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Cleveland Orenthal Brown Sr. is a recurring character in Family Guy and the main character/protagonist of The Cleveland Show. While originally not a villainous character during his existence on Family Guy, upon starring in The Cleveland Show the character became far more cynical and gained several villainous and jerk-like traits, becoming a full-blow villainous protagonist with little to no morals.
Until recently he was married to Loretta Brown, but they separated after Loretta had an affair with Quagmire, although they still have feelings for each other. Together they had a son, Cleveland Brown Jr. Eventually, Loretta gains his house and Cleveland has to move. Cleveland is now married to Donna Tubbs and has two stepchildren, Roberta and Rallo. He also sports a mustache and often offers deep insight that the other characters are unable to see.
He is voiced by Mike Henry.
Cleveland Orenthal Brown was born sometime during the '70s, to LeVar and Evelyn Brown in Stoolbend, Virginia, after being conceived during the 7th inning stretch of a Cleveland Indians game. This is where he got his name from.
Throughout his childhood, Cleveland's father was very cold and aloof and more often than not, horribly abusive.
In "The Cleveland Junior Cherry Bomb", Cleveland grievously mentioned that he lost his virginity when he was nine. Though no further context or elaboration was given, his unhappy tone, when making this statement, would imply that he was molested by a pedophile.
Cleveland grew up in Stoolbend and as a teenager, attended Stoolbend High School, where many of his memories were made. He played on the school baseball team and befriended his fellow teammate, Terry Kimple, who he would often drink and smoke with.
Not all of Cleveland's memories of Stoolbend High School were pleasant, however. Wallace Farquhare (who was a student at the time) would often pester Cleveland and Terry about their misbehavior and rat them out to the principal. In the year 1984, Wallace once again got on Cleveland and his friends' cases about drinking beer on campus. When he went to go snitch on them, Cleveland and his friends chased him down to beat him up. Wally tripped and Cleveland got ready to attack him. However, Wally was so pathetic, that he started crying and wetting his pants before anyone could land a single attack on him. Cleveland and his friends laughed at Wally for being such a pansy and didn't even bother to attack him after how much he humiliated himself. Wally has the since, hated Cleveland and still holds an ill-gotten grudge against him.
Cleveland was in love with Donna Tubbs and although he had a strong friendship with her, he was never got the chance go out with her, because she was always dating Robert, exemplified in many flashbacks, throughout the series. Unfortunately for Cleveland, he never got the chance to tell Donna that he loved her all throughout high school, and after graduation, Donna would soon go on to marry Robert. Despite this, their friendship still remained strong and although they never kept in touch, Cleveland and Donna still remembered each other fondly.
Sometime in either the late '80s or early '90s, Cleveland started dating a woman known only as Maxine. She was never shown on screen, but according to Cleveland, she cheated on him, leading to him dumping her and prompting him to move out of Stoolbend, leave his old life behind, and go to wherever the wind took him. In "Death Lives", Cleveland is shown driving in his van, where he picks up a hitchhiker, who asked to go to Quahog. This hitchhiker was Peter Griffin. Cleveland drove Peter to Quahog and told him about "Maxine, the cheating queen". When they made it to the town in Rhode Island, Cleveland decided that it was fate what brought him there and set up his new life in the town and moved into a house on Spooner Street. Coincidentally, Peter would move into the house across the street from him. Cleveland would become good friends with Peter and later, Glenn Quagmire. These three would become a crew drinking buddies, who would spend much of their time at the Drunken Clam, getting wasted, and doing tons of hilarious and stupid things.
Cleveland met Loretta soon after he moved to Quahog and they got married. After which they had Cleveland Junior. Loretta was a brazen, autocratic, and mildly abusive toward his husband, generally beating and insulting him, whenever he did anything wrong. Cleveland, being the submissive and mild-manned man he is, never felt the need to fight back, seek help, or even defend himself from her. Cleveland's son, Cleveland Junior was jumpy, hyperactive, and crazy, which contrasted greatly with Cleveland's slow and calm personality.
Cleveland's career has been sporadic, especially when he first moved into Quahog. According to a cutaway gag in "Blind Ambition", Cleveland used to be a silver-tongued auctioneer who appropriately spoke very glibly and fluently. Unfortunately, he was but was struck in the head by a totem pole, which resulted in his speech being permanently retarded into the slow and relaxed dialogue it has become now. Cleveland was also the president of the Quahog Chamber of Commerce, as seen in "A Very Special Family Guy Freakin' Christmas". Cleveland eventually became the proprietor of his own deli, appropriately titled, Cleveland's Deli, which he was shown working at in multiple episodes. This seemed like a perfect place for him to settle down until there was another bump in the road, during his life, but more on that later.
In the year 1999, Cleveland would also meet and befriend Joe Swanson. With the addition of Joe to his friend group, Cleveland and his other friends would soon become a foursome of drinking buddies.
Although at first, it appeared that Cleveland and Loretta had a decently abusive marriage for a time, their relationship soon soured due to Loretta's notion that Cleveland was incapable of being anything other than lethargic and laid-back. As a result, Loretta pursues a brief affair with Glenn Quagmire in the episode "The Cleveland Loretta Quagmire", partly in an effort to hurt Cleveland.
Cleveland and Loretta got divorced with Cleveland getting custody of Cleveland Junior and Loretta, though not immediately, getting custody of the house. For a while, following his divorce, he dated a woman named Bernice, who was much younger and prettier than Loretta but seemed as equally bossy. Bernice had spotty appearances throughout seasons 6 and 7, and little to nothing is known about her and her relationship with Cleveland. Her only speaking appearance was in "Believe it or Not, Joe's Walking on Air", where she insulted and bullied Cleveland in a way not too different than Loretta. She made a number of cameos in a scarce number of future episodes, but eventually, she was written off the show entirely. In "Love, Blactually", Cleveland started a relationship with Carolyn, which pretty much meant that his relationship with Bernice was over. Cleveland and Carolyn's relationship was very sexual but it only lasted for the rest of the episode, before Carolyn started cheating on him with Quagmire, in a case of history repeating itself.
Cleveland Brown became the star of his own spin-off series, entitled The Cleveland Show. In the "Pilot" episode of the show, Cleveland states that his divorce with Loretta has been finalized and that she's gained custody of the house. Effective the following week, Cleveland and his son, Junior, (who has now completely changed in appearance and personality, now having gained tons of weight and begun wearing glasses as well as started acting like a calmer and soft-voiced 14-year-old boy, who also has the lovably oafish demeanor of childish nerd) are to evacuate the property and find somewhere new to live. Cleveland breaks the unfortunate news to his friends and neighbors, saying that he will be moving out of his house and quitting his job at his deli. He plans on moving to California, where he would pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a baseball coach.
On the way to California, Cleveland decided to take a brief layover in his hometown of Stoolbend, Virginia and show Junior where he grew up. On his walk down memory lane, Cleveland was surprised to come across Donna Tubbs, who was now working as the principal's secretary at their old high school, Stoolbend High School. The two of them caught up and Cleveland learned that since they last saw each other, Donna and Robert had gotten married and divorced, much like Cleveland with Loretta. Knowing about the trip that Cleveland went on, Donna offered to let Cleveland and his son stay the night at her house. There, Cleveland met her wacky neighbors, such as the dumbass, illiterate, racist hillbilly, Lester Krinklesac, and the fist-pounding, pop-culture referencing, golfing, midget, Holt Richter, who still lives with his overbearing mother. He would also be introduced to her two kids (of whom she bore with Robert and has custody of now), the jive-talking five-year-old, Rallo Tubbs, and the slutty, curfew-breaking teenage girl, Roberta Tubbs.
In "Birth of a Salesman", Cleveland went on a job hunt and dabbled in many different carreers such as a wacky singing furniture salesman in commercials, a bear condom tester, and a grizzled police officer, two days from retirement. Finally, his friend, Tim the Bear, was able to get him a job as a telemarketer at Waterman Cable.
In "Gone With the Wind", Loretta died after Peter used a crane to slam a dinosaur skeleton into her house, causing the second-floor bathroom wall and part of the floor to break down, while Loretta was bathing in the bathtub, leading to her slipping out of the house and crash landing into the floor, where she died instantly. Despite the fact that Cleveland hated his ex-wife, he was still devastated when she died. Donna was offended that Cleveland would care so much about the loss of his ex-wife, not just because he was now happily married to her, but also because Loretta was a horrible woman to him.
At the end of the episode, the problem was resolved. Cleveland figured out that the reason why he felt so sad for her was because of survivor's guilt. Throughout the Family Guy series and even the The Cleveland Show series, he had fallen out of that same bathtub countless times and never once did he die or even get hurt, on account of his voluminous posterior cushioning his fall. Cleveland asked Donna how she would feel if her asshole of an ex-husband, Robert died, which Donna freaked out over the very thought of. Donna realized that she would have felt the same way about the death of her abhorrent ex, so the duo reconciled.
In "Our Gang", Cleveland revealed that he used to be an actor, (apparently, having played the role of the black guy in Die-Hard "Al Powell".) Although, it is unknown if Cleveland was actually telling the truth about this.
In "You're the Best Man, Cleveland Brown", Cleveland's lawyer, Len Stein read Loretta's will and said that she left all of her money and belongings to Cleveland Junior. She also specifically stated in her will that she refused to give a single dime with Cleveland and forbade Junior to share it with him. Junior spent the money like crazy and shared it with every member of the family except for Cleveland, which really pissed him off.
In "Harder, Better, Faster, Browner", Cleveland went through a mid-life crisis after realizing how much more Barack Obama had done with his life than he had. To rectify this, Cleveland helped out Kenny West and his daughter, Candice. Eventually, he wrote and sang a rap with the young Kenny, "Be-Cleve In Yourself", and he served as his manager for a short while before he was fired.
Following the cancellation of The Cleveland Show, Cleveland and his family had officially returned to Family Guy and he and his new family moved back into Cleveland's old house.
Cleveland Brown is a large-framed African-American adult man, with dark curly hair and a firmly rounded mustache. His clothing attire consists of a mustard yellow shirt, dark blue jeans, and dark brown shoes. He also wears white tighty whiteys and white socks. In "BFFs", it was revealed that Cleveland had a tattoo on the inside of his bottom lip that said "Peter". Similarly, Peter had a tattoo on the inside of his own bottom lip that said "Black Friend". However, this was most likely just a gag. In "Bri, Robot", Cleveland said that he had a flappy scrotum-like blob of skin, that dripped off of his arm. He did not know what it was and assumed it was a tumor. As he had moved back into Quahog at this point, Cleveland no longer had a doctor, so he had no way of finding out what it was. However, this too was likely just a one-time gag, that wasn't actually canon to the series.
Cleveland Brown is cheerful and optimistic, but also generally very calm and timid. He serves as the voice of reason to his Drunken Clam friend circle, often giving cautionary warning to his friends, especially Peter Griffin, whenever they're about to do something stupid. Unfortunately, due to his mild and passive demeanor, Cleveland is almost always being ignored and more often than not, reeled into the stupidity, himself, leading to him getting harmed as well. Despite all of the pain that Cleveland is put through, he still managed to keep a bright and chipper attitude on life, always looking on the bright side of even the darkest of situations.
Cleveland is known for having a very high tolerance policy for bullshit and usually won't get mad over even the most terrible of things. For instance: In "The Cleveland Loretta Quagmire", his wife, Loretta Brown, cheated on him with his best friend, Glenn Quagmire and Cleveland didn't get mad at either of them. Cleveland laughed off Quagmire's actions, deeming them to be simple acts of "Classic Quagmire" and when Loretta divorced him, Cleveland just sadly accepted it. It wasn't until after Peter and Brian tirelessly motivated him to get mad, that Cleveland was finally overcome with a surge of fury and stormed down to Quagmire's house to beat the living crap out of him, wrecking his personal property, and even attempting to kill him. This would be an example of one of the very rare occasions does he ever get angry. Although it was the first time the audience would see Cleveland act this way, it wouldn't be the last.
If you're looking for a shortcut to Cleveland's berserk button, racism is the way to go. As an African-American man, Cleveland does not take too kindly to being discriminated against. Jokes are okay, but cases of blatant racism, such as people dressing in blackface of the usage of the dreaded "N-Word" are not okay with him.
When Cleveland got his own spin-off series, The Cleveland Show, he started to develop as a character and we were introduced to many new layers of his personality that we have never seen before. Now that he was no longer being weighed down by the likes of Peter and other more "important" characters than himself, Cleveland was free to express himself to the fullest. It was learned that Cleveland is a very joyful and outgoing man. His quiet and submissive personality would soon vanish, throughout the first season and he became a lot funnier, telling jokes, referencing to pop culture, and singing songs. Finally, Cleveland was in charge of his own life.
In the "Pilot" episode of The Cleveland Show, Cleveland found happiness when he married his high-school sweetheart, Donna Tubbs after being separated from her since high school. Since they last met, Donna had also gone through a marriage and divorce to Robert and she bore two kids. Roberta and Rallo Tubbs. Due to the absence of Robert, Cleveland served as a father figure to Roberta and Rallo and although neither of them respected him at all at first, he eventually took charge and established parental dominance over both of them, receiving only minimal disrespect from both of them. When Donna's ex-husband, Robert tried to get her back, Cleveland stood up for himself and fought with him, showing him who's boss and winning Donna's heart. Cleveland and Donna were quickly wed and The Brown-Tubbs Family became a beautiful blended family.
In terms of his social life, Cleveland gathered together Tim the Bear, Lester Krinklesac, Holt Richter, and later Dr. Fist and form a new "friend circle", which would hang out at The Broken Stool and would heavily mirror his old friend circle. However, in this case, Cleveland would be the leader of the group, while his colorful cast of new friends would be sidelined. He did make sure to give plenty of time for his friends to have their own stories too, but it was still made clear that he was the star of the show. Tim the Bear became the newly designated calm and overlooked voice of reason to his hair-brained schemes.
As the main character of his own show, Cleveland turned into somewhat of another Peter Griffin, sharing the "bumbling father" archetype. However, unlike Peter, Cleveland proved many times to actually love his family and care about other people. He was a good-hearted American citizen, who cared for other people. Like everyone, Cleveland was imperfect and he would make plenty of mistakes and bad choices in his life. However, he would always regret doing bad things and try his damnedest to fix them or at least make up for the damage he caused.
Such newfound traits of Cleveland included the fact that he was sporty. It was learned that he had a great passion for America's favorite pastime, as it was learned that he was on the Stoolbend High School baseball team, back when he was a teenager. In "Field of Streams", Cleveland met up with his old coach, Charles McFall, and was accepted as the official coach of the new generation of baseball players at his old school. He is also a fan of basketball, as seen in "Harder, Better, Faster, Browner", when he mentioned how he used to play basketball with Barack Obama, back when they were still kids. He is also an avid fan of the sport as well, as he won tickets to an NBA All-Star game in "A Short Story, and a Tall Tale" and saw them live at the staples arena. He is also a fan of March Madness, as seen in "March Dadnes". Lastly, Cleveland is also a massive football fan, watching Superbowl every year and going all-out with throwing a huge Superbowl block party in his house every time the Superbowl comes around, as seen in the episode "Like a Boss", where he went as far as to dress as the GM Robot and sang the Superbowl song. A flashback in the same episode showed that the year prior, Cleveland hired The Jackson Four to perform live at his party. Cleveland's famous annual Superbowl parties made a return in "There Goes El Neighborhood", where Cleveland installed booths in his own living room for massive audiences to watch the game in his house. However, nobody would come to his party, as right across the street, Choni Moreno was holding an even better party, that attracted the entire neighborhood, completely upstaging poor Cleveland. In "Ship'rect", Cleveland was star struck when he met Barry Shadwell in person and became friends with him. He also wanted Roberta to marry his son, so that he could associate with the Shadwell family tree.
When The Cleveland Show was canceled, Cleveland returned to Family Guy, wherein he became immediately deprived of all substance to his character. All of his depth and personality was thrown out the window and Cleveland was diminished to nothing more than a black stereotype.
Due to his relaxed nature, the thought of Cleveland performing villainous deeds seemed unthinkable. However, a few minor instances in Family Guy and a slew of major examples in The Cleveland Show have seen Cleveland Brown performing some very villainous actions.
- In "Petarded", Cleveland cheated on Loretta with a trio of prostitutes.
- In "The Cleveland Loretta Quagmire", Cleveland attacked Quagmire after he slept with his wife. Although initially, this was justified revenge, Cleveland started to go overboard, when he not only destroyed his house but nearly killed him, before Peter and Brian eventually had to step in and stop him.
- In "Dr. C and the Women", Peter reminds Cleveland that he slept with a stripper the night of his bachelor party, before marrying Donna. They blackmail him with this information so that he'll stop giving their wives good therapeutic advice, turning them back into the unsatisfied, submissive women they used to be.
- In "Peternormal Activity", Cleveland, along with Peter, Quagmire, and Joe, barbarically kill an old war veteran, by the name of Albert, by punching him to a bloody pulp with his bare fists. Cleveland and the others later bury the body and keep it a secret from everyone else. To make things even worse, Cleveland tries to plant evidence on the crime scene and frame Peter for the murder, only to find out that everyone else had the same idea. Finally, Cleveland and the others learn that Albert was a member of The KKK and feel as though this makes it okay for them to have killed him.
- In "Peter, Chris, & Brian", Cleveland and the others attempt to break into Peter's old house and steal his porn stash. When the current owner of the house finds out what they're doing, he allows them to go straight in, saying he doesn't want that pornography to be anywhere near his children.
- In "Candy, Quahog, Marshmallow!", Cleveland passes in going to his mother-in-law's funeral so that he can go on a pointless adventure to South Korea with his friends.
- In "Bookie of the Year", Cleveland, Quagmire, and Joe sneak into James Woods Regional High School and ambush Chris with baseball bats, breaking his arm so that they can make money off of betting against him in his next baseball game.
- In "Emmy-Winning Episode", Cleveland plays the role of Omar Little in a "The Wire" parody. In that show, Omar makes a living off of killing drug dealers and stealing their supplies, so that he can make a living off of selling them, himself. In the show, Cleveland/Omar sells drugs to Mayor Adam West, breaks into a warehouse, kills tons of people (including a young child), and steals heaps of drugs and money from his victims. At one point in the episode, Cleveland wonders who's the bigger villain; himself or the people who buy the drugs. Peter points out that the answer is quite obviously him.
- In "Family Guy Through the Years", Cleveland decapitated numerous people with the sharp pointy edges of his 1970's jumpsuit collar.
- In "Peter & Lois' Wedding", Cleveland retold the story of how back in the 90's, he drove O.J. Simpson and Nichole Brown's disembodied head down to Mexico and makes sure to label O.J. as "innocent", which basically meant that he was the very likeness of Al Cowlings in this story. This makes Cleveland guilty of aiding O.J. Simpson with uxoricide and blatantly lying about his fugitive's innocence, a ruse which he's still quietly but consistently keeping up with to this day.
- In "Shanksgiving", Cleveland went to prison and joined The Black Mafia. Cleveland would later stab Joe with a knife. Cleveland admitted that his actions were not motivated by his fellow gang members. Rather, he shivved Joe simply because he was sick of listening to his blatantly racist comments.
The Cleveland Show
- In "The One About Friends", Cleveland murders Ernie's foster parents and several others with Lester in a blaze of gunfire.
- In "Field of Streams", it is revealed through a flashback that Cleveland, was a high school bully to Wally Farquhare, whom he chased down and intended to beat up when he threatened to turn them in for drinking beer on campus. Wally trips and breaks his computer and Cleveland gets ready to beat him up. Wally wets his pants in fear over the impending attack and Cleveland and his friends laugh at him. History later repeats itself in 2009 after Principal Farquhare tries to get revenge on Cleveland by humiliating his son at a baseball game. Cleveland gets mad and chases Wally through the baseball field, which once again, terrifies him and causes him to soil his pants. Only this time, instead of being embarrassed in front of three or four of his friends, he is publicly ridiculed in front of an entire stadium of people, most of which are his own students. Interestingly, his history as a bully makes it bewildering to some fans that he can easily be pushed around and even bullied himself in the present.
- In the same episode, we also see Cleveland and Terry beating up a bunch of old ladies at the mall for no reason. Cleveland's violent actions toward the seniors include but are not limited to strangling one of them until her dentures pop out, throwing a dagger into one's forehead, killing her instantly, and snapping one of their arms in half.
- In "Our Gang", Cleveland unknowingly gets involved with a cocaine trafficking business, which led to his son nearly dying at the hands of the Stoolbloods.
- In "Brown History Month", Cleveland expressed racism toward white people and developed a hatred for Lester. The two got into many fights with each other.
- In "Harder, Better, Faster, Browner", during a basketball game in his backyard, he mercilessly and painfully knocks out Rallo and his friends in order to win the game and only cheers with his wife upon his victory despite the kids' state of pain.
- In "Fat and Wet", Cleveland leaves Rallo unattended at the pool, watching TV instead of keeping an eye on him, like Donna asked. Rallo eventually falls into the pool and drowns. Only then, does Cleveland finally step in to save him. When Rallo awakens, Cleveland lies to him, saying that he saved his life, and Rallo thanks him for it by serving him hand and foot. However, when Rallo finds out that Cleveland was actually responsible for his near-death experience, he blackmails Cleveland and gets his revenge.
- Cleveland's voice actor Mike Henry has stated that his inspiration for the voice was someone that he had met and told him that he had graduated from the University of Maryland, pronouncing it "the University of Merlind", which is recognizable, as the way Cleveland pronounces the "ɛər" sound as the "ɜːr" sound.
- In college, Cleveland majored in ceramics and minored in trombone playing.
- Cleveland was conceived during the 7th inning stretch of a Cleveland Indians game, which is where his parents got the idea for his name from.
- Cleveland's e-mail address is ClevelandBrown@clevebro.com
- In "Cleveland Live!", it was revealed that Cleveland believes that 9/11 was an inside job.
- In "The Cleveland Brown Cherry Bomb", it was revealed that Cleveland lost his virginity when he was nine.