The title character, played by Atkinson, is a slow-witted, sometimes ingenious, and generally likeable buffoon who brings various unusual schemes and connivances to everyday tasks. He lives alone in his small flat in Highbury, North London, and is almost always seen in his trademark tweed jacket and skinny red tie. Mr. Bean rarely speaks, and when he does it is generally only a few mumbled words. His first name (he names himself "Bean" to others) and profession, if any, are never mentioned, though he has been shown in the first episode to have a strong knowledge of trigonometry. (In the first film adaptation, on his passport "Mr." appears under the "first name" field and he is shown employed as a guard at London's National Gallery. In Mr Bean's Holiday, "Rowan" is seen on his passport name field.)
Mr. Bean often seems unaware of basic aspects of the way the world works, and the programme usually features his attempts at what would normally be considered simple tasks, such as going swimming, redecorating or taking an exam. The humour largely comes from his original solutions to any problems and his total disregard for others when solving them, his pettiness, and occasional malevolence.
At the beginning of episode two onwards, Mr. Bean falls from the sky in a beam of light, accompanied by a choir singing Ecce homo qui est faba - Behold the man who is a bean. These opening sequences were initially in black and white in episodes 2 and 3, and were intended by the producers to show his status as an "ordinary man cast into the spotlight". However, later episodes showed Mr. Bean dropping from the night sky in a deserted London street, against the backdrop of St. Paul's Cathedral; later, in the animated series, he was shown to be an alien. Atkinson himself has acknowledged that Bean "has a slightly alien aspect to him".
Teddy is Mr. Bean's teddy bear, generally regarded as Mr. Bean's best friend. Although inanimate, the bear is often privy to Mr. Bean's various schemes and doubles as a good dish cloth or paint brush in an emergency. The bear is a dark brown, knitted oddity with button eyes and sausage-shaped limbs and invariably ends up broken in half or in various other states of destruction. Occasionally, Teddy seems to be almost animate, for example when Mr. Bean hypnotizes Teddy, snaps his fingers and the bear's head falls backwards as if he's fallen asleep instantly. Certainly, Bean behaves as if the bear is real, for example buying it a Christmas present or trying not to wake it in the mornings. Mr. Bean seems to have a supply of Teddy bears, as in cases his bear has been destroyed, either it was decapitated ("Mr. Bean in Room 426") or shrunken in the wash ("Tee Off, Mr. Bean"), and has been revived in later episodes.
Although Mr. Bean is the only significant human character in the programme, other characters appear, usually as foils for his various antics. Other than his girlfriend, Mr. Bean's only friends appear to be Hubert and Rupert, who appear as Bean's New Years party guests in the episode "Do-it-Yourself, Mr. Bean" (although they altered his living room clock and fled to the party in the flat opposite, gaining real friends in the process). However, several notable British actors and comedians appear alongside Atkinson in sketches as various one-off supporting characters, including Richard Briers, Angus Deayton, Nick Hancock, Caroline Quentin, Danny La Rue, David Schneider and Richard Wilson.