‘Married… With Children’: Christina Applegate Wasn’t the Original Kelly Bundy

There are so many different styles of comedy shows on TV today, but back in the 80s and 90s, very few seemed to challenge the status quo. One show that did was the Fox sitcom Married…With Children.

The show pushed the envelope and is today thought of as a groundbreaking sitcom that went against what most sitcoms were doing in terms of humor at the time.

The show was buoyed by its strong writing and its excellent cast. What you may not know is that in the pilot, one of the show’s cast was played by someone different from in the rest of the series. Let’s take a closer look at what character that was and who originally played them. 

‘Married…With Children’ pushed boundaries before other sitcoms did

Married…With Children starred Ed O’Neill in the role of Al Bundy. Al is a shoe salesman that generally doesn’t like his wife, life, or kids. His claim to fame is scoring four touchdowns as a star football player at Polk High, a constant pathetic reminder that his glory days are well behind him. Al’s wife, Peg, constantly nags him, and he reciprocates the poor treatment. 

What made the show stand out was the fact that it was so cynical. Whereas other sitcoms had wholesome lessons to be learned, this one didn’t teach you anything. It was funny for the sake of being funny. You weren’t supposed to relate to the characters (and if you did, you may have had issues).

The show was like a funhouse mirror version of the classic sitcom. Rather than portray an idyllic American family with a Mom, Dad, brother, sister, and dog, it showed people with tons of flaws and played on them for laughs. In a weird way, it was more relatable than many sitcoms. It was certainly popular, as it enjoyed a long run on network TV. 

Who played Kelly Bundy? 

RELATED: ‘Married With Children’: Which ‘Bundy’ Has the Highest Net Worth Today?

The Bundy children were Bud and Kelly. Kelly was known for her lack of intellect and her ability to attract other boys her age. Kelly’s low intelligence was a constant source of humor for the show – the stereotype of the “dumb blonde” was in full effect here. Kelly was played by Christina Applegate. Applegate’s performance as Kelly helped round out the show’s ensemble. 

Applegate has had a successful career after her time on the show. She has appeared in multiple films and TV shows, most famously as Veronica Corningstone in Anchorman and Anchorman II. There, she showcased her ability to play a much more intelligent character. 

It’s impossible to imagine the show without Applegate’s performance as Kelly. Along with O’Neill’s Al, David Faustino’s Bud, and Katey Sagal’s Peg, they created the perfect foursome. But what many fans may not realize is that Applegate was not the original pick for Kelly. 

The original Kelly Bundy was not Christina Applegate

Christina Applegate
Christina Applegate | Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images for Turner

It seems like every cast member of the show was so strong in their role, but they weren’t all there to begin with. According to Mental Floss, actor Tina Caspary played Kelly in the pilot. The scenes were reshot before the pilot made it to air, and viewers saw Applegate in the role when it did. 

How different would the show have been without Applegate? It’s impossible to say, but it’s difficult to picture a series as strong without Applegate’s excellent comedic timing. Conversely, Applegate’s career was very much launched with this show. She’s a very talented actor, but who knows when he would have gotten her next big break without this part? 

With all due respect to Caspary, Applegate was perfect for Kelly, and it probably worked out for the best with her in the role.