The Third Child. Ender is the end result of a government program designed to create the perfect commander to win the war for the human race against the Formics. Ender is shipped to Battle School where his ruthless pragmatism and ability to think outside the box sends Ender up the ranks at an unprecedented rate and eventually brings him into the Bugger War. However the horrors of war, the pressure from everyone to be the best, and the isolation that comes from that takes its toll on his mental state. Eventually it's too much and upon his graduation Ender takes a space ship to parts unknown.By the events Speaker for the Dead, thousands of years later, Ender's work in the Bugger War has become the stuff of infamy, and Ender himself is living under an alias, Time Dilation keeping him young. Ender has become a Speaker for the Dead, a person hired to tell the life story of someone who is deceased in their voice as much as possible. Ender is hired to speak for someone on the planet Lusitania, home to the only other known alien species since the Buggers, the Pequeninos. Once there, Ender is brought into a murder mystery involving the Pequeninos, and eventually works towards preserving the aliens race, which is covered in Xenocide and Children of the Mind.
Beware the Nice Ones: Deconstructed. Ender honestly is one of the nicest people there is, but when a bully pushes him to far he will beat down his attacker to a pulp and then some just to make sure the bully never comes back. It horrifies Ender himself just how brutal he'll become, when he doesn't want to hurt anybody.
Blessed with Suck: Ender's ability to empathize with his enemy gives him what he needs to destroy them.
Ender: In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think itís impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves. And then, in that very moment when I love them-..... I destroy them. I make it impossible for them to ever hurt me again. I grind them and grind them until they donít exist.
Cain and Abel: The Abel to Peter's Cain. Also notable because Peter united the Earth and the Human Race while Ender obliterated an entire race of sentient beings. Well, almost an entire race.
Chosen One: Played With, as Graff acknowledges that he has no idea if Ender's actually the one that could lead their forces to victory, but considers Ender to be the best shot.
It Sucks to Be the Chosen One: Hoo boy. Not only is all the pressure to succeed terrible, but he quickly realizes the teachers are determined to strip him down as finely as possible to extract every bit of genius from him. This includes things like isolating him, making him a target of bullying, separating him from any good friends, stacking the battles against him, and doing nothing about jealous rivals who are after his blood. And he has to deal with this all when he's six.
But surely the love and fame that will come from saving humanity will make his ordeal worth it, right? Well... it turns out Ender was being bred not merely to defend humanity, but to commit xenocide on its attackers. Ender was "the chosen one" solely to be a scapegoat so Graff and Rackham could keep their hands clean. On top of that, Earth wasn't even in danger because the Formics had decided they weren't going to attack again. So much for being "the chosen one".
Magnetic Hero: Ender is specifically trained to become a leader, and other kids start flocking to him as his training progresses. The fact that Ender embarrasses the jerkasses in his class and plays Loophole Abuse with the rules certainly helps.
Out-Gambitted: Twice Ender is faced with impossible odds in a game and decides he's not to going to honor the game's rules anymore. Twice he learns afterward that that's exactly what Colonel Graff wanted.
Played By: Abigail Breslin
Ender's beloved sister. Valentine was considered for Battle School before Ender, but was deemed too compassionate. Valentine loved and was very protective of her little brother, and while he was in Batle School she acted as some sort of mental grounding point, keeping him sane. At first Ender thought he was writing letters to her, until he found out the school was blocking his letters.On the surface, Valentine was informed by her brother Peter of the escalating tensions between nations, and convinced by him that they could make difference to reveal the truth. The two of them became demagogues, Valentine writing anonymously as "Desmothenes" and so managed to warn many about the upcoming world war.Valentine followed her brother into space, and by the events of Speaker for the Dead has started her own family, so when Ender has to go Lusitania, Valentine has to stay behind. She does follow eventually follow Ender, but Time Dilation causes weird age differences.
Child Prodigy: Just like Ender, though she was deemed too kind for Battle School.
Cool Big Sis: In deliberate contrast to Peter's abusive, sadistic nature, Valentine is Ender's protector and confidant, and the person he loves most in the world.
Gone Horribly Right: Graff hoped that she would be kind enough to relate to her soldiers and inspire them to love her. She turned out too good at doing so, and not ruthless enough to fight a war.
invokedPurity Sue: Discussed, but averted. Ender sees her as the epitome of purity, but Valentine is far more complicated than just being nice and kind to everyone. When Ender's journey to The Outside accidentally creates a clone of Valentine who is a Purity Sue, the real Valentine isn't exactly thrilled to find he views her like this.
Played By: Jimmy Pinchak
The oldest Wiggin child. Peter was not put into Battle School because of his sociopathic tendencies. Instead he tortured Ender for most of Ender's childhood, and was the thing Ender always feared turning into. When Ender went to Battle School, Peter started taking over the world with his sister Valentine, under the name Locke.
Becoming the Mask: Peter takes on the pseudonym "Locke" and the persona of a kindly mediator who wants international peace. It's partially invoked become because he wants to start becoming a kinder person.
Big Brother Is Watching: After Ender had his monitor implanted, Peter would avoid beating him because he knew he'd be seen and caught. The very day it's removed, Ender is beaten black and blue again.
Big Good: He eventually becomes Hegemon of the world, and a surprisingly compassionate and wise one.
Cain and Abel: The Cain to Ender's Abel. Also notable because Peter united the Earth and the Human Race while Ender obliterated an entire race of sentient beings. Well, almost an entire race.
For Science!: After the Wiggins move, Valentine finds dissected squirrel bodies in the woods, thanks to Peter. She thinks it's his way of venting his bloodlust, but really he was doing it because he was curious about what the inside of a squirrel looks like.
Ignore the Fanservice: During his campaign for Hegemon, Virlomi, the leader of India, opens their meeting with a kiss and offers marriage for India's ratification of his new constitution. Peter turns it down because he knows favoring India will turn other nations against him.
Jerkass Has a Point: When he tells Valentine about how the New Warsaw Pact is mobilizing for war again. She hates having to cooperate with him, but agrees it's necessary.
Overshadowed by Awesome: The reason he hates Ender so much is because Peter was denied entering in Battle School and Ender was accepted and became their greatest student. He's determined to flip the tables and make himself the greater hero again.
Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Peter's mistreatment of Ender goes beyond mere sibling bullying. He strangles him, beats him, swears at him, and threatens his and Valentine's death.
John Paul Wiggin
Played By: Stevie Ray Dallimore
Ender, Valentine, and Peter's father. He was born in Poland as Jan Paweł Wieczorek, the seventh of nine children. His family's non-compliance with the population restriction laws caused them to be denied public schooling and government aid. When a Captain of the IF came by to test three of his brothers for possible Battle School enlistment, she noticed him reading and decided to test him early. Jan passed with flying colors and reached the attention of then-Captain Graff.Graff offered to enlist Jan for the Battle School, but Jan wouldn't abandon his family. They then made a deal: Jan would enlist if his family was immigrated to the United States with all of their children being cleared of their population violations, letting them get schooling and health care. Graff agreed, but knew Jan was still too attached to his family to leave with them. He decided instead to bide his time, planning for Jan grow up, find a wife who could match wits with him, and so bring in a smarter child who could become his prodigy.
Cassandra Truth: His mother didn't believe him when he said he could read. She thought he was just pretending to because he was so young.
Child Prodigy: Intelligent enough that Graff thought he might be the one they'd been looking for to lead the fleet. Ultimately, though, he settled on his son.
Played By: Andrea Powell
Ender, Valentine, and Peter's mother. She was born in America as Theresa Brown, the daughter of a prominent military tactician. His status is both a blessing and curse to her, as his fame allowed to get into a good college but his opposition to the population laws has caused her to inherit some of the stigma towards him. She teaches a Human Communities class, and one day gets into a provocative debate with a student that gradually turns from sociological values to her own politics, which causes her to get very fed up with him. That student is named John Paul Wiggin, who begins not regretting being forced by the IF to take her class.
The first friend Ender makes at Battle School. They band together due to mutual bullying from Bernard.
Embarrassing Nickname: Bernard dubs him "Buttwiggler" because of the way Shen walks. After getting lots of exercise his butt gets smaller, though.
Played By: Suraj Parthasarathy
Another one of Ender's early friends, who becomes one of the members of Ender's Dragon Army, and one of his lieutenants at Command School. He is the one that calls Ender's group of friends a "jeesh".
Big Good: After the war he becomes the Caliph of the unified Muslim nations, known as the Crescent League.
The Lancer: To Ender, very briefly before Ender's promoted to Salamander Army. The two try to keep meeting and practicing together but circumstances keep pushing them apart. When he joins Ender's jeesh, though, he becomes his second-in-command.
Played By: Aramis Knight
The smallest soldier in Dragon Army. He grew up on the streets of Rotterdam, Germany, until aid from the nun Sister Carlotta helped him get into Battle School.Bean is the protagonist of the "Ender's Shadow" quintet of novels.
Blessed with Suck: Bean is so intelligent because he has a condition that causes his brain to never stop growing. His body has to keep growing to keep up with it, so eventually he will die of giantism before he is 20, yet be the smartest human ever to live.
Embarrassing Nickname / Only Known by Their Nickname: He never got a name, having never met his parents. He's dubbed "Bean" by a gang because he isn't worth one bean to them because of his size. He doesn't like the name but figures it's better than nothing. After being adopted by his biological parents, he gets the name they intended for him: Julian Delphiki II.
Informed Flaw: During the assembling of the jeesh at Eros, Bean leads only small squads of starfighters because he's said to be bad at commanding large units but can use a few as precisely as a scalpel. We never see any evidence of this in action. Which is intentional. Mazer Rackham doesn't want Ender to burden Bean with too much because Bean is his backup, so he lied about Bean to keep him from shouldering too much early responsibility.
Last of His Kind: Bean is the last of thirteen babies who were genetically altered to be born with the condition Anton's Key. When the scientists scrambled to burn all the evidence, including the kids, Bean was the only one to successfully escape. Since he views his condition as a major drawback, he prefers to remain the last of his kind, not wanting to pass it on.
Little Professor Dialog: A form of it. Everyone is amazed that he can talk as eloquently as an adult despite being the size of a toddler.
Properly Paranoid: Having grown up on the streets where every scrap and alley could mean the difference between life and death, Bean applies the same experience to being at Battle School. Within a day he's already learned to go naked to the bathroom (they track you through your clothes), to not play computer games (they give the teachers psychological insight), where to hide and spy on teachers (the air vents), and how the students' social hierarchy works.
This paranoia continues to save him even after he graduates. Several times he exits a building while dragging his incredulous friends along because he's certain he's too vulnerable there... and the building is bombed each time.
The Spock: Bean's mindset is ruthlessly logical, with only two goals: learn and survive.
The Stoic: Averted. Bean would like to be this, but he has emotions like any other person. For the most part he avoids letting them cloud his rational thought, but fear is his biggest weakness. Graff notes Bean tends to panic if he's unprepared for danger, thus doubting his ability to lead.
Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: His first dialogue in Ender's Shadow has him advise Poke that she should get her own bully to protect her gang, and if the bully doesn't agree then kill him. "Once you see brains you're done." He's only four at the time.
Salamander Army's best sharpshooter. She teaches Ender how to aim and for a time commands him when leading Phoenix Army.
Action Girl: Petra is a great shot who has much to teach Ender early on, and who proves to be one of the most competent fighters throughout the book. She suffers a breakdown later by pushing herself too far, as a direct consequence of being so valuable to Ender.
Lady Looks Like a Dude: She's naked like many of the other soldiers present when Ender first meets her and he doesn't even notice she's a girl until she tells him. One of her teachers even refused to believe Petra was a girl and had a DNA test done on her just to be sure.
Motor Mouth: She loves to talk, and rarely holds back her opinion.
My Greatest Failure: During the assaults on the Formic colonies, Petra blacks out from the strain. Since she commands the bulk of the fleet, the battle is nearly lost until Ender manages to exploit several flaws in the Formics' immediate scramble to rip apart her ships. She gets to sleep for a few days, and afterward refuses to listen anyone who tells her it's not her fault she passed out.
Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: She's secretly ashamed when she hears Ender tell reporters that he relied her on the most during the war, and trusted her with the body of the fleet. All it does is remind her more and more that she blacked out in a battle and nearly lost the whole fleet in the process.
Played By: Moises Arias
The head of the Salamander Army, which Ender is assigned to. Ender and Bonzo butt heads over Bonzo's inferior skills. Bonzo gets Ender transferred to the Rat Army, which just gives Ender a chance to prove his superiority.
General Failure: Even after Ender prevents him from losing a battle (for which the rest of the army likes him) Bonzo punches him in the stomach and insults him. Ender can hear mutinous muttering over this from the rest of the Salamanders.
He also can't get it into his head that Ender is just that good, after Ender destroys one army after another, thinking that the teachers are rigging things in Ender's favor, when it's clearly the other way around. Even after Bonzo's own Salamander army gets a 20-minute head start to pre-position their forces for an ambush, Ender, once again, destroys them. Unfortunately, Bean makes it worse by telling Bonzo that the teachers have chosen Ender and not Bonzo as their commander. Bonzo goes ballistic and tries to attack Ender.
The Napoleon: In the film, Bonzo is shorter than Ender, so he compensates by asserting his authority at every chance he gets. Unfortunately, he lacks the tactical brilliance of Napoleon, with temper to fill the gap.
A toon leader in Rat Army. His toon is rather independent from Rat, comparable to a smaller army within a large one. Dink becomes Ender's toon leader and mentor during his time in Rat.
Passed Over Promotion: Subverted. He's refused every offer to become a commander because he doesn't want to be a cog in the Battle School system. However, he's decided the Battle Room is too fun for him to leave the school for good.
Rose De Nose
The commander of Rat Army. He is slobby, unprofessional, and ill-tempered. Despite this his army is one of the highest ranked in the school.
Badass Israeli: Invoked but subverted. There's a legend around the school that Jewish commanders can't lose. Rose encourages the legend, being Jewish himself, but really he has no idea how his army is winning.
The head of Battle School and the person in charge of finding someone to stop the Buggers. Graff is responsible for Ender's upbringing in Battle School, for good or ill.
Black Comedy: Falls back on this defense when some of his remarks skirt too close to treason.
Card-Carrying Villain: When speaking to Anderson in private, he sometimes puts on an obvious act of being a wicked villain. It seems to be a way of coping with his actions; they seem less real if he's pretending they're an act.
Graff: It's our job [to screw Ender up]. We're the wicked witch. We promise gingerbread, but we eat the little bastards alive.
The Chessmaster: In the end, he does produce exactly the commander the Fleet needs, though he's a more spontaneous player than most Chessmasters (or possibly just a luckier one).
Karma Houdini: Court-martialed and cashiered at the end of the book, but he walks right into the prestigious government job that he'd wanted all along.
Let's See YOU Do Better: His defense when court-martialed at the end of the book. Since the jury can't prove that Ender still could have succeeded without Graff's questionable actions, he is cleared of all charges.
Obfuscating Stupidity: Cultivates a touch of this, and is called out on it in the novel. For instance, when asked about Bean since his potential nearly matches Ender's, Graff deliberately plays vague and claims to not know who is being talked about in order to avoid discussing his favoritism.
Post-Stress Overeating: As juggling running the Battle School, demands from the Fleet, and Ender take a toll on him, Graff starts overeating and thus gets very overweight. After Ender goes to Command School, he gets a different shade of stress that causes him to instead rapidly lose weight.
Graff': One kind of stress puts it on, another puts it off. I am a creature of chemicals.
Villainous Breakdown: He acts increasingly erratically as the book goes on, as his doubts about the war's morality and his affection for Ender come into conflict with his bloody-minded dedication to winning at any cost.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: Graff is fully aware that he is one, but recognizes that his methods to destroy the Formics are ultimately what's keeping humanity from going extinct. Unfortunately, it turns out that the Formics weren't planning another invasion.
Played By: Viola Davis
Colonel Graff's aide. They both want Ender to defeat the Buggers, but clash over the best way to train him.
Gender Flip: A man in the book but a woman in the movie.
Cassandra Truth: None of the xenobiologists believed him when he told them the Formics have a queen, and were defeated because he killed her. Why? Because they didn't find a queen. Naturally, because she got blown to pieces.
Colonel Badass: In the film (in the novel, they've made him an admiral).
Facial Markings: In the movie, Mazer Rackham's face is covered in Maori ta moko markings. He didn't have them during his military career, but got them after the war in honor of his father, who was killed by the Formics.
Post Humous Character: His victory was 70 years before the events of Ender's Game, but he's become as legendary as George Washington. It turns out that he's not dead, though, but went on a relativistic flight to train the next great admiral of the International Fleet.
Trickster Mentor: His first meeting with Ender has him sit in his room for hours without saying a word, then knocking Ender to the floor when he's not looking. It continues even after their introduction, as Rackham is pretending the "simulations" Ender's jeesh fights are programmed by him.
Achilles De Flandres
A low-ranking bully on the streets of Rotterdam, who was forcibly coerced by Poke and her gang to become their thug. He managed to get the gang to follow him instead, and with Bean's advice turned the social structure of Rotterdam's bully hierarchy in its head. This reached the attention of the IF and Achilles became a potential Battle School candidate. Despite Sister Carlotta's best attempts to stop them, Achilles was enlisted and so became desirable to the Russians after the war. He used their resources they provided him to plan his conquests of larger and larger nations, eventually to lead the best one that would control the world.
A God Am I: He believes the universe works to his will, and will alter its course to suit his desires.
Batman Gambit: Once his neurosis to never be seen helpless is known by the heroes, it's often exploited to keep him from killing them. At one point, Petra beats him in a fight but then pretends she thinks he purposely lost. Suriyawong rescues Achilles by throwing him a knife to cut his bonds, but insists that he only gave him the knife so Achilles could free himself.
Critical Research Failure: In-universe. Achilles thinks that Josef Stalin was promoted by Vladimir Lenin then imprisoned and killed him, when in reality Lenin died of a stroke while urging his followers to not put Stalin in charge. It may be due to his own lack of schooling coupled with his desire to become a dictator twisting his memory of history.
Evil Cripple: He had a gimp leg during his years on the streets but it was corrected via surgery before he went to Battle School. The "evil" part wasn't corrected, though.
Evil Only Has to Win Once: Achilles never stops seeking revenge, but he is very patient about it. He will only act if he's certain he can get away with it.
Faux Affably Evil: None of his kindness is ever sincere. But he's very good at seeming compassionate and trusting.
The Farmer And The Viper: He has a pathological need to kill anyone who has ever seen him helpless — including but not limited to a girl who lifted him from low-ranking thug to leader of a prosperous gang, a nun who got him off the streets entirely and enrolled in a good school, and a doctor who dared use anesthesia to help fix his bad leg.
Freudian Excuse: Defied. Carlotta considers if his poor street life drove him to be so cruel but then sees his sociopathy goes beyond mere bullying into sadism. Even the other bullies on the street become terrified of him, as he uses tactics like sicking his gang on people and breaking their bones with rocks when most bullies prefer to take it to a personal alley fight where nobody gets killed.
Karmic Death: He never wants help from anybody, and will eventually betray those who give him any. So when he begs Suriyawong to help him before Bean kills him, his aide responds with the words they were introduced with: "I expect you to solve your own problems."
Out-Gambitted: Achilles follows Bean into the air vents at one point, expecting now is the perfect time and place to murder him. Instead he gets caught in Bean's trap, where he's forced to confess his murders to a recording device or else be left to die.
The leader of a small gang of children in Rotterdam. Despite her brashness she's actually very compassionate for all her members, which Bean uses to join it and keep from starving to death.
Eye Scream: One of her eyes is stabbed out when Bean finds her dead body.
Heroic Sacrifice: Lets Achilles kill her in secret as long as he promises to not kill Bean. Bean oversees this and is incredibly confused at why she bothered to save his life.
Puppet King: Achilles starts turning her into this. By the time she realizes her authority no longer matters, it's too late.
Sweet Polly Oliver: She dresses like a boy and keeps her gender secret so she doesn't become a target for rapists. She's not very good at it, though, so most everyone can tell she's actually a girl and refer to her as "she" in private.
Team Mom: Is this to her gang. Bean thinks she's too compassionate, which makes her easy to push around by bullies.
A Thai Battle School student who served in Dragon Army. After the war he becomes a prominent commander in the Thai military.
Bodyguard Crush: For a while he serves as Virlomi's protector, pretending to be in constant awe of her so that her God Guise seems convincing. He comes to actually love her during that period, but when they see each other again his forces are defeating her army.
Face-Heel Turn: After rescuing Achilles on Peter's orders, he serves him faithfully and becomes his Dragon. But he's doing it all so he's in a position to betray him at a critical moment. When Bean confronts Achilles for good, Suriyawong doesn't help him and lets Bean kill him.
Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight: Invoked. When Bean pulls out a gun to kill Achilles, Suriyawong's only help when asked is to give him a knife, with the words "I expect you to solve your own problems."
A former Battle School student, who graduated before Ender arrived. When Achilles comes to India with promises of making it great, Virlomi sees through his lies and works against him before he betrays her country. Through a God Guise she becomes the new leader of India, but eventually comes to believe her own claims a little too much.
I Am the Noun: Zigzagged. Sometimes she refers to herself as India to the point of personification, other times she refers to India as her husband.
I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!: Attempts this a few times to try to secure alliances for her nation. She first tries to lure Peter during his bid for Hegemon, but he turns her down because he knows allying too closely with India would look like favoritism to the other nations. She then visits Alai and strips naked in front of him and his guards, offering her beauty as the body of India, his for marriage. Alai rebuffs her, until she threatens to leave his palace naked and let the rest of the world fill in the blank. He thinks she's crazy, but goings along with her idea for their marriage unifying India and the Middle East. It doesn't work. Instead radicals view as Alai as a traitor.
Manipulative Editing: When the former President of India meets with her in hopes of regaining his position, she rebukes him for trusting Achilles then has her media men make a slanderous film about him. One clip that's played repeatedly is of him being pelted with dirt, which was actually done not (overtly) to insult him, but to make him seem more like a common man before meeting her.
My God, What Have I Done?: She feels great remorse after her Indian army overextends into invading China, which causes them to be flanked by Thailand and take many casualties. She vows to live a thousand lives in mourning to make up for all that were lost.
invokedSmurfette Breakout: Averted in-universe. Since Virlomi was one of the few girls at Battle School and one of the best, she expected she'd be famed there after she left. She's disappointed to see none of the later students have heard of her.
Admiral Jawaharlal Chamrajnagar
Strategos of the International Fleet (and later Polemarch). One of the most powerful men in the military.
Famous-Named Foreigner: He shares a first name with Jawaharlal Nehru, the architect of the modern Indian state. (His surname isn't shared with any real people at all; it's the name of a town.)
Interservice Rivalry: Although he presides over the entire IF, he casually dismisses its regular army in favor of an almost religious veneration for the extrasolar navy.
The first alien race human beings encounter, they nearly destroy humanity in two failed invasions.
Hive Mind: Although the queen apparently suppresses individual minds.
Starfish Aliens: Described in the novels as four-foot tall, red, green-eyed ants.
Starfish Language: Their hive mind operates on "philotic" communication, using images, not words. They eventually overcome this and can communicate in english, though still telepathically.
Walking Spoiler: It's difficult to discuss their role in later books without spoiling the end of the first.
A primitive alien race native to the planet Lusitania. They have a relatively stable peace with the resident humans, and are happy to accept their advanced technology. Their biology is extremely unusual due the descalada, a virus-like organism which rearranges and combines genetic material from different species and inhabits all life on Lusitania.
Bizarre Alien Biology: Their life cycle is complicated, to say the least. They develop from animals into plants.
One-Gender Race: The females of their species are in plant form, and uncommunicative. Thus, all the named characters are male.