“The Kids are More than Alright”: Top Fifteen greatest sitcom kids of all time.
It’s incredibly hard to find kid actors who are adorable, sharp, talented, funny as all get out AND be incredibly good actors. Heck, the saying goes for every director, writer and grown actor “Never work with kids or animals”. But these are fifteen young actors who I feel are so naturally talented; so doggone funny; and most importantly, so charming without being annoyingly precocious or just “cute”.
15. Jeremy Suarez. The Bernie Mac Show.
Jeremy Suarez took what started off as an asthmatic and fragile little boy and turned him into a sneaky, trouble making little prankster that won the hearts of millions. Jeremy had spot on comic timing and his chemistry with Bernie helped make The Bernie Mac Show the comedy classic it is.
14. Jodie Sweetin. Full House.
Mary-Kate and Ashley may have been the breakout stars, but Jodie Sweeten as Stephanie Judith Tanner was in my humble opinion unmatched on Full House. When the show started she was only five years-old, but had the comic timing and delivery of pros beyond her years. People often overlook Sweeten’s talents in favor of the Olsen twins and to that I say… “How rude!”
13. Janet Jackson. Good Times.
We all know and love Janet Jackson for her incredible musical career, films like Poetic Justice, Nutty Professor 2: The Klumps, Why Did I Get Married 1 and 2, and of course… wardrobe malfunction. But it all started with Jackson’s role as the adorable Penny Woods on Good Times. It was as Penny that Janet showed her true talents as an actress.
12. Raven Symone. The Cosby Show.
Raven has been around making us laugh for a hot minute. It all started all on The Cosby Show as Denise’s stepdaughter Olivia. It’s unbelievable that she was just three years-old when she joined the show in 1989, but Raven’s comic skills were already there. If you can more than hold your own in a scene with Cosby, then you know you got skills.
11. Tahj Mowry. Smart Guy.
Tahj had a difficult task as a ten year-old boy playing an intellectually gifted ten year-old boy. He managed to make the genius aspect believable, speaking dialogue way beyond his age and intellect while still making TJ a believable and very funny, yet not annoyingly precocious kid. Very underrated as a comedic actor, but Tahj had a timing and delivery very few kids his age could match. In other words… “He’s a smart guyyyyy!”
10. Lisa Whelchel\ Kim Fields\Mindy Cohen\Nancy McKeon. The Facts of Life.
The cast of Facts of Life really came together when the overcrowded was cut down and Nancy McKeon’s Jo was added to the show in season 2. The chemistry between all four girls and Charlotte Rae was truly something special, and just as special was the extraordinary acting talents of all four young actresses who could make you laugh like crazy and cry tear buckets, sometimes in the same scene. Kim Fields, Mindy Cohen, Lisa Whelchel and Nancy McKeon were never up for the exclusive Emmy award, but in my opinion all four were major contenders for that coveted statue. Nancy especially had a gift for strong dramatic scenes.
9. Ron Howard. The Andy Griffith Show.
We all know Ron Howard as a famous and talented feature film director\producer as well as for Richie Cunningham of Happy Days fame, but before all of that he was the lovably curious and joy seeking Opie Taylor from the iconic sitcom The Andy Griffith Show. Ron was fairly young when he got the role, but that natural talent was always there. His comic timing was great, but his genuine and natural ability to just play a real kid is very rare with young actors who are trained to play cute and precocious. I’m sure Andy is very proud of Opie’s major success in his life and career.
8. Tyler James Williams. Everybody Hates Chris.
Everybody may hate Chris, but we all love Tyler and his talents. Tyler James Williams as the young Chris Rock became a classic character in the pantheon of tv sitcoms, and that’s thanks to Tyler’s persona as just a normal, regular kid who was just trying to make it out of the teenage hell we all go through. Williams had such a natural ability to be wildly funny and utterly believable, taking the iconic Chris Rock persona and making it his own.
7. Sara Gilbert. Roseanne.
No one played teenage angst and attitude quite like Sara Gilbert did as Darlene Conner. Her brilliant zingers and one liners helped make Roseanne as funny as it was, expertly delivered by Ms. Gilbert. Darlene was one of the most realistic teenagers in television history: We all have either been her or had one of her in our own families. Though Darlene could be a real funny pain in the butt, Gilbert also brought vulnerability to the role that made you feel for her and relate to her quite a bit in the series.
6. Fred Savage. The Wonder Years.
Kevin Arnold is one of the all time iconic characters in television history and that’s not only thanks to the excellent writing, but to the amazing portrayal by Fred Savage, who made Kevin so endearing, relatable and memorable. Savage’s acting muscles were definitely flexed on The Wonder Years over its six year run, with him adeptly playing the dramatic moments with sincerity and the comedy moments with just as much sincerity.
5. Charlie McDermott\Eden Sher\Atticus Shaffer. The Middle.
There may have never been nor ever be three more unique and hilarious kids on a sitcom than the Heck kids. Axl, Sue and Brick are three such distinct personalities that each brought very specific types of humor to The Middle, and along with Patricia Heaton and Neil Flynn made that show shine as bright as it did. Over the course of nine years the three young stars just got better and better, coming into their own as actors and characters. Each so great in many ways that it was impossible for me to only pick one for this article.
4. Frankie Muniz\Justin Berfield\Erik Per Sullivan. Malcolm In The Middle.
Everyone’s favorite rambunctious, bad little mofos were quite a trio. Frankie Muniz, Justin Berfield and Erik Per Sullivan were the three stooges of the 2000’s, and each brought such amazing comic talents to Malcolm In The Middle. Erik, as Dewey in particular gave some of the greatest facial reactions\expressions of all time. Each one was unique and each one was utterly believable in their roles, which is possibly why they haven’t done quite too much after Malcolm, the price of playing characters to perfection is a cost one unfortunately has to pay.
3. Gary Coleman. Diff’rent Strokes.
Whatchoo talkin’ bout, Willis? That iconic phrase only ever could’ve come from the remarkably talented Gary Coleman. We all grew up with him on Diffrent Strokes, and I couldn’t imagine my childhood without him. For someone so small, Gary was a giant in comedy. Nobody can quite nail a line like he did, especially for someone so young when the show aired. Gary was way beyond a classic catchphrase, though. He was just a great actor period and it’s a shame that he didn’t get too many chances to show all of his talents due to typecasting.
2. Jaleel White. Family Matters.
Known for playing tv’s most iconic nerd, Jaleel White took a one time role and turned it into the star of Family Matters as well as a television icon. It took great skill to play Steve Urkel and make such an annoying nerd so beloved and hilariously funny. Though, White’s incredible talent went beyond just the Urkel role. Before Martin Lawrence, Jaleel White took character comedy to a whole other level with his mastering multiple characters on Family Matters including Stefan Urquelle, Myrtle Urkel, OGD aka Original Gangsta Dog, Bruce Lee, Albert Einstein and Elvis Presley. White played each and everyone of these characters with perfection, making us forget that this was all one man playing the role.
- David Faustino & Christina Applegate. Married… With Children.
The Bundy kids were a remarkable find by the producers of Married… With Children. The whole show sought to break the conventions of family sitcoms, and the casting of the kids were no different. They ended up with Christina Applegate and David Faustino who made Kelly and Bud Bundy two of the funniest and most unique kids in television history. The chemistry the two had together as siblings was simply magic, and individually they each had a special type of comic timing and delivery that in my opinion has seen no match. It takes two great young actors to be able to more than hold their own with such great adult talents in Ed O’Neill, Katey Sagal, David Garrison, Amanda Bearse and Ted McGinley, but these two rose to the occasion and created two characters that I and every other MWC fan will always hold dear to our hearts.