No type of facial hair is more controversial than the mustache, or moustache depending on how awesome you are. Throughout the years, mustaches have conveyed everything from porn star, to child molester, to police officer, to lumberjack. Can a strip of hair on a guy’s lip really be both feared and trusted? Of course it can! Television has supplied us with hundreds of epic mustachios over the years, but 11 stand head and shoulders above the rest.
11. Geraldo Rivera
Now, I know what you’re thinking: Geraldo Rivera is a smarmy, attention-grubbing, sensationalistic, yellow journalist who really does little more than waste people’s time with his phony “news” stories and self-aggrandizing. And you’re most correct. However, his mustache is the stuff legends are made of. I mean, look at it; it’s pointing straight out like after Yosemite Sam gets electrocuted. It’s like it’s escaping. Even the guy’s mustache wants to get away from him. Let the mustache host a news program and maybe I’d be interested in watching. I’m sure that thing’s got lots to say.
10. Cannon (played by William Conrad)
If you can believe it, cop and detective series in the 1970s were even more prevalent than they are today. If stats I’ve just made up are to be believed, over 94% of all television shows between 1970 and 1979 were about some kind of mystery-solving. There were lots of great 70s cops, but the one with the best mustache was without a doubt William Conrad’s Frank Cannon. Why? I mean look at the guy. He’s middle-aged, balding, overweight, and sweaty. Dude looks like he could barely make it to the fridge without getting winded. Yet, it’s the power of his perfectly coifed ‘stache that gave him his powers of badassery. I believe it’s also responsible for giving him the gruffest voice this side of Robert Loggia.
9. The Brigadier (Nicholas Courtney)
From 1968 until 1975, and then a couple times after that, Doctor Who’s stalwart military leader was Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, a prim and proper British soldier whose personality was reflected in his neatly trimmed moustache. As the head of the English division of the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce (or UNIT), the Brig needed to be the embodiment of siff-upper-lippedness, and nothing personified that quite as much as a thin strip of hair on said lip. What makes his soup strainer all the more impressive is that, for the bulk of his time on the show, Courtney was wearing a false one. Yes, occasionally it was crooked and you could see the adhesive, but it was his signature look and one can’t imagine him without it.
8. Schneider (Pat Harrington)
One Day at a Time, which ran from 1975 to 1984, depicted a newly divorced woman who moves to a new city to get a fresh start with her two teenage daughters. And do you know what any strong-willed divorcee can’t do without? A creepy, betoolbelted superintendent who hits on her every few seconds. Schneider is the typical perv who gave mustaches a bad name, and for that, we’re grateful(ish). He really just screams “sex offender.” And this was a sitcom. Because what’s funnier than having a lascivious, double entendre-spouting skeeve-bucket around your teenage daughters all the time? And how shitty was this apartment if Schneider needed to be there all the time? This show lasted 9 seasons; if I were Bonnie Franklin, I’d definitely have moved in season 1.
7. Man at Arms
Duncan, known in most circles as “Man-At-Arms,” was He-Man’s weapons expert and friend. He wore battle armor all the time, and had the world’s least-sensible hat. He also rocked a mean stache. But what color hair did he have? I mean, his eyebrows are black, but his mustache is sort of a reddish brown. Originally, Man-At-Arms had no facial hair at all, however the cartoon’s creators decided to make him look older, wiser, and more badass. This is the power of the lip caterpillar: it turns a cartoon into a man. He certainly did more vehicle-fixing than actual fighting, but I think we all know he was just so cool he didn’t need to fight.
6. Gomez Addams (John Astin)
As the patriarch of the creepiest and kookiest family on 60s television, Gomez was the wild-eyed Castilian who excelled at knife-throwing, sword-fighting, and juggling. He’s basically a circus performer in a pinstripe suit. His was the mustache of the refined gentleman. Yes, he was basically an insane person with a hand in a box, and he could surely kill anyone, but he and his mustache somehow conveyed charm and friendliness. He also smoked like a chimney. Cigar-smoking and mustaches ought to go hand-in-hand. Plus, his mustache gave him the power to succeed even when the scheme he purveyed was a stupid and hackneyed one.
5. Jamie Hyneman
Perhaps one of the easiest people to draw in Pictionary, Jamie is the gruffer, more unflappable member of the Mythbusters team. If you watch enough of the show, you get a sense of the mystique surrounding him – like he once lived in the woods for a number of years. With his trademark beret and tiny spectacles, he’s already fairly eccentric, but add to that a long, wispy mustache and you’ve got yourself a real winner. Yes, technically what he has is some form of goatee/Van Dyke, but, come on; it’s the ‘stache that does the heavy lifting. It’s become so indelible that people have begun to cosplay as him and even his fellow busters portray him by putting their fingers over their mouth like some kind of scientific squid. Nerd or not, I certainly wouldn’t want to mess with this guy.
4. Alex Trebek
It was a sad day when the host of Jeopardy! shaved his trademark tiny moustache. But he had the thing for so long that most of us refused to believe it was gone. Thank GOD it’s back. For years, Trebek layed down the condescension with panache as he told people how frigging wrong they were about an incredibly difficult and inane pop-culture question. Do you think he really knew any of this stuff if it weren’t written down in front of him? Of course he didn’t, but the mustache’s powers of persuasion had us all convinced. If you ever catch a glimpse of his hosting duties from 70s game shows, you’ll know that his mighty facial hair used to be disco city, but it was his 80s and 90s upper-lip plumage, with its air of superiority, that proved to be hypnotic. Daily Double?
3. Walter Cronkite
This might be the most respected mustache in television history. From 1937-1981, Walter Cronkite reported on some of the world’s biggest and history-making events. With a solid yet friendly voice, Cronkite delivered the news of the John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and John Lennon assassinations, the likes of which are among the most tear-jerking news reports ever broadcast. Perhaps his most famous series of reports was about the space program, going all the way from Mercury, through the moon landing, up to the space shuttle. His mustache gave him a grandfatherly appearance and made America trust him. When he told everyone “That’s the way it is,” you couldn’t help but believe it to be true. We salute you, sir, you and your mustache.
2. Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman)
How much manliness can fit into one single mustache? Ron Swanson, Parks and Recreation’s resident government-hating government employee turned Very Good Building Company CEO, builds things out of wood, gives landmines to little girls, and can eat a metric ton of meat in one sitting. He’s also responsible for some of the show’s best pearls of wisdom, including “Never half-ass two things; Whole-ass one thing.” His goal is to bring down the entirety of Pawnee, IN’s political infrastructure, or, failing that, simply not be disturbed by anyone. Deadpan delivery and furrowed brow, while excellent, are secondary to his amazingly majestic cookie duster. We’re going to be very sad to say goodbye to him this week. He’s the Libertarian dad we never knew we always wanted.
1. Magnum (Tom Selleck)
How could any list of TV’s best mustaches not have Hawaii’s favorite private investigator atop it? It’s quite simply, the greatest tache ever worn. For a whopping eight seasons, Tom Selleck’s Thomas Sullivan Magnum cruised around the 50th state in a red Ferrari, floral shirt, Tigers cap, and of course the most badass bit of facial hair in television history. Sure he was kind of a bum, but he lived in the lap of luxury and could basically do whatever he wanted. Saving people, righting wrongs, driving a Ferrari, living in paradise, and rocking the epitome of what a mustache should be. Plus, his name was Goddamn MAGNUM! That’s his name! MAGNUM! Why aren’t there statues of this guy everywhere?
So there you have it, for good or ill, these are the best moustaches in television history, and not a twirly hipster one in the bunch. If you’re going to grow one, definitely go with the Magnum or Swanson, and maybe avoid the Geraldo.
Think there’s a famous ‘stache missing from the list? Let us know in the comments!