A chubby girl who's a fan of big hairstyles and The Corny Collins Show. She also loves to dance. Played by Ricki Lake in the 1988 movie, Marissa Jaret Winokur in the 2002 Broadway musical, Nikki Blonsky in the 2007 movie, and Maddie Baillio in the 2016 telecast.
- Acrofatic: She knows every step, she knows every song. She even mentions in the 1988 movie to Seaweed that she's "Just practicing, oh and watching Negro Day on Corny Collins!", which adds to the trope on how well she dances.
- Alliterative Name: Tracy Turnblad.
- Beehive Hairdo: Actually, a flip hairdo with a big bump, which pre-dates Ann Marie.
- Beware the Nice Ones: In the march, she doesn't take kindly to one of the police officer's rudeness towards her and assaults him with her sign. (The Horror)
- In the original movie she does have a streak of this in some scenes, like when a woman hurt Link during the riot.
- Big Beautiful Woman: Shes a teenage version and its just part of her appeal to the other characters.
- Big Eater: 1988 version.
- Big Fun: Tracy is a rare female example. Shes energetic and optimistic, which gets her to be a popular dancer in the Corny Collins Show.
- Book Dumb: Somewhat. Sleeps in most of her classes and doesn't really pay attention.
- Brilliant, but Lazy: Book Dumb she may be, but if she were to put more effort in her studies as much as she did in dancing, then it may say otherwise.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: Just listen to her daydreaming in "I Can Hear The Bells".
- Damsel out of Distress: In NBC's version, Tracy manages to break open her jail cell herself. She explains to Link that the police didn't have enough money for new bars, and that she crossed her fingers when she promised not to try and remove the aging ones. However, she still depends on Link to accompany her to Motormouth Maybell.
- Fangirl: Of the Corny Collins show.
- Fat and Proud: Tracy is overweight, but she loves her size.
- Fat and Skinny: The Fat to Penny's skinny.
- Fat Best Friend: Type A to Penny.
- Genki Girl: Loves dancing, the Corny Collins show and social justice.
- Graceful Loser: In the 2007 film, she has no problem with Inez winning the pageant over her since they're friends.
- "I Want" Song: "Good Morning Baltimore" and "I Can Hear the Bells"
- Little Miss Snarker: In the 1988 film. This does however get her in trouble at school though.
- Nice Girl: In the musical / 2007 film adaptation, when she's friendly and sweet to everybody.
- Perpetual Smiler: Shes an upbeat person it comes naturally.
- Pint-Sized Powerhouse: "Pint-sized" isn't quite the right word, but take a look at Beware the Nice Ones and remember that she's usually played by shorter actresses (Ricki Lake is 5'4", Marissa Jaret Winokur is 4'11", and Nikki Blonsky is 4'10".)
- Plucky Girl: Shes upbeat though out most of any performance your watching.
- The Pollyanna: Musicals / 2007 film version.
- Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: The Energetic Girl to Link's Savvy Guy.
- Skunk Stripe: After she joins The Corny Collins Show, her hair gets several blonde streaks going through it. She looks like a star especially in the final number.
- Took a Level in Kindness: Is much nicer in the musical and 2007 movie. In the original, she's a very deliberate nonconformist to the point of viciousness.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Sometimes Tracy can be oblivious to the blatant racism existing in the 60s. Such examples are: Saying that she would make everyday Negro Day on live TV and declaring that the black dancers should dance with the whites when Velma cancelled Negro Day. Even Maybelle lampshaded this.
Tracy's overweight mother, who can be a bit emotional at times. Played by Divine in 1988, Harvey Fierstein in 2002, John Travolta in the 2007 movie, and Fierstein again in the 2016 telecast.
- Acrofatic: It has been stated that they wanted Edna to be very light on her feet, which is one reason why John Travolta was cast in the latest movie.
- Beware the Nice Ones: See revenge below.
- Big Eater: Though with the spread at Maybells party can you blame her?
- Clingy Jealous Girl: While not clingy, she does get very emotional when she saw Wilbur being seduced by Velma in the 2007 movie. This was justified though, as she thought that Wilbur was having an affair.
- Crosscast Role: It is a tradition that Edna is always played by a man.
- Good Parents: On both versions. the 1988 one even has Edna being really supportive to the fact she takes up the mantle of being Tracy's manager and later, with Wilbur, join their daughter's fight by joining the NAACP.
- Happily Married: To Wilbur. This is emphasized in the 2007 movie where she initially believes that Wilbur was cheating on her with Velma, but they make amends in Youre Timeless to Me.
- Hidden Depths: When Tracy gets her first endorsement gig from Mr. Pinky's Hefty Hideaway, she asks Edna to be her agent. In the 2007 film, Edna not only agrees, but shows a surprising amount of business savvy—she alters the contract for Tracy's benefit, speaking knowingly about legal proceeds ("I want a non-exclusive contract! Extensions by mutual option."), and even manages to get herself a free bustier.
- In the original movie, she also has an eye for a good bargain, and she herself do act as her manager as well on her own terms. Like in the '07 movie, she manages to, as Mr. Pinky said, "(You) drive a hard bargain, and rightfully so!"
- Mama Bear: Despite her timid and insecure nature, Edna will not tolerate any crap given to her daughter or anyone else she cares about! For instance she barricades a police officer from chasing her daughter, despite the fact that she was dragged into a protest she didn't really want to be in. In a deleted scene she also unflinchingly demands that the same police officer apologize to the van full of peaceful protesters. You almost forget this is the same woman who hadn't left her house in eleven years.
- The Makeover: Gets two in "Welcome to the 60's" and "You Can't Stop the Beat".
- Revenge: In the 2007 film, when Velma Von Tussle tries to trick her into believing she was seducing her husband, she ends up exposing her on TV, getting her fired.
- Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: With her husband though he (and later she) wouldnt have it any other way.
- Took a Level in Kindness: Even moreso that Tracy, it's startling to see what a Jerkass Edna can be in the original movie when she's such a sweetheart in the musical.
- Weight Woe: Has a very bad case of this, in the 2007 version, it takes Tracy and Wilburs love and support help her overcome this.
- Though a makeover where she is put into flattering outfits that make her feel confident doesnt hurt either.
Tracy's father. A prank shop owner. Played by Jerry Stiller in 1988, Dick Latessa in 2002, Christopher Walken in 2007, and Martin Short in 2016.
- Good Parents: He encourages Tracy's dreams and has full faith in her ability to succeed.
- Happily Married: To Edna. When Velma tries to seduce him in the 2007 movie, he doesnt give into her advances at all. When Edna walks in and assumes he was cheating on her, he reassures her that nothing happened and makes amends with her through Youre Timeless to Me.
- Nosebleed: Has one when his wife, Edna, shakes her butt while dancing at the end in the 2007 movie.
- Nice Guy: There isn't a moment in the story where he isn't a good natured, humble, polite man to everyone he meets. He doesn't seem to hold any ill will against Velma for trying to seduce him in the 2007 film.
- Not Distracted by the Sexy: He's completely oblivious to Velma's seductive attempts to show her legs off to him.
- Oblivious to Love: When Velma tries to pretend to fall in love with him, he has no idea of her plan in the 2007 movie.
- Only Sane Man: Quirkier than most but can still count.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Even more so than his daughter. He sees the best in people, doesn't suspect Velma's motives and believes people will give Tracy a chance.
Little Inez: (about the Von Tussles) Are all white people like that?Wilbur: No. Just most of 'em!
- Played with in the offbeat song "It Doesn't Get Better Than This" from disc 2 of the collector's edition soundtrack for the 2007 musical, in which Wilbur recounts to Tracy the way in which his parents and uncle passed on words of inspiration from unlikely circumstances.
- Although also has a slightly more cynical side to him in the Broadway musical and the 2016 TV musical.
- Beta Couple: With Seaweed.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: Prone to spacing out and saying flaky things.
- The Cutie: A consistent trait of her's since the 1988 movie, complete with how she talks. Even with her hair straightened up, she still looks adorable as ever.
- Dating What Daddy Hates: In the 2007 movie, Penny alludes to the idea that her mother wont be accepting of her and Seaweed dating. Towards the end when Penny kisses Seaweed on live television, Prudy screams in shock and tries to scrub Seaweed off the screen.
- Deadpan SnarkerMotormouth Maybelle: So you two better brace yourselves for a whole lotta ugly comin' at you from a neverending parade of stupid.Penny: So you met my mom?
- Dumb Blonde: Subverted. She may be a Cloud Cuckoolander, but she's no dummy.
- Fat and Skinny: The skinny to Tracy's fat.
- The Glasses Gotta Go: She wears glasses for most of NBC's version, but removes them prior to crashing the Miss Hairspray pageant.
- Girlish Pigtails: Her usual hairstyle. She lets it down for the final number.
- Nice Girl: Like Tracy
Amber's boyfriend (And later Tracy's) and the lead male dancer on The Corny Collins Show, Tracy's love interest. Played by Michael St. Gerard in 1988, Matthew Morrison in 2002, Zac Efron in 2007, and Garrett Clayton in 2016.
- The Atoner: In the stage musical and 2007 movie, he becomes this after chickening out of the protest march, in order to make up to Tracy and the black dancers. In the musical, he breaks Tracy out of jail so she can compete in the pageant. In the movie (where she's never arrested), he brings Inez out at the pageant and dances with her, not only fulfilling her dream of appearing on the Corny Collins Show, but landing a surprise pageant win for her and ensuring that the show remains integrated.
- Henpecked Husband: In his relationship with Amber, who has him as an accessory rather than a true boyfriend. in the 2016 TV musical, he even confesses to Tracy (When he saw her in jail) that he was a tool to further Amber and Velma's gains.
- Love at First Sight: In the 1988 version, after Tracy got hit hard with a dodgeball, he checks on her if she's alright and asks her if she wants to go steady with him.
- Mr. Fanservice: It is Zac Efron, this is a given.
- But Garrett Clayton is no push over in that department either.
- Nice Guy: Especially when compared to his original girlfriend, Amber, and the rest of the Corny Collins Show council. In the 1988 movie, he even joins Tracy, Penny, Seaweed and Lil' Inez in their protest on live TV.
- Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: The Savvy Guy to Tracy's Energetic Girl.
- Token Good Teammate: The only nice, non-prejudiced person on the Corny Collins Show council prior to their HeelFace Turn at the end.
Amber Von Tussle
An arrogant, snobbish dancer. She is also the daughter of Velma Von Tussle (And in the original, also to Franklin Von Tussle) and the lead female dancer on The Corny Collins Show. Played by Colleen Fitzpatrick in 1988, Laura Bell Bundy in 2002, Brittany Snow in 2007, and Dove Cameron in 2016.
- Alpha Bitch: Spoiled, obnoxious, self-centered, she's got this trope covered.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: While she's openly antagonistic in previous versions, the 2007 film has her acting nice and treating Tracy like a friend, "defending" her from nasty rumors that she pretty blatantly came up with in the first place.
- Butt-Monkey: Has several unfortunate things happen to her either by coincidence or by the intent of several people she offends. Within her first appearance/song she is pushed aside by Shelley and Brad, dropped by Link, and smacked in the face by Corny.
- Defeat Means Friendship: In the stage musical, and potentially in the 2007 film.
- Driven by Envy: Most of Ambers actions towards Tracy is driven by the formers envy towards Tracy.
- Dumb Blonde: Subverted as Amber is not completely stupid, but she is pretty vapid.
- Graceful Loser: After some prodding in the musical, yet shes this instantly in the 2007 film.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Mostly in the 2007 film. Amber is antagonistic towards Tracy mostly because she envies Tracys dancing skills & Tracy is a threat to Amber winning Ms. teenage Hairspray.
- HeelFace Turn: In the musical and 2007 film (made more explicit in a deleted scene showing Velma's arrest.)
- Hidden Depths: "I lost, Mom. Let's just deal with it!" Considering how awful and self-centered Amber was before, this was surprisingly mature of her.
- Hidden Heart of Gold: Implied in the musical, confirmed by the end of the 2007 film.
- Humiliation Conga: Goes through this at the end of all versions.
- Icy Blue Eyes: Her blue eyes represent her bitchy & antagonistic nature towards Tracy.
- It's All About Me: She literally pushes away anyone who attempts to steal the limelight.
- Jerkass: Consistently, at least early on.
- Jerkass to One: Amber is unpleasant to everyone, but shes much more mean to Tracy due to her jealousy of Tracys dance skills.
- Lovable Alpha Bitch: After her HeelFace Turn in the musical, the 2007 film and the 2016 TV musical.
- Ms. Fanservice: Many fans find her attractive, in-show and out of it.
- Not Evil, Just Misunderstood: As described by Brittany Snow. It's implied in all versions that she only acts as mean as she does because her mother expects it from her and at the end of the 2007 film, she finally gets sick of it and makes a switch for the better.
- Spoiled Brat: Velma absolutely spoils her rotten in every version and it really shows when it comes to how she reacts to not getting something she wants.
- The Rival: Becomes this to Tracy in the middle of the movie when the latter gets on the Corny Collins show.
- Small Name, Big Ego: At first.
- Took a Level in Kindness: At the end of the musical, the 2007 film and the 2016 TV musical.
Velma Von Tussle
The racist and fatphobic manager of the WYZT station in the 2007 version and the 2016 TV musical. The mother of Amber Von Tussle and wife of Franklin Von Tussle in the 1988 version. Her goal is the keep the Corny Collins show segregated. Played by Debbie Harry in 1988, Linda Hart in 2002, Michelle Pfeiffer in 2007, and Kristin Chenoweth in 2016.
- Big Bad: She's the antagonist who causes every problem in the story, and the few she doesn't she fights to exacerbate. In the 1988 movie, she shares this with her husband Franklin and the station's boss Arvin Hodgepile.
- Defeat Means Friendship: Only in the stage musical.
- Establishing Character Moment: In the 2007 film. When she is introduced, shes being rude to the camera man, showing that shes not only a Jerkass to blacks, but to other white people as well.
- HeelFace Turn: In the musical and the 2016 telecast alongside her daughter, though not in the 2007 film adaptation.
- Humiliation Conga: Suffers this along with her daughter in all versions. Unlike her daughter she deserves every minute of it.
- Jerkass: Especially in the 1988 and 2007 film versions.
- Kick the Dog: Just about all of the things she does are callous and mean-spirited.
- Lean and Mean: Thin, blonde and beautiful, as praised in the song.
- Manipulative Bitch: Nothing is beneath her, including tricking children, meddling in her daughter's dating life and seducing married men.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: Champion for on screen segregation. She's openly racist against black people, and a few lines in "Miss Baltimore Crabs" implies that she's an anti-Semite as well. She also can't stand fat people as well, as she openly dislikes Tracy and her mother Edna.
- Small Name, Big Ego: She will remind you that she won Ms. Baltimore Crabs, in song of course. ** Also acts like she is running the entire network station and while she does have some sway its clear shes not the boss.
- Smug Snake: God yes.
- Sore Loser: Not her exactly, but she has this reaction in the 2007 film when Inez wins over her daughter Amber.
- Stage Mom: To Amber in all versions, micromanaging her life and career.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: She was already a jerkass, but the 2007 film takes it Up to Eleven.
- Took a Level in Kindness: At the end of the stage musical, although part of this is because her new job depends on it.
- Victoria's Secret Compartment: Hides the real votes here when rigging the pageant.
- Villain Song: Miss Baltimore Crabs.
- White-Dwarf Starlet: Is approaching this despite still being beautiful (on the outside)
- Deadpan Snarker: He has his moments, such as his quote above.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
- He's a snarky, egotistical person, but he's actually a Nice Guy underneath it all.
- His Nice Guy side is played up in the 2007 film where he's shown to be politically progressive, openly proposing integrating the Corny Collins Show and being frustrated with both Velma's bigotry in the 2007 version and with his boss Arvin Hodgepile in the 1988 version.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: In the original movie.
- Rules Lawyer: Is one when Velma tries to argue that Inez's victory is invalid in the 2007 movie.Corny: "Well, anyone who dances for it is eligible, rule 30, paragraph 5, asterisk down at the bottom."
- Small Name, Big Ego: Subverted. He's the show's host, so he has a big name to back up his big ego.
Penny's overbearing, strict, and racist mother, who is also highly religious. Played by Joanne Havrilla in 1988, Jackie Hoffman in 2002, Allison Janney in 2007, and Andrea Martin in 2016.
- Abusive Parent: Shes super controlling of her daughter and doesnt approve of her friendship with Tracy. She also ties her daughter to her bed for going to jail without her permission. In the film, she goes a little further by sprinkling Penny with holy water and calling her a devil child.
- Control Freak: Beats out Ambers mom.
- Fantastic Racism: Part of what Penny fears when she and Seaweed getting together is her mother disapproving of the relationship. In the 2007 film, she shrieks when she sees Penny kiss Seaweed and she tries wiping Seaweed off the screen. In some versions of the stage production, she bemoans that since Seaweed is in her house, she cant sell it anymore.
- Freak Out: Towards the end of the 2007 film, she loses it when Penny kisses Seaweed. It may have also been a response to her daughter somehow getting out of her room.
- In the 1988 film, she gets a big, funny one when she ends up on Baltimore's black community, and when Seaweed saves Penny from her house.
- The Fundamentalist: A rather extreme example, at least by the films' standpoints. She tries raising her daughter in a "Christian" lifestyle, but her methods are forced and she seems more controlling and abusive (as noted before) and less loving and understanding.
- Large Ham: Especially since she's played by Allison Janney. The 1988 movie is no slouch in the ham either as Joanne Havrilla's acting (See Freak Out above) takes it up a notch.
- My Beloved Smother: She actually ties her daughter to her bed with jump rope (on knots that rival the navy's) and sprinkles her with holy water. The original one even takes it Up to Eleven regarding towards blacks.
- Took a Level in Kindness: In the stage musical, but not in either of the film versions.
- Alliterative Name: Her Radio name Motormouth Maybelle qualifies.
- Big Beautiful Woman: Maybelle is often conveyed by a large and beautiful woman. Her song Big, Blonde, and Beautiful is all about her declaring herself to be big and beautiful and encouraging Edna to not be ashamed of her size.
- Dark-Skinned Blonde: and she pulls it off royally.
- Nice Girl: Motormouth is loud and energized, but she can be quiet and motherly when needed to be. She is kind-hearted, mature, loving, motherly, and thoughtful.
- Only Sane Woman: Definitely this in the 2007 version.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Especially in the 2007 version, though all versions qualify.
- Sassy Black Woman: With the 2007 movie well shes it's Queen Latifah, what else do you expect.
- Ruth Brown's take on the character has traces of it too.
- Shipper on Deck: Maybelle is supportive of Seaweed and Penny being together. She does, however, warn them that other people wont be so accepting of them being together to which Penny replies with, So youve met my mom.
Seaweed J. Stubbs
Motormouth Maybelle's son and Penny's love interest. A skilled dancer and singer on Negro Day. Played by Clayton Prince in 1988, Corey Reynolds in 2002, Elijah Kelley in 2007, and Ephraim Sykes in 2016.
- Alliterative Name: Seaweed J. Stubs.
- Beta Couple: With Penny.
- Nice Guy: A charming, pleasant, friendly, and just all around nice guy. Far more inclusive then the rest of the detention crew, and helps Tracy get into the show.
- Tall, Dark, and Handsome: In the original movie, he's basketball-player tall and very attractive.
- While not as tall in the 2007 version he fills out the dark and handsome part very well (especially the latter) Being a great dancer, dresser and kisser doesnt hurt at all.
Seaweed's little sister who is a skilled dancer for her age. Played by Cyrkle Milbourne in 1988, Danielle Eugenia Wilson in 2002, Taylor Parks in 2007, and Shahidi Wright Joseph in 2016.
- Awesome Moment of Crowning: Winning the tiara in the Miss Teenage Hairspray contest in the 2007 movie.
- The Baby of the Bunch: Inez is one of the youngest characters and dancers of the show.
- Dark Horse Victory: Little Inez, a supporting character, ends up winning the pageant in the 2007 movie, despite Velma rigging the tallies to ensure Amber wins.
- Girlish Pigtails: Rocks a pair of these
- Pint-Sized Kid: The main characters are in High School whereas shes in Elementary school not that that stops her from winning Ms. Teenage Hairspray.
- Sassy Black Girl: In the 2007 version
- Little Miss Snarker: She knows what she's worth and she won't apologize for it. Take this exchange from the Broadway musical.Inez: Hand over the crown, honey.Amber: You'll have to pry it from my cold, dead hands!Inez: That'll do.
- Nice Girl: Very nice, but not without a slight edge!