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Portrayed by: Jaleel White
- Abusive Parents: His parents were implied to be this.
- Adorkable: He is smart but clumsy.
- All of the Other Reindeer: How he was seen and treated for most of the series.
- And Starring: In the last seasons.
- Annoying Laugh: "Ah heh-heh-heh *snort**snort*!"
- Badass Bookworm: As Bruce Lee Urkel, an alter-ego created by Steve via a celebrity sample potion called Bruce Juice.
- Betty and Veronica:
- The Archie to Myra's Betty and Laura's Veronica.
- He's also always the Betty to Laura's admirer/boyfriend of the week's Veronica. Over and over and over again.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Steve is a nice, easygoing person. If you push him too far though, he'll either tell you off, embarrass you, or give you a beatdown as Bruce Lee.
- Black and Nerdy: Smart enough to create certain things such as a robot, a jetpack, and a transformation chamber.
- Breakout Character: The irksome Steve was introduced as a single gag character in the episode "Laura's First Date" (aired December 15, 1989), meant to highlight just how bad an idea it was for the well-meaning Carl to find his dateless daughter Laura a date for a junior high dance at the last minute. By the end of the first season, Steve was appearing in every episode, and when the first episode of Season 2 aired in September 1990, Jaleel White was given billing alongside the rest of the cast. Eventually, he would end up as the real star of the show, with the Winslows becoming supporting characters.
- Bungling Inventor: Some of his inventions work just fine. Others, not so much.
- Butt Monkey: As a result of his nerdy and clumsy behavior.
- Catch Phrase: Several. "Did I do thaaat?", "You love me, don't you?" etc. In later seasons, they changed it up: "Look what you did."
- Childhood Friend Romance: Ultimately achieves this with Laura.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Played for Laughs. He's just so incompetent, inept, and prone to disaster that the amount of destruction he causes occasionally borders on the epic. In a nightmare sequence of Laura, Steve builds a fully-fuctioning nuclear weapon and inadvertently detonates it by uttering the code word "buttercup", blowing half of Chicago completely off the map and killing millions. As always, all Steve can say in light of his actions is "Did I do that?"
- Deadpan Snarker: Sometimes, especially in later seasons. The dumber somebody interacting with Steve is, the more likely it is to get him going. Needless to say, Waldo is guaranteed to bring it out of him during any interaction between the two.
- Determinator: Nothing will stop Steve from achieving a goal.
- Ditzy Genius: Despite being a brilliant scientist and Teen Genius, he's clumsy, has No Social Skills and is a general nuisance and walking disaster.
- Dogged Nice Guy: Towards Laura.
- Drop-In Character: Steve was this before he moved in with the Winslows.
- Extraverted Nerd: Former trope namer.
- Flanderization: Of him and the entire show. Before he was able to turn science into magic, this was just a mundane sitcom. In many ways, though, the character himself is an inversion. Later episodes portray him as less physically weak (he plays basketball), and less socially oblivious.
- Gadgeteer Genius: His Flanderization in later seasons takes this Up to Eleven. He becomes a Mad Scientist able to create a time traveling machine and many other crazy inventions in which he can clone, teleport, and shrink himself.
- Geek: Steve was this because he was a nerd.
- Geek Physique: He had this in the earlier seasons.
- Hidden Depths: He's a good basketball player.
- Honorary Uncle: To Richie. Richie grows out of calling him "Uncle Steve", but keeps looking up to him.
- Hopeless Suitor: For most of the series, he was for Laura.
- The Klutz: Bordering on lethal klutz, though he got better in later seasons.
- Last Name Basis: Occasionally.
- Lethally Stupid: He often causes disasters without meaning to, much to Carl's dismay.
- Lovable Nerd: He has a kind heart and is willing to help anyone.
- Mad Scientist: He occasionally even laughs like one.
- The Millstone: Pretty much in every episode, especially in early seasons.
- Nerd Glasses: He wore a pair.
- Nice Guy: He'll help anyone even if they bullied him beforehand.
- No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Subverted in that many of Steve's inventions that we see are the prototypes, and Steve hasn't worked all the bugs out yet. Hilarity Ensues.
- Parental Neglect: The reason for his attachment to the Winslows.
- Phrase Catcher: "Go home, Steve!" "But..." "Go home, go home, go home!" "I don't have to take this. I'm going home."
- Promotion to Opening Titles: In Season 2.
- Proud to Be a Geek: Ultimately, this is how Steve feels.
- Rejection Affection: Steve spends the entire run of this sitcom aggressively trying to win Laura's affections even though she is repulsed by him. His perseverance pays off in the end.
- Science Hero: He became this as the series went on.
- Sexier Alter Ego: Stefan Urquelle.
- Show Stopper: Due to his popularity.
- Single-Target Sexuality: He is a Laura-sexual for most of the series, though he does get another girlfriend later in the series who ironically turns out to be Steve-sexual.
- Spear Counterpart: One episode has Laura's guardian angel subjecting her to a Dream Sequence where she becomes Laura Urkel, Steve's Distaff Counterpart. Steve himself becomes Steve Winslow, essentially a male Laura.
- Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Due to the fact that he's the breakout character.
- Stalker with a Crush: Towards Laura.
- Teen Genius: Steve created a lot stuff in the series.
- The Thing That Would Not Leave: Just ask the Winslows. The last of Steve's intro IDs has the family trying to hold the front door shut in order to keep Steve from entering the house.
- Took a Level in Badass: Every time he went into his transformation booth to gain the personality, fighting skills and even the accent and hairstyle of Bruce Lee.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Cheese.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With most of the Winslows.
- Wacky Guy: Because of his clumsiness and inventions.
- Wolverine Publicity
Portrayed by: Reginald VelJohnson
- Action Dad: Justified because he's a cop. He has taken down crooks and has verbally defended his family (and Steve) several times and helped to diffuse a bomb.
- Angry Black Man: In "Fight the Good Fight" and "Good Cop, Bad Cop."
- Acrofatic: Carl's remarkably fast, despite his spare tire. Just look at any occasion when he chases Steve.
- Berserk Button: Steve, mostly. More specifically, whenever Steve's clumsiness ends up wrecking his property or physically injuring him.
- Big Eater
- Bumbling Dad: Zigzagged. While he's very good at his job and is a loving and attentive father, nine times out of ten, his attempts at home maintenance turn out to be a disaster even when Steve isn't involved.
- Butt Monkey:
- Often on the receiving ends of Steve's antics.
- His mother, Estelle, makes more than a few sarcastic comments about her son's weight, too.
- Can't Live With Them, Can't Live Without Them: His general view of Steve. For all the times that Steve's damaged his person or his property, and otherwise driven him nuts, Carl realizes that Steve still looks up to him as a father figure, and has also helped the Winslows out multiple times.
- Cursed with Awesome: When Myra messed with the transformation chamber that turned Steve into Stefan, she ended up turning Carl into a nerdy "Urkelized" version of himself. Stefan tries to fix the chamber, but he's having trouble since he's not as smart as he is when he's Steve. Fortunately, being turned into a nerd made Carl a scientific genius, and so he fixed the chamber himself before being turned back to normal.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Doom It Yourself: Carl's a top notch police officer. Unfortunately, when he starts trying to build or repair things around the house, things don't go so well. Occasionally subverted when he's paired up with Steve, as his attempt at building a shelf turns out just fine while Steve comes up with something that looks more like a post-modern art project.
- Good Parents: He loves his children, and Steve, very much.
- Happily Married: To Harriette.
- No Indoor Voice: When he gets especially angry, he screams at the top of his lungs.
- Papa Wolf: To his own kids, obviously, but he even gets like this for Steve, too.
- Parental Substitute: Seen this way by Steve. He eventually accepts this role.
- Police Are Useless: Subverted.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Due to the fact that he's a cop.
- Scary Black Man: Whenever one of Steve's mishaps pushes him too far, he ends up chasing after Steve while bellowing like a rogue elephant.
- Stout Strength: More than one crook has learned the hard way that Carl's pretty strong underneath his fat.
- Team Dad
- Trademark Favorite Food: According to his mother, it's donuts. Then again, he is a cop.
- Unfortunate Name: Actually unfortunate initials: Carl Otis Winslow.
Portrayed by: Jo Marie Payton (1989–1997), Judyann Elder (season 9)
- The Artifact: After Steve became the undisputed main character, more and more members of the Winslow family got phased out. Unlike Laura, Eddie, and Carl, Harriette lacked any dynamic and comedic relationship with Steve leaving her as the odd man out.
- Beware the Nice Ones: While Harriette is a nice person, she has no problem telling somebody off.
- Good Parents: Along with Carl.
- Happily Married: To Carl.
- Mama Bear
- Only Sane Woman: One of the most levelheaded characters.
- Out of Focus: Originally the character for whom the series was developed for in the first place, Harriette was completely eclipsed by Steve's shadow.
- Sassy Black Woman
- Team Mom
- Women Are Wiser: She tends to win most of her arguments with Carl.
Edward "Eddie" Winslow
Portrayed by: Darius McCrary
- Berserk Button: Degrading sex jokes about women, and guys bragging about who they scored with, both make Eddie really mad. That goes double for anyone who brags about having sex with his little sister.
- Big Man on Campus
- Book Dumb
- Butt Monkey: In the early seasons, the rest of his family didn't treat him that well...
- The Casanova
- Character Development: He becomes more responsible in later seasons.
- Dumbass Teenage Son: Mostly in the beginning.
- Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: The Foolish to Laura's Responsible.
- Gentle Giant
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Waldo, starting season 3. He eventually becomes this with Steve as well, though during the early years, he thought of him as annoying like Laura and Carl.
- Hormone-Addled Teenager
- Lady Killer In Love: When he starts dating Greta.
- Lovable Jock
- My Sister Is Off-Limits!: Subverted in that Eddie doesn't typically care who Laura dates. The sole exception is when one of Laura's dates brags about sleeping with her, which pisses Eddie off.
- Named After Somebody Famous: He is named after English kings.
- Never My Fault: Does this a lot with the problems he starts. He does often get called out for it, though.
- Odd Friendship: With Steve and Waldo.
- Overly Long Name: Edward Arthur James Winslow.
- Scary Black Man: Eddie's generally an easygoing nice guy, but he's also a very big man. Anyone who pushes one of his berserk buttons quickly comes to regret it.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Manly Man to Waldo's Sensitive Guy.
- The Slacker
- Small Name, Big Ego: At his worst.
- Straight Man: When he is with Waldo.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With Steve.
Portrayed by: Kellie Shanygne Williams
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Almost all of her potential suitors who serve as romantic false leads are unlikable jerks.
- All Guys Want Cheerleaders: Laura is a cheerleader and an insanely popular Dude Magnet.
- Betty and Veronica:
- Much to her dismay, she was the Veronica to Myra's Betty for Steve's Archie.
- She's also always the Archie to Steve's Betty and her admirer/boyfriend of the week's Veronica. Over and over and over again.
- The B Grade: In an early episode, Laura finds out on her progress report (not even her final grade for the semester!) was going to be a B in one course. She instantly declares herself grounded from everything until she can bring it back up.
- Can't Live With Them, Can't Live Without Them: Anytime Steve focuses his attention on another girl, she shows shades of this to various degrees.
- The Cheerleader: Played with. She can be shallow at times, and bitchy towards Steve especially in the beginning, but she's also very goodhearted, smart and responsible.
- Deadpan Snarker: Usually the biggest one in the family. She's especially snarky towards her brother or her Abhorrent Admirer Steve.
- Distaff Counterpart: One Christmas episode has Laura meet her guardian angel. He subjects her to a dream sequence to show her what she puts Steve through. She becomes Laura Urkel, essentially a female version of Steve. Steve becomes her spear counterpart as Eddie's brother.
- Dude Magnet: She wasn't supposed to be this in the first season, in fact there's one episode where she is sad because no one asked her to a school dance. Then Steve becomes the show's Breakout Character with Laura as the object of his affections and the rest is history. To give Steve competition to win her heart, Laura suddenly becomes the most popular girl in her school, with boys fighting for her and hitting on her in every episode and considered a paragon of beauty by everyone.
- First Girl Wins: Becomes Steve's fiancée.
- Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: The Responsible to Eddie's Foolish.
- Give Geeks a Chance: In the last season, she eventually learns to love Steve and agrees to marry him.
- Go-Getter Girl
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Maxine.
- Hormone-Addled Teenager
- Hypocritical Heartwarming: She blasts anyone who dares to badmouth Urkel, despite the fact that she herself can't stand him most of the time.
- Informed Attractiveness: Steve regards her as the most beautiful girl in the world, as do several of the other boys who show interest in her. She is pretty, but not that much more so than other girls in the series.
- Ivy League for Everyone: Subverted. She gains admittance, but her parents can't afford it.
- Little Miss Snarker: In Season 1, the pre-Steve days, Laura serves mainly as this.
- Loves My Alter Ego: She loved and fawned over Stefan, Steve's Sexier Alter Ego.
- Sassy Black Woman: Almost as much as her mother.
- Took a Level in Kindness: Especially towards Steve. She wasn't very nice to him in the early seasons.
- Tsundere: To Steve. Initially a type A, then evolving into a type B.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With Steve for most of the series and, eventually with Myra too (until the last season).
Portrayed by: Jaimee Foxworth (Valerie Jones in the pilot)
- A Day in the Limelight: Judy never really gets a day in the limelight, only a few subplots.
- In "Fast Eddie Winslow", she must write a book report about Swiss Family Robinson after she doesn't read the book.
- In "Ice Station Winslow", she feels ignored by her family because of her younger cousin Richie.
- In "A Thought in the Dark", she ruins Harriette's dress and begs Carl to cover for her.note
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Probably one of the most infamous examples of this along with the trope namer. She disappears after Season 4, without explanation. Afterwards, the other characters act as if she never existed and Harriette and Carl only had two kids (Eddie and Laura).
- Flat Character: Her character never really had much to do. Season 1, the pre-Steve days, was her most prominent season: she provided comic relief by saying "cute" things, and was Laura's sidekick in several episodes. In Seasons 2 and 3, she's often paired with Richie, and aside from two small subplots, she usually has one or two lines, or sometimes none at all. In Season 4, her character appears in only 9 of 24 episodes.
- Girlish Pigtails: Judy wore her hair in braided pigtails in Seasons 1 through 3. In her final season, she wore her hair down, including in her opening title credit.
- Out of Focus: After Steve is introduced, she becomes a background character; in Seasons 2, 3, and especially 4, she is given very few lines (usually in scenes involving the entire family), until her character is completely eliminated in Season 5.
- Sassy Black Girl: Mainly in Season 1 her character would give sass mainly to her older siblings.
Portrayed by: Rosetta LeNoire
- Badass Grandma: A running gag, possibly the most badass character in the show.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Estelle may be a kind old lady, but she is more than capable of taking care of herself. For example, she threw a criminal on the ground when he tried to attack her.
- The Bus Came Back: Occasionally in the last two seasons.
- Catch Phrase: "Way to go, Carl!"
- Cool Old Lady: Estelle is a very active old lady.
- Deadpan Snarker: In addition to berating her son whenever he screws up, Estelle could always be counted on to make cracks about Carl's weight and fondness for donuts.
- December-December Romance: With Fletcher.
- Determinator: As a little girl, she went to a whites only library in hopes of being given a library card every day for six months before the librarian finally relented and the library became integrated.
- Dirty Old Woman: An episode at a male strip joint has the waiters and dancers greeting her cheerfully as if they're good friends, indicating that she's a regular customer.
- Fan Of The Underdog: She's the only one who genuinely liked Steve from the beginning.
- I Was Quite a Looker: Estelle showed a picture of what she looked like during World War II in the middle of a presentation in Eddie's history class.
- Never Mess with Granny: Estelle is a badass.
- Put on a Bus: After Season 7.
- Sassy Black Woman
Portrayed by: Telma Hopkins
- And Starring: "And Telma Hopkins as Rachel".
- The Bus Came Back: Makes occasional guest appearances in Season 6 and 9.
- Cool Aunt
- Nice Hat: She often wears hats.
- Out of Focus: In Season 4, her role was much smaller. After this season, she was...
- Put on a Bus: Ironically, since her son Richie apparently still lived with the Winslows.
- Took a Level in Badass: She tightrope walked on a clothesline several stories in the air (in heels) to save a drunk Steve from plummeting to his death.
- Widow Woman: Her husband died before the series started.
Portrayed by: Joseph & Julius Wright (Season 1), Bryton McClure (Season 2-9)
- The Bus Came Back: In some episodes, after being Put on a Bus.
- Cheerful Child
- Children Are Innocent
- Disappeared Dad: He lives with his mother Rachel and her family. His father is a Posthumous Character.
- Put on a Bus: Yes, even Richie eventually, after Season 7.
- Sacred Hospitality: Will take in strangers without a second thought. Maybe he's paying Carl's kindness forward.
- Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome: In Season 2, he was recast as a four year old kid.
- Took a Level in Badass: In "Karate Kids".
Waldo Geraldo Faldo
Portrayed by: Shawn Harrison
- Ascended Extra: Seen as an extra in a Season 1 episode where he was credited as "Guy in Towel".
- Beta Couple: With Maxine.
- Bumbling Sidekick: Initially he was this to Willie, the school bully and a minor villain. Starting in season 3 he becomes this to Eddie.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer
- Catch Phrase: "Cool", "No prob, Bob!" and "Sup".
- Crazy Jealous Guy: Sometimes, towards Maxine.
- The Ditz: Sometimes you have to wonder just how Waldo made to high school...
- Dumb Is Good
- Genius Ditz: He's an excellent cook.
- Heel–Face Turn: Sort of. Was originally introduced in Season 2 as the sidekick to the school bully, Willie, who picked on Steve, until he presumably stopped hanging out with him, after being arrested. Afterwards, he was rewritten as a good guy and one of Eddie and Steve's best friends.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Eddie.
- Hidden Depths: See Genius Ditz. Also, despite being generally an idiot, he has shown a strong sense of morality in more than one episode.
- Kindhearted Simpleton: One of the most innocent and good-natured characters (except in his early appearances, see Heel–Face Turn).
- Nice Guy
- Promotion to Opening Titles: In Season 4.
- Put on a Bus: After Season 7.
- Repetitive Name
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Sensitive Guy to Eddie's Manly Man.
- Straw Loser:
- Eddie isn't the smartest person in the world but next to Waldo he looks like a genius.
- Waldo is also there to show that Steve isn't Eddie's only friend who is a loser. Eddie's friendship with Steve makes more sense because all his bad qualities can be seen as not that bad when you consider that his other best friend is kind of dumb.
- Supreme Chef: After he discovers his talent for cooking.
- Wacky Guy
Portrayed by: Michelle Thomas
- Alliterative Name: Myra Monkhouse.
- Ascended Extra: Like Steve, she was supposed to be a one shot character.
- Ax-Crazy: In the last season.
- Betty and Veronica: The Betty to Laura's Veronica for Steve's Archie. But again, Myra was the only one actually interested in him (at first).
- Big Bad: In the later seasons, she began starting most of the trouble for Steve and Laura.
- Black and Nerdy: She shares a lot of common interests with Steve.
- Characterization Marches On: The Myra introduced in Season 4 and the Myra we end up with in Season 9 are practically two separate character. Upon introduction, Myra is simply a Nice Gal who just so happens to really like Steve. By Season 5, now a main character, Myra became something of a Seemingly Wholesome '50s Girl who started taking a shared interest in Steve's hobbies and was jealous of Laura. By the latter seasons, she goes completely off the rails by having her room into a shrine of Steve where she monitors his every move.
- Clingy Jealous Girl: Especially in seasons 5 and 9.
- Cute and Psycho: Let's face it. The girl was batshit-insane.
- Derailing Love Interests: Myra's Clingy Jealous Girl behavior towards Steve is turned Up to Eleven (Even after they break up) in the final season to the point where she installed a spy cam in his glasses so she could watch him through a monitor in her bedroom. This so Steve, who'd been happily in a relationship with Myra for years, could be paired with Laura .
- Distaff Counterpart: Was originally supposed to be one for Steve, just less clumsy and more attractive.
- Face–Heel Turn: In the seasons where she and Steve were a steady couple, Myra was on friendly terms with the main cast and she even formed an Odd Friendship with Laura. By the last season, after her breakup with Steve, she becomes a villain and an Ax-Crazy Psycho Ex-Girlfriend trying to destroy Steve's relationship with Laura.
- Flanderization: She went from a perky girl who has a crush on Steve to a borderline Ax-Crazy Yandere.
- Genki Girl: She can be very perky.
- Hollywood Nerd: Is supposed to be geeky like Steve, despite being played by a gorgeous actress.
- Love Makes You Crazy: She takes this trope to rather frightening extremes, going so far as to blame Steve's infatuation with Laura on Laura herself.
- Nerds Are Sexy: Definitely. While not a Dude Magnet like Laura, she's considered beautiful in-universe and out.
- Romantic False Lead: Though in season 7 and 8 she's treated like a legitimate love interest. But Steve was meant to be with his first love Laura.
- Promotion to Opening Titles: In Season 6.
- Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: In the last few seasons.
- Single-Target Sexuality: Totally and absolutely Steve-sexual.
- Stalker with a Crush: And how.
- Teen Genius
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Eventually she becomes this with Laura (until the final season).
- What Does She See in Him?: Many people on the show wonder how a hot girl like Myra can be attracted to Steve.
- Yandere: Especially in the last season where she secretly put a camera in Steve's glasses so she can see what he's doing at all times.
Portrayed by: Cherie Johnson
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Before Waldo, she dated several jerks in early seasons.
- Beta Couple: With Waldo for most of the series.
- Book Dumb
- The Cheerleader: Played with. Like Laura, she was one in high school, and while Max is generally a good girl, she's definitely not as smart as Laura.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Laura.
- Odd Friendship: She gets along quite well with Steve, likely due to the fact that they both have neglectful parents.
- Parental Neglect: It's revealed that she has neglectful parents who don't care about her at all.
- Popular Is Dumb: She's almost as popular as her friend Laura. And unlike Laura, she's a poor student.
- Recurring Character: Despite appearing from Season 2 to Season 9, she never had a Promotion to Opening Titles.
- Satellite Character: To Laura and Waldo.
Jerry Jamal " 3 J" Jameson
Portrayed by Orlando Brown
- Alliterative Name: Jerry Jamal Jameson
- Cousin Oliver
- Happily Adopted
- Malicious Misnaming: 3J calls Steve "Urkie" until he teaches him to read.
- Never Learned to Read: Although Steve catches on to this early.
- Only Known by Their Nickname
- Promotion to Opening Titles: In Season 8.
- Tagalong Kid
- Took a Level in Badass: In "Karate Kids".
- Will They or Won't They?: In a different sense; the functional difference between fostering 3J and adopting him outright is that the former leaves open the possibility that 3J's biological mother, to whom he unknowingly spoke, will come back for him and take him home. Carl finds 3J's mother more than a year after the Winslows welcome him into their home, but she asks Carl not to tell 3J why she can't take care of him. Instead, Carl tells 3J that he couldn't find her. The two discuss the prospect of 3J being adopted by the Winslows, and 3J happily accepts.
- Wise Beyond Their Years
Portrayed by: Jaleel White
- The Ace
- Born as an Adult: Well, he's Steve's clone (originally alter ego).
- Chekhov's Gunman: He makes a single appearence in Season 5, when Steve changes his DNA as a plan to become cool. Later he turns into Stefan several times and in Season 7, thanks to Steve's cloning machine, Steve and Stefan become two different characters.
- The Charmer
- Chick Magnet
- Did Not Get the Girl: Laura chose Steve over him in the final season.
- Gadgeteer Genius: He retains most of Steve's smarts. While not as smart as Steve, he is still highly intelligent.
- It's All About Me: Originally, in his very first appearance. Later, less so.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Towards Laura, eventually.
- Love Triangle: Yes, with Steve and Laura.
- Sexier Alter Ego