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Nate WrightThe title character. Nate is a sixth grade straight-F student, self-proclaimed ladies' man and Renaissance Man, and quite short (4'6" to be exact). His crush is Jenny, who hates him, and his sworn enemies are Gina and Mrs. Godfrey.
- Abhorrent Admirer: Believes that he and Jenny are destined together and uses every possible opportunity to pursue her. Jenny, for her part,does not like him back, but she does tolerate him to some extent.
- Anime Hair: At one point, his friends try to make fun of him by making an ice cream cone with ice cream that looks like his hair. Nate admits that while he's not happy with it, it is a creative use of "Hershey's Kisses."
- Arch-Enemy: He has a few for different reasons:
- Gina: Him being a slacker and her a kiss-up straight-A student, they clash very frequently. Nate's friends commented they have a Love/Hate relationship however.
- Mrs. Godfrey: His social studies teacher. Somewhat one-sided, he does not like her at all and they clash the most frequently. While most of it is Nate's doing, there are times where she also shows her frustration with him. Her favoritism to his older sister may have been a part of it.
- Randy Betancourt: The school's Top Jerkass. He tends to mess or screw with people For the Lulz. Nate usually steps in to put a stop to Randy's Jerkass deeds and Randy doesn't take stuff lying down.
- A novel has this intensify when Nate actually moves on from Jenny and likes a new girl... the same one Randy does. Furthermore, the only times Nate has ever gotten into a physical altercation was with Randy, and this has happened twice so far.
- Berserk Button: Notably, mentioning school during the summer or bringing up the possibility that he can be outdone.
- Also messing with his friends. Despite not being on speaking terms (due to a fight) with Francis, when Randy bullies him, Nate proceeds to go berserk and physically fight him (he even mentions it's the first time he ever fought someone).
- Brilliant, but Lazy: Nate is amazing with random trivia (basketball, Peanuts, etc.), yet earns horrible grades because he lacks the motivation to study properly. He's also a chess prodigy (even going to the occasional state tournament), and only earns horrible grades in Ms. Godfrey's history class. Every other class hovers around a grade of C. He appears to be quite good at pranking as during the 'Prank Day' sessions. At one point, bringing in a flying squirel and a moose to school (going for a Rocky and Bullwinkle theme.)
- Casanova Wannabe: Nate frequently tries to chat up any pretty girl he encounters (but especially Jenny, whom he believes is his soulmate), but are almost never successful with his endeavours. There are some aversions, however:
- He had a girlfriend named Angie in the summer of 1997, who he met at Summer School. She broke up with him six months later, on Valentines' Day.
- During the summer of 2001, he got a girlfriend named Kelly. Unfortunately, he broke up with her the following year, (they met in soccer camp and was seldom seen, going to a different school).
- In the 2015 strip, he's found another girl named Trudy, a seventh-grader.
- Catch Phrase: "Spitsy, you idiot" and "Oh, how I hate her."
- Cosmic Plaything: His streak of bad luck, especially when trying to do something nice for Jenny, cements his status as this.
- Deadpan Snarker: What'd you expect from the Yo Mama King/Nickname Czar/King of the Trash Talk?
- Dirty Kid: He's somewhat obsessed with a racy Superheroine called "Femme Fatality", which got him in trouble when he lend one of her comics to his 1st grade reading buddy, Peter.
- Even Evil Has Standards: In the strip in which Jenny asks Artur out, she gives Nate the fateful note. He considers disposing it, before deciding that's too sleazy even by his standards.
- Follow Your Nose: Nate's sense of smell is so keen that at several points he identifies several things to crazy specifics (blindfolded) just by smelling them.
- The Friend Nobody Likes: Teddy and Francis put up with him more than they hang out him. Lampshaded in one strip, where Nate loudly wonders why one would hang out with people they don't like, and, in the next panel, Francis and Teddy had disappeared.
- Genius Ditz: Is able to plan out complex pranks with precision, but is unable to name a Chinese emperor.
- Hopeless Suitor: Continuously tries to win Jenny's affection despite the fact that she and Artur are Sickeningly Sweethearts.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Nate is often seen sticking up for those needing it and will give a helping hand in his own way (such as when a student is dealing with someone annoying or that's a jerk, Nate lures them to his locker and opens it, blasting them away with the crammed junk.) His reasons for not being nice as often might be a result of having a huge streak of bad luck.
- Missing Mom: His mother divorced his father when he was young, and he doesn't really know her all that well.
- The Nicknamer: He's a master nicknamer who has come up with at least a dozen of insulting nick names for the teachers (especially Mrs. Godfrey).
- The Pig Pen: : He's a slob who practically keeps a junkyard in his locker, and the homework he submitted is always in a mess (crumpled up, stained with various food scraps, etc)
- The Prankster: The best prankster in school, and had always pulled the craziest stunts during Prank Day.
- Prince Charming Wannabe: His attempts to court Jenny frequently involves writing her (lame) poetries, calling her "milady", and generally trying and failing to be chivalrous around her.
- Selective Obliviousness: No matter how many times, ways, or just flat-out statements of hate for him he gets, Nate still believes that deep down, Jenny likes him.
- One chapter novel actually has him move on from this and realizes she never really liked him.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Frequently boasts of his own greatness, even though he rarely achieve anything.
- Stalker with a Crush: It is mentioned that he once played a "Love You Like a Love Song"-esque song in order to impress Jenny.
- Trademark Favourite Food: Cheez Doodlez, which he uses as his #1 subject for poetry writing (when he's not trying to write stupid love poems for Jenny, of course).
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Often becomes one, such as when he treats Jenny's breakups with a smile and basically grinds her feelings to powder.
- Why Can't I Hate You?: To Artur. Both a romantic and nonromantic version. Nate's dislike of Artur stems from Artur being with Jenny, being better at chess and being Born Lucky compared to Nate's Butt Monkey status. Despite this, he can't bring himself to hate him and is friends with him. He even admits that he finds Artur okay, but is annoyed how nothing bad tends to happen to him.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Nate has a fear of cats. Often Played for Laughs.
Francis Butthurst PopeNate's best friend, a bookish, school-loving, at times borderline butt-kisser. He's, among other things, a Neat Freak, Nice Guy, and Deadpan Snarker.
- Berserk Button: He does not take nicely to having his Book of Facts taken away.
- Deadpan Snarker: Does this frequently to Nate.
- Embarrassing Middle Name: His middle name is Butthurst.
- Insufferable Genius: He's smarter than his peers and doesn't hesitate to show it off, leading to several Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist moments.
- Momma's Boy: Is definitely the wussiest of the group, having My Beloved Smother tendencies at times, using a roller backpack, and being Jimmylike at times.
- Neat Freak: Maakes a good Foil to Nate being such a mess.
- Nice Guy: He is definitely the nicest of the trio, although his know-it-all tendencies can get annoying.
- Professional Butt-Kisser: It is mentioned that he has Mrs. Godfrey's birthday in his planner. Also, in the Jefferson saga, upon learning that they're going to Jefferson, Francis shows up in Jefferson garb.
- Running Gag: His obsession with The Book of Facts.
- Smart People Wear Glasses: Francis wears glasses and plays the role of the stereotypical Smart Guy in Nate's group, as he enjoys reading Trivia books, studies for leisure and is excited about school.
- Teacher's Pet: Is definitely in far better graces with teachers than Teddy and Nate.
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Frequently acts as a know-it-all spoilsports, which earned him wedgies from his peers.
Teddy OrtizNate's other best friend, who matches Nate in prankster tendencies. On the rare occasions that anyone agrees with Nate, it will most likely be Teddy. His parents are mathematicians, as evidenced by his middle name being the square root symbol.
- Embarrassing Middle Name: The square root symbol (it's mentioned that his parents are math majors).
- Nightmare Fetishist: He can be rather gross, as Nate first opened up to him when he played around with a squid's leg to pretend they were boogers during a science class. He has also more than once disgusted his friends when he started to discuss about his eating habits, such as how he "ate so many gummy bears that one of them came out from [his] nose".
- Only Sane Man: He's the most normal of the trio — he's not as wacky or stupidly reckless as Nate, but is far more socially adept then Francis.
Marty WrightNate's dad. The epitome of a Bumbling Dad, who is divorced, sucks at sports, and on the occasions that Nate is not the Butt Monkey, expect Dad to be.
- Berserk Button: It's not a good idea to mention college money to him. He's also rather volatile while working his taxes.
- Bumbling Dad: Hits pretty much every single note, and seems to have "Epic Fail" written on his attempts to do anything.
- Butt Monkey: If Nate isn't the one getting the Butt Monkey treatment, it's usually his father who takes up the role.
- Dirty Old Man: Enjoys Nate's "Femme Fatality" comics, and has an Anna Kournikova screen saver.
- Fan Disservice: He's a balding, middle-aged guy with a port belly and has the tendency to walk around shirtless or in shorts.
- Hollywood Genetics: Guy with ambiguous hair color gets a raven-haired kid and a blonde kid.
- Hypocritical Humor: Quite a bit. Examples include: Confiscating Femme Fatality when he has an Anna Kournikova screen saver, telling Nate to eat healthy when in fact he has a rather decent-sized sweet stash, etc.
Ellen WrightNate's older sister, who drives Nate crazy. Has grown to less significance as the strip goes on.
- Dumb Blonde: Inverted. Nate considers her dumb and annoying, but she's very smart and was a Teacher's Pet of Mrs. Godfrey, Nate's current Social Studies teacher.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: To Nate. She is a Ditzy Genius and Crazy Cat Lady to Nate's lazy intelligence and dog love.
- Sickeningly Sweethearts: Although it is not shown very often, she can get very lovey-dovey with her boyfriend Gordie.
Clara GodfreyNate's teacher and Arch-Enemy. While not as evil as Nate often describes her (because only Umbridge could be that evil), often shows blatant favoritism.
- Arch-Enemy: She is one of Nate's least favorite teachers (after Coach John). Mrs. Godfrey, on her part, detests Nate for his lack of effort and disrespectfulness, and is shown to be very pleased when Nate is assigned to another teacher during the school's temporary "visit" to Jefferson.
- Evil Smells Bad: According to Nate, her breath stinks of dead fish.
- Parental Favoritism: Quite blatantly favours Gina over Nate. A recurring gag is that Gina will answer a question (without raising her hand and usually with a loud "OOH!", but when Nate does the same thing, she shoots him down.
- Sadist Teacher: While Nate does bring a lot of it on himself, Ms. Godfrey is usually unfair to him. For example, when Gina complains about Nate's loud breathing, Mrs. Godfrey immediately ordered Nate to stop breathing, even though he's not really doing anything wrong.
- Skewed Priorities: At one point, Nate sneaks into her desk to see if he can find his research paper topic. Mrs. Godfrey catches him, but the thing she notices is that Nate ate her Skittles.
Jenny JenkinsNate's long-running crush who is often annoyed and angered by him. Despite this, she manages to have something of a friendship with him. Is currently dating Artur. As of a 2013 strip, she has moved away to Seattle.
- Alliterative Name: Jenny Jenkins
- Berserk Button: Can get rather violent when Nate makes advancements or accidentally messes her up when trying to do something.
- Deadpan Snarker: When dealing witbh Nate.
- Everyone Loves Blondes: She's blonde, popular and is Nate's biggest crush.
- Hair Decorations: She wears a black hairband.
- Lysistrata Gambit: Uses a (toned down) version of this technique to beat Nate at Monopoly.
- Odd Friendship: Although Jenny frequently shoots down Nate's advances with either violence or harsh words, she frequently hangs out with him and the rest of his friends for swimming or Monopoly.
- Nate's Odd Friendship with her boyfriend Artur may be a reason. In a chapter book, she goes to Nate when Artur is an uncharacteristically bad mood (inadvertably caused by Nate, though only he knows that) and when he asks why she came to him, she mentions that Artur trusts and respects Nate.
Artur PashkovA transfer student from Belarus, who is Nate's Foil. While he is probably the nicest character in the strip, he has a one-sided rivalry with Nate (from Nate's point of view). Has a severe case of Does Not Understand Sarcasm.
- Always Someone Better: He is better at drawing and chess than Nate, two skills that Nate values the most about himself. The latter is addressed much more frequently though.
- Born Lucky: One of his traits that bothers Nate's, contrasting with his Butt Monkey status.
- Foil: To Nate. While Nate is a Casanova Wannabe, Butt Monkey, and Deadpan Snarker, Artur is probably the nicest person in the strip, a Chick Magnet, Born Lucky, and seriously Sarcasm-Blind.
- Foreign Exchange Student: He's an exchange student from Belarus.
- Innocently Insensitive: Due to his somewhat poor English skills, he occasionally says offensive stuffs without actually understanding what they mean.
- When asked if he wants to play table football, he jumps on a table.
- When asked if he had ever played soccer, Artur responded that no, he hadn't... because he isn't from America, and it was called football there.
- Nice Guy: Negative emotions are practically nonexistent to Artur, though Nate annoyed him once or twice.
- Odd Friendship: With Nate. Despite Nate's one-sided rivalry, Nate means a great deal to Artur. In fact, when Artur was upset (accidently due to Nate and known only by Nate, Teddy and Francis), Jenny says she went to Nate because of how much Artur trusts him.
- Unknown Rival: Nate has a massive grudge against Artur for being better than him in several things (particularly, chess and drawing, two skills Nate prides himself on, though the latter is never addressed.). To make matters worse, Artur is not only better at them than him, he's so darn modest about it!
Gina Hemphill-TomsNate's other arch-enemy, Gina is the polar opposite of Nate, getting straight A's and never letting him forget it. Basically, she's Ellen all over again, just a whole lot less ditzy.
- Academic Alpha Bitch: Takes pride in her academic achievements, and generally treats other people like shit.
- Insufferable Genius: She likes to show-off her knowledge by trying to answer any and every question Mrs. Godfrey asks in class. She once had a knowledge show-down with Francis to determine which of them is smarter.
- Kick the Dog: Nate's not a nice person, but tattling on Nate for breathing is just evil.
- Smart People Wear Glasses: She wears glasses and, along with Francis, is one of the smartest students in Nate's year.
- Teacher's Pet: She's one of Mrs. Godfrey's favourite students (the other being Ellen) and appears to enjoy being in her company. Once, an unusually friendly Gina meets Nate & co. in the beach and asks if she can hang around with them. Nate drove her away by pointing out that Mrs. Godfrey is also in the beach, and wouldn't Gina want to be with her instead? It worked.
Dee Dee "Dorcas" HollowayA Canon Immigrant from the books who eventually became a character in the comic books. She's a member of the drama club and a fellow cartoonist.
SpitsyA dog belonging to Nate's neighbor and is probably the closest thing to a pet Nate could ever have.
- Big Friendly Dog: Often greets Nate by glomping and licking him. Nate regards this gesture as either touching or annoying (usually the latter, though).
- Cone of Shame: Spitsy is never actually seen without his collar, and it enhances his goofy appearance. Fitting, for a dumb dog as him.
- Dogs Are Dumb: Nate constantly calls him an idiot for getting beat up by squirrels and going out for parties with Francis's cat.
- Interspecies Romance: Is dating Francis's cat, Pickles.
Uncle TedNate's lazy uncle who still lives with Nate's grandparents.
- Basement-Dweller: He lives with his parents and spends most of his time watching "Battlestar Galactica".
- Lazy Bum: Hoo boy. As if "still lives with his parents" wasn't enough of a hint.
Breckenridge Huffington the ThirdA new kid introduced in "Big Nate Lives It Up".
- Adorkable: Taken Up to Eleven.
- Nice Guy: He is like this now, but as a toddler, on the other hand..
- Karma Houdini: Breckenridge was a bully to Nate as a toddler, but he always got away with it.
- The Bully: Used to be this.
- The Smart Guy: He knows everything about flowers.
ShermanNate's class hamster who spends his days snarking at the class' antics.
- Deadpan Snarker: His only "lines" consist of him making snide commentaries about Nate and his classmates, especially when they start fussing about him. Here's one of his gems:Nate: It's a cheesy trinket! Sherman deserves something more dignified!Sherman: At this point, the dignity ship has sailed.
- Silent Snarker: Well, he isn't a Talking Animal, so nobody in-universe can actually hear his snark.