The characters from Dawson's Creek.
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Played by: James Van Der Beek
- The All-American Boy: Dawson is the classic clean-cut all-American nice guy.
- Amicable Exes: With both Jen and Joey. Although he had romantic relationships with both, he still managed to remain friends with both of them after their relationships ended.
- Anchored Ship: Dawson had this type of relationship with Joey throughout the show.
- Anguished Declaration of Love: Many, many, many times with Joey throughout the show. Especially in Season 2, Episode 6 when Dawson tells Joey that he loves her for the first time. Unfortunately, he tells her he loves her (and Joey tells Dawson she loves him as well) when they have their first break up.
- Author Avatar: The character of Dawson Leery is basically the life story of the creator of Dawson's Creek, Kevin Williamson. The story basically tells the life of Kevin during his youth through the character of Dawson. Like Dawson, Kevin had big dreams of becoming a successful director and filmmaker.
- Bash Brothers: With Pacey. Later on, they went from being best friends to being enemies and rivals.
- Berserk Button: DO NOT call Dawson "Oompa Loompa". It won't be pretty.
- Better as Friends: First with Jen and then way later on, with Joey.
- Betty and Veronica: Originally, Dawson is the Archie to Joey's Betty and Jen's Veronica. Later on, particularly in Seasons 3 and 4, he becomes the Betty to Pacey's Veronica for Joey's Archie.
- Childhood Friend Romance: Best friends with Joey since childhood, they have a Relationship Upgrade as teens but eventually don't end up together.
- Cock Fight: With Pacey, over the affections of Joey.
- Crazy Jealous Guy: Dawson would often get very jealous and possessive, especially where Joey was concerned.
- Did Not Get the Girl: In the series finale, Joey ends up picking Pacey over Dawson as her romantic partner.
- Dogged Nice Guy: To Joey.
- Establishing Character Moment: He spends much of the pilot obsessively trying to prove his mother and/or father are cheating on one another in order to "spice up" his movie about them. Joey calls him on out on how he has a family she would kill for but wants them flawed just for "drama."
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Melancholic.
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Dawson is generally kind, caring and protective of his family and friends.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Pacey. Before Joey came between them and broke up their friendship in season three.
- I Don't Want to Ruin Our Friendship: Primarily with Joey. He sometimes feared that getting romantically involved with Joey would ruin their strong friendship.
- Informed Ability: Dawson's ability to direct. Although almost every character tells him that he has the potential to be an excellent director, it is hardly shown throughout the show.
- It's All About Me: At times, Dawson can be very self absorbed. Although most of this has to do with Dawson's immaturity and the fact that he is a deep thinker and a dreamer. He often gets caught up in his own thoughts, ideas and problems that he loses track of the thoughts and problems of those around him, especially Joey and Pacey. Even though Dawson is Pacey's best friend, Dawson is sometimes rather oblivious to the emotional abuse that Pacey endures at home.
- It's Not You, It's Me: Primarily in his relationships with Jen and Joey. Dawson would often say that him breaking up with either Jen or Joey had nothing to do with them or anything that they did but it's because of him and what he feels.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Even though Dawson loved Joey, he always wanted what was best for her, even if it wasn't him.
- The Leader: Dawson is Type II.
- The Movie Buff: Dawson is extremely knowledgeable about films, directors, producers and can name a film or director at the top of his head without even thinking.
- My Girl Is Not a Slut: Towards Jen in Season 1. After Jen confesses to Dawson that she isn't a virgin, Dawson continues to believe that just because she has had sex, she isn't promiscuous.
- Nice Guy: Despite his flaws and questionable moments, he's generally a goodhearted person.
- Oblivious to Love: To Joey for the majority of Season 1, and also, long before the series began (since their childhood).
- Official Couple: With Joey throughout the series.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Dawson and Pacey with Dawson as the Blue Oni to Pacey's Red Oni.
- Relationship Upgrade: With Joey, from season two onwards.
- Romantic Runner-Up: To Pacey. In the series finale, Joey ends up with Pacey.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Dawson is the Sensitive Guy to Pacey's Manly Man.
- Silly Rabbit, Cynicism Is for Losers!: Dawson always calls out Joey for being way to pessimistic, jaded and cynical about everything.
- Starcrossed Lovers: With Joey.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: Dawson and Joey always had a sexual tension between them going back to season one, however, most of the sexual tension was on behalf of Joey for Dawson, since Dawson was oblivious to Joey's feelings for him.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Dawson is the epitome of someone who is too idealistic. Dawson is a self-proclaimed optimist and dreamer. Even if something goes wrong, he always believes that things will get better, even if the situation looks extremely dire. Both Joey and Pacey frequently call Dawson out on his overly idealistic, dreamer personality.
- Will They or Won't They?: With Joey, especially in the first season.
Josephine "Joey" Potter
Played by: Katie Holmes
- Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: Joey is tall and brunette. She is also calm, cool, composed and aloof in nature.
- Always Second Best: Felt this way about Jen in season 1, because Jen is seen more desirable by boys, especially Dawson.
- Amicable Exes: With Dawson. Even though they both admitted that they were each other's soulmate, they still remained close friends.
- Anchored Ship: With Dawson throughout the series.
- Anguished Declaration of Love: To Dawson many times.
- Betty and Veronica: Joey is initially the Betty to Jen's Veronica for Dawson's Archie. Later on, Joey is the Archie to Dawson's Betty and Pacey's Veronica.
- Break the Cutie: Bordering on Break the Haughty considering her personality.
- Brainy Brunette: She's the smartest of the group, gets perfect grades, and has brown hair.
- Broken Bird: Joey is generally cynical, pessimistic and sarcastic in nature. She is essentially troubled and comes from a rather dysfunctional family. Her mother died of cancer when she was younger and her father is a convicted felon who is a drug trafficker.
- Brutal Honesty: Joey is very blunt and sarcastic. She is opinionated and will never hesitate to say exactly what is on her mind, even if it isn't something pleasant.
- Cannot Spit It Out: Since childhood, Joey has always had romantic feelings for Dawson, but Dawson only saw Joey as his best friend.
- Character Tics: Often tucks her hair behind her ear.
- Almost always shakes her head while talking, especially during dramatic moments.
- Childhood Friend Romance: First, with Dawson and later on with Pacey. Although, her primary childhood romance is with Dawson. Although she has known both Dawson and Pacey since childhood, she was only in love with Dawson during childhood.
- Clingy Jealous Girl: In the first season, she was jealous of any girl who even made eyes at Dawson, most notably Jen.
- Cool Loser: Early on, especially in season 1. She's depicted as being stereotypically unpopular, despite being beautiful and intelligent. Joey becomes more approachable and popular later on in the series; she even begins to become a Dude Magnet, especially after she grows out of her tomboy phase and embraces her femininity.
- The Cynic: Joey is the epitome of cynical and pessimistic. She even teases Dawson about being too much of an idealist, an eternal optimist and a dreamer.
- Deadpan Snarker: Joey is the embodiment of this trope. She is almost always sarcastic.
- Deus Angst Machina: Joey has been through a lot of tragedy in her life.
- Deuteragonist: Joey is the deuteragonist to Dawson's protagonist. Even in Season 1, when she is billed fourth in the credits, she was always the second most important character. In fact, from season 2 onwards, she's billed second.
- Disappeared Dad: Her father was in prison for quite some time after Joey's mother died.
- Dude Magnet: Joey doesn't really attract the opposite sex during her high school years. However, later on in the series, she starts to have an abundance of different boyfriends and love interests other than her main object of affection Dawson (these include Pacey, Anderson, Eddie, Jack, A.J., Charlie, Professor David Wilder).
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: The Choleric.
- Girliness Upgrade: Originally, Joey starts out as a tomboy who lacks any femininity. However, later on in the series, she becomes much more in touch with her girly side. She wears more feminine clothing and ups her cosmetic usage.
- Girl Next Door: She is generally a nice, wholesome girl who has known her male neighbor (Dawson) since childhood.
- Go-Getter Girl: Joey is highly ambitious, scholarly, hard-working, gets straight A's and often volunteers in school extra curricular activities.
- Hollywood Nerd: Joey is kind of a nerd since she is a major bookworm and a bit of a loner. However, she is not at all unattractive in physical appearance.
- Huge Schoolgirl: Joey is very tall (5'9); she is this height at only 15 years of age (which is the age she is at the start of the show). She feels insecure about her height especially in the beginning.
- I Just Want to Be Special: Joey has always yearned to be seen as beautiful and special, especially to Dawson.
- Informed Attribute: Joey's "it" during the college years. She went from merely being seen as very pretty to an absolute knockout whom no heterosexual male in her vicinity could resist falling in love with.
- Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: Light Feminine to Jen's and Audrey's Dark Feminine. Somewhat played with as she is a Brainy Brunette and they are both blondes.
- Love Hurts: In all of her romantic relationships, but primarily with Dawson.
- Love Interest: Joey is the main love interest to the protagonist Dawson. She later on becomes a love interest for Pacey.
- Missing Mom: Joey's mother, Lillian, died of cancer when Joey was thirteen.
- Nerds Are Sexy: Joey is a brainiac, but it doesn't prevent her from attracting members of the opposite sex left and right.
- Odd Friendship: With Audrey in college. Joey and Audrey couldn't be more different in personalities and temperaments but nevertheless, they develop a rather strong friendship. Also has an odd friendship with Jen to a much lesser extent, since two originally started out as rivals.
- Official Couple: With Dawson throughout the series. Also with Pacey in season three onwards.
- Parental Abandonment: Joey's mother died when she was thirteen and Joey's father has been in and out of prison for drug trafficking. Because of this, Joey was mostly raised by her elder sister, Bessie.
- She's All Grown Up: Joey was never found to be attractive or appealing to her childhood friends Dawson and Pacey. At least not until Joey's teen and adult years.
- Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!: Joey often lectures Dawson about being too idealistic and too much of a dreamer.
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Mostly with Dawson but also with Pacey.
- Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Although the series is named Dawsons Creek and the main character and protagonist is Dawson, Joey is the only character who had been in all of the episodes.
- Starcrossed Lovers: With Dawson.
- Sugar-and-Ice Personality: She can be moody and distant, only her close friends will know her sweet, warm side.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Joey and Jen with Joey being the Tomboy to Jen's Girly Girl. This was primarily in the first few season's; eventually, Joey goes through a Girliness Upgrade in the later seasons.
- Tomboyish Name: Joey is a nickname for her full first name, Josephine. Lampshaded in "Hopeless":Anna (to Pacey): You must be Joey. Nice to meet you. Anna.Pacey: Hi.Joey: You're not Joey. I'm Joey. It's nice to meet you, Anna.Drue: Pacey, guy. Joey, girl. I told you 1000 times in the car.
- Tsundere: Joey is a Type A, often in her interactions towards Dawson and Pacey.
- Unrequited Love Switcheroo: It's sometimes easy to forget that most of the first season had Joey pining over Dawson, since for much of the rest of the series it's the other way around.
- Will They or Won't They?: Her relationship with Dawson and later on with Pacey.
Jennifer "Jen" Lindley
Played By: Michelle Williams
- Anyone Can Die: Jen dies after succumbing to a fatal heart condition after she collapses in the series finale.
- Always Someone Better: Joey feels this way about Jen in season 1.
- Betty and Veronica: In Season 1, Jen is the Veronica to Joey's Betty for Dawson's Archie.
- Broken Bird: Jen is a troubled girl and comes from a background of dysfunction. Jen gives off a rather cynical and pessimistic vibe; because of this, she seems to have low self-worth and low self-esteem.
- The Chick: Although Joey is the main female character, Jen is seen as the one who has social influence on the core group. She is often the one who tries to bring everyone together, regardless of differing personalities, temperaments and outlooks.
- Deadpan Snarker: Jen is capable of making incredibly witty, sarcastic and snarky comments whenever the mood strikes her.
- Dude Magnet: Since the first season, Jen attracts many members of the opposite sex. She is also very aware of her attractivess and popularity. She was by far the biggest dude magnet in the high school seasons.
- Everyone Loves Blondes: She gains popularity and eventually becomes head cheerleader of the school's cheerleading squad. Jen is also nominated for Homecoming Queen and she wins the title.Jen: "They voted for me because I'm blonde and I fill out my sweater."
- Fag Hag: Jen is this to Jack. The two have a very close, tight and intimate relationship with each other.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Phlegmatic.
- Girl Next Door: Averted. She is the "girl next door" only because she is literally next door neighbor to Dawson but her personality (the aloof newcomer with more sexual experience than the others) doesn't fit the trope, in contrast to Joey, Dawson's tomboyish chidhood friend, who fits the trope much more.
- Good Bad Girl: Although Jen is a good-hearted person who has good intentions, she is willing to cross the moral line from time to time. She often engages in hard partying, drinking, drug use and promiscuous sex.
- Hands-Off Parenting: Jen's mother, Helen, is a completely aloof and emotionally distant woman who wasn't capable of showing Jen any love and affection. Jen has referred to her mother as a cold hearted woman. Jen's father, Theodore, was also noted to be a cold and distant, emotionless man.
- Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Especially during her younger teen years and in Season 2. Jen lived a wild, out of control and an unpredictable lifestyle while still living with her parents in New York.
- Ill Girl: It was discovered at the end of the series that Jen had a serious heart condition. Sadly, this heart condition was fatal and she passed away due to complications of the heart condition in the series finale.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: Jen has always yearned to have a normal life with a normal family. Unfortunately, her dysfunctional background and her wild past often makes Jen feel that she is incapable of having a happy, normal life.
- Naïve Newcomer: Jen was new to Capeside in Season 1. She was the new addition to the trio of Dawson, Joey and Pacey.
- New Transfer Student: In Season 1.
- No Guy Wants to Be Chased: In Season 2, Dawson rejects Jen after she attempts to seduce him.
- Odd Friendship: With basically the entire cast, mainly with the main trio (Dawson, Joey and Pacey).
- Platonic Life-Partners: With Jack. Jen forms a very strong bond and friendship with Jack, especially from Season 3 onwards.
- Really Gets Around: Before coming to Capeside, Jen had the reputation of having a lot of promiscuous sex. She still retains this reputation in Capeside.
- Satellite Love Interest: In season 1, her primary purpose was to serve as the protagonist Dawson's main love interest.
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Mostly with Dawson in Season 1. Jen has been with her fair share of bad boys, but she sees Dawson as one of the few good guys that she's ever encountered.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Girly Girl to Joey's Tomboy. However, this later changes when Joey embraces her more feminine, girly side.
Played by: Joshua Jackson
- Abusive Parents: He's considered a loser by his parents and they both treat him horribly, especially his father.
- Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: With his father, surprisingly. Most of the time his father is a Jerkass who hates him but they share a few heartwarming scenes in a couple of episodes.
- Annoying Younger Sibling: To Doug and Gretchen.
- Bash Brothers: With Dawson before season four.
- Berserk Button: Insulting the woman he loves (i.e. Andie or Joey), calling him worthless or a failure or attacking his sister (Gretchen) is not a good idea.
- Betty and Veronica: The Veronica to Dawson's Betty for Joey's Archie.
- Black Sheep: Pacey doesn't fit in with his family at all. He is the unfavourite child. Most of his family see Pacey as an embarrassment or a failure.
- Book Dumb: Pacey failed a lot of classes in high school and was not particular academic or scholarly.
- Breakout Character: Pacey was popular amongst the viewing audience and ends up overshadowing the main character and becoming the love interest to the female lead.
- Bromantic Foil: The rebellious foil to wholesome good guy Dawson.
- Butt-Monkey: Biggest one in the show. Pacey was treated like he was the laughing stock of the entire world by everyone, especially by his own family.
- Character Development: It slowly started in season 2, thanks to his first serious girlfriend, Andie.
- The Charmer: Despite his loser status, girls can't help to like him because of his charming personality.
- Childhood Friend Romance: With Joey. They were friends since childhood, fall in love in high school, and end up together at the end of the show.
- Cock Fight: With Dawson, over the affections of Joey.
- Cool Loser: He's considered by everyone (including himself) an overall failure, despite being attractive, charming to girls, passionate, funny and with a witty sense of humor.
- Deadpan Snarker: Pacey is the wittiest character on the series.
- Establishing Character Moment: Pacey teases Joey - while trying to feel her up, as they shoot a scene for Dawson's film.
- Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: He's Book Dumb and rebellious (Foolish), while his sister Gretchen is a smart college student and his brother Doug is a police officer (Responsible).
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: The Sanguine.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Dawson, before Joey came between them in season three.
- Hot-Blooded: Pacey is emotional, impulsive and passionate by nature.
- Insecure Love Interest: He's a very insecure person in general, prone to Self-Deprecation, so he's genuinely surprised when girls fall in love with him, notably Andie and Joey. When it comes to Joey especially, the insecurities are exaggerated because of her close relationship with Dawson and he believes to be the Third Wheel.
- The Lancer: To Dawson.
- Last-Name Basis: With his girlfriends (McPhee and Potter).
- Papa Wolf: He is fiercely protective of those who are dear to him.
- Plucky Comic Relief: More so in season one, but he often serves as this even in later seasons.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Pacey is the Red Oni to both Dawson and Joey's Blue Oni.
- Sad Clown: Pacey often uses humour and sarcasm to hide his sadness.
- Self-Deprecation: He has a very low opinion of himself, an inferiority complex, and often talks about how much he's a loser compared to everyone else.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Manly Man to Dawson's Sensitive Guy.
- Ship Tease: He dated all the female leads: Andie, Jen, Joey and Audrey.
- Slap-Slap-Kiss: Pacey seems to have this dynamic with most of his girlfriends, particularly Andie and Joey.
- Stepford Snarker: He's aware of his Butt-Monkey status since childhood and also has Abusive Parents. He uses humour and sarcasm to hide his emotional pain.
- Straw Loser: In one episode, a drunk Dawson admits that Pacey is so messed up that he makes him feel good about his own life.
- Teacher/Student Romance: With Tamara Jacobs in season one. It didn't end well.
- Token Good Teammate: In his family. His older sister Gretchen was actually good as well, but everyone else...
- The Unfavorite: His abusive parents are very vocal about it. Telling him he's an embarrasment and a Black Sheep to his face. They aren't that cruel to Pacey's other siblings.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: His father is very hateful and dismissive towards him. Pacey desperately wants his father's love and not to feel like his father hates him.
Played by: Kerr Smith
- Coming-Out Story: Done fairly well, especially for the time.
- Endearingly Dorky: He was a clumsy Naïve Newcomer in his early appearances in season 2, but still kind and endearing once you get to know him. While Joey is initially annoyed by his awkwardness, she falls for him for a while, noticing how sensitive he is.
- Fish out of Water: In the beginning he was shy and socially awkward.
- Gay Best Friend: Eventually, after his sexuality is revealed, he becomes Jen's closest friend and confidant.
- Gym Bunny: In later seasons.
- Iconic Sequel Character: Is introduced in season 2, and remains a main character for the rest of the show.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: To the point where he throws himself completely into anything that gives him the feeling of being just another guy, even to the point of neglecting his friends.
- Lovable Jock: During season 3 while he's on the football team.
- Naïve Newcomer: When he first arrives in Capeside in season 2, with his overall naivete and inexperience.
- Nice Guy: He's friendly to most people and also very sensitive.
- Platonic Life-Partners: With Jen.
- Promotion to Opening Titles: In season 3.
- Sixth Ranger: He and his sister become the official fifth and sixth members of the group in season 2.
- Straight Gay: He's gay but not particularly flamboyant.
- Tall, Dark, and Handsome: His actor Kerr Smith is very tall, and Jack unwittingly attracts the attentions of a few girls on the show.
Andrea "Andie" McPhee
Played by: Meredith Monroe
- Back for the Finale: In a deleted scene.
- The Bus Came Back: At the end of Season 4 to graduate from Capeside High.
- Cute Bookworm: An innocent and enthusiastic bookworm with a crush on Pacey, who eventually likes her back.
- Cute and Psycho: A nice and nerdy girl but also emotionally unstable and it's eventually revelead she has a mental illness.
- Extracurricular Enthusiast: Because of her academic ambitions, she often volunteers in school extra curricular activities.
- Genki Girl: She has all the energy of the typical Go-Getter Girl.
- Go-Getter Girl: Andie is a driven overachiever and a straight A student. She also attended Harvard.
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Especially in season 2 where Andie was a well-intentioned, naive Genki Girl and a virgin.
- Iconic Sequel Character: Is introduced in season 2 as the first serious Love Interest to Pacey, and remains part of the core cast for almost three seasons.
- The Mentally Disturbed: Her mental health issues are due to her older brother's death. Her mother is mentally ill as well.
- Promotion to Opening Titles: In season 3.
- Put on a Bus: In the middle of season 4.
- Sixth Ranger: She and her brother become the official fifth and sixth members of the group in season 2.
- Played by: Busy Philipps
- Ascended Extra: In Season 5, to the point that she's added to the opening credits the following season.
- Genki Girl: Very outgoing and talkative.
- Good Bad Girl: Promiscuous but eventually revealed to be a good friend to have.
- Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: The dark to Joey's light.
- Odd Friendship: With Joey. They couldn't be more different in personalities and temperaments but nevertheless, they develop a rather strong friendship.
- Promotion to Opening Titles: In season 6.
- Sixth Ranger: In later seasons, she sort of becomes the sixth member of the main group.
Played by: Mary-Margaret Humes
Played by: John Wesley Shipp
Evelyn "Grams" Ryan
Played by: Mary Beth Peil
- Cool Old Lady: Even Jen, who is certainly her polar opposite, comes to truly respect her.
- The Fundamentalist: She's strictly religious, but it's subverted in that she is very tolerant and her stern demeanor is mostly just old-fashioned.
- Parental Substitute: For Jen and, eventually, Jack.
- Took a Level in Kindness: She is far less strict and more tolerant in later years.
- Widow Woman: She begins the second season in mourning for her husband.
Abigail "Abby" Morgan
Played by: Monica Keena
- Alpha Bitch: Subverted. She acts like a stereotypical Alpha Bitch except that she isn't popular at all and has no friends whatsoever aside from her on-again, off-again friendship with Jen.
- Asshole Victim: Literally no one can stand her. Not even her friend Jen was really saddened by her death.
- Brutal Honesty: She's extremely blunt and rude to people.
- Character Death: Gets drunk along with Jen and then falls into the water. The next episode was about her funeral.
- Deadpan Snarker: Probably the biggest one on the show. She never misses a chance to snark and is not subtle about it.
- Hidden Depths: Suggested in a few episodes. She's very insecure and vulnerable behind her nasty behavior.
- Jerkass: To everyone, including her supposed friend Jen. Then there's the way she cruelly makes fun of Andie's family situation and Joey's dead mother.
- Manipulative Bitch: Although some of her manipulations end up backfiring in her face.
Played by: Dylan Neal
- Aloof Big Brother: To Pacey.
- Ambiguously Gay: Played with until the end of the series.
- By-the-Book Cop: Part of the tension between Doug and Pacey, as Doug is not generally inclined to bend the rules or put up with teenage misbehavior.
- Coming-Out Story: The series finale deals with this, as Doug finally comes out of the closet rather than lose Jack.
- Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: The Responsible (a police officer) to Pacey's Foolish.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Actually does care about Pacey in a stern kind of way. Forced to do a ride-along with Doug during his police shift, Pacey comes to realize just how much Doug helps the people in town.
- Neat Freak: One of the stereotypically gay traits used to hint at his sexuality.
- Straight Gay: Doug does not really exhibit any stereotypical gay traits. But...
- Transparent Closet: Most people seem to suspect or comment on his sexuality, often to his annoyance.