The Odd Couple is a play, written by Neil Simon, about two divorced men who live together. Making its Broadway debut in 1965, the show chronicles Felix Ungar (spelled "Unger" in the television sitcom), an extremely neat, neurotic, and soon to be divorcee, and his best friend, Oscar Madison, an extremely messy, carefree, recently divorced sports writer.
The play was later adapted into a movie in 1968 (which was followed by a sequel, The Odd Couple II, in 1998), a television series from 1970-1975 (which was followed by a made-for-TV reunion movie, The Odd Couple: Together Again), and later spoofed as an animated series The Oddball Couple. The New Odd Couple, with an African American cast, debuted in 1982. A 1985 Broadway revival featured female versions of the main characters, with the lead characters becoming Olive Madison and Florence Ungar. In 2015, CBS launched a new series, also entitled The Odd Couple, which was based on the original play, movie and television series.
When promoting the 2015 CBS television series, executive producer Bob Daly stated: "the DNA of those two characters has seeped into television for the last four decades. I spent five years writing on Frasier, and Frasier was basically The Odd Couple with one Oscar and two Felixes. Bert and Ernie are The Odd Couple. The Odd Couple has been repeated so many times." In response to Daly's comment, Tom Lennon (Felix) quipped: "In terms of the Bert and Ernie aspect, we do take a lot of bubble baths together in the show." Matthew Perry (Oscar) added: "More than you would think."
- The commercial for "Johnny Fiama's Pasta Playhouse", seen in episode 208 of Muppets Tonight, advertised a performance of The Odd Couple, featuring Dr. Phil van Neuter as Felix Ungar and Mulch as Oscar Madison.
- In Episode 3891 of Sesame Street, Oscar the Grouch was visited by an old friend, Felix the Grouch, who by then turned out to be a grouch who actually likes to clean. This was an obvious reference to The Odd Couple, with both characters having the names of the main characters and one being neat while the other is sloppy. However, despite both characters being messy, it should be noted that Oscar the Grouch was not named after Oscar Madison. Music cues heard throughout the episode riff on the theme song to The Odd Couple TV series. The episode also ends with Felix picking up Oscar's crumpled paper with his umbrella, a direct callback to one of The Odd Couple's iconic images. Hearing the two friends argue, Telly calls them a strange couple; Maria remarks to the camera she thinks they're more of "an odd couple" (though Telly disagrees).
- A Sesamestreet.org playlist about Ernie is advertised as "The Odder Couple: Ernie and Bert."
- In The Odd Couple episode "Surprise, Surprise!" while Felix's daughter is waiting for her birthday party to begin, Oscar suggests that she watch Sesame Street.
- Bruce Bilson directed several episodes of the original series.
- Matthew Broderick played Felix Ungar in the 2005 stage revival.
- Albert Brooks played Rudy in two episodes of the original television series.
- Art Carney played Felix Ungar in the original stage production.
- Roy Clark guest starred in the original series episode "The Roy Clark Show."
- Paul Dooley originated Speed in the Broadway production.
- Craig Ferguson played Oscar Madison in a Glasgow and Scotland tour.
- Brad Garrett played Murray in the 2005 stage revival, and briefly filled in for Nathan Lane as Oscar Madison.
- Pat Hingle played Oscar Madison during the original Broadway run.
- Bruce Kirby played Zelnick in The Odd Couple: Together Again (TV movie).
- David Ketchum played multiple characters on the original TV series.
- Nathan Lane portrayed Oscar Madison in the 2005 stage revival.
- Jenny O'Hara played Sylvie in the 1985 all female Broadway production.
- Garry Marshall developed the series for television, as well as produced, wrote, directed and starred in many episodes.
- Penny Marshall played Myrna Turner in the later seasons of the 1970-1975 television series.
- Rita Moreno played Olive Madison in the 1985 female Broadway production.
- Tony Randall played Felix Unger on the 1970-1975 television series.
- Tony Shalhoub played one of the Costazuela brothers in the 1985 female Broadway production.
- Jonathan Silverman played Bruce Madison in The Odd Couple II.
- Florence Stanley played Hattie in The Odd Couple II.
- Jessica Stone played Cecily Pigeon in the 2005 Broadway revival.
- Sally Struthers played Florence Ungar in the 1985 female Broadway production.
- Lisa Waltz played Hannah Ungar in The Odd Couple II.
- Betty White guest starred as herself in the original series episode "Password".
- Paul Williams guest starred in the original series episode "The Paul Williams Show."
- Louis Zorich was the standby for Walter Matthau in the original Broadway production.