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Played By: Brendon SmallThe star of the show and writer/director/lead actor in most of his movies. Brendon acts out his anxieties and problems through his movies. He has had his trusty camcorder since just after toddlerhood, and has been making films incessantly ever since, perhaps because he started around the time his parents got divorced. Though well-meaning, logical, and surprisingly witty, he is consistently dogged by apathy, oversight, and occasional egotism; he is usually surprised, confused or hurt when his work is criticized. Despite his questionable wisdom and intelligence in other parts of life, he is surprisingly knowledgeable about films and filmmaking; his first film was an homage to Easy Rider called Eazy Trikers. Brendon is apathetic toward his schoolwork and consistently gets bad grades, most likely because he is preoccupied with making movies.
- Author Avatar: Obviously.
- Berserk Button: Brendon hates to be called girls names.
- Book Dumb / Brilliant, but Lazy: He appears to be much smarter than your average 4th grader and talks like a miniature adult, but he performs terribly in school, and has not real motive to do better.
- Bratty Half-Pint: Can be, but not as bad as Fenton, that's for sure.
- Cannot Talk to Women: Excluding Melissa of course, Brendon tends to be very awkward around girls, especially Cynthia.
- Control Freak
- The Danza: Obviously.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Expy: Upon is appearence, you'd swear he was the Western Animation version of 002.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold
- Small Name, Big Ego
- Wise Beyond Their Years
Played By: Melissa Bardin GalskyBrendon's friend and co-star, who is often more sensible than Brendon or Jason. However, when it comes to very personal issues (such as her mother's whereabouts, family history and boyfriends), she becomes very frantic and overly sensitive. Melissa is also the daughter of a single father, Erik. At the beginning of season three she is shown to be a bit of a tomboy, but throughout season four she appears much more feminine. Melissa suffers from allergic bronchoconstriction if she eats kiwi, and carries an EpiPen as such. She was also, at one point, aquaphobic, but she overcame the fear when she rescued Coach McGuirk from drowning. She is a straight A student and often feels left out when she is not told about what the boys are planning.
- Action Girl: Her role in some of the movies, such as the Susie B Anthony film.
- Ambiguously Brown
- Beware the Nice Ones: Melissa is the moral center of the group but as seen in "Shore Leave", "Renaissance" and "Curses", she is not one to be crossed.
- Bratty Teenage Daughter: Plays on in the movie "Who's Your Daddy?"
- Break the Cutie: Many of Mc Guirk's interactions with her.
- Clingy Jealous Girl: With her Dad. The mere idea he's been with a woman causes her to stay with the smalls for weeks on end.
- Daddy's Girl
- The Heart
- Heroes Want Redheads: When it comes to Brendon.
- Missing Mom
- Took a Level in Jerkass: In "The Adventures of Cho and Amy Lee" & "Curses".
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Is terrified of going into the water during "Camp".
- You Gotta Have Purple Hair
Played By: H. Jon BenjaminBrendon's friend and co-star who is noticeably more emotionally stunted, but can be much more aware of his surroundings and situations than others. Subtle irony throughout the series suggests that, while his parents are never introduced, they are wealthy, but never around or aware of Jason's pastimes, including the fact that he is always hanging out with Brendon and Melissa making films, though he himself is at least partially unaware that they tape them and while being friends with Brendon and Melissa, he never once told his parents about them. He has suffered dangerous and extreme attacks of sugar addiction on several occasions that Melissa usually helps him overcome. Jason also has numerous infections and diseases such as pinkeye, urinary tract infection, and eczema. His feelings for Melissa are often very mixed—at one time, he told Brendon his view that she's a good person, but a terrible actress; at another time, he was more than eager to participate when Brendon suggested he and Melissa kiss.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: Has shades of this. In the first season, for example, he seems ignorant of the most basic hygienic considerations, but in the next breath demonstrates considerable knowledge of acting and filming techniques and famous movie directors.
- Childhood Friend Romance: Plans to invoke this trope on Melissa. In one episode he explains his incredibly detailed marriage proposal he's planned.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: As the show progresses, Jason and Brendon become best friends, to the point that Jason was devastated in "Bad Influences" when Brendon decides to end their friendship due to health reasons.
- I'll Tell You When I've Had Enough!: With candy.
- The Pigpen: Though this was largely downplayed after season 1.
- Spell My Name with an "S": A running gag on the show is that his family name is spelled differently everytime it's shown on-screen. "Penopolis" was the first spelling used (excluding an earlier episode where it was spelled as "Panopolis" in closed captions), followed by "Popodopolis" and "Penopopolis".
Other Main Characters
Played By: H. Jon BenjaminBrendon and Melissa's incompetent, acerbic soccer coach; an overweight, alcoholic Scottish-American who constantly gives Brendon bad advice. McGuirk considers Brendon, Melissa and Jason his friends and will usually help them out or stick up for them even though he is often rude to them (especially Melissa).
- The Alcoholic
- The Alleged Car: Drives a badly beaten up Pontiac Firebird Expy, that should have been scrapped ten years ago.
- Breakout Character: With his hideous advice, hilarious drunk antics and general jackass personality, fans ate him up.
- Brutal Honesty: "Life sucks Brendon, That's your lesson. Enjoy it."
- Conspiracy Theorist: In "History" when he tries to teach Brendon about history.
- Hidden Depths: Was / is a legitimately talented Scottish highland dancer, hindered only because of his short legs.
- Intergenerational Friendship: With Brendon and Melissa.
- Last Name Basis
- Jerk Jock
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold
- Parental Substitute: Sees himself as a father-figure to Brendon. One gets the impression that McGuirk's fatherly advice, while almost always deeply flawed, is the best that the guy can come up with.
- Top-Heavy Guy: "The Heart Smashers", to the point it looks like he has two massive breasts when he has his shirt on.
- Sore Loser
Played By: Paula Poundstone & Janine DitulloBrendon's single mother, a (temporarily unemployed) creative writing teacher (apparently having taught in her younger days, as mentioned in Method of Acting) and author. She is usually supportive of Brendon's filmmaking, but sometimes sees it as a nuisance or unhealthy. She talks very frankly with Brendon about life issues, and they both make age-inappropriate jokes, thereby creating much more of a friendship between them than is usual.
Played By: Ron LynchBrendon and Melissa's teacher.
Walter & Perry
Walter & Perry
Played By: Brendon SmallA metalhead of few words, whose band Scäb writes and performs the music for most of Brendon's movies.
- Ascended Extra: Started as an unintelligible background extra, who did music for Brendans movies. Eventually became a character in his own right, with a few episodes focused on him.
- Book Dumb: He's an incredibly talented guitarist and wrote a compelling movie script in "Director's Cut", but is apparently bad at his high-school studies. It doesn't help that he has no real interest in school.
- Garage Band
- Ship Tease: With Clarice in Season 3. Unlike the other people she interacts with, he seems to have no problem with her...tendencies.
Played By: Sam SederA spoiled, annoying classmate with the tendency to call Brendon "Bren-Bren," and ask to be in one of his "video-films."
- Abhorrent Admirer: To Brendon.
- Bratty Half-Pint
- Brutal Honesty: In Focus Grill. He's harsh, but he's right.
- Caustic Critic: As a result
- Character Development: From your standard jerkass in season 2 to a lonely, awkward and clingy (albeit still abrasive and self-centered) kid in seasons 3 and 4.
- Jerkass/Jerkass Woobie
- Spoiled Brat: ESPECIALLY In his first appearance. Once his mom starts to discipline him this does change at home, but not at school.
Played By: Jonathan KatzMelissa's father, a real estate agent. Erik is one of Paula's few close friends, and occasionally hints at being attracted to her.
Played By: Loren BouchardBrendon's baby sister.
Played By: Louis C.K.Brendon's estranged father, a lawyer. He is 11 years older than his second wife, Linda.
Played By: Laura SilvermanBrendon's attractive, snippy stepmother. She often does volunteer work, but most likely for a sense of superiority.
Played By: Jen KirkmanChoreographer for Duane's band on whom Brendon has a crush.
Played By: Jen KirkmanThe attractive new school nurse who Coach McGuirk tries unsuccessfully to court. Jason is infatuated with her, and attacks McGuirk after he mentions the latter's advances.
Played By: Andy KindlerPaula's expressive and oddly energetic boss. He is quite tactless; he laughingly denied Paula when she asked for a raise, and assumed she would try to kill him when he fired her. Apathetic and carefree, but is oblivious about how rude he is being to others. He initially mistook Brendon for being Paula's daughter rather than her son for reasons unknown. He has a good side, however, and offered Paula her job back on the day of her ex-husband's wedding (which she accepted).