"This place isn't what we thought it was. They aren't what we thought they were. I was wrong. We were so wrong."
An accomplished archaeologist with doctorates in paleontology, archaeology, human mythology, and metics who was assigned to assist the USCSS Prometheus expedition in discovering the homeworld of the Engineers on LV-223.Together with her scientific partner and lover Charles Holloway, Shaw discovered the location of LV-223 and convinced Weyland Corp to fund a scientific expedition to the planet. She believed that this would allow her to finally encounter the creators of mankind and "meet her maker," gaining answers to a number of existential questions about the nature and origins of human life. After contacting Weyland Corp obsessively she gained the necessary funding for the project after the location of their eldest piece of evidence yet, located in the Isle of Skye.
Badass: She manages to take out two people whilst in crippling pain and likely suffering the side effects of a sedative. Shaw then takes it upon herself to personally remove the thing inside her womb using a hastily reprogrammed Auto Doc (meant for male patients) while dosing herself with a ton of painkillers that were still inadequate for the surgery. She spends the remainder of the film with a stapled abdominal that should logically be preventing her from walking, much less pull half the things she does.
Be Careful What You Wish For: Elizabeth wanted to meet her creator, and finds out they view humanity as a failed experiment that needs to be wiped out.
Broken Pedestal: The Engineers. They go from awe inspiring to the stuff of nightmares.
But I Can't Be Pregnant!: In the most horrifying way imaginable. Shaw immediately knows the child is not human and is suitably disturbed. David's lack of tact doesn't help either.
Crisis of Faith: Averted. Despite the horrors she and the crew faces, her faith in a higher power never wavers. In fact when things have really hit the fan she still makes sure to get her father's cross back, after she was forced to hand over it due to quarantine procedure. David even lampshades this, intrigued that she still believes after all that's happened.
Determinator: She performs emergency surgery on herself whilst conscious in order to ensure the creature inside her is removed. She also beats two people off her to get to the operating machinery. To put this into perspective, she is the only person in the Alien universe to have survived chestburster infestation (even if it was a proto version), which is supposed to be the death sentence event for a character in this setting. David tells her afterward that her survival instincts are very impressive.
Despair Event Horizon: A subversion. After ensuring the Engineer is dead and the Earth is safe, she breaks down crying out to the deceased Charlie that she isn't strong enough to go on. However, David snaps her out of it when he tells her he can get them off planet in a space jockey vessel.
Expy: Her character has been compared favourably to Ripley due to being a strong female character in the Alien universe. Though Noomi Rapace believes that despite some similarities there are clear differences.
Fetus Terrible: She gives birth to what is possibly the first facehugger.
Hot Scientist: It's Noomi Rapace, after all. Charlie certainly thinks so.
Law of Inverse Fertility: She's sterile, something Holloway accidentally reminds her of when he says that creating life is no big deal, and she asks what it means that she can't do it. The fact that she's sterile is also her first big clue that her pregnancy is not natural, not to mention that she's already three months along.
Made of Iron: Shaw goes through absolute hell, being knocked about by an alien storm, having a c-section on her alien offspring and being tossed around by the Engineer like a rag doll.
Missing Mom: She was raised by her father, who had a big impact on her religious beliefs.
David is an advanced model of a sophisticated android developed by Weyland Industries. He is designed not only to look human but act like a living person, mimicking a wide range of human emotions and behaviours. This is to allow fellow employees to feel more comfortable around him, despite the fact that he actually lacks human emotions.
A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Played with. While his general demeanor and dialogue suggest he would like nothing better than to see the death of Weyland ("we all want the death of our parents") and possibly several other humans, pretty much all of his actions are, at the very least, loose interpretations of orders he's been given.
Become a Real Boy: Invoked almost by name. David wants to be treated equally with the rest of the human crew, but knows he can never fit in because he's artificial and therefore doesn't have a "soul".
Blue and Orange Morality: Depicted not so much as evil but more as incapable of comprehending the constructs of good and evil as they are understood by the average human being. Is motivated more by curiosity and a need for personal validation than anything else.
Electronic Telepathy / Neural Interface: Whilst people are in stasis pods David can utilise a neural link to access their memories. He apparently sees nothing wrong with it and those he spied on were seemingly unaware of his ability and/or willingness to do it.
Just a Machine: He gets this from pretty much everyone. The most notable case being his own creator Peter Weyland, who makes a point of saying that although he's the closest thing he has to a son, he has no soul and is therefore lacking. Interestingly when people bring this up David tends to react negatively, however subtly. Whether he's programmed to be offended by the suggestion, which makes sense if he's trying to blend in, or genuinely insulted by it is anyone's guess.
Literal Genie: Right before infecting Halloway, David asks him what he'd be "willing to do" to get answers. Halloway's game for anything. Congratulations, Charlie, you just volunteered to be the first test subject!
Loners Are Freaks (Possibly Ineffectual Loner): Spends at least two solid years alone while the humans are in hyper sleep and actually seems to have a stronger sense of self and be more comfortable with himself when he is alone, possibly because the lack of real humans to compare himself to makes him feel less aware of the fact that he isn't human. Once the real humans wake up his behavior becomes far creepier and more seemingly sociopathic in nature. In fact, the presence of others seems to bring out the worst in him.
Losing Your Head / Off with His Head!: A newly awakened Engineer tears it off with his bare hands, leaving David without a body for the remainder of the film. Despite being headless, this doesn't seem to bother him.
Oedipus Complex: Literally could not have his own life without killing his father.
Don't we all want our parents dead?
Patricide: Knowingly and happily leads his creator to his death.
Personality Chip: David's programming allows him to emulate human emotion and body language in order to better fit in around living people.
It may also allow him to feel emotion, though the extent to which it does so is left ambiguous.
Photographic Memory: Which is no doubt quite useful when learning different languages, human behavior patterns and any other beneficial information he comes across.
"A king has his reign, and then he dies. It's inevitable. That is natural order of things."
Vickers is the aloof Weyland Industries executive aboard the Prometheus. She has clear misgivings about the mission's probability of success and seems to be doing it out of obligation only. Turns out Peter Weyland is her father.
Armor-Piercing Question: Janek delivers an unusually playful example of this trope, but it does get her to drop her guard.
"Are you a robot?"
Also serves as foreshadowing; there's a reason why being asked such a question would make Vickers eager to show she's anything but given her resentment of her synthetic 'brother'.
Ambiguously Evil: Clearly has her own agenda and ambition but never so much that you distrust her as much as David nor see her as a monster. After all, she didn't actually want to go to the planet in the first place. Interestingly Theron sees the character as a Villain Protagonist.
Ambiguous Robots: Janek is even outright asking her if she is a robot, although this may be meant as just being a joke. On the other hand, considering she has a "brother" of whom everybody knows that he is a robot...
Defrosting Ice Queen: Downplayed. She shows, however briefly, a more playful side when Janek starts flirting with her. This is probably in part because not many men would have been that direct with her. She's even impressed to the point that she sleeps with him. Though she resumes her more frosty personality afterwards.
Foil: In some ways, to Ripley in the original film - she's the one who wants to keep an infected crewmember out of the ship, and she gets to use a flamethrower - but she's a lot more selfish than Ripley and ends up not surviving.
Freudian Excuse: Clear daddy issues. Also seems jealous of David being a confidant of her father.
The other issue being that Weyland's desperate attempts to avert his own death are preventing her from assuming control of Weyland Enterprises, in addition to being huge wastes of money.
Ice Queen: At a glance she is cold, distant and more intent on running Weyland's —who also happens to be her father's— company than chasing off across the galaxy after one of her employer's dreams. Subverted in that in several scenes we see her "unbreakable" demeanor flap.
Inadequate Inheritor: Seen as one by her father.
My God, What Have I Done?: Her face when she burns Holloway alive. Sure she'd been threatening to do it, but when the issue was forced upon her she was clearly unnerved by what she'd done.
Nom de Mom: By implication, since she's presumably using her mother's surname instead of her father's, Weyland, and there's no indication that she's ever been married.
Reasonable Authority Figure: Even though she is not a big fan of the mission, she does nothing to jeopardize it either. When confronted with a Holloway who is beyond saving, she does the necessary thing by killing him to prevent his mutation from infecting the rest of the crew.
Heroic Sacrifice: Flies his ship directly into the Engineer vessel in order to stop it leaving for Earth.
A Father to His Men: Twice he rushes to the aid of crewmen in danger. When Holloway is in serious trouble and when Mutated!Fifield shows up. Also clear in light of the Undying Loyalty of his co-pilots and friends who refuse to leave his side when he's about to go down with the Prometheus.
Hidden Depths: Janek claims insistently that he's just there to fly the ship and doesn't want to ask questions, but he's an ex-military pilot who's very observant. He's the only crew member to realize the true nature of the Engineer facility.]]
Ramming Always Works: Janek ploughs the Prometheus into the Space Jockey ship to take it down. Justified in that his ship had no other offensive capabilities and it was an act of desperation.
Refuge in Audacity: How he attempts to woo Meredith. He flat out tells her to stop making "flimsy" excuses to come up to the bridge when, if she wants to get laid, she can always just ask. It's notably the only time we see her character genuinely smiling. His approach works.
An archaeologist who was assigned to assist the USCSS Prometheus expedition in discovering the homeworld of the Engineers on LV-223. He has a romantic relationship with Elizabeth Shaw.
And Then What?: Comes up in conversation with David. When he's depressed about not getting to meet a living Engineer so he can ask about the meaning of their creation, David posits that humanity may be to them what David himself is to humanity: simply another experiment. Charlie can't really form a good response to that.
Asshole Victim: Considering how much of a dick he is to David throughout the film, David singling him out as a test subject is hardly surprising.
Drowning My Sorrows: When they find a dead Engineer, despite it being the greatest discovery in the history of mankind, Holloway is depressed due to them being dead 2,000 years. His dream of conversing with them gone. Once he learns they share our DNA, however, he noticeably begins to snap out of it.
Eye Scream: As part of the infection, his eyes begin to mutate in a rather unsettling way.
Leeroy Jenkins: Has an habit of rushing into things, like wanting to visit the temple the moment they set down on the planet, or removing his helmet the moment he learns the air is breathable, with zero regard for safety.
Suicide by Cop: When it becomes clear to him that he's dying and/or about to become a serious danger to the crew, including the woman he loves, he practically asks to be put down by Vickers and then forces her hand.
That Came Out Wrong: He offhandedly remarks that if they prove they were designed by the Engineers and they too were mortal then creating life isn't such a big deal (in a divine sense) as any living thing can do it. Elizabeth is rather hurt by the suggestion, as she can't have children. However, Holloway handles the misunderstanding very swiftly.
Ungrateful Bastard: His theory that ancient markings are coordinates for a inhabited system, which has very little fact backing it up, is proven, he finds a temple and even find a well-preserved body, which all together would be one of the greatest discoveries in human history, yet he can only whine how it is unfair that no live aliens remained for them to talk to and takes it as a defeat.
Virus Victim Symptoms: He attempts at first to hide the fact he's been infected with something out of fear. But eventually has Shaw take a look at him when it becomes clear he's in serious trouble. But it's far too late at that stage.
"I ain't here to be your friend, I'm here to make money. You got that?"
Played By: Sean Harris
"Congratulations on meeting your maker."
A geologist who was a part of the crew of the USCSS Prometheus sent to search for the origins of mankind on LV-223.
And Then John Was a Zombie: The black liquid transforms him into an incredibly strong creature that was nigh-invincible. He wasn't exactly a classic zombie, but since he seems to be pretty much utterly under the control of the infection this still counts.
Came Back Wrong: He was (and probably was continuing to be) mutated by the black liquid, but it's rather easy to jump to the conclusion that he became a zombie.
Cruel and Unusual Death: Alien acid blood melts through his helmet through his face. Then he's mutated. Then he's shot, set on fire, and run over.
Death by Pragmatism: Once the creepy dead Engineers show up he decides it's time to get the hell out of there and Millburn decides to go with him. But they get lost on their way back and become the first victims. Despite Fifield deciding to head in the opposite direction of the unknown life-sign being picked up.
Hydra Problem: Fifield attempts to cut off the alien snakes head when it breaks Millburns arm but not only does it spray acid blood over Fifields face for his efforts, the head instantly grows back.
Idiot Ball: Suddenly picks one up for plot contrivance when he and Milburn head back to the ship, but somehow get lost and left behind despite like a solid 5 minute head start and being the one responsible for mapping the facility and able to summon the layout at will. Then later decides to camp in the very room that scared them into leaving in the first place.
Jerkass: Generally irritable and condescending but still very much right about getting as far away from the alien structure as soon as possible.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Despite his initial rebuff of Millburn, he makes a point of asking him to come along back to the ship when he decides he's had enough, and acts almost entirely professional up to that point. They become pretty good friends later.
Only Sane Man: Much to Millburn's surprise. He's the only one who suggests it's time to get the hell out of there once they find a dead alien's body.
Millburn:"And I thoughtyouwere the crazy one."
Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Averted and actually used as a plot point. Filfield points out he's a geologist and rocks, not creepy alien shit, is what he came here to study. So he decides the ship might be a safer place to go wait.
Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Soon as he claps eyes on an Engineer's corpse he decides to head back to the ship and welcomes anyone else to join him.
"I mean, look, if you're willing to discount three centuries of Darwinism, that's...wooh! But how do you know? Mm?"
Played By: Rafe Spall
A botanist hired by Weyland Industries to go on the mission. Much like Fifield he's skeptical of them finding the Engineers and proving they created mankind.
A medic that was hired by the Weyland Corp and was given charge of taking care of the USCSS Prometheus crew's health and recovery during its voyage to LV-223.
Faux Affably Evil: Ford is one of the few crew members who know about Weyland. Her Faux Affably Evil side is best seen when she's gently telling Shaw to go 'beddy-byes' while slapping her hard to wake her up.
That may be a bit of an exaggeration. She wasn't slapping Shaw, she was just gently trying to wake her up by poking her cheek. She was more likely a Punch Clock Villain, none of her actions were by themselves evil.
Mauve Shirt: She doesn't get much in the way of characterization, serving variously as The Medic, a sounding board for other characters and an eleventh-hour henchman for Weyland. Her death is very abrupt.
Omnidisciplinary Scientist: She's ostensibly a medic specializing in humans, but helps out with the autopsy of the Engineer head. Could be considered justified, since she's only assisting Shaw and as there isn't much of a precedent for physical alien study it makes sense that someone with medical training is most likely to be a help considering the resident biologist was missing and Charlie was drunk.
Played By: Emun Elliott
One of Janek's co-pilots.
Dying Moment of Awesome: Dies by his captain's and friend's sides taking down the Engineer ship, whilst expecting Ravel to pay up in the after life.