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Earnest 'Earn' Marks

Played by: Donald Glover

  • Adorkable: An awkward young black man who tries hard to be cool but it's adorable. Look at his cheering for Alfred after he gets the money they owed. It's nothing but adorable.
  • Author Avatar: Admittedly to a cynical amount.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Implied.
  • Broken Ace: Handsome and intelligent (he attended Princeton) but can't seem to get his act together and better himself. He frequently makes poor choices and is fairly irresponsible.
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  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: From Alfred's perspective. Much like his barber, Earn takes a lot of unnecessary detours on what should be straight forward work, frustrating Alfred and pushing him to consider dumping him as a manager. Thing is, even with all the frustrations, at the end of the day Earn knows Alfred and more importantly what Alfred wants.
  • Butt-Monkey: Homeless, Broke, treated like a doormat by everyone including his family.
  • Homeless Hero: To an extent; he lives in a garage.
  • I Coulda Been a Contender!: Had he stood at Princeton and completed his education he could be far more successful than he is now.
  • Ivy League for Everyone: Attended Princeton University, but dropped out for unspecified reasons.
  • Jaded Washout: Earn had a great deal of potential as he attended Princeton, but his insistence upon regarding himself as this generally shows up as being one of his largest flaws.
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  • The Load: As Alfred finally tells him in "North of the Border", Earn is a terrible manager.
  • Loser Protagonist
  • Manchild: Although an unusually sympathetic version, Earn is still pretty irresponsible, immature, and relies on his girlfriend, Van, and Alfred for almost everything.
  • Nice, Mean, and In-Between: The "nice" to Paper Boi's "mean" and Darius's "in-between".
  • No Respect Guy: Illustrated perfectly in the episode "Money Bag Shawty" where even though he has money, no one respects him enough to let him spend it properly.
  • Only Sane Man: At times, notably in "Alligator Man".
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: In Season 2, Paper Boi's success along with his own misfortunes have made him increasingly self-centered and apathetic to Vanessa's feelings. He also becomes noticeably more volatile to the point where a weekend of bad decisions culminates in him challenging ex-con Tracy to a fist fight. It doesn't go well for him.

Alfred 'Paper Boi' Miles

  • Fat and Skinny: The "fat" to Darius's "skinny".
  • Feet of Clay: Played with. He makes a point to appear more badass than he is, but he can back it up occasionally, though it seems he would prefer not to.
  • Lonely at the Top: Played with. He has a lot more friends due to his fame, but he struggles with finding genuine friends.
  • N-Word Privileges: Much of his dialogue is peppered with this
  • Neighborhood-Friendly Gangsters: To the point of seeking a music career.
  • Nice, Mean, and In-Between: The "mean" to Earl's "nice" and Darius's "in-between" but even then, Paper Boi isn't exactly mean, he mostly just puts it on for the sake of his career. Most of the time.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: He's a pretty laid back guy but after the shooting in the pilot he's developed a status as a thug. As seen in "The Club" he's got no problem switching into thug-mode on the spot, slapping around a stingy club owner to get his earnings.
  • Sherlock Scan: Pulls an especially noticeable one in "The Jacket", but he also has to be very alert due to his career.
  • The Stoner: Many of the episodes involve Paper Boi smoking or searching for weed.
  • Voice of Reason: Seems to be this to Earn at times.

Darius Epps

Vanessa 'Van' Keefer

Played by: Zazie Beetz

  • Closer to Earth: Van isn't involved in the rap industry and generally just wants Earn to become more stable.
  • Cool Teacher: She was an elementary school teacher and she's pretty cool as a person.
  • A Day in the Limelight: "Value", which only briefly shows Earn and Paperboi, and "Juneteenth" and "Helen" both focus on her and Earn's relationship.
  • Twofer Token Minority: The only woman in the main cast who's also Half-German and Half African-American.
  • The Smurfette Principle: The only regularly-appearing female character.
  • Women Are Wiser: Downplayed, as she does get fired after making the huge mistake of admitting to smoking weed, but she isn't involved in the level of corruption and dodgy dealings as the rest of the main characters, and rightly scorns them.

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