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Characters / The Royal Tenenbaums

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Characters appearing in The Royal Tenenbaums.

The Tenenbaums

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     Royal Tenenbaum 

The estranged father of the Tenenbaum family, a lazy and self-absorbed ne'er-do-well and former lawyer.

  • Abusive Parents: Emotionally to all three, and financially to Chaz. He openly stole from Chaz's enterprises, constantly reminded Margot that she was adopted, and constantly made statements that undercut the kids' confidence and fed into the issues they'd later have. He was very close and friendly to Ritchie... but cut off ties with him when he had his public meltdown (losing a game Royal had bet a large sum he'd win) which only contributed to his depression. He gets better.
  • Jerkass: He treats his family terribly despite acting like he really is a good dad. He is very self-centered, neglectful, and even childish. He does not accept Margo, the only girl in the family, as his actual daughter but rather his adopted daughter as if it happened to be family by force rather than actual love or care.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Despite consistently treating his family terribly, he is ultimately attempting to reconcile with them, and is ultimately as successful as somebody like him could hope to be.
  • Parental Favoritism: Clearly likes Richie the best, inviting him and only him out to watch dogfights as a child. Meanwhile, he stole from Chas and once shot him with a BB gun, and barely acknowledges Margot as part of his family.
  • The Unfettered


     Ethel Tenenbaum 

Royal's wife, an archaeologist.

     Chas Tenenbaum 

One of the Tenenbaum children, an expert in finance whom Royal robbed (resulting in Royal's disbarment). He is coping with the tragic death of his wife while attempting to raise his own two children.

  • Overprotective Dad: Became this to his sons after losing his wife and almost losing the former two in a plane crash, and runs fire drills with them at four o' clock in the mornings. It's nearly losing them when Eli crashes his car into the side of the house that sends Chas into a murderous rampage after the former. Eventually he realizes his mistake and loosens up a little.
  • Teen Genius

     Richie Tenenbaum 

One of the Tenenbaum children, a tennis prodigy who retired following a mental breakdown that may be connected to his unrequited love for his adopted sister Margot.

  • Brother–Sister Incest: The main thing that troubles him is the fact that he is in love with his (adopted) sister, Margot.
  • Driven to Suicide: when he learns that the love of his life (who is also his adopted sister) has been having an adulterous affair with his best friend and their next-door-neighbour, since childhood.
  • Teen Genius
  • Well Done Son: Seems the closest to his dad or at least most loving to him at first.

     Margot Tenenbaum 

The Tenenbaums' adopted daughter, a moody and secretive playwright. She is married to the neurologist Raleigh St. Clair.

  • Bathing Beauty: Margot spends a good portion of the film in her bathtub, too depressed to leave.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Richie is in love with her, and she seems to reciprocate this after his suicude attempt, though they aren't related by blood.
  • Four-Fingered Hands: Accidentally got a finger chopped off when she was a young woman. She was helping a guy (implied to be her own biological brother or father) chop wood (when she reconnected in her Tsina with her birth family, who are shown to be either Amish or Mennonite), and neither was really paying attention to how she was placing her hand.
  • Pretty in Mink: On of her quirks is she is almost always wearing a mink coat.
  • Teen Genius: And a genius before that.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Her latest extramarital affair is with Eli Cash, literally the boy-next-door and lifelong family friend since childhood.


Friends and family of the Tenenbaums

     Ari and Uzi Tenenbaum 

Chas' two young sons.

     Eli Cash 

The Tenenbaum's next-door neighbour and Richie's best friend, now a popular writer of Western novels.

     Henry Sherman 

Ethel's accountant, who is in love with her.

     Raleight St. Clair 

Margot's neurologist husband, studying an unusual patient named Dudley Heinsbergen.



Royal's faithful servant.

  • Defeat Means Friendship: He met Royal by first attempting to murder him in Calcutta, then carrying him to the hospital.
  • With Friends Like These...: He's loyal to Royal 'til the end, but they first met when Pagoda was trying to assassinate him in Calcutta and carried him to the hospital when he stabbed Royal. He stabs him again when Royal's ruse falls apart, leaving them homeless, prompting Royal to shout, "That's the last time you put a knife in me!" He still sticks with Royal, and the latter asks Ethel to take Pagoda back.


Example of: