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DAR TV: The 9 Greatest Fresh Prince Of Bel Air Characters

By @TrueGodImmortal

The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air is one of the greatest sitcoms in the history of television. We've discussed the best episodes, the best seasons, and the only thing left to really discuss about this show is the characters. The truth be told, there were interesting characters on the show in small quantities, but the regular characters on the show are what made the program so special.  With that being said, which of those characters were the best? I wanted to rank the Fresh Prince characters from worst to best, and yes, I'm splitting up the two Aunt Vivians, as they are day and night. Who ranks in the top 5? Let's take a look.

9. Aunt Vivian (Part 2) 

-Daphne Maxwell-Reid isn't a bad actress by any stretch of the imagination but I would be lying if I didn't admit that she was painful to watch as Aunt Vivian. When the switch occurred without much of a warning, it seemed rather random and it just never worked. While every other character has a moment in the show's history that makes them memorable, she is one of the only characters that misses the mark almost every time.

8. Jazz 

-While DJ Jazzy Jeff was an integral part of the show due to his affinity for Hilary and his friendship with Will, he rarely added much to the show besides a few hilarious moments. Jazz was still a fun character, but there wasn't much depth or story to him. He was the "stupid" friend, getting thrown out of the house by Uncle Phil or brutally rejected by Hilary every time. Jazz was good for a few laughs, but nothing more.

7. Ashley Banks 

-I used to think Ashley had a rather boring character on the show, but for the most part, she was actually a vital piece of the show. Whether it was the angst of growing pains as a teenage girl, meeting and going out with Tevin Campbell, being bullied in school ("just mind your business, just mind your business"), or even pursuing a music career ("Got To Make Up Your Mind" was a jam), Ashley was essential to the show and though she didn't provide the comic relief of her sister and her brother, she had a ton of memorable moments.

6. Hilary Banks 

-I was a huge fan of Hilary. Sure, she was aesthetically pleasing and that's likely why I was a fan, but aside from that, the ditzy And bubbly nature of Hilary made for a hilarious moment every episode. From her time hosting her own show to her repeated rejection of Jazz, all the way to her fatal romance with Trevor, I don't think there was any woman on this show that gave us laughs quite like Hilary, although the original Aunt Viv is close. That aside, Hilary was beautiful, funny,  and though not the sharpest knife in the drawer, she was always memorable.

5. Aunt Vivian (Original)

-There is no question that the original Aunt Viv is the best, as Janet Dubois was perfect for this role. Her style and elegance made Aunt Vivian more than just a motherly figure in this show, it made her a memorable character with moments of her own. Whether it was giving lessons and knowledge to the children, taking her dance class that spawned her most iconic moment, or the chemistry with her and James Avery, the original and only Aunt Viv we really acknowledge is a top 5 character for the show.

4. Geoffrey Butler 

-If there was a king of sarcasm then Geoffrey would sit on the throne undefeated and unchallenged. He was a butler who would care for the house and take care of the essential needs including cooking, but Geoffrey was more than just the help. He was one of the funniest characters on the show, and though his role wasn't quite as large as Will or even Carlton, I would go as far as saying he was just as funny if not more so at times. The amount of classic Geoffrey moments are too lengthy to list here, but my favorites are when he thought he won the lottery and when he went as Raphael De La Ghetto ("cannon to the left!), which are all classic moments and episodes for the show.

3. Uncle Phil

-It is beyond rare that a fatherly figure is as wise yet oblivious as Uncle Phil, but as a character, he was the backbone of the show. He was the biggest breadwinner, providing the advice and discipline for his spoiled yet mild mannered children and trying to help Will grow in the right direction. From his health scare heart attack to his consoling of Will when his father left again to the various times he had to raise his voice (usually in a hilarious manner) or his epic moments throwing Jazz out of the house, Uncle Phil was one of the best characters and fathers in black sitcom history.

2. Carlton Banks 

-The truth is, the ying and yang aspect of this show is what made it work so well. While Will was the streetwise kid from Philly put in new surroundings, Carlton was a spoiled kid who came up easy. He hasn't seen struggle. He hasn't even begun to truly understand the severity of being black in America due to his status. As the show progressed, Carlton went through a number of character arcs and narratives with seminal undertones coming through, as he searched to find himself. That aside, Carlton was hilarious, being the focus of many jokes and having the time of his life dancing to Tom Jones. For the most part, Carlton was a legendary piece of the show, and he remains one of my favorite sitcom characters ever.

1. Will Smith

-Of course. The Fresh Prince wouldn't exist without the.... Fresh Prince. Will Smith was thhe focal point of the show and everything was about him. This is what made the show what it was. His chemistry on the screen with everyone else, his narratives and his stories. From his dating mishaps to getting shot and saving Carlton to his gripping moment with his father, there was nothing more than seeing whatever Will was about to get into next. Of all the characters on the show, there is no way to put anyone else above Will and he is a top 5 black sitcom character of all time. Period.


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