Earl Jehoshaphat Hickey, is a former criminal who, after discovering the concept of karma, decided to make a List of everything wrong he ever did in his life and make up for them one by one ("Pilot"). He has helped many people over four years of following karma, and despite having three failed marriages, being sent to prison ("The Trial"), falling into a coma ("Bad Earl") and temporarily losing his faith, he continued to make up for all the bad things he had done in his life.
Earl was supposed to be named after Carl, his father, but due to Carl's messy handwriting "Carl" looked like "Earl" on the birth certificate ("Dad's Car"). Earl has apparently been a troublemaker from an early age. For example, when he was four, he punched his father's friend in the groin, and when he was 10, Earl cut a section of hair from Carl's head and glued it under his nose, making it look like a Hitler moustache when their Jewish friends came to visit. ("Cost Dad the Election").
Earl played the xylophone as a child, but gave it up ("The Magic Hour").
When Earl was 11, he lost his father's two week old Mustang in a drag race. However, he told his father that he lost the car in a swamp ("Dad's Car").
As Earl and Randy grew up, their father, Carl, was absent for a lot of the time as he found it the easier way to deal with his marriage ("Camdenites (Part 1)").
Earl had very hairy nipples as a child, leading to him being teased heavily whilst at the pool ("Sticks & Stones").
When Earl was in high school, he teased Kenny for wanting to be a cheerleader, not realizing that it was in fact Randy's dream ("We've Got Spirit").
He had a crush on his babysitter, Rachel, but she was not interested in him and had a boyfriend over to stay at Earl's when she was supposed to be watching him. To get back at them, Earl pierced the couple's condoms and Rachel fell pregnant ("Got the Babysitter Pregnant").
Earl attended Chaz Dalton's Space Academy as a child and had a wonderful time there learning from who he thought was Chaz Dalton (but was in fact an engineer named Wayne), a man who had been to space. He said it was one of the few times in his life when he enjoyed learning ("Chaz Dalton Space Academy").
Earl and Randy stayed with their Aunt Gail one summer and helped her out with chores. However, when Randy met a girl named Pinky and stopped doing chores, Earl became jealous and broke the two up by sending a fake note to Pinky from himself, disguised as Randy ("Pinky").
Earl was sent to a Catholic school due to his constant misbehaviour. He bullied Wally Panzer whilst there to establish his place, nicknaming him Wally Pansy because he was chasing a butterfly with a net ("Bullies").
Earl and Randy continued to live with their parents into adulthood, however, they were frequently kicked out by Carl. On one such occasion they went to live with their friend Raynard, who had a radical life of not conforming to the norm; for instance he had his bathtub in the middle of the living room. They help Raynard score with some girls by pretending that they are all in a band, and convince them to have sex with them in their tour bus. However, they do not in fact have a tour bus and so Earl stole the local Bookmobile, pretending that was the name of their band. ("Reading is a Fundamental Case").
Some time before he discovered Karma and whilst Randy was still in high school, Earl bet that Randy's team would lose and, after encouraging Randy to mess up his game, he won a lot of money ("Randy's Touchdown").
On several occasions, he and Randy made fun of foreign people who had different accents ("Teacher Earl").
At some point, he urinated in the back of a police car ("Pilot").
Earl scared a young boy into believing in the existence of the boogeyman whilst trying to steal things from his wealthy parents ("Boogeyman").
In the early hours of New Years Day 1999, a drunken Earl stole a horse that was to be ridden by a ten-year-old boy named Buddy who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness. In the morning he was unable to ride the horse in the New Year's Parade as he had always wanted ("The Magic Hour").
Four years before making the List (2000), Earl blew his father's chances of becoming mayor. Carl was angered after seeing the hopeful mayor-to-be Marty Park change a flight route over his and the neighboring houses, so decided to run for mayor opposite Park. Meanwhile, Earl got into trouble with the police, something that was picked up by Park's campaigners, ruining Carl's chances of being elected ("Cost Dad the Election").
Earl and Randy stole various drinks from a nearby corner shop on several occasions. 6 months before discovering karma, Earl faked his own death to get out of a relationship with a needy, annoying girl ("Faked My Own Death").
Earl had an affair with the girlfriend of Camden County's local stuntman, Sweet Johnny. Sheila and Earl devised schemes so that the two would be left alone and could continue their affair. However, it began to take its toll on Johnny who was being forced into doing more and more painful stunts. Earl saw what was happening and decided to end the affair ("Sweet Johnny").
Earl made friends with Zeke Cavanaugh and his brother Arlo, who moved into the trailer park. Earl and Zeke became good friends and they participated in many activities together that won them t-shirts. Randy became jealous that Earl was spending so much time with Zeke, and so hid a belt buckle of Earl's and blamed it on Zeke. In retaliation, Earl burned all the shirts he and Zeke won together, and Zeke and Arlo moved away ("Randy's List Item").
Earl and Randy stole a church organ in the hopes that it would gain good money on the black market, not realizing that what people really wanted were real organs such as livers and kidneys. At an undefined later point, Earl also stole some tools (which happened to belong to the reverend at the church that Earl stole the organ from) then kicked over the Port-a-loo that the owner of the tools was in. Unbelievably, Earl also slept with the reverend's wife in a scam he played where he pretended to help women get their husbands out of prison ("Gospel").
Earl attended a Halloween party at the Crab Shack that Joy was also attending. Little Chubby (who was wearing a skeleton costume) made a pass at Joy, which she declined, but by the end of the night she was so drunk she decided to take him up on the offer. She found the man in the skeleton costume (which this time happened to be Earl) and they had sex, which led to the conception of Dodge ("Dodge's Dad").
Despite Earl and Randy's numerous mishaps, their father Carl often bailed them out of jail. However before long he stopped, forcing Earl and Randy to stay in jail ("Cost Dad the Election").
Before making his list, Earl was in a committed relationship with a woman named Jessie. However, Joy Darville decided that she needed a husband to support her soon-to-be-born baby and managed to get Earl drunk enough to marry her on the night of meeting her ("The Bounty Hunter").
He discovered that she was already pregnant the next morning. Joy gave birth to the baby, and named it Dodge. She later gave birth to what Earl thought was his baby, but he soon discovered that Earl Jr. was the son of Darnell who had been having an affair with Joy ("Pilot").
Several weeks after their wedding, Darnell Turner convinced Earl and Joy that the world would end in the year 2000, and after they thought everyone except themselves had died, they all hid in a store, each claiming a section. However, they soon realized the rest of the world was still alive and went back home ("Y2K").
During their marriage Earl and Joy pulled many scams on people. One of these scams was against an old man, Arthur Hill, whom they conned $100 from by pretending that they were collecting money for a starving child in Africa ("Orphan Earl").
After they had been married for several months, Earl realized he could not support Joy by merely stealing, and so they began a scam where they would take away broken down cars, fix them so they would run temporarily then sell them on for large sums of money to unknowing people. One such person was Lloyd ("Sold a Guy a Lemon Car").
In April 2001, Ernie Belcher disappeared. An investigation was launched by the police and Earl and Randy were arrested, suspected of killing Ernie. However evidence provided by professional NASCAR racer Mike Waltrip proved them innocent and they were set free ("Inside Probe (Part 1)").
For the couple's first wedding anniversary (around Summer 2001), Randy threw a party for them at the Crab Shack. However, he only invited guests who were former boyfriends of Joy, including Earl's more successful cousin, Blake. Joy appeared to still be attracted to him, but Earl managed to save Joy from a killer bee that entered the Crab Shack, also saving his marriage ("Earl and Joy's Anniversary").
During their marriage Joy applied to be on the TV show Fear Factor by doing a series of ridiculous stunts such as licking batteries. However, before the tape could be sent off Earl accidentally destroyed it. He told Joy he had sent it and wrote up a fake rejection letter ("Darnell Outed (Part 1)").
In 2005 Earl appeared at Dodge's career day pretending to be a doctor. However, a police officer also in the room got a call that some hospital equipment had been stolen and he arrested Earl ("Dodge's Dad").
Earl bought a "scratch and win" lottery ticket at the start of the series which proves to be worth $100,000. However he was immediately hit by a car and watched the ticket blow away. While Earl recovered in hospital, his wife, Joy, divorced him, and Earl was introduced to the concept of Karma while watching an interview with singer Trace Adkins on "Last Call with Carson Daly". He decided to try to make up for all the bad things he has done and makes a written list of 259 items. After leaving the hospital he started on his list and right away he found the lost $100,000 scratcher. Figuring karma works well, he resolved to continue making up for items on the list ("Pilot").
He helped Kenny, who Earl used to bully as a child, into coming out of the closet ("Pilot").
Earl then wanted to help Randy, his faithful brother, score the touchdown he had always wanted in high school, but Randy instead helped Earl get his car back (which had been impounded), and Randy told him to cross him off the list ("Randy's Touchdown").
He then tried to help to secure a figurine Joy won in a mother-daughter beauty pageant as a child, but in the end Joy won the figurine herself ("Broke Joy's Fancy Figurine").
Earl also helped restore the life of Scott after Earl and Randy manipulated him into thinking that he was a pro golfer ("Stole Beer from a Golfer").
Joy and Darnell decided to get married, but did not invite Earl. This angered Earl, especially as the wedding had been arranged for his birthday, and he crashed the ceremony and accidentally broke Joy's nose in the process. To make it up to her he agreed to pay for a new wedding, but as they worked together they became closer and Joy and Earl slept together. Darnell found out, but Earl talked him into staying with Joy, and the two had a happy wedding ("Joy's Wedding").
Earl re-entered his father for election in 2005 to try to make up for #4. He was very popular amongst those who wanted the air route changed, but after a run-in with the police Carl lost again. However, after his father bailed him out of jail Earl realized that he was coming around, as he had not done so for six years. Earl was convinced he could get his father to be proud of him if he kept doing good things ("Cost Dad the Election").
Earl pretended to be married to Joy over the Christmas period after she lied to her parents, Buzz and Connie Darville, telling them that they were still married. A few days later Earl saw Connie standing up - despite the fact that she needed a wheelchair from "dialysis". She admitted to Earl that she had a gambling problem and had been spending lots of money from the family business that she pretended was for her treatment on gambling. The secret soon came out, as did Joy and Earl's, and an argument ensued. However when Christmas Day arrived and Dodge and Earl Jr. began to open presents, everyone quieted, happy to see the boys faces at their presents ("White Lie Christmas").
Earl then made a pen for some ostriches at the Right Choice Ranch after burning down a barn there as a child. However, it was revealed that Randy was the one who burnt down the barn, and Earl made him cross items off the List, until he eventually forgave him ("Barn Burner").
Earl took over for Jeff Muskin at his job at a fast food restaurant so that he could have a honeymoon with his wife that Earl took away. Earl had problems with his new boss, Mr. Patrick, who ended up punching. This caused him to be kicked out of his house (after his wife found out he had been cheating) and for him to be sent to prison (for stealing from the restaurant) ("O Karma, Where Art Thou?").
He also helped a man named Philo find Something to Live For, before returning a laptop he stole from Alex Meyers, a beautiful woman who was interested in Earl, but ultimately their relationship could not work as Earl realized that he needed to focus on the List after being punished by Karma ("The Professor").
After realizing he had never paid taxes, Earl tried several method to do so, all of which were unsuccessful. He decided to get himself fined to pay the money to the government, but ended up trapped in a water tower. He and Randy were rescued by a team of firemen and policemen, and were charged $500 ("Didn't Pay Taxes").
He then tried to give his mother a perfect day after never giving her a god Mother's Day present, but found it difficult as his father still hated him. However, they began to bond when they started to fix up a car Earl lost over twenty years before ("Dad's Car"). He also made up for #24, with the help of Donny Jones, Joy and Randy ("Y2K").
Earl then helped a young boy, Alby Tollhurst, overcome his fear of the dark. After being mistaken as a kidnapped of the boy, Earl's Motel room was infiltrated by tear gas which got to him and Randy ("Boogeyman").
After meeting back up with old love Jessie, Earl tried to make up for leaving her and marrying Joy several years before. However, Joy revealed that she tricked Earl into marrying her, and said that Earl should not have Jessie on his List ("The Bounty Hunter").
Earl then made up for stealing a badge from a police officer, and learned that it belonged to Officer Stuart Daniels, who had been demoted to watching a rest stop on the highway after losing the badge. Earl tried to help get him promoted again, but discovered that Stuart's true passion lay with bowling, which Earl encouraged him to follow upon. Stuart did so, and Earl realized he could cross him off the List ("Stole a Badge").
Finally Earl decided to get around to crossing #1 off his List, but he discovered that the $10 he stole from Paul was going to be used on a scratch card that won him the $100,000 lotto winnings. Giving all the money to Paul, he and Randy lived off nothing for several days, being kicked out of the Motel and forced to sell the El Camino. Whilst on a bus, they ran down Paul, who in hospital offered the money back to Earl, saying it had brought him bad luck, and so Earl took the money back and resumed his life as before, crossing items off the List ("Number One").
Joy was angered after Bargain Bag refused to refund her for an automatic television cabinet she had purchased, and so decided to steal a van from there to get her money back. She enlisted the help of Earl to sell it, but they soon discovered that there was a man in the back of the truck. Joy and Earl tried to get the man to escape without being able to identify them, but he managed to see Joy and she was sent to prison, being charged with grand theft auto, kidnapping and assault ("Very Bad Things").
Earl goes to Richard Chubby, the owner of Club Chubby, and asks for the bail money for Joy, $1 million, promising to pay it back. Chubby says that he will bail Joy out if Earl gets the Club's best dancer back; Catalina. Earl talks Catalina into coming back to work, but when she discovers that it is to help Joy get out of prison, she refuses. Joy tries to do the dance for Chubby, but she is unsuccessful and Chubby goes back on his deal. Earl collapses from the stress of the situation, and so Catalina decides to go ahead with the dancing, not to help get Joy out of prison, but to help Earl ("Jump for Joy").
Then he got into gambling after trying to help Kenny be more masculine. However, his addiction led to Catalina being late for her shift at Club Chubby, and she was deported after she was discovered as an illegal immigrant when pulled over for speeding. Earl realized his mistake and, along with Randy, went to get her back from Mexico ("Born a Gamblin' Man").
After Earl decides to grow up in accordance with his list, he and Randy move out of the motel and get an apartment. Joy faces a life sentence in prison after kidnapping and imprisoning a man, and Earl decides to testify as a character witness. At the last moment Earl lies and says that it was he who committed the crime, allowing Joy to stay with her family but forcing himself into prison ("The Trial").
After helping the Warden out with numerous tasks, Earl receives many early release certificates . The day finally comes for Earl to be released from prison. However, Earl discovers that the Warden has destroyed his early departure tickets, he turns to his friends to help him escape from prison. After sixty days in solitary confinement (making Earl go crazy), Randy and fellow inmates Frank and Paco devise a plan to get Earl out of jail. With the help of Darnell, Joy and Catalina on the outside combined with Randy and Frank’s help on the inside, Earl manages to get home freely. ("Early Release")Earl married Frank's former girlfriend Billie after meeting her outside prison ("Love Octagon") and it would seem like a dream come true that karma gave Earl a soul mate to spend the rest of his life with. However, their marriage was pretty strained from the beginning, and Earl seemed dissatisfied with Billie ("Girl Earl").
Earl began to avoid Billie, seeing as it the best way to make his marriage work. However, once he started to cross items off his List that involved any of the women he had wronged over the years, Billie became more tolerable, and so he decided to continue to cross off items that involved women ("Camdenites (Part 1)").But then she suddenly became angry and forced Earl to chose what's important when he tried to cross off the Amish comminunity called the Camdenites for seducing their women in hope to have a pleasent and normal relationship with his wife. After he explained to Billie why she's upset all time, and that he make up to the women he hurt, he chose the list to fix his problems with her. But when Billie didn't that lightly, she assaulted her husband with a telephone and stole his list to cause havoc upon people on the list including Kevin and Willie of Shady Grove, Didi, Mistletoe the stripper, and Nescobar-A-Lop-Lop in order to make Earl see things her way. Yet her plan didn't work and she escaped to the Camdenite Village to hide out from both the angry mob of the townspeople she wronged and the Camden police that has come to arrest her. Later she returned to the Palms Hotel for Earl who was there with Randy and his new girlfriend Greta. Yet as a changed woman, she explained to Earl that her stay with the Camdenites turned her life around and taught her that you can't force someone to choose between you and making up for bad deeds they've done. Earl understands that karma didn't want him to turn Billie into another Earl, just to help her find her real self. And so he crosses the Camdenites off his list and Billie gives Earl his list back, plus a check for $72,000. She tells him "Maybe karma didn't want me to be your reward, but it still wants you to have one" and then she left. Each of them both found where they belong in the end. ("Camdenites (Part 2)").
Season 4 Edit
Earl remembered depriving Buddy of his dream of riding a horse before he died of illness so goes to see his mom to ask how he could make it up for him to discover Buddy was still alive. Buddy had a vision of a movie he'd written and wanted Earl to help him film it. Earl got all the residents of Camden County to appear in the movie. Unfortunately, Buddy died before he could attend the premiere at the Crab Shack, but Buddy’s mom thanked Earl for making his dreams come true ("The Magic Hour").
Soon afterwards, Earl decided to apologize to Johnny for sleeping with Shelia. But when Earl confessed, Johnny was angered and chased Earl away. The next day when Earl came to see Johnny he had forgotten about their conversation, Earl found out by Shelia that Johnny had an accident 10 years ago that made him think it was the same day every time he went to sleep. Earl determined to cross Johnny off his list explain it to him, Johnny was horrified and tried to commit suicide. Earl managed to save him and realized how selfish he was being so he decided to permanently leave the item on his list ("Sweet Johnny").
Earl tried to get Kenny into cheerleading camp after bullying him about it in school. Then he discovered Randy was the one who wanted to be a cheerleader; back in school, he had stuffed the leaflet in Kenny's bag to avoid being teased by Earl. Since Randy did anything Earl did, he agreed to join Camden's cheerleading team with Randy so he could cross off the item. When Earl and Randy were about to perform in front of a crowd at the end of the camp Earl discovered that Randy invited everyone they knew to watch and refused to preform but then decided since Randy was always there for him he should too and together they nailed the performance ("We've Got Spirit").
When Earl saw the advert for Estrada or Nada he persuaded Joy to audition and be on TV to make up for destroying her tape she was going to send to be on Fear Factor. But when Joy did her audition the judges gave her three no’s and Brian Dunkleman told her that Eric Estrada wouldn’t do something that silly, Joy attacked him and Darnell had to jump on to the stage to stop her. Unfortunately Joy’s rampage was shown on TV and Darnell’s Witness Protection was blown meaning that the Turner’s had to be relocated ("Darnell Outed (Part 1)").
Earl and Randy found out Joy and Darnell’s mail was forwarded they put themselves in a crate to find out where it was going but found out that the mail only went to a dumpster for people who no longer lived at the trailer park. Then Earl found a letter that said one of the contestants on Estrada or Nada had dropped out and if she could get her friends to vote for her she could get back on the show, so Earl bought all the cell phones Jasper had and gave them to everyone he knew to vote for Joy. Joy got the most votes and was able to return to challenge Eric Estrada, she managed to beat him and was able to thank Earl before she left his life ("Darnell Outed (Part 2)").
When Dodge wanted to go to the Chaz Dalton’s Space Academy, Earl remembered being sent there as a child. He tried on his old spacesuit, but the suit had shrunk in the dryer. Earl goes to confess his crime to Chaz. While seeking out a replacement space suit, Earl sees a picture of Chaz Dalton, and he realizes the man running the Chaz Dalton's space camp is not the man he claimed to be. Earl got the real Chaz Dalton to run the academy to discover that he had also been a fraud. The fake Chaz returns and is better with the children so both of them ran the Academy together ("Chaz Dalton's Space Academy").
While Earl was teach Randy how to blow a bubble he brought up Greta and Darnell asked what happened to her. Randy explained they broke up and then started reminiscing about his old childhood crush Pinky. Earl knew that was his fault as he gave Pinky a letter that she thought Randy had wrote to break them up and with persuading form Randy tracked down Pinky to find out she was Joy. Randy still wanted to date Joy, but Joy wouldn’t date him unless Earl got Dodge to break up with his girlfriend Tiffany. Joy didn’t enjoy being with Randy but then saw how much she meant to Randy as a child and finally remembers the times they once had as children and when Randy was very nice to her. They finally start the day together at last and at the end they kissed ("Pinky").
- Earl's birthday is April 25 1970, the same day as Jason Lee, Earl's birthday has appeared in two episodes of the show; Joy's Wedding and The Birthday Party.
- A running joke in the show is that every time Earl's picture is taken, his eyes are closed. This is considered to be a nod to the movie Forrest Gump in which every photograph of Forrest (Tom Hanks) shows him with his eyes closed.
- The close-up of Earl's driver license shows he lives in Pimmit Hills Trailer Park, Space C-13, Camden County. His date of birth is 4/25/1970 (Jason Lee's birthday), his height is 6'1", his weight is 190, his eyes and hair are brown, and he is an organ donor. It's a class 1 license, #023052378, expiring on 04-25-09.
- In Inside Probe (Part 1), Earl's middle name is said to be Jehoshaphat and revealed that he had actually had a dream of how Karma would affect his life, but this was interpreted as an attempt to reporting talking about a man who finally finished his list of wrongs. It is possible he was talking about Earl, which if true, means he has finally finished all his list.
- His last name is "Hickey" also means slight bite marks during sexual intercourse.
- Dummy by Joy (Constantly)
- Magnum P.I. by Frat Member ("The Professor")
- Marlboro Man by Mr. Patrick ("O Karma, Where Art Thou?")
- Puppy Dog by Ralph Mariano ("Stole P's HD Cart")
- Sweety Pants by Joy ("South of the Border, Part Uno")
- Risky Business by T.R. ("Killerball")
- Karma Zombie by Joy ("Witch Lady")
- Jeff Foxworthy by Reverend Greene ("Gospel")