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- Portrayed by: Kenan Thompson
- Aloof Big Brother: Towards Kyra.
- Big "WHY?!": His Catchphrase, naturally.
- Book Dumb: He never focuses on school and uses his own school logic to analyze things. Examples include not remembering what George Washington did with the cherry tree, forgetting which author to influence his "graduation speech", and not even understanding how to spell "thief" ("T-H-E-A-F-E").
- Brilliant, but Lazy: He never uses his intelligence for his own responsibilities and instead only uses it during his schemes.
- Butt-Monkey: He is always on the constant butt of Kel's antics and when his schemes go awry.
- Catchphrase: "WHHYY?!" and "Mind your business!"
- Cloud Cuckoolanders Minder: Towards Kel. Much to his frustration.
- Deadpan Snarker: Acts very sarcastic towards people.Kel: Oh, good. Youre still here.Kenan: Well, no. Actually, I went to the arcade and played some video games. I just got back.
- Fatal Flaw: His tendency to live right in the moment as opposed to thinking about the future is often why several of his plans go awry.
- Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: The Foolish to Kyra's Responsible.
- Get Rich Quick Scheme: His fondness of these drives the main plot of the show.
- High School Hustler as the theme tune says, you gotta watch Kenan, because Kenan be scheming! They usually backfire in the end, unless his scheme benefits others more than him.
- Humiliation Conga: In "Clothes Encounters", he inadvertently insults the manager of the clothes store and gets himself locked out of his dressing room, in which Rudy, the manager, unknowingly takes his clothes and puts them back up on the hangers. He asks Kel to grab them for him, in which Kel continuously forgets to do so. Kids laugh at him for being in his underwear and a women accuses him of stealing her clothes when he actually was just holding them. He then rips his underwear, thus running home throughout town partially nude, and he finally makes it home unknowingly stepping into Sheryl's baby shower (with Kel holding a hose and safety goggles on).Kel: "Hey, Kenan! You're just in time to shower the baby!"
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He's impulsive, lazy, and mischievous, but will do good moments at the right time.
- Only Sane Man: Not to Sharla's extent, but is easily more normal than most of the other characters in the show, especially Kel.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Manly Man to Kel's Sensitive Guy.
- Ultimate Job Security: Having Chris as his manager easily has something to do with why he hasn't even gotten fired yet, despite constantly ditching work, goofing off, and allowing Kel to not pay for his orange sodas.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: He's afraid of rats.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: Every time he has a solution in fixing his mistakes, Kel often screws up his only chance of fixing it. The Raffle especially is one of those examples.
- Portrayed by: Kel Mitchell
- Big Eater: Kel has eaten an entire Thanksgiving turkey in under a minute and ordered a hamburger, onion rings, corn, macaroni & cheese, and spaghetti & meatballs at a Chinese restaurant.
- Bilingual Bonus: Kel can speak English, French, Spanish, and Chinese (at least the Schniederverse version of Chinese)
- Break the Cutie: In "The Tainting of the Screw", "Mental Kel-Epathy", "Who Loves Orange Soda?", "Get the Kel Outta Here", and "Bye, Bye Kenan: Part 1".
- Bullying a Dragon: Once taunted the Jackhammer (a wanted killer) by repeatedly unlocking his prison door.Kel: "Hey, everybody! Look what these keys do! Oh, look Mr. Jack-a-Hamma, the door's open! Oh, it's closed. Oh, wait, it's open. Oh, closed! Hey, wanna come out? (Kel laughs as he shuts the door a few more times)
- Butt-Monkey: Whenever he participates in Kenan's schemes or during his Too Dumb to Live moments.
- Captain Obvious: See quotes below.Kel: "I bet that rat has something to do with all the bites in the food!"Kel: "Wait a minute! I know what happened! We picked up the wrong girl from the airport."
- Catchphrase: "AWWWW, HERE IT GOES!"
- Childhood Brain Damage: Kenan once implies that Kel's lack of common sense (and otherwise intelligence) was the result of him being dropped on his head as a child.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: Believing his stuffed hippopotamus was real is one proof that he is pretty scatterbrained in his own way.
- The Ditz: Is easily not the sharpest knife in the drawer.
- Dragged into Drag: A couple of times, Kenan's plans require a girl, which means Kel has to dress up as one. People can't seem to see through the disguise, either (even when he pretended to be pregnant!).
- Only Chris seems to noticed.
- Dumbass Has a Point: While Kel does make Kenan's problems worse, he also makes a good point that Kenan himself is the one that starts his own misfortunes in the first place. Not that Kenan always wants to admit it though.Kel: "Well, this wouldn't have happened if you hadn't been so nosy."Kenan: "I'm sorry, did you say something?"Kel: "No!"
- Flanderization: Turns from just a clumsy teen who lacks common sense to turning into literal sitcom version of Patrick Star in seasons 3 and 4.
- G-Rated Drug: Kel's addiction to Orange Soda. There's even an episode dedicated to everyone trying to break his addiction, and he suffers from obvious withdrawals.
- Genius Ditz: Kel scored a 98 (out of 100, on this show) on the IQ Test.
- Idiot Houdini: When someone else gets emotionally/physically harmed because of him, don't expect him to not get off unscathed.
- Innocently Insensitive: A lot of the time he'll unknowingly insult people due to his general lack of thought.
- In Touch with His Feminine Side: Sometimes. He occasionally joins Sheryl and her friends during their activities (once even joined their book club, though not the way he interpreted it). He even doesn't seem to mind wearing dresses as disguises and he even wears a princess suit at a Comic-Con (as "Patty the Power Pixie").
- I Warned You: He always tells Kenan his plans won't work, but Kenan never listens and doesn't want to hear of it even when his plans do fail.
- Keet: He is very energetic and neurotic. Though the latter is often shown in earlier seasons. He even gets super excited over Crazy Betty's theme song.
- Kiddie Kid/Manchild: He often acts pretty childish for his age including getting super emotional and acting like a hyperactive kid in general. He particularly shows his childlike nature while at the pirate-themed restaraunt in "Freezer Burned".Kel: "No such thing as pirates?! No such thing as pirates?! Listen up, everybody! This place is fake! None of the pirates are real!"
- Kindhearted Simpleton: Kel means well, despite his destructive stupidity/clumsiness.
- Large Ham: He dropped the screw in the tuna.
- Lethally Stupid: He has injured and caused problems for people (particularly Roger) with his careless decisions.
- Literal-Minded: Takes everything that people tell him far too seriously.Chris: "Oh, please call me Chris"Kel: "Huh, I call him Sirhc Rettop."Chris: "Kel, you make my head hurt."Kel: "Really? This is what makes my head hurt." (Grabs a jug of laundry detergent and hits himself in the head.)
- The Millstone: Many of Kenan's schemes fail due to him.
- Prone to Tears: He often tends to be super emotional during even the littlest of problems.
- Sarcasm-Blind: Often takes Kenan's sarcasms literally.Kel: "Kenan, that'll never happen. I mean, we don't even have a magic wand or anything, and "Kenan: "Please go find my clothes!"Kel: "See? Now that's a better idea, don't you think?"
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Sensitive Guy to Kenan's Manly Man.
- Too Dumb to Live: Particularly in later seasons.
- Took a Level in Dumbass: Kel's intelligence just decreases rapidly over the course of the series.
- Trademark Favorite Drink:
"I enjoy ham."
- "Who loves orange soda? Kel loves orange soda! Is it truuuue? Mmmmmmhmmmm. I do I do I do I do-oo!"
- It is implied in "The Tainting of the Screw" that his favorite food is ham.
- His female persona from "The Honeymoon's Over", Kelly, loves root beer.
- Portrayed by: Dan Frischman
- Butt-Monkey: Tons of examples, including the Christmas Special where he was beat up by a robotic Santa Claus while all the customers sat back and watched not even knowing it's a robotic dummy.
- Catchphrase: "I have a radio in my car!"
- Character Tics: His eye twitches whenever there's trouble. Though it was only shown in the pilot episode.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: He is very eccentric and has constant dreams about stuff like animals and even being afraid of sandwiches and bunny rabbits. He also jumps the conclusions a lot and he can be quite a hypocrite due to his scatterbrained and neurotic nature. Not to mentions he constantly gets easily fooled by Kenan's lies.
- Extreme Doormat: Is such a pushover whenever it comes to Kenan slacking off and Kel basically stealing his orange sodas.
- Manchild: He isn't very mature for his age. Examples include him getting childishly excited for things and the fact that he rather enjoys spending time with his mother.
- Momma's Boy:
- On the other hand, there's literally no proof his mother actually exists beyond things Chris says. Kenan himself states that he's never met her and Chris's house contains no photos of her, despite them living together. Almost like a lampshade, Chris's fish is called "Norman" ala a certain famous serial killer who also imagined his mother's continued life..
- There was one episode with some proof: he puts Kenan in charge of the store because he has to take his mother to get her feet scraped. He later shows up with the bag of "foot dust."
- Noodle Incident: He has a boatload of them, all involving his mother.Kenan: Lumberjack school?
- Terrified of Germs: Shown in "The Cold War" when Kel has a cold, though justified as he runs a grocery store and that's where Kel was.
- Token White: Ever notice he's the only white guy in the show?
- The only white main character at least. There are plenty of white extras and minor characters on the show.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: He's afraid of rabbits (big ones) and sandwiches. Though he no longer fears the latter.
- Portrayed by: Ken Foree.
- Amusing Injuries: Suffers these from Kel. Kenan's mischief often tend to injure him too.
- Bald, Black Leader Guy: Of the Rockmore family, anyway.
- Butt-Monkey: Second only to Chris.
- The Chew Toy: Poor Roger can never get a break.
- The Cynic: Often whenever it comes to Kel.
- Expy: Has similar traits with George Wilson and Squidward Tentacles.
- Jerkass Has a Point: He may be harsh toward Kel, but since Kel frequently injures him and breaks his stuff during his visits, it's easy to understand why he hates him.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Roger tends to cranky, cynical and quite rude, but he cares deeply about his kids and will protect them whenever they're in danger, particularly Kenan.
- Kick the Dog: Roger telling Kel "he was never his friend."
- Made of Iron: This guy has been tumbled down the stairs, hit in traffic, smashed by a rock, shoved out a window, and even suffered a concussion while jumping out of the window to chase Kel in all one day. And somehow this guy is still alive.
- Scary Black Man: To Kel, anyway.
- Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Kel is his.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: He's afraid of ladybugs.
- Portrayed by: Teal Marchande
- Noodle Incident: When she was in college during The '70s, she once streaked in public.
- Only Sane Woman: Is one of the more reasonable and understanding characters along with Kenan and Sharla.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Is much more reasonable than her husband and rather reasons with Kenan than outright ground him, unlike Roger whom is extremely quick in punishing him.
- Portrayed by: Vanessa Baden
- Annoying Younger Sibling: Takes pleasure in seeing Kenan get grounded.
- Berserk Button: When some other girl takes an interest in Kel.
- Bratty Half-Pint
- Clingy Jealous Girl: Hates it whenever someone else is in love with Kel.
- Demoted to Extra: She is absent during the entirety of season 3, and only made a few appearances in season 4.
- Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: The Responsible to Kenan's Foolish.
- Precocious Crush: She has one on Kel.
- Stalker with a Crush
- Academic Alpha Bitch
- Expy: Mindy in the later show Drake & Josh.
- Nerds Love Tough Schoolwork
- Recurring Extra
- Straw Feminist: She once gave a presentation on a book titled, Women, Better Than Men. It was 45 minutes long.