The strong, big, yet reluctant, and serious protagonist of the franchise who has a Russian accent. A supervillain whose previous schemes including stealing the Times Square Jumbotron, the Statue of Liberty (actually the Las Vegas one) and the Eiffel Tower (also Vegas). When another villain shows him up by stealing the Pyramid of Giza, he decides to top that by stealing the moon. This will require a shrink ray, and to get his hands on it, he comes up with a plan involving three little girls...
Acrofatic: Well, he's probably more bulky than fat, he can be far more agile than one would think.
Badass In Charge: Gru has the command, loyalty, and even the affection of 10,400 Minions.
Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: The trailers make him out to be an exceptional villain, but in the film, he's kind of incompetent and far too nice, to be an effective villain. It takes Vector kidnapping the girls for his true potential to show up.
Heartbroken Badass: Gru began to develop romantic feelings for Lucy after after she saved him from a very bad date. The next day? He was practically beaming with joy! Then, the whole case they were working on ends and Silas informs Gru that Lucy will be reassigned to Australia. Despite how he doesn't want her to leave, Gru wishes her all the best; and they say their sad goodbyes. Needless to say, Gru immediately became depressed and heartbroken over the strong possibility of never seeing Lucy again; his conversation with Agnes only made it worse. Unknown to Gru, he becomes a subversion of this trope, as Lucy had a Love Epiphany and decided to stay with him.
Bad Bad Acting: When Gru and the two remaining Minions Stuart and Dave sneak into El Macho's base. "Curses! Foiled again! These guys captured me!" While striking exaggeratedly-upset poses and waving his fake handcuffs around.
The Bad Guy Wins: Gru succeeds in stealing the moon. Subverted in that Gru puts it back into orbit after finding out that shrink ray's effects on the moon are only temporary.
He knows each minion by name, they have holiday weeks and love their work. Gru is a crowning example of Benevolent Boss.
In the sequel, he even looked horrified at the sight of the majority of his Minions locked in cages, and acting like a bunch of wild animals.
In the sequel while he and two of his minions were being surrounded he sent them up the antenna before him even though it meant there was no room for him.
There's also the fact that he knows the name of every single one of his minions. Considering how many there are and how similar they can all look that's very impressive.
It's also Fridge Brilliance: the word "minion" can mean either "a subordinate of a person in power" or "a favored or highly respected person" Considering Gru's true nature...
He can tell if any of them has recently had a haircut!
Berserk Button: Unless you want to face a possible beat down by someone who was one of the greatest supervillains in the world and who can punch a shark with one hand! There are a couple of buttons you shouldn't push with Gru:
Do not kidnap his daughters! Seriously! Vector was lucky he accidentally sent himself to the moon, or Gru might've thought about giving him the same fate as he did the Carnival Barker's stand!
Do not kidnap Lucy Wilde. Not only was she the first woman that Gru fell madly in love with, but after 147 dates, she became his wife.
Do not hurt his Minions. They may be his Minions, but he considers them a part of his family and threatening them is a big mistake.
The same is said for his mother (Marlena), Kyle (pet "dog") and Dr. Nefario. He sometimes has friction with all of them, but don't think that means he won't hurt someone who threatens any of them.
Break the heart of any of his daughters and it's time to say hello to his freeze ray. Sorry Antonio...NOT.
Big Ego, Hidden Depths: Gru may act like the usual villain: Egotistical, rude, selfish, dreams of achieving great evil, little empathy, and an all around Jerkass......get to actually know him and your opinion might change.
Evil Is Petty: Prior to his Heel-Face Turn. Gru hits the cars in front and back of his monstrosity of a vehicle repeatedly while he's parallel parking. Not out of ineptitude, mind you, he parks perfectly; he does it just because it will make two strangers' days a little worse.
The First Cut Is the Deepest: In the sequel, Gru has a flashback of when he had his first crush when he was 8 or 9. He was quite nervous and tried to gain her affection with a flower he got. Sadly, the said crush was part of the Kids Are Cruel group, which was the entire school, who didn't want to be near Gru at all because of his "Gruties". It's very clear that Gru has gotten over her, but she and the children left him with some major issues over his confidence on love and dating.
Freeze Ray: He has one that he uses on several customers in a coffee shop. As well as Vector at one point.
Freudian Excuse: He tried to gain his mother's respect ever since he was little, but she never acknowledged his talents. His school life also wasn't great either, because the other kids treated him like he was a walking fatal disease and didn't want to be near him.
Friendless Background: Before he met Dr. Nefario and the Minions, Gru didn't have any friends, as seen in his flashback in the sequel.
Gadgeteer Genius: Gru doesn't build most of things in his lab, but he was able to build a prototype rocket and hadn't hit puberty yet.
Hidden Depths: Gru spends most of the first film relying on technology to do his dirty work; in almost every case, it doesn't work properly, doesn't work well enough, or isn't what he needed or wanted in the first place. And then he takes on heat seeking missiles, followed by a shark. Bare handed. And doesn't break a sweat.
High-Speed Missile Dodge: He pulls this off very impressively. Not only are the missiles in question heat-seeking, but he jumps over them and even runs on top of one.
Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: The Huge Guy to Lucy's Tiny Girl. To be noted explicit, Lucy is taller than Gru because she wears high heels (without her heels she might still be taller than him or just about his height). Gru is still more muscular and bulky than Lucy.
GRU is also the acronym for Glavnoye Razvedyvatel'noye Upravleniye, the Soviet (and later Russian) military intelligence directorate. Early drafts played the Cold War elements more heavily than the final script, so it may be an Artifact Title.
Reformed But Not Tamed: He may be retired from being a villain, but his villainous tendencies still show occasionally. He can still be an outright Jerkass on a few occasions and is very much still a Badass.
Wanting Is Better Than Having: All his life, Gru fantasized about stealing the moon. This goal ends up clashing with his commitments to the girls. The final shot of the film suggests that Gru has been rewarded with both: the family is silhouetted against the moon, now returned to its place in the sky.
Beauty, Brains and Brawn: Agnes, Margo and Edith. Of course, all three of them are absolutely gorgeous, intelligent, and acts like tough girls. But, Margo is the most intelligent and Edith is a tomboy, eventually.
Later, Edith is the blonde to Lucy's redhead; Margo and Agnes are the brunettes to Lucy's redhead in the sequel.
Break the Cutie: When Gru gives the girls back to Miss Hattie, thanks to Nefario. Agnes clinging to Gru's leg, begging him to not send them back. Edith is too angry to even speak and doesn't give Gru one last look before leaving. And Margo is obviously heartbroken, but still thanks Gru in a sad voice. In the sequel, Margo's first heartbreak, thanks to Antonio and Agnes immediately stop smiling after Gru tells her that Lucy is being relocated to Australia.
Chromatic Arrangement: Margo (green), Edith (pink), and Agnes (blue). It was even lampshaded by Gru at the end of the first movie.
The Cuties: All three of them, full freaking stop, but mostly Agnes. Heck, they're cute enough to propel Gru into a Heel-Face Turn.
Girls with Guns: The girls help Gru, Dr. Nefario, and the Minions free and unmutate the Minions that Eduardo and (initially) Dr. Nefario captured to help take over the world. They used guns filled with jellies Gru and the Minions manufactured that was combined with the antidote Dr. Nefario created.
Meaningful Name: Margo's name is Greek for "pearl" (and the Greek word for pearl is "margarites"), which could allude to the type of glasses she wears are pearl. Edith's name is from Old English and means "war" which hints her fondness for destruction and love of Gru's weapons. Agnes' s name is of Greek descent and translates to "pure", which is perfect given her innocent and childlike nature.
Pint Sized Kids: Margo is the oldest and a pre-teen, but only reaches around Gru's waistline. Edith is around Gru's knees or a little lower on his waistline. Agnes, being the youngest, automatically reaches to the lower portion of his legs.
Youngest, tender, and joyful of the three girls Gru adopts. She's an oddball who loves unicorns and anything that's fluffy, a lot. Also, the first to take a liking to Gru and Kyle, his "pet dog", the most, rather than seeing them with suspicion.
Berserk Button: Remember that stuffed unicorn she won from the first movie? "IT'S SO FLUFFY!" Well in the sequel, Evil Kevin tries to eat her stuffed unicorn, only for her to scream which broke Evil Kevin's goggles, buying Margo and Agnes some time to escape to the underground laboratory.
Big Eater: Lampshaded by Gru, "Agnes, easy on the churros!"
Love at First Sight: A parent version in the sequel. Agnes instantly has a connection with Lucy Wilde and ask Gru if he's going to marry Lucy. He denies it, but after coming to realize his feelings for her and after 147 dates, he does marry Lucy.
Make Me Wanna Shout: When Evil Kevin tried to eat her stuffed unicorn, she screams loud enough to not only break his goggles, but several picture frames and a small stone bust of Gru's mother.
Never Say "Die": Averted in the most adorable way possible. "It's so fluffy, I'm gonna DIE!!"
Nice Girl: Her sisters aren't mean by a long shot, but with Margo being a Deadpan Snarker and Edith having the role of the The Prankster, Agnes is the least sarcastic and only plays pranks because of the influence of Edith.
Middle, sarcastic, curious, and tomboyish of the three girls Gru adopts. Somewhat disagreeable, though she was the first to take a liking to Gru's weapons, Minions and talent as both father and villain. She likes to scare her siblings, but is easily irritated when Agnes sings.
Loophole Abuse: Used this in the sequel when she was grabbing coins from a wishing fountain and Agnes asked if it was stealing. Edith quipped that it wasn't stealing if she wished for a lot of free coins.
Nerves of Steel: When Mutated Kevin was sent from El Macho to get of the girls and needless to say, the girls were not saw that coming. Even so, using her nun-chucks, Edith was prepared to defend her sisters if Mutated Kevin got too close. Fortunately, Dr. Nefario showed up in time to deliver the cure for Kevin and save the girls. But, before he did Edith didn't show any signs of being scared, though she was probably freaking out on the inside. This kid is only ten-years-old but was ready to fight a crazy, homicidal minion, to protect her siblings. This girl has more guts than most adults have or think they have.
Nice Hat: It never comes off. She also wears her snowshoes constantly and at least wear appropriate footwear for ballet.
Oldest, cynical, somewhat bossy, yet cool of the three girls Gru adopts. She acts as a guardian to her younger sisters, and as such is slow to trust anyone. She was the most suspicious of Gru when encountering him for the first time, so she took a liking to everything of Gru's possessions the latest.
Dating What Daddy Hates: In the sequel, Margo develops a crush on Antonio, the son of the said sequel's antagonist, and Gru is less than thrilled. Antonio later dumps Margo to dance with another girl and she's heartbroken. Thankfully, Gru had his Freeze Ray.
Heel-Face Revolving Door: Goes through this during the second movie. He quits working for Gru after, presumably three years, and goes to works for Eduardo, injecting Gru's Minions with a serum that makes them go nuts (more nuts than normal) but later comes back to Gru's side and saves Edith from a Minion.
Token Evil Teammate: In the sequel he helps with El Macho's plan for world conquest by kidnapping the Minions and brainwashed them. But, he does help Gru in the end and makes an antidote...yet, he still wants a life in evil. So, Nefario probably qualifies.
Fighting Irish: Lucy's last name "Wilde" is another name for an Irish restaurant or bar.
Friend to All Children: It's heavily implied during her first meeting with the girls. Even more so when Agnes said, "My new mom Lucy is beyond compare." The girls and Lucy must have done some real bonding for Agnes to say that.
Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: The Tiny Girl to Gru's Huge Guy. To be more precise, Lucy is taller than Gru because of her heels; without them she might be around his height or still a little taller than him. Gru, on the other hand, is more bulky and muscular than Lucy.
Nerves of Steel: Invoked. Lucy tries to shrug off being strapped to a rocket, that would be sent to a volcano. But, admits that she was "kind of" freaking out.
Nice Woman: Lucy is friendly, bubbly, polite, reliable, honest, and hardworking; she's rarely sarcastic or angry..... even with being the subordinate of someone like Silas Ramsbottom or a partner and and later wife of Gru.
No Sense of Personal Space: She often gets into Gru's personal space, much to his chagrin and likely because she has a crush on him. After the climax, Gru doesn't mind her in his space. Maybe it has to do with the fact if him realizing his feelings for her and not wanting Lucy to leave him again.
Red Is Heroic: Both of her fingernails and toenails are painted red and she is an agent of the Anti-Villain League (AVL), a global organization dedicated to fighting crime on a global scale. She also wears red lipstick.
Weapon of Choice: Her lipstick taser. She later gives it to Gru to remember her by when she has to go to Australia. But after having a Love Epiphany, she stays, but is captured by El Macho. Gru comes to rescue her and uses the lipstick taser she gave him to knock out the One-Winged Angel El Macho.
A small army of yellow, cute, loyal, and childish begoggled people in overalls who do the grunt work for Gru. When meeting the girls for the first time, they immediately form a big-hearted relationship with them. They're often classified as the scene-stealers of the film because of their remarkable humor. They adore their boss, who surprisingly enough returns the affection. This doesn't mean they're all that effective sometimes...
Bilingual Bonus: Sometimes their gibberish is somewhat intelligible. For example, when handing the makeshift unicorn to Agnes, "Para t˙!" which is Gratuitous Spanish/Portuguese for "For you!"
Bizarre Alien Biology: Loyal, adorable... they can be shaken and used as a glowstick, or plugged headfirst into a socket for a makeshift lightbulb. They can also breathe in space and survive being hit on the head with a hammer.
Breakout Characters: They have starred in several of their own shorts and are even getting their own feature film.
Gadgeteer Genius: They build all of Gru's gadgets, ships and weapons, and they all work perfectly. This reaches ridiculous levels in "Training Wheels", when they build Agnes a rocket bike, and a bike that can break apart and form into a Powered Armor.
Genius Ditz: For starters, how about hacking into government records to alter Gru's credentials while Miss Hattie was still reading them?
Hammerspace: Comes standard for the Minions, who all have one huge weapon and possibly a crude disguise each.
Iron Butt Monkey: They take a lot of abuse, which is always Played for Laughs. The minions themselves will often laugh at the other's misfortunes, and most of them will usually suffer it shortly afterwards as well.
The Load: In the "Stars are Brighter!" short, one minion continually laughs at the others as they try to change a fizzled lightbulb, and then accidentally drops the replacement lightbulb, causing it to shatter. He ends up getting plugged into the socket himself.
Minion with an F in Evil: They enjoy firing the missiles, and it seems that they're not the sharpest knives in the drawer. They also happily adapt to pretty much any situation.
One of the DVD mini-movies features some new minions watching an introductory video to working at Gru's "company" which proclaims, among other things, great opportunities for evil. The picture on the screen shows several minions arguing with and slapping each other.
Not so Above It All: In one early commercial for the first film, one minion non-verbally scolds another for playing with a mooing cow can, then walks offscreen to play with it himself.
Paper-Thin Disguise: Whenever out amongst people, they generally wear a wig (beard optional), clothes (may or may not include a hat of some kind), and nothing else to hide the fact they're tiny yellow three-fingered creatures, or that some of them clearly have only one eye in the center of their "face".
Mix-and-Match Critters: A possibility since Gru doesn't what kind of dog he is. It's strongly implied again in the sequel, in which one of Lucy's gadgets couldn't figure out what kind of species Kyle was.
Real Dogs Wear Pink: At one point in the film, the girls put him in pink shoes, make him wear a pink bow, and color him pink.
The primary antagonist of the film, a nerdy young man who just happens to have very good technology. He stole the Pyramid of Giza, which kicks the film off. He took the shrink ray that Gru requires for his plan. Has a thing for sea life.
Animal Motifs: He uses piranhas for one of his weapons and has a pet shark. His father is also a business shark.
Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: By taking back the moon, he assured that Gru wouldn't suffer the effects of its re-enlarging. It's the thing that stops him after he tries to prevent Margo from reaching Gru. What's more as all of this was in the air when it happened, he wound up unwittingly returning the moon to its proper orbit.
Too Dumb to Live: He ignores the rapidly-expanding moon rolling around his escape pod in order to stop Margo from leaving. Even after it knocks him out of the pod, he doesn't learn. He climbs back into the pod, laughs triumphantly, and is promptly steamrollered by it.
Karma Houdini: Not quite as glaring, but he is the closest thing the movie has to a Big Bad - and then he's never mentioned again after his involvement in Vector's schemes is revealed. One assumes he just kept on running the Bank of Evil.
Owner of Miss Hattie's Home for Little Girls... which she runs as something of a sweatshop cookie-sales outfit. Under the sweet surface is a cold, ruthless woman who has no affection whatsoever for the girls in her care.
Abusive Mom: Technically, Miss Hattie isn't the girls' mother,but she is an abusive mother figure to not only Margo, Agnes, and Edith, but to the other girls who were in her care and are in her care.
American Accents: A vague Southern, though it can be hard to hear. It's most evident in the line, "Do ah look like ah speak Spanish?"
What Happened to the Mouse?: After taking the girls back following Dr. Nefario's call to the orphanage, which he did to get the girls out of the way so he and Gru could complete their plan to steal the moon, she simply disappears and presumably continues her job, receiving no comeuppance whatsoever.
My Beloved Smother: Extinguished her only child's dream of wanting to go on the moon, along with his other achievements.
Never Mess with Granny: Becomes this to the girls before Gru adopts the girls officially. This trope comes from her knowing karate so well that she was able to not only knock out the bag, but her instructor too!
Parental Neglect: She was quite neglectful of her son when it came to being emotionally supportive.
Badass Bookworm: Able to fake his own death with little to no evidence? Check. Build a huge, magnetic machine and plane to get the PX-41? Check. With said PX-41, he was able to not leave any clues that he had it in his store. Check. Manage to pull a Red Herring on Floyd with no suggestions of foul play? Check. This man is a macho planner.
Badass Cape: What he wore as El Macho in his younger years and in the climax.
Carpet of Virility: Has a pretty impressive one; only a clump of chest hair was left behind after his death.
Charles Atlas Superpower: In his younger days he had the ability to heist armored trucks with his bare hands, which included stopping them in their tracks by simply standing there, and lifting them with ease
Drowning My Sorrows: When Eduardo consoled Gru over his depression with Lucy leaving for Australia, he admits that he knows the look of heartbreak. How? Because Eduardo, also like Gru, tried to forget his sadness with guacamole.
Good Is Not Nice: Really, his only redeeming trait is that he's fighting for the good of humanity, other than that, he's a full-on Jerkass.
Jerkass: Making fun of Gru's jam and jellies business, repeatedly underestimating Lucy, and after Floyd was falsely accused of stealing the serum, Silas coldly dismisses Gru and informs him of Lucy's reassignment to Australia.
Ship Tease: When the Minions started to sing their own version of "YMCA" at Gru and Lucy's wedding, Silas was seen dancing with Natalie. Don't remember? Natalie was first seen at Agnes's birthday party and the first onscreen, single woman that Jillian tried matchmake with Gru. It seems like they might date.
Unfortunate Names: Gru and two of his minions make fun of his last name, with the former calls him "Sheepsbutt".