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    Mike Baxter 

Michael "Mike" Baxter

Played By: Tim Allen

The patriarch of the family, he's from Michigan and is a typical blue-collar All-American man. His marketing skills helped Ed Alzate turn a small bait and tackle store into the respectable franchise Outdoor Man, with his career evolving from doing world-traveling catalog shoots to online promotional videos. He's very conservative and stubborn, frustrated that strong, motivated manly men are being phased out in favor of more sensitive, emotional types. But he is equally well-read and informed on important subjects, which he often integrates into his Outdoor Man video blogs.


  • The Ace: Described as such by the other characters.
  • Badass Bookworm: He's actually very well educated, despite the initial "macho caveman" persona common with most of Tim Allen's roles.
  • Benevolent Boss: His treatment of the Outdoor Man employees includes paying a lot of money to allow a loading dock foreman without a green card to keep his job and shooting down Ed's suggestion to demote several workers to part-time to avoid paying the insurance premiums the Affordable Care Act enacted.
  • Brutal Honesty: One of Mike's biggest traits is that he refuses to beat around the bush when it comes to unpleasant topics. At times, it gets him into trouble.
  • Bumbling Dad: Averted. He's a very caring and loving father who is able to help around the house when necessary, and is clearly more rational and mature than his kids.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Shares this trait with his daughters, particularly the youngest.
  • Gun Nut: Has a large collection, even some vintage rifles. Subverts Reckless Gun Usage in how meticulous he is in taking care of them, and he taught all of his daughters proper safety and use. He did note with amusement that he put a $900 scope on Eve's $99 pellet gun so she could take care of rodents in the back yard.
  • Happily Married: With Vanessa.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He's very blunt and conservative, but he loves his family and friends and will do anything to help them.
  • Manipulative Bastard: As shown in "Putting a Hit on Christmas", "The Big Sleepover", and "Tanks for the Memories".
  • Manly Men Can Hunt: He even sells hunting gear for a living.
  • The One Guy: The premise is that he struggles to maintain his manliness in a household dominated by women. When he first saw his last daughter Eve through the ultrasound, he pretty much gave up to his fate and said, "That's it! I quit!"
  • Only Sane Man: Most of the time he plays this role, since he prefers taking an honest and logical approach to dealing with problems.
  • Overprotective Dad: Zigzagged. On the one hand, he will actually set up his daughters with guys and he knows he can't fix all of their problems. On the other hand, he makes sure that all of his daughters' dates know that he has a large collection of guns.
  • Papa Wolf: Do not hurt his daughters or his grandson.
    Mike: Listen, Terrence, you can come by my house and be rude. I can handle that. You can come by my office and desecrate this place, and I can handle that. Hurt my kid, I can't handle that.
  • Parental Substitute: Both Kyle and Ryan see him as a father figure and seek his approval.
  • Self-Made Man: He had to work his way through college to pay his tuition because his dad cut him off after he decided to study marketing rather than construction management.
  • Sliding Scale of Libertarianism and Authoritarianism: Mike is a hard core Libertarian who hates all forms of government intervention. He even identifies himself as one in "Halloween".
  • Small Name, Big Ego: He was like this before Outdoor Man made him an internet celebrity.
  • Strawman Political: Subverted in that while he's opinionated and set in his ways, he's generally well educated on the issues unlike the ignorant Kristin and Ryan. Additionally, he's shown to be fairly liberal on social issues like gay rights and is against a few of the Republican Party's policies such as the PATRIOT Act. He often plays up the hardcore conservative for fun and annoying others, but doesn't overtly attack others for having contrary beliefs and he is willing to listen to them.
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     Vanessa Baxter 

Vanessa Baxter

Played By: Nancy Travis

The matriarch of the family, she went to college at Ohio State and has a master's degree in geology. After spending years doing part-time work, as her kids got older she went back to full time, getting promoted in short order with a lot more responsibility. She is exceptionally patient and tries to stay out of Mike's way when he goes on a rant. However, she also has a tendency to be prideful and embarrass her daughters.


  • Adult Fear: Eve going to military college puts a lot of stress on her, as Vanessa wishes to be able to sleep thinking that her daughter would be safe in a cozy place like a library.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Her attempts to be a "cool mom" lead to this.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Even Mike is afraid of her after Ryan presses her Berserk Button in the season four Christmas episode.
  • Cannot Tell a Joke: And it doesn't stop her from trying.
  • Captain Oblivious: It's clear to the audience and other characters that she has no idea how dorky, embarrassing, and naive she is.
  • Determinator: When she makes a decision, she is determined to follow through on it even after it becomes obvious she made the wrong choice.
  • Drink Order: Wine. If she gets stressed out, you can count on her breaking out a bottle of it.
  • Extreme Door Mat: Even she acknowledges that things will most likely turn out the way Mike wants.
  • Flanderization: Her dorkiness and desperation to be a "cool mom" have taken up a large portion of her characterization by the fifth season.
  • Former Teen Rebel: She did a lot of partying in college.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: Her well-meaning attempts to make life better for people or try to excel at activities end up biting her in the ass so badly. Her attempts to avoid racism and stereotypes end up with disastrous results.
  • Happily Married: With Mike.
  • Horrible Judge of Character. Downplayed. She has a tendency to believe in the best of people. Most of the time her faith is rewarded, but other times it results in people taking advantage of her.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Her good attempts to not cause disputes between certain people end up backfiring in the most spectacular ways. She worries that the Larabees being black people alienates them from others (it doesn't) and that having a housemaid at all is pretty demeaning, so she tells her to have a cup of tea... while Vanessa cleans the house herself. Mike ends up walking into the living room and sees Carol Larabee (a black person) and Blanca (a Mexican immigrant and the housemaid) drinking in peace while Vanessa is vacuuming.
    Mike: What's wrong with this picture?
  • Mama Bear: You do not want to try to harm or exploit her daughters.
  • Meddling Parents: She tries way too hard to get involved in her daughters' personal lives, embarrassing and annoying them. This directly contrasts Mike, who prefers not to get involved and only helps them out when they ask for it and truly need it.
  • Only Sane Man: In the episodes where Mike doesn't fill the role, though she loses this role more and more as the seasons go on.
  • That Came Out Wrong: Expect her to fall as a victim of this very often.

     Kristin Baxter 

Kristin Beth Baxter

Played By: Alexandra Krosney (Season 1); Amanda Fuller (Season 2-)

The oldest daughter, she became pregnant in her senior year of high school and has spent most of her time since then raising Boyd and trying to be self-sufficient and move out of her parents' home. An honor student before, she is fully aware of how all her life plans have changed from becoming a parent so young. She is often frustrated by Mike's "old school" worldview and tries to raise her son with a more "new age" style, even though the results are often mixed.


  • Age Lift: A different kind of example; she was 19 in the first season and suddenly became 23 in the second, given the decision to age Boyd to kindergarten and keep her Teen Pregnancy at 17.
  • Beauty, Brains and Brawn: The Brains - despite her teen pregnancy, Kristin has worked hard to achieve a management position and is very well-read and intelligent.
  • Character Development: As the seasons go on, she realizes that her new age parenting methods are not very effective and that her liberal ideals aren't practical when applied to the real world. By the fifth season, she's more likely to agree with Mike than Ryan.
  • Commander Contrarian: In season 2 especially. As Ryan points out, if anyone other than Mike offered advice to her, she would listen to it. After hearing this, she starts to listen to him more.
  • Flanderization: In the first season, she expressed concern about two-year-old Boyd being exposed to "pagan death imagery" on Halloween, but otherwise understood the appeal and just wanted Boyd to have fun. In the second season (along with a recast) she became far more likely to coddle him and protest anything at school that would have a negative impact on his self-esteem.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Ryan wanted her to get an abortion after she got pregnant. She didn't, so he left her.
  • Granola Girl: Not so much the first season, but the second season her liberal political leanings and attempts at "new age" parenting skew into this territory.
  • Hypocrite: In "Rediscover America", after scoring a game-winning field goal, Eve is in an article in the local newspaper and Kristin says it is a good recognition for women when the article identifies Eve as a "female kicker"; she is later upset when the same writer identifies Eve as a "female kicker" again after the team loses the game, saying it was bad that the writer specifically mentioned the fact that she is female after missing a kick. When Eve lampshades this, she claims that the first time was in a positive light, whereas the second time it was because she believes that it's implying that Eve lost just because "she has ovaries". Her argument is then rendered moot when it turns out the writer is a woman.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: While she's a good person overall, even Kyle admitted that, when they were dating, there were times when she would be a real bitch.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Unlike Mike and Ryan, she hardly ever backs up her beliefs with hard evidence.
  • My Beloved Smother: Obsesses over protecting Boyd from anything that could hurt him or lower his self-esteem. Part of her Character Development is learning that a child has to go through some strife in order to achieve real victory, such as the Mutton Busting award.
  • Not So Above It All: She still owns a gun that Mike gave her for her birthday and keeps it in her apartment.
  • Teen Pregnancy: She got pregnant at 17 and had to finish high school online. While her parents are more than happy to help her out at home, the strain of being a single mom still prevents her from pursuing a college education and she finds herself stuck as a waitress for the first few seasons.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Her character changed noticeably in season two compared to season one. Beginning with season two, she became much more combative and insulting toward her parents, the people who supported her when she found out she was pregnant and allow her to live with them. Her change in attitude often caused her to drift into Ungrateful Bitch territory. Following season two, she begins going through Character Development that gradually turns her into a more sympathetic character.
  • Tragic Dropout: She was able to finish high school, but had to give up college and work as a waitress to support Boyd.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: As misguided as much of her parenting is, she does it because she loves Boyd and doesn't want him to get hurt.

     Mandy Baxter 

Amanda Elaine "Mandy" Baxter

Played By: Molly Ephraim (Seasons 1-6); Molly McCook (Season 7-)

The middle daughter, she has a superficial and dense exterior being obsessed with boys, social networking, fashion and her own appearance. Beneath the surface, she can be very kindhearted and knowledgeable in areas with which the rest of the family are less familiar.


  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: In one episode, it's suggested that the reason behind her poor grades is that she actually has ADHD; in previous episodes, it was shown that she was easily distracted by social networking.
  • Beauty, Brains and Brawn: The Beauty - Mandy takes great pride in her appearance, and while her sisters are certainly attractive, they don't place nearly as much emphasis on it.
  • Book Dumb: Did not do very well in high school because of the social atmosphere, but notably does much better in college because she has more direction to topics which interest her. She even makes the dean's list.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Not as bad as other examples, but she does have her moments of this.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Has an innate gift for social networking and fashion design, but for the first few seasons is too obsessed with being inside the circle to actually make it into a career. She and Mike do some marketing together and he's very impressed with her talent.
  • Character Development: Once she reaches college she gains a previously non-existent passion for education and a much stronger work ethic, actually absorbing the information and applying it to her own life. This makes her much more mature and responsible, while highlighting her good qualities even more.
  • The Ditz: Prone to mixing up phrases and ignorant of many basic things.
    Mike: (taking away her laptop and cell phone after she announces she's going off the grid) You won't need these anymore.
    Mandy: No, Dad, that doesn't use energy. It runs on a battery.
    Mike: (stumbles in shock of the ignorance of that statement)
  • The Fashionista: She even starts her own clothing company.
  • Girly Girl with a Tomboy Streak: Mandy fits the girly-girl stereotype to a T, but she's still a Baxter and knows how to hunt and camp, which actually comes in handy when she wants to use pheasant feathers in her new line of hats.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: With Eve, who snarks at her almost constantly. Sometimes it gets vicious between them.
  • Happily Married: To Kyle in later seasons.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Due to her ditzy personality, she often says insulting things to the other characters without even realizing it.
  • It's All About Me: Believes the world revolves around her, sometimes acting like she is on a reality show.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: More prominent in the early seasons when she was more bratty, self-centered, and selfish, she still showed she had a kind and generous heart. Especially prominent in Elfie, when she used the money she got for Christmas to fly Blanca's Marine brother-in-law home from Afghanistan for Christmas.
  • Middle Child Syndrome: She often gets frustrated because Mike is more interested in what Kristin and Eve do. To be fair, most of the things Mandy cares about (fashion, celebrities, school gossip, etc.) are things that Mike wouldn't care about no matter who was discussing it. He points this out when she calls him on it, although he also acknowledges that she has a point and promises to be more encouraging.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Out of all the Baxter girls, Mandy is the one most likely to be seen dressed in a sexy or revealing manner. She even manages to convert a Garfield Halloween costume into a bikini top/miniskirt combo.
  • Pair the Dumb Ones: Her romance with Kyle, as they're Birds of a Feather.
  • Phone Aholic Teenager: Mike gets her to drop her energy protest in about 30 seconds by taking away her phone.
  • Proud Beauty: Constantly uses her looks to get out of driving tickets or handing an assignment in on time.
  • Really Gets Around: Heavily implied.
    Mandy: [after hearing a woman died upstairs in their house] I sleep up there almost every night. I mean, every night.
  • Statuesque Stunner: In the recast with Molly McCook she gained about a foot in height, in the right heels she's taller than Kyle. Amusingly, earlier episodes made a few jokes about her short stature, and eventually the jokes went in reverse.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: In early seasons, she's the most selfish, bratty, and apathetic character in the cast. After she starts college, she becomes more kind, mature and responsible, though she still has moments of insensitivity.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Believes that her personal life should/will play out exactly like it would in a movie. Best exemplified when she goes into Donna Karan's office during her internship to impress the latter and is instead escorted out by security and kicked out of the program.

     Eve Baxter 

Eve Baxter

Played By: Kaitlyn Dever

The youngest daughter, she is very active in sports, camping and guns and is very close to Mike because of that. Eventually she joins the JROTC with the aspirations of becoming an Army Ranger sniper. She is sometimes aware that her strong personality turns many would-be suitors away, and is willing to "girly-up" for an event.


  • Academic Athlete: She's a three sport MVP and gets straight A's.
  • Adorkable: Whenever she has to do the "emotion-y" part of a relationship.
  • Beauty, Brains and Brawn: The Brawn - she's a tomboy and star athlete who has always dreamed of and worked toward a military career.
  • Brainy Brunette: Eve has brown hair, knows almost as much about hunting, cars, and weapons as her father, and has a 4.0 GPA; the only classes she's bad at is art and her geometry class with an extremely tough teacher.
  • Commuting on a Bus: Season 7 sees the character only making sporadic appearances due to the fact that she will be attending the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and not be able to visit home that often. Out of universe, it's because her actress is too busy to make regular appearances.
  • Daddy's Girl: She shares Mike's interests and it's no secret that she's his favorite daughter.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The biggest one in the cast.
  • Demoted to Extra: In season seven, due to being at the Air Force Academy (and Kaitlyn Dever's film schedule), she only shows up every four episodes or so.
  • Female Misogynist: Downplayed in that she hates most stereotypical girly stuff and is annoyed by how feminine and emotional her mom and sisters are.
  • Girliness Upgrade: Her personality and interests don't change, but as the seasons go on and she grows up she is seen wearing more feminine clothing and makeup.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: With Mandy, who is the biggest target of her Deadpan Snarker tendencies.
  • Hidden Depths: The sports enthusiast and gun-loving tomboy is also a great singer and guitar player.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: The rare times she is a jerk, it's usually because she is hurt and insecure by people mocking her for being a tomboy.
  • Ice Queen: One of her boyfriends even compared her to a robot because of how hard-hearted she can be.
  • The Lad-ette: Has no interest in stereotypical girly things, and in many respects is basically the son Mike wanted.
  • The Mole: Is actually on Mike's payroll for information on other members of the family. In "Halloween", she helps Mike and Chuck with their final prank against their wives.
  • Not So Stoic: Despite what everyone else says, there are times where she gets emotional and breaks down in tears, such as "Eve's Breakup" and "The Gratitude List."
  • Parental Favoritism: It's no real secret that Mike likes her the best.
  • Passionate Sports Girl: In the course of the series she plays soccer, basketball, softball, and, in later seasons, football.
  • Pintsized Powerhouse: She's an all star athlete, the top JROTC member, and able to beat up teenage boys on a regular basis and she's only 5'2".
  • The Squadette: She joins the JROTC program at her school and becomes one of its best members. Her life's goal is to be admitted to West Point and become an Army Ranger. She eventually gets rejected by West Point, but, after taking a gap year, shifts gears and is accepted to the Air Force Academy.
  • Terrible Artist: It's the only class in which she does not do well. However, later seasons show she's a fairly talented singer and musician; it's just visual arts with which she has trouble.
  • Tomboy: So much that Mike jokingly calls her his son.
  • Tomboy with a Girly Streak: She does enjoy some "feminine" activities like singing and dancing, likes cat videos, and will wear dresses on dates. In "Take Your Daughter to Work," Eve dotes on and acts cutesy with the dog she and Mike find just as much as her mother and sisters do, and she is even the one who names the dog "Muffin."
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: She looks up to Mike and will do anything to please him. By the end of one episode, Mike has to tell her that he loves her unconditionally and she can live her life without having to seek his approval for everything she does.

     Ed Alzate 

Ed Alzate

Played By: Héctor Elizondo

The owner of Outdoor Man, he is getting up years but is still active in the operations of his company. A womanizer, he has been married several times and still active on the dating scene. He has a good business sense but relies on Mike's marketing strategies to really hone in on specific sales and advertising.


  • The Chains of Commanding: In Season 7, he decides to leave Outdoor Man to Mike to go into retirement.
  • Cool Old Guy: Some days he feels his age, but still very active in camping and physical activities. Kyle is suitably impressed when going with him on a Search and Rescue expedition. He retires in Season 7, however.
  • Depending on the Writer: Each episode differs in his approach to running Outdoor Man. Either he's too old-fashioned and Mike tries to get him to embrace current business ideas, or he is too willing to exploit the latest trends with bizarre strategies and Mike has to convince him not to do it.
  • Desk Jockey: He was one during Vietnam, but one episode shows how important his job and experience actually is to the other war vets.
  • Dirty Old Man: To the extent that Mike has to remind him not to make himself liable for sexual harassment lawsuits.
  • Expansion Pack Past: Ed's done many things and met many famous people in his life.
  • Funny Foreigner: He's the son of immigrant parents and has lived in the U.S. most of his life, but still carries a lot of cultural pride which sometimes clashes with the rest of the cast.
  • Honorary Uncle: He's something like this to the Baxter daughters, with whom he has good relationships. He and Mandy are social media buddies, and he plays fantasy football in the same league as Eve.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: He has these with both Mike and Kyle.
  • Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: Most of the women he's married end up like this, calling into question where it comes from.
  • The Scrooge: A wealthy businessman who doesn't even keep cash in his wallet. Also, his idea of a Christmas bonus is giving every employee, regardless of performance, a ham.
  • Serial Spouse: Has been married four times. It's a big reason why Vanessa initially disapproves of her mother getting engaged to him.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Joked at, since he was a Desk Jockey in Vietnam he never actually saw any action. He did end up hurting himself in a filing cabinet "Whenever I hear one slam shut, I'm back there."
  • Wine Is Classy: It's mentioned in at least one episode that he owns a vineyard. Mike claims the wine is terrible.
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     Kyle Anderson 

Kyle Anderson

Played By: Christoph Sanders

A younger employee at Outdoor Man, his good work ethic and overall friendly demeanor endears him to Mike and they have a substitute father/son relationship. He initially dated Kristin for a year and they enjoyed being with each other, but were too different in interests and personality and broke up amicably. He later started dating Mandy and their similar personalities mesh unusually well together.


  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Comes from ones of these; a Disappeared Dad and Lady Drunk mom are just the beginning of it.
  • Bishōnen: Even with a goatee, his long blond hair and handsome features get noticed.
  • Book Dumb: He's not an idiot; he just isn't all that educated. He's capable of very intelligent conversation and knows his way around Outdoor Man and all the equipment. He's also very sociable who knows the entire Outdoor Man crew and that makes him a valuable employee, assisting Ed and Mike on who would go where.
  • Camp Straight: He's clearly not gay, but he does enjoy some feminine activities like baking and watching Chick Flick movies.
  • Characterization Marches On: In the pilot he was more of a naive, Wide-Eyed Idealist who contrasted Mike's grumpiness, versus being dense and easily lost in sarcasm and metaphors. In addition, he didn't have his goatee and his haircut was more a shaggy mop-top.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: He isn't so much quirky as he talks about the weirdest things happening to him as though it was normal, like having to track down his grandma when she escapes from the retirement home.
  • Disappeared Dad: His father abandoned his family, so he looks up to Mike as a father figure.
  • Happily Married: To Mandy in later seasons.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Even more so than Vanessa. He trusts every person he comes across, even when they're obviously very shady.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: His relationships with Mike and Ed fall into this.
  • Like a Son to Me: Both Mike and Ed think of Kyle this way (especially since neither of them has an actual son), which is why they are constantly looking out for him and giving him advice; eventually he actually becomes Mike's son-in-law. In Season 7, Ed even acknowledges that he'll be leaving Kyle a substantial inheritance.
  • Idiot Savant: "A House Divided" shows he has the uncanny ability to tell how much money someone puts into a jar.
  • Morality Pet: For Mandy. Kyle's usually the one who brings out her inner kindness and makes her realize that she's done something wrong or hurt somebody.
  • Nice Guy: To the point that Mike was shocked Vanessa got him to be angry at her (comparing it to "pissing off a Care Bear).
  • Out of Focus: Suffers this somewhat for half of Season 2, as he's no longer dating Kristin and thus less involved in any Baxter plots. His relationship to Mandy restores his old prominence.
  • Pair the Dumb Ones: With Mandy.
  • Real Men Love Jesus: The most religious character in the cast.
  • Took A Level In Dumb Ass: In season one, he wasn't completely idiotic, just not very educated. By season four, he's a complete moron who does things like interpreting Vanessa calling him "Dear" as her calling him an actual deer.
  • Undying Loyalty: To both Ed and Mike. They return it in their own ways; Ed even refers to him as being the closest thing to a son he'll ever have.
  • Vague Age: He's in the right bracket for him to date both Kristin and Mandy, but because of Kristin's Age Lift (from 20 to 23) in the second season it makes his exact age complicated, as Mike originally intended for him to ask out Mandy in the pilot. Third season dialogue mentions that he's 23, making him 21 when dating 20-year-old Kristin and 22 when he started dating 17-year-old Mandy.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Invoked. He worships the ground Mike walks on and would be his son in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, many of his heartfelt wishes are often ignored by Mike. He does eventually get to be Mike's son-in-law, though, and it's clear that Mike loves him.
  • White Sheep: The rest of his family are either screw-ups, absent, crazy, or criminal. His dad left early in his life, he's the only one who takes care of his grandma, and his brothers were abusive, once taking him along to rob a convenience store. In comparison he is an absurdly nice and hardworking guy.
  • Yes-Man: Does whatever Mike and Ed tell him to do. Becomes a plot point in season six when Mike and Ryan try to get him to stop going along with whatever Mike wants.

Supporting Characters

     Boyd Baxter 

Boyd Baxter

Played By: Evan and Luke Kruntchev (Season 1); Flynn Morrison (Season 2-6); Jet Jurgensmeyer (Season 7-)

Kristin's son, he is very impressionable and is more often drawn to the fun and entertaining activities Mike likes to take him to rather than the safe, boring and "intellectual" things his his parents want to expose him to.


  • Adorably Precocious Child: He sometimes shows exceptional intelligence, at one point blackmailing his mom about a spanking incident when he was 6. Also, thanks to Mike's influence, Boyd is aware of how his parents are trying to indoctrinate him on certain subjects.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Well, nephew, but - due to how young Kristin was when he was born and the fact that he spent the first few years of his life being partially Raised by Grandparents - he might as well be Mandy and Eve's little brother, and he pesters Eve on a regular basis.
  • Children Are Innocent: He's very susceptible to both Mike and his parents' beliefs.
  • Deliberately Cute Child: Does this to get treats and/or annoy Eve.
  • Demoted to Extra: He appeared in less than half of season four's episodes and only played a major role in three of them. This continues in season five.
  • Flat Character: Aside from his gullibility and mischievous streak, he doesn't have much personality. The only purpose he serves is to drive conflict between Mike and Kristin/Ryan.
  • Grease Monkey: Season 7 sees him take a shine to mechanics, with him and Mike secretly working on restoring a dirt bike they bought at a garage sale. He's even able to do repairs without Mike's supervision.
  • Kiddie Kid: As he gets older, he still acts like a younger child. Ryan lampshades this in one episode when Boyd asks him to put air holes in a box so his stuffed animals can breathe (he was nine years old at this point).
  • Like Father, Unlike Son: By season six, it's clear that despite Ryan's best efforts, Boyd's personality is more in line with Mike's. He's excited to receive a shotgun and go hunting for his tenth birthday and gets annoyed by Ryan refusing to use the word "castle" because it isn't politically correct.
  • Out of Focus: He appeared in less than half of season four's episodes and only played a major role in three of them. This continues in season five.

     Chuck Larabee 

Chuck Larabee

Played By: Jonathan Adams

A neighbor of the Baxters', he has a very ironic relationship with Mike in that they don't exactly like each other, but they have very similar personalities and hate many of the same things.


  • Ascended Extra: First appears early season two as a new neighbor, with much of the humor being that Vanessa is trying to not look racist and Mike just doesn't like neighbors in general. Chuck and Mike turn out to be Not So Different and make similar comments on the topic. Mike mentions at the end of the episode that he could actually see himself hanging out with Chuck. He appears a couple more times later in the season, but his role increases to being Promoted to Opening Credits by season four.
  • Awful Wedded Life: He and Carol have had a number of marital problems, stemming largely from his retirement from the Marine Corps in his mid-40s, her career as a school official, and their son Brandon going off to college, leaving them alone. She badgers him to do more things and start a hobby, and he has no idea what he wanted to do. Things turn around a little when Chuck starts his own security company and Cammy stays with them to give Carol a project other than Chuck. But mid season six, Carol moves out of state for another job and Chuck stays in Denver; they are technically still together, but the situation doesn't look good.
  • Black Best Friend: He and Mike poke fun at the idea, because to him Mike is his White Best Friend.
  • Boomerang Bigot: Mild example. He doesn't like the idea of inner city minority students being sent to the local high school since he and his wife worked hard to get away from those kind of people.
  • Catchphrase: "Not cool."
  • Everything Is Racist: He invokes this for laughs; he's actually very relaxed when it comes to racial topics.
  • Gentle Giant: Even though he's a former Marine, he's actually a friendly guy who loves kids.
  • Hidden Depths: One episode reveals that he has similar taste in literature to Vanessa.
  • Not So Different: He's pretty much an African-American version of Mike.
  • Retired Badass: Former Marine.
  • Scary Black Man: Not only is he huge, but he's also a former Marine. He sometimes plays it up, especially when around Mike, but he actually enjoys goofing around as much as anyone.
  • Stereotype Flip: In regards to sports, he's a huge ice hockey fan (a sport infamously unpopular with black Americans).
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: He will end up quipping on a situation in the same way Mike does, and vice versa. When under the impression that Eve was dating his son, he notes that Mike didn't know because there wasn't a "For Sale" sign on their lawn. When Mike does find out, the first thing he says is that they need to move.
  • Troll: He invokes the Everything Is Racist trope with people who aren't racist just to amuse himself with their reactions. Also, whenever Mike or Ed have a plan that starts to backfire on them, Chuck will usually do something to make sure they can't get themselves out of it.
    • In one season 3 episode, The Stinger has one of Chuck's security employees "catching" Mike in the act of being a peeping Tom at his own house (he was actually checking a faulty sensor on his security system). Chuck eventually vouches for Mike, but not before having a few minutes of fun at his expense.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: With Mike; they often make a show of disliking each other and have differing opinions on things, but otherwise their personalities are very similar and they enjoy many of the same hobbies.

     Ryan Vogelson 

Ryan Vogelson

Played By: Nick Jonas (Season 1); Jordan Masterson (Season 2-)

Boyd's dad and Kristin's high school boyfriend (later husband), he is from Canada and left shortly before Boyd was born in trying to avoid responsibility. He shows up once in the first season, trying to make amends, then returns full time in the second season. He is very liberal, ready to soapbox on just about every topic that drives Mike crazy.


  • Characterization Marches On: The Nick Jonas version of Ryan is a pretty much entirely different character. He was a singer with a second-rate traveling performance group and much more soft-spoken. His one line at the end, telling Vanessa he'd rather not have Boyd eat sugar, sparked off the Jordan Masterson version - an atheist, vegan liberal with a history degree.
  • Disappeared Dad: Left the city altogether just before Boyd was born, then slowly started coming back to take responsibility.
  • Drop-In Character: In early seasons, the only times he will drop Boyd off at the Baxters' house is at meals (so he can get some free food).
  • Easily Forgiven: With varying degrees from the various characters. Mike won't ever let him live it down, but Kristin and Vanessa are more friendly with him.
  • Fantasy-Forbidding Father: He crushes Boyd by showing him that a Christmas elf doll isn't really magical.
  • Freudian Excuse: He had a poor relationship with his own father.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Aside from Kristin and Boyd, no one in the main cast actually likes him for a long time. Even Vanessa's friendliness to him is more along the lines of tolerating him for Kristin's sake. However, as time goes on, he and Kyle wind up bonding over their mutual love of comic books and everyone else is able to tolerate him, at least.
  • Granola Guy: Vegetarian, liberal, union picketer, and just about anything else Mike dislikes.
  • Hypocrite:
    • As part of his Strawman Political characterization, he tends to be very hypocritical about his beliefs:
      Vanessa: Honey, where's your [Christmas] tree?
      Ryan: Uh, in the forest, where it belongs. There's a word for chopping down a perfectly healthy tree: murder.
      Mike: (points at their wooden coffee table) So, what's the word for this wooden table here? Suicide?
    • Aside from that, despite resenting his own father for not being around much, that didn't stop him from doing the same to Boyd for the first five years of his life.
    • Despite claiming to be progressive in regards to gender roles, he hates it when Kristin becomes the breadwinner.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Skewing more towards the "jerk" end; he's self-centered, rude, lazy, full of himself, ignorant and irresponsible. However, he does regret walking out on Kristin and Boyd, and tries to make up for it and be a good father.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: He's very prone to Confirmation Bias and many of the facts he uses to back his beliefs are taken out of context.
  • Never My Fault: Blames the 1% for the plight of working class men like him, instead of acknowledging that he brought his financial situation upon himself by racking up thousands of dollars of student loan debt to earn A Degree in Useless and then, upon actually managing to get a paying job, refusing to work up the company ladder to earn more.
  • Not So Above It All: He will join in on the more "manly" activities Mike wants Boyd to do, such as playing hockey and entering a mutton busting contest.
  • Out of Focus: In season two he appears in more than half the season's episodes. Season five, not so much (most likely due to the backlash towards the Retool).
  • Papa Wolf: He punches a man at a baseball game after he throws beer on Boyd.
  • Soapbox Sadie: He'll take something that is completely unrelated to politics such as Mandy receiving an internship and turn it into a platform for him to preach his ultra-liberal ideals. His worldview can be summed up as being against anything that is Western-Christian-Capitalist.
  • Strawman Political: He is very quick to insult and blame conservatives for liberal issues he's passionate about, which incites Mike to antagonize him just for fun. Over several seasons, he ends up toning down his attitude in blaming everyone else for the world's problems. In an episode in the fifth season, he helps Eve with a class project by teaching her that his verbal sparring with Mike made him realize that getting angry, upset, and derogatory was hurting his argument, while Mike generally kept his cool.
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Recurring Characters

    Bud Baxter 

Bud Baxter

Played By: Robert Forster

Mike's father, who moves to Denver in season one to be closer to his son and granddaughters. He used to own his own construction business, but was then forced out by Mike's younger brother Jimmy. He then opens a marijuana dealership when the drug becomes legal, much to Mike's dismay.


  • Characterization Marches On: In his first few appearances, he gives Mike and Jim equal treatment. Later, he blatantly favors Jim, which is odd considering that Jim actually forced Bud to retire from the construction company.
  • Cool Old Guy: Goes hunting in his spare time.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: He stopped paying Mike's college tuition because the latter decided to study marketing instead of construction management.
  • Don't Make Me Take My Belt Off: He used to spank Mike and Jimmy when they were kids, and does it to Boyd when he is babysitting him, much to Kristin and Ryan's horror.
  • Doting Grandparent: To his granddaughters and Boyd (making him a Doting Great-Grandparent).
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He can be harsh and grumpy, but he does love Mike.
  • Killed Offscreen: Dies from a heart attack in between seasons six and seven.
  • Papa Wolf: Well, Grandpa Wolf. He swore that if he ever ran into Ryan after the latter abandoned Kristin, he would kill him. He still considers doing it after Ryan comes back.
  • Retired Bad Ass: He served during the Korean War
  • Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!: He sometimes makes statements that are borderline sexist or racist, but is portrayed more along the lines of having an old-fashioned worldview a la You Are a Credit to Your Race.

     Jim Baxter 

Jim Baxter

Played By: Mike Rowe

Mike's younger brother, a licensed contractor.


  • The Ghost: While he appears in the first season played by Mike Rowe, subsequent seasons make mention of him in ways like being on the phone, but hasn't been directly seen or heard since.
  • Meta Casting: Stunt Casting or not, Mike Rowe as a blue collar construction worker makes sense.
  • One-Shot Character: His only on-screen appearance is in season one. This is lampshaded in "The Fixer" when Chuck reveals he had no idea Mike has a younger brother.
  • Parental Favoritism: He's their dad's favorite, even though Mike is more successful.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Mike has been the most successful in the family, done by leaving the family business and going into marketing. While they are still on good terms, there is a rift between them regarding who stuck around with their dad.

     April 

April

Played By: Christina Moore

Vanessa's younger sister who is very flighty and mooches off her and Mike.


  • Cool Aunt: Mandy thinks so and idolizes her.
  • Dumb Blonde
  • Expy: She's essentially an older version of Mandy, only more self-absorbed and irresponsible.
  • Manchild: She's 40 years old and still acts like a teenager.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Inverted. Mike hates her because she always borrows money from them and never pays it back and is a bad influence on the kids.
  • Shadow Archetype: Had Mandy not gone through her Character Development, she probably would've wound up just like April.

     Carol Larabee 

Carol Larabee

Played By: Erika Alexander

Chuck's wife.


  • Awful Wedded Life: Frequently, she and Chuck drop hints that their married life is hell, mostly because Carol forces Chuck to do something with his life for being a retired soldier, despite the fact Chuck doesn't really want to search for something and is fine the way he is. This ultimately causes Carol to move out of state for a job away from Chuck.
  • Education Mama: A schoolteacher, head of the PTA, and jumps at the opportunity to help Cammy with her college applications.
  • Out of Focus/Put on a Bus: Becomes this when she moves away for a job.
  • Sassy Black Woman: When she gets angry at Chuck.
  • Vitriolic Best Friends: While she does consider Vanessa a friend, she often gets annoyed by the latter's attempts to act racially open-minded.

     Blanca 

Blanca

Played By: Carla Jimenez

The Baxters' housekeeper. She is an immigrant from Guatemala who comes from a large family.


  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: While she was a fairly frequent character in seasons two-four, she hasn't been seen or mentioned since Mandy took the New York internship..
  • Crazy Cultural Comparison: She tells the Baxters stories about her life back in Guatemala, which is pretty much the exact opposite of their upper-middle class, suburban life.
  • Funny Foreigner: To a T.
  • Hidden Depths: Due to working in a sweatshop as a child, she is great at sewing. She even helps Mandy run her fashion business.
  • Kindly Housekeeper: Most of the time, though Mike gives her permission to order the kids to help her.
  • Massively Numbered Siblings: She has eight brothers and sisters.
  • Spicy Latina: Goes into this on occasion.

     Cammy Harris 

Cammy Harris

Played By: Sarah Gilman

Eve's soccer teammate and best friend.


  • Ambiguously Gay:
    • She's a little too concerned about Eve's well being after she accidentally injured her at soccer practice.
      Cammy: What if this means Eve has to quit soccer? What if she never comes back to me? To us. The team.
    • "Restaurant Opening" confirms that she's Bi the Way and does have a crush on Eve.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Bud sums it up best:
    Bud: That is a very strange child.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Even more then Ryan, as besides Eve and Carol, nobody likes her. Even a Reverend refused to take her in when Mike was trying to find Cammy somewhere else to stay.
  • Granola Girl: When she finds out Vanessa works for a fracking company, she leads Eve's class in belittling her.
  • Motor Mouth: One of her most annoying traits.
  • Nervous Wreck: She cannot keep a cool head when under stress or pressure.
  • Only Friend: Inverted. Eve is this to her.

     Justin 

Justin

Played By: Tye Sheridan

Eve's fellow ROTC member, football teammate, and boyfriend in seasons three and four.


  • The Ghost: Despite directly affecting the plots of "Eve's Boyfriend" and "Eve's Breakup", he doesn't appear in either episode.
  • Good Is Not Soft: He's a nice guy, but he won't let Eve push him around.
  • The Klutz: He's not very coordinated, which affects his ROTC and football skills.
  • Men Don't Cry: Subverted. When Eve dumps him, he cried... and she laughed (because she didn't really know how to react to that).
  • Nice Guy: He has to be if he's willing to put up with Eve's brusqueness.
  • Offscreen Breakup: We don't see him in "Eve's Breakup," but this is a major plot that is discussed.
  • Put on a Bus: Eve dumps him off-screen in season four.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The blue to Eve's red.

     Wendi Gracin 

Wendi Gracin

Played By: Joely Fisher

Ed's girlfriend beginning in season three. She is much younger than he is and has a teenage son. Ed adores her but Mike finds her very annoying.


  • My Beloved Smother: Ed meets her when she brings her son Jason to Outdoor Man to get him a job and essentially interviews for him.
  • Sickeningly Sweethearts: Tries to invoke this with Ed, much to the disgust of other characters.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: To Mike. Her strong personality wiggling into the dynamics of the store doesn't sit well with Mike.

     Joe Leonard 

Joe Leonard

Played By: Jay Leno

An auto-mechanic with whom Mike becomes acquainted after Vanessa buys a 1967 Impala he restored for Mike's birthday.


  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: He's a bit weird and dense, but he's also a fantastic auto mechanic.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: To the point that Mike thinks he's actually insane.
  • Punny Name: Look at his name and his actor's and you'll get it.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Somewhat similar to Chuck, but even more exaggerated. Joe himself wonders why Mike is interested in hanging out since they barely tolerate each other, but Mike says that he doesn't have a lot of car-guy friends and enjoys that environment.

     Rob 

Rob

Played By: Travis Tope

Eve's boyfriend starting in season six.


  • Birds of a Feather: He and Eve have a lot in common, including having older siblings of the same gender who give them terrible relationship advice.
  • The Gadfly: Pretends to be triggered by Vanessa drinking wine resulting in her freaking out, much to his and Eve's amusement.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: Vanessa, once more, is disturbed by the fact Eve doesn't think anything is amiss with Rob not inviting her to his home and wants them both to be honest with each other, until Rob tells her it was because he didn't want her to be around his parents' middle-aged friends. This doesn't cause them to argue... until Rob starts being honest with some of the things Eve does, which leads to their breakup.
  • Recovered Addict: Developed alcoholism during his first year of college, but is now nine months sober. Mike and Vanessa are understandably concerned since he's not even old enough to legally drink yet.

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