Al Bundy was one of the most iconic characters on television in the late ‘80s and through the ‘90s. The sitcom Married…With Children aired from 1987 through to 1997, making it the longest-running live-action sitcom for Fox’s primetime slot.
A shoe salesman, Bundy, played by Ed O’Neill, was surly and bitter, often acting as though he loathed his lazy wife, Peggy (Katey Sagal), dimwitted but popular and beautiful daughter Kelly (Christina Applegate), and unpopular and sex-obsessed son Bud (David Faustino). But deep down, he loved them.
Married…With Children brought tons of laughs at the expense of this low-income nuclear family, many of which came from Al’s witty and biting insults. Most of them pertained to his annoying neighbor Marcy (Amanda Bearse) who he often likened to a chicken, his wife, and overweight customers at the shoe store. Most of the jokes would never fly on television today, but back then during a much less politically-correct time, they were considered downright hilarious.
10Completing Your Orbit
Woman: “How dare you say that to my face?” Al: “Well, I would say it to your back but my car’s only got a half a tank of gas!”
Speaking to a larger woman who came into the shoe store, Al delivered a mean comment about her weight while she was trying on shoes. Angered, she stood up and spoke back at him, not believing that he would say such a thing.
In typical Al style, he really didn’t care if he made the sale. So he made fun of her size in a highly exaggerated way. Ouch.
9I’ll Have That With Fries
Woman: “I have had just about enough of you!” Al: “Well, you wouldn’t say that if I came with a medium fries and drink. You know medium: the size between small and you.”
Another insult delivered to a customer, who was larger in size when she couldn’t take his insults anymore, she told him outright. His response was to suggest that she’d never say such a thing about a fast food combo.
It really is a wonder that Al never got fired from his job, what with all of the complaints that must have been filed against him by irate customers over the years.
Marcy: “Why must you always be so negative?” Al: “Why did you cross the road?”
Al was an equal opportunity insulter. And one of the recurring jokes on the show was that Al constantly compared his neighbor Marcy to a chicken.
This was partly due to Marcy’s thin physique, but also because she would often lean forward, arms at her sides when she was expressing anger about something, usually her husband Steve (or later, Jefferson), such that they looked like wings while her angry voice sounded like the “bok boks” of a chicken.
Marcy: “Good, now you can put that metal plate back in your head. Although that’s a lot like putting a lid on an empty jar.” Al: “Or a bra on you.”
Marcy was just as clever at delivering witty insults to Al. It was sort of what their relationship was all about. In this instance, she thought she had one over on him when she spewed out this beauty of an insult.
But then Al came back with just five words that turned her insult against her. In addition to calling Marcy a chicken, Al would also often suggest that she was flat-chested.
6Anyone But My Wife
Peggy: “Question 2: who would you rather spend the night with. A, your wife, or B…” Al: “B.”
While Peggy was constantly seeking affection from her reluctant husband, whether it was to cuddle, or “rub her tosh,” Al was always trying to escape it.
Here, Peggy tries to get Al to do a quiz in a women’s magazine with her, but he stops her in her tracks before she even gets to finish the question. Whatever the alternative is, Al jokes, anything is better than spending a night with his wife.
5Sorry, We’re Closed
Woman: “Where do you think you’re going? Aren’t you open?” Al: “Sorry, ma’am but unlike your mouth, we occasionally close.”
As a rather larger woman tries to enter the shoe store just as Al and his co-worker are leaving, she angrily asks what they are doing because the store should be open.
Almost guaranteeing she walks away angry, never to come back, Al insults her perceived love of eating, and perhaps also talking, by suggesting that her mouth is never closed.
4Did You Miss Me?
Peggy: “Hey, Al. Did you miss me?” Al: “With every bullet so far.”
Despite his constant insults, Al clearly loved Peggy in his own way, and would do anything for her. But that didn’t stop him from making fun of her any chance he got, or suggesting that he wanted out of the marriage, even though he obviously did not.
An exaggeration of a frustrated husband, Al certainly didn’t want to off his wife and live in peace. He would miss her if she was gone, and she knew it.
3Ice Cream Lawyers
Woman: “You’ll be hearing from my attorney!” Al: “Is that the offices of Haagen and Dazs?”
This comment really is extremely mean, but you can’t help but laugh at how clever Al could be, coming up with witty retorts without ever skipping a beat.
After, once again, insulting a larger female customer in the shoe store, she suggests that she will contact her lawyers because of his unconscionable behavior. He jokingly asks if they are from these offices, which, of course, represents the names of the popular brand of ice cream.
2I’m Having Steak!
Neighbour: “Hey Bundy, I had steak tonight. What are you having?” Al: “If I was the mailman, I’d be having your wife!”
As Al dejectedly comes home from work one day, a mean neighbor, knowing that Peggy doesn’t cook, yells over to rub it in Al’s face that he had a delicious, home-cooked dinner.
Al won’t ever take an insult and walk away without sending one back. So he suggests that the man’s wife is cheating on him with the mailman. Would he rather have a devoted wife who doesn’t cook or one who does but then runs into the arms of another man? That quieted the neighbor pretty quickly.
“To help you out, I made a top-10 list of things that make you more attractive for your sex symbol husband. Number 10: Wear traditional Islamic garb covering all but the eyes. Number 9: Feather removing electrolysis. Number 8: Ski mask. Number 7: Sew holes in ski mask. Number 6: Hire attractive woman to stand in front of you at all times. Number 5: Beak job. Number 4: Put paper bag over ski mask. Number 3: Shave head, tattoo Cindy Crawford’s face on back of head, learn to walk backwards. Number 2: Poke out eyes of every male on earth. Number 1: Get president to make every day Halloween.”
This insult is long, well-prepared, and was even written down. But it is worth including because of the amount of effort Al put into this list in order to deliver a series of consecutive jabs to Marcy.
Knowing she was worried about her handsome husband being attracted to her, Al devised this list of ways she could make herself more attractive. Each is more biting than the next, but you can’t help but laugh at the ridiculousness of it all.