Movies

All 3 Ted Movies & Shows, Ranked

Summary

  • The Ted prequel show on Peacock is a new high point for the franchise, with more laughs, sharper characterization, and a softer side.
  • The TV show combines family sitcom nostalgia with pitch-black humor and balances crude jokes with heartfelt sweetness effectively.
  • The supporting cast in the TV show provides endless entertainment and adds depth to the comedy.


Seth MacFarlane has expanded his Ted franchise into television with a new prequel series set in the 1990s – but how does the show compare to the original movies? Released in 2012, Ted marked MacFarlane’s feature-length directorial debut. It tells the story of a young boy, John Bennett, who brings his beloved teddy bear to life with a Christmas wish. The movie catches up with John as he approaches 40 and still spends all his time getting high and watching TV with his teddy bear. Ted 2, released in 2015, continued the saga with Ted’s fight for civil rights.

The new Ted prequel show on Peacock fills in Ted’s backstory as he’s forced to attend junior high with a 16-year-old John in 1993. The TV series maintains all the fan-favorite traditions of the movies: foul-mouthed banter between Ted and John, darkly hilarious subversions of familiar tropes, and a surprisingly heartwarming message about the power of friendship. Does the Ted TV show live up to the original movies? Is it even better than the movies? Where does it rank against the rest of the franchise’s output?


3 Ted 2 (2015)

The sequel is a misguided civil rights story

Ted in a car with John and Sam in Ted 2

In Ted 2, after Ted and his wife Tami-Lynn attempt to adopt a baby, the background check brings Ted’s status as a person into question, and he enters a legal battle for his civil rights. Ted 2 awkwardly tries to mix the righteous indignation of being denied human rights with the shock laughs of shouting out “9/11!” at an improv show. The first movie had a loose hangout quality, and that was a big part of its charm, but the second one is a bit too loose. It has a bloated runtime, spends way too long on inconsequential tangents, and procrastinates any development in its plot.

The stakes never seem particularly high, because Ted never bothers to focus his full attention on his legal struggles. He spends most of the movie getting high and harassing joggers and improv groups. There are some really funny moments in Ted 2, like a grizzled Liam Neeson’s stern-faced attempt to buy a box of Trix, but the laughs in the second movie are fewer and farther between than the first movie.

Related

10 Funniest Ted 2 Quotes

While Ted 2 wasn’t the massive hit its predecessor was, the Seth MacFarlane sequel still has plenty of its own laugh-out-loud moments.

2 Ted (2012)

Big laughs redeem a formulaic plot

John and Ted hanging out in the kitchen in Ted

After a prologue sets up how Ted came to life, the first Ted movie skips ahead to a 35-year-old John testing his girlfriend Lori’s patience by spending all his time smoking weed and watching Flash Gordon with Ted. The story of an immature slacker stuck in arrested development who needs to choose between his best friend and his girlfriend has been told in countless other “bromantic comedies.” Ted doesn’t do much to reinvent the wheel, but its premise makes it the ultimate version of that familiar story. There couldn’t possibly be a better symbol for a man’s refusal to grow up than his own childhood teddy bear.

There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments that make the first Ted movie more rewatchable than its sequel, from the “Thunder Buddies” song to the brutal motel fight to Ted’s wildly inappropriate remarks at a job interview. In the final act, it also tugs on the audience’s heartstrings as John fights to save Ted and almost loses him. Ted might have a formulaic script, but it’s more than redeemed by great gags, well-matched actors, and an unexpected earnestness.

Related

10 Funniest Quotes From Ted

Seth MacFarlane’s directorial debut, Ted, is a hilarious part-CG comedy filled with quotable banter between a man-child and his talking teddy bear.

1 Ted (2024–)

The TV prequel is a new high point for this franchise

The Ted prequel show takes audiences back to the 1990s for a glimpse at Ted and John’s upbringing in a Massachusetts suburb. This TV show is arguably a new high point for the franchise, with more laughs, sharper characterization, and a softer soft side than the movies. The Ted prequel show combines the family sitcom nostalgia of The Goldbergs with the pitch-black humor of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. It balances its crude humor with heartfelt sweetness more effectively than either of its feature-length counterparts.

Both of the movies could only really count on Ted and John’s banter for laughs, with most supporting characters playing the role of “straight man,” but the TV show has a hilarious supporting cast to fall back on. Blaire’s radical progressive views make her an interesting counterpoint to Ted, Susan’s cartoonishly mild-mannered personality makes her lovable and side-splitting in equal measure, and Matty’s brash, loudmouthed dad persona provides endless entertainment. Thanks to this TV show, more than a decade after it started, the Ted franchise is stronger than ever.

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