YMMV / Family Matters

  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Is Steve Urkel really a genuinely nice, misunderstood guy with No Social Skills, or a Stalker with a Crush who ruins everything in his path? Is it possible that he might suffer from Aspergers Syndrome or Autism (which might explain why he continues to behave so childishly well into his teens)? Or is he just a lonely kid who acts out to get attention and latched on to the only family he thought of as friends?
    • One of the major reasons the Winslows put up with Steveís antics is that he has saved Carlís life so many times. However, while the times he saved the latter's life in his earlier appearances were plausible, they became increasingly less so as time went on to the point where accidents seemed to happen to Carl simply because Steve was there. So is Steve just a nice guy who is always there when you need him or is he a magnificent bastard who takes advantage of the accidents he caused?
    • His eventual romance with Laura. Did it happen out of nowhere due to Steve being an entitled nice guy who badgered Laura until she gave in? Or was there subtle foreshadowing of Laura developing real feelings for him in episodes where would find herself missing him or jealous of his attention to another girl, or moments where she went out of her way to stand up for him at the risk of losing a prom date or her own popularity? Was Steve a selfish jerk who just wanted to claim a pretty girl for his own, or did he genuinely love her but was just too clueless and awkward to express it properly?
    • Despite being an incredibly competent cop, Carl comes across as extremely accident prone. Yet that didnít come about until Steve was introduced. A lot of instances seem to be caused by Steve. For example, despite going camping for years, he forgot to safe guard his food after Steve destroyed the camp site. So is Carl really accident prone or does Steve infuriate him so much that he just canít think straight?
    • Was Myra always a psychotic borderline Stalker with a Crush towards Steve? Or did Steve make her that way due to years of emotional abuse? One does have to look at the fact Steve was very upfront in telling Myra she was his second choice over Laura, and warned her many times the moment Laura showed any feelings for him he would dump her in an instant. That at the fact Steve would constantly hang out at the Winslow house and eventually move in with them which basically put Steve in constantly close contact with her romantic rival, one can hardly blame her for going off the deep end. And, in Myra's defense, she was right, Laura did eventually fall for Steve despite saying she had no feelings for him.
    • Did Steve intend to emotionally abuse Myra, or was he completely clueless as to just how unstable she would turn out to be? Steve isn't the most socially savvy person, he could have taken her behavior for a joke or just typical jealousy, not realizing until it was too late just how much damage he was doing. On the other hand, it's still a pretty dick move to tell your current girlfriend she's just a placeholder until the one you really want comes around, mental stability nonwithstanding.
  • Anvilicious: The show wasn't quite as bad about this as other TGIF sitcoms, but it still had its moments:
    • The anti-bullying episode is one of the more egregious examples. Midway through the episode, it morphs into an anti-gun episode. An interesting thing about the "Save A Life" campaign is that a DJ plays what are supposedly "everybody's favorite rap/hip hop tunes." Do you remember what was popular at the time?
    • The episode where Eddie reveals to his classmates that he's a virgin. The idea that Eddie and Steve would be the only two kids in their high school who have never had sex notwithstanding, are we really supposed to believe their classmates would ridicule them for it? Especially since after this episode, the issue was never mentioned once.
  • Awesome Music: The second ending theme.
  • Base Breaker: Steve. Depending on who you ask, he is either the best thing about the show and elevated it from being just another family sitcom to greater heights than anyone could have dreamed of, or he is an obnoxious creator's pet who ruined the series by taking screentime away from the Winslows, the real main characters. Alternately, there are some who think that he was kind of funny but worked better in small doses.
  • Broken Base: Who Steve should have been with. Those who prefer Myra believe that most nerdy guys would have killed to have a girl like Myra throw herself at them. They didn't like it that Steve continued to woo stuck-up and uninterested Laura who only agreed to date him in the last season. Those who prefer Laura counter that Myra was rather batshit-insane.
  • Captain Obvious Aesop: The Christmas episode, "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Urkel", after Laura tells Steve to get out of her life and her guardian angel shows her what her life would be like if she was a nerd (and essentially traded places with Steve), she realized that yes, nerds have feelings too. Unfortunately, this is flawed due to Laura being justified in her anger at Steve in that episode; he broke a glass vase she bought for her mother due to his clumsiness. Granted, it looks bad to tell someone to get out of your life around Christmas, but still.
  • Creator's Pet: Some fans believed Steve was this over time since he has taken up most of the show and leaving the other Winslows out of the spotlight. Of course, the character was probably the only reason most were watching the show anyway, so it might have been a case of giving the audience what they wanted.
  • Die for Our Ship: Myra for Steve/Laura fans. Laura for Steve/Myra fans.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • Steve was initially meant to be in the show for one episode, but his popularity led to him becoming a recurring character. Eventually, he would end up the star of the show. During the first season, completed episode scripts were rewritten just to include Steve.
    • Eddie's friend Waldo was hugely popular, only to just never show up once they made the channel hop to CBS. Also worth noting is Waldo started out as a delinquent before becoming one of Eddie's best friends.
    • Myra was introduced as a romantic false lead. Much like Steve before her, she charmed the audience and was promoted to the main cast.
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop:
    • For many, Steve's relentless pursuit of Laura and eventually getting engaged to her sounded like "stalk your dream girl long enough, and she'll one day give in." It's definitely a case of Strangled by the Red String.
      • A related example in the final season. Steve opts to change a number of things about himself (like losing his trademark suspenders), but he's not doing so to mature or just try something different. He explicitly does it to get Laura to like him, and it ultimately works. Considering that Steve embodied Be Yourself, it's rather odd to instead see "Give up the things you liked about yourself to woo someone who's repeatedly rejected you because it will totally work." note 
    • At least four episodes dealt with the evils of gambling. Three of them did so quite reasonably. In two episodes, Eddie loses his money to a pool hustler and bookie, respectively, and is threatened ("gambling can leave you broke, and even lead to threats of bodily harm"). In another, Steve wins a watch from Carl's boss in a poker's game that had great sentimental value. He then gives it back to the latter, explaining that he played for fun, and didn't want to take something that meant so much to him ("you can destroy other people by gambling, but in moderation, it's ok"). The fourth example, though, deals with Steve and Eddie going to an illegal casino in which they won $32,000. The casino was clearly both capable, and perfectly willing, to pay them when it was raided by the police ("things are immoral not because they harm you or someone else, but because the state says so").
    • Steve basically bragging that he's still a virgin and revealing that Eddie is too. It's apparently supposed to be a positive message regarding abstinence, but Steve just revealed something that he had no business even knowing.note  And even if he did, he certainly had no business revealing it to a locker room full of people.
    • In one episode, the Winslows hire a maid when they find out they have the money to do so, and the woman they choose happens to be very attractive. For some reason, Harriette says that it's wrong for them to have a good-looking maid, even though she also says she's doing a good job. In the ending, Carl agrees to fire the maid. So the moral of the story is attractive people deserve to be punished for their appearance regardless of whether they've done anything wrong.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: There's a large segment of fans who preferred Myra to be with Steve over Laura. The fact that she ended up being a derailed love interest didn't help matters.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: A lot of fans like to pretend the series ended at Season 8 (if they're more forgiving of the kookiness that took over) around 6-7 (if they're not).
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • Any time Myra (post breakup with Steve) makes any comment about not wanting to live without him. Michelle Thomas (the actress who played Myra) died at the age of 29 from a rare form of stomach cancer.
    • In "Stop, in the Name of Love", while telling Laura that Waldo needs cheering up due to his troubles getting women, Steve states that Waldo's "so sad he could depress Richard Simmons." Flash-forward 22 years to 2014, when reports surfaced that Simmons had been suffering from "paralyzing" depression due to a knee injury that sidelined him from his professional career as an exercise guru and the death of his Dalmatian, Hattie.
  • Growing the Beard: Happened somewhere around the third season, when they figured out how to use Steve without him sticking out like a sore thumb.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: In "Ice Station Winslow", Judy tries to tell Harriette and Rachel about acing a spelling test, but they're too busy making Richie a penguin costume and Judy walks away dejected, with Harriette not even realizing she's left. This and any other instance of Judy feeling forgotten or ignored becomes a lot sadder when Jaimee Foxworth was unceremoniously removed from the series and Judy basically retconned out.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Myrtle Urkel is regarded as odd for wearing vintage clothing from the '50s and '60s, among other things, now with the wide interest in vintage clothing and websites selling such wares, along with the popularity of series like Mad Men or Masters of Sex, Myrtle would be regarded as some sort of fashion plate or be given a job as a model for such websites or a job on the sets of Period Piece films and shows!
    • In the Season 2 episode "The Science Project", Steve builds a real working rocket and Carl comments that he should use it to blast off into space. The two-part series finale has Steve going into space with a couple of other scientists.
  • Ho Yay:
    • Steve's relationships with Carl and Eddie verge on this.
    • Eddie and Waldo's relationship also has hints of it.
    • Les Yay / Foe Yay: At times, Laura and Myra seem to have this.
  • Iconic Character, Forgotten Title: You may remember this as simply The Urkel Show.
  • Informed Wrongness:
    • Pretty much any time one of the other main characters gets mad or annoyed at Steve when he does something stupid or insensitive, even if its Innocently Insensitive. For example, the time Steve accidentally trashed a model ship Carl had worked hard on. True, it was an accident but still, Steve, as usual, forced himself into the Winslow home without their permission. Through his usual lack of respect for their personal space, he ended up destroying a piece of Carl's property, causing Carl to grumble "You know, I really hate that kid." This upset Steve so much that he started sleepwalking into the Winslows home and assaulting Carl out of resentment. And yet, Carl is made to feel like he's the bad guy even though it was Steve who was at fault.
    • Another time, Steve took Carl to court to sue him for accidentally killing Steve's pet stick bug. When asked to take the stand to explain himself, Carl's response was, "Ladies and gentlemen... it was just a stupid bug." Steve himself later takes the stand and simply explains why what Carl did was wrong; Carl said it was simply a bug and Steve, who treasured his friendship both with his pet bug and with Carl, says that he was so upset because Carl did not apologize for having killed his bug. Steve quickly forgave Carl when he sincerely apologized to him shortly thereafter; Carl killing the bug is not what upset him so much, it is that Carl viewed Steve's bug as so insignificant that he did not need to say that he was sorry that angered Steve so much.
    • Laura is made out to be a bitch anytime she (reasonably and justifiably) gets fed up with Steve's constant harassment of her. Not once in the show's tenure did Steve ever apologize for his behavior, but Laura was always made to be the bad person for not reciprocating his feelings.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Myra. She's a clingy jealous girl of the worst kind, becomes increasingly batshit crazy in later years and eventually resorts to breaking the law to keep her hooks in Steve. And yet you can't help but feel sorry for her whenever you're reminded that underneath all the crazy, she really does love him.
  • Memetic Mutation: Steve himself became something of a meme in the early '90s, thanks to recurring references in popular culture. David Letterman in particular made a lot of jokes about "that Urkel kid," which spread to other shows like Animaniacs and The Simpsons.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Willie and Waldo spike Steve's drink, and he almost falls off the ledge of a building. It was brought on by Steve humiliating them. They were later arrested.
  • Nightmare Fuel: That damn Urkel dummy. The episode itself isn't scary, but the dummy is a good example of Uncanny Valley.
  • One-Scene Wonder: In the episode "Christmas is Where the Heart Is", Steve and Carl are stuck on the El train in a power outage on Christmas Eve. Steve tries to get the irked passengers to cheer up by singing the Twelve Days of Christmas. He gets to the final verse and clearly no one else has said a thing except him... then the guy who is passed out drunk wakes up just long enough to belt out a beautiful tenor "Five golden rings" before passing out again.
  • So Uncool, It's a Cool Car: Steve's Isetta.
  • Strangled by the Red String: Steve was in love with Laura from the beginning, despite how she had never given him any hopes that he would win her heart and was even mean to him during the first couple of seasons. And it was clear that she preferred the Jerk Jock type, which was the polar opposite of Steve's nerdy personality. And for a couple of seasons, when Steve had a serious relationship with Myra and he had become friends with Laura, Steve's crush on Laura was almost forgotten about. But then came the 9th and last season, when it seems like the writers suddenly decided that Steve and Laura just had to end up together, despite how they both were in serious relationships with other people...
  • Toy Ship: Richie and Gwendolyn.
  • Unfortunate Implications: Some fans have debated that almost without exception, a majority of white characters on the show have been portrayed as jerks, idiots, criminals, or racists.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Steve, which is what led to his Base Breaker status. During the height of Urkelmania, audiences rooted on Steve's Dogged Nice Guy habits in his effort to woo Laura. In more modern times, this doesn't sit nearly as well with audiences because not only does Laura make it clear much throughout the series that she's not interested, Steve ends up coming off more like a Stalker with a Crush. It also doesn't help that when Myra starts displaying the same habits towards him, it's viewed more in a negative light.
  • Unpopular Popular Character:
    • Steve naturally.
    • Waldo certainly qualifies. Like Steve, although to a much lesser extent, he tends to annoy nearly everyone on the show, even Steve himself, but he's loved by fans.
    • Myra. A lot of people like her more than Laura, despite her annoying Abhorrent Admirer status on the show.
  • Values Dissonance: Steve's behavior towards Laura. There are times when he practically acts as if they're already together. The dissonance is that Steve is portrayed as the Dogged Nice Guy while Laura is framed as if she were a bitch for not reciprocating his affections. Except that she's incredibly up front that she wants nothing to do with him and never leads him on.
  • Values Resonance: The episode "Good Cop, Bad Cop" still holds water today with the racial profiling and harassment of minorities by law enforcement in United States, especially in regards to police brutality.
  • The Woobie: Steve, even as annoying as he can be, doesn't deserve half of the crap he goes through.

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