William Walker (deceased):Died of a heart attack in the first episode and was then discovered to have had a twenty-year affair, in which he fathered an illegitimate child, who turned out to not be the one we thought it was. Played by Tom Skeritt.
- The Casanova: Was apparently very successful with women, including married ones.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: A mild version. But many of his business dealings cross the line into illegality and coping with the ramifications is a major issue for his children after his death.
- The Patriarch: Was greatly respected by all of his children, despite some tensions (such as over Kevin's homosexuality). It is only after he dies that he falls from his pedestal.
- Your Cheating Heart: In addition to virtually being a bigamist, also had other affairs on the side as well.
Nora Walker (nee Holden):Widow of William. Democratic Apron Matron, with a Republican fetish. Played by Sally Field.
- Bourgeois Bohemian: Basically what you get when you combine a 1950's upper-middle class housewife with a Hippie. Nora is extremely socially-liberal, drives a Prius and is devoted to works of charity. She also lives in a huge house which probably has an even huger carbon footprint and loves to throw extravagant parties.
- Informed Judaism: Nora is Jewish, but William wasn't. For her part Nora adores holidays like Christmas that provide an excuse for decorating and family parties, but otherwise does not identify with any particular religion.
- My Beloved Smother: A major source of comedy on the show. Nora simply cannot maintain any kind of distance from her children's lives. Even though most of them are around 40.
- Open-Minded Parent: Can handle just about anything except for Kitty's political conservatism.
Sarah Walker, formerly Whedon:Oldest of the five children. Working mom supporting her husband Joe and two children, Paige and Cooper. She later gets a divorce and struggles with Joe over custody since he is considered the primary caregiver for the children. Ran the family business for a period of time after William's death, then ended up struggling with Holly and Tommy when Ojai was forced to merge with Walker Landing. Eventually remarries handsome Frenchman Luc. Played by Rachel Griffiths.
- Cool Big Sis: Often offers advice and comfort to her siblings, and in a much less pushy way than Nora.
- Family Versus Career: Sarah's constant struggle, especially with Ojai Foods being constantly on the brink of collapsing.
- Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: Nora and William had not yet married when Sarah was conceived, and it turns out that Nora's other boyfriend Nick was the actual father.
- Stacy's Mom: There's even a sex tape.
Kitty McAllister Walker
The next eldest Walker child. Republican political activist. Formerly a talk show host, but now wife and senior advisor to Senator Robert McAllister (R-CA). The Senator ran for President, but lost Super Tuesday and pulled out. Played by Calista Flockhart.
- Black Sheep: Politically-conservative in a mostly liberal family, she also has no involvement with the family business and actually moved to New York for several years.
- Blonde Republican Sex Kitten: Imagine Ann Coulter, but with a soul.
- Broken Pedestal: More than the other kids, she looked up to her father a lot so finding out he was stealing from the company and cheating on their mother for decades hit her harder.
- Cool Big Sis: Especially to Justin.
- Fox News Liberal: Despite being a popular conservative pundit, Kitty's views are very inconsistently depicted and also change a great deal over the course of the show. For example, she is initially opposed to same-sex marriage (preferring civil unions), but eventually becomes very much on the pro-marriage equality side. Could be seen as a case of Truth in Television, as a growing number of real-life Republicans have been moving this way.
- I Am Not My Mother: Tries her best to be the anti-Nora.
The middle child who has worked at Ojai Foods for his entire career, only to be passed over for running it in favor of Sarah. Of all the Walker siblings he tried the hardest to emulate what he thought his father was. His wife had twins, but one died. The resulting post-natal depression resulted in his wife going to live with her parents and him cheating on her with his secretary. Then he stole money from the company in an attempt to oust Holly, which failed and led to him running away. Played by Balthazar Getty.
- The Dutiful Son: Tried very hard to be a younger version of his father. May have succeeded more than he really wanted to.
- Jerkass: Has a really hard time caring about anyone but himself, and doesn't hide it well. He sides with Holly in taking control of Ojai because he feels he will finally be able to shine now that he is not working under Sarah, only to discover that Holly is a far more autocratic manager who is even less likely to take his opinions into account. At which point he launches an illegal scheme to oust her, and when it goes sour and he faces prosecution he leaves his wife and daughter and runs away.
- Middle Child Syndrome: Suffers from some angst in that while he is the eldest Walker son, he is the middle child. The fact that William seems to have more confidence in Sarah's business skills than in Tommy's is a source of constant tension.
- Sibling Rivalry: Feels this way towards Sarah, although she does not reciprocate.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Dutifully worked at Ojai Foods for years and was furious when his father put Sarah in charge instead of him. Holly would later frequently manipulate Tommy by telling him that things she wanted were what his father had wanted.
- Your Cheating Heart: While estranged from his wife he has an affair, with a woman Justin was also involved with.
The second youngest Walker child and a corporate lawyer, later communications director for Robert. He is frequently called upon for legal help and advice, and was the lawyer for Ojai Foods until Tommy and Holly fired him. Kevin is openly gay and dates several men over the course of the show, eventually marrying his first season love interest Scotty. Played by Matthew Rhys.
- Cool Uncle: Especially in later seasons. Paige in particular loves him and Scotty and works to prevent them from breaking up in season five.
- Properly Paranoid: Being a lawyer, Kevin dislikes informal agreements based on personal relationships and trust. Thus he often seems extremely demanding in wanting things to be done legally. For example, he wanted a Daddy DNA Test done on Rebecca when she was first presented as William's illegitimate daughter, and he wanted Scotty's friend Michelle to sign a standard surrogacy contract before carrying his and Scotty's baby. The other characters often react as if he is being mean and disrespectful. But he is often absolutely right, as was the case with Rebecca and Michelle.
- The Reliable One: Though he grumbles about it a great deal, Kevin is by far the most dependable of the Walker siblings when it comes to helping the family.
- Straight Gay: Initially taunted about this by Scotty, who was at the time a Camp Gay. However, Kevin was not in the closet and did rather excessively enjoy Wicked to the point of seeing it multiple times (and dating one of the flying monkeys).
Formerly with a drug habit, he had signed up for the American Armed Forces just after 9/11 and served in Afghanistan. When he was called back for active duty in Iraq, the family attempted to get him out of it until Justin decided he would go. There he got an unspecified leg injury via IED and picked up the drug habit again during recovery. The habit has now mostly gone after a stint of home rehab- he's a recovering addict. Played by Dave Annable.
- Annoying Younger Sibling: An adult version. Justin's emotional issues and self-destructive behavior are a source of never-ending frustration to his older siblings.
- Cool Uncle: To Paige and Cooper, especially when they were young.
- Drowning My Sorrows: Justin is an alcoholic, as well as suffering from addiction to various drugs.
- Mangst: Has a lot of emotional problems left over from the wars, and can be very resistant to talking about them, which fuels his addictions.
- Troubled, but Cute: Has drug and alcohol addictions, as well as a lot of angst. But women find him irresistible.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: It is implied that trying to win his father's approval played a big role in him enlisting in the Army after 9/11.
Rebecca Walker (nee Harper)
The aforementioned illegitimate child. Till it turned out she wasn't. Now married to Justin, who she'd earlier thought was her half brother. Played by Emily VanCamp.
- Calling The Old Woman Out: With her mother Holly, especially the fact that she kept who Rebecca's father was a secret until after his death, at which time she used it as part of her claim to some of his money and business. Again when it is revealed that William was not her father. For a while Rebecca even lived at Nora's house.
- Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: After William's death, Holly was adamant that Rebecca was William's daughter, largely for selfish reasons. William himself appears to have known that she wasn't his though. In actuality Holly's other boyfriend David was the real father.
Nora's brother and the Chief Financial Officer of Ojai Foods. Came out as gay in season two. Signed off on an ill-considered business deal that Sarah wanted to pass on, which led to the near bankruptcy of Ojai and Holly stepping in to bail it out and gain control of the company. Discovered he was HIV-positive in the Season Four finale. Played by Ron Rifkin.
- The Confidant: Knew about William's affairs, as well as some of the details of his questionable business dealings. He helped conceal both from Nora and the rest of the family.
- Informed Judaism: Much like Nora, it only comes up a couple of times.
- Nobody Over 50 Is Gay: A notable aversion of this trope. Saul and Kevin do discuss the different realities of the eras in which they lived as reason for why he was closeted.
William's longtime bit on the side, whom he kept up in a house and paid her bills. After his death she is left a large sum of money. She deeply resents the Walker's, especially Nora, and makes a point of trying to take over Ojai Foods because she wants what she never had due to not having been William's actual wife. Played by Patricia Wettig.
- Friendly Enemy: With the Walker's, especially Nora.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Ryan Lafferty is the beam.
- The Mistress: William's, for more than 20 years.
- Schemer: Engages in a lot of plots against the Walker's, with varying degrees of success, while still being on cordial enough terms with them that they (often inexplicably) allow her to hang around. Tries to be a Manipulative Bitch, but is nowhere near as good at it as she thinks she is and her plans often backfire or have negative consequences for her because she is more opportunistic than strategic.
Julia Walker (nee Ridge)
Tommy's wife, who desperately wants to have children and tries everything possible, ultimately using sperm donated by Kevin and Justin to conceive as Tommy is sterile. She gives birth prematurely and one of her twin children dies soon after. This causes her to suffer severe depression and she leaves Tommy for a while, having an affair while living with her parents. She and Tommy get back together for a while, but then split up again. Played by Sarah Jane Morris.
- Broken Bird: Julia is a sweet, loving Housewife to traditionalist breadwinner Tommy, with whom he hopes to emulate his parents seemingly idyllic marriage. But Tommy has fertility problems. One of the children they have via artificial insemination dies, she has post-partum depression, Tommy breaks the law and runs away... She is almost The Woobie.
Sarah's first husband and the father of her two children. Had been previously married and also had a teenage son by his first wife. A musician who was a stay-at-home dad because Sarah had much greater earning potential, Joe had many problems with Sarah's hectic schedule and his place in life. Eventually he and Sarah divorce and he remarries his first wife. Played by John Pyper Ferguson.
- House Husband: Joe raises the kids while Sarah works.
Senator Robert McAllister (R-CA)
The junior Senator from California and a Republican. Is lauded as a hero from the first Iraq War, but the details are a matter of debate. He hires Kitty as his communications director and later becomes her husband. Makes unsuccessful attempts to run for president and later governor of California. His career is hindered by heart problems. Died in a car accident. Played by Rob Lowe.
- Hypocrite: Takes a high moral stance about restoring honor and decency to politics, but engages in a lot of backroom deals and frequently lies to Kitty about his political plans.
- Informed Attribute: Robert is supposed to be a Republican, but his onscreen political views often sound more like Bill Clinton or Barack Obama than George Bush or Mitt Romney.
A twentysomething guy that Kevin initially meets because he was a temp worker at a company that Kevin was involved in suing and was a witness to malfeasance. Scotty also works as a cater-waiter while attending cooking school and working as an apprentice chef. The two would have an on/off relationship for a while before Scotty finally ended up becoming Kevin's husband. Scotty is greatly loved by the Walker's and probably the favorite out of all the spouses.
- Camp Gay: But only in the first season. He subsequently tones it down as he matures and becomes a Straight Gay.
- Cool Uncle: Paige in particular really likes Scotty.
- Supreme Chef: The only character on the show who can cook better than Nora. Of course, he is a professional.
- Your Cheating Heart: While Kevin was depressed and emotionally distant after the big car pileup, Scotty had a one-time affair with a waiter.
Sarah's new French artist boyfriend, and later second husband.
- Everyone Looks Sexier If French: A simple swim in Nora's pool turns into a spectator sport for all the straight female and gay male members of the family.
- Tall, Dark, and Handsome: And how!
The new sibling introduced when it was revealed that Rebecca was not William's daughter. He thinks his mother killed herself when William tried to pay her off.
- It's Personal: Let's just say that Holly bringing him into Ojai Foods, the company once owned by the man he blames for the death of his mother, was not a good idea.
- Pretty Boy: Almost waifish.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: For Rebecca, once it was decided that she had so much romantic chemistry with Justin that they retconned her paternity. Approximately the same age and meant to repeat the same role as Rebecca had in season one.