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Lucas Goodwin / John Carlyle
Played By: Sebastian ArcelusEditor of The Washington Herald and friend of Zoe Barnes.
Maybe this nice guy doesn't finish last.
- 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.
- Bavarian Fire Drill: A favorite technique of his. He seems to have mastered it too.
- Beard of Sorrow: Grows one while in prison.
- The Bus Came Back: After being incarcerated midway through season 2, he's released into the Witness Protection Program in season 4. But an attempt to convince Dunbar to investigate Frank fails, and he dies trying to assassinate Frank.
- Butt Monkey: In a show packed to the brim with people subjected to terrible events, Lucas Goodwin just about edges out Rachel Posner for 'a shitty time'. He's rejected by Zoe Barnes repeatedly, winds up as her second choice, is driven to obsession by her death, loses his career, is dismissed by everyone (including his friends) as a lunatic despite being the only person who knows the truth, watches his hated enemy go from strength to strength and become the most powerful man in the free world, gets railroaded into prison, humiliates himself for his cellmate, is blackmailed into sexual acts by a grotesque man at the shitty rental car wash he's forced to work at under the terms of his parole, is once again dismissed as a lunatic by Heather Dunbar, fails to assassinate Frank, and his name will possibly go down in history as an unsuccessful Lee Harvey Oswald. It almost seems like the creators don't like him much at all.
- Cassandra Truth: Knows the truth about Frank, but due to lack of evidence, no one believes him.
- 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. While Lucas is a heroic character, he stands in opposition to Frank, the Villain Protagonist.
- 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.
- Love Makes You Dumb: He's introduced as a level-headed & reasonably intelligent character, but his grief over Zoe's death in season 2 causes him to become a lot more impulsive and a lot less rational, to the point where he gets himself caught up in an FBI sting by getting involved with a shady hacker, and tries to assassinate Frank.
- 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 Frank 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.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: His failed assassination attempt against Frank in season 4 not only gives Frank the necessary sympathy points to get the upper hand in the primaries (while causing Dunbar to have to take the heat), it also reconciled the Underwoods, who are considerably stronger together. Not to mention it gets Lucas killed. But the fact that he did caused Tom Hammerschmidt to start investigating Lucas' cyberterrorism conviction and, perhaps, do what Lucas could not: expose Frank's previous abuses of power.
- Sanity Slippage: In Season 4, after his failed attempt to reach Dunbar. He ultimately decides he has nothing left to lose and tries to assassinate Frank.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!:
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: How he sees himself as, with no evidence of Frank's wrongdoing, Lucas decides to shoot Frank at a rally but only succeeds in wounding Frank, kills Meechum, and ends up shot dead himself. Naturally, he's painted in the media as simply a nutcase rather than the hero he sees himself as. However, his death does lead Tom Hammerschmidt to reopen the original story Lucas brought to him about Frank.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: In Season 2, 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.
- He makes the same mistake after being released in Season 4. He thinks Heather Dunbar would love to hear about how evil and corrupt Frank Underwood is, not realizing that his investigation is hearsay without proof, putting Dunbar at risk if she acted on such accusations.
- You Have to Believe Me: Goes to Dunbar in Season 4 to try and make her see how Frank is a ruthless killer but she writes him off as crazy. This leads him to try to assassinate Frank.
Played By: Kate MaraA 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.
Don't let her youth and beauty get under your skin.
- 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 death. 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 abruptly throws her in front of a train.
Thomas 'Tom' Hammerschmidt
Played By: Boris McGiverEditor-in-Chief for The Washington Herald.
Dismissing the now considerably shortens your future.
- Ascended Extra: Hammerschmidt starts out as a secondary character in Zoe's storyline but becomes the man who establishes at least part of the Underwoods' criminal activity in the public eye. His importance is shown when he finally appears at the White House in the season 4 finale for a one-on-one meeting with Frank.
- 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.
- The Bus Came Back: After Lucas Goodwin's death in the attempted assassination of Frank, Hammerschmidt is the one who starts recruiting people who Frank betrayed, seeking to bring the man down.
- 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.
- Death Glare: Gives several of these to Frank when they finally meet. He even glares at the TV when Frank is on doing a speech.
- The Determinator: After Lucas dies, Tom investigates the original story from Lucas, Zoe, and Janine's initial investigation; then he goes to work bringing in practically anyone that Frank betrayed in order to expose him.
- Expy: His exposure of Frank's abuses of power in season 4 comes off making Hammerschmidt seem like a bit of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the Washington Post reporters who exposed Richard Nixon's role in Watergate.
- 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.
- Hero Antagonist: Becomes one in Season 4. Lucas' death motivates him to finally start to investigate Frank's schemes and blow the lid off everything he's done. But Frank is the Villain Protagonist of the show, making Tom this trope in relation.
- Heroes Love Dogs: Tom is very fond of his dog Fausto.
- 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 Hammerschmidt isn't suited for the digital age, and is painfully aware that he's on the verge of being left behind. Ironically, his Good Old Ways style of investigation (sifting through information) is what finally cracks the Underwoods' cover-ups.
- 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.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Believe it or not. He thinks he's just exposing Frank as a massively corrupt politician for some severe abuses of power, and thinks that Frank plotting (and succeeding) to unseat a sitting US president so he can become president himself is as bad as it could possibly get. He dismisses the notion that Frank has gone as far as to murder anyone to get what he wants, as he utterly fails to grasp the kind of man Frank truly is.
Played By: Kathleen ChalfantThe 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.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: In Season 4, she hears out Tom's story and provides him with the resources and legitimacy he needs to break the story surrounding Frank's betrayal of President Walker.
Played By: Constance ZimmerA 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.
The pen is snarkier than the sword.
- 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.
- Know When to Fold 'Em: After Zoe's death and Lucas' inprisonment she correctly figures that by seeking truth or justice she would most likely earn a similar fate for herself, and leaves town.
- The Mentor: Surprisingly, given their initial relationship, she becomes one to Zoe late in Season 1.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Blames herself for Lucas' death, since she wonders that if only she hadn't turned coward when Zoe died and fought on looking for the truth like Lucas did, he would still be alive since she would've been there to reign in his reckless behavior.
- 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 Bus Came Back: Returns in Season 4 to mourn Lucas' death with Tom Hammerschmidt and confirm that Frank is indeed an evil bastard who committed all those crimes.
- 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.
Played By: Mozhan Marnò
- All Jews Are Ashkenazi: Averted. Raymond Tusk mentions how her family left Iran because they are Jewish.
- Intrepid Reporter: An extremely competent reporter and she does not give a fuck if a multi-billionaire threatens her. Unfortunately, she goes too far when she practically attacks Frank at a press conference, resulting in her dismissal from the White House.
Played By: Kim Dickens
- Closer to Earth: Definitely more than Yates. Kate may not understand why Yates considers comparing her rejected articles to his killed book about Underwood a blasphemy, but she does understand why no sane politician would want such a biography written about himself.
- Hot Scoop: Yes, the next one. She's even willing to sleep with Frank's biographer if that's what it takes.
- Intrepid Reporter: Even more so than Ayla, whose place she takes. Frank chews out Seth for "kicking out the pitbull and making way for the dragon".
- Joker Immunity: She notes right to Seth's face that she can pretty much write whatever she wants about Underwood, knowing he won't risk kicking out two female reporters from the same paper.
Played By: Tawny Cypress
Martin 'Marty' Spinella
Played By: Al SapienzaA 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.
Played By: Mahershala AliFrank'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.
"Such a waste of talent. [Remy] chose money over power, in this town a mistake nearly everyone makes."
— Frank Underwood
- 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 Jackie gets married to a Nice Guy to further her career. The two start having an affair by the season 3 finale, and then decide to run off together after agreeing to go on record with Tom Hammerschmidt.
- 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 3 after getting in 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. Subverted in Season 4. Remy no longer sees money as the most important thing in the world after falling in love with Jaokie.
- 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.
- Self-Serving Memory: In Season 4 he tells Tom Hammerschmidt about Freddy's closed barbecue joint, and that what happened to it is "the same thing that happens to everything Frank touches." Apparently Remy has also forgotten that a major reason Freddy's closed was because he had told the press about the place as part of a plot Tusk had against Frank.
- Social Climber: Heavily implied. He also prefers the company of women of his own social status.
Raymond Alan Tusk
Played By: Gerald McRaney
"[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.
— Frank Underwood
- 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 mustache. 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.
- First-Name Basis: He addresses President Walker as 'Garrett' instead of 'Mr. President' as a mark of how he doesn't actually respect him. After Walker grows a spine later on, Tusk switches to 'Mr. President, albeit reluctantly.
- 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 lose sight of his original goal of just 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 adviser 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, and loses.
- Self-Made Man: Like Frank, though he has attained money rather than power.
- Taking You with Me: Implicates Walker in corruption charges once it becomes clear he himself will be convicted.
- The Bus Came Back: Reappears in Season 4 to help the United States with the negotiations with Russia.
- 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 Walker 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 BirminghamA 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, Frank 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.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: He claims not to trust any white man, in those exact words, particularly those who work in the White House.
- 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.
Played By: Terry ChenA corrupt Chinese businessman and backchannel diplomat who is Raymond Tusk's business partner.
- Accent Upon The Wrong Syllable: The only person who pronounces his last name correctly (FUH-NG) is Tusk. Everyone else pronounces it the same way you pronounce "Fang".
- 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 Frank 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: Feng 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: Jeremy HolmThe White House/FBI liaison, later Deputy Director.
- The Bully: To Gavin Orsay, his informant. Green is excessively cruel to him, frequently taunting and insulting him.
- Dragon Ascendant: He becomes the Deputy Director of the FBI.
- Even Evil Has Standards: He may be a dick to Gavin Orsay, but he's genuinely scared when it looks like the captives of ICO will be executed.
- Jerkass: Green is a smug, sadistic bully.
- Kick the Dog: His barbaric treatment of Gavin Orsay, and especially Gavin's guinea pig Cashew, whom he slowly crushes under his foot.
- Your Cheating Heart: As Gavin discovers, Green's wife is having an affair.
General Dalton McGinnis
Played By: Peter BradburyA 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 on-screen, 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 WoodbridgeA 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: Rachel BrosnahanA 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 the New Mexico 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.
- Bury Your Gays: Killed off after spending most of two seasons as a victim.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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: She 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. CatheyThe owner of Freddy's BBQ, an eatery frequented by Underwood.
"I can't take back the bad I done. All I can do is to make my own way, like I been doin'."
- The Atoner: For his Dark and Troubled Past.
- Badass Baritone: A Reg E. Cathey trademark.
- 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. Subverted in Season 4. Freddy tells Frank how much he really disliked him all along. And he makes it clear to Tom Hammerschmidt after beating him up that he hates Frank Underwood.
- The Bus Came Back: When he signs up for America Works in Season 3, leading to Frank reuniting with him.
- Shows up again in Season 4 to tell Frank that he's leaving Washington for good but not before finally telling him what he really thinks of 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.
- Fantasy Forbidding Grandfather: Towards his grandson in Season 3.
- Kick the Dog: Freddy beating the ever living daylights out of Hammerschmidt for trying to get dirt on Frank, despite Freddy having every reason to rat out the bastard. While he claims that he's no snitch, still a dick move to do.
- 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.
- Precision F-Strike: Lays into Frank hard when he's finally had enough of the man's underlying condescension."You're a motherfucker, Mr. President."
- 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 vs. Cynicism: Freddy 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 HoltThe 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: She tries to put Claire on trial, but is entirely unprepared for her capacity for cruelty.
- 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 SimpsonA computer hacker turned reluctant FBI informant. His empathy for fellow hackers who have been imprisoned and the people he is forced to sabotage through coercion by the FBI is in conflict with his own desire for self-preservation and escape.
- 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 DanielsA photographer who lives a Bohemian lifestyle in New York City, and who is Claire's on and off lover.
- Butt Monkey: In Season 2, he goes through utter hell due to the actions of the Underwoods.
- Nice Guy: Aside from being involved in an adulterous relationship, he's a pleasant enough guy who's 'never hated anyone'... before Claire.
- Perma-Stubble: Adam keeps some stubble, in keeping with his Bohemian character.
- "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 an ongoing affair with Claire Underwood.
Played By: Kate Lyn SheilA social worker who befriends Rachel Posner, and later becomes her girlfriend. She later befriends Gavin Orsay.
- 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 StevensA 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.
- Childhood Friends: With Peter Russo, or as he knows him, 'Petey'.
- Replacement Goldfish: After Russo's death, the Democrats approach him to offer him a candidacy in Russo's district.
- What the Hell, Hero?: He gives several of these to Peter Russo."I thought we grew up together. But this guy sitting, behind his big desk? I don't even know who the fuck he is. Where's the Pete Russo who knew how to throw a punch when his back was against the wall? That guy was my friend."
Timothy 'Tim' Corbet
Played By: David Andrews
Played By: Kelly AuCoinDoug Stamper's brother. Despite being somewhat estranged from his brother, Gary is fiercely loyal, and moves in with Doug when he is in recovery. He has two children, Frankie and Clinton.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: Gary is the complete opposite of Doug in many areas. While Doug is cold and distant, Gary is warm and inviting. While Doug lives alone and prefers it that way, Gary is happily married with a son and daughter. While Doug suffers from many addictions and mental issues, Gary seems to be mentally stable and free of any addictions.
Bishop Charles Eddis
Played By: John Doman
- Cool Old Guy: He's a motorcycle-riding, devout yet cynical bishop who talks to Frank at his level.