The Heck family is a low-income family living in the small town of Orson, Indiana near Indianapolis. Their house is a three-bedroom, one story structure with a basement on Birchwood Avenue. Their neighbors include the Donahues who are more middle class; Frankie is friends with Nancy Donahue, but she often feels intimidated by the Donahue's better income and close-knit family when compared to her own. The Norwoods, Frankie is also friends with Paula Norwood, and the Glossners, who are the bad family in the neighborhood.
Mike supports his family as the manager and contractor of the local Orson Quarry with Frankie Heck gaining supplemental income at Ehlert Motors and later as a dental assistant. Mike briefly builds and creates a diaper business, but he later sells the business to send Sue to college.
The Heck's have three kids named Axl Heck, who is often lazy and antagonistic, often terrorizing his sister, Sue Heck without provocation. Sue is optimistic and out-going. Although she is frequently forgotten and ignored by her students and classmates, she remains positive. Brick Heck is the youngest, a book aficionado with near-autistic traits and a clear interest for science fiction. The extended family includes Mike's brother, Rusty Heck, Frankie's sister, Janet, and both Mike and Frankie's parents.