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Characters / City Guys

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The following is a list of tropes applying to characters from the 1997-2001 NBC series City Guys.

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    Main characters 

Chris Robert/Mortimer Anderson (Scott Whyte)

  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Several episodes depict him as Book Dumb, though "Get to Preppin'" paints him as this, through a self-realization that he later explains to his father about when he doesn't feel right about getting good grades for work he's not doing to rightfully earn them.
  • The Cast Showoff: He demonstrates his talent with the guitar in a few episodes, in particular "Havoc," in which he joins a rock band while attempting to balance being in a jazz band with El-Train, Al and Jamal.
  • Chick Magnet: Subverted, as Chris has his share of Girls of the Week throughout the series; however, he is attracted to Cassidy for most of the series, she usually rebuffed his advances until season four, when they became a couple for a time.
  • The Determinator:
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Chris' middle name is referred to as "Mortimer" in "Get to Preppin'". However, this retcons the pilot, in which his middle name is said to be Robert.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: In "Frisky Business," Chris returns from spending the summer in Europe, with a shorter haircut. He states the reason he did it was because his long hair got him mistaken for a girl and while touring Italy, he was hit on by men who threw him "pick-up vowels" ("aaay, oooh, eeee!").
  • The Leader
  • Mistaken for Cheating:
  • New Transfer Student: Chris transferred to Manny High after being discharged from military school in the pilot episode, so he's not any newer to the audience than the other characters.
  • Official Couple + Relationship Upgrade: With Cassidy, during season four (beginning with "When Al Met Dawn") and the early part of season five (ending with "E-Breakup").
  • Opposites Attract: With Zoe, the goth girl, in "A Guy and a Goth".
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Does this when Cassidy pulls his ear during rehearsals for a radio mystery in "The Third Wheel," after saying that guys make lousy screamers compared to girls.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: The reasoning behind Chris' protesting the shutdown of WMNE radio in "Shocked Jock," by staging a pirate radio show.
  • Spoiled Brat: Chris isn't one himself, but he does feel as if he was in "Get to Preppin'," when his father pulled strings to get him back into his old prep school by donating money to his old prep school and convinced to teachers to reward Chris for work he doesn't have to earn good grades to get.
  • Those Two Guys: With Jamal.

Jamal Abdul Grant (Wesley Jonathan)

  • The Ace: Jamal is depicted as this in "Mr. Baseball," which leads to...
  • Acquired Situational Narcissism: Occurs to Jamal in "Mr. Baseball," after he leads Manny High's baseball game to victory. He becomes humbled though, when he fails to help the team win their next game, causing him to make the rash decision to quit the team.
  • Black Best Friend: To Chris.
  • Characterization Marches On:
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Chris.
  • Missing Mom: "Bye, Mom" reveals that his mother died when he was younger.
  • New Transfer Student: Like Chris, Jamal's not any newer to the audience than the other characters, as he transferred to Manny High after in the pilot episode. In his case, it's because he was kicked out of Brooklyn High School for getting into fights.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: In "Keep on the Download," Chris and Jamal break into the radio studio at Washington Prep one night, as part of an escalating series of pranks between them and their rivals at Washington's school radio station WFAK. Jamal decides to cut a wire on the studio's broadcasting equipment, and accidentally short-circuit the entire thing when they turn it on. In fairness, Jamal was the one who came up with the idea to mess up the radio equipment, it just ended up going more wrong than he intended.
  • Those Two Guys: With Chris.
  • Two First Names
  • You Know I'm Black, Right?: The focus of the season four episode "Jamal X". After Jamal's professor uncle Kadeem speaks to the class about the struggles of African-Americans, Jamal becomes a radicalist black pride activist, and ends up shutting out his non-white friends in the process. Chris, Ms. Noble and El-Train call him out on his reverse racism in excluding his "non-nubian" friends, and later realizes his errors.

Dawn Tartikoff (Caitlin Mowrey)

  • Adorkable: How she was characterized in season one.
  • Alcoholic Parent: Dawn's mother is shown to be one in "Mom on the Rocks".
  • Beta Couple: With Al, during season four (beginning with "When Al Met Dawn") and the early part of season five (ending with "E-Breakup").
  • The B Grade: In "Get to Preppin'," Dawn earns all Bs during her midterm exams, even scoring six points lower than Cassidy on her English midterms... and as Cassidy reveals to Al later on, after allaying Dawn's concerns by claiming she lied about her grade to show Dawn she is too obsessed with her grades, that El-Train of all people even got a better score than Dawn did. Believing that she's becoming dumber, Dawn asks Ms. Noble to be held back a year because of it. Noble, needless to say, was having none of it.
    Ms. Noble: "You, another year? Uh-uh! Al? Come get your girl!"
  • Characterization Marches On: Early episodes had her depicted as much more of a Soapbox Sadie, whom everybody was annoyed by. Later episodes started to downplay this somewhat (with only Ms. Noble being the one who she annoyed and the others simply just not trying to get out of the causes she participates in), with certain episodes that have her as a center of the main plot taking note of her better traits and flaws.
  • Cute Bruiser: Dawn just so happens to be a member of Manny High's self-defense committee... and as "Who Da Man" shows, she's capable of defending herself or anyone else. Dawn ends up flipping a guy who takes Al's jacket (which he gave up to the robber) while they and Cassidy were on the subway.
  • Extracurricular Enthusiast: Among other things, she is the station manager of Manny High's radio station WMNE, is a member of the school's bowling team (though she stinks at bowling for the most part), was a school student monitor and has served as one of Ms. Noble's appointed assistant principals (with Cassidy).
  • Genki Girl
  • Go-Getter Girl
  • Good Is Not Nice: Although quirky and reasonably personable, Dawn can quite often be very pushy and as "Red Dawn" shows, a little vindictive, to the point of almost borderlining on being an Academic Alpha Bitch. Cassidy calls her out on her pushiness in "Just for the Record," regarding how she acts during their short tenure as assistant principals.
  • Granola Girl: Started off as this in season one.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: She becomes this in "Red Dawn," after Al (whom she mutually broke up with in "E-Breakup") begins seeing a girl named Brittany. Cassidy tries to help Dawn get a date to the school dance to make Al jealous. After that fails, Dawn hatches a plan to break the two up by sending herself flowers claiming to be from Al. After Al finds out and confronts Dawn, Brittany breaks up with him. After Cassidy helps her realize that Al needs to move on at his own pace, Dawn decides to give Brittany her blessing to date him.
  • I Can't Dance: In "The College Girl," Dawn is named "worst dancer" in the school's annual "Best/Worst List," to her dismay. Al's response when asking her friends if they agree puts it best, "on a scale from 1 to 10, you horrible". She later busts out her excuse for moves in front of Jamal and El-Train, the latter of whom even says Dawn's dancing is scary. After a clumsy dance lesson with Jamal and El-Train, she ends up dumping them for Al, who helps her get the hang of it.
  • Idiot Ball: From "Just for the Record". For future reference when reading the class roll call, Dawn, Oliver Clothesov and Anita Mann are not names of real people. Well... there are probably a few Anita Manns, but either name, you should be suspicious of.
    Ms. Noble: "All right. First up: Oliver Clothesov ['all of her clothes off']?" (class laughs, Cassidy sarcastically chuckles) "What's so funny? Is Oliver hiding?" (class laughs as Cassidy sneers at them) "OK, I wanna see Oliver Clothesov right now!"
    Cassidy: "Just skip him!"
    Dawn: "OK. Next: Anita Mann ['I need a man']?" (class laughs) "Would you please stop laughing and help me? Anita Mann?!" (class laughs)
  • Large Ham
  • Leader Wannabe: And, a lot of her attempts fail.
  • The Load: "Alley Oops" shows that Dawn is a terrible bowler, which leads Chris, Jamal and Al to replace her with the considerably better El-Train (who didn't even know bowling balls were supposed to have holes).
  • No Indoor Voice: She has a tendency to get loose with the volume ("AMEN ON THAT!").
  • Soapbox Sadie: Was originally depicted as this in season one, to the point of annoying other students (and Ms. Noble). Toned down with her season two recharacterization as the Smart Girl Quirk.
  • The Smart Girl
  • Those Two Girls: With Cassidy.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Dawn was originally characterized as this to an extent due to her quirky behavior and tendency to rope others into her causes... even Ms. Noble was annoyed by her. These traits were dropped in season two.
  • Totally Radical: Her rare use of contemporary slang usually ends up as this. Dawn's use of phrases like "Coolio, brotha" and "rock-and-roll, baby, yow!" is very awkward coming from someone so straight-laced.
  • Twitchy Eye: Well, Twitchy Eyebrow (although when we see it, it fits the actual trope, given both eyes flutter and for some reason, her mouth twitches as well when it happens). In "Subway Confessions," she says that it occurs when she lies. Sure enough, when Dawn and Cassidy tell their "Rashomon"-Style story about why they were late to school, the twitch makes her look like "a freak," as she says it would.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Again with Cassidy. The two may snipe at each other at times, but for the most part are very close friends, and are there for each other when push comes to shove.

Alberto "Al" Ramos (Dion Basco)

  • The Ace: Al is shown to be an excellent soccer player in "Kickin' It," so much so that the coach promotes him to starter.
  • Always Save the Girl: Something Al wishes he did in "Who Da Man," but it's Dawn, who ends up saving him from two guys who rob his jacket on the subway. When he tells her about how emasculated he feels, Dawn decides to act as a stereotypical helpless girl to prove a point.
  • Beta Couple: With Dawn, during season four (beginning with "When Al Met Dawn") and the early part of season five (ending with "E-Breakup").
  • Book Dumb
  • Deadpan Snarker
  • Friend in the Black Market
  • Get Rich Quick Scheme: Al was continually hatching these. They usually tended to blow up in his face by his own doing or some other circumstance.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Al becomes jealous of Nate, a new student whom Dawn has been hanging out with (to get him acclimated at Manny High and to plan the school dance), in "Making Up is Hard to Do". His worries are alleviated when Nate informs Al that Dawn talked about him the whole time they were working together... which leads Al to bail on a plan to spray Nate with ink when he opens the raffle box. The misunderstanding that led to Al and Dawn breaking up is rectified by the end of the episode.
  • High School Hustler: Al frequently sells things or buys things on the black or grey market, such as the Knicks tickets in the episode of the same name that were for the previous night's game and the DJ booth in "The Date," that he got from the evidence room at the police station and gets repossessed before the school dance ends.
  • In-Series Nickname: Occasionally referred to as "The Rocket" or "Rocketman". Al's soccer coach in "Kickin' It" calls him the "Pocket Rocket".
  • Opposites Attract: Hustler Al and Dawn, the smart girl who usually stays farther away from the wrong side of the law than where Al skirts. Not surprisingly, their lack of common interests is the reason why he and Dawn breakup in "E-Breakup".
  • The Slacker: Al becomes one in "Kickin' It," when his soccer coach starts giving him preferential treatment on schoolwork so he can play on the team. Despite Dawn telling him that the coach is treating him this way, it takes Ms. Noble to make him realize that being an athlete is not an excuse for shirking his homework responsibilities.
  • Teens Are Short: Some jokes in the show refers to Al's short stature, as Dion Basco is, by far, the shortest of the show's main cast; it's especially noticeable when compared to Steven Daniel ("El-Train" Johnson), who is almost a foot taller than Basco (and the rest of the cast members playing the teenage main characters for that matter, who are roughly the same height as one another).
  • Those Two Guys: With El-Train.
  • Token Minority: He is the only character who is not white or black. Al's specific race is not specified, although it is implied he (like his portrayer, Dion Basco) is Filipino. "Gift of Friendship" infers he and his siblings are of Hispanic (on the father's side) and Asian (on the mother's) descent, made apparent by the casting of his family members.
  • Unmanly Secret: Al inadvertently reveals that he has a diary (which he insists is a journal) in "Red Dawn," .
  • Young Entrepreneur: His selling of Glo-sketballs in "Mo' Money, Mo' Problems" and the Pierre la Pooch dolls in "Miracle on 134th Street and Lexington Avenue".

Cassidy Giuliani (Marissa Dyan)

  • The Chick
  • Christmas Cake: She reveals in "Mo' Money, Mo' Problems," that she lied to her agent about her age, saying she was 15, when she's really 17.
  • Closer to Earth: Cassidy is usually depicted as a little more down to earth one than her friends... especially moreso than El-Train, very much moreso.
  • Compressed Vice: Her caffeine pill addiction in "Over the Speed Limit".
  • Daddy's Girl: "Papa Please" infers that her and her father have a good relationship and usually communicate well, despite the fact that she wasn't able to stand up her father about him forbidding her from dating Chris.
  • Dating What Daddy Hates: In "Papa Please," Chris makes a bad first impression on Cassidy's father Peter by cutting him off in the parking spot and bumbling his way through their first meeting, leading Mr. Guiliani to forbid her from dating Chris. In order to keep seeing Chris without her dad's knowledge, Cassidy takes Jamal's advice to have El-Train pose as her boyfriend, feeling Chris will look better by comparsion if she dates somebody weirder than whom Peter thinks Chris is. It gets subverted when El-Train actually gets along with Peter over their interest in golf. The plan blows up in her face when her dad finds out the truth, when seeing Cassidy and Chris on a date.
  • Drives Like Crazy: She is a virtual Driving Disaster Area as shown in "Big Brothers"... and, we mean virtual in the literal sense. While using a driving simulator in class, Cassidy does so badly, making a litany of errors (including nearly crashing into a bus, nearly hitting an old woman on a crosswalk and driving on the sidewalk), that she manages to actually short-circuit the simulator, leading to Al remarking that she "took out more of New York than Godzilla did". The experience is not made more relaxing by El-Train's yelling, which she calls him out on. In fairness, she did mention earlier in the episode that she sucks at driving simulators. She somehow later does pass, with the lowest passing score in the history of the driver's ed class.
  • Dude Magnet:
  • Green-Eyed Monster: In "Mo' Money, Mo' Problems," Cassidy becomes jealous when Dawn gets an audition for a film project from Enzo Perelli, a well-known Italian film director teaching the class, over her. She decides to sabotage Dawn by telling her never to be on time, clown the script and to say "blow it out your ear" as an acting expression along the lines of "break a leg". Cassidy comes to her senses later on, but Dawn teaches her a lesson by having Cassidy step in for her, and letting her get pied in her face during the audition.
  • Name's the Same: Cassidy shares the same last name as Rudolph Guiliani, who was the Mayor of New York City in Real Life during the show's run.
  • Official Couple: With Chris.
  • Second Episode Introduction
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Sort of. Cassidy could be seen as this to Tina, the gang's classmate in the pilot, mainly in their sassiness and the fact that both rebuff Chris' advances.
  • Those Two Girls: With Dawn.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Again with Dawn. The two may snipe at each other at times, but for the most part are very close friends, and are there for each other when push comes to shove.

Lionel Hezekiah "El-Train" Johnson (Steven Daniel)

  • Achievements in Ignorance:
  • Afraid of Doctors: In "Shocked Jock," El-Train tries to cover up the fact that he's afraid of dentists, when he breaks his tooth just before peforming WMNE's launch broadcast. He resorts to wearing a special helmet to treat his toothache. Cassidy drags him to the dentist's office, but it isn't until he sees the attractive dentist while there that he forgets about his fear.
  • Agent Mulder: "Party of Three" shows that El-Train firmly believes in the existence of aliens... after watching an episode of Trope Namer TheXFiles. He decides to signal an alien spaceship while at Dawn's comet viewing party on Manny High's roof in an attempt to befriend them. His use of airplane signalers to attract them inadertently disrupts airplane traffic near the school and causes the NYPD to shut down the party.
  • Berserk Button: Never insult El-Train's mom, or you'll regret it... even if you're a cute girl playing chess against him.
  • Bewarethe Silly Ones: El-Train may be a loveable goofball for much of the series, but "Bully, Bully" makes a Call-Back to the pilot, when he was the meanest bully at Manny High. A few episodes have El-Train intimidating some students to get people to do what he wants, such as "Dance Fever," when he gets a boy to donate his jacket while volunteering for a clothing drive.
  • The Big Guy
  • Bruiser with a Soft Center
  • Catchphrase: "Don't try to fool a fool, fool," said in later seasons, when he thinks someone is lying.
  • Characterization Marches On: In "New Kids," El-Train was depicted as the school bully. Episodes afterward depict him as the dumb goofball that fans knew for the rest of the series.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Oh, so much.
  • Comically Missing the Point
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass
  • Dumb Muscle: Emphasis on "dumb". He thought that Nebraska was one of the U.S. states that started with "new," thought there were states named New Atlanta and East Dakota and thought that earning three As in a row on tests would get him into AAA (as in the American Automobile Association)! And, that's just scratching the surface.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Acts like this as the T.A. in driver's ed in "Big Brothers". It pays off in the end as the entire class passes, even Cassidy, who blew the driving simulator... up.
  • Face–Heel Revolving Door: "Bully, Bully" makes a Call-Back to his former depiction as a bully, when he briefly falls back into his old ways after knocking out a guy who stole his basketball from Al, whom El-Train had loaned the ball to, and begins running with the crowd of the guy he hit.
  • Good Luck Charm: A troll doll named Gomez is El-Train's in "Havoc". Cassidy and Dawn don't believe that the doll is good luck at first, until they find out he aced a physics test (as well as another exam later) and see him get a date thanks to the doll. The girls decide to break into his locker when El-Train refuses to give Gomez to either of them, and fight over it with Cassidy pulling of the "good luck" head. They find out though that the troll they had is a decoy, and hidden in El-Train's pocket is the real Gomez, which El-Train accidentally drops off the roof ledge.
  • Hidden Depths: El-Train knew all three nicknames used to refer to catfish in "Keep on the Download". He is also a great bowler, as shown in "Alley Oops," although he doesn't know a thing about the sport (he didn't understand that bowling balls are supposed to have just three holes... or holes to put your fingers in, for that matter). "Get to Preppin'" shows that things El-Train learns in school do stick if he applies himself, even being able to recite the definition and derivation of the word "analogy". In "Wager Money Go" he delivers a surprisingly nuanced opinion of school busing (admittedly, while misinterpreting an instruction from Jamal's dad).
  • In-Series Nickname
  • Large Ham: He has his moments.
  • Lethally Stupid: While dining at a Japanese restaurant with Al, Dawn and a girl Al set him up with to keep him away in "The Third Wheel," El-Train nearly sets their table on fire in a bungled attempt to try cook like the hibachi chef. The others run away before he flambés.
  • "L" Is for "Dyslexia": El-Train discovers he has dyslexia after failing tests at school and an Marines admissions test in "Saving Private Johnson".
  • Malaproper: He's the clown prince of this trope in the TNBC universe. Among them, he confuses "irreversible psychology" with "reverse psychology," "bald-headed lie" with "bald-faced lie" and "epidemic axcellence" with "academic excellence" (the latter, ironically, occurred when he, as student body president, helped accept Manny High's academic excellence award... clearly, they weren't entirely successful).
  • Nice Guy
  • One Head Taller: El-Train (and by association, Steven Daniel) is the tallest of any of the characters in the series, and is about a foot taller than the shortest of the group, Al (and his portrayer, Dion Basco).
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: The only characters who address him as "Lionel" are his mother and Ms. Noble.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Originally a recurring character during the first season, becomes a regular in season two.
  • Psychic Powers: El-Train believes he has premonitions in "Cassidy Couch," after a bonk to his head when he falls out of his bunk bed leads to a series of dreams (including ones in which a girl asks Jamal out, Al and Dawn get in trouble with Ms. Noble for forgetting to show some foreign exchange students around the school) come true. During a Get Rich Quick scheme in which El-Train charges radio callers for predictions, he ends up having a premonition that Death will be visiting Ms. Noble, which he misreads her friend Beth as.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Subverted as all get out, as El-Train does not qualify as "smart" outside of some rare Hidden Depths, including his ability to play chess. But he does become part of Al's plan to hustle other chess players at Washington Square Park in "Raise the Roofies".
  • Those Two Guys: With Al.
  • Took a Level in Dumbass/Took A Level In Genius: In the case of the former trope, he is one of the most extreme examples. His mind even blanks out while trying to solve his locker combination. Through Hidden Depths, though, episodes show that he is able to apply himself in school at times, particularly when properly motivated, to where he actually manages to graduate at the end of the series.
  • Unmanly Secret: El-Train reveals to Dawn in "Mom on the Rocks" that he dances ballet. Al and Jamal clown him when they see him wear tights before rehearsing for the school ballet production. Though the fact that he gets to dance with beautiful girls leads Jamal and Al to join the show.
  • Wacky Guy

Karen Coretta Noble (Marcella Lowery)

  • Berserk Button: If you value your health, don't do something hilariously boneheaded and do not scuff up or damage the gym floor, or Coach Fuller will start yelling. He even forced NBA star Cedric Ceballos to clean up the marks his shoes made on the floor in the tag scene from "Harvest Moon".
  • Black Boss Lady: As the principal, she's tough when necessary and reasonable generally.
  • Closer to Earth
  • Deadpan Snarker
  • Death Glare: The kids often back down of their foot-in-mouth or whiny moments when she gives these.
  • Foil: She usually catches on to the kids' schemes.
  • The Mentor
  • Only Sane Person
  • Parental Substitute: In the season one finale "Bye, Mom," Jamal states that he thinks of Ms. Noble as a mother figure.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: She is stern, sassy and refuses to take crap from her students, but Ms. Noble is, bar none, a competent principal/teacher who is willing to teach her students important life lessons, whether she has to be sneaky or direct in doing it. Even Chris and Jamal occasionally admit that Ms. Noble is a lot more reasonable than they give her credit for. "Bye, Mom" even states that Jamal looks to her as a substitute mother figure.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Invokes this whenever the teens get into trouble or lie to her face.
  • Worthy Opponent: She's one of the few people who can keep tabs with the characters' schemes and catch them in them on a regular basis.


    Recurring characters 

Virgil Grant (Ivory Ocean)

Billy Stephenson (Alex Morris)

  • Love Interest: To Ms. Noble, whom eventually becomes his wife in "Principal of the Bride".


Example of: