September 13, 2011

Bowling in Pop Culture

While other sports may be more popular, bowling has enjoyed a ubiquitous presence in American popular culture. Bowling seems to be a common activity that all Americans can relate to, and so we find that some of our most beloved fictional characters in that last 50 years spend some time at the bowling alley. The Simpsons, The Honeymooners, The Drew Carey Show, All in the Family, Home Improvement, Bones, The Flintstones, and Ed, to name a few television shows, all had at least one episode that focused on bowling. Bowling for Dollars, Celebrity Bowling and Rock and Jock Bowling also took to the lanes for viewers' pleasure.

Here are some of the most famous, and my personal favorite, fictional bowlers:

Homer Simpson
There are several episodes of the Simpsons that revolve around bowling. Homer gives Marge a bowling ball as a birthday present. Homer convinces Mr. Burns to fund a bowling team. Homer achieves his dream job as a pin monkey. Homer is even lucky enough to throw a 300, as is his infant daughter Maggie (D'oh!). For better or for worse, Homer Simpson has been identified as the one character that people around the world think of when they picture an American, so I think it is only appropriate that he is a bowler.

Fred Flintstone
The original bowler, Fred Flintstone brought his twinkle-toes style approach into the living rooms of millions. My dad actually slightly resembles Fred's bowling technique, which I suppose is an example of life imitating art.

Big Ern McCraken
As for a bowling bad guy, I don't think anyone can top Big Ern from Kingpin. Brought to life by Bill Murray and the best comb-over of all time, Big Ern was responsible for Roy losing his hand as a result of a hustle gone bad and Ishmael breaking his hand after failing to connect a punch to his head. When Roy and Big Ern meet in a head to head match, Ern overcomes Roy's 7-10 split conversion by striking out to win the tournament.

The Dude
The movie The Big Lebowski features a lot of great bowler characters, but in the end you have to like the Dude. While I appreciate Walter's adherence to bowling etiquette and rules, you have to admire El Duderino's awesome bowling themed dream. Besides, the movie has one of the best quotes of all time, which nicely sums up what this blog is all about: "F' it, Dude. Let's go bowling."

Who is your favorite bowling character?


  1. Spongebob squarepants is the one of the most memorable bowling character cause there is one episode about bowling and the squid do all cheats, tricks and hacks and he can't even win against spongebob. Can't stop laughing whenever I remember that episode.

  2. My generation is sort of in between knowing Spongebob. I am too old to have watched it as a child, but not old enough for my children to have watched it. I'll have to look around and watch the episode