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Characters / Whose Line Is It Anyway?

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The larger-than-life performers of Whose Line Is It Anyway?.

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     UK Side 

Clive Anderson

The original host of the show, from the early simplistic UK seasons to the more elaborate studio version as it slowly morphed into the format that fans of the US run are familiar with.

Tropes associated with Clive:
  • Amoral Attorney: The players sometimes called attention to Clive's legal background and suggested he was one.
  • Butt-Monkey: At least once a season, someone will go "hello, I'm Clive Anderson" before getting buzzed out.
    • Also, any disaster would often be attributed to him, such as the dinosaurs being wiped out by a plague of Clive Andersons.
  • Catchphrase:
    • "The winner shall now read the credits in a style of my choosing... it remains to me now to thank our contestants, (four names in rapid succession) and Richard Vranch on the piano, thisismeCliveAndersonsayinggoodnight,goodnight!"
    • (at the end of Film Dub) "Bonus points for actually getting the original dialogue..."
    • (at the end of Stand Sit Bend) "One of my favourite games, but it's not much fun on your own..."
  • Deadpan Snarker: Not even the audience is spared, as he will pick at the more ridiculous suggestions they give him.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: "Our next round is called 'Different Games', because different games are played in this round..."
    • When introducing Props: "The contestants will be split into two pairs of two..."
  • Don't Explain the Joke: "Elephants packing for a holiday. Packing their trunks, I suppose."
    • This leaves Paul and Josie to audibly groan, as Clive ruined the punchline of their Scenes From A Hat skit.
  • Kick the Dog: "Unfortunately that was a non-scoring round..."
  • Mondegreen: He often misheard audience suggestions for film and theatre styles as nonsense phrases ("Bearded Collie", "Fifty" for Disney, "Mwah Mwah" for Braveheart, etc.) and sometimes even actually used these as styles to give the players a real challenge.
  • Motor Mouth
  • The Napoleon: While Clive's actual height in comparison to the players never comes up (since he's sitting at a desk the whole time), his wideset build and noticeable... lack of a neck qualifies him for this trope.
  • Not So Stoic: Getting him to crack up is a challenge of sorts. The US players, being US players, went to town in this aspect.
  • Self-Deprecation: At some point Clive learned how to get out of the bald and 'neck' jokes... by doing them first.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis with Greg Proops (see below)
  • Take That!: Once after declaring the winner of the game to be Tony Slattery, he assigned him to read the credits in the style of a comedian who was constantly cracking up while trying to tell a joke. Tony was not amused.
  • Take That, Audience!: Often mocked the audience during the "Film and Theatre Styles" round for suggesting low-brow and proletarian styles from TV. To be fair, so do some of the players.

John Sessions

Known for being the first regular performer, John is still, hands down, the most knowledgeable performer in the show's history... sadly, he would be better known for his somewhat misguided application of said knowledge, while paving the way for the ones we would come to know as the legends of Whose Line. Also sadly, he passed away in 2020.

Tropes associated with John:
  • The Ace
  • Achilles' Heel: Sure he had his references down pat, and he pulled off a credible Leonard Cohen during one Song Styles, but the one thing that would always be a problem for him was the actual improvisation. Seriously, he messed up a couple of the guessing games by giving the answer away.
  • The Cast Showoff
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Intentional or not, John's habit for ignoring the buzzer and carrying on one of his spiels was legendary.
  • Large Ham
    • Hoist by His Own Petard: Season 2 episode 12 had a new guest performer, Chris Langham, who could give John a run for his money.
      Clive: (after holding the buzzer down for some time) Are you doing this in the style of two deaf actors?...
  • Meaningful Name: Someone named Sessions becoming a regular on a show with this format, what are the chances?
  • Motor Mouth: Known for monologuing during scenes intended for two people — Jonathan Pryce gets annoyed with him for this in Film & Theatre Styles, though he plays it off as being amused by it. Also often keeps rambling after Clive has buzzed the scene. He even does this during what are intended to be incredibly rapid fire games like Props and World's Worst.
  • The Smart Guy: Depending on how much you like him, John is either this or an Insufferable Genius. Everyone can agree, however, that John Sessions has read more books than you.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: In rounds of Authors since, in addition to his Motor Mouth, he usually gets more time than other contestants.
  • Take That!: Many of his impressions would include at least one unflattering description of the person or music style.

Archie Hahn

The first American performer ever in the UK version.

Tropes associated with Archie:

Josie Lawrence
US Side - Original 
"You're travelling with Air Bunkup!"

The first regular female player, and fondly remembered as one of the most versatile.

Tropes associated with Josie:

Paul Merton

Known for being one of the legends of the UK run - even if he seemed out of touch for the most of it. Known mostly for his quick, deadpan wit and generally being a Jerkass to the other contestants (Played for Laughs of course).

Tropes associated with Paul:

Tony Slattery
"Hello, is this Clive Anderson Ties Limited? Yes, I think you should shut down. Bye."

Known for being the other legend of the UK run - US fans, imagine Brad's sense of humor, Wayne's energy, and Colin's inhibitions in one package.

Tropes associated with Tony:
  • The Ace
  • Achilles' Heel: Tony is very, very good at laughing. Often at himself.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Tony's sexuality is a favorite topic amongst fans with too much time on their hands.
    Clive: *playing Scenes from a Hat* "Robin Hood selecting his merry men."
    Tony: *comes out in the middle of the stage with the other (male) performers, and throws his arms out flamboyantly* "I'll have all of you!"
  • The Cast Showoff: He was pulling dance moves long before Wayne Brady.
    • He was also very good at the Hoedown game, and was often given the very last spot in these games whenever he played. (The creators actually have come out saying the last spot on Hoedown is the hardest. It gives the most time to think, but if the player can't think of something funny, then the entire game feels like a waste of time.)
  • Downer Ending: He was fired after a bad episode in season seven. After this, he had a nervous breakdown.
    • To clarify: Tony began suffering from severe bipolar disorder a few years before he was fired, and, instead of seeking professional help, he turned to drugs and alcohol instead as a form of self-medication. It didn't work. His career was the only thing keeping him even remotely sane. Eventually, though, he did begin seeking professional help, and now he's sobered up and gradually easing back into show business (occasionally he performs live improv with the Comedy Store Players, including Paul, Josie, and Steve), so it's not a complete downer.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Eagle-eyed viewers can spot him in the audience in the very first episode.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Not only does Tony have two middle names, but one of them is "Declan." (Pronounced like "Dek-lin," not "The Clan".)
  • Face Palm: Tony had a very nice one when the audience suggested and Clive told him to make up a song about him being in love with an inflatable pig. Another example came when Greg, Colin and Ryan were asked to read the credits in the style of Tony.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: When Caroline Quentin (below) became one of the first players (the first lady even) to get his goat.
  • I Was Quite a Fashion Victim: It says a lot that the end of his tenure was marked by some of the most unflattering outfits in the show's history.
  • Keet: Energetic, loud, and smaller than most of his castmates, Tony sure fits the bill.
  • Large Ham
  • Lovable Sex Maniac: To the extent of whatever passed for Memetic Mutation in those days.
  • The Napoleon: It's not obvious till much later that Tony really is one of the shortest players on the stage, especially after more Americans join in.
    • It's not so much that Tony is short (he's 5'11") as it is that everyone else is really tall. Even Josie, the female performer who appeared the most, is 5'10"!
  • Precision F-Strike: After a particularly disastrous playing of Party Quirks, Tony yelled "Oh, well, FUCK OFF!" at Clive... consequently losing every point he'd ever won on the show up to that point. We all know The Points Mean Nothing, but damn.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "Shut. Your. Face."
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: With Paul Merton
  • Refuge in Audacity: Some of the dirtiest lines on the show are attributed to Tony.
  • Running Gag: Sneaking a Vomit Discretion Shot into any session of Props.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Occasionally. For example, during one Party Quirks, Greg was playing a "compulsive liar." Tony guessed that he was an "inveterate bullshitter."
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Tony was suggested as a replacement for Stephen Fry when Stephen backed out of becoming a regular on the show. The producers were skeptical, but he quickly won them over.
  • Take That!: Tony's occasional throwing out of the name Patricia, rumored to be an old girlfriend of his. Also note some of his initial guesses.
    Greg: *playing a Surfer* "Dude, what's up, broheim? Screaming flat, man! Look, shredding snacks! Whoo!" *'surfs' over to the 'snack table' while humming a surfing tune*
  • What the Hell, Hero?: When playing film and theater styles, Clive would sometimes give the style: "Musical." If that happened, Tony would say to the other: "You know a song about that, don't you? Well, off you go then!" Only Greg Proops was able to give a good response by encouraging the audience members to sing with him.
    • Encouraging. Thaaaat is what we call it.
      Greg: "SING, DAMN IT!"

Mike McShane
"Here's your keys and HERE'S YOUR LUNCH!!"

There have been US guests before Mike of course, but Mike stands out for being the most versatile - and well, being the most.

Tropes associated with Mike:
  • Achilles' Heel: He was a very good singer, both in performance and lyric creativity, but it seems he did not understand the point of a hoedown game was less to sound like an actual hoedown and more to make up a simple four-line poem set to music. The few times he participates in a hoedown he completely derails the scheme.
    • This was one of the things the producers were not happy with, as they were increasingly playing to a formula (mainly to pack the show with guaranteed laughs, not to intentionally limit creativity), and this threw off the Hoedown game. Watch his last hoedown - the Tight Trousers Hoedown. He adheres much more closely to the standard tune, but looks angry.
    • Leaked footage from the Whose Line's 30th anniversary show, done in London in December 2018, shows that Mike still doesn't seem to have the point of hoedown. To be fair, he hadn't been a part of Whose Line since 1997, but still...
  • Acrofatic: He will bust out the dance steps if needed.
  • The Big Guy
  • Hypocritical Humor: Mike once made a bald joke about Clive. Clive wasted no time in pointing out the hypocrisy in this when he has a noticeable bald patch as well.
    "[By] early rock 'n' roll, do you mean at this point in your hairline or at this point in your hairline?"
  • I Resemble That Remark!: When suggesting a song for a Bartender game, a member of the audience suggested Mike was drinking to forget a problem with his diet. He fired back with: "Wow, all these weight references, I've never heard them before. Get some original material."
  • Large Ham
  • Retroactive Recognition: Possible, especially for American viewers who didn't discover the show until later. Mike played the role of Friar Tuck in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and for some of the audience, that may be where they saw him first.
  • True Companions: Rumor has it that Mike quit the show when Tony Slattery was fired during season seven in a display of camaraderie and to protest how Tony was treated by the producers. He did, however, make one more guest appearance on the show in season nine.
    • It's a bit more complicated than that, as Mike explained in a recent radio interview. Both he and Tony were let go simultaneously in 1995, as Dan Patterson and Mark Leveson (the show's creators) were in the midst of selling the show to American producers, who deemed Tony too vulgar for US audiences, and Mike too unappealing looks-wise. Although Mike was allowed back for one show in season 9, he still was not allowed on the US show. Mike also went on to say that both he and Tony were not happy with Ryan Stiles, who went up to bat for his friend Colin Mochrie (whom US producers also wanted removed), but still stood back and allowed Mike and Tony to get thrown off.

Sandi Toksvig
"I've got lots and lots of scarlet fishes. That's nothing to do with the party, that's a red herring." (audience groans)

The diminutive and strangely gruff-voiced Danish addition to the cast is known for being more than just the second female regular.

Tropes associated with Sandi:

Jim Sweeney

As a semi-regular, Jim may only be remembered for bringing his colleague Steve Steen onto the show - which is a pity, because he holds his own remarkably well against the regulars.

Tropes associated with Jim:
  • '80s Hair
  • Deadpan Snarker
  • Keet: The real reason he brought his longtime partner Steve Steen on the show - their chemistry. Partner Jim with someone else, and the building nervousness makes him look like he's been shooting up on caffeine.
    Jim: "Well, I have to go..."
    Greg: "Yes, I know you have to leave now, to see the... musical instruments..."
    Jim: (beat) "...Xanadu was a really bad film, wasn't it?!"
  • Spiritual Successor: To John Sessions.

Steve Steen
Tropes associated with Steve Steen:

Steve Frost
"You're goin' 'ome in a BLEEDIN' AMBULANCE!!"

Huge, balding and gruff of voice, with eyebrows you could lose a man in, Steve may be the most intimidating comedian ever.

Tropes associated with Steve Frost:
  • Achilles' Heel: Steve was especially bad at the Hoedown game. He had a terrible sense of rhythm and his rhymes made no sense.
    Steve: When I was a young man, I went to my friend's house for tea. Well he was growing up too fast, he was going through puberty. He had hairs on his top lip, and underneath his arms. His mother came in and caught us kissing. And... joined in.
    • It doesn't help that he was almost always in the first spot, which meant he got basically no time to think of a verse.
      • He had a third spot in one of the first games he appeared on. One would think he was moved to the first spot because the producers realized the extra time didn't help him.
  • Artistic License – Biology: During the vasectomy hoedown, Steve described the procedure as: "Gonna cut your balls off, and put 'em in a jar!"
  • Ass Shove: Steve pretending to pull on a long rubber glove is usually a sign for Clive to hit the buzzer.
  • Bald of Awesome
  • The Big Guy: He's as tall as Ryan, but significantly burlier.
  • Big Ol' Eyebrows
  • Boisterous Bruiser: To the extent that his turn on "Weird Newscasters" as a "soccer fan" started becoming disturbingly realistic.
    "...ENGLAAAAND! ENGLAAAAND!!" *takes his seat and starts swinging it around*
  • Cool Old Guy: You really get the feeling that Colin and Ryan were basically his understudies during his tenure.
  • Face of a Thug
  • Iconic Outfit: It's been speculated that those baggy Hawaiian shirts were all they had in his size...
  • Make Me Wanna Shout: He's known for his very loud and sharp whistle, able to cut right through the pace of whatever act he was in.
  • Refuge in Audacity: He actually lowered his pants for a laugh twice.
  • Stock Characters: Jimmy Saville ("Now then now then now then!")
  • Violent Glaswegian: Practically oozes this.

Rory Bremner
(as John Major) "I must say, it makes a difference taking the piss out of myself..."

Specialising in impressions, Rory enjoyed a semi-regular run on this show before moving on to Mock the Week.

Tropes associated with Rory:
  • The Bus Came Back: Rory was on the radio show and season one, then (due to his busy work schedule) quit appearing. He made one guest shot on the 6th season- and became a regular in the 8th and 9th.* Catchphrase: Ironically, none are actually his own. He's known to have milked Murray Walker's "Look! At! That!" a few times.
  • Man of a Thousand Voices
  • Nerd Glasses: Actually carried a pair for his more specific impressions.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Rory won many of the games he appeared on. He was also always given a chance to show off an impression he was good at, or another subject he knew about. See for example the Tory Politicians Hoedown, which was the topic when the other three contestants were two Americans and a Canadian. Greg is able to show off his UK politics knowledge, but Colin and Ryan just sort of flounder.
  • Stock Characters: Implied to have a dozen, but his British politicians and Eagle Land acts come to mind.
  • Take That!: His impressions of co-stars can be pretty spot on, check out his takes on Tony and Clive.

Caroline Quentin
Clive: " this scene, you are a woman in labor, and Tony is the father of th..."
Caroline: "I'll be the judge of that!"

Despite joining the UK lineup relatively late, Caroline's talent and chemistry with Josie has created some moments to remember.

Tropes associated with Caroline:
  • Refuge in Audacity: In American terms, she was the Colin to Josie's Ryan.
    • In one game she is paired with Steve Frost and given the scene At the Butcher's. He asks if she wants "some dripping to go with that." She answers: "Don't worry, I'm doing me own," to Steve's complete revulsion.
  • Thanks for the Mammary: Much like the example with Josie, Caroline is groped by Tony in revenge after she slaps him in the face. She counters to this by openly grabbing his crotch immediately afterward. Can be seen here.

Richard Vranch

Colleagues with Paul and Josie (all hailing from The Comedy Store Players) prior to Whose Line, Richard is best known for being the musician for the UK series.

Tropes associated with Richard Vranch:
  • Iconic Outfit: How often is he seen without those earphones of his?
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: He slings a guitar alongside that piano, and there's a synthesiser on top and probably some other musical implements behind it.
    • He's also literally a scientist. He has a doctorate in physics from Cambridge University.
  • The Voiceless: Richard Vranch rarely spoke during all of his years on the show. He did smile and occasionally move his head though.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: He's actually a successful improvisational comedian himself, with music only forming a small part of his act. He really wanted to come out from behind his piano and show what else he could do, but the producers never let him.

One-shot or infrequent performers:

  • Ardal O'Hanlon
  • Arthur Smith
  • Betty Thomas
  • Brad Sherwood
    • The Bus Came Back: Only made 2 appearances in series 4, then returned in series 9 as a semi-regular.
  • Catherine O'Hara - Appeared in a few of the L.A. episodes.
  • Chip Esten - A semi-regular on the U.S. version; only had five appearances in the U.K. version.
  • Chris Langham
  • Christopher Smith
  • Colin Mochrie - A semi-regular starting in series 3, before later becoming a regular.
  • Dawn French - Appeared on the radio series.
  • Debi Durst - Notable for wearing one of the ugliest outfits of the entire series.
  • Debra Wilson - Appeared in one of the L.A. episodes.
  • Denalda Williams
  • Eddie Izzard
  • Enn Reitel
  • George McGrath
  • George Wendt
  • Graeme Garden
  • Greg Proops - A constant semi-regular starting in series 2.
  • Griff Rhys Jones
  • Hugh Laurie - Appeared on the radio series.
  • Jan Ravens
  • Jane Brucker
  • Jim Meskimen
  • Jimmy Mulville
  • John Bird - Appeared on the radio series.
  • Jon Glover
  • Jonathan Pryce
  • Julian Clary
  • Kate Robbins - Appeared on the radio series.
  • Lee Simpson
  • Lenny Henry - Appeared on the radio series.
  • Mark Cohen
  • Neil Mullarkey
  • Niall Ashdown
  • Nonny Williams - Appeared on the radio series.
  • Patrick Bristow
  • Paul Rider
  • Peter Cook
  • Phil LaMarr - Appeared in a few of the L.A. episodes.
  • Richard Kaplan
  • Ron West - Later became a writer/consultant for the show.
  • Rory McGrath
  • Russell Fletcher
  • Ryan Stiles - A semi-regular starting in series 2, before later becoming a regular.
  • Sam Johnson
  • Stephen Fry
  • Wayne Brady - Appeared in a few of the L.A. episodes, and would return as a regular performer for the U.S. series.


     US Side - Original 

Drew Carey
"Welcome to Whose Line Is It Anyway?, where the points don't matter, that's right, the points are like the plot of a porn movie, they don't matter!"

Known for already having an eponymous sitcom, Drew went with his co-star Ryan's idea of adapting this show for US audiences and became host and executive producer of Whose Line until its initial cancellation.

Tropes associated with Drew:
  • Achilles' Heel: It's not hard to get Drew to laugh, but it is hard to make him stop.
  • Adipose Rex: Drew was the performers' and musicians' boss during his run. He even sometimes jokes about Ryan's place on his sitcom show whenever he makes a joke on him.
    Drew: I have the power to hire and fire.
  • Catchphrase:
    • "I'm your host Drew Carey, c'mon down, let's have some fun!"
    • "Welcome to Whose Line Is It Anyway?, the show where everything's made up and the points don't matter... if you've never seen the show before, this is how it works: our performers are going to make up everything you see here, right off the top of their heads, based on suggestions from the audience... we give 'em some fakey points, it's just a gag to hold the show together..."
    • "A thousand points to everyone!"
      • This last one was lampshaded in one episode when Drew brought in a tape recorder with him saying "One thousand points" on it. He joked that he's trying to get to the point where he doesn't even have to show up at all. Ryan said "Damn close." in response to that.
  • Character Development: Of sorts. Drew got much better at improvisation as the show went on. Compare early performances where he flubbed the one-word rule of "Three-Headed Broadway Star" multiple times in the same game to episodes nearer the end of the run, where he had become much more competent thanks to by-then years of practice and observation with the pros.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: Drew, as the series progressed, used schadenfreude more and more as a major part of his humor. He relished in watching the cast squirm.
    • His standard intro to Superheroes includes "they're gonna try to screw each other up". To Drew, the point of the game was watching them struggle to act out the insane characters they assigned each other.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Allison.
  • Freudian Excuse: Drew lost his father and was molested by an adult male as a kid, so his relish for hoedowns is dampened when the subjects of Christmas and family reunions come up.
  • The Hyena: Drew was often prone to fits of helpless, giggly laughter during particularly absurd or brutal games, often at the hands of Ryan or Colin.
  • Iconic Outfit: Not just the suit but the suspenders struggling with his pants.

Greg Proops
US Side - Original 
US Side - Revival 
"Yes, Mister Patronising Barrister, we do have trampolines in America..."

One of the best known US regulars in the UK run, mainly for his distinct voice and his habit of directing jokes at Clive's expense. Whether it was Clive's relative inaction during the UK run, or his habit of condescending cracks at the US players, or both, it's turned Greg vs Clive into the best known Running Gag (the distinguishing aspect even) of the late UK run.

Tropes associated with Greg:
  • The Bus Came Back: After rumors that The CW didn't want too many of the older players back, he reappeared in the second season of the revival series.
  • Deadpan Snarker
  • Demoted to Extra: Arguably, this happened during the ABC run as Colin, Ryan and Wayne were the main three contestants and the fourth seat was usually filled in by Brad or one of the female characters.
  • Fascinating Eyebrow: The first 15 seconds of this.
  • Fish out of Water: He's usually able to keep up with the British humor and references. However, in one round of Dating Game, he was completely unable to guess that Tony Slattery was pretending to be Noddy because he had never heard of the character. note  He was on the right track - he guessed "Some colorful British cartoon character?" - but after the answer was revealed he was clearly flummoxed.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Heavily invoked, despite the similarity to Drew's Nerd Glasses.
  • Iconic Outfit: The glasses and the suit, especially the jacket that Wayne borrows at times.
  • Last-Second Word Swap/Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: A specialty of his during the UK run.
  • Man of a Thousand Voices: His most underrated strength, possibly because of a very nasally tone in all of them.
  • Self-Deprecation: Played with while hosting one game of "Party Quirks."
    "It's a 'Come as a Greg Proops joke' party. Ocelot! Ocelot! Nehehehehehe—God, you're bald, Clive."
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Easily the sharpest dresser on the series.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: To Clive Anderson.
  • Smug Snake
  • Stock Characters: Woody Allen
  • Totally Radical: Looking back, his early appearances have shades of this; it's hard to tell how much of it is self-mockery/exaggeration and how much is genuinely what hip Californians talked like then...
    • It's self-mockery AND accurate. If you've seen his solo act, most of his jokes revolve around how dumb stereotypical Californians sound.
  • Troll: Most of his best humor was spent making the hosts look silly and bringing them down a peg - most iconically Clive (with whom it was almost an art form), but also to an extent with Drew as well. It sometimes overlapped with Karmic Trickster, especially with Clive.
  • Viewers Are Morons: After failing to get a laugh with the joke: "Wow Alice, there are two Cheshire Cats!" he indignantly yelled out: "It's called a book!"
    • He's done that more than once.
  • Waxing Lyrical: Once managed to squeeze John Lee Hooker lyrics into a Hats suggestion.

Ryan Stiles
US Side - Original 
US Side - Revival 
"That's right, I'LL respect YOU in the MOOORNIIING!!"

From early in the UK run to the last episode of the original US run (and then to the 2013 revival), Ryan Stiles has become a staple of the show. He's its driving force in more ways than one, as he served as executive producer on the show for helping to bring it to the US, and serves in the same position on the CW revival.

Tropes associated with Ryan:
  • Absentee Actor: Missed two episodes in 2014 due to illness.
  • The Ace: From general quick wit and Refuge in Audacity to some some actual singing ability, it's easy to see why Ryan's the main man of the show.
  • Berserk Button: You can pick on Ryan, you can pick your nose, but don't pick on Ryan's nose.
    • Ryan loathes hoedowns, due to how overused they are and how difficult it is to come up with lyrics on the fly, especially since he's often the last person in the line, meaning he has less content to work with.
      Ryan: Singing a song about a vending machine/Don't you know that it's really not my scene?/Trying to think of something clever with a little twist,/If we do another hoedown, I'll slit my fucking wrist!
  • The Big Guy: At 6'6", he's the tallest performer.
  • Butt-Monkey: Meta-example - from being fed with the weirdest suggestions in the cards to being fed with pretty much anything by Colin in Helping Hands.
    "I'm just leaving a little time here so everyone can read the novel that is my suggestion..."
    • Also often gets poked fun at for the outrageous shoes he would wear, which are custom-made due to the unusual size of his feet. In one game of Scenes From a Hat, Kathy Greenwood suggested that his bright blue footwear could even be seen from space.
  • The Cast Showoff: A minor example; Ryan is very good at remaining very, very still, and some party quirks etc are written with that in mind (such as being a taxidermic stuffed corpse or being strapped to a bomb that will go off if he moves).
  • Covert Pervert: It's been noted out that he's by far more familiar with certain subjects than he'll own up to.
    Drew: That's close enough... (lets Greg see the answer)
    Ryan: "I had to just, think about what that's be like cos I've never... ahem..."
    Colin: "...AAAAHAHAHAHA!..."
    • Xaviera Hollander, his frequent pick for X in 90 Second Alphabet, is a former prostitute.
  • Deadpan Snarker
  • Gag Nose
  • Gag Penis: From imaginary ones to actual ones thanks to some of the Props.
  • Game-Breaking Injury:
    • Ryan's bad back has come up once or twice, even resulting in the only Ice Skaters game ever being aborted. In the 2013 revival, he's left out of Sideways Scene, and even Moving People (which he actually headlined in the old days).
    • For a one-off example, in one Party Quirks game where he's pretending to be "Carol Channing getting her head stuck to things," he actually falls and smashes a floor light with his head. He manages to remain in character the whole time, but that was the last time he or anyone else was given that kind of prompt.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Colin. Which is amazing, considering the number of times they've kissed each other.
  • Hidden Depths: He really can sing if he puts his mind to it, just take a listen here.
    • His "malevolent poltergeist" act involves going to Laura Hall's usual place and working her piano and synthesiser, making some pretty creepy sounds (Full episode here).
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Any time Ryan's attempts to strongarm the current act in a direction of his own choosing is thwarted by Colin.
    • Also the Hoedowns: The last slot in the hoedown is the most important; a good player can use it to elevate the entire episode to legendary funniness while a bad one can leave the audience feeling cheated. Ryan was good at it, really really good. It was one of the reasons why there are so many Hoedowns in the US run, so many that Ryan came to hate the game with a passion because he was always last and always had to try and top not only the other players but himself. When the Hoedown returned in the revival, Ryan is now situated in the #3 slot, with Jeff Davis or Brad Sherwood bringing up the final verse depending on the episode.
  • Iconic Outfit: His shoes.
    • The shoes, the cowboy shirts, the ties.
  • Large Ham
  • Likes Older Women: That episode with Florence Henderson...
  • Made of Iron: Takes a neon light to the head and keeps on going.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: Sort of. Ryan was born in the U.S. but spent much of his childhood in Canada. When he needs an excuse for getting something wrong, it's usually something along the lines of, "I'm Canadian. It's different there." But he's still allowed free passes to mock Colin for being Canadian, implying Ryan isn't.
    • Oddly, Ryan is identified as Canadian far more in the UK episodes than he is in the US episodes.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: He'll jokingly threaten to do this to the spouse or boyfriend of any attractive female audience member.
  • Nice Shoes
  • One Head Taller: Given his height, every time he's involved with a woman ends up this way.
  • Pungeon Master: One of his specialties.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Many of the show's racier gags (and, by extension, outtakes) seemed to occur during Ryan's final Hoedown line. Just one of many examples.
  • Rule of Funny: To the extent that the nickname "Anything-for-a-Laugh" has been used in-universe on the show.
    • Subverted when taking a mouthful of Altoid mints comes back to bite him in the worst way.
      Drew: They are curiously strong when you pop them all in your mouth at once.
  • Running Joke: Ryan would tend to make as many references to Nazis or impressions of Adolf Hitler as he could get away with, especially in the Helping Hands game.
    • He was upset when "Bill Cosby and Hitler are roommates" was suggested for a game in the American version and Executive Meddling stopped the game before it even started.
      • Of course, he managed to get an amazing bit of revenge against the Executive Meddling during the show's hoedown.
        Ryan: Our director, he really is the boss/For yelling, and screaming, he's never at a loss! He's the meanest guy that you will ever see/He should sprout a mustache and move to Germany! (Audience promptly loses its shit)
  • Stock Characters: Elvis Presley, Carol Channing, John Wayne, animals of all kinds.
  • Suicide as Comedy: He's mimed hanging himself several times.
  • Those Two Guys: So much so with Colin, as the two are regularly paired together in games (such as "Infomercial" and "Greatest Hits") and are the only performers to have been regulars for the show's entire duration, appearing in every episode of the original US series' run together with Drew (Wayne was a recurring player in Seasons 1 and 8).
  • Too Kinky to Torture: He's made jokes about this several times (which is downright suicidal if you know about his back condition). This literally bites him in the ass when Colin gets his hands on a fancy bondage crop, makes a nonchalant swing at Ryan, and then they learn it's the real deal.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: With Drew Carey.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Accents are not his strongest point... and he knows it, too.
    Ryan: Lemme just say that this Spanish Colonel has some Italian in him..."

Colin Mochrie
US Side - Original 
US Side - Revival 
"Monkey monkey chew the butter / See my buttocks, they've better,
batter, patoota / patoota monkey monkey!
Look! There's a gerbil! / I'm going up and down!
60 Minutes, where are you? / Here's an expose for you!
* gibberish*"

A regular towards the end of the UK run, Colin quickly became a crowd favorite for all the right reasons (and a few wrong ones). Starting with Season 5 of the CW revival, he is now an executive producer.

Tropes associated with Colin:
  • The Ace: All around, though perhaps most notably with Irish Drinking Song. He has a reputation of making every other cast member laugh at the drop of a hat while barely cracking a smile at his costars' silliest gags.
    • Taken to a slightly further level in the revival series, where he reveals a surprising strength, picking up wrestlers with boggling ease.
  • Achilles' Heel: Any music-based game - except possibly the Irish Drinking Song.
    • Colin has admitted the Hoedown is the only game in which he feels real fear while playing.
    • Colin often freezes in "If You Know What I Mean", but he has his moments, like "I'll help you fluff your Garfield, if you know what I mean.".
    • He's often implied on-camera to have difficulty with impersonations (usually deferring to a general Walter Brennan western accent whenever it comes time to do one), and thus seems hesitant whenever participating in "Questionable Impressions". His only good impression is Colonel Klink, from Hogan's Heroes. It's dead on.
      Colin: (steps up onto the stage, speaking in his normal voice) "Got anything for Craig T. Nelson?"
  • Bald of Awesome: And the other actors never let him forget it.
  • Berserk Button: Played for laughs whenever Colin needs to be "held back" by Ryan after one too many bald jokes.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: See The Woobie below - when he finally decides that it's time for a comeback, expect comedy gold.
  • Butt-Monkey: "Hey, make fun of the bald guy! I'll be your Lightning Rod of Hate(tm)!"
  • Canada, Eh?: He doesn't usually sound like a stereotypical Canadian, but his being from Canada is often referenced in various ways. He also, upon hearing that one audience volunteer was visiting from Canada, immediately jumped up and ran to hug her even though he wasn't involved in the skit for which she was assisting.
  • Catchphrase: Only when playing the role of the "director" in Hollywood Director, when he interrupts the scene with the first cut, he will use the word "crap" somewhere to describe the bad acting of the others.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: "I'm gonna stick my nose in there!..."
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: He often blurts out weird stuff randomly. Especially in the games "Irish Drinking Song" and "Three Headed Broadway Star".
  • The Comically Serious: The man has an amazing talent for bringing down the house without making a facial expression.
  • Cool Old Guy: The (lack of) hair makes it hard to tell that he's merely 2 years older than Ryan.
  • Dark Humor: His twisted sense of humor caused Drew to call him a “dark little man.”
  • Deadpan Snarker: Tons of this, usually to keep Ryan on his toes.
  • Determinator: Though he often makes the entire cast break down and unable to finish when doing Irish Drinking Song, he doggedly finishes even if he's the only one. It makes it that much funnier.
  • Double Standard: Everyone takes potshots at Colin for being bald and/or Canadian, but one time when he made fun of Ryan's nose, the audience reacted negatively, making him say "Notice how all the melon jokes, the bald jokes? I make one nose joke, it's OHHH!"
  • Enemy to All Living Things: Colin's earlier performances usually involved miming the killing of small animals - and people.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: He and Ryan practically make this trope. They also kiss numerous times on the show.
  • I Was Quite a Fashion Victim: While nearly everyone who'd been in the UK series prior were hit with this, Colin stood out thanks to some very ill-fitting jackets.
    "I'm sorry, I couldn't hear you over your shirt."
  • Large Ham: In his own ardorable way.
  • Meaningful Name: Someone who's done equal amounts of time on the giving and receiving end, named Mochrie.note  Think about it. He even punned on it in one late UK Hoedown about himself.
  • Nice Guy: He's the least sweary of the lot, even in deleted outtakes, making the animal abuse jokes that much more random.
    "You big... poo-head!"
    • Subverted in the revival, with his "Bitch Coin" quip.
  • Overly Prepared Gag: One of Colin's specialties. Considering that any 'preparing' starts from the moment he sits down...
  • Pet the Dog: "Canada - the UPSIDE!"
  • Pungeon Master: There's been all kinds of puns on this show, but Colin is perhaps the all-time champion of this trope. His most famous ones are his "top stories" in Weird Newscasters.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Not just in the usual sense but in-game - how else do you explain him filling his third of a session of "Three-Headed Singer" with repetitions of "YOU!" up to nine times. And copping out of Hoedown, of course.
  • Those Two Guys: So much so with Ryan, as the two are regularly paired together in games (such as "Infomercial" and "Greatest Hits") and are the only performers to have been regulars for the show's entire duration, appearing in every episode of the original US series' run together with Drew (Wayne was a recurring player in Seasons 1 and 8).

Brad Sherwood
US Side - Original 
US Side - Revival 
"This just in, Wayne's got a fig old futt."

Joining as a semi-regular late in the UK run, having appeared in a few of the earlier episodes, Brad stands out not just physically but for his distinctly fratboy-juvenile style of humor.

Tropes associated with Brad:
  • The Ace: At Questions Only.
  • The Big Guy: At 6'4", he's the second-tallest performer in the American edition.
  • The Bus Came Back: Just like Greg above.
  • Large Ham: Slightly behind the regulars, but when he gets the chance to ham it up, he will.
  • Lovable Sex Maniac: "Did you see the jugs of that girl in row 4?"
  • Made of Iron: Brad's deliberate pratfalls have a disturbingly loud thump.
    • Falling on his front while wearing a Lapel mic can have that effect.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Quite a few female fans have made comments on his good looks.
  • Pungeon Master: Not quite to Colin's extent, but he's known to throw in some serious groaners here and there.
  • Refuge in Audacity: The game "If You Know What I Mean" is a specialty of his.
    "I hope my husband licks Bush tonight..."
    • Unintentional in this clip's Hoedown, when he was called out for mentioning "pu-pu platter".
    • From an Olympic-themed "If You Know What I Mean", "There's nothing better than a 200 lb snatch if you know what I mean...", which prompted Ryan to say "That's never gonna make it to air, if you know what I mean..."
  • Toilet Humor: "Goodbye, beautiful. FLUSH."

Wayne Brady
US Side - Original 
US Side - Revival 
Ryan: "Hey Wayne, can I borrow your butt for the weekend?"
Wayne: "Sorry my brutha, you gots to get your own."

Becoming a regular guest early into the US run, he's well versed in singing, dancing, and has a repertoire of stock impressions. Logically, many of the games that include music often have only him singing, or him taking the lead. Starting with the 2013 revival, he is now credited as an executive producer.

Tropes associated with Wayne:

Karen Maruyama
US Side - Original 
"I would take you to sporting goods store, and buy some ping-pong balls and keep you up aaaall niiight!"

The only Asian player in the history of Whose Line. Karen is known for playing up her few strengths as far as she can (in essence, a female Colin).

Tropes associated with Karen:

Denny Siegel

In simple terms, Denny is an all-rounded performer and very much one of the guys.

Tropes associated with Denny:

Kathy Greenwood
"I do not dance for the likes of you, get your stinking hands off meeEEEEEEEE..."

Debuting in US season 2, Kathy is the best known of the Whose Line US women, appearing on the show the most out of all of them.

Tropes associated with Kathy:
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Faking European accents is her most underrated strength - and a bit of an Achilles' Heel as it bled into her attempts at anything different.
    Kathy: I do not dance for the likes of yoou. (laughter explodes, then...)
    Ryan: You're from Canada, aren't you?
    Kathy: Chè, and me mother is from Swëëden.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Plays one in one version of "Weird Newscasters," pretending to be on the phone the entire time and performing random contortions.
    Kathy: *as though suddenly spotting the audience* Hey... people are looking at me...
  • Canada, Eh?: She is from Canada, but Drew tends to save all the Canada jokes for Colin.
  • Corpsing: When she's Colin's co-anchor on "Weird Newscasters," she has a hard time not bursting out laughing at his improvised 'news.'
  • Cute, but Cacophonic: Her turn as "whiny girlfriend of gangster boss Colin" in "Weird Newscasters."
  • Older Than They Look: She's younger than Drew, Greg, Ryan and Colin, but older than Brad, Chip and Wayne.
  • Straight Man: Often was one in scenes when it wasn't Colin, which is probably why she was unfairly criticized as not being very funny.
  • The Voiceless: In episode 4.2, she doesn't say a single word (as she was a prop in "Living Scenery", she was just a back-up dancer in "Song Styles", and she didn't come up with any suggestions in "Scenes from a Hat").

Chip Esten
US Side - Original 
US Side - Revival 
"...if you come down this weekend you can drive off the lot with Colin Mochrie right here! There's some wear on the tread here, that can be replaced for no extra charge..."

After appearing late in the UK run, Chip rejoined the US in season 2, but the audience warmed up to him very quickly. You can't go wrong with looks and talent in equal amounts.

Tropes associated with Chip:
  • The Ace: At Hoedown. Chip always made a game that was hated by almost every other performer on the show look like a breeze.
  • Black Comedy: Mostly averted, as Chip's sense of humor tended to be cleaner than that of the other male performers. Still, he got in a few Black Comedy jokes once in a while, such as the "Scenes From a Hat" suggestion about unlikely lounge songs:
    Chip: "Cannibalism, cannibalism..."
  • The Bus Came Back: Makes his long-awaited revival series debut (as a Special Guest) in season 5, and by 2019, he's finally in a chair again.
  • I Was Quite a Fashion Victim: UK hair.
  • Keet: Especially notable as he's gone toe-to-toe with Wayne on occasion.
  • Large Ham: In his UK debut, Clive brought up Chip's stage musical experience, and it really shows.
  • Mr. Fanservice: His dance moves garnered appreciative whistles from the audience on more than one occasion.
  • No Doubt the Years Have Changed Me: Came back to the show after a fourteen-year absence going by the name Charles for the first time and looking like he'd been around the block a few times.
  • Older Than They Look: In his season 5 appearance, the years show on him way less than Colin and Ryan (but roughly as much as Jeff). By 2019 he's got a full beard that edges him a little closer, though.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Watch the end credits - sometimes they say Charles Esten.
  • Pun: When he punned his name, and this Hoedown:
    My wife caught me with a prostitute
    She came into the room and she began to shoot
    And then she went and yelled all around the town
    I know there's more prostitutes; I guess that's one hoe down.
  • Put on a Bus: First appeared in the UK version, then took a long hiatus before reappearing in the original US one (and another before appearing in the revival). He become a regular on Nashville long before there would be a revival series.
  • Retraux: His chiseled good looks invoke '60s screen idols, and has been lampshaded once.
  • Stock Characters: Snagglepuss, and hillbillies.

Jeff Davis
US Side - Revival 

The last new player added to the US run in season 3, Jeff turned out to be versatile enough to earn regular status. After keeping himself busy by participating in the attempted followups Drew Carey's Green Screen Show, Drew Careys Improvaganza, and a little-known co-production with Chip called On the Spot, he's the first fourth-member from the old series to appear in the revival.

Tropes associated with Jeff:

Laura Hall
US Side - Original 
US Side - Revival 
"...Um, it's hard to explain..."

The charming female pianist actually appeared first in the last leg of the UK run and for the entirety of the US run and its revival series.

Tropes associated with Laura Hall:
  • Not So Stoic: She's never failed to deliver whatever music is required, but noticeably messed up at least once - her piano play went Off the Rails thanks to one Irish Drinking Song.
    • This one too.
      • Her piano playing can also slow down or stop entirely when the cast manages to make her laugh. It's kind of a game for players.
  • Pregnant Badass: Carried out all her usual duties while being very visibly pregnant for a stretch. That, folks, is what we call a trooper. Several jokes were made about how she can possibly play the piano when she can barely reach the keys.
  • The Quiet One: Has only two lines for the entire run, and only after the keyboard crashed this one time.
  • Those Two Girls: With Linda.

Linda Taylor
US Side - Revival 

To add versatility to the music center of the show, guitarist Linda was added to Laura's corner. (Later episodes would have brass specialists Cece Worral-Rubin or Anne King joining in, and less frequently, Anna Wanselius.)

Tropes associated with Linda:

One-shot or infrequent performers:

  • Anne King - Musician in ten episodes. Usually played the trumpet.
  • Anna Wanselius - Musician in six episodes.
  • Candy Girard - Musician in one episode.
  • Cece Worrall - Musician in 45 episodes. Usually played the sax.
  • Ian Gomez - Appeared in season 1 and season 8 (actually an episode made out of season 1 footage).
  • Patrick Bristow - Was part of the pilot, which initially didn't air. His appearance eventually was split into two season 8 episodes.
  • Josie Lawrence - The regular on the UK version only got two episodes in the U.S. version, both made from the same taping.
  • Kathy Griffin - Appeared in four episodes. Very talented and arguably one of the funnier female performers, but sadly upstaged by the guest stars that appeared in most of her episodes.
  • Kathy Kinney - Appeared during season 1, no doubt due to her role on The Drew Carey Show. Later appeared much more frequently on Drew Carey's Improv-A-Ganza, and was also a performer on the pay-per-view special Improv All Stars.
  • Robin Williams - Sadly, only got featured on one episode.
  • Stephen Colbert - Also sadly, was only featured in two episodes: One from season 1, and the other from season 8 (made out of season 1 footage). Unlike the other celebrities that have made appearances on the show, Colbert was not billed as a Special Guest, but merely filled the rotating fourth seat for a day, as this was filmed around the time Colbert was starting out on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart as a correspondent. This did, however, lead to him featuring as the anchor in a game of "Weird Newscasters", leading to him using the signature deadpan delivery that would later form the basis for his character on The Daily Show and The Colbert Report.
  • Whoopi Goldberg - Appeared a couple times, once in season 4 and again in the season 5 premiere.

     US Side - Revival 

Aisha Tyler

The host of Whose Line after its 2013 revival.

Tropes associated with Aisha:
  • Berserk Button: Played for Laughs when all the ribbing between her and Colin reaches a head (so to speak). She makes a crack about Bit Coins, which Colin claims he misheard as 'bitch coins', leading to Aisha getting out of her chair and tossing her jacket.
  • Catchphrase: At the end of the intro when she stands in the audience introducing herself before heading down to the desk (as per tradition), she alternates between the old "Let's have some fun," phrase that Drew Carey used before or her own new phrase, "Let's make some stuff up."
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Inverted in a way - her current 'do serves primarily to indicate which season's footage you're really watching, and not much else (apart from the obligatory jokes about how it got like that).
  • Genki Girl
  • Guest-Star Party Member: As the revival's gone on Aisha's been getting up from her desk to make occasional contributions to Scenes from a Hat. note  This leaves one of the panelists (usually Wayne or Ryan) to hit the buzzer on her behalf.
  • Guttural Growler: Whenever she goes, "Scenes from a Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaattt..."
  • Iconic Outfit: Always has a jacket of some sort on. This one's actually lampshaded in one "Weird Newscasters" when Wayne gets the suggestion "a day in the life of Aisha".
  • Older Than They Look: Born in 1970, which means she started hosting this show at 43.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Usually in an attempt to ground the unpredictable Whose Line staff.
  • Statuesque Stunner: She's six feet tall! And still needs heels!
  • Teeny Weenie: Common subject matter for her lines.
  • Twofer Token Minority
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: With Colin. They snark at each other but they are clearly good friends.

Jonathan Mangum
"Welcome everyone, to the Teeny Weenie club..."

Jon's improv credentials run a bit longer than you'd think - he appeared in all three Whose Line attempted followups (Drew Carey's Green Screen Show, Drew Careys Improvaganza, and Trust Us with Your Life), thanks primarily to his work with Wayne Brady on Wayne's short-lived sketch show and over on the set of Let's Make a Deal. Wayne is clearly something of a Big Brother Mentor to Jon, and it shows here as his place in the 2013 revival is very much earned.

Tropes associated with Jonathan:
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Can be spotted in the audience for one of the season 2 US episodes (the one where they did Greatest Hits - "Songs of Golf").
  • Keet
  • My Greatest Second Chance: He auditioned for the initial US version on ABC, but was turned down by the producers.
  • Nice Guy: He may be even less sweary than Colin.
  • Pretty Fly for a White Guy: Thanks again to Wayne Brady's influence.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Jon started working with the Whose Line alumni shortly after the end of the ABC run, so he was already colleagues with the performers for several years before his first appearance in the revival.

Heather Anne Campbell

Having already appeared before in Drew Careys Improvaganza, Heather Anne's performance back then practically ensured her a place here.

Tropes associated with Heather:
  • Chickification: She grew her hair out and found a floral top this time.
  • One of the Guys: Especially notable is her chemistry with Ryan, considering how he's practically binary-bonded with Colin by now. Maybe it's the noses...
  • Screaming Woman: #DentalFears anyone? She pulls this again in Hollywood Director where Colin said "do it like you're easily frightened."

Gary Anthony Williams
"They probably kill real zombies on that show!"

Having already appeared in Everybody Hates Chris and The Boondocks, many fans were not expecting him to do quite so well in improv as opposed to a scripted sitcom, earning him a new wave of fans.

Tropes associated with Gary:

Keegan-Michael Key
"So, how big are your hips? (Beat) Oh jeez that was- wha- I creeped myself out..." (excuses himself)

Already known for his own weekly show, Keegan-Michael slipped into the improv format easier than you'd believe.

Tropes associated with Keegan-Michael:

Nyima Funk
"Oh my god, you have a Whose Line Is It Anyway? tramp stamp?!"

Another Second City alumnus much like some of the Whose Line veterans. As for improv credentials, Nyima participated in the Spiritual Adaptation Nick Cannon presents Wild 'n' Out as a regular in 2005.

Tropes associated with Nyima:


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