Christopher Titus (Christopher Titus)
- "A lie is a lie...unless your friends and family are in on it. Then it's a commonly-held belief."
Most episodes follow his exploits and his point of view. He knows that his life has been and is very screwed-up, but realizes that he himself has turned out relatively okay. Even though the show is about his family, everyone calls him by his last name except for his dad and Erin.
- As Himself: Christopher Titus as... Christopher Titus.
- Balls of Steel: Uses a jockstrap to nullify the effects of Amy's Groin Attack attempt.
- Book Dumb: A poor speller, gets confused by long words, and doesn't know what Galileo is famous for, but he's not stupid.
- Butt-Monkey: Titus REALLY can't catch a break.
- Deadpan Snarker: At least the five year-old version of the character. The kid could do as much with an annoyed tone as Stacy Keach could do with a smarmy one.
- Dope Slap: Tends to give these out, especially to Dave when he's being an idiot.
- Hilariously Abusive Childhood: The fact that his father inflicted crippling emotional abuse on him is a point of pride for Ken.
- Last-Name Basis: The only people who ever use his first name are Erin and Ken. This includes Titus himself.
- The Teetotaler: Like his actor, Titus quit drinking in his teens after he fell in a bonfire during a beach party and nearly died. His falling off the wagon is a major plot point in Season Two.
- Tough Love: Grew up on the receiving end on this from Ken, and attempts to use it himself on Amy once she comes into his care. He...can't quite pull it off as well as his father can.
Erin Fitzpatrick (Cynthia Watros)
- "So I'm sitting in a meeting when my pager goes off with a message. It says 'Dad's dead.' So I race out of the meeting and drive all the way to Santa Maria because, naturally, I think 'MY DAD'S DEAD!'"
Christopher's fiancée, a strong and independent woman whose family is just as messed-up as his. She is a calming influence on Titus, is one of the few people Papa Titus likes and is semi-openly lusted after by both Dave and Tommy. Despite her peacemaking personality, she has a buried Irish temper that everyone is afraid of. Her parents, Nora and Merritt, are miserably married alcoholics, her sister Kim is a sexually promiscuous drug addict and her brother Michael is a career criminal. Her childhood dream was to become the first person in her family to not be arrested. She brings in her niece Amy (Kim's daughter) after her stepfather (Kim's boyfriend) almost punches her in the face for calling Child Welfare on him.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Erin has quite a temper. For example: when Ken and his girlfriend, who was also his home health nurse, mean to move in together, Titus is trying to remind Erin of their Reverse Psychology plan to get Ken to hate her by Titus and Co. being nice to her. Unfortunately, his wink-wink brand of mansplaining earns his dad's approval and her ire, which leads to Titus and Erin going outside, Erin judo-flipping Titus onto his backside and threatening to rip-off his eyelid.
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Erin is blond.
- The Heart: Usually believes the best of people, is the only person that can get Ken and Titus to make up during any one of their numerous fights, and with rare exception, gets along with everyone on the show.
- Only Sane Woman: She plays mediator between Titus and Ken, tempers a lot of the more harebrained ideas Titus has, and a fair number of the emotional or romantic moments are set up by her, only to get played for laughs by Titus a minute later.
- Plucky Girl: She just doesn't give up. Even when the goal is to make Titus and Ken have a healthy relationship.
- Stepford Smiler: Erin is HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY.
Dave Scovill (Zack Ward)
- Christopher: I want you to tell me what you want!Dave: (between sobs) But I told you...what I want. I...wanna...get bitten by a radioactive spider and get superpowers!
Christopher's stepbrother and close friend. He has a short attention span, is easily swayed by food, smokes pot, is a Cloud Cuckoolander and has an obsession with Asian women. He is blissfully unaware of how messed-up he is.
- Annoying Younger Sibling: To Titus, though the rest of the gang treats him similarly.
- Boisterous Weakling: When the Fitzpatricks come ready to throw down, he acts like a tough guy, but runs at the first small hint of trouble. He spends the rest of the confrontation yelling while safely locked indoors.
- Characterization Marches On: In the first episode Dave wasn't particularly stupid, was able to follow and take part in an abstract conversation and didn't behave any weirder than the rest of the group. His preference for Asian women also didn't show up until much later in the series.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: No-one ever can follow his train of thoughts. And the appropriate distraction for him?Titus: Dave, look! A cow!
- The Ditz: Parts of it might be marijuana talking, but in the cases he supposedly isn't stoned (like when he's a kid or during the episode 'Private Dave) he isn't much smarter.
- Erudite Stoner: Titus claims that, despite Dave's stupidity, he shows flashes of brilliance, such as when he used a can of beer to save Papa Titus from dying of a heart attack (Don't ask!) and has a vast knowledge of uterine biology because he once got so high, he remembered his own birth.
- Even the Guys Want Him: He occasionally dances at a bar on the gay nights and apparently makes good money at it. He also sincerely believes himself to be a case of this trope as demonstrated by his reasoning that if Tommy isn't hot for him (Dave), he wouldn't be for any other man, thus he (Tommy) is not gay.
- Happily Adopted: Subverted. Dave considers Ken to be his father and calls him "Dad" but Ken never formally adopted him. When Dave gets upset at that fact, Titus reassures him that the years of emotional abuse make up for it.
- Hilariously Abusive Childhood: His mom (Ken's third wife) abandoned him when he was five because Ken was emotionally abusive to her. It's not known whether she did this on purpose or notnote .
- Super Gullible: A side-effect of his being The Stoner, to the point that, upon being told that Ken has a glass eye, he decides to test it by poking him in his right eye while he's asleep. When Ken screams in pain, Dave's reaction is to assume he simply poked the wrong eye.
- Throw It In!: Dave's obsession with Asian women came about because Zack Ward is married to an Asian woman in real life. The writers thought the visual of the extremely pale Ward being with an Asian woman was hilarious.
Tommy Shafter (David Shatraw)
- Tommy: Now, Mr. Titus, this is something my father taught me. (starts making hand gestures) Father and son start together...and then, they grow apart...until the son's ready to be a man...and then, they grow together again.Ken: Can you get him away from me?
Friend of the family and accountant for Titus' custom car shop. Growing up in a relatively stable household, Tommy is the only "normal" member of the cast, and he is just as screwed-up as everyone else. Eccentric, flamboyant and anal, his effeminate mannerisms are subverted as he is heterosexual, but those mannerisms are picked up from his gay father.
- Ambiguously Gay / Mistaken for Gay: Justified in that Tommy imitated his father, who was a Straight Gay who kept his true sexuality under wraps for many years.
- Beware the Nice Ones: While it's hard to do, pushing Tommy too far may get him to tase your juvenile delinquent ass up or kick the homophobic shit out of you and force you to scream "I'm a homo!"
- Camp Straight: A downplayed version. His campish mannerisms are a direct result of his father being in the closet while raising him.Ken: Tommy's not a fruit... but he hangs out in the orchard.
- The Chick: He's by far the most in-touch with his sensitive side, even moreso than Erin.
- The Pollyanna: As put by Titus in "Sex with Pudding", Tommy is entirely too trusting.Titus: I see a carjacker, Tommy sees a grump valet with a gun.
- Stalker with a Crush: In the episode "Tommy's Girlfriend," where Tommy's high school sweetheart (played by Nicole Sullivan) ends up trapped in Titus's car shop after Tommy crashes his car into hers.
Ken 'Papa' Titus (Stacy Keach)
- Christopher: (while role-playing with Dave about how condescending their dad is) Hey, Dad, I started my own business and I made more money in one year than you have in any year of your life! What do you think about that?! Heh heh heh... (Ken appears behind him, beer in hand)
You could consider him to be a Magnificent Bastard, to some degree. The show revolves around the relationship between him and Christopher. He is a very difficult man to describe; he's gruff and difficult, but has Jerk with a Heart of Gold tendencies. He seems to enjoy watching Christopher suffer, but it seems to be a form of Training from Hell meets Wax On, Wax Off.
- Abusive Dad: Believes that emotional damage keeps kids in line better than physical abuse, as he told Erin's dad in "The Perfect Thanksgiving."Ken: See that? That's emotional damage; that's much more powerful.
- The Alcoholic: Just like Titus' dad in Real Life. Titus notes that he doesn't have a single photo where Ken isn't holding a beer.
- Deadpan Snarker: Ken can take anyone down by a few pegs without even changing the tone of his voice, helped immensely by the fact that Stacy Keach can make even the driest of lines a gut-busting zinger.
- Death Glare: He can have entire arguments by just glaring at his opponent. And win.
- The Dreaded: Ken's punishments were so cruel and humiliating that Titus considered going to jail to be preferable.
- Everyone Has Standards: As much of a jerk as Ken makes himself out to be, even he's disgusted at Juanita's fiancee Bill. "The Reconciliation" was bad enough when Bill explained just how he and Juanita met, but "The Wedding" really drove it home.Ken: (while Titus and Dave are holding him back) You never hit a woman! No matter how many times she's beaten you, stabbed you or tried to kill you!
- And despite his constant cheating, he'd never actually lie about doing so when confronted.
- Also, he takes pride in never having laid a finger on his children as punishment or in anger. He takes in even more pride in the fact that all the damage he wrought is purely psychological.
- Hidden Depths: According to the Christmas episode "Houseboat" and the episode "Grandma Titus," Ken is a brutal parent because his mother was abusive to him in his childhood (his mother, in turn, was emotionally abused by Ken's own father).
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Ken shows a softer side at times.
- Titus repeatedly stresses that his father was a good man and a wonderful father while sober and that Ken made huge sacrifices to make sure that Christopher never went without while growing up. It's just that the fun and loving part of Ken's personality would invariably disappear around noon when Ken cracked open his first beer.
- Ken was an emotionally abusive, womanizing bastard who drove wives away. But when Dave's mom left, he still kept taking care of Dave and Dave came to see Ken as his own father.
- Kavorka Man: Women find him charming... until they date and/or marry him. Then they try to kill him and/or ruin his life.
- Parental Substitute: Dave is actually his stepson from a short-lived marriage. But when Dave's mother left, Ken raised Dave as his own son.
- Must Have Nicotine: When being interrogated, he's told he can't smoke.Ken: Hey, look. I just got off a 3-hour flight. I'm wearing 4 patches, swallowed 6 pieces of nicorette, and I'm under arrest. I need a freakin' smoke!
- Sink-or-Swim Mentor: In one flashback, this trope is used literally when teaching Dave how to swim. When Dave fails, he throws Titus in after him.
- The Stoner: Occasionally touched upon throughout the series. Ken loved marijuana and never missed a chance to indulge. He was a hypocrite about it though, as he severely punished Christopher for dealing and using marijuana.
- Tough Love: According to him, calling Titus a "wussy" so often was to help toughen him up.
Juanita Titus (Christine Estrabrook, Frances Fisher, Connie Stevens)
- Juanita: Get down! The aliens can see you!Young Christopher: They look like trash cans, Mom.Juanita: They always do! They're aliens, not morons! Go get your metal hat! (brandishes a shotgun and shoves the business end of it out the window) HOW DARE YOU INVADE MY PLANET! (fires)
Titus' paranoid schizophrenic mother. A beautiful, kind, talented, extremely intelligent woman...who is also a constant danger to those around her and whose appearances are usually met with blind terror from the rest of the cast.
- Axe-Crazy: Chased after Ken with a broken wine bottle at the end of "Mom's Not Nuts," and shot her abusive second husband Bill when he punched her in the face during Titus' wedding.
- Driven to Suicide: How Juanita died. The good news is that she didn't take anyone with her when she died.
- Manipulative Bitch: Ken and Christopher have described Juanita as this.
Amy Fitzpatrick (Rachel Roth)
- Tommy: Well, someone's turning into a woman!Amy: Yeah, and I'm looking at her.
- Agony of the Feet: Tried a Groin Attack on Titus just as she did on his friend, and ended up howling in pain after the hit (to his cup).
- Does Not Like Men: Justified when you consider that her mom's boyfriend beats the crap out of her when he's drunk and she was molested by a male babysitter whose son sexually harassed her.
- Hidden Depths: "The Protector" and "Amy's Birthday" shed light on why Amy is such a broken child: Her mother is a drug addict who's too high to raise her own child, her stepfather is a drunk who beats her and, when Amy was a child, she was sexually molested by a family friend who offered to take care of her while her parents were in jail.
- The Pigpen: Titus regularly points out that Amy has extremely poor hygiene and reacts in disgust when he gives her a kiss and gets a whiff/taste of her funk.
- Straight Gay: The episode "Errr" reveals that Amy is in love with someone named "Charlie..." who turns out to be a girl. Prior to that point, there was no mention of Amy's sexual preference.
- Sixth Ranger: Becomes this towards the end of the series, thanks to the spotlight on her.