Archibald "Archie" Bunker is a fictional character from the 1970s American television sitcom All in the Family and its spin-off Archie Bunker's Place, played by Carroll O'Connor. Bunker, a main character of the series, is a World War II veteran, blue-collar worker, and family man. Described as a "lovable bigot", he was first seen by the American public when All in the Family premiered on January 12, 1971, where he was depicted as the head of the Bunker family. In 1979, the show was retooled and renamed Archie Bunker's Place; it finally went off the air in 1983. Bunker lived at the fictional address of 704 Hauser Street in the borough of Queens, in New York City.
All in the Family got many of its laughs by playing on Archie's bigotry, although the dynamic tension between Archie and his liberal son-in-law, Mike, provided an ongoing political and social sounding board for a variety of topics. Archie appears in all but seven episodes of the series (three were missed because of a contract dispute between Carroll O'Connor and Norman Lear in Season 5).
Archie was modeled after Norman Lear's father Herman Lear and on Alf Garnett from the BBC1 sitcom Till Death Us Do Part. In 1999, TV Guide ranked Archie Bunker number 5 on its 50 Greatest TV Characters of All Time list. In 2005, Archie Bunker was listed as number 1 on Bravo's 100 Greatest TV Characters, defeating runners-up such as Ralph Kramden, Lucy Ricardo, Fonzie, and Homer Simpson. Archie's chair is in the permanent collection of the National Museum of American History.
Archie has a gruff, overbearing demeanor, largely defined by his bigotry towards a diverse group of individuals—blacks, Hispanics, "Commies", gays, hippies, Jews, Asians, Catholics, "women's libbers", and Polish-Americans are frequent targets of his barbs. As the show progresses, it becomes apparent that Archie's prejudice is not motivated by malice, but is rather a combination of the era and environment in which he was raised and a generalized misanthropy. Archie himself is depicted as a hard worker, loving father, and basically decent man; nevertheless, he is bad-tempered and frequently tells his long-suffering wife Edith to "stifle yourself" and "dummy up". Series creator Norman Lear admitted that this is how his father treated Lear's mother.
As the series progressed, Archie mellowed somewhat, albeit often out of necessity. In one episode, he expresses revulsion for a Ku Klux Klan-like organization which he accidentally joins. On another occasion, when asked to speak at the funeral of his friend Stretch Cunningham, Archie—surprised to learn that his friend was Jewish—overcomes his initial discomfort and delivers a moving eulogy, closing with a heartfelt "Shalom". In 1978, the character became the guardian of Edith's stepcousin Floyd's nine-year-old daughter, Stephanie (Danielle Brisebois) and came to accept her Jewish faith, even buying her a Star of David pendant.
Archie was also known for his frequent malapropisms and spoonerisms. For example, he refers to Edith's gynecologist as a "groinacologist" and to Catholic priests who go around sprinkling "incest" (incense) on their congregation. Archie repeatedly called Richard M. Nixon "Richard E. Nixon". By the show's second season, these had become dubbed "Bunkerisms", "Archie Bunkerisms", or simply "Archie-isms".
The actor who played Bunker, Carroll O'Connor, is Irish Catholic, and Norman Lear modeled the character on his Jewish father, but Bunker's own ethnicity is never explicitly stated, other than identifying him as a WASP; over the course of the series, he mocks or belittles not just most minorities (including blacks, Hispanics, Latinos, Jews, and Asians), but also most white ethnic groups as well, including the English, Germans, Irish, and Polish.