Follow TV Tropes


Characters / Cheaper by the Dozen

Go To

    open/close all folders 

     Book Characters 

Tropes applying to more than one person:

  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: A few episodes address the kids' being embarrassed by having famous parents, especially when they themselves are dragged into Dad's doings, such as the newsreel about burying old-fashioned pencils to make way for mechanical ones, which the children never hear the end of at school. Other times the whole family falls victim to an inaccurate portrayal in the press.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Dad has a talent for sarcasm, but it clearly runs in the family (leading to Snark-to-Snark Combat). Bill and Martha are probably the leading examples among the children. Even Tom the handyman is a Servile Snarker.
  • Mother Nature, Father Science: Mother the psychologist and father the efficiency expert. Both apply their respective fields in raising a huge family, and both know that their attitudes complement each other. However, after Dad dies, she takes over his position as prime mover in the field of motion study.


  • Big Fun: Dad weighs a good deal over two hundred pounds and is quite jovial, with a mischievous sense of humor.
  • Clock King: The major driving force of Dad's character. The authors relate a story about how he cut himself shaving and resented the added time needed to put on a bandage more than the cut. The mistake would be in thinking that obsessing over efficiency would necessarily mean a joyless existence.
  • Directionless Driver: Dad frequently got lost while driving, that he ever admitted it. In fact, he frequently blamed the person trying to give him directions for getting him lost.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Dad tends to drive far too fast for Mother's comfort. He also doesn't necessarily see the other vehicles with which he's sharing the roadway.
  • Education Mama: Gender inverted; Dad is obsessed with making everything educational, via methods like having the kids listen to language records in the bath, and there's a whole chapter called "Skipping through School" about his efforts to have them skip as many grades as possible.


  • Badly Battered Babysitter: Mother usually has the home situation well in hand, but she ends up worn out after taking all the children to visit her family in California while Dad is in Washington helping with the war effort. The baby was sick and Lillian had a hurt foot on the way down and everyone gets whooping cough on the way home.
  • Red Is Heroic: She is redheaded and is goodnatured and helpful.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: She is almost-perpetually calm and polite, yet when she talks, everybody listens.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Whenever Dad tries to teach Mother how to swim, she sinks.

The Children

  • Annoying Younger Sibling: When the Gilbreth girls started dating, the younger Gilbreths, jealous of the way their older sisters' boyfriends were affecting family dynamics, took it upon themselves to make them uncomfortable.
  • Huge Girl, Tiny Guy: Anne's first boyfriend, Joe Scales, wasn't even as tall as her shoulder.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: The Gilbreths did have 12 children (though not at the same time).

    The Bakers 

Tom Baker (Steve Martin)

Kate Gilbreth-Baker (Bonnie Hunt)

Nora Baker-McNulty (Piper Perabo)

Charlie Baker (Tom Welling)

Lorraine Baker (Hilary Duff)

Henry Baker (Kevin G. Schmidt)

  • Band Geek: He's younger than the usual example, but he plays the clarinet and relies on his big brother Charlie to help him look cool.
  • Big Brother Worship: He has this for Charlie.

Sarah Baker (Alyson Stoner)

Jake Baker (Jacob Smith)

Mark Baker (Forrest Landis)

Jessica & Kim Baker (Liliana Mumy and Morgan York)

Mike Baker (Blake Woodruff)

Nigel & Kyle Baker (Brent and Shane Kinsman)


    First Movie Supporting Characters 

Shake McGuire (Richard Jenkins)

Hank (Ashton Kutcher)

The Shenks

Played by Steven Anthony Lawerence (Dylan), Paula Marshall (Tina) and Alan Ruck (Bill)
  • Henpecked Husband: Bill doesn't offer much resistance to Tina's usually domineering style of parenting, and it is subtly implied that he would've happily had more children if Tina had willed it. It's when one of the Baker children go missing though that he ignores Tina and offers whatever help he can.
  • Jerkass: Tina.
  • Nice Guy: Bill is this, having a much more open mind towards the Bakers than Tina. When she straight up refuses to help the family find Mark, Bill and Dylan immediately volunteer regardless of Tina's protests.
  • Only Child Syndrome: Dylan desperately wants to have siblings, but his mother refuses to have any more.
  • Spoiled Sweet: Dylan's family is very well off and his parents throw him a ridiculously lavish birthday party, but he doesn't have a selfish bone in his body and loves the company of the Baker kids.
  • Straw Vegetarian: Sort of. Tina mentions that she doesn't eat meat, and Tom and Kate respond in a polite-but-clearly-disapproving way.

    Second Movie Characters 

Bud McNulty (Johnathan Bennett)

Jimmy Murtaugh (Eugene Levy)

Sarina Murtaugh (Carmen Electra)

  • Hidden Depths: She is initially presented as Jimmy's Dumb Blonde trophy wife, but she truly wants to be a good mother to her stepkids. When she sees the wedge that Jimmy's pressuring and obsession with upping Tom is driving between himself and his kids, she sets him straight.

Eliot Murtaugh (Taylor Lautner)


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: