After the series finale broadcast on May 14, 2007, The King of Queens became the last American live action sitcom that premiered in the 1990s to end its run.
Doug and Carrie Heffernan are a working class couple living at "3121 Aberdeen Street" in Rego Park, Queens, New York, along with Carrie's eccentric father, Arthur Spooner. Doug works for the fictional International Parcel Service (IPS) as a delivery driver, while Carrie works as a secretary in Manhattan, first for a law firm and later for a real estate firm. Their lives are complicated by the demands of Arthur, so much so that they eventually hire Holly, a professional dog walker, to spend time with him as she walks dogs in the park.
Also featured on the show are Doug's friends Deacon Palmer, Spence Olchin and Richie Iannucci, as well as Doug's cousin Danny Heffernan. Deacon's wife Kelly is Carrie's best friend.
Most scenes take place in the Heffernans' home, but other common locations include Doug and Carrie's workplaces, the restaurant "Cooper's" and the residences of friends and family. While locations seen during the theme-song were filmed in areas surrounding New York, the series was filmed in California.
The show begins after Doug and Carrie have already married, and how they met is slightly unclear due to continuity issues. In one flashback episode, "Meet By-Product", Doug meets Carrie when he is a bouncer at a nightclub that Carrie attends. However, in another episode, "Road Rayge", Carrie reflects on a song that she says Doug asked her to dance to when they were in junior high school. In a later episode, it was implied that they all went to high school together, as Kelly and Carrie were said to have slept with the same guy neither husband knew of until the day of the guy's wedding.
Doug Heffernan (played by Kevin James) is an average parcel delivery man with a smart-aleck personality. Doug never hesitates to protest his grievances intensely. Doug's birth date is February 9, 1965. He was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada (unbeknownst to him until the season 5 episode "Dog Shelter"). Some of his misadventures are fueled by his love of food. These basic desires sometimes cause him to think of strange, intricate schemes in order to get what he wants, although they usually fall through in the end, causing constant arguments between Doug and Carrie. Doug's tendency to give in to his temptations, despite promising Carrie otherwise, is another common cause of disagreements. He generally enjoys the simple pleasures of watching sports and playing poker with his friends.
Carrie Heffernan (played by Leah Remini) is Doug's attractive and sardonic wife. She has a quick-temper and is occasionally physically abusive to Doug. She has been characterized as scary by Holly and Doug, particularly when she is angry. During a flashback, Carrie concludes that she is happier (she describes herself as never being truly happy) when others are miserable. She never finished college and is employed as a hard-working legal secretary. Her constant attempts to make her relationship with Doug more romantic and meaningful cause Doug frustration, as he prefers a simple life with as few restrictions as possible. The more quick-witted and adventurous of the couple, Carrie often pushes Doug to make more of himself and improve his morals, but she can be just as immoral as he is. Although Carrie scolds Doug for his selfish behavior, she has proven to be selfish as well at times, with little patience for others' problems or tolerance for their quirks. Carrie's best friend is Deacon's wife, Kelly Palmer.
Arthur Spooner (played by Jerry Stiller) is Carrie's widowed father, who has been married three times. His fourth marriage is to Spence's mother (played by Anne Meara, Stiller's real-life wife) during the final season. Arthur is the classic oddball of the family. He lives in the basement of the Heffernan house because he accidentally set fire to his own uninsured home, burning it to the ground in the pilot episode. Very volatile, Arthur is mostly known for his incoherent, irascible outbursts. He tells a lot of questionable stories of what he claims he has been through in his past. Arthur regularly causes chaos in the Heffernan household and gets on Doug's and Carrie's nerves. They sometimes have trouble finding time alone because Arthur tends to get in the way. Arthur also tries to cause trouble with Doug's friends. He especially bullies Spence but also (unsuccessfully) tries it on Deacon, who often refers to him as "the old man".
Deacon John Palmer (played by Victor Williams) is Doug's best friend and co-worker. Towering in height and very athletic, Deacon is a year and a few weeks younger than Doug, but the more mature of the two, in addition to being the classic "family man". Deacon and his wife Kelly have two sons, named Major and Kirby. He is often seen hanging out with Doug, whether it is on their lunch break, over the weekend, or for a family gathering. Although he often experiences relationship problems, Deacon always has time to relax and have fun. He will often help Doug plan elaborate schemes to fool Carrie, but he rarely likes to get involved in the scheme himself. Deacon attended St. John's University in Queens, where he received two master's degrees, one in computer science and one in chemistry. In the first season episode "Best Man", Deacon mentions having served in the National Guard. He also volunteers as a big brother.
Spencer "Spence" Olchin (played by Patton Oswalt) is another friend of Doug's and the nerd of the group. He tends to be paranoid with fragile health and takes an interest in science fiction, fantasy movies, and comic book conventions—interests that his friends do not share. Spence's birthday is February 14. He is of Albanian heritage, and works as a subway token booth clerk. He moved to the New York area from rural West Virginia. In one episode, he is a "house boy" for Deacon and Kelly. His character is based largely on the actor who plays him, Patton Oswalt. Spence demonstrates intelligence and competence in a variety of pursuits, but he is haunted by his family history, his intimidating and troubled mother, and his inability to protect himself. Numerous episodes mention that Spence is asthmatic (a burden he shares with Danny) and allergic to peanuts (however, in the episode "Richie's Song" he is seen eating Peanut M&M's out of Doug's vehicle). In the season eight episode "Hartford Wailer", Spence is said to be from Ottawa. In the series' penultimate episode, "Single Spaced", Spence shows interest in romancing Carrie when it appears she and Doug will divorce.
Richard "Richie" Iannucci (seasons 1–3; played by Larry Romano) is one of Doug's closest friends. He and Doug were roommates before Doug married Carrie (shown in the episode "Meet By-Product"). He was quietly written out of the show in season three so Romano could work on another sitcom (Kristin). During that season, he only appeared in one episode, called "Paint Misbehavin". He mostly addressed Doug as "Moose". Richie was known as the ladies' man among Doug's friends, even admitting to sleeping with Doug's sister. Richie is an FDNY firefighter. He is also somewhat of a con artist. His last appearance on the show was in the episode "Paint Misbehavin'", in which he has sex (offscreen) with Doug's sister Stephanie (Ricki Lake) and afterwards she promises to call him, although she has no intention to. He was also briefly seen in a few clips during the flashback montage at the end of the series finale.
Daniel "Danny" Heffernan (played by Gary Valentine) is Doug's cousin, and he is also seen hanging out with Doug, Spence, and Deacon. In the show's early seasons Doug has a negative view of Danny bordering on hate. As the show progresses, they become friends and co-workers and regularly hang out along with Deacon and Spence. Danny even becomes Spence's roommate in a small apartment. The two fight like a married couple, and many of the jokes revolve around what looks to their friends like a romantic relationship. At one point, they legally marry in order to get a free TV from a sales pitch for which only married couples are eligible. Danny also used to own a pizza place, and he is divorced from a woman named Eva. He once had the nickname "Stumpy", which was given to him by Doug. Episodes "Silent Mite" and "Paint Misbehavin'" reveal that Danny has asthma and uses an inhaler. Gary Valentine and Kevin James are brothers in real life. They both created last names for acting. Valentine is their father's middle name.
Holly Shumpert (seasons 3–9; played by Nicole Sullivan) is a polite, yet timid dog-walker who along with the Heffernans lives in Queens, where she was hired by Doug and Carrie to walk Arthur. She is often seen arriving at the Heffernan house to pick up Arthur but is also a family friend of the Heffernans. She is often viewed as strange because of her habits, the men she dates and her habit of overdrinking, to which she openly confesses. Holly is a gentle soul, especially as she puts up with Arthur's antics, and is kind to Carrie despite the fact that Carrie often mistreats her. Holly was written out of the series at the beginning of season eight, but she later returned, pregnant, for one last appearance in the series finale ("China Syndrome").
Sara Spooner (season 1; played by Lisa Rieffel) is Carrie's younger half-sister, an irresponsible aspiring actress. She appears in only five of the first six episodes. She was only mentioned one other time (although not by name) in episode 52 ("Roast Chicken") by Doug as an excuse to his boss to get out of performing a roast. After the show became more popular, Kevin James was asked to explain what happened to Sara during an interview. According to James, the producers could not think of any storylines to develop Rieffel's character, so she was discontinued. During the pilot she was on camera for roughly half the episode. However, in the other episodes in which she was included, her character did not have much to say or do. Subsequent dialogue suggests that Sara Spooner never existed, and that Carrie is an only child. (The disappearance of her character, coupled with the show's subsequent contention that the character never existed, is an example of the "Chuck Cunningham Syndrome".)
Kelly Palmer, Deacon's wife (played by Merrin Dungey) is Carrie's best friend. She has two children with Deacon. Kelly and Deacon experience some serious relationship problems, much more serious than the petty arguments between Doug and Carrie. On one occasion, Deacon mentions being hit in the head with a frying pan. She was absent from the show in 2002 because she needed to take a break from the series; during this period, her character was estranged from Deacon and engaged in a brief affair.
Lou Ferrigno (seasons 3–9; himself) is the actor known for his role as The Incredible Hulk. Ferrigno and his wife are neighbors of the Heffernans. A running gag on the series is that the neighbors (including the Heffernans) are fascinated by him and it gets on his nerves. Lou does not like people telling him Hulk jokes. Other characters often make reference to his previous role as the Hulk. For example, at one point Doug is angry and Lou tries to calm him down; Doug retorts with the famous line from the Hulk series "Don't make me angry; you wouldn't like me when I am angry". Also, in the episode "Gym Neighbors", it is revealed that he has a video game addiction.
Supervisor Patrick O'Boyle (seasons 3–9; played by Sam McMurray) is section supervisor for the fictional International Parcel Service. He is Doug's boss and friend throughout most of the show, whom he mostly refers to as "Heffernan". He is in most IPS scenes throughout the show. He is also a recovering alcoholic and gambling addict. A character named Supervisor Jack O'Boyle (played by John F. O'Donohue) appears in an episode from season one ("White Collar", 1999).
Raymond "Ray" Barone (seasons 1, 2 & 8; 5 episodes; played by Ray Romano) is Doug's Long Island friend. Romano and James appearing on each other's shows was part of a network program crossover, as CBS aired both Everybody Loves Raymond and The King of Queens. Romano's appearance was successful enough to warrant all other lead characters (Patricia Heaton, Brad Garrett, Doris Roberts, and Peter Boyle) to appear as their respective characters as well. Appropriately, the four episodes featuring Romano contained "Ray" in their titles ("Road Rayge", "Rayny Day", "Dire Strayts", and "Raygin' Bulls").
Doug Pruzan (season 2–6; played by Alex Skuby) is Carrie's boss and a lawyer at a Manhattan law firm.
Based on the lives of blue-collar couple Doug and Carrie Heffernan, The King of Queens debuted on CBS on September 21, 1998. During its run, it brought in solid ratings (usually ranking in the Top 40) for the most part and was a Monday night staple, competing with shows such as the long-running drama 7th Heaven. In 2003, when scheduled against The West Wing and Nanny 911, it began to drop in the ratings. The final episode aired on May 14, 2007. The series shot at Sony Pictures Studios' Stage 28 in Culver City, California.
According to the DVD commentary of the Pilot episode, the character of Arthur was conceived with Jerry Stiller in mind, but he initially turned down the role. Veteran comedian Jack Carter was then cast and a pilot was shot. Soon afterward, Stiller changed his mind and took the part, which required re-shooting of scenes featuring Carter.
The King of Queens was partly inspired by the classic television sitcom The Honeymooners, as the characters of Doug and Carrie are based on the Kramden couple, with similar mannerisms and deadpan expressions. In a 2001 episode of the show ("Inner Tube"), the show pays homage to The Honeymooners, as a distraught Doug dreams that he is Ralph Kramden, his wife Carrie is Alice Kramden, and his friend Deacon is Ed Norton. The sequence was filmed in black-and-white and the audio quality (including the audience) matches a 1950s style.
The King of Queens was one of the first series to broadcast in 16:9 high-definition video, broadcasting in 1080i. At the time of the show's premiere, CBS had just regained broadcasting rights to the NFL, and was an early adopter of HDTV technology as a result, allowing The King of Queens to broadcast with the technology.
The show is currently in syndication worldwide and airs on TBS and TV Land in the United States and on TVTropolis and OMNI in Canada. In Sweden, Germany, Ireland, Romania, Denmark, the UK and Poland it runs on the ComedyCentral network. Since 14 April 2014 the show runs on weekdays on Channel 4 at 7:35am in the UK and Ireland.
Theme song and opening sequences
The season one main opening was a simple eight-second sequence which showed the window of a subway train with moving through and quickly stopping at the original show logo, which then peeled off to reveal the names of the show's creators.
Starting with season two, the show added a new theme song called "Baby All My Life I Will Be Driving Home to You", which was written by series writers Josh Goldsmith and Cathy Yuspa, composed by Jonathan Wolff and Scott Clausen, and performed by Billy Vera and the Beaters. An instrumental version was used as the closing theme during season two, but was replaced in season three with a new closing theme composed by Kurt Farquhar.
The opening credits from seasons two through nine featured an opening shot of Doug getting into an IPS truck, which then cuts to a long shot of a elevated subway station, (Which is the 111 Street Station on the IRT Flushing Line which is on the 7 Line of the New York City Subway) where he drives under the subway station onto which the show's logo is digitally placed, as if it's a street sign. It then cuts to scenes of Doug, Carrie and Arthur spending time around Queens. In the season two sequence, Kevin James' starring credit was placed over a shot of the Brooklyn Bridge with the Manhattan skyline, but was re-edited after the September 11 attacks that felled the World Trade Center. Two short versions of the sequence exist: in original airings where the opening was shortened due to time constraints and in some syndicated airings, the opening featured the shot of the IPS truck going under the bridge, then to the final shot of the credits where Doug and Carrie get ices at the Lemon Ice King of Corona on 108th St in Queens. The second version used in U.S. syndicated airings since 2007 simply features the first eight seconds of the full sequence with the opening establishing shots of Queens placed before the truck scene. In syndicated airings of season one episodes that have aired in the U.S. since the fall of 2007, this version replaced the standard season one sequence in all episodes for unknown reasons.
In 2006, Kevin James received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for his portrayal of Doug Heffernan.
In addition, The King of Queens received several BMI Awards during its prime-time run. The series won BMI Awards in the "TV Music Award" category in 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004. These awards were presented to Kurt Farquhar, Josh Goldsmith, Andrew Gross, and Cathy Yuspa.
In Region 2, Paramount Home Entertainment has released all nine seasons on DVD in the UK. The series has also been released in Germany by Koch Media, all nine seasons have been released.
In Region 4, Paramount Home Entertainment has released all nine seasons on DVD in Australia.
Seasons two and three were released on Blu-ray Disc by Koch Media on November 21, 2008. They are presented with 1080i/25fps VC-1 video, 2.0 DTS audio tracks in both English and German with German subtitles optional. They include the same extras as the DVD releases from Koch Media. Even though they are only released in Germany and Austria, they are not region locked.
On March 26, 2015, Koch Media released the whole series on Blu-ray in HD. The complete box set is distributed for Region B/2.