One of the most important aspects of Music/DavidBowie's work in TheSeventies was his creation of stage personas as vehicles for his songs via AlterEgoActing Type 3 (the persona as a different self of the performer). While he eventually put these behind him in favor of performing "as himself", knowledge of them and their tropes is important to understanding a significant chunk of his career. In addition, other songs and music videos have characters of their own that have proven trope-worthy, and/or are frequently mentioned in pop culture.

For characters from Bowie's dramatic film work (''Film/TheManWhoFellToEarth'', ''Film/{{Labyrinth}}'', etc.), tropers are directed to the individual pages for said films.


[[folder: The Saga of Major Tom]]

Bowie's first hit (though not his BreakthroughHit, which would be 1972's "Starman") was "Space Oddity", a 1969 number that told the sad tale of ill-fated astronaut Major Tom. In 1980, the ''Music/ScaryMonstersAndSuperCreeps'' song "Ashes to Ashes" would expand upon this story, not only by continuing it but suggesting that it was more complex than originally presented. The remix of ''[[Music/{{Outside}} 1. Outside]]'''s "Hallo Spaceboy" (1996) featuring the group Music/PetShopBoys includes a bridge that mentions Major Tom once more. Finally, Major Tom [[ShrugOfGod possibly]] appears [[spoiler:as a long-dead corpse]] in the music video for "Blackstar," from the 2016 [[Music/{{Blackstar}} album of the same name]], wherein [[spoiler:a cult springs up over the worship of his bejeweled skull.]]

Major Tom's story has proven well-known enough to be reinterpreted by other parties, as in Peter Schilling's 1983 song "Major Tom (Coming Home)" and, in a far more irreverent manner, ''WesternAnimation/TheVentureBrothers'' Season One episode "Ghosts of the Sargasso". The good Major warrants [[ a page at Wikipedia]] that runs down the many references to him in pop culture.

!!Major Tom
[[caption-width-right:197:Though I'm passed one hundred thousand miles, I'm feeling very still...]]
An astronaut on a solo mission, he loses contact with Ground Control shortly after asking them to tell his wife he loves her, and drifts off into the depths of space. The song leaves the listener to decide if a simple accident caused this disaster, or if he voluntarily decided to abandon Earth. In "Ashes to Ashes", Ground Control receives word from him again, but the song goes on to suggest that Major Tom is actually a drug addict whose journeys are metaphorical and who is trying to sober up. This could be read either as a suggestion that his space exploration was [[AllJustADream a hallucination]], or perhaps that his drug problem rose from trying to cope with his near-death experience in space.

* AddledAddict: According to "Ashes to Ashes", he either became this or was one all along.
* ContemplateOurNavels: Major Tom does a little of this starting at the first appearance of "For here/Am I sitting in a tin can", and the resultant thoughts may or may not factor into what happens afterward.
* DistantFinale: In the music video for "Black Star" (which was off the last album Bowie ever made) [[spoiler: we see the long-dead corpse of an astronaut being found on an alien world, which is worshiped by the natives.]]
* FoodPills: Ground Control advises the Major to "Take [his] protein pills" as part of his pre-launch preparation at the beginning.
* OffscreenInertia: It's easy for the listener to assume that after the events of "Space Oddity", he's still floating around in space, with only death to expect/look forward to. His return in later songs suggests he may have survived the ordeal, however.
* SpaceMadness: If the listener decides Major Tom voluntarily cut off contact with Earth, this might be the reason why; alternatively, this is what he'll soon undergo now that he can't make contact with anyone else and is apparently stranded in space. Either way, "Planet Earth is blue/And there's nothing I can do"...


--> From the album cover of ''Music/ScaryMonstersAndSuperCreeps)'' and the video for "Ashes to Ashes" (1980)

"Space Oddity" is a dialogue between two parties -- Ground Control and Major Tom -- and "Ashes to Ashes" is also sung by two characters. But while Major Tom is back, this time the other singer is someone who "heard a rumor from Ground Control" about Tom's return. In the music video, a ConceptVideo with surreal imagery, the unnamed party is visualized as a mysterious Pierrot clown. While not as famous as Major Tom, Pierrot is another Bowie character occasionally invoked in pop culture, such as the TV series named for the song and set in 1980, ''Series/AshesToAshes''. A life-sized puppet Pierrot is featured prominently in the 2013 video for "Love Is Lost".

* ContinuityNod: This is not the first time Bowie's work involved clown imagery -- he studied and performed mime as part of Lindsay Kemp's troupe in TheSixties. One of his early songs, "London Bye Ta-Ta", was rewritten as "Threepenny Pierrot" for their television production ''Pierrot in Turquoise''. A Pierrot also appears in the painting on the back cover of the SelfTitledAlbum that was subsequently renamed ''Space Oddity''.
* CostumePorn: His beautiful, shimmering suit.
* MonsterClown: He may well not be ''evil'', but he is strange and unsettling. The name of the album doesn't help his case!

[[folder: Stage and Album Personas]]
!!Ziggy Stardust

--> From ''Music/TheRiseAndFallOfZiggyStardustAndTheSpidersFromMars'' (1972) and the tour that followed (1972-73)

Bowie's breakout character -- an androgynous, bisexual rock star (either from Mars or an Earthling TouchedByVorlons; Bowie flip-flopped on the plot of this ConceptAlbum) who becomes a universally adored sensation in the final five years of Earth's existence. The adoration goes to his head by the time he dies at the hands of his own fans.

* AcquiredSituationalNarcissism: The song "Ziggy Stardust" itself, which is sung from the point of view of his Spiders from Mars bandmates, claims Ziggy grew egotistical once he became famous. (Two of Bowie's actual bandmates from this period, Trevor Bolder and Woody Woodmansey, claim this actually happened to ''him'' -- that he spent less and less time offstage with them and other old acquaintances as his star rose.)
* ActorISTheTitleCharacter: The album was promoted with an ad proclaiming "David Bowie is Ziggy Stardust"; at the bottom, in smaller type, it read "Ziggy Stardust is David Bowie". (According to Music/LouReed, Bowie apparently did start to think he was Ziggy after a few drinks.)
* CostumePorn: Bowie usually had several costume changes at each concert during this period, which became more elaborate as his star rose.
* DiscountLesbians: If one goes with the interpretation that Ziggy is TouchedByVorlons, then he's a discount bisexual.
* DudeLooksLikeALady: "Lady Stardust" is effectively about an early Ziggy gig. Due to his long hair and makeup, he's initially laughed at for being this, but he charms everyone of ''both'' genders by the end of the show.
* EightiesHair: In TheSeventies. Ziggy has a feathered red ''mullet''.
* FaceOfTheBand: Invoked in-story. According to the song "Ziggy Stardust", he became "the special man" of the Spiders from Mars, with his once-equal bandmates becoming jealous and resentful of him as a result. (Lyrics from this song provide the trope's header quote.)
* FluffyFashionFeathers: Ziggy Stardust occasionally donned a feather boa; according to WordOfGod in the retrospective book ''Moonage Daydream'', this was "a rather feeble visual pun" on Music/AliceCooper's use of boa constrictors in his stage shows.
* ImpracticallyFancyOutfit: He had a few; for example, one of them had long strings of heavy glass beads cascading from its sleeves.
* MessianicArchetype: Part of his problem is that he comes to believe the hype about being this.
* NoBrows: Bowie shaved off his eyebrows one grumpy, drunken night in '72 and liked the result so much that he didn't grow them back until ''Young Americans'' arrived in '75.
* TheRockStar: Raised to mythic and messianic status.
* SexDrugsAndRockAndRoll: Ziggy is a hedonistic version, crossing paths with AcquiredSituationalNarcissism.
* ShoutOut: At least one in the name. Though Bowie's denied it, ''Ziggy'' is commonly assumed to be a reference to Music/IggyPop. WordOfGod confirms that ''Stardust'' refers to the eccentric musician known as The Legendary Stardust Cowboy, who was a Creator/MercuryRecords labelmate of Bowie's at the turn of TheSeventies. Bowie eventually covered one of his songs, "I Took a Trip on a Gemini Spaceship", on his 2002 album ''Music/{{Heathen}}''.
* TouchedByVorlons: Maybe.

!!Aladdin Sane

--> From ''Aladdin Sane'' (1973)

Bowie's follow-up to ''Ziggy Stardust'' was a SpiritualSuccessor. Owing to Bowie's concern that the character of Ziggy was overwhelming him, ''Aladdin Sane'' is a ConceptAlbum focusing on the fall of a faux-Ziggy as he travels through America, reflecting the fact that Bowie wrote the bulk of the songs during a tour of the U.S. The album was released prior to Bowie returning to the U.K. for the final leg of touring as Ziggy.

* {{Expy}}: Of Ziggy Stardust. The look is identical save for (on the album cover and inner sleeve) a dramatic make-up lightning bolt that's become an IconicOutfit for Bowie.
* PunnyName: On the phrase "A lad insane."

!!Halloween Jack

--> From ''Music/DiamondDogs'' (1974)

A character mentioned in the title track of ''Music/DiamondDogs'' as "a real cool cat/[who] lives on top of Manhattan Chase" in an AfterTheEnd {{Dystopia}}, his name is generally used to describe the persona Bowie assumed for the followup tour, which was set in the album's "Hunger City". Bowie doesn't seem to have regarded it as a true persona, however.

* EyepatchOfPower: Some Bowie fans visualize Jack as wearing the outfit Bowie wore on an appearance on a Dutch music show, where he wore a patch to cover a nasty case of pinkeye. (Never mind that he didn't wear anything remotely similar to that getup on the actual Diamond Dogs tour...)

!!The Thin White Duke

--> From ''Music/StationToStation'' and the subsequent Isolar tour (1976)

After Bowie played the AlienAmongUs Thomas Jerome Newton in ''Film/TheManWhoFellToEarth'', he took the look and stoic nature of Newton and merged it with Fascist, Nazi, and occult ideologies to create the darkest of his stage personas: a heartless, decadent, cocaine-addicted European who is struggling to understand concepts such as love and God. So much of this character reflected Bowie's real problems (particularly with drugs) at the time that as he struggled to address them afterward, he realized he could no longer practice AlterEgoActing as a musician. Ironically, given the character's dark nature, "The Thin White Duke" is often used as a simple nickname for Bowie now; more appropriately, this look is the primary reference for how Bowie is portrayed in ''WesternAnimation/TheVentureBrothers''. In 2013, a life-sized puppet version of the Duke appeared in Bowie's SurrealMusicVideo "Love Is Lost".

* AristocratsAreEvil: To quote the opening lines of "Station to Station", "The return of The Thin White Duke/Throwing darts in lovers' eyes..."
* BadassBaritone: It was around this time that Bowie started to rely more on his lower vocal registers.
* BishonenLine: Partially, the Duke is the handsome perversion of Bowie's Young Americans act, who did kind of an AffectionateParody of soul and funk music, calling it Plastic Soul. The Duke's version of funk is plastic soul filtered by clouds of cocaine.
* {{Cloudcuckoolander}}: A decidedly dark example, Bowie's lyrics for the Duke are infused with references to occultism, fascism and religion, [=TVC=]15 is a bizarre story about a TV that eats girlfriends.
* CreepyDoll: The Duke's final appearance is in Bowie's music video for Love Is Lost.... as a life-sized wooden doll. The Duke can still move and speak in this form, at one point even taking a drag from his smokes.
* DarkerAndEdgier: Previous personas may or may not have been living in {{crapsack world}}s, but they were usually good-natured and/or lost souls as opposed to the Duke, whom Bowie once described as "a very nasty character indeed."
* EvilIsSexy
* EvilRedhead: Notable as the last of Bowie's red-haired characters.
* {{Expy}}: For Thomas Jerome Newton; the photo on the cover of the album is taken from the movie. Although Newton actually has more in common with Ziggy, being an essentially good-hearted extraterrestrial who fell victim to a substance problem!
* HollywoodThin / LeanAndMean: How thin is the Thin White Duke? Try 90-95 pounds on average, thanks to Bowie's extremely limited diet and drug use at the time! Supposedly, the Duke lived on nothing but red peppers, cocaine, milk, and cigarettes.
* LimitedWardrobe: Black trousers, white shirt, black waistcoat, and a packet of Gitanes cigarettes in the pocket of the waistcoat.
* LostInCharacter: The reason why he stopped inventing personas.
* {{Minimalism}}: The Isolar tour's visual approach was based on this. Ziggy Stardust had [[ImpracticallyFancyOutfit lavish outfits]] and Halloween Jack (''Diamond Dogs'') had SceneryPorn, but the Duke not only had a LimitedWardrobe, his concerts averted {{Spectacle}} with only stark white lights used to illuminate him and his band.
* MustHaveNicotine: He doesn't have those cigs in his pocket for nothing.
* SharpDressedMan: First Bowie "look" (not counting film work) primarily defined by suits. Rather than a jacket, however, he wore a WaistcoatOfStyle.
* ThoseWackyNazis: Complete with fascist offstage comments and ambiguous Hitler salutes.
* VillainousCheekbones: Bowie was so thin at the time that his angular cheeks were even more so here.
* WaistcoatOfStyle: A black one.
* WeightWoe: Bowie was seriously anorectic as the Duke and lived off [[BreadEggsMilkSquick red pepper, milk, and cocaine]]. He is reported to have weighed as little as eighty or ninety pounds during this time.

[[folder: Jazzin' for Blue Jean]]

Bowie's entry into the long-form ConceptVideo sweepstakes that followed on from Music/MichaelJackson's ''Music/{{Thriller}}'' was 1984's ''Jazzin' for Blue Jean'', a 20-minute effort that played in U.K. cinemas before ''Film/TheCompanyOfWolves'' and on TV and home video elsewhere. The story is a simple farce. Working-class guy Vic, trying to impress the girl of his dreams (referred to as "Dream" in the end credits, as there's NoNameGiven otherwise), tells a CelebrityLie to her -- namely that he knows the rock star Screamin' Lord Byron, who's about to be making a one-night-only appearance at a London club. Now he has to introduce her to him. The twist in the telling is that [[Main/ActingForTwo Bowie plays both men]].


* {{Adorkable}}: If nothing else, one must admire the poor fool for his tenaciousness.
* AmusingInjuries: He smacks into a wall and slides down a ladder (this will leave him wearing a plaster on his nose for the rest of the film), is shoved away by Screamin' Lord Byron's handlers and gets his hand slammed in a chain link fence door, is shoved to the ground by the bouncer at the club door, and crashes through the ceiling of Mr. Screamin's dressing room. Aside from needing the plaster, he brushes all this off immediately.
* BadLiar: Besides his CelebrityLie, he makes up tons of phony claims in his attempts to get into the club. Those who don't see through them immediately figure things out soon enough. Heck, the door bouncer seems ''amused'' by his complete inability to bluff his way inside. The ''only'' lie that works for him is that first one. [[spoiler: Or so he thinks. Dream tricked him into thinking she needed to be introduced to ''her former lover''!]]
* CelebrityLie: The one he tells gets the plot rolling.
* CuteClumsyGirl: A RareMaleExample -- his EstablishingCharacterMoment leaves him with a bandage on his nose for the remainder of the story, and he manages to lose control of his own hair dryer while getting ready for his date.
* EstablishingCharacterMoment: When he initially sees Dream, he's atop a ladder and finishing the job of posting an ad for Screamin' Lord Byron's show on a building. To spare her and her friend from having to walk under his ladder, he manages, by hooking his brush to a ledge, to lean it back far enough that they can walk past it. Unfortunately, he's distracted by her thanking him and lets the ladder smack back against the building; he smacks his nose against it before sliding all the way down to the sidewalk. Given how easily he shrugs this off to follow her into a bar, he must be taking his lumps on a constant basis...
* ExplodingCalendar: It's suggested that he accidentally turned his page-a-day calendar into one with his hair dryer.
* FunTShirt: He has a (then-popular in RealLife) "Frankie Says Relax" one, but decides not to wear it on the date because "I'm not advertising Frankie [Goes to Hollywood] [[IAmNotShazam until they tell us who he is]]."
* GiveGeeksAChance: In the end, [[spoiler: averted -- ''against Bowie's wishes'']].
* LoserProtagonist: He's a clumsy, dateless, working-class bloke with limited funds, and he is no whiz at conversation.
* LovableNerd: Of a sort; he's pretty dorky but no great intellect. This aside, given that Mr. Screamin' is pretty heavily implied to be a jerk [[spoiler: and it turns out Dream already knows Screamin' and is just cruelly stringing Vic along]], it's not incredibly hard for Vic to win the audience's sympathy.
* LoveAtFirstSight: With Dream.
* NotOnTheList: When he claims to be several different people on the guest list, they all arrive in turn to be waved through, so the attendant hides the list from him and his ploy falls apart.
* PrettyFlyForAWhiteGuy: His attempts to make small talk with the club's black bouncer smack of this. He thinks Malcolm X is a band (and claims he caught their tour) and may be confusing Jesse Jackson with Music/MichaelJackson.
* SharpDressedMan: Attempts to be this on his date with Dream, using a suit (and shoes) borrowed from his roommate, who ''is'' this.
* StrawLoser: Played with; he's this when set against everyone else, but it turns out that Mr. Screamin' isn't as awesome as he appears in public and [[spoiler: Dream was cruelly stringing him along]]; of the two men, he's at least a ''slightly'' better one. No wonder that [[spoiler: Bowie thinks Dream should repent and go back to Vic rather than the "too obvious" ending of her staying with Mr. Screamin']].
* ThatMakesMeFeelAngry: When [[spoiler: Dream walks off with Mr. Screamin' and leaves Vic alone at the table]], Vic mutters 'I'm speechless...'

!!Screamin' Lord Byron

* AdamWesting: This character is a goof on Bowie's 1970s stage personas and excesses.
* ArabianNightsDays: The basis for his stage costume and makeup. WordOfGod is that the initial inspiration was Peter O'Toole in ''Film/LawrenceOfArabia'', but then went even more exotic.
* TheBeautifulElite: Despite his excesses, it is clear he's an example of this, which stands in sharp contrast to Vic's plain, working-class nature.
* BritishRockStar: "Mr. Screamin'" is one of the classier examples of this trope.
* CostumePorn: Part and parcel of his stage act.
* NoodleIncident: "Do you remember Margaret and her yak?" he asks [[spoiler: Dream, a former flame of his, at the end]]. Actually, the animal in question was a llama.
* SexDrugsAndRockAndRoll: Implied to be living this lifestyle, hedonistically. His handlers literally carry him around and he's hooked up to a portable oxygen tank when he's first carried into the backstage area of the club.
* SharpDressedMan: His offstage look.
* ShoutOut: The name is probably a portmanteau of Creator/LordByron and 1960s rock musician Screaming Lord Sutch, whose horror pastiche stage act was one of the first of its kind in rock. Visually, Mr. Screamin's stage appearance is inspired by Peter O'Toole in ''Film/LawrenceOfArabia''.
* UncannyValleyMakeup: On stage, he wears full-face makeup with a metallic sheen and painted on shadows. Beneath the stage lights, particularly in the close-up that opens the song portion of the short, this gives his face a curious "living painting" quality.