Canadian television characters are a little bit like Halley’s Comet: they only seem to come around every 75 years. And, much like that famous intergalactic beacon, they’re always worth checking out when they appear. Grab your toque and a slab of back bacon as we look at 10 memorable characters who were born above the 49th parallel.
10. Vallery Irons (V.I.P.)
Pamela Anderson has always proudly touted her Canadian roots, so it’s hardly surprising that she insisted on playing a Canadian on her campy, short-lived series, V.I.P. Interestingly, Irons’ nationality wasn’t the only shout-out to Anderson’s home and native land. The former Playboy cover girl also managed to sneak in a reference to The Beachcombers by having her brother, Gerry Anderson, play a recurring character named Relic.
9. Danny Baker (30 Rock)
Cheyenne Jackson may not have been born in Canada, but he had no problem convincingly playing a Canuck on 30 Rock from 2009-2010. His character, Danny Baker, was a funny and sweet all-Canadian kid who loved his homeland. Sure, he may not have been able to pronounce words like “out” and “about”, but his good nature and caring disposition made us all proud to be Canadian.
8. Eddie LeBec (Cheers)
Washed-up hockey player Eddie LeBec makes it on our list not so much for how he lived, but for how he died. This former Bruins goalie bought the farm in a uniquely Canadian way during Cheers’ eighth season when he was flattened by a runaway Zamboni. The episode earned an Emmy nomination and gave the show’s producers a convenient way of axing actor Jay Thomas after he publicly complained about having to kiss his onscreen wife, Rhea Perlman.
7. Brian (The Larry Sanders Show)
It’s hard to say what was more outrageous about Scott Thompson’s character on The Larry Sanders Show: The fact that he was openly gay or the fact that he was openly Canadian. Back in 1995, American viewers weren’t used to seeing either group represented on primetime television, but Thompson’s endearing portrayal of Hank’s personal assistant helped erase some stereotypes while also providing the show with some of its finest moments.
6. Dave Nelson (NewsRadio)
On the surface, Dave Nelson may have appeared as American as apple pie, but this tightly wound station manager was actually harbouring a deep and insidious secret: he was born in Canada. Nelson’s rouse was finally exposed in NewsRadio’s third season when Matthew stumbled across Dave’s personal file and discovered his incriminating birth certificate. The discovery sent shockwaves through the office and forced Dave to admit that he had been born in Canada but left by his fifth birthday, having only “a vague recollection of a very clean state-run daycare facility.” So what prompted him to conceal his past? “I was afraid the other kids would think we were spies,” he later admitted. “When you’re five years-old you don’t really understand the intricacies of international espionage.”
5. Wolverine (X-Men)
Canadians always like to think of themselves as being tough, and no Canuck has ever displayed more grit than Wolverine. A fixture on several X-Men-themed cartoon programs from 1989-2010, this indestructible mutant was born in Alberta in the late 1880s and briefly worked in the Yukon. Even now, more than a century later, it’s not hard to imagine this edgy anti-hero easily blending into a mining camp in Dawson City.
4. Dudley Do-Right (The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show)
We’ll be the first to admit that Dudley Do-Right had his faults. A creation of American producer Jay Ward, this law-abiding constable rode his horse backwards, was clueless around the fairer sex and possessed the mental acuity of a small soap dish. But like any good Mountie he always got his man, even if it was frequently by mistake. Do-Right’s unfailing ability to tame the wild Northwest earns him our eternal gratitude and a place on our list.
3. Seth Bullock (Deadwood)
Think all Canadian characters have to be caricatures? Think again. Timothy Olyphant’s depiction of Deadwood sheriff Seth Bullock was highly nuanced and supremely well-fleshed out. Perhaps that shouldn’t come as a surprise, however, as Bullock was a genuine frontiersman who was born in Ontario in 1849 and later brought a sense of order to one of America’s most notoriously lawless towns.
2. Robin Scherbatsky (How I Met Your Mother)
Canadian characters typically go to great lengths to conceal their national identity so it’s refreshing that Robin Scherbatsky proudly embraces her heritage. Played by Vancouver native Cobie Smulders, Robin is a former Canadian pop star who loves beer, hockey and Tim Hortons and is personal friends with fellow Canuck Alan Thicke. Scherbatsky showed the full extent of her patriotic love during the show’s fourth season when she loudly declared, “I’m proud to be Canadian. We may not have a fancy NFL team, or Prince, but we invented Trivial Pursuit – you’re welcome, Earth! Plus, in Canada you can go to an all-nude strip club and order alcohol. That’s right – from Moose Jaw, to the Bay of Fundy, you can suck down a 20 oz. pilsner while watching a coal miner’s daughter strip down to her pelt: jealous?!” We certainly would be if we lived in the U.S.
1. Homer Simpson (The Simpsons)
Homer Simpson may embody the stereotype of the ugly American, but this Duff-drinking everyman is actually a true blue Canuck. Homer’s nationality was revealed for the first time in 2002 when Simpsons’ creator Matt Groening told the Canadian Press that his father was born in Canada and that Homer was named in his honour. “That would make Homer Simpson a Canadian,” Groening said at the time. “I hope Canadians won’t hold it against the show now that they know. We were counting on Canadians feeling superior to the Simpsons as being doltish Americans but now the secret is out.”