Characterization Marches On: Looking back at his roles in episodes of Family Guy after watching episodes of The Cleveland Show is jarring, as Family Guy Cleveland Brown was Peter's only sane friend and the only interesting things about him was that he owned his own delicatessen (which shut down when Superstore USA opened) and his wife, Loretta, cheated on him with Quagmire. The Cleveland Show Cleveland has a little more depth and backstory (even if some of it does contradict what was already established on Family Guy, like how Cleveland was in high school in the 1980s, yet one episode of Family Guy had Cleveland over 18 when he met Peter in the 1970s). On top of that, Cleveland on The Cleveland Show lacks the original's mellow and slow talking mannerisms and is more aggressive and chauvinistic.
Expy: Not an out and out copy, but most of the changes in Cleveland's personality are largely to make him more in line with Seth's other Bumbling Dad protagonists, particularly Peter Griffin.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: At his best. He's pretty much like the early incarnation of Peter Griffin, in terms of doing stupid things, but ultimately seeing the error of his ways and trying to do right by his family.
Papa Wolf: To Cleveland Jr. Early episodes depict his progress into becoming one for his adoptive family as well.
Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: While she rags on Cleveland as much as everyone else and still has a sexual attraction to Robert (her ex-husband), it's clear that Donna considers Cleveland to be the real love of her life, even if she's not often willing to openly admit it.
Ms. Fanservice: Unlike Meg Griffin (both the Lacy Chabert incarnation, who was just a generic teenage girl and the Mila Kunis incarnation, who is a social outcast and is considered unattractive on all levels [even in an alternate universe where she's actually hot by Hollywood standards, despite that Lois is said to be hotter]), Roberta is considered sexy by the other characters, has a boyfriend, and is somewhat popular in school.
Didn't Think This Through: In "Skip Day," he uses makeup and lies to convince people that Cleveland beat him up in an attempt to help his dad through a depression, which inevitably ends with Cleveland getting arrested for child abuse.
Hollywood Atheist: Though he doesn't refer to himself as an "atheist", because to him atheism is also a religious belief, and thinks atheists like Brian Griffin give real atheists a bad name. This is forgotten in season three where he explicitly refers to himself as an atheist.
Older Than They Look: Ernie is anywhere between 14 and 17 years old, but looks about eight or nine. Justified, as Lester and Kendra nursed Ernie on root beer and it stunted his growth (as mentioned on "Field of Streams").
What Could Have Been: Originally, Cleveland was supposed to live next door to a British family, but the writers couldn't come up with any good jokes (except for the usual British stereotypes), so they scrapped the British family and created Holt.
Lester's morbidly obese wife, who is confined to a Rascal scooter. Voiced by Aseem Batra (one of the writers/producers on the show).
Teacher/Student Romance: She was Lester's school guidance counselor, who convinced him to quit high school and marry her (even though one episode revealed that she and Lester are actually half-brother and half-sister, since Lester's dad cheated on his wife with another woman).
Lester: In hindsight, she was a terrible guidance counselor!
Genius Ditz: Despite being a stoner, he does know about American political scandals that happened in hotels (like Watergate, Marion Barry smoking crack, Ronald Reagan's assassination attempt, and Eliot Spitzer and his call girls) and once helped his parents out at a homeless shelter on Thanksgiving.
The Stoner: He's so stoned, he can give a baseball a contact high and can't feel any pain from getting hit by a car.
The Other Darrin: From season one to three, Seth MacFarlane voiced Tim the Bear. Around the time that MacFarlane was working on Ted, Jess Harnell took over. The vocal change isn't all that different.
What the Hell Is That Accent?: According to Seth MacFarlane, the voice he uses for Tim is a botched impression of the Fenstruck brothers from Saturday Night Live, though if you're a 1970s SNL fan with good ears, the voice Seth uses for Tim sounds more like a botched take on Don Novello's Father Guido Sarducci character.
Donna's eccentric aunt, and the one who raised her. Originally Donna's Uncle Kevin. Voiced by Kym Whitleynote the voice of Honeybee on the [adult swim] show, Black Dynamite (Auntie Momma) and Kevin Michael Richardson (Uncle Kevin).
The incredibly wealthy and closeted gay owner of Waterman Cable. Voiced by Bruce McGill.
Bad Boss: Downplayed. He is competent at his job, but is implied to be racist to Cleveland, has sexually harassed Terry (who doesn't seem to notice or care) as seen on "Birth of a Salesman," "Your Show of Shows" and "Field of Streams," and offered a six-month severance package in exchange for cutting off everyone else's health insurance ("Brown-Sized").
Depraved Homosexual: At best, he sexually harasses Terry at work. At worst, he arranged the death of his wife so he can be with his lover (the town coroner), as seen on "Who Done Did It?"
Dirty Old Man: A rare occurence of one who hits on young men (namely Terry Kimple, but has branched out to other young men ever since Terry married Paul) rather than young women.
In "Brown-Sized," it's implied that Mr. Waterman preys on 19-year-old Cuban boys who sell cologne at the mall, and, in "Little Man on Campus," he paid a visit to the high school baseball team as they were showering.
Everyone Has Standards or Even Evil Has Standards: Mr. Waterman may be a racist, corrupt, repressed Depraved Homosexual who killed his wife, but he actually felt bad for shooting his pitbull after it attacked the star pitcher (cf. "Little Man on Campus"), he was concerned for Terry's health when Cleveland crashed the cable truck in "Birth of a Salesman," he was the only one who stayed behind to mourn Tom's death (while everyone else broke into his office to loot it) in "Like a Boss," and, in "Das Shrimp Boot," he kicked Cleveland out of his office after Cleveland told him that he needed time off work to mourn the loss of his quintuplets whom he drowned because God said so (Cleveland lied, of course, but Waterman actually took that seriously).
Freudian Excuse: His racism against black people stems from his mother underestimating (and having sex with) minorities.
Transparent Closet: Despite being married, it's pretty much public knowledge that he's not straight. Even his wife knows that she's only married to him as a cheap ploy to make people think he's a heterosexual (as implied in "A Cleveland Brown Christmas").
An old high school friend of Cleveland who now works alongside him at Waterman Cable. Voiced by Jason Sudeikis.
Ambiguously Evil: Has some quite funny sociopathic moments, like robbing Vincent Price's corpse and using his leg skin in sandwiches, and threatening to kill Cleveland and his friends if they don't make the second bar they opened succeed.