Characters: The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
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Will Smith (Will Smith)
"My fault, man! I must have got the wrong crib. I didn't know there were so many brothers living in this neighborhood! We're doing all right, huh?"The title character. Once a street-wise youth in Philadelphia, a skirmish with a bully causes Will to be sent to live with his wealthy relatives in Bel-Air, California. The show focuses on Will living and interacting with the upper-class society and residential celebrities. Later on, there's more focus on Will's college life.
- The Ace: which isn't to say he can't muck up, but he's fast-thinking and fast-talking enough to get out of trouble eventually.
- Always Someone Better: To Carlton.
- Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: When Will poses as Ashley's father for an interview he acts like thisWill: Ashley's mom walked out on us. I had to be both mom and dad. We went from training wheels to training bras. Both came off too soon.
- Berserk Button: God help you if you insult his mother, or if you are the following: racist, harmful to his siblings or insulting his uncle's reputation.
- Big Brother Mentor: To Ashley.
- Big Man on Campus
- Blithe Spirit
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Will does this at least once every three episodes, if not more.
- Brilliant but Lazy: When Will honestly puts effort into it, he can actually be just as smart as Carlton.
- Butt Monkey: At times. Notably, he's been knocked and humiliated a few times by more intimidating guys.
- The Casanova/Lovable Sex Maniac: Quite obsessed with scoring women. One episode shows his list of "college activities" only have sororities on it. As Will puts it: "From Alpha to Gamma to Bad Mamma Jamma!"
- Casanova Wannabe: Just as often, though, his attempts at seduction fall flat on their faces.
- Character Development: Primarily regarding his relationship with Carlton. Early on, Will gives Carlton grief about not being black enough, but eases off once he sees Carlton face discrimination from other blacks for exactly this and realizes how asinine and unfair it is.
- Will was pretty much sought to retain his free-will "Homeboy" lifestyle when first settling in Bel-Air, but has become more accustomed to it and more open about his knowledge of numerous references.
- The Charmer: When he and Carlton are doing interviews for Princeton Admissions, what separates the two is that Will is excellent at making great first impressions.
- Cloudcuckoolander: He has his moments.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: While normally on the receiving end of fights. He does have his moments where he is victorious, such as beating up Dougie and a guy that was moving in on a female celeb he was dating.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Definitely Just a Cold: Will tries this to get out of a tonsillectomy. It does not work.Will: (singing and dancing weakly) I got no more fever, I got no more fever ... Aunt Viv?Vivian: Yes?Will: Catch me. (faints)
- Disappeared Dad: Will's father Lou took off on the family when he was a baby and left his mother to raise him. When Lou comes back, he briefly tries to reconcile with Will but proves he's still the same selfish bastard he always was when he effectively abandons Will once again. This led to one of the series' biggest Tear Jerkers when he tearfully asked Uncle Phil:Will: How come he don't want me, man?
- Fun Personified
- Handsome Lech
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Jazz (more so in the earlier seasons) and Carlton (more so in the later seasons).
- Hidden Depths: His first appearance has Will showing off some skilled piano playing.
- High School Hustler
- Hypocritical Heartwarming: He's made a few questionable moves with women. But he will not watch anyone do the same thing to Ashley
- I Have No Son: Inverted with Will and his father Lou. When Lou comes back into Will's life after having run out on him 14 years ago, Lou then abandons him again for another trucking job. This is the final exchange Will and Lou share:Lou: It was great seeing you, son.Will: You too... Lou.
- Insistent Terminology: His collection of dolls — er, action figures.
- I Was Beaten by a Girl: In one episode everyone mocks Will after he loses a fight against a female boxing trainer. When he decides to arrange a rematch, Hilary is shocked that he Would Hit a Girl.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold
- Ladykiller in Love: With Lisa in season 5.
- Large Ham
- Loophole Abuse: Will wears his Bel Air Prep blazer inside out.
- Lovable Jock: He played basketball in high school.
- A Man Is Not a Virgin: Played straight in a number of episodes, including him nearly admitting to guest star Milton Berle that he lost his virginity at fifteen and him admitting that he's not a virgin in a chapel.
- The Nicknamer
- Obfuscating Stupidity: He may act like a total goof-off and slacker, but he's actually quite bright.
- Princeton University was thinking about accepting him, much to Carlton's absolute shock.
- Rags to Riches
- Really Gets Around: Before settling with Lisa, Will pretty much had a different girlfriend per episode.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Manly Man to Carlton's Sensitive Guy.
- The Slacker
- Street Smart: He's the experienced, streetwise (but not necessarily Book Dumb) teenager from West Philadelphia, in contrast to Carlton who is book smart but sheltered.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Like any loyal son of Philly, Will loves his cheesesteaks.
- Uncle Tomfoolery
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With Carlton. The 'vitriolic' part gets downplayed over time.
- Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Which leads to a humiliating defeat at the hands of a female boxing trainer.
Philip Banks (James Avery)
"Well speaking as a lawyer, I can only say that your daughter fits the criminal profile to a T, right down to the sloping forehead, and the wide jaws suitable for grains and small rodents!"A successful attorney (later appointed a court judge) who doesn't try to hide his reluctance to Will settling in with the Banks. Spends a good portion of the show dealing with Will's antics and help fix any mess made.
- Angry Black Man
- Berserk Button: If you value your health, do not insult Phil's mother. And threatening his children or wife? Yeah, prepare for a beatdown of the verbal or physical variety.
- Big Eater: It ends up giving him a heart attack in an episode.
- Bald Black Leader Guy: Not a leader, per se, but more than a few plots show that he's in charge of the family.
- Bald of Awesome
- Best Served Cold: Normally, Philip would yell or threaten Will the instant he does something insanely wrong. But in one case Will did something so bad, that it took three years for Phil to think up the ultimate punishment for Will. Will really had it coming, too — he wanted to sleep with a girl who wouldn't give it up before marriage, so he staged a fake wedding with Jazz playing the preacher, just to get her into bed. He came to his senses at the last second, but damn.
- Bumbling Dad: Averted. He has his moments of stupidity, but he's portrayed as competent and knowledgeable way more often than other sitcom dads.
- Doom It Yourself: Phil is an excellent lawyer and an even better judge, but his skills as a handyman are less than impressive. His attempt at fixing the stove burns Geoffrey's eyebrows off, his attempt at fixing the toaster causes a piece of toast to fly into Geoffrey's eye, his attempt at fixing the static on the phone completely kills the line, and his attempt at fixing the sink causes a leak. At one point, Vivian has to use a Lysistrata Gambit to stop him from doing any more damage to the house.
- Embarrassing Nickname: "Zeke," by his parents.
- Fat Comic Relief
- Good Parents: Despite his many flaws, Phil is an excellent and loving father to all five of his children, Will very much included. He's there for them physically, emotionally, and financially whenever they're upset or even just a little stumped by their homework. This is best shown when Will's father returns and Phil's constant presence is contrasted with Lou's perpetual absence.Phil: (yelling at Lou) Oh bull, bull! Will is not a coat that you hang in the closet, then pick it up when you're ready to wear it. His life goes on. He's not supposed to be here for you, you're supposed to be here for him!
- Hair-Trigger Temper: "Uncle Phil is a very big man, with a very short fuse. Bad combination. Very bad combination."
- Happily Married: To Vivian.
- Hidden Depths: He may not seem it, but he was heavily involved in the Civil Rights Movement and was a star football player at Princeton. He's also one HELL of a pool player."Geoffrey, break out Lucille."
- HAHAHA–No: He does this quite often, especially to Will and Carlton. If it sounds stupid or outrageous, expect him to laugh along with the kids before giving a loud "NO!"
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold
- Large And In Charge
- Like a Son to Me: To Will.
- Mean Boss: Phil is a loving parent, but he can be a real Jerkass to his employees. Geoffrey is so frustrated with the low salary Phil pays him that at one point he quits as butler and refuses to come back until Phil offers him a raise. His law clerk Edward Haskell becomes so fed up with Phil's abuse that he breaks into the Banks' home and robs them blind.
- Open Mouth, Insert Foot: The cause of many of his Exiled to the Couch moments.Will: Wow, Uncle Phil, I knew you had a king-size appetite, but both feet?
- Overprotective Dad: Especially when it comes to Ashley. If somebody says he wants to ground his 14-year-old daughter for ten years, he really is something.
- Papa Wolf: Perhaps most evident when Will's father returns and tries to briefly reconcile with his son after abandoning him over fourteen years ago. Phil's hackles are instantly raised (right along with Vivian's) and it's made very clear that if he could punch or throw Lou out of the house and keep him far away from Will, he would gladly do so without a second thought.Phil: What is he doing here, Vivian?
- Parental Substitute: Eventually proved to be more of a father to Will than his real father ever was.
- The last episode effectively spells this out and makes it clear that the two consider their relationship that of father and son rather than uncle and nephew.
- Reasonable Authority Figure
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Gave several over the course of the series but the most memorable would be the one he gave Lou when the latter was planning on leaving Will again.Phil: Sit down.
Lou: (starting to leave) Ain't got time for no lecture.
Phil: I said sit down, Lou! (Lou stops and sits down on the couch) You know, Will was doing just fine until you showed up. But now that you're back, you have responsibilities to him.
Lou: Look, we still gonna take the trip--
Phil: OH, BULL! BULL! Will is not some coat that you hang up in the closet and you pick it up when you're ready to wear it! His life goes on! He's not supposed to be here for you! You're supposed to be there for him!
Lou: (standing back up) Hey, you get off my back! You think I want this?! It! Just! Happened! Now, Will was a baby and I was scared—
Phil: Cut the crap, alright?! Cut it! Because I've been there. But I didn't walk out on my family. I was there every single day for them, because that is what a man does!
- Scary Black Man: When he gets angry.
- Self-Made Man: Was born a country boy and worked himself up in his career to achieve his current wealth.
- Stern Teacher: This is his general parenting style in dealing with Will and Carlton. He loves his boys very much, although he doesn't hesitate to put the fear of God into them with his Scary Black Man routine to keep them on the straight and narrow.
- Tough Love
- Tranquil Fury: Occasionally, when he's really angry, he speaks softly, smiles, and even laughs...then he really explodes.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Ugly Guy to Vivian's Hot Wife. Will lampshades this with disbelief when they announce Vivian is pregnant with another child.
- You Are Fat: Basically, all the jokes about him, usually by Will, Geoffrey, and Jazz.
Vivian Banks (Janet Hubert-Whitten, 1990-1993; Daphne Maxwell Reid, 1993-1996)
"We used slang when we were kids! Do you remember our first date? You took one look at me and said, "That is a bad dress!" You could've just said it was a good dress."Will's maternal aunt, who's a well-educated professor at the local university. Unlike Phil, Vivian's far more open and patient with Will when he first moves in with the Banks, and understands that transitioning from inner-city Philadelphia to the ultra-wealthy Bel Air will be difficult for him.
- Annoying Patient: During the last month of her pregnancy.
- The Earrings Come Off: Whenever she's about to unleash her inner Mama Bear.
- Good Parents
- Happily Married: To Philip.
- Hot Teacher: First Vivian (played by Janet Hubert-Whitten).
- Housewife: Second Vivian.
- Lethal Chef: She has a bad habit of burning stuff. This is one of the main reasons why Vivian's so desperate to keep Geoffrey in their employment.
- Lysistrata Gambit: Employs this a LOT. Often overlaps with Exiled to the Couch.
- Mama Bear: Just like Phil, this is most evident when Will's father returns. She's instantly on guard, phones her sister (Will's mother), and watches Lou with open distrust. She's been protective of her children and nephew at other parts in the series, but this episode shows just how vindictive Vivian can be if she feels any of her kids are threatened with harm, be it physical or emotional.Vivian: (to Phillip) You're not going to hit him, are you? (Beat) Because I don't want to miss that.
- Not So Above It All: She's usually more reserved and reasonable than Philip, but she can lose it when a matter specifically bothers her.
- If she starts taking her earrings off, be warned.
- Out of Focus: After the actress switch she rarely played a major role in an episode and was entirely absent from several.
- Sassy Black Woman: She can slip into this when she gets upset. Especially first Vivian.
- Tsundere: Type B.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Hot Wife to Philip's Ugly Guy.
Carlton Banks (Alfonso Ribeiro)
"For a long time it gave me nightmares, having to witness an injustice like that. It was a constant reminder of how unfair this world can be. I can still hear them taunting him. "Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids." ...How come they just couldn't give him some cereal?!"The middle child of the Banks family who strives to get into Princeton and be a successful lawyer like his dad. More confident in the law and order in general, Carlton's at odds with Will more than frequently, though by the later half of the series he becomes The Lancer.
- Angst Coma: When Carlton fails to get into Princeton.
- Beware the Silly Ones: His short stature and overall behavior aside, Carlton actually managed to knock out Will in more than one occasion, whether it be by one punch, or even a blow from his elbow. He once even let Will take a fall from a treehouse by releasing the ladder after Will had started descending it, this after having taken yet another dig at Carlton's height.
- Black and Nerdy
- Break the Haughty: Quite a few times.
- Bowties Are Cool
- Bumbling Sidekick: Becomes this to Will in later seasons.
- But Not Too Black: Deconstructed throughout the series.
- Butt Monkey
- Characterization Marches On: Carlton was introduced in Season 1 as an incredibly preppy and pompous Smug Snake playing no more than a rival or Foil to Will. Recurring emotional breakdowns and being a Butt Monkey occurred in the next seasons; and eventually became the complete nerdy goof everyone loves and remembers.
- Clark Kent Outfit
- Cloudcuckoolander: At times.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: While the Carlton Dance is very goofy, he's shown to be a very able dancer in Season 5 episode "Sooooul Train". Counts as an Actor Allusion since Alfonso Ribeiro used to be one of Michael Jackson's backup dancers.
- Ditzy Genius: He's very book smart, but also extremely immature and naive, especially in later seasons.
- For example, in the episode where he loses his virginity, the woman tells him he can kiss her good-bye in the morning and Carlton replies with, "What time should I come back?"
- Extracurricular Enthusiast
- Extraverted Nerd: Not originally, but more so as the series progresses.
- Fanboy: Of Tom Jones, William Shatner and Macaulay Culkin.
- Friendly Enemy: To Will, mostly in season 1.
- The Gambling Addict: In a couple of episodes.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Becomes this with Will later on.
- Hollywood Dateless
- Humiliation Conga: Gets a particularly bad one in a short amount of time in season six. First he's fired from his job as assistant talent coordinator for Hilary in favor of Will, then gets rejected from several attempts to pad his résumé, including Bob Dole's campaign headquarters (they cited budget problems, when he volunteered), got passed over for a job he was certain he had in the bag, and ultimately found himself skipping an interview with a Princeton scout to hang out at a local blues bar.
- Ivy League for Everyone: He eventually gains transfer admission to Princeton. However, it's actually not too unrealistic, considering Carlton is a legacy child (Phil attended Princeton), comes from a wealthy and connected family, and has worked himself to the bone for years to maintain near-perfect grades.
- Jerkass: First season.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Later seasons.
- The Lancer: To Will.
- Large Ham: In later seasons.
- Man Child: When he and Nicky go to see Dougie, they're equally excited.
- A Man Is Not a Virgin: This causes him to rush into losing his virginity. Unfortunately, it happens to be with a married woman. It's treated far more seriously than most other shows and it's pretty clear that if Carlton could change the circumstances and take it back, he gladly would.
- Overshadowed by Awesome: How often he feels about Will.
- Pointy-Haired Boss: During his time as manager of the Peacock Stop, he'll gladly screw over the clientele in order to attempt to raise profits or cut costs. And he treats Will like utter crap when he first gets the job.
- Professional Butt-Kisser: Especially in early seasons. He acts like this even to his father at times. And to Ashley when she briefly becomes famous. Though he's nothing compared to Phil's protege in "Cased Up" who kisses up twice as much and twice as well as Carlton does.
- Running Gag: His (in)ability to dance. Except to "Billie Jean." Judging by the look on his face when the song comes on, he has absolutely no control over this.
- Screams Like a Little Girl: He manages to outscream both of his sisters, older and younger.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Sensitive Guy to Will's Manly Man.
- Small Name, Big Ego
- Smug Snake: Mostly in the beginning.
- Straw Loser
- Took a Level in Badass: When he started out, most of the time he relied on either Will or Phil to back him up. However during an episode where someone accuses him of "Not being black enough" he drops the goofy nerd persona and proceeds to verbally tear the Jerkass a new one.
- Took a Level in Dumbass: After Season 2.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With Will.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy
Hilary Banks (Karyn Parsons)
"I'm a career woman. I don't have time to dust and push around that... oh, what do you call that big, loud thing that sucks up everything?"The spoiled elder child of the Banks family, Hilary's socialite bent on looked highly upon her peers in the upper class. She's also leeches off her parents' fortune and ignorant of how life outside hers really works.
- Brainless Beauty
- Bratty Teenage Daughter: Although she's in her twenties.
- Break the Cutie: Goes through a period of this after Trevor's death.
- Character Development: Originally shallow and lacking self-confidence for being a jobless college dropout, she is shown to be more and more jovial for each successful job she takes on from Season 2 onwards; she ends up starring in her own hot talk show and moves to New York.
- City Mouse: If an activity does not involve shopping, hanging out with celebrities, swimming, going to parties, or any of the activities typically associated with Southern California high society, Hilary is likely going to be allergic to it.
- The Ditz
- Expository Hairstyle Change
- Friend to All Children: As long as they aren't related to her. Hilary loves babies and toddlers, and hit it off with a troop of Girl Scout expies (though she needed some advice from Geoffrey, first).
- Full Name Ultimatum: "Hilary Violet Banks!"
- It's All About Me: Sports a massive ego. When told to make a Mother's Day gift, she compiles a video montage featuring Vivian's "greatest achievement: Hilary Banks".
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: While it doesn't show very much, she does genuinely care for her family. Especially when Will gets shot.
- And when Ashley is contemplating sleeping with her boyfriend. Without outright telling what she should or shouldn't do, she's very supportive.
- Lethal Chef
- Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: The dark to Ashley's light.
- Loophole Abuse: How she ended up in the pool house during season three. In her own words, Philip told her she had to be out of the house, not off of the property.
- Lovable Alpha Bitch: She's mostly cheerfully oblivious to how badly she treats those beneath her (mainly Geoffrey).
- Noodle Incident: In regards to entertaining men in the jacuzzi."That's between me, that man and his video camera!"
- Proud Beauty: "I'm a beautiful woman trapped in an even more beautiful woman's body."
- Really Gets Around: During the first two seasons, at least. Though only one of her dates is actually shown, it's referred to plenty of times.
- Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense
- Spoiled Brat: Her first line ever was "Dad, I need $300!"
- Took a Level in Dumbass: She was always the least intelligent family member but initially she was more snobby and shallow than a Brainless Beauty.
- Upper-Class Twit
- Valley Girl
- Woman Child: Hilary is hopelessly immature and can't be self-sufficient, so her parents tolerate her freeloading.
Ashley Banks (Tatyana M. Ali)
"Come on, Daddy, 10 years? The Menendez boys will be out before I am."The youngest child of the Banks (until Baby Nicky arrived), she very much looked up to Will. Gradually, she became bent on being less of daddy's little girl and more open and a bit rebellious, even out of Will's control. She is the only one of the Banks children to have, more or less, normal adolescence; having common teenager issues.
- Acquired Situational Narcissism: When she became a music sensation, she let the fame go to her head. She returned to normal once it became clear she would be a One-Hit Wonder, though.
- Bratty Teenage Daughter: Sometimes, starting in season four.
- Closer to Earth: Than Carlton and Hilary.
- Daddy's Girl: She fights this trope for much of the show before eventually accepting and appreciating her father's concern.
- Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: The light to Hilary's dark.
- Nice Girl: Especially when she was a little girl. Even as a teenager, despite her occasional Bratty Teenage Daughter moments, she's still sweeter than most of her family.
- Only Sane Woman
- Rebellious Princess: She becomes this also because of Will's influence.
- She Cleans Up Nicely: The older she gets, the prettier she gets and the more overprotective Uncle Phil gets.
- As well as Will and Carlton. Ask Jaleel White.
- She's All Grown Up: Naturally through the seasons, though Uncle Phil is reluctant to accept this.
- Spoiled Sweet
- Straight Woman: Being the most normal character, Ashley rarely gets funny lines or moments, and is mostly a foil to the antics of her flawed, quirky family members.
- Straw Feminist: During a Thanksgiving two-parter.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Once she became a teenager.
Geoffrey Butler (Joseph Marcell)
"I found that any game can be made interesting if you put some money on it."The Banks family butler, an older English man who outside of the witty barbs has a great relationship with the family.
- Battle Butler: He once was a sparring partner for Chuck Norris and even took on a guy bigger than him in a bar fight. He also has Phil's Pool Cue at the ready when Phil shows his skills.
- Bowties Are Cool
- Brutal Honesty
- Characterization Marches On: Originally very respectful and gentlemanly (in Season 1), but he becomes more and more a cynical Deadpan Snarker who openly hates his job and the Banks family, to the point that literally everything to come out of his mouth is a sarcastic remark or an outright insult (towards everyone except Vivian, Ashley, and Nicky).
- Chronic Villainy: Geoffrey switches back and forward between plotting against and hating the family and feeling genuine affection for them throughout the series.
- Cloudcuckoolander: When drunk.
- Comedic Sociopathy: He has his moments.
- Deadpan Snarker: Much emphasis on the deadpan part.
- Embarrassing Middle Name: Barbara. "It's a family name!"
- The Jeeves
- Jerkass Has a Point: Considering how everyone treats him, his cynical and insulting attitude towards the family is somewhat justified.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold
- Luke, You Are My Father: In Season 6, he discovers he has a son he never knew about, named Frederick.
- Meaningful Name: Of the aptronym variety, for his last name.
- Only Sane Man
- Sarcastic Devotee
- Servile Snarker: Used to be the Trope Namer.
- Too Kinky to Torture: "Sleepless In Bel-Air" had him talking about a wonderful dream where Amazonian women had him tied up and were taunting him with tangelos
Nicky Banks (Ross Bagley)The youngest of the Banks children, born during the run of the show. But don't let that make you think he didn't have any Character Development, he grew as much as the others did.
- Children Are Innocent: And Santa tells Will to keep Nicky that way for as long as possible.
- Cousin Oliver
- Deadpan Snarker:Nicky: *after coming upon Hilary and Ashley in the family room, pretending to be driving* What are you doing?Hilary: Driving lessons!Nicky: Lesson number one: use a car.
- Dead Pet Sketch: Poor Harry.
- Overly Long Name: He starts out as Nicholas Andrew Banks, and the first names of the members of Boyz II Men were added on the day of his christening.
- Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome: Lampshaded immediately, with Jazz replying that he's going back to the streets where everything makes more sense.
- Wise Beyond Their Years:Philip: Nicky, do you remember in The Lion King, when Mufasa—
Nicky: Dad, did you sit on Harry?
Jazz (DJ Jazzy Jeff/Jeffrey A. Townes)
- Abhorrent Admirer: Toward Hilary.
- Back for the Finale
- Brutal Honesty
- The Casanova: Well, sometimes.
- Chekhov's Shirt: Since they constantly reused the same clip of Jazz getting thrown out of the house, they maintained continuity by having Jazz wear the same shirt in almost every episode he gets thrown out. It gets to the point where you can tell the Running Gag is about to occur if you see him wearing the shirt.
- Chivalrous Pervert: He has quite the reputation as a casanova but he treats these women well as shown by how Jewel said Jazz treats her
- Cool Shades: He wears them all the time.
- Drop-In Character: More like "Throw Out Character"...
- Getting the Boot: See Running Gag.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Will.
- Hopeless Suitor: To Hilary.
- Jerkass: Sometimes. Such as when he advertised a huge party at Will and Carton's apartment and charged money that he kept for himself, leaving Will and Carlton to get kicked out of their apartment the following day.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Despite his occasional Jerkass moments, he's a good friend to Will and holds genuine care for all of the members (including Phil)
- Limited Wardrobe: Because of his being thrown out of the house is Stock Footage, he always wears the same outfit when he's about to get thrown out.
- One Steve Limit: As Geoffrey the butler is a regular character, DJ Jazzy Jeff's character goes by Jazz at all times.
- Only One Name: He's only know as Jazz and has no known last name.
- Out of Focus: In later seasons.
- Recurring Character
- Running Gag: His tendency to get thrown out of the Bankses' house.
- Inverted, subverted, and averted a couple of times, such as when he was thrown into the house, when Jazz threw Uncle Phil out the house, and when Jazz did something so horrible that Will doesn't think he's worth kicking out of the house. Also invoked by Jazz himself to show that he can reach the car from the house without walking.
- The Slacker
- Wacky Guy
Viola "Vi" Smith (Vernee Watson-Johnson)
- In the Blood: When Vy cracks a joke about Uncle Phil's weight in "'Twas The Night Before Christening" and Phil lampshades this by saying "Okay now I see where Will gets it from"
- Romantic False Lead: She had one during the second half of Season 2. She ultimately broke up with him because he wanted more out of the relationship than she did.
- Sassy Black Woman
- Slap-Slap-Kiss: Goes from volleying insults with Fred in one scene to sleeping with him in the next.
- Why Waste a Wedding?: Will and Lisa sure took their single parents marrying each other quite well.
Hattie "Granny" Banks (Virginia Capers)
- Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: To Philip. She loves to tell stories about his childhood, particularly involving pig-raising.
- Cool Old Lady
- Embarrassing Nickname: She still calls Philip "Zeke", much to his chagrin.
Kellogg "Cornflake" Lieberbaum (Michael Weiner)
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Never appears or is mentioned again after season two.
- Pretty Fly for a White Guy: Undoubtedly the most awed at Will's coolness at Bel-Air prep.
- Token White
Edward "Ned" Fellows III
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: His last appearance is in "Day Damn One."
- Pretty Fly for a White Guy: Very awkwardly so — he even wrote Hamlet in Black English. He justifies it by living in Harlem for three weeks.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Doesn't appear after season two.
- Conspicuous Trenchcoat: Wears one to try to disguise himself when he goes to a rival school's basketball game to size up the competition.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: Punishes students by forcing them to run laps, even for infractions in the classroom.
- Double Standard: Doesn't hold Will to the same standards as the rest of the basketball team because he's the team's star.
- Dumb Jock: "All I know is that I went to college on a football scholarship and graduated with honors. So I know a thing or two about cheating!" He also teaches history at Bel-Air Academy, and straight up admits to not knowing a lick of history outside what is covered in the textbook.
- Insistent Terminology: He's to be called "Professor Smiley" whenever they're in the classroom.
Tyriq "Ty" Johnson (Perry Moore)
- Book Dumb: Has been held back in school multiple times. It's also implied that he can't spell "Ohio."
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Disappears after season two.
- The Generic Guy: He isn't the clever one, or the dumb one, or the quirky one, he is just this guy who feeds lines.
Trey "Ice Tray" (Don Cheadle)
- Cool Big Bro: Comes off this way.
- Hidden Depths: At first he seems like sort of a hood with no real interest in school. Will later reveals that without Trey, he never would've made it back in Phillidelphia, as he protected Will from bullies trying to jump him for his books.
- One-Shot Character
Trevor Collins/Newsworthy (Brian Stokes Mitchell)News anchorman, whom Hilary falls for.
- Brainless Beauty
- Dropped a Bridge on Him
- It's All About Me: If someone pays a compliment to somebody in his vicinity, he takes it for himself. Additionally, he was more insulted by Jazz not knowing who he was than by Jazz making advances on Hilary.
- Killed Off for Real: And caught on live television, while proposing to Hilary.
Helen Smith (Jennifer Lewis)
- Deadpan Snarker
- Lovable Sex Maniac: In season six, as by that point she had been divorced for three years.
- No Indoor Voice
- Sassy Black Woman
Janice Smith Schaeffer (Charlayne Woodard)
- Black Gal on White Guy Drama: Is the cause of this among her family when she marries a white man.
- Genki Girl
- Put on a Bus: It's mentioned that she's on vacation in a season four episode, but then never appears again.
- Lovable Sex Maniac: Though considering Helen divorces him, the "lovable" part is up for debate.
- Mistaken for Cheating: He was actually seeing a psychiatrist due to impotence from depression.
- Put on a Bus: Via divorce.
- Tempting Fate: No, he does not know how to ski.
- Kids Are Cruel: To the point that Hilary puts him on a leash when she takes him out.
- Put on a Bus: Presumably Lester gets custody of him.
Frank Schaeffer (Dietrich Bader, Robert Torti)
- Black Gal on White Guy Drama: He's a white guy marrying into a black family.
- Open Mouth, Insert Foot: He's not quite used to having a black extended family.
- Put on a Bus: Went on vacation with Janice and never came back.
- Token White
Judge Carl Robertson (Sherman Hemsley)
- And There Was Much Rejoicing: At the judge's funeral, Will admitted his part in Robertson's death; everyone in the room gave him a standing ovation.
- Asshole Victim
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing
- Broken Pedestal
- Dirty Old Man
- Hanging Judge: If a campaign ad is to be believed, he has sentenced over six thousand people to prison. In at least one case, the man he sentenced was innocent, and in at least one other case, he decided to convict because the prosecutor was a babe.
- Jerkass: Judge Robertson was apparently idealistic in his younger days, but as of the show's timeline he's become extremely selfish, misogynistic, deceitful, and a classic example of a corrupt politician. He was such an awful human being that at his funeral, everyone was there to celebrate his death, and they even applaud Will when they learn that he caused it.
- Killed Off for Real
Jacqueline "Jackie" Ames (Tyra Banks)An old friend of his who ends up attending the same college
- Aborted Arc: And a sad one because she was shaping up to be an interesting character.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: With Will.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Distaff Counterpart: To Will.
- Put on a Bus: Goes away for an unspecified reason halfway through season four. After that, Carlton takes over the Peacock Stop and she doesn't return.
- Sassy Black Woman
- Unrequited Love Switcheroo: It's implied that Jackie had a lingering crush on Will before he left and that he hadn't quite realized his feelings until he was gone, thus explaining why he never called because he missed her too much and didn't want to come to terms with his feelings. When she comes out to Bel-Air, Will starts to fall for her again, though the situation suffers from Aborted Arc and is never resolved.
Jewel Robertson (Karen Malina White)
- Action Girl: Fought off several officers when they tried to arrest her.
- Bare Your Midriff
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Jazz claims that she turned into this once they got married and the honeymoon period wore off. The "sheep" part is arguable, though, since she was on parole for grand theft auto.
- Brutal Honesty: The prison therapist told her to speak out more often, believing that keeping her feelings bottled up is what led her to the crime she was arrested for.
- Embarrassing First Name: Hortence.
- Insatiable Newlyweds: Though, she and Jazz have a reason for it beyond wanting to have sex. Results in plenty of Right Through the Wall when they're staying in the pool house while their apartment is being repainted.
- Out of Focus: Never directly appears in season five.
- Put on a Bus: Divorces Jazz in the season five finale.
- Really Gets Around: According to Jazz, she slept with every man in their building.
- Runaway Bride: Almost. She tried to make advances on Will to get Jazz to call off the wedding rather than actually run away.
- Sassy Black Woman: Though she's arguably more scary than sassy.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: So, what happened to her pregnancy?
Lisa Wilkes (Nia Long)
- Boyish Short Hair
- Embarrassing First Name: Beulah, her real first name.
- Lethal Chef
- Love Interest: To Will.
- Put on a Bus: After season 5.
- Yandere: She fakes this during their first date as a prank set up by Carlton. Will gets even though.
Fred Wilkes (John Amos)
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Despite marrying Vi in the season five finale, he's nowhere to be seen when Vi shows up in season six.
- Deadpan Snarker: He has his moments.Fred: Have you ever done an honest day's work?Philip: I happen to be a judge!Fred: I'll take that as a no.
- Overprotective Dad: Prior to Will, Lisa has never had a relationship survive meeting her dad. Will got along with him too well, however.
- Slap-Slap-Kiss: Goes from volleying insults with Vi in one scene to sleeping with her in the next.
- Why Waste a Wedding?