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Daphne Paloma Vasquez
Portrayed by: Katie Leclerc
- Fiery Redhead
- I Am Not Spock: Those who've only seen Katie Leclerc act as Daphne find it slightly jarring to hear her speak in promotional material sans deaf accent.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: After fighting with Bay over Emmett and trying to break them up, she does this after realizing Emmett's feelings for Bay are the real deal.
- Living Lie Detector: She's pretty good at reading other people's body language. This skill comes in handy later on when she discovers Emmett cheated on Bay with Simone.
- Lovable Jock
- Oblivious to Love: She never seemed to realize Emmett was into her until it was too late.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: At times, since Katie Leclerc actually speaks like a hearing person in real life. She also reacts way more rapidly than most deaf people can.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: She's the tomboy to Bay's girly girl.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: After her mom takes the job in their old neighborhood, and especially after Angelo's death, she starts to do any number of illegal things. Bay took the blame for the worst ones, and they've both set themselves up for failure.
Bay Madeleine Kennish
Portrayed by: Vanessa Marano
- AB Negative: How the whole plot gets kicked off in fact.
- Bratty Teenage Daughter: She gets better.
- Emo Teen: Has her moments, but she rarely ever, if at all, goes into Wangst territory.
- New Transfer Student: She transfers to Carlton as part of a pilot program for hearing students with connections to the Deaf community.
- Raven Hair, Ivory Skin
- Regal Ringlets
Portrayed by: Constance Marie
- The Alcoholic: She is sober now but still considers herself an alcoholic.
- Dark Secret: The Kennishes suspect that Regina knew something they didn't. And they were right. It's revealed that she knew about the switch before the series started. Around the time of Daphne's meningitis infection in 1998, Angelo had Daphne DNA tested, and Regina figured out then that the hospital had switched the girls at birth. Fearing that she'd lose Daphne, whom she'd come to love like her own biological child, Regina kept the secret to herself and got her life together for her sake. Later, she hired a private investigator to track down Bay, and watched Bay from afar for several years. And now it's not a secret anymore.
- When she falls Off the Wagon, she tries to keep this a secret, but Daphne and Bay wouldn't have any of it.
- Mama Bear
- Off the Wagon: After Angelo returns, and stress gets to her, she begins drinking again. It gets so bad that she eventually checks herself into rehab.
Portrayed by: D. W. Moffett
- The Complainer Is Always Wrong: Happens a lot in season 2. Most of the time, if John objects to something, he is wrong, and has to be brought around.
- Happily Married: To Kathryn. That is, until a brief separation in Season 3 had him kicked out and living with Toby for a couple of episodes. They're back together, though.
- Hot-Blooded: To the point where in the second season, he actually had a heart attack due to stress.
- Morality Pet: Gets one in the form of Travis.
- Nepotism: It's not treated negatively, but a lot of the key positions in organizations he runs end up getting filled by his children (and their friends). Lampshaded by Bay at one point.
- Papa Wolf
- Really Gets Around: Not anymore now that he's married, but back before he met Kathryn, he was apparently quite the ladies' man. Upon Kathryn's goading, he told her about an incident in his ballplaying days where he slept with three women, one after the other, in one night. Apparently coffee really helps.
- Self-Made Man: Was a pretty famous baseball player before retiring from the game, and later started his own business of car washes.
- Strawman Political: John seems to develop new, stereotypically conservative beliefs whenever it would cause the most drama and familial tension. This picks up after he gets elected.
Portrayed by: Lea Thompson
- Feminine Women Can Cook
- Happily Married: To John, barring the occasional rough patch. They have a serious flare-up in Season 3, when she declares that she is no longer happy, and kicks him out.
- Mama Bear
Portrayed by: Lucas Grabeel
- Big Brother Instinct: Towards both Bay and Daphne. It culminates with him shoving Emmett to the ground after finding out about Emmett cheating on Bay with Simone, who was Toby's girlfriend.
- Shonen Hair
- The Gambling Addict: He eventually kicks this habit.
Portrayed by: Gilles Marini
- The Atoner: He's desperate to make up for abandoning Regina and Daphne all those years ago, and really wants to make up for lost time with Bay.
- Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: His abandonment of Daphne when she was younger - basically, he was convinced Regina cheated on him (since Daphne certainly didn't resemble either of them), and after having her DNA tested, he up and left her and Regina. He does deeply regret this however, and is more than willing to aid John in suing the hospital for the switch.
- Disappeared Dad
- Killed Off for Real: In "The Image Disappears," Angelo suffers a cerebral hemorrhage after a car accident in the previous episode, and is left brain dead and on life support. The episode went out of its way to establish that this isn't a fluke; he's failed every possible neurological test, and brain scans reveal absolutely no activity or blood flow, all meaning that he's completely gone. The girls and Regina ultimately decide to take him off of life support and donate his organs.
- Papa Wolf: He becomes this when he finds out that Daphne was secretly seeing Chef Jeff in the season 1 finale. He punches him in the face and even threatens Jeff to stay away from her if he ever sees her again.
- Really Gets Around: After leaving Regina, he's had more than a few flings on the side, including a love child with a college student. However, it seems Regina is his true love.
- Tall, Dark, and Handsome
Portrayed by: Sean Berdy
- A Friend in Need: With Daphne. Even after he starts dating Bay, he still looks out for her well being, and she's usually the first person he turns to for advice.
- The Atoner: After cheating on Bay, he's determined to redeem himself in her eyes because he still does love her and wants to make things work.
- Badass Baritone
- Badass Biker
- Disabled Snarker:Liam: Do you speak English?Emmett: [signing] No, Japanese.
- Dogged Nice Guy: To Daphne. And later on, towards Bay after breaking up with him.
- Nice Guy
- Sex for Solace: After an argument with Bay over his living situation, he runs into Simone. Things progress from there.
- Unwanted Assistance: In-Universe - he gets pretty frustrated with Bay defending him due to his deafness.
Portrayed by: Marlee Matlin
- Disabled Snarker: Like mother, like son it seems.
- Good Parents: She's very strict, but really does love her son.
- Jerkass: She was initially one towards Bay because she didn't approve of Emmett dating a hearing girl. However, she softened up considerably after the two found some common ground.
- Mama Bear: Towards both Emmett and Daphne.
- Teacher/Student Romance: According to her during the second season, she had a brief relationship with an older professor of hers, but broke it off due to their age difference causing them to have little in common. This is much like the plot of Matlin's Oscar-making hit "Children of a Lesser God", except the professor's prejudice was the deal breaker there.
Portrayed by: Ivonne Coll
Portrayed by: Maiara Walsh
- The Alcoholic: She runs into Regina at an AA meeting.
- Alpha Bitch: Deconstructed.
- Slut-Shaming: After it was uncovered she cheated on Toby with Emmett, she became a target for some intense internet bullying, causing her to resort to booze to run away from her problems.
Portrayed by: Blair Redford
- Berserk Button: Hurting Bay in any way will have him giving out a good beatdown.
- Like Brother and Sister: With Daphne.
- Put on a Bus: When he joins the military.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: When he comes back from the war, he's clearly a lot more easily agitated and quick to anger.
- Tall, Dark, and Handsome
James "Wilke" Wilkerson III
Portrayed by: Austin Butler
- Ladykiller in Love: Towards Daphne.
- Off to Boarding School: Due to Wilke getting low grades and slacking off, his dad threatened him with boarding school several times. His dad eventually does it.
- Small Name, Big Ego
Portrayed by: Max Lloyd-Jones
Portrayed by: Ryan Lane
- Dogged Nice Guy: For Daphne.
- Emo Teen: Justified considering his circumstances.
- Freudian Excuse: He's the only member of his family who is deaf, and his parents made no effort to learn how to communicate with him.
- Hidden Heart of Gold: He can be a bit of a jerk at first, but considering his circumstances, as well as learning to open up to others a bit more, he's revealed to be quite a sweetheart.
Portrayed by: Annie Ilonzeh
Portrayed by: Stephanie Nogueras
- Jerkass: Towards Bay and the other pilot program students. She does soften considerably after the two find some common ground.
- Lipstick Lesbian: It's revealed in "Human/Need/Desire" that she's either a lesbian or bisexual.
- Twofer Token Minority: Natalie is a "threefer"-she's deaf, queer and also a woman of color (though the last was unexplored in the show-her actress is Puerto Rican).
Portrayed by: Matt Kane