Characters / The Prisoner (1967)
aka: The Prisoner

No TV series becomes a classic without great characters. Patrick McGoohan's postmodern masterpiece, The Prisoner is no exception.

No recurring character in The Prisoner has a name.

Number Six, The Prisoner

Rebellious ex-spy captured by the unknown powers that run the Uncanny Village.

  • Anti-Hero: Type III, though his rough nature is mainly due to never being quite sure who to trust.
  • Author Avatar: Of Patrick McGoohan.
  • Berserk Button: Do not ever, ever kill an innocent woman. He might just let you live to regret it.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Both a weakness and a strength; many No. 2s don't see past their own point of view of looking out for oneself, but the ones that are Genre Savvy enough to realise this trait are often the most dangerous to The Prisoner.
  • Cultured Badass: Knows Goethe in the original German and is well known for quoting Shakespeare.
  • Deadpan Snarker: His abundant snark is one of the highlights of the show.
    Number 6: The whole Earth as the Village?
    Number 2: That is my hope. What's yours?
    Number 6: I'd like to be the first man on the moon.
  • Determinator: And how. He manages to fight back even in his dreams.
  • Facial Dialogue: Lots. If you pay attention, there is quite a lot less verbal dialogue in this show than other shows of its time period and even today, and you will suddenly realise how much this show depends on McGoohan's Facial Dialogue.
  • Genius Bruiser: Both a thinker and a fighter.
  • Good Is Not Nice: He's very brusque and prickly, but fundamentally compassionate.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: He was a champion boxer and it is his preferred method of hand-to-hand combat.
  • Heroic Willpower: Mind-bending techniques repeatedly fail on him.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: He is cynical and paranoid in the extreme (he really has to be to survive in The Village) but he still really cares about people and tries his best to help and protect others who resist The Village.
  • Large Ham: While he's generally a calm and composed deadpan snarker, he can ham up magnificently without warning if he wants to make a point.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Pretty much always wears the same iconic black blazer with white piping, khakis, and white loafers. Occasionally he'll swap out the blazer for one with the colors inverted, or if he's particularly lucky, the all black suit he was wearing before being abducted to the Village.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Constantly used against him, but not completely true (or untrue).
  • Mysterious Past: We know next to nothing about his life before the Village. There is the fact that he resigned his job, for reasons unknown (the Village would really, really to know why).
  • Passive-Aggressive Kombat: Is a master at this, and a lot of the time, this is the only way he really has to fight back.
  • Properly Paranoid: About ninety percent of the time, though he occasionally lets his guard down in hopes of finding an ally and occasionally the Village plays on his justified paranoia to make it go into unjustified territory.
  • Rebellious Spirit: The Village will not subdue his spirit.
  • Sarcastic Clapping: Very prone to it as part of his snarking.
  • The Snark Knight: He holds himself to his own high standards.
  • Suppressed Rage: While in The Village, he seems to live in a constant state of this, and the few times his control snaps it is devastating to his enemies.
  • Technical Pacifist: Refuses to kill anyone, at least until they push him too far.
  • Tranquil Fury: What happens when he reaches his Rage Breaking Point; notably constructing the systematic destruction of the psyche of a No. 2 who had driven a woman to suicide.

Other Residents Of The Village

The Number Twos

  • Affably Evil: Many Number Twos act like they're the Prisoner's best friend (or would like to be, if he'd just give them a chance). Some of them seem more sincerely friendly than others.
  • The Dragon: To Number One.
  • Evil Laugh: The intro to every episode concludes with one.
  • The Heavy: The direct problem for Number Six, and within the Village their authority is basically absolute. There may be other superiors elsewhere but we never see them.
  • Just the First Citizen: Well, the second.
  • Wicked Cultured: None of the officials picked for this important position qualify as anything short of intellectual.

Guy Doleman

The first one. Escorts Number Six around the Village on his first day, just to reinforce the Village's self-sufficiency and inescapability. Gives the Prisoner an idea of No.2's power (and establishes an atmosphere of menace) by ordering the entire Village to halt right before Number Six's eyes, and siccing Rover on the one Villager who fails to comply.

George Baker

The second one. Younger than Doleman's No.2, and replaces him (without explanation, of course) over the course of the first episode. Where Doleman is Faux Affably Evil, Baker's No.2 is blunt and matter-of-fact about Number Six being a prisoner.

Leo McKern

The famous one. Takes a psychological approach to interrogating Number Six. In many ways, an amalgamation of all the best aspects of the other Number Twos.

  • Affably Evil: He can be quite affable. In fact, he makes a Heel–Face Turn after revealing that he too was abducted and brought to the Village against his will.
  • Back from the Dead: He dies in the end of Once Upon A Time, but the Villagers mysteriously bring him back in Fall Out.
  • Benevolent Boss: His immediate subordinates seem to genuinely like him rather than fear him.
  • Heel–Face Turn: In Fall Out.
    • Turns into a Heel–Face Revolving Door in the comic adaptation, with implications in the original show justifying it. In his first appearance, he's clearly directly interested, even friendly in his overtures with Number Six. In his second, his supervisors directly threaten him with Rover, and his response is to remind them of his loyalties.
  • Large Ham: Mainly during his Villainous Breakdown.
  • Mood-Swinger: He's alternately very jolly and very, very frustrated from moment to moment. In a sense, he's the most honest of all the Number Twos since he never hides his emotions. He really, actually does like the idea of a harmonious international community, and not just because it would give people like him more power, and he really gets upset that Number Six won't open up to him, either as an interrogation subject or a friend.
  • Mysterious Past: Various statements made during Once Upon A Time raise many questions about his back story and make him the most cryptic and mysterious Number Two.
  • Not So Different: Number Six casually asks him if he realizes he's as much a prisoner as he is. He freely admits it, saying they're both "lifers".
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The shave and haircut that they give him prior to his resurrection. It was added in because McKern had gotten a trim prior to being called back for another episode.
  • Villainous Breakdown: While he was relatively calm and collected in The Chimes of Big Ben, he becomes more and more agitated and worked up throughout Once Upon A Time and finally breaks completely when his methods backfire on him and give Number Six the upper hand. Rumor has it that McKern had a minor heart attack while filming this episode because of the sheer intensity required to portray this breakdown.
  • Wicked Cultured: Is as enamoured of Shakespeare as The Prisoner.

Eric Portman

Hosts a sham "election" in the Village in "Free For All", in which he convinces Number Six to actually run for the "office" of Number Two — and brainwashes him repeatedly into acting like a slick electoral candidate, much to the disgust of Number Six. Also provides No.6 with a chauffeur/assistant called Number 58, who (despite her apparent lack of English skills) is a fairly obvious Mole.

  • Drowning My Sorrows: He's found drunk in a secret alcohol lab, but that too was a ruse to get Six to drop his guard.
  • Kangaroo Court: Holds one against Number 6, with mannequins as a jury.
  • Red Herring: For the real Number 2 of the episode, Number 58.

Patrick Cargill

From "Hammer Into Anvil." A particularly ruthless Village official, who has no trouble committing psychological torture or physically threatening recalcitrant Villagers — he obviously feels irritated by the standing order that Number Six must not be "damaged".

  • Cultured Warrior: He quotes Goethe in the original German when justifying his brutal methods: "Du musst Ambose oder Hammer sein."
    • Misaimed Fandom: invokedHe knows the quote, but he doesn't know that it's the hammer that breaks first, not the anvil. His whole episode is basically watching that hammer smash itself apart on Six's anvil.
  • Paranoia Fuel: in-universe Number Six completely overloads him with it.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: It's implied pretty heavily that they dug this guy up from the wreckage of postwar Germany — although he does a good job hiding his accent.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Number Six does a hell of a job exploiting this man's paranoia, to the extent that he becomes convinced that Number Six was sent by his superiors to spy on him.
  • You Look Familiar: Patrick Cargill also plays Thorpe, a colleague of Number Six, in "Many Happy Returns". The show makes no attempt to suggest that they're the same person, but if they are, that would make Thorpe The Mole.

John Sharp

From "A Change Of Mind"

  • Fat Bastard: Rivals, if not exceeds, Leo McKern as the most physically imposing No.2.
  • Hurricane of Aphorisms: "The slowest mule is closest to the whip," among others.
  • Loners Are Freaks: He hopes to break No.6 by hammering on this trope — essentially introducing new policies that convince the other Villagers to openly ostracize the Prisoner, playing on his genuine feelings of loneliness.

Colin Gordon

From "The General" and "A. B. and C." An unusually nervous No.2 with an inferiority complex. His smug attitude toward the Prisoner is belied by his constant milk-drinking (presumably for an ulcer), his habit of occasionally lashing out at his assistants, and his obvious fear of No.1.

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: If the common preferred viewing order is observed and "A, B, and C" is watched before "The General", then this Number Two begins as an arrogant Smug Snake, only to become a jumpy, nervous wreck in his second episode, presumably because he is being given a second chance while knowing the price of another failure.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: One of the few Number Twos who never asks Number Six why he resigned, because he thinks he already knows the answer. He's convinced Number Six was going to sell out to one of three enemy operatives he knew: A, B, or C, and spends that episode trying to find out which one. Of course, he's completely wrong about why Number Six resigned.
  • The Rival: He really, really doesn't like Number Six, and he's one of the only Number Twos who makes no effort to hide this fact.
  • Villainous Breakdown: He acts pretty anxious throughout all of "A, B, and C", until he finally loses it in the end.

Andre van Gyseghem

The oldest No.2, who seems to have been with the Village the longest; we actually witness his official "retirement" in "It's Your Funeral". Claims that all the other Number Twos were actually interim replacements for him, although that could just be what his superiors told him — they're not above lying to a No.2, and (as he realizes, much to his horror) they're not the sort of people who fritter money away on things like pensions for retirees who just won't die. One of the only Number Twos other than McKern to receive a sympathetic portrayal.

Mary Morris

This is your world now. I am your world now.

From Dance of the Dead. She seems to prefer spies rather than hidden surveillance, although she uses both.

  • Actor Allusion: Morris picked the Peter Pan costume for the carnival herself. She had played Pan in a stage production twenty years earlier.
  • Creepy Crossdresser: As Peter Pan for the carnival.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Not the only female Number Two, but the only one with a starring, front-and-center role.

Number One

The apparent leader of the Village who has his proxies carry out his will. Almost any time he is discussed, it is with a sense of fear or dread. Number Six himself would like to meet him, if only to have some of the mystery surrounding the Village explained.

  • Bad Boss: To the Number Twos.
  • Big Bad: Of the series. Maybe.
  • Dramatic Unmask: Two, actually. First the mask on an ape, then the face of Number Six.
  • The Dreaded: By each and every Number Two, who are always intimidated by his phone calls.
  • Enemy Without: Confirmed (but not how) by Patrick McGoohan.
  • Evil Laugh: A Laughing Mad bad guy.
  • Large Ham: Definitely has a taste for theatrical flair, if his revealing his number badge is anything to go by.
  • Laughing Mad: He laughs madly after finally being confronted by Number Six.
  • Madness Mantra: I! I! I! I! I! I! I!
  • The Man Behind the Man: The man behind the Village. Maybe.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: He may (or may not) be the man behind the scenes, but the only things we actually see him doing are laughing in Number Six's face and then running away from him.
  • Mind Screw: His appearance actually raises more questions than it answers.
  • Room Full of Crazy: Lives in a fully armable nuclear rocket filled with globes of the Earth.
  • The Unreveal: We never learn what the hell is going on with him.
  • The Unseen: Until the series finale, and even that appearance is debatable.

The Butler

A silent, obedient little person in a tuxedo. Manservant to Number Two.

The Supervisor

A bald bespectacled man, also known as Number Fourteen. Head of Village security and direct subordinate of Number Two. Given to delivering his lines in an exaggeratedly cold and emotionless Robo Speak voice ("Orange... alert. Orange... alert."); his actor, Peter Swanwick, had been diagnosed with cancer just before the series began filming, and he deliberately played the role larger than life in order to make an impression.

  • Bald of Evil: Really bald and evil.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: One of the most soulless in fictional history.
  • Name's the Same: Has the same number as Number Two's personal assistant in Hammer into Anvil.
  • Not So Stoic: The one time his robotic facade breaks is in Hammer into Anvil, when that episode's Number Two directly accuses him of treason and fires him; he's hurt.


The Village's last line of law enforcement. A massive balloon-like ball of featureless white material that emits electronic roars and suffocates refractory Villagers into submission.

  • Blob Monster: They didn't really have the effects for it, but it's implied by how it is summoned; a switch is thrown, a bubble forms at the bottom of the sea and the bubble becomes Rover.
  • The Brute: It is this, against the Village's "criminals" and would-be fugitives.
  • Hell Is That Noise: Rover's 'roar.'
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Kills Number Six's doppelganger (mistaking him for the real McCoy) in The Schizoid Man, thus allowing Number Six to assume the man's identity and (nearly) escape.
  • Mechanical Monster: Well, this is what they were going for, anyway: it's a security device, and yet also alive, somehow.
  • No Name Given: Only once in the series is Rover ever referred to by name (ironically enough, by the Prisoner himself). When the Prisoner first asks what it actually is, No.2's typically obfuscatory response is "That would be telling."
    • Before the original "Rover" mechanism sunk and they exchanged it with a balloon, he was to be named in the first episode by No. 2.
  • Once an Episode: Even when it doesn't actually chase anybody, Rover always appears in some kind of context.

Number Forty-Eight

A fellow prisoner who appears in the series finale. He has an unusual obsession with the song Dry Bones; most of his lines simply consist of lyrics from said song. Along with the Butler and Leo McKern's Number Two, he helps Number Six finally escape the Village.

  • Cloudcuckoolander: His dialogue... isn't normal.
  • Ear Worm: Just try not to sing "Dem Bones" after watching "Fall Out."
  • Mind Screw: The fact that he both looks and dresses like The Kid/Number Eight (who had already died several episodes prior), not to mention that none of the other characters (Number Six included) ask if he's the same person or even bring this similarity up. He's just one of the many things that make Fall Out what it is.
  • Nice Hat: Wears one.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Only appears in the finale.
  • Talkative Loon: Half his dialogue is "Dem Bones"; everything else is just nonsense.
  • You Look Familiar: With The Kid from Living in Harmony and the photographer from The Girl Who Was Death.

The Kid

An odd, menacing character who shows up in the western-themed episode, Living in Harmony.

  • Becoming the Mask: A rather horrifying example: Number Eight seems all too happy to keep acting like the Kid even after the experiment is over, violent tendencies and all.
  • The Voiceless: Subverted in that, once he's revealed to be Number Eight, he talks about as much as any of the other characters.
  • You Look Familiar: With Number 48 and with the photographer in The Girl Who Was Death

Number Fourteen

Number Two's right-hand man in Hammer Into Anvil. (Not the same Fourteen as the Supervisor.)

  • Unwitting Pawn: Even when he recognizes what Number Six is up to, he still winds up contributing to Number Two's breakdown.

Alternative Title(s): The Prisoner