A Fairly Exhaustive Ranking Of The Most Athletic ’90s TV Characters

A.C. Slater, Otto Rocket, Al Bundy, Chalky Studebaker…they’re all here.

Almost every sitcom and kids’ show eventually includes a big-sports-moment plot or a stereotypical athletic character. Sometimes it’s just for a single episode or a part of a recurring gag, while other times it’s the defining characteristic of a cast member. But which made-up athlete was the best made-up athlete? Here’s one set of rankings.

Honorable Mention:

Steve Urkel — Family Matters

Urkel was sneaky good at basketball and we’ll likely never know how good of an athlete he could have been had he been given a spot on the roster, instead of a position as team manager. The only thing we know for sure is that when everyone else went out with injuries (pictured above) Steve was clutch.

Grandma “Pookie” Gertrude — Hey Arnold!

Nickelodeon Animation Studios

A lot of people think Gerald was the most athletic character from Hey Arnold!, but Grandma is clearly better. If she can skate and shoot like this at her age, just imagine how great she must have been in her prime.

12. Brad Taylor — Home Improvement

Touchstone Television

As a senior in high school, Brad was offered a spot on the Birmingham Chubbs English soccer team. However, after showcasing his talent in front of a UCLA scout, he turned down the professional offer in favor of a college scholarship to play soccer for the Bruins. But, come on, that goal is nowhere near regulation size, so we can only assume that the scout was super high that day. Also, Brad is not that great at soccer.

11. Will Smith — Fresh Prince

On a shrunken basketball court, Will was unstoppable. In fact, he was so good that he once caught the tip-off and swished it from half-court — a move that has never been done before on any level ever. And for that, we give him mad props. Unfortunately, those athletic skills did not transfer over to other sports, like the times he tried billiards, golf, bowling or skiing, for example, and that’s why we can’t move him any lower on this list.

10. Al Bundy — Married with Children


Al Bundy scored four touchdowns in one game for Polk High in the Chicago City Championship, earning him All City honors back in ‘66. It was apparently such a great achievement that people still talk about it to this day and the school named the football field after him. Way to go, Al.

9. The Power Rangers — Mighty Morphin Power Rangers

Do you know how hard it is to do a backflip? Like, so hard. And every Power Ranger could do it. Except for maybe Billy. But he was always a little special. Anyway, the Power Rangers were martial arts experts, their athletic skills evident from the very beginning.

8. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Everything athletic about the power rangers can be applied to the ninja turtles, except the TMNT had no weak link a la Billy the Blue Ranger. I mean, just look at how effortlessly Michelangelo leapfrogs Shredder. And I can’t even imagine how far Donatello backflipped outta there. LOL Shredder, you got played.

7. Mark Cooper — Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper

Mark Cooper made it all the way to the NBA. In his first game with the Golden State Warriors, he got manhandled by Charles Barkley and missed every single shot. But in his second game, his defense improved and he nailed the game-winning jumper over Sir Charles. (See the legitimately impressive basketball scene above.) Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to convince the coach to keep him on the roster and he was cut after two games. Still, though, he made it to the highest level.

6. Chalky Studebaker — Doug

Chalky Studebaker is an all-around athlete who excels in everything that he does. He has tons of potential in sports, but his other extra-curricular activities take up free time that could be spent honing his athletic skills. The trumpet won’t help you win the Super Bowl, Chalky!

5. Vince LaSalle — Recess

Walt Disney Television

Vince is a playground legend. He pretty much dominates every sport imaginable and he can apparently balance several spinning balls at once. He’s also cool under pressure, rarely intimidated, and able to rally everyone around him. He’s a classic case of someone who was just born with good genes. Also, his look is, just, really cool.

4. Albert Clifford “A.C.” Slater — Saved by the Bell

A.C. Slater was allegedly “All-City in four sports,” but there’s no proof to back that up. He was the quarterback for the football team, an accomplished wrestler, a dancing machine, and even skilled in ballet, but last time I checked, dirty dancing at The Max isn’t something you can put on your letterman’s jacket. Sure, he went on to wrestle in college, and improved his overall muscle mass, but that’s not enough to make him the most athletic TV character around.

3. Donnie Stevens — Even Stevens

No one’s really sure about what kind of amazing talent “the great Donnie Stevens” had in high school, but we do know that he “still holds the state record for the 100-yard dash,” has a room full of trophies, and played numerous sports, as evidenced by the mural in the school gym. We are later told that Donnie continued to be successful in athletics as he moved on to college, but once again, no one’s really sure exactly what that means.

2. Oswald “Otto” Roinks — Rocket Power


Man, talk about an athlete with swag. Otto was not only the best athlete in his group of friends (which is saying a lot), but he backed up his big mouth with top performances in surfing, skateboarding, snowboarding, rollerblading, and street hockey. Plus, he was able to pull off the Super McVarial 900 (with a little help from a tennis ball). At 11 years old, he’s basically the closest thing TV had to Bo Jackson. But even he can’t touch the achievements of our winner…

1. Sam “Mayday” Malone — Cheers

Before running the bar known as Cheers, Sam “Mayday” Malone was a relief pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. Sadly, Sam developed an alcohol problem, ending his professional baseball career early, but when we’re first introduced to him (five years out of baseball) he’s still a hometown hero to all of his patrons, as well as a minor celebrity. Based on this, we can assume that Sam played for the Red Sox in the ’70s, likely making him a member of a World Series squad. And that, ladies and gentlemen, makes him the top athlete on this list.

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