Each series of Blackadder is set in a different era. The main characters always represent a different generation of the same families who share an intertwined history. The Blackadders (all played by Rowan Atkinson, who is probably best know in Germany for Mr. Bean) are characterized by their machiavellian schemes, cunning and shrewd opportunism. Despite this the family's social status seems to be in perpetual decline through the ages. The Baldrick's (played by Tony Robinson) are a line of servants to each Blackadder. Often at the receiving end of their master's cruelty, each Baldrick seems to suffer his undignified existence with equanimity, dreaming of a life enriched by a cornucopia of giant turnips.
Other recurring characters and families that do not appear in all of the programme's series are the Melchetts (Stephen Fry), Lord Percy / Scarlet Pimpernel / Captain Darling (Tim McInnerny), George (Hugh Laurie), and Queen Elisabeth / Amy Hardwood / Nurse Mary Fletcher-Brown (Miranda Richardson).