The Worst Examples of Cousin Oliver Syndrome in TV Sitcom History

Cousin Oliver Syndrome is the well worn TV sitcom trope of introducing a younger character to the cast of a show in it’s later years as a desperate attempt to add life to a show that had grown a bit long in the tooth. This addition can be successful (like with the addition of Olivia to THE COSBY SHOW) or it can be disastrous like the list that I have put together after the jump. This sitcom trope gets it name from the character introduced in the last season of THE BRADY BUNCH. Cousin Oliver was a horrid addition to the show and never contributed anything of value, instead serving to drive a dagger into the heart of a show that was already on life support. Don’t believe me? Click onward and take a look for yourself.


Just terrible.
Now on to the characters I consider to be the worst of the worst.

54 thoughts on “The Worst Examples of Cousin Oliver Syndrome in TV Sitcom History

      1. I enjoyed the story. I would have had it that girl on All in the Family. By the way possessive pronouns don’t have apostrophes. Should be its instead of it’s.


    1. I never watched Gilmore Girls (its on my list of shows to catch up on) so I did a quick YouTube search and watched the a couple April scenes and you are right. The character was awful and fit all of the Cousin Oliver criteria.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. This one is a tad bit recent, out of all the 90’s TV hubbub, but…Kimi from Nickelodeon’s Rugrats. Dil’s addition was cool and all, but once they went off to Paris, the show went off the deep end.


  2. I didn’t like Kimi on Rugrats, either. This isn’t exactly COS, but hated it when Lily was born on Step by Step. I felt like her being born was the show giving up. Cody getting booted and Jean-Luc showing up as a replacement was the final nail in the coffin for me. If it’s not someone showing up to keep the show alive, it’s a baby being born.

    Completely agree about 3J on Family Matters, but that show jumped the shark long before then. Seven is rightfully #1 on this list, too.


      1. You are right. I don’t get what the folks behind the show were thinking with the addition of Seven. Married With Children was not a conventional sitcom so to try and shoehorn a conventional sitcom gimmick into the show was just dumb.


  3. How about Sam McKinney from Diff’rent Strokes? To me he was the 2nd worst example of COS behind Ricky from The Partridge Family, maybe worse because he lasted for the last 2 1/2 seasons of the show, where Ricky was gone after 10 episodes.


      1. Actually before Scrappy was created ABC was going to cancel Scooby Doo, so Scrappy saved the show, but the creators overused his character, so to keep the fans happy, they made him a villian in the Scooby Doo movie. Honestly, Scrappy was my favourite, I have no idea why so many people hate him.


      1. Yes. He was a baby for a season, then they felt they needed to do a time jump so he suddenly became 5 years old. He ruined the show for me.


      2. I still don’t understand the TV show mindset that adding small children to an existing show somehow makes things magically better.


    1. I used to watch All In The Family reruns when I was a young lad and I developed quite the crush on Stephanie. Plus All In The Family was losing its luster before she showed up.


  4. Dodie on My Three Sons was, oddly enough, Lief Garrett’s sister. Don’t think about it too much. Cuzzin Oliverism goes all the way back to I Love Lucy. Also it hit All in the Family twice, Gloria and Meathead had a baby, then later Stephanie showed up. But she turned out cool and had an album, Arrive All Over You. Think about it.


  5. Both “Family Ties” and “Growing Pains” had new babies at the same time, one a boy and the other a girl, who aged rapidly so they could be cutesie-pie quicker. Same with “Step by Step.” One of the worst was “My Three Sons” addition of step-daughter Dodie, as bad an actress as Seven was an actor.


    1. Your comment made me run to Youtube to see just how awful this Dodie character actually was and I have to agree with you. She was terrible and her insertion into the 3 episodes I watched seemed to be incredibly forced. It was painful to watch.


  6. Joey on ” All in the Family” was never an instance of COS. It was a logical progression. I mean, was he ever even old enough to speak?

    Stephanie, however…retch.


  7. Penny on Good Times was played by Janet Jackson, I believe. I just watched some Dixie from My Three Sons….I remember the show, but fortunately missed her. Painful lol


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