser. Viewers rooted just as hard for his comeuppance as they did for Jim and Pam's protracted love story. 

  • Fez on 'That '70s Show'

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    Image via Fox

    We never knew where he was from, or what his real name was (Fez is derived from "foreign exchange student"). We just knew that he was hot and hungry for sex. Wilmer Valderrama made up an accent for Fez to obscure his origin and played the character with a mix of sex appeal and goofiness. The result was a brand of offhand humor that often made you LOL.

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  • Sylvia Fine on 'The Nanny'

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    Image via YouTube

    It may be de rigueur to hate on The Nanny now, but there's a reason the '90s show is still in syndication, and one of the reasons is Sylvia Fine. If Fran Fine was gaudy, her mother, played by Renée Taylor, was baroque in every sense. Her clothes seemed to be made by a Vegas tailor; her hair was enormous; and she had a prodigious appetite to match her body. Sylvia was crass, greedy, and unguarded — in other words a breath of fresh air in the musty, old mansion.

  • George Costanza on 'Seinfeld'

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    Image via NBC

     

    Appearing in all but one of Seinfeld's 180 episodes, George Costanza was king ofsidekicks in the 1990s. Of course, he would call himself "King of the Idiots" and a "short, stocky, slow-witted, bald man." The beauty of Jason Alexander's portrayal of Jerry's best friend is how effortlessly he handled George's vicissitudes. He could go from insecure and neurotic to arrogant and deluded in one scene. It was an excruciating and hilarious ride.

  • Sandra Clark on '227'

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    Image via NBC

    Always dressed like she was going to Vegas, 227's sassy resident Sandra Clark (Jackée Harry), was always on the hunt for Mr. Right Now and butted heads with the conservative lead character, Mary (Marla Gibbs). The character was such a hit that she earned bigger story lines, angering Gibbs, as the show was intended to be a vehicle for her after the success of The Jeffersons. NBC consequently gave Jackée her own show, but it bombed.

  • Abed Nadir on 'Community'

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    Image via NBC

    He was awkward around people and completely unable to pick up on social cues, but there was always more than met the eye with Community's Abed Nadir (Danny Pudi). He could rap, dance and impersonate a myriad of pop culture icons. It was precisely the unexpected twists to his persona that made his character one to look forward to seeing every week on the show.

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  • Kenneth Parcell on '30 Rock'

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    Image via NBC

    The invariably chipper and optimistic page who loved two things — "everybody and television" — on 30 Rock was one of the highlights of a show filled with cynical and self-absorbed characters. But then again, the Southern boy from Georgia (played by Jack McBrayer) may have been the sickest of them all. According to nuggets he dropped into cheery conversations, he was actually the son of a pig farmer who would lay sex partners across his grandmother's lap in the family "mating shed."

  • Frank Barone on 'Everybody Loves Raymond'

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    Image via YouTube

    He was like the second coming of Archie Bunker: Stubborn, irascible, and bigoted, a character you love to hate and secretly hope sees the light one day. If there was a soft side to Frank, he rarely showed it. He was the source of conflict between Ray and his brother, Robert, and the source of many a laugh.

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