Characters: 3rd Rock from the Sun
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Dr. Dick Solomon
Portrayed by John LithgowHigh Commander of the aliens and as such patriarch of the family, he teaches physics at the local university. He somehow manages to be a condescending genius while also being an idiotic manchild, and has an on-off relationship with his co-worker Mary.
- Ambiguously Jewish: An odd case, in which the Solomons had no ethnicity, but it became apparent that they should have some sort of cultural background. A passing comment leads them to realize that they behave more or less Jewish - and their last name is fitting as well.
- Afraid of Doctors: In the Halloween Episode.
- Brutal Honesty: Most of the time except when he's denying his existence as an alien. The concept of lying was just as foreign to the aliens as emotions and gender were.
- One of the first season episodes focused on Dick discussing the concept of "ass kissing" to the other aliens in regards to a Jerkass professor who is having a party thrown in his honor, and fails to understand why people continue to suck up to him face-to-face yet badmouth him behind his back. Dick's blatant and carefree honesty towards the professor actually causes him to like Dick, so much so that he considers him a friend. When the professor dies at the party, Dick is shocked to learn afterwards that he's expected to deliver the eulogy at the funeral because the professor figured he was the only person who wouldn't lie.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Dick's bizarre, childish behaviour is tolerated at the university because his advanced alien knowledge of physics makes him one of the best in his field (though he's actually really bad as a teacher. Tommy's pointed out that he's had the same students in his class for six years).
- "Family meeting! FAMILY MEETING!" and, less frequently, "You're not family GET OUT!"
- He also had variations on "Oh, my GOD! I'm GORGEOUS!"
- Also a frustrated shout of "DAMN!"
- Comically Missing the Point: Doesn't understand sarcasm or lying very well. An example would be when Mary compared his family to The Addams Family. Dick assumed she meant second president John Adams. When she states that wasn't what she meant, Dick thinks she meant John Quincy Adams and becomes enraged that she would compare his family to "that freakshow".
- Did I Just Say That Out Loud?: Once blurted out to his class that Earth would be destroyed by a meteor in 2015.
- Ditzy Genius: On earth, Dick is considered brilliant and he considers himself much smarter than Einstein. He's also an idiotic pompous Man Child who can't even teach a young girl to play hopscotch without turning it into an argument.
- Dogged Nice Guy: To Mary.
- Easily Forgiven: Mary usually tends to forgive Dick after, at worst, several episodes, even after he's embarrassed her, unintentionally insulted her, and cheated on her. Somewhat makes sense considering not only is Dick very well-meaning under all the ego and bumbling, but also since Mary is a bit of a Broken Bird.
- Ethical Slut: He has an active sex life with Mary, and is very open to chat about it, but he won't turn down an offer from someone else if the opportunity arises.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Choleric with a dash of Sanguine.
- Gag Penis: Dick poses for a nude painting class in one episode. Apparently, he really lives up to his name.Harry: I'm gonna need more pink.
- I Can't Believe It's Not Heroin: Got addicted to collecting stuffed animals called "Fuzzy Buddies". His friends and family staged an intervention when it reached the point that he had so many he was keeping them in the fridge.
- Insufferable Genius: Absolutely this. It's only undone when his lack of understanding of Earth culture becomes apparent.
- Jerkass Has a Point: On more than one occasion.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
- He's selfish, arrogant, condescending, and a complete drama queen, but he truly does love Mary and comes to care for the other aliens as family members rather than just crewmates. Worth noting that for better or worse, it's uncertain how much of this is due to his inexperience coping with human emotions.
- This is especially exemplified in the episode where he protects his family by telling Kathy Bates' character that he is the only alien in the group and comes very close to having his head cut open as a result, which is perhaps the first moment when he doesn't consider himself to be the most important thing in life, despite his frequent declarations to that effect.
- Large Ham: He has three voices — shouting, talking at normal volume but being overly emotional, and shouting while being overly emotional.
- Like Brother and Sister: With Sally.
- Man Child
- Meaningful Name: Dick is both a self-absorbed asshole and very ... well-endowed. Fits both definitions of "dick" pretty well, no?
- Mundane Made Awesome: With Physics.
- Parental Favoritism: When it's revealed the Big Giant Head is Dick's father Sally believes Dick got high commander because "Daddy was playing favorites."
- Professional Butt-Kisser: Admits he became High Commander by doing this.
- Sadist Teacher: While handing out a test to his class, he openly told them that none of them would be able to solve question four, which made up half the test. In one particular moment of frustration, he ordered them to write letters to their parents apologizing for wasting their money, which they had to bring to class with envelopes and stamps.
- Single-Target Sexuality: A subversion. Mary is the only woman with whom Dick considers himself to be truly in love with, and spends the length of the entire show either with her or trying to get back together with her. But he's had other relationships, including a one-night stand with the mother of one of his students.
- Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Had three, the only frequent one being Vincent Strudwick. The other two were fellow alien Liam Neeson, and grumpy lunch lady Lucy.
- Small Name, Big Ego: "OH MY GOD! I'M GORGEOUS!"
- Techno Babble: Coupled with the above to intimidate a criminal into confessing a crime. Said babble had nothing to do with the criminal, and was just done to freak the guy out.
- What Does She See in Him?: The other aliens hate Mary and don't understand what Dick's obsession with her is. As the series progressed their opinion of her as a person softened, but they still hated the idea of the two of them together.
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Though as is often the case, he becomes more sympathetic as the show goes on. It's very hard not to feel bad for him in situations where his true identity thwarts his relationship with Mary (such as in the beginning of the third season when his engagement to Mary is destroyed because the Big Giant Head assigns him a 'wife'), which shows there is some real sympathy for him from the audience.
Portrayed by Kristen JohnstonSecurity Officer and Dick's "sister", she comes to realize that by Earth standards, she's gorgeous, and learns to use her looks to get what she wants and use men as she pleases. However, she's still Security Officer and is easily the most Badass member of the family when required.
- Action Girl: Although in reality the alien in Sally isn't a girl as much as a shivering purple tube, even in Sally's female body that tube is the strongest and most brazen member of the cast.
- Afraid of Blood: Ironically
- Alliterative Name: Two S's.
- Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: While Dick, Sally, and Harry manage to humiliate Tommy on countless occasions, Sally's overbearing manner makes her the worst offender.
- Ax-Crazy: Borders on this at times, such as when her role as the security officer would require having to kill someone deemed a threat to the mission. Her solution to stop an auditor from discovering they're aliens was to snap his neck, and then the necks of everyone they encounter on the way home.
- Character Development: Originally rather tomboyish and hated her femininity. By the later episodes, she became a more feminine (but not girly) character, letting out her softer side.
- The Chick
- Everyone Loves Blondes
- Femme Fatale
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Melancholic with a dash of Choleric.
- Gender Bender: Sally Solomon wasn't female before coming to Earth (whether the aliens have genders, and what they're like is not elaborated on), and initially wasn't pleased at the change.
- Hello, Nurse!
- I Can't Believe It's Not Heroin: Was once addicted to buying shoes. Tommy commented that she had more shoes "than Italy". It reached a point that she was sleeping on shoe boxes.
- I Can't Dance
- I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!: Gradually learns how to use this.
Sally (demonstrating): "They seem to have more power when I squeeze them together. I'm not wrong am I?"
- Although even in the very first episode...
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: In the last two episodes she turns Don into an effective police officer and gives him a backbone before leaving Earth, because she couldn't stand the thought of him spending the rest of his life as a muffin making coward.
- The Lad-ette
- Lethal Chef
- Like Brother and Sister: With Dick.
- Mama Bear: Sally occasionally treats Tommy this way, despite: A) being younger than him, technically; and B) his embarrassment.
- Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: She's aggressive, domineering and obsessive, which drives a few men away before she meets Don. Her reaction to being jilted for the first time was to break down her beau's door—still clutching her phone receiver and wearing last night's dress—and inquire about her date's phone service before breaking his arm.
- She's Got Legs
- Statuesque Stunner
- Testosterone Poisoning: Which is odd when coming from a human female.
- Their First Time: People are shocked to learn that someone of Sally's looks only recently lost her virginity to someone like Don.
- Tsundere: Type B towards Don.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Girlfriend: To Don, but it's played with — Sally considers Don sexy (though it may just be the uniform and authority), and in one episode where she comes to obsess over her flaws, she convinces herself she's ugly and that Don is too good for her.
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Not as much as Dick, but she still qualifies.
Portrayed by French StewartDick's "brother", Harry is the "transmitter" with which they contact the Home Planet. Otherwise though, his role is deliberately ambiguous as even the narration in the early episodes states — "they had an extra seat".
- The Casanova: He's easily the oddest of the aliens, yet he has had the most relationships with gorgeous women who could easily do better than him. His romantic interests have included Vicki Dubcek, Nina, an alien played by Cindy Crawford, a body builder policewoman named Janice, and in the last episode we find out that for the entire show he'd secretly been with Mrs. Dubcek.
- "LET'S GO!" and "Incoming message from The Big Giant Head!"/"Transmission ending in three... two... one.. (sneezes)"
- Early on he also had "Prepare to be dazzled!"
- Characterization Marches On: When the series began, Harry was just as odd, only quiet and a little more deadpan. As the seasons went on he started becoming louder, and more like the Wacky Guy we know and love.
- Chick Magnet
- Cloudcuckoolander: By leaps and bounds, the worst of the four.
- Consolation Prize: Harry was given a free tote bag along with the body he selected, implying that it's an unpopular model.
- The Ditz
- Eyes Always Shut
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Sanguine with a dash of Phlegmatic.
- Genius Ditz: He's not very bright in terms of book smarts, but he's the most artistically gifted and has surprisingly no trouble dating women way out of his league. He also cracked the bar code.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: He told Vicki that she should stay with the Big Giant Head because he was sincerely trying to do right by her and Eric Travis, and he didn't want Dick to get punished for disobeying orders.
- Kavorka Man: If he opens his eyes fully, he suddenly becomes a chick magnet.
- Large Ham: Moreso as the series progresses.
- Likes Older Women: Has been with Mrs. Dubcek.
- Mad Artist: In the sense that he's an excellent painter but he's very weird, although that doesn't channel into his medium. He's literally just an artist who's kooky.
- Nice Guy: While his stupidity sometimes leads to unintentional Jerk Ass moments, Harry is overall well-meaning and certainly the nicest of the aliens.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: French Stewart was born with a nerve condition which causes him to appear half-asleep all of the time. He exaggerates the squinty look as Harry.
- Too Dumb to Live: One of the earliest episodes of the series involves him taste-testing various house hold liquids to find out which are toxic. Guess what, he finds out, and asks the family to call poison control because the left side of his body is numb.
- Wacky Guy
Portrayed by Joseph Gordon-LevittInformation Officer and Dick's "son". He's actually the oldest and perhaps smartest of the crew, and much of his character comes from being frustrated with the conflicts between his literal age and his teenaged body, such as why he can't date a middle-aged woman and hanging out at a senior's home where he fits right in.
- The Berserker: A rare comedic variation.
- Butt Monkey
- Compulsory School Age
- Deadpan Snarker: Tommy's so sharp he even does this without meaning to. In the final reflections on the roof at the end of most episodes, he tends to have the most cutting commentary.Sally: While we're on the subject of bodies, why is mine so much higher maintenance than yours?Tommy: I think the economy depends on it.
- Did Not Get the Girl: Actually, he did get the girl. But Sally misconstrued Alissa's thoughts on graduation to her wanting to break up with Tommy, so she told her that he was breaking up with her. He had two chances to get back with Alissa afterwards, and blew both of them. The first, Tommy wound up telling everyone at graduation in his valedictorian speech about how they made out on her parents bed. The second, he tried to sacrifice Alissa to save himself when it appeared that there was some maniac brandishing a power tool in Alissa's backyard. It was Sally and Harry pulling some hair-brained scheme to push the two back together again.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: He's a lot more competent in his role as information officer, but his efforts are frequently overlooked.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Phlegmatic with a dash of Melancholic.
- Grumpy Old Man: Tommy's actually the oldest of the aliens, and quite pissed that he's in a young body subjected to raging hormones.
- Important Haircut: In season four he finally gets his hair cut. This is around the time Joseph Gorden-Levitt started to get older.
- Not So Above It All: Just because he's saner than everyone else doesn't mean he's exempt from acting like an idiot. In fact, while he's perhaps the most level-headed of the four, his teenage hormones constantly get him into trouble over the course of the series.
- Older Than They Look
- Only Sane Man: Among a quartet made up of an egotistical Man Child, a gorgeous and aggressive Lad-ette, and a Too Dumb to Live Kavorka Man.
- Really 700 Years Old
- The Snark Knight
- Teen Genius: Subverted. He has been given the body of a teenager, but he's actually the oldest (and definitely the smartest) of the crew.
- Traumatic Haircut: Stated that he actually missed his longer hair.
Dr. Mary Albright
Portrayed by Jane CurtinDick's (initially reluctant) Earthling love interest and an anthropology professor at his college. As much as she finds Dick insufferable and his family bizarre, she does come to care for them. Her work in anthropology often makes her the perfect foil for Dick, who is befuddled by Earth customs and society.
- Broken Bird: Her alternate universe counterpart "Kiki" is this, a bitter and cold woman who doesn't believe in love anymore. Mary has the potential to be this, but she actually handles all of the stress of a horrible childhood and a somewhat crappy career better than you would expect.
- Butt Monkey: In later seasons.
- Child Hater:Mary: Dick, I can't have children.
Dick: Oh Mary, why not?
Mary: Because I hate them.
- Christmas Cake
- Dating What Daddy Hates: Averted. Her parents both think Dick is the one for Mary. Mary's not sure how to feel about that. On Dick's part, he loathes the two for how they treated Mary when she was little, although he seems to think her dad is the Lesser of Two Evils while being simultaneously scared and disgusted of her mom.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: She found her thesis in the bottom of box labelled "Sugar Puffs."
- Dysfunctional Family: Her parents both had affairs while she was growing up (including one that draws doubt to Mary's paternity). She's the eldest of three children, all twisted in their own ways. Her brother Roy sells aluminum siding and tells women he was abducted by aliens as an attempt to get laid. Her sister Renata is an affected, wealthy woman who has a personal vendetta against Mary and does everything in her power to destroy Mary's life (including trying to steal Dick). Their whole family seems fond of alcohol, and Mary has apparently followed in her mother's footsteps to become a borderline Lady Drunk.
- First Name Basis/Last Name Basis: Dick initially calls her "Dr. Albright", but permanently switches to "Mary" after they hook up. The other aliens refer to her as just "Albright". Nina and Vicki call her "Dr. Albright" while the other professors call her "Mary".
- Formerly Fat: When she was a child.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Melancholic
- Freudian Excuse: Her parents dumped their emotional baggage on her when she was young. To a lesser extent, so did her brother Roy when he used her as The Scapegoat when their parents found his Playboys. Mary spent two years in therapy because she covered for him.
- Good Bad Girl: In her younger days.
- Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Her parents were emotionally abusive, and this is played for laughs.
- I Was Quite a Looker
- Lady Drunk: Borders on this. She's known at the local supermarket as the "White Zinfandel Lady".
- Actually came in handy, as this rendered her immune to the drugged wine given to her by Charlotte from "Alien Hunter". Of course, it didn't help when she knocked Mary out with the gnome.7
- Ms. Exposition: Often gets the job of explaining social conventions to Dick.
- My Beloved Smother: Her mom's a complete bitch.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Had this moment when she realized she had sex with Dick while locked in the school library, under intoxication. This was during one of their "break up" periods.
- Not That Kind of Doctor: Not matter how many times Mary has to explain it, Vicki never gets that Mary's an anthropology professor.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Once compared herself to Abraham Lincoln in a speech to her colleagues. And, in Nina's words, "he did not come out favorably".
- Weirdness Magnet: Managed to have not one, but two relationships with two different alien beings.
- What Does She See in Him?: Her relationship with Dick.
- Your Cheating Heart: Played with. In one episode she admits in a drunken stupor that years before she met Dick she once slept with Dr. Strudwick. Mary explains that when she did Strudwick had been separated from his wife, but Mary didn't know at the time it was only a trial separation. Dick is more outraged at the notion she slept with Strudwick of all people, not that he was married, and is more concerned with getting even with him than with Mary.
Promotion To Opening Titles In Season 3
Promoted To Opening Titles In Season Three
Portrayed by Simbi KhaliDick and Mary's secretary, she's friends with Mary and often snarks at Dick's ignorance about humanity.
- Deadpan Snarker: Usually at Dick's expense, though sometimes Mary's as well.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Choleric
- Only Sane Man: Whenever dealing with Mary and Dick.
- Pet the Dog: Nina normally seems to hold Dick in contempt (not entirely without reason, it must be said), but there are some moments when she makes it clear that she doesn't actually hate him.
- Shipper on Deck: Sometimes she's portrayed as supporting the Dick/Mary ship, but other times she has a What Does She See in Him? attitude about their relationship.
- Sassy Black Woman
- Sassy Secretary
- Sexy Secretary: One episode involved Dick having romantic fantasies about Nina.
- Surrounded by Idiots: Most of the time you see Nina, she's 100% done with everyone.
Officer Don Orville
Portrayed by Wayne KnightA portly, dim-witted cop with an overblown image of himself as an enforcer of justice. He's Sally's boyfriend and will do anything to please her, including playing up said overblown image to turn her on.
- Bad Cop/Incompetent Cop
- Chivalrous Pervert: Told people that he and Sally had sex tons of times before they actually did. Don took offense when Sally asked if he told anyone after they did, at which he replied "of course not! What kind of heel do you think I am?"
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Phlegmatic
- I Can't Believe a Guy Like You Would Notice Me: Don doesn't understand why a woman looking like Sally would want to be with him, but he ain't complaining. For her part, Sally isn't aware that Don is considered unattractive in Earth terms.
- Kavorka Man
- Only Sane Man
- Ugly Guy, Hot Girlfriend: With Sally.
Mrs. Mamie Dubcek
Portrayed by Elmarie WendelThe Solomons' eccentric landlady.
- Anything That Moves
- Catchphrase: "Lovely (insert word), very nice..."
- Drop-In Character: Justified by her being their landlady
- Ethical Slut: She's a self-proclaimed nymphomaniac and proud of it. As is her daughter Vicki. No one has any problem with this except they're sick of her stories.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Sanguine
- Mrs. Robinson
- Noodle Incident: Her love life.
- In one episode she mentions being tricked into attending an intervention twice.
- Not So Above It All: Inverted. We've seen that she's kooky and very promiscuous, but she's still the Solomons' landlady and doesn't appreciate it when they're late paying rent.
- Really Gets Around
Dr. Judith Draper
Portrayed by Ileen GetzA fellow professor known for her monotone and sarcasm.
- Annoying Laugh
- Ambiguously Gay: In Judith's very first episode, Mary is Mistaken for Gay and Judith responds by sending her a lovely bouquet of flowers with a card Mary refuses to read.
- Butch Lesbian: If she is gay.
- Conspiracy Theorist: One-time occurrence. Once thought the ladies room had a hidden camera and dismantled the ceiling tiles looking for it. Dick, of all people, was weirded out by this.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Imaginary Friend: Mary believes her boyfriend Trent is imaginary.
- Noodle Incident: Entered Mary's office, and the respective episode, finishing a conversation with Mary that ended with her saying "and when they found him, he was completely devoured by woodland creatures."
- The Stoic
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With Mary. With Dick it depends on the episode.
Dr. Vincent Strudwick
Portrayed by Ron WestA doctor that antagonizes Dick later on in the show.
- Ascended Extra
- Beard of Evil
- Sitcom Arch-Nemesis
- Took a Level in Jerkass: He doesn't become Dick's enemy until some time in the 4th season.
Potrayed by Shay AstarTommy's first girlfriend. She became increasingly elitist and hypocritical as the show went on, eventually becoming The Scrappy in some viewers' eyes.
- Characterization Marches On: As the show went on she gradually became more stuck-up and hypocritical, until she finally broke up with Tommy after she admitted that she was cheating on him.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Dumb Blonde: Averted.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Following her break up with Tommy, when he became editor of the school paper he kept telling people that their break-up had left her a wreck and that HE broke up with her. She kept having to remind people to her frustration that the reverse happened, but no one listened.
- Pet the Dog: Wrote a rather scathing review of Alissa's performance in the high school play, but told Tommy (the editor of the school paper at the time) that she would understand if he didn't print it since Alissa was his girlfriend.note
- The Snark Knight
- Straw Feminist:Tommy: Nina, I need a woman's point of view for something. Um, my girlfriend's not speaking to me because I didn't ask her to a dance.
Nina: Mmm. Send her flowers.
Tommy: She once told me that flowers reminded her of the morbid stench of death.
Nina: Okay... well, how about a gift? Maybe a nice makeup kit?
Tommy: She sees makeup as a way for the arrogant misogynists to decorate the women they own and turn them into, you know, like vacuous playthings.
Nina: Oh, I bet you two have a lot of fun.
- Took a Level in Jerkass
Portrayed by Larisa OleynikTommy's second girlfriend.
Portrayed by Jan HooksThe skanky white-trash daughter of Mrs. Dubcek and Harry's on-off girlfriend. She repeatedly fails to understand that Mary is Not That Kind of Doctor and has a Southern accent for some reasonnote . Ultimately, she ended up being Queen of the Universe. Don't ask.
- Chewing the Scenery: Her conversations with Harry will usually begin to sound like they're in a porno. Their first sexual encounter happened on Thanksgiving, on Mrs. Dubcek's kitchen counter and involved Harry wearing a turkey carcass on his head.
- Large Ham: After she becomes the Big Giant Head's wife, but even then she had plenty of moments.
- Lovable Sex Maniac: Most of her personality, really.
- Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: Becomes one as a Compressed Vice in "The Big Giant Head Returns Again". She seems to get over Harry at the end of the episode, but it was her last appearance on the show anyway.
- It's generally implied that Vicki's psychotic behavior stemmed entirely from gigantic frustrations she was having with her husband that had been going on ever since her last appearance.
Big Giant Head
Portrayed by William ShatnerThe aliens' Evil Overlord. The Ghost for most of the series, but he eventually showed up as an Adam Westing Shatner. On Earth, he goes by the alias "Stone Phillips", the name of an NBC reporter at the time of the show's run.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin
- Luke, I Am Your Father: How else could Dick have netted this job?
- Mars Needs Women: Offers to marry Vicki and make her, in her own words, "Queen of the frickin' universe".
- Pointy-Haired Boss
Dr. Liam Neesam
Portrayed by John CleeseAn evil alien way better than Dick who briefly worked at Dick's college as a biology professor.
- Everything's Better with Monkeys: In his second appearance, he came back to Earth with plans to turn everyone into monkeys in order to turn it into an amusement park, "Planet Monkey World". Dick winds up turning Liam into a chimpanzee in order to stop him. Unfortunately, Mary saw the whole thing, and this leads to Dick admitted he's an alien.
- Evil Is Petty: Was originally sent to blow up Earth. Why? We're blocking his home planet's view.