...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.
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.
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.
Broken Bird: Due to her fairly hellish home-life, as seen in the episode "Kim Kelly is My Friend".
The Bully: Early on in the series, to both Lindsay and Sam.
Kim: Hey Karen, was this guy trying to break into your locker?
Character Development: Like her boyfriend Daniel, she goes through quite the rehabilitation process as the series progresses, starting off as an antagonising, mean-spirited bitch early on, but ending up as Lindsay's best friend by the finale, "Discos and Dragons".
Foil: To Lindsay. Comes from a poor, broken home in contrast to Lindsay's more well-off and loving parents, gets poor grades in school to Lindsay's straight A's, starts off as a huge bully to Lindsay, who stands up for anyone who gets picked on, and so on.
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.
Gayngst: The above mentioned episode focuses on his sexual confusion on learning that his girlfriend, Amy, was born with both male and female sexual organs (although she is now purely female, physically).
Bishōnen: Sam is a realistic, geeky portrayal of this. He hadn't quite hit puberty yet, so his height, facial features,and voice made him a bit girlish-looking...just not in the exact "attractiveness" that the trope requires.
Had the series not been cancelled, then Sam's potential attractive-Bishonen might've been reached; John Francis Daley grew nearly a foot taller within the year after cancellation, and his voice would eventually crack.
Catchphrase: "Oh, hi Cindy" whenever he starts a conversation with Cindy Sanders.
Cringe Comedy: Sam frequently finds himself in ball-shrinkingly humiliating situations. If something humiliating is going to happen to one of the characters, it'll usually be him, whether it's being the main target of Alan and Karen's wrath, or hilariously embarrassing incidents involving public nudity, Parisian Night Suits or being egged (accidently) by his own sister.
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.
Harold: 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.
Harold: I knew a girl who had pre-marital sex, do you know what she did on homecoming night? She DIED! Of an overdose. Heroin.
Harold: 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 -
Lindsay: 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.
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.
Derailing Love Interests: Prior to dating Sam, she only comes across as perfectly pleasant, just a little shallow and ditzy perhaps. Her character Face-Heel Turn into a bossy, controlling shrew is abrupt and surprising.
Heel Realization: She becomes less frosty as the series progresses and in "Smooching and Mooching", she apologises to Bill when he calls her out for acting like a jerk while they're stuck in a closet playing "seven minutes in heaven". To make up for it, she proceeds to french the hell out of him.
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.
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.
Apathetic Teacher: As seen with the despairing attitude he displays towards the pupils in his English Lit class.
Casper: *sigh* pearls before swine...
Break the Haughty: He's pretty pompous, which makes him a prime target for back-chat from his pupils, such as when Lindsay ripped apart his attack on Kim by proving her opinion on Kerouac's On the Road book valid.
Sadist Teacher: He's a waspish, bitchy sort, and reserves particular venom for Daniel when he is trying to set up a projector for his class in "Discos and Dragons".
Mr. Fleck (Steve Higgins)
Cool Teacher: Easily amongst the nicest of the teachers at McKinley, he heads up the AV club that the Geeks enjoy thoroughly.