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This page lists the main and recurring characters on The Cosby Show through the run of the series.
- Dr. Heathcliff "Cliff" Huxtable, OB-GYN is a pediatrician who lives in Brooklyn Heights, NY with his wife and family
- Clair Olivia Huxtable, Esq. is the wife of Cliff, a practicing attorney with a Manhattan law firm. The character is loosely based upon Cosby's wife, Camille Olivia Hanks-Cosby. She is played by Phylicia Rashād
- Theodore Aloysius "Theo" Huxtable is the only son and middle child of Cliff and Clair Huxtable, becomes a student teacher, helping other children with dyslexia at a local education center. In the show's final episode, he graduated from NYU with a degree in psychology. Theo is played by Malcolm-Jamal Warner.
- Rudith Lillian "Rudy" Huxtable is the youngest child born to Cliff and Clair Huxtable. She is played by Keshia Knight Pulliam.
- Vanessa Huxtable is the fourth child and third daughter of Cliff and Clair, After graduation from high she becomes briefly engaged in the final season to Dabnis Brickey, a man in his late twenties. Dabnis was the head of maintenance at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, where Vanessa was enrolled. Vanessa is played by Tempestt Bledsoe.
- Denise Huxtable-Kendall (seasons 1–3 and seasons 6–7; recurring in seasons 4 and 5) played by Lisa Bonet, is the second child and third daughter of Cliff and Clair. A two-year stint at Hillman College (which served as inspiration for the Cosby Show spinoff series A Different World) ends with Denise wishing to see what she can accomplish on her own, which leads her to Africa as a photographer's assistant, where she meets and marries NavyLt. Martin Kendall. She also became stepmother to Martin's three-year-old daughter Olivia, his child from a previous marriage
- Sondra Huxtable-Tibideaux, Esq., (seasons 2–8; recurring in season 1) played by Sabrina Le Beauf, is the eldest child of Cliff and Clair, , did not appear on screen until mid-way through season one. She did not exist in the pilot episode (Clair: "Why do we have four children?" Cliff: "Because we did not want five.") In her first appearance, she is a sophomore in college, and she is once noted as being two years older than Denise, making her around 18 or 19 years old and putting her birth year around 1966. Sondra earns a degree from Princeton University and had intentions of pursuing a career as a lawyer, like her mother. She married her boyfriend, Elvin Tibideaux, in season four, and later gave birth to twins—a boy and a girl—named after Nelson and Winnie Mandela.
- Dr. Elvin Tibideaux, M.D. (seasons 4–8; recurring in seasons 2 and 3), played by Geoffrey Owens, is Sondra's boyfriend, and later, husband. They met at Princeton, where they both earned degrees. The two constantly bickered during early episodes, until his interactions with the Huxtables, particularly Clair, challenged him to confront his "male-chauvinist" attitudes.
- Olivia Kendall (seasons 6–8) is the young step-daughter of Denise and the daughter of husband Martin, who first appears in Season 6. Olivia is played by Raven-Symoné.
- LT Martin Kendall, USN (seasons 6 and 7, recurring in season 8) played by Joseph C. Phillips is the husband of Denise, who first appears in Season 6. Phillips' role as Martin Kendall came about when Denise unexpectedly married him in Africa, unbeknownst to her parents and family. When the newlyweds arrive back home, Martin learns that Denise's family not only does not know about their marriage, they do not know about him at all. Kendall also had an ex-wife, named Paula (played by Victoria Rowell of the CBS-TV soap opera The Young and The Restless, the later, CBS's nightime murder/detective drama series Diagnosis: Murder). In the finale, it is learned that he and Denise are expecting a baby together.
- Pamela "Pam" Tucker (seasons 7 and 8) is Clair Huxtable's second cousin. The daughter of a single mother, Pam comes to live with the Huxtables after her mother moved to California to take care of Pam's grandmother. Upon moving in, Pam is 17 years old and a junior in high school. At first, she is not used to the Huxtables' upper-middle-class lifestyle or close-knit family relationships. Eventually, she fits in, and becomes just another one of the Huxtable clan. She is played by actress Erika Alexander, who later co-stars on the FOX sitcom series Living Single.