10 harsh realities of being a sitcom protagonist


When it comes to being a fictional character, being the protagonist of a sitcom is probably one of the best positions to take. Sitcom characters rarely have major life issues to deal with, almost always have an abundance of discretionary income, and often live in rather lavish apartments or houses.

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But it’s not all witty laughs and comments for the sitcom hero. Of course, they really don’t have to deal with serious illnesses or worry about covering their expenses, but they do have a number of issues that those who live in the real world will never have to deal with.

ten You cannot move to a new apartment or house

Monica's huge rent-controlled apartment from Friends

A real person may not like where they live, but with a little work and time, they can usually move elsewhere. This is not a possibility for a sitcom character. Wherever they live, this is where they will live at least as long as the show they are on. In fact, ending a series with the main character leaving is a sitcom staple. Just look Family ties, Friends, Where New girl for examples of this well worn trope.

Plus, sitcom characters hardly ever get a chance to redecorate their homes. Everything is exactly the same for years, from the sofa to the framed paintings on the walls, which can get boring and boring after a while.

9 If you have a roommate, they’ll be there for years to come, no matter how old you are

Ted argues with Barney How I met your mother

Sticking to the “never being able to move” trope, a sitcom character who has a roommate in the first episode will almost certainly have that same roommate for the duration of the series. Usually, that’s not a big deal because roommates are more often than not friends, but when your show goes on for years, having a roommate can start to seem odd.

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Living with your best friend when you’re in your twenties is one thing, but when you’re in your thirties, you might want to have your own home. Unfortunately, unless there is a major upheaval, this roommate will be around for the long haul.

8 You can only go out at a time

Seinfeld's dinner

In real life, people tend to go to different places to go out. A group may have a favorite restaurant or bar, but they probably don’t go there every week. But in the world of a sitcom, just like the inability to move to a new location, characters can never hang out anywhere else.

Friends had Central Perk, how I Met Your Mother had McGee, and even Seinfeld had Tom’s Restaurant. It’s rare for the main characters on a sitcom to venture to new and different places, instead settling in the same place day after day, which must get boring after a while.

7 You hardly ever make new friends

The entire cast of Friends sitting around the dinner table having fun

In a person’s life there are friends who are there for the long haul. Then there are friends who come and go. But in sitcoms, there is only the first. They are friends who have known each other for years and will continue to be as close as possible for years to come.

The protagonists of the sitcom don’t make new friends, at least not unless one of their old friends leaves their lives for some reason, and if that happens, the new friend is essentially a carbon copy of the old friend.

6 Everyone around you is sarcastic

New girl cast in bathroom-themed promotional image

When someone has something that is bothering them in their life, they like to tell their friends or family about it. Usually these people will listen and offer their help in one way or another. In sitcoms, it’s likely that the main character’s issues will meet with sarcastic comments from friends and family.

Everything is a chance to make a joke, and everyone in the protagonist’s life grabs that chance pretty much every turn. Honest, serious conversation is almost impossible to have in a sitcom universe.

5 There are often weird pauses in your conversations

Sheldon indeed Dopper, Leonard as Hobbit and Raj as Thor at a Halloween party in the Big Bang Theory

To make matters worse, in many sitcom universes, the sarcastic comment is often followed by a few seconds of silence. Why everyone in the universe stops after George Costanza says something funny is probably unknown to everyone in this reality, but viewers know it’s there for the laughing track.

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Imagine living in a reality where after every joke, pun, or witty comment, everyone has to wait three to five seconds before resuming the conversation. He would age very quickly.

4 Your boss is probably incompetent

The cast of the office

If the protagonist’s show takes place at his workplace, his boss is almost certain to be an idiot. They can be an eccentric billionaire like Jimmy James on Radio News or an incompetent egotist with celebrity dreams like David Brent on the original UK version of Office, but these bosses will always be more of a nuisance than a help in the workplace. And if the protagonist’s story isn’t about his job, the random occasions he goes to his workplace will show his boss (and maybe even all of his coworkers) to be pretty bizarre.

3 You rarely get a promotion

Television News Radio Staff Meeting WNYX

Adding to the pain of professional life for a sitcom character, they rarely get promoted no matter how long they are at work. In addition to jobs that rarely have set hours or actual work attached to them, these characters hardly ever climb the corporate ladder. This can be especially difficult for the protagonists of the sitcom who have just graduated from school, as it means they are stuck in a low-level position for years, whether as a waitress like the girls from Two broke girls or whatever Barney did to AltruCell Corporation on how I Met Your Mother.

2 Time doesn’t make sense

George Costanza in his Goretex coat on Sienfeld

Of course, sitcom characters don’t mind being trapped in their jobs, because time flies differently in sitcoms. Along with the average length of a week which must appear to be twenty-two minutes, the seasons can change at an almost alarming rate. A sitcom character can go to the beach one week to be trapped inside due to a snowstorm the following week.

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For school sitcom characters, it can be even stranger. High school may only last four years in the real world, but in sitcoms a character can sit in the same story class for years. Maybe everyone at school continues to be held back.

1 Most of your romantic relationships are short lived and end for strange reasons.

the stars of Two Broke Girls

Almost everyone will have at least a few romantic relationships in their lifetime, but many sitcom characters have an abundance of short-lived but hugely important romances in their lives, and many of those romances end for weird reasons.

George Costanza almost dated Spider-Man’s Aunt May, Marisa Tomei, but it ended when Tomei punched him in the face. Jerry Seinfeld has dated a shocking number of women, and those relationships have ended for a variety of strange reasons, from the star not remembering the woman’s name to an argument over Superman.

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