Follow TV Tropes


Characters / Step by Step

Go To

The Characters from Step by Step.

    open/close all folders 

The Parents

    Frank Lambert 
Portrayed by: Patrick Duffy


    Carol Foster-Lambert 
Portrayed by: Suzanne Somers

Foster Family

    Dana Foster 
Portrayed by: Staci Keanan

  • Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: JT and Dana have an interesting dynamic as step-siblings, constantly insulting each other, but by the later seasons it is obvious they do care about one another. In a final season episode, she goes as far as to willingly help him get back together with Sam.
  • Break the Haughty: Often happens to her. In one episode Frank's dimwitted nephew Cody gets a higher SAT score than Dana, which caused her no small amount of distress. In another one her professor gives her a D and calls her paper "supercilious crap".
  • Character Development: Dating Rich mellowed out her character to be less of a Straw Feminist to encourage rather than expectedly nag Rich into applying himself.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Her defining trait. She snarks all the time, with J.T being her favorite "victim".
  • Disappeared Dad: Carol's first husband has died about two years before the series, leaving behind the couple's three children.
  • Dumb Blonde: Avoided. She is as blonde as she is intelligent.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: The Responsible to both Karen and JT's foolish.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Melancholic
  • Generation Xerox: She's a perfectionist just like her mother Carol.
  • Go-Getter Girl: An ambitious overachiever who wants to be the best at everything, especially academics. Considering her attitude sometimes she borders on Academic Alpha Bitch.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Getting Rich to apply himself gets him a better grade than her.
  • Hollywood Dateless: Although J.T. is usually the only one who makes fun of her for being dateless. Dana attracts numerous boys throughout the show.
  • Insufferable Genius: She's brilliant, obviously, has a smug and conceited attitude, and and tends to belittle anyone who is not as smart as her, especially the Lamberts.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: She can be very rude and arrogant, but deeply cares for her family. She was even instrumental in getting J.T. back together with Sam in the last season.
  • Like Mother, Like Daughter: Besides hair tint, she and Carol share similar tempers and perfectionist instincts.
  • Official Couple: With Rich in the last two seasons.
  • The Perfectionist: Very much so.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: With Rich, much to J.T.'s horror.
  • The Snark Knight: She never bothers to hide her disdain for people she dislikes.
  • Soap Box Sadie: A proud feminist and openly becomes an activist in one episode.
  • Straw Feminist: This was basically her schtick. One time she tried to get a full-blown feminist group going, but it was derailed by Cody's hotness.
  • Sugar-and-Ice Personality: Usually The Snark Knight, but she shows her warm and friendly side several times.
  • Tsundere: Type A.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: With J.T. and Cody.

    Karen Foster 
Portrayed by: Angela Watson

  • Attention Whore: Due to her vanity, she likes to make everything about hersef.
  • Brainless Beauty: Karen is outright described as being very beautiful by everyone in-universe, but she's shallow and not very bright.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: In one episode she forces her mother to accompany her to a store, while Karen spends the entire day trying on dresses.
  • Disappeared Dad: Carol's first husband has died about two years before the series, leaving behind the couple's three children.
  • The Ditz: She's basically Hilary Banks, without being rich.
  • Dude Magnet: She's totally aware of her popularity with boys and really enjoys it.
  • Fashion Model: She is an aspiring model.
    • In one episode she convinces her mother Carol to join her in a mother-daughter pageant (and finds that appealing to the lecherous judges is not worth doing to win the contest).
    • In another she's hired for a fashion shoot, but Carol comes along to keep Karen safe, since Karen is 15 (which Carol repeatedly reminds everyone there). Then an older model convinces Karen to at least finish school before trying to be a model, as she did otherwise and still regrets it.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: The Foolish to Dana's Responsible.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Sanguine
  • Hello, Nurse!: Apparently every boy in her school drools over Karen.
  • Informed Attractiveness: People on the show talked about Karen as if she was the hottest girl in the world. While very pretty, she wasn't significantly more attractive than Dana, Al, or even Carol.
  • Lovable Alpha Bitch: Karen is the most beautiful and popular girl in her school, and she's generally vain, ditzy, and extremely shallow, but she means well and is the sweetest of the three girls (compared to Al and Dana).
  • Narcissist: Openly admires herself and her beauty.
  • Proud Beauty: Beautiful? Check. Dude Magnet? Check. Vain and narcissistic? Check.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Girly Girl to Al's Tomboy.
  • Valley Girl: She's not particularly rich, but otherwise fits the stereotype perfectly.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: With Al.

    Mark Foster 
Portrayed by: Christopher Castile

  • Advertised Extra: In season 7 he's credited as a main character but he only appears in 8 out of 19 episodes and is largely Out of Focus in most of them.
  • Adorkable: The most nerdy and socially awkward of the family. He never really loses this trait, even when he's older.
  • Butt-Monkey: Gets pushed around a lot by his stepsiblings in the early years.
  • Demoted to Extra: In the last two seasons (especially the final one) although, unlike Brendan, he continues to appear sporadically until the end of the series.
  • Disappeared Dad: Carol's first husband has died about two years before the series, leaving behind the couple's three children.
  • Extraverted Nerd: In the early seasons he was a brainy, weird, socially awkward uber-nerd (pretty much a white Steve Urkel). He eventually gets a Character Development and matures to be a normal teenager with friends and even a girlfriend, while still being a high academic achiever.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Melancholic
  • Geek Physiques: Of the skinny geek variety.
  • Hormone-Addled Teenager: Once he hit puberty he starts lusting after girls, along with equally hormone-addled friends.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Feminine Boy to Al's Masculine Girl.
  • Nerd Glasses: They are also similar to Steve Urkel's glasses.
  • Teen Genius: It is revealed in one episode that Mark's IQ is 187.

Lambert Family

    John Thomas "J.T." Lambert 
Portrayed by: Brandon Call

     Alicia "Al" Lambert 
Portrayed by: Christine Lakin

  • Badass Adorable: Much stronger than she looks.
  • Big Brother Worship: For JT in the first few seasons. Completely inverted in later seasons: she thinks JT is an annoying idiot and makes fun of him just as much as Dana.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Throughout the show.
  • Character Development: The only character with a real development, actually, as she gradually evolves into a totally different person.
  • Cool Loser: Somewhat, in the beginning.
  • Cute Bruiser: When she was a tough girl in the early episodes, apparently able to beat up people older than her.
  • Daddy's Girl: Due to being Frank's only daughter.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Easily the snarkiest character on the show, after Dana.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Choleric
  • Girliness Upgrade: Originally a tomboy but she becomes more feminine as time goes by. Although Al very much may have continued her interest in sports later, this is very much forgotten onscreen by midway through the series as Christine Lakin entered puberty and the producers wanted to take advantage of her physical attractiveness.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: She's hot-tempered, rude, and rebellious, but she does have a moral center. Although she continues to be self-assured in later episodes, the negative aspects were toned down somewhat in later seasons
  • Little Miss Badass: Especially in early seasons.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Masculine Girl to Mark's Feminine Boy.
  • Missing Mom: Frank's first wife has left him and her children, disappearing and having no apparent contact with any of them.
  • One of the Boys: Very much so in the early episodes, due to being the only daughter of a single father with two brothers & her interest in sports (as well as the apparent lack of girls-only teams in Port Washington).
  • Only Sane Woman: More evident when she gets out of her aggressive tomboy phase, in later seasons. Especially in her trio with Dana and Karen, she's by far the most normal and levelheaded. It's also lampshaded in season 6 that she's the only Lambert sibling who is not an idiot.
  • Out Numbered Sibling: Before the merging of the two families, Al was the only daughter and female in the Lambert household
  • Raised by Dudes: Growing up in a house with a dad who owns a construction company, a Jerk Jock older brother, and a fart humor loving younger one, she became very much a tomboy who had trouble getting along with girls her age and got into fights fairly often.
  • She's All Grown Up: From a somewhat cute tomboyish pre-teen to a stunningly attractive young woman. J.T has a hard time accepting this with season 5 onwards. Most male viewers consider her the hottest girl on the show.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: And how. J.T. was even surprised when his friend Rich was attracted to her in one episode.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Tomboy to Karen's Girly Girl. Before her Girliness Upgrade, anyway.
  • Tomboyish Name: Al is short for Alicia.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: She becomes much less aggressive in later seasons. She used to be openly hostile to Dana and Karen, but in later episodes she always hangs out with them.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: With Karen and, to a lesser extent, Dana.

    Brendan Lambert 
Portrayed by: Josh Byrne

  • Advertised Extra: Before season 7, he is credited as a main character but he gets much less focus than all his siblings and is rarely involved in the plot of the episodes. In season 6, where Brendan is a teenager, he's mostly used as a Living Prop.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: He disappears in season 7 and is removed from the opening credits, although Frank mentions his "seven children" in a season 7 episode, implying Brendan still exists somewhere.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Was reduced to delivering snarky one-liners in season 6.
  • Demoted to Extra: He wasn't given much to do during the first 5 seasons (he only gets A Day in the Limelight in about two episodes), but at least he was usually included in the scenes involving the entire family. As of season 6 he was almost out of the picture, before being eliminated completely in season 7.
  • Flat Character: We have Dana the sassy Go-Getter Girl, Karen the ditzy bimbo, Mark the Extraverted Nerd, JT the Book Dumb slacker, Al the spunky tomboy and Brendan who was...the youngest one.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Phlegmatic
  • The Generic Guy: So generic, that he does not show up in the final season, and the family dynamic is not affected at all.
  • Missing Mom: Frank's first wife has left him and her children, disappearing and having no apparent contact with any of them.

    Cody Lambert 
Portrayed by: Sasha Mitchell

  • Beware the Silly Ones: Cody is such a friendly, goofy guy, but he also knows kickboxing... very well.
  • Big Brother Mentor: To J.T. and, sometimes, Mark. Also qualifies as an Eccentric Mentor
  • Breakout Character: Definitely. In the same way Steve Urkel was for Family Matters.
  • The Bus Came Back: In one episode of season 7.
  • Catchphrase: "Dude!"
  • Chick Magnet: Very popular with girls, although he has a crush on Dana who isn't interested in him at all.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: The king of this trope.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Thanks to his kickboxing skills.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Towards Dana.
  • Drop-In Character: Technically, he lives at the same address, but he lives in his van.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: He sometimes did have good advice, it becomes sort of a Running Gag.
  • Erudite Stoner: He often shows maturity and intelligence behind his eccentric Cloudcuckoolander nature.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Sanguine
  • Fun Personified: He's an easygoing and goofy guy, despite his age.
  • Genius Ditz: By many accounts he's dumb, but he also happened to outscore Dana on the SAT and often becomes the voice of reason in family crises.
  • Manchild: Cody is actually an adult but he doesn't really act like one.
  • Nice Guy: Very friendly and easygoing and often acts as a Big Brother Mentor to all the siblings.
  • Papa Wolf:
    • On one episode Dana goes to one of the toughest bars in town against her stepfather's orders and gets in trouble. Whereupon Frank and Cody, come to rescue her jointly beat up every ruffian there in a Bar Brawl and take her home.
    • Cody may have gotten on Dana's last nerves in the episode where he had a premonition that she needed to be protected from a guy. After she basically tells him to get out of her life, he refuses to do so and saves her from a legitimate attacker.
    • In the episode where he takes Karen to a party at a frat house. Although Cody had earlier scoffed at Dana's suspicion that the frat brothers would try to take advantage of Karen, he is not pleased when Karen declines an offer of sex and is immediately taunted by all the boys for being a "virgin." The physically larger Cody confronts Karen's tormentor and indignantly demands: "What's wrong with being a virgin? I'm a virgin!"
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: In season 2.
  • Put on a Bus: He disappears late into Season 5, initially without explanation (actor Sasha Mitchell was accused of domestic abuse - though this turned out to be unfounded).
  • Surfer Dude: He has a Valley teen accent and vocabulary (such Valley-isms as "dude" and "cheesed off").
  • Totally Radical: Look at his Catchphrase.
  • Wacky Guy: He is highly eccentric and lives in a van.

Other Characters

    Other Characters 

Penny and Ivy Baker

Portrayed by: Patrika Darbo and Peggy Rea

Lilly Foster-Lambert

Portrayed by: Emily Mae Young

Rich Halke

Portrayed by: Jason Marsden

  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Initially with Dana, but unlike most examples, it led to mutual Character Development and a solid relationship.
  • Book Dumb: The reason why he needs to be tutored by Dana.
  • Divergent Character Evolution: Was essentially "J.T. #2" until dating Dana, who encourages him to apply himself more to his studies. This not only sticks, but to the extent he realizes how much he's outgrown J.T. though remains friends with him.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Phlegmatic
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With J.T. He never appears before season 5 (although Rich's actor played JT's friend "Doug" in one of the early episodes) but they act like they have always been best friends.
  • Official Couple: With Dana, starting in early season 6.
  • Opposites Attract: With Dana. Dana is very smart and serious and Rich is not all that different from J.T.. They even mention the trope name when they discuss why they get together.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: In season 6.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: With Dana, in the episode where they hook up for the first time. It was actually insult-insult-kiss.
  • The Slacker: Initially, but grows out of due to Dana's influence.

Samantha "Sam" Milano

Portrayed by: Alexandra Adi

  • Always Someone Better: There's one episode where she seems to always beat her boyfriend JT at everything. Surprisingly, JT's issue with it isn't that he wants to feel superior over her, it is that he feels like he doesn't deserve her, which she points out couldn't be further from the truth.
  • Beta Couple: With J.T.
  • Cute Bruiser: A pretty girl, but also very strong and tough.
  • Deadpan Snarker: She can be this in response to JT's antics.
  • The Lad-ette: She's interested in sports and is great at every manly thing.
  • Tomboy: A new tomboyish female character introduced after Al's Girliness Upgrade.
  • Tomboyish Name: She's first mentioned by JT who heard about a guy named "Sam", the best mechanic in town...
  • Wrench Wench: She works as a mechanic in a garage.

Jean-Luc Rieupeyroux

Portrayed by: Bronson Pinchot


Example of: