Lieutenant Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen)
The main hero of the films, Drebin serves to fight crime and uphold the law but is too much of an idiot to do it properly. But despite his shortcomings, he's usually the last line of defense against any nefarious schemer.
- Accidental Hero: Is quite an expert at this, as mentioned at the beginning of 2 as having killed his 1000th Drug Dealer (the latter two hit with his car, although they turned out to be drug dealers), and later on unwittingly hitting a police station robber with the door as he walks in.
- The Ace: Subverted. He seems to be something like this in the field of police work, although much of it happens through sheer dumb luck and several Accidental Hero moments.
- Ambiguously Bi: He's in love with Jane but there are times where it's clear he may have a thing for the same sex, an example being when he takes Nordberg muttering "I Love You" to heart before realizing he was referring to the name of a boat.
- Beware the Silly Ones: Just because he's comically disaster-prone doesn't mean he can't get the job done at the end of the day.
- Casual Danger Dialog:Frank: I'm sorry, I can't hear you! Don't fire the gun while you're talking!
- Comically Missing the Point: Very frequently, usually with a large helping of literal-mindedness. He's played by Leslie Nielsen, after all.
- The Comically Serious: His main character trait is that he's always deadpan serious despite all the weirdness that surrounds him. This is a key trait of Leslie Nielsen's acting style in his comedic roles.
- Cool Old Guy: Being obviously quite old (Nielsen was in his late fifties/early sixties playing Frank) doesn't hamper him in his work, especially given that he's surprisingly acrobatic for a man of his age.
- Cowboy Cop: He has a tendency to shoot first and ask questions later, as evidenced by his killing of five actors performing Julius Caesar which he mistook for an actual murder attempt.
- The Ditz: Frank is not the brightest bulb in the box. Which is why it's so entertaining when he takes himself so seriously.
- Does Not Understand Sarcasm: It comes with the literal-mindedness.Frank Drebin: Sergeant Frank Drebin, Detective Lieutenant, Police Squad.
Academy Award guard: Yeah, and I'm Robert De Niro.
Frank: Mr. De Niro, we've got to get inside.
- Drives Like Crazy: Downplayed. He can drive perfectly well most of the time, he just can't park without hitting something, and seems blissfully unaware of the existence of rear-view mirrors (as evidenced by Nordberg and those two drug dealers he backed over). He also gets behind the controls of a tank in the second movie, with appropriately destructive results. It certainly didn't help that he couldn't see a thing while driving and broke the brakes.
- Heroic Comedic Sociopath: "Just think about it, the next time I shoot somebody, I could get arrested."
- Hollywood Tone-Deaf: As discovered when he performs the National Anthem to an entire crowd of baseball spectators (that includes the Queen of England!).
- Lethal Klutz: He accidentally killed his fiancée before the events of the first movie, a fact that Drebin remains blissfully unaware of.
- Literal-Minded: In many, many ways.
- Love at First Sight: With Jane.
- One-Man Army: His bodycount is apparently ridiculous; In the second film, he receives a citation for killing one thousand drug dealers (albeit, the last two were accidentally backed over with his car) and upon retirement, his Police Squad colleagues have made him a banner crediting him with killing 6000 bad guys and wounding hundreds more.
- Silver Fox: Parodied in the second film where he's given an obvious muscled body double.
- Sixth Ranger Traitor: Becomes this to Rocco's gang in the third film when he impersonates a thug called "Slasher" McGurk.
- Trigger Happy: Once shot five actors ("Good ones!") on the basis of them being weirdos in togas stabbing a guy in the middle of the park. Also shot an in-law at his bachelor party.
Nordberg (O.J. Simpson)
Drebin's partner and close friend. He, too, serves as a police officer. However, unlike Frank, he actually ends up getting hurt way more severely, usually thanks to Frank.
- Amusing Injuries: Starting from his very first scene and going downhill from there. How else would the random bear trap on board a boat full of drug dealers be explained?
- Ascended Extra: After playing a minor, albeit amusing, role in the first film, Nordberg is given much more screen-time and jokes in the later sequels.
- The Chew Toy: One would almost feel sorry for him if it wasn't such cartoonish fun to see him get beat up so much.
- Black Best Friend: To Frank and Ed.
- Disaster Dominoes: Something simply bad can't happen to Nordberg, oh no. Something bad has to happen to him immediately followed by something terrible, which would then be immediately followed by something horrendous. And then he'll get an additional injury somehow later on the hospital bed.
- Funny Afro: Had this in the 70s. It's so big he can't even fit through the door.
- Iron Butt Monkey: Has a wide string of bad luck in every movie, but almost always manages to spring back. Just watch his first appearance. It doesn't end there.
- Last-Name Basis: Never addressed by his first name. Even his wife refers to him as only "Nordberg".
Jane Spencer (later Drebin) (Priscilla Presley)
- Adaptational Dye Job: In the first film, she's portrayed as blonde. In the sequels, her hair is brown.
- Bigger on the Inside: Her fridge, as seen in the second movie.
- The Ditz: No wonder she and Frank gravitated toward each other. And yet she's still the more levelheaded one.
- Drives Like Crazy: She's apparently been taking driving lessons from Drebin, if the third movie is any indication. She might actually be worse, since Frank at least pays some kind of attention to the road in front of him.
- Horrible Judge of Character: She works for the first movie's Big Bad and thinks he is a great guy. In the second film she is dating the Big Bad.
- MayDecember Romance: With Drebin, largely, although Hapsburg also looks to be quite a bit older than she is.
- My Biological Clock Is Ticking: Wants a baby in the third film, a situation not helped by the fact that she's surrounded by working mothers in court.
- Ms. Fanservice: Played almost to the point of parody, with the lingering pans up her body, painstaking descriptions by Drebin's narration, and gratuitous Sexophone. Plus, there's the shower scene in the second film.
- Sexophone: Her Leitmotif when Frank first sees her in the first and second movies.
Ed Hocken (George Kennedy)
- Big Eater: During the baseball game in the first movie, he eats a lot of junk food including a whole cake.
- Cool Old Guy: Out of all the characters in the series, he's arguably got the most level head on his shoulders, and is generally quite pleasant.
- Da Chief: Even though it's rare that he pulls rank.
- Police Brutality: Only once attempted this, on a Mook who he thought beat up Prof. Meinheimer in the second movie. He gets his ass kicked in seconds.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: He's more of a friend to Frank than a boss. He visibly cries at Frank's retirement party.
- Straight Man: Most of the time he's this for Frank, though he gets in his own brand of deadpan goofiness once in a while.
- Unwitting Test Subject: Ted, from the research lab at Police Squad, invents cufflinks in the first movie (which go on to be a Chekhov's Gun) that fire a tranquilizer dart. He then casually tests it on Ed.
- Your Cheating Heart: It's a Running Gag that his wife keeps fooling around on him.Frank: Oh congratulations, I understand that Edna's pregnant again.Ed: Yeah, and if I catch the guy who did it
Vincent Ludwig (Ricardo Montalban)
- Affably Evil: A really charming socialite, that just so happens to be masterminding an assassination.
- Big Bad: Of the first movie.
- Disney Villain Death: He falls over the railing of the football stadium. And then gets run over by a car, smooshed by a steamroller, and then trampled by a marching band playing "Louie Louie." Just like how Ed's father died, apparently
- Man of Wealth and Taste: Very, very rich, and has the luxuries to show for it.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Falls over the railing of a football stadium, gets rolled over by a car, flattened by a steam roller and finally is trampled over by a marching band.
- Wicked Cultured: Has an appreciation for fine arts and the exotic.
Quentin Hapsburg (Robert Goulet)
- Ain't Too Proud to Beg: During the climax, when Drebin has him dangling out the window, Drebin threatens to drop him unless he gives him the code to disarm that bomb he planted inside a building. Hapsburg would have complied, had Ed not thrown Hapsburg out the window before he had a chance to speak.
- Affably Evil: Much like Ludwig, Hapsburg is also a charming and polite criminal mastermind.
- Big Bad: Of the second movie.
- The Comically Serious: He's always straight-laced and scowling, making Frank's antics even funnier in context. It helps that he has an amazing "What the hell?" expression.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: He's the backer for the United States' largest energy firms, and is willing to resort to kidnapping (and eventually murder) to get his way.
- Disney Villain Death: Subverted. He is pushed out of a high window by Ed, but survives, only to be attacked by a lion that had escaped the zoo along with the other animals earlier.
- Affably Evil: He's very polite toward his teammates.
- Big Bad: Of the third film.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: His most redeeming trait. He clearly loves his mom and crosses the Despair Event Horizon when she's killed.
- Even Evil Has Standards: He calls out his mom when she insults Papshmir's clients and views Frank as his brother when he think he's an terrorist like him and isn't happy when he learns the truth.
- Evil Virtues: Honesty, Honour, Love and Valour.
- Karmic Death: He's blown up by his own nuke.
- Mad Bomber: He plans to nuke the Academy Award celebration.
- Back for the Dead: Returns to be the mastermind of the third movie, but dies for his troubles.
- Bald of Evil: Clearly has an onset of male pattern baldness.
- Greater-Scope Villain: Of the first and third movies, although technically he's more like the middle man as he represents the nefarious intentions of Americas' enemies.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Gets blown up by the bomb that Rocco - whom he is backing - planned to use to blow up the Academy Award ceremony. Bonus points for his private plane just happening to fly overhead when Rocco gets slingshotted through the roof.
- Karma Houdini: Gets away Scott free in the first movie, with the heroes not even knowing he was involved or even who is is. He dies in the third film, but even then they still don't know he was there.