Tsukushi Makino is the main female character in Boys Over Flowers, and is one of the very few students at the prestigious Eitoku University to come from an 'unwealthy' family. Her family is so poor that they can barely afford to pay Makino's tuition, but her parents push her to continue at the school so she can 'seduce a rich man' and take them out of poverty.
Tsukushi is not thrilled about being stuck at Eitoku, and is determined to remain as invisible as possible until graduation. However, she sticks her neck out to defend her friend (Makiko in the manga, Sakurako in the drama), who accidentally bumps into F4 leader Tsukasa Domyoji on a staircase. The next day, a red tag is found hanging in Tsukushi's locker, the F4's "declaration of war," officially marking her for future torment from the F4 and the rest of the student body. But, unlike most of the F4's targets, Makino stands up for herself, showing how strong a 'weed' can be. She attacks Domyoji in the hallway and presents him with a red tag of her own.
In this process, she lets her fierce determination and her stubborn, hardworking ways show through, and in the end turns all of the F4 into her friends.
At first, Tsukushi hates all of the F4 except Hanazawa Rui, (whom she has romantic feelings towards). But, as Rui goes off to chase after Shizuka, Tsukushi slowly falls in love with the hotheaded leader, Domyoji.
Tsukasa Domyoji is the leader of the F4. At the beginning of the series, he is Tsukushi's biggest enemy, but as the story progresses, he becomes her love interest.
Tsukasa is the heir to Domyoji Enterprises, and his family is extremely rich. They own various houses around the world, including an actual island, a house in Canada, and a house in New York City where his parents live most of the year.
Domyoji spent much of his childhood on his own; his parents were always overseas, and his older sister--as loving as she could be--was always busy studying and eventually married and moved to Los Angeles. His mother, Kaede, is cold to him, and although she loves him, wants to control his life for the sake of preserving the family name. Tsukasa often calls her "the old hag" and "witch," an opinion shared by nearly all of his friends.
Tsukushi's retaliation in the hallway sparks Domyoji's interest, and he is immediately attracted to her daring and strength (the traits he used to admire in his older sister). Despite the harassment he puts her through to keep up appearances, he also constantly tries to do things to impress her - such as trying unsuccessfully to straighten his hair after she tells him that she can't stand his curly-top.
Because he has grown up in luxury and is used to always getting his way, Domyoji is initially not very good at interacting with Tsukushi. He frequently makes fun of her family's poverty and responds angrily when she refuses to do as he says. As time passes, however, he begins to mature and develop a greater understanding of how to interact positively with others.
The violinist Rui Hanazawa, Tsukasa's best friend, becomes Tsukushi's first serious romantic interest. He is generally quiet and cold, but has a soft spot for his close friend and Tsukushi's idol, the model Shizuka Todo, whom he has harbored feelings for since childhood. His character is a bit complex, and his feelings for Tsukushi are in a nearly constant state of flux (varying from annoyance to love), but above all cares about her in a friendly way. In season two of Hana Yori Dango, he grows closer with Makino, but he also claimed that he loved her and that he is the one that would make her happy, not Domyoji. They eventually become very close friends and she depends on him as a confidant. He always seems to wear or have white things in the drama.
It's commonly mistranslated that he had autism as a child. However one cannot outgrow autism, and the 'when I was a child' is actually a mistranslation 'since I was a child.' He has Asperger's syndrome which explains why Rui holds grudges for many years, and often extracts his revenge after everyone involved has forgotten about it. He prefers sleeping at least 10 hours a day, has trouble socializing and can't recognize facial expressions (example in being trying to draw Tsukasa, he drew an expressionless egg with curly hair). These are all typical autistic personality traits he still holds.
Another member of F4, Sojirou is quiet and very interested in the tea ceremony, which is his family's business. For the most part, he and Mimasaka usually work to keep the peace peace within the group and following Domyoji. In season two, he reunites with his first love, whom he had believed had only loved his brother. Later he learns that she had truly loved him, but the relationship is unsalvageable (in the manga they both recognize that they missed their one chance to be together, and in the drama she has become engaged to someone else). Makino's close friend, Yuuki has feelings for him and it is uncertain whether he feels the same way. He is also one of the two playboys in the F4.
Mimasaka is arguably the kindest and most mature member of F4. His family is very powerful in the Japanese underground (in the manga they own a large trading company). He keeps his cool and rarely loses his temper, although when he does, even Domyoji has to run for the hills. Akira is the other of the group's two playboys. His tastes tend towards older women, mainly because of his mother's childish ways. He has two younger sisters who are twins. He is also the one F4 member who like to and only uses cash. It was revealed in a special chapter that he actually had romantic feelings for Tsukushi, as she sees him as the man that he is, and sincerely appreciates him for it. Tsukushi also makes him realize that since he helps balance F4 out, a supporter if you will, that if he ever leaves them, then F4 will fall apart. However, he keeps his feelings to himself, due to the fact he cherishes his friendship with Tsukasa.
He also often joins Sojiroh in teasing Tsukasa about being a virgin.
Yuuki and Tsukushi were best friends at school before Tsukushi's parents decided to send her to Eitoku. The two of them still work together at a dango shop after school. Yuuki offers Tsukushi a lot of encouragement and advice about her situation with the F4. As she gains more familiarity with them, she develops romantic feelings for Sojirou.
Shizuka is a rich heiress and childhood friend of the F4. She and Rui particularly are very close; she was the first person who was able to get him to come out of his shell, and the two were inseparable for much of their childhood. She began a modeling career during her high school years, but shocks everyone at her twentieth birthday party by announcing that she plans to give up her career as a model as well as her position as the Todo heiress to move to Paris and become a human rights lawyer. In the drama, Shizuka was the inspiration that convinced Makino to attend Eitoku, and later to pursue a legal career.
Rui initially accompanies Shizuka to Paris at Tsukushi's request, but their relationship suffers as Shizuka spends more and more time at work. Eventually, Rui returns to Japan in frustration. Shizuka remains in Paris and eventually marries to a lawyer there, giving her bouquet to Tsukushi.
Kazuya is another one of Tsukushi's childhood friends. He enrolls at Eitoku after his family comes into money through some real-estate deals. The other students at Eitoku draw a sharp distinction between Kazuya's "new money" and their "old money." The F4 in particular mention this difference fairly often.
Tsukushi is both relieved to have a friend at Eitoku, and worried for Kazuya's safety if he continues to hang around her. She is particularly worried about Domyoji, who clearly considers Kazuya a romantic threat.
Kazuya is fiercely loyal to and harbors romantic feelings for Tsukushi, but also relatively clueless and not very quick to pick up on things. He is not featured in the drama.
Makiko is one of Tsukushi's only friends at Eitoku in the beginning of the series. Tsukushi rescues her from inevitable torment after she collides with Domyoji on the stairs. Although she's forced to break off their friendship to prevent becoming a target of abuse, Makiko finds ways to help Tsukushi, sending her secret messages of encouragement or to warn her of impending danger. She disappears without comment as the manga goes on.
Born a very ugly child, Sakurako was the object of torment of the children she went to school with. When she confessed her love to Domyoji, he traumatized her by making fun of her looks.
Sakurako undergoes plastic surgery and returns to Eitoku, determined to use her new beauty to take her revenge on Domyoji by making him fall in love with her. She acts sweet and innocent, but lets her true colors show when she thinks no one is watching. When she hears of his growing attraction to Tsukushi, she conspires with her friend Thomas to destroy her. She has Thomas drug Tsukushi at a club and then distributes photos of the two of them in bed together around the school, causing the student body to turn on her for betraying Domyoji.
When Domyoji eventually refuses Sakurako's advances and sees through her plans, Sakurako becomes remorseful and she and Tsukushi become friends.
Shigeru is the princess of the Okawahara Corporation. She becomes the fiancee of Tsukasa and at first she is completely against it but soon she warms up to Tsukasa. Shigeru befriends Tsukushi and asks her to help her get Tsukasa, not realising that Tsukasa likes Makino and Makino in return harbours feelings for Tsukasa. In the end, she realises that Tsukasa will never love her and so decides to her two friends get together.
On the surface, Shigeru seems aggressive and "boyish" but she is actually quite girly.
Tsubaki is Tsukasa's sister. She is one of the few people who is not afraid to stand up to him, a trait that Domyoji secretly admires in her. She marries the wealthy heir to a hotel company and moved to Los Angeles with him. Although she has obtained a degree of happiness in her marriage, she did not choose her husband and was manipulated by her mother Kaede into breaking off her relationship with an ordinary boy she loved and marrying to suit the family interests. She begs Domyoji not to make the same mistake.
A woman who owns the dango shop in which Tsukushi and Yuki work in. She has a habit of listening in on their conversations and usually popping out from nowhere. She always relates an issue dramatically to men she had dated in the past, all of which had unusual situations for their breakups. These stories tend to cause confusion and weariness to the girls as time goes by, making them wonder about Okami-san's real age.
Tsukasa's controlling mother. She is the chairwoman of Domyoji Enterprises. She is very clever and devious and hatches many schemes to break apart her son and Tsukushi, who she sees as an "insect" that must be squashed for the sake of the family.
The three girls who bully Tsukushi throughout their high school years, Yuriko believes that Domyoji only has a passing interest in Tsukushi and resolves to make her life horrible. She often sucks up to the rest of the F4 more than the other students.
Tsukushi's father. He often cannot hold a job and this puts pressure on Tsukushi to earn the family income. He often states that he will work harder and stay devoted so that Tsukushi will not work as hard, but he never does. He, along with his wife, respect Domyoji and treat him like a god. He also wants Tsukushi to marry someone wealthy so that they will not have to live in poverty.
In the manga and the drama, he, and the rest of the family, excluding Tsukushi, end up moving to a fishing village to make a living.
Tsukushi's mother. She is very comical and while sometimes she seems to care very little for Tsukushi's feelings, it is later revealed that she will not allow her daughter to be insulted. She dreams of having Tsukushi marry someone wealthy and constantly tries to get Tsukushi together with Domyoji.
She, along with her husband and son, end up moving to a fishing village in hopes of getting a better life there.
Tsukushi's younger brother, he is determined to go to the cheapest high school and get a part time job so that Tsukushi can continue to attend Eitoku. He eventually ends up moving to a fishing village with his parents. He plays a larger role in the live-action version and the manga than in the anime.
Domyouji and Tsukushi's relationship has varied from the start. In the beginning it was one of hatred and physical violence, due to the fact he waged war against her all the time. However as Domyouji got to know her, he slowly falls in love with her though he has always held a cold heart. Due to this, he attempts to make advances on Makino, but always ends up fighting with her. In the manga they go through many hardships to be together. His stubborn mother, Makino's friendship with Rui, Makino's constantly changing feelings, and also Domyoji's frequent angry outbursts (as wells as many other problems) are always keeping them apart. In the end, their love wins out. Towards the end Domyoji makes an announcement to the media to go to New York for 4 years in order to take over his father's company. During this announcement period, Makino is troubled but later says that she will not go with him and that when he comes back she'll be waiting for him and will make him a happy man. The story ends with Domyoji going to New York and Makino watch his plane leave in the sky.
In the short story published after the series had concluded, Domyoji and company goes to Paris along with Makino to go to Shizuka's wedding with a French lawyer. Domyoji told Makino that he already paid for her four years of university to keep an eye on her. They agree to wait until Domyoji was done in three more years.
During the countless times that they break up, Domyoji goes crazy and returns to his "evil" and violent ways. However, when he is with Makino he is tamed and kind. Because of this, everyone around them is always saying that he is no good without Makino.
It is also hinted that at the end of the 4 years spent apart, they will get married.