In life, you only get one chance at a first impression. This is equally true in sitcom-land, where TV shows have barely half an hour to raise a chuckle from us. If they’re not able to hook our scattered, attention-deficient brains from the word “go”, then chances are we won’t be coming back for more.
Ultimately much of the humour from sitcoms is derived from the characters. We want characters we can relate to in some way, while at the same time laugh ourselves silly at their endless struggles. Conversely, they also need to be larger than life, which means they need to make an instant impact - whether they’re the show’s main protagonist or a zany side character. There are so many sitcoms battling for viewers, which means these people have to stand out straight away.
The best character introductions may grab our attention immediately with one spectacular moment or set-piece. Perhaps they reveal a character’s key traits from a single action or a few words. Or they could, quite simply, just be bloody hilarious.
These 10 sitcom characters all arrived with a bang and made us laugh doing it.
10. Rachel Green - Friends
In the very first scene of this 90s classic, we’re introduced to four of the main six characters as they lounge around discussing their lives in Central Perk - a set-up that would become very familiar over the next ten seasons.
Lovable loser Ross enters and drops the bombshell that his wife has just left him for another woman. The gang do their best to console him, but newly single Ross is adamant that all he wants is to be married again. Then in walks Rachel, rain-soaked and wearing a wedding dress.
The scene not only introduces Rachel Green to the world, but also sets the seeds for the will-they/won’t-they relationship between the two characters, which would be the emotional hook for much of the show’s run.
Rachel begins the show as a ditzy, decidedly shallow girl - her reasoning for jilting Barry at the wedding is that he looks like Mr Potato Head - but would grow into a responsible hardworking woman, with more than a few laughs along the way.