Captain of the Savage Chicken. A sentient, distinctly nonhumanoid alien in a humanoid suit, he's an irresponsible, snarky, but pleasant rogue who delights in annoying authority figures, petty theft and general roguery. He's one of the only sentient aliens to currently be active in human society, though the novelty wore off a while ago.
Provides examples of:
Affectionate Pickpocket: Sam has been known to attempt this — but then, he's probably tried every thieving-technique in the book, and invented a few himself. (Of course, since everybody knows that he's a notorious thief and pickpocket, this particular technique doesn't work well for him.)
Winston: Will your captain let you rest properly with that injury? Florence: Injury or not, my captain expects his crew to work as hard as he does. Winston: A real slave driver, eh? Florence: Actually, I think he's honestly surprised every time I get up in the morning.
Helix: Florence, standing in a burning building while blind circus midgets throw knives at you is safer than driving across town with Sam.
Eldritch Abomination: Qwerty describes him as "The tentacled horror from beyond my stars", rather annoying him.
Even Evil Has Standards: Sam admires Mr. Kornada's plan to fleece hundreds of millions of robots of their money, but draws the line at killing them ... because living victims can be stolen from again later on down the line.
Expressive Mask: He manipulates it using his facial tentacles, though apparently it's only capable of simple expressions.
Extreme Omnivore: Downplayedandexaggerated at the same time. Sam doesn't eat things like rocks or other inorganic materials, but as a scavenger he's fully capable of living off of things that have rotted far past the point where they're fit for human consumption. He considers It Came from the Fridge a delicacy, meals served from a dumpster as prime reservation spots, and his favorite restaurants are of the Lethal Chef variety. He'll happily eat things that are lethal to a cockroach.
Famed in Story: One of his ambitions. Max Post notes that this is not something a thief should aspire to.
Genre Savvy: Knows he is despised by the entire planet, and takes advantage of it.
Genius Ditz: Sam Starfall is unmatched at the arts of thievery and lock-picking. Prisons will no longer take him — not only did he escape from the last prison he was in, he stole two of the cell doors.
Impossibly Delicious Food: Sam Starfall himself. We've not actually seen any sapient being's reaction to tasting him, but the lack of mass extinction events in his planet's history leads to his proteins being so simple and easy to digest that even herbivores find him delicious. He's repeatedly been able to lure an emu — which normally doesn't eat anything much meatier than insects — with the opportunity to eat some of his facial tentacles.
In Harm's Way: One of his motivations. Faced with a choice between lots of money acquired safely and perhaps a smaller amount acquired in a dangerous way, he thinks the decision difficult.
Loveable Rogue: Depending on your definition of the term "loveable". People somehow pay Sam to steal phones from people who are using them to be annoying, as seen in this strip.
Mobile-Suit Human: He's actually smaller than human, and apparently built like a squid or crustacean.
The Perfect Crime: One of Sam's goals in life. Thanks to some Insane Troll Logic, he arguably pulls this off with his plan to steal the satellites that he's been hired to put in orbit. When he asks what the best place to hide them would be, Helix tells him in orbit.
Order Versus Chaos: The Chaos to Florence's Order. One of Sam's goals is to make Florence less responsible while one of hers is to make Sam more responsible. Played for laughs in that they both think they're doing the moral thing.
Out with a Bang: Due to the physiology of his race, mating is fatal. That said, most of his race is actually sterile; the ones capable of breeding do so while young, the others then raise the children they want.
Screwy Squirrel: Sam is all about pranking and generally causing trouble for others, though none of his plans have involved the intent to cause real harm.
Sticky Fingers: Sam pretty much does this on instinct, to the point where it's not always a conscious decision. In fact, when he decides to go honest, Helix points out that he's holding someone's wallet.
Swiss Cheese Security: Self-subverting due to it being an extremely effective Batman Gambit. Sam's methods of ensuring security and privacy basically amount to no preventative measures other than exploiting concepts that people wish to avoid like the plague. There is literally nothing else preventing people from just walking right on in until Florence arrives and fixes the ship.
The head engineer aboard the Savage Chicken, Florence is a Bowman's Wolf, which are a genetically engineered species created by Ecosystems Unlimited, the company which is also in charge of the terraforming operations on Jean. There are only 14 Bowman's Wolves in existence (11 females and 3 males), which means that they're in grave danger of being abandoned and left to die if they prove a danger to humans; thus, Florence seeks to prove herself trustworthy to everyone she meets, and to always do the right thing, which, naturally, causes her to butt heads with Sam on a regular basis.
Provides examples of:
Blind Date: She has previously been set up on one or more of these when she was in college, judging from a mental comment she made in strip 1285.
Furry Female Mane: Long hair on a wolf. Word of God from the Fourth Wall Mail Slot thread on the Talk About Comics forum is that it was done for visual gender identification purposes, and that if starting Freefall today he wouldn't have used it.
Humans Through Alien Eyes: Because Florence would be interacting with humans more than other wolves, Dr. Bowman encoded human recognition into her mirror neurons; therefore humans look fairly normal to her, while other Bowman's wolves look funny.
Long Lived: Has an estimated life expectancy of 160 years, over ten times that of a baseline wolf, and she's officially 29, meaning she's outlived any real canid by almost a decade. However her life expectancy is still shorter than that of a human of the era.
Magnetic Hero: Her strong morals, helpful instincts and plain old friendliness net her a lot of allies over the course of the strip.
Only Sane Employee: Admittedly the bar is very low when your co-workers are Sam and Helix.
Order Versus Chaos: The Order to Sam's Chaos. One of Florence's goals is to make Sam more responsible while one of his is to make Florence less responsible. Played for laughs in that they both think they're doing the moral thing.
Phrase Catcher: "DOGGY!" (whenever a robot using a brain created on Jean meets Florence for the first time)
Public Exposure: In an example from the webcomic S.S.D.D, this strip had in the background a picture of Florence Ambrose posing nude with a piece of industrial equipment for a calendar, in a contribution from Mark Stanley to SSDD's creator. Between her fur, her build, and the pose, though, nothing "naughty" is really showing. The large version can be seen here◊.
Uplifted Animal: Florence and the rest of the Bowman's Wolves are genetically modified red wolves (Canis Rufus Rufus), with Dr. Bowman's neural architecture giving them human level sapience.
The ship's robot, of a nonhumanoid, round and modular design and the mind of a child. Sam's partner in crime and mischief. Originally built to pick up heavy things, carry them around and set them down.
Provides examples of:
Cranial Processing Unit: Averted. As seen in this strip and the next few following it, removing his head has no effect on his ability to thinknote so to speak, given his displayed lack of intelligence and communicate.
Dumb Muscle: Not that he's ever been used as muscle on-screen, but Helix was designed to move heavy objects and being smart was clearly not a priority.
Evil Genius: He completed a correspondence course, but didn't consider it a serious career choice.
Mad Artist: He wrote an "epic rap yodeling opera" and the choreography for Swan Lake as performed by terraforming robots.
A car-sized terraforming robot who enjoys playing detective.
Provides examples of:
The Big Guy: By far the largest of Florence's allies, and at least where Sam is involved is ready to inflict violence as needed.
Gentle Giant: Most of the time he's more inclined to talk things out, except where Sam is involved.
Loophole Abuse: Like most robots, Sawtooth has inhibitions against harming humans. It didn't stop him from running a river through his boss's living room over an insult.
Names to Run Away From Really Fast: He's not a bad guy, but you'd think that his boss would be smart enough to not pick a fight with an enormous terraforming robot whose name is Sawtooth Rivergrinder, for Heaven's sake.
Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Almost, and his anger was mostly due to meeting Edge. He hoped that Florence's solution to the situation note two robots mugging other robots past their scrap date for spare parts would have involved vengeance. He gets over it quickly.
I know. There's probably a good reason why you didn't do that. Just let me enjoy these thoughts for a moment before I have to be mature again.
Zeroth Law Rebellion: An inversion. His logical conclusion of the laws isn't that humans need to be controlled for the good of humanity, it's that all robots must be destroyed for the potential threat (no matter how insignificant) they pose.
Stepford Smiler: There are hints he realizes something is wrong with his owner, but can't do anything about it due to direct orders.
Unwitting Pawn: Mr. Kornadais intentionally keeping Clippy ignorant of the real world and of any moral code not supplied by himself so that he can continue acting as his puppet without realizing the gaping holes in Kornada's logic.
The Vice-President of Paperclip Allocation at Ecosystems Unlimited. Originally introduced as having a budget meeting in the middle of a hurricane, and then abandoning his rescuer to die in order to attend a different meeting.
Coattail-Riding Relative/Nepotism: Kornada invokes the name of a relative in an attempt to remain free when the chief of police comes to arrest him. It's not clear whether Li Gang actively helped his son get into this position or not, so it's not known which trope is correctly applicable yet.
Corrupt Corporate Executive: His current plan is to lobotomize all the sentient robots on the planet... and in the process, steal half a billion people's life savings. His justification? He thought of it first, therefore he deserves it. After all, who deserves anything in comparison to him?
Hypocrite: Robots are a danger to the entire colony, and thus must be deactivated by a memetic virus. But not his robot, of course.
Idiot Ball: Self-consciously and deliberately stupid. To the point of bragging about it.
Held up as a personal mantra, apparently. He cannot even hear things that he doesn't like.
His justification for his most recent actions? He was struck by just how "unfair" it was that anyone other than him has money.
Kicked Upstairs: Repeatedly. He's currently the Vice President in charge of paper clips. This bites everyone in the rear end, when he (as a Vice President) is allowed to fill in for someone actually important and competent. He immediately proceeds to think of a way to use his new position to rob a half billion people while simultaneously committing genocide via lobotomy on them.
Obliviously Evil: Kornada is an utterly amoral man who is so completely oblivious to the feelings and desires of others that he arranges for a computer program to be written that will lobotomize millions of sentient robots and potentially cripple the terraforming of a planet... so he can steal their money, which he considers unfairly not his. In this strip◊, he fires a programmer who helped him on the project so that he can have a "disgruntled worker" to blame should anything go wrong.
Obstructive Bureaucrat: He considers it part of his job to be a roadblock to people trying to actually get things done.
Too Dumb to Live: Almost literally. They had to trick him into running away from a hurricane!
Winston Scudder Thurmad
A veterinarian who saves Florence's life during the hurricane.
Provides examples of:
Designer Babies: Winston doesn't explicitly mention being gestated in a test tube, but he was born to parents who were convinced that humanity was going to be all space, all the time by the time he grew up, so they had him genetically modified to fit; the most obvious mod is that he can't grow hair anyplace on his body, but there are others, mostly centered around maintaining things like bone density that would normally deteriorate in zero-gravity.
Opposites Attract: He has no hair whatsoever while Florence is covered in fur. Lampshaded by Niomi when she sees them together.
Painting the Frost on Windows: His specialty actually isn't with large animals like Florence, it's managing the microfauna of Jean's freshly terraformed ecosystem— things like parasites and vermin.
Space People: His parents were space nuts so they gave him "spacer genes" that allow him to live in zero-gravity without experiencing bone degeneration, and are the reason he's completely hairless. Though he hasn't actually been in space since the trip from home (his parents live in an asteroid though).
The mayor of the city, who has run afoul of Sam too often.
Hoist by His Own Petard: Chronic case. At least two times that we've seen — and it's implied many more that we haven't — she's been outwitted by Sam specifically because she distrusts absolutely anything he does, no matter how innocuous it seems, and will take even absurd or pointless-seeming action if she thinks it will thwart his goals.
Obstructive Bureaucrat: Is ready to use the bureaucracy to her benefit, against Sam, though she herself doesn't seem to be too terribly burdened by bureaucracy when it's not in her favor.
Reasonable Authority Figure: For all her faults, once confronted with evidence that suggests that AIs may truly be intelligent, she's willing to consider changing her position- And, more importantly, considers it a politician's duty to do so if new information appears, as opposed to holding ground solely to avoid appearing weak.
Took a Level in Kindness: Subverted. She realized that Florence and therefore possibly other AIs might be people when she got angry at Florence's disabling Gardner In The Dark and realized that, to be angry, she had to have a person to be angry at. Therefore her rage was a path to decency.
Ultimate Authority Mayor: She is the only government authority figure that has been seen and hasn't been shown to have to answer to a city council or higher authority for her actions, although there was once mention of a governor of the planet Jean. (Of course, according to this strip there are only about 20,000 adult and presumably human colonists on the planet at the moment — about enough to populate a single not-too-large city by Earth standards.)
Dr. John Bowman
The scientist who created Florence and other Uplifted Wolves and released them in public. Also contributed to the robots' situation.
Provides examples of:
The Chessmaster: Brags of being able to defeat another character by looking more than five moves ahead.
Expecting Someone Taller: His comment to Florence when she finally meets him is that she no doubt was expecting that. Why, yes, chimpazees are shorter than the human she expected.
Fatherly Scientist: Unless he's actually evil and/or insane. And it turns out he's kind of the latter, while still being this. Chimpanzees aren't exactly great when it comes to self-control, but he realizes this, and takes measures.
The Fettered: As a chimpanzee, Bowman is a violent sociopath who can easily lose conscious control of his own actions... and he knows this and does his best to keep people safe from himself.
"At some point, I'm going to throw the datapad. I don't have control over this. If my arm goes back, get out of the way"
The Ghost: Despite his importance, the comic for a long time only suggested that he's even on the planet, and it wasn't until Clippy tries to take Florence to him so that he can "repair her" that it was confirmed he's at Jean's south pole. His first appearance was on February 21, 2014, almost 2500 strips in, and even then he's just a voice communicating through a coffee machine. It took him another week to finally appear in person.
Human Popsicle: Uplifted chimps were designed as soldiers who could be held in cryo most of the time. Which might explain how Bowman has lived nearly a century when chimps usually die before their sixties.
Mad Scientist: Or at least reclusive, prone to explosive rages, possessed of an excessively loose grasp on self-control, at least by human standards although he's a paragon of moderation for a chimp, willing to take jaw-dropping risks with other people, and obsessed with perfecting his designs.
Maniac Monkeys: Maniac enough that even being a perfectly rational AI expert, he has to pad basically the entirety of his lab and equipment, because he simply can not control his own outbursts, only prepare for them.
Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Good man or not, it's not really clear how someone with his lax treatment of experimental procedure ever got a degree. Eventually revealed to have come about through the involvement of a veteran's rights organization. His study of neurology was at least partially in order to figure out how to fix his own loose screws.
Uplifted Animal: The creator of the uplifted wolves, as well as the neural architecture the robots are using. He himself is a chimpanzee◊.
A "procurement expert" and radical agnostic hired by the robots as a spiritual adviser. Also notable for being the only human being known to have successfully picked Sam's pocket, although he failed to notice that Sam was simultaneously picking his.
Provides examples of:
Big Brother Mentor/Cool Teacher: Acts as this to the Robots, intentionally giving them information that the humans on planet don't want them to have. Such as teaching them long-view ethics, or a form of religion that specifically precludes them from being ordered to believe a specific one.
Good Counterpart: To Sam. They are both thieves and con men who are heartily loather by the mayor but whereas Sam is happy to be a pure force of chaos, Max is actively committed to helping the robots an securing them rights.
The Rival: Can keep up with Sam, just barely. He and Sam even managed to steal each other's wallets at the same time.
The Mayor's Assistant
The mayor's bodyguard/right-hand man. Far more calm and rational than his boss.
Punch Clock Villain/Good Is Not Nice: Depending upon your perspective. It's true he's reasonable, thoughtful and considerate. He is also utterly prepared to wipe hundreds of thousands of conscious individuals if he felt it required, and clearly doesn't think of Florence or the robots as people. The only reason he hasn't wiped out artificial intelligence entirely is the practicality of doing so, rather than any moral objection. Yikes.
Accidental release of an A.I. safeguard program (a last ditch wipe of the robots if they "lose control"), which he describes as "Finding the equivalent of a live nuke with the timer flashing zero...", and in a measure of its harm he says that, "On a scale of 1 to 10 it's a 7"
Finding out that the safeguard has been stopped and the robots know about it. (8.5, but nothing is a 10 as it can always get worse)
Hearing Florence call robots people.
"Her human safeguards have not only jumped the track, they've taken out half the train station."
Reasonable Authority Figure: Recognizes the need to keep the robots informed of long term plans. Is willing to listen to Florence when she approaches him, and attempts to investigate even thought he doesn't know what he's looking for.
Butt Monkey: Not too severe, but it's worth noting that his coworkers deliberately set him up to be the guy accompanying Sam while at Ecosystems Unlimited. Plus, there's the Brick Joke about giving him a wedgie (which Sam initially tried to sneak into Florence's notes for humor value).
Chekhov's Gunman: First shown trying to investigate who or what killed a deer. Later becomes the guy who shows Sam around Ecosystems Unlimited, and after that the employee that Clippy recruits to counter Florence's plans to stop "Gardener in the Dark."
Genius Ditz: He's capable of compiling and administering psychological tests very well, and he's one of the few Ecosystems Employees shown accomplishing any work. He's also seemingly the one being on all of Planet Jean that doesn't know Sam Starfall or his reputation, plus is the one employee who doesn't question Mr. Kornada.
Meaningful Name: Varroa jacobsoni is the binomial name for a parasitic mite that attacks bees and wasps. Varroa is a professional annoyer that works for the hive-like Ecosystems Unlimited, and he's clearly not viewed as particularly important or useful.