List of Clueless characters
Cher is a sweet, if somewhat dippy, blonde teenager who lives with her father in Beverly Hills, California. Cher often speaks in Valley Girl slang (including new idioms coined by the writers of Clueless). Her role in the film and series is that of the central protagonist; many of the plot lines revolve around, or involve, Cher in some way, although sub-plots, particularly in the TV series, allow the focus to shift from her toward others and back.
Cher is popular with her classmates; she often uses her social status (and social know-how) to aid others. Yet these crusades are not always as successful as she would wish. Much of the film's plot centers around Cher's gradual realization that her judgment is not infallible - such as with her attempts to give Tai a makeover - and that Cher may benefit from attempting to improve herself or any of her classmates for that matter. However, some of Cher's attempts at righting the world's minor wrongs indeed produce the results she anticipates, such as with matchmaking between two of her teachers.
As the daughter of a lawyer, Cher has developed extensive conversational skills. She can (frequently) talk teachers into improving her grades, and she excels in Mr. Hall's debate class. However, Cher's efforts to talk her way out of trouble are not always successful, such as when Cher fails her driver's test due to her below-par driving skills. (Dionne: "That was a stop sign!" Cher: "I totally paused.") Josh is often the first to point out when Cher "finds a situation she can't talk her way out of."
Cher's knowledge is not without flaws, particularly in relation to certain elements of history and culture. For instance, in a voiceover, she calls the film Spartacus "Sparatacus". Then, in her debate class, she repeatedly pronounces the word "Haitians" as "Hatey-yuns." The latter, however, was a gaffe on the part of Alicia Silverstone herself.
Overall, Cher is the person to consult when you need a "clue". Just don't give her the keys to your SUV.
Mel is a litigator who makes $500 an hour. He is the father of Cher and step-father to Josh. He is, for the most part, a single man, having had a number of relationships prior to the events of Clueless; he is divorced from Josh's mother, whilst Cher's mother was deceased.
Mel is a highly protective father to Cher, heavily scrutinizing her dates (most famously in a sequence in which he tells Christian Stovitz: "I have a .45 and a shovel; I doubt anyone would miss you".) He also dislikes Cher wearing revealing outfits ("It looks like an underwear! Go upstairs and put something on over it.") Mel is, however, proud of his daughter's abilities, her good work for others, and her attempts to make herself better, including her debating skills ("Honey, I couldn't be happier than if they were based on real grades.")
Mel is also dedicated to his job and often allows Josh, a wannabe environmental lawyer, to assist on his cases; he also accepts help from Cher on occasions, though Cher's ineptitude in this field means she is not as much use to her father ("I divided them into two piles. Is that wrong?").
In the film, a prop (an envelope) is seen giving Mel's surname as Hamilton; however, almost all other uses of the character's name show his surname as Horowitz.
Josh is the son of Mel's ex-wife from a previous relationship, and thus Cher's former step-brother. Josh is actually from Seattle, Washington, but goes to college in L.A., as when Cher makes note of his fashion being suitable for the "Crisp Seattle weather". He is a college student with an apartment of his own near school, but often returns to the Horowitz home, particularly when he is not on good terms with his mother's current partner ("Husband number four is at home, and his idea of acting like a family is to criticize me.") He also relishes the ability to work alongside Mel, in order to pick up skills for his possible future career in environmental law. Mel is clearly close to Josh, stating to Cher in the first film, "You divorce wives, not children", suggesting he thinks of Josh as his own son.
Josh is an environmentalist and often raises the issue ("we might get Marky Mark to plant a celebrity tree") as part of wider gloating. For much of the film he considers himself superior to Cher, often looking down on Cher's pop-culture obsessed worldview ("Who's Pippi Longstocking?" "Someone Mel Gibson never played.") and choosing to watch CNN over Cher's choices of Beavis and Butt-head and The Ren and Stimpy Show. Although he teases Cher, he also has compassion for her, as shown when he defends her following her blunder with legal papers.
During the course of the film, Cher realizes she is romantically interested in Josh, but also observes that because they are already familiar to each other, she is unable to use her usual seduction techniques. (As they are not blood-related family members, a relationship between them would not be considered incestuous, as they have completely different parents). By the close of the film it appears they are dating. However, in the subsequent TV adaptation there is no suggestion of direct romantic involvement between the characters.
The character of Josh only appears in the first of the three TV seasons. Paul Rudd appears as a character named Sonny in one episode (I Got You Babe) of the TV series.
(Stacey Dash in the film and the series)
Dionne is Cher's closest friend and confidante. She is a fashionable, upmarket young black woman who, like Cher, possesses a high social standing. However, she is less willing to "use (her) popularity for a good cause" than Cher (when the option of making over Tai is floated, Dionne observes that "she is to' up (unattractive); our stock (popularity) would plummet." However, Cher is usually able to convince her to be involved in her schemes, such as the matchmaking of Mr. Hall and Ms. Geist.
As noted above, Dionne occasionally uses Valley Girl slang similar to that used by Cher and others, though does not use it extensively; Dionne is well-spoken and clearly intelligent at times, it seems, more so than Cher:[ "That was a stop sign!" "I totally paused!").
Dionne is involved in a regular relationship with Murray Duvall through the majority of the film and TV series; their relationship is seen by many to be somewhat fiery (with their large-scale public spats being a common sight), but they do also care for each other. Dionne states during the film that she is a virgin, though later, after a frightening experience on the freeway, Dionne's virginity goes "from technical to non-existent" according to Cher. The sexual element of their relationship is not raised in the television series until the final episode.
Tai is a transfer student who arrives at Bronson Alcott High and instantly stands out due to her differences in appearance and attitude to the other students. Much of the film centres on Cher's "project" to make Tai attractive and popular, and, after this fails, her subsequent realisation that it is Tai's personal substance that is important rather than her looks or popularity.
Tai forms a rapid bond with slacker Travis after meeting him in the school cafeteria. However, Cher feels that a "loadie" boyfriend would hamper her attempts to bring Tai into the popular clique; consequently, Cher makes extensive efforts to set Tai up with the wealthy and popular Elton. However, this backfires when it emerges that Elton is more interested in Cher. These misfiring matchmaking attempts, coupled with Tai's rising popularity following an incident at the shopping mall in which she is held over a balcony, drive a wedge between Tai and Cher. Cher ultimately realises that she cannot force Tai to become something she is not, and that Tai would be happier with Travis in her life. By the end of the film Tai has patched up her differences with Cher and apparently begun to date Travis, who is her date to Mr. Hall and Ms. Geist's wedding.
Tai's past experiences with sex and drugs are more intensive than those of the other Bronson Alcott students (though these past ventures are only implied/referenced and not seen directly on screen). Some of the references go over the other students' heads: when Tai refers to cannabis as "herbal refreshment", Cher assumes that she is talking about tea (however, this is instantly followed by a similar misunderstanding in the other direction; when Cher refers to Coca-Cola as Coke, Tai appears to assume she is actually referring to cocaine.)
Tai's role in the TV series is significantly smaller than in the movie, and she had been dropped altogether by the second season. Brittany Murphy appeared in the TV episode 'Driving Me Crazy' as a character named Jasmine.
(Elisa Donovan in the film and the series)
Amber is a girl in the popular clique but fulfills the stereotype of popular girls, being snobbish, mean-spirited and spiteful. She is despised by both Cher and Dionne and is in constant competition with Cher throughout the film when it comes to style, popularity, and boys. Cher dubs her a "Monet" (just like the painting, "from far away it's okay, but up close it's a big old mess.") Amber coexists with Cher, Dionne, and Tai (post makeover), despite her snobbish attitudes and bantering. She is apparently a spoiled daughter even by Beverly Hills standards, though her family members are not seen on screen until late in the TV series' run. Her parents, Tripp and Ginger, have a rocky relationship. Tripp Mariens is a weak-willed, cowardly man who dotes on his daughter and repeatedly gives into her constant whims and demands, whereas Ginger Mariens is a fearsome battleaxe who sees Amber for the pampered, manipulative brat that she is.
Amber is a snobbish, style-obsessed redhead who dislikes Cher and often belittles her fashion and lifestyle choices; this dispute is driven in part by the girls' competition for popularity and style supremacy. Despite their disputes, Cher and Amber often end up in the same social situations, as they both move in similar social circles. Despite Amber's profession to be a style leader, she often ends up aping Cher, such as attending a party in a dress similar to one which Cher had worn earlier.
Amber becomes the third member of the TV show's central triumvirate along with Cher and Dionne, particularly in later episodes after the character of Tai has been dropped. During the TV series it is revealed that Amber's middle name is "Princess".
During the TV series, Amber and her family briefly move into Cher and Mel's house (which is supposedly larger and grander than Amber's family home) following Mel's financial failure ("Bakersfield Blues"; however, they subsequently move out when Cher and Mel return to Beverly Hills.
(Justin Walker in the film)
Christian is a high-school student who, due to his parents' divorce, spends alternating semesters at Bronson Alcott and at a school in Chicago. On his arrival at BAHS, Cher instantly takes a shine to him and attempts to secure him as her boyfriend ("I know I said I'd find a guy for Tai, but there's no harm in finding one for myself also.") Through her attempts to seduce Christian, we see the methods Cher uses to drive boys' interest in her, which include arranging for chocolates and flowers to be sent to herself in school and wearing slightly revealing clothing ("this reminds guys of being naked, and then they think of sex.")
Christian responds to Cher's advances primarily as a way of getting information on parties that he can attend, in one instance being the last person remaining on the dance floor at the end of the night. Cher is, however, oblivious to his homosexual tendencies ("Look how he ignores every other girl!") until Murray later spells it out to her and Dionne in the car ("Your man Christian is a cake-boy! A disco-dancing, Oscar Wilde-reading, Streisand-ticket-holding friend of Dorothy!") This follows an evening in which Cher unsuccessfully attempts to encourage Christian to have sexual intercourse with her, Christian preferring to watch Tony Curtis videos instead.
Christian is not featured in the TV adaptation.
(Donald Faison in the film and TV series)
Murray is Dionne's long-term boyfriend and often engages in public spats with his partner. Despite their apparently rocky relationship, Murray and Dionne are shown also to care about each other. Murray was also, it is suggested, Dionne's first sexual partner.
Murray is one of the leading male characters, particularly in the TV series, where he forms something of a comic double-act with Sean Holliday, with the two often taking part in schemes and stunts together. Murray and Sean fall out, however, after it emerges that Dionne dated Sean prior to Murray (the boys do subsequently patch up their differences).
(Jeremy Sisto in the film)
Elton is a wealthy, arrogant student at Bronson Alcott High. Cher attempts to set Tai up with him, but her attempts fail as Elton is in fact more interested in Cher.
Elton's surname is not given in the film.
Like Travis and Christian, Elton does not appear in the TV series.
(Breckin Meyer in the film)
A stoner and a skater who falls for Tai; however, their attempts at courtship are derailed for a time by Cher's attempts to set Tai up with Elton. Travis is an underachiever, constantly late for class and often receiving poor grades.
Travis does not appear in the TV series. However, Breckin Meyer made a guest appearance in the episode "Do We With Bad Haircuts Not Feel?" as Harrison.
(Sean Holland in the TV series)
Murray's best friend, Sean was introduced in the TV series, in part to cover for the fact that many of the film's male characters had not been transferred across. Sean is a cheerful, if slightly naive, young man interested in rapping and dancing; he is often involved in wacky schemes, many of which he drags Murray into.
Although the character of Sean Holliday does not appear in the film, Sean Holland did, in a much smaller but similar role under the character name Lawrence.
In the television series, Sean is very close friends with Cher. At one point during the series, Murray points out to Sean that "If I didn't know better, I'd swear you were sweet on the girl." (Bakersfield Blues) Sean however points out that he and Cher are simply very good friends and that the relationship between the two is completely platonic.
Mr. Alphonse Hall
(Wallace Shawn in the film and the series)
Mr. Hall is Cher and Dionne's class teacher, and one of the most prominently-featured Bronson Alcott staff in the franchise.
The character's name is listed in the credits of the film as "Mr. Wendell Hall" (his first name is not given during the movie; the name may be a reference to the song "Mr. Wendell"). In the TV series his full name is given as Alphonse Hall. His TV appearances are principally in the first season.
(Twink Caplan in the film and series)
Ms. Geist is another of Bronson Alcott High's teaching staff. One of Cher's big projects in the film is setting her up romantically with Mr. Hall. Like Mr. Hall, her TV appearances are primarily in the first season.
In addition to performing, Twink Caplan was also credited as one of the film's producers.
Coach Millie Diemer / Stoeger
(Julie Brown in the film and series)
The school's athletics/physical education coach. Her task is to bring the Beverly Hills brats of Bronson Alcott into line on the sports field - never an easy task when the tennis ball serving machine is described (by Cher) as 'a lawsuit waiting to happen'.
In the film, the character's name is Ms. Stoeger, with a separate (and unseen) teacher referred to as 'Diemer'. However, in the TV series, the coach had become Ms. Diemer. No reference to the change of name was made on air.