Follow TV Tropes


Characters / Doonesbury

Go To

The cast of the comic strip Doonesbury. Due to the sheer number of characters and the frequent overlap between Cast Herds, the characters are divided by the decade they were introduced, with the exception of the original core cast.

    open/close all folders 

Walden Communune Alumni

    Michael "Mike" Doonesbury

The main character of the strip for most of its run, Mike started out as a student at Walden and Casanova Wannabe and later turned into Walden Commune's voice of reason. After college he married J.J. and worked as a New York Adman, until he lost his job and J.J. left him. Mike then moved to Seattle with his daughter Alex, met and married second wife Kim Rosenthal and is currently running the website with Kim.

  • Author Avatar: As Trudeau himself put it: "Yes, dammit I'm the model for Michael."
  • Bumbling Dad: To Alex.
  • Casanova Wannabe: During the strip's first few months and the original Bull Tales strips.
  • Characterization Marches On: He started out as a Casanova Wannabe in Truedeau's college strip Bull Tales before becoming the strip's Only Sane Man. Growing up can do that to you.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Had to go though many years of unhappy marriage with J.J., a horrible job, going through unemployment and J.J. running out on him. Then he got a job with his college lab partner Bernie in Seattle and met Kim and even then he still had to fire most of Kim's friends as part of layoffs, deal with Kim moving to Paris and then breaking up with him and Alex deleting the E-Mail's saying so, and finally reconciliation with Kim, just to get to somewhere resembling a happy ending.
  • Good Parents: A loving and supportive father to his daughter, Alex.
  • Happily Married: To Kim, his second wife.
  • May–December Romance: He is considerably older than Kim, his wife.
  • Only Sane Man: In stark contrast to some of the strip's more outrageous characters, such as Zonker and Uncle Duke.
  • Out of Focus: Most of his screen-time's gone to his daughter Alex. Lampshaded when he officially passes the strip over to her.
  • Protagonist Title: His surname is also the name of the comic strip.
  • Straight Man: To his friends' crazier antics.


The star quarterback, and hardcore conservative, at Walden and Mike's roommate in the beginning. Enlisted in The Vietnam War to get out of a term paper and has been in every war since. Has been in a relationship with Boopsie since her introduction and married her in the early nineties. Wore a helmet of some kind constantly until 2004, when he got his leg shot off in Iraq and lost the helmet at the same time. Currently works as Walden's Football coach.

  • Blood Knight: Really really loved combat and was especially brutal during his time in the ROTC.
  • Character Development: Has mellowed out with time.
  • A Father to His Men: To the point where he was planning to go to Germany to be by Toggle's side after Toggle was injured in Iraq. This is also true as a coach.
  • Happily Married: To Boopsie, though their relationship did have its downer moments, such as fooling around with a female officer in Iraq.
  • Heroic BSoD: He went through a realistic version of this after losing his leg, becoming irritable and relying heavily on alcohol. He eventually went to therapy and got through it.
  • Jerkass: For a good portion of time. He eventually mellowed out to become a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: For a while after entering therapy, B.D was reluctant to talk about his service in Iraq. He eventually opened up an revealed that he had been harboring a lot of guilt from an incident where he ordered the driver of his HMMWV drive through a crowded street in order to escape an ambush, which resulted in innocent civilians getting caught in the crossfire.
  • Never Bareheaded: For a long time, he would always be wearing some kind of helmet (usually a football helmet or soldier helmet), even in bed. This ended in 2004, when he was injured in Iraq and has now been bareheaded ever since. He later reveals during a therapy session that he always wore helmets because his mother was neurotic about safety.
  • Only Known by Initials: To the point where not even his wife knows what B.D. actually stands for.
    • Officially his last name is "D"; he's specifically answered this when asked on at least one occasion. One website even gave his daughter's name as "Samantha D".
  • Parental Substitute: Acts as a father figure to Toggle, a young injured soldier with a stutter he met in Iraq.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Was this for a while, after losing his leg.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: With Zonker and Mark during their Walden days. Now it's just Zonker, and even that's subsided in recent years.
  • Strawman Political: The strip's token hardcore conservative. It is downplayed, though, as B.D. is by all means portrayed pretty sympathetically, especially later on, and has plenty of character traits outside of his political views.
    • He's a conservative in the classical sense: He honestly believes in family values, small government, fiscal responsibility, strong defense etc.; he even tried to decline disability benefits on principle ("You know how I feel about handouts!") and relented only because his family needed the money. Over time, however, the reality of American conservatism, particularly at the highest echelons, forced him to take more nuanced positions, with the tipping point most likely being George W. Bush.

    Mark Slackmeyer

Mark started off as a protester, but eventually segued into a hardcore liberal and DJ. Eventually moved on to NPR, where he works to this day. Later found out he was gay and started dating Chase, eventually marrying him until their divorce a few years ago.

  • Erudite Stoner: In the 70's. A later strip shows he's still doing this.
  • Like Father, Unlike Son: As said below, he's the hardcore liberal son of a conservative. He's also gay.
  • Out of Focus: Daily-wise. While he still gets quite a few Sunday strips, he's gotten few, if any, weeks dedicated to himself for the past couple of years.

    Zonker Harris

A hippie who spent his 9 years at Walden avoiding graduation, tanning, and generally slacking off. After graduating, he mooched off of Mike and J.J. before enrolling in Baby Doc Medical College, before becoming Mike and J.J.'s live-in nanny. They eventually fired him after Mike lost his job and Zonker moved back in with his parents before moving in with B.D. and Boopsie as their nanny, where he remained for a good period time, although he was forced to get a job as a waiter to bring additional income to the house. These days he owns a (legal) cannabis farm with Zipper. He's also a lord after buying a lordship in the 80's.

  • Asexuality: He doesn't seem to have very many relationships.

    Barbara Ann "Boopsie" Boopenstein

A cheerleader and B.D.'s girlfriend. Became an actress after graduation, albeit in minor roles. Was originally incredibly ditzy but gradually matured over the years. Currently lives at Walden with B.D., their daughter Sam and (formerly) Nanny Zonker.

  • Alliterative Name: Barbara Ann "Boopsie" Boopenstein.
  • Character Development: Went from The Ditz to a dependable mother, wife, and counterpoint to B.D.
  • The Ditz: Has grown out of it over time, especially after becoming a mother.
  • Happily Married: To college sweetheart B.D., though it was not without its hiccups.
  • The Heart: Is the usual go-to sounding board when B.D., Sam, or Zonker needs to talk about something, and often mediates disputes between them.

    Joanie Caucus

A housewife who ran away from her husband and daughter and was picked up by Mike and Mark while the duo were on a road trip. A feminist, she brought feminism to the local day care center before moving on to Berkeley and getting a law degree. During this time she met her second husband, Rick, and had another child with him. She currently worked with Congresswoman Lacey Davenport until Lacey contracted Alzheimer's. Joanie has recently come out of retirement to guide Real Life Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren's campaign.

  • Intergenerational Friendship: An older woman who is friends with the oft-younger denizens of Walden Commune, Ginnie, and her grandaughter Alex.
  • Irony: After abandoning her daughter, J.J., and leaving her with issues, Joanie decided to atone for it by trying to be there for her son, Jeff, who would later grow up to become a massive Jerkass.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Her daughter J.J. seems to have taken a page from her book when she abandoned Mike and Alex and married Zeke.
  • Mama Bear: She's always ready to help the former residents of Walden Commune.
  • May–December Romance: With Rick, her younger second husband.
  • Meaningful Name: A Congressional assistant with the last name of Caucus.
  • Odd Friendship: With Zonker and Alex.
  • Older Than They Look: Is in her 70's, but looks to be only in her 50's or 60's.
  • Sixth Ranger: Though it was decades ago, she was the only person to join the commune after it was founded.
  • Team Mom: To the residents of Walden Commune, even long after she left.

Mike's college lab partner who had a habit of making transformation potions, Bernie graduated and joined Apple before splitting off on his own and starting his own software company. He hired Mike and was the reason Mike moved to Seattle, and financed Mike's first business, Mikim Inc., for a while. He was also one of the founders of Walden Commune.

  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Eventually. He had no problem forcing Mike to do mass layoffs for him, outsourcing and other questionable tactics.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Averted. He got the funding for his business making a profit off of his morphing potions.


Introduced 1969-1979

    Uncle Duke

Zonker's honorary Uncle who started out as a writer at Rolling Stone before moving on to Governor of American Samoa, then Ambassador to China and… well, so many other careers that it would take most of this page just to list. Duke will do anything to make money and has absolutely no moral compass and half the time no clue. He's also a massive drug fiend to the point where they barely affect him anymore. Currently working as a lobbyist with his son Earl.

  • Bald of Evil: He was completely bald for a while after a stint as a zombie slave, but still has enough of a bald spot to qualify regularly.
  • Evil Counterpart: His son Earl says Duke is like Forrest Gump's evil twin. That's not far off.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Duke is a thoroughly unscrupulous man who is always wearing sunglasses. In a flashback of his birth, Duke came out of his mother's womb wearing glasses, to the horror of the obstetrician.
  • Functional Addict: Duke has indulged in all kinds of powerful and obscure drugs. He also consumes copious amounts of alcohol and marijuana, according to some strips.
  • Gambit Roulette: Some times it works (sending a job application to the white house got him the governorship of Samoa, which eventually led to his stint as an ambassador) and sometimes it epically blows up in his face (buying cocaine to finance his John DeLorean biopic— from an undercover FBI Agent!).
  • Honest John's Dealership: Most of his operations.
  • Made of Iron: Duke has survived an assassination attempt, zombification, and shocking amounts of mind-altering drugs looking no worse for wear.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Based on gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson.
  • Oblivious to Love: Honey adores him, but it's unclear if Duke doesn't know this or doesn't care.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: John Denver.
  • The Sociopath: He's devoid of empathy for others and has been involved in countless illegal and immoral activities over the decades. He likes Earl and Honey, but he doesn't care about their well-being.

    Rick Redfern

Joanie's husband who was a writer for the Washington Post for most of the strip— until he was fired a few years ago for no particular reason. He's currently a blogger for the Huffington Post and is constantly frustrated with his son.

  • Bumbling Dad: Before Jeff was even born. He became even worse from there.
  • Butt-Monkey: Ever since losing his job as a Washington Post journalist. His son Jeff frequently didn't help matters, either.

    Roland Burton Hedley III

A reporter that initially worked with Time on an article about the current campus trends. He's since switched to network TV and Channel Hopped, eventually sticking with Fox News. He currently has a Twitter account, which he plugs at every opportunity.

  • Press Hat: He gets gifted a reporter hat when he becomes one. It has a note tucked into the crown of the hat.

    Joan "J.J." Caucus Jr.

Joanie's daughter, who reappeared later on as freshman college student and was engaged to Zeke Brenner before breaking it off. She later married Mike and became a performance artist in New York, giving birth to their daughter Alex on live television. J.J. later left Mike and Alex and ran away with Zeke before eventually moving to Seattle with him. She later married Zeke.

  • The Friend Nobody Likes: From her introduction, Rick noticed that she manipulated her mother's guilt for leaving and didn't like it. She averted this trope mostly during the years she was actually married to Mike, but since she left him for her old boyfriend, Zeke, most other major characters have shunned her. She wasn't even invited to Alex's wedding, although she managed to sneak in as a bartender.
  • Hate Sink: In-universe, she isn't well-liked by Mike's close friends and associates due to cheating on him and later abandoning him and her daughter Alex for the sleazy Zeke.
  • It's All About Me: Tries to make both Grandma Doonesbury's funeral and Alex's wedding all about her, making a big show about how much she'd forgiven Mike's mother in the former, and trying to make said wedding into a massive performance art piece. Not only that, but she out-and-out refuses to come because Alex happened to both choose Walden as a wedding location and then refuse to invite Zeke.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Like her mother before her, she abandoned her husband and child to marry someone else.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: For Mike. Deconstructed in that the more eccentric parts of her personality are what eventually drove them apart.
  • No Accounting for Taste: Zeke, both times.
  • Parental Abandonment: Both ways. Her mother abandoned her for a life of her own, while she abandoned Alex. Subverted somewhat with the latter, as she later moved to Seattle where Alex lives.
  • The Unfair Sex: Inverted. Her abandonment of her husband and child, no matter how rocky the marriage was, is looked on with disdain by everyone in the strip.

    Honey Huan

Duke's translator during his tenure as ambassador, Honey fell in love with Duke and followed him to America and through the rest of his schemes. Eventually left him in 2005 and stayed behind to help with the clean-up of Hurricane Katrina. Worked for the Beijing Olympics Committee; most recently seen as a spokeswoman for the Chinese government.

  • Ms. Fanservice: Something of a surprising example. During the 1982 arc with Duke's Falkland Island War tour boat and consequent shipwreck she spent most of her time in a bikini, which Trudeau seemed to enjoy drawing.
  • Odd Friendship: With J.J.
  • Put on a Bus: Eventually left Duke, before recently resurfacing.
  • Shipper on Deck: The only one who thinks J.J. and Zeke are an item.
  • Shipping Goggles: In-universe, everything involving her and Duke from her perspective.
  • Tactful Translation: In her original capacity as Duke's translator.
  • Unrequited Love: Loves Duke romantically. He just sees her as an Abhorrent Admirer.

    Zeke Brenner

A stoner and complete layabout who worked as Duke's caretaker and was J.J.'s fiance until he burned down Duke's house when lighting up a joint. He later ran away with J.J. and eventually married her, to everyone else's displeasure.

  • Cool Hat: Wears a feathered cowboy hat.
  • Evil Counterpart: To Zonker. Both make an art form out of trying not to work, but while Zonker is charming, provides a service to those he's mooching off of, avoids romance like the plague and is loyal to Duke and Mike, Zeke is a douchebag who sits around and begs for money, hits on women even after he got married to J.J., stabbed Duke in the back at the first opportunity, and stole Mike's wife without a hint of regret.
  • The Load: In-universe, while Zonker generally helps out those he mooches off of, Zeke does none of that.
  • Malicious Misnaming: Alex calls him "Uncle Stupidhead".
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: With Duke, whom he backstabbed, and Alex, who doesn't like him much and calls him "Uncle Stupidhead
  • The Slacker: Like Zipper and Zonker, he doesn't make an effort to work, except he has less redeeming qualities than the first two.

    Kim Rosenthal-Doonesbury

First introduced as the last baby airlifted out of Vietnam, she was adopted by the Rosenthals. She appeared again briefly in the '80s as an honor student dealing with racial issues before reappearing for good as a twenty-something tech wiz. Kim is a Gen-X programming genius and Mike's second wife.

    Lacey Davenport 
A kindly old lady who worked as a Congresswoman. Lacey was a very nice lady who was fair, balanced, and honest to a fault, if a bit out of step with the times. She eventually had to leave the office when she contracted Alzheimer's. She eventually passed away and was reunited with her husband, Dick.

  • Happily Married: To Dick.
  • Killed Off for Real: One of the few characters who died during the strip's run.
  • Never Mess with Granny: Well, she wasn't about to shoot up people, but she wasn't afraid to speak up when necessary and fearlessly dealt with a mobster and a contra, as well as some of her old friends without batting an eye.

    Dick Davenport 
A conservative just like his decades-long friend and later wife. Dick was always supportive of his wife and was an avid bird watcher. He died trying to get a picture of the rare Bachman's warbler, and managed to capture it in his final moments.

  • Dying Moment of Awesome: As noted above he had a heart attack while he was alone trying to get shots of the bird. He then used his last bit of strength to get the shot.
  • Killed Off for Real: The strip's first example.

    Nguyen Van Phred

A terrorist during the Vietnam War where he met B.D.; after being stranded together with a beer cache the two became fast friends. After the war, Phred lobbied for his people before becoming the Vietnamese U.N. Ambassador. He later opened up a club in Vietnam in the 90's and gave tours before becoming head of a Nike factory.

    Ginnie Slade 
Joanie's roommate during college. Currently married to her long-term boyfriend, Clyde, and trying to keep him in check.

Ginnie's freeloading boyfriend and later husband. Eventually founded his own successful cookie company and ran against Lacey and lost. Later took Lacey's position after she stepped down, but eventually lost it.

  • Jerkass: He was a bit of this in the 70's but got even worse in the 80's by basing his campaign on drug tests and trying to paint a 70-year-old woman as a drug addict.
  • The Slacker: In the 70's.

    Phil Slackmeyer 
Mark's dad. The exact opposite of his son, Phil was a cold-hearted businessman who fully embraced his greed. Eventually divorced Mark's mother and then got remarried four times. He eventually died with Mark by his side.

  • Evil Counterpart: To Mark.
  • I Have No Son!: Tried to disown him a lot early in the strip. Towards the end of his life, stating that he had never approved of anything Mark did and that Mark had been a constant disappointment actually brought Phil closure.
  • Like Father, Unlike Son: The conservative father of the liberal and gay Mark.
  • Odd Friendship: With Alice, a homeless woman.

    Alice Schwartzman

A homeless woman who befriended Rick. She later befriended Lacey, who mistook Alice for her long-dead sister.

  • Happily Married: To Elmont.
  • Only Sane Woman: During her time with Lacey, as Lacey was going through Alzheimer's, Lacey's friend Jeremy was dysfunctional and Elmont was insane.

    Andy Lippincot 
A man Joanie had a crush on until he revealed to her he was gay. They remained on good terms. He eventually contracted AIDS and died a few months after. Later returned as a ghost to reveal Mark's latent homosexuality to the latter.

  • Gallows Humor: He cracked a lot of jokes about his terminal illness, which some thought were insensitive by Trudeau, before friends of AIDS victims spoke up and said that there was Truth in Television in that most AIDS patients had the same attitude and cracked wise about their condition.
  • Killed Off for Real: Died of AIDS a few months after contracting it during the strip's run.

    Sid Kibitiz

Supposed Hollywood super agent, Sid first appeared trying to help Duke make a John Delorean Biopic before settling in as Boopsie's agent.

  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: As noted below he's full of himself, but he's actually manged to keep Boopsie's career going and even had the foresight to make a digital copy of her in her prime so she'd get likeness rights far into the future, royalties she's still pulling in today.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Thinks he's the best agent who ever lived and even once tried to get a director to rewrite Hamlet.

    Jimmy Thudpucker

A singer and activist who started out in the strip during the 70's, retired early, and then made a comeback during the 80's. Currently a Cell Phone ring tone artist and file sharing activist.

Introduced 1980-1989


Alice's husband and raving lunatic.

    Jeff Redfern

Joanie and Rick's son, he started out as a gifted little boy who eventually enrolled in Walden at 17 once the college stopped requiring a High School Education. Eventually became Zipper's best friend and the two participated in zany schemes together until graduation. Jeff didn't do much after that, after flunking out of his CIA training, and eventually got back into the CIA in a desk job. He eventually rose out of it by making a name for himself as the legendary Red Rascal while doing nothing at all, eventually landing him a mercenary job before he was fired from it. A book deal followed, along with a massive payday, but Jeff soon found himself back with his parents.

  • Child Prodigy: Was found to be “gifted” at four years old.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: And how.
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: As the Red Rascal.
  • Freudian Excuse: There are plenty of strips out there that pretty much explain why he is as he is now.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Went from a simple slacker to the smug perpetrator of a massive ruse. Subverted later on, as he goes back to being a harmless moron, albeit one with a book deal.
  • Genius Ditz: He’s actually quite intelligent, at one point being recruited for the football team due to a 4.0 grading average.
  • Humiliation Conga: Finally. After making millions of dollars off his Red Rascal stories, he loses his mega mansion, to his father’s barely-contained glee. Furthermore, Joanie told him that he'd have to start paying rent, helping around the house and acting like a real writer if he wanted to move back home.
  • Jerkass: Constantly gloated about his successes to his unemployed journalist father. He is also rather blunt, and his social skills are not too great, which leads him to make Innocently Insensitive remarks at best.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Is truly a decent guy at heart, and can be friendly and polite to others.

Introduced 1990-1999

    Alex Doonesbury

Mike and J.J.'s daughter. She started out as a nameless baby but around the time J.J. left graduated into Mike's precocious computer wiz daughter, which stuck throughout her teen years. Currently a post-grad at M.I.T. and has recently married war veteran Toggle and has two sons by him.

  • Breakout Character: To the point where she was granted her father's role as main character.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Though not to violent levels, she gets crazy paranoid about any other woman and Toggle (barring his mother), especially Drew, even if there's nothing there.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Though not as bad as some of the other characters, but it's there.
  • Give Geeks a Chance: She's a computer whiz who only had one boyfriend before she met, dated, and married Toggle.

    Ray Hightower 
B.D.'s war buddy since the gulf war and replacement after B.D. lost his leg. Recently sent home after taking multiple blasts. More at home on the battlefield than in civilian life.

  • Blood Knight: Like B.D, he feels more at home on the battle field than he does at home.

    Samantha "Sam" Boopenstien 
B.D. and Boopsie's daughter.

  • Companion Cube: Her Sarah Palin Action doll. She eventually gets rid of it along with all her other dolls.
  • I Have No Son!: Inverted. She disowns B.D. as her father after he returns from helping Toggle the first time, due to the sheer amount of time he's been gone from her life.

Duke's son, he started off as another kid in the orphanage who DNA test confirmed was Duke's son and eventually ran off with his Dad for a while before disappearing. Later returned right after Duke lost Honey to bring his dad in on his Lobbying firm.

  • Generation Xerox: Of his Dad, especially as a kid. He eventually grew into a smarter and less brain-fried version of his Dad.
  • High School Hustler: A kid version. He had a racket going at the orphanage.

Introduced 2000-2009

    Zipper Harris

Zonker's nephew who goes to a much more slacker-friendly Walden. Aspires to follow in his Uncle's footsteps. He surpassed his uncle's staying record and has became a tenured student, though he eventually left Walden and joined his uncle growing legal marijuana in Colorado.

  • Those Two Guys: With Jeff.
  • You Just Told Me: Pulls this on President King after revealing he'd told the students Walden might switch to being a for-profit college. When King asks if he knows they've decided to move to for profit, Zipper casually responds "I Do Now"

    Leo "Toggle" DeLuca 
A young soldier who sold CD mixes to other soldiers, he was hit by a mortar and ended up with expressive aphasia and an eye patch. He's currently working through his disorder, while going to college and working in the music industry. He and Alex are now married.

  • And I Must Scream: Early on, as he couldn't talk at all (outside of a few words) at first. He eventually got better as he got more speaking ability and he's stuttering less and less.
  • Character Development: Was a bit of a prick before the mortar blast hit him.

    Melissa Wheeler 
A mechanic in the army who was raped by her commanding officer and dealt with it in therapy. With B.D. and her therapist's help, she eventually returned to command and was promoted.

  • Berserk Button: Command Rape, after her horrendous experience with the matter.
  • Brutal Honesty: When dealing with a high school girl wanting to go into the military who asks her about sexual assault. More than jusitified given Melissa's past experince and the real dangers the girl would face.
  • Character Development: Goes from a thoroughly Broken Bird to a well-respected commander.

Melissa's fellow mechanic and best friend. Came out a lesbian following the end of Don't Ask Don't Tell.

B.D's counselor at the Vet Center.

  • What the Hell, Hero?: Stops BD right before he can leave after saying he cant't leave behind some things about the war.

Alex's roommate at MIT and best friend. Has guys falling for her left and right.

  • Dude Magnet: To Alex's irritation, especially since Drew doesn't seem to notice.

Introduced 2010-2019


Jeff's Publisher.

  • Ship Tease: With Jeff
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Tells Jeff to stop his constant gloating about his achievements to his poor dad and chews him out for selling Roland Hedley an advanced copy of The Rouge.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: