Chip Tolentino – An athletic, social, boy scout and champion of the Twenty-Fourth Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, he returns to defend his title.
Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre (Schwartzy) Logainne is the youngest and most politically aware speller, often making comments about current political figures. She is driven by internal and external pressure, but above all by a desire to win to make her two fathers proud. She is somewhat of a neat freak, speaks with a lisp, and will be back next year.
Leaf Coneybear – The second runner-up in his district, Leaf gets into the competition on a lark and finds everything about the bee incredibly amusing. He is home-schooled and comes from a large family of former hippies. He has severe Attention Deficit Disorder and spells words correctly while in a trance.
William Barfee – A Putnam County Spelling Bee finalist last year, he was eliminated because of an allergic reaction to peanuts and is back for vindication. His famous “Magic Foot” method of spelling has boosted him to spelling glory, even though he only has one working nostril and a touchy, bullying personality. He develops a crush on Olive.
Marcy Park – A recent transfer from Virginia, Marcy placed ninth in last year’s nationals. She speaks six languages, is a member of all-American hockey, a championship rugby player, plays Chopin and Mozart on multiple instruments, sleeps only three hours a night, hides in the bathroom cabinet, and is getting very tired of always winning. She is the poster child for the over-achieving student, and attends a Catholic school called “Our Lady of Intermittent Sorrows.” She is also not allowed to cry.
Olive Ostrovsky – A young newcomer to competitive spelling. Her mother is in an ashram in India, and her father is working late, as usual, but he is trying to come sometime during the bee. Having found comfort in its words and vastness, Olive made friends with her dictionary at a very young age, helping her to make it to the competition. She starts enormously shy, and shyly blossoms.
Rona Lisa Peretti – The number-one realtor in Putnam County, a former Putnam County Spelling Bee Champion herself, and the returning moderator. She is a sweet woman who loves children, but she can be very stern when it comes to dealing with Vice Principal Panch and his feelings for her. Her interest in the competition is unflagging and drives it forward.
Douglas Panch – The Vice Principal. Frustrated with his life, he finds the drive of the young spellers alien to him. After five years’ absence from the Bee, Panch returns as word pronouncer. There was an “incident” at the Twentieth Annual Bee, but he claims to be in “a better place” now, thanks to a high-fiber diet and Jungian analysis. He is infatuated with Rona Lisa Peretti, but she does not return his affections.
Mitch Mahoney – The Official Comfort Counselor. An outsider, Mitch is performing his community service with the Bee, and hands out juice boxes to losing students. He has no idea how to offer comfort, but does find himself wishing he could find a way to make the kids feel better.
Carl Dad – Schwarzy’s main trainer, the more intense and competitive of Schwarzy’s fathers. Played by the actor playing Chip.
Dan Dad – The more laid back and ineffectual of Schwarzy’s fathers. Played by the actor playing Mitch.
Jesus Christ – Deity invoked by a speller in need. Played by the actor playing Leaf.
Leaf’s Mom, Dad, And Siblings – All more academically gifted than Leaf, they are even more surprised than he is by his success. Normally played by the spellers.
Olive’s Dad – A fantasy version of Olive’s dad coming to the bee from work. Played by the actor playing Panch.
Olive’s Mom – A fantasy version of Olive’s mom at her Ashram in India. Played by the actor playing Rona.