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Characters / The Jeffersons

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George Jefferson (Sherman Hemsley)

George was originally a character on All in the Family until he cleaned up in the dry-cleaning business and moved on up to the upper east side of Manhattan, where instead of being discriminated against by his neighbour Archie, he took to discriminating against his neighbours (and in-laws) Tom and Helen Willis.

  • Abusive Parents: George recalls being hit by his father frequently but doesn't seem to bear any resentment towards him
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  • Angry Black Man: George already has a short temper and being a black man in New York in the 70s, there's a lot to be angry about.
  • Conspicuous Consumption: A big fan of this.
  • The Dandy: Has a massive and varied wardrobe, and wears a fresh carnation on his lapel every day.
  • Deadpan Snarker: With more emphasis on "snark" than "deadpan".
  • Happily Married: He and Louise fight a lot but it's obvious they love each other deeply.
  • Hypocrite: Gives Louise's uncle a really hard time for being an Uncle Tom (he's a butler to a white household) but when he sucks up to his white business associates it's just fine.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Has a habit of framing his prejudices in a way others can't argue with, such as justifying not hiring a white manager by pointing out that if he doesn't hire black executives, who will.
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  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: George is loud-mouthed, snarky, obnoxious and down right bigoted but he's also generous, dependable and a loving husband and father. This is shown extremely well in a flashback episode. When George's grand opening, a wealthy woman came in and mistaken it for another dry-cleaner. She was willing to give them a shot and if he did a good job, she would recommend them to her friends. Flash forward to the present and the roles are reversed as she is now down on her luck since her husband died. She says that she will pay her fee but George says it is ok, take all the time she needs. When she leaves, he rips up her invoice and it was hinted at that this isn't the first time he has done her clothes for free.
  • Last-Name Basis: Always called Archie Bunker, Tom Willis and Harry Bentley by their surnames.
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  • Noble Bigot: Harbours a lot of resentment towards caucasians, although it's hard to blame him considering the cultural context of his early life.
  • Non-Idle Rich: Very wealthy but he works his finger to the bone for every cent.
  • Rags to Riches: Originally poor, he made his money in the dry-cleaning business.
  • Self-Made Man: Worked his way from a janitor in Harlem to a middle-class business owner in Queens to a bonafide dry-cleaning tycoon on the upper east side.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Almost always wears an impeccably fitted three piece suit at work and owns an impressive array of smoking jackets and neck-kerchiefs.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Sometimes. Even though he really does love his wife, son, and is deep down a well meaning person, he can be quite self-invested, snarky, stubborn, and obnoxious

Louise "Weezy" Jefferson Née Mills (Isabel Sanford)

George's long-suffering wife who came with him on his journey to the top. Although she was sweet and kind, she had a sharp tongue in her head and didn't hesitate to lash George with it when he needed it.

Lionel Jefferson (Mike Evans, Damon Evans)

George and Weezy's son from All in The Family. Early on he was in college to become an engineer. After he graduated he married Jenny Willis and got a job.

  • Amicable Exes: Eventually lands on this with Jenny.
  • Dating What Daddy Hates: Dates and marries a biracial girl against his father's express wishes.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Must run in the family.
  • Expy: The position he takes in marital arguments sometimes mirrors Mike Stivic.
  • Generation Xerox: Depending on the actor playing him. When portrayed by Mike Evans, he behaved more like George(albeit, without his bigoted ideals). However, when played by Damon Evans, he was more like Louise.
  • Mr. Fixit: He is an engineer after all.
  • The Other Darrin: Played by two different actors
  • Put on a Bus: Moved to Japan with Jenny.

Olivia "Mother" Jefferson (Zara Cully)

George's mother who constantly mollycoddles George while belittling Louise.

  • Absentee Actor: Was absent from 17 episodes of season three while Zara Curly was recovering from pneumonia.
  • December–December Romance: A few, including one with Tom's uncle Bertram. Needless to say, George wasn't pleased.

Harry Bentley (Paul Benedict)

The Jeffersons' English neighbour who frequently drops by to borrow something or have George walk on his back. He's an interpreter at the U.N.

  • Cunning Linguist: He speaks a variety of languages, fitting for a U.N. interpreter.
  • Gentle Giant: Very tall but exceedingly nice.
  • Kavorka Man: Has a plethora of lady friends but is not especially good-looking. In real life, actor Paul Benedict actually had acromegaly.
  • Little Known Facts: Fond of these.
  • Omniglot: Has fluency in several different languages but his main one is Russian.
  • Put on a Bus: Left at the end of season 7 but returned at the start of season 10.
  • The Un-Favourite: Implied in a conversation about what his parents wanted to name him:
    Bentley: My mother insisted on Henry.
    Louise: And your father liked Harry?

Florence Johnston (Marla Gibbs)

The Jeffersons' live-in maid. She was a good Christian woman despite being snarky, slightly lazy and generally making George's life Hell.

  • Breakout Character: To the point she got her own spin-off, though it only lasted four episodes.
  • Driven to Suicide: In "Florence's Problem". She gets better.
  • Love Hurts: Frequently cheated on/dumped by her suitors, at which point she usually declares them a "turkey".
  • Promotion to Opening Titles : In season 3 she became a main character instead of just recurring.
  • Really Gets Around: She dates a lot of men, but she insists she never sleeps with them.
  • Sassy Black Woman: She never hesitates to give George a piece of her mind, whether he wants it or not.
  • Servile Snarker: She's the Jeffersons' maid, not that you'd know it most of the time since she's always bickering with George.
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