The characters of the television series Orange is the New Black:
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"I have been starved out, felt up, teased, stalked, threatened, and called Taylor Swift."
Played By: Taylor Schilling
"I'm scared that I'm not myself in here. And I'm scared that I am."
Piper is sent to prison for carrying drug money for her past girlfriend, Alex, and navigates the stresses it creates in her life and with her fiancé Larry. While in prison, Piper endures it all while trying to understand and find her place in the hierarchy, and even runs into Alex. Piper started a line of artisanal soaps prior to leaving for prison.
Bi the Way: She had a passionate relationship with Alex for many years, but gets engaged to Larry before going to prison. She states that she likes, 'attractive people'.
Break the Cutie: A sheltered, upper middle class white girl being thrown in a cage with psycho lesbians, murderers, and religious fanatics? It was an inevitability.
Corrupt the Cutie: Much of Piper's change in behavior to that of a typical inmate is a result of her own actions after entering prison.
Fish out of Water: To say that soap-selling Pablo Neruda- and Robert Frost-studying Piper doesn't fit in to the prison frame of mind easily is... an understatement.
Granola Girl: Attempted to be this out of prison, adopting different diets and setting up a soap company.
Guile Hero/Manipulative Bastard: By her own admission, Piper comes to realize that she is manipulative, but she uses her talents in the pursuit of saving her own ass masterfully, making back cream to smooth things over with Red, re-opening the track after accidentally leading to Watson getting sent to solitary, and all but coercing Fig to get her a marriage form.
Jerk Ass: Pretty much, even as our point-of-view character her actions to her friends and fellow inmates remains crass throughout the entire series. She even spends some time commenting on how should feel worse than she does over actions, and fears what this makes her.
No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: the very last scene in season 1 is of a desperate Piper repeatedly punching a downed Pennsatucky in the face after the latter assaulted her with a sharpened wooden cross with intent to kill.
Sanity Slippage: Implied; we still have no idea whether the chicken or the voice Piper heard in SHU are real.
Alex, Piper's former girlfriend, is serving time in the same prison as Piper. Alex, with a mother that worked four jobs and a washed-up rock star for a father, grew up poor with girls in school bullying her and eventually wound up in the drug business.
Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: Rarely shows sincere emotion to anyone beyond Piper, has black hair (with blue streaks and occasional Bettie Page bangs in flashbacks), and is described by Larry at their first meeting as 'tall'.
Betty and Veronica: The "doing X on a beach in Cambodia with three strangers in drag" Veronica to Larry's Betty.
Deadpan Snarker: Best summarized with her first non-flashback appearance, where she walks up to Piper after having not seen her for five years in the prison Piper more-or-less believes Alex is responsible for putting her in while Piper is having a breakdown and deadpans, "I'm guessing now's a bad time to say hi."
Disappeared Dad: Her father was a 'rock god' her mother romanticized an encounter with; when she met him as an adult, he mostly talked about how awkward it would have been if they'd accidentally had sex.
Prison Rape: She threatens Pennsatucky with this, although she doesn't mean it.
Race Lift : In Piper Kerman's memoir, the drug runner was a black woman.
Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Luschek describes her as 'the hot one' of her and Piper and the dark hair and pale skin combination does undeniably work for her.
"Lesbians can be really dangerous. It's the testosterone."
Played By: Michael J. Harney
Healy is an older guard and supervisor who acts as prison counselor to Piper and several other inmates. Healy is outspoken against lesbians and has a strange vendetta against them, cautioning Piper at the beginning of the series not to be involved with them. He is initially presented as someone who, though rigid, avoids confrontation and so is referred to as "Samantha" by Caputo, who feels that Healy is not tough enough on the inmates. Healy generally appears weary and often tells the inmates what they want to hear so they will leave him alone. Early on, he appears particularly sympathetic towards Piper and even acts biased in her favor; however, he gradually begins to dislike her the more he hears rumors of her alleged lesbian activities.
Affably Evil: In the beginning of the season he genuinely comes off as a good-natured man who is looking out for Piper, who happens to have a weird fixation on lesbians. Though he quickly lost this mask.
Evil Is Petty: He throws Piper in the SHU just for dancing with Alex, albeit in a suggestive fashion.
Heteronormative Crusader: He has a strong distaste for lesbians (and implicitly, homosexuality in general) and makes it something of a mission to steer inmates away from lesbianism.
Not-So-Harmless Villain: He seems fairly incompetent and kindly until "Fucksgiving" when he loses his top and manages to intimidate Pornstache, of all people.
It's a little tough to determine exactly where Healy goes from being goofy and ignorant to dangerous and hateful, but it's clear that by the last scene in the series, where he ignores Chapman's cries for help and leaves her to a fight with Pennsatucky that he knows will likely be fatal, he's definitely crossed the Moral Event Horizon.
Politically Incorrect Villain: He's quite openly homophobic, even other staff members in the prison call him out and tell him to see a therapist about this.
Villainous Crush: Piper thinks he has this for her, and she may be right but his actions could be interpreted in other ways.
Yandere: Fixates on Piper to the point of sending her to solitary for dancing with another girl in a perfect storm of his obsession with her and his broader 'lesbian witch-hunt issues'.
Miss Claudette Pelage
Played By: Michelle Hurst
Piper's cubemate, a woman who is very strict and feared at the prison. She treats Piper roughly when they are first assigned to live together due to her obsession with cleanliness and dislike of the messy situations Piper brings with her, but softens to her over time. Miss Claudette was inducted into forced child labor and sent to the United States to pay off a familial debt. She later ran her own illegal child labor cleaning service. She murdered a customer who beat and abused one of her cleaning girls, which is the basis for the rumor amongst the prisoners that she is in for murder.
Badass: She's well-respected and feared by other inmates.
Mama Bear: As shown in "Imaginary Enemies," her crime was the murder of a man who had abused one of the girls under her care.
Put on a Bus to Hell: When her appeal failed, she attacked a guard in a fit of rage and despair. Attacking a guard is an instant transfer to maximum security - and you never get out.
Galina 'Red' Reznikov
"There are rules in this place."
Played By: Kate Mulgrew
"Those Spanish probably won't even eat it, just cut her throat and drink her blood, or something else superstitious. All I wanted was to eat the chicken that is smarter than other chickens and to absorb its power. And make a nice Kiev."
Red runs the prison's kitchen and is the behind-the-scenes leader of the prison's Caucasian population. She and her husband ran a restaurant and got involved with the Russian mob. Red drew the ire of the mob bosses by punching one of their wives in the chest (rupturing a breast implant) but later impressed the same boss by offering sound advice that allowed her to swiftly climb the ranks of the organization. Red is feared and respected by most of the prisoners, has a lot of pull with Healy, and is considered the de facto leader of the white inmates at the prison.
Actor Allusion: In one episode, one of the inmates complains that she's not Red's Spock. Mulgrew was a captain in the Star Trek franchise. A promotional poster for the show says "Red runs a tight ship."
The Baroness: Rosa Klebb edition, as the sexless Russian powerhouse of the jail's kitchen - reconstructed prior to her incarceration, where she fails to make the connections with the Mafiya wives, but impresses the men with her cunning.
Humiliation Conga: Has her status as head of kitchen revoked after Pornstache leaks her smuggling operation to the prison administrators. Made worse when the food under Gloria, the new Latina head of kitchen, turns out to be delicious. Red attempts to sabotage the kitchen operation in her absence but ends up accidentally burning Gina and losing Norma's trust. Finally loses her food privileges in the same way as she subjected Chapman at the beginning of the series.
Hypocritical Humour: Twice in one piece of dialogue. Firstly she tells Piper not to be racist, and instantly says all black inmates are on heroin. Then she says that all Spanish are crazy and superstitious before stating that she wants to eat the smartest chicken to absorb its power.
Parental Substitute: For Nicky, who calls her "Mama", "Mommy" and when Piper admits confusion, flat-out says she sees Red as "a mother figure", as she's estranged from her own mother.
Team Mom: A very stern example, but Red serves as a distinctly maternal figure who straightens out and regulates the behavior of several girls by taking them under her wing.
Played By: Jason Biggs
A freelance writer trying to get established, Larry is blindsided at the beginning of the series when his fiancée (then girlfriend) Piper reveals to him her former life as a lesbian who smuggled cash for the drug cartel. Larry is initially very supportive of Piper and gets engaged to her before she goes inside. As the series progresses he begins to cool toward her, becoming upset when he learns that Piper's former lover is in the same prison and she didn't tell him about it.
Jerk Ass: Pretty early on starts to break little promises he made to Piper, such as not watching Mad Men without her. Though he takes a firm step into this direction once he started writing articles and radio interviews about Piper's experience without her consent or awareness, profiting off of her own misery.
Playing Against Type: For Jason Biggs, enjoying one of his more high-profile roles that isn't a dorky teenager.
Tiffany "Pennsatucky" Doggett
"I'm just a simple woman doin' the work of the Lord."
Played By: Taryn Manning
A prisoner who goes around preaching about God and healing others. Works with Alex in the laundry room. Often causes problems for Alex and Piper. Pennsatucky was sent to prison after a nurse in the abortion clinic she frequented made a snide comment on how many abortions Pennsatucky had had, and Pennsatucky shot her for "disrespectin'". She converted to Christianity after a Christian law firm earned her less time in prison, believing "God had found her".
As the Good Book Says: She frequently justifies herself with (often incorrect or out of context) quotes from the Bible.
Becoming the Mask: Prior to prison (prior even to her trial), Tiffany was a nihilistic meth-head on her fifth abortion who murdered a nurse solely for 'disrespecting her', and was misinterpreted by pro-lifers as one of their own. She quickly bought into her own press and became a legitimate holy warrior.
Big Bad: Of the first season. She's the most openly antagonistic toward Piper.
Villain with Good Publicity: Downplayed and for a certain value of 'good'; Pennsatucky regularly gets fan-mail and had a throng of pro-life extremists at her trial because she murdered an abortion clinic doctor (though not for the reasons they think she did). Note that her admirers are hardly pillars of society.
Tasha "Taystee" Jefferson
"The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It's a very mean place."
Played By: Danielle Brooks
"So there I am, topless, sitting in this bulldozer in like a construction site. BBQ sauce all over my titties, and I’m like,“What the fuck… again?"
An inmate who is somewhat vocal and sassy, and works as the prison librarian. Was a ward of the state until she was 16.
Happily Adopted: Is shown having a conversation with her two Caucasian parents on Thanksgiving, where her parents are shown to be a little overbearing, but are nonetheless shockingly more normal than one might expect.
Hidden Depths: Apparently has a deep appreciation of Shakespeare. As well as having been shown writing poetry early on.
The episode "Tall Men with Feelings" deconstructs her rather comedic role in the show so far, as she talks about how horrible the conditions in the psych ward are, how angry she gets about her own lack of self control, and how much it confuses and hurts her that people call her "Crazy Eyes".
It's heavily implied that Crazy Eyes is legitimately insane, and should not be in prison at all.
Determinator: Don't get between her and her hormones because anything that stops her from being herself will not stand.
Lipstick Lesbian: Is still married to her wife, and while her attraction to Sophia might by slipping away, it's clear that they still truly care for each other.
Meta Casting: Sophia is possibly the highest-profile transgender character presented in the media who's actually portrayed by a transgender actress.
Odd Friendship: Though Sophia initially sidled up to Sister Ingalls to try and get her post-menopausal estrogen supplements, the two became legitimate friends.
Sitcom Archnemesis: The unseen Danita is Sophia's only competition (for a certain value of competition) in hair care and she warns everyone about her and her inability to do hair without 'burning the shit out of your scalp'.
Time Shifted Actor: Sophia is played by the actress' brother in the character's pre-op flashbacks.
Brutal Honesty: Has no qualms about speaking her mind, which unfortunately often gets her into trouble.
No Guy Wants to Be Chased: All her life, men seem to have been distant from her because she was simply too fast and too much better than them. The reason she was arrested was only because she finally tried to slow herself down for a guy.
A prison inmate. She has been in prison for two years at the start of the series and has four years left. Her mother died while she was in prison. She is a good-natured jokester and is often seen with her best friend, "Taystee", whom she helps out in the library.
Daya's incarcerated mother. She was involved with a man who had her cutting and bagging drugs in her kitchen. In flashbacks, it is shown that she had little concern for her children and was obsessed with her boyfriend. She says during a visitation that she took a fall for him and is upset that he won't visit her.
Abusive Parent: She held a meth lab in her children's home, ignores her children, and tells her oldest daughter it's basically her responsibility to take care of four other kids.
Single Mom Stripper: One scene implies she was possibly a prostitute. It's not really played for sympathy, though.
Dayanara "Daya" Diaz
Played By: Dascha Polanco
Aleida's daughter who was responsible for looking after her sisters and brothers before and after her mother was incarcerated. Was incarcerated something after her mother. Didn't grow up speaking Spanish which initially makes her scorned by the other Hispanics.
A Match Made in Stockholm: Subverted in that her relationship with Bennett is consensual (to the extent it can be) and not coercive.
Well Done Daughter Girl: She and Aleida really don't get along at first, but Daya's pregnancy brings them closer together. Daya mostly wants Aleida to act like a mother instead of the selfish woman she's been acting like.
Played By: Jessica Pimentil
Inmate who gives birth in the first season.
Break the Cutie: Gives birth, but (this being prison), she has her child taken away from her.
It's implied the child died, with Pensatucky saying she believes all dead babies get to heaven.
Scare 'Em Straight: Tells Daya that her relationship with her mother would scare teenagers into celibacy.
Played By: Selenis Leyva
Inmate from the Hispanic clique, who organizes some of the games and activities. Runs the kitchen in later episodes.
Badass: Which she credits to having raised several children.
Reasonable Authority Figure: In the kitchen. Even after she catches Gina and Norma trying to sabotage things, she keeps them because they are familiar with the area and reminds them that Red lost her domain on her own; they don't need to go down with her.
Supreme Chef: Much to the horror of Red and her crew, the food under her reign is delicious.
Played By: Diane Guerrero
"If you want more pizza, vote for Maritza."
One of the Hispanic inmates. She introduces herself as Aleida's daughter and gets along well with her, which puts her at odds with Daya. She later runs for a spot on the Women's Advisory Council.
Spicy Latina: Of all of the Hispanic characters, Maritza really plays this trope up the most.
A former drug addict, now in Red's group in the prison. Nicky has a loud mouth and is Red's most trusted girl. Red helps Nicky get clean when she lands in prison, and Nicky looks to her as a mother figure. Her real mother lived in a separate house and Nicky was raised by a nanny. Nicky was involved in a sexual relationship with Morello until Morello broke it off. Nicky has a scar on her chest from having heart surgery as a complication of a bacterial infection in her heart.
If I Can't Have You/Murder the Hypotenuse: Subverted. After lots of talk about how Boo messed with one of her girlfriends on their last day to keep her in and a significant shot of Boo holding the missing screwdriver with a wicked gleam in her eyes on the day Mercy is released, one of the last shots of the episode is Boo... masturbating with the screwdriver.
A Brooklyn-Italian inmate planning her wedding for her release. Morello is the first inmate that Piper talks to, and she helps Piper acclimate in her first few days. She is involved in a lesbian relationship with Nichols at the beginning of the show but breaks it off after feeling that she was cheating on her fiancè.
An inmate who's slightly more timid than her peers. Rarely speaks. Part of Red's crew.
Hidden Depths: Uses her voice for the first time in the season 1 finale, displaying a beautiful singing voice and surprising everyone during the Christmas pageant.
The Voiceless: Never speaks, or uses sign language, or even tries to use body gestures. She only communicates through writing.
Played By: Madeline Brewer
A prison inmate and drug addict who grew up on the streets. Miller is a drug addict and lesbian who sports a tattoo on her throat. She gets her drugs from guard Mendez, who threatens her after being late with a delivery. Miller dies of an overdose after being locked in a closet with drugs by Mendez. The prison covers up her death as a suicide.
An inmate who teaches yoga. She once was a marijuana farmer who accidentally shot and killed a child, thinking he was a deer eating her crop. Jones displays extreme calm in all of her appearances, until being taunted by Watson for killing a child, causing Jones to slap Watson in the face. Jones later confides in Watson about the child she killed, and they are able to become friends.
Dark Secret: The reason for her imprisonment, more so than anyone else's. She accidentally shot an eight-year-old, thinking he was one of the deer that had been eating her marijuana supply.
Disproportionate Retribution: Twice over. Given the context for her backstory, she's almost certainly in jail for possession with intent to distribute, rather than the involuntary manslaughter of an eight year old boy she tortures herself over. This means she's serving harder time due to the War on Drugs than she otherwise would, but doesn't care because she feels she deserves it.
"It doesn't matter what you do. It's the doin' that makes you dirty."
Played By: Pablo Schreiber
A corrupt and seemingly psychopathic prison guard who frequently abuses his authority; his personality can be both laughably exaggerated as well as frightening. Mendez uses his position as a guard to smuggle drugs and contraband into the prison.
Accidental Pun: Upon being asked whether homosexuals have appropriated mustaches as a gay symbol, Pornstache denies this, insisting that they're "for fucking men!"
Jerkass Façade: Like Susan below, Bennett acts rather abrasively towards inmates as part of his job. However, his interactions with Daya are genuinely sweet.
Noble Bigot with a Badge: Downplayed, but he expressed incredulous horror at Pornstache even considering having sex with Sophia (and the issue was very pointedly not with any of the consent or losing his job issues Bennett later runs into in his own relationship with Daya, if you know what I mean).
Phony Veteran: Zig-zagged. He did serve in Afghanistan, but his prosthetic leg is not a war wound. He lost it in a dirty hot tub in Orlando.
Played By: Lauren Lapkus
A rookie prison guard, hired onto the prison staff during Piper's time at Litchfield. Fischer used to bag groceries at the store where Piper and Larry shopped, and recalls how Piper used to be a difficult customer. However she is friendly toward Piper, informing her that she does not think any less of her for being in prison, since the only difference between them is that Fischer didn't get caught making mistakes. Piper appreciates her kind words and convinces her to reopen the prison track. She displays a perpetually naïve and cheerful demeanor, which endears some (especially Caputo) and irritates others. She struggles to come across as authoritative and strict, and her attempts to appear tough do not appear to intimidate any of the inmates at the slightest, who on occasion, even admonish Susan in return.
Jerkass Façade: Pushed into dehumanizing the inmates by Caputo due to her kindness towards them. Unfortunately, she picked the wrong day to play rough with Miss Claudette.
An overweight prison guard in a relationship with Wanda Bell. He is frequently shown eating despite claiming to be on different diets.
Running Gag: He's always on some kind of new diet plan.
Other Prison Staff
Played By: Alysia Reiner
The prison administrator and subordinate to the warden. Figueroa claims to be a women's advocate for the prisoners but is generally unconcerned with them and refuses to get involved in their problems.
Bigger Bad: All of the problems in the prison are due to 'budget cuts', however turns out the budget has been increasing over the last few years. We see this as we see her shiny new Mercedes. Bought on a government salary.
Corrupt Corporate Executive: of the rarer government variety. Not only is she embezzling money from Litchfield's budget on herself to buy luxury cars, but she seems to be actively suppressing any information about the various scandals going on in the prison from leaking out and leading to a larger investigation, probably to avoid being audited.
She has Tricia's body cremated immediately after being discovered even though her death was from drug overdose rather than hanging.
Has Pornstache merely suspended with pay after being caught in the act having sex with an inmate.
Strongly tries to dissuade Bennett from filing a report after discovering drugs being smuggled into the prison.
Desk Jockey: Caputo accuses her of being this, and he's right. She turns up for one day to let the inmates know they can see her whenever they want, then promptly disappears. She doesn't give a damn about a single one of them and doesn't interact with them, as such she has some of the least amount of screen time of all the other staff members.
Iron Lady: Fig is stone-cold, but she perceives herself as needing to be to handle the demands of her job.
Kick the Son of a Bitch: He bullies Healy and treats him like shit, but Healy is more morally bankrupt than Caputo.
Reasonable Authority Figure: He may be a hardass and sometimes a jerk, but he's far more reasonable than Healy or Mendez. Even the inmates consider him to be 'okay'.
Slimeball: In his interactions with Susan. It's unintentional, though. He simply has trouble being charming.
Played By: Matt Peters
The sarcastic, uncaring and barely competent young prison guard who runs the electrical shop. He displays blatant racism, and generally doesn't care what the women in the shop do as long as they leave him alone- his method of teaching repairs tends to consist of handing his inmates a manual for the broken appliance and giving them a few minutes to read before sending them off.
The Alcoholic: It's strongly implied that him coming into work drunk is a frequent occurrence.
"I like being the target of envy. It means I'm winning."
Jerkass: Gets indignant at Piper for not putting her mundane personal problems as a higher concern than her prison horrors, and runs Piper's dreams of starting a company into the ground due to being too distracted by her pregnancy to deal with it.
Granola Guy: Cal lives in a trailer in the woods and is dedicated to 'authentic living', which includes hunting your food (though he cheats with store-bought chicken) and edging.
Nice Guy: He's an honest, non-judgmental friendly fellow.
The Unfavourite: In the backstory, Cal was the least successful of the three Chapman children; now that Piper's a convict, though, he mentions that his parents have suddenly taken an interest and use deceptively complimentary language when talking about him to their friends.
Played By: Berto Colon
Aleida's boyfriend, who ran a drug-cutting operation in her kitchen.
Ax-Crazy: Bennett mentions that he looks like he's killed people with his bare hands.
Papa Wolf: After learning Daya is pregnant, he immediately heads up to Litchfield to make sure Bennett is on the level (though Bennett had no idea that she is pregnant).