Characters in The Big Lebowski.
Jeffrey Lebowski, a.k.a. "The Dude"
Played by: Jeff Bridges
A single, unemployed slacker living in Venice, California, who does nothing more than enjoying cocktails, weed, and bowling.
He is mostly inspired by Jeff Dowd, a member of the anti-war radical group the Seattle Liberation Front (The Dude tells Maude Lebowski that he was one of the Seattle Seven, who were members of the SLF). A friend of the Coen brothers, Vietnam War veteran Pete Exline, also inspired aspects of the character.
- Affectionate Nickname: Nicknames himself "The Dude" and prefers to be known as such. Notably, the only characters other than Walter and Donny to call him "Dude" are Brandt, the Stranger, Gary the bartender, and Jackie Treehorn. Everyone else calls him either "Lebowski" or "Mr. Lebowski," while Maude calls him "Jeffrey."
- The Alleged Car: His Torino increasingly becomes this. It wasn't exactly a royal chariot to begin with, but over the course of the film, it is riddled with bullets, stolen and trashed by a fifteen-year-old loser kid, used as a toilet, crashed by the Dude (twice), beaten with a crowbar, and finally set on fire.
- AM/FM Characterization: His musical tastes include Creedence Clearwater Revival (he listens to "Run Through the Jungle" and "Lookin' out My Back Door" in his car) and Elvis Costello (he listens to "My Mood Swings" while being examined by Maude's doctor). He hates The Eagles, which gets him thrown out of a taxi.
- Anti-Hero: In the classic sense, he is a lazy stoner only vaguely interested in this mystery thing who doesn't do anything heroic at all. He is at least genuinely concerned about Bunny's well-being and is taken aback by some of Walter's shenanigans, which he tries to mitigate or rein in.
- At Least I Admit It: He somewhat sheepishly admits that he is indeed the "loser deadbeat that nobody gives a shit about" that the Big Lebowski wanted as his fall guy. Rather tellingly, in a movie full of people who like to boast about being something they're not, this shows that the Dude has more self-awareness than most of the people around him. His sheepishness is accordingly mixed with a certain amount of defiant pride as well.
- Brilliant, but Lazy: Despite being a complete slacker, and despite the increasing amount of things complicating matters, The Dude definitively figures out the mystery of the film on his own, and accurately fingers the Big Lebowski as having stolen his own money. The reason that the Big Lebowski wasn't in much of a hurry to get his wife Bunny back, according to The Dude, is that he doesn't want her back and was hoping the kidnappers would kill her to get her out of his hair.
- While this is generally attributed to Walter, who latches on to it and refuses to let go, it's technically the Dude who pretty much solves the "mystery" early on when he makes an off-hand comment that she probably 'kidnapped' herself to escape from all her debts; he's not quite right, since it's actually that she just left town for a few days and didn't bother to tell anyone, but he's not far off the mark either.
- Catchphrase: "Fuck it." His answer to any kind of adversity is to simply not care about it, an attitude that gets him criticized by both Walter and the Big Lebowski.
- The Chew Toy: The universe seems to love sending him people who break down his door, smash up his car, and pee on his carpet.
- Chosen Conception Partner: Maude picks him to conceive a child with her, because as The Slacker, there's no way he'd want any part of the child's life and that's how she wants it.
- Chronically Crashed Car: He only crashes his car twice, but since it takes so much abuse throughout the film, that's all it takes to really wreck the poor thing.
- Classical Anti-Hero: A lazy, jobless good-for-nothing who doesn't do anything heroic at all, but is at least genuinely concerned about Bunny's well-being, finds himself lost in a tangled web of other people's plots and schemes, and is taken aback by some of Walter's shenanigans, which he tries to mitigate or rein in. The Dude is sympathetic because even though he's done very little with his life and doesn't seem to want anymore, he's fine with that and isn't hurting anyone else.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: To a lesser extent than Walter, but he's still a pretty odd guy. At the beginning, he writes a check for 69 cents; drinks White Russians in the morning; listens to the sounds of the bowling alleys while taking a nap on his rug and whale sounds in his tub.
- Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: Tries to moderate Walter's shenanigans, with mixed results.
- Cool Shades: Sometimes dons a pair of sunglasses to look even cooler.
- Deadpan Snarker: Constantly demonstrates a laid-back, somewhat indifferent but poignant sense of humor.
- The first scene features two from the Dude. When one of the punks is dunking the Dude's head in a toilet and shouting "where's the fucking money, Lebowski?!" the Dude answers "it's down there somewhere. Lemme take another look." Later, when the same punk asks "what the fuck is this" when he looks at the Dude's bowling ball, the Dude says "obviously, you're not a golfer." When the one who peed on his rug snarls that he looks like a loser, the Dude quips back "At least I'm housebroken."
- Regarding the porn movie Bunny's been in:Maude: Lord, you can imagine where it goes from here.
Dude: He fixes the cable?
- Deconstructed Character Archetype: Just as the film is a Deconstructive Parody of the Film Noir, the Dude can be seen as a spoof of the classic Film Noir protagonist. While most noir protagonists are rough around the edges, tough as nails and dedicated to the mysteries that they involve themselves in, The Dude is a laid-back stoner with a penchant for home decor and is unwittingly forced into situations that he has no place in nor wants any part of. Even his choice of drink — White Russians — was considered "dainty" compared to his hard-liquor drinking predecessors.
- Do Not Call Me "Paul": He would prefer if people refer to him as "The Dude", rather than Jeffrey or Mr. Lebowski, and politely requests everyone he meets to refer to him as such.
- Erudite Stoner: Has "the occasional acid flashback", and is shown smoking pot at a few points in the movie.
- Establishing Character Moment: The first thing he is shown doing is shopping for half-and-half in his robe, tasting it in the store, then paying for it by writing a check for 69 cents. The check is postdated.
- Fish out of Water: He's stuck in a Film Noir narrative with all the various interests around him (aside from Walter and Donny) behaving accordingly.
- Genre Refugee: He acts like he's walked right out of a stoner comedy or a 1960s New Hollywood-style counterculture flick.
- Glorified Sperm Donor: The "glorified" bit is definitely averted.Maude: I don't want the father to be someone I have to see socially, or who will have any interest in raising the child himself.
- Good is Not Nice: He isn't a violent person like Walter was, but makes up for it by being an incredibly lazy and occasionally stubborn slacker.
- Hero of Another Story: His involvement in most of the ongoing plots is tangential, whether the struggle between Maude and the eponymous Big Lebowski over his embezzlement (and Maude's subsequent quest to find a "sperm donor" to get her pregnant), Jackie Treehorn's dispute with Bunny Lebowski (which kickstarts the plot due only to the incompetence of Treehorn's hired thugs), or Da Fino's struggle to return "Bunny" to her family back east. Inverting this trope, The Dude is the hero of the story of the bowling league and his team's struggle against the Jesus, but we never get to see how that turned out.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Walter.The Dude: Walter, I love ya, but you're just gonna have to accept that you're a fucking moron!
- Humble Goal: The Dude's ambitions throughout the entire movie extend no further than getting his soiled rug replaced, and even that takes some prodding from Walter. As he notes mournfully after being drugged by Jackie Treehorn: "All the Dude wanted was his rug back."
- Iconic Outfit: The sweater, the shades, and the purple shirt.
- I Have Many Names: "Or, you know, Duder, or His Dudeness, or El Duderino, if you're not into the whole brevity thing."
- Informed Ability: The Dude is apparently a pretty good bowler, considering he and his buddies were able to make it to the semifinals of a league tournament. Bowling also seems to be one of the only things he's actually passionate about, as bowling imagery appears all over his house and in his dreams. Despite this, he's never actually shown bowling at any point in the movie.
- Insistent Terminology:
- "I'm not 'Mr. Lebowski'. You're Mr. Lebowski. I'm The Dude. So that's what you call me. Or you know, like, 'His Dudeness,' or 'Duder,' or... 'El Duderino,' if you're not into the whole brevity thing."
- "She's not my special lady; she's my fucking lady friend!"
- It's the Principle of the Thing: The Dude, who would clearly otherwise shrug the matter off, is prodded into this with regards to his soiled rug by Walter at the beginning, who points out that since it's the Big Lebowski's wife who owes money to the employer of the thugs who soiled it, then he really has a duty to offer some kind of compensation for it. And then, when the Big Lebowski proves obstinate and rude, the Dude elects to swipe one of his rugs as payment. After all, "this aggression will not stand" and "that rug really tied the room together."
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: The Dude is too lazy to do anything heroic for its own sake, as evidenced by the fact that the Dude only agrees to do the drop-off because the Big Lebowski promises Dude twenty thousand dollars to do so. But the Dude at least feels terrible when he thinks Bunny is dead, or had her toe chopped off. He also skips out on his rent, but keeps his promise to his landlord to come to his dance recital.
- Kindhearted Simpleton: Played with. The Dude is ultimately rather kind-hearted and gentle-natured and has the appearance of just being a dimwitted deadbeat stoner and loser. However, he's not a straightforward example of either; while he's pleasant enough for the most part, he can be pretty snarky to those who get on his wrong side and can get quite snappish when the frustrations of his life pile up a bit too far (though in his defence, these are usually the result of frustrations and provocations that anyone would be driven to irritation by, and no one ever claimed the Dude was perfect). He's also not stupid — he can be quite sharp when he actually focuses on something and has all the information he needs to put the pieces together managing to solve the fundamental mysteries of the film — that Bunny 'kidnapped' herself and that the Big Lebowski faked the ransom in the hopes that he could get rid of her and keep the money — quite quickly at different points. But his years of casual drug use and his generally relaxed, indolent lifestyle mean that he's easily distracted and doesn't really bother to apply himself, making him look dumb to the people he encounters.
- Knight, Knave, and Squire: The Knave to Walter's Knight and Donny's Squire. He's the most laid-back of the three, he's generally content to talk his way out of most tough situations, and he has no loyalty to anything but his own petty interests (he gets dragged into the adventure because he wants someone to replace his rug).
- Lame Comeback: "Well that's just, like, uh, your opinion, man." Generally, the Dude has a lot more trouble producing his witty snarks when he's being directly challenged by someone.
- Lazy Bum: He's even referred to as such by the Big Lebowski and the Malibu chief of police. The Dude has no job, very little money, and even less ambition to do anything with his life besides slack off. It's exemplified at the end of the movie: in spite of everything that's happened to him, The Dude doesn't really mind it that much, choosing to go on just as before, since "The Dude abides."
- Looks Like Jesus: Though he doesn't exactly act like Jesus, he's got the long hair and beard commonly associated with him.
- Loser Protagonist: Played with. The Dude is an aging, unemployed bachelor who is also incredibly lazy and somewhat cowardly, but he's also shown to be perfectly content with his lot in life and lives out his days peacefully doing whatever he pleases provided an outside force isn't around to interrupt them. It's precisely because he has all of the hallmark signs of loserdom that the Big Lebowski targets him as a patsy for his scheme.
- Meaningful Echo: Subverted. The Dude has a tendency of (poorly) copying the vocabulary of more eloquent characters when trying to be taken more seriously, but it's never particularly significant.
- Mellow Fellow: Pretty much his defining trait. The Dude doesn't really care about much, and even finds the overarching mystery to be a mild inconvenience to him.
- Messianic Archetype: He has long hair, a simple attire consisting largely of robes, a close group of "disciples," and a tendency to suffer for things he has no responsibility for.
- Mistaken Identity: Due to his name being the same as a millionaire living in the same area. In fact, Jackie Treehorn's goons mixing the two up is what kickstarts the plot.
- Mr. Vice Guy: The vice being Sloth. He means well, and to the extent he does anything at all, he tries to do good, but out of laziness and a general desire for an easy life, he'd really rather not be involved.
- New-Age Retro Hippie: When asked what he does with his time, he says "Drive around. Bowl. Enjoy the occasional acid flashback.""I spent most of my time occupying various administration buildings... smoking a lot of Thai stick... breaking into the ROTC... and bowling."
- Nice Mean And In Between: The in-between. He's snarky, lazy, and will only ever do anything if he's absolutely required to. But The Dude is a generally decent guy, so long as you're willing to move at his pace.
- Nominal Hero: He's not a bad person. But he's too lazy to want to do anything good and has to be dragged into action.
- Non-Action Guy: The closest he gets to being involved in action is getting beat up a few times and halfheartedly swinging his bowling bag at one of the nihilists.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Displays this on a handful of occasions as he attempts to decipher exactly what's going on— and only gets called out on it by Maude when he jokes about the plot of Bunny's porn tape.
- Only Sane Man: In spite of his laziness, he's the only character with the lucidity necessary to understand what's actually going on.
- Pet the Dog: He picks up the Big Lebowski after Walter drags him out of his wheelchair, despite having no obligation to do it. In fact, he couldn't be blamed if he just left him like that.
- Pinball Protagonist: While the story is seen through The Dude's eyes, he ultimately has no effect on the schemes of the Big Lebowski, Jackie Treehorn, or anyone else. He doesn't participate in the fight with the nihilists at the movie's climax, and we never even see him bowl. He's just dragged along through the plot, not affecting much of anything.
- Politically Incorrect Hero: He calls one of the two thugs a "Chinaman". Walter corrects him, saying that the preferred nomenclature is "Asian-American". He also makes some veiled homophobic comments to Maude's camp friend Knox Harrington.
- Real Men Wear Pink: Real dudes drink White Russians.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The laid back, lazy and comparatively sensible blue oni to the volatile Walter's red.
- The Roadie: Claims to have been one for Metallica for a time, though how true this is remains a mystery.
- Royalties Heir: An early script said he was related to Reno Rubik and lived off royalties from the Rubik's Cube.
- Screams Like a Little Girl: When a "marmot" gets dropped in his bath. Also when he tries to flick a lit joint out of his car window as he's driving and it falls into his lap.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Zig-zagged in his dynamic with Walter. While the Dude is a non-confrontational hippy, he's also much better at keeping his emotions under control than Walter is.
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: He swears constantly, though he doesn't seem to be aware of it.Stranger: Do you have to use so many cuss words?
Dude: What the fuck are you talking about?
- The Slacker: Casualness runs deep in this man. The Narrator says as much in the introduction, and The Dude's Establishing Character Moment is him paying for a quart of half-and-half for his white Russian with a check for less than one dollar. The Dude has achieved very little, but is happy with that.Stranger: The Dude, from Los Angeles. And even if he's a lazy man— and the Dude was most certainly that. Quite possibly the laziest in all of Los Angeles County, which would place him high in the running for laziest worldwide.
- The Stoner: He often smokes joints and Thai sticks, and used to do acid.
- Supporting Protagonist: His involvement in most of the ongoing plots is tangential, whether the struggle between Maude and the eponymous Big Lebowski over his embezzlement (and Maude's subsequent quest to find a "sperm donor" to get her pregnant), Jackie Treehorn's dispute with Bunny Lebowski (which kickstarts the plot due only to the incompetence of Treehorn's hired thugs), or Da Fino's struggle to return "Bunny" to her family back east. Inverting this trope, The Dude is the hero of the story of the bowling league and his team's struggle against the Jesus, but we never get to see how that turns out.
- Third-Person Person: He occasionally refers to His Dudeness as... the Dude.The Dude: The Dude MINDS, man!
- Trademark Favorite Drink: He loves White Russian cocktails. He's seen drinking them throughout the movie, and the movie's opening scene has him buying half-and-half for a White Russian.
- Unlikely Hero: Stoner and slacker that he is, The Dude experiences a full-on hero's journey while being only vaguely aware he's the hero of his own story.
- Verbal Tic: Some editions of the BluRay include the "Mark It Dude" feature, which notes every instance of "Lebowski", "Dude", "Man", and "Fuck". The Dude says "Man" 147 times, that's like a lot, man.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: The Dude and Walter are, to an outside observer, completely incompatible people who, true to form, spend most of their time loudly arguing with each other. However, they're practically inseparable.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: He thinks all the various threads he uncovers must figure into the big mystery at the center of the plot. They don't; really, in spite of all the players, most of them don't affect much of anything.
Played by: John Goodman
A 'Nam veteran (or so he claims, at least), the Dude's best friend and bowling teammate. Walter places the rules of bowling second in reverence only to the rules of his religion, Judaism, as evidenced by his strict stance against "rolling" on Shabbos. He has a violent temper, and is given to pulling out a handgun (or crowbar) in order to settle disputes. He says the Gulf War was all about oil and claims to have dabbled in pacifism. He constantly references Vietnam in conversations, much to the annoyance of the Dude.
Walter was based, in part, on screenwriter John Milius.
- Ambiguously Trained: Walter states very explicitly in every scene he’s in that he has done service in Vietnam, but it is never made clear in which branch of the military he served. While the Army, the Navy, the Marine Corps and the Air Force were all involved, over half of the troops involved were a part of the Army, so it is likely that Walter was in the Army. But if the original screenplay is in any way canon, Walter did not actually serve any time in Vietnam, but it's never made clear in the film itself.
- Anti-Hero: A violent, bumbling psychopath who screams at people for anything, ever. However, he's The Big Guy of the group in the Dude's friends, and he's right about quite a lot throughout the movie (although not for the reasons he intended).
- Artistic License – Gun Safety: Walter is a walking example of this trope, despite serving in Vietnam, and presumably having been trained in gun handling. Notable examples include threatening someone else with a gun (though he isn't being reckless here so much as psychotic), and, in doing so, racking the slide with his finger on the trigger, which is likely to end poorly. It is worth pointing out that after Smokey marks the zero, Walter immediately clears, unloads and safes the gun before putting it away... though he does all of this while pointing the gun at half the other people in the bowling alley. In other words, Walter knows exactly how to handle a gun, he just doesn't care enough to do it safely.
- Ax-Crazy: Although it's played for laughs, Walter is violently unstable. His endearing qualities make it easy to forget that he was willing to shoot Smokey in the face and kill him in full view of the entire alley because he was (allegedly) over the line. It's telling that he has no qualms with murdering an acquaintance he's known for years over an extremely minor bowling dispute.
- Berserk Button: He has several:
- He flips right the fuck out when Smokey allegedly steps over the line in a League game and refuses to acknowledge his error. Cross Walter on a rules violation, and you'll stare down the barrel of a gun.Walter: You are entering a world of pain.
- He takes his Judaism very seriously, even though he converted for his ex-wife. Getting him to break the laws of Shabbos will earn you an ear full.
- He completely snaps when trying to intimidate a teenager he suspects has stolen the ransom money by smashing up what he thinks is his car, screaming, "This is what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass!" er, "find a stranger in the Alps!"
- Whenever he gets his dander up, he inevitably finds some way to link it back to some obviously unresolved issues with his tour in Vietnam. In fact, he finds an excuse to mention 'Nam in just about any situation.Dude: What the fuck does anything have to do with Vietnam?
- Donnie talking in general seems to annoy Walter, enough to tell him to "shut the fuck up" in response to anything he says, even something as mundane as Donnie telling him they've posted the dates for the bowling tournament.
- In general, while Walter seems like he just explodes with little provocation, looking closer at most of the occasions when this occurs suggest that it's actually when he either feels disrespected by someone (even if it's just in his own head) or whether his sense of fair play and justice is being outraged (with, again, his standards of 'fair play' and 'justice' not necessarily being the same as those of others). He explodes so often because he's constantly feeling disrespected and hard done by.
- He flips right the fuck out when Smokey allegedly steps over the line in a League game and refuses to acknowledge his error. Cross Walter on a rules violation, and you'll stare down the barrel of a gun.
- The Berserker: When Walter gets mad, he gets violent. At the very least, he'll start screaming over very minor slights, and when he's pushed to actually fight, he fights very dirty.
- The Big Guy: The gruff, mean variety. Walter pulls a gun on Smokey for a minor bowling dispute, smashes a car with a crowbar, and beats up the nihilists with just what he has on hand.
- Boisterous Bruiser: He's big, loud and violent, which carries over even when he's in a good mood. That being said, when Walter's pushed far enough, he turns into a Screaming Warrior.
- Break the Haughty: Subtle, but it's there. After Donny dies, he yells at the funeral director for being unable to sell a cheap urn. This is unlike most of his outbursts throughout the movie, as he actually has a pretty solid reason to be upset. And after the Dude calls him out for his attempt at eulogizing Donny, Walter just somberly apologizes and hugs the Dude instead of trying to defend himself.
- Broken Record: He has a tendency of repeating himself (especially when pissed — or more pissed than usual), and sometimes he goes into overdrive."You see what happens, Larry?! You see what happens, Larry?! You see what what happens, Larry, when you fuck a stranger in the ass?! You see what happens, Larry?! (etc, etc.)"
- Cassandra Truth: Walter speculates what really happened throughout the movie and is right almost every time. No one believes him. "Am I wrong?" The only things he wasn't right about was when he thinks the Big Lebowski isn't disabled and throws him on the floor and about Bunny kidnapping herself, but that wasn't his idea anyway, and he was right that she was safe all along. And he was right that "that's not her toe, dude."
- "Shut the fuck up, Donny!"
- "Am I wrong?"
- "Donny, you're out of your element!"
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Deconstructed. Walter is (supposedly) this because of years of mental trauma, thanks to Vietnam and years of living in an unhappy marriage. Not to mention, the other characters aren't just put off by his behavior. They think Walter is a psychopath who is going to snap and kill someone at any moment.
- Cluster F-Bomb: When he thinks Larry stole the Dude's money, thanks to seeing a new Corvette outside, Walter proceeds to smash it with a crowbar. The entire time, Walter is screaming that "this is what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass!"
- Converting for Love: He converted to Judaism for his ex-wife, but still clings to the religion even though she divorced him. It's left ambiguous whether he stuck with it out of genuine devotion or still just hasn't gotten over his wife, since other characters openly speculate on both possibilities.
- Cool Shades: Never seen without his stylish yellow tinted Aviator shades.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: For all of his bluster, Walter proves himself to have genuine combat ability during the fight with the nihilists. While the nihilists were much less intimidating than they made themselves out to be, Walter's one-sided beatdown of them is still pretty impressive.
- Cultural Posturing: Walter is not of Jewish descent and converted to Judaism for his ex-wife."Three thousand years of beautiful tradition, from Moses to Sandy Koufax. YOU'RE GODDAMN RIGHT I'M LIVING IN THE FUCKING PAST!"
- Deadpan Snarker: On the rare occasions he's not shouting his head off or angry about something, Walter can be surprisingly witty.
- Determinator: Deconstructed. Walter is determined to carry out his plans and get what he wants, such as getting a cheap urn or getting a confession out of Larry when the Dude's car gets stolen. However, this is often shown as very short-sighted and destructive, which just leads to even more trouble. When Walter smashes what he thinks is another car Larry stole, it turns out that it's a neighbor's car, and the neighbor smashes the Dude's car in response.
- Disproportionate Retribution:
- He threatens to shoot Smokey after he tries to mark it eight when he was over the line.
- After correctly calling out the nihilists as inept cowards, he cripples them anyway.
- Entertainingly Wrong: Walter knows that Larry stole the Dude's car and pocketed the million that was in the back, and that there's a really nice car parked in front of Larry's parents' house, so he concludes that the nice car was bought with his ill-gotten gains. Walter's wrong; it's a neighbor's car. Too bad that he only finds this out when he's halfway done totaling the thing with a crowbar.
- Walter is so convinced the Big Lebowski is faking his injury that he picks the old man up and tries to force him to walk. Which only results in Lebowski flopping face-first on the floor.
- Establishing Character Moment: His first scene is conversing with the Dude about the first home invasion and spouting off various theories and odd phrases, showcasing his Cloud Cuckoolander personality.
- Everyone Has Standards: Despite converting for his ex-wife, he's sincere about his Judaism. But he hates Nihilists so much he considers them beneath Nazis."Say what you want about the tenets of National Socialism dude, at least it's an ethos."
- He'll also argue with anyone over anything except The Jesus. Guy is a great bowler, but he's also a convicted pederast. Walter's got nothing to say to him. "Eight-year-olds, Dude."
- He also corrects Dude on calling someone a "Chinaman" and says the correct term is Asian-American showing that, whatever Walter's flaws and issues from Vietnam, he isn't a racist towards Asian people.
- Fatal Flaw: A mix of Wrath and his inflexibility. Walter is a firm Principles Zealot, and while this makes him honorable and loyal to his friends, he treats all rules (both official and unofficial) with an intensity that results in Disproportionate Retribution when someone breaks them. When one of his bowling buddies steps over the line, he points a gun to his face until he accepts it. When The Dude theorizes that Bunny kidnapped herself to extort her husband for money, it's Walter who decides to Troll the "kidnappers" by swapping the money out for his laundry out of a twisted sense of karma. He nearly gets into a fight with a waitress over him loudly swearing in a family restaurant, and needlessly escalates the tensions between them and the Nihilists, resulting in Donny dying from a heart-attack.
- Genre Refugee: He acts like he's in a Vietnam drama that chronicles the veteran's harrowing struggle to reacclimatize back into civilian society after everything he's seen and done.
- Good is Not Nice: He genuinely wants what's best for the Dude, but he's incredibly violent and insists on doing things his own way to stop the bad guys.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Walter is basically in a near-constant state of anger. All it took was Smokey supposedly stepping over the line in a League game to get Walter to pull a gun.
- Henpecked Husband: Despite being divorced for five years, Walter is still completely under the thumb of his ex-wife.
- Heroic Comedic Sociopath: All of his horrible actions are played for laughs. That being said, he has more agency than the Dude does in trying to clear up the mystery.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Something going wrong in the Dude's life? "Fuck it, Dude. Let's go bowling." The last of which was preceded by a manhug.
- Hidden Depths:
- For all his apparent psychopathy, Walter deeply loves his ex-wife Cynthia, even though she's long since moved on with another man. He frequently does random favors for her at the drop of a hat, and it's heavily implied that he only clings to his Jewish faith because it's the only connection that he has with her (he was raised Catholic, and converted to Judaism when he got married).
- As harsh as he is with his friends he also genuinely loves the Dude and Donny tenderly comforting Donny as he's dying and being genuinely broken up after he's gone.
- Despite his fierce patriotism and his (apparent) hatred of Communism, he's knowledgeable enough about Russian history to know Vladimir Lenin's full name, and he takes it seriously enough that he flips out on Donny when he gets him mixed up with the front-man of the Beatles.
- He also objects to the Dude's use of 'Chinaman' and insists on the use of 'Asian American', although he ruins his own political correctness moment by using the same term moments later.
- Iconic Outfit: The fishing vest, the short pants and the boots.
- Insistent Terminology: "Also, Dude, 'Chinaman' is not the preferred nomenclature. Asian-American, please." And then he promptly subverts it: "The Chinaman is not the issue here!"
- It's All About Me: He makes everything about how he fought in Vietnam just to see what the world has become.Waitress: Sir, if you don't calm down, I'm going to have to ask you to leave.
Walter: LADY, I GOT BUDDIES WHO DIED FACE DOWN IN THE MUCK SO YOU AND I COULD ENJOY THIS FAMILY RESTAURANT!
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He's a complete asshole, but if pointed in the right direction, it's clear that most of the things Walter does are because he genuinely cares about the Dude and he can be surprisingly sweet when the mood strikes him. He also sometimes treats Donny in a more polite and affably way.
- Jews Love to Argue: He's not Jewish by birth, but is still easily the most volatile, argumentative person in the film.
- Karma Houdini: He pulls a gun on a man in a bowling alley where everybody knows him and destroys a brand new luxury car, and somehow manages to avoid jail time, or any other form of actual punishment.
- Knight, Knave, and Squire: The Knight to Donny's Squire and the Dude's Knave. He's the only professional soldier of the three, he's known for his fierce patriotism and religious faith, he always brings the guns (even to bowling matches), and he charges headfirst into every tough situation.
- The Lancer: To the Dude. While the Dude is the person that the story follows, it's Walter that does all the heavy lifting and makes all the moves.
- Large Ham: John Goodman has stated that he's never had more fun acting in a movie. And, boy, does it show. Walter is loud, boisterous, obnoxious, and extremely tempermental. He can't go one scene without screaming or mentioning Vietnam.
- Let's Get Dangerous!: While he does seem less-than-stable throughout the movie, it's mostly in a bombastic and ineffective sense that tends to make him less useful rather than more. At the very end in the confrontation with the nihilists, however, he demonstrates how effective he can really be. Although as the other two point out, they are only being shaken down for about twenty bucks.
- Lightning Bruiser: Proves to be much faster than you'd expect a man of his size to be, as shown by his fight with the three Nihilists.
- Manly Facial Hair: He sports a neat-looking goatee that compliments his tough-guy image.
- The Millstone: He makes things go wrong for the Dude constantly due to his stubbornness and violent temper. Walter throws out a fake briefcase instead of the money, accidentally gets the Dude's car smashed when Walter wrecks what he thinks is a stolen car, and is so convinced that Bunny kidnapped herself that he tells the Dude not to pursue the case any further. Although the case didn't have any money in the first place, and he was sort of right that Bunny wasn't kidnapped.
- Nice Mean And In Between: The mean. He's quick to threaten violence against anyone who crosses him, and is generally a paranoid wreck.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: He was inspired by writer/director John Milius, who is a longtime friend of the Coen Brothers.
- No Indoor Voice: He spends at least half of his screentime shouting his dialogue.
- No Sense of Humor: Everything is deadly serious to him, though he does seem to think that using his dirty underwear as a ringer is pretty hilarious.
- The Obi-Wannabe: Especially when it comes to things like Vietnam, Judaism, and the M.O. of kidnappers - he pretends to be a know-it-all, but is really just a colossal jackass.
- Only Sane Man: Massive subversion — he thinks he's the only one making sense, but he proves to be the only insane man: "Has the whole world gone CRAZY?! Am I the only one around here who gives a shit about the rules?" Right before pulling out a Colt on a bowler who simply rule-argued with him.
- Of course, he proves ultimately correct about the kidnapping and the severed toe and all.
- Paper Tiger: Zig-zagged. Walter talks a big game and is very quick to threaten violence, but also tends to back down just as quickly when someone actually tries to fight him. With that said, he shows himself to genuinely be strong and have good fighting instincts during his No-Holds-Barred Beatdown of the nihilists (who, in fairness, are wimpy Paper Tigers themselves). To summarize: while Walter actually is pretty tough, he's not nearly as unstoppable as he presents himself to be, and is quick to run away when he encounters an opponent he believes can actually fight back against him.
- Pet the Dog: While he bullies and yells at Donny throughout the movie, Walter's genuinely calm and reassuring towards him after Donny gets caught up in the ambush that the Nihilists spring on the Dude and Walter. He also comforts him when he dies.
- Phony Veteran: In the original screenplay. The reveal was cut from the movie, although from his bluster he can still be read this way. Water is so insistent and full of himself about his 'Nam experiences that the subtext suggests that it's just another of his shenanigans.
- Principles Zealot: He is so thoroughly principled that he converted to Judaism for his wife and refuses to abandon it even after their divorce.Saturday, Donny, is Shabbos, the Jewish day of rest. That means that I don't work, I don't drive a car, I don't fucking ride in a car, I don't handle money, I don't turn on the oven, and I sure as shit DON'T FUCKING ROLL!!!
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The hot-tempered and violent red oni to the mellow Dude's blue.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Zig-zagged in his dynamic with the Dude. While Walter is a hyper-aggressive gun nut, he's also much more emotional than the Dude is.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: His asocial behavior points to post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Single-Issue Wonk: Tries to tie everything back to Vietnam. The Dude finally gets sick of it when he pulls it during Donny's eulogy.What the fuck does anything have to do with Vietnam?
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: Just as much as the Dude. And he gets offended if he's asked to tone it down.
- Stout Strength: He's a heavyset guy and surprisingly strong, able to effortlessly beat the nihilists in a fight.
- Straw Nihilist: He's closer to the ideal of Übermensch, even if he's so blatantly incompetent that it's hard to see — at least he genuinely doesn't care what others think of him, and does what he thinks is correct at any moment. And isn't a wannabe nihilist.
- Toxic Friend Influence: He's technically responsible for everything that happens to the Dude after the initial rug-soiling incident, because it is he who kickstarts the plot by convincing the Dude to seek out the Big Lebowski for recompense over the rug instead of dropping the whole matter.
- Tranquil Fury: He spends most of the movie exploding into loud, bombastic rage at the drop of a pin. But when the nihilists try to rob the money that he, the Dude and Donny have on them after they realise they won't be getting a ransom any time soon, he becomes quietly, chillingly livid.
- Undying Loyalty: To the Dude, even if the Dude doesn't exactly always welcome Walter's help.
- Unwanted Assistance: His "helping" with the ransom, much to the Dude's complete and utter annoyance.
- Verbal Tic: "Shut the fuck up, Donny!":Donny: They posted the next round for the tournament.
Walter: Donny, shut the fu—when do we play?
- The Vietnam Vet: He somehow manages to tie everything back to his experiences in the Vietnam War, the implication being that whatever horrors he's taken part in during that time made him what he is today.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With the Dude. And he spends a lot of time browbeating and yelling at Donny yet is clearly cut up when Donny dies from a heart attack.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: He seems to think he's a brutally effective war veteran in a Lee Marvin style film who is going to take the vast criminal conspiracy he and the Dude encounter apart effortlessly with his wits and brute strength rather than the short-tempered idiot facing a group of small-time opportunists he actually is.
Theodore Donald "Donny" Kerabatsos
Played by: Steve Buscemi
A member of Walter and The Dude's bowling team. Naïve and good-natured, Donny is an avid bowler and frequently interrupts Walter's diatribes to inquire about the parts of the story he missed or did not understand, provoking Walter's frequently repeated response, "Shut the fuck up, Donny!"
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: He seems kind of stupid, and Walter and the Dude don't have any respect for him, but he's shown to be an amazing bowler, hitting a strike every time it's his turn. The one time he doesn't, it's a sign that he's going to have a heart attack.
- Butt-Monkey: He gets no respect from his friends (especially Walter) when he tries to join in on their conversations. Literally the only time he isn't told to shut the fuck up by Walter, or something similar, is at the end — when he's dying.
- Captain Obvious: May be part of the reason why Walter and the Dude ignore him all the time."His name is Lebowski? That's your name, Dude!"
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: His death is a deliberate subversion of the unwritten rule that nobody ever dies for random or plot-unimportant reasons in Film Noir, or really, any genre except weird comedies. "It's a heart attack." Though, considering the scene in which his death occurs, it may be a Double Subversion.
- Establishing Character Moment: His first scene is him scoring a perfect strike while bowling then immediately being ignored or berated by Walter when he asks what's going on, establishing his bowling skills and background character status.
- Facial Dialogue: Donny is always commenting in the conversations with his confused face, and especially with his eyebrows. Is the one form of communication that Walter doesn't object to (or cares to notice).
- The Friend Nobody Likes: Walter constantly shuts down his attempts at joining conversations while the Dude mostly just ignores him entirely. The only time either is shown to care about him is after he dies.
- The Generic Guy: In comparison to his friends, who both have big, broad personalities. He seems pleasant and kind of dopey and... that's about it.
- Genre Refugee: He's just an ordinary guy who thinks he's in a slightly eccentric bowling team but has an otherwise normal life. He's probably the most wrong out of all of them.
- Informed Ability: In his eulogy, it is mentioned by Walter that Donny loved to surf. This is the only time that hobby comes up in the movie. Inverted with his bowling skills; not once are they brought up by other characters, but careful viewers will notice that they're phenomenal.
- Kindhearted Simpleton: He's "like a child who wanders into the middle of a movie" when he tries to get in on the conversation about the Dude's life, yet is still quite loyal to both him and Walter.
- Knight, Knave, and Squire: The Squire to Walter's Knight and the Dude's Knave. Compared to the other two, he's just an average Joe with no interest in intrigue or conspiracies, and he spends most of the movie completely out of his element.
- Locked Out of the Loop: He tries to construe the plot, but nobody explains anything to him and stays in constant bewilderment. He's like a child who wanders into the middle of a movie and wants to know what's going on.
- Middle Name Basis: Donny is a diminutive of his middle name Donald.
- Nice Guy: Despite being constantly yelled at, ignored or told to shut the fuck up, Donny stays surprisingly easy-going and cheery.
- Nice Mean And In Between: The nice. He's perpetually affable-but-oblivious compared to his two friends.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: He's only ever referred to by a nickname derived from his middle name. We don't even learn his first name until the end of the movie.
- Phrase Catcher: He is unable to say a single thing without Walter ordering him to shut up — even stuff Walter actually would care to hear about, in which case Walter stops himself halfway through to ask.Walter: Shut the fuck up, Donny!
- Sacrificial Lamb: Donny has no plot significance even when he dies, but damn if it doesn't hurt to see him go all the same.
- Satellite Character: He's the Dude and Walter's bowling buddy and... that's about all of the connection to the plot he has. Donny is so tangential to the two of them that they're the ones who get to keep his ashes, rather than anyone in his actual family.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Walter spends a lot of time browbeating and yelling at him yet is clearly cut up when Donny dies from a heart attack.
- The Watson: Subverted, he's Locked Out of the Loop.Walter: You have no frame of reference here, Donny. You're like a child who wanders into the middle of a movie and wants to know...
Jeffrey Lebowski, a.k.a. "The Big Lebowski"
Played by: David Huddleston
Dubbed by: William Sabatier''' (European French)
The titular character. He is a Korean war vet who lost the use of his legs and uses a wheelchair; he's also an apparent multi-millionaire who is married to Bunny and is Maude's father by his late wife. He refers to The Dude dismissively as "a bum" and a "deadbeat", and is obsessed with "achievement."
- Ambiguous Situation: What his supposed role in the kidnapping ultimately amounts to. Although the Dude's theory that Lebowski used Bunny's "kidnapping" as an excuse to embezzle money is very plausible, it's never outright confirmed by any of the related parties. The closest thing to any form of solid evidence is the Big Lebowski's reaction to Dude and Walter's accusation. He doesn't seem fazed nor does he even bother denying it, but instead simply counters with a "your word against mine" retort.
- Big Bad: Him deciding to let the kidnappers kill Bunny by setting up the Dude to fail to pay the ransom sends several people's lives into a downward spiral.
- Character Title: "The Big Lebowski" is what the Dude and his friends keep referring to him as.
- Decoy Leader: Maude is the one who maintains all of the Lebowski family's organizations. The Big Lebowski just likes to pretend that he does.
- Dirty Old Man: He's married to a women easily young enough to be his granddaughter.
- Establishing Character Moment: His first real appearance has him berating the Dude for asking for compensation and insulting him for being a bum, all while talking about how amazing, hardworking, and successful he is.
- Evil Cripple: He lost the use of his legs in the Korean War, and gets in a wheelchair.
- Evil Old Folks: A bitter, manipulative and rude old man. He constantly insults The Dude for being a Lazy Bum, and he resorts to screaming when things don't go his way.
- Fat Bastard: He's noticeably overweight and has a very sour personality.
- Faux Affably Evil: When he first introduces himself to The Dude, he seems reasonable and willing to hear what he has to say. But this goes out the window fast when it becomes clear to him that he's talking to a bum.
- Foil: To the Dude. Both of them are functionally lowlifes who've accomplished nothing. The Big Lebowski just likes to pretend he isn't.
- Greed: His driving force. He's already rich, but wants to be even richer. Or so he wants people to think; he just plays the part of a guy with a ton of money because he wants to be more important than he really is.
- Grumpy Old Man: Even before the Dude asks for a new rug, the Big Lebowski treats him like crap, calling him a "bum" and chastising him for wasting his time.
- Hate Sink: He's not exactly an endearing character. The other antagonists are often so bumbling and have plenty personality quirks that make them fun to watch, but the Big Lebowski is just thoroughly unlikable, on top of being a phony millionaire.
- Hypocrite: The crux of his "The Reason You Suck" Speech to the Dude is that where the Dude's a lazy slacker who hasn't accomplished anything, he is a successful Self-Made Man who built everything he has himself despite being deprived of the use of his legs. It turns out he just married into money and likes to act the role and completely messed up when he did have chances to make his own.
- Jerkass: He treats everyone like crap, and doesn't care who he has to roll over to get what he wants.
- Karma Houdini: Downplayed. The Big Lebowski suffers no lasting repercussions for extortion, attempted kidnapping, attempted murder, and the suffering he brought Dude. That said, the last we see of him, Walter has picked the smug fuck off of his wheelchair and tossed him face-first onto the ground, leaving him in sniveling tears, which is extremely satisfying after how much of a douchebag he'd been before. The fact that he had to pull a scam to get money proves he's already living a hollow life anyways.
- Kick the Dog: Lest the audience have too much sympathy with him after Walter throws him to the floor, the Big Lebowski's first action after whimpering is to shove away the affectionate dog.
- Large Ham: Not as much as Walter, but David Huddleston was definitely enjoying himself.THE WHOLE GODDAMN PLANE HAS CRASHED INTO THE MOUNTAIN!
- Manly Tears: "Do my tears surprise you? Strong men also cry, Mr. Lebowski. Strong men...also cry..." Possibly a subversion since you never see his tears indicating that he either knows she kidnapped herself or that he actually doesn't care about her. He sheds a few real ones when Walter tosses him to the floor, but by then, we know he's not really a strong man anyway.
- May–December Romance: With Bunny. For perspective, Tara Reid is about 15 years younger than Julianne Moore, who plays her step-daughter. Da Fino reveals Bunny should be in high school, making her 17 or 18 at the oldest.
- Mock Millionaire: He doesn't actually have much money to his own name; it all comes from his late wife's estate and is largely handled by his daughter with him merely using money that is actually hers and which she shares with him. He plays the part of a millionaire anyway because he likes throwing his weight around. Maude even says the few times he was given the chance to make money for himself, he screwed up badly
- Obfuscating Disability: Walter accuses him of doing this, but it turns out he was wrong. A subtle move of one of the Big Lebowski's legs hints that even that might be a lie, though.
- One-Steve Limit: Averted AND played straight. He shares a name with the Dude, but neither of them particularly acknowledge it. The Big Lebowski is always referred to as Lebowski, and the Dude as the Dude. The only characters to confuse the two are hilariously dim.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: He refers to the person who blew his legs off as a "Chinaman"note and is extremely prejudiced towards the lower/working class, who he considers to be "lazy bums."
- Rich Bitch: Not so rich, actually. But he's certainly a jerk to everyone, and uses his alleged money and influence to get what he wants.
- Self-Made Man: Stresses to the Dude the importance of hard work, claiming to have made his fortune by working from the bottom up. In reality, this is a lie, and whatever money he actually has comes entirely from an allowance given to him by Maude.
- Shrine to Self: The Dude is given a guided tour of all the plaques and awards that the Big Lebowski has, most of which are from the Big Lebowski's own foundation.
- Smug Snake: He portrays himself as a billionaire Self-Made Man who understands the importance of hard work and has a massive amount of power and influence. In reality, he simply married into money and has very little power of his own.
- Stupid Crooks: His plan to embezzle money away from his foundation and pretend it was handed off as ransom money (but wasn't) is not really clever, considering that the Dude figured it out and Maude (who is the one who has all the power) is probably not that far behind even if the Dude does not tells her. It also depended on Bunny not returning… which she did, and was never abducted to begin with. In the long term, the Big Lebowski is probably screwed.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Due to Bunny being a Trophy Wife. It's implied that the two argue a lot, and she has no interest in him at all.
- Wicked Cultured: Consoles himself or at least pretends to by listening to Mozart.
- You Are What You Hate: He despises "bums" who don't work to get anywhere in life, but he doesn't have any real money to his name and gets a stipend from his own daughter.
Played by: Julianne Moore
The Big Lebowski's eccentric daughter and stepdaughter of Bunny (she's older than her stepmother). A post-feminist and avant-garde artist whose work "has been commended as being strongly vaginal," which she believes inherently bothers men. She introduced Bunny to Uli Kunkel. She beds The Dude solely to conceive a child, and wants nothing else to do with him.
- Brawn Hilda: Poses as this character in the Dude's Dream Sequence.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: While she's ridiculously pretentious, she manages to both maintain her family's fortune by running several organizations at once while also having a successful career as an artist on the side.
- Deadpan Snarker: All of her conversations with the Dude have a distinctly condescending tinge to them.
- Do You Want to Copulate?: She shows up at the Dude's house, drops her robe and says: "Love me." He obliges.
- Dress Hits Floor: Just before she tells the Dude to have sex with her.
- Establishing Character Moment: She's introduced performing some sort of ridiculous, self-styled painting method, then awkwardly and nonchalantly asking the Dude if he enjoys sex before going on a small rant about how men are uncomfortable with sex, all showing how pretentious and hipster-like she is.
- Femme Fatale: Has elements of one, being a mysterious beauty who gives the hero clues to solve the case. In reality, though, there is no case to solve.
- First-Name Basis: The one character who addresses The Dude as "Jeffrey".
- Generation Xerox: It's quite apparent that she's just as pretentious as her father, but in different ways: While he likes to put on the air of a self-made multi-millionaire but really married into money and doesn't have much power of his own, Maude is....well, Maude Lebowski.
- Heroes Want Redheads: Subverted. She offers herself to The Dude, albeit without love and solely to conceive a child.
- Hime Cut: Her haircut has forehead-covering bangs, and she's an influential debutante.
- Hipster: An older, more French New Wave-style example of one. She paints in a pretentious way, talks down about men, and generally has an air of smug bohemian superiority in everything she does.
- Hypocrite: Talks about how the word "vagina" makes men uncomfortable while avoiding using the word "penis" in the same conversation. She describes "Logjammin'" as disgusting smut, while her art isn't terribly different from it. She's disgusted by those who desire sex without love, while doing exactly that in order to become pregnant. Maude is a walking contradiction.
- It's Not Porn, It's Art: How she justifies the things she does. Despite working with porn stars, and owning an extensive collection of porn movies. She does have clear standards, however, as she claims that "Logjammin'" is an artless travesty.
- Jerkass: She's generally condescending towards the Dude and speaks about everyone who isn't one of her artist buddies with disdain. She even bluntly tells the Dude to his face that she has no interest in him as a person at all immediately after getting him to impregnate her.
- Le Film Artistique: All of the art that she produces and collects has this going on for it.
- Loose Lips: The Dude ends up figuring out the entire scheme of the Big Lebowski thanks to a slip of the tongue from Maude. In truth, Maude is the one in charge of all of the Lebowski family's money; she just doesn't mind her father pretending like he's rich when he's not. However, in telling The Dude this information, The Dude figures out that the Big Lebowski was trying to steal his own money and get Bunny killed at the same time.
- The Man Behind the Man: She is actually the one in charge of all of the Lebowski family's money and organizations, she's simply content in letting her father pretend to be because she's more interested in pursuing her art career.
- Ms. Fanservice: At times, she comes off as a warped version of this trope. In general, she takes full advantage of the naked female body to intimidate others.
- Naked on Arrival: Makes her debut flying from the ceiling wearing only a harness.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: In keeping with her blue-blooded femme fatale characterization, Moore affects a Katharine Hepburn-esque New England accent as Maude.
- No Nudity Taboo: From what we see, she appears to be a nudist (or at least a Home Nudist). She paints in the nude, is only ever seen wearing a robe (and that only when she's in someone else's company), and tends to keep that robe very loosely tied in order to ensure that the people she's with are left in no doubt that she's naked underneath.
- Rich Bitch: A multi-millionaire who is endlessly smug and pretentious.
- Slobs Versus Snobs: The highbrow foil to layabout Jeffrey.
- The Stoic: While we see her smile and even burst into giddy laughter at a few points, her usual state of being is an almost emotionless calm.
- Straw Feminist: It isn't so much her beliefs themselves that are being parodied, it's that she's unbelievably pretentious about uncontroversial mainstream stances and refuses to notice that nobody is actually disagreeing with her. There's also an obvious element of projection, like when she's certain that men are uncomfortable about the word "vagina" but refuses to acknowledge that the word "penis" clearly disturbs her.
- Upper-Class Twit: Subverted. She may be incredibly pretentious and insufferable and fails to see any irony in how much her views conflict with her lifestyle choices, but she is an intelligent, highly competent individual who manages to be one of the only people in the film who knows what they're doing.
- What the Hell Is That Accent?: Discussed by Julianne Moore in the making of documentary. She created an entirely new accent for her character that sounds vaguely British, but clearly isn't; in fact, it sounds almost identical to Katharine Hepburn's famously distinctive Mid-Atlantic accent.
- Women Are Wiser: Probably the single most competent and accomplished character in the film, and arguably the real "Big Lebowski".
Played by: Philip Seymour Hoffman
The Big Lebowski's right-hand man.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: For as much as he tries to appear to be genial and friendly, it's clear that Brandt does not like the Dude, Bunny, or maybe even the Big Lebowski himself, though it's hard to fault him on the last two. His first meeting with the Dude in particular is rife with condescension and rehearsed friendliness, with him even quietly mocking the Dude's "uhhh" stammer when he almost calls Mr. Lebowski "crippled".
- The Comically Serious: Always refers to the Dude as "Dude", even when discussing the terms of a ransom handoff in a dead-serious tone, possibly because he already calls his boss "Mr. Lebowski".
- Covert Pervert: Bunny implies that Brandt is willing to pay to watch her have sex with other men.
- Stepford Smiler: Beneath his unctuous grin is a lot of repressed emotion.
- Yes-Man: Laughs and compliments everything that comes out of the Big Lebowski's mouth, even if it's not a joke.
Played by: Peter Stormare, Flea and Torsten Voges
A group of German nihilistic thugs (Uli Kunkel, Dieter and Franz respectively). They were once techno musicians (Uli, as "Karl Hungus", appeared in a porn film with Bunny), who, along with Uli's girlfriend (Aimee Mann), pretend to be the ones who kidnapped Bunny.
- Agony of the Feet: One of them allows his toe to be cut off to send a faked letter saying they have Bunny and they demand money. Walter sees the severed toe and says that it doesn't looks like a woman's toe some time before we see the bandaged foot.
- Batter Up!: Though they aren't above using other weapons as well, one of them carries around a baseball bat to threaten the Dude and his friends with.
- Big Bad Wannabe: Their threats are intimidating. Their fighting skills, not so much.
- Catchphrase: "We believe in nothing!" (which Uli pronounces "nossink!")
- Cool Sword: Uli wields one during his battle with Walter in the bowling alley parking lot. Rather than actually use it, though, he just tries to tackle Walter.
- Curbstomp Battle: They're all on the receiving end of one from Walter, who absolutely destroys them with very little effort. Walter bites off one's ear, knocks one of them out with a bowling ball, and effortlessly chases away the third one.
- Ear Ache: Uli, who gets his ear bitten off by Walter.
- Genre Refugee: They believe they're in a quirky-but-dark Tarantino-inspired crime thriller about a gang of eccentric Villain Protagonists, and that they're the protagonists in question.
- Gratuitous German: All three pepper their speech with German.
- Groin Attack: Their threat to the Dude.Uli: And tomorrow ve come back and ve cut off your chonson!
- Guns Are Worthless: Dieter is wielding what looks like a submachine gun in the fight with Walter, but instantly drops it and is left uselessly doubled in pain after Walter chucks a bowling ball at his stomach. Given the kind of guys they actually are, it was likely just a non-functional replica or toy gun (real submachine guns are both extremely hard to get legally or illegally and insanely expensive either way, and the freeloading nihilists obviously aren't swimming in dough).
- Harmless Villain: In spite of trying to appear threatening, they don't actually hurt the Dude or his allies. The ferret in the bathtub was just a way to intimidate the Dude, which didn't work because the Dude was stoned. And when they try to fight the Dude in the bowling alley's parking lot, Walter takes care of all three of them with little effort.
- Jerkass: They are sociopathic wannabes who pretend to kidnap Bunny and threaten the Dude with castration.
- Large Ham: Peter Stormare is in this group. It is required. This is especially true in the fight scene towards the end of the movie, where their attempts at fighting and/or intimidation all involve Milking the Giant Cow instead of actually trying to do any damage.
- The Leader: Uli appears to be the leader of the pack, and is the only one who gets a full name.
- Paper Tigers: They talk a good game, but are ultimately revealed to be this. Walter ends up handing them their asses over the course of less than a minute, even though it's three against one.
- Smug Snakes: They're a lot less competent than they think they are.
- Straw Nihilists: Played for laughs. Their amusing Catchphrase is often applied free of any particular context. They're very enthusiastic about their nihilism, and love to bring it up. Their nihilism, however, doesn't stop them from whining about how "It's not fair!" when their attempt to extort money out of the heroes is foiled. By the time the nihilists confront the Dude, he knows that they're just pretending that they've kidnapped a woman, when they never had her in the first place. Walter retorts: "'FAIR?!' WHO'S THE FUCKING NIHILISTS HERE, YA FUCKING CRY-BABIES!?".Walter: Say what you want about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, but at least it's an ethos.
- Terrible Trio: A trio of German thugs.
- What the Fu Are You Doing?: During their fight with the Dude's bowling team, one of them wields a sword, the other wields a [likely fake] gun, and the third... flails around doing faux-karate moves while screaming in a high-pitched voice.
- Wimp Fight: One of them engages in one with the Dude during their "battle" in the bowling alley parking lot. It consists of him making various karate poses while the Dude hesitantly waves his bowling bag at him. Walter ends up flooring him in two hits.
Bunny Lebowski (real name Fawn Knutsen)
Played by: Tara Reid
The Big Lebowski's young wife. Born Fawn Knutsen, she ran away from the family farm outside Moorhead, Minnesota, and soon found herself making pornographic videos under the name "Bunny La Joya".
- Adoptive Peer Parent: She's younger than her own stepdaughter.
- Affectionate Nickname: Bunny.
- Cool Shades: Wears a pair when the Dude first meets her.
- Faked Kidnapping: Averted. It turns out that everyone was wrong; the nihilists didn't actually kidnap Bunny. She just went off on her own to visit friends for a few days, and didn't bother telling anyone. The nihilists took advantage of this to try and milk the Big Lebowski out of money.
- Femme Fatale: She offers the Dude a $1,000 blowjob when they first meet.The Dude: Uh, I'm just gonna go find a cash machine.
- Genre Refugee: Her dialogue and attitude is essentially a porn movie starlet.
- Gold Digger: A scene in the Dude's montage late in the movie implies heavily that she's only after him for his money.
- May–December Romance: She's much younger than her husband. (In real life, Tara Reid is 45 years younger than David Huddleston.)
- Ms. Fanservice: Is scantily clad in all of her scenes and can briefly be seen running around in the nude.
- Really Gets Around:The Dude: (to Maude) I'm sorry your stepmother is a nympho...
- Spanner in the Works: She derails the plans of both the Big Lebowski and the nihilists to get money after she's supposedly "kidnapped" by coming back home out of nowhere. Turns out, Bunny was never kidnapped; she just left to visit friends for a few days and didn't bother telling anyone where she was going. Coming back ruins the Big Lebowski's plans to get rid of Bunny, allowing Maude to have more of a hold over him. And by the time the nihilists confront The Dude and his friends, The Dude knows the score and that they never had Bunny to begin with.
- Trophy Wife: Of the Big Lebowski. As Maude puts it: "Father's weakness is vanity. Hence the slut."
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: She's a blonde bombshell who seems to be barely into her twenties while the Big Lebowski is an ugly, bad-tempered old man.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: The whole kidnapping scam and Treehorn harassing the Dude was because Bunny decided to leave L.A. with some friends without telling anyone, and as far as we know she never finds out about any of it.
- Walking Swimsuit Scene: In all but one scene, she's dressed scantily by a pool.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: She still owes Jackie Treehorn a pile of cash, but that's now a problem for her and the Big Lebowski to deal with.
Played by: Ben Gazzara
A wealthy pornographer, who lives in Malibu and employs the two thugs who assault the Dude at the beginning of the film. Bunny owes him a large sum of money.
- Affably Evil: Personally welcomes the Dude into his home for a drink and a polite conversation about the whole Bunny Lebowski situation, while dismissing a few jabs the Dude takes at his work. On the other hand, he has no qualms about sending men to kick in doors looking for Bunny, sending the Dude on a Mushroom Samba via spiked beverage, or holding the Dude personally responsible for the whole mess.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: He has enough money to throw around to drug the Dude and get away with it. In fact, when the police pick the Dude up, they yell at him for wasting Treehorn's time.
- Greater-Scope Villain: While the Big Lebowski's scheme revolves around obtaining the money necessary to pay off Bunny's debt to Jackie Treehorn, the Dude isn't invested in the situation enough to really care about trying to confront him.
- Karma Houdini: Drugs the Dude and sends thugs and the police to beat him up at various points, but suffers no comeuppance for his actions.
- Loan Shark: Bunny owes him a lot of money. It's Bunny's debts that get his goons after the Big Lebowski.
- Red Herring: His introduction sets him up to be the main antagonist, but his importance to the plot is only indirect.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Treehorn "draws a lot of water" in Malibu, and the local police are more than happy to deal with a deadbeat messing up his "garden party."
- Villain with Good Publicity: The reason the Dude gets in as much trouble with the police as he does is because Treehorn is well-liked among the populace.
Played by: Mark Pellegrino and Philip Moon
Treehorn's thugs who break into The Dude's house and piss on his rug after they mistake him for the Big Lebowski.
- Hate Sink: They are introduced having broken into the Dude's home, one of them giving him a very violent swirly while the other pisses on his living-room rug just to be mean. Then the first thug carelessly drops the Dude's bowling ball onto the bathroom floor cracking the tiles, they call him a loser and leave, treating the situation as though it was the Dude's fault they mistook him for the Big Lebowski.
- Those Two Guys: "You're not dealin' with morons here." Yes, we are.
- Stupid Crooks: They manage to mistake him for a multi-millionaire - they don't even leave until they finally notice the Dude's living in a crappy house for a millionaire.
Jesus Quintana, a.k.a. "The Jesus"
Played by: John Turturro
The extraordinarily loathsome opponent of The Dude's team in the bowling league semifinals. He serves literally no plot purpose and shows up for only two scenes, but is hilarious enough that he's one of the film's most memorable characters. A Latino North Hollywood resident who speaks with a thick Cuban American accent, and often refers to himself in the third person, insisting on the English pronunciation of his name rather than the Spanish. "The Jesus", as he refers to himself, is a "pederast" (according to Walter) who did six months in Chino for exposing himself to an eight-year-old.
Turturro originally thought that he was going to have a bigger role in the film but when he read the script, he realized that it was much smaller. However, the Coen brothers let him come up with a lot of his own ideas for the character, like shining the bowling ball and the scene where he dances backwards, which he says was inspired by Muhammad Ali.
- Ambiguously Gay: He's effeminate, wears purple clothing and red nail polish and makes several threats to "fuck" the Dude and his team during their match. Ties in with All Gays Are Pedophiles, as he became a registered sex offender after, according to Walter, exposing himself to an 8 year old.
- Answers to the Name of God:Dude: Jesus.
Jesus: You said it, man. Nobody fucks with the Jesus.
- Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: He's a braggart who threatens our "heroes" several times over.Dios Mio, man. Liam and me, we're gonna FUCK YOU UP.
- Big Bad Wannabe: He would fit right in as the archnemesis in an Underdog Sports Story. Here though, you could completely cut him from the movie and nothing would be different. Not even Walter takes him seriously.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Eccentric and over the top, but also one of the best bowlers in the league and seen as a serious threat to the Dude's team's chances of winning the tournament.
- Catchphrase: "Nobody fucks with The Jesus!"
- Comically Lop Sided Rivalry: Being the leader of the Opposing Sports Team, Jesus gets incredibly hyped about the competition between his team and the Dude's team, but they don't take him seriously. Not even Walter, a man who treats Loophole Abuse as Serious Business worthy of being shot over.
- Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: "You pull a piece on the lane, I'll stick that gun up your ass and pull the fucking trigger 'till it goes 'click.'"
- A Day in the Limelight: He gets his own spinoff movie in the 2019 film The Jesus Rolls.
- Foil: To the Dude. Both say "fuck" a lot and are more concerned with bowling than with other, logically pressing matters in their lives, but where the Dude is laid back and accepting of whatever obstacles come his way in the league, the Jesus is animated and aggressive over a slight delay in a match.
- Genre Refugee: He mashes up Latin Lover comedies with being the Opposing Sports Team personified.
- Hypocrite: During his screaming fit about the delayed semi-final round, at one point he tries to yell "I don't care! It don't matter to Jesus!" despite the fact that it clearly does.
- Jerkass: An unpleasant, rude bowler who thinks he's all that.
- Large Ham: It's John Turturro in a Coen Brothers film playing a Latin lover stereotype. Hammy doesn't even begin to describe it.Jesus: "WOO! You got a date Wednesday, baby!".
- Lecherous Licking: Has the strange habit of licking his bowling ball.
- Leitmotif: A Latin cover of "Hotel California" by The Eagles plays during his introduction. Doubles as Fridge Brilliance, as the Dude later mentions that he hates The Eagles.
- Opposing Sports Team: A walking one man embodiment of this trope. He does have a teammate (a fat guy named Liam), but he doesn't seem anywhere close to being as dead set on one-upping the Dude's team as Jesus is.
- Pelvic Thrust: He's a cocky bowler who lewdly thrusts his pelvis in a circular fashion to taunt the heroes in the bowling alley.
- Plot-Irrelevant Villain: He's more of a villain in the Dude's personal life than he is a villain in the movie's actual plot. Taken to a meta level on televised broadcasts, where his entire character is cut without changing a thing.
- Real Men Wear Pink: Wears a purple jumpsuit and has red nail polish on one of his pinkies.
- The Rival: To the Dude's bowling team.
- Serious Business: Bowling is pretty clearly this guy's life.
- Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: He's a cocky creep, but ultimately the only reason he's even considered an antagonist at all is because he's on a rival bowling team.
- Smug Snake: Is very cocky about his bowling skills and makes a point of showing off in front of the Dude's team to rub them in their faces.
- Spell My Name with a "The": He's THE Jesus.
- Third-Person Person: Refers to himself as "the Jesus."
- The Unfought: We never get to see the Dude's team face him in the league tournament, since the movie ends right as the semifinals begin.
Played by: Sam Elliott
The narrator, who sees the story unfold from a third-party perspective. His narration is marked by a thick, laid-back Texas accent. He is seen in the bar of the bowling alley, and converses directly with The Dude on two occasions. He expresses admiration for the Dude and his ability to be "a man of his time and place", but disapproves of his use of profanity and laziness, and adds the qualifier "parts of it anyway" when concluding that he enjoyed the film. He is unaware that it isn't a western.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: He's aware he's narrating the story to us, but breaks the fourth wall directly at the end of the film.
- Cool Old Guy: A laid-back and cordial elderly cowboy who admires the Dude's style.
- Cowboy: His manner of dress and speech. He even asks for a sarsaparilla at a bowling alley bar.
- Fauxlosophic Narration: He is not only Wrong Genre Savvy, but can't keep his fauxlosophy straight and keeps getting sidetracked. At one point he repeats "Sometimes there's a man" a few times before trailing off and stating that he lost his train of thought. He eventually just gives up ("Aw, hell, I done introduced him enough."), and at the very end even lampshades it ("Oh, look at me — I'm ramblin' again."). Ironically, the last time he realizes this and gives up is when he's actually on the verge of making a sage, relevant point for once.
- Genre Refugee: He seems to think he's in a western.
- Horrible Judge of Character: A milder example than most. The Dude's a decent guy, but from the way the Stranger talks about him, you'd think he was some kind of epic hero instead of the lazy stoner that he is.
- Interactive Narrator: It can come as quite the surprise to new viewers when the old cowboy voice from the opening scene suddenly appears on screen and has a conversation with the Dude midway through the film.
- Lemony Narrator: "Way out west, there was this fella I wanna tell you about..." Variation in that he's not sarcastic, just completely clueless about the genre.
- Manly Facial Hair: He sports some mighty impressive armlike whiskers that seem eager to punch you if you stare at them too long. It helps making him stand out as a rough, western-like character in the middle of all the wackiness of LA.
- Narrator: Narrates over the beginning and ending scenes of the movie.
- Nice Guy: Comes off as a generally friendly guy all around. While he and the Dude only interact a few times, they seem to get along swimmingly.
- No Name Given: He's simply known as "The Stranger", possibly as a reference to the Western gunslingers such as The Man with No Name.
- Spirit Advisor: The Dude questions the Stranger about this:"Is that some kind of Eastern thing?"
"Far from it, Dude."
- The Teetotaler: Implied. His drink of choice is sarsaparilla and his one gripe with the Dude is that he cusses too much.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Seems to be convinced that the movie is a modern western with the Dude as its hero, but is completely unable to articulate why he thinks this when he actually tries to.
Played by: Jon Polito
A private detective who's been following The Dude around, until the Dude confronts him one night.
- Comically Missing the Point: He has followed the Dude for some time already by the time they meet face to face and Da Fino has mistaken all of the information as the Dude playing all sides (the Dude, quite charitably, could be labeled a Pinball Protagonist).
- Hero of Another Story: He's been trying to find Bunny, whose real name is Fawn Knuetsen, since she ran away from her family.
- The Knights Who Say "Squee!": Even though the Dude is threatening him, Da Fino is positively thrilled to meet The Dude, as he's a big fan. The Dude doesn't want to hear it.
- Private Detective: An official one, unlike The Dude - he's been hired by Bunny's real family.