Ed O’Neill Turned Down An Iconic TV Role Before ‘Married With Children’ He Might Regret

After Ed O'Neill opted for Married With Children, Ted Danson would be the one to snag Sam Malone on Cheers.

It’s never easy to know when a golden opportunity has come your way, and some performers wind up missing out on the chance of a lifetime. Sean Connery turned down Lord of the Rings, and even Benedict Cumberbatch initially turned down playing Doctor Strange over in the MCU. Things swung back in Cumberbatch’s favor, but he nearly fumbled the bag.

Ed O’Neill is a longtime TV star, and he has had multiple hits on the small screen. Before his career had taken off, the actor was offered a character who became iconic, but he turned it down.

Let’s look back at this head-scratching decision by Ed O’Neill.

Ed O’Neill Played Al Bundy On ‘Married…With Children’

In April of 1987, Married…with Children made its debut on television, and TV audiences were introduced to the dysfunctional Bundy family for the very first time. Little did they know that the show would become one of the greatest sitcoms ever made.

Starring Ed O’Neil, Katy Sagal, Christina Applegate, and David Faustino, this series had the right amount of comedy and dysfunction going for it, and even now, it still holds up as being genuinely funny. It had the perfect cast and great scripts, which propelled it to success on the small screen.

For 11 seasons and over 250 episodes, Ed O’Neill was brilliant as Al Bundy, and he helped the character become an iconic piece of history. In truth, there aren’t many TV characters as famous or memorable as Al Bundy, and this is thanks to O’Neill’s work.

Years later, the actor would strike gold once again.

He Had A Career Revival On ‘Modern Family’

It is extremely rare for a successful TV star to have another huge hit on the small screen, but Ed O’Neill pulled this off when he landed a lead role on Modern Family.

Modern Family turned into one of the biggest sitcoms of its era, and it helped make performers like Eric Stonestreet and Ariel Winter household names. For Ed O’Neill, the show was just icing on the cake for what had already been a wildly successful TV career.

When asked if he knew that the show would be a hit, and how long it could go for, the actor said, “The first part of the question? Yes, I thought it was going to be a hit from the moment I read it. It’s a hit show. And that was before I knew anyone involved. Secondly, we’re starting our eighth year, it could go ten. It could go ten.”

Modern Family actually lasted for 11 seasons and 250 episodes. Clearly, O’Neill knows a good thing when he sees it these days.

This is a sharp contrast to his younger self, who passed on one of the biggest TV characters of all time.

He Turned Down Sam Malone On ‘Cheers’

So, which legendary TV character did Ed O’Neill turn down prior to landing the iconic role of Al Bundy on Married…with Children. Well, let’s just say that O’Neill was almost serving drinks instead of insults at one point in his career.

According to Brain-Sharper, “But you probably didn’t know that he almost played womanizing bar owner Sam Malone on Cheers! Ed turned down the part of Sam on the classic series because he wanted to focus on dramatic roles.”

It is amazing to think that things were just always going to work out for the actor, and this is only possible because of how great he is while the cameras are rolling. Yes, the vast majority of performers out there will never get this many opportunities, but clearly, networks saw the value that he could bring to a project.

After O’Neill down the role, Ted Danson would be the one to snag Sam Malone on Cheers, and he is largely responsible for making the character an iconic piece of TV history. As great as Ed O’Neill could have been, Ted Danson absolutely made that role what it was, and fans should be delighted with the fact that O’Neill turned it down.

Thanks to this working out, Ed O’Neill would subsequently become a massive television star with his work on Married…with Children. Much like Ted Danson being Sam Malone, there is no one on the planet who could have done a better job of playing Al Bundy than Ed O’Neill.

On a different timeline, there is a version of Cheers that exists with Ed O’Neill playing Sam Malone, and while that could have been interesting to see, things worked out perfectly for both Cheers and Married…with Children.

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