Characters: House Of Cards US Media

Season 2 spoilers follow. You have been warned.

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The Washington Herald

    Margaret 

Margaret Tilden

Played By: Kathleen Chalfant

The owner of The Washington Herald.
  • Cool Old Lady: Her reaction to Tom's breakdown embodies this trope.
  • Iron Lady: Very committed to the Herald and almost completely imperturbable.

    Tom 

Thomas 'Tom' Hammerschimdt

"I won't be distracted by what's fashionable."
Played By: Boris McGiver

Dismissing the now considerably shortens your future.

Editor-in-Chief for The Washington Herald.
  • Being Good Sucks: Tom does his best to stick by his principles and treat his employees fairly. It gets him absolutely nowhere and ultimately ends with his dismissal.
  • Country Matters: And boy, does it. Calling Zoe this (while she was secretly recording him) speeds up his downfall and ruins his reputation.
  • Da Editor: Or Editor-in-Chief, for The Washington Herald.
  • A Father to His Men: At the Herald, although he has no patience for traitors like Zoe. Also does his best to look into Lucas' story on Frank in Season 2. It doesn't result in much, though, as the tracks have been covered so much that Tom's findings make Lucas look like a paranoid Yandere looking for blame after Zoe's death.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Tom has integrity, but not manners.
  • Graceful Loser: After being fired, he admits his faults and inability to catch up with the evolving media landscape, before going for a drink with his former boss.
  • Grumpy Old Man: Oh, he complains with the best of them. Ties into Good Is Not Nice.
  • Old Media Playing Catch-Up: The tragedy of his character is that Tom isn't suited for the digital age, and is painfully aware that he's on the verge of being left behind.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: His general philosophy; he won't abide by new rules or guidelines if it conflicts with his moral compass.

    Lucas 

Lucas Goodwin

Played By: Sebastian Arcelus

Maybe this nice guy doesn't finish last.

Editor of the Washington Herald and friend of Zoe Barnes.
  • Ascended Extra: He's more of a supporting character in the first season, but plays a bigger role later on.
  • Badass Boast: Makes one to Gavin.
    Lucas: You think you're a badass because you're on some vigilante anarchist kick? At least I have the balls to put my name on the work I do.
  • Crusading Boyfriend: Becomes obsessed with investigating and exposing Frank after Zoe's murder.
  • Guile Hero: The way he tracks down Rachel demonstrates impressive intelligence and resourcefulness.
  • Hero Antagonist: Becomes one toward the end of the first season; even more so in the second.
  • Intrepid Reporter: He has the makings of one, but isn't quite as willing to leave his morals at the door as the more successful Zoe.
  • Nice Guys Finish Last: Is rejected by Zoe twice. Only after Frank Underwood has had his way with her for months, does she give him a chance. When he discovers that Zoe had an affair with Underwood to help her own career, Lucas beings worry that his own relationship with Zoe only exists because she needs his help investigating Peter Russo's death.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Lucas seemed to think of himself as the lone heroic reporter in a suspense thriller, where he would reveal the evil conspiracy and bring down the corrupt politician (Frank Underwood) who murdered his girlfriend. Too bad Reality Ensues and his actions ultimately lead him to prison.

Slugline

    Carly 

Carly Heath

Played By: Tawny Cypress

    Zoe 

Zoe Barnes

"Nobody tells me when to work and when to play."
Played By: Kate Mara

Don't let her youth and beauty get under your skin.

A reporter for The Washington Herald (later moving to Slugline following an altercation with her boss). After meeting Frank Underwood, she quickly forms an intimate relationship with him with both of them using each other for advancement in their careers, with Underwood using her to leak stories to hamper the progress of his opponents.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Mattie Storin from the original series is a complete rube who's being manipulated from the start. Zoe, on the other hand, is using Frank just as much as he's using her.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Her hunger for success leads her to become increasingly morally compromised.
  • Character Tic: Tends to bite her nails one at a time when anxious.
  • Fatal Flaw: In Season 2, Frank is once again able to tempt Zoe into pursuing her ambitious side. Then he kills her. It is left unclear whether or not Zoe had genuinely "relapsed" into working for Frank or if she was simply trying to lure him into revealing something damning about Russo's murder. Either way it doesn't matter, as part of her gambit she deletes all evidence of her contact with him and confirms that she knows too much, leaving absolutely no reason for Frank to leave her alive.
  • Femme Fatale: Tries playing one to get stories, though how good at it she is is a matter of debate.
  • Hot Scoop: Zoe is telegenic on TV, and discovers she likes doing that (and screwing her source) better than being a newspaper reporter.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Zig-zagged and inverted before ultimately being played straight.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Frank suddenly kills her just as she's talking to him.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Pushed in front of a subway train because of her continued pursuit in Russo's death. Security camera footage makes it look like she either jumped or tripped. Frank pushes her himself to boot.
  • Sacrificial Lion: In case Russo's death still left doubt in anybody's mind, Zoe's paints a pretty clear picture that nobody is safe.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: She starts a relationship with Lucas - whom she had twice rejected earlier - after the fling with Frank ends. Possibly a subversion, however, because Lucas wonders if he's just being used once he finds out that Zoe is not above sleeping with someone to advance her career.
  • Spanner in the Works: Increasingly moves in this direction as she becomes much more confident.
  • Surprisingly Sudden Death: Frank throws her in front of a train very abruptly.

    Janine 

Janine Skorsky

"It's not worth fucking your way to the middle."
Played By: Constance Zimmer

The pen is snarkier than the sword.

A veteran reporter who becomes jealous and suspicious of Zoe's sudden success at the Washington Herald. She later becomes an ally and even mentor to Zoe when Zoe recommends her for a job at Slugline, a popular freelance internet site.
  • Deadpan Snarker: One of the snarkiest and grumpiest characters in the series.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Janine rapidly becomes deeply jealous of Zoe as her star rises. Ultimately, however, they settle into a slightly uncomfortable friendship.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Is one, and encourages Zoe to become one.
  • The Mentor: Surprisingly, given their initial relationship, she becomes one to Zoe late in Season 1.
  • Not So Different: Janine reveals that like Zoe, she used to sleep with successful men to get inside information for stories, and even had an affair with a Congressman at one point in the past. However, she warns Zoe that a woman can only sleep her way so far up the ladder before she hits a brick wall.
  • Put on a Bus: She is scarcely involved in the second season at all before running off and establishing that she wants nothing to do with this anymore.
  • The Rival: To Zoe. Later Subverted, after they reach an understanding of one another and decide to become allies.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: After Zoe is killed, she's scared off by the risks of continuing to investigate the circumstances of Russo's death and decides to leave town.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: In-Universe. Janine feels Zoe is this, since she was the top woman reporter before Zoe took the spotlight from her.

Other

    Alya 

Ayla Sayyad

Played By: Mozhan MarnÚ