Beware of spoilers!
The four main housewives
The main protagonists of the show, four housewives inhabiting Wisteria Lane.
- Card Games: They have their own ritual, a weekly gathering to play cards and talk and gossip. They alternate homes every week to host it.
- Deadpan Snarker: They're all prone to snark, even (or especially) at each other. Given how fucked up pretty much everyone's life is in Wisteria Lane, it might help them to cope.
- Doom Magnet: Their lives alternate between happy, boring and miserable, and the "miserable" (or desperate, hence the show's title) part prevails, often turning into "horrible".
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Susan is "Sanguine", Lynette is "Phlegmatic", Bree is "Melancholic" and Gabrielle is "Choleric".
- Housewife: Each one of them is a different kind of stay-at-home wife, with Bree being the closest in mind to the archetype (in the early seasons, that is).
- Odd Friendship: They're friends despite huge differences in temperament and in the way each one of them handles suburban life.
- Sixth Ranger: Susan, Lynette, Bree and Gaby remain the main protagonists throughout the eight seasons, but some other housewives join them in prominence as main protagonists for a lesser number of seasons such as Edie Britt, Katherine Mayfair or Renee Perry.
- The Power of Friendship: When one goes through hardships, she can count on the support of the others.
- True Companions: They really care for each other.
Susan Delfino, formerly Mayer, born Bremmer
Known for being a hopeless romantic and a klutz, as well as for her occasional portrayal of the "damsel in distress", Susan is arguably the most fragile of all the housewives, and is often considered the nicest and most adorable one.
- Adorkable: She's desperately clumsy and short-sighted, but it makes her adorable at the same time.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Susan is just as bitchy as the other Housewives, yet she's the one who tends to get away with it because of how "cute" and "klutzy" she is.
- Born Unlucky: Allegedly. While events tend to work against her, most of the time her troubles are solved rather easily and/or aren't as serious as some suffered by her fellow neighbors (barring her liver issues). Though she does have romantic issues in spade, and in the final season Mike is killed, leaving her to raise her son all by herself.
- Break the Cutie: Life in Wisteria Lane can be cruel and hit even the nicest and well-intentioned folks, and she's no exception.
- Butt-Monkey: Is incredibly unlucky, romantic issues, liver issues, being forced out of the lane, and friendship troubles in the last season and not being able to deal with things in the final season.
- The Chew Toy: Because Butt-Monkey really isn't enough and her antics are the funniest.
- Cute Clumsy Girl: In spades.
- Deadpan Snarker: Occasionally.Edie: I have a husband now.Susan: Really? Whose?
- Distressed Damsel
- The Ditz: To a ridiculous extent.
- Divorce Is Temporary: She ended up remarrying Mike Delfino.
- Hand-or-Object Underwear: The plant she used to cover herself after the towel she was wearing got caught in Karl's car door as he drove away.
- Girl Next Door
- Informed Attractiveness: While Teri Hatcher is very pretty, the other housewives are equally or even more so; yet Susan seems to have the most men fawning over how 'hot' she is.
- It's All About Me:Edie: Typical, Susan always finds a way to make it about her.
- The Klutz: Firmly cemented as this when one of her first actions in the series was accidentally burning down someone's house.
- Lethal Chef: On the very opposite spectrum of Bree, she is downright dreadful at cooking.
- Mama Bear: She always stands in the way of troubled that would hit either Julie or MJ.
- This Loser Is You
- Walking Disaster Area: Being poster girl for The Klutz tends to cause this. She once managed to SET A HOUSE ON FIRE out of sheer clumsiness.
Lynette Scavo, born Lindquist
Mostly known for being super controlling, with a tendency to slightly berate people she holds dear to her heart, Lynette is a neurotic, stressed and controlling businesswoman who put her career on hold to become a housewife and mother. She is the "smart one" of the group.
- Control Freak
- Convenient Miscarriage: An odd example that is both played straight and subverted in that because she was pregnant with twins, only one of them died in-utero.
- Deadpan Snarker: She often snarkily sends the pity or criticisms of others back in their face in light of her having the biggest and most stressful household to manage.
- Flanderization: Season 5 and 7. So very much.
- Gag Boobs: Her increased cup size due to her pregnancy in season 6 became a fodder for some jokes.
- Informed Attractiveness: Going by looks, she's the least attractive of the four housewives, but she's still considered as attractive as the others bar the former supermodel Gaby in-universe.
- Law of Inverse Fertility: She is the housewife who has the most children out of all the protagonists, due to having a number of unexpected pregnancies (although she's not the one wishing she had no kids). Even obvious lack of contraception with Tom aside, she seems to be very fertile even past 40 (going by the actress' age).Karen McCluskey: (to Lynette) No offense, but you should be sterilized.
- Mama Bear: She will personally face any threat to her children right in the eyes.
- Nervous Wreck: Comes with having the most numerous family, a manchild of a husband whose plans never work and all while not having the coolest temper. That and living in the Doom Magnet that is Wisteria Lane.
- Only Sane Woman: Compared to the other housewives, she's the most down-to-earth.
- Team Mom
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Lynette has always been kinda controlling, but nearing the end of season seven, manipulating Tom into walking out on Carlos, using increasingly manipulative and shrewish behavior crossed a few lines.
Bree Weston, formerly Van de Kamp and Hodge, born Mason
Wisteria Lane's resident neurotic and perfectionist homemaker, whose strong resolve and proper demeanor are both her greatest assets as well as the source of nearly all her personal troubles. She describes herself as the "domestic housewife" out of the group.
- The Alcoholic: In season 2, plus the occasional relapse. There was her slip during the time jump, and Bree's current arc has her falling off the wagon. Hard.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing
- Break the Haughty
- Cartwright Curse: One surefire way to predict if a male character is going to die is judged by one question: Is he Bree's love interest? Of her seven love interests, five of them have died.
Bree: My track record with lovers... two dead, one in a wheelchair.
- Lampshaded in a season five promo, where the paper boy recaps the events of the past four seasons, and ends his recap of Bree with "I hope Orson doesn't die, too."
- She even lampshades it herself during season 7:
- Control Freak: And how.
- Despair Event Horizon: During season 8, with her ex-boyfriend cop harassing her (and explicitly doing it in order to make her feel miserable) and the loss of her friends, Bree relapses into alcoholism, and in the 9th episode she ends up alone in a hotel room, with only a bottle of wine and a gun, speaking to an imaginary Mary Alice and contemplating the idea of suicide.
- Driven to Suicide: Averted, thanks to Renee.
- Fiery Redhead: When she wants to be.
- The '50s: Her look, moreso in the earlier seasons: A-line skirts and dresses, twin-sets with pearls, white gloves, her "flip" hair-do etc.
- Freudian Excuse: Her mother died traumatically when she was 5 and her stepmother was a distant and unloving woman.
- Gun Nut: She knows how to use guns, and she has a shotgun under her bed. It's not at all out of the realm of possibilities that she has a NRA membership.
- Housewife: Obviously. She's the most classic example in the series and evokes the archetypal 1950's housewife.
- Lady Drunk: During season 8, the tension between the girls became so high that she ended becoming their scapegoat, and finally they abandonned her. She then relapses hard into alcoholism. She was on the verge of suicide, but is stopped just in time, thanks to the intervention of Renee. Now, she views herself as lost, not knowing anymore who she is. Slowly, she is deconstructing herself, and is becoming ''easy'', something she acknowledges. She didn't even deny when an angry spouse called her a whore (truth to be told, she was quite drunk at that time, but she doesn't seems to care at all, if the end of the 12th episode is any indication).
- Love Hurts: Despite the perfect facade, she is consistantly unlucky in love.Rex Van De Kamp: Bree, I can't live in this detergent commercial anymore!
- Mama Bear
- Neat Freak
- Nice Girl: In spite of her faults, she does come off a pleasant person most of the time.
- The Perfectionist: Especially in the first season, when she couldn't even stand the sight of a loose button.
- Preppy Name
- Pretty in Mink: Wore a sable coat to try to win back Rex.◊
- Proper Lady: Deconstructed since the very first episode.
- Really Gets Around: Yes, you read that right. During season 8, she relapses into alcoholism, and began to date a lot in bars. However, what was only a brief experience became an habit, and it becomes clear that she has a different man each night in her bed. When she is confronted by an angry spouse (because she had sex with her husband) in the middle of the church during the 12th episode, she doesn't deny it. Worse: she actually acknowledges it, and is on her way to embrace this way of life.
- Sexy Coat Flashing
- Stepford Smiler: The other housewives have traces of this, but Bree is the ultimate Stepford Smiler of the show. Her own son calls her out on it in the pilot, saying she acts like she's running for Mayor of Stepford.
- Sugar-and-Ice Personality
- Super OCD: There were hints of this, especially in the early seasons, but it was never explored very much. She also referred to her quirks in terms of "anal retentiveness" and not "obsessive compulsiveness".
- Trauma Conga Line: If something traumatic is going to happen to one of the leading females in the cast, it is inevitably going to be Bree.
Gabrielle "Gaby" Solis, formerly Lang, born Marquez
A former top model turned trophy wife, Gaby gave up her lavish life in NYC to move to the suburbs of Fairview and adjust to a quieter, more settled lifestyle with Carlos Solis. During the first three years of marriage, Carlos was always away on business trips, leaving Gaby to become bored, lonely and unhappy, resulting in her having affairs with local handsome young men. Eventually the sense of friendship and family overwhelmed her, and Gabrielle found her happiness on Wisteria Lane.
- Aesop Amnesia: How many times has she learned being a better person is more important than having material possessions or looking pretty?
- Book Dumb: Especially when it comes to geography (she thinks Argentina is beside Romania.)
- Catch-Phrase: For the first four or five seasons or so, she manages to work the phrase "son of a bitch" in at least once per season. To be fair to her, it often refers to Carlos, who is the son of an actual bitch.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Divorce Is Temporary: She ended up remarrying Carlos following the Victor Lang sequence.
- Domestic Abuser
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: She can be callous or insensitive, but she truly cares about her friends and her daughters.
- Mrs Vice Gal: Openly vain, materialistic and immature but a loyal friend and (eventually) loving wife and mother.
- Ms. Fanservice: At times it was as if she chose to be excluded from the wardrobe budget.
- Rich Bitch: Her "bitch" status depends on the writer.
- Self-Serving Memory: She recalls her time as a model as being wonderful, much loved and she hated giving it up to marry Carlos. During a trip to New York, Gabby is thrown that some former model "friends" rip into her about how much they hated her. Her former agent then breaks it down that Gaby was an incredible diva whose demands were getting so bad that agencies were deciding not to use her because of the hassle. Gaby realizes that instead of "ruining" her career, marrying Carlos saved her from getting kicked out of the business.
- Spicy Latina: A subversion believe or not. Yes Gaby is sexy and she certainly has the temper but she lacks the sterotypical accent, can't speak Spanish and as several episodes have shown is indifferent at best towards her Hispanic heritage.
- Spoiled Brat: When it comes to material possessions.
- Volleying Insults: She and Carlos do this a lot, and were at their most tempestuous in the early seasons.
- Your Cheating Heart
Other prominent housewives
Mary Alice Young (real name Angela Forrest)
A housewife from Wisteria Lane. The series was kicked off when she committed suicide, and she narrated it ever since, seemingly observing the life of everyone from the other world.
- The Artifact: By the end of season 2, all of her story lines had been wrapped up pretty much, and there really was no particular point to her character anymore other than simply being the narrator (of mysteries unrelated to her). Even when Paul comes back in season 7, her character is hardly referred to and she makes little-if any attempt in her narration to remind us that Paul is her husband.
- Blackmail: She was victim of this, and it sadly led to her death.
- Dark Secret: She killed Deirdre Taylor, the former drug addict who was the true mother of Dana (Zach), and permanently changed of identity and residential location because of this.
- Driven to Suicide: She was blackmailed and committed suicide, which set off the entire storyline of the first season, and part of the second.
- Plot-Triggering Death: The series kicked off with her death.
- Posthumous Character: Her death impacts the whole first and second seasons, and she narrates from the other world in most episodes of the series.
- Posthumous Narration: She narrates the series after her death.
- Villainy Discretion Shot: Apparently both the writers and the other characters have forgotten Mary Alice killed her adopted son's birth mother.
Edie Williams, formerly McLain and Roswell, born Britt
A woman whose poor childhood led to an adulthood of promiscuous behavior, seducing any man she likes. Despite this, she married twice.
- Ascended Extra: After the first season, she was given a much more prominent role.
- Brutal Honesty: She never embellishes the truth when voicing her opinion to other people of Wisteria Lane, often bordering on Accentuate the Negative.
- Deadpan Snarker: It's an understatement to say she has a razor-sharp tongue."Well, someone's gotta say it - Susan, what the hell have you been smoking?"
- Faking the Dead: She tries faking her own suicide so she can manipulate Carlos into staying their relationship. Unfortunately she almost kills herself by accident.
- Guest Host: She gets to narrate an episode, which focuses on the immediate aftermath of her death and memories Susan, Lynette, Bree and Gaby had of her.
- Hidden Depths
- Hypocrite: She loves messing with people through Brutal Honesty, but she's in denial about her own troubles.
- I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!: Knows how to use them to get her own way.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold
- Killed Off for Real: She dies by electrocution in season 5.
- The Lad-ette: She drinks beer, hates all that lovey dovey stuff and just wants some no-strings sex.
- Love Makes You Crazy: In season 4 Edie is unusually vicious about keeping Carlos in her hands, attempting suicide, even when she was certain he'd rescue her in time is kind of a big leap for her.
- Ms. Fanservice: Out of all the women in the series, she has the most scenes in underwear.
- Real Life Writes the Plot Nicollette Sheridan's disputes with Marc Cherry led to her leaving the show and Edie being killed off near the end of season 5.
- Really Gets Around: She's promiscuous, and she loves it.
- Sixth Ranger: She was featured alongside the four main housewives in promo material from season 2 to season 5, reflecting her Ascended Extra status.
Katherine Irma Mayfair, formerly Davis, born Simms
A former victim of domestic abuse, perpetrated by her first husband Wayne Davis, Katherine moved to Wisteria Lane with her aunt Mrs. Simms, hoping to get away from her rough lifestyle and be happy. However, unfortunate circumstances led her to pack up in 1995, and leave suddenly, only to return 12 years later, in 2007, with a new family in tow and a big secret weighing heavily on her. Katherine rivaled Bree Van de Kamp for the title of perfect home fairy, and soon moved comfortably into the position of scheming vixen when it came to going about making her ends meet.
- The Artifact: In season six, the writers didn't really know what to do with her after Mike marries Susan. So she ends up going through various hysterics that were almost completely irrelevant to the rest of the season's plot, before randomly finding out she's a lesbian and leaving for Paris with her new ex-stripper lover.
- Back for the Finale
- The Friend Nobody Likes: She ended up antagonizing the four main housewives for various reasons, especially Bree and Susan.
- Mysterious Past
- Put on a Bus
- Remember the New Guy?: Sorta. She moved onto Wisteria Lane in the Season 4 premiere, and it turns out she lived there some time before the show started, and was Susan's best friend. And yet, she was never mentioned in the three years prior to Season 4, not in Mary Alice's narration or by Susan. Justified in that she apparently moved away before the rest of the housewives even arrived, so there wouldn't be any need for Susan to mention her.
- The Rival: To Susan in season 5 and season 6, because of Mike Delfino.
- Sympathetic Murderer: She is force to kill her first husband Wayne due to his being a Dirty Cop with friends who will either get him off or make sure he gets very little jail so he can return to kill her.
- Villainy Discretion Shot: Was gratuitously cruel to her dying aunt and treated her daughter poorly before her secret was revealed and she joined the core group.
- Yandere: In season 6, towards Mike.
- She's practically a poster child. She got increasingly insane in the first half of the season, but then regained sanity later. Turned out she's much more sane in a lesbian relationship.
Karen McCluskey, formerly Bender, born Simmons
- Cool Old Lady: After all, she was portrayed by Kathryn Joosten.
- Deadpan SnarkerKaren: (to Lynette) No offense, but you should be sterilized.
- Loners Are Freaks: Subverted.
- Widow Woman: Her husband Gilbert died while he was watching TV. She had the idea to put his body into a chest freezer in her basement to prevent his ex-wife from inheriting his pensions.
Angela "Angie" Bolen, born de Luca
Less prominent housewives
The wife of Warren Schilling. She has an affair with Porter Scavo in season 5.
- Domestic Abuse: She's physically abused by her husband.
- I Lied: She admits to Lynette that she is not pregnant. She lied about being pregnant from Porter in order for him to stay with her.
- Mrs. Robinson: She's over 40 and she has an affair with a young neighbor, Porter Scavo, who just hit 18.
- Your Cheating Heart: She has an adulterous affair behind her husband's back.