1. Steven Quincy Urkel — Jaleel White
Everyone’s favorite suspender-sporting, accordion-playing, polka-loving, DNA-altering, snorting, clumsy, genius hopeless romantic from next door, Steven Q. Urkel was television’s most famous nerd of the ’90s (sorry, Screech). He continued to serve as a reminder that we used to actually look forward to Friday night television. After spending nearly a decade scientifically pestering his way into Laura Winslow’s and our collective hearts, Jaleel White encountered the typical struggles of many child stars. White has struggled to break free of his iconic role, playing tiny parts in random TV shows such as House, Psych, and NCIS over the years. White appeared on Season 14 of Dancing with the Stars, lasting until Week 7. He can currently be seen hosting Syfy game show Total Blackout.
2. Laura Lee Winslow — Kellie Shanygne Williams
When she wasn’t busy fending off Steve Urkel’s romantic advances, Laura was the ideal daughter, pretty, well-behaved, and an excellent student. However, she generally had pretty awful taste in men — and rarely appreciated Steve’s undying loyalty. So basically she was a total bitch. But over the course of the show, Urkel’s exhausting persistence wore her down. They even got engaged during the show’s final season. Since the finale, Kellie Shanygne Williams has stayed busy in the entertainment industry with small guest roles in TV shows, but she seems to have put most of her focus on her family life.
3. Carl Otis Winslow — Reginald VelJohnson
The hardworking, honest, caring father was the moral center of the show. He took pride in his family, his house, and his work at the Chicago Police Department. The patriarch of the Winslow family was also a constant foil to Urkel’s antics. Over the course of the show he hated, pitied, and — like everyone else — grew to love Steve Urkel. Most actors hate being pigeonholed as one type of character, but I’ll be damned if someone can find me a better police officer than Reginald VelJohnson. In addition to starring in Family Matters, he’s played a man with a badge in Ghostbusters, Plain Clothes, Die Hard, Turner and Hooch, and Die Hard 2. He can currently be seen on the CW show Hart of Dixie.
4. Harriette Winslow — JoMarie Payton
Harriette is the reason Family Matters ever came into existence. After appearing as an elevator operator at the Chicago Chronicle on the show Perfect Strangers, JoMarie Payton’s character became so popular that a spin-off centered around the Winslow family was born. Harriette’s frank and loving relationship with Carl was one of the constants throughout the show’s tenure. Payton left the show before its final season and has found consistent work as side characters in TV shows since then, including a multiple-episode arc on Will and Grace as well as the voice of Suga Mama on The Proud Family.
5. Edward James Arthur Winslow — Darius McCrary
Eddie was the typical troublemaking, not-so-smart jock with a constantly rotating group of girlfriends. The eldest Winslow sibling, too-cool-for-school Eddie also became Urkel’s best friend over the course of the series, relying on his geeky neighbor next door to bail him out of tight situations from time to time. Since Family Matters, McCrary has recently starred in The Young and the Restless as well as provided the voice of Jazz in Transformers.
6. Judy Winslow — Jaimee Foxworth
When the show originally began, it was meant to be centered around the Winslow family. In fact, Steve Urkel’s character didn’t appear until midway through the first season. Urkel quickly became the star of the show, leaving less and less room to develop Judy Winslow’s plotlines. So without explanation, Judy one day went upstairs and never returned. After 70 episodes, her character was never mentioned again. Foxworth’s career took an interesting path after vanishing from the Winslow house: She resurfaced in the 2000 film Booty Talk 20: Super Fine Sistas! under her porn name, Crave. Over the next two years she appeared in six more adult films. Soon after she made the rounds on TV shows like 20/20, Oprah, and Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, detailing her bouts with depression and substance abuse.
7. Estelle Winslow — Rosetta LeNoire
Carl Winslow’s mother was wise, sweet, and unendingly protective of her family. She was also the only member of the Winslow household to love Steve Urkel without qualms or hesitancy. With the exception of one appearance on The Cosby Show, Family Matters’ Estelle was Rosetta LeNoire’s final role before she died from complications of diabetes at the age of 90.
8. Rachel Crawford — Telma Hopkins
Harriette’s widowed younger sister moved into the seemingly endless Winslow home with her son Richie soon after her husband died. Her hamburger joint and teen hangout, Rachel’s Place, was accidently burned down by Steve Urkel. Telma Hopkins went on to star in the UPN show Half and Half and appear in the Mike Myers flop The Love Guru. She was most recently seen in the TBS series Are We There Yet.
9. Waldo Geraldo Faldo — Shawn Harrison
Eddie’s goofy and dim-witted best friend may have lacked common sense, but he made up for it with his culinary mastery. Shawn Harrison’s recurring character was one of the most lovable in the show’s tenure. Harrison went on to score a role on the UPN comedy Girlfriends and can be seen in several commercials, such as McDonald’s “Barber Shop.”
10. Myra Boutros Boutros Monkhouse — Michelle Thomas
Myra was Urkel’s overly attached girlfriend who constantly pleaded for his love while he pined after Laura. Basically, Myra was to Urkel what Urkel was to Laura. Myra’s immense love for Steve was never fully requited. Like many other Family Matters stars, Michelle Thomas went on to act on the soap opera The Young and the Restless; however, she tragically passed away from a rare form of stomach cancer at the age of 30.
11. Maxine Johnson — Cherie Johnson
Maxine was Laura’s shallow and materialistic best friend whose character does a complete 180-degree turn and starts dating Waldo. The former Punky Brewster star hasn’t done much television since Family Matters, but she has appeared in a bunch of lesser-known films in the years since. She also has written multiple novels. According to her Wikipedia page, “She is currently looking out for Dr. Dre’s upcoming album Detox.”
12. Richie Crawford — Bryton James
Rachel’s son Little Richie was best known for having television’s most incredible (and possibly only) Jheri curl of the ’90s. Richie was Urkel’s biggest fan, even going as far as referring to him as “Uncle Steve.” Unfortunately Bryton James eventually got rid of the Jheri curl, and he went on to star in The Young and the Restless as well as The Vampire Diaries.
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