Al is the forever down-on-his-luck patriarch of the Bundy family. His defining moment (so he says) was when he scored four touchdowns in a single game as a fullback at Polk High School. Nowadays, he works a thankless minimum wage job at Gary's Shoe Store in the New Market Mall. He enjoys bowling, visiting strip clubs and avoiding sex with the wife.
When Al's neighbors mistakenly thought he'd died, they began dancing in the streets and singing Ding Dong, The Shoe Man's Dead!
When Al and his family moved to the supermarket to get away from the angry mob for sapping the neighborhood's electricity, the entire neighborhood had a campout where they reunited with old friends and sang songs like, If I Had A Hammer (I'd Drive It Through Al Bundy's Skull)
When he moved out of the neighborhood after briefly splitting up with Peggy, they had a parade to celebrate.
"Damn Bundys" sees Al go to Hell and is soon joined by the rest of the cast. Marcy explains that she died by falling into the grave while dancing next to it. Jefferson was next because "It was a conga line."
Crazy Jealous Guy: Even though he bemoans the fact that he's married to Peg, Al doesn't take kindly to other men hitting on Peg, and he usually "hits on" them in retaliation.
Crowning Moment of Awesome: Scoring 4 touchdowns in a single game was Al's In-Universe CMOA. The experience was so awesome that Al judges his entire life against it and won't ever stop talking about it.
Getting his bathroom back after Peg turned it into a pink, frilly mess by eating a lot of spicy Mexican and defecating in front of the interior designers she was showing it off to.
Establishing Character Moment: In an audition, no less. When O'Neill auditioned, he was required to act like he was walking through the front door and then say his lines. He did the entrance, but before saying his lines, he did what no one else thought to do - let out a defeated sigh over returning home. This bit of Throw It In won him the part.
Fag Hag: Gender Flipped by Al and Marcy's cousin Mandy. Al initially thinks Mandy is hot, but when he learns she's gay that doesn't prevent them from being good friends and going to baseball games or playing fooseball.
Glory Days: He considers his school football career his best days.
Harmful to Minors: A couple of episodes implied that his mom was an alcoholic (before eating a sandwich made of toothpaste, Al thinks back to his mom cheerfully telling him he'll be President of the United States, with adult Al snapping, "Yeah right, Mom! Try saying that when you're sober!") and his dad was pretty much how Al would turn out in the future (except Al's father abandoned his wife and kid for a hooker. While Al may hate his family for being greedy, lazy, petty, sarcastic, and borderline criminal, he would never leave them for a hot babe, though that's usually because the hot babes don't go for guys like him).
Henpecked Husband: Al thinks he is this, but it's a subversion on his part. Although Peg disrespects him, he's still the clear head of household.
Heroes Want Redheads: Well, Al is a hero to many people in real life. In one episode, Al ruefully admits that, however much he might ogle other women, at the end of the day Peg is still the one he wants.
Heroic BSOD: Al suffered a couple of these over the course of the series after particularly traumatic or horrifying experiences (being beaten at bowling, accidentally looking up a fat woman's dress and seeing her "Saturday" underwear on a Wednesday, being forced to have sex with his wife, etc.)
Hilariously Abusive Childhood: As bad as Bud and Kelly's childhoods were, several episodes imply that Al's was even worse. His mother was an alcoholic, and his father abandoned the family for a hooker.
Not So Different: In order to escape being held hostage by fat women, Al cooks up a false traumatic childhood memory in which he, too, was overweight and knew the pain of being bullied for it (by his own parents, no less). This realization moves the women to let him go free.
Overprotective Dad: Al regularly pummels Kelly's boyfriends. Justified in that Kelly's dates (most of them; the early episodes had Kelly dating a lot of nice, normal guys, more-or-less) really are the kind of scumbags that no sane, competent father would want near his baby girl.
Parental Favoritism: To Kelly, though that never stopped him from beating up her boyfriends or reacting to her stupidity.
And when he puts his feet in a body of water, it kills all the fish in it.
Politically Incorrect Hero: Al frequently makes disparaging remarks about passive men, the French, feminists, fat chicks, and women in general, but to his fans he is one of the funniest and most memorable television characters of all time.
Small Name, Big Ego: Al thinks that playing high school football and scoring four touchdowns in a championship game make him a big shot. He also thinks that other people should be impressed when he mentions this. Naturally enough, he's wrong on both counts.
Speed Sex: Peg constantly mocks him for not being able to last in bed for more than a few minutes seconds:
Peg: I used to call you the Minuteman. Now I long for those days.
One episode shows them going upstairs to have sex while Kelly puts a slice of bread in the toaster. They come back down, adjusting their clothes, just as the toast pops out.
Peggy is Al's wife, born and raised in a backwater area in the Midwest called Wanker County. She actively refuses to seek employment, expecting Al to be the breadwinner for their family. She's usually found on her favorite couch with a TV remote in one hand and a handful of Bon Bons in the other.
Evil Redhead: At least if you believe Al about her role in destroying his life by forcing him into marriage.
Fag Hag: Played straight and subverted in the same episode when Peg has a close friendship with a gay man, to the point where they actually begin dancing together at an upscale nightclub. The subversion comes when the gay man's husband thinks that his mate and Peg are having an affair, and tries to tell Al about it. When Al learns that the husband has a job, likes to cook and enjoys watching sports on TV (except for soccer, which he doesn't think is really a "man's game"), Al briefly falls head-over-heels in love.
Gold Digger: Peg, despite the fact that her husband has a crappy job. When they met, Al was a star athlete in his high school, had earned himself a football scholarship and seemed to be going places. He seemed a great catch... until a leg injury ended his sports career prematurely.
Hot Mom: Many fans of the show viewed Peggy as one of these. Even years after the show ended in 1997, Katey Sagal jokes that Peg "still gets lots of letters from guys in prison."
Housewife: In title only. In the early episodes, she did a mediocre job of cleaning and cooking. In the later episodes, she just stopped doing housework all together.
Lethal Chef: Peg in the early episodes (one of the scenes in the opening credits shows her smoking while making a salad — and when it goes to the scene of Amanda Bearse as Marcy, it shows Marcy about to eat the salad and finding Peg's cigarette on her fork); the later episodes don't have her cook at all (often ordering pizza, not eating at all, or stealing money to go out to a cheap restaurant and eat). Occassions included Al using the money from the "No Chicken, No Check" insurance company to force Peg to buy meat, Peg's insanely obese mom starting to make money as a phone sex operator, and Peg suffering amnesia and Al brainwashing her into being a competent housewife. Her lethal chef skills at times proved beneficial for her family. For example, her leftover Mystery Meal had the Bundy house and everyone in it quarantined for six months. The people inside at the time included the band Anthrax, favorites of the Bundy kids who apparently really enjoyed those six months.
And then there was her attempt to develop and market her own line of Bon Bons. Al and Jefferson each need both hands to lift them, and several hours to chew through a single bite. Curiously enough, Marcy and Buck didn't have any trouble eating that one bite, although they both suffered a crazed, hours-long sugar high afterward.
They could've just been faking how heavy the Bon Bons were because they were horrified of trying Peg's cooking.
My Beloved Smother: When Kelly once decided to move out, a devastated Peg compensated by being this to Bud.
Noblewoman's Laugh: Peggy naturally laughs like this, but without the fan or the limp wrist.
Pretty Freeloaders: Al, Kelly (in the later episodes), and Bud are typically the ones earning money. Peggy is the one helping them spend it. Whether they agree or not.
Secret Identity Identity: When Peg hears that Al is going to be a judge at a stripper pageant at the nudie bar, she's so upset that she enters the pageant herself using a Middle Eastern-style gimmick that keeps her face veiled and calling herself by the stage name of "Jasmine". Not only does she win the pageant, she becomes a full-time exotic dancer and turns Al on so much when he watches her at the nudie bar that he starts doing her on a regular basis. Unfortunately, Al doesn't realize that Peg and Jasmine are the same person, and he ends up screaming Jasmine's name during sex. When Peg realizes that Al is only being turned on by Jasmine, she gets angry at "that slut" for destroying her marriage. Marcy has to remind Peg that she's Jasmine.
Kelly is the Bundys' only daughter. While not nearly as unsuccessful as her parents (she has held several part-time jobs over the course of the series, and had occasional success as a model and bit actress), she's also not nearly as bright (to put it lightly).
The Ditz: Though in the earlier episodes, she wasn't that dumb, and was only made fun of for having bleached-blond hair, being a slut, dating sleazy guys, and committing petty crimes [like speeding, sneaking out of the house, stealing money from Al, and vandalizing public property]. Lampshaded in an episode which showed that Kelly used to be very intelligent as a child, until she hit her head during a car accident.
Freudian Excuse: The episode where Kelly is used as a guinea pig for Al's Shoe Lights invention has a throwaway line that implies that Kelly is promiscuous (or "runs into the arms of strange men") because Al is a bad father and everyone else in the family treats her like a Butt Monkey.
Genius Ditz: In "Kelly Knows Something", she was capable of learning a huge amount of sports trivia in 48 hours. In "Cheese, Cues and Blood", she's shown to be an excellent pool player. "You Gotta Know When to Hold Them", she's able to predict the winning numbers in roulette. In "Kelly Takes a Shot", she masters archery in a week.
Hello, Nurse!: Every male in the show (except of course, Al and Bud) drools over Kelly.
"Daddy, it is so hot you could lay an egg on the sidewalk."
Ms. Fanservice: If you don't understand why Kelly Bundy is this trope, you've obviously never seen the show.
Never Learned To Read: Kelly is barely literate, despite that one episode revealed that she was smart as a kid, but suffered a head injury in the Dodge and became an idiot (though an earlier episode attributed Kelly's idiocy to Peg's low birth weight when she was pregnant with Kelly).
Sibling Rivalry: The typical interactions of Bud and Kelly feature this. Doesn't stop them from teaming-up for a common cause.
Snark Ball: Kelly is portrayed as an utter idiot, yet she's capable of delivering witty remarks, especially in fights with Bud.
Spanner in the Works: For rather obvious reasons, Kelly had a tendency to screw up whatever scheme she became involved in. It's even lampshaded by Peggy at one point as the Bundys and the D'Arcys are being arrested by the police, when she notes that it probably wasn't a good idea to let Kelly in on the plan.
Took a Level in Dumbass: Kelly had perhaps the most extreme version of this trope ever. It is actually possible to pinpoint the exact moment she went from merely Book Dumb to an outright idiot.
From what I've seen online, season two, episode 14 is considered the exact moment.
It is. In that episode Kelly falls for a prank by Bud when he coaches her on a book report on Robinson Crusoe which she hasn't read (Bud feeds her the plot of Gilligan's Island instead.) Not so strange considering even pre-bimbo Kelly was always an awful student, but then having become a laughingstock in front of the whole school, she falls for the same prank again when Bud promises to help her on her report on Edgar Allan Poe (this time tricking her into talking about The Addams Family.) Thus was born one of the iconic Brainless Beauty characters.
We're shown (in flashback) that Kelly was bright enough as a young child (having no problem reading, for instance), until a car accident dumbed her down a notch.
Bud is Kelly's younger brother. Probably the smartest and most decent member of the Bundy clan, although he's still usually quite willing to throw the others under the bus at any given time. Is completely obsessed with girls and sex, so he spends a lot of his time thinking of ways to get laid, but rarely has much luck on that front. He keeps his collection of blow-up dolls a secret from everyone except Kelly, who loves to pick on him for it (among other things).
Combat Pragmatist: While Bud was perfectly capable of handling himself in a straight fight, he continued the proud Bundy tradition of cheating by smashing larger opponents over the head with bottles or chairs, or by hitting them below the belt. Needless to say, this made Al especially proud of his boy.
Amber: (To Bud) You're amazing. Where do you learn this kind of behavior?
Al: (Watching The Centrefold Weed-Whacker Murders on TV) No, you can't hide under the tree stump! He can burrow! Don't you see? He's half mole!
He also seems to have inherited Al's less-than-spectacular bedroom skills:
Ariel: I didn't say it was the best. I said you did your best.
Loser Son of Loser Dad: Bud hasn't sunk to the same level of personal failure as his father, since he got good grades in school and sometimes makes good money as a talent agent or in other temporary professions. On the other hand, Bud has never gotten the same kind of action Al did in high school, and is frequently reduced to scheduling A Date with Rosie Palms whenever he feels horny, so it balances out.
My Name Is Not Durwood: During his Grandmaster B phase, the Grandmaster part was often replaced with such terms "Ghostbuster," "Crossdresser," "Mixmaster," "Court Jester," "Grand Bastard," "Gas-passer" and "Grandfather." This infuriated Bud, but delighted everyone else.
The Other Darrin: Zigzagged. On some episodes (such as the one where Buck brings home a white dog while Al tries to find the chef who created his favorite cheesecake), Buck's thoughts are voiced by Cheech Marin (from the 1970s stoner comedy team Cheech and Chong). Other episodes have Buck's thoughts voiced by Kevin Curran (one of the writers on the show. Curran would later write for The Simpsons and be married to Helen Fielding, the writer of the book Bridget Jones Diary). The season six episode in which The Bundys and Jefferson start a psychic hotline had Kevin Curran as a human version of Buck.
Talking Animal: He can't really talk, but, as with Snoopy or Garfield, the audience can hear his thoughts.
A child of one of Peg's cousins that was left with the Bundys when they abandoned him. Despite Al managing to track his parents down, he allows Seven to stay with the family. He appears in a few episodes in the seventh season (funnily enough). But due to unpopularity with the fans and the writers having difficulty working some of their jokes around him, he was quickly written out of the show.
Marcy is a bank teller who lives next door to the Bundys. She frequently belittles Al and reminds him of how much a loser he is, but has a much friendlier rapport with Peggy.
Abusive Parents: Marcy has multiple stories about how growing up was less than pleasant. One such tale involving her mother selling her beloved dog, Chester, for fifty cents at a yard sale, and using said money to go on vacation and leave Marcy home alone, crying and begging for Chester to come back home.
A-Cup Angst: She's mistaken for a boy several times due to her flat chest, much to her anger. Al constantly mocks her about it.
Break the Cutie: Was a fairly nice (if snobbish) woman at the start of the series. A few years of living next to the Bundys and Steve leaving her, however, made her a lot more shrill and quick to lash out.
Distaff Counterpart: Starting with her marriage to Jefferson D'Arcy, Marcy is increasingly played as a counterpart to Al, if a bit better off. Al and Marcy are both shown to be taken advantage of by their lazy spouses. Eventually this is highlighted in an episode where Al brings Marcy to a bar where he and other married men complain about their wives (and she complains about Jefferson). The Reset Button is more or less pressed mid-episode and Al and Marcy revert to being enemies. Al is also played as being a diehard male chauvinist, at least in the eyes of a diehard feminist, which Marcy certainly is.
Evil Laugh: She was known to issue a triumphant, cackling laugh on several occasions, most notably when something particularly unpleasant happens to Al.
Harmful to Minors: Marcy mentions that all of her mother's husbands have killed themselves, her mother was emotionally abusive to her (she sold her dog at a yard sale for a trip that she didn't even take her daughter on and sold Marcy in a card game to a woman who wouldn't stop sweating), and her biological father was a drunk.
Steve is Marcy's first husband (Seasons 1-4). Like Marcy, Steve worked in the banking business. He tends to stick by his wife a lot, and frowns upon Al's attempts to get him to go against her wishes.
Commuting On A Bus: David Garrison returned to play Steve several times in one-shot episodes. One notable example had the studio audience applauding him for almost a full minute when he appeared onscreen, during which Garrison humorously checked his watch while standing in silence.
Put on a Bus: He was written out as leaving Marcy so he can be a park ranger. This was done because the actor, David Garrison, was afraid of being typecast and no longer wanted a role on a weekly TV series.
The Bus Came Back: Garrison made a handful of return appearances, coming back in four separate episodes to reprise the role, during which time Steve Rhoades became the dean of Bud's college and came into conflict with his ex-wife n multiple occasions.
Jefferson is Marcy's second husband (Seasons 5+). Unlike Steve, Jefferson doesn't hold down a steady job, believing he's "too pretty to work". He enjoys most of the same activities that Al does, and the two of them get along pretty well.
Sometimes Mary will gush in Jefferson's presence about how good Steve used to be in bed. This makes Jefferson take her home and promise to "rock the Steve right out of her." This is a Batman Gambit that Marcy uses whenever she wants sex from Jefferson.
When Jefferson and Steve finally meet, they begin fighting over Marcy. They try to outdo one another by bragging over where they've done the deed with her.
After Marcy has an orgasm while giving a speech at her bank, she's soon hired by other corporations to give bad news in erotic speeches. Unfortunately, she begins neglecting Jefferson, and he starts getting pouty over it. When he complains to Marcy about being ignored, she takes him home for his own "private little speech". In the last scene of the episode, Peg asks Marcy where Jefferson is, and she explains that he's in the hospital being treated for dehydration.
Even the Guys Want Him: Jefferson gets a job as an aerobics instructor in the last season, and he's incredibly popular with the studio's female exercisers. When Marcy finds out, she tries to make him quit:
Woman #1: Hold it, sweetie. You don't just walk into a Jefferson D'Arcy class.
Marcy: But I'm his wife!
Woman #2: Nice try, honey. On an average day, he usually gets about four wives, plus a couple of husbands!
Gold Digger: A glorified gigolo (who was once in prison over a land scam and has a secret connection with the CIA) who married a relatively affluent woman.
Obfuscating Stupidity: Jefferson is a retired CIA agent. When Al initially finds this out, he's offered a large cash reward for information leading to Jefferson's capture... however, due to their being in the middle of a prank war, Al wasn't sure if was legit or not. At the end of the episode, Jefferson scares Al before playing it off as a large-scale hoax... until we hear on the still-playing television that the man who'd offered the reward had just died while watching a baseball game. Never has someone blowing a noise-maker been so creepily funny.
Pretty Freeloaders: Marcy is the breadwinner, Jefferson earns his keep with sexual favors.
Retired Badass: One episode involved him rappelling down into Fidel Castro's office and holding him at knifepoint - only it turned out he and Fidel were old friends from Jefferson's CIA days.
When Al's Dodge broke down because it needed a new fuel pump, he travelled to Cuba and got his Friendly Enemy Fidel Castro to provide a new one from the thousands of old Dodges that were on the island;
When the NO MA'AM guys went to Washington to petition the U.S. Senate to get Psycho Dad back on the air, Jefferson used his old CIA connections to enable them to speak to the Senate...and also to have Marcy and Peggy bound and gagged so they couldn't stop them.
When Kelly's boyfriend accidentally burned up Peg's couch, Jefferson used his connections with some criminals who smuggled contraband in furniture to help her track down a replacement;
When Kelly was upset after Buck's death, he got a friend of his, a crooked customs agent who would smuggle in endangered animals for a fee, to get a rare South American bird as a replacement. Kelly really liked it, but then Grandma Wanker got hungry...
Spear Counterpart: To Peggy. He's very lazy and comes up with all sorts of excuses to avoid getting a job, and has been known to blow Marcy's money on expensive baubles the way Peg spends Al's money on expensive baubles. He also gets very jealous when Marcy reminisces about her ex-husband Steve, or when she generally starts ignoring him.
Status Quo Is God: Despite his protests, Jefferson actually does manage to get a few jobs throughout the series. Unfortunately, whether he gets a job at the shoe store, as an actor or as an aerobics instructor, Jefferson typically ends up working with beautiful women. This makes Marcy force him to quit and return to his de facto job as her sex toy:
Jefferson: I thought you wanted me to get a job!
Marcy: Your job is to please me. And right now, I am not pleased.
You Look Familiar: In the episode "It's a Bundyful Life," McGinley played Peg's might-have-been charismatic husband, Warren Jablonsky, aired a year before he was cast as the role of Jefferson, in a It's A Wonderful Life-style episode with Sam Kinison as Al's guardian angel.
Actor: Harold Sylvester
Griff is a friend of Al's, and his co-worker at Gary's Shoe Store in the later seasons. He is also one of the founding members of Al's NO MA'AM group.
Dan is a police officer who operates in the area where the Bundys and the D'Arcys live. He is familiar with Al and his family because he's usually the first to arrive on the scene whenever they get in trouble. He's also a member of NO MA'AM, but isn't seen as frequently at their meetings as the others.
Corrupt Cop: Openly admits to being crooked, though after joining NO MA'AM he frequently used said connections to keep Al out of jail.
Tomboyish Name: That and the fact Al never met her during the first twenty years he's been working at the store made Al mistakenly believe Gary was a man. Whenever he wasn't thinking Gary didn't even exist, that is.
Actor: Kathryn Freeman (voice only)
Grandma Wanker is Peg's incredibly fat and hideous mother. She's so fat that her footsteps can make the earth shake, she can make the ceiling crumble simply by rolling over, and she's such a glutton that she can eat an entire pig in under a minute. Grandma Wanker comes to live with the Bundys for a while in the tenth season, much to Peg's delight and the frustration of the rest of the family.
Big Eater: Anyone who can eat an entire pig in under a minute, uses a pitchfork as an eating utensil, whose stomach begins rumbling if she doesn't get nine square meals a day and who ate her own dog after wrapping him in bacon has to qualify for this.
Gonk: She's repeatedly implied to be this. Al was once blinded when he was unlucky enough to walk into the bathroom while she was having a bath. Another one of Peg's relatives explained that this was "hysterical blindness", which also happened to Grandma Wanker's doctor.
I'm a Humanitarian: Al hates all of Peg's relatives, but he especially dislikes Grandma Wanker. One reason is because he never liked the way she looked at him, as if he was always between "two slices of bread." She's also eaten at least one of Peg's relatives, and bit off the tip of Grandpa Wanker's finger when he tried to feed her. Grandpa Wanker then points out that she would have eaten his whole hand if he hadn't tickled her stomach.
Obnoxious In-Laws: Al and the kids both hate her. Curiously enough, she doesn't seem to loathe Al as much-one episode has Peg telling Al that Grandma Wanker never liked him, but another one lamented the way Al insulted her, considering how much Grandma Wanker loved him.
The Voice: Thankfully, she never appeared on screen. We only ever hear her dialogue, and occasionally we see the ceiling of the Bundy house buckle whenever she rolls over or she has a "belly quake". Originally, Divine (from the John Waters film Pink Flamingos) was supposed to play Peg's mom, but he/she died before his/her premiere episode, so, out of respect, the writers made Peg's mom unseen.
Actor: Tim Conway
Grandpa Wanker is Peg's father and Al's father-in-law. Like all of Peg's family, he's a drunken hillbilly. He notably held a shotgun in Al's back to force Al to follow through on his drunken proposal to Peg. He splits up with Grandma Wanker during season 10, which prompts Grandma to move in with the Bundys, and Peg later sets out in the ninth season to try and find him after he disappears.
Dirty Old Man: After he splits up with Grandma Wanker, he dates a couple of women young enough to be his granddaughter.
The Other Darrin: The role of Grandpa Wanker was originally going to be played by Divine, but after Divine's tragic death Tim Conway was cast.
Overprotective Dad: Surprisingly averted. Although Al generally can't stand him, he actually seems to like Al just fine, to the point where he held a shotgun in Al's back to force Al to follow through on the proposal he made to Peg while drunk.
Shotgun Wedding: He did this to Al when Al and Peg got married. He did it again at the end of the ninth season, when Al and Peg were renewing their wedding vows.
Amber is Marcy`s niece, who hails from Los Angeles. When her parents become concerned that she's getting too wild and hanging out with the wrong crowd, they send her to live with Marcy so she can learn more "wholesome" values. Despite Marcy's warnings against getting involved with the Bundys, she quickly becomes friends with Kelly and even has a brief fling with Bud.
Did I Just Say That Out Loud?: Amber told Bud that she'd had the best sex of her life when she slept with him, but she only said that to spare her feelings. She later accidentally revealed her true opinion of his performance when she got angry at him:
Amber: I can't believe I let you have what you claimed was sex with me!
Ethical Slut: To the point that she refused to sleep with Bud unless he started being nicer to Kelly. When he started being nicer to Kelly, Amber continued using her wiles as "encouragement."
Good Bad Girl: Amber was arguably one of the more moral and good-natured characters on the show:
She spared Bud's feelings when she claimed that he'd given her the best sex of her life, when in fact she was rather underwhelmed by it;
She was willing to give Bud another chance even after he groped her breasts and used his "movie theatre popcorn trick" on her;
She used her wiles to force Bud to start being nicer to Kelly.
She Is All Grown Up: Bud first met her six years ago, when she was thirteen. Marcy shows him a picture of what she was like then, and Bud screams in recognition. When he meets her in person, she's now nineteen and puberty has been very kind to her.
The Ugly Chicken's Hot Niece: Despite being related to Marcy, Amber is remarkably hot. Al notes that she "must be from the unfeathered side of the family."