'Family Matters': Did you love or hate Urkel?


Image Credit: Photofest

If you’re anywhere between the ages of, say, 20 and 35 and reading this website, the question of whether you gleefully devoured ABC’s Friday night, family-friendly line-up TGIF is purely rhetorical. Of course you did.

There’s no doubt you loved Full House, Step By Step, Boy Meets World, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Perfect Strangers, and a variety of other ridiculously addictive shows. (Personally, I spent those Friday evenings stretched out on the floor of my living room with my three siblings and several Book It-earned personal pan pizzas from Pizza Hut. Holla! The ’90s were amazing.) But when it comes to one show in particular on that line-up, the block’s anchor for years — that’d be 8 p.m. resident Family Matters — the question isn’t whether you watched, but instead: What’s your opinion on Urkel? Because you certainly watched, and you certainly have an opinion on the polarizing character.

I recently found myself thinking about Family Matters after I stumbled across a rerun on Nick at Nite. I began wondering: What do people think of first when they first recall the series? Well, a few might mention the memorable opening credits, which were set to the catchy theme song “As Days Go By” (I can still sing the whole thing!), but I’m guessing lion’s share of folks would most quickly associate Family Matters with the Winslow family’s annoying neighbor, the purveyor of all things nerd, Steve Urkel. Throughout the ’90s — with his tube socks, huge glasses, suspenders, and jeans pulled up far beyond his belly button — he was the icon of what a dork should be.

As much as I want to say that I hate him — because that seems like the reaction you should have to such a seemingly repulsive character — I have to admit something startling: I loved — and still love — Urkel. I had the talking Urkel doll back in the day. I secretly rooted for him to end up with Laura Winslow and not that impostor skank Myra. I loved it when he riled up Carl in nearly every episode. I felt bad for him when everyone was mean to him. I loved that he could turn himself into the much-more-suave Stefan Urkquelle through a crazy contraption he kept in his basement. And I repeated his catchphrases — everyone’s favorite: “Did I do that?” — at ever turn throughout elementary school.

Who’s with me?

Now that I’ve professed my love for Urkel, tell me, dear PopWatch readers: Did you love or hate him? Vote in our poll here — and sound off with your opinions in the comments section further below!

Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky

Read more:
‘Kenan and Kel': Why we must resist the urge to overthink it
Watching ‘Mr. Rogers’ as an adult is a freaky marvel
‘Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers’: Teenagers with attitude
An Ode to ‘Clarissa Explains it All’

Comments (62 total) Add your comment
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  • marilinda

    i loved loved loved steve urkel!! i, too, had the Urkel doll, and posters and i think a handmade pillowcase. obsessed. i was so sad when the string on my doll broke. but i still have it!!

    • BROTHERLY LOVE!!!!!!

      Family Matters, along with Full House and Boy Meets World were the three anchors of TGIF – but Boy Meets World will be the one that stands the test of time. Family Matters suffered because it became held hostage by Urkel’s character. His only good moments were when he transformed into the smooth Stephan Urkel and the Bruce Lee version.

      • BROTHERLY LOVE!!!!!!

        EW – please write about the most underrated 90s family sitcom: “Brotherly Love”, it was on in mid 90s on NBC, starring Joey Lawrence and his brothers Matt and Andy – it was hilarious!

      • Krystal

        brotherly love was awesOME so was teen angel!!

      • Anonymous

        You wish that Boy Meets World was hilarious. I never loved it.

    • Anonymous

      It’s a shame that the string of your Urkel doll broke. But that doesn’t stop me from hating Steve.

      If you love that Urkel guy, good for you. But don’t force other folks into loving him.

  • Ashley

    “I spent those Friday evenings stretched out on the floor of my living room with my three siblings and several Book It-earned personal pan pizzas from Pizza Hut.”
    Hilarious!! I completely forgot about Book-It..though I don’t know how since this perfectly described my Friday night as a kid.

    • ST

      The 90’s totally rocked, I took spent my Friday evenings watching TGIF and eating my personal pan pizza’s that I earned from Book-it (one of the best programs EVER!). Loved Urkel. The christmas episode where he was going to be home by himself for Christmas still makes me tear up a bit.
      I’m pretty sure “My Two Dad’s” was on NBC though it was a great show too.

    • Stacie

      I hated Book-It! I was the only kid in my class to fail it and had to sit in an empty classroom while everyone else had their pizza party.

    • Allison

      I loved Book-It! We lived within walking distance of our Pizza Hut, so I usually went before my piano lessons so I could someday be the next Debbie Gibson…

    • Anonymous

      What does Book-It have to do with this webpage? This article’s about Steve Urkel and not some Pizza Hut program that I was part of when I was age-appropriate for it.

  • J

    LOL @ the personal pan pizzas! I was the Book-it champion! I’m ordering Pizza Hut this Friday and watching some retro TV.

    • Anonymous

      Oh, stop it with the LOL and stay on topic.

  • Amy

    Love me some Urkel and TGIF (don’t forget about My Two Dads!) My parents have a video of my cousin and me hiking up our pants and doing Urkel impersonations (as I am sure any self-respecting nearly 30 year old has). Also, LOVED Book It. I had many a wondeful memories that are tied to personal pan pizzas.

    • ST

      I think My Two Dads was on NBC, not ABC with TGIF but it was a great show too!

  • It’s leviOsa, not levioSA

    See that’s the problem with kids today no pizza incentives to make them read.

    • sdkgoodwin

      Book-It still exists, my kids get their coupon every month!!

      • Anonymous

        I didn’t know that. It’s been a really long time since I’ve dealt with Book-It.

  • Swtndl81

    Totally forgot about Book It!!! Hated Urkel and Family Matters. Found him to be annoying. LOVED Boy Meets World!!!!

    • Anonymous

      I’m glad that you hate Urkel as I do. But for Boy Meets World, I dislike it mainly for these reasons:

      1. its teenage stereotypes

      2. Topanga’s screams and attitude problems

      3. Corey’s behavior problems

      4. Shawn’s rebelliousness

      5. other inappropriate content

  • Alecia Murphy

    Book it! was awesome! I think Urkel is someone you hate to love, but I wish there were more characters and shows like him now.

    • Anonymous

      Of course, Steve’s someone I hate to love. But why would you want there to be more shows like Family Matters and characters like him? Those should never happen. Besides, one Family Matters is enough just as one Steve Urkel is bad enough.

      if there are more Urkels out there, they’d drive non-Urkels and anti-Urkels crazy.

  • what???

    It was a good show, but he was the standout performer. I loved him until the writing got ridiculous with the tranformation chamber, but I watched until the end. Myra wasn’t a skank, she, unlike Laura, always loved Steve the way he was, not when he transformed into the phony Stephan Urquelle.

    • Anonymous

      I agree with what you posted.

  • srw

    He initially irritated me, until I was in college. My friends and I tutored kids in the local community and the majority kids(I’m Black), mentioned that they didn’t think favorably of Black men until they saw Steve Urkel, a smart nerd, on television. I was amazed.

  • Pop Tarts Jen

    My parents and I were just talking about “Family Matters” a couple weeks ago. What a great show! And of course I loved Steve Urkel! I can’t believe anybody didn’t.

    • Anonymous

      Why do you care if anyone doesn’t love Steve? Nobody has to. Besides, all people have the right to hate him.

  • allie

    urkel irritated me at first as well, but it was funny to watch him and the dad. and i loved when urkel guest starred on full house.

    • Anonymous

      If you think that Steve’s funny to watch with Carl, then you try experiencing every bad thin that that Winslow man did with that Urkel guy. Maybe then, you wouldn’t think of Steve as funny.

  • kelly

    I loved all the Disney World episodes. Yes, it was obvious cross-promotion, but it was fun to see the characters on vacation at my favorite place in the world.

    • Anonymous

      Ah yes, I remember those episodes. They’re my brother’s favorite Family Matter ones for the same reason that the Disney World episodes of Full House, Roseanne, and Boy Meets World are my his favorite episodes of those shows. And that reason is his love for the Disney company.

  • PDDB

    There are probably only a few viewers who would not know who “Steve Urkel” is. Jaleel White, the actor who played him, helped create a unique character on television. Sure, Jaleel played him broadly, annoyingly and sweetly – a tricky combination. But he did this successfully. Not many actors can claim this. And add to this that the role was a black smart nerd which proved to be popular among a wide range of television viewers, regardless of race, makes this even more amazing. Whether you love Urkel or hate him, you need to appreciate his place as one of the most memorable characters in television history.

    • what???

      Well said.

      • PDDB

        Thank you!
        Has anyone seen Jaleel White in the new Cee-Lo Green video “Cry Baby”? It looked like Jaleel was having a lot of fun.

  • Lolita

    Urkel was hilarious! Loved whenever he stood up to a bully and made sarcastic smart remarks. Urkel and Carl were the best together. Does anybody remember the Urkel dance? :^)

    • Anonymous

      You’re deluded for thinkin’ that Steve’s hilarious and that both he an’ Carl were the best together. Did you not see how much of a hellish life Urkel made for Mr. Winslow?

      I know that Steve did more than one good thing just as I know that he means well. But that doesn’t change the fact that caused much trouble throughout the series with his destructive and intrusive behavior. Hell, I’ve dealt with people like him before and I hate it.

      One of the things that I hate about Steve’s his extroversion because a number of extroverts have antagonized me for many times. And so, I favor introverts over extroverts, especially since there are people who are biased introverts.

      If you think that Steve and Carl are the best together, then you try letting some guy like Steve invade your life constantly and ruin it with destructiveness. And if make that decision but suffer the consequences for it, then don’t blame me.

  • Annie

    I liked Steve at first, but than the show began to revolve around him too much. Also, I noticed by the time Steve was a teenager and young adult, those pants were getting too tight. Did love his “Nutty Professor” inspired alter. I liked his ego Stefan Urkquelle, it gave Jaleel a chance to look like himself for a change.

    • Anonymous

      I’m glad that you don’t like Steve anymore. But you’re right that the Nutty Professor movies that have the actor who’s known as Eddie Murphy in them are similar to him.

      if you ask me, I prefer Sherman Klump of the Nutty Professor features to that Urkel guy because I can handle him better.

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