Al Bundy

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For the academic, see Alan Bundy.
Al "Hercules" Bundy
Al Bundy.jpg
Ed O'Neill as Al Bundy (season 2, episode 22)
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 misanthropic, beer-loving, indebted, working-class father of two, portrayed as somewhat a tragicomedic figure. Although he is cheap, unsuccessful, boorish, 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, working-class man, forever regretful of the turns his life has taken since the end of high school. He was a star fullback on the Polk High School football team. However, marriage and a broken leg prevented him from attending university on a college football scholarship.

Al is married to Peggy, whom he mistakenly asked to marry him while drunk. They have two children: Kelly, a promiscuous dumb blonde, and Bud, an intelligent but perpetually horny and unpopular schemer named after a brand of beer. In two separate episodes Peg refers to Al as Allen. Al lives in a suburb of Chicago and is the proud owner of a 1970s Dodge automobile (although the model shown occasionally on-screen is a Plymouth Duster, it is referred to throughout the series as simply "The Dodge"). He works as a shoe salesman at the fictional Gary's Shoes and Accessories for Today's Woman in the fictional New Market Mall. Al hates his job, loses it several times throughout the series, yet always ends up coming back to it. There is a running joke throughout the show that Al makes minimum-wage. However, in one episode, Al is offered early retirement and given a year's pay: $12,000, yet in another he says that after taxes and Peggy's spending he only gets one nickel out of every paycheck. In "My Mom, The Mom", Al states that he earns a 10% commission on each sale. In another episode, Peg states that his paycheck was for "80 Pecos". The family also brought in income through game-shows, theft, various absurd schemes and mooching off of the Rhoades and D'Arcy's wealth throughout the series.

Throughout the series, Al is continually saddled with massive debts caused by everything from the various disasters he becomes involved in to 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, indebted 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 fictional Bundy ancestral town of Lower Uncton in England.

In flashbacks, it is revealed that Al's mother may have been an alcoholic. While pondering his shortcomings over a toothpaste sandwich, he relives a moment where his mother tells him he can become anything while audibly saying "Yeah right, Mom, try saying that when you're sober!". In another similar situation, he asks her if she wants her Bloody Mary. In one flashback episode Al was revealed as having an overdue Library Book for 30 years; he tries to get out of paying a $2,163.20 Library fine by tricking the Librarian (an old enemy of his) into believing that he had returned it years before, only to have his trick revealed on closed-circuit TV on Chicago Television.

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 repair. Combined with his creativity, poor judgement, and lack of skill, this usually produces absurd results, and often involves physical injury to Al. Al is also frequently described as being careless about hygiene: he is often told he smells bad. He is often seen leaving restrooms, even public ones, with a newspaper tucked under his arm, to the sound of a toilet flushing. A running gag is that Al showers and brushes his teeth as rarely as he has sex, which is extremely infrequent, as he continually rejects and avoids Peggy's advances.

Al is disliked by his neighborhood. In "Route 666" Marcy 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 — as usual, Al had survived his latest misadventure. Other people pay little to no attention to him and, as a result, his name often ends up misspelled on paychecks, reserved parking spots, etc. (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; 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. This suggests that his distaste for them is spawned merely by his disappointment in his extremely poor quality of life.

Al dislikes fat women and repeatedly insults them to their faces with one-liners, a behavior he has engaged in since he was a child. He also hates his job, the prospect of having sex with his wife, his feminist neighbor Marcy, and the French. He loves nudie magazines, 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 fictional Polk High School Panthers in the 1966 city championship game versus fictional 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" featured 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 neighbors for 300 years. (In real life, O'Neill, a college football standout, tried out for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1969, the first season of Hall of Famers Chuck Noll and "Mean Joe" Greene, but was cut in training camp, leading to O'Neill re-enrolling at Youngstown State University and starting his acting career there).[3] In the season 8 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 instead be named after Terry Bradshaw (who says later in the episode that he never played football while attending Polk High) out of malice; but after hearing from Kelly how much it would mean to her father if the scoreboard honored him, Bradshaw decides to let the scoreboard to be named after Al. Al did not know this and arranged to have Jefferson and Bud blow up the scoreboard.

He is a fan of oldies music, and a fan of westerns. His favorite movie in particular is Hondo (which he missed once in the episode "Assault and Batteries", after having been knocked unconscious when a cash register he threw at an automatic door in frustration over being locked in a store bounced off the door and hit him in the head), and his favorite sitcom is the fictional Psycho Dad (he led an unsuccessful protest to have the show put back on the air after it was canceled due to its violent content, leading Al and his NO MA'AM organization members to go to Washington, D.C.). 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, in particular his movie Hondo, an ardent admirer of President Dwight D Eisenhower, and he often battles his feminist neighbor 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. Bundy's favorite 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 (he is an extremely gifted bowler), 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, 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 encyclopedic knowledge of sports trivia, which usually demonstrates how he has little interest in anything 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.

In season 8, 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 just be a social club for several neighborhood men to bond: consume beer, indulge in pornography, bowl, visit strip clubs, watch sports, complain about their wives, etc. 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 canceled; and even forming a short lived misogynistic religion, whose chief theology is blaming all the world's problems on Eve, making it mostly a sect, rather than a proper religion. Al shows great leadership skills, being the lead organizer/instigator of many of NO MA'AM's activism and authoritatively ending NO MA'AM members' squabbles with "Focus gentlemen, focus!"

Since there was no final-episode special to provide an epilogue, it is unknown what would happen 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 favorite 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," [4] 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'd 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 "How to Marry a Moron part 2". Al Bundy is the only character to appear in every episode.[citation needed]

Reception[edit]

Al Bundy had a highly positive reception. A lot of the praise went to O'Neill's portrayal of the character.[5][6] Al and Peg were named the 59th best TV characters by Bravo.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mosley, Walter (2003-02-16). "I'm Still Living in Al Bundy's America". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-01-15. 
  2. ^ "Best pop culture moments in Chicago Bears' history". NFL.com. Retrieved 2012-09-13. 
  3. ^ "Ed O'Neill Biography". Bundyology.com. Archived from the original on 19 November 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-09. 
  4. ^ ""Married with Children" I Who Have Nothing (1991)". Retrieved 2009-10-29. 
  5. ^ "Profile : 'Al Bundy' Gets Serious : Actor Ed O'Neill Sheds 'Married' Character for ABC Dramatic Movie". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-05-11. 
  6. ^ "I'm Still Living in Al Bundy's America". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-05-11. 
  7. ^ "Bravo > 100 Greatest TV Characters". Bravo. Archived from the original on July 16, 2007. Retrieved March 21, 2013. 

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