So I was watching The Big Bang Theory the other night and I thought to myself, “You know what this show is missing? John Ritter.” Maybe it was just because Kaley Cuoco is on the show and they shared the screen on 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter, but I think he would be amazing on TBBT. He could play an ecentric professor who’s actually smarter than Sheldon or Howard’s estranged dad or even Leonard’s super-nerdy dad. I mean, the man was pure comedy gold, he could pretty much play any role on that show if he wanted. Don Knotts once called him the “greatest physical comedian on the planet” (source: ”Biography” John Ritter: In Good Company Air Date: 30 October 2002). That’s high praise.
And then I got to thinking “How long has it been since he died?” A quick Wikipedia check gave me the answer: September 11th, 2003 (as if that day wasn’t terrible enough). Has it really been almost 9 years since we lost one of the funniest and most incredibly genuine people the world has ever known? It was quite unsettling to think about. His death was quite shocking at the time, it caught everyone by surprise. And looking back on it now, I would say it was one of worst losses in the television, film, and comedy industries. In my opinion, things haven’t been the same without him.
The man created one of the funniest and most memorable characters in television history – Jack Tripper– a smooth-talking ladies man with a bit of bumbling idiot mixed in. On Three’s Company, his character lived with two single women and each week they managed to have many goofy misadventures and hijinks while trying to make rent. For eight seasons, the show, as well as Ritter, managed to keep the audience entertained and in stitches each and every week. The character carried over to the less successful Three’s A Crowd, which ended after one season.
After that, he continued producing television comedy magic with Hooperman and Hearts Afire. He made many guest appearances throughout his career as well. The Cosby Show, The Larry Sanders Show, NewsRadio, Wings, Ally McBeal and Scrubs, to name a few. He brought us two hilarious Problem Child movies, Bride of Chucky (not the greatest but still a fun watch), and Bad Santa. He also acted in many dramatic films and television shows such as Touched By An Angel, Stephen King’s IT, Sling Blade, Law and Order: SVU, and Felicity. He even managed to lend his familiarly charming voice to many animated features including Batman Beyond, Fish Police, Clifford the Big Red Dog, and King of the Hill. The man was multi-talented and multi-faceted and one of the true legends of comedy and of the big and small screens. Here’s one of my favorite John Ritter performances:
His last days on television were spent on the comedy series, 8 Simple Rules, starring opposite Katey Sagal, and he hadn’t lost his gift for comedy. The man was still hilarious. Though not as iconic as Jack Tripper, his 8 Simple Rules character, Paul Hennessy, was still made great and unforgettable. He played the part of the embarrassing, overprotective father perfectly and was winning America’s hearts and attention once again. That was until his untimely and unnecessary death in 2003 from an aortic dissection.
Though John Ritter may be gone, he is definitely not forgotten and never will be. Not because of the syndication of Three’s Company and 8 Simple Rules or if Bride of Chucky and IT show up on Netflix, but because he made such an impact on all of entertainment. He left behind a legacy that a world full of fans will admire and enjoy for centuries to come. The world just hasn’t been the same since he died and will never be as funny without him.
John Ritter, I miss you.