The “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” was an NBC sitcom that revolved around the personal and professional lives of West Philadelphia teenager Will Smith and his affluent Bel-Air family known as the Banks. The main characters of the sitcom were simply Will and his family. They are accompanied by major character Geoffrey, who worked at the home as the family’s personal butler. The biggest main character was Will Smith who was portrayed by actor and rapper Will Smith.
The overall main character is Will Smith as he is the titular character of the series. The backdrop of the series was loosely related to Smith’s actual upbringing in West Philadelphia. His character, Will or “Master William,” is the only son of a single mother in West Philadelphia. After an altercation with a bully, Will is sent to live with his sister and her family in Bel-Air. The backdrop and plot line of the series is in the opening credits to each episode. Due to Will’s personality, he is the black sheep of the Bel-Air neighborhood as it is filled with affluent and mostly white people. As the show is called “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” Will is the main titular character and the main male protagonist of the series.
The other main characters consist of the immediate Banks family, which consists of Phillip, Vivian, Hilary, Carlton, and Ashley.
Phillip Banks is Will’s uncle and is the person who tries his best to keep the household together. He started out as a successful lawyer and then got into politics and became a judge. Phillip or “Uncle Phil” is the polar opposite of Will. They tend to become at odds with each other over various subjects. Will tends to get on Phil’s nerves due to the former’s hijinks. A main recurring gag of Phil is Will’s playful insults to his weight. For Will’s hijinks, Phil tends to come up with the necessary punishments or payback.
Vivian is Will’s aunt and sister to his mother. Vivian or “Aunt Viv” is well educated and holds a PhD from UCLA. Halfway through the series, Vivian was played by Janet Hubert and then replaced by Daphne Maxwell Reid. Hubert left the show for less than pleasant reasons. It is highly likely due to disagreements between Hubert and Smith. In 2011, a video was released where Hubert still holds a grudge against Smith. Actor Alfonso Ribeiro, who played Carlton, voiced his own words against Hubert.
Carlton is the first and oldest son of the Banks family. Before Nicky was born, Carlton was the middle child. Carlton was the personification of the stereotype of the “white-washed” minority. Due to completely separate upbringings, Carlton and Will were comedic foils to each other. At the same time, the two of them bonded over their differences throughout the series. Carlton was known to dress in a preppy fashion.
Hilary is the oldest child of the Banks family. Like Carlton, Hilary also meets the personification of the white-washed minority. She contrasted greatly from Carlton in many ways. Hilary came off as the “air-headed valley girl.” In the series, Hilary was not known for her intelligence. Her lack of intelligence and common sense is recurring running gag through the series. Also, Hilary is known to be very spoiled. Hilary was also known for her shallow and superficial personality.
Ashley was the youngest of the Banks family before Nicky was born. Of all the cousins, she got along best with Will. The two of them were often looking out for one another. Unlike Carlton and Hilary, Ashley did not meet the mold of the white-washed stereotype. She played the role of the youngest cousin who looked up to the main character. In this respect, Will and Ashley had a strong sibling bond with each other.
They are the main character of the series. They are served by their butler, Geoffrey who has a personality of his own. Geoffrey serves as a comedic dry humored and sarcastic foil to Phil. Eventually, Will’s friend Jazz would be part of the main cast, which brings forth the running gag of him getting thrown out of the house.
These are the main characters of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. As the sitcom’s name says, Will Smith is the titular main character, while the Banks family makes up the secondary characters.