When you think of New York City what comes to your mind? Maybe it’s the strong, abrasive accents, or perhaps you think of the pushy people on the subway or the endless amount of pizza shops. All of the stereotypes you think about the “real” New York City can be found in The King of Queens. The hit series follows the blue collar couple Doug and Carrie and their friends and family in the tough-as-nails borough of Queens.
Kevin James plays the lazy and unambitious Doug. He loves only a few things but mostly his passion is for his wife, Carrie, played with brazen and sass by Leah Remini. Together they live with Arthur, Carrie’s bawdy father, and are friends with a number of idiosyncratic characters. The hilarious show earned an Emmy nomination for Kevin James’s performance in its final season and continues to do well in syndication, nearly 12 years after it wrapped.
Creators Michael J. Weithorn and David Litt based Doug and Carrie on the Kramdens from the hit ‘50s sitcom The Honeymooners. Both feature the same deadpan reactions and distinctive characterizations. The show debuted to modest ratings and mediocre reviews but CBS believed in what they had. Their instincts were correct and the show hit its highest point in its fourth season in 2001, ranking at 19th most watched show in the country. It went up to bat with other hit series including the mega-hit drama series 7th Heaven. Fans couldn’t wait to tune in each week to find out what their favorite primetime New York City couple were up to next.
While the critics were split on the sitcom, one thing remained consistent: the chemistry between stars Kevin James and Leah Remini. The two fast-talkers went head to head for the laughs and always delivered. Fans could feel the true connection between the two actors. In fact, the chemistry was so igniting that they recently teamed up again for James’s sitcom Kevin Can Wait. She plays the tenacious ex-partner Vanessa to James’s wacky patriarch cop Kevin. “It just felt like we walked off the set of King of Queens and then right back on [to the set],” she told Entertainment Tonight. “I’m so blessed and grateful that I get to experience it again.”
While you enjoy the gang getting back together on Kevin Can Wait, take a look back at where it all started. These are your favorite characters from The King of Queens and what they’ve been up to since the show went off the air.
Holly Shumpert (Nicole Sullivan)
Holly is the quirky, lovable, yet slightly insecure dog-walker that takes care of Carrie and Doug’s dog Arthur. The off-the-wall character is one heavy drinking woman who searches for love in all the wrong places. She oftentimes overextends herself to the new men in her life: paying for their meals, letting them crash at her place, being available 24/7. Overall, Holly is sweet and loving and would do anything for her friends at the end of the day.
Nicole Sullivan in real life
Comedian Nicole Sullivan got her start in the Los Angeles comedy scene as an original cast member in the sketch comedy series Mad TV. She worked double duties between Mad TV and The King of Queens before leaving Mad TV to play Holly full time. When her role became more infrequent she appeared in Scrubs, The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, and Numb3rs to name a few. She currently co-stars in two series concurrently as the intense Maria on the Netflix sitcom Disjointed, and as the ditsy neighbor Janine on the comedy series Black-ish.
Sara Spooner (Lisa Rieffel)
Lisa Rieffel played Carrie’s sister Sara for four episodes before she was written off the show. The producers even went as far as writing in that Carrie is an only child and pretended that Sara never existed in the first place. While she was Carrie’s sister she was provocative and brutally honest, frequently pushing Doug to reveal embarrassing thoughts and experiences. She created a lot of tension in the family and eventually left town mysteriously.
Lisa Rieffel in real life
Rieffel split her time between acting and singing before diving headfirst into music after last film Girltrash: All Night Long in 2014. Before then, however, she guest starred on The Cosby Show, Married with Children, Party of Five, Roseanne, and nearly a dozen more hit series. She tours regularly with her husband bassist Johnny Dunn and the couple also host a weekly music show on her official website. They have one daughter together.
Deacon Palmer (Victor Williams)
Doug’s hilarious best friend Deacon is not one for manners and niceties. He chomps down on snacks at inappropriate times, reveals extremely personal details on first dates, and shows up at the house unannounced. Regardless he is a loyal friend who would do anything for Doug and Carrie… even agreeing to babysit Carrie’s 76-year-old father from time to time. He falls in love and marries Kelly Palmer in what becomes a complicated (yet hilarious) on-again off-again marriage.
Victor Williams in real life
After graduating from the prestigious Tisch School for the Arts at New York University, Williams booked nonstop work. He has had arcs on the medical drama ER, one-season crime drama NYC 22, and he played the tough and suspicious Detective Jeffries on the romance drama The Affair. He most recently wrapped the upcoming comedy Jewtah and he also guest stars as Richard on the newest season of the Amazon crime series Sneaky Pete. He has one child with his ex-girlfriend, actress Karen Pittman.
Doug Heffernan (Kevin James)
Doug is your average joe working at IPS in the Queens borough of New York. He lives a simple life mostly by working during the days, hanging with his friends, watching TV, and getting on his wife Carrie’s nerves. Although the couple bicker repeatedly, they genuinely love each other. He isn’t an ambitious man and is much happier living a life that is predictable and scheduled. He has a fraught and amusing relationship with his father-in-law Arthur. The two have completely separate worldviews and this often rises to the surface in comical arguments.
Kevin James in real life
James received an Emmy nomination for his role as Doug in the series. After it wrapped he teamed up with longtime friend Adam Sandler for a number of hit films. He starred with his buddy in the comedies I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, Grown Ups, and Hotel Transylvania to name a few. He’s also famous for playing the quirky and silly title character in Paul Blart: Mall Cop. He is currently back on the small screen with co-star Leah Remini in the sitcom Kevin Can Wait.
Kelly Palmer (Merrin Dungey)
Kelly is Deacon’s sweet yet cheeky wife who can dish it as well as she can take it. When Arthur tries to flirt with her she can go up to right up bat against him. She turns him down and moves right on. She is on-again and off-again with her husband although by the time the show concludes we see that they were always meant to be together. She is Carrie’s best friend and would do anything for her and her family.
Merrin Dungey in real life
Dungey has seamlessly teetered the line between hilarious comedian and dramatic actress. She has co-starred in the comedy series Brooklyn Nine-Nine, the family sitcom Malcolm in the Middle, and she even played Hildy, the museum official on Friends. On the drama side she starred as Jennifer Garner’s best friend on Alias and as the evil Ursula on Once Upon a Time. She currently stars as Claire Thorpe on the new medical drama The Resident and will appear in the upcoming crime drama film The Fix.
Arthur Spooner (Jerry Stiller)
Arthur is Carrie’s brutally honest, raunchy, yet incredibly loving father. He lives with Carrie and Doug and it’s not always the easiest fit. He and Doug go head-to-head more often than not but at the end of the day they’re family and they love each other. In the pilot we learn that Arthur burns his own house down to get closer to Carrie. He can often be found talking about the “old days” in the army and how it made him become a communist.
Jerry Stiller in real life
Stiller’s shot to fame was as one-half of Stiller and Meara, the comedy duo he formed with his late wife Anne Meara. The pair were frequent guests on The Ed Sullivan Show and they also took their comedy on the road. For several seasons he played Frank’s loud-mouthed and short-tempered father on Seinfeld. After his wife passed away in 2015 he decided to take a long break from Hollywood and hasn’t appeared in a project since 2016’s Zoolander 2. He is the father of actor Ben Stiller (pictured left).
Spence Olchin (Patton Oswalt)
Doug’s high school buddy Spence is sweet and responsible. He lives with Danny and although he is kind and loving, he never manages to date a woman long term (despite how much he would like to). He lived with his mother until he was 40 years old and struggles to shape an identity of his own. The gang often makes fun of Spence’s immature ways and lack of common sense although Carrie shows some compassion for the poor guy.
Patton Oswalt in real life
The hilarious Patton Oswalt began his career as a stand-up comedian before landing his big break on The King of Queens. His big screen debut was as the adorable animated rat Remy in Pixar’s Ratatouille. He went on to star as the hopeless romantic Matt in Young Adult, the inappropriate Teddy on the political comedy series Veep, and he also lends his voice as the narrator on the family sitcom The Goldbergs. His recent comedy special Annihilation was released last year on Netflix and he also recently married actress Meredith Salenger.
Danny Heffernan (Gary Valentine)
Doug’s hot-tempered and nitpicky cousin Danny makes Doug look pretty good. He battles a gambling addiction, still lives with a roommate, and never gets married. For the first few seasons Doug and Danny bring out the punches. They each believe that the other isn’t living up to their full potential but as Danny appears more in the series, the cousins develop a closer bond. He’s always down for a good laugh and Doug learns to appreciate having his cousin around more often.
Gary Valentine in real life
Based on his appearance alone, comedian Gary Valentine was destined to play Kevin James’s relative. The resemblance between the two actors is uncanny. The two funny men are longtime friends and Valentine has appeared as his brother or cousin in many of James’s projects including the comedies I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, Zookeeper, and Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2. He currently stars with James as his brother once again in his newest sitcom Kevin Can Wait.
Janet Heffernan (Jenny O’Hara)
Doug’s mother doesn’t stop by much but when she does she always brings the fun. She loves her family and is an easy-going mother who genuinely just wants her family to be happy. She enjoys keeping the in-flight magazines, dress up for date nights, and meddle just slightly in Doug and Carrie’s life. Hilarity ensues when she meets Arthur. The gentle Janet and lewd Arthur surprisingly get along at a night out at the theater and subsequently form a close friendship.
Jenny O’Hara in real life
Character actress Jenny O’Hara came from a theater household. Her mother Edith O’Hara runs a theater company in New York City and its where a young Jenny fell in love with acting. She has performed in nearly 200 projects in her lasting career, most recently appearing as the oddball Dot in The Mindy Project, the scorned sister Bryna in Transparent, and as the worried patient Shirley in the new medical drama The Resident. She will star in the upcoming comedy film Poor Greg Drowning.
Carrie Heffernan (Leah Remini)
Carrie is as unapologetic as a true New Yorker gets. She is loud, opinionated, and not one to mess with. She dealt with a difficult childhood and has always lived hand to mouth doing a number of thankless jobs. Although she maintains a tough-as-nails attitude, she is a compassionate woman who wants to create a family. After trying for years and miscarrying, Carrie and Doug adopt a child in the series finale… just as she discovers that she is also pregnant.
Leah Remini in real life
Brooklyn-born actress, producer, and documentarian Leah Remini is as tenacious and assertive as her on-screen character. Last year she won an Emmy for her investigative reporting series on the A&E network. She recently reunited with Kevin James on his sitcom Kevin Can Wait and will next star with real-life BFF Jennifer Lopez in the romantic comedy Second Act due for release in November. She has been married to actor Angelo Pagan since 2003 and the couple has one daughter together, Sofia. (Pagan has three children from a previous relationships.)