This is a list of characters in the comic strip Doonesbury
, by Garry Trudeau
. Trudeau has featured many recurring characters since the comic strip began in syndication in 1970. Most have interacted with each other at various times, and with only a few exceptions these individual histories are maintained consistently through the entire series, even where a character may disappear from the strip for years at a time. First appearances are noted in parentheses.
- Mike Doonesbury (10/26/1970) - Former Walden College student and commune member, ex-advertising man and then co-founder of a software start-up; ex-husband of JJ, husband of Kim, dad to Alex. Originally from Tulsa.
- B.D. (10/26/70) - Husband of Boopsie. A reservist and veteran of Vietnam and both Gulf Wars, he lost a leg in Iraq. Known for his conservative views and (until 21 April 2004) wearing a series of helmets (originally football helmets, and later desert camouflage, riot gear, and California Highway Patrol). Even Boopsie doesn't know what 'B.D.' stands for (maybe nothing - he has stated that his last name is "D"). The character was originally inspired by Brian Dowling, the captain of Yale's football team in 1968.
- Mark Slackmeyer (11/19/70, unnamed until 11/30) - Former campus revolutionary turned radio commentator, and one of several openly gay characters in the strip.
- Zonker Harris (9/21/71) - Stereotypical hippie and founder of the Walden Commune, during college he was also a football player, briefly Lieutenant Governor of American Samoa, and a professional tanner. After graduation he went to Haiti to study medicine, won $23 million in the lottery, but spent most of it to buy his Uncle Duke out of zombie slavery and the rest to become an ennobled British lord. Also works occasionally as a nanny. After his campaign to enable public access to some of California's beaches, a beach access road in Malibu was named in his honor. He now works at McFriendly's.
- Joanie Caucus (9/10/72) - Ex-housewife and "libbie" who left her first husband Clinton Caucus to join Mike and Mark "on the road" in Colorado, went to law school, and worked with Mike on the John Anderson campaign. She lived with and eventually married journalist Rick Redfern, with whom she had a second child, Jeff.
- Rick Redfern - Husband to Joanie and father to Jeff. Works as a reporter for the Washington Post. Generally portrayed as very weary/phlegmatic and somewhat clueless as a father. The character is based on Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward as he was portrayed by Robert Redford in All the President's Men (film).
- J.J. Caucus (possibly 4/22/72, as a child, unnamed) - Daughter of Joanie (JJ is 'Joan Junior'). She was originally engaged to Zeke, but married Mike, left Mike for Zeke, and later won a MacArthur Fellowship. Performance artist. Mother of Alex Doonesbury.
- Zeke Brenner - Former caretaker for Duke's house. He married JJ on the second try. Despised by his wife's daughter Alex, who refers to him as "Uncle Stupidhead." Zeke doesn't really like Alex either.
- Kim Rosenthal - Jewish-raised Vietnamese orphan (the "last orphan out of Vietnam"), geek and Mike's second wife. Dropped out of a program towards a Doctorate in Computer Science at MIT because it was "too easy".
- Alex Doonesbury - Teenage daughter of Mike and J.J. who lived with her father and Kim, but is now a student at MIT. A techie, Alex bonded with Kim over the computer and holds several patents. More or less a liberal foil for her more moderate father.
- Jimmy Thudpucker - Overnight success as a rock star at 19. Later caught politics and moved to Vietnam. Modelled partially on a combination of Bob Dylan, Jackson Browne and John Denver.
- Barbara Ann "Boopsie" Boopstein (9/15/71, as "Boopsy")- Cheerleader turned actress, model, New Age channeler, and generic starlet. She is married to B.D.; they have a daughter named Sam.
- Zipper Harris - Zonker's nephew and current Walden undergraduate; his roommate was Jeff Redfern.
- Phred (2/16/72)- The Viet Cong "terrorist" whom B.D. befriended when lost in Vietnam, later Vietnamese delegate to the United Nations, last seen working for Nike in Vietnam.
- Roland Burton Hedley, III (mentioned 3/4/74, appears 3/5/74) - Former print journalist (to use that term generously), moved to television and then the Internet. Currently working for Fox News.
- Jeff Redfern - Joanie and Rick's son. Jeff has graduated from Walden (and stopped rooming with Zipper Harris), and was an intern for the Central Intelligence Agency, but is currently unemployed and living with his parents.
- Uncle Duke (mentioned 7/5/74, appears 7/8/74), "Uncle" of Zonker, former Rolling Stone writer, governor of American Samoa and ambassador to China, once the proconsul of Panama, former owner of "Club Scud" in Kuwait City, ex-orphanage manager (where he realized one of the orphans, Earl, was his son), and former Mayor of the fictional Al Amok, Iraq. He has also been a drug smuggler (and heavy user), an enemy of John Denver, manager of the Washington Redskins, toady to Donald Trump, and a zombie slave to ex-Haitian President Jean-Claude Duvalier. His character was initially based on Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson's pseudonymous self-portrait, Raoul Duke.
- Honey Huan - Duke's constant companion until 2005 when she grew disillusioned with him. - Inspired by Tang Wensheng (Mao's interpreter when meeting with Nixon) and partially Marcie of Peanuts.
- Mr. Butts - A hallucinatory walking, talking cigarette - Represents the Tobacco industry.
- Alice P. Schwarzman (8/24/73) and Elmont - Two homeless people, Alice first appeared as a garment worker who was a regular at a bar where Zonker was bartender. She later re-appeared as a homeless character and subsequently married Elmont, a deranged man, in order to move up the list for public housing. Rev. Sloan performed the ceremony. As the affluent Rep. Lacey Davenport became senile, she began to believe Alice was her deceased sister Pearl.
- Rev. Scot Sloan (1/10/72) - Chaplain at Walden - Named for Rev. William L. "Scotty" McLennan, Jr., Trudeau's undergraduate roommate, and Rev. William Sloane Coffin, Yale's chaplain while Trudeau was there.
- Sid Kibbitz - Sid first appeared in 1982 to help Duke and Alice Schwarzman produce a movie on the life of John DeLorean, and later became Boopsie's agent.
- President King (11/30/70) - The president of Walden College - Based on Kingman Brewster, Jr., president of Yale when Trudeau was a student. (Indeed, the same character appeared in Bull Tales more directly as Brewster.)
- Jim Andrews (2/9/74)- A greedy executive who worked for Universal Petroleum, and was later employed by the administration of George W. Bush. Favors lax government oversight on environmental protection. Was friends with the late Phil Slackmeyer. Jim was named after Trudeau's first editor at Universal Press Syndicate. The book, The People's Doonesbury, is dedicated to the memory of Andrews.
- Mr. Jay - A hallucinatory walking, talking marijuana joint. Feels inadequate next to Mr. Butts because despite his reputation, he is relatively harmless.
- Lacey Davenport (5/15/74) - Republican U.S. Congresswoman, now deceased - reminiscent of Millicent Fenwick. Trudeau was asked in 1976 if the similarities were deliberate, and laughed at the reporter, saying "I really don't know her that well." Fenwick was said, in the same article, to not know about Doonesbury and could not remember having met Trudeau.
- Dick Davenport (5/15/74) - Lacey's longtime friend and later husband. An avid bird watcher of endangered bird species. Died in a controversial 1986 strip asking God to take a picture of a bachman's warbler.
- Benjamin (a.k.a. Sal Putrid or Benjy) Doonesbury (possibly 6/11/71, unnamed, or 12/27/71)- Mike's younger brother. At times Benjy more interested in money and later became a punk. Like his brother Mike, he too went to Walden. Started a condom distribution franchise at Walden called "Dr. Whoopee". The company was later revealed to be run by Uncle Duke. He currently lives in a mansion in Florida.
- Daisy Doonesbury (6/5/71)- Mike and Sal's mother. Often called "The Widow", she lives in Seattle. She used to live on the Doonesbury farm near Tulsa and represented the current state of the ailing family farms in America. The Widow's health began to deteriorate and she moved in with her son Mike in Seattle. She's also very outgoing for her age.
- Marcia Feinbloom - Mike's former secretary at Mr. Bellow's advertising business. She is still looking for her perfect man to marry even though she's in her 60s. She once dated Zonker, but nothing got serious between them. Last seen following the September 11 attacks. Her religious background is Jewish.
- General Havoc - A CIA operative who has conducted numerous covert operations in Nicaragua and Afganistan. He was Jeff Redfern's boss during his internship at the CIA and has a class on torture at Walden.
- Ron Headrest - A computer-generated alter ego of President Reagan - Composite of Max Headroom and Ronald Reagan. A similar caricature of Reagan appeared briefly in the film Back to the Future Part II.
- Ray Hightower - An African-American who has a friendship with B.D. that started when they first met during the Gulf War. They were unemployed until the 1992 LA riots when they were called up to quell the riot and later by the California Highway Patrol following that event. Ray continues to fight in the Iraq War with a blog updating his status and telelinking his wife from time to time. Continuing his tour of duty, Ray and his driver, Toggle were caught in an ambush. Ray called B.D., confirming that he himself was fine but Toggle was torn up by a VBIED.
- Rufus (a.k.a. Thor) Jackson (4/5/71) - A poor African-American who gave a viewpoint on the Civil Rights Issues in the 70s. Much younger than the rest of the main Doonesbury cast.
- Calvin (1/18/71) - Campus radical and Black Panther, prominent in the strip in the early seventies.
- George (2/9/72) - One of B.D.'s fellow soldiers in Vietnam.
- Andy Lippincott - Joanie fell in love with him, but on a date, he revealed that he was gay. Was later diagnosed with and died of AIDS. His ghost makes occasional appearances in the strip.
- Didi Robins (mentioned 4/28/71, appeared 6/12/71) - One of the members at the Walden Commune, originally introduced as Bernie's girlfriend. Her hair is so long she resembled Cousin Itt from the Addams Family. She helped found a lesbian magazine, but is straight. She was also J.J.'s art assistant when she lived in New York in the 80s.
- Phil Slackmeyer (12/13/70) - Father of Mark. A wealthy, conservative, corporate businessman. He died in 2002.
- '''Mrs Slackmeyer (12/18/70) - Mark's mother, later divorced from Phil Slackmeyer.
- B.D.'s parents (4/14/71)- introduced without names when B.D. goes home after his father loses his job. His mother is Maria (8/6/71).
- Zonker's parents first appear briefly on 12/20/71, but are redeveloped later. His father appears in regular form at 6/27/73, his mother at 12/14/1974.
- Virginia "Ginny" Slade (8/19/74) - During the 1970s, when Joanie moved to California to study law at Boalt Hall, she moved in with Ginny, a much younger, African-American law student. Ginny ran for Congress as a semester project, with Zonker, Andy Lippincott and Jimmy Thudpucker contributing to her campaign. She lost the Democratic primary to a scandal-ridden incumbent, Congressman Ventura, then re-entered the campaign as an independent. Close to Election Day, she chose to drop out so that long-time Republican candidate Lacey Davenport would win.
- Clyde Montana (8/19/74) - Ginny's boyfriend whom she later married. He's an obnoxious, but lovable guy. Clyde himself later ran against Davenport in 1986. Clyde is now a congressman (replacing Lacey Davenport when she stepped down in 1997) and in the snack business trying to create the perfect cookie for all races.
- Woodrow (11/19/74) - An overachieving student in Ginny and Joanie's law classes.
- Bobby Matthews (10/30/74) - A white boy attending an integrated school in the 1970s as a way to introduce the subject of busing into the strip.
- Malcolm Deveaux (11/2/74) - a black boy attending the same school.
- Kirby (possibly 4/3/71, unnamed) - Player on B.D. and Zonker's college football team. Slightly timid personality, admires Zonker, who sometimes takes him under his wing.
- Chou Fu Ling (1/17/72) - A Chinese exchange student at Walden in the early seventies.
- Clinton Caucus (heard 9/12/72; appears 9/27/72) - Joanie's ex-husband.
- Chase Talbott III - Formerly Mark's significant other, a conservative Republican, and co-host of their NPR show, "All Things Being Equal."
- Bernie (2/22/71) - Mike's college lab partner and member of Walden Commune. A mad scientist, he invented a werewolf potion and spent a summer in Scotland searching for the Loch Ness Monster. He later founded a computer company and hired Mike.
- Leonard the talking frog (2/25/71) - showed up as an intended dissection subject in Mike and Bernie's biology class, reappeared a few times subsequently.
- Cornell - Zonker's longtime friend. Helped out terminally ill patients by handing out desserts filled with cannabis. Currently serving a ten year prison sentence for the distribution of cannabis to the terminally ill.
- Earl - Discovered in an orphanage Duke attempted to run in the early 90's. Honey sent one of Duke's warts off for DNA tests, which proved Earl was his son. He shares many of Duke's physical and moral qualities. Currently a lobbyist.
- Elias - Is a Puerto Rican Vietnam veteran. He's B.D.'s counselor after the coming home from Iraq War. Tries to help B.D. and others to overcome their post-trumatic stress.
- Ellie, Howard, and Jeanie - Three kids that first appeared at the Walden Daycare where Joanie Caucus worked. They mainly gave the input on the women's right issues and children issues in the 70s and 80s.
- Uncle Henry - Mike's uncle and tends to the Doonesbury farm. He's also a former county commissioner in Oklahoma and got caught in a corruption scandal only later to be acquitted.
- Charlie Green (11/3/71), a perpetually-stoned professor of a wildly popular course on consciousness at Walden College in the seventies
- Mini-D - The small man who looked like Duke sometimes pops out of Duke's head (via a flip-top scalp) when Duke is stoned.
- Nicole (9/29/71, spelled Nichole in the strip until 1977) - A radical feminist and member of the Walden Commune. She and Mike almost had an affair after meeting at their class reunion, but broke it off when Mike learned J.J. was pregnant.
- Sam Smooth (11/11/70) - Student at Walden who briefly helps instruct Mike in attracting women.
- Samantha - B.D. and Boopsie's daughter born in 1992. Mainly raised by her sitter Zonker.
- Skip (4/4/72) - a Vietnam POW who joined the commune for a period following his release.
- J. W. Snead (1/10/74) - A trucker with whom Mark organizes a blockade in protest of oil prices in the seventies.
- Anastasia (11/1/71) - a waitress at a diner where Mike eats in college.
- The Tree (11/18/71) - an extremely tall football player on the Walden team.
- Yuri Yetsky (1/9/73) - a Soviet poet who speaks at Walden while touring the U.S.
- Trff Bmzklfrpz - President-for-Life of the fictional Republic of Berzerkistan, apparently a former Eastern Bloc country. President Bmzklfrpz is a typical dictator, and, according to an interview with Mark Slackmeyer, engages in genocide and is anti-Semitic. In a parody of former Turkmenistan president Saparmurat Niyazov, he has renamed the month of April (as well as a species of plant and a type of bird) "Trff", after himself. Uncle and Earl Duke act as his advisors.
Numerous real-world figures, especially from politics, have appeared in the strip. Since the late 1980s some prominent politicians were given direct, but metaphorical, visual portrayals via Doonesbury Icons
, some sort of avatar
in the strip abstractly representing them. (See the article for a full list.) Most other prominent figures, after the strip's early years, stopped appearing directly in-frame, and were represented solely by their dialogue emerging from outside the frame, or from a television or a building shown from the outside (especially the White House). The small number of exceptions to this rule are below.
The following figures are directly portrayed in-frame in the strip.
In addition, many other minor characters have graced the series, serving a variety of functions from radio announcers to teenagers to waitstaff and with a wide range of ages and characteristics (male / female, young / old, gay / straight etc), often wryly commenting on social issues.