open/close all folders
The Brockmans as a whole:
- Anti-Hero: An entire family of them. While everyone is essentially a good person in the show, they all have their moments.
- Dysfunctional Family: Essentially a live-action, English and more realistic version of the Simpsons without the strangling.
- Five-Man Band: They are definitely one, but their roles seem to change from episode to episode. The most consistent arrangement would be Pete as The Hero, Sue as The Lancer, Ben as The Big Guy, Jake as The Smart Guy and Karen as The Chick.
- Sanity Ball: The position of Only Sane Man has a habit of changing in a matter of seconds. Everyone thinks they are the Only Sane Man.
Pete Brockman (Hugh Dennis)The father of the family, Pete is a teacher at a fairly bad school and frequently suffering from the offscreen antics of his pupils, as well as the school's Jerk Ass of a headmaster.
- Anti-Hero: Pete is by far one of the more moral people in the show, but will bend the rules from time to time.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Pete is by far one of the nicest members of the family, but he is not above a rant or some well-directed anger if sufficiently pissed off.
- British Education System: Pete's a teacher; he's actually portrayed in a relatively positive light. Though that said, he has caused two school complaints (it's worth noting one case was something he had no idea about and another was simply the result of somebody seeking to cause trouble)).
- Catch Phrase:Pete: "D'you know, I think that has to be the worst (insert activity here) we have ever had. Apart from when (insert Noodle Incident here)..."
- Deadpan Snarker: Frequently.
- Didn't See That Coming: When he jokingly offers to resign, he didn't expect the headmaster to take him seriously.
- The Hero: Sort of falls into this as the dad.
- Happily Married: To Sue. Most of the conflict comes from their united front against the kids, rather than any friction between the two of them.
- Hypocritical Humour: Scolds Ben for not wearing the wrist strap when playing on the Wii. Guess what he later fails to do, with dire consequences?
- Iron Butt Monkey: Ben has cracked two of his ribs, broken his nose, catapulted a sharpened chopstick deep into his buttock and stuck a peanut in his ear. In the show itself, he's had fruit thrown at him a couple of times.
- Like Father, Like Son:
- He considers the sensitive Jake to be this, and worries that he'll get picked on like he did growing up. Sue disagrees but Pete turns out to be right when its revealed Jake is being bullied.
- In the final two seasons when Jake has matured into a 'cooler' teenager, surprisingly it'sBen who takes after Pete more as they bond over feeling weird and rather geeky.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: He rectifies a eulogy to mention a deceased man's gay partner and the fourteen years they spent together. While the people at the funeral mostly praise him for this, the partner does not, claiming that he asked the previous writer not to mention it and that he would rather stay out of the limelight so the mourning is not overshadowed.
- Only Sane Employee: Seems to be so at his school.
- Papa Wolf: Don't start irritating him if one of his kids is injured. The annoying anti-speedbump campaigner found this out after Karen was hit by a car.
- Poor Communication Kills:
- He ends up ruining a funeral eulogy. See Nice Job Breaking It, Hero for more details.
- His phone plays up during a busy afternoon, causing problems when each member of the family has something come up.
- Rage Quit: Does this after failing at the Wii.
- That Came Out Wrong: When asked whether he fancied a woman who kissed him when he was drunk, he said that while drunk he may have done, but he might as well have fancied every woman in the room. Sue is not impressed and Pete mentions the trope word for word.
- Totally Radical: Tries this. You can predict the results.
- The Unfavourite: Offhandily mentions that his mother actually likes his sister.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: While this doesn't happen all the time, he and Jake have shades of this as well as the normal father-son relationship.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Interestingly, with his Mum rather than Dad.
Sue Brockman (Claire Skinner)The mother of the family, and wife to Pete, who juggles demanding 'part time' work, her ill dad and three children.
- Always Someone Better: Sue has a one-sided rivalry with the irritatingly pefect Barbara from next door, but she always denies it.
- Anti-Hero: Sue, along with Pete, is one of the more moral members of the family, but is not a person you want to piss off.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: When she reads Angela's draft of her first novel in series 4, she reads out a paragraph that has Angela accusing her of abandoning her mother, being a drug pusher (in terms of love) and spells the word mother as "mom". Thankfully this isn't brought up when Sue confronts her over it, though she does mention that the bike Angela got was better than hers.
- Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: After it's revealed Pete kissed another woman, she's angry but appears to realise that the Brockmans are fairly well off compared to Angela, before she subverts this trope once the kids are out of sight. Double Subverted when Karen is hit by a car and she realises the grudge is insignificant.
- Berserk Button:
- When she finds out that Pete drunkenly kissed another woman, she refuses to talk to him properly until Karen is hit by a car.
- Also, don't insult her kids or her father. Angela has found this out the hard way, many times.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Again, in a similar way to Pete.
- Butt Monkey: Sue may get a break every now and then, but she's easily one of the worst suffering members of the cast. To start off, her mum died a year before the series starts, then her father needs care and she's left doing it because Angela left the UK. When it looks like Angela's going to stay in the UK and care for granddad, Angela buggers off again. Over the course of series two, her father begins losing his mind. Then, towards the end of the show, her father can't remember who she is without medication and Angela won't help support her in looking after him in his last few days.
- Cain and Abel: Rare female and fairly nonviolent version with Angela as the Cain, although Sue has kicked Angela up the arse at least once.
- Control Freak: Not at first, but as of Season 5, Sue becomes much more interfering with her family's lives, and repeatedly complains about Stacey talking to Karen about clothes and fashion.
- The Fun in Funeral: Not on purpose- whenever she goes to one a funny memory of her deceased mother pops back up in her mind, and has ever since her mother's funeral.
- Girls Need Role Models: Believes this of Karen In-Universe when she starts getting into fashion too much.
- Happily Married: To Pete, despite the stresses of everyday life. This of course contrasts with the much more dysfunctional Angela.
- Mama Bear: Don't ever insult her children. Angela found this out the hard way, after Sue kicked her very hard in the arse.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Makes Karen's bullying problem worse by writing an email about dress codes and then accidentally sending it to all the other mothers of Karen's classmates.
- Precision F-Strike: In the last episode of the show, although it's "effing" rather than the full word.
- Tranquil Fury: When Sue gets really angry, she is fully capable of simply appearing calm and acting passive-aggressive.
Jake Brockman (Tyger Drew-Honey)
- "I can see why they call it The Dangerous Book For Boys ...Karen's just whacked Ben across the head with it."
- Adorkable: In the early seasons.
- Anti-Hero: Jake is not above running away from policemen or making friends with a big guy so that the big guy will beat up a particularly nasty bully. In later seasons he also gets into dodgier habits.
- Beware the Nice Ones: See Anti-Hero. He is generally a nice guy and does his best to support his parents and siblings (especially in early seasons) but he has his moments.
- Can't Hold His Liquor: Drinks too much for the first time in the Christmas Special (well, before it starts) and throws up in somebody's bin, leaving him with a hangover on Christmas morning. It's implied he wasn't used to it due to not having built a tolerance.
- Character Development: Starts off as a quiet and sweet natured worrier, who suffers from bullying and often acts as the only calm spot in his otherwise crazy home. Come Season 3 and 4, he is moody, difficult and apparently dating a pole dancer. Justified as he is hitting his teenage years and such changes are common. By Season 5, he's calmed down just a little.
- Deadpan Snarker: Jake's humour becomes more dry as he ages up.
- The Everyman: While Ben and Karen are portrayed as extremely challenging, Jake is by far the most normal of the three children. Lampshaded by Pete in series 5.
- Genre Savvy: Along with Pete, he works very hard to keep Angela and Sue apart.
- Jail Bait: Gets this as a nickname when it's revealed that he's dating a 19-year-old poledancer and pretending to be seventeen. She's not actually 19, she's 16.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: In later series. After spending a lot of time snarking at his family, he'll happily defend them after Angela gets bitchy, and even manages to get her to help Granddad.
- Like Father, Like Son: Pete considers him this, though Sue disagrees. For most of the show Pete does have a point as they're both sensitive, rather geeky, badly bullied, struggle with girls and frequently play peacemaker. However he's noticeably 'cooler' in the fourth and fifth seasons and the similarities between Pete and Ben become more apparent.
- Manipulative Bastard: A rare, more heroic example. He manipulates Angela into helping Granddad in his last days by donating money to Sue and Pete.
- Nice Guy: In earlier series he counsels Karen about bullying and works to keep the peace between his mum and aunt. Downplayed when he's older and becomes more moody.
- Only Sane Man: Out of the kids, at least.
- The Quiet One: Is this in his chaotic household. Season 2 has his exhausted parents arguing over who gets sit next to him on the plane.
- Tall, Dark and Snarky: When he gets his growth spurt, he turns into this.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: When he becomes a teenager.
- The Stoic: Valiantly hides the fact he's being bullied in order to prevent Pete from worrying and trying to interfere.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With Pete on occasion.
- Wise Beyond Their Years: In Season 1 and 2. How many eleven year olds do you know worry about bird flu? Even after ageing up, he's worried about the Eurozone crisis affecting his post university life (instead of just increased tuition fees as most students now are).
- Your Cheating Heart: Hinted he cheated on his unseen girlfriend in Season 5 (possibly with more than one girl), though the show never addresses it further.
Ben Brockman (Daniel Roche)The second of the kids, Ben is frequently known for lying his way out of trouble only to have it bite him in the arse later, attempting odd experiments under the declaration that it is simply science and in series 4 he takes Karen's place as Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant.
- Adorkable: Has his moments, particularly when he pretends to climb Everest backwards without wearing a jumper and he's really on the stairs. Taken Up to Eleven when he's preparing for his role as Spartacus for a musical about the eponymous history figure.
- Affably Evil: In the first few series' as the Token Evil Teammate.
- Anti-Hero: Ben is by far the craziest member of the family.
- The All-Solving Hammer: References it every now and then, but it's not helpful.
- A Real Man Is a Killer: Believes this initially. Part of his Character Development is letting it go and realising that he can't do it.
- Blatant Lies: It's all part of his character, but as time's gone on it's become less prominent. It gets mild Deconstruction along with his Iron Butt Monkey status, see that trope further down his section to see why.
- Cannot Tell a Lie: When dealing with his parents, who are Genre Savvy enough to not keep falling for it.
- Character Development: Goes from being the most thoughtless, difficult of the three kids to an affectionate, well-meaning, Adorkable teenager, though his zany science experiments stay. By Season 5 he's taken over Jake's spot as the nice child of the family.
- Crazy-Prepared: When he and Pete go camping, he ends up setting traps for food even though it isn't necessary. Then again, he also forgot the food they meant to bring in the first place.
- Creepy Child: Very polite nonetheless.
- For Science!: Ben views himself as a scientist in the making.
- Genius Ditz: Ben is actually very clever, and is brilliant at chess. However, his ...[tendencies to do odd things get in the way of this a lot. That and he's only eleven/twelve. He grows out of the "ditz" part later.
- Hidden Depths: Series 5 reveals that Ben is very shy, easily gets stage fright, has a fear of failure and worries that eventually his parents will want to no longer do things with him (though not in a Momma's Boy context). He also shows that when push comes to shove, he cannot kill an innocent animal.
- Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Ben cannot sing at all, although his enthusiasm makes up for this.
- Iron Butt Monkey: Injured the most out of all the children, for fairly obvious reasons. Thankfully most of it is offscreen. This gets mild Deconstruction as the hospital he frequently goes to begins to suspect abuse on the part of Sue and Pete, and this isn't helped by Ben's exaggeration. It's not followed up on, thankfully.
- It Amused Me: The reason for his pranks and experiments at first, although For Science! comes into it to an extent.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Gets his moments. The 2011 Christmas Special is a good example.
- By Season 5 he's developed into a genuine Nice Guy.
- Leeroy Jenkins: Charges at problems headfirst.
- Like Father, Like Son: Surprisingly by Season 5 he's remarkably similar to Pete, as they both admit to feeling weird, geeky and not quite fitting in.
- Mad Scientist: Views himself as one, but is really just a child doing the usual experiments... admittedly stretching the term usual.
- Messy Hair
- Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: Has taken this position from Karen as of Series 4. Lampshaded frequently.
- Odd Friendship: Starts one with Taylor-Jean almost immediately.
- Pay Evil unto Evil: Frequently.
- Token Evil Teammate: "Evil" may be an exaggeration, but he's more or less the only Brockman without a proper moral compass at first. He gradually grows out of this.
- Took a Level in Kindness: By Series 5, he's borderline normal and is basically a Nice Guy.
- What You Are in the Dark: Ben reveals that he's very shy in Series 5, and frequently fears failure. He also can't bring himself to kill a rabbit when it's helpless and he's trapped it.
Karen Brockman (Ramona Marquez)The youngest and the only daughter.
- Anti-Hero: Karen will often propose a pragmatic (albeit unrealistic) solution to a problem before considering whether or not it is wrong.
- Armour Piercing Question: Often does this to great effect.
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: She tends to wander off in mid-conversation with people, mostly Angela.
- Berserk Button: Don't say girls can't throw.
- Big Brother Worship: Not exactly worship, but while Ben and Jake have a typical sibling rivalry going on, Karen tends to listen to Jake more then she does anybody else, including Sue and Pete. Subverted by Season 5.
- Brutal Honesty:
- As a foil to habitual liar Ben, like telling Grandpa that he couldn't possibly look after the kids while Sue and Pete are away because "he set fire to his kitchen! He isn't safe!"
- She doesn't even try to lie during 'Cheat'.
- And then subverted while the family are playing "the lying game" (where the biggest liar wins). She says "I like Auntie Angela"... whilst Angela is in the car (and, naturally, Angela assumes she isn't playing the game).
- Competition Freak: Shows shades of it early on, such as making her own badge saying "Best in the class" and wearing it at school. By Season 5, the family all react with positive dread when it turns out Karen only got third place in a swimming contest.
- Creepy Child: Used to be this but as time's gone on it's become less notable. It's not gone completely, though.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Karen may be brutally honest, but she's very kind behind it all, even going to comfort Ben when he's getting serious stage fright. Resurfaces after she Took a Level in Kindness.
- Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: She was this, but ultimately the role was given to Ben in favour of her more inquisitive and lawyer-like behaviour.
- Outnumbered Sibling: Is the youngest Brockman child and only girl, though ironically, it's Sue who seems to feel the dynamic more than Karen, and yearn for "girly days" away from the boys. Karen herself seems able to hold her own as an outnumbered girl just fine.
- Precision F-Strike: A fairly good example from a nine year old girl (for a show broadcast just after the watershed).(upon seeing Angela in the house): "Oh, Jesus."
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: She's Blue to Ben, Red to Jake.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Karen is much ruder and moodier in Series 5, although A) this is due to her growing up and B) she settles down.
- Took a Level in Kindness: After a chat with the headmaster, Karen eventually takes in what she's been told and calms down.
Auntie Angela Morrison (later Angela Bolinger, then Morrison again) (Samantha Bond)
- Bait the Dog: When she hears the news that Granddad's memory has gone, she gets the first plane she can from the States. When she assumes that she's done this for nothing, she refuses to help the Brockmans pay for Granddad's treatment and says she wants nothing more to do with the whole affair until it's done.
- Cain and Abel: With Sue, though it's relatively nonviolent.
- Jerk Ass: Abandoned her dementia-affected dad and went straight back to America. Ties in with many other tropes too.
- Kick the Dog: We already mentioned poor Grandad. She's also frequently insulting the kids.
- Laser-Guided Karma: She decides to essentially abandon Grandad to die in the finale. Not long afterwards, Jake manipulates her into giving money to Grandad and her boyfriend dumps her.
- Morality Pet: Misty serves this role to her at the end of season 4.
- Never My Fault: Blames Sue for abandoning their mother and being a drug pusher in terms of love, all while spelling "mum" as "mom".
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Has a habit of running away the minute things go south.
- Smug Snake: Often does her best to appear superior to Sue, such as when Sue suggests they turn over a new leaf, Angela replies, "Sue, I've turned over two new pages. In fact, I've turned over a whole novel." before sauntering off.
- Ungrateful Bitch: Sadly a solid part of her character.
Grandad/ Frank Morrison (David Ryall)Sue and Angela's father, who is now living without his wife after she died a year before the series started.
- Black Comedy: He and a friend refer to their nursing home as "Colditz".
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: A lot of his irrational or angry behaviour is due to his memory problems and the confusion that results. He's also very fond of the kids but can't handle them for too long (to be fair, given how dysfunctional they are he does a good job).
- Mood Whiplash: Any scene with his dementia and Sue struggling to cope often cut to the kids and their usual antics, and vice versa.
- Noble Bigot: Slightly racist towards the Koreans, Chinese and Japanese. With the former it's because he fought in the Korean War, with the latter it's because they were enemies of the allies in WW2, when he was growing up.
- Put on a Bus: Went to an old peoples home towards the end of Season 2, though he has appeared twice since, in both the Christmas specials.
- Reality Ensues: Sadly, he goes on to forget that Sue is his daughter. Granted, he hadn't been on his medication and he may well do so again, but he may well not remember again with his own memory.
- Retired Badass: Fought in the Korean war and proudly mentions it, somehow finding a Chinese soldier's jawbone along the way.
- Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!: He's surprisingly foul mouthed for a man his age, though this is somewhat justified when you take into account the fact that he fought in the Korean War. Lampshaded when Ben retells a tale ending with "a prozzie spitting in his rum" and Pete mentions that leaving him alone with Ben was not the best idea.
- Values Dissonance: In-Universe.
Joan MorrisonThe mother of Sue and Angela, and wife of Frank. She died before the series began.
- The Ghost: Almost literally. We never see her even in photos, and she died before the show started.
- Posthumous Character: She died before the series began, but her death has a big impact on her children and her husband Frank.
- Small Role, Big Impact: She died long before the series began, but that doesn't stop her having a big impact on her children and her husband.
Bolinger family (Walking Spoilers)
- Wacky Americans Have Wacky Names: Misty's the only one with anything even close to a normal name.
Brick Bolinger (Douglas Hodge)Angela's husband as of Season 3, who is an American therapist. He's not entirely what he appears to be, to say the least.
- Abusive Parents: He locked Misty in her room for hours and it's implied that he's abused kids from his other marriages.
- Big Bad: Of a sort in the last two episodes of Series 4.
- Faux Affably Evil: After his domestic abuse is revealed, all his interactions suddenly seem this way.
- Foreshadowing: There was a hint Brick was abusive, notably the fact that his second wife had been committed.
- Jerkass: He did reveal himself to be not as good as first thought in his debut appearance, but his abuse of his kids, first two wives and then Angela takes this Up to Eleven.
- Karma Houdini: Infuriatingly, his lawyers plus his position mean that he will probably never face justice.
- Knight of Cerebus: Becomes one after his offscreen abuse.
- Psycho Therapist: Brick is psychologically abusive and physically abusive, and has committed one of his wives after she tried getting help.
Taylor-JeanThe first of Brick's kids that we see.
- Blatant Lies: Does a competition with Ben about them.
- Creepy Child: Something about her just seems... off.
- Odd Friendship: Starts one with Ben almost immediately.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Not so much "slipping" as she talks like someone who's never even heard an American accent and is working from a printed pronunciation list.
- Stepford Smiler: She's obviously rather broken. After Pete gets incredibly angry at Brick winding him up and threatens to "shove [Brick's] visa card up his (cuts off)", the following exchange happens.Taylor-Jean: I want my mom.Angela: It's okay, sweetheart. I'm here.
Misty BolingerThe oldest of Brick's kids and the second one we see.
- Creepy Child: She's so broken it comes across as horrifying.
- Creepy Monotone: She always speaks in the same, flat voice. There's never much emotion when she talks.
- Everything Trying to Kill You: She doesn't seem to like anything, be it music, cookery shows, or even flushing toilets.
- Morality Pet: To Angela. She's one of the few people that Angela genuinely and constantly cares about.
VeronicaSue's very unreasonable boss in Series 1.
- Bad Boss: Downplayed. She's not outright abusive, but she's very unpleasant.
- The Ghost: Never once appears.
- Jerkass: Veronica constantly abuses her employees verbally and does not respect them, even abusing her position.
- No Social Skills: Veronica does not have a sense of tact, or seem to understand patience.
- You Need to Get Laid: If Sue is to be believed.
JaneThe long suffering friend of Sue, who has a habit of nothing going her way, much to the suffering of herself and everyone around her.
- Butt Monkey: Nothing goes right for her.
- The Chew Toy: All her mishaps are made to look hilarious.
- Happily Married: Averted to hell and back, albeit nonviolently.
- Throw the Dog a Bone: In the Season 3 Christmas special, Pete takes pity on her when one of her boyfriends sends her a really harsh text, saying that nobody should get something that harsh and that it's Christmas.
- Too Dumb to Live: Nonlethal example, but her idea for curing her vomiting problem was to drink a bottle of red wine on top of some trifle she ate earlier, not to mention her idea to come to a party with serious vomiting problems.
The Headmaster (Jonathan Cullen)The headmaster of Pete's school who tends to put his career before much else.
- Bad Boss: He's constantly abusing Pete in the sense of giving him more work.
- Exact Words: His defence when the prospectus that Pete drafted, on his orders no less, turns out to be heavily altered and biased. He claims that he wanted it done "within the boundaries of complete transparency".
- Faux Affably Evil: He gives the impression of a polite and caring guy, but a lot of his language is passive-aggressive and he's quick to throw those below him under a bus.
TysonSue's new boss in Series 2.
- Affably Evil: Takes Sue and the gang out for lunch while secretly scamming them.
- The Ghost: Again, he never appears in person, only influencing the plot offscreen.
BarbaraThe next door neighbour of the Brockman family, she is described as being perfect in pretty much every way.
- Beware the Nice Ones: She eventually snaps at her husband after he cheats on her one times too many and decks him with a frying pan.
- Broken Ace: Barbara has suffered constant verbal abuse from her husband, who has been cheating on her and doesn't seem that remorseful. This causes her to snap.
- Broken Pedestal: Everybody had hyped her up to be a perfect person and neighbour, but ultimately all this fell apart when it turned out that she ended up beating her husband.
- Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Fully averted, as everyone treats her beating her husband very seriously, though they initially thought it was the other way around and are a bit surprised when they hear this.
- Good Parents: From what we see. Even when she's busy shouting with her husband, she sends her kids away to her mother so they don't get caught up in the mess.
- Knight of Cerebus: A milder one compared to Brick.
- Unknown Rival: She has one in the form of Sue, who gets annoyed by her seemingly being perfect.
- Walking Spoiler: For the last episode of Series 2.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: She's quite probably in prison for domestic assault, but what happens to her is not addressed onscreen.