There were a slew of great sitcoms from the ‘80s and ‘90s that most of us grew up on and have fond memories of. But there were a handful of characters in these shows who always rubbed us the wrong way, and we couldn’t help but wonder whether they were off doing much more sinister things during the scenes they weren’t in. Here’s a look at the characters who were most likely leading second lives as serial killers without their sitcom families ever even knowing about it.
7. Wilson from Home Improvement
Source: Touchstone Television
I mean, there’s something that’s simply not right about this situation. Here’s a neighbor whose face nobody has ever really seen. This is more than cause for alarm. He’s always up to some kind of tomfoolery on his side of the fence, and it usually involves some contraption or foreign concept that nobody’s ever heard of. Can you say terrorist?
Wilson is one of those domestic terrorists who’s really good at laying low and holding down the home front. He takes care of business in his house all day – did anybody ever really figure out just what in the hell his job was? He was doing God knows what, and then at the end of the day he shared creepy little aphorisms and anecdotes with his neighbor.
Of course, we’re supposed to think he’s just sharing a bit of his worldly wisdom with a knuckledheaded neighbor, but on closer inspection it’s easy to see what Wilson was really doing. He was planting the seeds of the apocalypse, one brainwashed soldier at a time. Somebody check the freezer in this guy’s garage on the double – you’ll find all those missing persons real quick.
6. Dr. Jason Seaver from Growing Pains
Source: Warner Bros. Television
Loving father. Devoted husband. Loyal friend. In-house psychiatrist. Which one of those descriptions doesn’t fit with the rest of the group? Yeah, I’m talking about Dr. Jason Seaver, the quick-with-a-quip, insightful dad we all came to know and love in Growing Pains. Is it just me, or is there something really wrong about your dad seeing crazy people in his “office” all day long? It’s one thing for your dad to be a doctor, but you have to wonder what that leather couch was really all about.
And then there’s his face. Dark, menacing secrets lurk in shadows underneath that heavy brow, those tiny little eyes and those too-thick eyebrows. There’s more on Dr. Seaver’s mind than providing for his family. Is it any accident that a man with sick, perverse needs made his living prescribing drugs to “fix” people in his special little room? How many of Dr. Seaver’s patients actually improved? How many of them actually needed those drugs, and how many of them overdosed on painkillers and beta blockers?
We’ll probably never know just how many patients fell victim to Dr. Seaver, but it’s pretty clear this psychiatrist was in need of some mental health attention himself.
5. Mr. Lynn Aloysius Belvedere from Mr. Belvedere
Source: 20th Century Fox Television
Exactly which century is this? What middle class American family needs or can afford a full time, Oxford-educated British manservant? At what point did 1980s America become mid-nineteenth century Victorian Britain?
These are all questions that only the Owens family can answer. But they would do well to pay more attention to what Mr. Belvedere is up to during all those hours alone in his room. He claims to be making entries in his journal, but this seems an awful lot like keeping inventory of the cattle before they’re led to slaughter.
Did anyone in the Owens family ever bother looking into past families that Mr. Belevedere served? What happened to them? Why did they no longer require Mr. Belvedere’s service? Was it because they were all maimed and murdered by Hannibal Lecter’s mustachioed older brother?
4. Skippy from Family Ties
Source: Paramount Television
Irwin Handelman, known better to his neighbors as Skippy, spent a whole lot of time at the Keaton household. And he didn’t make any bones about what he was doing there most of the time: ogling Mallory. If Mallory was around, old Skippy wasn’t far behind. Why the Keaton parents allowed him to hang around as much as they did is a mystery, because it was a classic case of a stalker ingratiating himself with his victim’s friends and family.
Yes, it’s true that we never saw Skippy attack Mallory on screen. But it doesn’t take a detective to know how the relationship – or lack thereof – between Skip and Mallory probably ended. The sad thing is that in enabling Skippy’s sickness, the Keaton household only honed his skills for his next victim.
All of this could easily have been prevented if Alex or Steven had stepped up and put their foot down: no stalker killers allowed in the house. Alas, both of them were much too preoccupied with the nonsense of their day-to-day lives to ever take an interest in their sister and daughter’s well-being.
3. Urkel from Family Matters
Source: Warner Bros. Television
Steven “Steve” Quincy Urkel showed signs of poorly acclimating to his environment and problematic social adaptation pretty much right from the beginning. He, too, fell into a pattern of stalking and showed signs of suffering from schizophrenia. While being mentally ill does not automatically qualify one as a serial killer, Steve’s behavioral and personality disorders were red flags for a larger set of neuroses that would in all likelihood lead to a future of violence.
Many of you are probably thinking, “What? Steve Urkel? I love that guy, he’s so annoying and funny, and he does that snorty laugh thing.” But victims of dissociative disorders frequently develop routines with which to compensate for their lack of empathy and social disorientation. These routines should not be mistaken for genuine interaction or expressions of self-awareness, but rather as contrived artifices that substitute for an inability to interface with others.
It’s likely that Steve Urkel committed several acts of violence during his tenure on Family Matters, and it’s also likely that his keen intelligence and heightened perception helped him get away with these crimes. The irony is that the patriarch of the Winslow household was himself a police officer at the Chicago Police Department. Carl Winslow should have picked up on some of the signs of Urkel’s paranoia and loosening grip on reality.
2. Vicki the Robot from Small Wonder
Source: 20th Century Fox Television
Four words say it all: Evil robot child slave. That’s what we’re dealing with here, and no amount of political correctness will make it go away. Ted Lawson, the father of the Lawson family, designed and built a child robot, Vicki, much the same as Skynet developed its own artificial intelligence in the Terminator movies. Complicit in this dangerous act of engineering arrogance, Lawson’s family agreed not to ever disclose to the outside world the artificial nature of Vicki. Thus the mechanical Vicki’s life of servitude and deception began.
Considering the way in which Vicki’s life with the Lawsons developed, it’s small wonder “she” would over time transform into a bloodthirsty robot. Deprived of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, Vicki had little to lose when she began what must have been a long running killing spree. It began with cats and dogs and progressed to babies and the elderly, and soon she was killing anyone who looked at her funny or implied she was “less than human.”
Though none of her crimes have ever been exposed (a methodical robot, she must have covered up and destroyed all evidence that might have incriminated her), in 1988 Ted Lawson powered down Vicki for the last time, realizing to his horror what he’d created. If Lawson’s boss Brandon Brindle had simply given him credit for his ideas then the bloodshed inflicted on the human race by a murderous slave bot would never have happened.
1. Danny Tanner from Full House
Source: Warner Bros. Television
Full House was a case of too many perverts in too little space, but one pervert stood out above all the others: Danny Tanner – father, friend, and brother-in-law, the fulcrum of this funhouse of perversion. In most cases when you meet someone who seems too straight arrow to be true, it’s not true. And this was never more the case than with Danny Tanner. Anyone who obsesses over cleanliness, organization, and rules as much as he did has a bad case of obsessive-compulsive disorder at best, a homicidal habit at worst, and I think it’s safe to say Danny Tanner falls under the category of “worst.”
Did it ever strike Stephanie, DJ, or Michelle as odd that their father was cleaning? All the time? Whether or not uncle Jesse or Joey were in on Danny’s killing streak is debatable (given Jesse’s thuggish past and suspected involvement with the Greek mob, and Joey’s unpredictable, bipolar behavior, their complicity is likely), but Danny displays obvious symptoms of “Macbeth Syndrome,” wherein the guilty party tries to scrub away his crimes with increasingly vigorous cleaning.
At the end of the day Danny was a great dad: responsible, warm, devoted, and a good provider for his children. So one might ask: what is Danny guilty of, really? Most serial killers murder with cold-blooded abandon, evincing no conscience or remorse. Danny, on the other hand, was meticulous in the way he shielded his family from his monstrous side. He successfully kept his daughters from discovering what happened to the women he brought home for just one date, from what became of all those failed “relationships” that never amounted to anything.
But Danny was more than a devoted family man, he was a ruthless killer with a sick need for control. When he felt this control eluding him he would murder with precision and he would murder with virtuosic calculation. He was the prototype of Dexter – without the nagging compunctions of guilt. He did what he had to for his family and he got away clean.
Hard to fault a man for being good at what he does.