Steven Quincy Urkel (born 1976 or 1977[1]), generally known as Steve Urkel or just simply Urkel, is a fictional character on the ABC/CBS[2] sitcom Family Matters, portrayed by Jaleel White. Originally slated to have been a one-time only character on the show, he soon became its most popular character.

Steve was the epitome of a geek/nerd, with large, thick eyeglasses, "high-water" or "flood" pants held up by suspenders, multi-colored cardigan sweaters, and a high-pitched voice. He professed unrequited love for neighbor Laura Winslow, perpetually annoyed her father, Carl, and tried to befriend her brother, Eddie. Amongst the rest of the family, Harriette, Rachel, and "Mother" Estelle Winslow were more accepting and caring of Urkel.

Throughout the series' run, Steve was central to many of its recurring gags, primarily gratuitous property damage and/or personal injury as a result of his inventions going awry or his outright clumsiness. He became known for several catch phrases uttered after some humorous misfortune occurred, including "I've fallen and I can't get up!" after he accidentally got drunk in one episode and fell off of the edge of a building, "Did I do that?" (previously used by Curly in the 1934 Three Stooges short Punch Drunks), "Whoa, Mama!" and "Look what you did" (if, rarely, someone else caused the damage). Later in the show, Steve would say, "At least nobody got hurt!" with (usually) Carl saying, "Not Yet!", and then attempting to hurt him. Steve was also known for his distinctive laugh, which consisted of a loud cackle followed by a nasal snort.


[hide]*1 Character development

[edit] Character developmentEdit

White's first appearance as Steve came in the episode "Laura's First Date," the twelfth episode of the first season (though in syndication he first appears in "Rachel's First Date"), as the Winslow family's next door neighbor who Carl set up to take Laura to a junior high school dance. Though he was only intended to be a one-time only character, White was quickly promoted to recurring guest and became a full-time series regular by the end of the first season.

Steve was portrayed as a highly intelligent but annoying and extremely clumsy person who fondly admired the Winslow family. His strained relationship with his own parents led him to admire Carl and Harriette as father and mother figures, respectively, and caused him to be a regular, often uninvited guest at the Winslow house. Some of the Winslows, particularly Carl, Eddie, and Laura, did not always reciprocate Steve's admiration; despite this, he was always loyal to the Winslow family and would go out of his way to help them or anyone in need. As time progressed, the Winslows grew to love Steve, and he and Laura got engaged to be married in the third-to-last episode.

Steve had many catchphrases and running gags, several of which were phased out in later seasons. "Did I do that?" is the most popular catchphrase; usually uttered after Steve caused one of his famous messes. Other catchprases include "At least no one got hurt.", which is said after a major accident occurs. Someone else would usually shout "Not yet!" and chase Steve. "Got any cheese?"; "I'm wearin' you down baby. I'M WEARIN' YOU DOWWWN!!" and "You love me, don't you?" are said when Laura shows the slightest interest in him; "Look what you did!", when someone causes a mess or accident in front of him, frequently the accident was indirectly caused by Steve, such as insisting that someone push the button to something or if he knocked that person down. "I don't have to take this! I'm going home!" when Carl was mad at Steve for something and demands Steve to go home. Steve would often sing a song to the tune of Camptown Races, which would annoy someone in the room next to him, usually Carl, to which that person would yell his name three times increasing in tone each time in order to get Steve to stop. During episodes which involved his transformation chamber, Steve would often pour his special creation, called "Boss Sauce," into the machine, and if anyone asked him what he was doing, he would quietly reprimand them, "Ssssh! Not while I'm pouring!" [3]

[edit] FamilyEdit

The Urkels are very intelligent people; Steve and his family were known to do the Sunday crossword puzzles in pen in about 20 minutes. However, on many occasions, it is said or referenced that Steve's parents have nothing but contempt for him. For example, when he was born his parents tried to push him back in, and his parents do not own a car because he was born in one.

The viewers see that Steve has at least three relatives who do care about him. Besides Myrtle, in an early episode, entitled "The Big Fix – AKA Mercy Date," his uncle Ernie, drives him on his date with Laura, and takes a picture. He also seems to have a good relationship with his "Aunt Oona from Altoona", (notably played by Donna Summer), as she pays him visits in two episodes. He also mentions his Uncle Cecil throughout the series, so it implies that Uncle Cecil cares for Steve. Other relatives included Myrtle's father "Big Daddy" (played by Reginald VelJohnson in a dual role) who didn't think Eddie was a good choice for his daughter except when bribed with cash, and Steve's gangster cousin Cornelius Eugene Urkel (also played by White) who went by the moniker "Original Gangsta Dawg." In Urkel's first episode, Laura's First Date, Steve's father is mentioned in the line:"Did I mention my dad knows Wayne Newton?"

In 1995, his parents moved to Russia without Steve, because he didn't want to go, apparently abandoning him. Steve was then allowed to live with the Winslows; however, in a 1997 episode, a subplot has Steve visiting his parents.

In addition to his parents, his family also included his cousin, Myrtle Urkel, whose innocent infatuation with Laura's brother, Eddie, was equal to Steve's for Laura. However, Myrtle—try as she might—never grew on Eddie as Steve over time grew on Laura.

[edit] Ratings effectEdit

Steve first appeared in the 1989 episode "Laura's First Date," where Carl and Eddie separately set up dates for Laura for a dance or party (both terms used), and the first thing known about him is that he allegedly ate a mouse, and he later makes reference to a mouse when speaking to Carl, implying that it might be true. Several scripts had to be hastily re-written to accommodate the Steve character, while several first-season episodes that had been completed had new opening gag sequences filmed featuring Steve trying to push open a door while the Winslow family holds it shut. The addition of Steve immediately helped the show boost its modest ratings. White was credited as a guest star in the first season and became a regular member of the cast in season two.

[edit] The Urkel DanceEdit

The Urkel Dance was a novelty dance that originated in the episode Life of the Party. It was based around the character of Steve Urkel and essentially incorporated movements which made the dancer's posture more like his. The lyrics instructed the dancer how to pose:

"If you want to do the Steve Urkel dance, All you have to do is hitch up your pants, Bend your knees, and stick out your pelvis; (I'm telling you, baby, it's better than Elvis!)".

It was popular enough to appear on another show, Step by Step. Jaleel White also performed the song, in character as Steve Urkel, on the 5th Annual American Comedy Awards. Bea Arthur joined him on stage to "Do The Urkel[4]," after which she replied, "MC Hammer had better watch his back."[5]

A promotional cassette single of the song that accompanies the dance was pressed and distributed in limited numbers. A t-shirt was also produced featuring lyrics and Urkel's likeness.

[edit] Appearances on other showsEdit

  • Full House – In the 1991 episode, Stephanie Gets Framed he is called in to help Stephanie Tanner (Jodie Sweetin) deal with her anxieties after she has to get glasses. He was cousin to a friend of D. J.. In the original airing, this episode appeared right after a Family Matters episode where Steve uses a jet pack to rocket through the Winslow's roof and into the air away from Chicago, implying that he landed in San Francisco into the Full House universe.
  • Step by Step – In the series' second episode, The Dance, Steve lands in the Step by Step family's back yard after launching himself with a rocket pack from the living room of the Winslows' house on Family Matters (the two scenes being shown in uninterrupted sequence, as Family Matters and Step by Step aired back to back on television at the time), and then helps his science-fair pen pal, Mark Foster and lifts Alicia "Al" Lambert (Christine Lakin's) spirits after her potential date dumps her just before a school dance. White reprises his "Do the Urkel" dance in the scene where Al gives the boy that dumped her his comeuppance. Also, Steve makes a brief appearance in the episode where Al gets the movie role over her two sisters. He can be seen for 2 seconds snapping a clapboard during the music video part.
  • Meego - In this short-lived series, Steve makes a cameo appearance in the second episode "Love and Money" where he angrishly retrieves a television set stolen by Meego.
  • Additionally, Steve once received a chain letter and thought he'd send it on to his pen friend Cory Matthews who lived in Philadelphia. The reference is to Ben Savage's character from Boy Meets World, but there were no on-screen crossovers.