The current-voltage (I-V) characteristics of most industrial silicon solar cells deviate rather strongly from the exponential behavior expected from textbook knowledge. Thus, the recombination current may be orders of magnitude larger than expected for the given material quality and often shows an ideality factor larger than 2 in a wide bias-range, which cannot be explained by classical theory either. Sometimes, the cells contain ohmic shunts although the cell’s edges have been perfectly insolated. Even in the absence of such shunts, the characteristics are linear or super-linear under reverse bias, while a saturation would be classically expected. Especially in multicrystalline cells the breakdown does not tend to occur at -50 V reverse bias, as expected, but already at about -15 V or even below. These deviations are typically caused by extended defects in the cells. This paper reviews the present knowledge of the origin of such non-ideal I-V characteristics of silicon solar cells and introduces new results on recombination involving coupled defect levels.