Carlton was born on August 4, 1974, to Vivian Banks and Uncle Phil. He has an older sister, Hilary Banks, a younger sister, Ashley Banks, and a younger brother, Nicholas "Nicky" Banks. Carlton attends Bel-Air Academy and ULA (for two years) until he transfers to Princeton in 1996.
Carlton is a highly rational, respectful, and caring individual; however, he can be annoying, naive, and cocky. He dresses preppy and is a conservative Republican who loves Tom Jones and Macaulay Culkin. Carlton tends to have difficulty thinking about others and is often at odds with his cousin, Will Smith, although he is Will's best friend and brother figure.
Carlton has a tight relationship with his father, almost always siding with Philip in arguments. Will claims that he is sucking up, but Carlton always points out that his Father is often right in the long run. On almost every occasion that presents itself, Carlton chooses to take the side or approach the outcome which will solely benefit him or improve his image, importance or ego. He behaves like a flat-out sycophant because, in the best of times, he only cares about himself.
Carlton is very unlucky when it comes to women. They often find him unimpressive, arrogant, nerdy and obnoxious. At times when Carlton does think he's found love, it's always revealed he's actually being used in one way or another.
His siblings tend to get along better with Will than with him because they tend to find their brother awkward, annoying, and somewhat selfish. Carlton constantly prefers to think about himself, shamelessly disregards Will and his friends in favor of something that will make him look good, and reacts with a total lack of compassion when it comes to everyone else. Despite his terrible choices and self-centered ways, they still love their brother dearly.
Carlton's life of supreme social standing has led to him having a blatant superiority complex; he is insulted and even given a headache by the concept that money isn't everything. Also, a very common catchphrase of his is to say 'I'm rich' as an excuse for him not having to endure certain hardships. For example, after he insults and disregard's Will as an employee of his and Will leaves (soon leading to massive unpopularity for Carlton), Carlton tries to get Will back; however, when Will asks him to beg Carlton says 'I don't know how to beg! I'm rich!'. Furthermore, there are an array of occasions where Carlton talks down to Will, stating that Will is a ghetto kid in a big city.
Carlton is constantly provoked by Will due to his short stature or even scolded by him (through slaps on his head) due to his silly and often naive behavior. Due to this naive nature, Carlton cannot easily sense malice in certain situations, this was evidenced in "Mistaken Identity" when he and Will were arrested on charges of stealing a vehicle after a police approach while borrowing a friend's car from the family to Palm Springs, Will realized from the outset that their arrest was for purely racist reasons and explained this to Carlton, but Carlton could not dexterously view a situation of racism, denied and disagreed with Will claiming that he and his cousin were arrested just by misfortune, absence of a map and because of the reduced speed. This was until his father revealed he had experience with this and caused him to think about how he was blind to the real world.
However Carlton has a very strong sense of the racial issue in society and does not feel superior to others in this issue because he is a high class in "Blood is Thicker Than Mud" when Carlton was turned down by the leader of a university's all black fraternity that he and Will intended to join for the simple fact of being a preppy and that according to the leader supposedly does not experience the same social problems that the other working class brothers go through every day. Carlton countered the leader and stated that he also experiences the same struggles for being black and that the fact of belonging to a more noble social class doesn't make him less black than the others, accusing the prejudiced leader of being the true traitor. His statement left the leaders silent and Will pleased he stood up for himself.
- "Why so glum, chum?"
- ―Carlton to Will[src]
- The character is based on real-life person, Corey Chambliss.
- Carlton has a great relationship with his father Philip, who is his hero. Sometimes they don't have a great relationship when he and Will gets in trouble. Mostly his father Philip usually punishes him a lot.
- Carlton is a conservative republican like his father.
- His other heroes are Bryant Gumbel and Tom Jones.
- Carlton is famous for his dance to Tom Jones' "It's Not Unusual" which was inspired by Courtney Cox's appearance in the Bruce Springsteen music video for 'Dancing in the Dark' released in 1984 and a stand-up routine performed by Eddie Murphy in 1987.
- He is similar to Alex P. Keaton.
- He suffers from a compulsive gambling addiction as seen in the episodes, "You Bet Your Life" and "Viva Lost Wages".
- Carlton is a fan of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. He reacts hysterically when he meets Donald Trump. He likes Vanilla Ice and Barry Manilow.