Characters: Freaks and Geeks
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Lindsay Weir (Linda Cardellini)
- The Ace: Starts as one but despite being a Freak, she still gets good grades. She just stops caring about them towards the end and ditches a University summit to follow the Grateful Dead.
- Age-Appropriate Angst
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Early on in the series, she appears to have a bit of a crush on Daniel, particularly evident in "Beers and Weirs".
- Brainy Brunette
- Bully Hunter: She doesn't take any shit from some of the nastier elements at McKinley High, and is seen variously:
- Stepping in to protect her brother Sam from his arch-nemesis, Alan.
- Calling out a group of jerks (twice) for mis-treating mentally handicapped student, Eli.
- Taking on smug, patronising mathlete Shelly Weaver (and kicking her ass) at a "mathlete scrimmage".
- Smacking the enormous Siedelman when he is harrassing a female student.
- ...of course, this doesn't always work out for her, and on occasion her good intentions backfire, but the pluckiness is admirable.
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Enforced: the show was set in the Midwest, and Feig noted that tanned people in the Midwest were rare; California native Cardellini was required to have makeup that made her paler.
- Expository Hairstyle Change: As seen in "Looks and Books", where Lindsay opts for much girlier hair when she (temporarily) falls back in with the mathlete crowd after she gets sick of the Freaks' Toxic Friend Influence.
- Extreme Doormat: A mild version when around the Freaks, as she is so eager to be accepted as part of their group that she bends over backwards to please them. She gets better, though.
- The Hero: Along with her brother, Sam.
- Hollywood Atheist: The death of her grandmother before the start of the series spurred her into atheism. Specifically, Lindsey was there at her deathbed when the grandmother confessed her terror at facing death in her last moments.
- Kick the Dog: said episodes of her being an Extreme Doormat generally lead to this trope, but she really regrets it immediately and tries to make amends.
- Limited Wardrobe: Her father's old army jacket, which is also symbolic of her transition to the Freaks.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Has this reaction when she accidentally eggs Sam.
- Naïve Newcomer: Among the Freaks.
- Secret Diary
- She Cleans Up Nicely: As seen in "Noshing and Moshing" at the Schweiber's cocktail party, where she ditches the army jacket, puts on a hot dress, and deservingly attracts the (welcome) attention of the Schweiber's eldest son, Nice Jewish Boy Barry.
- The Smart Guy
- Soapbox Sadie: She represents a mild (and likable) example. Definitely in evidence when (at the time) Vice President George Bush pays a visit to McKinley High.
Lindsay: Why did your staff reject my question? Are you afraid of engaging the students in an open discourse?
- Teen Genius: As a former "mathlete", she is seen to be able to do complicated arithmatic in her head.
- Toxic Friend Influence: Used most evidently as a Plot Device in "Looks and Books".
Daniel: C'mon Lindsay, don't be lame.
- Wild Teen Party: She throws a house-party to try to impress the Freaks, as seen in "Beers and Weirs".
- Yoko Oh No: Invoked. She inadvertently becomes this in "I'm with the Band", where she splits up the Freak's band when actually trying to get them to improve. Ken even calls her Yoko at one point.
Daniel Desario (James Franco)
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Especially if he's James Franco.
- Alliterative Name
- Asleep in Class
- Book Dumb
- Brilliant but Lazy
- Character Development: He starts out as an archetypal too-cool-for-school bad-boy, but by the end of the series, after several humbling experiences, he has become friends with Sam's group.
- The Charmer
- Cool Car: In different episodes he drives a Pontiac Trans Am and a Cadillac Sedan DeVille.
- Cool Loser
- Cool People Rebel Against Authority
Mr. Rosso: You think you're pretty cool, don't you, Daniel?
Daniel: No, I don't think I'm cool...
Mr. Rosso: You don't think you're the Fonz or something?
- Everybody Hates Mathematics: Daniel especially so - it stands between him and repeating the school year...again.
- Improbably Cool Car: His (beat up) Pontiac Trans Am, the specific version of which is no earlier than 1979. Since the show takes place in 1980, it is highly unlikely that a high school student from a low-income family could afford what was then a fairly new car.
- Hidden Depths: He confides in Harris that he is secretly worried about just how badly he is doing in school, and makes a genuine effort (after initial frostiness) to be useful when he joins the AV club.
Harris: (to Daniel) You'd make a good Dungeon Master, I can tell.
- Mr. Fanservice: As is noticed In-Universe and out.
- School Is For Losers: His attitude before Character Development kicks in, later on in the series.
- The Slacker
- Troubled, but Cute
- Wounded Gazelle Gambit: His regurgitated sob-story when he's busted for cheating on a math test.
Daniel: *sobbing*..and track 3 is the dumb kids.
Sam Weir (John Francis Daley)
Bill Haverchuck (Martin Starr)
Neal Schweiber (Samm Levine)
Parents and other family members
Harold and Jean Weir (Joe Flaherty and Becky Ann Baker)
- Abusive Parents: In "Smooching and Mooching", it's implied that Harold's father was one of these.
Harold: Nick's father is a hard man, and my father was the same.
Lindsay: Yeah, I know the feeling...
Harold: Lindsay, trust me, you don't.
- Actor Allusion: Harold (played by former Count Floyd Joe Flaherty) donning a vampire costume in "Tricks and Treats".
- And Starring
- Bumbling Dad: Harold takes himself very seriously, but his kids find him amusing at best and confoundingly frustrating at his worst.
- Dad the Veteran: In at least one episode it's mentioned that Harold served in Korea.
- Deadpan Snarker: Harold, occasionally.
Lindsay: Daddy, if I started smoking I would tell you.
Harold: Oh. Good, now I don't have to worry.
- Extreme Doormat: Jean can be this with Harold, which is probably where Lindsay gets this tendency with the Freaks.
- Fiery Redhead: Averted with cool-headed and mild-mannered Jean.
- Good Parents: Ostensibly, compared to the rest of the cast's parents.
- Grumpy Old Man: Harold can certainly be this at times.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Sam's dad is Count Floyd!
- Housewife: Jean, of the traditional variety.
- Hypocritical Humor: Harold disparages punk rock and the Sex Pistols in particular. Lindsay points that every generation has an example of The New Rock & Roll, a comparison that Harold makes a lame attempt at deflecting.
- Jaded Washout: Harold is a borderline case. He works a rather thankless job (as the owner of a mom and pop sports store that, by the series' end, is on the verge of being overtaken by a giant mega-store). His family takes him far less seriously than he would like. And there are quite a few hints sprinkled throughout the series that he has a lot of past regrets (such as paying five dollars to have sex with a Korean prostitute, when he was a teenager). Nevertheless, he remains fiercely loyal to his family and in some instances shows a surprising amount of compassion and understanding for both his children and wife.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Although strict and stubborn, Harold is a loving father who is very proud of both his children.
- Overprotective Dad: Harold, so, so much. Although he always gets overruled by Jean.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Jean.
- Scare 'Em Straight: Harold often employs this method:
: I had a friend that used to smoke. You know what he's doing now? He's DEAD!
You think smoking makes you look cool? Let's go dig him up now and see how cool he looks.
: I knew a girl who had pre-marital sex, do you know what she did on homecoming night? She DIED!
Of an overdose. Heroin.
: You know who used to cut class? Jimi Hendrix. Know what happened to him? He DIED!
. Choking on his own vomit.
Harold: You can't cut corners in life! You know who cut corners? Kennedy! Kennedy cut corners when he was running the Bay of Pigs. A lot of good men lost their lives because of it. You know who else cut corners? Janis Joplin...
: DAD! what are you talking about?!
Harold: There was this kid in my neighborhood when I was growing up? Scott Byron. He kept on trick-or-treating until he was well into his twenties. You know where he's living now? At home, with his ninety-year-old mother. He's the laughingstock of the community. Never took a wife, either.
- Sexless Marriage: AVERTED.
Jean: Nobody's home. You wanna have a little sex?
[both run for the bedroom]
Dr. Vic and Lydia Schweiber (Sam McMurray and Amy Aquino)
- Broken Pedestal
- Cool Car: Dr. Vic drives a Corvette.
- Cool Old Guy: How the Geeks see Neal's dad...before his cheating is discovered.
- Extreme Doormat: Lydia - she knows her husband is cheating, but never voices her feelings.
- Good Parent: However, she only does this to spare her sons the misery.
- Handsome Lech: Dr. Vic, although he isn't a bad guy per se, but rather seems to regret not living as much as he could have and seems entirely aware of how much pain his actions cause. They could have shown him as an unrepentant Jerkass but the writers admirably took the more mature path.
- Happy Marriage Charade
- Not That Kind of Doctor: Dr. Schweiber is a dentist.
- Your Cheating Heart: Barry tells Neal that their father has been cheating on their mom with other women for years.
Gloria Haverchuck (Claudia Christian)
Col. Henry Andopolis (Kevin Tighe)
Cookie Kelly and Arlo (Cookie: Ann Dowd)
Chip Kelly (Mike White)
- The Caretaker: Daniel's father is an invalid, and his older brother is a drug addict.
- Parental Obliviousness
- Skewed Priorities: Rather than encourage her son Daniel to go to school (when he insists he needs to go), she's more concerned with him running errands for her.
- Unnamed Parent: Daniel's parents are not named in the show - he calls his mother "ma".
Millie Kentner (Sarah Hagan)
- Brainy Brunette
- Betty and Veronica: A non-romantic version, the Betty to Kim's Veronica.
- Foil: Again, to Lindsay. Good student, goes to church, listens to her parents and cares about school in contrast to Lindsay, possibly reflecting what Lindsay used to be before she joined the freaks.
- Christian Rock
Millie: (singing) Jesus is just alright with me! Jesus is just alriiiiight!
- A Friend in Need: Helps Lindsay out when she's stoned and has to babysit.
- Holier Than Thou
Millie: I haven't had anything to drink, and I'm having more fun than any of you!
- Moral Guardian: She acts like this to Lindsay, and is constantly trying to bring her back into the mathlete crowd, early on in the series.
- Not Herself: Following the death of her dog, Goliath, she goes slightly off the rails and starts hanging out with Kim of all people and plans on attending a Who concert with the Freaks.
- Saintly Church
- Secret Relationship: In "Tricks and Treats", Lindsay discovers she's in one of these (albeit without having reached the French-kissing stage) with a guy she met at summer church camp.
- “Stop Having Fun” Guys: In-universe.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Millie sort of acts as the latter to Lindsay's former.
Cindy Sanders (Natasha Melnick)
Vicki Appleby (JoAnna Garcia Swisher)
Todd Schellinger (Riley Smith)
Gordon Crisp (Jerry Messing)
Harris Trinsky (Stephen Lea Sheppard)
- All-Powerful Bystander: Lampshaded in "Discos and Dragons", where he plays the Dungeon Master in the Geeks' Dungeons and Dragons game.
- Cool Loser
- Mentor Archetype: Very much so to the Geeks (and occasionally Daniel), he provides sage counselling on a variety of topics.
Harris: Get a woman laughing, you've got a woman loving.
- Nerds Are Sexy: His girlfriend, Judith, finds him irresistable.
Judith: Oh Harris, you're so bad! (giggles)
- Older and Wiser: Than the Geeks, despite being only one year older.
Harris: *sigh* You're so young.
- Please Put Some Clothes On: He has no compunction about strutting around in the locker room naked, much to Sam's discomfort.
- The Smart Guy
- Wise Beyond Their Years: Even older students like Daniel have asked his advice on things.
- Zen Survivor: To the Geeks - he actually survived freshman year!
Alan White (Chauncey Leopardi)
- Arch-Enemy: To Sam.
- The Bully: He picks on Sam and the rest of the Geeks mercilessly during the first half of the series.
- Heel-Face Turn: He does this briefly, but only after almost killing Bill by hiding a peanut in his sandwhich, to which he did not realise Bill was deathly allergic. A small amount of Redemption Rejection in that he does not take the Geeks up on their offer of friendship, though he is noticably nicer to them after this.
- Jerkass Façade: In reality, he's an unhappy, lonely kid but can't bring himself to hang out with the Geeks, despite sharing the same interests (comic books and sci-fi).
- Create Your Own Villain: And as it turns out, he admits to Bill that he is angry because they left him out of their fun in the lower grades.
- My God, What Have I Done?: He really never meant to hurt Bill and is devastated when he finds out what he did.
- The Napoleon: His short stature probably explains a lot.
Amy Edwards (Jessica Campbell)
Eli (Ben Foster)
Karen Scarfoli (Rashida Jones)
Shelley Weaver (Alexandra Breckenridge)
Mark (Mark Allan Staubach)
Eugene Seidelman (Ron Lester)
Laurie (Samaire Armstrong)
Coach Ben Fredericks (Thomas F. Wilson)
- Coach Nasty: He comes off like this to the Geeks, but he's actually a pretty nice guy once off the field.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: It's Biff Tannen!
- Jerk Jock: Subversion. He actually turns out to be quite nice.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: As seen when he risks losing his job to have a more frank discussion about sex with Sam after realizing that he's seen a pornographic movie.
Mr. Jeff Rosso (Dave "Gruber" Allen)
- Beware the Nice Ones: Gives this speech to Daniel before sending him to the AV club.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: For all his eccentricities, he's a genuinely good guidance counsellor and is usually right about the students' problems.
- Cool Car: "Boattail" Buick Riviera, circa 1971-73.
- Cool Teacher: Tries to be this and mostly fails spectacularly. But he's still pretty badass at times. He even plays in a rock band.
- Crazy-Prepared: In the Halloween episode we find he keeps multiple jack-o'-lanterns on hand, in anticipation of their getting smashed in by pranksters.
- First Name Basis: In the pilot he tells Lindsay to call her "Jeff" when he's trying to gain her trust. She does so until the end of the episode, when he tells her that maybe she'd better start calling him "Mr. Rosso" again.
- Hippie Teacher
- Honor Before Reason: He believes in what he is doing so much he doesn't even mind the admittedly crappy salary.
- He Cleans Up Nicely: As seen when (then) Vice President George Bush visits the school.
- Mistaken for Gay: By Ken at one point.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Although he appears foolish, he is quite intelligent and usually preempts the kids' problems.
- Politically Motivated Teacher: On occasion. Of the liberal persuasion, naturally.
- Psychologist Teacher: He's the school guidance counselor.
- Reasonable Authority Figure
- Totally Radical: In universe, his attempts to relate to the kids just reeks of this trope.
- When I Was Your Age: Relates to other students this way. Sometimes it works...mostly it doesn't.
Mr. Frank Kowchevski (Steve Bannos)
- Deadpan Snarker
Kowchevski: Actually Lindsay, I think I'm the best person at math in this school...
- Only Sane Man: So he thinks.
- Sadist Teacher
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: When Rosso presses him on his unscrupulous methods for proving Daniel cheated on a test...
Kowchevski: Let me tell you something. I knew kids like Desario in Vietnam. Those were the kind of kids that got you killed.
- Straight Gay: Seriously. Watch the deleted scenes on the DVD...all is revealed when he's called upon by Mr. Rosso to help out Ken with his Gayngst.
Mr. Casper (Ron Marasco)
Mr. Fleck (Steve Higgins)
- Cool Teacher: Like Mr. Fleck, she's far nicer than most of the McKinley staff. Even Alan shuts up after she gently chides him for teasing Bill in class.
- Hot for Teacher: Bill is especially taken with her, and goes all dreamy-eyed during her history class in "Chokin' and Tokin".
- Hot Teacher
- Hey, It's That Guy! : Leslie Mann is married to Judd Apatow and frequently appears in his works.