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The Main Four
Played By: Lena DunhamAs close to a central character as the show has, though this is largely because much of it is told through her eyes, Hannah is an insecure, slightly overweight aspiring writer from Lansing, Michigan who has moved to New York to pursue her dreams. At the beginning of the show she's still receiving financial support from her parents, though that quickly changes. She lives in an apartment in Brooklyn with her best friend from college, Marnie.
- Alliterative Name: Like all the main four.
- Author Avatar: To an extent, though Dunham has denied that the character is a direct counterpart to herself.
- Cute Chubby Girl: She flaunts her body in bikinis and is noted to be cute.
- Ditzy Genius: Dunham describes Hannah as being "a mix of natural intelligence and improbable stupidity".
- Even Girls Want Her: Enough for a lesbian at a retreat to tell Hannah that she's "too luscious to be with the wrong guy".
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Choleric.
- It's All About Me: She has a hard time talking about anything but her own problems and concerns. Several characters call her out on that during the whole series.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Can be very caring when she wants to and is very much the optimist.
- Last Het Romance: For Elijah and subverted as he later has sex with Marnie.
- The Load: She spends the entire first season either not having a job or not having a job that pays any money, meaning Marnie has to pay her rent and other expenses.
- Most Writers Are Writers
- Na´ve Everygirl: Very clueless and relatable along with having a good dose of optimism.
- Never My Fault: She can't even write a proper apology letter without being hopelessly passive aggressive.
- No Social Skills: She can be incredibly tactless at times.
- One of the Kids: She's already a Woman Child, but she soon takes a job as a substitute teacher and has a rather big sister/buddy relationship with her students, sometimes to their detriment.
- She Cleans Up Nicely: On her 25th birthday, she's very put together in her outfit and hair with nice make up. Her parents remark how well she's looking and Marnie lampshades that she'd look like this every day if she wanted to; Hannah's outer presentation also improves as the series goes on.
- Super OCD: Hannah has had obsessive-compulsive disorder since her teens, and suffers a major relapse as a result of her breakup with Adam and her nervousness over her e-book deal.
- This Loser Is You: She has definitely fallen into this trope, as the series has gone on.
- Took a Level in Kindness: Slowly, is mellowing out and open to befriending a girl she was jealous of.
- Unreliable Narrator: lampshaded by Adam in Episode 7, and heralding a massive dose of Character Development for him as she realizes she has been writing him off.
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Has a massive tendency to be this at times.
- Weight Woe: She's a Big Eater and is aware of how chubby she is, with the first episode having her refer to Marnie as a "Victoria's Secret Angel" and herself as a "fat baby angel" when Charlie commented on how they looked angelic sleeping together; on the other hand, she tends to worry about more things than her weight and tends to regard her body as "it is what it is" and doesn't shy away from string bikinis.ADAM: "You think because you're, what, eleven pounds overweight you know struggle?"HANNAH: "I am thirteen pounds overweight and it has been awful for me my whole life!"
- Woman Child:She's been mooching off her parents even when no longer living with them (and then she starts mooching off Marnie), she can barely sustain a job or relationship for a reasonable amount of time, and she frequently blames everybody else for her problems and mistakes. This is most evident in the episode "Leave Me Alone," where she becomes needlessly jealous of a former classmate for successfully launching her writing career, and then sabotages her chance at finally getting recognition for her writing during an essay read. This, among other things, finally pushes Marnie to her limit. And the two, after a nasty fight, break off their friendship... with Hannah still not realizing how childish her behavior has been. In series 2 moreso than in series 1. Series 1 was mostly about the world from Hannah's perspective, Series 2 is mostly about Hannah from the world's perspective, which makes her seem like a much more stupid and arrogant person.
Played By: Allison WilliamsHannah's best friend from Oberlin, Marnie is a slightly prissy and uptight but responsible young woman who works at an art gallery. At the beginning of the series she is in a long-term relationship with Charlie, but feeling a bit bored with it. She and Hannah clash at times, but Marnie does care about Hannah despite her occasional Ice Queen tendencies.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Arguably is a significant element of his attraction to Booth.
- Alliterative Name: Marnie Marie Michaels.
- Aloof Dark-Haired Girl
- Break the Haughty: Poor Marnie, since she has split up with Charlie she can't catch a break.
- Control Freak
- A Date with Rosie Palms: After being propositioned by Booth Jonathan at an art gallery.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Melancholic.
- Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Averted. Unlike many other TV show characters who have rather unrealistic dreams of a singing career, her vocals are actually okay. But that's basically it.
- Ice Queen
- Narcissist: It shows particularly in her love life and when it comes to her singing ambitions. She and Desi even have sex to their own music.
- Only Sane Woman: How she sees herself compared to the rest of the clique. In the beginning of the series she's the only one with a steady job and a boyfriend. Of course, she's actually just as screwed up as everyone else.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The blue to Hannah's red.
- She's Got Legs: In her hostess outfit.
- Statuesque Stunner: Quoting Hannah, she's the Victoria's Secret's angel while Hannah is the "fat baby angel".
Played By: Jemima KirkeA world-traveling, would-be Bohemian Brit, who arrives in New York in the first episode and moves in with Shoshanna. The most impulsive and free-spirited of the bunch, she tends to make things fun for the others but also gets them in trouble at times as well. She has a (well-deserved) reputation for being flaky and unreliable, and like Hannah, she lacks a job at the beginning of the series, though she soon gets one as a babysitter for a wealthy couple.
- Alliterative Name: Sensing a trend yet?
- Bi the Way: In Season 1 Marnie kisses her in front of Thomas John, she kisses back in a more sensual/sexual way and they dismiss his attempts to join in, and in Season 3 she goes down on closeted lesbian Laura at rehab.
- British Stuffiness: Completely averted. Jessa is by far the most open-minded and adventurous of the four.
- The Drifter: Formerly.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Sanguine.
- Freudian Excuse: Gets one in the form of a troubled relationship with her father, who is just as flighty, irresponsible, and self-centered as she is.
- Going Cold Turkey: After rehab she is not shown drinking or using until Jasper hunts her down at her place of work and it doesn't take much convincing for her to join him in a cocaine binge that results in her stealing from her employer.
- Granola Girl: Though less into hippie-type philosophies than most examples.
- Hide Your Pregnancy: Jemima Kirke was pregnant during the filming of season two, though this trope is slightly subverted because she wasn't showing as much as some other examples.
- Informed Attractiveness: She's pretty and all, but the way people go on about her you'd think she was the most glamorous woman on Earth. Episode 4 is particularly over the top about it when the other babysitters just can't believe a stunner like Jessa is a babysitter and not a movie star.
- Jerkass: Especially in season 4. First she sets up Adam, who is still kindasorta involved with her friend Hannah, up with Mimi-Rose, an artist acquintance of hers, so she could get closer with Mimi-Rose's ex, whom she has taken an interest in. She also takes pride in allegedly four men trying to commit suicide because of her as if this made her some supreme seductress and not just a terrible person to be with.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Ace, Mimi-Rose's ex, winds up using Jessa to make Mimi-Rose jealous.
- Like Parent, Like Child: Her father is a slight, unreliable manchild just like her.
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl: She seems to give off this vibe to men. Her boss, Jeff, wants her to be this for him. She declines. Thomas-John pursues and marries her because he views her as this. It doesn't end well.
- Put on a Bus: During the middle of season two, most likely to accommodate Kirke's real-life pregnancy at the time.
- Tsundere: With her husband Thomas-John. She marries him because she hates him so much.Jessa: [During her vows] Thomas-John, when you came to my house with flowers, I was prepared to call the special victims unit. Not only did I find you very creepy, but I also found you very boring. But for some reason, I decided to have dinner with you. You asked to move tables twice — and I was even more revolted. Then, you started talking about what you did — about travel and finance— and I thought, this man is brilliant in a way I've never known.
Played By: Zosia MametJessa's American cousin, Shoshanna is the youngest and least experienced of the group, and also the only one who's still a student. She's also still a virgin at the beginning of the series, a status about which she is extremely insecure.
- Action Girl: In Episode 7. Those kickboxing classes pay off.
- Alliterative Name: Yep, definitely a trend.
- Ambiguously Jewish
- The Ditz: There's a reason why her quotes are a tumblr favorite.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Phlegmatic.
- The Ingenue
- Motor Mouth: Even more so when she smokes crack.
- Pitbull Dates Puppy: Her relationship with the rather peevish and sarcastic Ray could definitely be seen as this.
- Sex as Rite-of-Passage
- Your Cheating Heart: Cheats on Ray with a doorman in season 2.
Played By: Adam DriverHannah's friend with benefits at the beginning of the show, Adam is a part-time woodworker and aspiring actor who likes to work out, masturbate, and walk around without a shirt on. It's later shown that there's more to him than meets the eye, however.
- Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder: He starts dating Mimi-Rose while Hannah is in Iowa. To be fair, he considered her moving away as a breakup.
- The Alcoholic: It's revealed to Hannah's surprise that he has been attending AA meetings since he was 17.
- Amusing Injuries: During a heated argument with Hannah, he gets clipped by a car. It's played completely straight (ambulance and everything), but it also breaks the tension.
- Breakout Character: Most definitely.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Every character besides Hannah finds him bizarre. He wanders around Hannah's apartment and annoys Marnie because he doesn't understand the concept of personal space.
- A Date with Rosie Palms: Frequently, at least one time only slightly off-camera.
- Fag Hag: Gender-reversed, as Adam has a lot of lesbian friends.
- Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Not "responsible" per se, but he comes off as being more functional than his sister Caroline (that isn't saying much).
- Formerly Fat: He tells Hannah he was fat in high school, now a muscular twenty-something that teases Hannah about her weight.
- Hidden Depths: Lampshaded and arguably subverted. Adam points out that his depths aren't so much hidden as that Hannah has never bothered to look for them before.
- His acting skills stand out considerably here. During the first half of season 3, he is mentioned to be going to auditions, but it's mostly played for laughs since he says he mostly does it to get a rise out of people. However, when he finally reads some of his lines to Hannah, he pulls them off amazingly, almost changing into a different person in front of her.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Reveals himself to be this later in Season One. He also tends to have a moral code and is horrified when Hannah worries about her ebook deal just after her boss died.
- No Social Skills: More or less.
- Off the Wagon: In the season two episode "On All Fours". The results aren't pretty.
- Walking Shirtless Scene: Played for laughs, as he's not as attractive as he seems to think he is.
- YMMV on that one. Many fans find Adam Sackler and the man who plays him, Adam Driver, incredibly hot.
Played By: Christopher AbbottMarnie's boyfriend, who at the beginning of the series has been with her since meeting her at an undergraduate party four years before. He's very kind and accommodating to her, but she's grown a bit bored of him. He's in a music duo with his friend Ray.
- Gadgeteer Genius: Charlie made a lot of money and started a successful company after developing an app ("Forbid") that prevents you from calling someone (such as an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend) whom you are tempted to call but know that you shouldn't call.
- Dogged Nice Guy: To Marnie's annoyance. Later shows that he can be just as big a Jerkass as any of the other characters.
- Hidden Depths: As with Adam, there's a bit more to him than is initially presented.
- Put on a Bus
Played By: Andrew RannellsHannah's ex-boyfriend from college. Hannah tracks him down in season one to give him some news, only to find out that he has some news himself - he's gay, and now out of the closet. He later becomes a recurring character.
- Berserk Button: "Berserk" is a tad strong, but he does not like people making fun of his singing voice.
- Camp Gay
- Gaydar: He knew about Mr. Horvath's sexuality before he did.(in season 1) "Your dad is gay!"
- Incompatible Orientation: With Hannah, obviously. An unusual case as she only finds out after they've already broken up.
- Jerkass: At times, though his reasons for being such are usually at least somewhat sympathetic.
- No Bisexuals: Discussed after he has sex with Marnie.
- Transparent Closet: Lampshaded by Elijah himself:"RENT rehearsal!"
- Would Hit a Girl: He hits Marnie when she insults his singing voice, although it's more of a pissy slap than an actual attempt to harm her.
Played By: Alex KarpovskyCharlie's bandmate and best friend, who is extremely protective of Charlie's feelings. Ray manages a coffee shop, at which Hannah eventually gets a job.
- Breakout Character: As of season 2.
- The Cynic:Shoshanna: During her breakup with Ray You hate everything!
- Deadpan Snarker: Particularly the 'deadpan' part.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He can be a bit of a dick, but he really does have his friend's best interests at heart.
- Older Than They Look: He's 33, almost a decade older than the other characters.
Played By: Jorma TacconeA conceptual artist whom Marnie meets at an art gallery in the first season, and later dates after her breakup with Charlie. Unlike most of the other characters, he's fairly successful at his job, and while Marnie admires him for it he isn't universally liked.
Played By: Chris O'DowdA venture capitalist who meets Marnie and Jessa when the two are out drinking one night. He tries to put the moves on them, unsuccessfully, but later comes back into the picture when it's revealed that he's been seeing Jessa and the two of them have decided to get married.
Played By: Donald GloverA black law student whom Hannah briefly dates after her breakup with Adam. Elijah dislikes him and Hannah is critical of him because of his conservative political beliefs, but he generally remains good-natured with them.
- Deadpan Snarker: This comes out when he and Hannah break up.
- Hannah: (when breaking up) Do you want to have sex still?Sandy: No.BeatHannah: I didn't feel like it either, I just didn't want you to have blue balls because that's another thing I don't believe in.Sandy: You're so sweet, you're so sweet.
- Strawman Political: Averted. In general he politely avoids discussing politics, and while he refuses to apologize for his beliefs to Hannah or Elijah he isn't presented as unreasonable in doing so.
- Token Minority: To this point, the only non-white character to have much of a role on the show.
Played By: James LacyHannah's fellow teacher and boyfriend.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: He has a trial for a girlfriend, sure. But he often is very condescending and passive-aggressive to her and doesn't care for her feelings.
- Gender-Blender Name: His nickname is Fran for one.
- Nice Guy: Stands out as one of the few stable boyfriends of Hannah, until he proves himself as one of those people who act "nice to hide their inner assholes" as Hannah's one-off partner put it.
- Not So Above It All: He turns out to be as messed up as most of the cast.
- Women Are Wiser: Averted, given that his girlfriend is the erratic Hannah.
Played By: Gaby HoffmanAdam's emotionally unstable sister who briefly lives at Hannah's. According to Adam, she has a thing for driving a wedge between people.
- Big Ol' Eyebrows: She's played by Gaby Hoffman, after all.
- Cloudcuckoolander: So cuckoo that she breaks a small glass in her hand
- Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Adam is the more responsible and functional sibling....in comparison to her
- Jerkass Has a Point: She tells Hannah that she and Adam are both whiny and self-centered people.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Really cares for Hannah and Adam, then later that care is extended to Laird and her daughter.
- Messy Hair: Has really messy, wavy brown hair.
- Missing Mom: She leaves Laird and their baby girl in Homeward Bound.
Played by: Ebon Moss-BachrachAn acting colleague of Adam who later becomes the other half of Marnie's singing duo as well as her lover and later husband.
Marnie and Hannahs' neighbor, a recovering drug addict, and later Caroline's partner.
Played By: Gillian JacobsAn upcoming artist/writer and Adam's new girlfriend.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: According to her ex, her cordiality is just an act she puts on because it fits her public branding as an artist.
- Nice Girl: She's really, really friendly.
- Not So Different: From Hannah. In her first appearance, she's portrayed as a flawless Anti-Hannah. The more we get to know her, the more we find out that she's actually just as screwed up as the main four.
- Walking Spoiler: It's difficult to bring her up without revealing that she is Adam's new girlfriend.
Tad & Loreen Horvath
Played By: Peter Scolari & Becky Ann BakerHannah's parents, who are university professors in Michigan. They had been supporting Hannah financially as she worked at her unpaid internship, but cut her off from further support in the initial episode.
- The Beard: Loreen decides to stay with Tad after learning that the life of a divorcee isn't all roses.
- Bumbling Dad: Hannah's father displays a degree of naivete, or at least lack of sophistication, that is surprising given that he's a college professor ("Can we get a hotel for $50 a night in Manhattan?"). It's especially bad since his daughter HANNAH has to school him on a few things.
- Fiery Redhead: Loreen has short, flaming red hair and is often impatient with Hannah and her demands for money.
- The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Loreen has two sisters with whom she has a rather....tenuous relationship with as seen in "Flo".
- Hippie Parents: They display traces of that, as can be seen in the contrast between their wild shower sex and Hannah's more pedestrian romantic encounters.
- Parental Obliviousness: They believe Hannah when she says that she's doing okay financially.
- Suddenly Sexuality: After decades of marriage, Tad comes out as gay. Of course, Elijah called it way back in season 1.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Understandable for Loreen, the man she's been married to came out to her after several years and she's often lashing out to the point where she's placing Hannah in the middle.