The 25 best TV sitcom neighbors
Buena Vista Pictures

The 25 best TV sitcom neighbors

Everybody has endured an annoying, nosy neighbor at one time or another. Then again, some neighbors are so well-liked or trusted, they become part of the family. On television, it can be a little bit of both.

Whether quirky or overbearing, kind or mean, TV sitcoms have cornered the market on memorable fictional neighbors. Here's our ranking of the 25 best.

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25. Chuck Larabee ("Last Man Standing")

Chuck Larabee ("Last Man Standing")
20th Television; Disney–ABC Domestic Television

Since being introduced in the second season of the Tim Allen-comedy vehicle, ex-Marine Chuck (Jonathan Adams) has had a hilariously pseudo-contentious relationship with down-the-block neighbor Mike Baxter (Allen). While their faux tension, usually revolving around racial barbs, makes for good comedy, co-workers Chuck and Mike are the closest each other has to a best friend. Their initial meeting is still one of the long-running sitcom's best moments. 

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24. Mr. Wilson ("Dennis the Menace")

Mr. Wilson ("Dennis the Menace")

On the popular comedy from the late 1950s and into the '60s, Mr. Wilson (Joseph Kearns) often grew agitated with the antics of neighbor Dennis (Jay North). However, truth be told, the two were actually quite fond of each other. It would not be a stretch to consider them best friends. Sadly, Kearns passed away in February 1962, after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage, during the third season of the show. 

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23. Larry Dallas ("Three's Company")

Larry Dallas ("Three's Company")

Guess we can also include the Ropers and Mr. Furley (since they were landlords of the apartment building from the famed sitcom), though was it ever really established that they lived there? Larry (Richard Kline) certainly did. He was good friends with Jack (John Ritter), sold used cars for a living, and fashioned himself to be some sort of a ladies' man. Sure, Larry did well with the ladies, but made a fool of himself in that department quite often.

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22. Mr. Bentley ("The Jeffersons")

Mr. Bentley ("The Jeffersons")

Paul Benedict was quite brilliant as the simpleminded British neighbor to George and Louise. Yet, Mr. Bentley always meant well, even if he showed up at the most inopportune times. His humor was not on everybody's radar, but he did a good job of dealing with often irate George, who had no problem throwing barbs his neighbor's way. Benedict's comic timing was quite good as one of the most memorable characters on the show.

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21. Glenn Quagmire, Cleveland Brown, Joe Swanson ("Family Guy")

Glenn Quagmire, Cleveland Brown, Joe Swanson ("Family Guy")

The residents of Spooner Street in Quahog, R.I., and friends of Peter Griffin, more specifically, are highly entertaining. Cleveland is a mild-mannered, overall good guy who does get taken advantage of at times. Joe is a tough, paraplegic cop who does not let his disability get in the way of living his life to the fullest. Then there's Quagmire, the perverted creep who is quite vile and inappropriate but is good for plenty of laughs. 

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20. Winnie Cooper ("The Wonder Years")

Winnie Cooper ("The Wonder Years")
20th Television

In the early seasons of this beloved ABC hit, Winnie (Danica McKellar) lived on the same block as series protagonist Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage). Eventually, Winnie and her family moved across town, but she remained an important part of Kevin's life -- as a friend, girlfriend, friend again, then-girlfriend. And so on and so on. That's what growing up is all about, but Kevin and Winnie never stayed apart for too long. 

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19. Mr. Heckles ("Friends")

Mr. Heckles ("Friends")
The WB Television Network

Heckles (Larry Hankin) was the downstairs neighbor of Monica (Courteney Cox) and Rachel (Jennifer Aniston). He was an odd man. Disheveled hair, ratty brown bathrobe, and hated the noise the girls made from above. He said the cat the girls found during the blackout in Season 1 was his and claimed to play to oboe, but was also responsible for Joey (Matt Le Blanc) becoming roommates with Chandler (Matthew Perry). Sadly, Heckles died early in the show's run. 

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18. Phyllis Lindstrom ("The Mary Tyler Moore Show")

Phyllis Lindstrom ("The Mary Tyler Moore Show")

One of a handful of folks on this list that actually earned a spinoff. Played by the late, great Cloris Leachman, Phyllis is Mary's nosey and arrogant neighbor. It's a wonder Phyllis's ego was big enough to fit inside the Twin Cities, but despite her controlling nature, she became a good friend to Mary. All that made for plenty of laughs and some heartwarming moments, too. The Phyllis spinoff, where she returned to her hometown of San Francisco, now a widow, lasted two seasons.

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17. Mrs. Poole ("Valerie," "Valerie's Family," "The Hogan Family")

Mrs. Poole ("Valerie," "Valerie's Family," "The Hogan Family")

Patty Poole (played by the great veteran actor Edie McClurg) is your typical nosey, sitcom neighbor. But, perhaps not as annoying as some others of her kind on this list. She's a busy body, but has also come through in a pinch when the Hogans needed help with just about any situation. Plus, she's a decent cook and might be smarter than she comes off. Plus, she was one of the most consistent characters during the hectic history of the series.

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16. The Jeffersons ("All In The Family")

The Jeffersons ("All In The Family")

George (Sherman Hemsley), Louise (Isabel Sanford), and son Lionel (Mike Evans) were so good as the Bunker's neighbors that they earned their own spinoff -- The Jeffersons, as previously mentioned. Most of the laughs were generated from the combative relationship between Archie (Carroll O'Connor) and George. Archie's racist thinking was usually challenged by George, though the two had more in common than they thought. Louise and Edith (Jean Stapleton) were often the voices of reason.

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15. Gladys Kravitz ("Bewitched")

Gladys Kravitz ("Bewitched")
Sony Pictures Television

The Stephens' nosy across-the-street neighbor was originally played by Alice Pearce. Following her death in 1966, veteran character actor Sandra Gould took over the role. Within Bewitched lore, Pearce's take on Gladys was considered the more well-received and funnier of the two. She actually got along with the Stephens family. Both versions. though, tried to convince husband Abner that something strange was going on with Samantha and her family. Though she could never prove it. 

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14. Willona Woods ("Good Times")

Willona Woods ("Good Times")

Good Times was filled with characters. Meaning, roles that were memorable and often stole scenes. Ja'net Dubois's Willona, neighbor of the Evans', was known for her exuberant entrances, flashy style sense, and seemingly everchanging hair-dos. However, her wise-cracking, sarcastic comedic interactions with the likes of J.J. (Jimmie Walker) and Mr. Bookman are what we remember and loved most about the character. 

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13. Lenny and Squiggy ("Laverne & Shirley")

Lenny and Squiggy ("Laverne & Shirley")
CBS Television Distribution

Two of the best-supporting characters in television sitcom history -- that were not a couple. Greaser buddies, Lenny (Michael McKean) and Squiggy (David Lander) were neighbors and friends of the show's female co-stars. They weren't too bright but kept us laughing with their fashion sense and goofiness. Usually for their antics that went wrong or crazy ideas and schemes they wanted the girls to be part of performing. Not to mention, they made up one of the worst TV bands of all time -- Lenny and the Squigtones.

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12. Ed and Trixie Norton ("The Honeymooners")

Ed and Trixie Norton ("The Honeymooners")
CBS Television Distribution

While we feature the Nortons as a couple, Ed (Art Carney) was obviously the more prominent of this husband-wife team, and neighbors/best friends of Ralph (Jackie Gleason) and Alice (played most famously by Audrey Meadows). Sure, Trixie (Randolph) shined at times, usually by putting Ed in his place, but she did not have the same dynamic with Alice as Ed and Ralph did. Obviously, some of the show's most memorable scenes came with Gleason and Carney at the forefront.

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11. Penny ("The Big Bang Theory")

Penny ("The Big Bang Theory")
Warner Bros.; CBS

Played by Kaley Cuoco, Penny was the across-the-hall neighbor of Sheldon (Jim Parsons) and Leonard (Johnny Galecki). She was attractive and more socially capable than her nerdy neighbors and their friends. That said, Penny's professional life was a struggle. Her social contrast to the men of the show is what made the series a monster hit for 12 seasons on CBS. She would eventually marry Leonard in Season 9.

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10. Barney and Betty Rubble ("The Flintstones")

Barney and Betty Rubble ("The Flintstones")
Screen Gems

The Rubbles were not only neighbors to Fred and Wilma Flintstones, but best friends. Barney and Fred had their share of adventures, obviously -- more like predicaments. Usually because of Fred's antics. While Fred was a hothead, Barney could be more toned down and somewhat flakey. Yet, he was always there for his buddy. Betty, meanwhile, was a less prominent version of Wilma, both like to spend money and were smarter than the men they married.  

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9. Marcy Rhoades/Marcy D'Arcy ("Married... with Children")

Marcy Rhoades/Marcy D'Arcy ("Married... with Children")
Columbia Pictures

Whether married to Steve in the early history of this groundbreaking Fox sitcom or during those later seasons while together with Jefferson, Marcy (Amanda Bearse) was a great friend to next-door neighbor Peg (Katey Sagal), but hated by her husband Al (Ed Neill). Marcy is a successful professional and staunch feminist, much to the chagrin of Al, who while constantly putting her down, usually gets zinged right back with an insult.

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8. Marie Barone ("Everybody Loves Raymond")

Marie Barone ("Everybody Loves Raymond")

Mothers-in-law have often provided great comedic sitcom moments -- past and present. Perhaps none did it better than Doris Roberts as Ray's mother Marine, who lived across the street from son Ray and his family. Controlling, overbearing, and intrusive, Marie was the stereotypical TV mother-in-law. Doting on Ray, and to a certain extent on her other son, Robert, while also subtly putting down daughter-in-law Debra's cooking, homemaking, and just about everything else. It seemed the only one who had any control of Marie was her husband Frank, the wise-cracking, smarter-than-we-think other half played exceptionally well by Peter Boyle.

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7. Fred and Ethel Mertz ("I Love Lucy")

Fred and Ethel Mertz ("I Love Lucy")
CBS Films; CBS Television Distribution

No offense to Fred (William Frawley), but Ethel (Vivian Vance) was the true star of this neighborly-best friend tandem to Lucy and Ricky. When Lucy (Lucille Ball) found herself in a classic, comedy caper, Ethel was usually dragged along after her attempt to voice reason had failed. Now, Fred had his moments, too, but the Ricardo's landlord often flew off the edge but was still a good friend to Ricky (Desi Arnaz).

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6. Rhoda Morgenstern ("The Mary Tyler Moore Show")

Rhoda Morgenstern ("The Mary Tyler Moore Show")
20th Television

We touched on Phyllis earlier on this list, but when it came to Mary's true best friend in Minneapolis, it was her upstairs neighbor Rhoda. Played by the late Valerie Harper, whose second starring sitcom was also mentioned when we highlighted Mrs. Poole, Rhoda was Mary's sassy, streetwise fashion-conscious sounding board. And, a partner in crime when it came to navigating the life of a single, professional female in a big city. Like Cloris Leachman, Harper was rewarded with her own spinoff -- Rhoda, which spanned five seasons. 

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5. Ned Flanders ("The Simpsons")

Ned Flanders ("The Simpsons")
Fox Broadcasting Company

Ned Flanders might be the most dependable and good-hearted neighbor on this list. Even if he is a goody-good, God-fearing, and quite friendly ("Hi-Diddly-Ho," "Okily Dokily"), Ned is the pillar of the Springfield community. Though he's a little square, Ned gets along rather well with Homer. Sadly, Ned is a two-time widower, after his first wife Maude was killed by a t-shirt cannon and following the death of his second wife (or third if we consider his Vegas vows with Ginger), teacher Edna Krabappel.

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4. Kimmy Gibbler ("Full House")

Kimmy Gibbler ("Full House")

There are annoying neighbors. Then there is Kimmy Gibbler (Andrea Barber). While she might have made life comedically miserable for the adults in the Tanner household, she was D.J.'s rather loyal best friend and in a band with sister Stephanie. Not the brightest bulb in the shed, Kimmy made some questionable decisions but found a special place in the house and hearts of the Tanners. Enough so, that she became a big part of the series sequel Fuller House.

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3. Steve Urkel ("Family Matters")

Steve Urkel ("Family Matters")
Warner Bros. Television Distribution

Was there a sitcom neighbor more annoying and lovable at the same time than Steve Urkel (Jaleel White)? The nasally voice ("Did I do that?), in-your-face approach, and obsession with neighbor Laura Winslow (Kellie Shanygne Williams), were all traits owned by one of the most popular television sitcom stars of all time. Steve, however, had a lot of good in his heart. Though often ridiculed for his nerdy behavior and apparel, he was thoughtful, dependable, extremely intelligent, and a pretty good dancer.

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2. Cosmo Kramer ("Seinfeld")

Cosmo Kramer ("Seinfeld")
Sony Pictures Television

From his energetic, memorable entrances into Jerry's apartment to those hair-brained schemes (pizza place where you make your own pie, Michigan bottle scam), there is no wackier, more entertaining neighbor than Kramer (Michael Richards). Some might consider Kramer annoying, but he's far from. He's eccentric and goofy. A hipster doofus as Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) likes to call him, Kramer somehow attracts women and, as George (Jason Alexander) stated, often "falls åss-backward into money" without really trying. Sounds like a pretty good life.

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1. Wilson ("Home Improvement")

Wilson ("Home Improvement")
Buena Vista Television

We kicked off this list with a Tim Allen sitcom and will end it with another. When it comes to loveable and memorable neighbors, Wilson (Earl Hindman) stands front and center. Even if we never fully saw his face during the eight-season run of the popular comedy. Whether the bottom half of his face was covered by the fence separating his house from that of the Taylor residence, or by a beard or even some paint, the advice and wisdom that the highly-intelligent Wilson offered to Tim (Allen) and his family was truly valued. And, usually helped solve the problem or issue at hand. "Hi-dee-ho, neighbor."

Jeff Mezydlo has written about sports and entertainment online and for print for more than 25 years. He grew up in the far south suburbs of Chicago, 20 minutes from the Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting, Ind. He’s also the proud father of 11-year-old Matthew, aka “Bobby Bruin,” mascot of St. Robert Bellarmine School in Chicago. You can follow Jeff at @jeffm401.

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