When “Married… With Children” was first introduced to audiences on April 5, 1987, no one imagined that this show about a dysfunctional family would last as long as it did. But the sitcom about a disgruntled shoe salesman, a lazy wife, and two annoying kids proved to be a major hit that lasted 11 seasons.
But just because you didn’t miss an episode for all of those years, doesn’t mean you know these interesting details about the show. From behind the scenes tricks that made the show what it was to on-screen guest stars that had a good reason for being on the show, these are some details that probably went over your head.
The Show Was Unique
At the time, TV shows like “The Cosby Show” promoted a family unit that was loving and supportive. But “Married… With Children” was the total opposite as the characters spent most of their time dissing each other. And audiences ate the conflict up because it was a completely new concept for TV.
The Show First Had a Different Title
When writers first came up with the show, they created a working title called “Not the Cosbys” to drive the point home that the Bundy family was anything but the Huxtables from “The Cosby Show.”
The Bundy’s Car Wasn’t a Dodge
Although producers convinced viewers that the Bundy’s beat up old car was a Dodge, it was a lie. The car was actually a 1972 Plymouth Duster. But most fans never noticed the difference between both cars.
Christina Applegate Had to Be Flexible
As the show’s popularity grew, opportunity knocked for Christina Applegate, who played Kelly Bundy. But she didn’t want to leave the show that had put her on the map. So, she had to figure out how divide her time between the show and other projects.
Kelly Wore a Wig in Season 10
Applegate was shooting a film where she was a brunette, so she was forced to dye her hair that color. Unfortunately, her sitcom character, Kelly, was blonde, so she had to use a blonde wig during season 10 of “Married… With Children.”
Peggy’s Maiden Name Was Embarrassing
Viewers learned that Peggy’s maiden name was Wanker and that she was originally from Wanker County. Unfortunately, the name has an expletive NSFW connotation. So, becoming a Bundy by marriage was likely the best thing that ever happened to her.
No-Ma'am Club Was Anti-Feminist
Al and his male buddies founded a group called No Ma’am, which was anti-feminist. The name was short for “National Organization of Men Against Amazonian Masterhood.” Back in the day, the group’s neanderthal thinking resulted in a lot of laughter from live and TV audiences. But in today’s PC world, it would have likely gotten the show canceled.
Customers Paid With Their Vista Cards
Viewers might recall that there was a Vista card logo on the front of the shoe store’s register area. This was likely used as a play-on for a VISA card. But to avoid a lawsuit, the set designers changed the word VISA to Vista.
It Became an Instant Hit
“Married… With Children” was the Fox channel's first primetime show, so the network wasn’t sure if audiences would love it when they aired the pilot episode on April 15, 1987. But as it turns out, viewers kept tuning in every week and they couldn’t get enough of this crazy family.
Fox Aired the Pilot Multiple Times
The Fox network really wanted their flagship show to take off, so they didn’t just air the pilot episode once, but multiple times on the same day. This ensured that anyone who might have missed the sitcom’s debut the first time would have other chances to fall in love with the series. Although this isn't necessary in the age of DVR and streaming services, it totally cemented the series' success in the late 1980s.
Al Bundy Called His Fans
Today people use Cameo, the video service that allows fans to pay to have a celebrity send a shoutout to someone for their birthday. But back in the day, actor Ed O’Neill, who played Al Bundy would call fans on the phone to wish them a happy birthday if they sent a letter to the set. What a sweet guy!
Kelly and Bud Were Originally Played by Different Actors
The roles of Kelly and Bud were played by Hunter Carson and Tina Caspary, but Ed O’Neill felt that the actors didn’t have the right chemistry with the rest of the cast to make the show successful. So, after some rehearsals, new actors were scouted to be on the series, which turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to the show.
Kelly and Bud Were Recast
Producers agreed with O’Neill but they still needed new actors to take over the roles of Kelly and Bud. So, casting directors scrambled and eventually found Christina Applegate and David Faustino. Then the cast re-shot the pilot scenes with the new kids in them, and the rest is history.
Ed O’Neill is a Fighter
Most fans don’t know this about Ed O’Neill, but he’s an expert in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He was introduced to this form of martial arts by writer and director John Milius, who also happens to be a close friend. Milius is the mind behind classic film lines such as "Go ahead, make my day" from "Dirty Harry" and "I love the smell of napalm in the morning" from the film "Apocalypse Now."
O’Neill Has a Black Belt
Al Bundy could have used martial arts skills to fend off the tons of disgruntled customers who visited his shoe store, but Ed O’Neill has over 20 years training in Jiu-Jitsu and he even earned himself a black belt in 2007. So, the hobby has been in his life longer than either of the famous sitcoms he has starred in recently!
One Episode Was Too Suggestive
The sitcom was no stranger to pushing the envelope on sexism and right-wing philosophies. But there was one episode of “Married… With Children” that the Fox network refused to air because they didn’t want to risk upsetting viewers because of its mildly suggestive content...
An Activist Attacked the Show
Terry Rakolta, who is a former anti-obscenity activist, was not thrilled with the season 3 episode “I’ll See You In Court” which showed Al amorously eyeing a model. She tried her best to keep the episode from airing but it aired anyway in 2002. And that wasn't the last time that someone voiced their complaints about the show.
The Show Had Some Tension
Fans know that Al Bundy and his neighbor Marcy didn’t get along on the show. But there were rumors that the actors didn't like each other in real life either. This resulted in clashes and tension on set, which wasn't easy for other cast mates or crew members to ignore.
Ed O’Neill Stepped Right Into His Role
Ed O’Neill didn’t have to do much to convince producers that he was perfect for the role of Al Bundy. All he did was walk through the door with his low energy and "defeated act" and he got the part. But there were other actors that originally auditioned for the role who are probably lucky that they didn't get the role...
The Part of Al Almost Went to Kramer
Michael Richards, best known as Kramer on the show “Seinfeld,” auditioned for the role of Al Bundy alongside Ed O’Neill. But the show’s creators didn’t feel that Richard was the right fit for the role, so O’Neill got it. And that was probably a good thing in the end for Richards, who wouldn't have gotten a role on "Seinfeld" if not for being rejected.
Richards Made Quite an Impression
Although Richards wasn’t right for the role of Al, the casting director loved what the actor had to offer. So, when he was given the task of casting someone for the role of Kramer on “Seinfeld,” Richards was the first name that popped into his head.
Peggy Loved Oprah
Although Oprah never guest-starred on “Married… With Children,” she was mentioned quite a bit by Peggy, who utterly adored watching her on the television set while eating chocolate candy from the comfort of her living room couch. But Peggy wasn't exactly an easy role for an actress to play.
Katey Sagal Went All Out
Katey Sagal, who played Peggy Bundy, always believed that actors need to go all out and completely immerse themselves in the role to convincingly nail the audition. So, she did just that to win the role of Peg, and that was what the casting directors noticed and remembered.
She Dressed Like Peggy Bundy
There was one beauty accessory that really helped Sagal win the role when she went in to audition for Peggy Bundy. Not only did she dress the part, but she also wore an enormous red wig that really caught the attention of the casting directors.
The Opening Credits Were From a Movie
In the original opening credits of “Married… With Children,” there’s a scene of cars on the interstate. That scene was actually borrowed from the comedic film “National Lampoon’s Vacation" and wasn't actually filmed for the series.
Each Episode Cost a Freaking Ton of Money
As the success of the show grew, the actors started asking for bigger pay bumps along the way. This ultimately led to each episode costing about $1 million to produce, but it was worth every penny because the show continues to be popular on streaming services today.
Bud Was a Wannabe Rapper
Like his father, Al, Bud Bundy tried and failed at a lot of things. But one of the most hilarious moments on the show was when Bud tried to embrace hip hop music by becoming a rapper known as Grand Master B. But then, art imitated life.
But Faustino Was a Real-Life Rapper
Becoming a rapper was as much a personal dream for actor David Faustino as it was for his character Bud Bundy. But unlike Bud, Faustino did make his dream come true in 1992 when he adopted the rapper name D’Lil and released his first album.
Milla Jovovich Guest-Starred
Model-turned actress Milla Jovovich appeared on “Married With... Children” long before she graced the silver screen with her presence in “The Fifth Element” and six “Resident Evil” movies. On the sitcom, she played a foreign exchange student named Yvette. But she wasn’t the only future star to appear on the show.
David Boreanaz Was Kelly’s Boyfriend
David Boreanaz is best known for his role as the vampire with a soul on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and its spin-off “Angel.” He later went on to play Seeley Booth on the show “Bones” and Jason Hayes on the show “Seal Team.” But way before he caught his big break on Buffy, he played a biker named Frank who was Kelly’s boyfriend on the sitcom.
Ed O’Neill Starred in a Soap Opera
Ed O’Neill was virtually an unknown before his role on “Married With... Children.” In fact, he got his start on the popular soap opera, “All My Children.” Eventually, he got the role of Al Bundy. And his most recent project was playing Jay Pritchett on “Modern Family,” which many of his fans will recognize him from.
Al’s Past Was a Nod to O’Neill
Al Bundy brought up his high school glory days when he was a football star over and over again throughout the series. But most fans don’t realize that actor Ed O’Neill played football while he attended Ohio University and Youngstown State University. He was later signed on as an undrafted free agent for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but got cut.
Terry Bradshaw Guest Starred, Too
Terry Bradshaw is an NFL legend and a former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback. So naturally, he was hired to appear in two episodes, which undoubtedly made Al Bundy, and the actor who played him very happy.
The Show Never Earned Any Awards
The sitcom was nominated for Golden Globes and Primetime Emmy Awards several times. Unfortunately, the show never won an award from the big leagues. However, they did earn TV Land Awards in 2008 and 2009, after the show was off the air.
Poverty Was a Consistent Theme
Characters came and went during the show’s 11-year run, but there was one thing that always stayed the same— the family’s financial struggles. Despite several attempts from Al to get the family out of poverty, they never seemed to crawl out of the hole they were in.
Ed O’Neill Was in Every Episode
The actor who played Al Bundy was a real trooper. Although some characters took time off for personal reasons over the course of the series, Ed O’Neill was in every episode. This included several unaired pilots and even the show’s lost episode.
James Bond Loved the Show
Actor Sir Roger Moore, who is best known for playing the main character in the James Bond films, admitted that he was a huge fan of “Married... With Children. But this might have something to do with the fact that he was also friends with Katey Sagal’s dad, Boris Sagal.
Marcy Directed the Show
Amanda Bearse was best known as Marcy, Al’s neighbor and thorn at his side. She was also Peggy’s friend. But the actress herself was also a director and she directed 31 episodes of the show over the course of the series.
Amanda Bearse Wasn’t Straight
Despite the fact that actress Amanda Bearse had been an out and proud lesbian since 1993, her character Marcy had two husbands on the show. Her first marriage was to Steve Rhoades, who divorced her and left. Her second marriage was to a handsome freeloader named Jefferson Darcy.
Ed O’Neill’s Star Location is Epic
Fans of the sitcom know that Al Bundy was a shoe salesman. So, what would be an appropriate location for actor Ed O’Neill’s star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame? Why, in front of a local shoe store, of course!
Katey Sagal Got Her Star, Too
Ed O’Neill wasn’t the only actor to earn a star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Katey Sagal got a star of her own for her role on the sitcom. After the show ended, she went on to star in shows like “Sons of Anarchy,” “Futurama,” “The Conners,” and “Rebel.”
Buck Got a Retirement Party
Buck was the Bundy’s dog, but the dog actor, whose real name was Mike the dog, was old and had to retire during the run of the series. So, the producers killed Buck off in season 10 and threw Mike a retirement party. But Buck himself was reincarnated as a new dog on the show and continued to live on miserably in the Bundy household until the final episode.
There Were Talks of a Possible Spin-Off
After the show ended in 1997, there were talks of a spin-off surrounding Bud Bundy in college. Well, that didn’t work out. But around 2017, fans started hearing rumors again of a possible TV show centered around Bud with the original cast making appearances here and there. But legal issues have since stalled the project.
Sam Kinison Almost Became Al Bundy
Comedian Sam Kinison was a pretty popular comedian back in the day, and producers wanted him to play Al Bundy. But when Ed O’Neill auditioned, producers and casting directors became convinced that he was better suited for the role. But Kinison did guest-star as Al’s guardian angel during a “It's a Wonderful Life”-themed episode.
Katey Sagal Wasn’t the Show’s First Choice
Katey Sagal was already an established actress before the sitcom. And while she did an excellent job as Peggy Bundy for 11 seasons, rumor has it that the producers didn’t initially consider her their first choice. But she ultimately proved that she had the acting chops for the hilarious role.
Roseanne Barr Almost Became Peggy
Producers wanted Roseanne Barr to play Peggy Bundy. But Katey Sagal won the casting directors over during the audition, so they stuck with her. Ironically, Sagal went on to become the girlfriend of Barr’s on-screen husband Dan on “The Conners” after Roseanne Barr was fired from the “Roseanne” revival and her character was written off.
Sinatra Sang the Theme Song
The show’s theme song wasn’t originally intended for the show. It was actually performed by the timeless musical talent Frank Sinatra in 1955. But the producers felt that the song was perfect for their show, so they decided to use it.
The Theme Song Was Changed
Fans were disappointed when the DVD box sets of the series starting from season three onward stopped using the “Love and Marriage” theme song. It was replaced by a simple instrumental piece. This was because Sony wasn’t able to get the rights to use the theme song for the DVDs.
The Show’s Ending Was a Surprise
Fox executives had no idea if they were going to renew the show or not and didn’t even bother to tell the cast their decision. So, everyone sort of learned that they weren’t coming back for another season after the show aired its series finale on May 6, 1997.
They Learned Their Fate From Word of Mouth
Christina Applegate, who played Kelly, found out through her friends, who had heard about the cancelation. And Ed O’Neill was on vacation when he got the news from a couple who had read about the show’s cancelation in a newspaper.