American humourist Arthur Baer once observed that “A good neighbour is a fellow who smiles at you over the back fence, but doesn’t climb over it.” That may be true in real life, but in the world of television sitcoms a good neighbour is someone who consistently drops by unannounced and supplies a steady stream of one-liners. Come along as we salute the top ten TV neighbours of all time.
Wilson W. Wilson, Jr. (Home Improvement)
They say that good fences make good neighbours, and that was especially true of Wilson, Tim Taylor’s partially obscured pal on Home Improvement. Played to perfection by veteran character actor Earl Hindman, Wilson managed to keep his face hidden for eight full years, a feat previously only accomplished by cagey terrorists and snitches enrolled in the Witness Protection Program. And while Wilson may not have been very forthcoming with his facial profile, he never held back when Tim and Jill needed him most, always providing them with first rate advice.
Winnie Cooper (The Wonder Years)
The ultimate girl next door, Winnie Cooper was far more than just a neighbour to Kevin Arnold. She was also his best friend, his lover, his muse and, many years later, the one who got away. As Kevin suggested in the show’s fourth season, “Winnie Cooper was part of me and I was part of her. And no matter what, for as long as we lived, I knew I could never let her go.” She was there for every single milestone in his life and her very presence made The Wonder Years far more wonderous for Kevin and viewers all around the world.
Ned Flanders (The Simpsons)
There are neighbours and then there are neighboroonis and Ned Flanders fits squarely into the latter category. Homer’s next door neighbour for the past 25 years, Flanders is devoutly religious, unfailingly courteous, eternally optimistic and fastidiously clean. In others words, he’s everything Homer is not, and that’s precisely why he goes out of his way to make Flanders’ life so dang-darn-diddly-darn-dang-ding-dong-diddly difficult.
George and Louise Jefferson (All in the Family)
Prior to “movin’ on up to the east side,” George and Louise Jefferson lived in a working-class neighbourhood in Queens next to Archie and Edith Bunker. The racial tension between the two couples provided All in the Family with some of its most groundbreaking moments, including one episode in particular where Archie unwittingly joined a local chapter of the KKK. George and Louise proved to be so popular with viewers that they later earned their own spin-off series which remained on the air for 11 seasons.
Ed and Trixie Norton (The Honeymooners)
Ed and Trixie Norton have developed such a huge following over the years that it’s easy to forget that this famous duo only appeared in 39 episodes of The Honeymooners. And despite their relatively brief tenure, they still managed to make quite the impression. Ed was the prototypical “pal o’ mine” who eagerly participated in all of Ralph’s half-brained get-rich-quick schemes, while Trixie was the supportive best friend who helped Alice deal with the ensuing fall-out when Ralph’s best-laid plans inevitably imploded. They showed just how helpful – and meddlesome – neighbours could be and provided a reliable template for many future generations of TV neighbours.
Glen Quagmire (Family Guy)
Every town needs a resident swinger, and in Quahog that man is Glen Quagmire. One of the few people in the world to have an STD named in his honour, this commercial airline pilot is attracted to anything that moves… and a few things that don’t. His legendary sexual antics ruined the marriage of his friend and neighbour Cleveland and he’s made countless passes at his other neighbours, Lois and Meg Griffin. Giggity!
Mr. Feeny (Boy Meets World)
Next-door-neighbours aren’t always wisecracking goofballs. Occasionally they can also be quite sage. That was certainly the case with George Feeny, Cory’s neighbour and mentor on Boy Meets World. From the first time we meet him as Cory’s sixth grade teacher to the final episode seven seasons later, he continued to provide a steady and inspiring presence by teaching his pupils to “dream, try [and] do good.” Sure, he may have come off as being a bit stiff and didactic at times, but there was no doubting his heart was always in the right place.
Skippy Handleman (Family Ties)
Family Ties boasted a steady stream of guest stars and rotating characters over its seven-year run, but few of them were quite as memorable as their bubbly next door neighbour Irwin “Skippy” Handleman. A de facto member of the Keaton household, Skippy was Alex’s best friend and Malory’s not-so-secret admirer. He was also one of the funniest and most self-effacing characters on the show, and his presence helped lighten the mood considerably whenever Alex began spouting his political manifestos or Steven shared his tiresome hippie ideals.
Barney Rubble (The Flintstones)
If you examined Ed Norton’s family tree you’d undoubtedly find Barney Rubble somewhere near the top. These two characters share many of the same attributes including affability, cluelessness and a complete willingness to help out their buddies, no matter how harebrained the scheme. In fact, it’s something of a miracle that Barney’s loyalty to Fred didn’t cost him his finances, his marriage or his life.
Cosmo Kramer (Seinfeld)
In the world of television sitcoms there’s a fine line between neighbours and roommates, and it’s a line that was consistently blurred by Kramer. Although he technically lived across the hall, this curiously coiffed, hyperkinetic character spent most of his free time in Jerry’s apartment watching TV, eating cereal, showering, flossing and generally doing everything except pay half the rent. While most TV neighbours are peripheral characters at best, Kramer was a central player whose warped views and half-baked schemes made Seinfeld one of the greatest shows in TV history.