When was the last time America fell in love? Our team of crack researchers thinks they have boiled it down to 1989, when the country was introduced to the character of Steven Quincy Urkel on a little show called Family Matters. Originally slated to be a one-off character, Urkel captured the hearts of America, bolstered the ratings of the fledgling show, and eventually became its protagonist. Though the show has been off the air for nearly two decades, the Urkel love is still strong, as evidenced by today’s collection of Steve Urkel tattoos.
Steve Urkel was the seminal television nerd. Before Urkel, nerds were one-note characters, appearing as punchlines to jokes with no real character depth given to them. Even the ‘80s hit film Revenge of the Nerds didn’t make its characters as human as Urkel. This character went a long way in making it ok to be a nerd. Without him, there would be no Big Bang Theory. Actually, if that’s true, fuck Urkel, because that show sucks.
The character was also a catchphrase machine, giving America such hot quips as “Did I do that?”, “Whoa, mama!”, and “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” His inventions and experiments caused endless property damage to the Winslow home, which only endeared him more to all of America. And even though his unrequited love for Laura Winslow just drove him to pursue her harder and harder (not a great life lesson, retrospectively), we loved him for his tenacity.
Urkel was played by Jaleel White, a then-unknown actor who after the show’s end famously said, “If I ever play Urkel again, kill me.” White has been seemingly unable to escape from the shadow left behind by the role. Despite working steadily these last 20 years, nothing – including voicing Sonic the Hedgehog, has come close to bringing him the level of recognition that Urkel did.
The nerdy next door neighbor remains one of the most memorable TV characters of the ‘90s. And, for better or worse, he empowered nerds the world over to be themselves. Some of these people have taken their love to the next, nearly unthinkable level with Steve Urkel tattoos.
Don’t these Urkel tattoos make you miss the glory days of ‘90s TV when there were only five channels? There may never be another character that captures the love of our nation like Urkel simply because there are way too many to keep track of these days.