- Ponyboy Curtis: Narrator and the youngest Curtis brother, 14 years old, who gets good grades and runs track.
- Sodapop "Soda" Curtis: The middle Curtis brother, 16 years old, a high school dropout who works at a gas station.
- Darrel "Darry" Curtis: The oldest Curtis brother, 20 years old, who has been caring for his brothers since their parents died in a car crash. He is the unofficial leader of the gang.
- Johnny Cade: Ponyboy's best friend, 16 years old, who is extremely quiet and lives with his alcoholic and abusive mother and father.
- Dallas "Dally" Winston: A 17-year-old juvenile delinquent, he is the roughest of the greasers. He lived on the streets of New York City for three years.
- Keith "Two-Bit" Mathews: A wise-cracking kleptomaniac.
- Steve Randle: Sodapop's best friend since grade school.
- Timothy "Tim" Shepard: Leader of another greaser gang: an organized downtown one. He is also a friend of Dally's.
- Curly Shepard: Tim Shepard's younger brother, mentioned as a friend of Ponyboy's.
- Sandy: Sodapop's girlfriend.
- Sherri "Cherry" Valance: Bob's girlfriend, attends the same high school as Ponyboy.
- Robert "Bob" Sheldon: Cherry's boyfriend who is stabbed and killed by Johnny.
- Randy Adderson: A friend of Bob's and Marcia's boyfriend.
- Marcia: Cherry's best friend and Randy's girlfriend.
- Paul Holden: Darry's old friend from high school.
- David: A member of the Socs who tried to drown Ponyboy in the fountain.
- Jerry Wood: The schoolteacher responsible for the children who were in the seemingly abandoned church.
- Mr. Syme: Ponyboy's English teacher who assigns him a theme to write that becomes the story of the novel itself.
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