Michael Christopher Kelso, usually referred to simply as Kelso by his friends, is one of the five male leads on Fox Network's That '70s Show, portrayed by Ashton Kutcher. Tall, lanky and long-haired has been accepted as the local idiot until he moved to Chicago for the seventh season. His behavior is very much in line with a stereotypical oversexed lunkhead or a male-bimbo who gets through life on his good looks. He spends most of the series in a mutually parasitic relationship with the equally vapid Jackie Burkhart, whom he continues to obsess over following their numerous breakups. In spite of his stupidity, Kelso was shown on several occasions not to be immature, simply unmotivated; when he was either forced to or chose to, Kelso displayed startling intelligence unbecoming of his usual personality or hijinks. Near the end of the series, Kelso became one of the first characters to completely break away from adolescence and into adulthood when he impregnated a girl with whom he had a one-night-stand; to his friends' surprise, Kelso took responsibility for the child, moving to Chicago to take a job to support and be near his newborn daughter.


Michael Kelso was first introduced in 'That 70s Pilot' as Eric Forman's, lesser-intelligent, loudly obnoxious friend who was dating a preppy, younger student Jackie Burkhart. Much to his friends' annoyance, he frequently claims to be breaking up with Jackie but does not go through with it, in hopes she'll 'put out' eventually. It is because of her, he misses out on the Ted Nugent concert they visited, though they instead spent the evening making out in the back of the Vista Cruiser. It is later revealed as the series progresses, that Michael is akin to cheating on his girlfriend most notably with Pam Macey. At one point, Jackie found out and banned Kelso from coming to her ski-trip, though Michael still attempts to find a way there. Kelso also unwittingly got his friends into trouble after driving them around in an apparently stolen car. They were arrested and contained, though Eric's connections with his father got them out of it. Eventually, Kelso loses his virginity to Jackie, though they go through a scare that she may be pregnant. This turns out to be misinformed though.

Eventually, Kelso purchases a van which becomes the main focus of his secondary story's during seasons 2 through 3. On one occasion, Jackie wished to decorate the van resulting in it becoming temporarily covered in stuffed animals, though all was removed soon after. The van became the gangs main source of transport on long-distance journeys, such as Vanstock and to the Ice Shack. However, it ultimately meets its fate sinking into the bottom of a broken river.

Like Eric, Kelso buys his girlfriend, Jackie, a Promise Ring to show how important the relationship is to him. However, whilst Jackie is overjoyed with her ring, Donna begins to become unsure of her and Eric's future. This causes Eric to break up with her.

The season four opening sees Eric envisioning a possible future had he never met Donna. In this future, Kelso and Jackie have broken up once again only to consistently re-kindle their relationship for a one night stand every time they reunite. Kelso also spends most of that season attempting to pry Eric from his depression, though ultimately chooses Funland over Eric in the second episode only to get lost and brought back by a concerned mother. The mother, however, kicks him out of her car after he threatened her children following their insults to him causing Kelso to walk home. Kelso was also elected for Snow King at the Snow prom much to Jackie's disapproval.

Class Picture is a flash-back episode revealing how each of the gang members met each other. Kelso and Eric's meeting is not explained thoroughly, though it is presumed they simply met in first-grade. However, Kelso's first impression to the Forman's was remembered as he showed up to the door without pants. After a quick reminder, Kelso exclaimed 'My pants!!' before rushing home. It was also revealed he was the only male member of the gang not to have seen Donna's breasts, though she allows him to see them after. Kelso later invented a day of which he named 'Prank Day' where he attempted to get as many pranks on his friends as possible. During the Season 4 finale, Jackie misleadingly believes that Kelso is proposing to her, causing him to decide to run off to California. After meeting up with Donna, who had recently been humiliated by her then boyfriend and Kelso's brother, Casey, they both take off.

When he returned in the beginning of Season 5 he found out that Jackie had moved onto Hyde, which made him extremely jealous, and he spent the majority of the season trying to get her back. Eventually, Kelso claimed to be over Jackie and renewed his friendship with Hyde, and began a relationship with Annette, a girl he had a short relationship with in California. Jackie, in the same way as Kelso, became jealous, and even went so far as to yell, "Get off my boyfriend!" when she saw Kelso and Annette kissing. Kelso responded positively to this and began to make a big show of it. Annette left him at the school dance, telling him he wasn't over Jackie, and he soon realized that she was right. So when Jackie broke up with Hyde, Kelso did all he could to win her over, even competing with Hyde at some points. However, when Jackie chose Hyde over him, he respected her decision and even helped to bring the two together again. From then on, Kelso and Jackie shared a relationship as friends. In the Season 6, Kelso has a major plot in which he accidentally impregnated a girl, Brooke, in a bathroom at a Molly Hatchet concert. Brooke initially does not want Kelso in the baby's life, much to Kelso's relief. However, a pep-talk from Donna causes him to change his mind as he attempts to prove to Brooke he can be a father. In the seventh season, Betsy Kelso, was born. Brooke left for Chicago giving Kelso permission to see Betsy whenever he can.

Kelso became a policeman, albeit a bumbling one. He attempted to take his job seriously by growing a mustache and calling himself "Mike," and even going as far as flushing Hyde's marijuana stash down the toilet (ironically in The Circle), but he was quickly reverted when Hyde and Fez shaved his mustache and made him resemble the mustache Adolf Hitler owned. He eventually set the police academy on fire via a flare gun, and even before then, broke into the academy and lost his supervisor's squad car.

At the end of Season 7, Kelso drove Jackie to Chicago after her break-up with Hyde. When Hyde followed her there to propose, he found Kelso naked and in a towel, making a comment that implied he and Jackie were about to have sex. Although Kelso frequently makes sexual comments to every female on the show, including Jackie and Donna, Hyde believed the two really were about to engage in sex, and drove off to Las Vegas, effectively ending his relationship with Jackie.

Season 8

Ashton Kutcher did not renew his contract for the eighth and final season of the series. So after the seventh season ended, Kutcher appeared in a recurring guest role in the first four episodes of Season 8 in order to bring closure to the character.

The series begins with Kelso avoiding Hyde after Hyde caught him about to have sex with Jackie in a motel room. When Hyde finally catches Kelso, he punches him in the face and decides to resume their friendship. With this storyline resolved and the abandonment of Hyde and Jackie's relationship, Michael resumes his police work duties. When Randy and Fez, however, decide to throw a bachelor party for Hyde after his marriage to a stripper, Kelso ends up losing his job due to misuse of police equipment and unprofessional behavior. This causes Kelso to wonder what he has going for him, and randomly decides to simply propose to Jackie, seeing as she was the one he had always loved. However, he quickly regrets telling Fez, after a job offer as a security guard at a strip club, as he informs Jackie almost instantly. Feeling pressured to do something, he attempt to propose, albeit with a balloon, at the Forman's anniversary, to be swiftly rejected much to his pleasure. He then joins his friends for one final circle before his departure. Kelso does not appear in succeeding episodes, although he is occasionally referenced by the remaining characters. He returns, though, in the series finale to welcome in the New Year with his old friends, much to their pleasure.


Among Kelso's most famous personality traits are conceit and sheer stupidity, performing a great number of idiocies on a regular daily basis. Despite his stupid nature, he shows moments of shining intellect, demonstrating the ability to do fast mathematical division, and fixing Eric's Pong machine. Throughout the series, Kelso has made a large quantity of moronic quotes and performed many dimwitted blunders, and possesses numerous infantile qualities such as enjoying Christmas specials deemed childish by his peers and fussing when something is preventing him from viewing them. It also been hinted Kelso loves dogs. Like the other teenage male central characters of the series, Kelso also possesses an abundance of "horny" personality traits and appears especially fond of the idea of having sexual relations, and the willingness to spoil his virginity resulted in the impregnation of a librarian named Brooke and the birth of a little girl named Betsy toward the end of the program. He fancies himself as quite attractive and capable of winning the affections of women such as Jackie Burkhart, with whom he has shared an on-again/off-again relationship throughout the course of the series. Kelso also likes bands such as Led Zeppelin, Foghat, Deep Purple, Aerosmith, KISS, Ted Nugent, Pink Floyd, AC/DC, The Rolling Stones, The Who and Molly Hatchet. It was revealed in the Halloween special that Kelso is a year older than the other teenagers due to being held back a year in the first grade, which angered the character Steven Hyde knowing that all along Kelso was legally allowed to purchase beer for the teenagers.

It is clear from Jackie and Kelso's relationship that Kelso definitely is not the one wearing the pants in his relationships; he is easily manipulated (Laurie pointed this out once and called him a "tool") and never fulfills his promise of breaking up with his girlfriend, although later it may simply be because he is afraid to break a woman's heart. When he dates Annette in Season 5, he even remarked "It's good to be under someone's thumb again!" with a grin, suggesting he prefers his women to be controlling. After uttering this line, Fez asks him "What did your mother do to you?" which Kelso answers with a stupid grin.

Kelso often remarks that he has an entire future planned out for him. He says this several times in the third and fourth season. This was apparently a way to convince others he was mature, but his friends viewed it as boastful and annoying. Kelso's only plan was to coast through his life on his good looks, and when he believes this might not happen, he greatly overreacts. He also fell off the water tower every year since Jr. High, a fact either explaining or explained by his idiocy.


Kelso's family is frequently referred to by other characters as being a large one, despite only one of his siblings actually appearing on-screen throughout the show's run. Some episodes portray his household as loud and obnoxious, such as when he opens the door, yelling can be heard. From the characters' dialogue, it can be assumed he is one of six Kelso boys and also has a younger sister, which Hyde implies to be fairly unattractive.

One grandmother, mentioned in the episode Dine and Dash, has, in Kelso's words, "big honkin' whiskers". Despite Kelso's protests that his own mom is very beautiful, Jackie insists she too has the same whiskers. One of his grandmothers, we find in the episode 5:15.

Kelso's father, John Kelso, appeared in the episode Career Day, portrayed by Francis Guinan. John Kelso's office job as a specialized statistician is unclear and confusing to Michael, who decides to make it up and say his dad is a farmer.


Kelso is considered by many fans as the breakout character of the series. In the earlier seasons he is a supporting main character but in seasons 6-7 he becomes one of the shows leads along with Eric, Donna and Hyde.

Other Appearances

  • Kelso was portrayed once again by Ashton Kutcher in a Robot Chicken sketch entitled, That '00s Show.
  • Although it is not the same character nor the same time period, there are a lot of similarities between Kelso and Ashton Kutcher's character Jesse Montgomery III in the stoner film, Dude, Where's My Car?


That '70s Show
Episode list
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