Fresh Prince Characters Other Than Will, Ranked, From Least To Most Important

Warner Bros. Television
Warner Bros. Television

7. Little Nicky

Like The Godfather III, my early aughts affinity for Von Dutch, and the entire state of Delaware, it's better for everyone to just act as if Little Nicky never actually existed.


6. Ashley

As an adult, I've come to realize that Ashley was much, much, much more important to me — a pre-teen and teenage boy watching the show — than she was to the show. (Also, between Tatyana Ali, Chili from TLC, Ananda Lewis, and Maia Campbell, if you happened to be a person who happened to have a thing for brown-skinned women with Just For Me model hair, the late 90s were a great time to be alive.)

5. Hilary

Was Hilary Banks the Black Kelly Bundy? Or was Kelly Bundy the White Hilary Banks? Either way, the preternaturally ditzy (but good hearted) Hilary was necessary primarily so the other characters could react to her ditziness. Also, she was definitely the bourgiest ("Bourgie" with a "R." Not "bougie." And yes, there's a difference.) member of the Banks family.

4. Aunt Viv

I realize that, for some, this is a pretty low placement on the list. But as important as Aunt Viv was, if you rewatch the series, she wasn't as vital to the show's zeitgeist as the characters below her were. Which is why the Black intelligentsia hubbub over Daphne Maxwell Reid replacing Janet Hubert after season three always felt unnecessary to me. Aunt Viv was the chopped tomato in the "Fresh Prince" guacamole. Sure, you'd miss it if it wasn't there. But it doesn't really matter if they're Cherry tomatoes or Globe.


3. Geoffrey

Continuing the analogy, if Aunt Viv was the tomato in the "Fresh Prince" guac, Geoffrey was the garlic. He was basically the show's Greek chorus, peeking his head in each scene to provide sarcastic commentary and wink at the audience. He also probably was the character with the most laughs per line. And, one day, I'm going to write some Fresh Prince fan fiction about a young Geoffrey's stint as a Black Jason Bourne.


2. Carlton

The polar opposite of Will, many of the show's plotlines, laughs, and even Very Special Moments pulled from both the juxtaposition of Will's and Carlton's persona and their bond. Also, while Geoffrey maybe induced the most laughs per line, Carlton created the biggest laughs, either from things he did/said or the reaction to things he did/said.


1. Uncle Phil

Although "The Fresh Prince" revolved around Will, Uncle Phil was its moral and emotional fulcrum. Also, related, he carried the single best scene from any 90s network TV show, and that matters.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)



Daphne Reid playing Aunt Viv was definitely one of the shadiest casting moves in the history of television. Not only was Janet Hubert replaced, she was replaced by a refined light skinned mannequin that looked nothing like her, and the show still went on, and went on well. And as much as we appreciate and prefer her in the role, and would even have loved to see how the character would've developed if she had stayed, Aunt Viv was just not as integral as a character as she thought she was— which is, to my understanding, the reason why she was let go in the first place.
I also find it hard to believe that Will Smith had enough clout at that time to blackball her, and find it very easy to believe that as talented as she is, her attitude and bitterness is why her only legit credit after the show was a voice over role for a secondary character in GTA V.