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Walden Communune Alumni
Michael "Mike" DoonesburyThe main character of the strip for most of its run, Mike started out as a student at Walden and Casanova Wannabe and later turned into Walden Commune's voice of reason. After college he married J.J. and worked as a New York Adman, until he lost his job and J.J. left him. Mike then moved to Seattle with his daughter Alex, met and married second wife Kim Rosenthal and is currently running the website MyVulture.com with Kim.
- Author Avatar: As Trudeau himself put it: "Yes, dammit I'm the model for Michael."
- Bumbling Dad: To Alex.
- Casanova Wannabe: During the strips first few months and the original Bull Tales strips.
- Characterization Marches On: He started out as a Casanova Wannabe in Truedeau's college strip Bull Tales before becoming the strip's Only Sane Man.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Had to go though many years of unhappy marriage with J.J., a horrible job, going through unemployment and J.J. running out on him. Then he got a job with his college lab partner Bernie in Seattle and met Kim and even then he still had to fire most of Kim's friends as part of layoffs, deal with Kim moving to Paris and then breaking up with him and Alex deleting the E-Mail's saying so, and finally reconciliation with Kim, just to get to somewhere resembling a happy ending.
- Happily Married: To Kim.
- May–December Romance: He is considerably older than Kim, his wife.
- Only Sane Man: In stark contrast to some of the strip's more outrageous characters, such as Zonker and Uncle Duke.
- Out of Focus: Most of his screentime's gone to his daughter Alex. Lampshaded when he officially passes the strip over to her.
- Your Cheating Heart: He almost did this while married to J.J. but backed out when he found out J.J. was pregnant.
B.D.The star quarterback, and hardcore conservative, at Walden and Mike's roommate in the beginning. Enlisted in The Vietnam War to get out of a term paper and has been in every war since. Has been in a relationship with Boopsie since her introduction and married her in the early nineties. Wore a helmet of some kind constantly until 2003, when he got his leg shot off in Iraq and lost the helmet at the same time. Currently works as Walden's Football coach.
- Badass: As a veteran of the wars in both Vietnam and Iraq, he has seen and participated in a lot of combat.
- Blood Knight: Really really loved combat and was especially brutal during his time in the ROTC.
- Character Development: Has mellowed out with time.
- A Father to His Men: To the point where he was planning to go to Germany to be by Toggle's side after Toggle was injured in Iraq. This is also true as a coach.
- Happily Married: To Boopsie.
- Heroic B.S.O.D.: He went through a realistic version of this after losing his leg, becoming irritable and relying heavily on alcohol. He eventually went to therapy and got through it.
- Jerkass: For a good portion of time.
- My God, What Have I Done?: For while after entering therapy, B.D was reluctant to talk about his service in Iraq. He eventually opened up an revealed that he had been harboring a lot of guilt from an incident where he ordered the driver of his HMMWV drive through a crowded street in order to escape an ambush, which resulted in innocent civilians getting caught in the crossfire.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: To the point where not even his wife knows what B.D. actually stands for.
- Parental Substitute: Acts as a father figure to Toggle, a young injured soldier he met in Iraq.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: For a while after loosing his leg.
- Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: With Zonker and Mark at Walden. Now it's just Zonker, and even that's subsided in recent years.
- Strawman Political: The strip's token hardcore conservative.
- Your Cheating Heart: Did this to Boopsie during the Gulf War with a female officer. It took a long time for Boopsie to forgive him for it.
Mark Slackmeyer.Mark started off as a protestor but eventually segued into a hardcore liberal and DJ. Eventually moved on to NPR, where he works to this day. Later found out he was gay and started dating Chase, eventually marrying him until their divorce a few years ago.
- Black Sheep: The hardcore liberal son of a conservative, and that was before he came out. His dad disowned him several times. Subverted by his Mother.
- Erudite Stoner: In the 70's. A later strip shows he's still doing this.
- Out of Focus: Daily wise. While he still gets quite a few Sunday strips, he's gotten few, if any, weeks dedicated to himself for the past couple of years.
- Strawman Political: The Radical Left.
- Suddenly Sexuality: Was a skirt-chaser during the Walden period, and turned out to be gay in the 90's. In this case however it was sudden for him too, and he eventually adjusted quite well.
Zonker HarrisA hippie who spent his 9 years at Walden avoiding graduation, tanning and generally slacking off. After graduating he mooched off of Mike and J.J. before enrolling in Baby Doc Medical College, before becoming Mike and J.J.'s live-in nanny. They eventually fired him after Mike lost his job and Zonker moved back in with his parents before moving in with B.D. and Boopsie as their nanny, where he remained for a good period time, although he was forced to get a job as a waiter to bring additional income to the house. These days he owns a (legal) cannabis farm with Zipper. He's also a lord after buying a lordship in the 80's.
- Asexuality: He doesn't seem to have very many relationships.
- Erudite Stoner: While he spends a lot of time in his own fantasy world, he seems pretty brainy regardless of how high he is.
- Granola Girl: Male version.
- New-Age Retro Hippie: As he's gotten older.
- Parental Substitute: To Alex and Sam when their parents are working.
- Serious Business: Was a professional tannist at one point.
- Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: To B.D.
- The Slacker: He stayed at college for 9 years by choice and tries to avoid working at any cost.
- The Stoner: During the Walden Years.
Barbra Ann "Boopsie" BoopensteinA cheerleader and B.D.'s girlfriend. Became an actress after graduation, albeit in minor roles. Was originally incredibly ditzy but gradually matured over the years. Currently lives at Walden with B.D., their daughter Sam and (formerly) Nanny Zonker.
- Character Development: Went from The Ditz to a dependable mother and counterpoint to B.D.
- The Ditz: Has grown out of it over time, especially after becoming a mother.
- The Heart: Is the usual go to sounding board when B.D., Sam or Zonker needs to talk about something, and often mediates disputes between them.
- Only Sane Woman: Functions as this for her family.
- Superpowered Evil Side: Channeled the spirit of the ancient warrior Hunk-Ra up until her marriage to B.D. He was not the nicest person.
Joanie CaucusA housewife who ran away from her husband and daughter and was picked up by Mike and Mark while the duo were on a road trip. A feminist, she brought feminism to the local day care center before moving on to Berkeley and getting a law degree. During this time she met her second husband, Rick, and had another child with him. She currently worked with Congresswoman Lacey Davenport until Lacey contracted Alzheimer's. Joanie has recently come out of retirement to guide Real Life Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren's campaign.
- Intergenerational Friendship: With the denizens of Walden Commune, Ginnie and her grandaughter Alex.
- May–December Romance: With Rick.
- Momma Wolf: She's always ready to help the former residents of Walden Commune.
- Odd Friendship: With Zonker and Alex.
- Older Than They Look: Is in her 70's but looks to be only in her 50's or 60's.
- Sixth Ranger: Though it was decades ago, she was the only person to join the commune after it was founded.
- Team Mom: To the residents of Walden Commune, even long after she left.
BernieMike's college lab partner who had a habit of making transformation potions, Bernie graduated and joined Apple before splitting off on his own and starting his own software company. He hired Mike and was the reason Mike moved to Seattle, and financed Mike's first business, Mikim Inc., for a while. He was also one of the founders of Walden Commune.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Eventually. He had no problem forcing Mike to do mass layoffs for him, outsourcing and other questionable tactics.
- Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Averted. He got the funding for his business making a profit off of his morphing potions.
- Mad Scientist: In his first couple of appearances.
Introduced 1969- 1979
Uncle DukeZonker's honorary Uncle who started out as a writer at Rolling Stone before moving on to Governor of American Samoa, then Ambassador to China and… well, so many other careers that it would take most of this page just to list. Duke will do anything to make money and has absolutely no moral compass and half the time no clue. He's also a massive drug fiend to the point where they barely affect him anymore. Currently working as a lobbyist with his son Earl.
- Bald of Evil: He was completely bald for a while after a stint as a zombie slave, but still has enough of a bald spot to qualify regularly.
- Evil Counterpart: His son Earl says Duke is like Forrest Gump's evil twin. That's not far off.
- Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Duke is a thoroughly unscrupulous man who is always wearing sunglasses. In a flashback of his birth, Duke came out of his mother's womb wearing glasses, to the horror of the obstetrician.
- Functional Addict: Duke has indulged in all kinds of powerful and obscure drugs. He also consumes copious amounts of alcohol and marijuana, according to some strips.
- Gambit Roulette: Some times it works (sending a job application to the white house got him the governorship of Samoa, which eventually led to his stint as an ambassador) and sometimes it epically blows up in his face (buying cocaine to finance his John DeLorean biopic— from an undercover FBI Agent!).
- Honest John's Dealership: Most of his operations.
- Made of Iron: Duke has survived an assassination attempt, zombification, and shocking amounts of mind-altering drugs looking no worse for wear.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Based on gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson.
- Oblivious to Love: Honey adores him, but it's unclear if Duke doesn't know this or doesn't care.
- Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: John Denver.
- The Sociopath: He's devoid of empathy for others and has been involved in countless illegal and immoral activities over the decades. He likes Earl and Honey, but he doesn't care about their well-being.
Rick RedfernJoanie's husband who was a writer for the Washington Post for most of the strip— until he was fired a few years ago for no particular reason. He's currently a blogger for the Huffington Post and is constantly frustrated with his son.
- Bumbling Dad: Before Jeff was even born. He became even worse from there.
- Butt Monkey: Ever since loosing his job.
Roland Burton Hedley IIIA reporter that initially worked with Time on an article about the current campus trends. He's since switched to network TV and Channel Hopped, eventually sticking with Fox News. He currently has a Twitter account, which he plugs at every opportunity.
Joan "J.J." Caucus Jr.Joanie's daughter, who reappeared later on as freshman college student and was engaged to Zeke Brenner before breaking it off. She later married Mike and became a performance artist in New York, giving birth to their daughter Alex on live television. J.J. later left Mike and Alex and ran away with Zeke before eventually moving to Seattle with him. She later married Zeke.
- The Friend Nobody Likes: From her introduction, Rick noticed that she manipulated her mother's guilt for leaving and didn't like it. She averted this trope mostly during the years she was actually married to Mike, but since she left him for her old boyfriend Zeke most other major characters have shunned her. She wasn't even invited to Alex's wedding, although she managed to sneak in as a bartender.
- It's All About Me: Tries to make both Grandma Doonesbury's funeral and Alex's wedding all about her, making a big show about how much she'd forgiven mike's mother in the former, and trying to make said wedding into a massive performance art piece. Not only that, but she out and out refuses to come because Alex happened to both choose Walden as a wedding location and then refuse to invite Zeke.
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl: For Mike. Deconstructed in that the more eccentric parts of her personality are what eventually drove them apart.
- No Accounting for Taste: Zeke, both times.
- Parental Abandonment: Both ways. Her mother abandoned her for a life of her own, while she abandoned Alex. Subverted somewhat with the latter, as she later moved to Seattle where Alex lives.
- The Unfair Sex: Inverted. Her abandonment of her husband and child, no matter how rocky the marriage was, is looked on with disdain by everyone in the strip.
Honey HuanDuke's translator during his tenure as ambassador, Honey fell in love with Duke and followed him to America and through the rest of his schemes. Eventually left him in 2005 and stayed behind to help with the clean-up of Hurricane Katrina. Worked for the Beijing Olympics Committee; most recently seen as a spokeswoman for the Chinese government.
- Abhorrent Admirer: From Duke's perspective.
- The Dragon: To Duke.
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: Honey is much more practical, grounded, and moral than Duke.
- Ms. Fanservice: Something of a surprising example. During the 1982 arc with Duke's Falkland Island War tour boat and consequent shipwreck she spent most of her time in a bikini, which Trudeau seemed to enjoy drawing.
- Odd Friendship: With J.J.
- Put on a Bus: Eventually left Duke, before recently resurfacing.
- Shipper on Deck: For J.J. and Zeke.
- Shipping Goggles: In-universe, everything involving her and Duke from her perspective.
- Tactful Translation: In her original capacity as Duke's translator.
Zeke BrennerA stoner and complete layabout who worked as Duke's caretaker and was J.J.'s fiance until he burned down Duke's house when lighting up a joint. He later ran away with J.J. and eventually married her, to everyone else's displeasure.
- Evil Counterpart: To Zonker. Both make an art form out of trying not to work, but while Zonker is charming, provides a service to those he's mooching off of, avoids romance like the plague and is loyal to Duke and Mike, Zeke is a douche bag who sits around and begs for money, hits on women even after he got married, stabbed Duke in the back at the first opportunity, and stole Mike's wife without a hint of regret.
- Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: With Duke and Alex.
Kim Rosenthal-DoonesburyFirst introduced as the last baby airlifted out of Vietnam, she was adopted by the Rosenthals. She appeared again briefly in the 80's as an honor student dealing with racial issues before reappearing for good as a twenty-something tech wiz. Kim is a Gen-X programming genius and Mike's second wife.
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl: For Mike, even more than J.J.
- May–December Romance: Was a baby while Mike was a college student for starters.
- Soapbox Sadie: When it comes to Nike.
- Second Love: For Mike.
- Speaks In Shoutouts: When she was a baby she learned to speak by imitating advertising jingles, catchphrases and soundbites. The Rosenthals were attentive stepparents, though, and she grew out of it.
- Teen Genius: Dropped out of MIT because it bored her.
- Totally Radical: Though toned down sometime after she and Mike got married.
Lacey DavenportA kindly old lady who worked as a Congresswoman. Lacey was a very nice lady who was fair and balanced and honest to a fault, if a bit out of step with the times. She eventually had to leave the office when she contracted Alzheimer's. She eventually passed away and was reunited with her husband Dick.
- Badass Grandma: Well, she wasn't about to shoot up people, but she wasn't afraid to speak up when necessary and fearlessly dealt with a mobster and a contra, as well as some of her old friends without batting an eye.
- Happily Married: To Dick.
Dick DavenportA conservative just like his decades long friend and later husband. Dick was always supportive of his wife and was an avid bird watcher. He died trying to get a picture of the rare Bachman's warbler, and managed to in in his final moments.
- Dying Moment of Awesome: As noted above he had a heart attack while he was alone trying to get shots of the bird. He then used his last bit of strength to get the shot.
- Killed Off for Real: The strip's first example.
Nguyen Van PhredA Terrorist during the Vietnam War where he met B.D.; after being stranded together with a beer cache the two became fast friends. After the war, Phred lobbied for his people before becoming the Vietnamese U.N. Ambassador. He later opened up a club in Vietnam in the 90's and gave tours before becoming head of a Nike factory.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Hasn't appeared since the late nineties.
- Face–Heel Turn: He went from helping with a legitimate business to running a sweatshop.
- Odd Friendship: With B.D.
Ginnie SladeJoanie's roommate during college. Currently married to her long term boyfriend Clyde and trying to keep him in check.
- Black Best Friend: To Joanie.
- Intergenerational Friendship: With Joanie.
- What Does She See in Him?: She even noticed how odd it was for a feminist to be dating a sexist like Clyde.
ClydeGinnie's freeloading boyfriend and later husband. Eventually founded his own successful cookie company and ran against Lacey and lost. Later took Lacey's position after she stepped down, but eventually lost it.
- Jerkass: He was a bit of this in the 70's but got even worse in the 80's by basing his campaign on drug tests and trying to paint a 70 year old woman as a drug addict.
- The Slacker: In the 70's.
Phil SlackmeyerMark's dad. The exact opposite of his son, Phil was a cold-hearted businessman who fully embraced his greed. Eventually divorced Mark's mother and then got remarried four times. He eventually died with Mark by his side.
- Evil Counterpart: To Mark.
- I Have No Son: Tried to disown him a lot early in the strip. Towards the end of his life stating that he had never approved of anything Mark did and that Mark had been a constant disappointment actually brought Phil closure.
- Odd Friendship: With Alice.
Alice SchwartzmanA homeless woman who befriended Rick. She later befriended Lacey, who mistook Alice for her long dead sister.
- Happily Married: To Elmont.
- Only Sane Woman: During her time with Lacey, as Lacey was going through Alzheimer's, Lacey's friend Jeremy was dysfunctional and Elmont was insane.
Andy LippincotA man Joanie had a crush on until he revealed to her he was gay. They remained on good terms. He eventually contracted AIDS and died a few months after. Later returned as a ghost to reveal Mark's latent homosexuality to the latter.
- Gallows Humor: He cracked a lot of jokes about his terminal illness, which some thought were insensitive by Trudeau, before friends of AIDS victims spoke up and said that there was Truth in Television in that most AIDS patients had the same attitude and cracked wise about their condition.
- Killed Off for Real
- Spirit Advisor: To Mark.
Sid KibitizSupposed Hollywood super agent, Sid first appeared trying to help Duke make a John Delorean Biopic before settling in as Boopsie's agent.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: As noted below he's full of himself, but he's actually manged to keep Boopsie's career going and even had the foresight to make a digital copy of her in her prime so she'd get likeness rights far into the future, royalties she's still pulling in today.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Thinks he's the best agent who ever lived and even once tried to get a director to rewrite Hamlet.
Jimmy ThudpuckerA singer and activist who started out in the strip during the 70's retired early, and then made a comeback during the 80's. Currently a Cell Phone ring tone artist and file sharing activist.
Introduced 1980- 1989
ElmontAlice's husband and raving lunatic.
Jeff RedfernJoanie and Rick's son, he started out as a typical teenager who eventually enrolled in Walden at 17 once the college stopped requiring a High School Education. Eventually became Zipper's best friend and the two participated in zany schemes together until graduation. Jeff didn't do much after that, after flunking out of his CIA training, and eventually got back into the CIA in a desk job. He eventually rose out of it by making a name for himself as the legendary Red Rascal while doing nothing at all, eventually landing him a mercenary job before he was fired from it. A book deal followed, along with a massive payday, but Jeff soon found himself back with his parents.
- Fake Ultimate Hero: As the Red Rascal
- From Nobody to Nightmare: Went from a simple slacker to the smug perpetrator of a massive ruse. Subverted later on, as he goes back to being a harmless moron, albeit one with a book deal.
- Humiliation Conga: Finally. After making millions of dollars off his Red Rascal stories, he looses his mega mansion, to his constantly gloated to dad's glee. Furthermore, Joanie told him point blank that his free ride was over and that he'd have to start paying rent, helping around the house and acting like a real writer if he wanted to move back home.
Introduced 1990- 1999
Alex DoonesburyMike and J.J.'s daughter. She started out as a nameless baby but around the time J.J. left graduated into Mike's precocious computer wiz daughter, which stuck throughout her teen years. Currently a post-grad at M.I.T. and has recently married war veteran Toggle and has two sons by him.
- Breakout Character: To the point where she was granted her father's role as main character.
- Clingy Jealous Girl: Though not to violent levels, she gets crazy paranoid about any other woman and Toggle (barring his mother), especially Drew, even if there's nothing there.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Though not as bad as some of the other characters, but it's there.
- Give Geeks a Chance: Her and Toggle.
- Happily Married: To Toggle.
- Hollywood Dateless: Had one boyfriend before meeting Toggle despite being reasonably attractive.
- Totally Radical: As a kid.
Ray HightowerB.D.'s war buddy since the gulf war and replacement after B.D. lost his leg. Recently sent home after taking multiple blasts. More at home on the battlefield than in civilian life.
- Blood Knight: Feels more at home on the battle field than he does at home.
Samantha "Sam" BoopenstienB.D. and Boopsie's daughter.
- Companion Cube: Her Sarah Palin Action doll. She eventually gets rid of it along with all her other dolls.
- Precocious Crush: On Prince Harry.
- I Have No Dad: Does this to B.D. after he returns from helping Toggle the first time, due to the sheer amount of time he's been gone from her life.
EarlDuke's son, he started off as another kid in the orphanage who DNA test confirmed was Duke's son and eventually ran off with his Dad for a while before disappearing. Later returned right after Duke lost Honey to bring his dad in on his Lobbying firm.
- Generation Xerox: Of his Dad, especially as a kid. He eventually grew into a smarter and less brain-fried version of his Dad.
- High School Hustler: A kid version. He had a racket going at the orphanage.
Introduced 2000- 2009
Zipper HarrisZonker's nephew who goes to a much more slacker friendly Walden. Aspires to follow in his Uncle's footsteps. He surpassed his uncle's staying record and has became a tenured student, though he eventually left Walden and joined his uncle growing legal marijuana in Colorado.
- Generation Xerox: Of Zonker, though that was his goal.
- Those Two Guys: With Jeff.
- You Just Told Me: Pulls this on President King after revealing he'd told the students Walden might switch to being a for-profit college. When King asks if he knows they've decided to move to for profit, Zipper casually responds "I Do Now"
Leo "Toggle" DeLucaA young soldier who sold CD mixes to other soldiers, he was hit by a mortar and ended up with expressive aphasia and an eye patch. He's currently working through his disorder, while going to college and working in the music industry. He and Alex are now married.
- And I Must Scream: Early on, as he couldn't talk at all (outside of a few words) at first. Eventually got better as he got more speaking ability and he's stuttering less and less.
- Character Development: Was a bit of a prick before the blast hit him.
- Happily Married: To Alex
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Is prone to traumatic episodes of PTSD.
- Speech Impediment: H-h-his s-s-stutter.
- Stutter Stop: His speech impediment drops out on certain dramatic occasions, like once when he confronted an NRA group open-carrying at a restaurant.
Melissa WheelerA mechanic in the army who was raped by her commanding officer and dealt with it in therapy. With B.D. and her therapist's help, she eventually returned to command and was promoted.
- Berserk Button: Command Rape, after her horrendous experience with the matter.
- Brutal Honesty: When dealing with a high school girl wanting to go into the military who asks her about sexual assault. More than jusitified given Melissa's past experince and the real dangers the girl would face.
- Character Development: Goes from a thoroughly Broken Bird to a well respected commander.
- Stealth Hi/Bye: Did this to Jeff a lot, albeit unintentionally.
RozMelissa's fellow mechanic and best friend. Came out a lesbian following the end of Don't Ask Don't Tell.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Melissa
- Suddenly Sexuality: Justified, as she hid her sexuality to preserve her career. It even shocked Melissa when she came out.
EliasB.D's counseler at the Vet Center.
- Odd Friendship: Forms one with B.D. over time.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Stops BD right before he can leave after saying he cant't leave behind some things about the war.
DrewAlex's roommate at MIT and best friend. Has guys falling for her left and right.
- Dude Magnet: To Alex's irritation, especially since Drew doesn't seem to notice.
Introduced 2010- 2019