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Eric "Otter" Stratton
- Played by: Tim Matheson
- All Guys Want Cheerleaders: Parodied. He subverts Mandy's romance (such as it is) with Marmalard by cheating with her (and getting further than he does). True to her archetype, she casually blows him off and dismisses his performance, the only blow to his persona that occurs. He consoles himself by seducing and satisfying the wife of the Dean of the college.
- Better to Die than Be Killed: His rant during the disciplinary hearing; he knows that they"re going to lose, but he manages to accuse the college of being un-American about it.
- The Casanova: As shown below.
- Chivalrous Pervert: He might be a bit of a shameless womanizer, but he's very respectful towards women and doesn't make any attempts to steal girls of any fellow fraternity members. However, that rule doesn't apply to Dean Wormer or Marmaland. Then again, this is Wormer and Marmaland we're talking about.
- Cool Car: His Corvette.
- Delusions of Eloquence: He's trying to impress an older woman (who turns out to be the wife of the college's Dean) in the grocery store, as he picks up a large cucumber:Otter: I think vegetables can be very sensuous, don't you?
Mrs. Wormer: No, vegetables are sensual. People are sensuous.
- Feng Schwing: His room.
- The Hero: Although Hoover is technically the leader, Otter is actually calling the shots.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Boone.
- Lovable Sex Maniac: He has a lot of affairs with various characters, including Dean Wormer's wife, but he isn't a terrible person, at least compared to The Omegas.
- Naked on Arrival: We're introduced to him as he's about to get dressed for a date.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: The Omegas give him a nasty one when Greg Marmalard is led to believe Mandy's been having an affair with Otter.
- Pet the Dog: He stands up for Flounder when the rest of the Deltas are planning on turning down his pledge.
- Really Gets Around: Has an affair with three different women throughout the film, one of them being the Big Bad's wife!
- Wounded Gazelle Gambit: He pretends to be the unaware fiancé of a dead coed in order to get grief/sympathy sex from her roommate, and three dates for his friends.
Donald "Boone" Schoenstein
- Played by: Peter Riegert
- Ambiguously Jewish: German last name, short in stature, dark curly hair, unusual nose shape, New York accent, wisecracking personality - Come on! Either he's Jewish, or he's faking it really well. The actor, Peter Riegert, comes from a non-observant Jewish Family.
- Author Avatar: For Harold Ramis, who hoped to play the part himself.
- Conflicting Loyalty: Between his Delta brothers and his girlfriend.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Happily Married: The Where Are They Now says that he and his girlfriend get married in 1964, only to get divorced five years later.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Otter.
- Jewish and Nerdy: Subverted. Though Ambiguously Jewish, he is arguably the fourth coolest guy in the Delta Tau Chi fraternity, as well as The Lancer to the supercool Eric "Otter" Stratton. (His girlfriend does think he's a loser, though.)
- The Lancer: The more restrained foil to the sex-crazed Otter.
- Manchild: Katy sees him as this.
John "Bluto" Blutarsky
- Played by: John Belushi
- Acrofatic: He doesn't look particularly fit, but shows his gymnastic prowess in the climax. He also successfully eludes the Omegas in the food fight scene.
- The Alcoholic: Chugs an entire bottle of Jack Daniels in about fifteen seconds.
- Aside Glance: While peeking into the girls' dormitory and right before smashing the guitar, in both cases primarily as an excuse for John Belushi's trademark raised eyebrow.
- Berserk Button: In addition to Live folk music, he really loses it when they take the bar away.
- The Big Guy
- Big Eater: He eats some of pretty much EVERYTHING the cafeteria is serving (including a golf ball!)—although, then again, he doesn't actually wind up eating most of it, and isn't shown indulging in food nearly as much as alcohol throughout the rest of the movie. He may just have been doing it for the gross-out effect—it happens. Jamming an entire quarter-pounder into his mouth in one go is an impressive feat, though.
- Big Fun: The biggest and most fun-loving of the Deltas.
- The Big Guy: Of the Big Fun variety.
- Can-Crushing Cranium: He crushes a can to try and cheer up Flounder. When that fails, he goes whole hog and cheerfully smashes a beer bottle on his head instead.
- Dumbass Has a Point:What the fuck happened to the Delta I used to know? Where's the spirit? Where's the guts, huh? This could be the greatest night of our lives, but you're gonna let it be the worst. "Ooh, we're afraid to go with you Bluto, we might get in trouble." Well just kiss my ass from now on! Not me! I'm not gonna take this. Wormer, he's a dead man! Marmalard, dead! Niedermeyer...
Otter: Dead! Bluto's right.
[Other characters look at each other in amazement]
Otter: Psychotic, but absolutely right. We gotta take these bastards.
- Extreme Omnivore: He even eats a golf ball.
- Eyebrow Waggle: He climbs up a ladder to spy on sorority girls, then turns to the camera and waggles his eyebrows.
- Facial Dialogue: A lot of his "dialog" is this.
- Fratbro: Trope Codifier. Frequently drunk, and always on the lookout for mischief, he neglects his studies to the extent of receiving a grade point average of exactly 0.0. His many fratboy activities include starting a cafeteria Foodfight!, spying on women students changing and smashing someone's guitar in the middle of a song. When the dean expels him and his frat brothers, Bluto rallies them to commit one last act of mayhem at Homecoming.
- Jabba Table Manners: He uses his disgusting eating habits to piss off the Omegas and provoke a food fight.
- Large Ham: Really gets loud when excited.
- Lazy Bum: With a GPA of "0.0", he stands head and shoulders below the rest of his Book Dumb colleagues (even D-Day manages to be better, as he has no grade point average and doesn't even take classes at Faber). He gets to be a Senator. When the "documentary" is made, Bluto is unavailable for comment as he's currently serving as President.
- Life of the Party: The biggest party animal in Faber.
- Manchild: He's been in college for seven years, and is the most immature of the Deltas.
- Mascot: The heart and soul of the party-loving Deltas.
- Peeping Tom: He uses a ladder to peer through the second-story window of a sorority house and looks up the cheerleaders' skirts while under the bleachers.
- The Runt at the End: Before the Delta Tau Chi members launch their mission of sabotage against Faber College's homecoming parade, there is a "tick-tock" montage (with eerie music by Elmer Bernstein) of several of the guys checking their watches to see if it's time to go. Everyone is wearing an expensive watch that marks the time as precisely eleven o'clockexcept for Bluto, whose watch is really cheap-looking and broken, and is showing a blatantly wrong time to bootbecause he's wearing it upside down.
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: After finding Neidermeyer's horse dead from a heart attack, all that comes out of his mouth is, "Holy shit!"
- Played by: James Widdoes
- The Chick: The most sensitive of the Delta leaders.
- The Dog Bites Back: After getting pushed too far by Dean Wormer and Omega House, Hoover casts aside his conscious and helps the rest of his fraternity get revenge.
- Only Sane Man: Within the Delta leaders, he's usually the only one not involved in their crazy schemes. He also has the highest GPA in Delta, although that's not saying much.
- Politically Incorrect Hero: Despite being one of the more moral characters, a Confederate flag can be seen in his room.
- Straight Man: He usually tries to be the voice of reason among the rest of the Delta leaders, but most of his advice is heard by deaf ears.
- Supporting Leader: Technically, he's the Deltas' president. Otter and Bluto have much more actual sway with the brothers, however.
- Team Dad: He's the only one of them who seems to genuinely care about avoiding trouble and staying on Dean Wormer's good side (at least enough to avoid getting thrown out of school), and generally tries to keep the Deltas from going too far off the rails. Granted, they usually ignore his advice... but at least he tries.
Kent "Flounder" Dorfman
- Played by: Stephen Furst
- Butt-Monkey: The moment his picture appears in the projector during his presentation, the fratboys yell, boo and throw cans at it. He doesn't gain more respect during the rest of the movie. (Although, in the novelization, the Deltas consider him a hero for throwing up on Dean Wormer.)
- Captain Obvious: His asking "You guys playing cards?" Hostile gazes ensue.
- Fat Comic Relief: An overweight Butt-Monkey.
- No Social Skills: He has a hard time talking to the Deltas when he first enters.
- The Woobie: In-Universe, the others start to feel bad for him when they realize how sad he is over his brother's car being totaled.
Larry "Pinto" Kroger
- Played by: Tom Hulce
- Above the Influence: He resists having sex with Clorette when she passes out.
- Author Avatar: Made obvious in the Where Are They Now segment, revealing his future career as an editor for National Lampoon.
- Captain Obvious: "Boone, we're the only white people here".
- The Everyman
- Evil Sounds Deep: In the Good Angel, Bad Angel scene, devil Pinto has a deep voice, while angel Pinto's voice is comically high-pitched.
- Five-Finger Discount: He steals food for a party by hiding it in his jacket. The check-out girl notices, but doesn't turn him in. Two of the items hidden in his jacket are a couple of small roasts, and they're hidden so that they look like boobs.
- Good Angel, Bad Angel: When Clorette passes out, he has one of these moments. The angel wins.
- Nice Guy: He feels guilty when Boone gets him to shoplift a bunch of meat and when he thinks about having sex with a passed out Clorette.
- What You Are in the Dark: Pinto is the only character to resist temptation of any kind and what he resists is particularly tempting. Further, he resists without knowing at the time that his intended is not exactly in his own age demographic. His resistance only lasts so long....
Daniel "D-Day" Simpson Day
- Played by: Bruce McGill
- Ambiguously Gay: He's one of the only members of Delta to not have a girlfriend, and is never seen flirting with any girls.
- Badass Biker: He even has a Badass Mustache to go with it.
- Book Dumb: His grades are so appalling, they're pretty much non-existent. However, he's a genius when it comes to engineering.
- Broke the Rating Scale: His GPA. He hasn't shown up for a single class - meaning he doesn't have one.
- Cool Bike: His Harley-Davidson Sportster.
- Drives Like Crazy: Perfect for someone driving the parade float with intent to wreck everything out of retaliation.
- Everyone Has Standards: He gives Flounder a gun loaded with blanks to persuade him to kill Neidermeyer's horse as a test. He's shocked and runs off in panic when the horse dies of a heart attack.
- The Smart Guy: As the mechanic of the group.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Deliberately invoked in the movie's "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue - while everyone else gets a description of what happened to them, D-Day's descriptor - flashed onscreen as he is driving off in a stolen police car - simply reads, "Whereabouts unknown."
- Played by: James Daughton
- Arch-Enemy: He and Delta house have been at each others throats for quite some time.
- Bad People Have Bad Sex: Unlike Otter, Marmaland has pretty unfulfilling sex with his girlfriend. He can't even get through a hand job.
- Berserk Button: The fake news that Mandy and Otter are having an ongoing affair — though Greg manages to channel his into Tranquil Fury.
- The Dragon: To Dean Wormer.
- Jerkass: Of the Smug Snake variety.
- Karmic Rape: In the epilogue, he's mentioned to have been raped in prison after taking part in the break-in of the Watergate Hotel in 1972.
- The Loins Sleep Tonight: Each time he takes Mandy to Make-Out Point. His luck doesn't improve with Babs, who utters the infamous query, "Is it supposed to be this soft?"
- Politically Incorrect Villain: In the first scene, he shows obvious prejudice against racial minorities and the disabled.
- Prison Rape: The epilogue reveals that he went on to become a White House aide during Nixon's presidency, and was subsequently raped in prison. Probably meant to double as a Black Comedy Rape, since he's a first-class douchebag (and according to his girlfriend, was saving himself for marriage).
- Rape as Comedy: His ultimate fate in prison.
- Smug Snake/Upper-Class Twit: As president of the sophisticated Omega House, Marmaland acts very arrogant and snobby. Especially towards Delta House.
- Played by: Mark Metcalf
- Amusing Injuries: He suffers this when Otter and Boone scare his horse, causing it to run off while dragging him behind on the ground. He's later seen wearing a neck-brace, but eventually recovers.
- Ax-Crazy: Its really surprising how he didnt become a section 8 before his men decided they had enough of him and shot him, considering how he responds to Flounder with a spray bottle by grabbing a live rifle and trying to kill him.
- Artistic License Animal Care: Leaving his horse in the care of a person who obviously had no idea what he was doing, and who the horse very obviously was uneasy and unhappy around. Granted, that was probably his idea of a suitable punishment for Flounder.
- Artistic License Military: Why in the hell is he carrying live ammunition on a parade anyway?
- Berserk Button: Asshole that he is (and he is a lot), what seems to make his blood boil even more is people who don't have professionalism in the ROTC. The moment he went from somewhat-hating the Delta ROTC's to making them his sworn enemies was seeing a "pppledge pppin" on Flounder's uniform (and that he forgot to tuck in those pajamas!).
- The Brute: At the climax, all of the other antagonists are in various levels of shock and befuddlement at the chaos that the Deltas have caused on the parade. Neidermeyer is like that... for a few moments, and then grabs one of the rifles the ROTC members were carrying, loads it with live ammunition, and starts shooting at the first Delta he can get his eyes on (that being Flounder).
- The Bully: Towards Flounder.
- Crazy-Prepared: A truly unpleasant example — for some reason he decided to bring live ammunition for the ROTC's Springfield rifles to the parade, which makes him a truly dangerous threat when Flounder confronts him.
- Dead Serious: If not for a Deus ex Machina, Flounder would have been the only Delta House frat boy to die at the climax.
- Disproportionate Retribution: He responds to a spray bottle-wielding Flounder by trying to shoot him with a Springfield rifle, without any care for any potential injured bystanders.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: He's the Sergeant-At-Arms for Faber and he certainly invokes the trope when yelling at the ROTC cadets.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: He sure loved that horse.
- Faux Affably Evil: He acts friendly in the first scene with Pinto and Flounder, but it's not hard to detect his contempt for them.
- Hates Everyone Equally: On his Establishing Character Moment, he has nothing but contempt for all of the other ROTC members. And he still does at the parade. It's just that the Deltas he hates a hell of a lot more.
- Jerkass: Even during the first scene, he treats Flounder and Pinto like dirt.
- Karmic Death: He gets killed by his own troops during Vietnam.
- Large Ham/No Indoor Voice: As a Drill Sergeant Nasty, especially towards Flounder.
- The Neidermeyer: The Trope Namer. Many military movies had a pompous blow-hard before and after, but he is something truly special.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: He isn't shy about using the word "faggots" to demean his fellow ROTC candidates, either. Note which hand picks up Neidermeyer in Flounder's Deus ex Machina moment.
- Smug Snake: When the Deltas lose their charter and most of their possessions, he just gloats about it.
- Villainous Breakdown: Reduced to screaming "FAGGOTS! FAGGOTS!" at his men when they can't stop the Deltas from crashing the parade.
- Played by: Kevin Bacon
- Butt-Monkey: Both in-universe and in real life. As Kevin Bacon couldn't sit with the rest of the crew during the premiere because the usher didn't believe he was in the movie.
- Comedic Underwear Exposure: During the Initiation scene, when he's about to get paddled by the other Omegas.
- HeelFaith Turn: Years after graduating, he becomes a Christian missionary after seeing Jesus in his food numerous times.
- Squashed Flat: This happens to him when he tries to stop a panicking throng.
- Too Kinky to Torture: "Thank you sir, may I have another?" This is obviously meant to be the response he's supposed to give during his initiation, so whether he truly enjoyed it is up in the air.
- Throw the Dog a Bone: After all the abuse he suffered, he's the only one of the Omegas to live a fulfilling life after college.
- Villainous Breakdown: "ALLLLL IS WELLLLLLLLLL!!!"
Dean Vernon Wormer
- Played by: John Vernon
- Anti-Villain: Subverted. At first, he's a Dean Bitterman who's just enforcing campus rules. But then after he expels the Deltas, he tells them he informed their local draft boards of it, clearly hoping they'll all get sent into combat and killed.
- Big Bad: The biggest threat to the Deltas. He plans to get them expelled and won't stop until they give up or improve their behavior.
- The Comically Serious: Wormer is a very serious character, but a lot of his lines are hilarious because of how well they work in reaction to the others.
- Cruel to Be Kind: Well, you must admit that fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life.
- Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: Most of the oddly-phrased threats he directs at the Deltas:"Grab the bull by the balls and kick those punks off campus."
"The time has come for someone to put his foot down...and that foot is me."
"You'll be out of here like shit through a goose."
- Deadpan Snarker: Some of his lines towards the Deltas in regards of their reckless behavior.
- Dean Bitterman: While not the Trope Namer, Dean Wormer is the Trope Codifier for this type of character. However, since the film is much more cynical than later Wacky Fratboy Hijinx films, he often comes across as a Villain With A Point, and the Deltas really are engaging in "pranks" that no sane college administration would tolerate.
- Hero Antagonist: Subverted. While it seems that he's only the villain because the protagonists are delinquents, he flat out ignores the fact the Omegas do much of the same rule breaking and indirectly tries to get the Deltas killed.
- Jerkass: He's not any nicer and antagonist toward Delta House than the rest of the Omegas.
- Jerkass Has a Point: His anger towards the Deltas is understandable as they've been constantly breaking campus rules and have a poor Grade Point Average.Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son.
- Kick the Dog: Driven to his limits, he expels the entire Delta House, which he is entirely justified in doing as they are collectively and individually a degenerate menace. He goes over the line by also informing the Delta's local draft boards that they are now eligible for military service, for no reason other than malice; mind you, this is 1962, and in about four years things will get pretty scary for draftees.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Averted. Word of God says he's a caricature of Richard Nixon.
- Pet the Dog: He has one moment in which he speaks to any of the Deltas in a manner that's not threatening, mocking, bullying, or enraged; one instant in which he reveals a glimpse that beneath it all there was (or used to be) a genuine educator; one line in which he very nearly relates to any student as a human being, and that line is directed to Kent Dorfman.Dean Wormer:Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.
- Sadist Teacher: Or rather Sadist Dean.
- Villainy-Free Villain: He's an unpleasant Jerkass Has a Point antagonist type who is merely trying to enforce campus rules without committing immoral actions against hilarious but admittedly proto-delinquents frat boys. Part of his problem is that he's under pressure from the town's mayor, a genuinely evil amalgam of Mafia don and authoritarian plutocrat, who goes so far as to threaten to have Wormer physically crippled if the Deltas do anything to embarrass him. While Wormer never does anything illegal, he certainly bends ethics by enlisting one group of students to spy on another, runs a kangaroo court in which the spied-upon have no reasonable chance to address the charges against them (some of which are false), and to justify all this with a "double-secret probation."
- Played by: Donald Sutherland
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: He's the cool professor at Faber. In the classroom, he's up front with his students about how boring he finds Milton. In private, he calls his own work a piece of excrement. Katie says he's the only professor she likes, and Pinto agrees that he's a wonderful teacher. Then he turns Katie, Pinto and Boone on to drugs; later, he seduces Katie.
- Also, Genius Bonus: Jennings said Milton's wife found him boring, too. Milton's wife left him after she'd only been married to him for one day.
- Cool Teacher: While not a particularly motivating or laid-back teacher in the classroom, but certainly a guy who enjoys hanging around and smoking pot with his students after class. Ultimately deconstructed, as he seduces Katie, causing further drama for the Deltas.
- Fan Disservice: A split-second peek we get of his bare ass.
- Hippie Teacher: He's a university level version of this. In a slight variation, the film's setting is contemporaneous with the actual hippie movement, making him a Cool Teacher as well. As it turns out, he's just as bored by the subject matter of his lectures as his students are.
- Pants-Free: In one scene, he reaches to get something from a cabinet, raising his sweater and exposing his pants-less buttocks.
- Sophisticated as Hell: He's got a strong vocabulary; not surprising for an English professor.
- Teacher/Student Romance: With Kate.
- Played by: Mary Louise Weller
- Captain Oblivious: She doesn't notice Bluto spying on her, despite the loud noise made by the ladder, nor him being right in front of her window.
- The Cheerleader
- High-HeelFace Turn: Had a relationship with Otter in the past. In the end, she ends up eloping with Bluto.
- Ms. Fanservice: The scene where she strips and is about to have A Date with Rosie Palms while Bluto watches from a ladder outside.
- Token Good Teammate: The only character from the Omega side that is portrayed sympathetically.
Barbara "Babs" Jennings
- Played by: Martha Smith
- Alpha Bitch: Lives up to the 1962 stereotype.
- The Cheerleader
- Dark Chick
- Green-Eyed Monster: She is jealous of Mandy's relationship with Greg, who she wants all for herself.
- Naked Freak-Out: In her final scene. Especially funny because the "YEAH!" Shot for Babs's segment in the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue freezes her in that state of undress, thereby leaving her stuck on the street in her underwear forever!
- Reluctant Fanservice Girl: In her final scene.
- Southern Belle: Though ironically, her portrayer was born in Detroit, Michigan.
- The Stool Pigeon: She squeals to Greg about Mandy's affair with Otter.
- Played by: Verna Bloom
- College Widow: Although not an actual widow. Although her husband is still living, he doesn't pay too much attention to her (preferring instead to use her as arm candy), and she finds him stuffy and boring. So she turns to the frat boys and their Wacky Fratboy Hijinks...successfully.
- Deadpan Snarker: When Otter flirts with her.Otter: So we're having a toga party and you're more than welcome.Mrs. Wormer: I'm old enough to be your mother...almost.
- Lady Drunk: She drinks heavily, probably implying she isn't happy with her life.
- Mrs. Robinson: With Otter.
- Of Corsets Sexy: Somehow has one on underneath her dress.
- Put on a Bus: A newspaper reveals that she's being sent to a clinic in Sartosa (a fancy way of saying she's in rehab).
- Played by: Karen Allen
- Easily Forgiven: Boone catches her having an affair with Jennings, but the two of them manage to reconcile in the end.
- Only Sane Man: The most level-headed character in the movie.
- Teacher/Student Romance: See below.
- Women Are Wiser: She constantly wishes that Boone would stop being so immature and start acting more responsibly.
- Your Cheating Heart: She has an affair with Jennings.
- Played by: Sarah Holcomb
- Dude, She's Like, in a Coma!: When she passes out as they're making out, Pinto is given the choice to have his way with her.
- Jailbait: Don't worry, her actress was eighteen when they were filming.
- Really 17 Years Old: Actually, she's thirteen. Originally, she was written as a seventeen year old, but was changed to 13 as a Censor Decoy. The censors and MPAA didn't mind either way and the writers decided to make her 13.
- Younger Than They Look: Much to Pinto's surprise.
Mayor Carmine DePasto
- Played by: Cesare Danova
- Corrupt Politician: He extorts money from the college to finance the parade and, when Wormer offers a mild protest, replies calmly, "If you mention extortion again, I'll have your legs broken." This is not typical behavior for most small college-town mayors, but his name and accent suggest strongly that His Honor may be at the very least well-connected.
- Greater-Scope Villain: While Wormer is the main antagonist, he's taking orders from Mayor Carmine.
- I Resemble That Remark!: When Wormer calls the Mayor's order that he give money to help fund the parade "extortion" ("the use of or threat of violence to obtain something against the other person's will", meaning Wormer is calling the Mayor a criminal kingpin), the Mayor threatens Wormer with bodily harm if he uses that word again.
- Mayor Pain: The perfect example of the "criminally corrupt" version. Although the Dean was already looking for a reason to kick the Deltas out, it's De Pasto who tells Wormer that if he doesn't does it and the Deltas cause any trouble at the parade as a result, he will have the Dean's legs broken. He also strong-arms the Dean to give money to fund the parade, which explicitly will strain the college's budget.