Characters / Raising Hope

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The Chances

    Jimmy Chance (Lucas Neff) 

A dense but goodhearted guy, Jimmy starts off the series with an identity crisis when he realizes how monotonous his life is. He starts searching for his place in the world, never expecting the path his life would take after meeting Lucy. Although previously a slacker and didn't amount to much, he tries really hard to raise Hope right and that honesty and determination has a ripple effect among those around him.


  • Book Dumb: When he asked Sabrina to tutor him for his GED she commented that some aspects of intelligence can't be measured by academics.
  • Bumbling Dad: Oddly averted. He makes mistakes but his focus is entirely on trying to be the best parent to Hope he can be.
  • Distinguishing Mark: Jimmy has a birthmark on his head that looks like Florida... with balls.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Phlegmatic
  • Goth: He had a goth phase when he was a teenager. He insisted his name was "Drakkar Noir".
  • Happily Married: To Sabrina. After "Modern Wedding", Jimmy and Sabrina are married and could not be happier.
  • Idiot Savant: When Jimmy was a teenager, he was a highly skilled piano player and had a beautiful singing voice... until he got nailed in the head with a putter that his dad accidentally threw at him.
  • Loser Protagonist: A high-school dropout who lives with his parents, did the nasty with a serial killer, and is shy around girls he likes.
  • Love Martyr: Will do anything for Sabrina, even if it means to sacrifice their friendship and marriage in the process.
  • Milholland Relationship Moment: Has one of these with Sabrina, reciprocally, as both accept each other's bad points.
  • Never My Fault: Jimmy blames his parents for not having a higher education, having a successful career, or making his own decisions in life. While the show acknowledges that Virginia and Burt's parenting was questionable, they are not entirely at fault for his current lifestyle.
  • Oops! I Forgot I Was Married: Unintentionally. He married Lucy when she was still in prison, (although the reason he gave was that she flattered him), but he believes she's dead, so he gets into a relationship with Sabrina. It later turns out that Lucy wasn't dead, and he's still legally married to her (Sabrina is not happy when she finds out, of course).
  • Parents as People: Because parenting is a new thing to him, Jimmy often makes mistakes, as he really doesn't want to use his parents' examples (when raising him) to raise Hope. But he has to admit that even though they weren't the best, they were good parents that made (almost) the same mistakes as him.
  • Unfazed Everyman: Noticeably undisturbed by most of the mayhem happening around him; it's normal to him.
  • Unrequited Love Switcheroo: With Sabrina at the beginning of the series.

    Virginia Chance (née Thompson) (Martha Plimpton) 

Jimmy's mother, she has worked as a maid for years and is always cleaning houses of people far wealthier than her family. As a result she has a bit of a complex about how others see them, while leading to its own zany adventures it also keeps her away from more inappropriate behavior. She is protective of her family but also very loving.


  • Book Dumb: Although she wasn't much of a scholar to begin with, soon after she got pregnant with Jimmy, she dropped out of high school.
  • Good Parents: Despite all the heckling Virginia and Burt do to Jimmy, they genuinely love him and a few times even they are surprised that they raised a decent son and flashbacks show that they did everything they could to provide Jimmy with a happy loving home.
  • Happily Married: Burt and Virginia are amazingly well adjusted, supportive and loving to each other considering they have been together for over twenty years.
  • Inferiority Superiority Complex: With her cousin Delilah, as Virginia grew up in a different environment than her. She always seemed to be more pretty and popular when they were younger, and even as adults, Virginia still doubts that she is better than her in some regards.
  • Malaproper: Frequently confuses one word for another.
  • Mama Bear: She is always first when it is about protecting and defending her family, even with the TV set, if (she deems it) necessary.
  • Parents as People: Virginia has made a lot of mistakes during her adulthood, but she still genuinely loves and cares for Jimmy.
  • Parental Abandonment: Her mother didn't want children, and ran off to lead a wild, swinger lifestyle, leaving Virginia with Maw Maw, her own mother. Her father also wanted no part in raising her (however, he left Natesville for different reasons, as he was gay... and both a stalker and a narcissist).
  • Raised by Grandparents: Maw Maw and Paw Paw raised her in their house, with lots of love. Even if that would mean developing an Inferiority Superiority Complex with her cousin, Delilah.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Virginia was only fifteen years old when she got pregnant with Jimmy. While it's not a Running Gag in the series, when she is out in public with her adult son, Virginia has to explain to others that they aren't married.
  • Tsundere: Virginia is an A-type with a capital A. She's simultaneously responsible for half of the show's dry humor, as well as half of its heartwarming moments.
  • Weapon of Choice: Virginia and the TV. She even mentions it's kinda her go-to thing.

    Burt Chance (Garret Dillahunt) 

Jimmy's father, they both work in Burt's lawn care and pool cleaning business. He is very friendly and outgoing, always concerned with the well-being of his friends and family. He greatly enjoys the time he spends with his son and tends to find humor and enjoyment in the little things of life.


  • Bumbling Dad: Interestingly averted. He can be goofy but he ended up raising his son to work hard and be a good person.
  • Good Parents: Despite all the heckling Virginia and Burt do to Jimmy, they genuinely love him and a few times even they are surprised that they raised a decent son and flashbacks show that they did everything they could to provide Jimmy with a happy loving home.
  • Genius Ditz: Burt is dumb as a brick in most respects, but he often shows a high degree of emotional intelligence and insight into human nature.
  • Happily Married: Burt and Virginia are amazingly well adjusted, supportive and loving to each other considering they have been together for over twenty years.
  • Henpecked Husband: To Virginia. He learned that it was much easier to let her have her way than to argue with her, and attributes this to his happy marriage.
  • Hypno Fool: Burt is easily entranced by hand gestures.
  • Idiot Savant: Even though Burt never finished High School, he got a 1540 on his SAT. Apparently, he's good at filling in bubbles.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Technically he is a grandpa, but he is still in his early forty's and in better shape than his son. He is more likely to have a Shirtless Scene than anyone else.
  • Nice Guy: Virginia once lamented how judgmental she can be and admits Burt has more than enough heart for both of them.
  • Papa Wolf: Don't insult Burt's family in front of him. Smokey Floyd did, and got smacked by a guitar to the back of his head.
  • Parents as People: Makes a lot of mistakes, but means well and ultimately always does right by his family.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: When he is doing his taxes, out of stress he screams in a high pitch.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: For Virginia. He's incapable of even thinking about marrying anyone besides Virginia even should she die and his 'happy place' is an island where he's a millionaire (due to being the only person able to clean the ocean), a guy whose slightly worse at table soccer/foozball than he is, and the hottest women in the world (they're all Virginia).
  • Teen Pregnancy: As he was only seventeen when Jimmy was born, in addition to his playful personality, they come across more like siblings than father and son as adults.
  • The Unfavourite: Burt's family preferred his brother Bruce over him. In a flashback to their childhood, their parents gave Bruce twenty dollars for getting an "A" on his report card. When Burt says that he got two "A"'s, Bruce calls him a jackass "because it also has two "A"'s in it", and their parents laugh before dismissively telling Burt to play outside.

    Sabrina Chance (née Collins) (Shannon Woodward) 

A girl Jimmy met shortly after he took custody of Hope, her sarcastic but friendly demeanor meshes well with Jimmy's raw honesty. Despite his crush her long time boyfriend prevents anything beyond some mild flirting. When that ran its course she and Jimmy got together and eventually marry, with her adopting Hope.


  • Inferiority Superiority Complex: With rich people who succeeded better in their career.
  • Mama Bear: She is shown as very protective to Hope, as early as late Season 1, when she cannonballed through the ceiling to land on a shotgun-toting Maw Maw.
  • Milholland Relationship Moment: Has one of these with Jimmy, reciprocally, as both accept each other's bad points.
  • Oblivious to Love: To Jimmy until about midway through season two.
  • Parental Neglect: The flashback in "Arbor Daze" reveals her parents barely paid any attention to her, treating her more as a nuisance (father) and a bartender (mother) who barely tolerated her. She makes a promise to her doll that she wouldn't do that with her child.
  • Parental Substitute: Hope is formally adopted by Sabrina in "Adoption".
  • Secretly Wealthy: Her parents are very rich, but she has relied on her own work to get by as a form of protest.
  • Took a Level in Dumbass: Earlier episodes she was a smart, quick-witted, sarcastic but friendly girl who was there to comment on Jimmy's situation. By the end of the first season, she showed some neurosis and having panic attacks that made her more prone to mistakes and odd behavior, making her more of a Rounded Character.

    Hope Chance (Baylie and Rylie Cregut) 

The show namesake, she grows up over the course of the series. Generally cheerful as most babies are, she is exceptionally smart but some of the family is concerned about her parentage and what that means for when she gets older.


  • Adorably Precocious Child: It actually scares the rest of the Chance family how smart she is, in part because that's a trait they associate with her mother.
  • Children Are Innocent: Mostly played straight.
  • Child Prodigy: She is shown to be learning at a faster rate than her father when he was her age.
  • Creepy Child: There are times that she can even see other people (parents and grandparents included) with a killer look, while other she may be channeling Lucy, her biological mother.

    Barbara-June "Maw Maw" Thompson (née Mayfair) (Cloris Leachman) 

Virginia's grandmother and the one who raised her (also being Jimmy's great grandmother and Hope's great-great grandmother), the house is actually in her name. She suffers from a combination of memory loss and dementia, which the rest have to deal with on a regular basis. Sometimes a real chore to deal with, but at other times someone who really livens up the room.


  • Ambiguous Disorder: It's never clarified what she actually suffers from, as the Chances are so poor that it's likely they weren't able to get an official diagnosis. The most they talk about it being "lucid" vs. "non-lucid".
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Although it's justified thanks to her dementia. She has lucid moments, but they're very few and far between.
  • Deadpan Snarker: When she's lucid, the snark is strong.
  • Idiot Savant: Has many hidden talents. Some that show up when she's in one of her delusions, others that show up when she's lucid.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: The part of her personality that remains is a massive asshole, but she also raised Virginia as her own daughter and is fiercely protective of her.
  • Never Mess with Granny: Is skilled with a shotgun and can beat Sabrina, a woman more than three times younger than her, in a fight. While in a wheelchair with a broken hip.
  • Running Gag: Removing her shirt (and occasionally her bra)
  • Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!: Maw Maw usually doesn't have a filter, mostly thanks to her dementia. She also regularly walks around without a shirt.
  • Wrench Wench: During her longer lucid moments, Maw Maw is a skilled mechanic. And electrician. When not lucid, she's also a skilled exterminator.

Recurring Characters

    Barney Hughes (Gregg Binkley) 

Store manager at Howdy's, he is Sabrina and Jimmy's boss. Easily excitable, he is often the butt of some prank Sabrina pulls out of boredom.


  • Camp Straight: Barney is very finicky and loves collecting dolls, and Sabrina often notes with amusement that he isn't gay.
  • Formerly Fat: Through his youth and adulthood, he used to be 100 pounds heavier, until he went through a surgery. He sometimes is seen binge-eating as a form of stress' coping defense.
  • Has Two Mommies: Barney was raised by a couple of lesbians, probably the reason he is Camp Straight as an adult. He is shown to have a good relationship with them, as well.
  • Here We Go Again: Dates Gloria, his ex-wife again, after finding out she broke up with her boyfriend. Sabrina helps him realize that Gloria loved him for who she wanted him to be, not who he actually was (and that had driven him to binge-eat again), and that she was no good for him.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Shows up a few times in the first season and got his own title card in the opening sequence for the second season. While he still doesn't show up in every episode, he is in most of them.
  • Stalker With a Crush: Still hung up on his ex-wife. To the point where she and her new boyfriend took out a restraining order against him.

    Shelly (Kate Micucci) 

Sabrina's cousin, she runs a multi-purpose daycare (children, the elderly and pets) and babysits Hope. Talented with the ukelele, she is always ready with a little jingle.


  • Out of Focus: In Season's 1 and 2 she's a fairly major recurring character and her daycare is a frequent spot for Maw Maw and Hope. In Season's 3 and 4 she appears in about 8 episodes between both seasons and her daycare mysteriously disappears.
  • Ship Tease: She and Jimmy made out at a party several years prior and while she seemed interested in starting something, Jimmy didn't return the feelings (due to being hung up on Sabrina).

    Frank (Todd Giebenhain) 

A co-worker of Sabrina and Jimmy, Frank is exceptionally odd and creepy, but he is otherwise a decent guy who befriends Jimmy.


  • Cloud Cuckoolander: An interesting variant. Instead of being cute and whimsical, he tends to stop conversations dead in their place.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Jimmy, although he is much more devoted to Jimmy than the other way around. It is notable that they became good friends because they can hang out at work, as Javier and Marcus stopped hanging with Jimmy because of his obligations with Hope.
  • Hidden Depths: He built a miniature scale model of Natesville in his house. While that alone is still creepy, Jimmy can't help but be impressed with the creativity and detail involved.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He's fairly blunt and creepy most of the time, but he genuinely cares about Jimmy.
    • This is shown in spades when he finds out Shelly was the girl he had been video chatting while wearing a baby head mask. He's genuinely distraught when a Russian grocery clerk steals her away and gives her a rather sweet heartfelt confession later.
  • Parental Abandonment: His parents apparently left him when he was 17 and he lives alone.

Minor Characters

    Javier and Marcus (Ray Santiago and Jermaine Williams) 

Jimmy's longtime friends, they are never seen apart from each other. Still friendly with Jimmy, they aren't seen very often because Hope restricted a lot of what Jimmy was willing to do.


  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: They were Jimmy's original best friends, but they seem to disappear after the first season and are never mentioned again.
  • Those Two Guys: They seem to only hang out with each other.

    Lucy Carlyle (Bijou Phillips) 

Hope's mother after a one night stand with Jimmy. She is actually quite intelligent, but a pushover who eventually snapped when she had enough.


  • Ax-Crazy: Lucy is mentally unstable, that probably went to worse when she started her career as a Serial Killer. As an example of her instability, in the second season's finale, instead of not giving a damn about Sabrina since she gained full custody of Hope (and Jimmy accepted going with her to the other side of the world...), she instead chases her with a knife, with intentions of killing her.
  • Big Bad: Lucy is the closest thing that the show has to one because she is constantly menacing the Chances' happy life. However, they also frequently worry that Hope will turn out like her.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Is mentioned as having "graphic lesbian sex" with her unnamed cellmate in the videos she made for Hope while in Prison. Jimmy edited that part out.
  • Dumb Blonde: She thought that being six months pregnant would let her get out of being executed, but it obviously didn't. And in the second season's finale, after gaining full custody of Hope and Jimmy, she chases Sabrina with a knife, just to get run over by Smokey Floyd's tour bus (and even if she hadn't, she might have gotten arrested for attempted murder and lost custody of Hope).
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: She actually loves her daughter immensely and would never harm her.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: Is locked permanently into a childlike state of mind, and her father controls her with a shock collar.
  • Heel–Faith Turn: Temporarily. After her... ordeal, she joins up with some Buddhist monks. (Though she does still participate in some decidedly un-Buddhist behavior afterwards.)
  • In the Blood: Her parents are equally as screwed up as her, which may explain her mental instability — her mother is delusional, while her father is a sociopathic psychiatrist who married a patient that he is still treating up until the present day.
  • Not Quite Dead: Turns out that she managed to survive her execution through "sheer willpower". She ends up getting hit by a bus... and survives again, with a childlike state of mind as a result.
  • Posthumous Character: She shows up in flashbacks at random times, especially in the first season finale when it shows her Start of Darkness. Until it's revealed she was actually alive after her apparent execution.
  • Serial Killer: Has killed at least three different guys, and she would have killed Jimmy... if it wasn't for Virginia smacking her head with the TV set.
  • Start of Darkness: Was a sweet girl in an emotionally abusive relationship with a Jerkass, until someone told her to "get rid of him". They meant break up with him, but she took it a different way.
  • Woman in White: During her near-death experience, she wears a white dress
  • Yandere: There's a reason she's called the "Boyfriend Killer" (although she admits that she murdered some out of pure boredom). Also, she tries to kill Sabrina, and was planning to kill Jimmy and his family at their wedding.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Characters/RaisingHope