Caveat lector! Character sheets are littered with spoilers.
The new teacher and previous student at Welton. He inspires the boys to 'seize the day' and restart his old club, the Dead Poets Society.
- Blithe Spirit: He tries to bring life and free-thinking to the school.
- Cool Teacher: He teaches English. He manages to fill his students with enthusiasm to study literature and especially poetry, and life in general.
- Fired Teacher: He is kicked out of the school after Neil's death.
- The Scapegoat: Welton and the Perrys blame him for Neil's suicide
- Save Our Students: He wants to get his students interested and make them believe that their life matters and should be special.
Played by: Robert Sean Leonard
One of Keatings students, who decides to restart the Dead Poets Society. He has a strained relationship with his controlling father.
- Abusive Parents: His dad's rigid expectations lead him to commit suicide.
- Ambiguously Gay: He and Todd are very, uh... close.
- The Ace: He's bright, popular, sporty, in numerous clubs, Harvard-bound, and clearly the leader in his group of friends.
- Broken Ace: Desite his popularity, he's actually trapped by his controlling father and sees no way out.
- Big Man on Campus: Everyone adores him, and he's a talented actor as well as a good student.
- The B Grade: There'll be hell to pay if he gets anything less than an A+ average.
- Bro Mance: With Todd. Neil is instantly protective of him and the two are very close.
- Decoy Protagonist: After his death, it becomes clear the true protagonist is Todd.
- Driven to Suicide: After his father forbids him theatre and promises to get him from his school, Neil shoots himself with his father's pistol.
- Extracurricular Enthusiast: Not his idea, but his father's.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The red to Todd's blue. He's much more passionate and ready to do things.
- Tragic Bromance: With Todd. Neil is immediately protective of Todd, and seemingly makes it his mission to bring him out of his shell. Then his own problems crush him, and he commits suicide, leaving his best friend more broken than before.
- Stepford Smiler: He was miserable underneath his out-going, cheerful personality. It makes his death so very shocking.
Played by: Ethan Hawke
A new student at Welton, and Neil's roomate. He starts out as the most timid of the poets, but gains confidence thanks to Keating and Neil's encouragement.
- Grew a Spine: As the movie goes on, he becomes more confident.
- New Transfer Student: As if his shyness wasn't bad enough.
- Not So Different: Seems the complete opposite to the confident Neil, but it's revealed they both struggle with their parents' expectations.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The blue to Neil's red. He's much quieter and more introspective.
- Shrinking Violet: He has trouble talking in class (or even one-on-one with his roommate) and avoids eye contact. He gets better though.
- Tragic Bromance: With Neil. Throughout the movie the pair grow extremely close, confiding their family problems and comforting each other in trouble. Neil especially builds Todd's broken self-esteem, resulting in Todd becoming happier and more confident in himself. Then Neil kills himself and Todd is left distraught and heartbroken; it's unclear if he'll ever really recover.
- The Unfavourite: To a devastating extent. His parents don't value him at all and he's constantly compared to his successful brother.
Played by: Gale Hansen
Another of Keating's students and the most rebellious member of the Dead Poets Society.
- Hot-Blooded: Definitely the most reckless of the boys.
- Rebellious Spirit: As seen below, he's more than willing to defy authority.
- Undying Loyalty: Despite his careless attitude, he is extremely protective of his friends, refusing to betray them under a brutal beating and being expelled out of loyalty to Keating.
Played by: Josh Charles
Member of Keating's class and the Dead Poets Society. Spends most of the movie attempting to win the love of local girl, Chris.
Played by: Dylan Kussman
Another classmate, who is grudgingly accepted into the Dead Poets Society.
- Dirty Coward: He betrays his classmates and informs the authorities about their secret poetry meetings...just to save his own skin.
- Et Tu, Brute?: Turns out that the below trope is justified; people were right not to like him, since later he betrays everyone.
- The Friend Nobody Likes: For good reason. He betrays Keating to save his own ass.
- Jerkass: He wasn't pleasant to begin with, but betraying the Society? Dick move, dude.
- Smug Snake: He betrays the Society and encourages the others to do the same.
Steven Meeks and Gerard Pitts
Steven played by: Allelon Ruggiero
Gerard played by: James Waterston
The final two members of the Dead Poets Society.
- Those Two Guys: They're paied together all the time and they even have similar surnames.
Played by: Norman Lloyd
- Dean Bitter Man: He is a stuffy old authoritarian who believes in physical punishment and uniformity.
- Sadistic Teacher: He brutally beats a student with a paddle for a practical joke.
Played by: Kurtwood Smith
- Abusive Parents: He's overly controlling and unfeeling towards his only son.
- Fantasy-Forbidding Father: His son has straight A's and is willing to study what his father wants him to do. Poor Neil still can't do any community theatre.
- Jerkass: Would it really be so hard to just listen to Neil for once?
Played by: Alexandra Powers