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    Dorothy Zbornak 

Dorothy Zbornak, née Petrillo (Bea Arthur)note
A substitute teacher from Brooklyn, New York who is very well-read with a rapier wit, but prone to arrogance and being a Deadpan Snarker; even so, Dorothy tends to be the most grounded of the four titular girls.

  • Bookworm: A frequenter at the local library who always turns her books in on time... who are you to judge her? She's committed a great deal of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett to memory...leading Sophia to quip, "you do this on first dates, don't you?"
  • Butt-Monkey: Tends to have the worst luck when it comes to her personal life. Dorothy is actually a deconstruction of this trope, as the poor treatment she gets at the hands of her roommates (and has gotten all her life from her mother) is a large factor of why she keeps getting back together with Stan despite how badly it always goes.
  • Brainy Brunette: As seen in flashbacks.
  • Break the Haughty: Whenever she begins to think too highly of herself, Blanche, Sophia, or just life steps in to take her down.
  • Calling the Old Man Out:
    • In The Monkey Show, Dorothy finds out that Sophia set up Stan with Dorothy's sister Gloria, and she's more than miffed that, after all the years Sophia spent complaining about Dorothy being with Stan, she suddenly thinks he's a good catch for Gloria. Dorothy decides that she's tired of Sophia trivializing her feelings and walks out on her.
    • In Where’s Charlie?, after Dorothy discovers that Sophia has been pretending to be possessed by Rose’s late husband, and as a result has very nearly ruined Rose’s current relationship with her boyfriend Miles, she flat out calls her a horrible person and demands that she tell Rose the truth.
  • Catchphrase: "Shady Pines, Ma!"
  • The Chew Toy: Frequently will ask an innocent question, only for it to turn into a series of insults. One time she found a strange rock under her bed. Marguerite, their housekeeper whom they suspected of practicing voodoo, put it there.
    Marguerite: I learned it from my grandmother. You put a specially-painted rock under a person's bed to guarantee a restful sleep. I figured with those bags under your eyes, you needed the rest.
    Rose: Dorothy always looks like that.
    Blanche: Besides, it'll take more than sleep to knock out those babies.
    Dorothy: Listen, why don't I just lay down and you all take turns hitting me with a two-by-four?
  • Compressed Vice: Dorothy has grappled with both cigarette smoking and a gambling addiction. Notably, both vices were ones she had dealt with before, and the episode involved Dorothy falling back into the habit.
  • Deadpan Snarker: A legendary example; it's one of her defining traits, and one that she clearly inherited from her mother. Nobody, be they friend, family or otherwise, is safe from Dorothy's snark, especially Rose.
  • Death Glare: She's a master of this; she employs it on almost everyone.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The final two episodes of the series were about Dorothy finally finding true love with Blanche's uncle, Lucas Hollingsworth, and marrying him.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: "Moose", according to her mother. "Spumoni Face" was her father's nickname for her.
  • Everyone Has Standards: In Where’s Charlie?, when she finds out that Sophia has been pretending to be possessed by Rose’s late husband Charlie for cheap laughs and a few quick bucks, she doesn’t find it funny at all, especially when it nearly ruins Rose’s relationship with her boyfriend Miles.
  • Expy: Averted. Bea Arthur would bristle whenever someone suggested that Dorothy was an Expy of her previous character Maude Findlay, pointing out that Dorothy is quite a bit mellower than Maude although the two do share some similarities.
  • Hollywood Dateless: She seems to be going out on dates every other week, and has dated doctors, teachers, business owners, even an Admiral (also admittedly a few losers, but even then that's hardly 'dateless'). To listen to the other girls, however, you'd think she had never had a single date. Blanche and Sophia (and very rarely, Rose) make fun of her for it — though, ironically, Dorothy is the one who marries the former's uncle in the finale and leaves the latter to take care of Blanche and Rose, while Blanche and Sophia remain perpetually single, while Rose, the nicest to her, remains in a committed relationship with Miles but ends up breaking up with him in The Golden Palace.
  • Incredibly Lame Fun: Doesn't understand why her students don't share her enthusiasm for diagramming sentences. She also wanted to resolve unfinished with Sophia, by going to Disneyland, only to spent it in the hotel room looking at albums, much to Sophia's annoyance.
  • Insufferable Genius: At her worst. For example when she auditioned for Jeopardy! her cocky attitude ruins her chance to appear on TV and Sophia tells her that it was the same at School.
  • Kick the Dog: Most of the barbs directed at Dorothy focus on her physical characteristics and perceived unattractiveness. Reached a point where it began to bother Bea Arthur and she demanded the writers lighten up on it.
  • Lady Looks Like a Dude: Is sometimes mistaken for a man due to her height and deep voice. Many of Blanche and Sophia's insults are in this vein, though Dorothy would occasionally use this to her own benefit as well. Once, when the girls were in jail and a woman tried to pick a fight with Blanche, Dorothy jumped in and said that the woman would have to go through her first, and she warned her that she'd done time in Attica. When the other woman mentioned that Attica is a men's prison, Dorothy said, "I know. I was there a year before they found out." The other woman backed off.
  • The Leader: Of the De Facto kind, although Sophia is the Team Mom, leadership usually defaults to Dorothy.
  • Mad Libs Catchphrase : Any time Rose would Ask a Stupid Question..., Dorothy's usual response is a brief Death Glare before she replies "No, Rose", followed up with an equally absurd Deadpan Snarker answer.
    Blanche: You seem a little nervous.
    Dorothy: Oh, I am.
    Rose: Are you nervous because you haven't met Michael's fiancée?
    Dorothy: No, Rose. I'm nervous because if Sonny Bono gets elected mayor of Palm Springs, he's going to make all the postmen wear leather bell-bottoms and a fur vest.
  • Mama Bear: A good mom and gets very outraged when her daughter was cheated on; she also gets incensed on Blanche's daughter Rebecca's behalf when her boyfriend made cruel jokes about her weight and had to be restrained.
  • Only Sane Man: Around 90% of the time, but Depending on the Writer she's had moments when the others (usually Sophia) have to bring her back down to Earth.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: When even Dorothy doesn't have a snarky comeback, you know that something is, most definitely, wrong.
  • Reaction Shot: Bea Arthur could sell these like nobody else. The camera frequently focuses on Dorothy's annoyed expressions to her roommates' foolishness.
  • Shotgun Wedding: The only reason for her failed first marriage is because Stan got her pregnant in high school.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: She's often laments that she's the sole voice of reason in the house, when compared to Rose, Blanche, and her mother.
  • Tall, Dark, and Snarky: A rare female example. Dorothy is the tallest of the girls, a former brunette, and often snaps at her roommates for being stupid.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Was impregnated during high school, courtesy of Stan and a vaguely Black Comedy Rape date in the back of a car.
  • Tsundere: She and an undercover cop who lives with them in one episode have a Slap-Slap-Kiss dynamic.
  • Theme Naming: Well, nicknaming. Dorothy was usually called "Pussycat" by Sophia, and when her sister Gloria showed up, Sophia called her "Kitten."
  • The Unfavorite: Felt like Sophia favored her younger sister, Gloria, over her. Turns out Gloria often felt like The Unfavorite compared to Dorothy because she felt like Sophia respected Dorothy more.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Alluded at. She apparently once made a policeman cry, and in Rose's words, "uprooted a mighty sequoia" after Rose lost her keys.

    Blanche Devereaux 

Blanche Devereaux, née Hollingsworth (Rue McClanahan)
A native of Georgia who owns the house the girls all live in. note  A distinctly Southern Femme Fatale who scoffs at the idea that a woman can't have a sex life after 50 (or 40, or however old she says she is that day).

  • A-Cup Angst: Despite being catnip on legs for most of the men of Miami, Blanche had a few episodes devoted to feeling a little inadequate in this regard. She considers implants in one episode, and in another, when Rose tries to psych her out at a bowling tournament by wearing the exact same outfit, Rose says not to worry because it looks different on a woman with a full bosom. In another episode, Blanche flirts with a man by claiming she is going to lie in a bath with "just enough water to barely cover my perky bosom", to which Sophia responds with "You're only gonna sit in an inch of water?" This is enough to set Blanche off.
    Blanche: Sophia, I've decided to wear this little watch on a chain nestled cunningly in my cleavage. What other accessories do I need?
    Sophia: Implants.
  • Age Insecurity: She is so adamant about keeping her sex life alive that she had her age withheld by the governor.
  • Alpha Bitch:
    • Seems to have been one when she was a child if her stories are accurate. She grew up in a family of them. During Christmas one year, one of Blanche's sisters electrocuted her with the star of the Christmas tree, and then blamed her for the whole thing, which led their father to send her to her room and tell her that Baby Jesus was mad at her for ruining his birthday (and the electricity straightened her hair.) And let's not forget Vixen, Story of a Woman.
    • Some of the stories of her exploits in high school also suggest this as well as mean girl tendencies. She once planned to marry the father of one of her cheerleading rivals, just so she could be the girl's "mama" and kick her off the squad.
  • Ambiguously Bi: The show occasionally hinted that she'd had some experiences with women, or was at least open to the idea (though it could have been more of an Anything That Moves joke):
    • One episode had her reminiscing about a terrible New Year's date, and her desire to kiss someone at midnight to avoid bad luck. When her date leaves, she's left alone with Rose, and her face shows that she's considering going in for a smooch. Rose stops her: "Don't even think about it."
    • In "Yokel Hero," Dorothy and Blanche fudge Rose's application for the St. Olaf Woman of the Year award, and start feeling guilty. While traveling to the town, Dorothy gets a minute alone with Blanche and says there's "something we should do." Blanche casually replies "Dorothy, I like you as a friend, but I think I'll pass."
    • She's outraged to learn that Dorothy's lesbian friend has a crush on Rose rather than her, those this could just be yet another indication of her self-centeredness.
    • In "The Housekeeper," Blanche is thrilled with Marguerite, a young woman who's applied for the titular job (and is the only person who's not a terrible choice), and announces "Oh, Marguerite, I could just kiss you!" Marguerite warns her off: "I don't go in for any of that freaky stuff." Rose immediately replies "Neither do Dorothy and I!"—conspicuously leaving out Blanche, who's sitting next to her at the time.
    • However, in one episode Rose gets a job offer where one of the conditions is that she has to be bilingual. Blanche panics, saying no job is worth having to date women. Dorothy has to point out her misunderstanding:
      Dorothy: Blanche, "bilingual" means you can speak more than one language.
      Blanche: [laughs] Oh! Why'd I think it was something sexual?
  • Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?: She feels insulted whenever a man she goes out with doesn't put out with her.
  • Attention Whore: If it is not about her, she will do her best to make it about her.
  • Auntie Pennybags: She is pretty generous with her money. The 2nd episode of the series had her offer her home as the site of Dorothy's daughter's wedding reception and even offered to re-mortgage her house if Rose's health insurance wouldn't pay for the physical therapy after she had heart surgery.
  • Big Eater: Blanche's appetite can be as voracious as her other appetite. When she gave up sex briefly, she sublimated her desire with Popsicles. In another episode, upon returning from a class reunion and seeing that everyone but her had gotten face lifts, she consoles herself with all but a slice of Sophia's 9:00 in the morning. In one episode, Dorothy walks into the kitchen and sees a distressed Blanche putting nearly everything in the fridge on the table. "Hungry, or suicidal?"
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Blanche's family growing up and the one she had with George seems to be this. Blanche often regales that her father Big Daddy wasn't such a paragon of virtue as he appeared (he supported book burning, carried around a hollowed-out bible with liquor inside, slept with one of Blanche's ex-friends when she was older, and was in a relationship with Blanche's nanny Viola Watkins where it's implied he wasn't faithful, and is also implied to have been a Klan leader or member, or a bigot at least). And Blanche's hands-off parenting has had a negative effect on her children. One of her sons almost burned down their entire town when he was a kid, and her grandson has been badly neglected by his parents. Only now does it all seem to be catching up to Blanche.
    Blanche: You know, my family had a few dollars, and I loved them dearly, but, when you get right down to it, basically they were trash.
  • Brainless Beauty: She was probably second to Rose in these terms. Although, rather than being outright stupid, it seemed at times more like her cultured Southern Belle upbringing left her a little naive to the ways of the real world.
  • Comfort Food: As part of her Big Eater tendencies, she tends to gravitate to food whenever she's stressed or sad (and a man isn't available). It doesn't mesh well with her obsessive tendencies with keeping her weight steady.
  • Daddy's Girl: Without a doubt, Blanche loved both her parents, but especially "Big Daddy".
  • Dirty Old Woman: Quite possibly the most well-known example in fiction. It's to the point that even Maxim felt obliged to acknowledge her as # 1 of "TV's Best Nymphos."
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • When Blanche was young she didn't win a beauty pageant and got awarded Miss Congeniality. What did she do? Had a riverboat captain she was dating help her fake her death. She was also pretty quick to suggest that someone should be hanged or horsewhipped for fairly minor things.
    • She proudly claimed to have seduced and slept with her sister Virginia's boyfriend on the eve of Virginia's prom. Virginia's offense? Borrowing Blanche's saddle shoes without permission (and scuffing them to boot).
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Blanche occasionally distracts herself by describing an erotic scene. And she could make anything erotic—including "Humpty Dumpty." "All the king's horses and all the king's MEN?"
  • Ethical Slut:
    • She loves sex, but she refuses to be a mistress and after an AIDS scare she always knows her partner's history and takes all the necessary precautions. She also was fiercely loyal to her husband during their marriage and was deeply hurt when it was revealed he fathered a child with another woman, saying the vows were sacred to her.
    • There were two episodes from the first season where she was a victim of sexual harassment. The first one was by a man Dorothy was dating who Blanche was attracted to begin with which nearly caused the end of Dorothy and Blanche's friendship. The second one was by a college professor after Blanche asked for help because she was trying to pass a course so she could get a job at a museum.
    • During one episode, she also notes that she embellishes her conquests a great deal. When asked if that was true, however, she responded with "Maybe it is and maybe it isn't," rendering this ambiguous.
    • Discussed when Blanche is visited by her even more promiscuous niece, Lucy. Blanche realizes that Lucy's promiscuity is a reaction to some severe self-esteem issues that she developed before her She Is All Grown Up moment, and when Lucy accuses Blanche of being a hypocrite, Blanche spells out the difference between Blanche's ethical promiscuity versus Lucy's self-destructive behavior.
      Blanche: I do enjoy the company of men, always have, but when I'm with a man it's because I like him, not because I want him to like me.
  • Femme Fatale: No man over 45 (and some men under, too!) can resist the allure of Blanche Devereaux.
  • Freudian Excuse: In the All Just a Dream episode in which George came back from the dead, it was revealed that Blanche only became the Ethical Slut she is since George died, highly implying that the frequent sexual encounters and life she lives is a coping mechanism. Other episodes make it clear that Blanche's promiscuity was in place long before she met George, though she was fiercely loyal to him just the same. Rue McLanahan herself is on the record as saying she played Blanche as "oversexed," but also constantly looking for a man who could fill the void George's death left in her life.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Her relationships with her sisters Virginia and Charmaine fit this trope to a tee. Interestingly, she made up with Virginia in the first season...and both women started trash talking Charmaine, suggesting it ran in the family. However, all three eventually mended fences and became closer friends. Until Big Daddy's death anyway; Blanche and Virginia have a heated quarrel which leads to Blanche refusing to attend the funeral, and it's never mentioned afterward whether they made up, suggesting their sisterly relationship may be permanently damaged.
  • Good Old Ways: She's occasionally mentioned how she misses the Old South, and laments the loss of chivalry. Frequently, Dorothy will usually step in to remind her that things weren't quite as rosy as she remembers.
    Dorothy: So how far back would you like to go, Blanche? Would you like to be able to vote?
  • Happily Married: To George, while he was alive.
  • Hypocrite: Blanche could get very defensive over hers and other woman's right to sleep with as many men as they wanted to, but the minute Rose or Dorothy managed to grab a guy she had her eye on, she would immediately call them sluts.
  • Incest Subtext: Less obvious than with Rose's St. Olaf stories, but some of Blanche's tales hint at this. She describes stealing away to make out with a cousin during family gatherings - it's not stated whether they went all the way, but Blanche hints in another episode that she doesn't view relationships between cousins as verboten:
    Rose: I haven't been this depressed since I was rejected by Uncle Sam.
    Blanche: Well, honey, if he was your uncle, it wasn't meant to be. It wasn't like if he was your cousin, where the relationship might have had a future.
    Dorothy: Tell me, Blanche, have any of your relatives ever appeared in Deliverance?
  • It's All About Me: By way of Flanderization, Blanche became more self-absorbed as the series went on.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: She's vain, selfish, and often can't see beyond herself, but she's a sweet woman and is generous when it really counts, and she loves Dorothy and Rose like her own sisters (probably even more, based on her rocky relationships with Virginia and Charmaine) and considers Sophia as a mother; when Rose has a heart attack and Rose's daughter, Kirsten, is worrying about how much it'll cost, Blanche offers to remortgage her house to pay for Rose's care if it's needed. In contrast to her relationship with her real sisters, she's also remarkably close to her brother Clayton.
  • Kinky Spanking: Blanche loves these, as illustrated in "Till Death Do We Volley":
    Trudy: [to Dorothy, after beating her at arm wrestling] Well, that's that. How does it feel to have your butt whipped?
    Blanche: Well, sometimes I find it strangely titillating, but... [notices everyone staring at her] ...oh... you were talking to her.
  • Large Ham: Blanche is prone to overdramatizing everything in a way that would make Ms. O'Hara herself sigh, "Bitch, please".
  • Lovable Sex Maniac: To say she loves sex is an understatement.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: Blanche is the middle child of five siblings. Older sister Charmaine, younger sister Virginia, and younger brother Clayton all appear during the series, while older brother Tad appears in Golden Palace.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • If Blanche Devereaux, the vain, man-hungry, aging Southern Belle isn't a reference to Blanche DuBois, the vain, man-hungry, aging Southern Belle from A Streetcar Named Desire...
    • She also has Meaningful Initials. Blanche Elisabeth Devereaux. Think about it.
  • Noble Bigot: Had a rough time accepting that her brother was gay, and an even rougher time accepting that he was getting married to a man. She was also very resistant to her daughter Rebecca getting artificially inseminated and having a baby without a man in her life.
  • Noodle Incident: So many regarding her sex life, it's the stuff of legend. The most often involves her entering the room, Large Ham hyperbole at full throttle, saying she's never been more embarrassed in her life, only to be shut down by (usually) Dorothy. Examples:
    • The 1964 Tokyo Olympics. (Blanche: "So what, 80,000 people had to wait 20 minutes, the torch eventually got there, didn't it?")
    • A time she lost her handcuff keys and had to go with a guy on his entire mail route.
    • The time she spent dating a coach for the Miami Dolphins. ("Oh yeah, that was fun. The locker room, the whirlpool, the adhesive tape.")
    • Her and Buzz Aldrin in the Lunar Module.
    • The Greyhound Terminal Incident. Aside from it being brought up when she asked what could go wrong in a public place, they make no attempt to explain it. Although Dorothy was uncomfortable even mentioning it as opposed to her amusement in the other incidents. Of course, that episode was All Just a Dream.
    • The time Blanche cost her date his party's nomination (although the pictures turned out nice.)
    • The fact that even the Secret Service has a file on her (might even be linked to the above-mentioned affair with a political candidate)
    Blanche:(flirtatiously, to the agent interviewing her) "Let me know if you need to know anything else. I've got pictures."
    Secret Service Agent : (bluntly) "So do we."
    (a flustered Blanche quickly leaves)
    • When Blanche is in trouble with the IRS and plans to seduce the agent sent to audit her... only for said agent to be a woman. Many fans speculated that even the IRS had gotten wind of Blanche's reputation and deliberately sent a female agent in order to undermine her scheme.
    • That one time Blanche was the other woman in an extramarital affair, which she claims was not her fault because the man's wife was declared dead and then immediately revived by paramedics.
    • A related example happened when she filed a sexual harassment suit against a professor at college course. When an embarrassed Blanche was trying to describe what the professor wanted her to do and still be discreet, the Dean hands her the form and asks "Do Number 5?" She looks and replies, "Actually, 5, 6, and 7b." This shocks the Dean, who said that he had never even heard of "7b." Blanche, annoyed with his reluctance to help, retorts, "Well, I've known about it for some time. And as far as I'm concerned, you can go do it to yourself."
    • The time Blanche got caught with the Orkin Man.
    • One episode sees Sophia renting a dirty movie; when Dorothy tries to stop it, she inadvertently hits rewind instead. Blanche looks at the (unseen) screen and joyfully cries "I did that once! was his birthday."
    • Her experience with the Flying Frenelli Brothers (to this day, she can't pass a jungle gym without blushing).
    • When she's introduced to a local priest, he tells her, "It's nice to have a face to put with the name." When a confused Blanche asks what he means, he regretfully explains, "I'm sorry, I can't discuss anything said to me in the Confessional." Later in the conversation the priest lets slip that "I've heard you're quite the gymnast", but declines to elaborate further.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws:
    • Is implied to be one to her unseen son-in-law, who she derisively refers to as "the yankee".
    • She apparently did not get along with her former mother-in-law. She rejoiced when she found out the woman was dead. It might have had something to do with Mother Devereaux always referring to her as George's first wife...
      Blanche: I just hope the old witch went slowly.
  • Parental Neglect:
    • Blanche was a very "hands-off" mother, which factors into any episode that features her children and grandchildren. She tries to reverse this tendency with one of her granddaughters, but ends up forcing her into a beauty contest she clearly doesn't want to be in. A very rare example of Parents as People from the perspective of the "bad" parent.
    • In another rather sad episode, Blanche reveals just how much this has hurt her—her children are still reeling from her lack of attention and want very little to do with their mother, a prime case of Truth in Television. The end of the episode has her calling her daughter trying to arrange a visit, only for the younger woman to repeatedly say she's not available. Thankfully, she's able to find a weekend where they can get together.
  • Perverse Sexual Lust: She has states she's had fantasies about both Santa Claus and the Seven Dwarves ("Seven lonely men... all alone, needing a woman... all with Napoleon Complexes, something to prove" and they all had jobs in a diamond mine.)
  • Priceless Ming Vase: Owns a number of allegedly-priceless antiques inherited from various family members. Messing with them is a prominent Berserk Button of hers, and Rose accidentally destroys at least two across the series.
  • Racist Grandma: Very much averted, to the point where it seems deliberate (perhaps in an effort to fight stereotypes about the South). In "Mixed Blessings," Dorothy's son Michael plans to get married to an older black woman named Lorraine. Even Dorothy, who's usually the progressive/liberal one, seems somewhat uncomfortable with the idea at first (although she's much more upset about the age difference). But when Lorraine's family shows up and accuses Dorothy's discomfort as being racially based, Blanche speaks up: "Of course not! And I resent the insinuation. Why, in this house, we firmly believe that all men are created equal." The same episode also reveals that she doesn't discriminate in terms of lovers, either. When Lorraine's mother Greta mentions that she could easily name "ten fine, rich young black men," Blanche asks her to wait so that she can get a pencil. Later, when Sophia asks if what they say about black men in bed is true, it's Blanche who immediately responds: "Oh yes, definitely."
  • Really Gets Around: The queen of this trope. TV Guide even went so far as to name her Number One on their list of "TV Nymphos."
  • Retcon: "Hollingsworth" is her last name in the pilot, afterwards said to be her maiden name. Also, her middle name is stated to be Marie in one episode instead of Elizabeth (which made her (married) initials B.E.D.).
  • Silver Vixen: Blanche has no problem finding a man in spite of being a grandmother... although she sometimes makes her grandkids call her "Mom" or "Sis". Her encroaching age and the menopause that came with it was the plot of an episode, but by the end of the episode (with help from a handsome vet) she was back to normal.
    Dorothy: She could be in a coma. Put a man within five miles of her, she'd roll over and shave her legs.
  • Southern Belle: She's from the Deep South and an upper-class rich girl. Another highlighted similarity between Devereaux and Rue McClanahan, as the latter was originally from Oklahoma (though Rue's real life Oklahoma drawl was considerably less pronounced than Blanche's Deep South drawl).
  • Spoiled Brat: When she was a child.
  • Spoiled Sweet: On her good days, she’s beautiful, popular, and charming but also nice, generous, and charitable.
  • Stage Mom: Stage Grandma, actually. When her granddaughter Melissa was visiting, Blanche entered her in a local beauty pageant and this bothered Melissa so much she ran off stage the night of the actual pageant. In a moment of hypocrisy, Blanche seemed disgusted by an actual Stage Mom whose child was whispering "Help me," wondering what could be worse than having a mom like that. Rose responded "Having a grandmother like that."
  • Vague Age:
    • Invoked—Blanche likes to claim she is in her early forties, and even younger if she thinks she can get away with it. Her real age is a secret—when Dorothy and Rose get a copy of her birth certificate, they find that her date of birth has been withheld by order of the governor. However, Blanche goes through menopause in the second season premiere, which means she could be anywhere from her late forties to early fifties at the start of the show.
    • Interestingly enough, because Blanche was so neurotic about her age, that means there were less conflicting ages given for her compared to the others, and therefore her age is the most consistent, albeit by accident. (In a flashback in one episode, her mother said she was 17 during Christmas in 1949, meaning she was born in 1932 and therefore 53 at the beginning, lining up pretty well with the menopause episode. Since she almost never gave other mentions of her age, there's very little to contradict this.) This is further backed up by Golden Palace, where Blanche would be 61 by this reckoning, having Blanche's older brother directly confirm that Blanche is in her early sixties.
    • Despite the above, certain instances imply she may be even older than they think. In one episode, Blanche recalls one of her father's escapades that took place after her younger brother was born, around the time prohibition was first passed... which was in 1920. She quickly corrected herself when someone brought that up. In another episode, Dorothy hints Blanche was in high school at the time of the Hindenburg disaster, which was in 1937 (and would jibe with the 1920 birth date).
  • Verbal Tic: She tends to refer to animals she doesn't want in the house (often ones brought in by Rose) as "filthy beasts".
  • Virgin in a White Dress: She wore red at her wedding, because "me wearing white? Even 'I' couldn't keep a straight face!". She also wears red to the funeral of Dorothy's brother Phil, because she thinks it's a dress Phil would have liked (to wear).

    Rose Nylund 

Rose Nylund, née Lindstrum (Betty White)
A simple farmgirl from the fictional St. Olaf, Minnesota, Rose moved to Miami to start over after the death of her husband. She has a tendency to be slow on the uptake and has a more cheery disposition than the others, but that doesn't keep her from getting a good snark in.

  • Berserk Button: Losing during sporting competitions, messing with her beloved teddy bear, and mocking her husband.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: She can be a pretty big bitch if she wants. On the flip side, she can also be a force to be reckoned with if people are trying to exploit her or the girls.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: She's a naive, childish Country Mouse... who also happens to be a very effective grief counselor and mediator. One of her best moments in the series is her settling a decades long feud between Sophia and her daughter-in-law as both of them are grieving the loss of the former's son Phil, all in the span of five minutes. Even Dorothy couldn't pull that off. Rose is also shown to be a rather competent consumer advocate, holding onto the job for several years and advancing to the point she got her own assistant. She can also play the piano.
  • Buxom Is Better: Her ample bustline has been mentioned a couple of times, one time to psych Blanche out by pointing out that her shirt (a copy of Blanche's) only looks different on a busty woman.
  • Catchphrase: "Back in St. Olaf..."
  • Cloudcuckoolander: She comes from St. Olaf, a town that Dorothy describes as "the cradle of idiocy." And even then it's outright stated by Blanche that she suspects Rose to be one of the more normal ones from there after some St. Olafians come to Miami.
    Blanche: You know I never thought I'd say this but I think Rose got the brains in that family.
  • Companion Cube: She's very attached to a stuffed bear she calls Fernando. In one episode, Blanche accidentally gave it away to a young girl who then proceeded to hold it for ransom. When Rose found out, she dropped her usual demeanor and order Blanche to get Fernando back.
    Rose: Blanche just cut the crap and get back the damn bear!
  • Competition Freak: Regardless of event, once Rose enters it, she's obsessed with winning. For example, in "A Midwinter Night's Dream," she reveals that she likes to enter competitions for no reason until she wins the prize offered in it (in this case, a honeymoon trip to Paris, despite Rose not being a newlywed), not for the prize itself, but for the thrill of winning. Then she starts describing in detail about how she beats the odds as if she was giving a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown, which alarms Dorothy enough to make her stop Rose from further description.
    Rose: I like to win, all right?
  • Compressed Vice: Rose is revealed in one episode to have been addicted to pain killers for 15 years. Over the course of the episode, she goes through rehab and flat-out states that it will be a lifelong problem for her... only for it never to be mentioned again.
  • Cordon Bleugh Chef: Many of her recipes from St. Olaf are... interesting, to say the least. Special mention goes to the bite-sized desserts that are apparently the most delicious thing you'll ever eat, if you can avoid vomiting from the smell.
  • Country Mouse: She's from rural Minnesota and was a Farm Girl growing up. It's so out of the way that to even get there, one has to fly to Minneapolis, take a train to St. Gustav (the "hipper" sister city of St. Olaf), and then take a toboggan from there.
  • Dark Secret: Rose has one about her late husband Charlie... that he wasn't half the businessman that she played him up to be to her children.
  • D-Cup Distress: A few episodes have pointed out that Rose gets negative male attention to his area (the dentist episode was an example) and that she merely was teased for her growing bustline as a girl, when she tells Blanche that she never needed a large bust to attract men the way she always had.
  • The Ditz: She's not very bright.
  • Dumb Blonde: Although many characters comment on how her hair is obviously dyed, she insists it's natural. Though ultimately the characters note that for as ditzy and moronic as Rose can act, she's ultimately a woman of average intellect who hasn't had a problem taking care of herself or holding onto a steady job.
  • Dumb Is Good: Is consistently the kindest and most innocent of the four. Sophia said it best note :
    "Your heart's in the right place, Rose, but I don't know where the hell your brain is."
  • Ethical Slut: She admitted that she had 56 boyfriends when she was a teenager, and she would've had more if she was allowed to date before she became a senior, and she did not go all the way with any of them. She was also very upset upon discovering that she had been the mistress of her recently deceased boyfriend.
  • Floral Theme Naming: Meet her two sisters, Holly and Lily.
  • Friend to All Living Things: It goes with the territory when one spends their entire upbringing on a farm.
  • Genius Ditz: She is very knowledgeable in psychology. She can also play a mean piano. And her quick thinking saves the day more than once.
  • Genki Girl: She's incessantly perky and bubbly. It's makes the times that she's neither all the more serious.
  • Happily Adopted: She does not even mention she was adopted until more than halfway into the series. Rose provides a rare glimpse at adoption from the viewpoint of an older character.
  • Happily Married: With Charlie, before his untimely demise.
  • Hidden Depths: She's quite the hand around the house, can play a mean piano, is capable of doing minor electrical and plumbing work (probably a leftover from her farmgirl days). She also has a surprising knowledge of psychology and gets all the journals.
  • It's All About Me: A peculiar example, in that no matter what anyone is talking about, who they're talking to or what the mood is, Rose will always bring the conversation to a halt by, without any prompting or encouraging, segueing into a tale of St. Olaf involving herself, her family, an animal or some other St. Olafians.
  • Jerkass Ball: Any episode involving a competition—such as "The Competition" or a later episode where she and Dorothy coach a pee-wee football team—reveals that she has a surprisingly hypercompetitive, mean-spirited and even conniving streak when it comes to athletics or even such things as winning a prize via raffles or an award.
  • Literal-Minded: Oftentimes she takes a turn of phrase literally. Also she sometimes Does Not Understand Sarcasm.
  • Minnesota Nice: Consistently the friendliest of the four girls, which comes from her being raised in a town that's bizarre but overall wholesome.
  • Nice Girl: She's not without her snarky or aggressive moments, but Rose is far and away the kindest of the four girls.
  • Noodle Incident: Rose is chock full of these pertaining to her hometown St. Olaf.
  • Perverse Sexual Lust: Had a very hot and heavy affair with a Goofy performer from Disneyworld...that sizzled out when he took off the costume. She also gets aroused at weddings, to the point where she was afraid to attend Giuseppe Mangiacavallo's daughter's wedding while Miles was out of town, for fear she might end up in bed with the caterer (again).
    Rose: [at the wedding] Sophia, am I the only one who feels like ripping her clothes off and doing the Hokey-Pokey?
    Sophia: No, Rose, I think they're just waiting for someone to get it *started*.
  • Phrase Catcher: "Shut up, Rose!"
  • The Pollyanna: Tends to be the most optimistic of the girls, which often annoys the rest of them. (Ironically, this also apparently made Betty White annoying to Bea Arthur in real life.)
  • Post-Robbery Trauma: Rose especially deals with this after the girls' house is robbed.
  • Precision F-Strike: Whenever she swears, particularly because she's so prim and proper you don't see it coming. Ironically, this is invoked to the point that she probably swears more than anyone else on the show. One episode's main plot was a feud between Dorothy and Blanche over a museum position. Rose walks into the room at the tail end of a heated argument between the two, and when she tries to tell her roommates that a dog she has been looking after seems to be ill, they both brusquely dismiss her and walk out. Rose, pretending the dog is talking to her says: "Don't explain, Rose. I used to live with a couple of bitches myself!"
    • Ironically, the one time Rose was encouraged to purge her angry feelings regarding Miles' deception and say anything she felt like, all she could say, after working herself up very dramatically, was: "........HECK!"
  • Sarcasm-Blind: At times, like when Sophia was telling the girls her friend died.
    Rose: How did she die?
    Sophia: She was fighting an oil rig fire in the Gulf of Mexico. She was 88!
    Rose: Well, at least she was able to work right up until the end.
  • "Shaggy Frog" Story: Whenever she told a St. Olaf story, it would end up as one; Rose herself seemed at a loss to explain what the point of any of them were.
  • Spirited Competitor: Any kind of competition is Serious Business to her and serves as her Berserk Button. She mentions that at one point in her youth it was so bad she had to change schools because of a "Field hockey incident."
  • Womanchild: She plays shadow puppets in her room, still likes to play hide-and-seek, and some episodes show her having a strong attachment to teddy bears. In one episode, she and the girl scout troop she leads (as the den mother) write letters to then-Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev, and her writing is so childish that they assume that Rose is one of the scouts! Of course, the line about the threat of nuclear war "scaring the other girls in her cadet troupe" didn't help...
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Rose appears to be one of the smarter people to hail from St. Olaf. In fact, Sophia herself has admitted that Rose is genuinely smarter than most people think.
    Sophia: Rose, just remember, you're smarter than people say you are. You've got good sense and you know what you're doing.

    Sophia Petrillo 

Sophia Petrillo (Estelle Getty)
Dorothy's acerbic mother, who immigrated from Sicily to Brooklyn as a young woman. She suffered a debilitating stroke a few years before the series started. Dorothy (happily) placed her in the Shady Pines nursing home for a few years, but it burned down in the first episode, leading to Sophia moving in with the girls.

  • Ailment-Induced Cruelty: Downplayed for comedy. Sophia's a cantankerous (albeit often hilarious) old lady who says exactly what she thinks at all times. It's explained more than once that she had a stroke sometime prior to the series beginning, and that the stroke effectively destroyed her mental filter, so she can't help voicing whatever opinion pops into her head.
  • Alter Kocker: Sophia was supposed to be a Sicilian Catholic. Estelle Getty, who was Jewish in Real Life, played her with many stereotypical Jewish New York traits. (In fact, Getty once went to the producers and asked them if they could just make Sophia Jewish, which would've made the character easier for her to play.) Her husband Salvatore was played the same way by Sid Melton, in a very Borscht Belt comedian style. This actually became a Casting Gag as the series went on — Sophia's Italian relations were mostly played by Jewish actors.
  • Arranged Marriage: Had two (or three; sometimes she speaks of her marriage to Dorothy's father as one).
  • Ascended Extra: Was conceived as a recurring Drop-In Character, but audiences responded very positively to her, causing her to be added to the main cast.
  • Been There, Shaped History: Take them with a grain of salt, since Sophia's "Picture it" stories vary widely in credibility. She claims to have had romantic trysts with Pablo Picasso, Sigmund Freud, and Winston Churchill, opened a pizzeria with the woman who would later become Mama Celeste, and she and Sal had a flat tire at the same building as the St. Valentine's Day Massacre (although in a later episode she claimed "I was at the movies that day. All day.")
  • Berserk Button:
    • In "Sisters", the one insult that really got to Sophia is when her sister Angela says "may your marinara sauce never cling to your pasta!" Even Dorothy, Rose, and Blanche were shocked by this.
    • Sophia's cooking is generally this for her. In another episode when Rose comments that something smells delicious and asks if it's Chef Boyardee, Sophia grabs a kitchen knife and shouts, "Stick it in my heart, it'll hurt less!"
  • Book Ends: This series begins with Sophia leaving Shady Pines to move in with the girls. The last we hear of Sophia (in Spin-Off Empty Nest), she has left the girls to move back into Shady Pines.
  • Brutal Honesty: An absolute master of this trope. Sophia never bothers to censor her thoughts even slightly, but her assessments of the characters of others tend to be accurate more often than not.
  • Butt-Monkey: The whole world is her Butt Monkey.
  • Catchphrase:
    • She always begins her stories with "Picture it: [place], [year]". It apparently runs in the family, since Sophia's siblings, Angelo and Angela, use the same phrase to begin their stories. Their mother also said it in a flashback.
    • "Aw, yeeah..." whenever someone (usually Dorothy) points out something Sophia conveniently forgot, which would have been REALLY helpful for her to have remembered at the time.
  • Characterization Marches On: Her acerbic nature is attributed to her stroke (said to have altered the part of her brain that helps her censor her thoughts), but later on, flashbacks and personal anecdotes establish that she has always been a spitfire, even before her stroke.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Occasionally, by way of old-lady nuttiness. When Dorothy questions a story about pepperoni swimming upstream, her response is "I know! Pepperoni is a land meat, but there it was."
  • Cool Old Lady: Sophia definitely keeps up with the times, even owning a Game Boy.
  • Deadpan Snarker: This is who Dorothy gets it from.
  • Dirty Old Woman: Downplayed. It's obviously not to the degree of Blanche, but it's still implied due to her love of points. She was also once disappointed that Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was a musical.
  • Fiery Redhead: She is a hot-tempered woman who was revealed as a redhead in the flashbacks.
  • Good Is Not Nice: While she is ultimately seen as being just as virtuous as her friends are, she still mostly comes off as pretty abrasive and cynical to the average person. Later seasons has her lampshade how the neighborhood children call her a mean old lady.
  • Happily Married: To Salvadore, while he was alive.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Sophia describes herself as having been "a voluptuous blonde with a butt like granite". And then there's this exchange from "Whose Face Is This Anyway?":
    Sophia: When I was a teenager, I was gorgeous. Eyes as deep and black as ripe olives, skin as smooth and creamy as fresh butter, hair flaming red like a rich marinara sauce.
    Dorothy: Ma, that's not you, that's your lasagna recipe.
    Sophia: Ah, shut up.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Sophia has an insult for everyone she meets, but she is also loving to her roommates—she explicitly states on several occasions that she loves Blanche and Rose as if they were own children—cooks for them whenever they ask, takes care of them and cleans up after them, as well as works for charity. Specifically, one episode shows her volunteering in a hospital, bringing cheer to the patients.
    • That whole episode was an example of this. The episode was supposed to parallel Rose, Dorothy, and Blanche being lazy (they vow to do something constructive, but spend the whole day in their pajamas eating pizza) and worrying that Sophia might be leading an empty life. This was played for Hypocritical Humor, because while they're worried about Sophia and lounging around, Sophia: 1) Helps a friend who had been cheated at a supermarket get a refund, 2) leads a bunch of her friends who had formed a band through a fundraising concert (which was done every week,) and 3) volunteers at a hospital and cheers up an ill little boy with some unspecified illness (though the mention of the botched blood transfusion and her telling him to hang in there until a cure is found heavily implies that it's AIDS).
    • As Dorothy explains to Blanche's grandson David after Sophia slaps him, Sophia never slaps anyone she doesn't actually like.
  • Kick the Dog: Unfortunately, there were a few times where Sophia's crusty attitude shifted into full fledged meanness without any comedic elements towards it, and her actions have been legitimately hurtful towards others. She ostracized her son Phil and had a nasty relationship with his wife because of Phil's crossdressing, which not only hurt Phil but alienated Sophia from their kids and it's only after Phil dies that Sophia is finally able to realize Phil's desire to wear feminine clothes did not make him less of a good person. There were also the times when she set up Gloria and Stan regardless of Dorothy's feelings, and the time she almost destroyed Rose's relationship with Miles by mocking Rose's dead husband. It should be mentioned however, that Sophia wasn't really as much ashamed of Phil wearing women's clothes as she was ashamed of herself for making him wear Dorothy's hand-me-downs (money was VERY tight), which started the whole thing. She blamed herself for the whole thing and thought she screwed him up.
  • Mama Bear: Age be damned, you'd better not threaten her kids, biological or otherwise.
  • May–December Romance: She's been able to court guys who're much younger than she is, sometimes only by a few years, sometimes by a few decades.
  • Meaningful Name: "Sophia" means "wisdom" and she's a font of it...most of the time.
  • Miniature Senior Citizens: Sophia is the shortest among the main cast, especially compared to her gigantic daughter Dorothy.note  Sophia is so small that she's barely taller than Rose's dwarf boyfriend, Dr. Jonathan Newman, in "A Little Romance".note 
  • My Beloved Smother: A few episodes involved Dorothy growing frustrated with how much Sophia would comment on and interfere with her life, specifically trying to set her up with various men of dubious quality when Dorothy made it abundantly clear she was very happy and content with her life as it was.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: In The Monkey Show, after Dorothy calls out Sophia's blatant insensitivity and walks out on her, Sophia seems pissed, but then heads to her brother Angelo for advice on what to do because she feels horrible. Sophia tried to set up Dorothy's sister with Stan, with no regards to Dorothy's feelings after all the years Sophia complained about her marriage to Stan. Angelo says this isn't like when the girls were kids and that Stan's not a toy. Even though she meant well for Gloria, she did wrong by Dorothy and had to make it right.
  • Never Mess with Granny: All of the women were grandmothers, but Sophia was the only great-grandmother on the show. But her advanced age never got in the way of her standing up for herself. If someone crossed her in any way, she would always find a way to get them back—and God help you if you messed with anyone she considered family.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws:
    • Is one to her son Phil's wife Angela—even after his death, she struggles to treat her with even a modicum of respect. She gets better by the end of the episode when she stops blaming herself and Angela for Phil's crossdressing.
    • It's also implied that she was no less obnoxious to Dorothy's ex-husband Stan before the divorce than she is after. Yet again, it was revealed in a therapy session with Stan she had trouble coming to respect him since he forced her daughter into a shotgun wedding at 17, cheated on her repeatedly, and then dumped her after 38 years for a blond stewardess.
  • Odd Name Out: With her siblings. Angela, Angelo... and Sophia.
  • Only One Name: A variation—we know her married names, but her maiden name is a mystery, especially considering those of the other three were revealed. Sometimes it's listed as either Angelo or Grisanti, but both are rooted in Fanon.
  • Parental Favoritism: Played with. Oftentimes it seems that she favored her youngest daughter, Gloria, over both Dorothy and Phil. Gloria, however, was just as convinced that Dorothy was the favorite. Phil was doubtlessly the unfavorite though. Sophia also did this more clearly with her children's spouses. The only one she wasn't an Obnoxious In-Law to was Gloria's very rich husband.
  • Parental Substitute: Sophia was essentially this to Stan, much to Dorothy's annoyance. She also adopted Rose and Blanche as her surrogate daughters in all but name, and the two consider her as a mother to them.
  • Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!: Sophia isn't afraid to tell it like is, has a snarky response to everything, and can come up with insulting nicknames at the drop of a hat—and that's what she does to the people she likes. Whenever anyone (usually Dorothy) calls her out for her attitude, she name-drops this trope in some way or another: "So what, I'm old, I'm supposed to be colorful!"
  • Small Parent, Huge Child: Dorothy is at least a foot taller than her mother Sophia. While this can be partly attributed to Sophia being a Miniature Senior Citizen, flashback episodes show that Dorothy has always been considerably taller than Sophia. Dorothy's younger sister Gloria is nearly as tall as Dorothy, and their brother Phil is noted to be over six feet, so they qualify too. Even stranger is that Sophia's late husband was also very short, raising more questions about how the two of them consistently produced such tall children. One possible explanation comes in a flashback where Bea Arthur plays Sophia's own mother, so it's possible that the height simply skipped a generation.
  • Supreme Chef: The best cook of the four women, to the point that her lasagna is Famed In-Story. She is also the Team Chef, though largely by dint of being the most competent one (Dorothy is a decent if underwhelming cook, Blanche does little if any cooking, and Rose has... interesting ideas about food).
  • Team Mom: Or Team Grandmother if there ever was one.
  • Unreliable Narrator: An in-universe example. The show is notorious for being inconsistent in its backstory, but Sophia's "Picture it..." stories tend to range from "probably embellished anecdote" to "probably-senile nonsense". Even her appearance tends to change from story to story: she usually describes herself as either redheaded or blonde, and occasionally references being much taller and having a more olive complexion.
    Rose: Wow, Sophia, that was some story!
    Sophia: Yeah-funny, touching and with a surprise twist ending. I wonder if was true... Ah, damn that stroke.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Gets this a few times from Dorothy, but especially so when she almost destroyed Rose and Miles' relationship for the sake of twenty dollars and a bad joke.


Supporting Characters

    Stanley Zbornak 

Stanley Zbornak (Herb Edelman)

Dorothy's ex-husband. He originally left Dorothy two years before the show began to marry a young flight attendant named Chrissy and live on Hawaii. However, he eventually moves to Miami and proceeds to be a lingering frustration in the lives of all the girls.

  • Amicable Exes: How he wants to be with Dorothy. She, being the wronged party, is less willing to go for that if their kids aren't involved. By the finale, however, she accepts him as someone who will always be with her in some way, and they end the series as friends. Stan, to his credit, is more than happy with that arrangement.
    Dorothy: We weren't happy when we were married. We weren't happy when we were going to remarry. Maybe our relationship works best when we're just plain divorced.
  • The Atoner: A big part of his characterization during the show is his repeated attempts to apologize to Dorothy for all the pain he put her through, only for Dorothy to repeatedly refuse. To be fair to Dorothy though, Stan would normally do or say SOMETHING off-putting that would remind Dorothy of why they didn't work out in the first place.
  • Butt-Monkey: He's treated this way by all of the girls, even Rose. His own mother didn't want him around.
  • Casanova Wannabe: According to Dorothy, plus his obnoxious personality doesn't help.
  • Catchphrase: "Hi/Hey, it's me, Stan."
  • Characterization Marches On: In his first appearance, Stan was a much more snide character who made repeated shots at Dorothy with no provocation. His second appearance made him more of a sympathetic Butt-Monkey, albeit one who could still make a good comeback from time to time.
  • Dark Horse Sibling: He has always been described as a "yutz" by his ex-wife Dorothy's family and even his own mother. The Season 3 episode "Brotherly Love" introduced Stan's younger brother Ted, a successful doctor. The Season 6 episode "If at Last You Do Succeed" has Stan becoming rich after inventing a device to open baked potatoes without burning your fingers, so presumably he has become more successful than Ted.
  • Dirty Old Man: Stan was more middle-aged than old, but he definitely had the "dirty" part down pat. He had a thing for younger women (Chrissy, the woman he left Dorothy for, was in her early twenties) and made lewd comments on a regular basis ("Blanche, you look great in that blouse. Are those new?—I mean, is that new?").
  • Dodgy Toupee: He has a few. He gave up on them in later seasons.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: He consistently shows up at the house. Dorothy and Sophia greatly dislike him (at least initially, as the divorce is still fresh). Blanche tolerates him at best. Rose, while still the nicest to him, is only cordial to him most of the time. Regardless, they still indulge him.
  • Get-Rich-Quick Scheme: He has many of them pitched to the girls, which are always shot down. Though one of them, the Zbornee made him financially successful.
  • Good Parents: Despite his unfaithfulness to Dorothy, he was a good provider (when he was able to be) and father to Kate and Michael. Dorothy herself admits it as much, and she tries to involve him in their adult childrens' lives as much as she can when both of them are around (although not without a lot of lip).
    Dorothy: "One sperm with a good sense of direction, and I'm paying for it for the rest of my life."
  • Grew a Spine: After many times trying to apologize to Dorothy or amend his ways only to be turned down or insulted, he eventually withdraws from her life. Much to Dorothy's own surprise, she's affected by his absence.
  • Hidden Depths: Stan was definitely a yutz (something even his own mother acknowledged), but he did occasionally show some positive qualities. By Dorothy's admission, he was an exceptionally good novelty salesman and supported their growing family marketing cheap toys and tricks. He also had a minor knack for invention, and one of his novelties—the "Zbornee," a baked-potato opener—eventually made him millions.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: In the finale, he hijacks the limousine Dorothy is taking to her wedding to Lucas, and after a gentle discussion with her, he accepts that she's moved on and takes her to the wedding "in style." When the priest later asks if there are any objections to the marriage, he stays silent.
  • Inelegant Blubbering: At times, when his second wife left him for a younger man and when his scheme to get money for a foul ball injuring Sophia was falling through.
  • Irony: Discussed by Dorothy and Sophia via a flashback when the former is going to marry him because she was pregnant:
    Teenaged!Dorothy: I can't believe I did this, and I hate his name. For the rest of my life, I'm going to be known as Dorothy Zbornak.
    Middle-aged!Sophia: Hey, look on the bright side, pussycat: at least he's got a full head of hair!
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: As much of a cad and insensitive husband he was to Dorothy, he's certainly not completely heartless, giving back his expensive car so Dorothy could pay back money to the IRS to avoid being audited (and while he's at it, buys back the expensive ring she'd received as a gift from him that she'd pawned to make the necessary money because he acknowledged that she shouldn't have to suffer for his financial mistakes), and making sure the doctors gave Sophia above-average care during her bout with pneumonia. Stan was effective when it counted and it was during those episodes that reminded Dorothy of the man she allowed herself to fall in love with.
  • Kavorka Man: He's middle-aged, bald, and more than a little sleazy, but he doesn't seem to have any problem attracting young co-eds. Although, if Dorothy is to be believed, him being more than a little generous with his credit cards may have something to do with that...
  • Lousy Lovers Are Losers: According to Dorothy he's absolutely terrible in bed. When the girls talk about their first times having sex, Dorothy says that Stan only lasted thirty seconds and she wasn't even sure they'd actually done anything until nine months later when she gave birth.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Sophia is this to him, even after the divorce, but his own mother plays with this in regards to Dorothy. She treats Dorothy badly, but actually really likes her, instead thinks Stan is a yutz, and treats Dorothy badly to keep Stan away.
  • Papa Wolf: For all his faults, he was a legitimately good father and just as protective of their kids as Dorothy is.
  • Recurrer: The only character, other than the girls, to appear in all seven seasons. He also always appears more than once per season.
  • Self-Made Man: Later in the show, he becomes incredibly wealthy after inventing the "Zbornee," a kitchen gadget that lets people open baked potatoes without burning themselves.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: His relationship with Dorothy eventually became this, until she fell for and married Lucas.
  • Speed Sex: According to Dorothy, the night she got pregnant that resulted in her Shotgun Wedding took three seconds.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: At 6'4", he was definitely this.
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: Specifically in one episode when he stays with them to recuperate after heart surgery (and later faked a relapse to stay longer,) but in general, he would frequently pop over, invite himself to stay for dinner, and not leave until all four ladies shouted "Get out!" in chorus.

    George Devereaux 

George Devereaux (George Grizzard)

Blanche's late husband.

    Charlie Nylund 

Charlie Nylund

Rose's late husband.

    Miles Webber 

Miles Webber (Harold Gould)

Rose's boyfriend in the latter seasons.
  • Cutting Corners: Used as a plot device in "Ro$e Love$ Mile$", regarding his cost-cutting obsessions.
  • The Scrooge: Miles was frugal to begin with, but he went overboard after a doctor told him he could live to be a hundred; he had only budgeted to live to eighty.
  • Witness Protection: He turns out to have been under such a program, which forces him to flee, if briefly.

    Salvadore Petrillo 

Salvadore Petrillo (Sid Melton)

Sophia's deceased husband.
  • The Gambling Addict: Stated to be one, as Sophia tells Dorothy.
    Sophia: He was a gambler right up to his dying days. In fact, his last words were: "Ten bucks say I won't need this oxygen tank."
  • Happily Married: To Sophia, while he was alive.
  • Posthumous Character: He's been dead for years before the series premier.
  • Small Parent, Huge Child: Like Sophia, Sal was on the short sidenote  but fathered two daughters near six feet and a son who passed it.

  • One-Steve Limit: Averted, there are two Davids, and they're related to Blanche in different ways. One's her grandson, and the other's her accidental stepson.