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Played by: Jason O'Mara
- Cowboy Cop: Though oddly enough, Da Chief is still cowboy enough himself to rather appreciate it, and as far as Terra Nova and Taylor is concerned, he's basically the only cop in town. Everyone else is technically part of the security force. For a frontier sheriff (his actual title in later episodes), cowboy tactics are appropriate.
- Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: Prison, in this case.
- Happily Married: With Elisabeth
- It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time: Jim’s word for word reasoning when asked why he and Elisabeth had a forbidden third child.
- Obfuscating Disability: In the finale, he pretends that an explosion has left him deaf, mentally inhibited with partial amnesia, and limping. He blows his cover when he beats the shit out of Lucas and a few Phoenix soldiers with his crutch to defend his son.
- Overprotective Dad: Jim has shown signs of this towards his daughter's dating life, though he's likely just messing with Mark for his own amusement.Jim: [to Mark] You know I carry a gun and hold grudges, right?
- Papa Wolf: Don't mess with his kids. Ever. A great example happens in the finale. Josh has gotten himself into trouble protecting Skye from Lucas, and is currently being beaten by Phoenix soldiers. Skye tells Jim. Cut to a few minutes later, where Jim brains Lucas with a cane and beats the crap out of every soldier that tries to restrain him. They have to hold him at gunpoint to end it.
- Rags to Riches: Sort of. Jim goes from being an escaped convict in the first episode to the town sheriff, pretty much Taylor's right hand man (besides Lt. Washington, making him third in command), and at one point temporary Commanding Officer of Terra Nova when both Taylor and Wash are out.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: As he grows into his new position as Terra Nova's sheriff.
- Troll: Though he clearly doesn't have a problem with Reynolds dating his daughter, other than confusion about the overly-formal way Reynolds goes about it, he seems to enjoy messing with Reynolds since he's always so serious.
Played by: Shelley Conn
- Guile Hero: Most especially in the season finale, when she pulls a Poison-and-Cure Gambit on Weaver (she was bluffing) to spring Jim from the brig.
- Happily Married: With Jim; she refuses to leave for the past without him, going so far as to break him out of prison.
- Hot Scientist: Though she dresses reasonably, is married, and has children.
- Mama Bear: Up until the season finale, she's simply an amazing mother, a brilliant scientist and an incredibly-gifted doctor. But when her son and husband are captured and tortured, she takes merely thirty seconds to out-badass almost every other character to appear in the first season. And how.
Played by: Landon Liboiron
- Distracted by the Sexy: Generally, if Skye is going somewhere or doing something, you can bet he's easily persuaded into going along.
- Generation Xerox: Josh is just as rebellious and ambitious as Jim.
- Jim broke the law to get his family through the time portal. Josh breaks the law in an effort to get his girlfriend through the time portal.
- Jim attacked a police officer threatening his family. Josh attacks Lucas when he’s threatening Skye. Pointed out when Josh says he finally understands Jim's actions.
- Hormone-Addled Teenager: Which makes him easily manipulated by Skye.
- The Load: Tends to cause problems for his family and Terra Nova itself.
- The Mole: Jim has his son Josh resume his job at Boylan’s, which is now a Bad-Guy Bar, when the Phoenix Group takes over.
- Rebellious Spirit: Ranging from the Deadpan Snarker variety to occasional Jerkass.
Played by: Naomi Scott
- Adorkable: Has a tendency to wax scientific about every single phenomenon the Shannons come across.
- Book Worm: She has a subplot in one episode where she attempts to find a replacement power cell for her tablet rather than wait for a requisition, because she wants to do homework that much.
- Generation Xerox: Elisabeth is a brainy doctor who fell in love with a policeman. Maddy is a brainy medical student who falls in love with a security officer.
- Girlish Pigtails: Shown in the season one premier, in order to make her seem older after the Time Skip.
- Moment Killer: Maddy has a habit of killing the mood at any given time by explaining in great detail the science behind whatever way cool thing everyone else is looking at.
- Mr. Exposition: About scientific phenomena and the history of Terra Nova, being very well-read about both.
Played by: Alana Mansour
Terra Nova Residents
Commander Nathaniel Taylor
Played by: Stephen Lang
- A Father to His Men: Cares deeply about his security team, as well as everyone who comes to live in his colony, all of whom earned his respect by uprooting their lives to participate in his "new hope for humanity."
- Asskicking Equals Authority: Appointed based on his military experience to lead an expedition that grows into a frontier colony. He was first through the portal and survived alone in the jungle for 118 days.
- Badass Beard: His salt-and-pepper beard lends him that perfect grizzled look.
- Badass Grandpa: In his late 50s at least, and undoubtedly the best soldier at the colony.
- Big Good: He's doing everything in his power to sabotage the true purpose of Terra Nova, because he believes that much in its advertised goal of a new beginning for humanity.
- Commanding Coolness: Goes one on one with a carnotaur as a distraction. And lives. More than that, when he first came through the portal, there was a strange temporal effect that meant backup wasn't coming for a long time. Taylor survived 118 days alone in the Cretaceous.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Being Mind Raped by Somalian and Russo-Chinese terrorists is not the worst thing he went through before signing up for the Terra Nova project, and there are still lots of folks on the other side who are out for his blood. This includes his own son, who has hated him ever since he failed to save his mother in Somalia when he was a teenager.
- Fingerless Gloves: With padded knuckles for punching. Never seen without them.
- My Greatest Failure: Taylor couldn't save his wife in Somalia ,which led to his son Lucas's hatred of him along with Lucas's Start of Darkness.
- Parental Substitute: To Skye, and Reynolds as well. He's apparently been giving him dating advice.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Sometimes. Other times (as in the end of the murder mystery episode) he's more Screw the Rules, I Make Them!.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Well, it's more like "Screw the corrupt corporations in 2149 who want to strip-mine the Cretaceous Period, I'm doing what's best for the future of humanity!" But you get the idea.
- Sympathetic Murder Backstory: Commander Taylor killed his commanding officer in self-defense after an argument, when he arrived in alternate past earth to relieve him of command of the Terra Nova colony shortly after he learned the truth about the project: that those behind Terra Nova are trying to find out how to make the portal go both ways so they can exploit the resources on the Terra Nova side.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: It becomes clear as the series progresses that he will do just about anything to protect his vision of Terra Nova's future. Including killing his friend and former commander. Although it was self defense. And they were trying to loot Terra Nova too so...
Played by: Allison Miller
- High-Heel–Face Turn: Skye switches her allegiance back to Taylor once Lucas finishes his equations.
- I Have Your Wife: The Sixers are forcing her cooperation through exclusive access to the cure for her mother's condition.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: She helps Josh find a way to bring his 2149-era girlfriend to Terra Nova.
- The Mole: For the Sixers, because her mother is in their care/custody.
- Punch Clock Villain: Only helping the Sixers because they have her mother. Jim notes that the Sixers have never hit vital convoys or supplies, because the mole is only giving them information on things the Terra Novans can afford to lose.
- Youth Is Wasted on the Dumb: Skye and her roommates have a habit of sneaking out into the jungle full of dangerous predators and rebellious Sixers, where they go swimming, hang out, and distill and drink moonshine.
Played by: Milo Hamada
- Fingerless Gloves: Taking his inspiration from Commander Taylor. They might be standard-issue.
Lieutenant Alicia Washington
Played by: Simone Kessell
- Action Girl: a veteran comrade of Commander Taylor's, and his second-in-command.
- Combat Medic: Who served in an enormous mess in Somalia before a nasty hit took her out of action. Still manages to kick loads of ass.
- Defiant to the End: Before Lucas kills her. Telling an Antagonistic Offspring that he has his father's eyes is just about as good as a "screw you!"
- Heroic Sacrifice: Is captured and executed while providing a distraction so the Shannons can escape the occupied Terra Nova.
- Hyper-Competent Sidekick: Not that Taylor needs a super awesome sidekick... but he damn well has one.
- Noodle Incident: Plenty between her and Taylor. Also somewhat justifies her low rank since it seems she's unwilling to outrank Taylor due to respect and camaraderie.
- Vasquez Always Dies: The only female military character provides a Heroic Sacrifice in the final episode.
Played by: Dean Geyer
- Meet Cute: When first running into Maddy.
- Officer and a Gentleman: Though he's not an officer, he is excruciatingly, even old-fashionedly polite to Maddy and her parents when it comes to intimacy issues.Reynolds: I would like to declare my intentions toward your daughter.
- Satellite Love Interest: To Maddy. What exactly do we know about this guy?
- He does volunteer to take over guard duty for the Shannons' house when the pterodactyls were swarming the colony. He is knocked unconscious for his efforts, but he is certainly more competent at it than the three Shannon siblings at any rate.Jim: [to Maddy] That's how you know a boy likes you.
- He does volunteer to take over guard duty for the Shannons' house when the pterodactyls were swarming the colony. He is knocked unconscious for his efforts, but he is certainly more competent at it than the three Shannon siblings at any rate.
Played by: Rod Hallett
- Comforting the Widow: Jim immediately twigs that the real reason Elisabeth was chosen to come to Terra Nova was because Malcolm intended to seduce her, knowing that her husband was imprisoned back in the future. Hence his shock upon realizing Jim broke out and came back with them.
- Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Might come with his job of Chief Science Officer. Displays biology and engineering skills in particular.
- Working with the Ex: He and Elisabeth dated during college, and he recommended her to come to Terra Nova. He wasn't particularly expecting Jim to come with her, but they work well together despite their history.
Played by: Damien Garvey
- Affably Evil: Boylan is more of an Affable Jerk Ass than deliberately evil, although he is collaborating with the Sixers. May cross over into Jerkass with a Heart of Gold territory, as of the finale. He certainly prefers Taylor to the Phoenix Group, and is one of the very first to welcome him back to Terra Nova. And in one episode, it's implied that Boylan and Taylor use to be very good friends but the murder of their CO/Taylor's mentor at Taylor's hand, and the subsequent cover up between the two, put a lot of pressure on the relationship. It is suggested that Boylan for his part wanted to be a good soldier and report the incident but Taylor wanted to protect the colony and bribed him to keep quiet. The end result being the current situation between the two.
- The Bartender: Runs the only bar in Terra Nova, and does a side business in smuggling goods from the future.
- The Mole: To a limited extent. He does business with the Sixers, but it's clear there's someone else in the camp that's actively betraying the colony.
- Noodle Incident: At least to anyone that isn't Boylan, Taylor, or Jim, why Taylor tolerates Boylan (and conversely, why Boylan is ultimately loyal to Terra Nova and will help Taylor). Ironically, said Noodle Incident is also seemingly responsible for his current state as Taylor had to bribe him to prevent him from being a good soldier and reporting Taylor's murder.
Played by: Christine Adams
- Enemy Mine: Taylor and Mira end up working together to fend off a pair of territorial slashers. After some personal backstory, they recognize it's a Worthy Opponent relationship between them. In fact, they also reason that they're much more the same than different—both ultimately want to protect their family and loved ones in the only way they know how. For Mira, that's her daughter back in the future. For Taylor, that's the colony.
- I Have Your Wife: Her backers in the future are holding her daughter in order to ensure her cooperation, though it seems she agreed to this willingly to earn a better life for them both. Interestingly, this is a tactic that she herself is not above using.
- Kick the Dog: Blackmailing a Sixer child into spying for her by threatening to hurt her brother.
- Pet the Dog: When that falls through, however, she admits she was bluffing and lets the hostage rejoin his sister in the far more salubrious neighbourhood that is Terra Nova, no strings attached.
- Punch Clock Villain: Mira is only working for the bad guys because they have her daughter, and the only way they'll ever be reunited is if Lucas can get the portal to work both ways.
- Rebel Leader: In charge of the Sixers, the half of the Sixth Pilgrimage that stole weapons, supplies, and vehicles, and lit out for the jungle for an (initially) unknown purpose.
The Phoenix Group
Played by: Ashley Zukerman
- Antagonistic Offspring: Lucas is this to Taylor, regarding an incident that he blames Taylor for that led to his mother's death.
- Bad Boss: Thinks of himself as a Benevolent Boss to the conquered Terra Novan citizens. Immediately after he proclaims this, he beats Josh bloody as an "example."
- Big Bad: Opposes his father's goals for Terra Nova out of personal antagonism, caring little for his backers' plans.
- Brother-Sister Incest: Okay, so Skye may not technically be blood-related, but Lucas takes her treatment of his father as a father-figure as being enough to make them brother and sister. And then proceeds to come on to her in an extremely creepy fashion.
- Even Evil Has Standards: When Weaver cruelly shoots down a brachiosaur for no reason Lucas, of all people, seems to feel that this is an unnecessary course of action. Making the portal go both ways, hiring an evil army to help him destroy the Terra Nova colony just to prove that he's better than his dad, and killing innocent colonists in the process: sure, no problem. But gunning down innocent animals without a good reason is where he draws the line.
- Evil Is Petty: Lucas Taylor's sole reason for destroying Terra Nova is to show his father that he's better than him.
- Freudian Excuse: The reason he hates his father so much is because he failed to save his mother in Somalia when he was fourteen years old. The finale reveals that they were captured by rebels and Taylor had to choose between them to decide who lived. He picked Lucas. Lucas not only believes he should have died, but that Taylor blames him for it.
- Made of Iron: He gets shot twice, center of mass, and manages to get away unnoticed, while no more than a meter away from Taylor and Skye. No word on how far he got, but he shouldn't have been able to walk straight, much less escape so quickly and quietly.
- Man Behind the Man: The Sixers work for him by proxy.
- Not Quite Dead: Skye shoots him twice in the chest. In the couple of minutes she and Taylor stop paying attention to him, he's vanished.
- Psychotic Man Child: Why is he so eager to help destroy mankind's last hope for survival? To spite his father, that's why.
- Self-Made Orphan: He really wants to do this. Comes pretty close, too.
- Too Kinky to Torture: Skye considers trying to beat the ignition code for a vehicle out of Lucas, but believes he would enjoy it.
- Villain Ball: Lucas takes Skye at her word when she claims she wants to do a Heel–Face Turn, going so far as to escort her without guards. Predictably, he’s captured.
- Villainous Incest: Towards Skye. They're not actually related (Taylor is a father figure to her rather than her actual father), but he refers to her as a sister nonetheless. This doesn't stop him from constantly touching her affectionately flirting with her.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: In the season finale, it was revealed that Somalia was, in Lucas' mind, simply the last straw in what had been a childhood/early adolescence where he was on the receiving in of his father's disappointment/disapproval. Considering what a total brat he is, one should take this with a grain of salt.
Played by: Rohan Nichol
- Establishing Character Moment: Shooting a Brachiosaur while it was having lunch. Unprovoked.
- Greater-Scope Villain: The face of Lucas's corporate backers, who wish to use the newly bidirectional time portal to strip-mine the past for everything they can get.
- Karmic Death: Shoots a harmless dinosaur, gets eaten by a not-so-harmless dinosaur.