4 Bit Characters Who Deserved Way More Attention
In fiction, first impressions are even more important than they are in real life. If you're there from the very beginning of a show, viewers will probably take to you. Exceptionally few characters can show up halfway through a ratings bonanza and win the hearts of anyone. Most get one chance to get over, fail, and are then promptly packed into an ass-cannon and farted into the Sun. But not all of them deserved that fate. For instance ...
Seven Bundy From Married ... with Children
Seven Bundy consistently tops lazy sub-BuzzFeed lists about Failed Characters From Our Childhood That Whatever Blah Tits. Peg's hillbilly relatives abandoned him one day, and suddenly he was everybody's problem.
He brought happiness and joy to a family normally hell-bent on killing one another. That monster.
But Seven wasn't a stereotypical bumpkin -- just a more photogenic Cousin Oliver. Unlike everybody in his rapidly-rotting family tree, Seven was precocious, intelligent, and self-aware. This, as expected, meant audiences despised him. He brought nothing new to the Bundy's splintered, food-bare table -- he was simply Buck the Dog the Human, looking around at his surroundings like he couldn't believe he was smarter than every adult combined.
After a handful of episodes, a quick glimpse of his face on a milk carton sealed his fate for good. As an extremely dark real-world side note: virtually no milk carton children came home alive, and Seven was no exception.
Nothing like a little child abduction humor to brighten up your day.
The Awesomeness That Could've Been:
It wasn't Seven's existence that sucked -- it was his writing. And not rewriting him as a violent, evil little demon child seeking revenge against the family who neglected and abandoned him is probably Married ... with Children's biggest failure.
Other than that time Grandmaster B became a real-life thing.
The show wrote Seven off by having the D'Arcys mention that he broke into their house and wouldn't leave. They also mentioned they were thinking of raising him, which makes perfect sense. After all, who was the only person on Earth who hated the Bundys (particularly Al) more than ignorant housewives? Marcy D'Arcy, who coincidentally knew a thing or two about having a terrible name. She could've easily taken Seven under her wing and brainwashed him against his former family. The anger was clearly already there, and much like how terrorists and cult leaders recruit followers, it simply needed to be drawn out and fed until it blossomed into a beautiful flower of psychotic hatred and bloodlust.
So now, along with your regularly-scheduled "dysfunctional family with hot daughter" shenanigans, we would have Bowser and Bowser Jr. for the '80s crowd. The two would constantly cook up Looney-Tunes-esque schemes to destroy the Bundys once and for all, only to inevitably fail each time. That's the life of a villain though -- the second you actually do your job and succeed in killing off the heroes, the show ends and you're out of a job.
"Your agonized screams of pain and torment shall become my sustenance."
But as Shredder, Rita Repulsa, COBRA Commander, Wile E. Coyote, and countless others have taught us time and again, being an evil loser with a worse win-loss record than the Charlie Brown All-Stars is an essential part of any complete television show. They even could've invaded Hollywood with their own series of gory mom-and-son murder flicks -- also called Se7en, and probably featuring the same ending.
Bluto's Girlfriend From Popeye
Despite Bluto's perpetual boner for Olive Oyl, a girl named after the only food she's ever eaten in her entire life, there once was another. Back in the '30s, before Tesla invented color, Bluto went a-courting and found himself a nameless beaut who suspiciously looked just like him.
Bluto's girlfriend shows up in exactly one episode, cheering on her boy toy's baseball team against Popeye's. Aside from being kind of loud and obnoxious about it (making her the perfect Yankees fan), she actually doesn't do anything remotely Bluto-like. If anything, Olive's the terrible person this time around.
"That's what you get for cheering while fat."
Once Popeye wins (thanks to a round of performance-enhancing produce), Olive fully unleashes the bully within. The cartoon ends with her lording over a deathly-afraid Bluto's Girlfriend and forcing her to sing the Popeye theme while choking back tears.
We never see her again, and the rest of the series plays out exactly as it did before: Bluto commits felony kidnapping, insinuates sexual assault, "PAHPEYE HALLLLLLLLP," spinach, assault and battery, toot toot.
The Awesomeness That Could've Been:
Aside from a complete game-changer and added dimension for one of the stalest cartoons this side of Scooby-Doo, not much.
There's a reason I could summarize every Popeye cartoon in one sentence. Unless Popeye's spinaching up against Japan so broke-ass Americans would buy more war bonds, he's pummeling Bluto over his harassing and intimidating behavior against Olive. And after several hundred cartoons, comic strips, movies, video games, and a goddamn porn parody, we get the damn point.
In lieu of my being fired for posting porn, have fun staring at this stupid Donkey Kong ripoff.
Give Bluto a steady girlfriend -- one who despises Olive for emasculating her -- and there's the fresh dynamic this series has needed since forever. Bluto's Girlfriend would have a gigantic chip on her shoulder after her first go-round with the good(ish) guys ended with a 62-pound woman kicking her ass for no reason.
She'll want vengeance, and will likely light a spark under Bluto's ample ass in the process. The old boy's definitely lost motivation after decades of a scrawny, half-blind, tobacco-lunged veggie addict knocking his teeth out, and what better way to get him punching again than the love and support of a good woman?
But Bluto's still a bad guy, and he's also a cad. Just because he has one lady doesn't mean he wouldn't want another. Every so often, he could stalk Olive behind his girlfriend's back -- whenever he gets found out, Popeye, Olive, and the Girlfriend down spinach and beat him to a bloody, quivering pulp. It's OK; he's a cartoon, he'll get over it.
Venus de Milo, the Fifth Ninja Turtle
The late '90s bequeathed a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series called The Next Mutation. To seduce the extreme, non-turtley crowd of the time, the show introduced Venus de Milo, a brand-new Turtle. With boobs!
Cooties in a half-shell.
Naturally, she hailed from the same fishbowl as the familiar four. But instead of being raised in the sewer by a rodent Mr. Miyagi, Venus got scooped up by some samurai and whisked off to an actual living space. Her debut was all kinds of badass -- she had outrageous samurai skills and tossed around magic orbs and beat Shredder and destroyed the Foot Clan and had a ponytail and was awesome and everybody hated her.
Fans immediately cursed her as useless and redundant -- after one season, nobody heard from her again. Peter Laird, the creator and owner of TMNT, flies into a blind rage at any mention of "Venus," so expect her banishment to continue well into the 24th-and-a-half century.
The thousand yard stare of a man betrayed.
The Awesomeness That Could've Been:
Unlike Seven, Venus never needed a crazy storyline to justify her existence -- simply letting her exist was enough. It's always good to provide young girls with another empowering figure to look up to, even if that figure is scaly, cold-blooded, and delicious in soup form.
She fit the show way better than fans (and her creator) insist she did. She wasn't a delicate fainting flower, a lusty sex pot, or stupid comic relief. She was every bit the fighter the dude turtles were, only with magic orbs, because the writers couldn't think of a fifth old-timey weapon that nobody uses anymore. She should've just thrown bricks at everyone. It's New York City -- she'd never want for materials.
"I'll kick your ass with an entire building! Piece by piece!"
Plus, since natural urges don't vanish just because your blood is 50 percent glowing ooze, there would always be the issue of which Turtle Venus would fuck. The writers knew this, retconning the Turtles as unrelated for the first time ever. They weren't actual brothers anymore -- just bros who happened to share a cramped apartment with some girl turtle. That way, once the time came for sweet amphibious love, it would only be incestual in disturbed fanboys' sick, sick minds.
A smart, badass lady turtle successfully balancing love and blowing up bad guys would've been a great hero for both genders. No go, though -- apparently, anthropomorphic reptiles chilling with a talking rat and fighting living brains from a parallel universe while kicking more ass than Bruce Lee only works if everybody involved has a penis.
"Aaahhh. Finally. Just us dudes. Kiss me, you little green freak."
Uncle Max From Calvin and Hobbes
Poor, poor unloved Uncle Max. The brother of Calvin's Father made a one-week appearance in 1988 where he, well, visited his family. Many wacky adventures were not had. Then he left. And that was it.
Orange tigers are the new black.
According to creator Bill Watterson, he hated Max because he messed up the "Calvin and his parents" dynamic that defined the series when the tiger wasn't available to do something whimsical. Plus, he found it awkward that Max couldn't call Calvin's parents by their actual names, which would admittedly be an awkward moment at most every family reunion. Watterson erased Max from his easel and never spoke of him again.
The Awesomeness That Could've Been:
First off all, Watterson's reasons for banishing Max to the Netherrealm are some of the stupidest excuses I've ever heard. He can't call the parents by their real names? Well then, make him. Creators have this amazing ability where they can make their creations do whatever they want -- if that involved some dude calling Calvin's Dad "Biff" for a week, then so be it.
Screw Obama, can we see Bro's birth certificate instead?
Also, unless their legal names were Honey and Dear, Calvin's parents never called each other by their real names either. Yet they didn't suffer the big eraser. Maybe Watterson simply hated drawing mustaches.
But more importantly, in Max's short time on Inked Earth, he managed something no other adult could: make Calvin like him. Outside of Hobbes, Calvin hates just about everybody. Teachers, bullies, the babysitter, his parents -- he wants little to do with them on a good day, and prays for their deaths on a bad one. But Max, simply by being chill about this antisocial psychopathic genius in the making, broke him down. Calvin legitimately liked Max, wished he could stay instead of fucking off back to UncleLand, and was dead set on boarding Max's plane to go live with him.
"... and ever ... and ever ... and ever."
Max spent one damn week with Calvin and actually humanized the tyke. Subsequent Max stories would have fleshed out the character more -- based on his one appearance, he's a loner with a possible criminal record -- while also evolving his relationship with Calvin. After all, this is the only actual human relationship either of them has.
Done right, Max could well have been the adult Calvin, which is probably what the child version needed all along. Never mind a stuffed animal with ambiguous anthropomorphism -- all Calvin truly requires is confirmation that even after you grow up, grow a stupid mustache, and lose precious time to the clinker, you never have to stop exploring. Holy shit, now that I think about it, that makes the uncle so much darker.
Jason is a columnist, editor, layout guy, and personal experience interviewer for Cracked. Never don't forget to not follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
For more from Jason, check out 4 Insane Ways Video Games Changed During My 9-Year Hiatus and 4 Songs You Didn't Know Had Sequels (That Ruin The Original).