Hard to Believe Facts About Married... with Children
Love and marriage, love and marriage — Married... with Children is one of those shows 90’s kids will never forget. Raunchy jokes, hilarious characters and plenty of reasons to laugh are what defined the popular sitcom.
Years have passed since the show's last episode was aired, and new details continue to be revealed from the cast as well as the producers. Wait until you hear what the original cast had to say about a possible Married... with Children reboot!
Meghan Markle Grew Up on the Set of the Show
A little-known fact about Married... with Children is that Ed O’Neill actually has a strong connection to new duchess Meghan Markle. Her father, Thomas Markle, was the show's director of photography, and Markle frequently visited the set after school.
She admitted that being on the show's set was controversial, saying "There were a lot of times my dad would say, 'Meg, why don't you go and help with the craft services room over there? This is just a little off-color for your 11-year-old eyes.'" We can definitely see why!
The Opening Credits Had a Surprise Cameo
The intro to the show is fairly simple, and if you were a 90’s kid, the theme song is probably stuck in your head right now. Sorry about that. If you go back and rewatch the season one opening credits, you might notice the clip of the interstate with cars.
In the second shot of the interstate, you might notice a very familiar car. It belongs to the movie National Lampoon's Vacation. Yes, that's right — that entire shot was taken from the movie, and the iconic station wagon made it onto Married... with Children.
The Show Spawned Some Spin-Offs
Married... with Children was such a success, the creators wanted to move forward with several spin-offs. Three, to be exact. Top of the Heap was the most successful spin-off of the iconic sitcom. It focused on the show's side characters, Charlie Verducci and his son, Vinnie, who was played by sitcom legend Matt LeBlanc.
Bud and Kelly Bundy both made appearances on the show, but they were only minor background characters in a couple of episodes. Although it was a semi-successful sitcom, the Bundys were never seen together on the show.
Peggy Was a Pure Parody
It may look like Peggy was the ultimate 60’s housewife, but that's because Katey Sagal insisted she look that way. The idea for Peggy’s look came from Sagal herself, not the producers.
During her audition process, she won over the producers' hearts when she brought her own Peggy wig, showing she definitely understood the vision for the character. She really wanted to portray Peggy as a parody of the stereotypical housewife, and it definitely paid off. Peggy Bundy had an amazingly over-the-top fashion sense that just worked for some reason.
Michael Richards Auditioned for Al Bundy
Ed O’Neill wasn't the only one who really wanted to play the notorious 60’s dad Al Bundy. Yep, before he was Kramer on Seinfeld, Michael Richards auditioned for the leading male role on Married... with Children. The fact that he didn't make the cut is what actually led him to his Seinfeld role!
In a two-hour-long Married... with Children documentary, the casting director revealed that Richards wasn't right for the role. A few years later, he was also a casting director for Seinfeld, and he was looking for someone to play Kramer. He couldn’t have done better than casting Richards for the part?
Kelly and Bud Looked a Lot Different in the Pilot
Don't worry about not remembering a different Kelly and Bud, because the original pilot never actually aired. The siblings were originally going to be played by actors Tina Caspary and Hunter Carson. Things didn't work out, and they were replaced by Christina Applegate and David Anthony Faustino.
Caspary didn't really have the right chemistry with the rest of the cast, and neither did Carson. A few years later, Caspary quit acting completely and decided to pursue dancing instead. According to IMDb, Carson also left acting behind in 2011 to focus on the behind the scenes art of filmmaking.
The Show Had a Different Name
Shows’ titles sometimes change, especially when they are first in production. Married... with Children isn't the only one that went through this change, but this particular working title raises a lot of questions that no one but the producers can answer.
The original working title was Not the Cosbys, and it's certainly understandable that it was better to change the name. Not much else has been revealed about Not the Cosbys, but it's safe to assume the producers wanted to make it clear the Bundys were not a Cosby-like — considered ideal — family.
A Small Decision Changed Ed O'Neill's Career
It's hard to imagine Al Bundy as anyone other than Ed O'Neill. Apparently, it was pretty easy for him to get the iconic role. He made a simple choice that ultimately changed his career.
During his audition, O'Neill decided to walk through the front door with slumped shoulders and a typical Al Bundy sigh. That was it. That's all he had to do to make the casting director fall in love with him. Imagine if he hadn’t made that choice during his audition. It's an important lesson about how a small decision could change your life forever.
The Show Faced a Lot of Controversies
Because of the show's raunchy humor and somewhat sexist jokes, the Bundy family faced a lot of criticism. Although it's true that in modern times, Married... with Children might not be so well received, wait until you hear about a woman who made it her mission to get the show canceled.
Even before that, Fox officials had to apologize for an episode where a young woman is shown removing her bra at a store. The producers refused to back down and continued to stay true to Al Bundy and the rest of the gang's really questionable character.
An Angry Viewer Tried to End the Show
Terry Rakolta was a viewer who really, really didn't like the show. In 1989, she launched a campaign to get Married... with Children off the air. "I care that there are advertisers out there paying the freight for this. They're taking my dollars and putting them into softcore pornography."
The reason behind her statement was a specific episode that revolved around Peggy's bra. At the time, showing that kind of garment on national TV at 8:30 p.m. on a Sunday was considered highly inappropriate.
It Was Fox's First Primetime Show
Married... with Children definitely made history, especially since it was Fox's first primetime show. The network launched the sitcom on April 5, 1987. It had 259 original installments and was considered the longest-running live-action show in the network's history.
Although Fox did have plenty of things to worry about, considering the show's edginess, the show definitely put the network on the map, as it competed with other iconic 80’s and 90’s sitcoms of the time. The show averaged an impressive weekly viewership of 15 million, thanks to its airing strategy.
Al Bundy's Legacy Lives On
Because Married... with Children was such a huge sitcom hit, it clearly made plenty of history, not only for Fox but also for the TV industry as a whole. Al Bundy skyrocketed Ed O'Neill into the A list acting world, and the character left quite a lasting mark — a physical mark, actually.
Ed O'Neill's Hollywood Walk of Fame star is actually located in front of a shoe store. Considering Al Bundy was a shoe salesman, this doesn't seem like a coincidence. If the placement wasn't planned, that's a pretty impressive coincidence!
The Cast Was the Last to Know About Cancellation
Most of the time, TV show casts are completely aware when their show is about to get canceled, but that wasn't the case for the cast of Married... with Children. When FOX decided to cancel the show, they didn't notify them beforehand.
In fact, Ed O'Neill revealed that he learned about it while he was on vacation. The news was read to him by a couple sitting nearby! Christina Applegate also heard about the news from her friends, rather than from the network itself. Come on, Fox! Be respectful. When you decide to cancel a show, notify the show's cast members first.
Katey Sagal Hid Multiple Pregnancies
Sagal became pregnant three times during the show's 10-year run. Her first pregnancy was supposed to be written into one of the episodes, but, unfortunately, she miscarried. This made the show decide to rewrite Peggy's storyline.
Sagal got pregnant again three years later and once again a year after that. Both of her successful pregnancies were completely hidden from the audience, and no one really knew about them until the birth was announced in the news. Ah, the joys of celebrity pregnancy before social media. It seems impossible today, doesn't it?
The Mysterious “Lost” Episode Didn’t Air in the U.S.
This show has plenty of raunchy secrets. One of the episodes was purposefully hidden from the U.S audience. It was supposed to air in 1989, but it remained unbroadcasted until 2002. Other countries were allowed to see it, but because of the storyline, the network had to pull the plug in America.
The story was all about the Bundys and Rhoades being on a motel sex tape, which, at the time, was considered to be a huge controversy. The episode is conveniently titled I'll See You in Court, and when it finally aired, some of the lines were completely removed.
Al Bundy's Legacy Wasn't Always a Good Thing
In 1991, Ed O'Neill wanted to make sure he wasn’t only known forever as the funny and edgy Al Bundy. No one wants to be typecast, right? Well, he tried his hand at movies in a war film called Flight of the Intruder. He played a Navy captain, and there was absolutely nothing funny about the movie.
However, because of his involvement in the popular sitcom, the film's test audience was unable to see him as anything other than Al Bundy — so they laughed. The role was reshot with another actor at the last minute.
Al Bundy Was a Real Person (Sort of)
Well, Al Bundy’s characteristics were made of real people. In order to perfect his controversial personality, O'Neill said he based his performance on a few family members and a high school friend. He revealed that none of the people would recognize themselves on the show, because his hometown didn't receive the Fox network at the time of the show's debut.
Considering just how raunchy Al Bundy was, we sincerely hope O'Neill was able to choose a variety of characteristics from said family members and friends. Imagine if Al Bundy were based on a single person!
Al and Peggy Were Almost Completely Different People
Seriously — the actors that were first considered for Al and Peggy Bundy were Sam Kinison and Roseanne Barr. Considering Roseanne's sitcom success, this probably would have worked extremely well. At least, the producers of the show thought so.
When they offered the roles to the actors, they turned them down. Their managers said at the time that the actors were more focused on accepting roles in movies, not television. Although Roseanne Barr had a successful sitcom of her own, a role on Married... with Children would have definitely made history. But could anyone really replace Katey Sagal?
The Show Started with an Extremely Small Budget
Just like many shows, Married... with Children started with small budgets — so small, in fact, that some of the items you saw on TV were actually brought from the personal homes of cast and crew. This happened when Buck the dog went on a shopping spree in one of the earlier episodes.
Sagal revealed that she finally got to wear a better wig in season three, and that's how she knew the show was doing well, and their budget was improving. She said she keeps Peg's incredible wig in a box in her garage.
Ed O'Neill Had Some Secret Talents
Al Bundy may be a simple guy, but Ed O'Neill made sure he was completely different from his iconic TV persona. He received a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in 2007 and has been training for 22 years, which means he released all his Married... with Children frustrations onto the gymnasium floor.
Not only did he receive a Jiu-Jitsu black belt, but he received it from one of the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu pioneers, Rorion Gracie. In the early days, O'Neill was also a pretty serious football player. He won so many times he received the nickname Ed O'Winner.
Some Castmates Hated Each Other
Remember Marcy D’Arcy? She was quite the character, wasn't she? You either loved her, or you hated her, but one thing was certain. Al Bundy and Marcy didn't seem to get along that well on screen.
Well, if you were able to detect that from your TV, you were also right in real life. Ed O'Neill actually revealed that he didn't get along with Amanda Bearse (Marcy). The feeling must have been mutual, because Bearse made sure O'Neill was the only Married... with Children cast member who wasn’t invited to her wedding.
The Show Never Won Any Emmy Awards
Believe it or not, the show never won any Emmy awards. That's right — even though it was an incredible show, it never won TV’s top award. In fact, Married... with Children actually broke a record no one wants to break. It was the longest-running show that never won a single Emmy all the way until 2001. After that year, the title then belonged to Baywatch.
Married... with Children did win six other awards, including ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards and TV Land Awards. Both Katey Sagal and Ed O'Neill were also Golden Globe nominees, but neither one ever took home the prize for their fabulous roles on Married... with Children.
David Faustino Had a Crush on Alyssa Milano
Imagine going into work and frequently seeing Alyssa Milano. David Faustino, a.k.a. Bud Bundy, couldn't believe his luck when he discovered that Who's the Boss? was shot on the stage next door. He admitted to having a huge crush on Alyssa Milano, but he apparently never did anything about it.
Outside of his crush on Alyssa Milano, Faustino had an adventurous love life after marrying in 2004 and then divorcing three years later. In 2015, he welcomed his first daughter with girlfriend Lindsay Bronson.
Faustino Was Upset About Cancellation
David Faustino revealed that he felt the cancellation was extremely abrupt and uncalled for on Fox's part. He was quoted as saying, "They made just a real hard, cold business decision, like, while we were shooting the last season. It was like, ‘Oh, no, we’re cutting it. That’s done.’"
He also noted that the entire cast took the news pretty hard, and many still can't believe how it happened to this day. Faustino also acknowledged the frustration fans felt when they learned the show they loved wouldn’t get any closure after its final episode because it was cancelled mid-filming.
Ed O’Neill Was One of the Highest Paid TV Actors of All Time
Although the show started off with small salaries and a small budget, it achieved incredible salary heights once it became successful. In fact, the main stars like Ed O'Neill made more than $500,000 per episode by the end.
Even more impressive, O’Neill officially made millions per episode when he joined the cast of Modern Family, but even on Married... with Children, he became one of the highest paid TV actors of all time. Some of the other highest paid stars include cast members from the popular TV show The Big Bang Theory.
The Show Had an Alternative Ending
After Ed O'Neill discovered that the show would end, he went straight to the producers to discuss his idea for the ending. It seemed pretty out there, but it was quite fitting, considering how abruptly everyone found out about the show's cancellation.
O'Neill's idea was that the Bundy's would win the lottery — something they've always dreamed about. When they go out to celebrate, a tornado would hit and wipe out everything, including the Bundys. It was a dark idea, but, then again, when you have an edgy show like this one, it could have worked.
Is the Show Getting a Reboot?
Although the cast of the show has had several reunions on and off screen, it's clear that nobody really wants a reboot. It may be Fox's longest-standing live-action show, but if they wanted to make a reboot, it would have to happen without the main cast.
Christina Applegate was really opposed to the reboot idea, saying "Look… no, I'm like, 20 pounds bigger and 40 years older than I was. I'm not going to put a Lycra dress on me at this point. No, it's not going to happen." She did say the cast frequently gets together for dinner and stays in touch.
Fox Capitalized on Strategic Airing
When Married... with Children first aired, it proclaimed itself a new voice on TV — an edgy voice — but what really helped the show lock down its audience was the strategic timing. The network had to take into consideration the "Family Viewing Hour," which was 8 p.m. at the time. Everything had to be family-friendly at that time, and Married... with Children wasn't.
Fox decided to completely ignore Family Viewing Hour rules in order to gain that new audience. It first aired at 8 p.m. and later at 8:30 p.m. The strategy worked beautifully, as the show's raunchy humor was well received, especially by dads.
The Edginess Inspired Other Series
Because of Fox's bold move to introduce slightly edgier shows to its audience, Married... with Children inspired plenty of other series that did the same. It paved the way for shows like Malcolm in the Middle and Arrested Development as well as The Simpsons and Family Guy.
Of course, edginess and raunchiness aren’t easy to pull off with the right balance. Many of the shows faced criticism for testing the humor limits of the public. Married… with Children became one of the greatest shows, and it was all thanks to the original edginess of Al Bundy and the gang.
The Cast Has Staggering Estimated Net Worths
We know that Ed O'Neill received more than $500,000 per episode during the last season. His estimated net worth stands at $65 Million, but he's not the only one who is worth millions. In fact, most of the show's cast went on to enjoy continued success after the show.
Katey Sagal's reported net worth stands at $30 million, Christina Applegate is worth about $20 million, Amanda Bearse is worth $16 million, and David Faustino accumulated $5 million. Many of the show's stars are still known and respected among Hollywood society.