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Characters / Napoleon Dynamite

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Napoleon Dynamite

Played by: Jon Heder

The main protagonist of the film, Napoleon is a 16-year resident of Preston, Idaho, who fails to fit in with the rest of the sleepy town.

  • Adaptation Name Change: He was called Seth in the original Peluca short.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: He shows very little emotion, has no social skills, unusual interests and habits, and overall, looks and acts very awkward.
  • Author Avatar: Jared Hess says that Napoleon is an amalgamation of how he and his five brothers acted as teenagers.
  • Awesome McCoolname: Napoleon Dynamite.
  • Blatant Lies: Lies frequently about his skills and things he's supposedly done, like hunting wolverines.
  • Butt-Monkey: Suffers quite a bit of misfortune in the film, getting picked on by bullies, suffering Groin Attacks from Pedro's bike and Rico's time machine, and getting rumors spread about him by Rico.
  • Catchphrase: Gosh! and (Friggin')Idiot!.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Has many strange beliefs and does many strange things.
  • Dull Surprise: Has only one facial expression throughout the entire film.
  • '80s Hair: Sports a hideous perm.
  • Girlfriend in Canada: His "girlfriend" couldn't make it to the dance because she's modeling in Oklahoma.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He's not a very pleasant person, but he genuinely befriends Deb and Pedro, and goes out of his way to help the latter become class president.
  • Kavorka Man: In the animated series Deb pines after him. He also manages to woo Kip's girlfriend and dates a Japanese exchange student.
  • Lovable Nerd: Despite his strange behavior and habits, he still manages to endear everyone with his willingness to help his fellow outcasts.
  • Meaningful Name: His name is Napoleon and (height aside) he has all the hallmarks of The Napoleon Complex such as belligerence, a disproportionate ego and a desperate urge to prove himself.
  • Nerd: Napoleon meets most of the requirements. Glasses, no social skills, poor fashion sense, dorky hairstyle, and a mouth breather. It's played with in that he's not especially intelligent, and doesn't have any typical "nerd" interests.
  • No Social Skills: Can't seem to hold a civil conversation with anyone.
  • Sanity Ball: Despite being a Cloudcuckoolander, he shares this with Pedro, being more rational than other characters.
  • Simpleton Voice: His really deep, monotonous voice.
  • Terrible Artist: Draws a number of hideous pictures, though the ones of Trisha and the liger stand out.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Tater tots. He even goes as far as to sneak some out of the cafeteria and eat them during class.
  • Verbal Tic: Frequently sighs/exhales loudly, being a mouthbreather and all.


Deborah "Deb" Bradshaw

Played by: Tina Majorino

A fellow high schooler, Deb is attempting to earn money for college by selling handicrafts and taking professional photos, which causes her to cross paths with Napoleon. She soon becomes friends with him and Pedro.

  • Adaptation Personality Change: In the movie Deb's interest in Napoleon didn't seem to extend beyond friendship. In the animated series she's clearly crushing on him. Deb is also slightly more extroverted.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Like Napoleon, she speaks in a monotone, has no social skills, and shows little emotion. She acts more normal when she's happy.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: When Uncle Rico offers her breast enhancement supplements on the ruse that Napoleon suggested them for her, she doesn't mince words when she tells off Napoleon. She tells him she is comfortable with her body as it is and he can take those supplements himself.
  • '80s Hair: All her hairstyles, but particularly her side ponytail.
  • Emotionless Girl: Shows very little, if any, emotion.
  • No Social Skills: Clearly sounds uncomfortable when first talking to Napoleon.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Subverted during the dance, where she still looks dorky despite the change in dress and hairstyle. Played straight at the end, where she looks nicer after switching to a more conventional hairstyle.
  • The Not-Love Interest: To Napoleon, and to a lesser extent, Pedro. Their relationships never go beyond just being friends.
  • Tomboyish Ponytail: Sports a side ponytail for most of the film.
  • When She Smiles: Finally smiles at the end of the film, and it is quite pretty.


Pedro Sanchez

Played by: Efren Ramirez

Pedro is the first friend we see Napoleon make in the film. A transfer student from Mexico, he struggles to fit in.

  • Composite Character: Of Giel and Pedro from Peluca, Jared Hess's original short that inspired the main film.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: To Summer, who turns down his request to go to the dance with him.
  • Dull Surprise: He shows no emotion at all, until he wins the class presidency.
  • Foreign Exchange Student: A transfer student from Mexico.
  • Gag Haircut: Ends up shaving his head after his head gets "hot", forcing him to get a wig from Deb.

Dynamite Family


Kipland "Kip" Dynamite

Played by: Aaron Ruell

Kip is Napoleon's unemployed 32-year old brother, who spends all his time on the Internet talking to girls in chatrooms.

    Uncle Rico 

Rico Dynamite

Played by: Jon Gries

Napoleon and Kip's uncle Rico is a former high school football player, who lives in a trailer van. His goal in life is to return to 1982, so he could take part in the big game he was forced to sit out and go professional. He is asked to look over Napoleon and Kip after their grandmother breaks her coccyx.

  • Adaptation Personality Change: Went from being an overconfident Jerk Jock in the film to being superstitious and occasionally submissive in the animated series.
  • The Antagonist: He’s not exactly a villain, but he is something of Napoleon’s primary enemy in the film. Rico is constantly rude, petty, arrogant, and manipulative every chance he gets.
  • The Benchwarmer: He was only a reserve player for his high school football team. As such, he didn't get the chance to play in the big game in 1982 that he's convinced could make him famous.
  • Cool Car: A 1975 Dodge Tradesman.
  • I Coulda Been a Contender!: Parodied. He wants to go back in time to 1982 in order to play in the big game and become professional. As it turns out, he was a bench warmer.
  • Dirty Old Man: He tries to sell bust enhancers to Deb, Napoleon's classmates, and Rex's wife. The latter gets him beat up.
  • Jaded Washout: After failing the big game in 1982, he hasn't done anything with his life since.
  • Jerkass: He frequently talks down to and victimizes Napoleon, like hitting him with a steak or telling people nasty things about him.
  • Jerk Jock: Throws his weight around, due to being more masculine than his two nephews. One stand-out moment being when he took Kip's steak and lobbed it at Napoleon.
  • Malicious Slander: Spreads false rumors about Napoleon to his classmates.
  • Put Me In, Coach!: Coach left him on the bench during the big game in 1982. Rico wants to go back for a second chance, thinking that winning the game will make him famous.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: When Napoleon pegs his van with a grapefruit while he's driving.
  • '70s Hair: A greasy brown helmet. Also goes with his Porn Stache, denim vest and wide lapels.
  • Snake Oil Salesman: Tries to sell herbal "bust enhancers".
  • Trademark Favorite Food: He's frequently seen eating steak.



Carlinda "Grandma" Dynamite

Played by: Sandy Martin

Napoleon and Kip's grandmother.

Preston High School


Summer Wheatley

Played by: Haylie Duff

Summer is a popular girl at Preston High School, and Don's girlfriend. She runs as class president against Pedro during the latter half of the film.

  • Alpha Bitch: Downplayed. She has all the traits of a stereotypical Alpha Bitch, but other than a few cracks at Pedro, she doesn't really do anything villainous.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Makes a reference "chimini-changas" when disparaging Pedro's campaign in the finale.


Trisha Stevens

Played by: Emily Kennard

A fellow classmate of Napoleon's, and one of Summer's friends. Napoleon asks her to the dance.


Don Moser

Played by: Trevor Snarr (film), Jared Hess (TV series)

Don is a jock classmate of Napoleon's, who occasionally antagonizes him.




Played by: Bracken Johnson

Randy is a Preston High School student who frequently bullies Napoleon.

    Principal Svadean 

Principal Svadean

Played by: Tom Lefler

Svadean is the principal of Preston High School, seen occasionally throughout the film.

  • All There in the Script: His name is never mentioned in the film itself.
  • Dean Bitterman: Is rude to Pedro and dismissive of Mexican culture. The first thing we hear him say to Pedro is a speculation that he can't understand English. Pedro understands it just fine.

Other Characters



Played by: Diedrich Bader

A tae kwon do instructor in Preston, Napoleon and Kip briefly visit him after seeing an ad for his self-defense program.


LaFawnduh Lucas

Played by: Shondrella Avery

Kip's girlfriend from Detroit. They eventually marry.