ByRory O'Connor, writer at
Breathing movies. Humbly writing about them.
Rory O'Connor

It's hard to imagine a more influential TV show than that of Freaks and Geeks back in 99'. Unceremoniously cut after just one season, it remains a watermark, breeding ground and starting block for so much of what we now know as 21st Century American comedy.

A quick look at Judd Apatow's 50 odd production credits show a man with a finger in so many of the last decade's funniest pies; from Knocked Up and Superbad back in 2007 to helping bring Lena Dunham's Girls to the small screen in 2012. A second generation arrived in Michael Cera and Jonah Hill and a few Oscar nominations came along the way too, indeed for the last 10 years of American comedy, Apatow and his pack of misfits have been difficult to ignore.

But you feel none of it would have been possible without those heady days back in William McKinley High...

So with Seth Rogen's Neighbors hitting theatres this week, and the show's 15 year anniversary not far on the horizon, lets take a glance- in no particular order- at where it all started, and where they're all at now.

The Freaks

Linda Cardellini (Lindsay Weir)

The high school hating leading lady went a bit off the radar when the show went under- with roles in Legally Blond and Scooby Doo the high points of a fallow few years- but a dance with Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain along with a recurring slot on ER ensured the actress stayed present.

She showed up as Zooey Deschanel's sister in New Girl recently and picked up a Primetime Emmy nomination for Mad Men thanks to her guest starring role last year.

James Franco (Daniel Desario)

Franco has gone from being the greasy-haired Daniel Desario to enjoying one of the most prolific and varied careers of modern times.

While squeezing in appearances on General Hospital and studying for a PHD at Yale, the part-time self-aware prankster, part-time renaissance man has worked with Harmony Korine, Gus Van Sant, Werner Herzog and Danny Boyle and both acted and directed in films at Berlin, Venice and Cannes.

He is one of only a few to boast the dubious honor of being nominated for both a Razzie and an Academy Award.

Could it all be one big joke? We might never know...

Seth Rogen (Ken Millar)

Rogen played the deadpan stoner Kenneth Miller back in the day and it's a role that's served him well ever since. Rogen perhaps hasn't enjoyed the varied success of his old pal but he's just as big a name on the Hollywood circuit. Among a myriad of comedic hits he penned both Superbad and Pineapple Express before hopping into the director's chair for This is the End last year.

Jason Segel (Nick Andopolous)

Segel holds the pen in a writer director team which has given us Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him to the Greek and, of course, that super successful Muppets movie in 2011. He might be best known for playing Marshall Eriksen in How I Met Your Mother but back in 99' he was the John Bonham worshipping Nick Andopolous- Lindsay Weir's first squeeze...

Six more pieces and I'll have a bigger kit than Niel Perth from Rush... yeah...

You said it.

Busy Phillips (Kim Kelly)

Phillips played Franco's hard-ass on-again-off-again girlfriend Kim. Kelly apparently spent the 00's taking smaller roles in ER, Dawson's Creek and the like before landing a spot in Cougar Town in 2009.

The Geeks

Samm Levine (Neal Schweiber)

The small-framed, Groucho-quoting Neal Schweiber was Sam's best bro for the series but Levine has done little since. His credits are dotted since the show finished its run but he did get to play one of Tarantino's Basterds back in 2009.

John Francis Daley (Sam Wier)

Daley played Lindsay's younger brother Sam. The series' central character- depending on how you looked at it- and a great rendition of how many of us felt at that age and time. The actor strangely didn't go on to much either but more recently landed a recurring role in Bones.

Martin Starr (Bill Haverchuck)

A show favourite for many, Martin Starr won all our hearts as the mumbling, awkward string of spaghetti that was Bill Haverchuck.

Starr has stayed tight with his old pals and has appeared in smaller roles in Superbad, Knocked Up and This is the End alongside a slightly juicier bit in Adventureland in 2009. He also saw another underrated comedy take the chop when the well liked Party Down got cancelled in 2010.

Stephen Lea Sheppard (Harris)

Sheppard played the all knowing Harris from a year above, who Sam and Co. would seek out for sage advice. Bizarrely, Sheppard has just one credit to his name since; playing Bill Murray's research subject Dudley in The Royal Tenenbaums in 2001.

Special Mention

Mr Russo (Dave Allen)

Dave Allen played the cringe-inducing hip-with-the-kids guidance councillor Mr. Russo at McKinley High. Allen went on to a dotted comedic character actor career with appearances in Anchorman and Arrested Development among a host of others.

Looking back over these clips just makes us want to break out the old box set and wonder longingly of what could have been. Apatow followed it up with the more cameo heavy Undeclared a few years later but the gang had dispersed by then. With all its insight, warmth and humour, a show like this today would undoubtedly be a smash.

It's almost tragic, but then we'll always have these 18 episodes to go back on time and time again...

The pilot alone is surely flawless.

Special mentions should go out to Lindsay's folks (played by Becky Ann Baker and Joe Flaherty), Sam's great antagonist Alan (played by Chauncey Leopardi) and McKinley Mathlete and Christian fundamentalist Millie (played by Sarah Hagan).

We could go on, but we'd be here all day...

Which character are you missing the most? Spit it out in the comments below.


The person I would most like to be...


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