Characters: Friday Night Lights
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Coach Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler)
The head coach of the Dillon Panthers in seasons 1-3, and the East Dillon Lions in 4-5. Happily Married
to Tami Taylor, and father to Julie and Gracie Belle.
- A Father to His Men: Especially Matt and Vince.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Coach—along with his wife Tami—is probably the nicest person on the show and serves as the town's moral touchstone on many occasions. That being said, if you EVER hurt his wife, his daughters OR his players, Coach will make you sincerely sorry (often without actually speaking), and even the toughest man will find himself apologizing profusely by the time he's done talking to him. The best part? When he's angry, he manages to be terrifiyingly intimidating without crossing any moral lines. (Again, he is the show's moral center)
- Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: More often than not, he will be referred to as Coach and not Eric
- Nice Guy: There's a reason everyone in town wants him to be their confidant.
- Nice Hat
- Papa Wolf: To his daughters and his team.
- Even more terrifying, when Julie comes home from college and confesses to having an affair with her married TA, and said TA shows up at the Taylors' house, Coach silently strides out and physically chases him back into his car and actually smashes the taillight as the car pulls away. Doubles as a HUGE instance of Beware the Nice Ones.
- Parental Substitute: Most notably to Matt.
- Reasonable Authority Figure
- Verbal Tic: Calls his players "Son" very often, showing that he thinks of Them as family.
Tami Taylor (Connie Britton)
The coach's wife who is not content to be just the coach's wife in a town crazy about football. Guidance counselor and then principal at West Dillon High, and mother of Julie and Gracie Belle. Eminently quotable.
- Alliterative Name
- Career Versus Man: Subverted. Eric and Tami may quarrel a bit sometimes over school-related things, but it never affects their family to the point of breaking.
- Catch Phrase: "Hi, honey!"
- Deadpan Snarker
- Fan Nickname: Mrs. Coach, after a gloriously awkward encounter onscreen involving her and Matt Saracen.
- The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: In Season 2.
- Honor Before Reason
- Mama Bear: To Julie and to some of the other girls at the school, especially Lila, Tyra, Becky and Epyck.
- Reasonable Authority Figure
- Silent Snarker: In the pilot episode, the scene where the gossipy wives invite Tami to join them for a book club meeting and act in a way that can only be described as transparently "fake nice," Tami's facial expression says it all, before she replies "Uh-huh, yeah! Sure."
Julie Taylor (Aimee Teegarden)
The teenage daughter of the Taylors. Starts out as a freshman in high school; is through her freshman year of college when the series ends.
Dillon High School/The Dillon Panthers
Jason Street (Scott Porter)
Former star quarterback of the Dillon Panthers. Suffers a severe spinal injury in the pilot episode that leaves him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
- The Ace
- Back for the Finale: Scott Porter came back to film an alternate scene for the ending montage. It wasn't used in the show nor is it on the DVDs, but a screenshot of it can be found on the Season 5 set.
- The Determinator
- Happily Married: Finally finds happiness and settles down during his final arc)
- Jerkass: After his accident, although difficult to blame him, especially in light of Tim and Lyla's betrayal (though they eventually resume their friendships).
- Joisey: Moves there when he becomes a sports agent (his job is in the Big Applesauce though).
- Out of Focus: He was initially a main character but left towards the end of season three to work in New York.
- Papa Wolf: There really isn't anything he won't do for his son.
- Put on a Bus
- Vitriolic Best Buds: He can a real jerk to Tim (Not without cause) but They do really care about each other.
Lyla Garrity (Minka Kelly)
Cheerleader and girlfriend of Jason Street when the series starts. Comes from a Mc Mansion
family barely holding together at the seams.
Tim Riggins (Taylor Kitsch)
- Brilliant but Lazy: He's an excellent player and a pretty good student but has very little ability to apply himself to anything. He ends up quitting college after getting halfway through the first period of his first class
- Deadpan Snarker: Probably the most sarcastic character in the series.
- Disappeared Dad
- Hard Drinking Party Guy: You could probably take a shot everytime Tim isn't in the middle of drinking a beer and finish the series without even feeling tipsy.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Went to jail to protect his brother who had just become a father.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Jason.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He can be be a real jerk at times but has a very sweet and warm exterior underneath. Most notably when he starts acting as a mentor to younger players like J.D. or consoles his friends like Matt or Becky.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With Jason and his brother Billy. Most of his friendships qualify due to his sarcastic nature.
- Broken Bird: Seems well on her way to becoming this when we first meet her, even more so after we meet her mother, who is a full-fledged, pill-popping Broken Bird in a string of abusive relationships who doesn't want her daughter to go to college. Ultimately averts it; gets out of Dillon and goes to UT.
- Cool Big Sis: Plays this trope to Julie in Season 1.
- Disappeared Dad
- Hard-Drinking Party Girl
- Platonic Life Partners: With Landry after Their breakup.
- Poisonous Friend: At first to Julie, inadvertently getting her arrested even.
- She's Got Legs: And everyone knows, including Tami, who takes advantage of Tyra's height to boost up the floundering girls volleyball team.
Brian "Smash" Williams (Gaius Charles)
Matt Saracen (Zach Gilford)
- Always Someone Better: J.D. McCoy. Though Matt is later called upon to fix J.D.'s mistakes, implying that Matt really was the better player all along.
- Butt Monkey: If something terrible is going to happen, there's a good chance it will be to Matt.
- Closet Geek
- The Determinator
- Disappeared Dad: His dad joined the Army and Matt believes he was a much better soldier than he was a parent. He even goes so far as to encourage his dad to go back to Iraq after he suggests his grandmother go to a nursing home.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Landry
- Honor Before Reason
- Iron Woobie
- Missing Mom: She comes back in season three and tries to make amends.
- Nice Guy
- Parental Substitute: Sadly, due to his grandmother's dementia and his father's absence, Matt is Grandma Saracen's primary caregiver, which is a lot for a teenager to handle. Nevertheless, Matt clearly loves her and would do anything for her, and despite his difficulties dealing with this role he manages to ensure that she's well cared for throughout the series.
- Coach Taylor becomes this for Matt himself. Given Matt's father's years of absence and emotional detachment, it's desperately needed.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Matt's the Sensitive Guy to Riggins's Manly Man (actually, he's also the Sensitive Guy compared to Smash and a lot of the other players on the team too). But Matt is also the Manly Man to Landry's Sensitive Guy.
- Those Two Guys: With Landry
- Vitriolic Best Buds: He's never been shy about making fun of Landry though he obviously cares about him a lot.
- Weak, but Skilled: Lacks the raw physical talent of a J.D. McCoy or Voodoo Tatum, but is a shrewd tactician who knows every play and route in the book.
- When He Smiles: He has a pretty sweet nerdy grin that comes out on the few occasions he's happy. Its always nice to see.
- Wise Beyond Their Years: It mostly comes from being forced to look after his ill grandmother at only sixteen.
Landry Clarke (Jesse Plemons)
J.D. McCoy (Jeremy Sumpter)
- Abusive Parents: His dad to the point that he beat him for being justifiably angry at him and tried to ruin his relationship with a girl.
- The Ace: In Season three
- Adorkable: At first.
- Butt Monkey: Much of the team treats him as this early on in season three.
- Jerkass / Took a Level in Jerkass: In Season four.
- Put on a Bus: Leaves Dillon along with his father between Seasons 4 and 5, given only a passing mention.
- Small Name, Big Ego: For a guy who choked at State the prior season, J.D. really does think the world of himself in season four.
- Stage Mom: His dad nearly drives him insane with his meddling.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: His dad keeps him searching for approval.
East Dillon High School/The East Dillon Lions
Vince Howard (Michael B. Jordan)
- Broken Ace: He's an excellent football player, but his father walked out and his mother is depressed and addicted to heroin.
- Promotion to Parent: Due to his mother's aforementioned heroin problem, Vince is responsible for holding down a job to keep food on the table.
Luke Cafferty (Matt Lauria)
- Determinator: In season four, to a degree that's almost painful to watch.
- Nice Guy: Was fully prepared to help Becky raise their baby, before she had an abortion.
Dallas Tinker (LaMarcus Tinker)
- Big Fun
- The Danza: Same last name as his character.
- Nice Guy: He is the only member of the team who shows up to help Luke and his dad build a fence, and he does it just because Luke looks tired at school.
Jess Merriweather (Jurmee Smollett)
Becky Sproles (Madison Burgess)
Buddy Garrity, Jr.
- All Grown Up!: When he returns from California
- Ascended Extra: Was a bit character in the first couple seasons, who we barely saw and merely served as a plot device, along with all the other Garrity kids other than Lyla. He returns All Grown Up! in the final season after spending the last few years in California and joins the team.
- I Do Not Like Green Eggs and Ham: Buddy's mom's new boyfriend, a soccer-loving vegetarian Hipster, trains Buddy Jr. to hate football, even though he'd previously loved it as a kid (and part of it may have been Buddy Jr. seeking a way to lash out against Buddy Sr. for being a terrible father and husband) and he repeatedly insists that American football is a "barbaric" game upon his return from San Francisco. But after he returns to Dillon, Buddy Sr. helps Jr. regain his love of the game.
- New-Age Retro Hippie: He and the other Garrity kids start becoming this way after living with their mom's new boyfriend in San Francisco, who is very much a hipster. Buddy Senior makes it his mission to deprogram them from this, and actually succeeds.
Family and Friends
Lorraine Saracen (Louanne Stephens)
Buddy Garrity (Brad Leland)
Joe McCoy (D.W. Moffett)