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They’re All Alright: Ranking the Ten Best That ’70s Show Characters
Image: Fox

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They’re All Alright: Ranking the Best Characters fromThat ’70s Show

The Ten Best Characters from That ’70s Show!

When first announced, That ’70s Show sounded like a gimmick that could get old quickly, and without great writing, actors and characters, it certainly could have. See That 80s Show as an example. But the ’70s hairstyles and sounds were really just a small part of a comedy about friends, family, and coming of age, things people can relate to in any era. With Netflix poised to revisit Point Place, Wisconsin, in That ’90s Show, here’s a look at ten characters who made the trip worthwhile.

10. Leo Chingkwake

What would a comedy about the ’70s be without a tribute to the stoner antics of Cheech and Chong? When he can remember what he was talking about, Leo is another surrogate father figure to Hyde. He occasionally even makes a good point about something, shocking everyone, including himself. He was written off in the most Leo way possible, remembering that he was only supposed to be in town for a short time but stayed for eight years. Also, he needed to get back in touch with his wife, considering almost a decade had passed.

Leo That 70s Show
Image: FOX

9. Bob Pinciotti

“Hey there, hi there, ho there, it’s one of the all-time great annoying sitcom neighbors. Bob’s so over-the-top Steve Urkel looks understated by comparison. Completing the joke is beautiful Bond girl Tanya Roberts as his completely out-of-his-league-wife Midge. After she leaves him, he begins dating Pam Burkhart, portrayed by Brooke Shields, because, again, this is a sitcom, folks. All-nonsense Bob is the perfect foil to no-nonsense Red. But despite his outwardly foolish appearance, he’s a legitimate source of conflict for Donna thanks to his chauvinistic views in life. A guy like Bob, who can make decisions for women like Midge and Donna, says as much about the 70s as anything happening here.

That ’70s Show
Image: FOX

8. Kitty Forman

Who could stay married to Red Forman for decades? The perpetually perky and loving Kitty. It’s no coincidence the trailer for That ’90s Show uses her to set the scene. She’s the mom for the entire neighborhood or anyone who needs love and attention. She’s always baking, hosting, listening to problems, and offering encouragement. Kitty gets a surprising amount of That ’70s Show’s best lines, such as responding to yet another romantic pairing in The Circle with “You kids switch partners more than square dancers!” She’s not wrong.

Kitty Forman
Image: FOX

7. Steven Hyde

The troubling sexual assault allegations against actor Danny Masterson make it hard to watch his projects these days. As several fans have pointed out, Masterson has been revealed to be the kind of guy Steven Hyde would beat the hell out of. But no discussion of That ’70s Show is complete without the cynical yet lovable stoner.

His journey is an intriguing one, finding out not only that Bud Hyde isn’t his biological father but that he’s Black. When his mom abandons him, the Formans allow him to officially move in, cementing that their house is the only place that has ever truly felt like home to him.

That ’70s Show
Image: FOX

6. Donna Pinciotti

Laura Prepon’s Donna is the unquestioned straight woman in this cast of kooky characters. She has to deal with her father’s chauvinistic ways, her boyfriend Eric’s neurotic whims, and Jackie’s manipulation-as-comradery style of friendship. Because her character is the voice of reason, she doesn’t get as many funny lines as the others. But that makes her job all the harder. It’s not easy being Abbott to a single Costello, Donna has an entire cast of them to deal with.

Donna
Image: FOX

Topher Grace’s exit to pursue other projects broke up the sitcom’s endgame couple, and a romance between Donna and “replacement Eric” Randy did Donna a disservice and further deepened viewers’ hatred of the new character. Thankfully That ’90s Show confirms Eric and Donna got together and made it work after all.

5. Fez

Yes, the character is problematic in a few ways. His name is a nickname, an abbreviation for Foreign Exchange Student, because his new friends weren’t about to make the effort of learning how to pronounce his real one. His behavior towards women is stalkerish at best. The Fez-Jackie pairing smacked off the writers running out of ideas.

But the actor didn’t write the character, and Wilmer Valderrama commits to Fez’s big dork energy. One of Hollywood’s best-looking and most charming actors shrinks himself down to the goofiest, most awkward guy in Point Place and makes the audience believe it.

FEZ
Image: FOX

4. Red Forman

You know what Red’s about to say, but you still wait for it and begin laughing anyway. Red’s going to threaten to put a foot in someone’s ass, but watching him steam over until he gets there is half the fun. And every now and again, the person will deserve that foot.

Red Forman - That ’70s Show
Image: FOX

3. Michael Kelso

It takes a smart actor to believably play an idiot. Ashton Kutcher’s handsome but scatterbrained Kelso solidifies his place in the sitcom simpleton Hall of Fame alongside the greats such as Rose Nylund and Woody Boyd. Who could have envisioned the actor that played this lunkhead one day leading a Steve Jobs biopic?

Kutcher brings a deliciously dumb energy to the character, and he and Mila Kunis have incredible chemistry. It was no shock that the actors ended up together in real life. His delivery turned “Damn, Jackie!” into an instant catchphrase. It was even better because his character declared outrage when he was usually the one who had said or done something stupid. Michael Kelso was every bad boyfriend brought hilariously to life.

That ’70s Show
Image: FOX

2. Jackie Burkhart

Jackie gets That ’70s Show‘s biggest and best character journey, going from mean girl antagonist to an actual trusted friend and important member of the group she had forced her way into.

Although she is gorgeous, she is insecure and jealous of other women. So much so that while dating Hyde, she wants him to call other women ugly just to make her feel better. Her boyfriend constantly cheating on her does little to help with these insecurities.

While she initially appoints herself as Donna’s best friend and invites herself into the inner circle thanks to her relationship with Michael Kelso, Jackie actually earns those accolades for real.

That ’70s Show
Image: FOX

1. Eric Forman

Topher Grace’s career didn’t take off like some of his castmates, so it’s easy to forget his importance to the ensemble. There’s a reason his departure effectively signaled the end of That ’70s Show. The constant battles to earn Red’s respect while dragging him out of the 50s and the effortless chemistry with Laura Prepon’s Donna kept everything entertaining. Grace is a perfect everyman with a little bit of snark. And yes, Red is right, he can sometimes be a dumbass.

Eric Forman - That ’70s Show
Image: FOX
Written By

Brian Allen has been sharing his love of pop culture since he could pick up a pencil. Reviews in his school paper blossomed into a career covering TV, movies and games for b5 Media and the TechnologyTell network among others. He now co-hosts the Color of Magic podcast championing diversity in gaming and media. You can read more of his thoughts on Twitter @BrianPsionic.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Andrew Kidd

    January 17, 2023 at 5:11 pm

    Where’s Randy? 😀

  2. LOLU

    February 18, 2023 at 6:06 pm

    Ranking the worst & most unsympathetic character second = huge fail.

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