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TonyFormer joint-leader of the Jets, gone straight. Riff's best friend.
- Anti-Hero: While he's the hero, he has a shady past as part of a gang, and commits a murder during the show, even if it's motivated by his best friend's death.
- Expy: Of Romeo.
- The Hero
- Love at First Sight
- Say My Name: "Mariaaaaa!"
- Star-Crossed Lovers: With Maria.
- Token Good Teammate
MariaPuerto Rican ingenue; Bernardo's sister
- Break the Cutie: In just one night her brother is killed by her lover and her lover is killed by her unwanted fiancé.
- Expy: Of Juliet.
- The Ingenue
- Love at First Sight
- Sanity Slippage: After Tony's death.
- Spared by the Adaptation: Unlike Juliet, she doesn't die along with her lover and gets to take over the Prince's role of delivering the final "The Reason You Suck" Speech to both sides.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: With Tony.
RiffQuick-tempered but zany leader of the Jets.
- Expy: Of Mercutio, Romeo's best friend and main Plucky Comic Relief.
- A Father to His Men: He's hugely respected and admired by the rest of his gang.
- The Leader
- Sacrificial Lion: He dies during the duel with Bernardo.
Ice/ DieselSecond-in-command of the Jets. Ice was a character created for the movie, but has been adopted in later stage productions. Takes over as leader after Riff's death.
- Ascended Extra: Has a few lines in the stage show and a decent amount of stage-time, but he's a lot more prominent in the movie, to the point where he has what is effectively his own solo.
- The Big Guy
- Canon Immigrant: Originally was in the movie, but was popular enough to add in later theatre productions.
- The Lancer: To Riff after Tony left the gang.
- Meaningful Name: He's probably the most level-headed of the group.
- Token Good Teammate: Was not among the Jets who try Attempted Rape on Anita, though that could simply be because he wasn't there at the time (he'd gone to make sure none of the Sharks were on the prowl for Tony).
ActionThe most quick-tempered member of the Jets, always ready for a fight.
- Berserk Button: Don't insult his mother, or call him a hoodlum.
- Blood Knight: "In, out, let's get crackin'!"
- Dude, Where's My Reward?: When Riff decides that Tony is to be his lieutenant for the war council, as opposed to Action. Especially since Tony is rarely with the gang anymore.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: As evidenced by his reaction when Shrank taunts him about her being a prostitute.
- Expy: Of Sampson.
- The Lancer: To Riff, especially in the stage show.
- Parental Issues: His mother is a prostitute.
A-RabSlightly less quick-tempered than Action. Baby John's best friend.
Baby JohnThe youngest Jet, who is beaten up during the opening sequence. A-Rab's best friend.
- Attempted Rape: The Jets' assault on Anita consists of their picking up Baby John and trying to force him on her. Most productions make him just as traumatized by this as Anita.
- Comforting Comforter: At the end, he places the grieving Maria's dropped shawl back around her shoulders while the other boys are carrying Tony's body.
- Tender Tears: In the film, in his first reappearance after the deaths of Riff and Bernardo.
- Token Good Teammate: As the most naive and inexperienced of the gang, it's obvious he goes along with what they do mostly because he succumbs to peer pressure.
- Ascended Extra: The film gives him a larger presence and more lines compared to the stage show where he's just an ensemble member.
GraziellaRiff's girlfriend (Ice / Diesel's girlfriend in some productions).
VelmaIce's girlfriend (Riff's girlfriend in some productions)
- Dumb Blonde: Epitomizes this.
MinnieBaby John's girlfriend.
AnybodysA tagalong tomboy, eventually accepted into the gang after Riff's death. According to the stage directions, she falls in love with Action, though some modern productions play her as a butch lesbian or even a trans boy instead.
BernardoMaria's brother, leader of the Sharks.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: With Anita, their bickering and sensuality contrasting with Tony and Maria's innocent Romeo and Juliet-style romance.
- Expy: Of Tybalt primarily, and Capulet to a lesser extent as he's the leader of the Sharks and even tries to decide who Maria marries.
- Knight Templar Big Brother
- My Sister Is Off-Limits!
ChinoMaria's unassuming but secretly hot-tempered suitor, Bernardo's best friend. Kills Tony.
- Alternative Character Interpretation: Questionable as to whether his motive to kill Tony is driven by the latter's relationship with Maria, Tony's murder of Chino's best friend Bernardo, or a mixture of both. Can depend on the production.
- Anti-Villain: To an extent. While he spends the second act trying to kill Tony, he's got an understandable motive in that Tony has murdered his best friend and is in a relationship with his fiancee.
- Beware the Nice Ones: The script's stage directions describe him as "a gentle, sweet-faced boy," but after Tony kills Bernardo and after Chino realizes that Maria is in love with Tony, he goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge with lethal results.
- Expy: Of Paris.
PepeSecond-in-command of the Sharks.
- Mandatory Line: Literally speaks one word in the entire stage show.
AnitaSaucy friend of Maria and girlfriend of Bernardo.
- Age Lift: Inverted: while Juliet's Nurse is an adult caregiver, Anita is a teenage friend only slightly older than Maria and dating her brother.
- Attempted Rape: She suffers this at the Jets's hands while trying to take a message from Maria to Tony, leading to her lying in anger that Maria is dead instead.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: With Bernardo, their bickering and sensuality contrasting with Tony and Maria's innocent Romeo and Juliet-style romance.
- Beta Couple: With Bernardo.
- Break the Cutie: In just one night her boyfriend is killed and she herself is almost raped.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Expy: Of the Nurse and Lady Capulet.
- Spicy Latina
- What the Hell, Hero?: To Maria, in "A Boy Like That", when she sees that Maria has both Easily Forgiven and slept with Tony after Bernardo's murder. Maria's rebuttal "I Have a Love" brings her around to her side, but it doesn't last.
RosaliaArgues with Anita in "America"; Indio's girlfriend.
Officer KrupkeAn aggressive but inept cop.
DocA weary old candy store owner.
- Expy: Of Friar Laurence, and partly of Balthasar too, since he's the one who breaks the news to Tony of Maria's "death".
- Intergenerational Friendship: With Tony. Tony works for him, but it's also clear that they're buddies.
- Only Sane Man
Glad HandThe inept chaperone at the dance.
Detective SchrankA racist police lieutenant.
- Bad Cop/Incompetent Cop
- The Bad Guys Are Cops
- Dirty Cop: More than willing to deliver a beating to the gang members if they don't stop their fighting.
- Expy: Of Prince Escalus.
- Hypocrite: Bigoted towards the Sharks and the Jets given their immigrant status when he's undoubtedly the descendant of immigrants himself.
- Jerkass Has a Point: As much as he's a corrupt racist, he has a point regarding the fact that the gang conflict will negatively impact his own career.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: Displays racism towards the Sharks. And the Jets too, referring to their families as "tin-horn immigrant scum".
- Rabid Cop