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As the seasons progress, the IQs drop. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top ten TV characters who got dumber.
For this list, we’ll be looking at those television characters who became progressively dumber throughout the series’ run. These are the characters who began the show as somewhat aloof and goofy and a little thick, but as the series continued, have steadily become less and less intelligent.
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#10: Andy Dwyer “Parks and Recreation” (2009-15)
The inhabitants of Pawnee aren’t the brightest bunch. However, no other character comes close to Andy Dwyer. In the early seasons, Andy wasn’t exactly the smartest man in a room, but he wasn’t terribly stupid, either. He was simply lazy, childish, and a more than a little inconsiderate. However, as the series wore on, he became hopelessly stupid to the point where one couldn’t help but wonder how he made it through the day... He doesn’t know left from right, he thinks Buckingham Palace is Hogwarts, and he doesn’t understand the concept of a children’s book. He’s still lovable, but he really went out on an intellectual low note.
#9: Charlie Kelly “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” (2005-)
Every character of Always Sunny has suffered from flanderization over the seasons. Dee has grown shrill and sad. Dennis is a full-on sociopath. Mac’s insecure homoeroticism has become less subtle. Frank has gone from an intelligent business man to… whatever Frank is now. However, perhaps the worst culprit is Charlie, who has gone from a bit dim-witted and creepy in earlier seasons to fully dysfunctional. He eats cat food on a nightly basis. He can’t read or write. He burns garbage and thinks that the smoke creates stars. Some fans have theorized that this change could be attributed to his drug use… but whatever the reason, he’s clearly in an aggressive downward spiral.
#8: Kelly Bundy “Married…with Children” (1987-97)
Oh, Kelly. What happened to you? At the beginning of the series, Kelly was your typical rebellious teenager: she had bleached blonde hair, dressed in t-shirts and jeans, and hung out with a bad crowd. However, she went through a transformation after the first season, which saw her begin dressing incredibly inappropriately for her age, and regressing into the stereotypical dumb blonde archetype. While she does show flashes of intelligence, like solving complex math equations, such moments are the exception to the rule. For crying out loud, she can’t even read her own high school diploma.
#7: Michael Scott “The Office” (2005-13)
While most of the characters on the American version of The Office suffered some form of flanderization over the years, Michael and Kevin suffered the most—becoming aggressively dumber as the seasons went on. At the beginning of the show, Michael was crude, ignorant, and obnoxious, but he certainly wasn’t stupid, and he was shown to be a talented salesman. He was promoted to regional manager for a reason. However, you wonder how later-seasons Michael has survived so long. If he’s not genuinely using fake moustaches as a disguise, he’s literally driving his car into a lake because his GPS told him to. We love you, Michael, but we also worry.
#6: Chrissy Snow “Three’s Company” (1977-84)
It seems to be a rule with sitcoms: if you have a dumb blonde in the show, sooner or later, they’re going to inhabit that personality to a dysfunctional degree. While Chrissy started as the somewhat ditzy blonde character, she was made progressively dumber throughout the show’s run. She was seemingly always confused about basic things and, similar to a small child, was quick to have an overly-emotional reaction to situations large and small. While many people now remember Chrissy as being an incoherent, nonsensical bimbo, there are those who recall that she was actually fairly intelligent in the earlier episodes.
#5: Jake Harper “Two and a Half Men” (2003-15)
Honestly, we don’t know how Jake didn’t managed to survive the series. When Two and a Half Men started, Jake was the cute kid who, more often than not, had a snarky comeback or comment to make. However, as he grew, the writers basically did away with any semblance of normalcy and made Jake a walking punchline. He took to smoking insane amounts of pot in the later seasons, was constantly eating, and added frequent farting to his comedic repertoire. He basically regressed from cute-but-kinda-bratty kid to completely hopeless idiot. But hey, that’s long-running network sitcoms for you.
#4: Michael Kelso “That ‘70s Show” (1998-2006)
For a show that revolves around a bunch of potheads, it’s natural that at least one person in the group would be designated the stereotypical braindead buffoon. As the show progressed, that role was given to Kelso, who soon became far too stupid to be considered realistic. In earlier episodes, Kelso was certainly a little dopey and clumsy. However, he becomes full-on stupid in later seasons, and increasingly childish. Pretty much everything that comes out of his mouth should be deemed nonsensical, and he’s extremely slow to catch on to a conversation. But hey, he’s got his looks going for him, so at least there’s that.
#3: Patrick Star “SpongeBob SquarePants” (1999-)
Even kids’ shows aren’t immune! At the beginning of the series Patrick was a little slow, but he wasn’t stupid to a non-functioning degree. In fact, he was able to aid SpongeBob on numerous occasions, like when he helped him earn his boating lisence. However, starting around Season 2, Patrick was suddenly a lot slower, and began making some incredibly silly and nonsensical declarations. And then, around Seasons 5 and 6, his IQ seemingly took another sharp nosedive, and he is now known as one of the goofiest and most incompetent characters in television. But hey, kids love them some silly characters, so whatever works.
#2: Joey Tribbiani “Friends” (1994-2004)
Perhaps the most famous example of a character becoming increasingly dumb across a show’s run is that of Joey, a man who started off a little odd but ended up too dumb for words. In the beginning of the series, Joey was a goofy guy who had enough smarts to be believable and just enough intellectual shortcomings to make him endearing. However, he soon became dense to a cartoonish degree. For example, he thinks there are 56 states. And while struggling to learn a second language is understandable, the fact that Joey is seemingly incapable of imitating simple phonetic sounds correctly... is harder to swallow.
#1: Homer Simpson “The Simpsons” (1989-)
Homer is perhaps the most infamous example of a character getting dumber. In the earlier seasons of the show, Homer was certainly no genius, but he was a flawed and loving family man. However, over 600 episodes later, and Homer’s personality has degraded into that of a gigantic child. He has become uncomprehendingly dumb, and his emotional stability has taken a massive nosedive. At least the writers are self-aware enough to acknowledge his devolvement over the years, having poked fun at it on numerous occasions. Regardless, Homer is now not only the poster child for the idiotic father trope, but for the progressive loss of intelligence in long-running characters too.