The Top 10 Funniest TV Show Characters of the Past Decade (2000’s)

It’s no secret that we here we love our TV shows here at Pretzel Day. More specifically, we love funny ones. And seeing how we are comedy connoisseurs, we’d like to impart some of our wealth of wisdom on to you. And with the 2000’s having come to an end a few months ago, we’d like to look back on a decade of funny by ranking the top 10 funniest TV show characters since Y2K.

The rules are simple. The show that the character belongs to must have enjoyed its beginning or the bulk of its success during the time period of 2000 to 2009 (disqualifying shows like The Simpsons). Additionally, sketch comedy and late-night talk shows weren’t considered. Additionally, the show would have had to have at least 2+ seasons in order to properly develop the characters (sorry Freaks and Geeks).

Of course, my opinion is my opinion, and my list will generate some discussion, as I’m sure that even my colleagues here at Pretzel Day are bound to disagree with something about my list. But discussion is healthy, and this is definitely one worth having.

So, without further to do, here they are:

The Funniest TV Show Characters of the 2000’s

1. Charlie Kelly, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Played by Charlie Day, who also happens to be the show’s co-creator/developer and one of the main writers, Charlie Kelly is the most lovable illiterate, glue-huffing, waitress-stalking, cat-food eating, disgusting human being ever created. But that’s what makes him so great and hilarious. He is the best representation of the humor of the show: verbal slapstick and screwball comedy.

The writers of the show have Charlie’s character down to the tee. Whether it’s his long thermal underwear he wears in his run-down apartment which he shares with friend/possible father Frank (played by Danny Devito) or dressing up as the now-iconic Green Man, Charlie is consistent in all aspects, including being dependably hysterical whenever he’s on screen.

2. The Janitor, Scrubs

The Janitor is a favorite here at Pretzel Day for a lot of reasons. Neil Flynn, who plays the Janitor, is from nearby Waukegan, Ill., and was a champion member of the speech team in both high school and college (Robbie is a speech team enthusiast). Also, Flynn is a renowned improv actor and ad-libs many, if not most, of his lines (In some scripts, the writers of Scrubs will write in “Whatever Neil says” for the Janitor’s line).

But the main reason we love the Janitor so much is because, well, he’s really really funny. His existence in the show initially was merely to torment the young John Dorian (see No. 5 for JD), but the show has done a great job with developing the Janitor’s character and range of humor over the seasons.

One thing to note is that the Janitor is unique in that he often bends the rules of reality. He often makes up elaborate lies, but the show also shows him doing ridiculous things, such as moving into a sandcastle or hanging JD like a flag from a flagpole.

The character of the Janitor almost never happened. Flynn initially auditioned for the role of Dr. Perry Cox. Although he wasn’t offered the role, the producers liked him so much that they wrote in a bit for him as the Janitor in the Pilot. After seeing how hilarious he was as the Janitor, they decided to keep him as a regular. We’re glad they did.

3. Buster Bluth, Arrested Development

Never was awkward social ineptness as funny as Buster Bluth, played by Tony Hale. He is overly mothered by his mom and is a professional student, studying cartography, Native American tribal ceremonies, 18th century agrarian business principles, and archaeology.

Although he is a grown man, he is over-the-top immature, naïve, and helpless. And although this sounds rather sad, it is anything but. There probably has never been an actor better suited for a character than Hale, and Buster’s various quirks and peculiarities stand out in a show full of odd, bizarre characters.

4. Dwight Schrute, The Office

Who likes that one kid that’s always a huge suck-up that takes life and himself way too seriously? Well, if his name is Dwight Schrute, we do.

Dwight is the perfect character in that the only thing funnier and more entertaining than the actual portrayal of Dwight by Rainn Wilson is Dwight’s backstory. He is the typical weirdo from an Amish farming background: He lives on a beet farm with his cousin Mose, where he runs a bed and breakfast, has a grandmother who was a Nazi war criminal, loves his martial arts, and is a former Lackawanna County volunteer sheriff’s deputy.

The pairing of Dwight and colleague Jim Halpert forms one of the funniest combinations on television, and Wilson’s work alongside Steve Carell (Michael Scott, see No. 6) is pure comedic genius.

5. John Dorian, Scrubs

And now to probably my personal favorite character of the last decade, who happens to be on probably my favorite show. JD may not be as flat-out hilarious as the four mentioned before him in the list, but he is undeniably more well-rounded and developed as a character.

That being said, JD is pretty damn funny in his own right. JD’s humor comes from his over-the-top daydreams, emotional insecurities, and his excessive flamboyancy. JD also stand out because Zach Braff utilizes physical humor better than any character on this list. Braff plays JD brilliantly, and JD is the perfect example of what makes Scrubs so great: he can go from side-splitting humor to tear-jerking drama in a matter of seconds.

6. Michael Scott, The Office

Steve Carell takes an annoying, irritating, and infuriating character and does the unthinkable – makes him likeable. How? Because he is so damn funny.

Whether he is making “That’s What She Said Jokes,” talking about his deep hatred for the office’s HR rep Toby Henderson, or working on his not-so-burgeoning  improve career, Michael is unique in that while he would be incredibly unfunny in real life, he is absolutely hilarious on TV.

Carell also shows off his acting genius with his occasional subtle bits in which he reveals the human, caring side of Michael, giving depth to one of the most simple, yet complex characters on TV.

7. Tobias Fünke, Arrested Development

Another awkward, socially inept, down-right creepy character on the list, Tobias’ failure in life is our gain as an audience.

Although this list could very well be filled with the entire cast of Arrested Development, Tobias lands on the list because he stands out in the show’s hilarious cast. The aspiring actor who lost his license as Psychiatrist and an Analrapist (Analyst/Therapist) after giving CPR to a man that was actually just sleeping, Tobias is hysterical with his never-nude syndrome (exactly what it sounds like) and his never-ending sexual innuendos, of which he is completely oblivious.

8. Stewie Griffin – Family Guy

The only animated character to make the list, Stewie is your typical one-year-old. In between battling the occasional poop-in-his-diapers, Stewie is mostly concerned with taking over the world and killing his mom, all while speaking with incredible insight and vocabulary.

Apart from the hilarity that a one-year-old engages in such behaviors like car-jacking, robbery, forgery, and murder to become one of TV’s all-time best villains, some of Stewie’s funniest moments come from simple, dumb humor – Seth McFarlane at his best.

Also, I can’t help but love the musical numbers.

9. Liz Lemon, 30 Rock

I’m going to be honest, I didn’t initially intend to include Tina Fey’s character on the list. But 30 Rock is definitely deserving of a spot in my top 10, and Tina Fey’s character is the perfect combination of normal yet bizarre, striking a very comfortable comedic balance. It was hard to pick Liz over Tracy Jordan (played by Tracy Morgan) and Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin), but Liz’s interactions with them are really where the main humor lies.

The lone female representative on the list, Tina Fey is as funny as they come, regardless of gender.

10. Ari Gold, Entourage

The only character on the list that is on more of a drama than a comedy, Ari Gold is easily the funniest character in the show and one of, if not the best, asshole on television.

He’s neurotic, he’s offensive, and he’s down right crude. But he takes verbal abuse to another level, and he’s got some of the best one-liners we’ve ever heard (“Lloyd, speak, or I will intern you like it’s 1942!”). Sure, Jeremy Piven may have the writers to thank for that, but his performance as Ari Gold, both comedic and dramatic, is one of the best of the decade.

Honorable mentions

Like I said, the entire cast of Arrested Development should be considered, especially Gob Bluth, played by Will Arnett… If Andy Bernard came on the show sooner or Creed Bratton got more screen time, they probably would have joined their fellow The Office characters on the list… I find the show mildly funny at best, but Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris) of How I Met Your Mother probably belongs somewhere near or on the list… It’s hard to gauge the genius of Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm. Hilarious, but maybe not enough of a character to be in my top 10… Brett and Jermaine of The Flight of the Conchords are hilarious, but they only had one good season with the show, and their best humor is in their music… They wrote off Aziz Ansari’s unfunny character on Scrubs so he could be the much funnier Tom Haverford in Parks and Recreation.


18 Responses to “The Top 10 Funniest TV Show Characters of the Past Decade (2000’s)”

  1. 1 Umair October 16, 2010 at 5:47 am

    Fuck. Where is Barney Stinson?

  2. 3 emma January 14, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    how i met your mother rules xxx

  3. 4 Wilfredo Mckiernan February 6, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    Someone said a few of your posts and comments. I connect with several. I consider this although not sure. I’m not going things get worse in lieu of better. My doctor says my health condition lasts until 80’s. Wow, wouldn’t like that! Do insufficient hormones cause all of the above? Does product produce more hormones?

  4. 5 mystery man February 8, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    not the greatest of lists to be honest , no offense

    for me barney stinson is the funniest character of the past decade without a shadow of a doubt , i’m really surprised he didn’t even enter the top 10 list

  5. 7 Simpsonrules February 9, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Where the hell is homer simpson? Where is joey from friends? This thing suckzzz to bottom..!

  6. 9 Drew March 2, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    i think kelso or fez should be up there!

  7. 10 Gorman August 9, 2011 at 10:31 am

    My top 10:

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  8. 11 jrg October 4, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    Barney Stitson must be on this list. He’s definitely top 10, probably top 5 and — wait for it — arguably top 1.

  9. 12 Kel December 4, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    How can you have a list without ARTHUR SPOONER the dad on King Of Queens?

  10. 13 Todd W June 21, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    Without a doubt Joy Turner of My Name is Earl is one of the most hilarious characters ever……plus she’s hot.

  11. 14 MissPastaa February 4, 2013 at 12:22 am

    Abed from Community’s my favourite…..he should’ve been on the list.

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