After thirteen seasons and a movie, Bob’s Burgers still manages to deliver laughter and delight with the latest antics from the Belcher family. Its sense of humor has always been rooted in the quirkiness of each character and how well they play off with each other. For Tina Belcher (voiced by Dan Mintz), the eldest among Bob and Linda’s children, much of her quirky personality comes from being an awkward teenager suffering from boy craziness.
“I am a smart, strong, sensual woman” is an actual quote from Bob’s Burgers in season one. As the line says, Tina Belcher, who is supposedly 13 years old, is deeply in touch with her sensuality and isn’t afraid to talk about it. She’s obsessed with butts and writes what she calls “erotic friend fiction.” For the uninitiated, it’s erotic fiction featuring schoolmates as the main characters.
Her family’s burger joint has delivered a steady supply of potential crushes for Tina—and often, the first boy she sees is the one that catches her eye. Jimmy Pesto, Jr., a boy from her grade who lives across their restaurant, is her dream beau. They have an on-again-off-again type of relationship but trust me, Tina has had no shortage of crushes in over a decade of Bob’s Burgers.
I have to admit that sometimes Tina’s boy craziness does go a bit too far. Any long-running animated show like Bob’s Burgers eventually suffers from a lack of character development, especially if the characters are not meant to age. Perhaps the writers run out of ways to make Tina more dynamic, so they just throw in another boy for her to obsess over.
The absurd humor of Bob’s Burgers means we’ve seen some odd choices for a boyfriend for the eldest Belcher, including ones that don’t even have a physical form. On that note, here’s my ranking of Tina Belcher’s weirdest love interests ever.
#3: Jeff the Ghost in a Box
In Season 5 Episode 2, Tina conjures a boyfriend out of thin air. An exterminator visits their basement and warns the Belchers that they have a ghost. Using an Ouija board, they determine that the ghost is a 13-year-old boy named Jeff. Tina immediately feels protective of Jeff upon hearing that they’re the same age.
Tina brings the shoebox containing Jeff’s spirit to school, which intrigues her classmates. Jimmy Jr. gives off a jealous attitude and says Jeff isn’t real, while Tina’s frenemy Tammy claims Jeff asked her to be his girlfriend. I admit that any episode featuring Tina’s schoolmates is always funny—and this one is actually on point with the comedy—but falling in love with a ghost is cringe-worthy. The only consolation is that Tammy’s insecurity is highlighted by the end of the episode.
#2: Rodrigo the Spanish Audiotape
In Bob’s Burgers Season 11 Episode 16, “Y Tu Tina También,” a lack of a spring fling and what Louise calls “moody teen-itus” has Tina Belcher in a bit of a funk. The only promising thing in her future is the Spring Fair and the Belcher kids’ plan to dunk Mr. Frond into the dunk tank.
But their practice dunking gets interrupted by Tina being forced to listen to a Spanish audiotape after some failed quizzes. When the voice of 15-year-old Rodrigo comes on, Tina Belcher’s overactive imagination goes into overdrive, and she develops a crush. She asks in her signature deadpan voice, “I know we just met, and you’re just a voice on a tape, but you’re feeling this too, right?”
Throughout the course of the Bob’s Burgers episode, Tina visualizes going on beach dates with the imaginary Rodrigo. She finally feels like she’s beaten her slump, but even her siblings think it’s too much that their sister has fallen for a voice on a 30-year-old recording.
The worst part about this Bob’s Burgers episode is how Tina betrays her siblings to continue “dating” Rodrigo. Eleven seasons in, and it feels like a disservice to the character arc of Tina Belcher, who is not as boy-crazy as she was in the pilot and has become a fiercely loyal sister.
#1: Bruce the Goose
We meet Bruce the Goose in the ninth season of Bob’s Burgers in an episode called “Every Which Way But Goose.” Sad about Jimmy Jr.’s disinterest in an upcoming dance she picked a theme for, Tina starts venting to a goose in the park. At first, it seemed innocent and almost normal for a cartoon character to have one-sided conversations with an animal. I talk to my dogs all the time when I’m stressed, and it’s always a therapeutic experience.
But Tina’s diary reveals that she actually imagined a life with Bruce the Goose and wrote, “No one understood their love, so they ran away together and laid dozens & dozens of eggs, and had dozens and dozens of babies who looked like little amazing goose people.”
Falling in love with a goose is weird, even for a hormonal teen like Tina Belcher. It’s on brand with Bob’s Burgers’ overall absurd comedy but felt too extreme to have Tina in a relationship with an animal. Furthermore, the episode really made it seem that she would never be content unless she were in a relationship, and it didn’t matter who she was with.
There’s always been something endearing and relatable about Tina Belcher’s awkwardness. It reminded fans of Bob’s Burgers of their own love-obsessed and hormone-fueled teenage years.
At this point, though, Bob’s Burgers can tone down Tina’s obsession with relationships for the next seasons. She has a wild imagination that makes her act borderline inappropriate at times, but she’s also shown a lot of self-awareness and independence over the seasons. It’s an injustice to keep pushing the boy-crazy teenager stereotype on such a unique and likable character. Tina Belcher is a lot more than whoever she’s pining for—human or not—and she deserves to be portrayed with greater depth.