One of the defining characteristics of the traditional sitcom is the presence of three walls, which means driving a car through one of those walls is one of the most exciting things that can possibly happen. Here, collected for the first time anywhere on the Internet, are some of the most significant moments in the history of cars driving through walls on sitcoms.
Full House was a show that relished in the kind of wacky, "big" moments that drives a studio audience f*cking nuts, weather it be Rebecca bungee jumping, Michelle buying a donkey, or Joey going on a date (with a woman). It was inevitable that one of the Tanner brood (middle child Stephanie, as it turns out), would roll through Danny's kitchen wall. Note how, shortly after the car breaks through the house, young Michelle enters and punctuates the scene with a gag-inducing adorable punchline. This, it turns out, is one of the staples of sitcom car crashes-and not surprisingly, nobody did gag-inducing adorable like the pre-adolescent Olsen twins.
You might not expect a show like NBC's Frasier stage the kind of four-wheeled mayhem featured in zanier shows like Full House and Family Matters. In part because Dr. Frasier Crane lives in a metropolitan high rise. But more significantly, shows like Frasier represent a sub-genre of more "adult-oriented" sitcoms (Friends, Seinfeld, Will and Grace, et al.) that's less likely to rely on slapstick for its laughs than the Tanners or Winslows. Then came "The Innkeepers", in which an elderly valet plows a diner's sedan through the wall of Frasier's new restaurant, proving that all the sophisticated observational humor the city can produce is no match for simple mass destruction. What worked for Urkel will work for Dr. Crane.
Well, that's the difference between airing during prime time and airing at 11 am on Saturday mornings.
Saved By The Bell obviously didn't have the budget of Full House, but just getting everyone in a car on a black set feels like a big moment for a show whose biggest guest star was Casey Kasem two decades after he stopped being famous. Even if they did have the money, a car going through a wall wouldn't really make sense here. This is a "very special" episode about drinking and driving, and everyone but Screech is supposed to be a few beers under. As you can see in the other clips, nothing elicits more applause and laughter from a studio audience than driving through a wall. The only funny aspect of this accident is that even though Screech is the only sober one, Zach still won't let him drive.
Stephen Q. Urkel is a slapstick comedy fan's dream come true. With the possible exception of Home Improvement's Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor, no other sitcom character in recent memory caused more financially crippling property damage than Family Matters's suspender-clad nerd next door. So it was shocking in the ABC show's second season when Eddie, not Steve, crashed the Winslow's station wagon through the front door of their Chicago townhouse. Why was this? Because a frequent purpose of cars crashing through walls in sitcoms is to teach the typically teenage driver a "very important lesson": don't fuck with your parent's cars. The stakes were much higher for Eddie, whose joyride incurred the wrath of his father, Carl. Steve, on the other hand, had already demolished so much of the Winslow household that driving a car into their living room would be almost mild in comparison. Still, the choice of driver did blow a prime opportunity for the Urkelism, "Did I do that?"
Happy Days is perhaps the first example of a car going through a sitcom wall, though unfortunately we only get to see all the aftermath. Even though they didn't film the best part, all the classic car going through a wall stereotypes (like drywall dust and stunned disbelief) are there. Just to give you an idea where this takes place in the Happy Days timeline, this is a full two seasons after the show literally "jumped the shark."
Although the absurdly hyper-litarate high-schoolers who quibble they way through the WB teen drama Dawson's Creek sound like they're in a David Mammet play, the show was not technically made for laughs. But as it struggled to keep its audience interested in Katie Holmes' sex life and James Van Der Beek's centrally parted hair in it's sixth and final season, the WB drama didn't hesitate resorting to the same trick used by it's comedic counterparts. Thus in the holiday themed episode "Merry Mayhem" does reckless L.A. undergrad Audrey crash through Dawson's living room in a pill- and booze-fueled joyride. Like the similarly themed "Drinking and Driving" episode of fellow teen saga Saved by the Bell, "Merry Mayhem" uses the car-through-wall conceit as a semi-serious commentary on the dangers of substance abuse, rather than an excuse to shock it's studio audience into applause.
"The Wallpaper" was Everybody Loves Raymond's 100th episode, so you know they have to go big. The only surprise is how soon they get there. Usually when someone breaks the third wall, it's right before the second commercial break at the climax of the episode. Everybody Loves Raymond breaks that tradition by having Frank and Marie make the "ultimate unwelcome visit" (as the episode's TV Guide coyly puts it) within the first minute of the episode. A lesser show might rely on the car accident for the biggest laugh of the episode, but this series showed faith in the writers and cast by giving them thirty minutes to top a ridiculous stunt.