Ralph is the son of Mickey and Minnie Malph who are mentioned and seen in a couple of episodes. In one episode Mickey and Minnie were about to be divorced until a talk with Ralph.
Ralph inherited his affinity for one-liners from his father, who works as an ophthalmologist. By the end of the series Ralph followed in his father's footsteps and became an ophthalmologist himself.
Ralph is a shy but good-natured fellow to his friends. In earlier seasons, Ralph's girl-chasing was the primary focus of his character. He would occasionally get dates but generally he was not very successful at it, although he was slightly more successful than Richie and Potsie. As the seasons progressed, he was shown to be easily frightened and often panicked greatly at the least and greatest occurrences. Originally the series tended to focus on Richie and Potsie, often in schemes to attract women, with Ralph as a third wheel.
In Season 1, Ralph was presented as considerably "cooler" than Richie or Potsie. He was member of a gang called The Gems (he often wore a red Gems jacket), which gave him more of a popularity boost. In later seasons Ralph became best friends with Potsie, and they were both labeled "nerds" by Fonzie, due to their collective eagerness to do virtually anything to be among the cool people.
Ralph usually has two things on his mind: girls and jokes, though not always in that order. Ralph often fancies himself a great comedian, though his jokes are usually stale or just not very funny. Most of the time when Ralph cracks off a one-liner, even though he gets little or no response, he proudly intones, "I still got it!" Ralph is also a prankster who resorts to novelty items (whoopie cushions, Groucho glasses, etc.) to get laughs.
On a few occasions Ralph has tried to defend himself and his friends against adversaries by attempting to convince them that he is a karate expert saying "These hands are lethal weapons," though his bravado was quickly dispelled when he found himself overmatched. At other times Ralph was shown to be a total coward; in the Season 5 episode Requiem for a Malph when Rebel E. Lee caught Ralph with his girlfriend Kitty, Ralph went down on his knees in front of Rebel loudly begging for his life.
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