A boy who can see and talk to the dead. Due to this being common knowledge he is an outcast in the community and even among his family. Despite being bullied by nearly everyone he knows, Norman just tries to get on with his life. At first his only friends are the ghosts he talks to, but Neil quickly takes a liking to him. When he is suddenly warned that only he can stop the witch's curse, everything goes swiftly downhill
Voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee.
- All of the Other Reindeer: Norman tries to take the constant bullying with grace but often finds his heroics hampered by almost every living person's low opinion of him.
- Annoying Younger Sibling: Courtney sees him as this.
- Badass: He really stood his ground to Aggie's angry ghost.
- Badass Adorable: He is easily the cutest and most kind-hearted character in the film.
- Badass Pacifist: He defeats the Big Bad by telling a story!
- Berserk Button: As friendly as he is, even he got mad at the zombies for what they did to Aggie.
- Big Ol' Eyebrows: He gets this from Mr. Prenderghast and Aggie.
- Break the Cutie: When he's forced to undo the witch's curse (and goes wrong), as well as appease the spirit of Aggie.
- Butt Monkey: Treated like crap by everyone, including his own family, for being able to talk to ghosts. The thing is, he can see the ghosts, while normal people can't, and thus is depicted as a schizophrenic Creepy Child by the townsfolk.
- The Cassandra: Norman has apparently told a lot of people about his ability, and they all think he's either insane or lying for attention, but worthy of ridicule either way. Makes it really difficult to get support when the dead actually rise.
- Chekhov's Gun: His ability to talk to the dead is what helps him learn the zombies intentions and reach through to Aggie.
- Children Are Innocent: Well, for the most part. He does enjoy scary zombie movies and knows what sex is. ("What are you watching in there?" "Sex and violence.") Other than that, he's a gentle soul who's misunderstood by everyone.
- Creepy Child: Norman is considered one by the community.
- The ghost community, on the other hand, is quite friendly to him.
- The Cutie: Very innocent, kindhearted and cute; even though he's treated badly by everyone, he doesn't even give it a second thought to be mean back. Much unlike his Distaff Counterpart Agatha Prenderghast.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Norman has to fight a supernatural menace to protect a town that largely scorns him, only to find a growing number of the townspeople realize that his ability is to speak to the dead is real and they are ready to help him in the crisis, until by the end, he is hailed as a fearless hero with an extraordinary ability.
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Norman fits the physical description, but he's actually a very nice person. He just happens to see ghosts.
- Exotic Eye Designs: Norman's irises and pupils are faceted. It appears to be a family trait as both Mr. Prenderghast and Aggie have faceted eyes as well.
- More specifically...the telltale trait of a seer.
- He Who Fights Monsters: Averted, he doesn't even get tempted to fight back against everyone's judgement of him.
- Hero with Bad Publicity: Norman is not exactly Mr. Popular in town.
- Heroic BSOD: Norman has a psychotic break when he learns that the witch was eleven years old when she died and the witchcraft she was accused of was the ability to talk to ghosts.
- Improbable Hair Style: Norman's hair is always sticking straight up. Even if he combs it or it gets all mussed up, it'll always pop back to its original stance.
- In the Blood: Norman's family has a ghost-seeing gene of some sort. Mr. Prenderghast and Aggie have it as well.
- Loners Are Freaks: Justified with Norman, since the whole town, including his father, tend to scorn him for being able to talk to the dead since no one believes it. It's more of a defense mechanism.
- Meaningful Name: Norman means "northerner" or "north-man". Even before the Norman conquest in the year 1066, it was used to describe outsiders or people who didn't belong or were not natives.
- Protagonist Title: A unique example. His name is part of the movie's title and it's also playing with the term "paranormal".
- Red Is Heroic: He's The Hero and wears a red jacket and the sleeves of his shirt are red.
- Strong Family Resemblance: Norman looks a lot like the witch, Agatha Prenderghast, who's a distant relative on his mother's side.
- Take a Third Option: Initially believe that reading the fairy tale story to the ghost would sedate her, but over the course of the movie comes to realize it won't fix the problem, just prolong it. So he directly confronts Agatha and shows that he knows how she feels, ultimately calming her spirit down till she finally passes on peacefully.
- The Unfavourite: Norman seems to be for his parents, mostly his father, but it's implied not to be the case anymore at the end. Norman is the favourite to his grandmother, though. The whole reason she's still around is because she promised to protect Norman.
Norman's best and at first, only real friend. He thinks Norman is cool because he is different and is the first to recognize a good side to his gift. Even if he's not always the brightest, he's full of heart and surprisingly brave.
Voiced by Tucker Albrizzi.
- Badass: When Judge Hopkins rips through the roof of Mitch's van, Neil immediately holds him in a headlock.
- Book Dumb: Expresses triumph at reading a 27 page booklet on asbestos. Ironically, his best friend other than Norman is Child Prodigy Salma.
- Cheerful Child: Perhaps because his Lovable Jock older brother clearly cares for and looks after him. Also, their home has a very colorfully decorated yard as compared to other homes shown in Blithe Hollow, so it may be a family thing generally.
- Covert Pervert: He watches his mom's exercise tapes and he likes to freeze frame the parts with the aerobics instructor.
- Freaky Is Cool: Believes this.
- Genre Savvy: To the point of being the least flustered character when it comes to the supernatural, even compared to Norman!
Norman's older sister who like everyone else, frowns upon on his gift. Initially coming across as a rather typical self-absorbed teen, she of course finds herself caught up in the zombie invasion and even calls out the townspeople for trying to lynch Norman.
Voiced by Anna Kendrick
- The Cheerleader: Courtney is the 'bitchy' version (with shades of the 'stupid' version) but she turns out to be not so bad in the end.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Courtney starts out as a typical self-centered teenaged girl, but she's not a bad person at heart. She steps up her game later on and she's the first one to stand up to the townsfolk to give her little brother a break.
- Ms. Fanservice: Is quite pretty, with a shapely figure.
- Pink Means Feminine: Wears a pink track suit.
- Popular Is Dumb: Randomly babbles to Mitch about how she wants to eventually work on a variety of entirely unrelated humanitarian and environmental causes.
- Shaming the Mob: Courtney does this to defend Norman and the Zombies from the angry mob.
- Strong Family Resemblance: Courtney looks like a younger version of her mother.
The jock, Courtney's crush and Neil's older brother. He of course is caught up in the zombie mess, and becomes a believer in Norman's ability.
Voiced by Casey Affleck.
- Comically Missing the Point: He kicked a zombie's head away; while everyone was scared of the zombie, he was excited about how far he managed to kick the head.
- Dumb Jock: Comically self-aware about it too. Although he seems to be very good at auto mechanic stuff.
- Dumb Muscle
- Literal-Minded: When Courtney said she knew something "like this" was going to happen, he exclaims with total sincerity, "Wow, really? 'Cuz that zombie bit really threw me!"
- Lovable Jock: He's not mean; hell, the only possibly mean thing he does is advise Neil not to hang out with Norman and that was just Big Brother Instinct.
- Mr. Fanservice: The Distaff Counterpart to Courtney.
- Oblivious to Love: Mitch seems to have absolutely no clue Courtney is constantly trying to flirt with him. Turns out he's gay, but he still clearly has a case of this in that he only mentioned it incidentally after failing to notice Courtney's advances for most of the movie.
- One of the Kids: He knows.
Neil: You're the oldest!
Mitch: Not mentally!
- Shirtless Scene: When he first appears, he has just come out of the shower wearing nothing but a towel, and Courtney audibly pouts when he goes to get dressed.
- Sorry, I'm Gay: Invokes this without even realizing he's doing it when he responds to Courtney's flirtatious suggestion that they go on a (non-horror) movie date by telling her that she's going to love his boyfriend, who is very into chick flicks.
- Straight Gay: Turns out he's gay. Who knew?
- Top-Heavy Guy: His upper-body is extremely muscular, but tapers down to a waist smaller than Courtney's and his legs are shorter than the distance from his waist to his neck.
The school bully and resident jerkass. He takes a particular interest in making Norman's day insufferable.
Voiced by Christopher Mintz-Plasse.
- Book Dumb: The guy couldn't even spell his own name for crying out loud!
- Casanova Wannabe: Repeatedly tries to impress a couple of girls, and also hits on Courtney.
- Enemy Mine: The moment evil spirits and zombies turn up, his grudge against Norman is immediately set aside.
- Heel-Face Turn: Well, sort of. He stops bullying Norman by the end of the movie, and even protects him (along with Courtney, Neil and Mitch) from being slaughtered by the whole town. Although, possibly, he could be acting this way in order to impress people, especially Courtney.
- Hypocrite: Picks on Neil for being fat, whilst being far from a beacon of physical health himself.
- Jerkass: At first. Though he only mellows slightly.
The Witch's Ghost/Agatha "Aggie" Prenderghast
Click here to see her true form (Warning: Spoilers)
Legendary Witch of Blithe Hollow. Her fame is what raised the town's economy and her curse is equally famous. She was actually an innocent girl who was put to death because the Puritans were afraid of her ability to talk to the dead. Her angry spirit can only be sedated by reading her a story from her mother's book of fairy tales.
Voiced by Jodelle Ferland
- All of the Other Reindeer: She died because of this.
- Anti-Villain: Ultimately, she's not as much malicious per se as she is a bitter little girl who was mercilessly executed, and is basically lashing out after centuries of pain.
- Berserk Button: Her execution caused the whole curse in the first place.
- Big Bad: She may not be as evil as we thought she was, but she is still causing all of the problems.
- Came Back Strong: She gained most of her powers after her death.
- Creepy Child: When she's still in her "angered" state. When she's calm, she's really cute.
- Dark Is Not Evil: The terrifying witch face in the storm clouds is actually based on the popular depictions of the legendary "witch" of Blithe Hollow. In reality, she's just a little girl who is so lost in the rage over her unjust execution that she has forgotten most of her life, and even her name.
- Deranged Animation: When her ghost starts to get mad or lose control, her shape distorts into very disturbing shapes.
- Distaff Counterpart: To Norman.
- Evil Is Petty: Averted. She wasn't cursing the town to be attacked by zombies, she was cursing the zombies to go through the same thing she went through.
- Family-Unfriendly Death: The thought of an innocent 11-year-old girl being sentenced to hanging is very unsettling.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: The witch's ghost used to be a sweet little girl whose only power was the ability to see ghosts. Her other, more terrifying powers only emerged after the townsfolk sentenced her to death by hanging.
- The Heavy: Even with the revelation that she isn't a Big Bad character history made her out to be, she still had to be dealt with.
- Heel-Face Turn: Not that she was evil to begin with.
- I See Dead People: It's what got her hanged in the first place.
- Meaningful Name: Agatha means 'good'. Too bad the townspeople didn't take the hint.
- Mind over Matter: To the extent of controlling the weather. She also creates ghostly hands that lift the bronze witch statue in front of town hall high into the air and drops it to shatter it, as well as smashing witch-themed structures all over town. She even hurls cars around!
- Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: Very much like Norman. When she was alive, she was apparently closest to the ghosts she could see and speak to. She also greatly loved her mother, who she tragically never saw again after they arrested her for witchcraft.
- Not Evil, Just Misunderstood: She's not an evil spirit of a malevolent witch. Just a VERY angry little girl.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: On an epic scale! Once she wakes up, the destruction she wreaks is subsequently explained as having been a tornado hitting the town!
- Reality Warper: In the final confrontation with Norman she first animates all the trees in the forest, and causes spiky roots to burst from the ground to try to impale him. Then she seemingly blasts the entire forest into a barren wasteland. Then she shatters the landscape entirely, reducing it to shards of Earth floating in some kind of ethereal plane. Finally, when Norman manages to reach her, the forest reverts to how it appeared during her lifetime. Once she passes on it resumes its real appearance.
- She Who Fights Monsters: Norman calls her out for wanting to hurt people just because she's scared and angry, just like the townspeople did to her.
- Shock and Awe: When she's angry her spirit looks to be made of lightning.
- Witch Curse: Cast upon the judges who had her hanged, dooming them to rise as the living dead. Eventually becomes a Deconstructed Trope: the curse results from the cruel execution of Agatha, who was just a misunderstood girl, and the curse isn't about terrorizing the town, but rather, about having the undead judges forced to suffer the same persecution she faced.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: The "witch" is an (extremely psychically powerful) little girl who lost it when she was accused and executed.
The Judge who sentenced the witch to death 300 years prior. He operates as the de-facto leader of the zombies, and is given most of the "speaking" lines ghoulish or otherwise
associated with the zombies.
Voiced by Bernard Hill.
- Anti-Villain: While his actions were rather merciless, he did genuinely think it was for the best. Currently, he's a miserable zombie completely overwhelmed by his guilt, and only seeks to atone for his sins.
- Asshole Victim: He and the townspeople deserved their fates, and he fully acknowledges this.
- The Atoner: He seeks to redeem the harm he's caused when he ordered Agatha's execution.
- Back from the Dead: Well he is a zombie.
- Bigger Bad: He started the whole mess. Averted by the fact he is trying to redeem himself and the other Zombies.
- Deadpan Snarker: He apparently cracked wise about Courtney at one point, but we don't hear what he said because of his zombified state.
- Karmic Transformation: Enforced by Agatha. The founders killed her for speaking to the dead, and she cursed them to return as zombies that were feared, hated, and attacked by society the same way they feared, hated and attacked her. The only way for them to return to normal is by acquiring the help of a little boy with the same power that they killed Agatha for possessing. Agatha herself defends her choice to curse them by telling Norman "Now everyone can see how ugly they are."
- My God, What Have I Done?: He and the others are genuinely remorseful for their crimes.
- Our Zombies Are Different: The Judge and the other zombies are a very rare Type R: Revenant. They have intelligence, and they aren't hungry for brains, but like any Type R, they are driven by a single, burning purpose. In their case, they only want to break Agatha's cycle so they may finally rest in peace.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: He thought he was doing the right thing and protecting the townsfolk by killing Aggie.
- Would Hurt a Child: The Judge's sentencing of a young girl to be hanged for talking to the dead.
Norman's father. He at first is ashamed of Norman's oddball behavior, and isn't afraid to criticize him. Though this is born from the fear of how society will treat him. He sees the error of his ways and mends his behavior.
Voiced by Jeff Garlin.
- Have You Tried Not Being a Monster?: Feels his son needs to stop all this strange talking to the dead nonsense and start acting a bit more normal.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Even his own mother's ghost called him a jackass. His wife is quick to point out his more harsh behavior is due to his fear of how people will perceive Norman. Considering the misery it causes his son in school and that later in the story an angry mob is literally moments from burning him at the stake it's not an unreasonable fear.
- So Proud of You: What he says at the end of the film.
- Tempting Fate: Asking where the police are... about a second later, one literally crashes into him.
Norman's mother. Whilst not exactly openly supportive of his gift, she does attempt to be more understanding than her husband. Which does cause some noticeable friction between them.
Voiced by Leslie Mann.
- Captain Obvious: Upon seeing the huge, unnatural green-and-purple storm cloud in the sky over the spot where the witch was buried, she asks, "Ooh, do you think this is the place?"
- Granola Girl: A downplayed version. Some of her dialogue indicates that she believes in things like auras and astrology.
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: She's definitely the nicest of Norman's family after his grandma.
Norman's uncle and the town's local crazy man. But what the town doesn't know about the crazy man is he's the only one who's been keeping them safe for untold years...
Voiced by John Goodman.
- I See Dead People: Just like Norman. Runs in the family.
- Killed Off for Real: He dies about twenty minutes into the movie and passes on to the other side.
- Large Ham: Alive and dead.
- Madden Into Misanthropy: Years of isolation and deteriorating health fostered in him a heavy contempt for the residents of Blithe Hollow, who he frequently belittles for not taking him seriously. Probably the only reason he even protected them for as long as he did was because it was all he had left, and he's more than happy to pass the buck to Norman the first chance he gets.
- Meaningful Name: Prenderghast literally means "ghost catcher" or "ghost holder".
- Occult Blue Eyes: Just like Agatha, blue eyes to reference his ability to see ghosts.
- Take Up My Sword: To Norman as he knows he's dying and wants someone to hold off the Witch's curse.
Norman's ghost grandmother. Grandma Babcock's unfinished business in the mortal world is actually the promise she would look out for Norman.
Voiced by Elaine Stritch.
Neil's friend and the resident smart girl. She won't let you forget it. Doesn't participate much in the adventure, but does perform key research in a time of need.
Voiced by Hannah Noyes.
- Child Prodigy: IQ 192 and enough awards and certificates to cover a top-tier college physics professor's office walls. Apparently specializes in nuclear fusion.
- The Comically Serious: When she's forced to be the witch in a play; she seems pretty bored when she has her lines.
- Expy: On the audio commentary, it is brought up that Salma's role in the movie is basically Velma of Scooby-Doo fame in a more modern setting, meaning that she isn't part of the adventure and is only contacted for information. Although they lampshade this themselves in the movie:
Salma: So, Norman, let me get this straight. You guys all go on this big supernatural adventure, and you're calling me in the middle of the night, because you need someone to help you do your homework?
- Foreshadowing: She is the witch on the school play, and she complains about the witch being a stereotypical ugly old woman. And she's right, Aggie is nothing like that.
- Insufferable Genius: Norman even lampshades it.