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Adam Goldberg

Played by: Sean Giambrone
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/adam_goldberg.jpg

The narrator of the show and youngest child of the family who chronicles his and his family's life in the 80s.


  • Adorkable: He's a nerdy boy who in general has an awkward, yet sweet demeanor.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Barry sometimes calls him "Adrock".
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: He'll usually be this to Barry and/or Erica. Subverted with Barry as the series goes on: While the two occasionally squabble, the two share a close bond and are both usually willing to participate in the other's shenanigans.
  • Catchphrase: "Oh, balls!"
    • As narrator, "(exact day-and-month date), nineteen-eighty-something".
  • Hollywood Nerd: A massive one.
  • Hopeless Suitor: Post-Dana he's pretty pathetic when it comes to romance, with both attempts failing horribly, not helped by him calling the girls "New Dana" and "Pancake Girl" respectively. Subverted when he starts dating a girl named Jackie in Season 4.
  • Idiot Ball: Sometimes Adam is fully aware that whatever scheme Barry comes up with is going to backfire. Other times, he goes right along with the fullest certainty of success.
  • Kiddie Kid: He has shades of this. Despite being a teenager, he has a love for his action figures and gleefully plays with them like a young child would: One episode revolved around Adam having difficulty over donating his action figures; he gets them back in the end.
  • Momma's Boy: While he's often exasperated with Beverly, he has the best relationships with all the adults, and several episodes revolve around him trying to break away from her influence, then realizing he really does need her.
    • Highlighted in the Mother's Day episode, as he's the only one who remembers to get her a gift, and goes the extra mile when he does out of appreciation.
  • The Movie Buff: Frequents the local video store and makes movies frequently, to the point that his films are the center of quite a few plots.
  • Nerd: He has an immense passion and knowledge in math, wears glasses, doesn't have a very good reputation, and is bullied on an occasional basis.
  • Nerd Glasses: He's quite the nerd and wears glasses.
  • Nice Guy: Most of the time.
  • Nice, Mean, and In-Between: The nice to Barry’s mean and Erica’s in-between
  • Official Couple: With Dana from Season 2 to late Season 3, and now Jackie from Season 4 onwards.
  • Older Than They Look: He's a teenage boy, but could easily pass for a kid in his pre-teens.
  • Old Shame: In-Universe, occasionally admitted to via narration by his adult self looking back.
  • Smart People Wear Glasses: He's nerd smart and wears glasses.
  • Spoiled Sweet: Adam is a nice kid, but anyone who grew up in The '80s and couldn't afford those toys might think he was pretty spoiled. Not once does anyone say "Hey, get a paper route, already."

Barry Goldberg (Big Tasty)

Played by: Troy Gentile
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/barry_goldberg.jpg

The middle child of the family. Older brother to Adam and younger brother to Erica.


  • Annoying Younger Sibling: He'll usually be this to Erica.
  • Big Brother Bully: He flips back and forth between this and Big Brother Instinct with Adam.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Depending on the Writer, he can zig-zag between this and Big Brother Bully very often. Though despite his surly treatment of Adam, he really cares for him and tries his best to help him out whenever he's in a quandary.
  • Big Brother Mentor: Adam usually goes to him for advice on dating.
  • Book Dumb: He thinks farts are an inert gas, confuses historical figures for others, and there is too much else to list.
  • Butt-Monkey: Though in fairness, it's usually brought about by his own stupidity.
  • Brutal Honesty: He has zero filter and truthfully expresses how he feels about everything and everyone, often without acknowledging that the other person may find it offensive.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: He can get to be this at times.
  • Cool-Kid-and-Loser Friendship: Played with in his friendship with Matt Bradley. Barry is the clear loser and Matt is cool, but Matt is so chill he doesn't challenge Barry's delusions of grandeur and excessive put downs.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: Barry's advice, while complete nonsense, can be spot on once in a blue moon. For one, putting yourself out there without fear of looking silly really did help Erica become more popular at college.
  • The Ditz: Easy to fool, makes a Missing Steps Plan on a regular basis, and by his own admission, he can't follow instructions with too many steps.
  • Dumbass Teenage Son: The not-so-bright teenage son of the Goldberg family.
  • Dumb Muscle: Barry places far more value on physical prowess and sports than on learning and intellect.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Usually the foolish one to Adam and Erica.
  • Girly Run: A literal Running Gag.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Depending on the episode, he has a bad temper and can get angry over the pettiest of things.
  • Hidden Depths: "Oh Captain, My Captain" reveals he loves science and is quite good at studying it when properly motivated. It is also fairly obvious that most of Barry's ego is simply him trying to convince himself that he isn't a loser.
  • Hollywood Autism: Never mentioned by name, given the time period, but Barry displays a fair number of behaviors that make it likely he has a mild form.
  • Iconic Outfit: His Philadelphia Flyers shirt, Big Orange. He replaces it in Season 3 after the original is destroyed with another Philadelphia Flyers shirt.
  • It's All About Me: He doesn't always consider other people's feelings or needs and expects everyone to do what HE wants. This nearly costs him the JTP in one episode.
  • I Reject Your Reality: Oftentimes Barry will choose to believe obvious lies and reject the truth if it fuels his ego. The best example of this is when his Uncle Marvin admits that instead of actually teaching him Karate by having him do chores (like in Karate Kid) Barry convinces himself that his confession is just a test and that he is still a blackbelt since the only other alternative would be that he isnt and would, according to Barry, send him spirling down a deep dark path he would never fully recover from.
  • The Leader: Of the JTP, mostly because they're as dumb as he is, but he's got the biggest mouth.
  • Jerkass: Tends to be this time to time, especially to his brother.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Sure, he's a short-tempered, stupid bastard who occasionally harasses his little brother Adam, but at the end of the day he actually cares about him and his family in general.
  • Large Ham: He's prone to overreacting and behaving dramatically when the situation doesn't call for it.
  • Like Father, Like Son: He is prone to overreacting, makes grandiose gestures for the approval of his peers, and has an unrealistically inflated sense of his skills, just like his mother.
  • Nice, Mean, and In-Between: The mean to Adam’s nice and Erica’s in-between.
  • No Indoor Voice: Due to his Hair-Trigger Temper.
  • Official Couple: With Lainey from season 2 through season 6.
  • Pretty Fly for a White Guy: When he's in rapper mode, he goes by the name Big Tasty. His singing isn't that bad, but his lyrics need work.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Thinks he's a skilled martial artist, dancer, rapper, athlete and ladies man. Not a single one of these is true.

Erica Goldberg

Played by: Haley Orrantia
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/erica_goldberg.jpg

The oldest child in the family. A former nerd who reinvented herself in high school.


  • Big Sister Bully: Not as much of a jerkass as Barry, but Erica occasionally berates Adam for his nerdy/geeky demeanor.
    Erica: I told you nerd, get out of my room!
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Downplayed. She's often the most levelheaded of the Goldberg children, but is also the most openly rebellious against Beverly.
  • Only Sane Woman: Tends to come off as this compared to the rest of her family.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Until the ninth grade, Erica had to wear Nerd Glasses and braces, and had stringy hair. Now she's among the hottest girls in school.
  • She's Got Legs: Erica's wardrobe favours flattering skirts and shorts.

Murray Goldberg

Played by: Jeff Garlin
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/murray_goldberg.jpg

The patriarch of the family who tends to be a bit of a grump.


  • Bumbling Dad: It's more because of a lack of interest in trying than actual ineptitude. When he gets his rear in gear, Murray can be more effective as a parent than Beverly.
  • Catchphrase: "(Something the kids have done), moron!"
    • "I'm home. Nobody bother me."
  • Comedic Underwear Exposure: Soon as he comes home from work, he kicks his pants off and lays back in his chair.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Very fluent in the art of sarcasm.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: The older responsible to his young foolish Marvin.
  • Grumpy Bear: By default, his attitude and tone of voice give off this vibe.
  • Happily Married: To Beverly.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Bill.
  • Hidden Depths: "Smother's Day" shows that he's actually a talented ventriloquist.
  • Homage: Or even a Shout-Out. The resemblance in looks and mannerisms to a live action Fred Flintstone cannot be accidental.
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: Don’t call his kids morons. Only he can call his kids morons.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He's constantly exasperated and speaks wither with sarcasm or yelling most of the time, but he truly does love his wife and kids.
  • Lazy Bum: Whenever he's not working, he's laying on the couch in his underwear.
  • Parental Neglect: Downplayed. He usually leaves the more hands-on parenting to Beverly and Pops.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: He calls his kids morons more often than by their names. To be fair, it's not always inaccurate.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: His relationship with his father, Big Murray. He subverts this with his own kids: While he berates them regularly, and rarely outright says he loves them, he does take effort to be a good dad to his kid and fix any screw ups he makes with them.

Beverly Goldberg

Played by: Wendi McLendon-Covey
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/beverly_goldberg.jpg

The matriarch of the family who absolutely babies her kids.


  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Due to her Doting Parent methods, her children occasionally view her as this.
  • Berserk Button: Anything within the venue of "not getting her way" ticks Beverly off, but the mere mention of drugs will send her into a specific rage.

  • Catchphrase: "If (something she doesn't want her children to do) then I have failed as a mother!"
    • "My shmoo!"
  • Character Development: By the time Erica goes to college in season 5, Bev understands her life cannot revolve around being a mother forever, and embarks on a journey of self-discovery.
  • Doting Parent: Deconstructed; Beverley's parenting style is essentially babying her kids whether they want it or not, but later seasons prove that tending to their every need and swooping in to get them out of trouble have left them, Erica especially, completely unprepared to survive in the adult world.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change : Downplayed, but it's there. Possibly signifying a time change, Beverly goes from more of a The '70s style flip curl in the first two seasons to more of a Princess Diana-meets Dorothy Hamill layered look in the third season.
  • Good Parents: She's a loving and caring mother and knows what's right for her children.
  • Happily Married: To Murray, albeit not an overly romantic one.
  • Hot Teacher : As of Season 4, when she begins a job as a substitute, much to her children's embarrassment.
  • Impossibly Tacky Clothes : Though the entire cast wears clothes straight from The '80s , Beverly tends to dress up more, resulting in some truly spectacular outfits, including Shoulders of Doom and that hairdo that looks shellacked.
  • It's All About Me: Beverly is ridiculously self-centered and a limelight hog. Usually, her crazed over-mothering is rooted in wanting to be loved by her kids rather than out of care for them.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: She can be selfish, smothering and wholly blind to reality, but it's mostly out of love and she will make things right if she goes too far.
  • The Matchmaker: Loves fixing people up, to the point of having a Rolodex of just about everyone in town called her "Yentadex."
  • Mama Bear: Do not mess with her kids or get on their bad side. Most of the teachers at the kids school have learned to fear her.
  • My Beloved Smother: The show calls her this by name, shortening it to Smother.
  • Never My Fault: To I Reject Your Reality proportions, but her one greater delusion is that it's "Never my Kids' Fault." It takes a significant amount of Break the Haughty to get Beverly to acknowledge that neither she nor her children are perfect.
  • Stacy's Mom: Adam's friends openly admire Beverly's looks and refer to her, to Adam, as "your hot mom".
  • Supreme Chef: She takes pride in her cooking even to the point she dumps out entirely cooked turkeys when they don't meet her exacting standards to Barry's chagrin. And all to please Pop-Pop who still remembers her only by the first Thanksgiving she cooked for him.
    • Then there's her signature shrimp parm...

Albert "Pops" Solomon

Played by: George Segal
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/albert_solomon_2.jpg

Beverly's father, Murray's father in-law and grandfather to the kids. Especially close to Adam.


  • The Casanova: After his wife died, Pops couldn't bring himself to have another meaningful relationship with a woman, so he casually dates and sleeps around with a laundry list of hot grandmas.
  • The Mentor: Usually to Adam, but does give out sage advice to other members of the family.
  • Out of Focus: After Season 1. He still gets focus episodes from time to time, but mostly serves as a supporting character, especially in Season 3.

Ben "Pop Pop" Goldberg

Played by: Paul Sorvino in Season 1, Judd Hirsch in Season 2 onwards.

Murray's ill-tempered father.


  • Abusive Parents: Of the emotional variety, never giving Murray the love he wanted or needed.
  • Grumpy Old Man: He's a definite sourpuss, and seems to only get along with Adam.
  • Jerkass: A wholly unpleasant man.
  • The Scrooge: A holiday-hating penny-pincher.

Marvin Goldberg

Played by: Dan Fogler

Murray's underachieving younger brother.


     Other 

Lainey Lewis

Played by: AJ Michalka

  • Alliterative Name: Lainey Lewis
  • Characterization Marches On: In early episodes, she was a spoiled brat with rich parents and her Dad was a crooked lawyer. As she became a more developed character, this was retconned considerably. It is now established that she has had a somewhat difficult life, her mom abandoned her family when she was young, and her Dad is a tile salesman on about the same socioeconomic level as the Goldbergs.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partner: To Erica.
  • Missing Mom : Lainey likes hanging out at the house because Beverly treats her like one of her own kids.
  • Put on a Bus: She leaves the series midway through season six to participate in the Spinoff Schooled, set at the same high school, but in the 1990s.
  • What Does She See in Him? : Dating Barry. He's immature, not overly attractive, and kind of an ass. Somehow, they work. However as the series goes on Lainey becomes similarly immature and irrational as Barry.

Dave Kim

Played by: Kenny Ridwan

  • Abhorrent Admirer: He's one to Erica.
  • Ascended Extra: In-universe. He started out as a classmate Adam only vaguely knew, and was only invited over because Adam needed an Asian kid to be Data for his Goonies adventure. Later, Dave Kim is a regular visitor to the Goldberg house.
  • Asian and Nerdy : He wears glasses and plays Dungeons and Dragons.
  • Informed Attribute: Ms. Cinnomin evidently sees potential in him, as he has repeatedly been chosen for the lead in the school musical despite not having any clear singing or acting ability.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: There's nothing wrong or annoying about him, but he's not a member of any of the Goldberg siblings' circles of friends, and they only hang out with him when out of options.
  • Full-Name Basis: with everyone.

Coach Rick Mellor

Played by: Bryan Callen

  • Accidental Misnaming: Keeps calling Adam "Goldfarb".
  • Big Brother Bully: He’s got one of these in his older brother Nick.
  • Gym Class Hell : In Adam's eyes, Mr. Mellor's class is this, but he's played with a little more sympathy.
  • Hidden Depths: Due to being perpetually single, he knows how to keep house very well, and is capable of effectively teaching Barry and Erika how to do so to get them.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: After Adam tries to prevent a Gym Class Hell for him and his friends and then stabs them in the back by picking all the jocks, Mr. Mellor lets Dave Kim and the others challenge them to Dungeons & Dragons. Unfortunately he didn't realize it would take over four hours and regrets it.
  • Who Wears Short Shorts?: It takes convincing to make him switch to longer shorts in "Schooled."
  • Worthy Opponent : He is the only school faculty member not terrified of Beverly, as he admires her winning spirit and seems to enjoy arguing with her.

Emmy Mirsky

Played by: Stephanie Katherine Grant

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