Characters / Carnivāle

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Ben Hawkins (Nick Stahl)

Samson (Michael J. Anderson)

  • No Badass to His Valet: Neither Management nor Ben really impress Samson with their powers.
  • Only Sane Man: You'd think Samson would have learned; Avatara are not the most mentally-stable of people.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Samson's solution to the Babylon problem - specifically Stangler escaping Carny Justice and no one being held accountable for Dora Mae's death? Shoot Stangler between the eyes anyway.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Frequently, to Ben, especially when Ben kills Management, the necessity of which Samson cannot understand.

Clayton "Jonesy" Jones (Tim DeKay)

Sofie Agnesh Bojakshiya (Clea Duvall)

  • The Antichrist: Revealed to be the Omega in the series finale.
  • Attempted Rape: Almost gets raped by a couple of mechanics in the first episode. Ben manages to save her, however.
  • Bi the Way: Is in love with Ben and has a quick fling with a guy in one of the towns they're passing through, yet also has tension with Libby.
  • Black Eyes of Evil: In the finale.
  • Broken Bird: Gets progressively more broken over the series.
  • Child by Rape: Was conceived when Justin raped Apollonia.
  • Circus Brat: She was born into the carnival.
  • Face–Heel Turn: In the series finale.
  • Fortune Teller: Her job in the carnival, which she does with a pack of Tarot cards.
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: Multiple times, although to be fair, it really does suck to find out that your mother tried to kill you because you were the product of a rape, the daughter of the Antichrist, and very probably heir to some serious demonic powers.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Or, Lipstick Bisexual. She makes out with Libby, but nothing is ever really made of it.

Apollonia (Diane Sallinger)

Libby Dreifuss (Carla Gallo)

  • Lipstick Lesbian: Along with Sofie, it's more like a case of Lipstick Bisexual.
  • Miss Fanservice: Well, she's one of the carnival's strippers, so this is a given.
  • Smitten Teenage Girl: Her marriage to Jonesy has elements of this in the beginning, but she definitely grows up in "Lincoln Highway".

Dora Mae Dreifuss (Amanda Aday)

  • And I Must Scream: Not only is she murdered, but her ultimate fate is to serve as the eternal plaything for a bunch of rapist immortal miners.
  • Miss Fanservice: Another one of the carnival's strippers.
  • Stuffed into the Fridge: The most extreme example in the series. She's murdered by the miners in Babylon, and then becomes their plaything as a ghost.
  • You Can Leave Your Hat On: Horribly, horribly averted in "Babylon".

Rita Sue Dreifuss (Cynthia Ettinger)

Felix "Stumpy" Dreifuss (Toby Huss)

  • Bumbling Dad: He really does love his daughters, but he's not the brightest bulb in the box.
  • Henpecked Husband: Rita Sue wears the pants in that family and everyone knows it.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: All his dubiously-legal hijinks - pimping his wife and daughters, blatantly cheating the public, shilling fake healers, gambling - are so obviously due to his devotion toward his family.
    • Well, except for the gambling, since he's generally terrible at it, which leads them into trouble. Still, with everything else that's the part of his character most depicted as a failing.
  • Pervert Dad: Yeaaaah, with the pimping and the exploitation...

Ruthie (Adrienne Barbeau)

Lodz (Patrick Bauchau)

  • Blind Seer: Traded his eyes for psychic powers.
  • Bondage Is Bad: Lodz and Lila have fun with his cane.
  • Deal with the Devil: Shame his psychic powers had to come at the price of his eyes. That's what you get for dealing with Dark Avatars.

Lila (Debra Christofferson)

  • Pet the Dog: Lila assisting Ruthie in wrapping Dora Mae's body in silk and telling stories about how much the Carnivale really loved her is absolutely tearjerking.
  • The Dragon: To Lodz, even after his death.
  • The Vamp: "When you're done with Grandma, you come see Lila." Yowza.

Gabriel (Brian Turk)

  • Berserk Button: Do not touch his Mama.
  • The Big Guy: He's the circus strongman, and is considerably larger than most everyone else.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: He may have the mind of a child, but you don't want to piss him off.
  • Gentle Giant: As long as you don't hurt Ruthie, he's fine.
  • Momma's Boy: Justified, as he's mentally handicapped, and Ruthie is the only one who can calm him down.

Management AKA Lucius Belyakov (voiced by Linda Hunt)

  • Ambiguous Gender: Never seen in the flesh, goes by the gender-neutral alias "Management", and is voiced by a woman despite being the very male Lucius Belyakov in a previous life. Apparently, casting off his physical body also caused Belyakov to cast off his gender.
  • Big Good: Arguably since his goal is to save the world from the Apocalypse.
  • The Chessmaster: Is manipulating everything in the series.
  • The Faceless: He's always hidden behind a curtain. And then it turns out he doesn't even have a face, as he's an incorporeal phantom.
  • The Ghost: From the perspective of anyone who isn't Ben, Lodz or Samson, at least. In more ways than one, considering he's Lucius Belyakov, who took on an incorporeal bodiless form after he was near-fatally mauled by a bear.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Undertakes many questionable actions in the pursuit of the greater good.
  • The Man Behind the Curtain: There's a curtain separating his bed from the rest of the trailer.

     The New Canaan Ministry 

Brother Justin Crowe (Clancy Brown)

  • Affably Evil: Most of the time. Right up until he actually gets angry, when despite his tone and expression barely changing from "happy," he suddenly becomes fucking terrifying.
  • The Antichrist: As the Avatar of Dark.
  • Anti-Villain: Is very conflicted about his power and genuinely thinks he's doing the right thing.

Iris Crowe (Amy Madigan)

  • Axe Crazy: Though her preferred weapon is a boat oar, and the axe is technically meant for someone else to use.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Sweet on the outside, crazy on the inside.
  • Brother-Sister Incest: Pretty explicit on both sides, though Justin's is sexual in nature and Iris's is emotional.
  • The Dragon: To Justin, at least until Stroud comes along.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Much debate centers around Iris's true nature after the events of Season Two. Is she still loyal to Justin? Was her alliance with Norman just for appearances? Why did she let Ben go? Is she truly sorry for setting the Ministry fire? And just whose side is she on, anyway?
  • Knight Templar Big Brother: Will do anything for Justin.
    "I did it for you".
  • Pet the Dog: Iris may be very dangerous, but she at least has the decency to comfort the traumatised maid after Justin rapes her (the maid).
  • Promotion to Parent: Iris is arguably one of the only competent mother-figures Justin has ever known. Which makes their relationship that much squickier.

Norman Balthus (Ralph Waite)

  • Parental Substitute: For Justin and Iris, which makes Justin's sadistic treatment and killing of him very Oedipal in nature.
  • Sacrificial Lion: One of the great shockers of the finale is Justin killing him.

Tommy Dolan (Robert Knepper)

  • Deal with the Devil: Ironically referred to exactly as such by Brother Justin. Since Tommy still thinks Justin is a simple man of god, he jokes "Oh come on, I'm not that bad." Justin replies "No, you're not."
  • Lovable Rogue: Seems to genuinely care about the migrants and the truth, but is not above underhanded methods or receiving financial compensation for his work.
  • Unwitting Pawn: To be fair, no one in-universe sees Iris coming as the arsonist, and no one could predict how far Justin would go to protect her and how manipulative he can be.

Varlyn Stroud (John Carroll Lynch)

Eleanor McGill (K Callan)

  • Cloud Cuckoolander: She certainly chooses to ignore a lot of the strange goings-on around Justin's ministry.

     Other Characters 

Henry Scudder (John Savage)