Who’s that girl? Who’s that giiiiirl? It’s Jess! It’s kind of crazy to believe that New Girl ended back in 2018 since it’s been in constant rotation on my wife’s Netflix account ever since. The show, which would early on advertise its lead, Zooey Deschanel as “adorkable”, would later drop the whole idea and instead focus on the rest of the New Girl cast since it was always more of an ensemble piece anyway. To wit, it was actually the other New Girl characters, like Schmidt, Coach, and Cece who played off of Jess’s character, making her so much funnier in the long run.
But, with such a great cast of characters, who was the funniest on the show? That’s actually really tough, and I asked some of my friends online who they thought was the funniest, but I got completely different answers across the board. I’m crossing my fingers that New Girl will have a reunion of sorts, a la Friends, but until that day, here are the funniest characters on New Girl, ranked by hilarity.
6. Jess (Zooey Deschanel)
The “New Girl” the show is actually based around, Jess really is “adorkable.” From her job as a teacher—of both children and adults—to her many weird boyfriends, Jess is an interesting character with many quirks, some good, and some bad. In that way, I like Jess. I don’t know if I would want her to be my roommate, but she’s fun to watch. Especially when she’s playing “True American” with the gang.
So, why is she at the bottom of this list? Well, because her character is only really funny around other characters. What I mean is, she’s a great springboard for jokes, and everybody else is funnier because she’s there, but I don’t really think that she’s funny on her own. She’s awkward, which is the point, but it’s only funny because it bleeds into all the other characters around her. Case in point, “The Hike” episode. When Cece’s former boyfriend, Robby (played by Nelson Franklin) tries to date Jess, everything goes downhill fast when they learn that they’re actually third cousins. Her shocked reaction to it is great, but it only really works since Robby doesn’t seem to really care all that much. That contrast is great, but it doesn’t always work in Jess’s favor.
5. Cece (Hannah Simone)
Jess’s best friend and former model, Cece is fiercely loyal to anybody she cares about. At first, she goes from boyfriend to boyfriend, but then eventually falls in love with Schmidt, which changed the whole dynamic of her character as a lot of her humor was exchanged for the cuteness of their relationship.
Now, I know how I just said that Jess is at her best around others, and the same can be said about Cece. But I just prefer Cece’s, You-guys-are-all-losers-but-I-love-you-anyway, attitude. She’s especially great with Winston (played by Lamorne Morris) as his often silly, prankish comedy bounces off of her more laid back approach. So, when she actually is excited, like when she was trying on wedding dresses, her humor and happiness is infectious, making her that much funnier. Who doesn’t love Cece?
4. Coach (Damon Wayans Jr.)
Coach was one of the original roommates who moved out when he got into a serious relationship (and by serious relationship, I mean the actor, Damon Wayans Jr. was still contractually on the show, Happy Endings). He’s a former athlete and a physical trainer who pretends to be tough, but he’s not fooling anybody. He’s a complete softy on the inside.
Now, here’s where I met some contention. My wife said Coach is the funniest character on the show, but most others put him closer to the bottom. I think it’s because he left for a while, and when he came back, his replacement, Winston, just completely took over in his absence. But when he came back, he had some great moments, like when he was searching for a boy named “Duquan Feldman” that he made up to help Winston out, and ended up coming home with a grown man instead. Coach is a great character, but I wouldn’t put him in the top three. He wasn’t on the show enough to earn it. He’s like Brock Lesner only showing up to PPV events. And if you get that wrestling reference, you’re awesome.
3. Schmidt (Max Greenfield)
Schmidt, who works at a very successful marketing firm (run almost entirely by women) considers himself the alpha male in pretty much any situation, even though everybody around him can tell that he’s trying way too hard to pull it off. He’s a bit of a douchebag (which is why he constantly needs to fill the douchebag jar), but he’s also a really good friend and boyfriend who has a genuinely good heart. He’s not the guy you love to hate. He’s actually quite the opposite, the guy you hate to love!
If Schmidt’s character was on any other show, he’d be the funniest character by far. He’s kind of like the Kramer of New Girl, as his wild, somewhat manic personality definitely makes him stand out from the rest of the cast. But like that Seinfeld reference, Schmidt is not on another show. He’s on New Girl, which means that pretty much every character is funny. Even the guests. In that way, his controlling personality is definitely funny, like when he specifies to Cece that he “designs” rather than “decorates” the apartment. But it’s the kind of humor that I can only take in small dosages, which is also kind of like Cosmo Kramer.
2. Winston (Lamorne Morris)
Winston, who just came back from playing basketball in Latvia, is a weird guy who loves cats and playing pranks on people. What more could you possibly want in a roommate? He’s the kind of guy who will go to a wedding and order the fruitiest drink on the menu, and also the kind of guy you would never think would become a cop, but becomes one anyway. If you don’t love Winston, I’m pretty sure you’re dead inside.
Winston is a grown ass man who’s afraid of the dark. He calls himself “Pranks Sinatra” and earns that title, like when he said he pulled off “my greatest prank” (Or, “Engram Pattersky”) and made everybody in the loft think they were getting kicked out. If I were to rewatch New Girl in its entirety, I’m pretty sure Winston would get the most laughs since he definitely has the best lines. Or maybe it’s just that he delivers his lines the best. I really wanted to put Winston at number 1, but…
1. Nick (Jake Johnson)
Bartender turned author of The Pepperwood Chronicles, Nick, played by Spider-Man himself, Jake Johnson, looks tired all the time, both physically, and emotionally. He’s a cheap ass who doesn’t apply himself—until he does—and when he does try, it almost always goes wrong. I genuinely feel like I knew people just like Nick in college, which makes him feel like the most authentic character on the show. And also the funniest.
Winston may have the best lines, and Schmidt the best outbursts, but I can just look at Nick and I'll start laughing. He can just be standing off in the corner with his eyes glazed over, and his mouth slightly ajar and I’ll just start cracking up. I can’t really think of one specific moment from the show that Nick stole, but that’s because he stole all of them. He’s sarcastic to a fault and believes that you can use somebody else’s bath towel after you take a shower since you’re already clean. Nick is the only character who I think could have his own show, and it would still be really funny even without the other characters. And for that reason, Nick is the funniest character on the show.
But what do you think? Did I put Zooey Deschanel way too low on the list? If so, then sound off in the poll below! I’d love to hear your thoughts.