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Stefanie "Stef" Marie Adams Foster
(Portrayed by: Teri Polo)
A beat cop, Stef was married to Mike Foster for a number of years and in the process, gave birth to Brandon. When Brandon was five, having come to the realization of her own sexuality, she divorced Mike and became involved with Lena. Later, they fostered, then adopted the twins.
- Action Mom: Stef is a tough cop capable of arresting and handling criminals and will fight tooth and nail to protect her kids.
- Amicable Exes: With Mike.
- Berserk Button: Her lesbianism and Lena. When Brandon calls her out on (among other things), that he had no choice in the matter of having two moms (he was five when his parents divorced), Stef quickly loses her cool. Only the fact that Brandon storms out of the house and Lena jumps in prevents her from saying something she might regret.
- Boyish Short Hair: As of the last three episodes of season 3.
- Freudian Excuse: Seems to have confidence issues in regards to her relationship with Brandon.
- Good Cop/Bad Cop: In the parenting sense, Stef tends to play bad cop and overall is more straightforward and stricter than Lena. Kinda plays into their parental names—Stef is "Mom" which is more formal while Lena is "Momma" which is more casual.
- Ironically, later events in the first season play with the label. We find out that she lies to Internal Affairs about her shooting. Her shooter shot her by accident and dropped his gun in shock which causes it to fire a second time; Mike comes in and, assuming he was still armed as it was a dark room, shot in return. This is an issue because, legally speaking, Mike just shot an unarmed man.
- Good Parents: Stef is a compassionate and loving parent who will always protect and care for her children. A practical plot point in the series.
- Happily Married: To Lena from Season One "I Do" onwards.
- Hot-Blooded: To an extent, though it varies with the person.
- Incompatible Orientation: With Mike
- Lesbian Cop: A plot point in the whole series.
- The Nicknamer: Calls Brandon "B", Mariana "Lovely", Jesus "Love", and so on and so forth.
- Open-Minded Parent: Is willing to buy her son Brandon condoms and give Lexi the morning after pill Jesus bought. Over the series Stef is aware that most of her kids are sexually active, and takes it all in stride.
- The Unfettered: Fights to keep Callie in the family during the custody battle with Robert Quinn, even resorting to Blackmail.
- Working with the Ex: Stef and Mike work together as cops.
Lena Elizabeth Adams Foster (née Adams)
(Portrayed by: Sherri Saum)
A vice principal, Lena is the heart of the family and takes on cooking, cloths shopping, organization.
- Ambiguously Brown: At first, though it's eventually revealed Lena is biracial, she has a black mother and a white father.
- But Not Too Black: Her mother is of the opinion that darker-skinned blacks have it harder than light-skinned blacks. This extends to interracial people like Lena who can be called both black and white (having both as parents). Right or wrong, her mother proceeds to say the following:"You will never know what it's like to be a black woman in America."
- Embarrassing Nickname: she had two in high school: "Oreo" (because she was biracial) and "Klondike Bar" (after she came out as a lesbian)
- Good Parents: Lena is a compassionate, idealistic woman with a strong maternal bone in her body. She will always be there for her kids
- Happily Married: From Season One "I Do" onwards.
- Hot Teacher: Well, vice principal actually.
- Mama Bear: When she confronts Ana after Stef's surgery she warns her to never come near Jesus or Mariana again and when she angrily confronts Jesus's wrestling coach over Jesus' black eye from a violent initiation into the team.
- Mixed Ancestry: Her mother is black and her father is white.
- Quirky Curls: She once wanted her hair straightened out in her teens. Stef comforts her she loves her wife's curls.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Fights to keep Jude in school even though he's woefully unprepared for the tests that the school has to give to maintain funding and she realizes that Jude skipping past the waiting list could seem like Nepotism. The reason she does so is that she realizes that separating Jude and Callie again would be tramatic for the both of them and that the reason Jude is behind to begin with is because he's had practically no educational stability.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: When Jude misses the required grade on the exam to stay in Anchor Beach by one question, knowing he'd be lost without Callie, she changes one of his answers so that he passes.
- Twofer Token Minority: Is mixed race (see Ambiguously Brown) as well as a lesbian.
- Wicked Stepmother: Averted. She's really sweet and nice. Brandon considers her his other mom—more so than he considers his biological dad his dad. That said, bio-dad thinks of her in this way and seems intent on undermining Lena's relationship and authority over Brandon. Likewise, Jesus and Mariana consider her their mom.
Callie Adams Foster
(born Callie Quinn Jacob)
(Portrayed by Maia Mitchell)A youth in the foster system, Callie and her brother Jude have bounced from home to home. Over the course of six years, they've been in at least seven different homes before ending up with Lena and Stef. As a long term foster child that's been in some questionable homes, she's learn to live apart from others and trust even less. By the tenth episode of the third season, she is successfully adopted by the Adams-Fosters.
- Big Sister Instinct: For her brother Jude.
- Birds of a Feather: With AJ, who like her is a foster kid who cares for his brother immensely and had a difficult upbringing.
- Broken Bird: By the start of the series Callie has already given up on finding a family who would adopt her and Jude or even try to defend herself when someone blames her for anything.
- Cool Big Sis: Towards Jude. Also seems to be developing this towards Mariana. And eventually to Sophia as well.
- Cosmic Plaything: Poor girl can't catch a break. Her mother dies, dad goes to jail, is raped by her foster brother, Liam, goes to jail herself, is abused by foster parents, framed for crimes, beat up, and NEARLY SOLD INTO PROSTITUTION.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Callie is fresh out of juvie, though if the pilot is any indication, she doesn't really have any sort of rebel streak. The people she's lived with before the Fosters and her birth parents, on the other hand, may have been less than stellar.
- Despair Event Horizon: When she's run away from the Foster's, she's all alone on the streets, and the reveal that her dad, Donald, had been released from prison since over a year before was enough to make Callie cause trouble in a shop and make the owner call the police.
- After her adoption has been delayed time and time again, when Robert, her real birth father, decides he won't sign the abandonment papers and wants her to live with him has her in tears.
- Determinator: Callie doesn't always known when to let things lie. For better or for worse, she's headstrong in her approach to things.
- Hidden Depths: Callie is very thoughtful and artistic, and processes some of her trauma through her photography projects.
- Mama Bear: Despite not being Jude's mother, she tends to fill this role in his life
- Noble Bigot: She is mildly homo/transphobic, as she worries that Jude acting different will get him beat up. That said, since Jude has been beat up before but there's a certain level of Freudian Excuse going on since she has zero issues with Stef and Lena and seems to be the most supportive of Cole out of everyone at Girls United; it may very well be that she's not bigoted but just excessively worried about her brother getting injured or worse.
- Only Sane Man: Among the siblings she seems to be the one most likely to notice that something is a terrible, terrible idea.
- Rape as Backstory: Among other parts of her traumatic childhood.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Jude gives her one after she kisses Brandon, risking being adopted by the Fosters (leading to The Runaway below).
- Brandon gives her another one when he decides not to pursue another clandestine romance with her when she kisses him after Robert said he wouldn't sign the papers again, that all Callie does is react every time something happens, that she doesn't know what she wants, and she only puts their love first when things go wrong or are hard for her.
- The Runaway: Callie takes off in mid-season one finale because she and Brandon had kissed, starting their illicit affair, but she wants Jude to be adopted by the Fosters, so she runs off so as not to jeopardise his adoption.
- The Scapegoat: Often. She's grown to accept it, given her experiences in foster care.
- She Cleans Up Nicely: Now and then.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: The tomboy to Mariana's girly girl.
- Troubled, but Cute: A rare Female Example. She's been in trouble with the law and had a difficult upbringing, but has no shortage of guys interested in her.
- The Vamp: Mike sees her as this, because she slept with both his biological son Brandon and foster son AJ. A possible case of Slut-Shaming.
Jesus Adams Foster
(born Jesus Gutierrez)
(Portrayed by: Jake T. Austin (seasons 1-2), Noah Centineo (season 3-present))
Mariana's twin brother, Jesus is the aloof free spirit of the kids. That said, he's just as studious as his siblings and in many ways, a lot more wise and responsible. Often however his desire to protect his sister get in the way of him doing things for himself.
- Ambiguous Disorder: Is this in the pilot before being revealed to have...
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Relatively speaking, realistically portrayed. Impulsive decisions, an inability to keep track of simple things (like remembering to take his medication, as in the second episode), and often forgetting what's been told to him (such as multiple reminders about skateboarding in the house) are common symptoms of ADHD.
- Big Brother Instinct: Towards Mariana. He's also starting to show signs to Jude, but seems to be a bit awkward and unsure how to handle some situations.
- Daddy Issues: In season 3B, he meets his birth father, Gabe, for the very first time and is naturally curious, wanting a relationship with him, but starts to disregard the fact Gabe is on the sex offenders list, and Gabe's rejection leads to him drinking alcohol, and causing trouble for his father.
- Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Initially appears to be the foolish sibling to both Mariana and Brandon's responsible sibling, but is actually revealed to be the most responsible out of the three.
- Happily Adopted: To the point where he's pretty offended that Mariana is too embarassed to dance with their moms during the father-daughter dance of her quinceañera—though the fact that Mariana also asks Mike (Brandon's biological father) of all people doesn't help.
- Has a Type: He tends to fall and hook up with Mariana's friends including Lexi in Season 1 and Hayley in Season 2. It drives Mariana crazy.
- Honor Before Reason: Partially as a side effect of his ADHD (it makes him more impulsive in the moment), but he tends to be pretty overtly protective of those around him in the most direct way possible even if it's maybe not the smartest approach. He offers advice to Brandon, stands up to a jock twice his size who's hassling Lexi, and spontaneously takes the blame for selling his medication instead of Mariana.
- Ill Boy: As a result of a TBI, he now has seizures and has major problems with his memory, speaking, and purposeful movement.
- Wise Guy: Aloof, easy-going and laid back, he is this to Brandon's Straight Man.
- Wrestler in All of Us: He takes up wrestling to cope with his heightened aggression and naturally takes to it.
Mariana Adams Foster
(born Mariana Gutierrez)
(Portrayed by: Cierra Ramirez)
Jesus's twin sister, she's the girl of the house whom everyone else babies. Not that she minds, as she enjoys the attention. Though on the exterior, she's a studious and straightforward girl, her internal insecurities often compel her to make less than wise decisions and clam up about issues.
- Big Sister Instinct: Develops this towards Jude.
- Bratty Teenage Daughter: Is willing to sell Jesus' important medications for money. Then lets her siblings take the fall for doing so when caught—first Callie (who doesn't resist since she's learned from previous foster parents that her status as an outsider gives her zero credibility), then Jesus (who takes the bullet to protect her).
- Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Initially appears to be the responsible sibling to Jesus' foolish sibling, but is actually revealed to be the more foolish one.
- Happily Adopted: Loves Lena and Steph, but also vies for the love of her birth mother.
- It's All My Fault: Twice. The first when Lexi's parents discover she had have sex and when Jesus goes to their biological mother's house and Stef gets shot when she went searching for him.
- Karma Houdini: Didn't suffer any consequences over selling her brothers medications. Subverted when Jesus sneaks off to help their birth mother get into a shelter for battered women. His disappearance causes her to confess to her moms what she's been doing. This results in Stef getting shot when she and Mike go to Ana's house to look for Jesus.
- Mommy Issues: Not with her moms but with her birth mother. But it does spill over into her relationship with her moms. When she feels guilty that Callie has taken the blame for something she's done, she tells Jesus that if she confesses, she fears that Stef and Lena will stop loving her. As the first season evolves, this becomes a regular thing we find that she worries about.
- Playing Sick: Apparently does this a lot, to the point where no one believes she's actually sick in the pilot.
- Spoiled Brat: Refuses to be happy for her friend and her brother simply because it will ruin her party. That's the entire reason why they didn't want to tell her before the party. For some extra context, Jesus was initially reluctant to have the relationship to begin with because of Mariana. Also, of course, Jesus and Mariana are twins—he graciously gives up any sort of celebration for himself so that Mariana can have her quinceañera.
(Portrayed by David Lambert)Stef's biological son with Mike. The eldest son, he tries very hard to fly the straight and narrow. But when Callie enters the family, things change for him.
- Berserk Button: When it comes to where he stands in the family. He lays it into his mom when he considers going to live with Mike when he says he didn't get a choice who to live with during the divorce or he was going to have two moms. Later he blows up that he's always expected to stand up, adjust and make room for all the other kids after his moms take them in and he doesn't have a say in the matter.
- Break the Cutie: Happens to him near the end of Season 1.
- Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Nominally the responsible one against Jesus, but in the second part of the first season seems to be becoming more irresponsible especially in regards to his feelings with Callie, thus causing her to run away from the Fosters, and then telling his mothers about it later on.
- His relationship with Callie takes a new turn when his moms have to take out a restraining order against him in Callie's name.
- Later he joins school jock/bully Vico in making and selling fake IDs at school which gets him arrested.
- From Bad to Worse: Practically almost every action Brandon does ends up turning an already bad situation that he caused into an even worse situation.
- Et Tu, Brute?: In Season 3, he's pissed at his moms after learning that Callie and AJ shared a kiss whilst they were fostering AJ and they covered it up to not embarrass them in front of the family but they don't mind humiliating him when his relationship with Callie is under investigation by social services. See also Berserk Button.
- Genre Blind: It takes his brother Jesus (nominally the rebel between the two) to point out that when your girlfriend catches you hanging out with another cute girl (who also happens to be living with you for the indeterminate future), your girlfriend will probably be jealous in the least. Jesus later suggests Brandon do something big and nice for Talya in compensation, to which Brandon ultimately stands up Talya in order to hang out with Callie.
- Has a Type: Seems to be into Broken Bird girls, and coming to their rescue.
- Hot-Blooded: Traits he happens to share with Stef.
- Love Hurts: His relationship with Callie.
- Momma's Boy: The closer of the children to Stef.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: He inadvertedly made Callie run away in "I Do".
- The Perfectionist: When it comes to piano.
- Took a Level in Dumbass: Throughout the first season. At the beginning, he's an honors student like Mariana who has no trouble with the law or school. In the season finale, Brandon has been arrested and is almost expelled from school. He also sleeps with his father's girlfriend (possibly ex-girlfriend at the time; it's a little unclear).
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Brandon kissing Callie inevitably caused a vast majority of the drama during the second half of season 1.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Brandon gets called out a lot on his actions throughout the season.
Jude Adams Foster
(born Jude Jacobs)
(Portrayed by Hayden Byerly)Callie's little brother. The innocent one. He isn't the most talkative, but that doesn't mean he isn't paying attention. He is officially adopted by the Adams-Fosters in Season 2 after his biological father, Donald Jacob, relinquishes his parental rights. However, they were unable to do the same for his now-revealed-to-be half-sister Callie until the tenth episode of the third season.
- Adorably Precocious Child: He really is. And he knows it.Callie: How do you know that?
Jude: I pay attention. (shrug)
- Ambiguously Gay: And Ambiguous Gender Identity, as well—he's a bit too young for such things to be apparent as of yet. The first thing we ever hear about him is that be for beat up for trying on a dress. The ambiguity goes away as his crush on Conner comes to the surface, and Jude comes to identify as gay. And the then ambiguity returns, as Jude develops a possible crush on a girl, making him Ambiguously Bi.
- Book Dumb: Primarily because he's been in seven schools in four years but there's subtle suggestion that he may have some sort of learning disability.
- Break the Cutie: Temporarily turned into a Cute Mute.
- Broken Bird: A more subtle example than Callie. His bad experiences with foster homes have developed a fear of being taken away for being anything but an Extreme Doormat
- Extreme Doormat: Deconstructed. His to keep quiet and just agree with what other people say comes from a fear of being expelled from the foster home.
- If It's You, It's Okay: With Connor, who is openly gay.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Gives one to Callie after she kisses Brandon, risking being adopted by the Fosters
- Took a Level in Jerkass: He's gotten a little edgier since hitting puberty.
- Wholesome Crossdresser: We only have one instance of this so whether it's a one time thing or not is unclear. But his previous foster dad caught him goofing around with a dress and promptly started to beat the crap out of him. This is what prompted Callie to beat the crap out of the guy's car with a bat and land her in juvie.
- Wise Beyond His Years: He notices the flirting between Jesus and Lexi, makes a double sided comment to Jesus about it, and picks up on Talya's antics. But like with Callie, he's learned to not say anything.
Mike Foster(Portrayed by Danny Nucci)Stef's ex husband and fellow cop. The loss of his wife to another woman still stings him, though he tries to be as civil as possible about it. Nevertheless, he still struggles to keep Brandon, his son, in his life.
- The Alcoholic: He is a functional one, though barely at that. In the past, his divorce tipped him over the edge. In the present, Stef's shooting may result in a relapse.
- Amicable Exes: With Stef.
- Armor-Piercing Question: On the receiving end of one from his biological son, Brandon, who calls him out for being so distant and not really having a strong relationship with him (not to mention, antagonizing Lena, who Brandon likes).
- Cool Uncle: Has shades of this with the other children.
- Parental Neglect: He admits that since he considers Stef and Lena excellent parents, he had been neglectful of Brandon.
- The Rival: It's unspoken but clear among all parties that he considers both Lena and her relationship with his ex a challenge. Whether it's mild homophobia, a sense that he failed in a relationship, or that he still has feelings for Stef is unclear and it may be all of those reasons and more.
- Working with the Ex: Stef and Mike work together as cops.
Talya(Portrayed by: Madisen Beaty)Brandon's girlfriend at the start of the series. At first, she seems like your normal typical girl next door. But the arrival of Callie throws a wrench into her world and she doesn't take it well.
- Alpha Bitch: To an extent. She spread rumours that it was Callie, not Mariana, who was selling pills and snooped around Callie's things to find anything that might be useful to her. All in an attempt to maintain her relationship with Brandon/drive Callie away.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Is perfectly nice to Brandon, but seems to be doing all she can to get Callie sent away. Every time any of their conversations steers toward Callie, she asks, "Has she been sent away yet?" However, if the trailer for the next episode is any indication, Brandon does eventually see through her act.
- He does. They break up. Whether she'll be back to wreck havok remains to be seen since she also revealed some of the information she gathered on Callie's past to him.
- Clingy Jealous Girl: Though in her defense, Brandon unintentionally does things to strain their relationship. On the other hand though, this doesn't excuse her catty behavior.
- Jerk Ass: she occasionally has flashes of being a nicer person, but Callie seems to bring out the worst in her, even after she and Brandon break up
- Jerkass Has a Point: Her boyfriend did have a crush on Callie, which was inappropriate for a number of reasons. Not that this justified Talya's treatment of Callie.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Has almost never been seen since her and Brandon's nasty break-up in the first season.
Wyatt(Portrayed by Alex Saxon)
- Conspiracy Theorist: Downplayed for laughs during "Honeymoon".
- Hidden Depths: He is very good at drawing.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Lets go of Callie for this reason.
- Liar Revealed: The first house he brought Cali to wasn't his. Especially bad seeing if Cali got caught, she'd be in juvie.
- Opposites Attract: Hooks up with Mariana.
- Wild Teen Party: Throws one before he moves out of his old house, his family having been foreclosed on.
- exploited by him. He wanted people to ruin the house as revenge for being taken from them when his mother worked so hard to buy it.
Lexi Rivera(Portrayed by Bianca Santos)
- Beware the Nice Ones: when she discovers she and her parents are undocumented she exploits it to blackmail her parents so she isn't sent to another school
- Satellite Love Interest: For Jesus. We really don't know much about her other than the fact that she's Mariana's best friend.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: From her hooking up with Mariana's brother, to their competition for student president, some serious tension exists between these buds.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Calls out Jesus on the fact that he's not pursuing their attraction to each other purely because Mariana told him not to without any real reason other than that they're friends.
Emma(-[Portrayed by: Amanda Leighton]-)
- Deadpan Snarker
- Informed Judaism: brings kugel to the memorial service for Stef's father
- The Lad-ette: the only girl on the wrestling team, and constantly teasing Jesus that she's better than he is
- Satellite Love Interest: for Jesus
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: She is definitely more of a tomboy than Jesus' other love interest, Lexi
Connor Stevens(Portrayed by: Gavin Macintosh)
- Abusive Parents: In the summer finale, he shows up with a very suspicious-looking bruise (that his apparently-homophobic father says is from a doorjamb). Riiight...
- Ambiguously Bi: Connor and Jude did ''something'' in that tent; it's unclear what it was. However, Connor also seems to be at least sort of attracted to girls, but the word "bisexual" is never actually used.
- Eventually comes out as gay.
- Straight Gay: Eventually comes out of the closet.
Rita Hendricks(Portrayed by Rosie O'Donnell)
Daphne(Portrayed by Daffany Clark)
Cole(Portrayed by Tom Phelan)
Liam Olmstead(Portrayed by Brandon W. Jones)
- Jerkass: Made Callie and Jude lose the best foster house they had when he seduced Callie, threaten Callie when she tried to warn another girl they had brought to the house and Raped Callie when they still lived with his family.
- Karma Houdini: He has suffered no consequences for his actions against Callie.
- Averted near the end of Season 2, where he is finally caught and arrested by Stef.
Robert Quinn(Portrayed by Kerr Smith)
- Luke, I Am Your Father: To Callie.
- Uptown Girl: Rich guy who was unable to marry his first love due to her social status and never learned that he'd fathered a child by her.
- Second Love: Always felt that he'd settled and that the true love of his life was always the poor girl that he'd been forced to dump.
- Your Cheating Heart: Currently separated from his wife as a result of this; it was this that made him realize that he truly loved her.
Sophia Quinn(Portrayed by Bailee Madison)Robert's daughter and Callie's half-sister.
- All Girls Love Ponies: With a heavy helping of "Equestrian is a rich person's hobby."
- Ambiguous Disorder: It's more than run of the mill teen angst; her intense emotional reactions and reckless behavior result in her being institutionalized.
- Attempted Suicide: When she feels rejected by her newly discovered half-sibling, she walks out into traffic. It's later revealed that she legitimately has a psychological disorder.
- Big Half-Sibling Worship: To her half-sister, Callie.
- It's All About Me: Goes beyond the usual only-child syndrome. Deconstructed in that she has some legitimate mental health issues.
- Lonely Rich Kid: Arguably her defining trait. She's elated to find out she has a sister and gets attached to her very quickly.
- Spoiled Brat: Sometimes; Callie explicitly calls her this just before she walks into traffic.