The comedian Chris Rock is the main protagonist, appearing as a fictionalized version of himself. His adult self narrates the misadventures of his younger self, who is growing up in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn during the 1980s. Life isn't easy between living with a quirky family in the ghetto, attending a mostly white school, and having a great deal of bad luck.
- All of the Other Reindeer: He's bullied by both classmates and neighborhood thugs.
- Author Avatar: The series as a whole is a semi-autobiographical, semi-fictionalized retelling of his adolescence.
- Book Dumb: Despite hanging out with the nerds at school, his grades are rather poor, eventually failing 10th grade (this is due to him being late to class over 20 times, however) and dropping out of high school. Though he soon takes the GED, and eventually becomes a successful comedian.
- Bully Magnet: Chris is an easy target for bullies at school due to his race.
- Butt-Monkey: His bad luck is taken to exaggerated levels. VERY few episodes end on a positive note for him.
- Character Development: Chris is a bit of a "dork" at the beginning of the series and struggles socially, which in one episode he realizes is part of the cause of his bullying problems rather than just being the only black kid in school. By season four he is much more normal and a straight example of a Cool Loser protagonist.
- Cool Loser: In later seasons. He's not nearly as dorky as he was before, but is still pretty much loathed or ignored by everybody.
- Deadpan Snarker: His adult self is constantly cracking wise as the narrator, usually to mock his kid self.
- Failure Hero: The chances of him getting a happy ending are very rare
- First-Person Smartass: Adult Chris is very snarky, often saying the opposite of what Teen Chris says, or making fun of himself and others.
- Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: His parents expect him to be the Responsible to Drew and Tonya's Foolish (and he usually is) because he's the oldest and they are harder on him as a result.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Greg.
- Hopeless Suitor: For the first few seasons, at least. He gets a bit better later on.
- Laser-Guided Karma: He does deserve some of the treatment he gets at the end of certain episodes. An example of this would be in "Everybody Hates Drew" where he intentionally broke Drew's hand through a karate move taught to him in self-defense class. By the end of the episode, after explaining the situation with Drew, the latter tries the same move on Chris and breaks his hand as well.
- Loser Protagonist: Whenever Chris tries to do anything meaningful, it always backfires on him by the end of the episode. This theme is played till the series end, Where Chris doesn't finish high school, so he takes his GED test. Before the results of the test are announced, the show suddenly ends, taking a cue from The Sopranos.note
- The Narrator: An older Chris tells the story via voiceover.
- Nice Guy: Chris is a nice, polite, friendly guy. Most of the time.
- Only Sane Man: One of the few levelheaded people in his entire school and neighborhood.
- This Loser Is You: The title should already give you a clue about how the show treats him.
- Token Minority: He's the only black student in his school for the first season. Averted in the final season, much to his surprise.
- The Unfavorite: Downplayed. His parents love him but he is treated far worse than both his younger brother and sister throughout the whole series.
- Vocal Evolution: By the third season, his voice finally dropped and came out sounding even deeper than Drew's.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: Even if something good happens to him at the end of an episode, he still ends up on the short end of the stick once again.
Chris' father, and Rochelle's husband. He works as a newspaper delivery man and a security guard.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Julius is the easygoing parent, but the kids are still afraid of getting on his bad side. Only in two episodes did Julius give Chris a beating as punishment for his misdeeds. Once, when Chris blew Julius lottery money on an arcade game costing the family a fortune, and again when Chris gets in trouble for telling dirty jokes at school. On this occasion, however, Julius was going to spare Chris stating that there will be trouble next time it happens but Rochelle interjects with as far as Im concerned, this time is next time resulting in Chris getting beat by both parents.
- Catchphrase: "That's [insert amount of money here] worth of [insert object here]."
- Happily Married: To Rochelle.
- Henpecked Husband: Apparently his wife is the one who's really in charge of the home.
- Heteronormative Crusader: Implied, he's not outright homophobic but it's suggested a few times that he doesn't want any of his kids to be gay. When Drew gets revenge on Tonya by scaring her in clown makeup, he tells him "If I ever catch you scaring your sister or wearing lipstick again, we're gonna' have a problem". When he discovers Drew's novelty pen of a naked woman, the narrator says Julius is secretly relieved that it's not a naked man pen. Considering Julius' concerns about money, the lipstick comment is likely because of how expensive they are to buy.
- Knight In Sour Armor: He's pessimistic but keeps working hard for his family.
- Metaphorgotten: A Running Gag from him is his passionate speeches on historical figures that didn't make a poor decision despite the odds being against them in order to make a point. He always starts off strong with very important figures, usually from the Civil Rights Movement, but eventually trails off to entertainers and fictional characters.
- Money Fetish: An inversion. While saving and making money is his primary obsession, it's to keep the bills payed, not for the love of wealth itself.
- Mr. Vice Guy: His exaggerated cheapness aside, he's a decent guy and much more reasonable than his wife.
- Only Sane Man: In the family, he's probably a close second to Chris.
- Overprotective Dad: To Tonya. He declares he will protect her from everything and attempts to threaten her boyfriend who is around 9 or 10.
- Papa Wolf: He threatens to beat up Malvo for attempting to harm Chris
- Parental Favoritism: Towards Tonya.
- Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: The levelheaded, cautious, Savvy Guy to his loud, cheeky, energetic wife.
- The Scrooge: Justified, Julius works multiple jobs and tries to save as much money as he can by buying the cheapest products. He also reveals to Rochelle that he's still in credit card debt after using a credit card to buy her an engagement ring.
- Workaholic: Even when faced with severe health problems and given time off, he still goes behind Rochelle's back to find work.
Chris' mother, and Julius' wife. She's a very strict, bossy, and overbearing housewife.
- Anti-Hero: She can be quite harsh at times, but on most occasions, shell come around by the end.
- Berserk Button: Drugs and gambling. If she catches her kids doing either, she'll likely fly off the rocker.
- "I do not need this, my man has two jobs."
- "I ain't raisin' no babies." note
- Education Mama: Rochelle towards her three kids, at least initially.
- Evil Matriarch: Played with. Although its played for dark comedy, she routinely intimidates her children with threats of extreme violence. When Rochelle does resort to physical punishment, she takes great pride in doing it.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: It's easy to make her angry.
- Happily Married: To Julius.
- It's All About Me: She quits all her jobs, using Julius' having two jobs as an excuse so she can be comfortable at home.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: She is loudmouthed, bossy, and strict, but loves her family.
- Mama Bear: And HOW.
- Running Gag: Constantly quitting her jobs for one reason or another, all while boasting about how her man has two jobs.
- Sassy Black Woman: Her loud and outspoken attitude is her defining trait.
- Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: The loud, cheeky, Energetic Girl to her levelheaded, cautious husband Julius.
- Stepford Smiler: Rochelle becomes this when her father dies right at the dinner table from a heart attack.
- Trademark Favorite Food: She has a passion for chocolate Turtles.
- The Un-Favourite: Her mother is quite critical of her.
Chris' younger brother, and the middle child of the family. Compared to Chris, he's a lot more popular around the neighborhood.
- The Ace: Excels at basically everything, much to Chris's jealousy. When it comes to singing, however, Drew's voice sounds like nails on a chalkboard, to say the least.
- Always Someone Better: How he is seen by Chris.
- Beware the Nice Ones: In one episode, he was willing to forgive Chris for "accidentally" breaking his arm. But when Chris reveals that he did it on purpose, well...
- Big Little Brother: Much to Chris' embarrassment, Drew is a few inches taller than him. Subverted in the latter half of the series, where they are around the same height due to Chris' actor getting a growth spurt.
- Big Man on Campus: He may be in junior high school, but he's good at damn near everything he (and other people) does, can "get girls at 12 that [Chris] couldn't get until [he] was 30," and even had his class melt down in a frenzied panic when he was absent due to skipping school
- Catchphrase: "Wasn't me." note
- Chick Magnet: Much more successful than Chris when it comes to romance, but doesn't always care for it.
- Dreadful Musician: In "Everybody Hates Superstition", it is revealed that Drew cannot sing at all. This is the one thing that Drew is not better than Chris at, but he doesn't know that. As a result of this, he resorts to lip-syncing while the song plays near the end of the episode.
- Dumbass Teenage Son: Averted for the most part. As he grows up, he becomes smarter and more levelheaded.
- Lovable Jock: Very athletic and good at hockey and karate.
- Middle Child Syndrome: Averted. He may be the middle child, but he's considered much more handsome and popular than Chris.
- Nice Guy: Generally very cool and easygoing.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: He's scared of spiders, thanks to The Fly (1958).
Chris' younger sister, and the youngest child of the family. She's a very bratty little girl.
- Annoying Younger Sibling: In spades.
- Bratty Half-Pint: Before becoming a Bratty Teenage Daughter in the later seasons.
- Catchphrase: "I'm telling!"
- Daddy's Girl: She is Julius' favorite.
- It's All About Me: Very self-centered and manipulative.
- Jerkass: She's a brat who enjoys getting her brothers in trouble.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: She shows this with Chris in the Season 1 episode "Everybody Hates the Laundromat".
- Manipulative Bitch: Often takes advantage of her parents to get what she wants. To get Drew in trouble, she yelled that he hit her when he didn't do a thing. It worked several times, until she tried it one too many times.
- Mouthy Kid: A smart-mouthed little girl.
- Sassy Black Girl: Probably learned some of her mannerisms from her mom.
- Spoiled Brat: Especially spoiled by her father who tends to give her what she wants.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Despite claiming to be scared of absolutely nothing, she's afraid of clowns, which Drew uses to his advantage. She was also scared of werewolves in "Everybody Hates Eggs".
Corleone Junior High / Tattaglia High School
Greg is Chris' best friend at school. And probably one of the only real friends he has.
- Butt-Monkey: Not as much as Chris, but Caruso still picks on him.
- Cowardly Lion: Despite the fact that Greg is indeed a "I'm running like a bitch" guy, he had enough nerve to enter the bad part of Bed-Stuy for an untold reason and he manages to dissuade Chris from going along with being a lookout for the "cool kids", a group of delinquents who hang around the Arcade, because Chris would be named an accessory if the cops made the connection between Chris and the "cool kids". After Chris considered his options, he decided to forego being cool and they both make a run for it after the police show up.
- Heterosexual Life-Partner: With Chris.
- Hopeless Suitor: Even worse than Chris.
- Lovable Coward:Chris: There's "got your back" guys and "I'll be back" guys. Greg was a "I'm running like a bitch" guy.
- Nice Guy: Despite his weirdness, Greg is an easygoing guy.
- Only Friend: Chris's best and only friend.
- Token White: In the main cast. Though he's no more dorky than Chris himself.
Caruso is the school bully, who frequently harasses Chris, Greg, and other kids.
- The Bully: He tends to call Chris names and beat him up every now and then.
- Evil Redhead: A redheaded bully.
- Fat Bastard: He's a racist, unpleasant bully who's also overweight.
- Hate Sink: He has absolutely NO redeeming qualities, which is the sole purpose of his role in the show.
- Hidden Depths: After being hinted at throughout the series, he admits in the Grand Finale that the only reason he bullies Chris (and by extension) others is to cope with severe self-esteem issues.
- Jerkass: Big time. He not only acts obnoxious to Chris, but to the other kids in his school too.
- Karma Houdini: Caruso rarely gets in trouble for picking on Chris.
- Karma Houdini Warranty:
- The closest he gets to comeuppance is being beaten up by a kid he bullied once, but he still gets back on top by the end of the episode.
- Chris tries to inflict karma on Caruso by framing him for a prank on the last day of the school year, which results in Caruso getting punished with a session of summer school. Unfortunately for Chris, he too is forced to take summer school (with Caruso) because he failed his science class.
- At the end of "Everybody Hates Sausages" Chris finally got his revenge on Caruso by having him and his cronies spend time in detention after the principal caught them pelting Chris with batteries.
- Last-Name Basis: He is better known as Caruso.
- The Nicknamer: He always refers to Chris as a different black person, real or fictional.
- Pet the Dog: When he learned that Chris' grandfather died recently, he didn't pick on Chris that day (though he did beat up a Chinese kid instead).
- Politically Incorrect Villain: Towards Chris, constantly calling him black names.
Chris' teacher, and later the principal of the school. She's always saying something that offends Chris.
- Condescending Compassion: Displays this to Chris as often as she can.
- Flat Character: Sort of. She never really displays any character other than her paradoxical 'racism towards black men' and 'attraction towards black men' traits.
- Innocent Bigot: She keeps unwittingly making patronizing comments to Chris that sound racist.
- Irony: She always makes innocently racist comments towards Chris, but she also has an attraction for black men.
- Jerkass: She (unwittingly) acts very rude and condescending to Chris in almost all of her appearances.
- Race Fetish: She's disturbingly quick to throw herself at any handsome black men.
- Satellite Character: Her interactions are almost always with Chris; she rarely ever interacts with anyone else.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: As the show progressed, her comments towards Chris got more and more mean-spirited.
A black market dealer who sells stolen or illegal items.
A convenience store owner whom Chris works for.
Doc's nephew and co-manager, who is also an ex-soldier.
Another friend of Chris. He gives Chris advice in exchange for a dollar.
- Catchphrase: "Little dude from across the street! Let me hold a dollar."
- Disappeared Dad: Implied that he is a deadbeat dad. He once offered Chris some tips on how to save money in child support.
- Friendly Enemy: Is an antagonist in his first episode, who is thwarted from stealing Chris' bike. The two later become friends. Technically still accurate as Chris still sees Jerome "holding his dollar" as robbing him.
- Lovable Rogue: Robs Chris of a dollar in almost all of his appearances but is also genuinely nice to him for the most part.
A sleazy funeral director who lives in the same apartment building as the Rock family, renting out an adjacent suite as their tenant.
- Ascended Extra: He only appeared in a single scene in Season One before becoming the Rocks' tenant for the rest of the series.
- Catchphrase: "TRAGIC!"
- Characterization Marches On: He was bald in his first appearance, and he lacked most of the attributes that would define him in his later appearances.
- Everyone Has Standards: In 'Everybody Hates Snow Day', he is asked by Julius to watch Drew and Tanya. While reluctant at first, he ends up having fun playing Monopoly with them and sticks to his promise even after his widow of the week angrily decides to leave.
- Large Ham
- Manipulative Bastard: In 'Everybody Hates The English Teacher'. When Julius tries to raise his rent, Mr. Omar demands that the apartment be brought up to code. Everything is fixed up except for the breaker panel, which Mr. Omar pays for out of his own pocket...and deducts from his rent, meaning he'll be paying the Rocks the exact same amount as before.
- Really Gets Around: He meets a lot of widows in his job that he tends to make time for seducing and bringing to his apartment for sex.
A local homeless man. Not very sane.
- Cloudcuckoolander: As mentioned, he doesn't have a tight grasp on reality.
- Crazy Homeless People
- Hidden Depths: Turns out he's a skilled pilot, and that was his occupation before the layoffs under President Reagan.
- Riches to Rags: In a later episode, it turns out that he's actually from a wealthy family, it's just that he prefers to live as a hobo.
- Sudden Name Change: He was known as 'Mr. Jackson' in his first episode.