Characters / Life on Mars (2006)

DI Sam Tyler
Played by: John Simm

Originally a DCI in 2006, Sam was hit by a car and woke in 1973 Manchester with a new makeover, a new motor, and a new rank: DI. Although under a lot of stress from the bizarre situation, he remains the same straight-laced, by-the-book officer he was in 2006.

  • Apathy Killed the Cat: Averted. Sam is constantly wondering why he's here, wherever 'here' is.
  • Berserk Button: Do not turn football from something that's supposed to connect people into being an excuse for violence.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Gene tolerates Sam's bizarre behaviour and ahead-of-its-time political correctness because he recognises Sam's skill in catching criminals. The others only put up with it because Sam outranks them.
  • By-the-Book Cop: he's this even in modern times, and doubly so when compared to the rest of the police in 1973. Still, it's subverted at times.
  • The Cassandra: his offhand comments about the future get routinely dissed by his peers.
  • Disappeared Dad: his father, Vic, walked out on his wife and son when Sam was four.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water
  • Giving Radio to the Romans: Sam tries to introduce 'modern' police methodology and encourage his colleagues to see past their bigoted attitudes, though with limited success. One problem is that while in theory Sam is better trained, the techniques he's learned are often useless in 1973. Why wait for a search warrant if you can just kick down the door? Why talk in the formal style for interviewing witnesses (useful when every word is recorded, and saying the wrong thing can get a case thrown out of court) when it only confuses people?
  • Manly Tears: about once per episode in the first season, toned down for the second per John Simm's request.
  • Nave Newcomer: being unfamiliar with the realities of 1973 policing (and the world in general, as seen through adult eyes), he often gets things wrong.
  • Number Two: to Gene Hunt in the CID.
  • Real Men Cook: Is quite a good chef with high standards for the food he makes.

Manchester CID

For tropes from Ashes to Ashes, see the respective character page

DCI Gene Hunt

Sam Tyler: An overweight, over-the-hill, nicotine-stained, borderline-alcoholic homophobe with a superiority complex and an unhealthy obsession with male bonding.
Gene: You make that sound like a bad thing!

Played by: Philip Glenister

Also known as 'the Gene Genie', the boozing, womanizing, rough-housing, politically incorrect DCI. His role models are John Wayne and Clint Eastwood, probably why he describes himself as 'the Sheriff'. Gene is of the belief that you do whatever you must to put the baddies away, and is rather ruthless in his pursuit of that rule. However, he does have a softer side, one that very few have seen (mostly because he'd rather take cyanide then show it).

  • Cool Car: His beloved Mark III Cortina.
  • Da Chief: Subverted. Gene is in charge, but he's the one causing the trouble.
    (while the car is going way way too fast) Sam: You're not above the law you know Gene, I should do you for speeding!
    Gene: What're you talking about, Tyler? I am the law!
  • Drinking on Duty: Gene considers drinking his duty.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Gene seems incapable of not ramming every dustbin he sees.
  • Establishing Character Moment: We are introduced to Gene Hunt in this fashion, after a disoriented Sam has blundered into the police station demanding to know what year it is -
    Gene: They reckon you've got concussion. Well I couldn't give a tart's furry cup if half your brains are falling out, don't - EVER - waltz into my kingdom acting king of the jungle.
    Sam: Who the hell are you?
    Gene: Gene Hunt, your DCI, and it's 1973, almost dinnertime - I'm 'aving 'oops.
  • Fan of the Past - specifically, the Old West
  • Guilty Pleasure: reveals to Sam (in a nightclub playing the then-latest rock music) he and he wife like listening to a bit of Roger Whitaker.

WPC (and later WDC) Annie Cartwright
Played by: Liz White

Sam's love interest and confidante. She's the only one that Sam has told his theories to, and wavers between loyalty to her superior, and her desire to heal/help him. As a modern woman in a department full of chauvinists, Annie can still hold her own.

  • Action Girl: She doesn't start out as this, but she's getting there.
  • The Confidant: she's always willing to lend a sympathetic ear to Sam, and she's the only one to whom he admits his real 2006 origins.
  • Fair Cop
  • Goofy Suit: Her Road Safety Squirrel costume, worn while teaching schoolchildren. Gene later employs it to infiltrate CID.
  • One of the Boys: What Annie aspires to when she's promoted to WDC (women's detective constable). At the very least, she holds her own at the pub and while undercover.
  • The Profiler: she holds a BA in Psychology, so in the very first episode Sam asks her to profile a serial killer.
  • Skinny Dipping: Admits to having done this on her graduation day.
  • The Smurfette Principle: the only female member of main cast.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Not the object of the trope, but usually the one asking Sam what crazy-assed idea he's got this week and why he's acting like a lunatic.
  • You, Get Me Coffee: Annie's role in the otherwise all-male CID.

DC Chris Skelton
Played by: Marshall Lancaster

A slightly nervous, slightly bumbling member of the team. Often the comic relief or the coward, he still has his moments, like his own Crowning Moment of Awesome near the end of the series. Has a case of hero worship for both Sam and Gene, but isn't sure which one to pick. He is often found in the company of Ray Carling, his best mate.

  • Cowardly Lion: he's nervous and cautious, but when push comes to shove he gets the job done.
  • The Klutz: he's not the most well-coordinated person around.
    (discussing Chris's upcoming date)
    Ray: So where'd you meet her?
    Chris: An ice rink. I skated over her thumb.

DS Ray Carling
Played by: Dean Andrews

A rough character who seems to live most of his life with little to no control over his impulses. If he wants to hit a suspect, he hits him, if he wants to snog a woman, he snogs her. Has nothing but contempt for minorities, women, and anyone who isn't a 'man's man'. He and Gene think a lot alike, but where Gene wants The Law to protect people from criminals, Ray believes that everyone should respect and obey The Law, period (It would be more accurate to say that Carling adores Gene and uses him as his role model, but unlike Gene he really has no real sense of where the limits are). He hates paperwork, and prefers to use his fists instead of his brains, and listen to orders rather then think for himself. But Ray is not without redeeming qualities, having a crooked streak of chivalry running through him. Best mates with Chris Skelton, although he is sometimes a bad influence.

  • Cowboy Cop: Like Gene, who he admires greatly, he's quite willing to bend the rules if it means they can close a case more quickly.
  • Driven by Envy: he had applied for promotion to DI, and was passed over in favor of Sam, which leads to some hard feelings between the two.
  • Foil: to Sam, whom he considers The Rival.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: although, unlike Gene, he doesn't know where to draw the line.

Played by: Tony Marshall

The barman at the Railway Arms where most of CID goes to drink. He takes a keen interest in Sam's troubles, and there may be more to him than meets the eye.

  • Angel Unaware: Revealed in Ashes to Ashes to be a St. Peter archetype, who guides souls to "The Pub" (i.e. the afterlife).
  • Fauxreigner: He asks Sam to keep quiet about it, as people are happier with "the other Nelson."

WPC Phyllis Dobbs
Played by: Noreen Kershaw

Phyllis mans the front desk at Manchester CID, and also oversees the welfare of the prisoners. Probably the only woman in the department whom Gene and his cronies can't intimidate. Bears a slight resemblance to Rosa Klebb, though this doesn't seem to hamper her dating life.

  • Kavorka Woman:
    Gene: Serves you right for staying up rodding all night with that new fella of yours. Did you let his guide dog watch?
    Phyllis: His guide dog's giving your mam one. From behind.
    Gene: (to Sam) Whatever happened to all the classy birds?

DCI Litton

  • The Dandy: Always well dressed.
  • Glory Hound: In all of his appearances, he's doing everything he can to upstage Manchester CID and especially Gene Hunt.
  • Jerkass: Goes out of his way to be a dick to Manchester CID.
  • Smug Snake: Nowhere near as competent as he thinks he is.

The Test Card Girl