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Characters / The Three Stooges

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  • Breakout Character: The Stooges used to be lackeys under Ted Healy, a famed vaudeville star during the late '20s. Nowadays, the latter is practically unheard of except among fans while the former went solo, starred in their film shorts and became comedic icons still popular to this day.
  • Comic Trio: One of the more famous examples in film.
    • The Leader: Moe.
    • Only Sane Man: Larry.
    • The Fool: Curly, Shemp, Joe and Curly-Joe.
  • Freudian Trio: Moe is the Superego, Larry's the Ego, and Curly's the Id.
  • Jack-of-All-Trades: Each short has them with a different occupation.
  • Nice Mean And In Between: Moe (Mean), Larry (In-Between) and Curly (Nice).
    • Another "Nice" Stooge is Shemp, yet he might share the In-Between role with Larry in most shorts.
    • Curly-Joe can also fall into the "Nice" category.
  • Sibling Team: On shorts where they're depicted as brothers, by having the same set of parents. In Real Life, Moe, Curly and Shemp were brothers, too.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: While they're not necessarily ugly, some shorts depict them with attractive wives.


Primary trio

For their Self-Demonstrating Article, click here.


Moe Howard
Calling Dr. Howard...
Years Active: 1922-1970
Portrayed by: Ben-Paul Victor (2000 biopic), Chris Diamantopoulos (The Movie)
  • Actually Pretty Funny: In one short, he gets a painting smashed over his head, and jokingly states that he's been framed.
  • Berserk Button: NIAGARA FALLS! Or just about anything the other Stooges do.
  • The Bully: He generally physically and verbally abuses the other Stooges, especially anyone who's the third member (like Curly, Shemp, etc.)
  • Big Brother Bully: As well as "Younger Brother Bully" when it comes to Shemp. While it's never stated onscreen that they were related, Moe's onscreen persona often had him constantly beat up and berate his (real-life) younger brother Curly and, eventually, eldest brother Shemp.
  • Butt-Monkey: Not as bad as Curly or Shemp, but if it wasn't happening to either of them, it was happening to him (usually due their (or his own) incompetence or stupidity).
  • Catch Phrase:
    • "Why, I oughta..."
    • "I'll moider you!"
    • "Spread out!"
      • "Recede."
    • "What's the matter with you?"
    • "Pick out two!"
  • Cool Old Guy: In-universe, while Moe was never old per se, Moe Howard became this in real life during his later years.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Normally it's Larry who does the snarking, but Moe has his moments in the shorts as well.
  • Dirty Coward: While all the Stooges were cowards to some degree, Moe was by far the worst, as he'd often force Larry and Curly to go into dangers he'd never consider.
  • Dope Slap: One of Moe's signature moves on the other Stooges, along with (of course) the ...
  • Eye Poke: Actually performed by poking the eyebrows. The movie parodies this with actors playing the Farrelly Brothers explain how it works so kids wouldn't try it at home.
  • Flowery Insults: "Chowderheads" and "numbskulls" are his most frequent (and iconic) go-to insults for the other stooges.
  • Genius Ditz
  • Grumpy Bear: Though with fleeting moments of happiness.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: If Larry, Curly and Shemp ever do anything to piss him off (even by accident), expect Moe to lash out with a murder threat and some good ol' slapping.
  • How Many Fingers?: A Running Gag would be that Moe asked the other guys how many fingers he was holding up, and when they answered "two", he would poke them in the eyes.
  • Hypocrite: If not coinciding with Hypocritical Humor, he often gets angry at Larry and Curly for doing something he considers stupid/foolish. However, Moe is quite a bumbling fool himself, too.
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: He freely hits the other Stooges, but he gets really mad if they ever hit each other, and punishes such antics, well, hitting the offender.
    Moe: (to Larry, after he headbonked Curly) What are you hittin' 'im for? (slaps him)
  • Ignorant of Their Own Ignorance
  • I'll Kill You!: Or "I'll murder you!" One of Moe's signature threats. Thankfully never follows through it, and it's hinted in Three Sappy People, in which he gets upset with Curly for making a note of reminding him to tear out his Adam's apple, that he never means it literally.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: For all the abuse he throws at them, Moe truly does care for his fellow Stooges, and when the boys come across some wrong in need of righting, he's often the quickest to offer help.
  • Kavorka Man: In any episode where the Stooges have love interests, Curly, Shemp or on rare occasions Larry might end up with the one Butter Face of the female trio, but Moe never does.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: As the "boss" stooge, he often rudely bullies Larry and Curly (and Shemp) around for goofing up and considers himself smarter than them, but he's clearly every bit as dim as they are.
  • The Leader: Self-appointed leader is more like it, mainly because of his strong personality.
  • Made of Iron
  • Man Bites Man: Played for Laughs; it became another of Moe's signature moves against his fellow Stooges in later shorts, biting either their fingers or their noses.
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor: Moe is the most abusive member of the group and is more of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold. The real Moe Howard was a very normal person who enjoyed family weekend BBQs, loved entertaining kids, and absolutely adored his fans to the point of inviting them into his home for dinner.
  • The Napoleon: Moe was 5'4.
  • Never My Fault: Probably one of the Trope Founders, if not the Trope Codifier.
  • Only Sane Man: Or so he thinks of himself.
  • Power Trio:
  • The Smart Guy: That's really a matter of opinion. He act the part, but sometimes he's little more sensible or rational than Curly is.
  • Stage Name: Moe's real name was Moses Harry Horwitz.
  • Straight Man: In the movie, although he has own share of bizarre antics, the least normal of which is appearing on Jersey Shore of all things, as Dyna-Moe!
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Made all the more ironic because Moe himself wasn't all too bright.
  • True Companions: Would often make sure the other Stooges were keeping up if they were running away from something.
  • With Friends Like These...: With everybody!


Larry Fine
...Dr. Fine...
Years Active: 1925-1970
Portrayed by: Evan Handler (2000 biopic), Sean Hayes (The Movie)


Curly Howard
...Dr. Howard!
Years Active: 1932-1946
Portrayed by: Michael Chiklis (2000 biopic), Will Sasso (The Movie)

  • Acrofatic: Him running down to the bottom floor in "False Alarms" is a prime example.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: When you take into account his many Berserk Buttons...
  • Ambiguous Innocence: Its difficult to say how much of the Stooges schemes Curly really understood.
  • Bald of Awesome
  • Berserk Button: Four of them.
    • Hearing the song "Pop Goes the Weasel" turns him into a boxing sensation in Punch Drunks.
    • Seeing a mouse in Horses' Collars, the only way to stop this is stuffing cheese into his mouth.
    • Smelling a certain perfume in Grips, Grunts, and Groans; only way to stop this is to tickle his feet.
    • The very sight of tassels (of all things) in Tassels in the Air.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Sometimes.
  • Big Fun
  • The Big Guy: Taller than Moe and Larry as well as being the fat one in the group, soitenly so!
  • Breakout Character: Curly is probably the most popular and recognizable of the Stooges.
  • Butter Face: While Moe and Larry typically got the attractive women, he would usually end up with one of these.
  • Butt-Monkey: The worst things would typically happen to him, usually caused by his or Larry's stupidity and Moe blaming him for something that was directly his own fault.
    • Iron Butt Monkey: Took far more damage than the others, and just brushed it off
  • The Cameo: Post-retirement, Howard appeared as a sleeping train passenger in the Shemp-era short, Hold That Lion. This was the only Stooges short to feature all three Howard brothers.
  • Camp Straight
  • Catch Phrase:
    • "Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk."
    • "Soitently!"
    • "I'm a victim of soicumstance!"
    • "Ruff! Ruff!" (barking when angry.)
    • "Woob-woob-woob!"
  • Cloudcuckoolander: What could wonder why Curly was flamboyant and upbeat.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Curly may seem like just a hare-brained simpleton at first glance, but he's actually a fighting machine whenever he hears the song, "Pop Goes the Weasel." In the episode Punch Drunks, Moe takes advantage of this situation and advertises Curly as the next great boxer.
  • Dashingly Dapper Doiby: He's usually seen with one in most shorts. But reaching the last few years of shorts, it wasn't recurring as it was before.
  • The Ditz
  • Extreme Omnivore: He's usually seen eating whatever's unnatural. "So Long, Mr. Chumps" had him shown eating a banana peel.
  • Fat Idiot: He resembles that.
  • Genius Ditz: "Cookoo Cavaliers" reveals he knows how to bleach hair.
    Curly: You take a gallon of gasoline, two tumblers of bicarbonate of soda, an ounce of iodine and a pinch of mustard.
  • Hard Head: Hard enough to bend and warp metal saws when Moe used them on him.
  • Hollow-Sounding Head: No kidding. The movie takes this Up to Eleven; see Made of Iron.
  • Ironic Nickname: "Curly", referring to his buzzcut hair.
  • Kavorka Man: Curly was this in-universe as well as in real-life.
  • The Klutz: It's very likely he wouldn't last long on his own without Moe or Larry looking after him.
  • Large Ham: He usually exclaims hysterically in surprise or other.
  • Made of Iron: Curly was probably the most metallic stooge. It's cranked Up to Eleven in the movie when Moe uses a chainsaw against his head and the chainsaw breaks.
  • Manchild: He was seen as the most immature out of Moe and Larry.
  • Nice Guy: Easily the nicest of the Stooges, he's really too simpleminded for anything else.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: See Stage Name. Likewise, Curly's name could have simply been "Jerry", but "Curly" was something he was tagged with because of his lack of hair.
    • In the earliest shorts, where the Stooges were billed individually, he was credited as "Jerry Howard".
  • Power Trio:
  • Pun: Most of his impromptu jokes fall into this category.
  • Signature Laugh: "Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk."
  • Stage Name: Curly's real name was Jerome Lester Horwitz.
  • True Companions
  • Wacky Guy: And how!


Other members


Shemp Howard
Years Active: 1922-1932, 1946-1955
Portrayed by: John Kassir (2000 biopic)


Joe Besser
Years Active: 1956-1958
Portrayed by: Laurence Coy (2000 biopic)
  • Aside Glance: One of his signatures, usually to express his hatred of Moe.
  • Catch Phrase: "Not so haaard!"
  • Camp Straight
  • Fat Idiot
  • Idiot Houdini: A meta enforced example, Joe's contract initially enforced he didn't take part in the Comedic Sociopathy. There were notable exceptions however.
  • The Scrappy: By far the least popular member with fans, since he refused to take any of the physical abuse and was able to talk back to Moe largely without consequence, disrupting the chemistry of the group.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Averted — instead of emulating Curly or Shemp, he used the "whiny man-child" persona he established in previous roles. This, combined with the "no physical abuse" clause, didn't help him gain any fans.


Curly-Joe DeRita
Years Active: 1958-1970
Portrayed by: Peter Callan (2000 biopic)
  • Bald of Awesome: Yet, he had a full head of hair prior to becoming a Stooge, mind you.
  • Butt-Monkey: Not just as a Stooge, but in his own solo acts before becoming Curly-Joe.
  • Fat Idiot: If not similar to Curly's level of intelligence.
  • Power Trio:
  • Made of Iron
  • Stage Name: Curly-Joe's real name was Joseph Wardell. His stage name was initially Joe DeRita; the "Curly" was added to avoid confusion with Joe Besser.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: At least, physically. When he first joined, he styled his hair like Shemp. However, when the Curly shorts returned to popularity on television, he shaved his hair to look more like him. Persona-wise, however, he wasn't as manic as Curly and had a bit more backbone, occasionally daring to talk back to Moe. note 

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