Brooke is the most popular girl at Kennedy High. She is super beautiful, fashionable, a straight-A student, and a cheerleader. An only child whose mother abandoned the family when Brooke was eight years old, she lives alone with her father until the merging of the McQueen and McPherson families. Brooke becomes a half-sister to new born baby girl, MacKenzie, whom her stepmother gave birth to towards the end of the series. Though she strives to appear perfect, over the course of the two seasons, Brooke reveals her anxiety and low self-esteem on a number of occasions. She struggles with both bulimia and unresolved grief over her mother's abandonment. Brooke spends a good portion of the series romantically involved with football player Josh Ford, but also develops a relationship with Harrison John, a childhood friend from whom she had grown apart due to their opposite social status. She mentions "thinking about" an attraction to girls, though this was never developed further. Brooke is compassionate, kind, and socially aware, though occasionally lacks confidence in her convictions, and is capable of thoughtless and petty behavior when she is unhappy and ruthless when she is angry. Her complex and initially hostile/eventually close relationship with Sam McPherson is one of the cornerstones of the series. Director and writer Ryan Murphy named this character after his niece Brooke Murphy.
Samantha "Sam" McPherson
Smart and determined, Sam McPherson is h2-willed, articulate and very stubborn. Sam's father died when she was fourteen. An only child, she lives alone with her mother until the merging of the McPherson and McQueen families. After her mother gives birth to Brooke's father's baby, Sam becomes a half-sister to baby girl MacKenzie. Sam is one of the "unpopular" girls at Kennedy High, along with her best friends Harrison, Carmen, and Lily, a situation which changes when she and Brooke McQueen begin living together. Sam is the editor of the school paper (although as the series progressed, the paper ceased being mentioned) and often wrote stories that exposed hypocrisy and unfairness at Kennedy High. She dates football player George Austin, but eventually discovers feelings for longtime best friend Harrison John after he confesses his love for her. The series creator, Ryan Murphy, stated that had the third season been filmed, Sam would have struggled with her sexuality and realized she was gay. Sam is funny, passionate and has an oft-voiced social conscience, but is quick to anger and slow to let go of hostility. She is also painfully insecure and masks this with a prickly attitude. Her complex and initially hostile/eventually close relationship with Brooke McQueen is one of the cornerstones of the series.
Harrison John is a smart but socially awkward "unpopular" guy who lives with his gay mother after the divorce of his parents. Harrison has had a crush on Brooke McQueen since they were children, one that is eventually reciprocated, but ends up torn when he reveals that he also has feelings for his best friend, Sam McPherson. In the second season, Harrison suffers from leukemia,and while in bed rest at the hospital, becomes good friends with his roommate Clarence. Sadly Clarence dies in "The Consequences of Falling" but comes back as an angel, to provide a suicidal Harrison with reason why he should not jump off the hospital roof top. Harrison returns to his room later expecting to die, but survives after a bone marrow transplant from Nicole Julian. Popular but unstable cheerleader Mary Cherry has a crush on Harrison, who she erroneously and consistently refers to as "Joe". Harrison is often portrayed as both happy with and alarmed by the fact that his closest friends are all female, and struggles in his interaction with other guys, though eventually develops tentative friendships with popular footballers Josh Ford and Sugar Daddy. By the end of the series, both Brooke and Sam ask Harrison to the Junior prom but eventually realize that it wouldn't work. Harrison is then forced to choose between Brooke and Sam while they both sit across from him waiting for his answer. The audience never actually hears Harrison's answer.
Josh Ford is the quarterback of the football team and all-around "popular" guy of the school. He dates Brooke McQueen, Carmen Fererra and Lily Esposito and is best friends with Sugar Daddy. Josh is artistically talented and appears as the lead in two school productions, though struggles with his school work. Initially presented as good-natured but rather vacuous, Josh develops a social conscience due to his relationship with activist Lily, and helps her with various causes. Josh and Lily get married but struggle with both finances and the non-existent sexual nature of their relationship. In the final episode of the series, Josh and Lily realize that married life isn't what they thought it would be. After a bad day, Josh tells Lily that he doesn't think they will be okay.
Nicole Julian is a beautiful, chic, power-hungry cheerleader who consistently manipulates others for her own gain, and is personally responsible for most of the major friction which occurs at Kennedy high school. She is generally seen as a very cold hearted, and conniving young woman, but has proved herself to be very insecure. She is the on-again, off-again best friend of the popular Brooke McQueen. Early in the series, she reveals that she is jealous of Brooke by sleeping with Brooke's ex-boyfriend, Josh Ford, and would love to overtake her popular status. Despite her frivolous, sociopathic tendencies, during the course of the show, Nicole displays her softer side on many occasions, revealing a surprisingly vulnerable and sad person underneath, due to her alcoholic mother's constant criticism and the discovery that she was adopted. Her devious tactics usually allow her to get her way, at the cost of alienating the other characters. She is a highly promiscuous young woman who isn't afraid, for instance, to pole dance in front of a group of strangers. When her Machiavellian schemes eventually fail her in the end, and Brooke has had enough and chooses her relationship with Sam over Nicole, an angry, drunk and jealous Nicole ends the series in a defining way by deliberately running Brooke down in her car. Director and writer Ryan Murphy named this character after his niece Brooke Murphy's best friend Nicole Moore.
Mary Cherry (always referred to by both herself and all other characters with both names) is an idiotic, bubbly cheerleader in the popular group. Mary Cherry comes from a very rich family, and as a result tends to be spoiled and rude to those who aren't popular, though she is exceedingly generous with her money. Mary Cherry has a long history of mother issues; her mother, Cherry Cherry (Delta Burke), often insults and degrades her even though she claims to love her. Mary Cherry's character is a consistent example of the series' brush with hyper-reality; she is seldom believable as an actual person, and is often referred to as "borderline retarded" by other characters, but appears as a great comic effect throughout the series. She also appears to be somewhat mentally unstable, and is often referred to as a psychopath by other characters due to her rather murderous tendencies (once diouring a career match-up, she got the "most likely to become a serial killer" position). She develops a crush on Harrison, whom she calls "Joe" even though she eventually reveals that she does in fact know his real name. In the final episode of the series, it is revealed that she has a long-lost twin sister, Baby Honeychild, 'but up on Gun Hill Road' better known as "B.Ho", who was raised in the Bronx. After Mama Cherry chooses B.Ho over Mary Cherry, Mary Cherry becomes an orphan.
Lily Esposito is the epitome of an Activist. She's considered to be a part of the unpopular crowd, along with her best friends Sam, Carmen, and Harrison. She was confused about her sexuality, but eventually settled into a relationship with Josh Ford. Lily is a vegetarian and passionately committed to both animal rights and social causes. She marries her first love, Josh Ford, towards the end of the series but realizes that married life isn't what she thought it would be.
Carmen is a cute but plain and unpopular girl along with her best friends Sam, Lily, and Harrison. She is initially rejected from the cheerleading squad due to her weight, but later becomes co-captain of the Glamazons. Throughout both series Carmen's character swings between that of a loyal friend and someone who is determined to achieve her goals despite her friends reactions. She suffers a pregnancy scare and has an abusive, alcoholic mother. Carmen was a headlined character for both seasons, but her inclusion in main storylines diminished as the final season aired.
Michael 'Sugar Daddy' Bernardino
The wannabe-gangster of the popular group. He is best friends with Josh and is on the football team. He has problems with his weight and doesn't think he will ever be loved by a female until he meets and eventually dates exchange student Exquisite Woo. In the season one he has a very brief relationship with Mary Cherry and meets a girl online, that in fact is Carmen.
Roberta "Bobbi" Glass
Bobbi Glass is the students' science teacher. She is portrayed as being mean and cruel and constantly threatens to give people F's in order to get her way. She is a female but has a lot of physical qualities that resemble a male. This causes the students to call her Sir. She doesn't seem bothered about it but it is later revealed in an episode entitled "Fag" that it hurts her. She also reveals that she questions her sexuality. Although in the first season her human side is not focused on, it is focused on in the second season.