"Funny, I'm a shoe salesman, yet I'm not happy to come home."—Al Bundy
Al Bundy (played by Ed O'Neill) is the husband of Peggy Bundy, father of Kelly and Bud Bundy, and long term women's shoe salesman at Gary's Shoes. Al is known to frequently tell tales of his high school football days, most notably the time he scored four touchdowns in a single game for the 1966 Chicago All City Championship Game; and blaming the outcome of his life on his wife and the Bundy Curse. Al Bundy is also notable for being the founder of NO MA'AM, an anti-feminist organization after he loses his parking spot, and when the local nudie bar was turned into a Coffee House. Al is also notable for his 1971 Dodge, which he has been paying for, for years, never quite owning it outright. The Dodge is said to be a 1971 model; however, in "Episode:Requiem For a Chevyweight (Part I)" Al is shown to have had the Dodge since high school, which he graduated from in the late 60s...
As the series went on, Al would say how his childhood was very ideal, unlike now as he would actually eat dinner. Al had a strong relationship with his father and its shown that he cherishes the memories of him and his father together, as well as the things he inherited from him, such as the hammer that was used to build a private room in "If Al Had a Hammer" or the collection of Playboys his dad left him in Desperately Seeking Miss October. Its also implied that his mother may have been an alcoholic, with Al telling Steve Rhodes in Desperately Seeking Miss October that she would get drunk off of Singapore Slings and then pass out, allowing him and his father to sneak into the basement and look his collection of Playboys, sharing a special father-son moment. However, Al still cared for his mother and wanted her to get better.
In Grime and Punishment, after Bud successfully blackmails Al for being a slumlord, Al reminisces about his father, referring to him as a "sweet guy" who sold Al's Schwinn bicycle "for the price of a drink". He then got revenge on his father by enlisting him in the U.S. Army and getting him sent off to fight in the Korean war. Al then says that by the time his dad returned from the war, he was traumatized and left wheelchair bound, only able to communicate by blinking. But, deep down, Al knew his dad was proud of him for carrying on the Bundy tradition of getting mad AND getting even, and now Al was proud of Bud for carrying on the tradition.
In Requiem for a Chevyweight Part I, Al has a flashback where he and his dad work on the Dodge that he just bought and then mentions that he's going out with the "grooviest chick in school" named Peggy Wanker to see the Rolling Stones perform. His dad warns him to not let her get her hooks into him, but Al doesn't seem to care for the advice, claiming that she worships the ground he walks on and listens to him.
After his father's death, Al reminisces about him from time to time and still tries to talk to him, even seeing him as a ghost in his living room in Desperately Seeking Miss October and hearing his voice from the afterlife when he's about to tear down his room in If Al Had A Hammer.
Likewise, in the early seasons, Al would think about conversation he had with his mother when he was younger, before realizing how much of a drunk she was. In A Three Job, No Income Family , as Al contemplates eating a toothpaste sandwich, he thinks back to when he was a child and told his mom that he wanted to become the President of the United States. She reassured him that he could be President someday, only for his adult self to say "Yeah, right mom. Trying saying that when you're sober." In The Agony of DeFeet, he thinks about how his mother convinced him to take a job at the shoe store, as it is clear he doesn't want to. She tells him that it is just a stepping stone on his career path and he can eventually become the president of his own company. He thanks her and offers her a Bloody Mary drink while she tells him to rub her feet, causing him to shiver and hold himself as he sees what his life has now turned into.
Al had no siblings making him an only child, though he seems to have a few cousins and a couple of aunts and uncles.
As a child, Al had frequented a library but rarely returned books on time, and constantly battled the librarian, Miss DeGroot who belittled him as much as he did her. To try and teach him a lesson, Miss DeGroot agreed to let Al check out one more book, specifically, The Little Engine that Could, which Al in turn, held onto for thirty years before he attempted to return the book unnoticed to avoid paying fines. ("MWC: "He Thought He Could"")
He attended James K. Polk High School and was considered a top athlete, playing fullback for the football team and earning the nickname "Touchdown Bundy". His jersey number was 33. His greatest achievement in high school was scoring four touchdowns in a single game against Andrew Johnson High at the High School City Championship in 1966. He also scored the most touchdowns in one season for the team, making him the MVP that same year. He boasted to Aaron Mitchell that he never played halftime, as the team would be too far ahead whenever he played. It is mentioned that at one game, Al knocked out the coach after he suggested they quit for being behind by 3 touchdowns, with Al telling his team that he is not a quitter and to give him the ball and get out of his way.
In Al...with Kelly, he mentions that he was offered scholarships by various junior colleges and would have made something of his life if he did go, but Peg ruined his opportunity. In the episode, "Scared Single", its revealed that he had drilled four holes into the girl's locker room and joked that he didn't even think women had heads for years. In the same episode, he reveals that he actually had a scholarship to play college football, but broke his leg after being tackled. In Al Goes Deep, he confirms the story about a tackle ending his football career, adding that it was Peggy's fault as she had distracted him during the game by shouting at him, even though he had told her not to do it anymore numerous times. In The Proposition, he mentions that he would have gone professional but ended up with "...a bum knee and an even bummer wife."
It is implied that he had many women during his high school years, due to him being on the football team. He claimed that his jersey number, 33, was about "how many women deep the line was to ride the Wild Bundy!" in Teacher Pets. Some of the women have been:
- Marilyn Beamis
- Connie Bender
- Sandy Jorgenson
- Helen Granowinner (Coco)
- Marylin O'Brien (nee Fisher)
- (Sister) Mary Ignacious
At some point, he ended up meeting Margret "Peggy" Wanker and, from there, his luck seemed to go downhill.In the episode, Married...With Prom Queen, its revealed that in high school, he had a rival named Jack, a fellow athlete who always tried to outdo Al in just about everything and split the school down the middle. On graduation day, they were planning to finally settle things by fighting in the school yard until one was the winner. But, this was cancelled, as Al decided to take a $10 bet from a classmate to jump a Mustang going 50 MPH, but missed by 2 inches. They eventually get the chance to settle the dispute at their 20 year high school reunion with Al defeating Jack (although Al implies that he's seriously injured while dancing with Peg in the spotlight at the end of the episode).
When Al was in high school his mother convinced him to take up a job as a women's shoe salesman, as a temporary job during the summer so he could also pay for the Dodge. But later on after he got married and Kelly was born, he was still stuck selling shoes and couldn't find the time to quit.
In "Breaking Up is Easy To Do, Part III", Al mentions that the very first time that he and Peggy had a fight when they were dating was in his Dodge near a maple tree on Maple Lane. He uses the same spot and the same car nearly 30 years later to make up with her again after he moved out.
In various episodes, its implied that Al was forced into marrying Peg at some point after high school. In "Master the Possibilities", Al says that if Peggy's dad didn't lace his lemonade with vermouth, he might still be single. In "Old Insurance Dodge", Peg points out that Al tried to get out of the wedding that day by putting iodine on his face and pretended that he had chickenpox. In "Married...with Aliens", Al mentions that on their wedding day, she had a couple of her uncles hit him in the knees with a baseball bat and then threw him into the trunk of their car to get him to the wedding. In other episodes, such "Go for the Old", he attempted use his athletic ability to dash out of the church only to be knocked out by one of Peggy's uncles with the butt of his shotgun and then dragged back as he made it to the exit. In "The Joke's On Al", Ephraim Wanker indicated that he had pointed a shotgun at Al to make sure he married Peg on their wedding day and was doing it again when they renewed their marriage vows. He also indicated in numerous episodes, such as Her Cups Runneth Over that he was dead drunk when he married Peg. Besides the Wankers, Al's family also attended their wedding, with Al's father trying to flirt with Peg at the reception, telling her "If you like my son, I'm twice as fun"
Al often gives the appearance and the opinion that he cannot stand his family, often making degrading and insulting remarks to them, and threatening physical violence against his wife, Peggy Bundy and his son, Bud Bundy. It has been proven however, on many occasions that he does in fact love and care for his family, and will at times intentionally sacrifice his chance at happiness and success for them.
Al and Peggy met while the two were in high school, and it has been suggested many times that Al was willingly intimate with her and often took her on dates. However, Al has often said that Peggy had an annoying habit of trying to get his attention during the football games while he was on the field, and that on several occasions, injuries were the result. Al also insist that his marriage to Peggy was not entirely willful, something her father, Ephraim Wanker proved true when he drunken mentioned he had once held a shotgun upon Al to force his marriage to Peggy. This was proven when he once more held a shotgun to Al's head to get him to remarry Peggy, the joke being on Al since the gun was never loaded the first time.
Peggy has implied in multiple episodes that he has a small penis and suffers from premature ejaculation, claiming that he tends to last less than a minute during sex. It has even made him the joke of the neighborhood in "'Til Death Do Us Part", to the point where his name is associated with anything that can be done quickly. In addition, she has stated that she used shower heads and vibrators to satisfy her sexual needs after Al's failure. However, in that same episode, he redeems himself by traiming and giving her a satisfied sexual encounter.
Despite his shortcomings, she is often willing to have sex with him, much to his dismay. He is typical forced into have sex with her, usually because she is suddenly turned on by something when he least expects it. Though in some cases, he ends up being tricked into having sex with her in order to get something he needs (such as the TV remote in Kelly Bounces Back, a cash prize in Nooner or Later, and food in What I Did for Love). In turn, he is often shown screaming in horror as she drags him away to the bedroom or mounts him as he desperately calls out to the kids to save him. Though in rare instances, he is willing to initiate sex with her, such as "Hot off the Grill" and "The Stepford Peg", when seeing her getting dirty while doing housework is a big turn on for him.
Aside from the intimacy issues, Al has often complained about her laziness. He always complains about how she never cooks or cleans for him and is usually found sitting on the couch upon coming home from the store store. He also takes issue with her spending and taking his money, often leaving him with nothing.
He has however shown he loves Peggy, albeit rarely. After all, in spite of everything he goes through with her he has not divorced her, whether this means he cares for her or he just fears her family is not determined. It is hinted that Al does have a weak morality, as he cannot bring himself to commit adultery in the rare cases he is tempted but doesn't. At times, he will engage in sex with her willing when he is aroused by her or sleeping with her since he can't bring himself to cheat.
Also, when tensions rise to the point that Al and Peg have a separation, Al admits he "kind of likes" Peg and his children.
Al seems to value his daughter, Kelly who he usually calls "Pumpkin", even though he seems to wonder just how dumb she can really be almost every time he sees her in every episode. He also seems to either pretend that his daughter isn't promiscuous or just doesn't get the fact that she is, but he is always quick to punch and throw out any boy she brings home, unless he can find a way to exploit him for his own gain. There have been times when he has been mad at her, like in the episode, "Calendar Girl", when he found out that she ate his last Hershey's Kiss and as punishment, put her in the Bundy Will, meaning she will now be stuck with all his debts, to which she screams out "No! Daddy! NOOOO!!!" or in "The Gas Station Show", when he chokes her for leaving the car brakes on when the rest of the family had to push the car to the gas station. Other times, he jokes about her stupidity with Bud, or tries to tease her, such as in "Scared Single", when Kelly became catatonic after being stung by poisonous insects, joking that its cute that he "used to call her pumpkin, and now she is one" after she becomes unresponsive to his call.
But overall, it is shown that he truly loves his daughter and will do his fatherly duty to protect her from harm and make her happy. This was seen when he beat up her ex-boyfriend at her request.
As the next male heir in the Bundy family, Al seems to value his son for his intelligence more than his athletic ability or his skill with women, both of which he seems to lack in comparison to his father. Both of them seem to have similar interests, such as going to the nudie bar, doing a panty raid and reading Big'Uns or Playboy and on some occasions, even participate in those activities together. Both of them end up getting a job they hate that involves dealing with people (Al with the shoe store and Bud working for the DMV in the later seasons) But unlike Al and the rest of the family, he does manage to go to and graduate from college and has been known to use his higher level of intelligence to blackmail his father.
Though, most notably in the early season, he would often snitch to Al about Kelly's failing grades or her whereabouts at night, believing that Al was the man of the house and as men, they would need to stick together. Still, Al is usually willing to show he'll discipline him by threatening to give him "Five across the eyes" (in other words, slapping him across the face with the back of his hand) whenever he's done something enough to upset him.
Al has said that he wanted someone with more athletic ability, like Aaron Mitchell or with better business skill, like Little Floyd, to be the son he always wanted. On the other hand, Bud has sometimes said he isn't related to Al in order to avoid being embarrassed by him, stating that he's actually adopted or Al is just some random guy he just happens to know. Also, unlike his father, he seems lack the ability to get as many women as Al did back in high school, often making him the butt of jokes and Al even tells Jefferson that he'll never be able to pass on the Bundy name at the rate he is going. Though, his chances of meeting women did improve during his college years and Bud will use his intelligence to make up for his lack of sex appeal and hatch up a plan in order to get girls, such as creating a fake persona (Grandmaster B), go skydiving, creating a fraternity or going on a game show, though in the end, many of his plans didn't work out.
Still, there have been plenty of moments when Al has been proud of him, such as when he gets into his first bar fight at the nudie bar, when he learns to run a lemonade stand in the middle of winter, when he was chosen to go to the White House or when he successfully blackmailed Al by getting him placed under house arrest and then tortured by Marcy, Kelly and Peggy.
Overall, it is shown that Al is proud of Bud for being intelligent and doing something more with his life.
Steve was Al's neighbor and for a time his only real friend. Though Steve initially condescends to the Bundys, due to his materialistic and refined background, he becomes more like them over the years. Al included Steve in some of his activities, such as when Al had told him about an attractive repairwoman. At first, Steve asked him " You made me drop everything for this?!" and when a chastened Al replies in the affirmative, Steve then lightens up and says "Thanks, Al!" and the two drink beer while leering at her together.
Another example is when Steve stops by Al's workplace and suggest they do something together that's cultural and refined, such as going to the museum or an opera. Just then Brandi Brandt walks in, causing him to scream out "Hooter Alert!" to bring Al out of the stockroom.
Another show of his care for Steve is seen, when Al refused to cash in on a large reward for handing over a fugitive Steve to the FBI. Al hides him even stopping his wife from alerting the cops, showing that he truly did value Steve as a genuine friend.
Al and Marcy do not get along. Marcy holds neo-feminist values while Al feels that a woman's place is in the home, making dinner for her working husband (which he, comically, doesn't get in his own household). Through the years, Marcy and Al have had battles to try and one-up the other. One highlight of the constant struggle between Al and Marcy is the episode "NO MA'AM"; in which Al starts an anti-feminist group in order to fight, what he feels, is the growing number of people and places that support ideas like those of Marcy. The Jiggly Room is turned into a coffee house and his usual bowling night is replaced by Ladies' Night at the local bowling alley. All this proves to be too much for Al and he, and his associates, hold 'The Masculine Feminist' Jerry Springer hostage. Marcy shows up and reveals Al's identity to the world and has him arrested.
Despite all these incidents between Al and Marcy, there is a strange sort of affection that Al feels for Marcy. When she's really low, he has been there to help her, such as when her aunt Tuney died and he tried to cheer up, by offering her a Bundy Burger and saying that even though her aunt has passed on, that she is there in spirit with them.
And, despite all the snarky comments Marcy makes to Al, she has even been attracted to him on a few occasions, a good example being the episode, "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?" when he changes his fashion and attitude.
Al and Marcy have also found commonality on the fact that they are the main breadwinners, and occasionally express resentment to each other to support loafing spouses.
Al initially did not take well to him, considering him to be an idiot especially because he married Marcy. However, he slowly accepted him since he often fell into funny situations with her or unintentionally humiliated her. Jefferson soon became Al's closest friend, something that often angers Marcy when he is bonding with him; unlike Steve who was more of a foil, or straight man, to Al, Jefferson tends to be very encouraging and attuned to Al's behavior.
- Throughout most of the show, Al wore the same light blue dress shirt, reddish-brown tie and blue-grey dress pants to work (or a very minor variation of it). In Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?, he starts to fully dress up in a black suit and white pinstriped shirt with black suspenders for a while, before realizing that he really doesn't need to dress up anymore. In the last few seasons, it was shown that he wore other shirts to work briefly (such as a green dress shirt with a red tie and brown slacks), but eventually went back to his original fashion.
- His favorite food is Weenie Tots, claiming that they're "nature's perfect food". He even becomes excited when he has a chance to see the Weenie Tots factory in Weenie Tot Lovers & Other Strangers and when he's about to become the father-in-law of Lionel Tot, one of the heirs to Tot Industries (makers of Weenie Tots).
- Another favorite food of his is pizza. He specifically prefers pizza with extra cheese, but claims women never remember to order it like that for him. He has even mentioned that if he was not married, his life would revolve around prostitutes and pizza in Frat Chance and Old MacBundy Had a Farm.
- His favorite show is "Psycho Dad".
- His favorite movie is "Hondo" , though he missed it when it is shown on TV because of Peggy's family in season 2's "All in the Family" or when he was stuck inside a store in "Assault and Batteries". Al holds the film in very high esteem, once telling Peggy's family members, "Your lives are meaningless compared to 'Hondo'!".
- Another favorite movie of his is "Shane" , which he had also missed when it was on TV because of Peggy's family.
- He was once (during a dream sequence involving Pamela Anderson) called "Al Hercules Bundy!", but it is not confirmed if that is really his middle name.
- His hobbies include fishing and bowling, which have been a major theme in a number of episodes.
- He, along with Bud, enjoys reading Big'Uns magazine, though in the early seasons, he specifically mentions reading Playboy, stating that he started collecting them with his dad at the age of 12 and even meets Playmate Brandi Brandt at his shoe store in "Desperately Seeking Miss October".
- In "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?", its revealed that Al wears white Hanes underwear, size 34
- His favorite toilet is a Ferguson, referring to it as "the Stradivarius of toilets" while his favorite toilet paper is "Aurora White"
- When Al is excited about something, he sometimes performs the duckwalk, made famous by musician Chuck Berry, where he hops on one leg while strumming an imaginary guitar. This can be seen in various episodes, such as The Godfather.
- In Rites of Passage, Al mentions that his father took him to the Nudie Bar when he turned 18, just as his father's father Jebidah Bundy did for him and now Al was going to take Bud there, claiming that "throughout history, all male Bundys and looking at hooters that don't belong to them go hand in hand"
- His favorite songs are "Anna (Go to Him) " by Arthur Alexander, which was the song he struggled to find the name of in the episode, "Oldies But Young 'Uns" and "Duke of Earl" by Gene Chandler.
- His least favorite song is "Honey (I Miss You)" by Bobby Goldsboro, which Peggy points out in season 1's "Thinnergy" and uses it to torture him. Al makes reference to the song again in season 5's "Oldies But Young 'Uns", referring to it as "Bobby Goldsboro's musical sphincter lock known as "Honey"".
- He was named 'Rookie Shoe Salesman of the Year' in 1968.
- Al is shown to have exceptional fighting skills as he managed to beat up a lot of people in the series and lose none. This is contributed to the fact that Ed O'Neil is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
- When Al is shocked at something he has seen, he often uses the phrases "Great Caesar's Ghost!" or "Gadzooks!"
- Al mentions that he had been deported to Mexico due to Peggy stealing his wallet and leaving him without any picture I.D. in "Mr. Empty Pants".
Al Bundy appears in every single episode of the show.