Al Bundy

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For the academic, see Alan Bundy.
Al Bundy
Al Bundy.jpg
Al Bundy
First appearance "Pilot"
Last appearance "Chicago Shoe Exchange"
Created by Michael G. Moye
Ron Leavitt
Portrayed by Ed O'Neill
Information
Gender Male
Occupation Women's shoe salesman
Family Father (deceased)
Mother (died during series)
Spouse(s) Peggy Bundy (married in 1971)
Children Kelly Bundy (daughter, eldest child)
Bud Bundy (son, youngest child)
Relatives Jimmy (nephew)
Uncle Stymie (uncle)
Seamus McBundy (ancestor; deceased)
Eugene Bundy (cousin)
Uncle Joe (uncle)
Cousin Sheila

Al Bundy is a fictional character and the essential protagonist of the U.S. television series Married... with Children, played by Ed O'Neill.[1] He is a beer loving, indebted, American father of two, portrayed as both a comedic and tragic figure. Although he is cheap, unsuccessful, lustful, unhappy, and scheming, he nevertheless stands by his family, displaying wit, self-sacrifice and resilience in times of crisis. He and his wife, Peggy Bundy, were rated the 59th best characters on television by Bravo.

Character history[edit]

Al Bundy is a simple man, forever regretful of the turns his life has taken since the end of high school, when marriage and a broken leg prevented him from playing college football.

Al is married to Peggy, whom he mistakenly asked to marry him while drunk. Peg does not enjoy work and expects Al to dote on her every whim, especially financing her frequent and extravagant shopping sprees. He has two children: Kelly, a promiscuous and literal dumb blonde, and Bud, an intelligent, but perpetually aroused and unpopular schemer named after a brand of beer. Al lives in a suburb of Chicago, and is the proud owner of a 1970s Dodge automobile (although the model occasionally shown on-screen is a Plymouth Duster). It is referred to throughout the series as "The Dodge". He works as a shoe salesman at Gary's Shoes and Accessories for Today's Woman, in the New Market Mall. Al hates his job and loses it several times throughout the series, and always winds up returning to it. There is a running joke throughout the series that Al makes minimum-wage, however, Al states that he earns a 10% commission on each sale. The family has also brought in income through game shows, theft, various absurd schemes and mooching off of the wealth of their next-door neighbors (Steve and Marcy Rhoades, later Marcy D'Arcy) throughout the series.

Throughout the series, Al is continually saddled with massive debts caused by the various disasters he becomes involved in, and his wife's extravagant spending habits. However, he never appears to miss a mortgage payment or file for bankruptcy. The "Bundy Will", passed down from generation to generation as a punishment, indebts the "benefactor" with these debts that Al Bundy has incurred. In the episode "England Show I", it was stated that Al's ancestor, Shamus McBundy, insulted an obese witch and brought a curse upon the Bundy ancestral town of Lower Uncton in England.

Most of the show's running gags concern Al. Aside from his bad luck, Al also maintains a "do-it-yourself" attitude whenever something in the house needs to be repaired, as he never wants to pay for a professional. Combined with his creativity, poor judgement, and lack of skill, this usually produces absurd results, some of which involve physical injury to Al. Al is also frequently described as being careless about hygiene. He is often told he smells bad, and he has been seen leaving restrooms, even public ones, with a newspaper tucked under his arm and the sound of a toilet flushing. A joke throughout is that Al showers and brushes his teeth as rarely as he has sex, which is very infrequently, because he continually rejects and avoids Peggy's advances.

Al is disliked by his neighbours. In "Route 666" Marcy (Rhoades-D'Arcy) said that when they thought Al had died, they all started dancing and singing "ding dong, the shoe man's dead" and called it a "cruel, cruel hoax" when they learned it was a false alarm. Other people pay little to no attention to him and, as a result, his name often ends up misspelled on pay checks and reserved parking spots (e.g., "Bumby", "Boondy" or "Birdy").

Despite being a somewhat phlegmatic and slow person, Bundy has a sarcastic and cynical sense of humor. He also has a definite love for his family. Examples can be seen on the rare occasions when he enjoys luxury and money. For example, in one episode where Peggy and Al receive free first-class plane tickets to New York City from Marcy, shows them sipping champagne together and singing "I Got You, Babe". In another episode, Al's Dodge turns up missing and the only reason he wants it back is to recover an item in the trunk. The item turns out to be a family photo of Al, Peg, Kelly and Bud together.

Al dislikes fat women and repeatedly insults them to their faces with one-liners, a behaviour he has engaged in since he was a child. He also hates his job, the prospect of having sex with his wife, his feminist neighbour Marcy D'Arcy, and the French. He loves pornography, free beer, bowling and "nudie" bars, and often cherishes the glory moment of his past: scoring four touchdowns in a single game while playing for the Polk High School Panthers in the 1966 city championship game versus Andrew Johnson High School, including the game-winning touchdown in the final seconds against his old nemesis, "Spare Tire" Dixon (played by Bubba Smith in the episode "All-Nite Security Dude"). Another episode, "Damn Bundys", features Al selling his soul to the devil (played by Robert Englund) in order to lead the Chicago Bears to the Super Bowl,[2] as the oldest rookie in NFL history. Al scores the touchdown and ends up in hell with his family and neighbours for 300 years. In the season eight episode "Dud Bowl II", a scoreboard at Polk High's football stadium was to be dedicated to Al, but Marcy had it arranged for it to be named after Terry Bradshaw (who says later in the episode that he never played football while attending Polk High) instead, out of malice, but after hearing from Kelly how much it would mean to her father if the scoreboard honoured him, Bradshaw decides to let the scoreboard be named after Al. Al does not know this and arranges to have Jefferson and Bud blow up the scoreboard.

In season eight, Al Bundy and his friends found NO MA'AM, the "National Organization of Men Against Amazonian Masterhood". Its political goals are to "fight the increasing power of women all over society", but the organization tends to be just a social club for several neighbourhood men to bond, drink beer, indulge in pornography, bowl, visit strip clubs, watch sports and complain about their wives. However, there have been instances of actual "political activities" such as kidnapping Jerry Springer, countering a breast-feeding sit-in organized by Marcy with a beer belly dance-off, causing a riot over a proposed beer tax, going to Washington to appeal to Congress when Psycho Dad is cancelled and forming a short-lived pro-male sect, whose chief theology is blaming all the world's problems on Eve. Al shows great leadership skills, being the lead organizer and instigator of many of NO MA'AM's activities, and authoritatively ending NO MA'AM members' squabbles with "focus gentlemen, focus."

He is a fan of oldies music, and of Western movies. His favourite movie in particular is Hondo and his favourite television show is the sitcom Psycho Dad - even leading NO MA'AM to Washington D.C. to have the show put back on the air, after it was cancelled due to its violent content.

Politically, Al appears to have mixed views with a somewhat conservative outlook (various episodes depict him as mocking Rush Limbaugh, whereas others show him as a huge fan of John Wayne, an ardent admirer of President Dwight D Eisenhower, and he often battles his feminist neighbour Marcy, but later in an homage to his time as Al Bundy, Ed O'Neill reprised the role of Al showing his support for the then-candidate, Barack Obama's tax plan. The plan was said to give "Al the Shoe Salesman" a $1,000 federal tax break.[citation needed] In several episodes, Al is shown to be tolerant of gays, including Marcy's cousin Mandy). Bundy's favourite magazine is Big'uns,, though an early episode used an issue of Playboy instead. He enjoys watching sports and adult movies on television, with his right hand tucked into his waistband (he switches to his left hand on Sundays). Though he almost always resists Peggy's frequent amorous advances, he is shown to have a particular fondness for her breasts, which she refers to as "the guys".

Al's talents include bowling, at which he is extremely gifted, barbecueing (while wearing an apron that says "Kiss the Cook, Kill the Wife"), and getting into and winning fistfights. He can survive incredible injuries ranging from falling off his roof while installing a satellite dish, getting shocked by that same dish, and being pulverized by a massive woman wrestler (Big Bad Mama from Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling) in Las Vegas, to jumping from an airplane without a parachute, getting sat on by six massive women, and surviving a huge explosion when he accidentally detonates dynamite in his own yard trying to kill a rabbit who has been eating his vegetable garden. Al also has an encyclopaedic knowledge of sports trivia, which usually demonstrates how little interest he takes in everything else. He does, however, serve his country by joining the U.S. National Guard in which Al receives the 'Bronze Dumpster' for service during a garbage strike.

Since there was no final-episode special to provide an epilogue, it is unknown what happened to Al in the end. However, his guardian angel (Sam Kinison in the 1989 episode "It's a Bundyful Life, Part 2") mentions that at age 60 his stomach gets very ulcer-ridden, possibly resulting in his death. According to his family funeral plans in the episode "Death of a Shoe Salesmen", he would be buried next to his favourite television actor, Fuzzy McGee. When his wife Peggy dies, due to a loophole in his original burial plans, she will be stacked face-down on top of him, much to his dismay. In the episode "I Who Have Nothing," [3] according to his will, he'd be buried with all his prized football possessions, leaving just his worthless Joe Nuxhall baseball card to his only-begotten son Bud. To the rest of his family he would leave a picture of him, posing in his jersey with his football, that would read "To My Beloved family, have a nice life". The final episode he appeared in was the final episode of Season 11 "Chicago Shoe Exchange". Al Bundy is the only character to appear in every episode, including the pilot episodes for Top of the Heap, Radio Free Trumaine and Enemies, the latter of which were unsuccessful spin-offs regarding Bud and Kelly, respectively. These episodes were ultimately incorporated into the main series.

Reception[edit]

Al Bundy had a highly positive reception. A lot of the praise went to Ed O'Neil's portrayal of the character.[4][5] Al and Peg were named the 59th best TV characters by Bravo.[6]

References[edit]

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