Ernst Robel is a supporting character in Spring Awakening. He is notably much more naïve than the other male characters in the show (especially Melchior and Hanschen), as seen by his lack of solo in the song "Totally Fucked," where all of the boys — minus himself — talk about their issues with the world. Despite this, he still appears to have as many mature/sexual feelings, as shown by his solo in the song "Touch Me" and his admittance of watching the other boys in the shower during "The Bitch Of Living". He is also described as a “highly articulate young capitalist”, perhaps due to his dream of becoming a pastor.
Ernst is attracted to men (in "The Bitch of Living" he talks about admiring other boys in the locker room, the entirety of "Word Of Your Body (Reprise)"). He appears to fall in love with Hanschen Rilow, claiming that he "love[s] [Hanschen], as [he has] never loved anyone".
In the play he is much more mature and cynical, grudgingly referring to his future and participating more in the hive mind of the other boys. He is shown in a constant state of stress over school as he is failing just as poorly as Moritz. In the vineyard scene he is much more of an active participant (even beginning to masturbate while Hanschen gives his famous "skim off the cream" monologue). He seems far more aware of the danger in their relationship and possibility that they will not last (talking about how he wants to cry and how he told himself he was just going to talk to Hanschen).
- Deaf in the Deaf West production, portrayed by a hard of hearing actor (Joshua Castille)
- In the Deaf West production staging implies he is friends with Melitta and Thea and possibly Wendla as they dance together in "Touch Me" and imitate a lot of choreography and movement together.
- In the Deaf West production, he signs with the girls in "The Dark I Know Well", most likely alluding to being sexually assaulted (which may or may not be linked to his status as an altar boy in the Deaf West revival).
- Ernst runs from signing with the boys to join the girls in DIKW and it is the furthest away from his voice that he gets during the entire show.
- He competes with Moritz for promotion in school in play canon.
- In the 2001 workshop version of "The Word of Your Body (Reprise)," he had his own verse.
- In drafts of "The Dark I Know Well", the song was originally sang by Thea and Ernst, implying he has been sexually abused / assulted.