Lieutenant Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen)
- Accidental Hero: Is quite an expert at this, as mentioned at the beginning of 2 as having killed his 1000th Drug Dealer (the latter two hit with his car, although they turned out to be drug dealers), and later on unwittingly hitting a police station robber with the door as he walks in.
- The Ace: Subverted. He seems to be something like this in the field of police work, although much of it happens through luck and several Accidental Hero moments.
- Beware the Silly Ones: Just because he's comically disaster-prone doesn't mean he can't get the job done at the end of the day.
- Casual Danger Dialog:Frank: I'm sorry, I can't hear you! Don't fire the gun while you're talking!
- Comically Missing the Point: Very frequently, usually with a large helping of literal-mindedness. He's played by Leslie Nielsen, after all.
- The Comically Serious: His main character trait is that he's always deadpan serious despite all the weirdness that surrounds him. This is a key trait of Leslie Nielsen's acting style in his comedic roles.
- The Ditz: Frank is... not the brightest bulb in the box. Which is why it's so entertaining when he takes himself so seriously.
- Drives Like Crazy: Every time he's behind the wheel, he hits something. It's a Running Gag that he tends to crash into stuff outside the place he's driving to.
- Heroic Comedic Sociopath: "Just think about it, the next time I shoot somebody, I could get arrested."
- Hollywood Tone-Deaf: As discovered when he performs the National Anthem to an entire crowd of baseball spectators (that includes the Queen of England!).
- Lethal Klutz: He accidentally killed his fiancée before the events of the first movie, a fact that Drebin remains blissfully unaware of.
- Literal-Minded: In many, many ways.
- Love at First Sight: With Jane.
- Sixth Ranger Traitor: Becomes this to Rocco's gang in the third film when he impersonates a thug called "Slasher" McGurk.
- Trigger Happy: Once shot five actors ("Good ones!") on the basis of them being weirdos in togas stabbing a guy in the middle of the park. Also shot an in-law at his bachelor party.
Nordberg (OJ Simpson)
- Amusing Injuries: Starting from his very first scene and going downhill from there. How else would the random bear trap on board a boat full of drug dealers be explained?
- The Chew Toy: One would almost feel sorry for him if it wasn't such cartoonish fun to see him get beat up so much.
- Black Best Friend: To Frank and Ed.
- Disaster Dominoes: Something simply bad can't happen to Nordberg, oh no. Something bad has to happen to him immediately followed by something terrible, which would then be immediately followed by something horrendous. And then he'll get an additional injury somehow later on the hospital bed.
- Funny Afro: Had this in the 70s.
- Iron Butt Monkey: Has a wide string of bad luck in every movie. Just watch his first appearance. It doesn't end there.
Jane Spencer (later Drebin)
- Bigger on the Inside: Her fridge, as seen in the second movie.
- The Ditz: No wonder she and Frank gravitated toward each other. And yet she's still the more levelheaded one.
- Drives Like Crazy: She's apparently been taking driving lessons from Drebin, if the third movie is any indication.
- Horrible Judge of Character: She works for the first movie's Big Bad and thinks he is a great guy. In the second film she is dating the Big Bad.
- May–December Romance: With Drebin, largely, although Hapsburg also looks to be quite a bit older than she is.
- Ms. Fanservice: Played almost to the point of parody, with the lingering pans up her body, painstaking descriptions by Drebin's narration, and gratuitous Sexophone. Plus, there's the shower scene in the second film.
- Sexophone: Her Leitmotif when Frank first sees her in the first and second movies.
- Cool Old Guy
- Da Chief: Even though it's rare that he pulls rank.
- Police Brutality: Only once attempted this, on a Mook who he thought beat up Prof. Meinheimer in the second movie. He gets his ass kicked in seconds.
- Straight Man: Most of the time he's this for Frank, though he gets in his own brand of deadpan goofiness once in a while.
- Unwitting Test Subject: Ted, from the research lab at Police Squad, invents cufflinks in the first movie (which go on to be a Chekhov's Gun) that fire a tranquilizer dart. He then casually tests it on Ed.
- Your Cheating Heart: It's a Running Gag that his wife keeps fooling around on him.Frank: Oh congratulations, I understand that Edna's pregnant again.Ed: Yeah, and if I catch the guy who did it—
- Affably Evil: A really charming socialite, that just so happens to be masterminding an assassination.
- Big Bad: Of the first movie.
- Disney Villain Death: He falls over the railing of the football stadium. And then gets run over twice. And then gets walked over by a marching band playing "Louie Louie."
- Man of Wealth and Taste: Very, very rich, and has the luxuries to show for it.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Falls over the railing of a football stadium, gets rolled over by a car, flattened by a steam roller and finally is trampled over by a marching band.
- Wicked Cultured: Has an appreciation for fine arts and the exotic.
- Big Bad: Of the second movie.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: He's the backer for the United States' largest energy firms, and is willing to resort to kidnapping (and eventually murder) to get his way.
- Disney Villain Death: Subverted. He is pushed out of a high window by Ed, but survives, only to be attacked by a lion that had escaped the zoo along with the other animals earlier.
- Affably Evil: He's very polite toward his teammates.
- Big Bad: Of the third film, while Papshmir is the Bigger Bad.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: His most redeeming trait. He clearly loves his mom and crosses the Despair Event Horizon when she's killed.
- Even Evil Has Standards: He calls out his mom when she insults Papshmir's clients and views Frank as his brother when he think he's an terrorist like him and isn't happy when he learns the truth.
- Evil Virtues: Honesty, Honour, Love and Valour.
- Karmic Death: He's blown up by his own nuke.
- Mad Bomber: He plans to nuke the Academy Award celebration.
- Bald of Evil: Clearly has an onset of male pattern baldness.
- Bigger Bad: Of the first and third movies.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Gets blown up by the bomb that Rocco - whom he is backing - planned to use to blow up the Academy Award ceremony. Bonus points for his helicopter just happening to fly overhead when Rocco gets slingshotted through the roof.