Everybody loves a grumpy bastard—at least on television. In real life mean/crotchety/surly/abusive behavior is frowned upon, and often results in a life of loneliness. But on TV it’s something else altogether, and being a grump often means the best laughs and legions of loyal fans. I thought it would be interesting to compile a list of the greatest grumpy guys in the history of television. After careful consideration, here are the first ever inductees in the Grumpy Guy Hall of Fame (presented in alphabetical order).
Jack Albertson—Best remembered by many people as the loveable Grandpa Joe in the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, he also starred as grumpy bastard opposite Freddie Prinze on Chico and the Man.
Carroll O’Connor—There is no greater grumpy guy/bigot/jackass than Archie Bunker from All in the Family.
Danny DeVito—More of a straight-up asshole than a grump, DeVito’s Louie DePalma on Taxi is in a class all by himself.
Redd Foxx—Honestly, Desmond Wilson as Lamont Sanford was more of a grumpy prick than Redd Foxx as his father Fred on Sanford and Son, but one is definitely more memorable than the other.
William Frawley—He replaced William Demarest with marginal success on My Three Sons, for which he earns an honorable mention as a grump, but he earns his place in the Hall of Fame for I Love Lucy.
Bernie Hamilton—Because good cops like Starsky and Hutch will always need a commanding officer to yell at them while simultaneously watching their backs.
John Hamilton—There are only two things to say: “Great Cesar’s ghost!” and “And don’t call me chief!”
Sherman Hemsley—He hates white people, mixed couples, ghetto Negroes, his maid, poor folks, and just about everyone else. But he’s got a heart of gold.
DeForest Kelley—Really, I don’t know if anyone in the history of television has been more surly than the doctor on Star Trek.
Statler and Waldorf—What more needs to be said?
Jerry Stiller—He earned his place on this list for his recurring role on Seinfeld, and then became the stuff of legend for his role on King of Queens. Both characters are up there with Archie Bunker and Louie De Palma as all-time greats.
Vic Tayback—A personal favorite, there was no other reason to watch Alice. Kiss my grits!!!
Abe Vigoda—The grumpiest cast member of Barney Miller (the greatest sitcom of all time) lost much of his bite when he was given his own series, but while he was manning a desk at the 12th Precinct, no one could touch Fish.
John Sylvester White—Often overshadowed by the rest of the cast of Welcome Back Kotter, here we have a grump with the distinction of being completely unlikeable. Seriously, I can’t think of a single reason to like Mr. Woodman, which makes him all that much greater of a grump.