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Jeffrey Lebowski, a.k.a. "The Dude"
That rug really tied the room together.A single, unemployed slacker living in Venice, California, who does nothing more than enjoying cocktails and bowling.He is mostly inspired by Jeff Dowd, a member of the anti-war radical group the Seattle Liberation Front (The Dude tells Maude Lebowski that he was one of the Seattle Seven, who were members of the SLF). A friend of the Coen brothers, Vietnam War veteran Pete Exline, also inspired aspects of the character.
Played by: Jeff Bridges
- Affectionate Nickname: Nicknames himself "The Dude" and prefers to be known as such.
- The Alleged Car: His Torino increasingly becomes this. It wasn't exactly a royal chariot to begin with, but over the course of the film it is stolen and trashed by a fifteen year old, used as a toilet, crashed by the Dude (twice), beaten with a crowbar, and finally set on fire.
- Anti-Hero: The classic definition - a lazy bumfuck only vaguely interested in this mystery thing who doesn't do anything heroic at all. He is at least genuinely concerned about Bunny's well-being and is taken aback by some of Walter's shenanigans, which he tries to mitigate or rein in.
- Brilliant, but Lazy: In one instance; despite being a complete slacker, he definitively figures out the mystery of the film on his own, despite the increasing amount of figures complicating matters, and accurately fingers The Big Lebowski as having stolen his own money.
- Catch-Phrase: "Fuck it." - his answer to any kind of adversity, an attitude that gets him criticized by both Walter and Lebowski.
- The Chew Toy: The universe seems to love sending him people who break down his door, smash up his car, and pee on his carpet.
- Chosen Conception Partner: Maude picks him to conceive a child with her, because as The Slacker, there's no way he'd want any part of the child's life and that's how she wants it.
- Chronically Crashed Car: His poor car...
- Classical Antihero: A lazy, jobless good-for-nothing who doesn't do anything heroic at all, but is at least genuinely concerned about Bunny's well-being, finds himself lost in a tangled web of other people's plots and schemes, and is taken aback by some of Walter's shenanigans, which he tries to mitigate or rein in.
- Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: Tries to moderate Walter's shenanigans, with mixed results.
- Cool Shades: Sometimes dons a pair of sunglasses to look even cooler.
- Deadpan Snarker: Constantly demonstrates a laid-back, somewhat indifferent but poignant sense of humor.
- Do Not Call Me "Paul": He would prefer if people refer to him as "The Dude", rather than Jeffrey or Mr. Lebowski, and politely requests everyone he meets to refer to him as such.
- Drink Order: Loves White Russian cocktails.
- Erudite Stoner: Has "the occasional acid flashback".
- Establishing Character Moment: The first he is shown doing is shopping for half-and-half in his robe, tasting it in the store, then paying for it by writing a check for 69 cents.
- The check is postdated.
- Fish out of Water: He's stuck in a Film Noir narrative with all the various interests around him (aside from Walter and Donnie) behaving accordingly.
- Genre Refugee: He acts like he's walked right out of a stoner comedy or a 1960s New Hollywood-style counterculture flick.
- Glorified Sperm Donor: The "glorified" bit is definitely averted.Maude: I don't want the father to be someone I have to see socially, or who will have any interest in raising the child himself.
- Good Is Not Nice: He isn't a violent person like Walter was, but makes up for it by being an incredibly lazy and occasionally stubborn slacker.
- Hero of Another Story: His involvement in most of the ongoing plots is tangential, whether the struggle between Maude and the eponymous Big Lebowski over his embezzlement (and Maude's subsequent quest to find a "sperm donor" to get her pregnant), Jackie Treehorn's dispute with Bunny Lebowski (which kickstarts the plot due only to the incompetence of Treehorn's hired thugs), or Da Fino's struggle to return "Bunny" to her family back east. Inverting this trope, The Dude is the hero of the story of the bowling league and his team's struggle against the Jesus, but we never get to see how that turned out.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Walter.The Dude: "Walter, I love ya, but you're just gonna have to accept that you're a fucking moron!"
- Humble Goal: "All The Dude wanted was his rug back." Which is weird because his rug was never stolen, it was just peed on and he presumably threw it away after that introductory scene. The only rug that was taken from him was one HE stole in the first place, later rightfully reclaimed by Maude who won't return it as part of their bargain. If the Dude wanted his rug back, he could've just taken it to a cleaner and returned for it on Thursday of next week. But as Walter comments, "This is about drawing a line in the sand."
- Iconic Outfit: The sweater, the shades and the purple shirt.
- Informed Ability: The Dude is apparently a pretty good bowler, considering he and his buddies were able to make it to the semifinals of a league tournament. Bowling also seems to be one of the only things he's actually passionate about, as bowling imagery appears all over his house and in his dreams. Despite this, he's never actually shown bowling at any point in the movie.
- Insistent Terminology:
- "I'm not Mr. Lebowski. You're Mr. Lebowski. I'm The Dude. So that's what you call me."
- "She's not my special lady; she's my fucking lady friend!"
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: The Dude is too lazy to do anything heroic for its own sake, as evidenced by the fact that the Dude only agrees to do the dropoff because the Big Lebowski promises Dude twenty thousand dollars to do so. But the Dude at least feels terrible when he thinks Bunny is dead, or had her toe chopped off. He also welches on his rent, but also keeps his promise to his landlord to come to his dance recital.
- Knight, Knave and Squire: The Knave to Walter's Knight and Donny's Squire. He's the most laid-back of the three, he's generally content to talk his way out of most tough situations, and he has no loyalty to anything but his own petty interests (he gets dragged into the adventure because he wants someone to replace his rug).
- Lame Comeback: "Well that's just, like, uh, your opinion, man.". Generally, the Dude has a lot more trouble producing his witty snarks when he's being directly challenged by someone.
- Lazy Bum: He's even referred to as such by The Big Lebowski and the Malibu chief of police.
- Looks Like Jesus: Though he doesn't exactly act like Him.
- Meaningful Echo: Subverted. The Dude has a tendency of (poorly) copying the vocabulary of more eloquent characters when trying to be taken more seriously, but it's never particularly significant.
- Mellow Fellow: Pretty much his defining trait.
- Messianic Archetype: He does happen to have long hair, a simple attire consisting largely of robes, a close group of "disciples," and a tendency to suffer for things he has no responsibility for.
- Misblamed: Jackie Treehorn blames The Dude for screwing up the ransom handoff, even though the Dude had nothing to do with that. And the briefcase the Dude was given didn't have any money in it anyways.
- Mistaken Identity: Due to his name being the same as a millionaire living in the same area. In fact, Jackie Treehorn's goons mixing the two up is what kickstarts the plot.
- Mr. Vice Guy: The vice being Sloth. He means well and to the extent he does anything at all he tries to do good, but out of laziness and a general desire for an easy life he'd really rather not be involved.
- New-Age Retro Hippie: When asked what he does with his time, he says "Drive around. Bowl. Enjoy the occasional acid flashback.""I spent most of my time occupying various administration buildings... smoking a lot of Thai stick... breaking into the ROTC... and bowling."
- Nice Mean And In Between: The in between. He's snarky, lazy and will only ever do anything if he's absolutely required to, but he's a generally decent guy so long as you're willing to move at his pace.
- Non-Action Guy: The closest he gets to being involved in action is getting beat up a few times and halfheartedly swinging his bowling bag at one of the nihilists.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Displays this on a handful of occasions as he attempts to decipher exactly what's going on - and only gets called out on it by Maude when he jokes about the plot of Bunny's porn tape.
- Only Sane Man: In spite of his laziness, he's the only character with the lucidity necessary to understand what's actually going on.
- Pinball Protagonist: While the story is seen through his eyes, he ultimately has no effect on the schemes of The Big Lebowski, Jackie Treehorn, or anyone else. He doesn't participate in the fight with the nihilists at the movie's climax, and we never even see him bowl.
- Real Men Wear Pink: Real dudes drink White Russians.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The laid back, lazy and comparatively sensible blue oni to the volatile Walter's red.
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: He swears constantly, though he doesn't seem to be aware of it.Stranger: Do you have to use so many cusswords?
Dude: What the fuck are you talking about?
- The Slacker: Casualness runs deep in this man.Stranger: The Dude, from Los Angeles. And even if he's a lazy man - and the Dude was most certainly that. Quite possibly the laziest in all of Los Angeles County, which would place him high in the runnin' for laziest worldwide.
- The Stoner: He often smokes joints and Thai sticks, and used to do acid.
- Third-Person Person: He prefers referring to His Dudeness as... the Dude.
- "The Dude MINDS, man!"
- Vitriolic Best Buds: The Dude and Walter are, to an outside observer, completely incompatible people who, true to form, spend most of their time loudly arguing with each other. However, they're practically inseparable.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: He thinks all the various threads he uncovers must figure into the big mystery at the center of the plot. They don't.
We're talking about unchecked aggression here, Dude.A Nam veteran, the Dude's best friend and bowling teammate. Walter places the rules of bowling second in reverence only to the rules of his religion, Judaism, as evidenced by his strict stance against "rolling" on Shabbos. He has a violent temper, and is given to pulling out a handgun (or crowbar) in order to settle disputes. He says the Gulf War was all about oil and claims to have dabbled in pacifism. He constantly references Vietnam in conversations, much to the annoyance of the Dude.Walter was based, in part, on screenwriter John Milius.
Played by: John Goodman
- Anti-Hero: A violent, bumbling psychopath who screams at people for anything, ever.
- Artistic License – Gun Safety: Walter is a walking example of this trope, despite (supposedly) serving in Vietnam, and presumably having been trained in gun handling. Notable examples include threatening someone else with a gun (though arguably he isn't being reckless here so much as psychotic), and, in doing so, racking the slide with his finger on the trigger, which is likely to end poorly. It is worth pointing out that after Smokey marks the zero, he immediately clears, unloads and safes the gun before putting it away... though he does all of this while pointing the gun at half the other people in the bowling alley.
- Berserk Button: He has several:
You are entering a world of pain.
- He flips right the fuck out when a bowling opponent steps over the line in a League game and refuses to acknowledge his error. Cross Walter on a rules violation, and you'll stare down the barrel of a gun.
Dude: What the fuck does anything have to do with Vietnam?
- He takes his Judaism very seriously, even though he converted for his (now ex-)wife. Getting him to break the laws of Shabbas will earn you an ear full.
- He completely snaps when trying to intimidate a teenager he suspects has stolen the ransom money by smashing up what he thinks is his car, screaming, "This is what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass!" er, "find a stranger in the Alps!"
- Whenever he gets his dander up, he inevitably finds some way to link it back to some obviously unresolved issues with his tour in Vietnam. In fact, he finds an excuse to mention 'Nam in just about any situation.
- The Berserker: When Walter gets mad, he gets mad.
- The Big Guy: A big time Class 1.
- Broken Record: He has a tendency of repeating himself (especially when pissed - or more pissed than usual), and sometimes he goes into overdrive.You see what happens, Larry?!? You see what happens, Larry?!? You see what what happens, Larry, when you fuck a stranger in the ass?!? You see what happens, Larry?!?...
- Cassandra Truth: Walter speculates what really happened throughout the movie and is right almost every time. No one believes him. "Am I wrong?" The only thing he wasn't right about was Bunny kidnapping herself, but that wasn't his idea anyway, and he was right that she was safe all along - and she might as well have kidnapped herself, anyway. Though he was right that "that's not her toe, dude."
He's wrong when he thinks the Big Lebowski isn't disabled and throws him on the floor, except he might have been right about that, too: the Big Lebowski's leg visibly kicks when Walter throws him down. Probably an acting mistake, could be very subtle confirmation of Walter's theory. Which would make Walter correct about absolutely everything.
- "Shut the fuck up, Donny!"
- "Am I wrong?"
- "Donny, you're out of your element!"
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Deconstructed. Walter is this because of years of mental trauma, thanks to Vietnam and years of living in an unhappy marriage. Not to mention, the other characters aren't just put off by his behavior. They think Walter is a psychopath who is going to snap and kill someone at any moment.
- Cluster F-Bomb: When he thinks Larry stole the Dude's money, thanks to seeing a new Ferrari outside, Walter proceeds to smash it with a crowbar. The entire time, Walter is screaming that "this is what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass!"
- Converting for Love: He converted to Judaism for his (now ex-) wife, but still clings to the religion even though she divorced him.
- Cool Shades: Never seen without his stylish yellow tinted shades.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: For all of his bluster, Walter proves himself to have genuine combat ability during the fight with the nihilists. While the nihilists were much less intimidating than they made themselves out to be, Walter's one-sided beatdown of them is still pretty impressive.
- Cultural Posturing: Walter is not of Jewish descent and converted to Judaism for his (now ex-) wife.Three thousand years of beautiful tradition, from Moses to Sandy Koufax. YOU'RE GODDAMN RIGHT I'M LIVING IN THE FUCKING PAST!
- Determinator: He tends to take things too far...
- Disproportionate Retribution:
- He threatens to shoot Smokey after he tries to mark it eight when he was over the line.
- After correctly calling out the nihilists as inept cowards, he cripples them anyway.
- Establishing Character Moment: His first scene is conversing with the Dude about the first home invasion and spouting off various theories and odd phrases, showcasing his Cloud Cuckoolander personality.
- Everyone Has Standards: Despite converting for his ex-wife, he's sincere about his Judaism. But he hates Nihilists so much he considers them BENEATH Nazis. "Say what you will about the tenets of National Socialism dude, at least it's an ethos."
- He'll also argue with anyone over anything except The Jesus. Guy is a great bowler, but he's also a convicted pederast. Walter's got nothing to say to him. "Eight year olds, Dude."
- Genre Refugee: He acts like he's in a Vietnam drama that chronicles the veteran's harrowing struggle to reacclimatize back into civilian society after everything he's seen and done.
- Good Is Not Nice: He's not a bad guy, all right, but, heavens, he has a way to behave towards Donny or towards people in general.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Walter is basically in a near-constant state of anger.
- Henpecked Husband: Despite being divorced for five years, Walter is still completely under the thumb of his ex-wife.
- Heroic Comedic Sociopath: All of his horrible actions are played for laughs.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: "Fuck it, Dude. Let's go bowling." The last of which was preceded by a manhug.
- Hidden Depths:
- For all his apparent psychopathy, Walter deeply loves his ex-wife Cynthia, even though she's long since moved on with another man. He frequently does random favors for her at the drop of a hat, and it's heavily implied that he only clings to his Jewish faith because it's the only connection that he has with her (he was raised Catholic, and converted to Judaism when he got married).
- As harsh as he is with his friends he also genuinely loves the Dude and Donny tenderly comforting Donny as he dies.
- Despite his fierce patriotism and his (apparent) hatred of Communism, he's knowledgeable enough about Russian history to know Vladimir Lenin's full name, and he takes it seriously enough that he flips out on Donny when he gets him mixed up with the front-man of the Beatles.
- He also objects to the Dude's use of 'Chinaman' and insists on the use of 'Asian American', although he ruins his own political correctness moment by using the same term moments later.
- Iconic Outfit: The fishing vest, the short pants and the boots.
- Insistent Terminology: "Also, Dude, 'Chinaman' is not the preferred nomenclature. Asian-American, please." And then he promptly subverts it: "The Chinaman is not the issue here!"
- It's All About Me: He makes everything about how he fought in Vietnam just to see what the world has become.Waitress: Sir, if you don't calm down, I'm going to have to ask you to leave.
Walter: LADY, I GOT BUDDIES WHO DIED FACE DOWN IN THE MUCK SO YOU AND I COULD ENJOY THIS FAMILY RESTAURANT!
- Jerkass: He gets constantly called out on his obnoxiousness and The Dude once on passing (see I Resemble That Remark! above). They pay little mind to mild language. Varying cases can be made for the rest of the picturesque cast. The nihilists, sociopathic wannabes who pretend to kidnap Bunny and threaten the Dude with castration, may tower above their peers.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He's a complete asshole, but if pointed in the right direction, it's clear that most of the things he does are because he genuinely cares about the Dude. He also sometimes treats Donny in a more polite and affably way.
- Jews Love to Argue: He's not Jewish by birth, but is still easily the most volatile, argumentative person in the film.
- Karma Houdini: He pulls a gun on a man in a bowling alley where everybody knows him and destroys a brand new luxury car, and somehow manages to avoid jail time, or any other form of actual punishment.
- Knight, Knave and Squire: The Knight to Donny's Squire and the Dude's Knave. He's the only professional soldier of the three, he's known for his fierce patriotism and religious faith, he always brings the guns (even to bowling matches), and he charges headfirst into every tough situation.
- The Lancer: To the Dude.
- Large Ham: John Goodman has stated that he's never had more fun acting in a movie. And boy does it show.
- Let's Get Dangerous!: While he does seem less-than-stable throughout the movie, it's mostly in a bombastic and ineffective sense that tends to make him less useful rather than more. At the very end in the confrontation with the nihilists, however, he demonstrates how effective he can really be. Although as the other two point out, they are only being shaken down for about twenty bucks.
- The Load: He's less-than-useful to the Dude for most of the film.
- The Millstone: He makes things go wrong for the Dude constantly due to his stubbornness and violent temper.
- Nice Mean And In Between: The mean. He's quick to threaten violence against anyone who crosses him, and is generally a paranoid wreck.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: The character of Walter was inspired by writer/director John Milius, who is a longtime friend of the Coen Brothers.
- No Sense of Humor: Everything is deadly serious to him, though he does seem to think that using his dirty underwear as a ringer is pretty hilarious.
- The Obi-Wannabe: Especially when it comes to things like Vietnam, Judaism, and the M.O. of kidnappers - he pretends to be a know-it-all, but is really just a colossal jackass.
- Only Sane Man: Massive subversion - he proves to be the only insane man: "Has the whole world gone CRAZY?! Am I the only one around here who gives a shit about the rules?" Right before pulling out a Colt on a bowler who simply rule-argued with him.
- Of course, he proves ultimately correct about the kidnapping and the severed toe and all.
- Pet the Dog: While he bullies and yells at Donny throughout the movie, Walter's genuinely calm and reassuring towards him after Donny gets caught up in the ambush that the Nihilists spring on the Dude and Walter. [[spoiler: He also comforts him
- Phony Veteran: In the original screenplay. The reveal was cut from the movie, although from his bluster he can still be read this way.
- Poisonous Friend: He's technically responsible for everything that happens to the Dude after the initial rug-soiling incident, because it is he who kickstarts the plot by convincing the Dude to seek out the Big Lebowski for recompense over the rug instead of dropping the whole matter.
- Principles Zealot: He is so thoroughly principled that he converted to Judaism for his wife and refuses to abandon it even after their divorce.Saturday, Donny, is Shabbos, the Jewish day of rest. That means that I don't work, I don't drive a car, I don't fucking ride in a car, I don't handle money, I don't turn on the oven, and I sure as shit DON'T FUCKING ROLL!!!
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The hot-tempered and violent red oni to the mellow Dude's blue.
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: Just as much as the Dude. And he gets offended if he's asked to tone it down.
- Tranquil Fury: He spends most of the movie exploding into loud, bombastic rage at the drop of a pin. But when the nihilists try to rob the money that he, the Dude and Donny have on them after they realise they won't be getting a ransom any time soon, he becomes quietly, chillingly livid.
- Undying Loyalty: To the Dude, even if the Dude doesn't exactly always welcome Walter's help.
- Unwanted Assistance: His "helping" with the ransom, much to the Dude's complete and utter annoyance.
- Verbal Tic: "Shut the fuck up, Donny!":Donny: They posted the next round for the tournament.
Walter: Shut the fu— when're we playing?
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With the Dude and Donny.
Theodore Donald "Donny" Kerabatsos
Lebowski? That's your name, Dude!A member of Walter and The Dude's bowling team. Naïve and good-natured, Donny is an avid bowler and frequently interrupts Walter's diatribes to inquire about the parts of the story he missed or did not understand, provoking Walter's frequently repeated response, "Shut the fuck up, Donny!".The aforementioned line is a reference to Fargo, in which Buscemi's character was constantly talking.
Played by: Steve Buscemi
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: He seems kind of stupid, and Walter and the Dude don't have any respect for him, but he's shown to be an amazing bowler, hitting a strike every time it's his turn. The one time he doesn't, it's a sign that he's going to have a heart attack.
- Butt-Monkey: He gets no respect from his friends (especially Walter) when he tries to join in on their conversations. Literally the only time he isn't told to shut the fuck up by Walter, or something similar, is at the end - when he's dying.
- Captain Obvious: May be part of the reason why Walter and the Dude ignore him all the time.Jeffrey Lebowski? That's your name, Dude!
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: His death is a deliberate subversion of the unwritten rule that nobody ever dies for random or plot-unimportant reasons in Film Noir, or really, any genre except weird comedies. "It's a heart attack." Though, considering the scene in which his death occurs, it may be a Double Subversion.
- Establishing Character Moment: His first scene is him scoring a perfect strike while bowling then immediately being ignored or berated by Walter when he asks what's going on, establishing his bowling skills and background character status.
- The Friend Nobody Likes: Walter constantly shuts down his attempts at joining conversations while the Dude mostly just ignores him entirely. The only time either is shown to care about him is after he dies.
- The Generic Guy: In comparison to his friends.
- Genre Refugee: He's just an ordinary guy who thinks he's in a slightly eccentric bowling team but has an otherwise normal life. He's probably the most wrong out of all of them.
- Informed Ability: Walter mentions that he enjoyed surfing during his funeral. This is the first time we ever hear about it.
- Knight, Knave and Squire: The Squire to Walter's Knight and the Dude's Knave. Compared to the other two, he's just an average Joe with no interest in intrigue or conspiracies, and he spends most of the movie completely out of his element.
- Locked Out of the Loop: He tries to construe the plot, but nobody explains anything to him. He's like a child who wanders into the middle of a movie and wants to know what's going on.
- Nice Guy: Despite being constantly yelled at, ignored or told to shut the fuck up, Donny stays surprisingly easy-going and cheery.
- Nice Mean And In Between: The nice. He's perpetually affable-but-oblivious compared to his two friends.
- Phrase Catcher: "Shut the fuck up, Donny!"
- Satellite Character: He's the Dude and Walter's bowling buddy and... that's about all of the connection to the plot he has. Donny is so tangential to the two of them that they're the ones who get to keep his ashes, rather than anyone in his actual family.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Walter spends a lot of time browbeating and yelling at him yet is clearly cut up when Donny dies from a heart attack.
- The Watson: Subverted, he's Locked Out of the Loop. "You have no frame of reference. You're like a child who wanders into the middle of a movie, and wants to know..."
The Big Lebowski
Jeffrey Lebowski, a.k.a. "The Big Lebowski"
Played by: David HuddlestonThe titular character. He is a Korean war vet who lost the use of his legs and uses a wheelchair; he's also an apparent multi-millionaire who is married to Bunny and is Maude's father by his late wife. He refers to The Dude dismissively as "a bum" and a "deadbeat", and is obsessed with "achievement". Although he characterizes himself as highly successful and accomplished, it is revealed by Maude that he is simply "allowed" to run some of the philanthropic efforts of her mother’s estate, and that he doesn't actually have very much money of his own.
- Big Bad: Him deciding to let the kidnappers kill Bunny by setting up the Dude to fail paying the ransom sends several people's lives into a downward spiral.
- Character Title: "The Big Lebowski" is what the Dude and his friends keep referring to him as.
- Decoy Leader: Maude is the one who maintains all of the Lebowski family's organizations. The Big Lebowski just likes to pretend that he does.
- Establishing Character Moment: His first real appearance has him berating the Dude for asking for compensation and insulting him for being a bum, all while talking about how amazing, hardworking, and successful he is.
- Evil Cripple: He lost the use of his legs in the Korean War. Or, if you believe Walter, he's lying about that too. He does kick his legs after being thrown out of his wheelchair, which he shouldn't be able to do if he was paralyzed.
- Evil Old Folks: A bitter, manipulative and rude old man.
- Fat Bastard: He's noticeably overweight and has a very sour personality.
- Greed: His driving force. He's already rich or so he wants people to think, but wants to be even richer.
- Grumpy Old Man: Even before the Dude asks for a new rug, the Big Lebowski is treats him like crap, calling him a "bum" and chastising him for wasting his time.
- Hypocrite: The crux of his "The Reason You Suck" Speech to the Dude is that where the Dude's a lazy slacker who hasn't accomplished anything, he is a successful Self-Made Man who built everything he has himself despite being deprived of the use of his legs. It turns out he just married into money and likes to act the role.
- Jerkass: He treats everyone like crap, and doesn't care who he has to roll over to get what he wants.
- Karma Houdini: Aside from getting thrown onto the floor by Walter after the Dude confronts him, the Big Lebowski gets away with extortion, attempted kidnapping and attempted murder, scot-free.
- Kick the Dog: Lest the audience have too much sympathy with him after Walter throws him to the floor, the Big Lebowski's first action after whimpering is to shove his own dog away.
- Large Ham: Not as much as Walter, but David Huddleston was definitely enjoying himself.
- Manly Tears: "Do my tears surprise you? Strong men also cry, Mr. Lebowski. Strong men...also cry..." Possibly a subversion since you never see his tears indicating that he either knows she kidnapped herself or that he actually doesn't care about her.
- He sheds a few real ones when Walter tosses him to the floor, but by then we know he's not really a strong man anyway.
- Mock Millionaire: He doesn't actually have much money to his own name; it all comes from his late wife's estate.
- Obfuscating Disability: Walter accuses him of doing this, and he may be right.
- Rich Bastard: Not so rich actually.
- Self-Made Man: Stresses to the Dude the importance of hard work, claiming to have made his fortune by working from the bottom up. In reality, this is a lie, and whatever money he actually has comes entirely from an allowance given to him by Maude.
- Shrine to Self: The Dude is given a guided tour.
- Smug Snake: He portrays himself as a billionaire Self-Made Man who understands the importance of hard work and has a massive amount of power and influence. In reality, he simply married into money and has very little power of his own.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Due to Bunny being a Trophy Wife. It's implied that the two argue a lot, and she has no interest in him at all.
- Villain with Good Publicity: The reason the Dude gets in as much trouble with the police as he does is because the Big Lebowski is well-liked amongst the populace.
Played by: Julianne MooreThe Big Lebowski's eccentric daughter and stepdaughter of Bunny (she's older than her stepmother). A post-feminist and avant-garde artist whose work "has been commended as being strongly vaginal", which she believes inherently bothers men. She introduced Bunny to Uli Kunkel. She beds The Dude solely to conceive a child, and wants nothing else to do with him.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: While she's ridiculously pretentious, she manages to both maintain her family's fortune by running several organizations at once while also having a successful career as an artist on the side.
- Deadpan Snarker: All of her conversations with the Dude have a distinctly condescending tinge to them.
- Do You Want to Copulate?: She shows up at the Dude's house, drops her robe and says: "Love me". He obliges.
- Dress Hits Floor: Just before she tells the Dude to have sex with her.
- Establishing Character Moment: She's introduced performing some sort of ridiculous, self-styled painting method, then awkwardly and nonchalantly asking the Dude if he enjoys sex before going on a small rant about how men are uncomfortable with sex, all showing how pretentious and hipster-like she is.
- Femme Fatale: Has elements of one, being a mysterious beauty who gives the hero clues to solve the case. In reality, though, there is no case to solve.
- Hahvahd Yahd In My Cah: In keeping with her blue-blooded femme fatale characterization, Moore affects a Katharine Hepburn-esque New England accent as Maude.
- Heroes Want Redheads: Subverted. She offers herself to The Dude, albeit without love and solely to conceive a child.
- Hime Cut: Her haircut has forehead-covering bangs, and she's an influential debutante.
- Hipster: An older, more French New Wave-style example of one.
- Hypocrite: Talks about how the word "vagina" makes men uncomfortable while avoiding using the word "penis" in the same conversation, describes "Logjammin'" as disgusting smut while her art isn't terribly different from it and is disgusted by those who desire sex without love while doing exactly that in order to become pregnant. Maude is a walking contradiction.
- It's Not Porn, It's Art: How she justifies the things she does. Despite working with porn stars, and owning an extensive collection of porn movies. She does have clear standards, however, as she claims that "Logjammin'" is an artless travesty.
- Jerkass: She's generally condescending towards the Dude and speaks about everyone who isn't one of her artist buddies with disdain. She even bluntly tells the Dude to his face that she has no interest in him as a person at all immediately after getting him to impregnate her.
- Le Film Artistique: All of the art that she produces and collects has this going on for it.
- The Man Behind the Man: She is actually the one in charge of all of the Lebowski family's money and organizations, she's simply content in letting her father pretend to be because she's more interested in pursuing her art career.
- Ms. Fanservice: At times, she comes off as a warped version of this trope. In general, she takes full advantage of the naked female body to intimidate others.
- Naked on Arrival: Makes her debut flying from the ceiling wearing only a harness.
- Rich Bitch: A multi-millionaire who is endlessly smug and pretentious.
- The Stoic: While we see her smile and even burst into giddy laughter at a few points, her usual state of being is an almost emotionless calm.
- Women Are Wiser: Probably the single most competent and accomplished character in the film, and arguably the real "Big Lebowski".
"Karl Hungus", appeared in a porn film with Bunny), who, along with Kunkel's girlfriend (Aimee Mann), pretend to be the ones who kidnapped Bunny.The character of Uli originated on the set of Fargo between Ethan Coen and Stormare, who often spoke in a mock German accent.
- Batter Up: Though they aren't above using other weapons as well.
- Big Bad Wannabe: Their threats are intimidating. Their fighting skills, not so much.
- Catch-Phrase: "We believe in nothing!" (which Uli pronounces "nossink!")
- Cool Pet: Uli's ferret, which is used to threaten The Dude in his bath.
- Cool Sword: Uli wields one during his battle with Walter in the bowling alley parking lot. Rather than actually use it, though, he just tries to tackle Walter.
- Curbstomp Battle: On the receiving end of one from Walter, who absolutely destroys them with very little effort.
- Ear Ache: Uli, who gets his ear bitten off by Walter.
- Genre Refugee: They believe they're in a quirky-but-dark Tarantino-inspired crime thriller about a gang of eccentric Villain Protagonists, and that they're the protagonists in question.
- Gratuitous German: All three pepper their speech with German.
- Groin Attack: Their threat to the Dude.Uli: And tomorrow we come back and we cut off your chonson!
- Large Ham: Peter Stormare is in this group. It is required.
- The Leader: Uli appears to be the leader of the pack, and is the only one who gets a name.
- Paper Tigers: They talk a good game but are ultimately revealed to be this, since Walter ends up handing them their asses over the course of about a minute, even though it's three against one.
- Smug Snakes: They're a lot less competent than they think they are.
- Straw Nihilists: Played for laughs. Their amusing Catch-Phrase is often applied free of any particular context. They're very enthusiastic about their nihilism, and love to bring it up. Their nihilism, however, doesn't stop them from whining about how "It's not fair!" when it turns out their attempt to extort money out of the heroes by pretending they've kidnapped a woman when she hasn't even been kidnapped has been rumbled. Walter retorts: FAIR?! WHO'S THE FUCKING NIHILIST HERE, YA FUCKING CRY-BABIES!?.Walter: Say what you will about the tenets of National Socialism, but at least it's an ethos.
- Terrible Trio: A trio of German thugs. Though by the end, we find out that they're not so terrible after all.
- What the Fu Are You Doing?: During their fight with the Dude's bowling team, one of them wields a sword, the other wields a bat, and the third... flails around doing fake karate moves while screaming in a high-pitched voice.
- Wimp Fight: One of them engages in one with the Dude during their "battle" in the bowling alley parking lot. It consists of him making various karate poses while the Dude hesitantly waves his bowling bag at him. Walter ends up flooring him in two hits.
Bunny Lebowski (real name Fawn Knutsen)
Played by: Tara ReidThe Big Lebowski's young wife. Born Fawn Knutsen, she ran away from the family farm outside Moorhead, Minnesota, and soon found herself making pornographic videos under the name "Bunny La Joya".
- Adoptive Peer Parent: She's younger than her own stepdaughter.
- Affectionate Nickname: Bunny.
- Cool Shades: Wears a pair when the Dude first meets her.
- Faked Kidnapping: Averted. It turns out that everyone was wrong; the nihilists didn't actually kidnap her. She just went off on her own to visit friends for a few days, and didn't bother telling anyone.
- Femme Fatale: She offers the Dude a $1,000 blowjob when they first meet.The Dude: Uh, I'm just gonna go find a cash machine.
- Genre Refugee: She apparently thinks she's in a porn movie.
- Gold Digger: A scene in the Dude's montage late in the movie implies heavily that she's only after him for his money.
- May–December Romance: She's much younger than her husband. (In real life, Tara Reid is 45 years younger than David Huddleston).
- Ms. Fanservice: It's why the Big Lebowski married her.
- Really Gets Around:The Dude (to Maude): "I'm sorry your stepmother is a nympho..."
- Trophy Wife: Of the Big Lebowski. As Maude puts it: "Father's weakness is vanity. Hence the slut."
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: She's a blonde bombshell who seems to be barely into her twenties while the Big Lebowski is a fat and ugly old man.
- Walking Swimsuit Scene: In all but one scene, she's dressed scantily by a pool.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: She still owes Jackie Treehorn a pile of cash, but that's now a problem for her and the Big Lebowski to deal with.
Played by: Ben GazzaraA wealthy pornographer, who lives in Malibu and employs the two thugs who assault The Dude at the beginning of the film. Bunny owes him a large sum of money.
- Affably Evil: Personally welcomes the Dude into his home for a drink and a polite conversation about the whole Bunny Lebowski situation, while dismissing a few jabs the Dude takes at his work. On the other hand, he has no qualms about sending men to kick in doors looking for Bunny, sending the Dude on a Mushroom Samba via spiked beverage, or holding the Dude personally responsible for the whole mess.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: He has enough money to throw around to drug the Dude and get away with it. In fact, when the police pick the Dude up, they yell at him for wasting Treehorn's time.
- Doing It for the Art: Treehorn waxes poetic about pornography.
- Loan Shark: Bunny owes him a lot of money. It's Bunny's debts that get his goons after the Big Lebowski.
- Red Herring: His introduction sets him up to be the main antagonist, but he ends up having almost nothing to do with the main plot.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Treehorn "draws a lot of water" in Malibu, and the local police are more than happy to deal with a deadbeat messing up his "garden party".
Jesus Quintana, a.k.a. "The Jesus"
Played by: John TurturroThe extraordinarily loathsome opponent of The Dude's team in the bowling league semifinals. He serves literally no plot purpose and shows up for only two scenes, but is hilarious enough that he's one of the film's most memorable characters. A Latino North Hollywood resident who speaks with a thick Cuban American accent, and often refers to himself in the third person, insisting on the English pronunciation of his name rather than the Spanish. "The Jesus", as he refers to himself, is a "pederast" (according to Walter) who did six months in Chino for exposing himself to an eight-year old.Turturro originally thought that he was going to have a bigger role in the film but when he read the script, he realized that it was much smaller. However, the Coen brothers let him come up with a lot of his own ideas for the character, like shining the bowling ball and the scene where he dances backwards, which he says was inspired by Muhammad Ali.
- Ambiguously Gay: He's effeminate, wears purple clothing and red nail polish and makes several threats to "fuck" the Dude and his team during their match. Ties in with All Gays Are Pedophiles, as he became a registered sex offender after (according to Walter) exposing himself to an 8 year old.
- Answers to the Name of God:Dude: Jesus.
Jesus: You said it, man. Nobody fucks with the Jesus.
- Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Bowling is Serious Business for him.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Eccentric and over the top, but also one of the best bowlers in the league and seen as a serious threat to the Dude's team's chances of winning the tournament.
- Camp Straight: He comes across as Camp Gay, but is introduced as a heterosexual pedophile (or "pederast", as Walter puts it).
- Catch-Phrase: "Nobody fucks with The Jesus!"
- Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: "You pull a piece on the lane, I'll stick that gun up your ass and pull the fucking trigger 'till it goes 'click.'"
- Genre Refugee: He's practically Opposing Sports Team personified.
- Jerkass: An unpleasant, rude bowler who thinks he's all that.
- Large Ham: "WOO! You got a date Wednesday, baby!"
- Lecherous Licking: Has the strange habit of licking his bowling ball.
- Leitmotif: A Latin cover of "Hotel California" by The Eagles plays during his introduction. Doubles as Fridge Brilliance, as the Dude later mentions that he hates The Eagles.
- Real Men Wear Pink: Wears a purple jumpsuit and has red nail polish on one of his pinkies.
- The Rival: To the Dude's bowling team.
- Serious Business: Bowling is pretty clearly this guy's life.
- Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: He's a cocky creep, but ultimately the only reason he's even considered an antagonist at all is because he's on a rival bowling team.
- Smug Snake: Is very cocky about his bowling skills and makes a point of showing off in front of the Dude's team to rub them in their faces.
- The Unfought: We never get to see the Dude's team face him in the league tournament, since the movie ends right as the semifinals begin.
Played by: Sam ElliottThe narrator, who sees the story unfold from a third-party perspective. His narration is marked by a thick, laid-back Texas accent. He is seen in the bar of the bowling alley, and converses directly with The Dude on two occasions. He expresses admiration for the Dude and his ability to be "a man of his time and place", but disapproves of his use of profanity and laziness, and adds the qualifier "parts of it anyway" when concluding that he enjoyed the film. He is unaware that it isn't a western.
- Badass Mustache: Sam Elliott's trademark mustache. His character doesn't do anything especially badass during the film, but it's still cool.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: He's aware he's narrating the story to us, but breaks the fourth wall directly at the end of the film.
- Cool Old Guy: A laid back cowboy who admires the Dude's style.
- Cowboy: His manner of dress and speech. He even asks for a sarsaparilla at a bowling alley bar.
- Drink Order: "Say, friend - you got any more of that good sarsaparilla?"
- Fauxlosophic Narration: He is not only Wrong Genre Savvy, but can't keep his fauxlosophy straight and keeps getting sidetracked. At one point he repeats "Sometimes there's a man" a few times before trailing off and stating that he lost his train of thought. He eventually just gives up ("Aw, hell, I done introduced him enough."), and at the very end even lampshades it ("Huh - I'm ramblin' again."). Ironically, the last time he realizes this and gives up is when he's actually on the verge of making a sage, relevant point for once.
- Genre Refugee: He seems to think he's in a western.
- Interactive Narrator: It can come as quite the surprise to new viewers when the old cowboy voice from the opening scene suddenly appears on screen and has a conversation with the Dude midway through the film.
- Lemony Narrator: "Way out west, there was this fella I wanna tell you about..." Variation in that he's not sarcastic, just completely clueless about the genre.
- Narrator: Narrates over the beginning and ending scenes of the movie.
- Nice Guy: Comes off as a generally friendly guy all around. While he and the Dude only interact a few times, they seem to get along swimmingly.
- Nice Hat: Wears a slick-looking cowboy hat.
- No Name Given: He's simply known as "The Stranger", possibly as a reference to the Western gunslingers such as The Man with No Name.
- Straight Edge: Implied. His drink of choice at the bowling alley bar is a sarsaparilla, and the only problem he has with how the Dude does things is his overuse of cuss words.
- What Does She See in Him?: A platonic example. His deep admiration for the Dude is pretty much inexplicable.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Seems to be convinced that the movie is a modern western with the Dude as its hero, but is completely unable to articulate why he thinks this when he actually tries to.