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Capt. David Shepherd
Played By: Christopher EganA counterpart to the biblical David. David is an idealistic young soldier who finds himself in the unfamiliar world of court intrigue after he wins national fame destroying a Goliath tank. Incredibly loyal to King Silas, David is not ready at all for what his idol is really like.
- David Versus Goliath: In the show, the Goliath is a famously tough model of tank.
- Disappeared Dad: His father died in the war before the start of the series.
- Holy Halo: At the end of the pilot, the crown of monarch butterflies settles on his head, just like the crown that Silas took as a sign of God's favor.
- Humble Hero: Despite the machinations at court, David remains remarkably humble, even to the extent of interpreting the butterfly crown as a sign he should serve the king, not be one.
- Massive Numbered Siblings: David mentions that he has six older brothers, making him the seventh son.
- Meaningful Name: A given, considering the series is an update of King David's story.
- Sharp-Dressed Man: In his official role as a military liaison.
- Youngest Child Wins: David is the youngest of seven sons and had the series reached a proper conclusion he would have become king of Gilboa (and possibly Gath, too).
King Silas Benjamin
Played By: Ian McShane
"Peace is not a lamb, but a lion - and it requires force and discipline; otherwise it will go wild, feed on you. I make no meek apology - history will thank me; you will, too."A counterpart to the biblical King Saul. Silas has united the kingdom of Gilboa and built its capital city, Shiloh, but now fears that God has forsaken him.
- Cool Old Guy: Evil he may be, but he's got charisma and charm to spare.
- Good Is Not Nice: Silas firmly believes this. God, however, has other ideas.
- Hypocrite: Just using examples from the pilot, he proclaims that Jack cannot be gay because "we give up what we want when we want power" and, NOT TWO SCENES LATER, is revealed to still be in a relationship with the woman he truly loves (and, in fact, never stopped despite Cross thinking he gave her up to marry Rose) and has a child with her.
- It's All About Me: Silas is the centre of his own universe, with the rest of the nation just revolving around him.
- Narcissist: In Silas' mind, everything is all about him. This is why he can't regard David's secret relationship with Michelle as anything other than a personal betrayal, and why he tries to kill David after God reveals David is to be the next king—he simply cannot process the idea that they aren't doing it just to hurt him. Even his affection for his children is based on their acting as extensions of his will; when they go against him, Silas again cannot see it as anything other than high treason.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: In the pilot, Silas calls Jack's homosexuality 'sickening' and later screams that he is "no prince, you faggot".
- Rage Against the Heavens: Used to believe he enjoyed God's favor; comes to have a much less friendly relationship with his faith.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: As absolute monarch, he personally oversees day-to-day governance of his kingdom and also occasionally goes out to the front lines to command military actions. There's also one day a year where he listens to the personal grievances of a selected group of citizens, no matter how petty, as a way of showing his people that their king cares about their issues.
- Sharp-Dressed Man: He likes suits so much that the palace has an in-house tailor.
Queen Rose Cross Benjamin
Played By: Susanna ThompsonQueen of Gilboa, a counterpart to the biblical Ahinoam, Rose is the wife of King Silas. The queen claims to abhor politics, but ruthlessly manipulates court life from behind the scenes.
- The Chessmaster: Despite her repeated insistence that she doesn't like to get involved in politics, Rose manipulates nearly everything from behind the scenes.
- The Cynic: "Desire for comfort overcomes desire proper and the chairs here are very comfortable. I picked them myself."
- Disproportionate Retribution: The people who piss her off invariably meet bad ends. A ruined reputation is a mild punishment from her.
- Mama Bear: When asked if she would accept the death of her brother for the salvation of her children (the cutting of a poisoned limb to save the body), she says without hesitation, "Cut and cut again until there is nothing left but my children."
- Hypocrite: Her picture quote about lies is, of course, a lie - her own daughter was shocked to find she promotes art as a maneuver instead of an earnest love of ballet, everything she does is politics despite her proclaimed hatred of it, and she slaps her son for being honest about being gay immediately after saying that quote.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Which becomes increasingly obvious to the people that spend time around her.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: Calls Jack's homosexuality a "mistake of character" and slaps him for it.
Princess Michelle Benjamin
Played By: Allison MillerPrincess of Gilboa, a counterpart to the biblical Michal. Silas's daughter and crusader for improving the kingdom's health care system, Michelle finds herself drawn towards David.
- Ill Girl: Was one when she was younger.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Constantly and consistently. Hell, her poor decisions are a bigger threat than Cross.
- Rebellious Princess: Her fight for healthcare reform and her relationship with David are just some of the actions Michelle takes that her royal parents do not approve of.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Michelle literally swore a vow to God to Actually Do Something and, as such, campaigns like clockwork to have her healthcare reforms approved.
- Too Dumb to Live: Michelle falls into this trope with such stunning regularity that it's amazing she survives a season.
Prince Jonathan ‘Jack’ Benjamin
Played By: Sebastian StanCrown prince of Gilboa, a counterpart to the biblical Jonathan. Jack is Silas's ambitious and frustrated son, who initially sees David as a rival at court. Jack plays the role of a dissolute, womanizing rake in front of the kingdom's press, but is secretly gay. The king knows that Jack is gay, and challenges him to restrain his desires if he wishes to become king.
- Depraved Homosexual: Subverted with Jack. He's both gay and a pretty bad guy, but the one thing has nothing to do with the other, and most of his Pet the Dog moments come when he starts to come to grips with his sexuality.
- Fate Worse Than Death: Said almost word for word by Silas when Jack turns himself in for treason. He's locked in a room with his fiancee, forced to have sex with her until they produce an heir for Silas to raise. Thomasina isn't sympathetic.
- Gilded Cage: Atter his failed coup he is confined to his rooms, not a prison. Arguably, his circumstances even early in the series might give this appearance to much of his life.
- Hidden Depths: Starts out an apparently womanizing, carefree party boy; turns out to have a Morality Pet in the form of Joseph, a heart capable of being broken, and intelligence to go with his ambitions.
- Manipulative Bastard: Runs in the family.
- Narcissist: Not to the same degree as his father, but Jack definitely has trouble viewing the actions of others as being aimed at anything other than him.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Like the scions of the British Royal Family, Jack served in the military, trying to actively cultivate a 'war hero' image for when he ascends to the throne.
- Straight Gay: Deliberately attempts to act as straight as possible to avoid being outed.
- Transparent Closet: At least to his father, who's been keeping photos of Jack in compromising promises out of the press for years, Jack's rake veneer is pathetically obvious.
Rev. Ephram Samuels
Played By: Eamonn WalkerA counterpart to the biblical prophet Samuel. Reverend Samuels was instrumental in Silas's rise to power, but his relationship with the king has since become strained.
Played By: Dylan BakerIndustrialist and brother to Queen Rose. William finances Silas' Royal Treasury, but withdraws his funds when, contrary to his wishes, Silas seeks an end to the war with neighboring Gath.
- Badass: Doesn’t lose his cool with a knife to his throat.
- The Chessmaster: Like his sister, stays in the shadows and uses his money and influence to manipulate events on a large scale.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Is genuinely shocked when Andrew leaks nude photos of Michelle to the press, and demands to know why he want to hurt his cousin like that.
- Evil Uncle: To Jack, who he is using, and Michelle, whose birthright he intends to help Jack steal.
- Papa Wolf: He takes slights against his son very personally.
- War for Fun and Profit: His control of money has an enormous effect on the cessation or continuation of the war.
Gen. Linus Abner
Played By: Wes StudiA counterpart to the biblical Abner, is the head of Gilboa's military. Though initially loyal to the king, Abner eventually betrays Silas as he believes the king has become too 'soft'; in the episode "Brotherhood" Abner is killed by Silas for his betrayal.
- Black Dude Dies First: Silas's first direct kill.
- General Ripper: Hates Gath and will do anything for the war to continue.
Played By: Sarita ChoudhuryA counterpart to the biblical Rizpah, King Silas's mistress and mother of his illegitimate son. Silas attempts to offer up his relationship with Helen as a sacrifice to God in order to save his son's life, but eventually returns to her
Played By: Macaulay CulkinThe son of William Cross and nephew to the king, who was exiled from Gilboa for unspecified reasons, but has returned as part of a deal between Silas and William. He plays a role in his father's attempted coup, eventually betrays him to Silas, and is last scene freeing Vesper Abaddon.
- The Dreaded: Downplayed. Andrew isn't feared the world over, but his relatives and the rest of the court find him very disturbing, and nobody save his father is happy when he comes home.
- Enigmatic Minion: To his father and Silas. Andrew's goals, motivations, and loyalties are kept cryptic and opaque, with no real clue as to why he does anything (if indeed there is a why).
- The Exile: Exiled from court prior to the show.
- Lack of Empathy: Andrew doesn't seem able to process the idea that other people actually have feelings, hopes, and dreams. The only thing he cares about is what he can get from them.
- Psychotic Smirk: One of his few facial expressions.
- Smug Snake: It runs in the family.
- The Sociopath: To appropriate Terry Pratchett, Andrew sees things differently from the rest of the characters, in that he sees the rest of the characters as things. Even his own father is disposable, in his eyes. He's also got the lack of affect, shallow emotions, intense boredom, impulsive behaviour, and screwed up sexuality that is typically associated with the trope and the diagnosis.
- Stalker with a Crush: To his Aunt Rose
- The Stoic: Taken to an extreme. Andrew is void of emotional affect.
Played By: Becky Ann BakerDavid's mother.
- Almighty Mom: Told off the king and lived to tell the tale.
Played By: Tom GuiryDavid's brother. He attempts to launch an insurrection against Silas in order to keep Prosperity.
- It's All About Me: David accuses him of caring more about glory then his insurrection.
Played By: Mark MargolisThe Premier of Gath.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Wants peace just as much as Silas, but is tied by the will of his people.
Played By: Miguel Ferrer
The head of Gath military.
- Evil Counterpart: Seemingly a more war-hungry version of Abner until Abner shows to be just as bad.
Chancellor Marcus Hanson
Played By: Michael Crane
Played By: Brian CoxThe former King of Carmel, Vesper Abaddon is kept sealed in the dungeons by Silas, who occasionally consults him on political matters. Befriends David in prison and is freed at the end of the series by Andrew Cross.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Silas uses his family to drag out his hoard of gold.
- Evil Mentor: To Silas, who he is deliberately trying to send to his destruction.
- Evil Old Folks: Sixty-six according to Andrew.
- Expy: More-or-less one of his role in Manhunter as Hannibal Lecter.
- Laughably Evil: Many of his scenes are morbidly funny in a Black Comedy sort of way.
- Leaking Can of Evil: Thanks to Silas taking his advice.
- Machiavelli Was Wrong: Admits as much to David, and tells him to take love over fear, right after telling Silas that he should take fear over love.
- Manipulative Bastard: One of the few characters who can effectively manipulate Silas.
- Pet the Dog: His conversation with David, in which he encourages him to take comfort in the fact that he was loved.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: A more realistic version, as he's in prison.
- Villainous Glutton: Justified. Vesper hasn't eaten well in three decades, so when presented with good food he gorges himself.
- 0% Approval Rating: Hated by his own people to the point where they held celebrations when Silas defeated him.
Played By: Marlyne AfflackThe efficient palace secretary and aide-de-camp.
Played By: Steve RosenCourt historian and biographer of King Silas.
Played By: Michael ArdenJack's clandestine boyfriend.
- Driven to Suicide: Apparently, though the circumstances are quite coincidental.
- Morality Pet: To Jack, at least some of the time.
- One True Love: Jack goes to him when he is free to do anything during the blackout, then tells him "You're the only real thing I ever touch."
- Straight Gay: No more camp than your average metrosexual.
Played By: Leslie Bibb
- Sadistic Choice: Gives one to Rose: expose Jack's sexuality or Michelle's nude photos.
Boyden & Klotz
Played By: Jason Antoon & Joel Garland
- All Love Is Unrequited: Klotz is in love with Thomasina.
- Fat and Skinny: Klotz is fat, Boyden is skinny.
Played By: Michael Stahl-DavidMichelle's partner in her health care plan.
Played By: Kathleen MealiaJack's fiance following Katrina's death