Characters: The Young Ones

Rick (or Wick):

Played by Rik Mayall
The hypocritical, Cliff Richard-loving lefty activist who was convinced that he was a Marxist rebel, a poetic genius, the voice of an entire generation and the most well-liked and attractive member of the household; he was spectacularly wrong on all counts.

Vyvyan Basterd:

Played by: Adrian Edmondson
The psychotic but strangely child-like punk who couldn't go an entire episode without destroying something or, usually, several somethings.
  • Absurdly Youthful Mother: Vyvyan has one, whom we also meet in "Boring". The actress, Pauline Melville, is only nine years older than Adrian Edmondson.
  • All Men Are Perverts: Spends the entire time when Helen Mucus is in the house staring at her chest (very obviously and even moving his chair closer), happily volunteers to wear tights a girl might have worn, briefly checks out Amazulu when they perform in the house during "Time", tricks the washing machine into opening its hatch by claiming to have Felicity Kendall's underwear, etc.
  • Ax-Crazy: One of the most violent characters in a Britcom ever - played entirely for laughs. Vyvyan is perhaps the closest live action TV has ever come to a Warner Bros. animated character.
  • Badass
  • Bare Your Midriff
  • Berserk Button: It's fairly easy to annoy Vyvyan, but he really hates The Good Life and being reminded he has a girl's name.
  • Blond Guys Are Evil: Possibly. He's not exactly evil, but he is the most violent member of the house, and although Vyvyan never stated if his hair was dyed or not, his actor had extremely blond hair naturally.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: With emphasis on "bruiser".
  • Character Tic: Scrunching up his face.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Vyv can survive decapitation, eat pretty much anything and perform absurd feats of strength (such as pushing the wall of the house just so the lads can hook up the video).
  • Cloud Cuckoolander
  • Deadly Doctor: He's a medical student at Scumbag College. Worse yet, his entire class is pretty much like him too.
  • Disappeared Dad: When he hopefully asks his mother, "How's Dad?" she responds, "Honestly, Vyvyan, I wish you wouldn't ask me that! ...You know I have absolutely no idea who he is!"
  • Drives Like Crazy: Any time he gets behind the wheel of his Ford Anglia, he crashes it into something. This should probably double as Foreshadowing, as he is driving the bus when it crashes over a cliff.
  • Dynamic Entry / Establishing Character Moment: His first appearance involves him smashing through the kitchen wall, clutching a severed leg.
  • Embarrassing Tattoo: Subverted- When his hair falls off in "Party", he has a 666 on the side of his head, but he doesn't seem remotely bothered by it.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Eats a dead rat, a brick, snow and even the telly, so that the lads don't have to pay their TV licence fee.
  • Fiery Redhead: Assuming it's not dyed.
  • Flipping the Bird: Flipping a V is practically his second Catch Phrase, along with "Brilliant".
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: The Choleric - Ultra-violent, but ultra-childish as well.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Is able to supercharge the vacuum cleaner (which works too well) and has a good working knowledge of explosives.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Just don't remind him of that.
  • Genius Ditz: Despite being unable to tell time and generally being Ax-Crazy, Vyv has a surprising knowledge of how to rig up machinery (as evidenced by his souped-up vacuum cleaner) and can be surprisingly insightful and even manipulative. Plus, he's a medical student.
  • Genki Guy: And HOW. Fitting as his name means "lively".
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath
  • Hidden Depths: Some episodes imply Vyvyan isn't quite as stupid as he pretends to be; He starts accurately describing how the human body produces vomit in "Time", tricks the vampire into revealing it's a vampire in "Nasty" and his potion to turn Balowski into an axe-wielding maniac did actually work. When he actually does go to uni, he's a medical student.
  • Hot-Blooded
  • Hypocritical Humour: Mocks a Narnia-esque dwarf for being called "Shirley", despite having a girl's name himself.
  • Jerk Ass: He has more Pet the Dog moments than Rick, though, and he genuinely get along well with Mike.
  • Knife Nut: Carries a fairly large knife in a few episodes of the first series until he upgrades to hand grenades in the second.
  • Large Ham
  • Limited Wardrobe: While all the lads have this, Rick, Mike and Neil do occasionally wear a different outfit in certain episodes, Vyvyan only seems to have the one.
  • Mad Bomber: Rigs up a bomb to the doorbell (And blames whoever rang the doorbell for setting it off), throws a Molotov Cocktail at Rick and Neil in "Sick" and makes use of grenades on two occasions.
  • Made of Iron: Not even being decapitated by a train is enough to kill him.
  • Metal Head: He wears KISS, Saxon, Rush, and Whitesnake shirts.
  • Mr Seahorse: Subverted. It's actually just gas.
  • No Indoor Voice: Has this trope down in spades.
  • No Sympathy: Usually acts pretty harsh, not only to Rick, but to Neil and even Mike as well.
  • Not a Morning Person: To the point where he'll scream at birds to shut up.
  • Parental Abandonment: When his mother is introduced in "Bored", it's mentioned she hasn't seen him in years and has absolutely no idea who his dad is.
  • Person of Mass Destruction
  • The Pig Pen: Vyv's personal hygiene is so poor that his socks are sentient beings.
  • Psychopathic Man Child: Vyvyan in a nutshell.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: His favourite drink is the decidedly girly Babysham, he has a girl's name and a pet hamster. (Albeit a very aggressive one.)
  • Redheaded Bully: To Neil and Rick, although the latter usually deserves it.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Lives and breathes this trope with such acts as bursting through walls, surviving decapitations, rigging up insanely powerful vacuum cleaners and bombs to doorbells, and blowing up the other team so the lads can win University Challenge.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: With Rick.
  • Super Strength: Can kick a sink over, push the entire house forwards, bite through brick, lift Neil over his head, survive being decapitated...
  • Tsundere: Surprisingly, but Vyvyan has the most friends out of the group, as seen in "Interesting", but Vyvyan claims he "doesn't like any of them." He's also like this towards SPG; SPG is as much on the receiving end of Vyvyan's violence as Rick or Neil, (although SPG usually provokes him) but Vyvyan still cries when SPG dies.

Neil Pye:

Played by: Nigel Planer
The whining, put-upon and suicidal hippie who acted as the dogsbody for the entire house and is convinced (accurately) that no one likes him and everyone is out to get him.
  • Adorkable: He has his moments, particularly when he gets excited about going on University Challenge.
  • Berserk Button: He very nearly hits Rick with a frying pan for mocking his flares.
  • Beware the Nice Ones/Break the Cutie: He also delivers Rick a The Reason You Suck speech in the final episode.
  • Brilliant but Lazy
  • Butt Monkey: Along with Rick.
    Neil: "When you guys said 'panic', I didn't think that meant 'hang me'."
  • Captain Obvious
  • Catch Phrase: "Oh, Heavy!"
    • Often comments people/things are "really bringing him down".
    • In the second series, he takes to referring to Rick as a "Yellow chicken" on a couple of occasions.
  • Driven to Suicide: Tries to kill himself three times in the pilot, and digs his own grave in "Bored" to try and cure his boredom. It's Played for Laughs, obviously.
  • The Eeyore
  • Extreme Doormat: Most of the time, but he will stand up to himself if pushed.
  • Expy: Nigel Planer portrayed a depressive hippie in a 1980 TV special.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: The Melancholic - The whining shut-in of the four.
  • Friend to All Living Things: In "Flood", he manages to rescue some kittens on the way back from the shops, and mentions in one episode wishing people could live a pastoral existence.
  • Gentle Giant: The tallest of the guys, but he's passive and generally rather calm.
  • Genius Ditz: Though he often is Comically Missing the Point, Neil is shown to be fairly clever, is the only one who bothers to study properly for university challenge, quite knowledgeable on Oscar Wilde and he scores the best out of the lads in their exams.
  • Hey, You!: Rick and Vyvyan both refer to him as simply "Hippy" a few times.
  • Hopeless with Tech: He can barely use a phone properly and when he tries to use a washing machine, it spits out his clothes out of disgust. He's convinced machinery hates him.
  • Iron Butt Monkey: "Time" has him clocked on the head several times with little damage. When Vyv throws a Molotov Cocktail at him and Rick in "Sick", despite destroying the wall between his and Rick's room, the only effect it has on him is temporarily clearing his sinuses.
  • The Klutz
  • Literal-Minded: Uses this to annoy Rick in 'Bambi'.
  • Long Hair Is Feminine: Frequently mocked for it by Vyvyan.
  • New-Age Retro Hippie
  • Nice Guy: The only "good guy" of the apartment, if passive-aggressive sometimes.
  • Only Sane Man: As the episode "Bomb" shows.
  • The Pig Pen: Not as much as Vyvyan, but several characters often complain that he smells terrible. Mike even orders him to have a bath in one episode.
  • Shirtless Scene: Gets one in "Summer Holiday", after imagining himself to be the Incredible Hulk.
  • Stoners Are Funny: As seen in 'Party', plus his friends Warlock and Stonehenge are almost perpetually stoned.
  • Team Mom: He's responsible for the cooking and cleaning and tends to be the more emotional one of the group.
    • Lampshaded at one point
    Neil: I do all the cooking, and the cleaning. I might as well be your mothers.
    Rik: That's not entirely true Neil, we don't hate our mothers!
    Neil: All right, so not all metaphors stand up to close comparison!
  • Walking Techbane

Mike (The cool person):

Played by Christopher Ryan
The Charmer of the flat; a smooth, flash and mysterious con-artist who tried it on with every girl he came across, still waiting for it to actually work.
  • Affably Evil: Sort of. He's not really evil, but he is implied to be involved with numerous criminal dealings and occasionally acts immaturely or insane, such as in "Oil". Despite that, he's also probably the most likable member of the flat along with Neil and seems to be an honestly nice person at times.
  • Blackmail Is Such an Ugly Word: He is revealed to be blackmailing his tutor in "Summer Holiday", which explains how he managed to get through the year despite never going to university.
    • Muses he might ask for a Ph.D. from the Dean, implying he has dirt on him, too.
    • In the opening credits for the first series, he's seen bribing a lecturer at his graduation.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Although the reactions of the girls at the party imply that he's less of a wannabe than Rick, a later episode confirms that all four of the lads are virgins.
  • The Charmer: He attempts to enforce this reputation on himself, but isn't very successful. The other lads find him charming and he was found attractive by the girls at their party (and Vyvyan's mother), but otherwise doesn't seem to be very popular, especially with the ladies.
  • Cool Shades: Wears 'em almost the entire time.
  • Deadpan Snarker
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: The Phlegmatic - The easy-going, fun-loving one of the bunch.
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Sexually Active Today?
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: Sometimes wears a leather jacket.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: He's known for making these.
  • No Sympathy: Far moreso than Vyvyan, he's just nice about it.
  • Only Sane Man: Well, 'saner' compared to the antics of the other three.
  • Sugar and Ice Personality/Vitriolic Best Buds: He's generally aloof and cold, but has moments of warmth towards the others (except Rick). Particularly towards Vyvyan, like teaching him to tell the time and comforting him when Vyv's car gets destroyed and SPG dies. With Neil this is especially exaggerated, being harsh and cruel to him sometimes, or being helpful or oddly kind other times.
  • Two Decades Behind: Mike has been at college for much longer than the other three, something demonstrated by the fact his fashion sense is still stuck in The Seventies: Aviator specs, huge ties, three-piece suits with bell-bottom trousers and so on...
    • Averted in later appearances after the show ended: By now he was sporting Wayfarers, a striped 2-piecer with shoulder pads. His hair was also updated as well.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Almost manages to score with Cinderella in "Interesting", but she turns into a pumpkin just before he can.

The Balowski Family:

Played by: Alexei Sayle
Jerzei Balowski is The Young Ones' landlord. His other family members look just like him.
  • Arms Dealer: Reggie Balowski is and international arms dealer and scrap merchant who Mike tries to sell the bomb to.
  • Ax-Crazy: Jerzei becomes this after drinking Vyvyan's Psycho Serum.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: His characters are possibly the biggest ones on the show. And that's saying a lot. Billy Balowski takes this Up to Eleven.
  • Expy: The police recruiter from "Cash" is an in-universe one for Benito Mussolini. It's given him a crappy life that's Played for Laughs.
  • Fake Nationality: Jerzei claims to be Russian, but he breaks character and tells the audience that he "Only does it to appear more sophisticated."
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: In "Nasty" in one of his Breaking the Fourth Wall moments he mentions the other actors hate him. We get a Cutaway showing the four actors Adam Westing themselves saying that they do hate him (Christopher Ryan doesn't even remember who he is).
  • Our Vampires Are Different: "Nasty" features a South American Vampire Driving Instructor who turns out to be "Harry the Bastard" in disguise.
  • Overly Long Name: In "Oil", the leader of the band Rick hires to play a concert says his name is Alexei Yuri Gagarin Siege of Stalingrad Glorious Five-Year Plan Sputnik Pravda Moscow Dynamo Back Four Balowski. It seems his dad was "a bit of a Communist".
  • Talkative Loon: The Balowski's in a nutshell.
  • Throw It In: A lot of his material is ad-libbed.
  • You All Look Familiar: An entire family played by one guy. Lampshaded once or twice.

SPG:

Voiced by: Rik Mayall
Aka 'Special Patrol Group' (or 'Cliff Richard' just to get on Rick's nerves), he is Vyvyan's destructive, Scottish-accented pet hamster, whom he has a volatile love-hate relationship with.