The following is a character page for those characters included in the Vacation film series. All spoilers will be unmarked.
- Butt-Monkey: Clark especially, but the whole family is not immune to going through hell in the process.
- Deadpan Snarker: All of them.
- Nuclear Family: No pets, but your standard upper-middle class family living in a house in the suburbs.
- Big, Screwed-Up Family: Appear pretty normal on the outside, but Clark's antics do have their effect. We never see this onscreen, but according to Ellen, his ecstatic behavior has even made a big deal at parties, weddings, and funerals. The Griswold neighbors certainly act as if they have a reputation. They've also been involved in two kidnappings, despite Ellen describing their experience at the end of Christmas Vacation as their first. Admittedly, they were the victims of a kidnapping in European Vacation as opposed to a family member wittingly kidnapping someone in Christmas Vacation.
- Shared Family Quirks: Sarcasm and unstoppable good intentions (specifically the boys in the case of the latter).
Head of the house and dad extraordinaire, Clark Griswold is the last true family man willing to go to strenuous lengths to ensure that his family is getting the most out of whatever vacation he's been cooking up. Things go a little south, and Clark can get a little crazy, but his heart nearly always falls right back into the right place.
- Affectionate Nickname: Ellen calls him "Sparky."
- The Anti-Grinch: Clark desperately wants to have a good old-fashioned family Christmas, and will not allow one disaster after another drive the family away, even as his sanity begins to slip.
- Ax-Crazy: Christmas Vacation puts a chainsaw in his hands while he seeks to find another Christmas tree after his first goes up in flames.
- Beware the Nice Ones: He seriously is an affable and well-meaning father a majority of the time. It just takes a big pile of disasters for the fall to settle in.
- Blatant Lies: Gives these way too much. In the original alone, he told Russ that the girl he'd skinny dipped with in the hotel pool was simply a pool waitress, having previously lied to the girl by telling her he wasn't married.
- Bumbling Dad: May even rival Homer Simpson himself for the poster boy of his trope.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Despite his awkwardness and awful luck in his regular life Clark is apparently very good at his job which seems to be a (usually) well paying high-level research and development role at his company. Notably in contrast to his boss Clark seems to actually know and care about the science behind the products the company is making.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Goes off in the R-rated original when his family wants to suspend their vacation and go home. See Heroic BSoD below.
- Cool Old Guy: In the 2015 film, Clark happily gives his grandson a guitar he received from Bob Dillan. (No, not that Bob Dylan).
- Death Glare: Not even above giving these to his own son after he reaches his breaking point.
- Demoted to Extra: In the 2015 film, he is no longer the main protagonist, instead he plays a rather pivotal supporting role.
- Determinator: No matter what happens, Clark will never turn back. Whether it be annoying family visits or his house being utterly destroyed, he will press on.
- Didn't Think This Through: Although Clark is often a victim of circumstance, he more often gets into trouble by not properly planning things.
- Distracted by the Sexy: A Running Gag is that Clark will fixate on some young model and completely forget about whatever else he's doing.
- Drives Like Crazy: Though he puts this skill to good use in European Vacation when he chases down the man who kidnapped Ellen.
- Easily Forgiven: He is let off fairly easily for the crimes he pulls off in the films (holding a guard at gunpoint, kidnapping his boss, etc).
- Ellen's reaction to seeing him get naked with another woman in the hotel pool is to simply shake her head and walk away. When Clark later apologizes, she apologizes to him as well and the two reconcile.
- Freudian Slippery Slope: Goes through this when talking to Mary the attractive underwear clerk at the mall.Clark: I was just smelling— smiling! I was just blousing— browsing!
- Grumpy Old Man: Clark runs a bed and breakfast in the 2015 revival. Despite warmly receiving his family, he's a total dick to all of his guests.
- Happily Married: Though he's a Chivalrous Pervert, Clark is very happy to be married to his loving wife Ellen.
- Heroic BSoD:
- Gives an epic rant in the original when his family tells him they should just go home.Clark: I think you're all fucked in the head. We're ten hours from the fucking fun park and you wanna bail out. Well I'll tell you something: this is no longer a vacation. It's a quest. It's a quest for fun. I'm gonna have fun, and you're gonna have fun. We're all gonna have so much fucking fun, we'll need plastic surgery to remove our goddamn smiles! You'll be whistling 'Zippity-Doo-Dah' out of your assholes! Ahahaha! I gotta be crazy, I'm on a pilgrimage to see a moose! Praise Marty Moose! Holy shit!"
- Then there's Christmas Vacation.Clark: Ahh... hey! If any of you are looking for any last-minute gift ideas for me, I have one. I'd like Frank Shirley, my boss, right here tonight. I want him brought from his happy holiday slumber over there on Melody Lane with all the other rich people. And I want him brought right here, with a big ribbon on his head, and I want to look him straight in the eye and I want to tell him what a cheap, lying, no-good, rotten, four-flushing, low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, inbred, overstuffed, ignorant, blood-sucking, dog-kissing, brainless, dickless, hopeless, heartless, fat-ass, bug-eyed, stiff-legged, spotty-lipped, worm-headed sack of monkey shit he is! HALLELUJAH! HOLY SHIT! Where's the Tylenol?
- Gives an epic rant in the original when his family tells him they should just go home.
- High-School Sweethearts: With Ellen.
- Hockey Mask and Chainsaw: Dons one when cutting down a second Christmas tree shortly after losing his temper with the family.
- Improbable Parking Skills: In the original, Clark falls asleep behind the wheel, only to wake up finding himself careening the family down the street. After a few quick spins to the wheel, they're parked in the hotel parking lot.Clark: We're here!
- It's the Journey That Counts: Deconstructed, as seen with the quote above: he genuinely believes that the destination is wonderful enough that the difficulty of the journey is worth reaching it.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: At his worst. It takes a lot to push him there, but keeping with the nature of the series, you can guarantee it's where he'll always end up.
- Large Ham: He's such a dad; just see how he describes the family going on a trip to get their Christmas tree.Clark: We're kicking off our fun, old-fashion family Christmas by heading out into the country in the old front-wheel drive sleigh to embrace the frosty majesty of the winter landscape and select that most important of Christmas symbols.
- My God, What Have I Done?: As much hell as Dinky put him through, he's genuinely horrified when he finds out that Dinky was dragged down the road by the rear bumper and killed and that he's responsible.
- Naked People Are Funny: Flashes Russ over a video chat call in Hotel Hell Vacation.
- The Obi Wan: Yes, he actually assumes this role in the revival when Russ is ready to fly back home instead of take his family to Wally World like he'd originally intended.
- Passing the Torch: Dissuades his son from giving up on his family vacation in the revival, and bestows upon him the original Griswold Family Truckster to complete the journey.
- Precision F-Strike: Despite Christmas Vacation earning a softer rating than its original, Clark still sneaks one of these in when ranting to his family.Clark: We're going to have the hap-hap-HAPPIEST Christmas since Bing Crosby tap danced with Danny FUCKIN' Kaye!
- Rage-Breaking Point: Clark always hits these by the end of the movie. See Cluster F-Bomb above.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Delivers one to his boss after Eddie pulls an epic Rhetorical Question Blunder and delivers him to their home on Christmas Eve. Interestingly, despite his Large Ham rant he gave earlier regarding Frank, his actual speech is much more down-to-earth and serious.Frank Shirley: Bonus? How did you get a bonus? I cut out bonuses this year.Clark: Yeah, thanks for telling us. I was expecting a check; instead I got enrolled in a jelly club. Seventeen years with the company and I've gotten a Christmas bonus every year except for this one. You don't want to give bonuses? Fine! But when people count on them as part of their salary... well what you did was just plain...Russ: Sucks.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Red to Ellen's Blue.
- Sanity Slippage:
- The first Vacation movie has everything about their family road trip going terribly wrong. Clark finally snaps when it turns out the amusement park they'd been trying to get to the whole time is closed for repairs.
- Reaches it in Christmas Vacation upon receiving a year-long membership to the Jelly of the Month Club instead of a Christmas bonus.
- Slasher Smile: Once he's reached his breaking point, evidenced at the end of the first and third movies.
- Spit Take: He's far from immune. Does this with a cup of eggnog in Christmas Vacation after Eddie reveals his family will be staying with the Griswolds until the end of the month. Actually did it in the original movie with hamburger helper when Aunt Edna reveals she'll be riding with the family part of the way.
- Two-Person Pool Party: Clark actually gets two—one with the Girl in the Red Ferrari, and one with his wife later after she'd forgiven him for the first one.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Averted in the original series, as Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo are pretty evenly matched. The 2015 revival, however, shows that he didn't quite age so well.
- The Unfavorite: Not of his own parents, but of Ellen's, who seem much more supportive of deadbeat Cousin Eddie than their son-in-law who's provided their daughter with an upper-middle-class lifestyle.
- Verbal Tic: He likes to punctuate his more animated rants with a "Holy shit!"
- White Collar Worker: He works in an office designing food additives.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Thinks fondly of vacations, despite their reality being a little less than ideal.
Clark's beloved and unceasingly faithful wife. It may be a lot having to deal with everything that goes wrong in the Vacation series and her husband's over-the-top reactions, but Ellen almost always manages to keep a cool head and power through.
- Cigarette of Anxiety: Lights one in Christmas Vacation when things are proving to be as stressful as anticipated.Francis: Ellen, are you smoking again?Ellen: No! (throws cigarette away)
- Cleavage Window: The dress she wears on Christmas Eve sports one of these.
- Damsel in Distress: She gets kidnapped from their hotel near the end of European Vacation, only to be saved by Clark.
- Demoted to Extra: Right along with Clark, in the 2015 film. However, Ellens case is more egregious as she has the least amount of dialogue and screen time between the two of them.
- Easily Forgiven: After seeing her husband skinny dip in a hotel pool with another woman, she forgives mere minutes later while Audrey was suspecting they would get a divorce.
- Foil: Classic Ellen becomes this in the 2015 revival when compared to Russ's wife Debbie. While Ellen was unceasingly loyal to Clark, Debbie has doubts about her marriage. While Ellen was usually calm and collective in dire circumstance, Debbie had a secret wild side revealed when her past comes up on Russ's family vacation.
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Sports beautiful blonde locks and is certainly the most moral and level-headed of the group.
- Happily Married: Very happy to be Clark's wife, as his antics are fueled by genuine devotion to family fun.
- High-School Sweethearts: States in European Vacation that she and Clark fall into this trope.
- Modesty Towel: Sports one in European Vacation when Clark videos a dance she used to do. Comes back to bite her in the butt when their camera gets stolen.
- Ms. Fanservice: Primarily in the first movie, where she's seen topless in the shower and later skinny dips in the hotel pool. Later movies, however, aren't without their nods.
- Not so Above It All:
- Clark and Ellen both wake up the entire hotel they're staying at after each of them jump in the pool on two separate occasions and yell about how cold it is.
- After discovering that Clark didn't delete the video of her dancing in the nude on their camera that got stolen in European Vacation, Ellen goes back to the hotel to get plastered.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Blue to Clark's Red.
- Shower Scene: In the first movie.
- Two-Person Pool Party: Proves to Clark that she can be fun by stripping naked at the hotel pool and jumping in. This is after she'd interrupted and forgiven Clark for the previous Two-Person Pool Party he'd had with the Girl in the Red Ferrari that didn't lead anywhere.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Averted until the 2015 revival, where Beverly D'Angelo has clearly aged better than Chevy Chase (with some work done).
- Violently Protective Wife: Can get annoyed by Clark's tendencies to go off the rails, but is still very much in love with him. This is seen when she finally snaps at Aunt Edna after she berates Clark for the umpteenth time.
- What the Hell, Hero?:
- Calls Clark out on his behavior after the family delivers Aunt Edna's body in the first movie.
- She's also very upset with him when he opts to just leave her body on the porch, though she doesn't have a better solution.
- She's also pretty upset with Clark in the very first scene of Christmas Vacation, where he dangerously messes with a redneck pickup truck driver on the road with the whole family in the car.
- Women Are Wiser: Consistently the most level-headed of the main cast.
- You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry!: Once their car gets stuck in the desert, Ellen shuts Aunt Edna up good.
Clark and Ellen's daughter, who frequently bickers with her brother or covers herself in a layer of snark to combat whatever Murphy's law has to offer. In the revival, she's married to the handsome Stone Crandall.
- Big Eater: European Vacation features an Imagine Spot where she bloats up from eating too many European desserts. Once the boyfriend she was trying to get skinny for breaks up with her, she doesn't hold back from gorging herself the rest of the vacation.
- Bratty Teenage Daughter: Really doesn't want to share her bed with her brother during Christmas Vacation, and loudly asks if the grandparents can stay at a hotel instead of their house.
- Characterization Marches On: She and Russ were a pair of bickering siblings who were shown to genuinely care for each other in the original. The first sequel, European Vacation, turns Audrey into a Big Eater who complains about missing her boyfriend the whole time. Christmas Vacation once again takes her into a different direction, making her into the biggest Deadpan Snarker in the family with lovable daughter tendencies. By the time she's grown up, she possesses Dumb Blonde tendencies.
- Deadpan Snarker: Probably the most notable example of the household.Audrey: We're not driving all the way out here so you can get one of those stupid ties with the Santa Clauses on it, are we dad?Clark: No, I have one of those at home.
- Dumb Blonde: Has shades of this in the revival.Audrey: Governor Perry said [Stone] saved two thousand lives. That's how many we lost in Pearl Harbor, so basically he stopped Pearl Harbor.
- Formerly Fat: Had a little chunk on her in European Vacation, as she's also seen sporting a larger appetite than usual.
- Happy Marriage Charade: See Stepford Smiler below.
- Not Allowed to Grow Up: At least until the 2015 sequel, where she's played by Leslie Mann.
- Post Stress Over Eating: After her boyfriend breaks up with her in European Vacation, she's not trying to get skinny for anyone anymore.
- Sickeningly Sweethearts:
- She and her husband Stone act this way in front of the visiting Griswolds, giving them the impression that the two of them are in quite the stable marriage.
- Audrey's boyfriend Jack in European Vacation spends most of what little screen time he has making out with Audrey. She brings him up all the time, but later finds out he's really not feeling it.
- Smoking Is Cool: Tells her Cousin Vicki in the original Vacation that farming isn't cool, prompting Vicki to change her mind by sharing her stash of weed. Audrey is later seen at the hotel wearing a pair of shades and holding a blunt.Russ: You don't even know how to inhale.
- Stepford Smiler: In the revival, Audrey is revealed to have married the very attractive and wealthy Stone Crandall, and the two appear extremely happy together when Russ's family stops by. It's later revealed, however, that they are incredibly unhappy and cheat on each other all the time.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: The fifth Vacation, she doesn't show Rusty sympathy on his trip to Walley World. In a Deleted Scene, she enjoys her husband Stone's humiliation on live TV and has a shot of getting her own job.
- Vague Age: The first film portrays her and Rusty as roughly the same age, while European Vacation implies she's slightly younger. Come Christmas Vacation, Audrey is clearly the older sibling.
Clark and Ellen's son, who goes along with his father's antics enthusiastically at first, and hesitantly later on. Upon finally growing up and starting a family of his own, Russ is eager to follow in his footsteps and recreate the classic family vacation he fondly remembers from his childhood.
- Accidental Pervert: Turbulence on his plane causes him to accidentally rip the collar of a woman's shirt.
- Annoying Younger Sibling: Falls into this role when he and Audrey are forced to sleep together in Christmas Vacation.
- Author Avatar: In the first movie, he's John Hughes' younger self, as the original short story was based on a childhood experience.
- Blatant Lies: Tells a girl in European Vacation that he has normal parents.
- Bumbling Dad: In the newest Vacation movie, the apple is demonstrated to have not fallen far from the tree.
- Characterization Marches On: The first film portrayed him and Audrey as pretty close despite typical sibling bickering. European Vacation gives him an exaggerated love of music and turned him into a Chivalrous Pervert. Christmas Vacation brings him back down to earth.
- Chivalrous Pervert: Exclusively in European Vacation, where he's constantly trying to talk to girls and even makes out with a topless German chick.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Goes through one akin to his father in the revival.Russ: Fuck me! I give up! All I wanted to do was take my fucking family on a fucking trip to Wally World and ride the fucking Velociraptor! [...] I guess I'm the asshole for trying to bring my family closer together, right? What do I get: kids who don't want to be with me and a wife who's miserable.
- Comically Missing the Point:
- After he and his family discover the pool they thought was a natural spa was actually raw sewage.Debbie: We're naked and covered in human waste.Russ: Oh come on sweetheart, we don't know that it's human.
- Also used in one of the first scenes of Vacation (2015) to establish his status as a Bumbling Dad. After Kevin writes "I have a vagina" on James' guitar, Rusty marks out "vagina" and writes "penis" to remedy the situation.
- In the original Vacation, Ellen is shocked that her family would consider leaving Aunt Edna's body on her cousin's porch in the rain. Russ responds by telling her that it's not like she can catch a cold now.
- After he and his family discover the pool they thought was a natural spa was actually raw sewage.
- Deadpan Snarker: Mostly in European Vacation, as evidenced when Clark wants to take a family photo in front of a fountain.Rusty: Yeah, the Griswolds in front of a fountain. Major entertainment.
- The Determinator: Really wants to bring his own family closer together like when he was a kid.
- The Dutiful Son: Frequently by his father's side, seen helping Clark put up his ridiculous amount of Christmas decorations.
- Happily Married: Analyzed. Rusty believes Debbie settled for him, but never stopped trying to make their marriage work. Debbie is under the impression that the spark has left her and Rusty's marriage at the beginning of the movie, but realizes that she very much still loves him for how much he's sacrificed to stay with his family.
- Heroic BSoD: Had one in the revival after his car runs out of gas in the desert, blows up, and his family tells him that the whole vacation was a disaster. See Cluster F-Bomb above for the transcript. Oddly, Russ's tirade is Played for Drama more so than Clark's in past installments.
- Kavorka Man: As an awkward teen, he managed to get to second base with a beautiful German girl with what looks like very little effort. He also picks up another chick in Rome.
- Mistaken for Pedophile:
- Tries to act as his son James' wingman, which comes across as very uncomfortably creepy.
- In the first scene of the movie, Russ is trying to talk to a kid in the airpline he's piloting, only to be knocked into him in the most awkward positions due to turbulence.
- Nice Guy: Arguably more so than his dad, especially in the revival, as Russ is just as well-meaning with a more polite temperament.
- Not Allowed to Grow Up: Until the 2015 sequel, where he takes the center role played by Ed Helms.
- Oh, No... Not Again!: Has this reaction in Christmas Vacation upon seeing his father chatting up a store clerk, nodding to the first movie.
- Rage-Breaking Point: Suffers this in the desert. Ironically, he could've pressed on after the Prancer exploded; it's his family turning on him that finally sets him off.
- Sanity Slippage: Goes through one in the 2015 Vacation movie, akin to his father's old rages.
- Sexless Marriage: Defied; he and Debbie have sex every week, though it's implied that there isn't much thrill given that Debbie believes it's gotten too routine.
- Thousand-Yard Stare: Sports one after the Tartan Prancer blows up in the desert, cuing his Rage-Breaking Point.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: For such a Nice Guy, Rusty is very moody in European Vacation, even going so far as to constantly demand a vote on Clark's endeavors, including going on the trip to begin with.
- Undying Loyalty: To Clark. Hell, he left a topless blonde when he thought his father was in danger.
- Vague Age: He and Audrey are portrayed as roughly the same age in the original, while Rusty states he's fifteen by European Vacation. The next film, however, makes him appear slightly younger, and establishes that Audrey is indeed the older sibling.
As a whole
- Down on the Farm: In the first movie, they're seen living on a farm in Kansas before hitting financial troubles sometime before Christmas Vacation and having to sell the land.
- Massive Numbered Siblings: Vicki, Dale, Eddie Jr., Junior, and Daisy Mabel were all introduced in the first movie, with Catherine expecting another child. Christmas Vacation adds Ruby Sue and Rocky into the mix, while Vegas Vacation adds Cousin Denny and Eddie's Island Adventure features Clark "Third" Johnson.
Edward "Eddie" Johnson
Clark's white trash cousin-in-law who somehow manages to get entangled in many of his family endeavors, much to Clark's chagrin. He may be dumb and occasionally insensitive, but Eddie does recognize the importance of family love.
- Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Sheepishly asks Clark for fifty-two thousand dollars in the first movie.
- Breakout Character: Appears in the first movie as nothing more than another messed up relative, returns in Christmas Vacation with a more sizable role, returns again in Vegas Vacation and received his own Direct-to-DVD spinoff movie.
- Cloudcuckoolander: This exchange when Clark takes him and the kids sledding best sums it up.Eddie: I don't know if I oughta go sailin' down no hill with nothin' between the ground and my brains but a piece of government plastic.Clark: Do you really think it matters, Eddie?Eddie: Well you see, the plate runs underneath my part here [...] if this gets dented, then my hair just ain't gonna look right.
- Comically Missing the Point: Clark tries getting the kids hyped up for Santa's arrival on Christmas by telling them his sled was spotted by an airline pilot just outside of New York.Eddie: You serious, Clark?
- Disco Dan: Still wears leisure suits despite them going out of style a decade before the movie came out.
- 11th-Hour Ranger: He doesnt show up until midway through Christmas Vacation, but he plays a prominent role through the rest of the film.
- Innocently Insensitive: Eddie's family has suffered from his non-employment for years simply because he's holding out for a management position.
- Nice Guy: Despite his stupidity and lack of refinement, Eddie is exceedingly kind and affable.
- Pervert Dad: Played with; Lots of girls French kiss, but Eddie tells Vicki that she's the best. In a nod to this joke, he and Vicki greet each other with a quick Frenchie when she comes home from work in the fourth film implying that this is merely a bizarre family tradition. Regardless, he is in no way a pedophile.
- Plucky Comic Relief: Provides much of it in the third and fourth films.
- Rhetorical Request Blunder: When Clark goes on a long tirade about how he'd love to have his boss tied up at their house so he could chew him out once he finds out he suspended Christmas bonuses, Eddie decides to kidnap him and bring him to the Griswold house.
Ellen's cousin, and Eddie's beloved wife.
- Covert Pervert: Acts just as excited as Eddie when they get the RV to themselves in Christmas Vacation and he tells her to get out the rubber sheets and the gerbils.
- Extreme Doormat: Though it's implied that Eddie's just too stupid to know any better. See Workaholic below.
- Lethal Chef: Cooks the family Christmas dinner, but puts the turkey in way too early and essentially ends up serving them turkey jerky. In Vegas Vacation, Rusty falls ill after eating the chicken she and Eddie serve them that was literally grilled on a boulder under the scorching Vegas sun.
- Workaholic: Due to Eddie being unemployed, Catherine has to work her ass off to provide for their many kids.Catherine: Eddie says after the baby comes, I can quit one of my night jobs.
Eddie and Catherine's oldest daughter.
- Family-Friendly Stripper: Vicki works as a nightclub stripper in the fourth movie but doesn't seem to get naked on the stage.
- Incest Subtext: Informs Audrey that she can french kiss. When Audrey says that a lot of people can, Vicki proudly informs her that her daddy says she's the best.
- Put on a Bus: Absent during Christmas Vacation due to being in "the clinic getting cured off the Wild Turkey."
- The Stoner: When Audrey informs her that being a farmer isn't considered very cool, she counters her claim by introducing her to her stash of weed.
Eddie and Catherine's oldest son.
- Crappy Carnival: He works at the carnival cleaning up vomit.
- A Date with Rosie Palms: The only thing he tells Russ he does for fun around the house is masturbate.
- Put on a Bus: Eddie explains his absence in Christmas Vacation by informing Clark that Dale is preparing for his career in the carnival.
Ruby Sue Johnson
Eddie and Catherine's youngest daughter.
- Cheerful Child: Especially so after Clark tells her Santa will definitely be paying a visit to the Griswold house.
- Comically Cross-Eyed: Apparently went cross-eyed after falling down a well. We never see it, however, because, after a swift kick from a mule, everything returned back to normal.
- Comically Missing the Point: Ruby Sue comments that Rocky's "shittin' bricks" about the upcoming Christmas holiday, and amends it to "shittin' rocks" when Clark reminds her not to talk that way.
- From the Mouths of Babes: As evidenced by her role in Christmas Vacation.Ruby Sue: Sometimes I think all that Santa crap is just bull. If he was so real, how come we didn't get squat last year? We didn't do nothin' wrong, and we still got the shaft.
Daisy Mabel Johnson
As a whole:
- Badass Family: As opposed to the first generation of Griswolds, Rusty's family is more violent. The Wally World resolution has them brawling another family for seats on the Velociraptor.
Rusty's wife who feels she may be trapped in a stale relationship with her bumbling husband.
- Foil: To Ellen of the original series. While Ellen was always loyal to Clark despite his eccentrics, Debbie feels her and Rusty's marriage is dying. While Ellen was a Reasonable Authority Figure, Debbie is shown to be proud of her wild college past.
- In-Series Nickname: Something of a legend at her old college, where she was known as Debbie-Do-Anything.
- Naked People Are Funny: Apparently climbed the clock tower at her old college naked back in her heyday.
- Really Gets Around: May have stuck her finger in the dean's dick, as well as fucked Anthony Hopkins. She later reveals that she previously slept with around thirty guys.
- Sexless Marriage: Defied; she and Russ have sex every week, though Debbie does believe it's gotten routine.
- Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Happens several times after attempting the Chug Run, in which a person chugs a full pitcher of beer before attempting to run through an obstacle course to raise awareness for Aspergers.James: Why is she puking so much?Russ: It's for aspbergers.
Rusty and Debbie's oldest son, who takes a liberal political stance, enjoys playing guitar and reading books, and is constantly bullied by his little brother Kevin.
- Actual Pacifist: Won't fight back against Kevin because he believes he's taking the high road. Subverted, as it doesn't last.
- Almost Kiss: With Adena before being interrupted by Kevin.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Downplayed, but James does eventually learn to stand up to his little brother. Turns out it doesn't take much.James: (begins pushing Kevin down) Wow, this is so easy. You are such a little boy.
- Butt-Monkey: It's mostly because he was spineless when it came to his little brother Kevin. And in some moments, his father Rusty didn't help him much when it came to a girl.
- Grew a Spine: Walks into the climactic Wally World brawl towards the end.Debbie: James, no, you're not going to fight.James: I'm not going to stand here like a little bitch.
- Nice Guy: He's incredibly polite and believes in taking the high road. By the end of the movie he's still a nice guy, he's just got a backbone.
- Rage-Breaking Point: Downplayed, but James stops taking abuse from Kevin when Adena finally tells him that the high road isn't really working for him.
- Would Hit a Girl: Scratches Ethan's daughter on the arm while his and Rusty's families duke it out at Wally World.
Rusty and Debbie's youngest son, who verbally abuses everyone (particularly his brother) and has overall behavior problems.
- Annoying Younger Sibling: He's a dick to James the whole first hour of the movie.
- Big Brother Bully: Inverted, as James is the older, meeker brother while Kevin is younger and more malicious.
- Bratty Half-Pint: Very much so, until James finally steps up and puts him in his place. Still, he shows signs of being just as much of a dick as before afterward, but he probably won't mess with his big brother as much.
- Enfant Terrible: Verbally abuses James and helps himself to his possessions all the time, such as his guitar which he graffitis.
- From the Mouths of Babes: Basically everything he says.Kevin: This is dope as fuck.
- Jerkass: He really is a little shit, and he's never given any redeeming moments but when he joins in on Rusty fighting the rival pilot.
- Sadist: He puts a plastic bag over his brother's face, just to see how long he would last until he blacked out.
- Portrayed by: Imogene Coca
Ellen's Aunt Edna whom Clark loathes. Lived with Eddie and Catherine for awhile before passing away on Clark's trip to Wally World.
- Accidental Misnaming: Calls Clark "Claud" upon seeing him again, though this may not have been unintentional.
- Asshole Victim: With the exception of Ellen, none of the Griswalds are sad to see her go.
- Grumpy Old Woman: She even makes fun of Clark for not catching a hint that Eddie, her son-in-law, wants to ask for money.
- Not Quite Dead: A deleted scene shows a finger twitch from Edna's presumably dead body, but this was removed due to being even darker than what actually happened.
- Obnoxious In-Laws: Before the heckling parents came along in Christmas Vacation, there was Aunt Edna in all her glory.
Nora and Clark Griswold, Sr.
Clark's parents who come and stay with the family during the holidays.
- Action Dad: Parodied. When Clark goes back in the living room to look for the squirrel in the tree, his dad is the only person to accompany him.
- The Alcoholic: When Clark asks his dad how he got through the hectic holiday season, he gives him this response:Clark Sr.: I had a lot of help from Jack Daniels.
- Bumbling Dad: Clark Sr. is implied to have been one of these in his day.
- Cool Old Guy: Clark Sr. is a very sweet old man who wants to see Clark succeed at providing his family with a happy Christmas vacation just as much as he does. It's even mentioned in the original Vacation that he sat down with Rusty when he was a kid and let him have a sip of his beer.
- Generation Xerox: Apparently, Clark Sr. was just like his son when it came to providing the family a happy Christmas, including suffering from several mishaps.
- Happily Married: They look like such a happy family in Clark's childhood films.
- Senior Sleep-Cycle: According to the DVD commentary, the seniors had a side bet going as to who could appear onscreen asleep most often.
Frances and Arthur "Art" Smith
Ellen's parents who come and stay with the family during the holidays.
- Alcohol Hic: Frances sports one of these while the family is witnessing Clark's failure with the Christmas lights.
- Deadpan Snarker: Art is a very grumpy one towards Clark. Oddly enough, he subverts this with everyone else and is perfectly pleasant to them... Even Eddie!
- Everyone Has Standards: They have very little respect for Clark, but when he confronts his boss about stiffing him and his fellow employees out of a Christmas bonus, they're in full support of him.
- Grumpy Old Man: Art. Nothing Clark does is ever good enough.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Art acts very disproving towards Clark, but is the first to stand in support of Clark against his boss Frank Shirley when Clark is telling Shirley off.
- Obnoxious In-Laws: They'll never miss an opportunity to put Clark down.
- Senior Sleep-Cycle: According to the DVD commentary, the seniors had a side bet going as to who could appear onscreen asleep most often.
Aunt Bethany and Uncle Lewis
Clark's uncle and aunt who come and stay with the family on Christmas Eve.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Aunt Bethany is utterly senile. Every line out of her mouth is hilariously clueless, and her prayer before the family's Christmas feast is The Pledge of Allegiance.
- Grumpy Old Man: Uncle Lewis, who as seen in Clark's childhood Christmas films was always kind of a dick.
- Jerkass: Unlike Art, who comes around to support Clark at the climax, Lewis enjoys being a jackass to everyone.Lewis: Hey Griz, me and Bethany figured out the perfect gift for you.Clark: Aw, Uncle Lewis, you didn't have to buy me anythingLewis: Dammit Bethany, he guessed it.
- Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!: Uncle Lewis again. Nothing anyone does is ever good enough to evade his snark.
Audrey's husband who works as a very successful weatherman and provides for Audrey so that she'll never have to work in her life. The two of them live in Stone's enormous house with a cattle ranch in the back that he herds himself.
- The Ace: He's got money, looks, endowment—what more could a girl want?
- Always Someone Better: Serves this role towards Rusty, as he's super good looking and he and Audrey appear not to have lost the spark of their marriage (at least on the outside).
- Gag Penis: When he comes in to explain the house TV to Russ and Debbie, his penis is very clearly visible through his boxer briefs.
- Good Ol' Boy: A typical conservative cowboy.
- Manly Tears: Is not ashamed to talk about crying over the state of the country.
- Mr. Fanservice: Constantly portrayed in ways that highlight his features.
- Stepford Smiler: Despite looking very happy with Audrey, Clark and Ellen later reveal to Rusty that their marriage is a sham. Stone and Audrey sleep around all the time and are not very happy together.
- Walking Shirtless Scene: He goes into Debbie and Russ's room to show them how the TV remote works wearing nothing but a pair of boxer briefs. He even stands there for a few seconds saying nothing just to show off.
Girl in the Red Ferrari
An attractive woman who Clark frequently runs into on his family trip to Wally World.
- Cool Car: Her titular red ferrari, which signifies every time she appears when Clark spots it behind him on the road.
- Good Parents: Implied, if Vegas Vacation is any indication: during her one scene, she now has a small infant in the backseat of her car and has a license plate reading "Mama".
- Leitmotif: Any time she shows up, "Little Boy Sweet" begins playing in a way meant to draw one out of the scene in a similar fashion to Clark.
- Lingerie Scene: Strips down to her underwear at the hotel pool before also taking that off.
- Ms. Fanservice: Constantly.
- No Name Given: She's simply credited as "Girl in the Red Ferrari" and is never referred to by any name within the movie.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: When Clark tells her that he's married, she tells him she knew. Granted, this is after he tried to lie to his wife right in front of her, but given the dryness Clark lied to this girl before about not being married, it's implied that she knew what she was getting into.
- Two-Person Pool Party: Strips naked with Clark at the hotel pool, but Clark's reaction to the pool's freezing water draws the attention of his wife before anything serious can happen.
Girl in the Red Ferrari (2015 Edition)
A gorgeous young woman who adult Rusty saw while driving his family to Wally World just like his dad, Clark previously did.
- Ms. Fanservice: Oh, yes.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: A little too similar. She could almost be a Legacy Character to Brinkley's portrayal.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: She's Killed Off for Real when she, distracted by Rusty, drives into the opposing lane and is rammed by a large truck. She only had 45 seconds of screentime.
Clark's boss, who's business deals with the world of food-additive sales.
- Blatant Lies: Things get incredibly awkward when Clark comes in to give his boss a Christmas present. Shirley brushes him off by saying he's in the middle of an important call.Shirley: (picking up the phone) Get me somebody. Anybody. And get me somebody while I'm waiting!
- The Grinch: In all fairness, he's not trying to ruin Christmas for anybody, but he definitely knew what he was doing when he decided to suspend Christmas bonuses, and only had a HeelFace Turn when he saw firsthand how his decision affected his employees.
- Heel Realization/HeelFace Turn: When Eddie kidnaps him and Clark chews him out, Shirley sees firsthand the kind of personal effect his decision to cut out Christmas bonuses has on his employees. Sheepishly, he grants Clark what he got last year plus twenty percent.
- Mean Boss: He's stern and not above letting his employees down to save a little money for the company.
- Pet the Dog: After he realizes he was in the wrong to cut out Christmas bonuses, he indeed grants one to Clark.
- The Scrooge: Cuts out Christmas bonuses in order to save a few bucks for the company.
- Too Important to Remember You:
- He refers to Clark as "Mark," and subsequently as "Greaseball" and "Grisbald."
- When he meets Clark and his coworker Bill, he glances annoyedly at Bill until Clark gets the hint and reminds him of Bill's name.
- You Look Familiar: Brian had previously played the Kamp Komfort manager in National Lampoon's Vacation
An saleswoman at a department store who Clark has a strong physical attraction towards. Later on she appears in a dream sequence.
- Distracted by the Sexy: When Clark meets her, he keeps stumbling over his own tongue because of how hot she is.
- Erotic Dream: While dreaming about his planned swimming pool, Clark imagines Mary skinny-dipping in it.
- Ms. Fanservice: Her role in the film mainly involves looking sexy and serving as an object of temptation for Clark.
- Butt-Monkey: The Chesters' luck is just as bad as Clark's, as he is constantly inadvertently causing damage to their possessions or injury and embarrassment to them.
- Hidden Depths: Margo is a Rich Bitch who even treats her husband badly on occasion, but she does admit that she'd like having a Christmas tree despite how clichéd the image is.
- Portrayed by: Catherine Missal
A girl who's seen traveling the country whom James comes across.
- Girls Like Musicians:Adena: So, no guitar tonight?
James: It got stolen.
Adena: That sucks. I really liked hearing you play.
James: You did?
Adena: Yeah, I've always had a thing for musicians.
- Lady Swears Alot: Like Kevin, she's seen using some curse words during her screentime.
- Satellite Love Interest: To James. Fortunately, they get together as shown in the credits.
- What the Hell, Hero?: She is appalled that Kevin bullies James even though he's younger than the latter."He's a little shit! You don't have to let him push you around."