- "You know, it's funny how the N-word magically appears whenever you talk about getting violent with a Black person, yet you think you're better than Connor. Let's see how far your ghetto code gets you at my school. If you're gonna be able to get there, that is."
- —Carlton to Will[src]
Carlton is Will's cousin, who he openly despises. He is also the captain of the lacrosse team and a faithful GQ subscriber, who is perfectly at home in his privileged world.
Going to war with Will
Carlton greets Will, who he catches talking to his ex-girlfriend, Lisa, upon his arrival in Bel-Air. Will simply wants to catch up, but Carlton is suspicious of his sudden arrival and hopes that one day they can talk about why he's really there. The next day, Carlton brings Will along with him to Bel-Air Academy. He takes off for lacrosse practice but tells Will to met him at 3:00 in the locker rooms, which he does, only to find Carlton and his white friend, Connor, rapping Bobby Shmruda's Hot N*gga and reciting the lyrics word for word. This leads to an argument between Will and Connor until Carlton intervenes, taking up for his friend. So, he and Will continue this conversation once they return home, where Carlton doesn't see the big deal, considering that it's just a word.
Carlton is snorting Xanax in his room until being interrupted by Will, who has come up with a proposal to squash their beef, or at least pretend to, because if they're getting along, Aunt Viv and Uncle Phil will ease up on Will, and once they do, Carlton won't have to drag him around Bel-Air. And so, Carlton brings Will with him to Connor's beach party, where he gets high off drugs and pushes Will in the pool out of jealousy after seeing him with Lisa. When Will finally gets out of the pool, he retaliates and hits both Carlton and Connor.
Carlton and Will return home after the party and are told to go to their rooms by his mother after she learns they were fighting over Lisa. The next morning, Carlton is still upset about the beating he took from Will, especially since now he has a black eye. Will tries to reason with him and come to an understanding, but when Will refuses to apologize, Carlton leaves him behind to find his own ride to school, as he has an assembly to speak at. And as it just so happens, Will ends up running on stage, where Carlton attempts to humiliate him by bringing him over to discuss a new initiative to support, such as struggling public schools. He then privately warns Will not to start with him, as demonstrated during the assembly, he runs the school.
Later in the school day, Carlton confronts Will. He was willing to let this all die down, but now, since Lisa has been telling everyone around school that he started the fight with Will out of jealousy, Carlton is no longer interested in an apology and challenges Will to a fair fight, who instead decides to walk away. And the following day, Carlton is approached by Lisa, who asks him to stop involving her in his beef with Will and to seek some help, given his drug addiction. Carlton ignores her advice and heads to the P.T. room, where he runs into Will, who has joined the basketball team and warns Carlton that soon, the school will be his. Unfortunately for Will, he is taken to the principal's office after Connor plants drugs on him.
After Will is suspended for the drugs, Carlton is questioned by his parents, who suspect that maybe he or Connor had something to do with Will's suspension, but he insists that he's innocent. However, the next day at school, he blames Connor for not coming to him first before planting the drugs on Will, as now his parents are suspicious, forcing him to clean up the mess and free Will before the truth comes to light. And he does this coming forward and saying he saw a guy that doesn't go to Bel-Air Academy messing with his bag. Because of this, Will's suspension is lifted and the school neglects to review the footage.
With Will free, Carlton joins Lisa for her pre-meet tradition to supposedly apologize for getting her involved between him and Will. Admittedly, he could have handled things better, but seeing her with Will hurt him. It was as if she didn't care for him anymore, but she insists that's not the case, as they've both been there for each other during their worst.
Carlton joins his dad and Will for the Alpha fraternity's annual crawfish boil, where Carlton hopes to speak with Henry Miles to discuss an internship with Black Minds First Initiative, which would be the perfect internship for Carlton's application to Princeton, which he wants to get without his parents' money or help. However, upon speaking with Mr. Miles, Carlton learns that he's no longer on the board and gives up hope for the internship, and instead, turns his attention towards his lacrosse game, during which he performs miserably and is kicked out of the game after his family neglects to show up. So, Carlton goes to the locker room, where he snorts some Xanax, before heading into the gym to find Lisa, his sister, and their parents cheering Will on as he makes the game winning shot.
Canvassing for his dad
After defeating his dad in a game of chess, Carlton makes him a proposition: if he and Will register 30 voters without drama, then he wants VIP seats to the Grand Prix at Monaco. Phillip agrees to Carlton's terms, but only if he gets 50 voters. And so, Carlton plays nice with Will, as they go door-to-door, asking for signatures, but Carlton fails to make a connection with the people, and they slam the door in his face. Will on the other hand manages to get several signatures, though Carlton doesn't approve of his methods; how he's slandering the competitors and calling them racists. Furthermore, he hates how Will tramples the rules and still ends up on top. While Will might have everyone else fooled, Carlton isn't convinced and thinks back to Will's arrival in Bel-Air and Tray's shooting. He suspects that there's more to the story, but Will leaves, only later to return so that they can get more signatures.
After the fundraiser, Carlton admits that Will was right about opening the fundraiser to the public. He hopes to keep their relationship as it currently is. They don't have to be friends, but they don't need to trip each other up either.
While at dinner with Hilary's influencer roommates, Carlton learns from Tray the real reason Will is in Bel-Air — he's hiding out from Rashad Denton after pulling a gun on him and being arrested. After dinner, Carlton confronts his father, who admits that he did in fact break the law to save Will. He accuses his father of being a hypocrite, and then approaches Will with this discovery and threatens to expose him unless Will stays out of his way and away from Lisa. The following day, he and Lisa get together to discuss plans for her mother's memorial benefit. After settling on a Mardi Gras theme, with Carlton offering to help in any way possible, he hugs Lisa and goes in for a kiss, but she pulls away and tells him that her feelings haven't changed.
Carlton and Lisa go through their final rehearsal before her mother's annual Lupus fundraiser. However, she's having trouble dealing with it all. Lisa also can't help but feel as though her new stepmother is trying to erase her mother, but Carlton is there to comfort her. Later that evening, Carlton overhears a conversation between Will and Lisa, during which she reveals that she thinks Carlton is using her vulnerability to get closer to her, and having to tiptoe around his emotions is exhausting. This sends Carlton into frenzy. He is snorting Xanax in his room when Will finds him. Carlton accuses Will of going against their agreement that he would stay away from her, but Will explains that he was simply being there for her as a friend. Carlton begins to cry and says that he can't join Lisa on stage in his current condition. And so, Will does. When Carlton awakens, he finds his dad at the edge of his bed. And they discuss all the anxiety Carlton must be feeling and the pressure that weighing on him.
Carlton is struggling to perform at lacrosse practice, during which Connor remarks that "lacrosse is still one sport they can't take away from us." Fueled by anger from Connor's remark, Carlton collides with Carlton on the field, knocking him to the ground and injuring his wrist. He later admits to Will that this was intentional, but now he's starting to feel rejected by his own crew after they put his stuff in the shower in retaliation to Connor's broken wrist. Will offers to help Carlton and proposes they throw a party at the house. Carlton is hesitant, but plays along with Will's plan, which results in him spending some time with a girl from school named Aisha, who remarks that he's much cooler than his reputation proceeds, as Carlton is known around school by the black kids as a sell out. He takes offense to her accusations and leaves.
While Carlton appreciates Will's effort, he'd rather be left alone. However, he does eventually decide to invite the lacrosse team, with the exception of Connor, who decides to attend anyway. Carlton is willing to squash their beef, but only if Connor apologizes for all the racist and offensive remarks he's made. Connor refuses and leaves, which doesn't go unnoticed by Aisha, who salutes Carlton for standing his ground. Carlton goes searching for Will, but is forced to address a more pressing concern when the police arrive after being called by Connor. Carlton greets them, but they're slightly hostile and make him put his hands behind his head until Will and Lisa come down. She introduces herself as Chief Wilkes' daughter, and the cops leave without incident. But after having witnessed Lisa and Will come down the steps together, Carlton realizes that they were just together.
Will's birthday party
As part of his punishment for the party, Carlton is forced to be his dad's caddy. Fortunately, he was able to persuade the police commissioner to keep the matter quiet, as he'll do everything in his power to safeguard Carlton's future. However, in part due to Carlton, his dad is unable to secure the assemblyman's endorsement. If he wants to help, Phil tells him to stay out of the kind of trouble that brings police to their door. While Will is still new to their world, this should be second nature to Carlton, who comes to the conclusion that Will is allowed to make mistakes while he isn't.
After his mom and Aunt Vy get into a fight during Will's party, Carlton checks in on his mom and tells her that Aunt Vy's feelings likely stem from a place of hurt, under all the anger. Carlton suggests that they two of them have a talk, especially since she's been encouraging him to do the same with Will. And after seeing their mothers together, Will and Carlton realize that neither of them want to have a decade long grudge, but Will doesn't know how they can move forward if Carlton can't accept the fact that he's with Lisa. Carlton explains that it isn't just about Lisa. Will's arrival sent him into a spiral. He was already having a rough time with school and the campaign, but moving forward, Carlton realizes that his time with Lisa is over. He just wants Will to promise that he won't hurt her, as he did.
Dealing with anxiety
With the family headed to church, Carlton is positioned to lead the choir in song. While he starts off good, his anxiety appears to get the better of him, forcing Carlton to flee off the stage. When they return home and Will comes to check on him, Carlton explains that he suffers from anxiety, which piles on to him over time. He uses the drugs as a coping mechanism. However, he didn't use them today, though he's starting to feel like he should've, as he knew he was going to struggle, but he just wanted to make his dad proud, as he was so excited to hear Carlton sing. Will reminds Carlton that he will always be there for him and that his troubles won't be so heavy if he allows Will to carry them with him. He appreciates Will's kind words, but after Will leaves, Carlton looks over to his closet, contemplating whether to fall back into his old habits of drug abuse.
After learning that Will no longer intends to look into his father, Carlton confides in Will that he's the reason he didn't take drugs today and thanks him for it. When Will reveals that he's supposed to be linking with Lisa, Carlton asks if it ever becomes difficult to be together given that Uncle Phil is running against her dad, but they never talk about. Though, Will is concerned that she's not answering her phone, but Carlton assures him that everything is fine. However, that proves untrue when Lisa arrives after learning the real reason Will is Bel-Air and reveals that her father intends to use this information against Uncle Phil in the debate. So, Carlton and Will rush to the debate to inform him, which results in Phil dropping out of the race.
After attending his mother's gala the prior night, Carlton plans to get some time on the track with his dad while a couple of the F1 teams are in town for Grand Prix West. However, that is halted when Carlton learns that his dad fired Geoffrey for gathering information on Will's dad. So, he sneaks into his dad's office and reads the report before handing it over to Will and revealing that his dad stopped by the house earlier. With this information, Will decides to meet his dad, which goes poorly and results in Will leaving the house. Carlton hugs Will and slips a clip of money in his coat pocket before he leaves. Carlton then seeks out Lisa to help him find Will, because his cousin never turned his back on him, and Carlton needs that now more than ever.
- Dreams and Nightmares
- Keep Ya Head Up
- PA to LA
- The Strength to Smile
- Payback's A B*tch
- No One Wins When the Family Feuds
- Can't Knock the Hustle
- Where To?
- Season 1, Episode 2: Keep Ya Head Up
- Season 1, Episode 1: Dreams and Nightmares
- Season 1, Episode 3: Yamacraw
- Season 1, Episode 4: Canvass
- Season 1, Episode 5: PA to LA
- Season 1, Episode 6: The Strength to Smile
- Season 1, Episode 7: Payback's A B*tch
- Season 1, Episode 8: No One Wins When the Family Feuds
- Season 1, Episode 9: Can't Knock the Hustle
- Season 1, Episode 10: Where To?