Characters: John Carter of Mars
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John Carter, Prince of Helium.(Honorarily a Red Martian by marriage).
- The Ageless
- Ambiguously Human: Well, he looks, acts, and considers himself human, but there is the little matter of the immortality...
- Big Good: After becoming the Warlord of Mars.
- Blood Knight: He admits that he enjoys fighting a great deal, although he's quite pacifist compared to the Barsoomians.
- Dual Wielding: On Barsoom, he adopts the traditional paired long and short swords.
- Gray Eyes: Like many other Burroughs' heroes (and pulp heroes in general).
- Guile Hero / Idiot Hero: An odd combination, depending on context. He's quite clever in a fight, but can often be clueless in social situations, particularly (and self-admittedly) around women.
- Heavyworlder: Of the second variety - an Earth-normal human on a light-gravity world.
- The Hero: Of the initial trilogy and some of the later books.
- Master Swordsman: Considers himself one of the best swordsman on two planets; the books show that this is for good reason.
- Though there is one case where he discovers a master swordsman among the Yellow Men who was a superior swordsman. He had to get clever.
- Mighty Whitey: Though he's a human among aliens, rather than a white man among non-whites; also the mighty part is unusually literal.
- Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond: On Earth, he's perfectly normal. However, due to lower gravity on Mars, he's superhuman by comparison.
- Out of Focus: He's the main character of the first three books, then fades into the background for a while so that other characters can take the spotlight, then becomes The Hero again later in the series.
- Slasher Smile: his "fighting grin" is a heroic version.
- Deuteragonist: In the first book, of which she is the eponymous character.
- Distressed Damsel / Defiant Captive: She gets kidnapped a lot. Still, while she doesn't usually fight her captors physically, she's generally quick to show her contempt for them. In Warlord, she once has to be knocked out and carried by her captors, as there was no way they could drag her along with them.
- Damsel out of Distress: Sometimes she can get herself out of trouble, or if nothing else, assist John in doing so.
- Everything's Better with Princesses
- Only Sane Man: By the time of the first book, all Martians are fully aware that the atmosphere will soon be unbreathable. Dejah Thoris is the only political figure interested in any truce to try to prevent this common problem.
- Princess Classic
- Proud Warrior Race Girl: In attitude, though she isn't herself a fighter.
- Red Skinned Space Babe
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: She's an incredibly popular political figure in Helium, and she's introduced leading an expedition to test the conditions of Barsoom's decaying atmosphere.
- So Beautiful, It's a Curse
- World's Most Beautiful Woman
- Xenafication: The Film of the Book gives her the fighting skills to back up aforementioned Proud Warrior Race Girl attitude, making her a full-on Lady of War.
- Ascended Extra: A supporting character in Gods and Warlord, he's one of the two leads in Thuvia.
- Gadgeteer Genius: Though he only seems to have invented one thing that gets used (essentially, an autopilot for airships). Otherwise an Informed Ability.
- Half-Human Hybrid
- Luke, You Are My Father: In Gods with Carter, though it takes both an embarassingly long amount of time to realize they're father and son.
- Meaningful Name: Carthoris = Carter + Thoris.
- Super Strength: Though not to the extent of his dad, he's still stronger and more agile than most Martians.
- Ascended Extra: After being a supporting character in Gods and Warlord, she gets to be one of the two central protagonists of the fourth book, which is named for her.
- The Beastmaster: she has the ability to command banths, and uses this frequently.
- Damsel out of Distress: Somewhat more proactive than Dejah; she shoots and kills a Thern who had abused her and manages to throw off the influence of Tario, who while completely insane was still one of the strongest psychics on the planet.
- Everything's Better with Princesses: She's the princess of Ptarth, though this isn't immediately revealed.
- Friend to All Living Things: Well, all banths, anyway.
- Psychic Powers: Beyond the usual subtle telepathy of Red Martians, she can communicate with and control banths.
Tara of Helium
Tan Hadron of Hastor
- Creating Life Is Bad: Ras Thavas discovers this the hard way when he creates the Hormads.
- Grand Theft Me: specializes in this, and has his student, Vad Varo, do it for him.
- Grey and Gray Morality: he is one of the few charactes in the books who is not clearly good or bad, but rather somewhere in between. He does do morally quastionable things, yet he also uses his skills as a surgeon to help people.
- Mad Scientist: swaps peoples minds for money and later creates an army of synthetic creatures.
- Tin Man: Ras Thavas, just like the Toonolians, appears to have reached this state from excessive desire to be The Stoic. He professes to be above such things as sentiment, but when he manifests it, and Ulysses Paxton calls him on it, he is in complete denial.
- Turned Against Their Masters: he falls victim to this with the Hormads.
- Asskicking Equals Authority
- Bash Brothers: He's Carter's best Martian friend and probably the best warrior on the planet after him- if they're fighting together, well, you don't want to be a mook.
- Multi-Armed and Dangerous
- Proud Warrior Race Guy
Tal HajusJeddak of the Tharks in A Princess of Mars.
- Asskicking Equals Authority: Subverted. He must have been a powerful warrior in his youth to win his throne, but by the time he shows up in-story he's gone badly to seed.
- Arch-Enemy: To Tars Tarkas
- The Caligula
- Curb-Stomp Battle: When Tars challenges him, Burroughs doesn't even bother describing the fight. Tars wins that effortlessly.
- Fat Bastard
- Orcus on His Throne
- Villainous Glutton
- The Chick: for whatever weight the term holds on Barsoom.
- Establishing Character Moment: when she provides a Comforting Comforter for John Carter.
- Luke, You Are My Father: Tars Tarkas is her father. Most Green Martians don't know either parent.
Black Martians "The First Born"
- A God Am I
- Big Bad: Of The Gods of Mars
- Evil Old Folks
- God Empress
- God Save Us from the Queen!
- The Man Behind the Curtain: When actually confronted, she's revealed to be powerless.
- Psychic Powers: Part of how she maintains the fiction of her divinity; most Martians are mildly telepathic, but the ability is unknown among the First Born- except for her. Carter recognizes what it is almost immediately, though.
- Defector from Decadence
- Defeat Means Friendship
- Fire-Forged Friends: He and Carter start out enemies, but become allies after being imprisoned in Issus' dungeons together.
- My Species Doth Protest Too Much: At first, he's the only sympathetic Black Martian. Note that this is still an improvement on the White Martians, who initially don't have any sympathetic representatives.
- Noble Demon
- Proud Warrior Race Guy
- Worthy Opponent
- Ascended Extra: In Gods he appears in one scene, where all he does is get badly beaten by Carter. In the next book, Warlord, he's one of the main villains.
- Big Bad: Of Warlord, with Matai Shang and Salensus Oll.
- The Brute
- Master Race: He's a First Born. It's their thing.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: With Matai Shang; he's red. He's a Hot-Blooded warrior motivated primarily by a desire for revenge.
- Revenge Before Reason: He hates Carter for humiliating him in front of Issus' court.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: With Matai Shang.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: He backstabs Matai Shang when the Thern's last plan goes belly-up. Of course, Thurid himself dies minutes later when Phaidor Avenges the Villain.
White Martians (Therns)
Matai Shang, "The Father of Therns"
- A God Am I
- A Nazi by Any Other Name: Strange aversion. He's a blue-eyed, blond-haired (well, blond-wigged), white-skinned man who believes himself superior to other races and therefore has the right to exploit them however he sees fit and has a cult of followers who believe the same- but at the time Gods and Warlord were written, nobody had heard of a Nazi. Older Than They Think?
- Bald of Evil / Blond Guys Are Evil: Like all Therns, he's naturally bald but wears a wig to cover it up.
- Big Bad: Of The Warlord of Mars, shared with Thurid and Salensus Oll
- The Chessmaster
- He Who Must Not Be Seen: In Gods he's mentioned a lot but never shows up in the flesh. This changes in the first chapter of Warlord.
- I'm a Humanitarian: A Thern of his rank only eats the flesh of Red and Green Martians.
- Priest King
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: With Thurid; he's the blue. He's a cold-blooded schemer who stays away from the action and is mostly motivated by a desire to maintain his power.
- Smug Snake
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: With Thurid; they hate each other, but hate Carter more.
- Try to Fit THAT on a Business Card!: Matai Shang, Holy Hekkador of the Holy Therns, Father of the Therns, Brother of Issus, Master of Life and Death Upon Barsoom.
- A God Am I
- Alas, Poor Villain: Carter and Dejah are legitimately moved and grieved at her death.
- Anti-Villain: While she's not a very good person, and has all the character flaws of your average thern, she's genuinely in love with John Carter and Obliviously Evil for most of her life.
- Avenging the Villain: Part of why she kills Thurid- at the very least, his murder of her father was the immediate provocation.
- Bald Woman / Blondes Are Evil: Like her dad, she's a Thern, and therefore naturally bald hidden by a blonde wig.
- Daddy's Little Villain: To Matai Shang.
- Driven to Suicide: After her Heel Realization, invoking Death Equals Redemption.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: About half her dialogue to Carter involves expressing bafflement about why he does the things he does (the other half is her admitting she's attracted to him anyway).
- Heel Realization: At the end of Warlord. After seeing the lengths Carter is willing to go to rescue Dejah, she realizes how shallow and selfish her own life and love for Carter has been.
- Obliviously Evil: It's clear that, even more than your average thern, Phaidor simply does not get why being a cannibalistic would-be goddess or attempting to Murder the Hypotenuse would be a bad thing. She suffers a Heal Realization when she can't deny it anymore.
- Shadow Archetype: To Dejah.
- Villainesses Want Heroes
- Woman Scorned: Let's just say that princesses of races of creepy mystics with god complexes don't take rejection very well...
The Yellow Martians
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Defied. We explicitly never learn how good a fighter he is; Carter, motivated by The Power of Love for Dejah, kills him before he even lands a blow.
- Big Bad: Of Warlord, with Matai Shang and Thurid.
- Evil Overlord: Of the Yellow Martians.
- Large and In Charge: He's a huge, imposing man.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute / Sequel Escalation: In his role in the story, he's basically a bigger, meaner version of Sab Than from the first book.
- 0% Approval Rating: His own people largely hate him, except for his warriors who are loyal.
- Badass Grandpa: He's a tiny old man, but don't underestimate him.
- Elite Mook: What he amounts to story-wise, though it doesn't quite do him justice.
- Master Swordsman: Considering he's able to overcome the advantage of Carter's super-Martian strength, he's probably the more skilled of the two by a fair margin. Let that sink in. He was almost certainly the best swordsman on Mars.
- Worthy Opponent: Carter himself regrets that no one witnessed their duel because of how impressive they both were.