Characters: The Exorcist
Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn)
- Determinator: Will go to any length to protect her daughter.
Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair)
- Determinator Ever since she has been possessed, she has been drugged, beaten, mutilated, twisted and contorted and nearly died of heart failure. Yet she manages to get through it all.
- Ms. Fanservice: Becomes this in the second film.
- Nice Girl: Which makes it even more horrifying when she becomes possessed.
- She Is All Grown Up: The costume designers noticed.
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: As Pazuzu.
Father Damien Karras (Jason Miller)
- Badass: He takes on Pazuzu and succeeds in the end. Even after his revival and 30 years long possession, his will is so strong that his body suffers from thehis struggle to stop the demon from committing the Gemini killer's crimes in the third movie.
- Back from the Dead: In part III, The Gemini Killer possesses him and makes him kill.
- Big "NO!": Right before he jumps out of the window at the end.
- Billing Displacement: Billed under Max von Sydow, despite being the character with the most screentime. This was likely because this was Miller's first film, and he was better known for his stage work at the time.
- Crisis of Faith: Has this throughout the movie and regains it towards the end as he tries to save Regan.
- Heroic Sacrifice: After begging for Pazuzu to come into him instead and being momentarily possessed, Karras flung himself out the window to destroy it.
- Supporting Protagonist: He is the titular Exorcist, not Merrin.
Father Lankester Merrin (Max von Sydow)
- Badass: He's respected in the Catholic church as an authority on exorcism for a reason.
- Badass Grandpa: He's beyond his 70s by the time of the first movie. His old age is what leads to his death through a heart attack during the exorcism attempts.
- Genre Savvy: Even before the prequel is made, he knew exactly what the demon possessing Regan was gonna do against them. Warning Karras before going in the room.
- The Obi-Wan: Dies like Obi-Wan too.
- Playing Gertrude: Max von Sydow was only 44 at the time of filming.
- Reasonable Authority Figure
- The Stoic: Even when Regan is puking on him.
Lieutenant William F. Kinderman (Lee J. Cobb, George C. Scott)
- Ascended Extra: In the third film he gets promoted to being the main character.
- Large Ham: When he's played by George C. Scott, it's a given.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: In the books. He calls it "schmaltz", with everything he does serving a purpose.
Father Dyer (Reverend William O'Malley, Ed Flanders)
- Arch-Enemy: To Father Merrin.
- Ax-Crazy: When he possess Regan he acts savagely all the time, giving a painful Groin Attack to a psychiatrist and shouting obscenities at everyone.
- Big Bad: Of the book and film series.
- A Date with Rosie Palms: A rather violent example. He makes Regan stab herself in the genitalia with a crucifix and tries to force her mother to lick her bleeding area.
- Demonic Possession: His speciality.
- Evil Sounds Deep: Judging by how Regan's voice gets demonic deep when he's in her body, this must be his natural voice.
- Jerk Ass: He takes a great enjoyment in tormenting not only Regan but the people close to her.
- Nightmare Face. The few moments he shows himself we see a white pale face with dark rings around his dull, red eyes and brown, crooked, rotting teeth.
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: He's quite foul mouthed.
- Sore Loser: Is he ever. The only reason why he possess Regan is to kill Merrin in a bid of petty revenge for casting him out of a child in Africa.
- Would Harm A Child: He not only causes Regan to harm herself, but he goes into Karras's body so that he could use him to kill her because she was worthless to him now.
- You Cannot Grasp the True Form: We only see his pale face for just a second, but he never shows himself in his real form.
The Gemini Killer (Brad Dourif)
- Body Surf: Has possessed Father Karras to wreak havoc.