Carolyn Kruse

Carolyn Kruse

Carolyn Kruse

They’re crusty like our burnt toast, yet somehow we find them loveable. What is that about? Here, I’ll take a look at some of the most beloved but often unlikeable television cranks. When I saw that today, January 29th, is National Curmudgeon Day, I knew I had to spotlight some of the kookiest, craziest, and crankiest of the can’t-help-but-love-’em curmudgeons. We all have likely have one in our own lives. But, here are 6 of the greatest curmudgeons in TV history!

To be honest, the first character that came to my mind was The Office’s Michael Scott. Then, I realize he’s not really a curmudgeon, as defined in Webster’s (crusty, ill tempered). Massachusetts’ own Steve Carrell’s character is much more of an annoyance and a difficult person thank a crank. So, he’s out.

I certainly have a few favorites, but I have also enlisted the assistance of TV Insider and Ranker. I’ll take you as far back as the 70’s, and as recent as a character from a current sitcom that is set to air it’s final season with the premiere on February 4, 2024.

Another legendary curmudgeon that comes to mind is Mr. Burns from The Simpsons. However, this cartoon character is far more evil than cranky. The famous and fictional curmudgeons in the spotlight here give new meaning to waking up on the wrong side of the bed. Certainly, we’ve all done that! With these personas, it’s permanent. There’s no escaping their rancorous wrath.

So, what makes these 6 of the greatest curmudgeons in TV history even palatable? Perhaps it’s the fact that they are flawed but fearless by being completely unfiltered. They simply can’t help themselves. From beloved shows like All in The Family to That 70s Show, here, you can soak up all the feels of sitcoms that have provided us with hours and hours of entertainment. Get ready to crank up the cranky and enjoy reminiscing with favorite characters and TV shows.

  • 1. Larry David

    Show: Curb Your Enthusiasm

    Actor: Larry David

    For nearly 25 years now, Larry David playing Larry David on Curb has provided us with endless amounts of animosity. He hates people and we love that about him. He’s raw and rude, but occasionally shows moments of humanity. Don’t look away, because that’ll be gone in a flash. The man who created Seinfeld with Jerry Seinfeld is somehow able to turn cranky into comedy. I will miss this show when it’s gone. The final season starts in February. Nothing summed up his character better than his famous line, “I hate people, individually. But I love mankind.”

    Season 11 | Official Trailer

    "I hate people individually, but I love mankind."Season 11 of Curb Your Enthusiasm premieres October 24 on HBO Max.

    Posted by Curb Your Enthusiasm on Wednesday, October 13, 2021


  • 2. Archie Bunker

    Show: All in the Family

    Actor: Carroll O’Connor

    I can still hear Archie’s voice bellowing through our home as my family kicked back, watching reruns, to see what shocking thing he would say. He had some doozies. The loveable lug was the man of the house. (But was he really). He had offensive nicknames for family, friends and foes. He sat in his worn old chair handing out comedic punches to those near and dear. Archie was the only guy who could get away with the things he said. You just attributed it to his insecurity. And that is the light that helped us see through his darkness. Everyday was the wrong side of the bed, but we couldn’t keep our eyes off this curmudgeon.

    Edith's Winning Ticket | All In The Family

    Edith (Jean Stapleton) forgets she has purchased some lottery tickets. What are the chances she could win the top prize?From Season 3, Episode 12 'Edith's Winning Ticket': Archie inquires Edith about four lottery tickets, purchased several months prior, that she had forgotten about. Upon finding out one is a winner, Archie shows a sudden interest in keeping them, despite Edith insisting the tickets actually belong to Louise Jefferson. Archie, reminding Edith she paid for the tickets with her own money, says otherwise.Watch on Freevee: to The All In The Family channel: us on social: Facebook: All In The Family: One of the most acclaimed comedy series of all time, All in the Family with Archie Bunker as the irascible, highly opinionated, working-class family man who viewed the world on his terms and his terms only. When not arguing with his liberal son-in-law, "Meathead," Archie took refuge in his long-suffering wife, Edith, who tries her best to understand Archie's conservative ways and outdated beliefs.#AllInTheFamily #jeanstapleton #edithbunker Edith's Winning Ticket | All In The Family

    Posted by All In The Family on Wednesday, January 17, 2024
  • 3. Ron Swanson

    Show: Parks And Red

    Actor: Nick Offerman 

    Who could forget Ron Swanson, the director “Pawnee Parks and Rec department?” Swanson was brilliantly portrayed by Nick Offerman. The curmudgeony carnivore had no time for people and their problems, but plenty of time for bacon. Beware of a grump with a shotgun. Yup, Ron kept one in his desk. In the NBC hit series that ran for 7 seasons there were so many quotable Ron moments. Here’s one to try on for size: “When people get too chummy with me, I like to call them by the wrong name to let them know I don’t really care about them.”

    This meme says it all about Ron

    Ron? Eating veggies? Hard pass.

    Posted by Parks and Recreation on Thursday, December 28, 2023
  • 4. Sophia Petrillo

    Show: Golden Girls

    Actor: Estelle Getty 

    Estelle Getty’s Sophia was so cantankerous , you couldn’t take the bitter out of her Brooklyn. (Although, her character was born in Sicily). Strong, sassy and super ornery, Sophia was boss! Another unfiltered character, she had no fear of calling people out for doing stupid things. Her powerful and comical jabs were so funny, that as TV Insider pointed out: ” If they hadn’t been so hilarious, the gals might have put her back in the retirement home that daughter Dorothy (Bea Arthur) rescued her from.”

    Sophia Petrillo's Best Moments | The Golden Girls

    "I Sophia Petrillo, being of sound mind and body, do hereby leave my daughter Dorothy Zbornak... Nothing!" Watch The Golden Girls right now on TV Land.

    Posted by The Golden Girls on TV Land on Friday, September 20, 2019
  • 5. Dr. Gregory House

    Show: House
    Actor: Hugh Laurie

    Like Larry David, House didn’t like people. The problem here is that his patients were all people. So, there’s that. Hugh Laurie’s acerbic wit stung like a wasp. But don’t go looking for a remedy from this doctor. No bedside manner for this doctor. He just disliked humanity, with the exception of his friend Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard). And he tortured Wilson with his “twisted show of affection.” (TV Insider).  What kind of a doctor plays pranks, bullies and pits his team against each other for his own entertainment. We endured and thoroughly enjoyed 8 seasons of the not-so-good doctor, at least when it comes to people.


    House | Personal Life

    Who needs a personal life?Head to Peacock TV for more!

    Posted by House on Friday, April 23, 2021
  • 6. Red Forman

    Show: That 70s Show

    Actor: Kurtwood Smith

    Never let them see your soft side. That was the M.O. of an entire generation of fathers, or maybe a few generations. No one took that further on TV than That 70s Show tv dad, Red Forman. When Red’s son Eric (played by Topher Grace) would enter the room and say “hi dad,” Red would respond with his signature, “Hey dumbass.” That’s how he showed love. Of course he did show moments of slight softness, and it was few exceptions that led us to find him tolerable. Those moments helped us to accept him as a somewhat loveable curmudgeon.

    Here’s one of those rare instances when Red showed his softer side:

    Eric gets Red tickets to the game

    Hello Wisconsin! Football is back and the gang from Point Place and That '70s Show is getting ready for the big game on Sunday!#That70sShow

    Posted by That '70s Show (Official) on Wednesday, September 6, 2023

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