The Top 36 Characters in NBC’s Thursday Night Line-up

UPDATE: Every Oscar’s “Recently Deceased” montage has a ridiculous exclusion.  I have made a similar error. Ron Swanson from “Parks and Recreation” is that exclusion. I apologize.

It’s often said when somebody prominent leaves their field that, “Everyone else moves up a spot.” If that’s true, then everybody in NBC’s Thursday comedy line-up was bumped up a spot a few weeks ago when Steve Carell left “The Office.”

So, who’s the new number one? Keep reading to find out…

Note: I had originally considered doing a “20 Least Funny Characters on ’30 Rock'” list, but Tina Fey has contacts in the Philadelphia area and I didn’t want her coming after me.

Another Note: As with any list I make, this is based on my tastes today. This could very well change within the next few minutes. So, if you think Creed Bratton was robbed, don’t worry. This is all one a–hole’s opinion anyway.

Yet Another Note: If you’re a fan of Rob Cesternino’s “Rob Has a Podcast,” you may recall that he and I discussed this list a few weeks ago. We’re bouncing around a similar (and in my opinion better) idea for an upcoming podcast. And if you’re not a fan of Rob’s podcast, you should be.

  #36: Angie Jordan – “30 Rock”
True, the season’s worst episode centered around her “Queen of Jordan” reality show. But, I won’t hold that against her. I’m also not comfortable with the fact that Sherri Shepherd’s solid performances have made me like a member of “The View.”
  #35: Ian Duncan – “Community”
“Seinfeld” and “The Simpsons” are the standard bearers for shows that have made the most of their side charcters. With hilarious supporting cast members like John Oliver, “Community” is becoming a close third.
  #34: Pinky – “Outsourced”
If this list was based on a line-to-laugh ratio, Pinky would probably be at the top. However, I think expanding her role would make her less funny. She’s probably best in small doses. On the other hand, it would make it easier to find photos of her on the Internet.
  #33: Avery Jessup – “30 Rock”
Elizabeth Banks has been a very welcome addition to this cast. I really hope the “Avery is kidnapped by China and forced to marry Kim Jong-Il” storyline was just a way to write her out of the show for a while.
  #32: Erin Hannon – “The Office”
I’m a bit torn on Erin. She can be very funny at times, but sometimes she ends up on the wrong side of the the Tribbiani Divide. (That’s when a “dumb” character stops being endearing and starts being annoying.)
  #31: Ben Chang – “Community”
Chang was a tough one to rank. When he’s on, he’s hilarious. When he’s off, it clanks pretty hard. And, I agree with the fan sentiment that thinks he worked better when he had authority over the study group.
  #30: Darryl Philbin – “The Office”
My biggest concern about Steve Carell leaving “The Office”? Who’s Darryl going to teach his “Black Man Slang” to? Oh well…I’m sure they’ll fleece it out.
  #29: April Ludgate – “Parks & Recreation”
Aubrey Plaza plays the same character in everything she does. But it works for her. And she’s “obtainable hot” which works for me.
  #28: Donna – “Parks & Recreation”
I must have a soft spot for tertiary characters who nail their few opportunities. That description fits Retta’s portrayal of Donna perfectly.
  #27: Charlie Davies – “Outsourced”
Wacky neighbor, wacky co-expatriate…same difference. Diedrich Bader does a solid job as the Jiminy Cricket on Todd Dempsy’s shoulder.
  #26: Magnitude – “Community”
Be honest, did you say “Pop pop!” to yourself when you looked at the picture to the left?
  #25: Dot Com – “30 Rock”
Dot Com is just another one of the “30 Rock’s” parade of one-note characters. The only difference? Dot Com is actually funny.
  #24: Pierce Hawthorne – “Community”
Pierce was a hard one to rank. Of the seven “Community” regulars, I feel he brings the least to the table (no pun intended). But he’s still frequently funny. I don’t know, maybe his weird second season hurt him a little bit.
  #23: Todd Dempsy – “Outsourced”
This list was started before “Outsourced” was canceled by NBC. It’s not a shame, because the show was pretty lackluster, but Ben Rappaport is one actor who shouldn’t worry about finding employment.
  #22: Ben Wyatt – “Parks & Recreation”
Sigh…I miss me some “Party Down.” Adam Scott’s relatively new to the “Parks” team, but he’s so talented that I bet if we revisit this list in a year, he’d probably climb into the top ten.
  #21: Shirley Bennett – “Community”
As the Christian member of the Greendale study group, Shirley is often saddled with the sometimes boring role of the group’s conscience. However, I find backstory glimpses like her barfly past to be fascinating. I really hope they explore them more in the future.
  #20: Angela Martin – “The Office”
“The Office” has thrown away some promising plot lines over the years. The most disappointing had to be the Angela/Dwight/Andy love triangle. In spite of losing out on what should have been a headlining angle, Angela has remained one of the casts most consistent bright spots.
  #19: Tom Haverford – “Parks & Recreation”
I didn’t get Aziz Ansari…and he was everywhere.  Movies, sitcoms, award shows, you couldn’t miss him. But this role clicked with me. He’s a very big part of what’s making “Parks & Recreation” into a potential break-out show.
  #18: “Fat” Neal – “Community”
Is Fat Neal particularly funny? No. But after the episode where he moved past his suicidal thoughts, I can’t help but feel happy for him whenever he makes an appearance. Yes, jaded me feels something.
  #17: Dean Pelton – “Community”
We may only see Dean Pelton for 30 seconds an episode, but they’re always a solid 30 seconds.
  #16: Asha – “Outsourced”
When a show centers around a “Will they?” proposition between the lead guy and his dream girl, the dream girl had better be something special. Rebecca Hazlewood is something special.
  #15: Tracy Jordan – “30 Rock”
Why does Tracy Morgan annoy me so much and Tracy Jordan amuse me so greatly? No idea. But moments such as his “Uptown Girl” singoff with Liz Lemon make for some goooood television.
  #14: Manmeet – “Outsourced”
Sacha Dhawan is hilarious. Why don’t we see more of him? Also, why don’t the Indian characters on “Outsourced” have last names?
  #13: Dwight Schrute – “The Office”
Dwight may slip into a caricature a little more than I’d like for a lead character in a mockumentary, but you can’t deny he’s hilarious.
  #12: Pam Halpert – “The Office”
Remember what I said about “Outsourced’s” Asha? Jenna Fischer rocked that role for four seasons. Things have slowed down for her since Cecelia was born, but moments like pranking Dwight have shown that she’s still got it.
#11: Britta Perry – “Community”
#10: Annie Edison – “Community”
Britta vs. Annie is like Edward vs. Jacob for people who don’t like terrible melodrama. Britta is slightly funnier, Annie is slightly hotter. Britta’s had better moments, Annie’s character is richer. Both wore cheerleader costumes and wrestled in an inflatable pool filled with some kind of foam.

Really, we’re all winners.

  #9: Andy Bernard – “The Office”
I may have enjoyed the previous alpha-male-wannabe iteration of this character over the current pushover version. But either way, Ed Helms brings the funny.
  #8: Leslie Knope – “Parks & Recreation”
I hated Leslie Knope when “Parks & Recreation” debuted. I don’t know if Amy Poehler has tweaked it since then or if I’ve come around, but I think she’s knocking it out of the park now. In fact, I’d argue that with her at the helm, “Parks” has won the night a few times this season.
  #7: Liz Lemon – “30 Rock”
I think I’m starting to suffer from a little Tina Fey backlash. But I can’t deny that the Liz Lemon/Jack Donaghy relationship might be one of this generation’s best comedy pairings.
  #6: Jeff Winger – “Community”
What’s the deal, McHale? Your bring-it-all-full-circle speeches should be old by now. And as an insecure male I should hate your roguish good looks. But I can’t do it…I just can’t.
  #5: Abed Nadir – “Community”
How good is Danny Pudi’s portrayal of Abed? Watch an interview with him out of character…it’ll freak you out.
  #4: Kelly Kapoor – “The Office”
Some might view Mindy Kaling’s portrayal of a materialistic, pop culture-obsessed office drone as a bit too big for a mockumentary, but I’d disagree. Kaling nails it. I know Kelly Kapoors. I’ve dated Kelly Kapoors.
  #3: Jim Halpert – “The Office”
It probably isn’t a coincidence that the decline of “The Office” has coincided with the lack of interesting stories for Jim Halpert. It’s a shame the “Philly Jim” and Co-Manager Jim” storylines were so quickly abandoned.
  #2: Troy “Butt Soup” Barnes – “Community”
America hasn’t quite realized it yet, but Donald Glover might be on his way to becoming this generation’s Eddie Murphy (minus the leather jumpsuits).
  #1: Jack Donaghy – “30 Rock”
I’ve done some “30 Rock” bashing in this list, but it’s only because I care. There’s still a lot of good in it. They just need to focus on what works (almost everything with Jack) and downplay what doesn’t (almost anything with Jenna, Kenneth, Lutz…).

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15 Responses to “The Top 36 Characters in NBC’s Thursday Night Line-up”

  1. Kevin Says:

    Annie’s Boob! Best character ever!

  2. Tom "Butt Soup" Mallon Says:

    In light of the duly-noted cancellation of ‘Outsourced,’ I’m going to have to request that they be stricken from the record to make room for every other character on Community:

    – Leonard
    – Starburns
    – Vicki
    – Dean Spreck
    – Vaughn
    – Garrett (he’s like God spilled a person!)
    – Pavel
    – Balkan guy whose name escapes me from that one episode
    – Paul F Tompkins’ gay ‘Last Starfighter’ fan
    – The actor who plays the actor who plays Kickpuncher
    – Quendra with a Q-U
    – Quettle Quorn Rich
    – Sexy asperger’s secret service lady
    – Monkey
    – BOOKS!

  3. james Says:

    you forgot #1… RON SWANSON

  4. Amy Says:

    “Why does Tracy Morgan annoy me so much and Tracy Jordan amuse me so greatly?” Yes! What is this phenomenon?

  5. Sam Says:

    Ron Swanson is an atrocious exclusion, but since you noted it, you’re forgiven. But Jean-Ralphio and Tammy Swanson (if Angie Jordan is included) need spots. And the best fringe P&R character –Sewage Joe — needs honorable mention. Oh, and I completely DISAGREE that “Queen of Jordan” was the worst episode of “30 Rock.” I thought it was one of the best. The best Thursday episode of the year was last week’s Snakejuice episode of P&R … “Jean-Ralphio! Dance up on me!”

  6. Dave Says:

    Really enjoyed your podcast with Rob, but how did you come to the conclusion that 30 Rock had a down year? This season has been far better than the last two, and occasionally at late Season 1/Season 2 quality. And even then, the live show and a couple others were worse than Queen of Jordan.

    Also, do you even watch Parks and Rec? Three of the biggest laugh getters in Ron Fucking Swanson, Andy and Chris omitted?

    Non-entity Jim Halpert at #3? The Community writers, after 2 seasons, still don’t know what to do with Shirley, but even she has had more impact on her respective show than the Halperts.

    PS. You should give Arrested Development another try. If it takes you a few watches to pick everything out of an episode of Community, then you could probably be re-watching AD for the next 10 years.

  7. gordonholmes Says:

    Tammy Swanson…good call.

    ’30 Rock’ used to be the funniest show on Thursday, but the Jenna and Kenneth characters drive me nuts. I just don’t find them funny anymore.

    I am new on the Parks bandwagon, but I’d currently rank it second on the night. The Swanson exclusion was unintentional and embarrassing, but the Andy and Chris omissions were intentional. They’re not my cup of tea. To each his own.

    Halpert has been a non-entity, and that’s a crime. I’d argue that the Jim and Pam will-they-won’t-they is one of TV’s best behind Sam and Diane and Tony and Angela. I’m a big believer that if the office is to make a comeback, it needs to be on Halpert’s shoulders. You can’t just bring in a new Carell.

    I’ve enjoyed every Arrested Development I’ve ever seen, I just need to find me some spare time.

    In other news, Rob and I have touched base on an follow-up podcast, and will be getting to it in the next few weeks.

    Thanks for stopping by the site!

    • george stulak Says:

      Ron Swanson’s omission was a shock, he is in the top five…if not number one! I agree 100% about Halpert and the Office. Jim is my favorite hands down

  8. Rose Reeder Says:

    #30rock Dot Com posted your comments about him on his facebook page Kevin Brown aka Dot Com and his twitter dotcom30rock

  9. Sam Says:

    Magnitude can’t hold a candle to Jean-Ralphio, dude.

  10. kushibo Says:

    This list has made me sad because this is where I discovered that “Outsourced” has been canceled. I thought it was on the better side of mediocre at first, but it really matured and became laugh-out-loud funny at times, especially Charlie Davies, but really the whole lot of them.

    It’s just another disappointing case where NBC has taken something good and canceled it because it didn’t have “Friends”-like ratings every frickin’ week.

    I’m encouraged, though, by how strong the writing has been on “The Office” since Michael Scott left Dunder-Mifflin (I was worried about that), and “Community,” “30 Rock,” and “Parks & Recreation” all seem to be going strong, writing- and acting-wise.

    gordonholmes asked: “Why does Tracy Morgan annoy me so much and Tracy Jordan amuse me so greatly?”

    I think the answer is that a real-life person like that is scary because of the real-world harm that they can generate. As a character on a scripted television show, though, the antics are contained in a box of make-believe. The craziness can’t hurt anyone. I feel the about Jack Donaghy’s Republicanism.

  11. Chris J Says:

    Gordon, I have 100% been watching Community because of “Rob Has a Podcast”. Been so interesting to watch it back to back to see how the characters changed a little bit in the beginning. If Abed and Troy keep getting funnier and if the show can stay on awhile, they are on their way to becoming one of the funniest duos of all time.

    It took me forever to find the “chicken fingers” episode as you calls called it that on the podcast and not the real name. Well worth the effort. Thanks for turning me on to the show.

  12. Chris J Says:

    Oh, and I am on Team Annie all the way.

  13. JR Says:

    Kelly Kapoor!!!!!

  14. braces cost Says:

    This site was… how do you say it? Relevant!
    ! Finally I have found something that helped
    me. Cheers!

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