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The following is a list of tropes applying to characters from the 1997-1999 WB series Smart Guy.


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T.J. Henderson (Tahj Mowry)

The main protagonist, who has an IQ of 180. His disinterest in the subjects being taught to him in elementary school results in him moved up six grades from the fourth to the tenth grade at age 10. His move to high school results in him trying to fit in with kids four to seven years older than him, while also maintaining the interests of a kid his age.

  • Acquired Situational Narcissism: In "Don't Do That Thing You Do," T.J. becomes popular when he plays an impromptu keyboard solo at a Battle of the Bands competition, annoying Marcus, who had earlier denied him a solo. T.J.'s slightly inflated ego and Marcus' jealousy come to a head when T.J.'s nitpicking of the song arrangement leads to him being kicked out of Mackadocious.
  • Adorkable
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Not always, but Marcus occasionally treats him as though he was.
  • The B Grade: T.J. worries about getting a grade lower than a B in shop class in "Boomerang". His skills as a craftsman are sorely lacking (to the point of injuring Mo when he tries to teach T.J.). T.J. ends up with a C when his birdhouse project collapses during class at the end of the episode, after Floyd catches onto T.J.'s plot to use him to build the birdhouse... thanks to Marcus.
  • Badass Bookworm
  • Becoming the Mask: In "Bad Boy", T.J. starts dressing more "hood," in an attempt to impress a girl who dresses the same way. His attitude changes, even causing him to sneak out the house.
  • Berserk Button: Do not ever insult T.J.'s family, or he'll knock you out.
  • Big WHAT?!: Occurs twice in "The Dating Game," in his reactions to excuses that Yvette used to avoid accepting dates with Deion. First, when Yvette says that T.J. has a bladder infection, then when Vice Principal Militich informs T.J. about him suffering from worms.
  • Big YES!: T.J.'s reaction in "Cross Talk," when Pete Gilroy, who has been dropping by the Henderson house since he got fired from the titular in-universe political talk show after T.J. becomes a full-time panelist, asks T.J. about seeing an action movie:
    Pete: Hey, T.J.! How'd you like to see the new Van Damme movie? I hear he kills eight guys in a Bangkok brothel.
    T.J.: YEAH!
  • Black and Nerdy: Subverted, in that T.J. leads somewhat of a normal life (he has some friends his age, even after skipping from 4th to 10th Grade, and likes to play sports), but does exhibit exceptional knowledge that may go over some of his high school classmates' heads; it's even revealed that he's read The Washington Post since he was four (at the latest) and reads The Journal of Quantum Mechanics. The series has occasionally gone back and forth to illustrate that he has some semblance of normalcy but does not understand things that a person of average intelligence would such as why The Three Stooges are funny or even contemporary slang such as "'bout it, 'bout it."
  • Butt-Monkey: Often by his own doing.
  • Child Prodigy: T.J., obviously. He is proficient in most school subjects (except wood shop), he is a Polyglot (though this is somewhat of an Informed Ability, it's only shown twice such as in "The Dating Game," where he recites to Yvette the ways "no" can be said in different languages), and he was even regularly reading The Washington Post by the time he was 4.
  • The Conscience: Subverted more often than not.
  • Control Freak: Was one in "Below the Rim" and "The Soda Wars".
  • Cool Loser: Several episodes centered around T.J. trying to fit in at school and not just be the tagalong kid. Given the kind of plans and schemes he's pulled off, you would think he'd be pretty popular around the school, but this never seemed to stick past a given episode.
  • Cunning Linguist: T.J. shows this ability in "Love Letters" and "The Dating Game," and references it in "Henderson House Party" and (indirectly in) "T.A. or Not T.A." However, we only see shades of it in the former two episodes. Besides English, he appearently speaks – among other languages – Spanish, German, Russian, Swahili, Portugese and French.
  • Deadpan Snarker
  • Easy Amnesia: Subverted. "Dumbstruck" has T.J. getting hit in the head by 2x4s while helping Marcus and Mo take lumber left over from one of Floyd's roofing jobs to the garage and becoming stupid as a result. Mo suggests they hit him in the head again, but they don't because This Is Reality). T.J.'s intelligence resurfaces in class halfway through the episode, but he fakes it due to his troubles fitting in. Floyd is tipped off after he finds that a copy of The Journal of Quantum Mechanics hidden in an Archie comic book, and convinces T.J. that being smart should not be something that he should hide; he finally does reveal he's smart again when presenting a World War II report with Marcus and Mo after Marcus blanks on key parts of the presentation.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: The responsible (sharing the role with Yvette) to Marcus' foolish.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Melancholic.
  • Genius Bruiser: He knocked out Blake with one punch in "Beating is Fundamental," and one at least three occasions, has jumped on older students attempting to defend himself or someone else.
  • Good with Numbers: Naturally. He is proficient enough at math that he served as a teacher's assistant in math class in "T.A. or Not T.A."
  • Grade Skipper: T.J. was a 10-year-old fourth grader who jumped six grades to the tenth. In "Goodbye, Mr. Chimps," he explains that this happened because his teachers, who originally thought he was a discipline problem due to his acting out in class, discovered that he was bored with the subjects he was being taught in the fourth grade.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Becomes jealous of the amount of time Floyd spends with his new girlfriend Jamie in "Dateline". It reaches the point where he takes out his frustration on another student after he gets bumped by the older boy, and ends up jumping on his back ready to fight him.
  • Hollywood Nerd
  • Honor Before Reason
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Towards Mark in "Strangers on the Net," although it's done to drive the episode's internet safety aesop. It's not a good idea for any kid to buy bootlegged computer games from an adult male who contacts kids on a chat room, and go to their house to see a game he made. You never know if he could be a serial child predator using this as a ruse to try to molest kids. T.J.'s friend Karen is a worse judge, as she was willing to stay there, though he wised up and got her out of there before Mark could do anything.
  • Innocently Insensitive: T.J. occasionally says what's on his mind, without realizing how bad it sounds beforehand. From "Achy Breaky Heart," when he asks Yvette to help him cheer up Marcus in time for their band's club gig:
    T.J.: Would you please talk to him?
    Yvette: Why me?
    T.J.: Because you're a teenager, plus you get dumped a lot. What helps?
    Yvette: Sensitivity.
  • Insufferable Genius: T.J. can be this at times.
  • Intelligence Equals Isolation: T.J. again. This fluctuates though depending on the episode, as T.J. has been shown having friends his own age and knows quite a few people closer to the ages of both his siblings.
  • It's All My Fault: There's hardly an episode where he doesn't end up apologizing to someone for doing something wrong.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Less on the "bastard" part, but T.J. is very good at manipulating people to get what he wants (such as in "Boomerang," when he tricks Floyd into doing his woodshop class project) or for what he thinks is someone's own good (like in "Achy Breaky Heart," when he tries to cheer up Marcus by having his ex-girlfriend and new drummer in Mackadocious pretend that she's taking Marcus back in order to get him to perform at a nightclub gig), and every once in a while an episode or subplot revolves around him doing so. To his credit, though, he is always very apologetic about it if he ever ends up hurting someone, and tends to go out his way to make amends.
  • The Matchmaker: He and Yvette set up Floyd on a date via an online dating website in "Dateline," only for T.J. to regret it when Floyd starts spending more time with Jamie. Subverted in "The Dating Game," when T.J. had Mo and Yvette pretend to be a couple, only for Mo to convince him to help him woo Yvette.
  • Men Are Uncultured: Unlike with Marcus and Mo and to some extent Floyd (who is cultured enough to know that Marcus recited lines from Hamlet when his son lies that he was practicing for a role in 'Othello'', and the difference between a haberdasher and a rasher), T.J. usually averts this. Then again, there are things that T.J. can't understand, such as in "Dumbstruck," when he is disgruntled that he can't understand why The Three Stooges are funny like Floyd, Marcus and Mo do.
  • Neat Freak: Stated as being this in "Something Wicked This Way Comes". It's one of the irritations Marcus has about T.J. that drives him to move into the attic for a time.
  • Nerds Love Tough Schoolwork: T.J. is sometimes the only one in class who doesn't groan when given a major homework assignment... in fact, as "Dumbstruck" illustrates, he often gets over 100% on tests. Although Mr. Bringleman's chemistry test in "Trial and Error" even proved to be so daunting for T.J., that he almost didn't have time to double-check his answers.
  • New Transfer Student: Part of the premise of the pilot, due to him being a grade skipper.
  • Not So Above It All: A major running theme in the show is the contrast between T.J. being a Wise Beyond His Years genius and being a naive immature kid at the same time.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Whenever the group has to trick somebody for whatever Zany Scheme is going on, it's a fair bet T.J. will have to do this and pretend to be a regular (even overly irritating) kid. In "Dumbstruck," when his intelligence returns days after a hit to the head by a couple of 2x4s actually makes him stupid, he decides he likes how people treat him better when he's not smarter than them. However, he gives up playing dumb when he, Marcus and Mo end up in danger of failing an oral presentation on World War II for history class.
  • Only Known by Initials: What T.J.'s full name stands for is never revealed during the course of the series. Played with in "T.J. Versus the Machine," as Marcus' pep talk to T.J. to get him to agree to a chess rematch against a supercomputer he lost to earlier that episode creates an Overly Long "Metaphor" Is My Middle Name (on account of him barely able to come up with a metaphor using just T.J.'s first and middle initials):
    Marcus: You're a winner, man. You can win on anything, you're tenacious. Hey, that's what T.J. stands for, Tenacious... Just Won't Give Up Guy.
  • Photographic Memory: Originally stated as a self-referenced Informed Ability in "A Little Knowledge," T.J. illustrates this in "She Got Game," when he discovers that Brandi is faking the ankle injury she "suffered" during a basketball game to allow T.J. to come off the bench.
  • Prima Donna Director: Main plot point in "The Big Picture". Only after Floyd intervened in helping T.J. realize his Control Freak ways did T.J. and his group make a good project, although the previous music video idea was changed to a video discussion on the creative process taped before the music video was supposed to film.
  • Promoted Fanboy: In-universe. He becomes a guest (and later, permanent) panelist on the political talk show Cross Talk in the episode of the same name, although he intentionally sabotages his job to get the panelist he replaced, Pete Gilroy's, job on the show back. It doesn't work.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Does this from time to time, such as in "Sit In (a.k.a. Dawgburger Rebellion)," when he stages a sit-in in Vice Principal Militich's office to protest the school's ban on off-campus lunches and in "That's My Momma," when he breaks into the record room at an adoption agency (twice) to find Mo's adoption records to search for his birth mom.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: T.J., being a genius, tends to use Big Words on occasion. He gets called out on it in "Diary of a Mad Schoolgirl," when he, Marcus and Mo read the computer diary entry of Janice, a fellow student whom T.J. was working on a project with about the Lizzie Borden murder trial and whom Marcus wanted to date:
    Mo (reading from diary entry): He's [T.J.] really smart, but I think people would like him better if he didn't use such big words all the time.
    T.J.: Oh, that's proposterous! (Mo and Marcus look at him, knowing T.J. just proved Janice's point) Shut up.
  • Shorter Means Smarter
  • The Smart Guy: Well, how do you think the show got it's name?
  • Smart People Play Chess: In "T.J. Versus the Machine," he gets the chance to play against a supercomputer named Socrates to win money to buy new computers for the school. After he loses, Marcus convinces him to do a rematch. To make amends after T.J. finds out that he and Mo were going to bet against him, Marcus inadvertently gives T.J. the idea to make ridiculous moves on the board to stump Socrates, confusing the computer to the point of overheating, allowing T.J. to make a move to beat him.
  • The Strategist: He's extremely adept at planning schemes, though many of them fall apart due to unforeseen holes in the plan or outright bungling by those he involves in them.
  • Tagalong Kid
  • Technobabble
  • Why Did It Have to Be the Gym Shower?: His subplot in "Break Up Not to Make Up," involves him being wary of taking showers in the locker room after gym class, because he doesn't want to shower with the older students. He steers into Innocent Fanservice Guy in the tag scene, when he gets over his fear and cooks in the kitchen naked. Floyd then stops him from answering the front door, and asks him to put something on.

Floyd Henderson (John Marshall Jones)

The widowed father of T.J., Marcus and Yvette. He started working as a roofer after high school, after he and his late wife had Yvette, and eventually started his own roofing business. He is depicted as a fair parent, who sometimes makes mistakes, and often gives his kids advice.

  • Adults Are Useless: Inverted.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Usually averted with Floyd, however he inadvertently plays it straight near the end of "Bad Boy":
    Floyd (to Brandi, T.J.'s friend): In fact, if you can follow my rules, you can come kick it in my crib 24/7. (T.J. and Brandi turn away from Floyd in embarrassment) What? I said it right. Didn't I say it right? I've been watching Yo MTV Raps, didn't I say it right?
  • Bumbling Dad: Generally averted as Floyd is often on top of everything that goes on with his kids.
  • Cool Old Guy: Well, technically, Cool Almost Middle-Aged Guy.
  • Deadpan Snarker: T.J. and Yvette definitely both get it from Floyd.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Choleric (shares this with Yvette).
  • Good Parent: Despite making mistakes on occasion, like many parents do, Floyd is this in the end.
  • Papa Wolf: Exhibits this a couple of times.
    • In "Strangers on the Net," when a detective working on the case of the child predator that tried to molest T.J. and Karen earlier in the episode informs him that the man won't be getting out of jail soon, Floyd implies he would have fought the man if he confronted him.
    • In "Something Wicked This Way Comes," he forbids Yvette from dating a college guy named Clay, believing he will try something on her. While Mo is talking to Clay on the phone, Floyd suggests he meet the family, and loudly exclaims that he is a third-degree black belt in karate.
  • Parental Obliviousness: Usually averted, with one major exception. In "Never Too Young," T.J. lies to Floyd when he asks him if he saw any kids drinking alcohol at a former classmate's birthday party a couple of days before. Floyd refuses to believe Yvette when she tells him that she thinks T.J. had been drinking. He finds out the truth from Rich and Kevin, two ex-classmates of T.J.'s, after catching T.J. holding a bottle of Peppermint Schnapps they give him. As Yvette states later on, the plot illustrates to parents that they should be aware that their children are not immune to succumbing to peer pressure and that they should discuss the topic with their kids.
  • The Patriarch
  • Self-Made Man: He began working as a roofer shortly after he and his late wife had Yvette, eventually starting his own roofing contracting company.

Marcus Henderson (Jason Weaver)

T.J.'s older brother and the middle child of the Henderson family. A popular and girl-crazy teenager, he has to deal with having T.J. as a classmate when his brother begins attending his school, Piedmont High, but has trouble adjusting at first. He often uses T.J.'s intelligence to get out of studying, but is sometimes called out for doing this, and is sometimes forced to step up and study himself. He generally learns his lessons by the end of each episode.

  • Big Brother Instinct: Marcus shows this toward T.J. on an intermittent basis.
  • Book Dumb: Marcus, however a couple of episodes imply that he's likely more Brilliant, but Lazy. Inverted in "Dumbstruck," when he actually takes it upon himself to study when T.J.'s intelligence nosedives due to a hit to the head from 2x4s. He blanks during a class presentation of his, T.J. and Mo's World War II oral report, until T.J. reveals he's smart again to Marcus when faced with the possibility of flunking. Marcus admits (and T.J. agrees) that it's not the same being the smarter older brother, and T.J. promises not to get more than 100% on tests to keep Marcus from being saddled with extra homework.
  • Broken Ace: Although Marcus is implied to be a decent basketball player, he's not the team's star and as Floyd even states in "Crushed," he's not even the best player on a losing Piedmont Penguins squad. It's moreso a testament to the coaching but still...
  • Butt-Monkey
  • Calling Your Bathroom Breaks: "I gotta go to the bathroom, Jack!"
  • The Charmer
  • Chick Magnet: Marcus has the most Girls of the Week of the three younger male characters, or even Floyd.
  • Cool Big Bro: When he's not using T.J. for his smarts or arguing with him.
  • Deadpan Snarker
  • Deuteragonist
  • Dismotivation: Played with; Marcus often coasts by in school, and would probably be more content with T.J. doing his schoolwork than having to do the work himself. Depending on the episode, Marcus may do only somewhat more than the bare minimum amount of effort required to get by in school, but other members of his family (such as in "T.A. or Not T.A.," where Floyd and T.J. call out Marcus on his academic laziness) push him to put an honest effort in. There are also moments where Marcus has to step up and do his schoolwork himself, because he has no other choice (such as in "Dumbstruck," where Floyd convinces him to step up and study, which he does, although he forgets what he learned while giving his oral presentation).
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: The foolish sibling (though foolish may be pushing it just a teeny bit) to Yvette and T.J.'s responsible.
  • Feigning Intelligence: With the help of T.J., Marcus does this while pretending to be his non-existent worldy alter-ego twin Marquis in "Brother, Brother".
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Sanguine.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Mo.
  • Hormone-Addled Teenager
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Marcus can be bossy and tends to use T.J.'s intelligence to his advantage, but it is often shown that he does care about his little brother.
  • KidAnova
  • A Man Is Always Eager: In "Love Bug," Marcus dates Erica Drew, a girl with a reputation for being easy, which she adopted after being slut shamed by some female classmates after she lost her virginity in ninth grade. Marcus finds out that Erica's actually a smart girl with dreams of travelling around the world. As he gets to know her, Marcus realizes he likes Erica and doesn't want to be another notch in her bedpost; they continue the date with a game of dominoes instead.
  • Mistaken Identity: In "Crushed," Marcus is mistaken for a high school basketball player in Piedmont, Washington with the same name, who is being wooed by Burke University. He and Mo discover this when they read the profile of the other Marcus Henderson in the newspaper, but do not correct the recruiter when he keeps being bribed with stuff such as sweatshirts, sports bottles and a car to attend the school. It's only after Floyd spots the car, that Marcus confesses and the situation is corrected.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: The Manly Man to Mo's Sensitive Guy.
  • The Slacker
  • Stealth Bye: Does this twice in "Never Too Young".
  • Those Two Guys: With Mo.

Tasha Yvette Henderson (Essence Atkins)

The oldest child and only girl out of the three Henderson kids, she is a smart, studious student who is involved in many extracurricular activities (such as being a cheerleader and the editor of the school newspaper). Yvette can be insecure and pushy, and often teases Marcus for not being a good student in addition to having to deal with her brothers' antics.

  • Academic Alpha Bitch: Subverted. She is usually nice to her friends, but is very snarky to Marcus and can be pushy toward either of her brothers at times.
  • Brainy Brunette: Depending on the Writer, this is either an Informed Ability or actually incorporated into the storyline.
  • The Cheerleader: Was one originally, although she's only shown to be part of the squad in the pilot. It's revealed that she quit the team in "Below the Rim," feeling that it was demeaning... although she breaks out a cheer out of "reflex" and later rejoins the squad when she sees them being less-than-peppy and uncoordinated.
  • The Chick
  • Closer to Earth: Compared to her brothers and especially Mo.
  • Deadpan Snarker
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Choleric (shares this with Floyd).
  • Friend to All Living Things: Though, a certain chimpanzee named Homer begs to differ. His running away from Yvette both times she tries to hug him in "Goodbye, Mr. Chimps" (which she failingly tries to justify as him having "issues with women" or because he was "taken from his mother too young") is mocked at episode's end by T.J. and Floyd.
  • Go-Getter Girl
  • The Matchmaker: She and T.J. set up Floyd on a date in "Dateline," after T.J. registers Floyd to an online dating website without his father's knowledge.
  • May–December Romance: Or, you could call it a May-March Romance. In "T.A. or Not T.A.", 17-year-old Yvette dates Calvin, who is 15, but looks older. Calvin later decides to start dating someone else – a sophomore... from Howard University – when he becomes aware that Yvette is uncomfortable with the age difference.
  • Middle Name Basis: Virtually nobody calls Yvette "Tasha". The only time we even hear about Yvette's real first name is through a voiceover by Floyd in the Dragnet-inspired tag scene in "The Code," when her punishment for having a fake ID (which T.J. squealed to Floyd and Principal Dowling about) is revealed.
  • Not So Above It All
  • Only Sane Person: Played with.
  • Opposites Attract: Smart girl Yvette dates the less-than-intelligent Xavier in "Big Picture," after talking to her friend Tammie about another student's relationship with a shallow girl. Yvette tries to convince Marcus that Xavier is more than just good looks and muscles, but later begins thinking that she may just be physically attracted to him.
  • Raised by Dudes: Although, she's more of a regular girl.
  • Sassy Black Woman
  • Ship Tease: With Mo.
  • Soapbox Sadie: A light version: "Can't Buy Me Love" and "The Graduate" depict her as this (although in the latter, her protest of a congressman seemingly ends up being a facade to avoid going to her graduation due to the fact that her late mother won't be there).
  • Straw Feminist: Played with and inverted in "Can't Buy Me Love," Yvette buys Mo at a servant auction in order to teach him about feminism (this after he knocks the WNBA). Mo is exasperated with being subjected to relentless feminist teachings, so Mo takes T.J.'s advice by agreeing with her positions non-stop. Mo constantly comes to Yvette either talking about feminism or asking about his positions on feminist subjects. Mo lowers the boom on her, when Yvette tells him that he should form his own opinions. Oddly, some of the stuff Yvette taught Mo stuck, when he turns down Marcus's offer to watch a tape of The Players Club (a film released in 1998 that is set in a strip club). The final scene has Marcus and Mo watching a WNBA game, but only because they find the female players attractive.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Yvette was the only female main character, out of the five on the show.
  • Tsundere: Type A.
  • Ungrateful Bitch: Comes off this way in "Men Working Badly". Not knowing Yvette wanted input on the layout of the bathroom Floyd, Marcus and T.J. are building for her, the guys change the bathroom to the way Yvette envisioned it, much to the chagrin of the two younger Henderson boys. Her seeming lack of appreciation of them building her a bathroom is because she wanted to have input instead of the guys just making the decisions on their own.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe
  • Women Are Wiser: Subverted. Sometimes... but while at first glance it may appear as if Yvette is the most normal of the Henderson siblings, Character Development illustrates that she can also be shallow as Marcus is, overthink things to a great degree, and be very concerned with what others think of her.

Morris L. "Mo" Tibbs (Omar Gooding)

Marcus and T.J.'s best friend, whom the former has known since they met in fourth grade. He is kind, eccentric and a less-than-stellar student, who often says things that don't make sense.

  • Acrofatic: The husky yet muscular Mo does a backflip after getting kissed in the cheek by Yvette after he defends her honor when Deion pushes up on her yet again in "The Dating Game".note 
  • A Day in the Limelight: Although many episodes have him as one of the central characters in the plot, "That's My Momma"note  is this.
  • The Alleged Car: He supposedly had a Ford Pinto in "Brother, Brother," but it's not seen on-screen.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Mo is usually a nice, goofy dude, but sometimes he will step up for his friends. The following lines from "The Dating Game" show this, when Mo stands up to Deion when he gets pushy with Yvette after she turns him down for a date:
    Deion: "Look, don't tell me no. And, I don't appreciate no attitude from you neither!"
    Mo: "Well, how about from me? Man, don't be pointing at my girlfriend. Show some respect!"
    Deion: "Yeah, or what?"
    Mo (holding a can of soda): "Or you'll swallow this soda while it's still in the can, you feel me?!"
    Deion: "You may want to think twice about that."
    Mo (after giving Deion's henchman, who's a couple of inches taller than Mo, a once over): "I'll beat him with you!"
  • Big Eater: To the point of accidentally reaching Extreme Omnivore levels in "That's My Momma," when he ate the wax flowers on his birthday cake, thinking they were edible.
  • The Big Guy
  • Buffy Speak: Mo's (very wrong) answer to the math problem T.J. asks him to solve in "T.A. or Not T.A.": "X over Y, one of them little squiggly things".
  • Bumbling Sidekick
  • Butt-Monkey: To a lesser extent.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Mo occasionally fluctuates between this and simply being Book Dumb, he has been shown having the ability to sleep standing up (in "Get a Job") and once (in "Dumbstruck") thought a haberdasher – a person who sells clothing and accessories – was a measurement of bacon – which, as Floyd interestingly points out, Mo confused with a rasher (the latter case was during a conversation in which Marcus told Floyd about what he learned while studying, and brought up that Harry S. Truman once worked as haberdasher before becoming President of the United States).
  • Comically Missing the Point
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: He stands up for Yvette when Deion becomes curt with her in "The Dating Game".
  • Deadpan Snarker: Mo does this sometimes; though in his case, the snarking is usually less deadpan and more in the form of "cheerfully snide" one-liners.
  • The Ditz/Dumb Muscle
  • Dumb Jock
  • Drop-In Character: Justified because he is Marcus and T.J.'s friend. It's referenced in "Beating is Fundamental," when T.J. states that Mo might as well be one of Floyd's kids since he's always visiting. In "Get a Job," Mo states that the reason why he eats at the Hendersons a lot is because his mom is a Lethal Chef, having chipped a tooth while eating some oatmeal she made.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Happens on occasion. In "The Code," the piece of rope he uses to lower T.J. into the Truman High computer room turns out to be not long enough to allow T.J. to reach the floor. He tries to explain to a critical Marcus that if T.J. was a regular-sized 10th grader (which he clearly isn't), his feet would have been able to reach the floor with the length of rope that was used.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Phlegmatic.
  • Genre Blind: In "Dumbstruck," Mo suggests that since T.J.'s intelligence dropped from being hit in the head by 2x4s, the only way for T.J.'s intelligence to return quicker is to hit him in the head again, citing that it worked on Green Acres, Melrose Place and Good Times. Marcus rightly rejects the idea, and later warns T.J. to run if he spots Mo with something hard like a shoe or sand-filled sock to smack his head with.
  • Happily Adopted / Oblivious Adoption: Mo had a happy relationship with his adopted parents, then in "That's My Momma," he discovered he was adopted after walking in on a discussion between his mom and dad about whether the night of his 17th birthday party was the right time to tell him. Miffed that his parents' kept this secret from him his whole life,note  Mo went searching for his biological mother, dismissing his adoptive parents. After getting a false lead, Mo meets his birth mother, a Delaware fortune teller who after a strange conversation about why she gave him up for adoption, dismisses his offer to get to know him better. At the end of the episode, Mo realizes that his adoptive parents truly care about him.
  • Held Back in School: The teaser of "The Graduate" infers that Mo may not move on to the 12th grade, since he has to pass several classes he's failing.
    T.J.: We're gonna be seniors!
    Mo: If I pass Algebra... English, French, World History, Life Skills...
    Marcus: Gon' miss ya, big boy!
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Marcus.
  • Hidden Depths: As much of an oddball as Mo is, he is shown to be proficient with tools, can be a decent hair-cutter (as long as his attention isn't diverted), and becomes a pretty decent cook (with training from Yvette).
  • Hormone-Addled Teenager
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Towards Yvette in "The Dating Game". He wanted to turn their fake relationship into a real one (even buying a necklace he planned to give her at the dance), but decided to let Yvette go out with another guy who was interested in her. He got over it quickly.
  • In Touch with His Feminine Side: In "Dumbstruck," he suggests that he, Marcus and T.J. sing show tunes while loading lumber to make the work go faster (stating "I'm comfortable with who I am," when the latter two react with a weird look). He also reveals that he reads Essence in "She Got Game".
  • Large Ham
  • Nice Guy
  • Odd Friendship: Mo and T.J. have something of a friendship (though "Henderson House Party" has Mo state he thinks of T.J. as a brother) even with the six-year age difference; however, Mo is usually a Nice Guy and is Marcus' best friend, so he's known T.J. for as long as he's known Marcus.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Omar Gooding started out as a Fake Guest Star in season one (appearing in six out of seven episodes), before becoming a series regular in season two.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: The Sensitive Guy to Marcus' Manly Man.
  • Ship Tease: With Yvette.
  • Straw Misogynist: In "Can't Buy Me Love," he disses women's sports and claims the WNBA isn't as good as the NBA. It's Played for Laughs, and drives the episode's "C" plot where Yvette tries to teach Mo about the history of feminism.
  • Supreme Chef: Yvette teaches him how to cook for his Osso Bucco assignment in "Love Letters". Her instruction pays off way too well, and ends up making Yvette jealous when Mo's cooking leads to raves by the rest of the Hendeson family. It leads to a Food Fight, when the two both work in the kitchen while making dinner.
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: Just ask Floyd.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Bacon.
  • Those Two Guys: With Marcus.
  • Wrongly Accused: "Trial and Error" has him being accused of setting a fire in the school's chemistry lab, leading T.J. to defend him in a mock trial. His chemistry teacher, Mr. Bringleman, had accidentally set the fire after he left a lit cigarette he smoked on his desk while on break, but blamed Mo for it (since his basketball playbook was left in the labroom) because "he was the one that was flunking, anyway!".
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    Recurring characters 

Deion LaVon White (Arvie Lowe Jr.)

A classmate of T.J., Marcus and Mo, who creates money-making schemes, and at one point has an unrequited crush on Yvette.

  • Abhorrent Admirer: To Yvette in "The Dating Game".
  • Consummate Liar: Whenever he's scheming. His means to get away from a pissed-off Marcus and Mo in "Goodbye, Mr. Chimps," when they confront him about involving them in his Pyramid Scheme to sell nutrition bars, was asking them if he's ever lied to them... this week.
  • Gender-Blender Name
  • High School Hustler: He created a pyramid scheme to sell nutrition bars in "Goodbye, Mr. Chimps," and sold photos of other students clothes to a clothing company in "My Two Dads".
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk
  • Karma Houdini: Subverted. Deion gets caught in his nutrition bar pyramid scheme by Marcus and Mo in "Goodbye, Mr. Chimps". However, he doesn't learn his lesson in "My Two Dads," when he sells photos of other students' clothing without their permission... Marcus and Mo's scheme to get Deion to stop by having the other students wear slickers to school simply results in him to decide to buy up some slickers, slap a logo on them, and sell them himself.
  • One Born Every Minute: Deion is quick to take advantage of the fools that are.
  • Rejection Affection: Yvette repeatedly turns down Deion in "The Dating Game," but he doesn't get the memo she's not interested, until Mo (whom T.J. has pretend to be Yvette's boyfriend to keep Deion at bay) sets him straight.
  • Smug Snake: Deion has several jobs over the course of the series, all of which seem to involve smoothly using someone else so he can make a buck. Amped Up to Eleven in "The Dating Game," where he wanted to date Yvette, only for T.J. to have her pretend to date Mo to fend off Deion's advances.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Could be seen as a mild version of this in "The Dating Game" Other than badgering her for a date in-person more than once during the episode (on-screen and off), the farthest he goes is leaving several messages badgering her to go out with him on the Henderson's answering machine. Though his reaction to Yvette politely rejecting him seconds Mo stepped in ("Look, don't tell me no, and I don't appreciate no attitude from you neither!"), well... it's a good thing Mo stepped in.
  • Teens Are Short
  • With Friends Like These...

Mackey Nagle (J.D. Walsh)

The goofy friend and classmate of T.J., Marcus and Mo, who tries hard to act cool.

  • Alliterative Name
  • Big Man on Campus
  • The Bully: In his initial appearance in "Dumbstruck".
  • Cool Loser
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: It's never been specified whether Mackey is really a nickname or his real name.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Mackey repeatedly floats an idea to streak during the graduation ceremony in "The Graduate," but Marcus and T.J. shoot down the idea. It becomes an impromptu backup revenge prank against the seniors, when T.J.'s pancake batter cannon doesn't deploy from the podium and ends up being his CMOA when he stops behind the podium and adds "the Class of '99 bites, 2000 rules!," eliciting cheers from the crowd and causing Yvette to admit that he's "pretty fly for a white guy".
  • Totally Radical: His use of urban slang (such as "'bout it, 'bout it") usually come across as him trying hard to be cool. Some of them (such as "scrilla") he's not even sure about the meaning beforehand.
  • You Know I'm Black, Right?: An inversion in that Mackey, who is white, often tries to "act black" in an attempt to be cool. Played with further in "Sit In (a.k.a. Dawgburger Rebellion)," when he decides to do an oral report on Jackie Robinson like Marcus, Mo and Deion plan to do, only for them to object to it, and then when he gives the report at the end of the episode and receives complete silence unlike the applause that the others get. Both times, he exclaims, "it's because I'm white, isn't it?"

Coach Gerber (Dann Florek)

Piedmont's basketball coach who also serves as a P.E. and substitute teacher. He deals with coaching a mediocre Piedmont Penguins team and various personal issues of his own.

  • The Blind Leading the Blind: Through his own admission, he does not know advanced mathematics, and hasn't spoken any Spanish since he took a singles cruise to Mexico in 1972. It's why he hired T.J. and Rosalinda as assistants for those subjects (which he's only teaching to earn more money to make his ex-wife's alimony payments) in "T.A. or Not T.A."
  • Butt-Monkey
  • The Eeyore: The following speeches illustrate this:
    • From "Below the Rim," to the basketball players:
    UNTIL ONE DAY at halftime of another game YOU DON'T HAVE A PRAYER OF WINNING, you get a note from your wife, telling you not to bother to come home! That she has shipped off your clothes to a Days Inn in Bethesda. But finally, you decide you're not going to lose anymore, because you're not gonna play. You're just gonna get in your El Camino, and drive until you get to a place where they NEVER EVEN HEARD OF BASKETBALL!
    • From "The Graduate," during his commencement speech:
    And, they say baldness comes from your mother's side of the family. Well I'm here to tell ya – my mother's brother Eddie, full head of hair, looks like freakin' Fabio! There's a lot of false information out there, kids, so be suspicious and get EVERYTHING IN WRITING, because you know who's watching your back... NOBODY! I guess all I'm trying to say is if your brother-in-law comes to you with a get-rich-quick scheme about ostrich, the other red meat, think twice before sinking your workman's comp settlement into it. Because if you give life half a chance, it will reach down your throat, PULL OUT YOUR HEART AND FEED IT BACK TO YOU ONE BITE AT A TIME.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": He is generally referred to as Coach Gerber, or just Coach.
    • No Name Given: Coach Gerber's real first name is never revealed.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper
  • Large Ham: He has his moments. His aforementioned speeches in "Below the Rim" and "The Graduate" are a couple of them.
  • Nervous Wreck
  • No Indoor Voice: When upset or excited, Gerber tends to be loose with his volume control.
  • Noodle Incident: What was the felony that Gerber said that the teacher's union couldn't fire him for committing without "ironclad evidence" in "Below the Rim"?
  • Sanity Slippage: His introductory appearance in "Below the Rim," and what also helps drive the episode's plot of T.J. becoming the (temporary) coach, is the breakdown he suffers in the locker room during halftime of a basketball game that results in him bailing.
  • Two-Teacher School: He teaches P.E., coaches the Piedmont Penguins basketball team and in "T.A. or Not T.A.," substitutes in math and Spanish classes... however, he quickly becomes apparent that he is unqualified for teaching the two latter subjects.

Basil Militich (James K. Ward)

The Vice Principal of Piedmont High, introduced in season two's "Working Guy".

  • Adults Are Useless: Averted or subverted, depending on the episode.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": He is generally referred to as Mr. Militich or Vice Principal Militich. He has only been addressed by his first name twice: by himself in "Gotta Dance" and by Coach Gerber in "The Graduate".
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Was depicted as this in a way in "Sit In (a.k.a. Dawgburger Rebellion)," when he bans the students from going off-campus for lunch.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: As vice principal, Militich tries to be this, but there are times he just gives up. In "Sit In (a.k.a. Dawgburger Rebellion)," he bans the students from leaving campus for lunch after they repeatedly end up late for class; later on, he agrees to rescind the new policy, not because of the protest T.J. led, but because Dawgburger agreed to donate new computer equipment and band uniforms for the Piedmont Penguins if they allowed the students to come back.
  • Two-Teacher School: In his introductory appearance in "Working Guy," he is the instructor for the school's work experience program. In "Men Working Badly," when he assigns the students their marriage assignment (in which T.J. and Mo are paired together) in life management class. He's not established as being Piedmont's vice principal until "Trial and Error".

Alicia (Jordan Wood)

One of Yvette's friends, who is seen in "Diary of a Mad Schoolgirl" and "Perchance to Dream".

Leslie (Taraji P. Henson)

One of Yvette's friends, who is seen in "Boomerang" and "Break Up Not to Make Up".

Nina (Tinsley Grimes)

Yvette's best friend, who is introduced in "T.A. or Not T.A."

Principal Dowling (Marsha Warfield)

The first of three Principals of Piedmont High seen in the series, appearing in "The Code" and "Brother, Brother".

Brandi Andrea Dixon (Kyla Pratt)

T.J.'s sassy, street-wise female friend, and the only close friend his own age seen in the series, appearing in "Bad Boy" and "She Got Game".

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