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The Yelnats Family
Everyone in his family had always liked the fact that "Stanley Yelnats" was spelled the same frontward and backward. So they kept naming their sons Stanley. Stanley was an only child, as was every other Stanley Yelnats before him.
Stanley Yelnats IV
Portrayed By: Shia LaBeoufThe protagonist of Holes. Stanley is a teenage boy who was arrested for a crime he didn't commit.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: In the book, Stanley starts out being overweight, but eventually loses weight from digging. In the movie, he is portrayed by Shia LaBeouf; a thin, fit, and quite attractive young man. Mostly a case of Pragmatic Adaptation, as it would have been difficult to portray a protagonist rapidly losing weight over the course of a film.
- Butt-Monkey: At first.
- Classical Anti-Hero: Stanley starts out awkward, with low confidence (movie), and overweight (book). A few months at Green Lake changes that.
- Character Development: Goes from something of an awkward doormat to a much more self-confident young man.
- Clear My Name: Stanley didn't steal Clyde Livingston's shoes, but was simply at the wrong place at the wrong time. Thus his arrest.
- Misplaced Retribution: Is arrested for a crime he didn't commit.
- Nice Guy: While he does grow a bit more hardened as time goes on, he's still by far the nicest camper.
- Shrinking Violet: Starts out as a rather shy boy.
- Took a Level in Badass: A month and a half at Camp Green Lake has him become stronger, lose a lot of weight and be more confident and happy with himself.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Can be a bit of one, which sometimes gets him in trouble. He mistakenly assumed Camp Green Lake would be a nice place (it wasn't), that Livingston's shoes would solve his family's poverty (they got him arrested), and that him and Zero meeting was destiny (perhaps it might be).
Stanley Yelnats III
Portrayed By: Henry WinklerThe protagonist's father. He's an unsuccessful inventor who is looking for a way to recycle old sneakers.
- Bungling Inventor: He's trying to invent a way to recycle old sneakers. He has plenty of talent and persistence, but the family curse denies him luck.
- Butt-Monkey: Like father, like son (as well as his own father and grandfather).
- Forgot to Pay the Bill: The poverty of his family means he and the landlord often fight over the rent payment.
- Happily Married: With Stanley's mother.
Stanley's motherThe mother of the protagonist, who doesn't believe in the family curse.
- Closer to Earth: The only female in this generation of the family doesn't believe in curses and bad luck. Played with in that her disbelief in the family curse is the most sensible position, but in this case she is actually completely wrong.
- Happily Married: With Stanley's Father.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: She insists there's no curse on the family (at least on the men). There is.
Stanley Yelnats IIThe protagonist's grandfather. He's exclusive to the movie.
- Canon Foreigner: Is the only member of Elya's family line not to be mentioned in the book, and might not even be alive in that continuity, considering that his grandfather met his grandmother 110 years before the present.
- Catch-Phrase: "It's all because of your no-good, dirty, rotten, pig-stealing great-great-grandfather!"
- Cool Old Guy
- Mr. Exposition: In the film he explains the backstory about Elya Yelnats and the family curse.
Stanley Yelnats IThe protagonist's great-grandfather, who was robbed by outlaw Kissing Kate Barlow and left stranded in the desert.
- Butt-Monkey: He was a successful financier, but had his fortune robbed from him by Kissin' Kate.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Assumed to be one due to saying he "found refuge on God's thumb", though he was just a bit senile from being dehydrated and hungry after being stranded in the desert for seventeen days.
- The Cuckoolander Was Right: Turns out "God's thumb" is a mountain oasis several miles from Camp Green Lake shaped like a fist giving a thumbs-up.
- Florence Nightingale Effect: Fell in love with the nurse that tended to him after he was rescued.
- Throw the Dog a Bone: For some unknown reason, Kate Barlow decided to spare his life.
Elya YelnatsThe protagonist's "no good, dirty, rotten, pig stealing great-great-grandfather", who is responsible for getting his family cursed with bad luck.
- Butt-Monkey: Became one after forgetting to bring Madame Zeroni up the mountain. He's also blamed to the present day for causing the family curse, being thought of as a no good dirty rotten thief by his descendants.
- Love Makes You Dumb: He was too infatuated with Myra to realize she was dumber than a brick, until he decides she isn't worth it.
- Nice Guy
Sarah Yelnats (née Miller)
He fell in love with a woman named Sarah Miller. She could push a plow, milk a goat, and, most important, think for herself. She and Elya often stayed up half the night talking and laughing together.Elya's wife after he moves to America.
- Nice Girl
- The Reliable One: She refuses to leave Elya even after he tells her he's cursed for breaking a promise.
- Throw the Dog a Bone: She's the only stroke of good luck in Elya's life after he was cursed.
- Screw Destiny: One could interpret her decision to stay with Elya this way.
- Woolseyism: In-universe, she changes the words of "the pig song" so that the lyrics rhyme in English.
Inmates of Camp Green Lake
Portrayed by: Kleo ThomasThe youngest of the D Tent boys, who keeps to himself and rarely speaks to anybody. He becomes close to Stanley, setting off a chain of events that change their lives forever.
- Barefoot Poverty: While he lived on the streets, hence why he stole Clyde Livingston's shoes.
- Book Dumb: He doesn't have much formal education, which leads to most of the characters deeming him stupid. His friendship with Stanley begins when the former begins tutoring him.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Combined with The Dog Bites Back, he finally stands up for himself after Mr. Pendanski insults him constantly.
- The Dog Bites Back: After Mr. Pendanski taunts him one time too many, Zero swings his shovel into his face.
- Deuteragonist: Zero has the most important plot and development after Stanley with many backstory links. Not only is it revealed that he was the one who stole Clyde Livingston's shoes, he's also the descendant of Madame Zeroni.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: The "sploosh" he eats after running away saves him from starving, but it also fills his stomach with a century's worth of bacteria.
- Honor Before Reason: After running away from Camp Green Lake, he refuses to return despite dying of thirst out in the desert.
- Missing Mom: His mother was frequently missing from his life, ordering him to stay in one point and not leave until she returned for him. One day she never returned. At the end of the book, he hires a team of investigators to find her, and is reunited with his mother again.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: It's revealed later in the film that it was his fault that both he and Stanley were sent to Camp Greenlake in the first place. He stole a pair of expensive shoes and while trying to evade the police, he drops the shoes while walking on a bridge, and said shoes fall on Stanley's head. Stanley doesn't get angry with him or rat him out, though.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Everyone thinks Zero's an idiot, since he never reacts to anything they say to him, but he really does it because he's knows it's smarter to keep his mouth shut.
- Pint-Sized Powerhouse: He's the smallest person, but the fastest digger and capable of physically strangling the much taller Zigzag.
- The Quiet One: Stanley's the only one he starts to talk to.
- The Reveal: He's descended from Madame Zeroni, and the real thief of Clyde Livingston's shoes.
- Shrinking Violet: His usual demeanor.
- The Unfavorite: He's the least popular boy at the camp by a good margin, and the only person Mr. Pendanski openly insults.
- Breakout Character: The sequel, Small Steps, focuses on him.
- The Big Guy: Big enough that his school's coach keeps begging for him to be on the football team.
- The Bully: Initially is this to Stanley.
- The Ditz: Has some really spacey moments and ends up accidentally insulting the warden due to his foolishness.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: While he has some anger problems, it's shown (especially in the sequel) that he can be very kind to others.
- Non-Indicative Name: Armpit is explained to have gotten his name not from being smelly, but because a scorpion once stung him in the armpit and he wouldn't stop complaining about it. (In the movie, it is because he's smelly.)
- The Pig Pen: Movie only.
- Adaptational Nice Guy: He's much nicer to everyone else in the film. In particular, even though he is the only one doesn't greet Stanley and Zero when they return in the book, he's just as overjoyed as everyone else when they come back in the film and even parts with Stanley with some final emotional words before he leaves.
- Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Downplayed. He's not evil, per say, but he's one of the most openly antagonistic of the D Tent boys towards Stanley.
- The Leader: Of the D Tent boys, and comes close to being the leader among all the boys at the camp.
- Jerkass: He's nice if you agree with him. Don't, and have fun watching the rest of the camp abandon you with him. He's also a bit of a bully to Stanley, doing things like taking his food early on, and making Stanley give up the gold lipstick tube belonging to Kate Barlow he found just so he can get a day off. When Stanley and Hector return to camp, he's the only D Tent member who doesn't greet them and wish them luck when they leave. And in Small Steps, after he gets out of Camp Green Lake, he clearly has learned nothing and goes back to the same get-rich-quick schemes.
- Magic Feather: His favorite shovel is supposedly shorter than the others, so it allows him to dig smaller holes. However, if there's any difference between his shovels and the others, it's so slight that no one except X-Ray can tell the difference.
- Meaningful Name: "Rex" is Latin for "King", which his nickname (which is "Rex" in Pig Latin) hints at. Fittingly, he's the self-appointed leader of the boys of D Tent, and easily convinces the more physically imposing kids to follow his orders.
- Not What It Looks Like: X-Ray was arrested for selling what everyone thought was cocaine and marijuana, but it turned out to be chopped up aspirin and parsley. However, selling aspirin without a pharmaceutical license was still illegal.
- Pig Latin: His nickname is his real name in Pig Latin.
- The Old Convict: A form of it. He's been around the longest and adjusted the best to Camp Green Lake, too well in Stanley's opinion, and thus is the best at coercing the others to agree with him.
- Ambiguous Disorder: His odd habits, strange ability to know the time and date, and pyromania all suggest that he's an Idiot Savant. In the film, Squid claims he's read Zigzag's file and it says he also suffers from acute paranoia.
- Berserk Button: Do not touch his TV, or he will crush your hand into the dial button so hard it will cut open your hand.
- Beware the Silly Ones: Zigzag may seem harmlessly weird, but smart campers realize that the crazy ones are worse than the mean ones.
- Cloudcuckoolander: He has frizzy hair and a long neck, reads an old TV guide like he's reading it for the first time every time, watches the broken TV in the Wreck Room, and always knows what the time and date is.
- Conspiracy Theorist: Has a lot of strange ideas about surveillance.
- Hypocritical Humor: Stanley considers it this when Zigzag calls Zero weird.
- Pet the Dog: While he's a bit "off", he's not that bad of a guy. He admits that when he started the fire that got him sent to Camp Green Lake, he didn't want to hurt anybody and before Stanley leaves camp he apologizes about the fight they had before.
- Pyro Maniac: He was arrested for burning styrofoam on his school's lawn, only for the flames to get out of control and burn down a portable classroom.Zigzag: "I didn't want to hurt anyone. I just like watching things burn."
- Wild Hair: Named for his stand-up, frizzy hair.
- Alcoholic Parent: His mother is one. Though he clearly has some regrets involving her, and asks Stanley to apologize to her for him.
- Disappeared Dad: He left many years ago.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Implied to have this, based on his family background and surly disposition.
- Don't Ask: He snarls at Stanley to leave him alone when the latter overhears him crying.
- The Dragon: Is the second highest ranking member of D-Tent, and often follows X-Rays' orders.
- The Generic Guy: He's got no standout quirks or personality traits like the other inmates. He's just a basic tough-guy type.
- Noodle Incident: We never find out what he got arrested for, but he eventually tells Stanley to apologize to his mother for him.
- Sand In My Eyes: "I got allergies, okay?"
- Let Us Never Speak of This Again: Magnet never said what happened after he leapt on the supply truck to escape. The others never asked him either.
- Pet the Dog: He likes animals. Heck, the reason he ended up in Camp Green Lake in the first place was because he tried to steal a puppy.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: At one point he tried to escape Camp Green Lake by hitching a ride on the supply truck. An hour later, he showed up at dinner and asked for the ketchup, the others going along with it and not asking what happened.
- Sticky Fingers: Where his nickname comes from. He was arrested for stealing a puppy he felt was overpriced (it was apparently $1000) and at his house the police found $12,000 worth of stolen merchandise. Magnet even claims his fingers are like little magnets. Even at Camp Green Lake, he still can't resist stealing things.
Lewis/Barf BagThe inmate who previously occupied Stanley's place, until he was taken to the hospital.
- Agony of the Feet: He stepped on a rattlesnake and got bitten. Intentionally.
- Deliberate Injury Gambit: What his rattlesnake bite was. He even took his shoe off first to make sure it happened.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: He deliberately got bit because he wanted to get out of Camp Green Lake.
- Vomit Discretion Shot: Supposedly he often vomited. Good thing we weren't around to see it.
Brian/TwitchAn inmate who arrives after Stanley. He is constantly twitching, and loves fast cars.
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: His attention span is very short, and he's implied to have ADHD.
- Fragile Speedster: He's the fastest digger Camp Green Lake has ever had aside from Zero... for about 15 minutes. Then he loses his strength and grows too tired to dig.
- Hassle-Free Hotwire: He was arrested for hotwiring a sports car and stealing it for a joyride.
- Keet: He's really hyper, though the Camp nearly breaks his spirit.
- Twitchy Everything: According to him, he starts twitching even more when he gets near a nice car.
Staff of Camp Green Lake
Mr. Sir (Marion Sevillo (film only))
Portrayed By: Jon VoightOne of the head administrators of Camp Green Lake. He's the primary enforcer of the Warden.
- Addiction Displacement: He's constantly eating sunflower seeds in an effort to avoid smoking. He lapses back at the end of the book.
- Berserk Button: Don't ask him about the scars on his face after the Warden slashed him.
- The Brute: In addition to being the Warden's dragon.
- The Dragon: The primary enforcer at the camp, and for a while Stanley thought he was the Warden.
- Gender-Blender Name: His first name (film only) is Marion.
- Do Not Call Me "Paul": No wonder he prefers to be called Sir.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: Midway through the book he gets three scars on the side of his face from the Warden slashing him with her rattlesnake venom-painted nails.
- Large Ham: In the film Jon Voight plays Mr. Sir much more humorously.
- Retired Outlaw: Implied to be one when the police arrest him at the end of the film.
Portrayed By: Tim Blake NelsonThe counselor of D Tent. He's much nicer than Mr. Sir, and claims he wants to reform the boys.
- Adaptational Villainy: Downplayed. The only difference in his actions between the book and film is that in the film, he doesn't even pretend to be a good person.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: He's just as rotten as the other staffers, he just does a better job of hiding it.
- The Evil Genius: Is good with computers and hacking, hence why the Warden gets him to erase everything they can on Zero.
- Faux Affably Evil: He seems like a nice guy and the Token Good Teammate, but it's really just a mask for a sadistic and petty man.
- Kick the Dog: While he's nice to almost all the campers, he's not above giving a jab or two to Zero. It's the first hint that he's not really as nice as he seems at first.
- The Dog Bites Back: Zero snaps and hits him in the face with a shovel.
- Nice to the Waiter: What makes him Faux Affably Evil is the fact that he has absolutely no problems with bullying or insulting Zero, because he thinks Zero can't fight back.
- Pet the Dog: He gives a few genuine favors to Stanley, such as offering him a ride back in his truck or giving him extra water after Mr. Sir stops giving him any.
- Playful Hacker: In The Guide to Surviving Camp Green Lake, it's revealed he was expelled for hacking his college's database and changing the grades. This gets him hired by the Warden.
- Token Good Teammate: His kindness contrasts the sternness of Mr. Sir and the Warden. It's all an act, though.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: He often assures the boys that they've still got a life past Camp Green Lake, even though it feels like they've been digging forever. At one point he even holds a meeting to ask them what job they hope to get. This is all an act and a means of manipulation however.
The Warden (Louise Walker)
Portrayed By: Sigourney WeaverThe Warden runs Camp Green Lake, and owns the desert it's on. For the most part she's rarely seen by the campers, and they and the staff know better than to mess with her.
- Ain't Too Proud to Beg: After the camp staff has been arrested and Stanley and Zero starts to leave, she begs Stanley to let her see what's in the treasure chest. Chances are she wanted to know what else she lost and what she was digging up in the first place.
- Big Bad: She's the head of the camp, and everyone else answers to her.
- Child Hater: Her ultimate downfall.
- Catch-Phrase: "Excuse me?" When she says this, you know that you are digging two holes: the one you're supposed to do, and your grave.
- The Dreaded: Everyone's afraid of her. Even people that have never met her.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": She's mostly just called "The Warden".
- Evil Redhead: As played by Sigourney Weaver. She inherited it from her grandmother Linda.
- Faux Affably Evil: Her politeness and casual manner doesn't fool anyone. As soon as she faces you, it's clear who definitely is the one in charge.
- Freudian Excuse: Her grandfather (Trout Walker) was not a pleasant person, and forced her to dig for Kate Barlow's money in the desert everyday, even on Christmas.
- Humiliation Conga: Goes through this, especially at the end of the movie. First her authority breaks down, then Stanley finds the chest, and it has his name on it. She's not allowed to have it because it has his name on it, Stanley refuses to let her look inside, and she and the other camp staff are arrested.
- I Never Told You My Name: Somehow she knows Stanley's nickname even though he never met her before. When he asks the others about this, they tell him she has tiny security cameras.
- Pragmatic Villainy: In her first appearance she rewards X-Ray with a day off and a double shower for finding Kate Barlow's lipstick tube, then tells Mr. Pendanski to refill everyone's canteen, even though they just had their hourly refill five minutes ago. Although she acts as though it's a Pet the Dog moment from her, it's really just to motivate them into digging harder in hopes of finding more treasure.
- Samus Is a Girl: She's not revealed to be a woman until a third of the way into the book.
- Villain Ball: Assuming that she owns the land of Camp Green Lake, which seems to be the case, she could have avoided all of this by hiring a bunch of contractors to dig up the treasure for her, and then she would no doubt have gotten away with it. She just hates kids that much, and it turns out to be her downfall.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: The way she runs Camp Green Lake and treats the campers (and lets her counselors treat them, for that matter) is inexcusable, but when you learn that her grandfather was an abusive asshole that forced her to dig every day of her childhood, not even taking a day off on Christmas or her birthday, and consider the fact that in the end, she never even gets to see the treasure she's dedicated her life to finding, it's hard not to feel a little sorry for her.
Residents of Green Lake
Kissin' Kate Barlow
"Kissing Kate" Katherine Barlow
She was a wonderful teacher, full of knowledge and full of life. The children loved her. She taught classes in the evening for adults, and many of the adults loved her as well. She was very pretty. Her classes were often full of young men, who were a lot more interested in the teacher than they were in getting an education. But all they ever got was an education.An infamous outlaw of the Wild West who robbed settlers and kissed the men she killed. This feared bandit, however, used to be a sweet schoolteacher who brewed delicious spiced peaches in the idyllic town of Green Lake.
- Better to Die than Be Killed: In the movie, she opts to let a yellow-spotted lizard bite her rather than die of dehydration or give Charles and Linda Walker her accumulated loot.
- Break the Cutie: At first, she was a perfectly nice lady who loved teaching and just wanted to be with Sam. And then she has one really bad day...
- Broken Bird: She was a sweet and beloved teacher until her schoolhouse was burnt down and her black lover killed, after which she went off the deep end and became a murderous outlaw.
- Calling Card: After becoming "Kissin' Kate," she would always leave lipstick kisses on the corpses of the men she killed.
- Died Laughing: After being bitten by a yellow-spotted lizard, she just simply laughs at Trout and Linda Walker when they demand to know where she hid her treasures.
- Driven to Suicide: In the film, she allows a yellow-spotted lizard to bite her and dies from its poison. In the book, it bit her on its own and she just took it.
- Dying Curse: She didn't expect to die right after, but before she gets bitten by a yellow-spotted lizard, she tells Trout Walker that he and his descendants could dig in the dried up lake-bed for the next 100 years and they wouldn't find the treasure she buried. Exactly 100 years later, the treasure is found by Stanley, and he deliberately snubs Trout Walker's granddaughter (the Warden) from seeing it.
- Face Death with Dignity: In the book, she's bitten by a yellow-spotted lizard and calmly succumbs to its poison. In the film, she commits suicide by making it bite her.
- Famous Last Words: "Start digging."
- Freudian Excuse: She snaps after Sam is killed and her schoolhouse is torched.
- Friend to All Children: As a young teacher, she was beloved by all her students.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: She started off as just a schoolteacher in a small town. Then she had one really bad day and became one of the most feared outlaws in all the West.
- Hot Teacher: Lampshaded. She taught two courses - one for children and one for adults. The men were more interested in her than in an education. But all they ever got was an education.
- I'm Cold... So Cold...: She says this verbatim at one point. She wasn't physically dying, but she was dead inside.Miss Katherine: It's so hot, Sam, but I feel so cold...
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: Her first act as Kissin' Kate was assassinating the sheriff that refused to act on the night of Sam's murder and demanded a kiss from her as a trade-off to just run Sam out of town rather than lynch him. After shooting him, she then gave him that kiss he asked for.
- Kiss of Death: Her trademark, which she adopted after a drunken sheriff pressured her for one. The next day she gave him the kiss after she killed him, and subsequently kept up the practice for every person she killed.
- Maligned Mixed Relationship: Her romance with Sam, a black man, turned the entire town against her.
- The Mourning After: Sam was the only man she ever loved. She grieves for him up to the day she dies.
- Pet the Dog: While it's debatable just how much this counts, she spared Stanley Yelnats I's life for some unknown reason. Good thing too, as this leads to better things later on.
- Sanity Slippage: Seeing your lover be murdered out of racist hatred and your schoolhouse be burnt to the ground right before your eyes would do that to you...
- Schoolmarm: Back in her days as a teacher. She taught children of all ages, as well as adults.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: With Sam. She's a white woman, he's a black man... in the 1880s.
- Supreme Chef: Her spiced peaches were loved by all the residents of Green Lake. And they still taste good after being stored in a jar for a hundred years.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: If she hadn't lost everything she cared about, she'd have never gone mad and become a serial killer and bank robber.
Charles "Trout" Walker
His real name was Charles Walker, but everyone called him Trout because his two feet smelled like a couple of dead fish. This wasn't entirely Trout's fault. He had an incurable foot fungus. […] He was the son of the richest man in the county. His family owned most of the peach trees and all the land on the east side of the lake. Trout often showed up at night school but never paid attention. He talked in class and was disrespectful of the students around him. He was loud and stupid. […] But Trout didn't want to learn. He seemed to be proud of his stupidity.The richest man of the Green Lake town, Trout had a little crush on Kate Barlow. When she rejects him, he doesn't take it very well.
- Abusive Parents: Was this towards his children and grandchildren, forcing them to dig everyday for Kate's stash, even on their birthdays and on Christmas. It's because of this why the Warden (Trout's granddaughter) is such a bitter and cynical woman.
- And Your Little Dog, Too!: Aside from killing Sam, he also shot Sam's donkey Mary Lou, just because.
- Break the Haughty: First he gets rejected by the woman he was infatuated with. When he takes revenge by killing her lover, a major drought hits Green Lake. His fortune dried up with the lake and he went on to spend the rest of his life trying to look for Kate's stash to no avail.
- Embarrassing Nickname: Trout, from the smell of his feet. Downplayed in that he doesn't seem to be too bothered by it.
- Entitled Bastard: He's basically a spoiled rich kid that never grew up. He's so used to owning everything in town that the one time he was denied something he wanted he went on a rampage.
- Entitled to Have You: Towards Kate.Trout: (after Kate rejects an offer to go out with him) No one ever says 'no' to Charles Walker!
Kate: I believe I just did.
- Expy: His characterization is similar to Gaston—a handsome but morally repulsive man who is beloved by his hometown and gets everything he wants except the girl he's in love with, and when he's rejected for another man, he tries to Murder the Hypotenuse.
- Impoverished Patrician: When the drought killed the town, he lost his fortune.
- Jerkass: A smug, entitled and very unpleasant person all around.
- Laser-Guided Karma: It stopped raining after he killed Sam, costing him his fortune. When he tried to rob the woman whom he drove to being an outlaw, she cursed him and his family to spend the rest of his days digging for the money she stole and hid away. The narration even implies that The Almighty Himself punished the entire town of Green Lake for murdering Sam.
- Not Good with Rejection: After Kate rejects him, he responds by burning her school building down and killing her lover Sam in cold blood.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: And how! He acts like he's entitled to Kate's affections, and lynches Sam out of racist hatred and because he can't conceive why a white woman would ever choose a black man over him.
- Predecessor Villain: Even though he's long dead by time the main plot rolls around, his actions caused everything at Camp Green Lake.
- Sanity Slippage: Drove himself insane trying to look for the money Kate Barlow stole during her days as an outlaw.
- Smelly Feet: He had the same smelly foot fungus that affects Clyde Livingston. At least Clyde Livingston showered everyday…
- Upper-Class Twit: A much darker example but he's rich and not a clever man.
Sam the Onion Man
Sam's onion field was somewhere on the other side of the lake. Once or twice a week he would tow across the lake and pick a new batch to fill the cart. Sam had big strong arms, but it would still take all day for him to row across the lake and another day for him to return. […] Sam claimed that Mary Lou was almost fifty years old, which was, and still is, extraordinarily old for a donkey. […] Sam was not much older than twenty, so nobody was quite sure that Mary Lou was really as old as he said she was. How would he know?A black onion farmer who lived at Green Lake, who was well liked by the citizens for his delicious onions and the remedies he came up with them. However after kissing Kate Barlow, the whole town turns against him.
- Catch-Phrase: "I can fix that."
- The Cuckoolander Was Right: Plenty of his customers aren't really sure if his onion remedies really work, but buy them anyway because they don't like to take chances (plus the actual medical practices of the time, such as putting leeches on a sick person's body to "suck out the bad blood", left a lot to be desired). A century later, though, they're proven to actually work when the onions from his now-deserted garden save Zero from death by food poisoning and discourage yellow spotted lizards from biting Zero and Stanley.
- The Lost Lenore: Male example. His death turns Kate into a fearsome outlaw, and 20 years later she was still mourning him. It also marks the day the drought on Green Lake began.
- Maligned Mixed Relationship: His romance with Kate, a white woman, turned the entire town against him.
- Meaningful Echo: "I can fix that." First the roof, then the windows, the desk, the door, and eventually Kate's broken heart.
- Mr. Fixit: Kate starts asking him to fix things in the schoolhouse so she can have an excuse to see him, until it's so pristine there's nothing left to be fixed except her breaking heart.
- Nice Guy: He's friendly and considerate, and has no problem fixing everything in Kate's schoolhouse — though that may just be so he can be around her. Either way, it's not hard to see why she fell for him.
- Plot-Triggering Death: If the townspeople hadn't killed him, not only would there be no drought, but Kate never would've become an outlaw, stolen Stanley's great-grandfather's money, and buried it somewhere in the desert. That means that without Sam's death, Camp Green Lake wouldn't even exist.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: With Kate. In the 1880s, a relationship between a black man and a white woman, no matter how loving, spelled "disaster" by default for both parties. And hoo boy does it spell disaster for Kate and Sam.
- Where Da White Women At?: He and Kate both loved each other dearly.
Yellow Spotted Lizards
Yellow Spotted LizardsSmall but deadly lizards indigenous to Green Lake. Their venom causes a swift but painful demise.
- Bright Is Not Good: Like many real life venomous animals, they have bright eye-catching colors (in this case, the yellow spots) to advertise the fact that they're dangerous.
- The Dreaded: Everyone is scared of them, especially Mr. Sir. Kate was the only person to show complete calm in their presence... and that's only because she had nothing left to live for.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: There's really no telling what could make one mad enough to get it to bite you.
- Killer Rabbit: A tiny lizard characterized by the fact that it's covered in yellow spots... and its venom causes instant death.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: The book versions are based on various real life venomous lizards, most notably Gila monsters (which is where they get their black and yellow coloration). The film mixes them with bearded dragons (overall shape and appearance) and frilled lizards (neck frills, ability to run on their hindlimbs).
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: Aside from their spots, they also have red eyes that pop out sharply against their bodies.
- Rule of Cool: The film makes them played by bearded dragons, with special effects frills around their necks. An illustration in the "Camp Greenlake Survival Guide" shows them looking more like generic varanids.
Desperate, Elya went to see Madame Zeroni, an old Egyptian woman who lived on the edge of town. He had become friends with her, though she was quite a bit older than him. She was even older than Igor Barkov.An Egyptian fortuneteller and mentor to Elya Yelnats, responsible for the curse on the Yelnats family. She disapproves of his romantic longing for Myra Menke, but helped him anyway in making him a more attractive suitor.
- An Arm and a Leg: She's missing her left foot, though it's never explained why.She was sitting in a homemade wheelchair. She had no left foot. Her leg stopped at her ankle.
- Anti-Villain: She was rather fond of Elya and initially wished him no malice, but put a curse on his line because he failed to repay his end of the bargain and likely cut short her life.
- Bigger Bad: She's the one who set the curse of bad luck on the Yelnats lineage.
- Chekhov's Gunman: She mentions she has a son in America, who Elya constantly searches for in faint hope that he can break the curse. But Zeroni's descendants don't show up again until Zero.
- Cool Old Lady: She was very helpful to Elya, giving him advice and telling stories. Until he forgot about his promise.The other boys of his village liked to mud wrestle. Elya preferred visiting Madame Zeroni and listening to her many stories.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Okay, madame, we know you wanted to drink from the mountain stream, but did you really have to curse Elya's descendants who never did anything to you?
- Ethnic Magician: She was Egyptian, and seemingly put a curse upon Elya and his descendants.
- Race Lift: In the novel, she's Egyptian. In the film, she's made a Gypsy.
- Noodle Incident: How and why an Egyptian woman made her way to Latvia is never explained.
- Uncanny Valley: In-universe. Her eyes are very large and her smile is too big for her face, which unnerves anybody that looks at her.
- We Used to Be Friends: Elya and Zeroni initially were friends, until he forgot to help her and she put a curse on him.
Madame Zeroni: Myra's head is as empty as a flowerpot.The beautiful daughter of Morris Menke, and Elya's object of affection.
Elya: But she's beautiful.
Madame Zeroni: So is a flowerpot. Can she push a plow? Can she milk a goat? No, she is too delicate. Can she have an intelligent conversation? No, she is silly and foolish. Will she take care of you when you are sick? No, she is spoiled and will only want you to take care of her. So, she is beautiful. So what? Ptuui!
Elya: But she's beautiful.
Madame Zeroni: So is a flowerpot. Can she push a plow? Can she milk a goat? No, she is too delicate. Can she have an intelligent conversation? No, she is silly and foolish. Will she take care of you when you are sick? No, she is spoiled and will only want you to take care of her. So, she is beautiful. So what? Ptuui!
- Brainless Beauty: Madame Zeroni describes her as having a head as empty as a flower pot.
- The Ditherer: What convinced Elya she wasn't worth it is that she's unable to decide between a young, muscular, good-looking, and genuinely loving man, and an ugly, dimwitted pig farmer who's forty-two years her senior.
- Dumb Blonde: At least in the movie, she appears to be one of the only blonde people in the cast for the flashbacks set in Latvia, and she's dense as anything.
- As Long as It Sounds Foreign: His name would fit far better on an American of Eastern European descent than an actual Eastern European.
- Greed: Elya offers him love. Igor offers him a pig. In his words, "I'd rather have a fat pig."
- Jerkass: He laughs at Elya's request to marry Myra, and has no qualms about marrying her to someone forty years older than her.Madame Zeroni: "Morris Menke is a schmuck."
Elya went to her father to ask for her hand, but so did Igor Barkov, the pig farmer. Igor was fifty-seven years old. He had a red nose and fat puffy cheeks.The other suitor for Myra's hand.
- The Bad Guy Wins: He marries Myra, though only because Elya realized she's a terrible choice for bride.
- Dumb Muscle: The town loves its mud wrestlers, and Igor is one of the biggest of them. But he can't even count to ten.
- The Igor: Literally.
- May–December Romance: Myra is 15. Igor is 57. Though, calling it a "romance" is a bit of a stretch.