Our smooth-talking, (usually) unflappable radio announcer. A Night Vale local who's dating new arrival Carlos the scientist, Cecil has a voice like butter and remains calm in the face of many of the town's dangerous peculiarities—but is reduced to fanboyish glee over Carlos' perfect hair and internet cat videos.
Adorkable: Cecil gets charmingly dorky off-script, particularly when gushing about Carlos and cute animals. It's hard not to "d'aww" at his utter despair at not managing to be suave when talking to his crush, as well as his gleeful adoration of both Khoshekh and Internet cat videos.
Fifteen-year-old Cecil is adorkable as well, with his slight lisp, breaking voice, and undying enthusiasm for radio.
Creepy Good: Cecil seems genially disposed towards most people, but is capable of genuine creepiness—though it seems to be part and parcel of the creepy atmosphere of Night Vale itself.
The Danza: Cecil Palmer is voiced by actor Cecil Baldwin. Perhaps due to the podcast's somewhat ambiguous credits (Baldwin is credited as "The Voice of Night Vale"), many fans assumed the character's last name was also "Baldwin", until it was finally revealed in Episode 33, "Cassette".
Disproportionate Retribution: When Telly the Barber cuts off Carlos's beloved (by Cecil) hair, Cecil reads out detailed information about Telly's physical attributes and location, apparently hoping a lynch mob would form over the hot new guy's hair being cut.
First-Person Smartass: Though a very genial person overall, Cecil will occasionally come out with slightly catty or over-honest commentary on residents' appearance, behavior, personality, or intelligence. Despite his rose-coloured glasses, he has even gone so far as to be critical of Carlos on several occasions too.
"Carlos did want me to ask if anyone has ever actually seen the Night Vale clock tower. I told him that it was invisible, and always teleporting, and that's why he can't ever see it. I mean, that seems sort of obvious. Okay. That was unfair. Carlos is a very smart man, and I shouldn't roll my eyes just because he doesn't comprehend basic architecture." — Episode 16, "The Phone Call"
Gadgeteer Genius: In episode 36 Cecil manages to successfully broadcast part of his show by pirating the station's signal from the roof. He wires his phone into the soundboard and hacks the station's auxiliary power to run the transmitter after Strexcorp shuts down his usual recording studio to take him off the air. He learned how to do this as a Boy Scout.
Intrepid Reporter: Seems to consider himself this to some degree, although Intrepid Gossip might be more accurate.
"Look. I've probably said too much. I can see down the hall that an envelope just came flying out. I pray it's not another HR re-training session in the dark box. Uuuuugh... but what can I say? I'm a reporter at heart! I can't not report." — Episode 3, "Station Management"
Kent Brockman News: Cecil is devoted to the cause of giving out community updates and warnings. He also gushes about Carlos, berates Steve Carlsberg, and shares details about the station cat's adorable kittens in between stories.
Laser-Guided Amnesia: "Cassette" reveals that Cecil's memories are highly unreliable, perhaps even deliberately altered. Cecil did not take the revelation well, and his decision to destroy the tape suggests that he's still in denial.
Mysterious Past: Even after "Cassette", we still know very little about Cecil's life before he became an intern at the station, what happened with the mirrors, or what became of his brother.
OOC Is Serious Business: He's usually quite unflappable. Which makes genuine fear in his voice pretty damn disturbing.
Oddball Doppelganger/Evil Twin: To/with Kevin from Desert Bluffs. Although there are notable differences between the two, unlike the other doubles, which are so similar that Cecil literally cannot tell apart from their originals. Cecil's voice, for one, is very different from Kevin's, as are his political leanings, general demeanor, and opinions towards the counterparts of recurring characters such as Steve Carlsberg.
The Narrator: Almost all of the stories occur in third-person-limited narration via Cecil's newscast, although he's Lemony enough to occasionally break into second-person audience address or first-person editorial. Cecil is usually reporting things that happened elsewhere or only a bystander to a story with a Non P.O.V. Protagonist, but on rare occasions he is the protagonist of the storyline.
The Non Descript: Night Vale writers Joseph Fink and Jeffery Cranor have both confirmed that Cecil's appearance will remain ambiguous. The best description we have of Cecil comes via Kevin narrating a photograph. He describes Cecil as being a man, not fat and not thin, not tall and not short, with eyes like Kevin's, a nose like Kevin's, and hair like Kevin's. He also wears a tie, and has a hard to describe Un-Smile. Occasionally Cecil will offhandedly describe other parts of himself, such as his shoes or hand, but mostly just in the process of describing what he's doing. One episode also mentions him wearing his best tunic and furry pants as a date outfit.
The Philosopher: Fond of lacing his monologues with poetic language and endearingly loopy metaphors, not to mention frequent bouts of existentialism. Verges on Fauxlosophic Narration at times, but Cecil's brand of bizarre insightfulness usually prevails.
Straight Gay: Cecil has only ever mentioned male love interests in the show and Cranor and Fink haveNight Vale writers Joseph Fink and Jeffery Cranor have both confirmed Cecil's sexuality as gay. While Cecil can get a little Valley Girl when off-script (particularly when gushing about Carlos), he is otherwise very attached to his idea of professionalism and doesn't go for camp.
Obviously, there is his intense and long-standing love for Carlos. This is especially notable under the Straight Gay trope because from the get-go Cecil speaks about his same-sex crush without any reservation or sense of it being abnormal or unexpected. To all appearances the rest of Night Vale reacts to his relationship the same way, most notably Old Woman Josie, with whom Cecil happily chats about his "new boyfriend".
At some point Cecil may have had a romantic relationship with Scoutmaster Earl Harlan (his childhood best friend). Earl was certainly still carrying a flame for Cecil, grabbing his arm during an interview at the station and sadly telling him that they "could have had something" and to always remember it, before he is dragged away by strange mute children. It's unclear whether Cecil reciprocated this affection but he does say that he often thinks about his last moments with Earl and what was said.
Also from Europe, he waxes poetic about "the beautiful face of that young man from Luftnarp with his gaping mouth and ashy skin, last seen already half turned away as you boarded the bus, already turning towards a future without you in it, where this thing between you that seemed so possible now already and forever never was."
Played straight insofar as Cecil is so obsessed with Carlos that he shouts his crush to the entire town on a regular basis, gets disturbingly overprotective of Carlos' hair, and prior to Episode 25 misreads every meeting as a potential date.
However, the series also averts some of the worst implications of the trope because Cecil does respect Carlos' right not to reciprocate his affection (noting, in Episode 16, that "sometimes people just don't call, and that's okay"), and Carlos is in fact the one who initiates each new step in their relationship: it's Carlos who asks Cecil out, Carlos who makes the first physical contact (by putting his hand on Cecil's knee), and Carlos who kisses Cecil at the end of their first date.
Tomato in the Mirror: In episode "Cassette", the cognitive dissonance that Cecil displays when attempting to reconcile his clearly altered memories with the past he heard in the cassette recordings, coupled with the revelation that the mirrors in the radio station bathroom are always covered, hint at this.
Tranquil Fury: Cecil does not shout or get loud when he's angry, to disconcerting effect.
Unreliable Narrator: He has eccentric news judgment even at the best of times, lets his biases override his professional detachment, gets much of his narration written for him by businesses and by his higher-ups, and falls victim to the occasional mind-control entity. His memories aren't reliable either; that probably doesn't help matters any.
The Voice: Well, he's a radio host, so not surprisingly he has a deep, smooth, dynamic voice with precise and proper diction.
Vocal Evolution: Initially Cecil is fairly deadpan, but over the course of the series becomes a little less formal and more obviously emotional. Cecil in "Pilot" is a much less rounded and developed character than Cecil in "Whispering Forest". This is even more obvious when you compare the opening lines from the pilot to their Ironic Echo from "One Year Later". The words are nearly identical but the reading is much warmer and more dynamic in the later episode.
The Woobie: Cecil is often charmingly earnest, almost naïve, and a heart-on-his-sleeve romantic, giving him a surprising vulnerability despite his role as Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant. Because of this, Cecil's distress, terror, or helplessness tugs hard on the audience's heartstrings. This is most noticeable in the episodes "Station Management", where he cowers under his desk in terror while his nightmarish boss(es?) hunt him down in the station, "Sandstorm Part B", where he is clearly distressed after ending up ankle-deep in blood in a horrible parallel version of his radio station, "One Year Later", when he breaks down on air over Carlos' misadventure, and in "Cassette", where his adorkable teenaged self is abandoned by his family and then, confused and alone, attacked in his empty house).
Yandere: He's quite harmless and sweet toward Carlos, but his adoration of Carlos' hair drives him to abuse his position to threaten Telly the barber, who dared give Carlos a haircut.
Carlos the Scientist
Voiced by Jeffrey Cranor (episode 16 only. His voice Actor has changed as of the live event "Condos.")
Carlos is the newest addition to Night Vale's populace. He came to town to study its particular brand of weird science, and spends much of his time being baffled by little things like how time doesn't run right here. Or how all the clocks contain only grey matter. Or how the local radio host waxes lyrical about his hair...
Adorkable: When he calls to ask Cecil out, the first thing he says is "I am calling for personal reasons." He's also described as stammering when trying to describe the tremor activity he's recorded under the city to the radio show.
Anti-Magic / No Sell : Carlos is immune to the otherwise citywide torpor in episode 35, "Lazy Day", and to the buzzing shadow-energy in episode 27, "First Date". It's unclear why—particularly since Cecil, who normally is susceptible to citywide effects (he's affected by, among others, the creeping fear in episode 3, "Station Management", and the Glow Cloud's mind control in episode 2, "The Glow Cloud"), is unaffected by the shadow-energy when he's with Carlos in "First Date".
For Science!: Carlos's motivation, although unusually for this trope he seems to do more good than harm.
Going Native: Seems to be gradually happening. In episode 4, "PTA Meeting", Carlos tries to disrupt a town meeting to warn the citizens about some kind of presumably impending doom, then flees, screaming that "There is no more time!". By episode 35, "Lazy Day", he's taking advantage of gravity slacking off to clean his gutters.
Hot Scientist: According to Cecil (and Old Woman Josie), at least. Carlos' physical appearance is discussed in much more detail than most other characters, but often in such flowery prose that it's hard to discern concrete details. We know for certain that he has black hair with a premature touch of grey at the temples, dark skin, straight white teeth, and a square jaw.
Informed Attractiveness: Cecil can't bring Carlos up without telling us that he's beautiful and perfect, and of course we only have his descriptions to go on. Cecil also describes Carlos's voice as "caramel" and "oaky". He shares some voice mail messages from Carlos in Episode 16, allowing listeners to form their own opinions. Old Woman Josie is the only other Night Vale resident who comments on Carlos' attractiveness, also describing him as "perfect" and "smelling like lavender chewing gum".
Married to the Job: Carlos seems to be intensely focused on his scientific work, unusually so, and at first refuses to talk to Cecil about anything else. It's not initially clear if Carlos is just socially awkward and bad at picking up social cues, or if he really is just that obsessed with science, or if it's some combination of the two.
In Episode 27, when the two finally do begin a relationship, Carlos still seems distractedly fixated on science. Even his first personal phone call to Cecil also involves reporting a threat approaching town, he wears a labcoat and discusses science over dinner on their first date, after dinner he takes Cecil to experiment on the trees in the park, and their date ends with Carlos heading to his lab to work on returning the townspeople to normal instead of inviting Cecil up to his apartment.
As of Episode 31, someone (heavily implied to be Cecil himself) has pointed out to Carlos that he's been spending too much time with his science and not enough with his boyfriend. Carlos does not become involved in the episode's plot until the very end, as he's been cooking dinner for Cecil to make up for his previous inattentive behavior.
The live episode "Condos" is apparently set in the indefinite future. In it, Cecil remarks that Carlos is slowly learning social graces like calling to cancel dates if he winds up working late.
Monster of the Week: It's heavily implied, particularly during Episodes 25, 27, and 29, that Carlos spends his time thwarting these, or at least trying to help people understand what is happening.
Omnidisciplinary Scientist: To date, Carlos has mentioned work that touches on theoretical and applied physics, mechanical and electrical engineering, organic and inorganic chemistry, plant/animal/microbial biology, ecology, medicine, geology, and seismology. Fanon usually attributes this either to Carlos being only one member of a team of scientists from different disciplines who help each other with their research projects (Episode 30 confirms that there are still other members of Carlos' team in Night Vale with him), or to simply having to develop skills outside his original field of study as the only person in Night Vale who can think in a straight line.
Only Sane Man: He is the only person, aside from the audience (and perhaps Steve Carlsberg), to whom Night Vale is in any way weird. By Episode 25, Carlos has clearly become more accustomed to random and inexplicable things happening, although he still has trouble with the way Night Vale residents respond to such events. He seems to make peace with that as well, after his near-death experience later in the episode.
Traumatic Haircut: Traumatic for Cecil, at least... to the point where he ran the barber who gave it out of town to wander the desert in delirium.
The Unseen: Until the voice message in Episode 16, we only ever heard Carlos filtered through Cecil's narration.
Voiced by Kevin Free
Cecil's counterpart in Desert Bluffs. Like Cecil, he is a radio host—but he is somewhat more upbeat than Cecil and almost unnervingly cheerful.
Possibly subverted. Kevin claims that Cecil has eyes like his, and Cecil is Creepy Good. Although it's not clear if they're just similar and not the same.
The Danza: Kevin is voiced by actor and playwright, Kevin R. Free.
Dissonant Serenity: He's constantly cheerful and downright peppy, and treats Desert Bluffs like a paradise, or at the very least a happy town where nothing is wrong. And then Cecil shows up. It's one of the few times we hear unmasked terror in his voice.
"There is so much blood, it is seeping into my shoes..."
Another Dimension: The house that does not exist appears to have transported her to a plane where Night Vale either doesn't exist or is invisible and intangible to her, since she walks straight through Carlos as he takes readings on the house.
Mauve Shirt: The only intern to survive being sent to certain doom. As of Episode 30, she is still alive and calling Cecil with reports, although stranded in a featureless desert on another plane of existence.
Plucky Girl: She continues to report on occurrences within the Dog Park despite the fact she's nearly starving. She manages to escape from the Dog Park, but ends up what appears to be another dimension. Even so, she's prepared to explore the featureless desert where she finds herself and report back.
The Blank: When they say "faceless", they mean literally faceless. Hiram is deeply unsettled trying to figure out how she can talk and eat.
Dark Is Not Evil: She's creepy and at one point lights your(?) fridge on fire because it was "upsetting her", but she's genuinely polite and affable, if not odd (though that should be obvious, since she's a Night Vale resident). The whole reason she wants to run for mayor is to help Night Vale.
Hollywood Old: The faceless old woman who lives in your home is played by 25-year-old Mara Wilson, and sounds quite youthful. She also seems very tech-savvy for an old lady.
The five headed dragon who was wanted for insurance fraud, escaped from an arrest attempt by breathing fire, and was a fugitive from justice until caught and jailed. He has a blog (which Cecil is a fan of) and is running for mayor of Night Vale.
Multiple Head Case: He has five heads of different colors. His purple head breathed fire at the arresting officer and it and the green head interrupt the interview with him. In said interview, it's also revealed that one of his heads has a Southern accent, his green head is British and his purple head is a Nervous Wreck.
Refuge in Audacity: Hiram, who is literally an 18 foot long, 5-headed dragon, unsuccessfully attempts this when he's pulled over for speeding and shows the officer a driver's license for a 5'8" man named Frank Chen.
Racist Grandma: Possibly subverted, in that she goes out of her way to mention that one of the angels is black, but also says, when selling the lightbulb that one of them touched, that it was the black one, in case that "sweetens the pot". As noted under "The Angels", she could've also meant that the angel was literally black, as in, pitch black like a shadow or the night.
But Now I Must Go/Put on a Bus: As of episode 32, "Yellow Helicopters", they have left Night Vale for unknown reasons. Old Woman Josie is saddened by this.
Our Angels Are Different: Actually, we're not sure how different they are, since no one is allowed to know about them or talk about them, and their existence is denied by the City Council. Yet, they manage to show up on multiple occasions, and several are staying at an old woman's house.
Token Minority: One of the angels is black. Although angels and Night Vale, so this could mean either "looks like a human with African ancestry" or "is the same color as the yawning void".
The Unsmile: The Angels are described as having permanent smiles. Interestingly, Strexcorp continually encourages people to believe in a smiling God.
The Apache Tracker
A white guy in a "cartoonishly offensive Native American headdress" who claims to have supernatural tracking abilities.
Color Me Black: He physically becomes Native American due to some sort of supernatural shenanigans. He doesn't seem to learn any kind of lesson from it, though, as he continues to wear a plastic headdress everywhere. Cecil continues to call him out for being a racist asshole.
Noble Bigot: Since he nobly laid down his life to rescue Carlos from the tiny, armed people from under the bowling alley, the town dedicates a statue to him. Since he's a racist embarrassment, they quietly bury it out in the desert.
Redemption Equals Death: At least in Cecil's opinion, he redeems himself by rescuing Carlos at the cost of his own life. He's still a racist embarrassment, though.
Reality Warper: They're implied to be this when Cecil tries to interview one.
The Man in the Tan Jacket
A mysterious man whom no one can describe, who comes to town one day. No one remembers his face, although they notice his tan jacket and deerskin briefcase full of flies.
Creepy Good: He's heavily implied to be a good guy, especially since he allies himself with Dana, who says he's actually "quite nice" and "a pretty cool guy, if you get to know him." But his mysteriousness, the fact no one can remember his face, and the fact he carries a deerskin briefcase full of flies are awfully creepy.
Laser-Guided Amnesia: He seems to inflict this on Carlos in Episode 16, as Carlos subsequently has no idea what he was nervous about or who stopped by.
Suspect Is Hatless: He's stated at one point to be about five or six foot something, probably human-looking, with hair. Aside from the jacket and briefcase, that's about all the description anyone can muster.
Khoshekh the Cat
A male cat who was found floating next to the sink in the men's bathroom at the Night Vale Community Radio Station.
Adorable Abomination: At first glance, just the adorable half. But at one point, Cecil plays a recording of Khoshekh's meow, which is a terrible screech.
Cats Are Magic: Khoshekh can float. Not that that's unusual, for Night Vale.
Cute Kitten: Cecil and most of the radio staffers seem to think so.
Floating in a Bubble: Although no bubble is ever mentioned, Khoshekh is unable to leave the men's bathroom, and stuck floating next to the sink.
A Night Vale denizen whose various attempts at community activism are summarily dismissed by Cecil.
Butt Monkey: Cecil reserves a special level of ire for Steve, matched only by his hatred of Desert Bluffs and Telly the barber.
Only Sane Man: Possibly. At the least, he pointed out that building a drawbridge in a town with no waterways was a questionable use of money.
Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: For Cecil. There's been no indication so far of what caused Cecil's grudge or whether Steve reciprocates it.
The Glow Cloud
A whistling, glowing cloud of shifting colors which appeared over Night Vale.
Ambiguously Evil: During its first appearance in town the Glow Cloud rained animal carcasses, and it possesses people to make pronouncements like, "All hail. Kneel for the Glow Cloud. Sacrifice! Pestilence! Sores. All hail the Glow Cloud," but on the other hand, the Cloud has decided that Night Vale would be a good place to raise its child and joined the local school board.
Gadgeteer Genius: While they were in Boy Scouts together as children, trying to earn their 'Subversive Radio Show Host' badges, Earl taught Cecil how to jerry-rig an impromptu broadcasting platform by wiring a phone into a soundboard and wiring the soundboard into a radio tower running on auxiliary power.
Romantic Runner-Up: Cecil is hopelessly in love with Carlos, and has been since he first came to town. It's unclear whether Earl realizes this or not, but during an interview with Cecil at the station, he grabs his arm and sadly tells him in a way that sounds very much like a man giving up on an unrequited love ("We could have had something Cecil, always remember that"), before dejectedly leaving the studio. Earl is later dragged away by strange mute children and Cecil goes on to enter into a relationship with Carlos.
Unlucky Childhood Friend: Cecil confirms that they were close childhood friends in Episode 36, but gives no indication they ever had a romantic relationship, despite Earl's apparent interest.
Cloudcuckoolander: Less of the "cute, quirky space case" type and more of the "dangerously insane psychopath" type.
Demonic Possession: Implied by Winchell's statement at a press conference in Episode 17, "Valentine":
"The Mayor smells of olives. The Mayor burns like a match tip and casts her flickering light on the darkened path of fate. The Mayor does not have keys to the Stone Door; the Mayor is the Stone Door and all that quivers behind it. The Mayor is forgiving. The Mayor makes no mistakes. The Mayor clutches tightly to your lungs, all six arms embracing your savory breaths. Let the Mayor out. Let the Mayor out. Let the Mayor out."
Fantastic Racism: Cecil accuses her of this when she insists that Hiram McDaniels cannot be a good mayoral candidate because he's a dragon.
"She has been controversial, to be sure, but she is our leader, our parent. She cares very much about us, Night Vale, and when she jails or tortures someone without just cause or due process, it is because she loves this town so much." — Episode 24, “The Mayor”
Stock Superpowers: According to staffer Trish Hidge, "Mayors can disappear. It's not a big deal. She disappears all the time. She can fly and can turn into a horse too. It's perfectly within her rights as Mayor to turn invisible, to disintegrate in a thin cloud of imperceptible existence." In Episode 18, "The Traveler," Winchell ends a press conference by disappearing in a puff of green smoke.
Ultimate Authority Mayor: Averted when Winchell announced in "The Mayor" that she would be leaving office by year's end. It is heavily implied that this is not an entirely voluntary decision on her part.
Put on a Bus: Possibly also a Bus Crash; he was last seen in the empty house, when Dana saw him standing there with a worried expression. Cecil later reported that no one has seen him since, and that anyone who does should report it immediately.
The winner of the Night Vale Library summer reading program.
Battle Trophy: She wears the severed hand of a librarian as a necklace.
Little Miss Badass: Part of her victory also involved decapitating the head librarian and keeping the skull as a trophy.
As of Episode 35, she's raising a child militia and seems to be a brutal leader at that. She's also wearing a librarian's hand around her neck. Oh, and that militia? She's forming it to take on Strexcorp!
Rebel Leader: She's leading the resistance against Strexcorp.
The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: Ruthless in her battle tactics, probably out of necessity given who she is fighting against. Cecil hopes Strexcorp find her. Actually, he hopes SHE finds THEM first.
Mega Corp.: Big enough to own an entire town and then buy Night Vale Community Radio to boot.
Not So Stepford Smiler: The subject of Tamika Flynn causes them MUCH stress. You can almost hear the twitching as they talk about Tamika
Strexcorp Representative: [We are looking for] one very difficult child...but we mean that in the best possible way. So, please help us find this...this...this child!
Propaganda Machine: Look around you. Strex. Look inside you. Strex. Go to sleep. Strex. Believe in a smiling God. Strex. Strexcorp. It is...everything. They probably bought NVCR to act as one of these in Night Vale.
Would Hurt a Child: One shudders to think what they would do to the 'missing' Tamika Flynn if they ever catch her.
A detached, adult man's hand and school student, born to Tak and Hershel Wallaby.
Body Horror: She is literally an adult male severed hand.