Characters: House Of Cards US Other
Season 2 spoilers follow. You have been warned.
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"Power is better than money, for as long as it lasts. But it never lasts."
Frank: Such a waste of talent. [Remy] chose money over power, in this town a mistake nearly everyone makes.
Frank's former press secretary who now works as a political lobbyist. He serves as the middleman between politicians (notably Frank) and his clients (notably the multi-billion dollar energy conglomerate Sancorp). Still uses Frank as a contact when there's a deal to be made that profits his bosses.
- Affably Evil: Unfailingly soft-spoken and polite. It doesn't matter if he's making friendly small-talk or intimidating a congressman, Remy is always gentle and charming.
- Amoral Attorney: He's a partner at Glendon Hill, which represents several corporations
- Ambition Is Evil: However, Frank points out that he made a mistake by choosing money over power.
- The Dragon: After mostly serving as the voice of Sancorp, an oil conglomerate, during season one, Remy moves on to directly work for Raymond Tusk in season two, as Tusk has bought shares of Sancorp. As the season goes on, he seems to chafe under the demands of working for one demanding person with an ever-shifting agenda and resents being treated as "a henchman." Later becomes Frank Underwood's second in command instead of the injured Stamper in Season 3.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Despite being a corruptible business man, Remy doesn't believe in screwing around with multiple woman, and only gets involved with a woman if it's serious.
- Greed: Remy chose money over real power.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Tries this all during Season 3, after Sharp gets married to a Nice Guy to further her career. In the Finale the two start having an affair.
- Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: He claims that he left Frank's employ because he felt unappreciated and used. This happens again in Season 3.
- Mouth of Sauron: Serves as this for SanCorp.
- N-Word Privileges: In Season 4 after getting trouble for speeding and forgetting his wallet to the car, Remy remarks to Jackie that the officer got suspicious because he "saw a nigger in a nice car". It's implied that despite his position of money and power Remy feels that to some people he will always be second-rate (and his scene with Freddy when they briefly bond over being treated by Frank like pawns, furthers that).
- Only in It for the Money: And he has no problem letting people know it, especially when talking to Frank. He himself brings up an interesting point of view in season two. When first introduced, Frank sees him as making the mistake of trading the eternal "stone building" of power for the "McMansion of money. When Remy touches on the subject, he says that he sees power as the more temporary of the two, as the most powerful man can be rendered powerless in a heartbeat.
- A Pupil of Mine Until He Turned to Evil: As far as Frank is concerned, but Remy doesn't see it that way. Being a pupil of Frank isn't exactly the priesthood either.
- Really Gets Around: Subverted. He flaunts his money and status to attract women, but he only gets involved with a woman if a serious relationship is possible from it.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: As Season 3 concludes, he finally has had enough of Frank and leaves his position.
- Social Climber: Heavily implied. He also prefers the company of women of his own social status.
Martin 'Marty' Spinella
Played By: Al Sapienza
A teachers' union lobbyist.
- Arch-Enemy: Frank's, as the first season goes on. He's really the only character that season who's capable of putting up anything like a fight against Frank's political virtuosity.
- Hero Antagonist: To Frank. All Spinella wants is a fair deal for the teachers, and Frank does not treat him well.
- Hot-Blooded: Frank describes him as having a temper, and ultimately takes advantage of it.
- Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Frank treats him with no respect, heading back to his hometown and only halfheartedly communicating via phone on a crucial deal. When Frank straight-up lies to him, that's when Spinella decides he's had enough.
- Starter Villain: He's the first real opponent Frank faces in his plots, but is small fry compared to what awaits him the higher he goes.
- Worthy Opponent: Although Frank treats him with little respect, he does acknowledge that Marty is not a good enemy to have and is quite reasonably worried about what Spinella might do, especially since Frank can't smooth-talk Marty like he does others.
Frank: Marty and I have a good working relationship. Or used to. You can see he has a temper, but I can usually cut through that and reason with him. But I may have pushed him too far, which is worrisome. Friends make the worst enemies.
Raymond Alan Tusk
"The rational and the irrational complement each other. Individually, they're far less powerful."
Played By: Gerald Mc Raney
Frank: [Tusk] doesn't measure his wealth in private jets, but purchased souls.
A St. Louis-area billionaire and private investor who is also a close confidant of the President. He enters the plot toward the end of the first season in a big way.
- Bald of Evil: Because of his age
- Big Bad: He was the one who convinced President Walker to screw over Underwood and deny him the position of Secretary of State, sparking the events of the series. He eventually becomes the series' main antagonist during season two.
- Beard of Sorrow/Beard of Evil: In Season 1, he starts out with a authoritarian-style moustache. As his competition with Frank grows increasingly fierce and dirty mid-way through Season 2, he starts growing a full beard. This serves to highlight the loss of his original pragmatic motives and his growing obsession with defeating Frank.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Of his company, which he uses to manipulate the political landscape.
- Expy: Of both Warren Buffet and George Hearst, McRaney's character in Deadwood, right down to growing a beard midway through the second season he appears in.
- Final Boss: Of the first season. He's the first opponent Frank faces who is as cunning and cynical, and who thinks as big as Frank does and is the last remaining obstacle to Frank joining the ticket as VP.
- The Gloves Come Off: In the beginning he merely attempts to keep Frank in check. After Frank throws one wrench too many into his plans, he starts realizing what a ruthless and antagonistic man he is dealing with and starts answering in kind. It eventually comes to the point where Tusk gradually starts to loose sight of his original goal of protecting his business interests, and instead becomes more and more obsessed with publicly humiliating Frank and destroying his career.
- Kick the Dog: His most viscerally blatant act of evil is when he casually crushes one of his pet birds in his hand.
- The Man Behind the Man: He's been an advisor for Walker for 20 years, remaining in the shadows as he never actually held a public office. It was Tusk who prevented Walker from naming Frank Secretary of State.
- N.G.O. Superpower: Subverted. As Frank points out, while Sancorp possesses considerable influence on American government, "If you add all their billions together, you get the GDP of Slovakia."
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: As a self-made billionaire from the Midwest who still lives in his first house, he has a few traits in common with Warren Buffett.
- The Rival: Goes toe-to-toe with Frank Underwood all during Season 2, but loses in the end.
- Self-Made Man: Like Frank, though he has attained money rather than power.
- Taking You with Me: Implicates the President in corruption charges once it becomes clear he himself will be convicted.
- Unknown Rival: Frank has no idea that one man is behind Walker not naming him to Secretary of State, or that the same man is watching his progress through the first season.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: By convincing Walker not to name Frank to Secretary of State like he promised, Tusk inadvertently kicks off the events of the series, including several murders and the downfall of Walker and his administration. Tusk admits to Frank his recommendation was based on Frank being more useful in his current position, but he's proven himself more powerful than Tusk thought.
- Villainous Breakdown: He's utterly stunned when the President hangs up on him; the first time he's done so in 20 years. As season 2 progresses, Tusk becomes increasingly unhinged and quick-tempered.
- Wicked Cultured: He recites a Walt Whitman poem. He is also seen attending a performance of Madame Butterfly later in Season 2.
Played By: Gil Birmingham
A rich Native American casino owner and one of Raymond Tusk's business partners.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Owns a popular casino that funnels foreign money to political schemes.
- Jerkass: That's putting it mildly.
- A Man Of Wealth And Taste: He projects this image, but it rings as hollow and weak compared to someone like Tusk.
- Only in It for the Money: To stem the flow of laundered money from Lanagin's casino, Underwood offers Lanagin access and favor with the president. Lanagin dismisses this offer, pointing out the fact that Tusk's money is far more measurable than Underwood's word.
- Self-Made Man: States as much to Frank.
- Smug Snake: Like Xander Feng, he has plenty to his name, but he's not as untouchable as he likes to think his money makes him.
"There is no sacred ground for the conquered."
Played By: Terry Chen
A corrupt Chinese businessman and backchannel diplomat who is Raymond Tusk's business partner.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Aside from his expensive tastes and huge paycheck, he has a lot of political pull.
- Depraved Bisexual: His very first scene is a threesome with a man and a woman; they take turns pleasuring him while he's tied up and asphyxiating.
- Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Borderline example. He does plenty of ugly things, and he is the designated front man for a totalitarian regime that outdoes everything on the show put together by several orders of magnitude. However, he's just a minor cog in that machine and woefully out of his depth dealing with people who are even worse than he is and more cunning. And in the end, the "front man for a totalitarian regime" bit may be another source of pity, as it becomes incredibly obvious how they will reward his failure.
- Man of Wealth and Taste: In his conversation with Stamper, he goes on about his expensive wine.
- Oh, Crap: He has this expression after he finds out he's being sent back to China after Raymond Tusk goes to prison and the President Underwood revokes his asylum.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Presents himself as an important and powerful representative of business in China. But as Season 2 goes on, it becomes clear how helpless and powerless he is in the grand scheme of things.
- Smug Snake: While he's certainly got influence and wealth to his name, he's nowhere near as important or powerful as he likes to think he is.
- You Have Out Lived Your Usefulness: Mentions during season 2 how businessmen like him are quickly replaced if they fail their jobs for China and implies that they're usually assassinated.
Played By: Peter Bradbury
A decorated US Marine General, with a list of dark crimes on his resume.
- Jerkass: When he meets his rape victim, he only smugly jokes with her.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Claire, who was one of his first or maybe the first of his rape victims, outs him as a rapist on national television. Other victims come out of the woodwork and McGinnis ends up sentenced to 40 years in prison. Considering his age, he'll likely be in prison for the rest of his life. His reputation and career is utterly destroyed.
- Semper Fi: He's a decorated General in the Marine Corps .
- Serial Rapist: McGinnis brutally raped Claire in college, and raped Megan when they were in the military. It's all but outright stated that he's been raping women who are subordinate to him for decades.
- Small Role, Big Impact: McGinnis only appears once, but his name is mentioned frequently and he's had a huge impact on the lives of Claire and Megan. Claire's outing of him leads to a subplot involving the attempt to pass a bill regarding sexual assault in the military.
Played By: Libby Woodbridge
A former US Marine Private who was sexually assaulted by General Dalton McGinnis.
- Broken Bird: As result of her sexual assault, she's become increasingly unstable.
- Cigarette of Anxiety: She's shown to be smoking when she's stressed out.
- Rape as Drama: Her entire storyline stems from her assault at the hands of McGinnis. The impact on her life is thoroughly explored; she's seen to be filled with self-loathing, guilt, trauma, confusion and fear. Hennessey is a very tormented soul.
- Sanity Slippage: After the bill she tried to get passed gets thrown away, she becomes a shell of her former self.
Played By: Lance E. Nichols
The mayor of Gaffney, South Carolina.
Played By: Murphy Guyer
A County Administrator in Gaffney.
- Jerkass: Oren lacks Frank's charm or politeness; he's petty, grumpy and spiteful.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: It goes both ways: it's fun to see Frank take him down, but it's also satisfying that he was able to cause trouble for Frank.
- Not So Different: From Frank. Both are willing to exploit the death of a young person for political gain.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Oren considers Frank to be his grand enemy, but Frank has moved long past the old days and now considers him a pest and little more. Oren isn't anyway near being in Frank's league.
Played By: Lars Mikkelson
The President of Russia.
- Evil Is Petty: Subverted. He has all the petty reasons to despise Claire, but the real reason why he pressures Frank to have her resign as Ambassador is because he knows how important she is to her husband.
- Expy: A quite obvious stand-in for Vladimir Putin.
- Heteronormative Crusader: Politically, just like his real-life counterpart.
- Jerkass: Enough that Frank is seriously tempted to "push him down the stairs and light his body on fire just to watch it burn."
- Not So Different: Petrov points out how both Frank and he are ruthless and will do whatever it takes, even commit murder, for power. However, Petrov makes the point to Frank that his wife is making him weak. Frank agrees and his actions afterwards, causes Claire to leave him at the end of Season 3, like Petrov's wife left him at the beginning of Season 3.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: Enforces oppressive anti-gay laws and taunts Frank about how he'd like to do his wife. Subverted in the first case, as he personally couldn't care less about someone being homosexual, but plays the Heteronormative Crusader cards for political reasons.
Played By: Chuck Cooper
The chief of the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia (MPDC).
- Dirty Cop: He's in Frank's pocket, and is often used as an ally.
Played By: Rachel Brosnahan
A prostitute dragged into Underwood's plans by Doug Stamper and whose life grows increasingly complicated as a result.
- Abusive Parents: It's very heavily implied that her father was abusive in some way.
- Bi the Way: She starts a same sex relationship with a woman named Lisa in the second season.
- Breakout Character: In the initial stages of the show, Rachel was only ever intended to appear in the first episode, hence why they didn't bother giving her a different name from her actress. But they were so enchanted by Brosnahan's acting that they greatly expanded her role, leading Rachel into being one of the few non-political characters to make significant appearances in the second season.
- Born Unlucky: It seems like Rachel's whole life has been one unlucky incident after another and it ends with her getting murdered and buried in the middle of a South American desert, right when it looked like she could finally have some form of a happy ending.
- Broken Bird: She has quite a messy history, involving dropping out of school, running away from home, and some form of abuse on the part of her father that precipitated both. All of these things have taken a heavy emotional toll on her.
- Death In The Limelight: Most of the Season 3 Finale covers where Rachel has been and what kind of life she was living, before Doug Stamper found and killed her.
- The Dog Bites Back: After practically being held prisoner by Doug Stamper during Season 2, Rachel catches him off guard, nearly kills him in the form of a rock to Stamper's head, and takes his car.
- Shoot the Dog: After spending most of season 3 offscreen, she gets A Day in the Limelight in the s3 finale, only for Stamper to show up and kidnap her with the intent of murdering her. After she pleads with him to let her go, he does so... only to change his mind, turn back, kill her and bury her in the desert.
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Deconstructed. She is an essentially decent person whom teachers describe as highly intelligent, comes from a broken home, and desperately wants to leave prostitution behind. The show illustrates just how little control she has and how desperate her situation is and just how resigned to it all she has become.
- Hope Spot: Her pleas in the last episode of Season 3 get to Doug and he let's her go... only to change his mind several minutes later, turn the car and go back to kill her.
- Killed Off for Real: By Doug Stamper
- Morality Pet: For Doug Stamper, who treats her with some kindness when he doesn't really have to. Ultimately it's subverted, as Doug becomes increasingly obsessed with her.
- Oh, Crap: Her Final expression, when she realizes Doug's changed his mind after all.
- Retirony: Planned to save up money, so she can get a new identity and save up for a car. She was able to pay for a new identity before she gets found and killed by Doug Stamper.
- Spanner in the Works: Subverted, in the Season 3 Finale. Doug Stamper is able to track down and kill Rachel, eliminating the last loose end that could expose Frank as a murderer.
- Tempting Fate: Reveals her plan of saving up for a car and moving on with her life during the Season 3 Finale. She is killed by Doug Stamper at the end of the episode,
Frederick 'Freddy' Hayes
Played By: Reg E. Cathey
The owner of Freddy's BBQ, an eatery frequented by Underwood.
- The Atoner: For his Dark and Troubled Past.
- Badass Grandpa: Freddy isn't intimidated by gangbangers outside his son's apartment. And he has a grandson.
- Bald of Awesome: See Badass.
- Becoming the Mask: In Season 3, Freddy admits to Remy in secret that he pretty much does this whenever Frank comes around, even going as far back as when he had his restaurant.
- Black Best Friend: He might be one of Frank's best and most genuine friends. Played with in Season 3. Freddy admits to Remy that his friendly behavior towards Frank is mostly an act, and he even admits that he used to hide all the time in the kitchen back when he had his restaurant. And he took the landscaping job at the White House to keep his distance from Frank.
- The Bus Came Back: When he signs up for America Works in Season 3, leading to Frank reuniting with him.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Before being known for making the best ribs in Washington D.C, Freddy was a gangbanger in his youth and was possibly responsible for the murder of two elderly people. After he had his son, he got caught and imprisoned, never able to be a father to him. As a result, his son grew up in the gang life and became a drug addict. And now the cycle seems to be continuing with his grandson.
- A Day in the Limelight: Chapter 22.
- Local Hangout: Frank has been a regular for about 20 years and always overtips. Whenever they need food delivered it's usually from Freddy's.
- Morality Pet: He's the one person that Frank is always nice and kind to regardless of the situation, and Frank's eventual abandonment of Freddy is treated as a Moral Event Horizon. Even Frank, who has shrugged off two murders, is upset by it.
- Nice to the Waiter: Freddy is the 'waiter' in regards to his relationship with Frank.
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Freddy's problems in Season 2 begins after he tries to reach out and save his son and grandson, believing the franchise deal he made will make lots of money to get them both out of the Hood.
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Being humble and treating Frank on a first name basis as a loyal customer ends up being his downfall. After receiving positive publicity for his restaurant, his attempts to bring his son out of poverty from an investor's offer to franchise his restaurant fails when his past are exposed by Raymond Tusk and his son reacts violently under media pressure.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Becomes more cynical after he loses his restaurant, to the point that he lectures his grandson on not having "fantasies". He also gains a somewhat jaded view of his relationship with Frank, and while being as cordial with him as always, he reveals to Remy that he gets tired of Frank's babbling and is mostly just savvy enough to humor the latter with company for practical reasons.
Played By: Sandrine Holt
The leader of a grass-roots organization called World Well that provides clean water to developing countries. Through the Clean Water Initiative, she grapples with Frank and Claire's interests.
- Beware the Nice Ones: When her relationship with Claire sours, she becomes very vindictive and calculating. Even Claire is surprised with how deeply angry Gillian becomes.
- Bullying a Dragon: When she tries to put Claire on trial.
- The Idealist: Gillian goes into work with Claire under the honest and pure belief that because she's working for a charity, everyone will be charitable. Ultimately, Claire brutally disabuses her of this notion.
- The Mistress: She was one, hence her pregnancy.
- Nice Girl: Gillian is very morally upright with a strong moral compass who treats others with compassion.
- Principles Zealot: Regarding fossil fuel corporations. Or possibly corporations in general. She turned down an extremely high-paying and prestigious job with Google on principle.
- Put on a Bus: Has all of one scene in the beginning of the second season and then quickly vanishes.
- Spanner in the Works: For Claire's plans. Her discrimination lawsuit in particular screw things up for Claire.
- This Is Unforgivable!: After Claire betrays her trust, she goes on a personal vendetta to ruin Claire's life using a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit.
- Worthy Opponent: Once Claire becomes Second Lady, she gives Gillian her former position with no strings attached. Well, it was that or denying her any medication during the late stages of her pregnancy.
Played By: Jimmi Simpson
Alias "Hieronymus", a hacker and informant for the FBI.
- Anti-Villain: Gavin is actually a fairly nice guy who is loyal to his friends, adores his guinea pig and would only like to be free of charges and preferably escape abroad. He doesn't really want to betray Lucas or Lisa nor get Rachel's psychotic stalker on her trail, but his or his friends' situations don't leave him much as of a choice.
- Butt Monkey: The guy never catches a break. The way Nathan Green treats him is nothing short of horrible - he's bullied, harassed and threatened. Then, after blackmailing Green at the end of season 2 he lands a job in FBI and is supposedly safe. Then he's threatened again and it's implied he's gonna get arrested. Then he finally gets to get away abroad... only to being found by Doug again, receiving a beating and death-threat from him.
- The Dog Bites Back: He does get to hack into AT&T's servers and uses this knowledge to blackmail Nathan Green.
- The Informant: For the FBI.
- Pet the Dog: Gavin loves his guinea pig, Cashew.
- Too Dumb to Live: He was trying to save his friend from going to prison, but after closing Rachel's case with Doug and escaping the country Gavin really should sit quiet. Reaching out to Doug, informing him that he was lied to about Rachel's death and trying to blackmail him into more favors was definitely not a smart move.
- What Happened To The Guinea Pig: Averted. If there was a question, what would happen to Cashew if Gavin got himself arrested or killed, or managed to finally get the hell out of there, it gets answered: he leaves her to Lisa.
Played By: Ben Daniels
A photographer who lives a Bohemian lifestyle in New York City, and who is Claire's on and off lover.
- Butt Monkey: In his single appearance in Season 2, he goes through utter hell.
- Nice Guy: Aside from being involved in an adulterous relationship, he's a pleasant guy who's 'never hated anyone'... before Claire.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Gives one to Claire, but since she's Claire, she isn't much perturbed.
- Your Cheating Heart: He's the 'other man' in his ongoing affair with Claire Underwood.
Played By: Kate Lyn Sheil
A social worker who befriends Rachel Posner, and later becomes her girlfriend.
- Break the Cutie: She's a nice person trying to reach out to, befriend and help complete strangers, but it results in first being left by her girlfriend without any explanation and then tricked by a new "friend" who was faking having a broken heart and AIDS to win her pity in order to gather information about the aforementioned girlfriend.
- Lipstick Lesbian: Downplayed. She's definitely girly, but in a rather Girl Next Door sense.
- Nice Girl: Lisa is incredibly sweet and considerate.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Her becoming deceived by the desperate hacker chiefly contributes to her ex girlfriend Rachel's death. Though it could still end well, had Gavin the sense not to fuck with Stamper any more after lying to him about Rachel being dead originally.
Played By: Wass Stevens
A senior union official in South Philadelphia and a friend of Peter Russo's. He was the main campaigner against the closing of the Philadelphia shipyard.
Timothy 'Tim' Corbet
Played By: David Andrews