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The central character, Big Bad
, and definitive Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl
. Sadako was a teenage girl with Psychic Powers
, had a pretty miserable childhood, and was then chucked down a well to her death. Years on, her spirit haunts a videotape
which contains a curse that will kill whoever watches it within seven days
unless they copy it and show it to someone else. Sadako's character, backstory, and powers vary between each different continuity, but all maintain her desire to get revenge on the world through the videotape, and by other means.
- Achilles' Heel: Sadako's tape is both her strength and weakness. Her curse can only spread if someone copies the tape and shows it to someone else, though the deaths of those who do watch it may inspire others to investigate the tape - and that actually happens.
- And I Must Scream: We learn that Sadako survived in the well for seven days before dying. In Ring 2, Sadako is revealed to have survived in the well for a good three decades by sheer will, and only died a short time before Reiko found the tape.
- Anti-Villain: Type II.
- Alas, Poor Villain: Usually invoked once per film, but most notably in Ring, Ring 0 and Sadako 3D.
- Back from the Dead: Sadako's entire plan was to be reborn, since she had a premonition of her return before she died and made the cursed videotape and subsequent Ring Virus to achieve her goal. She succeeds and proceeds to spread her curse through Asakawa's journal as a published novel, and then through a film adaptation.
- Tries to achieve this in Sadako 3D 2, impregnating Akane after invading her body, but Akane keeps Sadako at bay, allowing her child Nagi to be born. Takanori has to keep mother and daughter apart otherwise Sadako could escape.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Sadako was a sweet girl and very kind when she was alive. Subverted in Ring 0, where Sadako had split into two girls due to her powers, one being innocent and kind but had no control of her powers, and a Superpowered Evil Side.
- Blessed with Suck: Her powers brought Sadako and her loved ones a lot of grief.
- Break the Cutie: By the end of Ring 0, she is well and truly broken.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: In the scariest way possible.
- Brown Note: The videotape, and later, the suicide online video introduced in Sadako 3D.
- The Chessmaster: With her plan to spread the tape, and even further with her plan to resurrect herself in the novels and television series.
- Creepy Child: Sadako as a child in the film series. Not to mention Sadako's evil twin in Ring 0.
- Divine Parentage: In the films, it is heavily implied that Sadako's father is some kind of water deity, who gave Shizuko her psychic powers.
- Doomed by Canon: Ring 0 from beginning to end is this for Sadako.
- Driven to Suicide: Throws herself off a building in the Rasen television series after growing tired of being used by humanity.
- Enfante Terrible
- Fetus Terrible: In Coffin the Sky, Mai unwillingly gives birth to a reborn Sadako who grows at a phenomenal rate and can escape a roof ventilation shaft like an adult.
- Expy: Sadako is based on one Sadako Takahashi, a Japanese woman said to have developed psychic powers and was a test subject for Dr. Tomokichi Fukurai, who Dr. Ikuma is based on.
- The Faceless: We never see Sadako's post-dead face. It is covered in hair most of the time and the only glimpse we get is a psychotic-looking eye, which is enough to kill her victims. In Ring 2, Sadako's face is reconstructed and her ghost appears with the clay head sculpture for a face, and even then it looks like a deformed skull.
- Fingore: Sadako broke off her fingernails and tips while trying to get out of the well, so we always see her with nail-less fingers.
- The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: In-universe example. Sadako's iconic crawl out of the television to kill Ryuji. Apparently, some Japanese audiences were so terrified that they did not turn on their TVs for weeks.
- Haunted Technology: Her cursed videotape.
- A recorded piece of audio acts as a precursor to the videotape in Lemonheart and Ring 0.
- The Rasen television series put the video onto a CD.
- Sadako 3D saw the creation of a new suicide video that was online. Computers, laptops and phones were haunted in its sequel.
- Healing Factor: Shown to heal an old man's disability in Ring 0.
- Hermaphrodite: Sadako is a hermaphrodite, meaning she is a woman but is genetically male and has a man's privates. She also has Androgen insensitivity syndrome, an intersex condition that means she cannot give birth. In Spiral, the reborn Sadako gains the ability to give birth, making her, as she puts it, "A complete hermaphrodite."
- Hope Spot / Yank the Dog's Chain: The ending of Ring 0 - Sadako is thrown down the well by her dad, but suddenly awakens in a bed with her boyfriend Toyama standing over her, telling her its all a dream. Sadako reaches for him, then we jump cut to Sadako back in the well. Sadako realises what is going on and can only scream in despair as Dr. Ikuma seals her in.
- I Am a Monster: Pre-death in the film series.
- Kill 'em All: One part of Sadako's vendetta against the world.
- Love Triangle: Gets in one with Hiroshi Toyama and his girlfriend Etsuko in Ring 0.
- Marionette Motion: Walks in a pretty freaky manner as a ghost. Her unnatural style was performed by Sadako's first actress, kabuki star Rie Inou who walked backwards with the scene then reversed.
- Mind Rape: Does this a lot to others.
- Nightmare Face: We only see a glimpse of her ghostly face in Ring but it is enough to kill someone.
- In Ring 2, forensic specialists rebuild Sadako's face using a clay model for her burial. When they take photos of it, the flash produces a brief inhuman appearance. Sadako's ghost then appears with her clay head in the film's finale.
- Parental Abandonment: Sadako's mother Shizuko commits suicide from depression.
- Prehensile Hair: In Sadako 3D, Sadako takes a page out of Kayako's book and uses her hair to attack others.
- Psychic Powers: Sadako pretty much has displayed the entire variety of powers listed on the trope's page. Her most notably power is psychography (or "nensha") which she used to create the videotape. Also able to alter the genetics of human biology, and mutate a smallpox strand with her DNA into a virus able to cause tumours, heart attacks, and impregnate women with said DNA to ensure that she can be resurrected, as well as create clones of the dead.
- Rape as Backstory: In the novels, and all television adaptations. Sadako is sexually assaulted by Dr. Nagao, who discovers she is a hermaphrodite and chucks her down the well.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: After fusing with her evil twin in Ring 0, Sadako goes on a silent walk of death through the woods, killing all of her tormentors.
- She's a Man in Japan: See the hermaphrodite section above.
- Spooky Photographs: A side-effect of watching the tape, victims have blurred faces.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: Thrown down a well to die, leading to her rise as a vengeful ghost.
- Shrinking Violet: In Ring 0.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: Sadako and Toyama.
- Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl: Trope Codifier.
- Superpowered Evil Side: In the films, Sadako split into identical twins after murdering a man. One remained the size of a child and displays malicious or at least mischievous intent. They fuse into one by the end of Ring 0.
- Thrown Down a Well: Leading to her death and Start of Darkness.
- Trauma Conga Line: Where to begin? In the novels, Shizuko loses her second child to illness, becomes depressed and eventually commits suicide, joins an acting troupe and finds love but a recording of Sadako and her boyfriend Toyama having sex kills six people, her father develops tuberculosis, and then she is raped by Jotaro Nagao who discovers she is a hermaphrodite and chucks her down a well to her death.
- In the films, she is abandoned at birth for a day, kills a journalist, her mother commits suicide, her out-of-control powers lead to several deaths and she is the victim of a Witch Hunt, murders all of her tormentors, is thrown down a well by her father, and survives down there for thirty years.
- The Virus: The Ring Virus in the novels, a mutated strand of smallpox which can lead to heart attacks or impregnation in female victims (but only if they have sex while infected). The cursed videotape is intended to spread like a virus, being copied and passed onto another person to escape death.
- Window Love: Confesses to Toyama through one in one of the loveliest moments of the film series.
- Woman in White: Commonly wears a white dress in most incarnations of the story.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Given enough reason too.
- Xanatos Gambit: Sadako's plan in the novels goes pretty much as she hoped, also backed up by the visions she had of the successful outcome.
The protagonist of the first novel and Ring: The Final Chapter
. Kazuyuki is a Tokyo-based journalist who investigates the death of his niece Tomoko and three other teenagers, discovering the cursed videotape's existence and seeks to end its curse. At first he is a workaholic but when his wife and daughter watch the tape, he is determined to move mountains to save them. In The Final Chapter
, he is Yoichi's father.
- Adult Fear: Kazuyuki is disturbed by the though of dying still presses on. It is when his wife and one-year old daughter watch the tape that he really freaks out.
- Author Appeal: One of the driving forces behind Asakawa's character in the novel is his relationship with his daughter. The author is a leading advocate of stronger father/daughter relationships in Japanese society.
- Badass Normal
- Chekhov's Gun: The copy of the tape Kazuyuki made for Ryuji. He tries to use it to save his family.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: In The Final Chapter.
- Heroic BSOD: After his family watch the tape, Ryuji dies and realising the enormity of the virus' power, and when Sadako manipulates him into writing the journal to spread the virus.
- Intrepid Reporter
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Kazuyuki finds Sadako's body and it gives it to her family and everything looks fine. That is until Ryuji dies of a heart attack, revealing the Ring Virus is still active and can only be stopped by copying the tape. In Spiral, it is revealed Kazuyuki wrote a journal on his investigation, thought manipulated by Sadako into doing, thus having a secondary container to spread the virus with. By the end of the novel, it has been adapted into a novel by Kazuyuki's brother, and an eventual film.
- Papa Wolf
- Salaryman: A bit focused on his work and dislikes certain aspects of being a father.
- Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Kazuyuki and his family are abruptly caught in a car crash a few days after the events of the first novel. His wife and daughter die, though it is later revealed they may have died before the crash. Kazuyuki ends up in a coma for a month and eventually dies himself.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: As part of Sadako's plan to spread the tape.
An associate of Kazuyuki. A mathematician, philosophy university teacher, and former medical student, Ryuji is an eccentric but intelligent man who aids Kazuyuki in investigating the origins of the cursed videotape. His character alters between different continuities. In the film series, he is Reiko Asakawa's ex-husband and Yoichi's father, being calm, thoughtful but just as cognitive as his novel counterpart, and has Psychic Powers
. In Ring: The Final Chapter
, he is a calm but creepy individual who has to care for his half-sister Mai Takano.
- The Ace
- Back from the Dead: After dying, Ryuji is resurrected by Sadako and reappears as his adult self a few months after Ando makes his deal with Sadako. In Loop, it is revealed protagonist Kaoru Futami is the resurrected Ryuji. Extracted from the Loop computer system as a baby, he was raised as a normal person until the Metastatic Human Cancer infects his father, prompting him to return to Loop to counterattact the Ring Virus, the cancer's real form.
- Ax-Crazy: His TV counterpart is, particularly if anyone messes with Mai.
- Badass Beard
- Bat Deduction: Realises the tape must be copied to escape the curse.
- Celibate Eccentric Genius: To an extent. Ryuji has a relationship of sorts with his assistant/student Mai, and claims to have raped three women, though he has no proof of it other than stories.
- Cool Teacher
- Cloud Cuckoolander: His novel counterpart is pretty nuts.
- Killed Off for Real: Dies of a heart attack in Ring after failing to copy the tape. Also dies in all other incarnations of the story, most iconically in the film where Sadako crawls out of his TV and kills him via a Death Glare.
- Legacy Character: In the TV series, Ryuji is Sadako's child and is meant to spread her virus.
- Mentor Occupational Hazard
- Papa Wolf: To Yoichi.
- The Philosopher
- Straw Nihilist: Makes quips about wanting the world to end. Ends up playing a part in its "evolution" by helping spread Sadako's virus.
- Psychic Link: His TV incarnation has one with Mai. Kind of. Turns out he carries Sadako's virus, and Mai is the key to unleashing it, and she will always know where he is.
- Psychic Powers: Has a form of ESP in the films, able to sense spirits or bad omens.
- Punch Clock Hero
- Sacrificial Lion: Killed by the curse to prove it hasn't stopped.
- The Stoic: Very calm and focused in the films and only gets riled up if things get desperate. His counterpart is the Ring television series is pretty stoic too, albeit in a creepy term.
- Working with the Ex: He works with his ex-wife Reiko in the film to solve the videotape's mystery. They get on very well, using honorifics, with plenty of Ship Tease accompanying them.
Ryuji's student and possible girlfriend. She has a major expansion in Spiral
, being an emotional woman but very fond of Ryuji. Experiences a pretty horrible And I Must Scream
moment in the novels. She is the main protagonist of Ring 2
. In Ring: The Final Chapter
, she is a troubled girl who is Ryuji's half-sister.
The protagonist of Spiral
(referred to as Rasen
in adaptations), Mitsuo Ando is a lonely man grieving his son's death, traumatized by the accident and blaming himself for it and for his wife's emotional condition. Because of that he lost the desire to live, he has suicidal tendencies, but is not brave enough to commit suicide. He is also very intelligent and curious, and a very good person who wants to do the right thing, but is easily tempted by beautiful women.
A 20-year old medical student, Kaoru is protagonist of Loop
. An intelligent man, Kaoru strives to find a cure for the Metastatic Human Virus that has plagued humanity for twenty years, including his father. His investigation into the cancer leads to him to the Loop computer project, discovering much about the virus and his own existence.
- Amateur Sleuth
- Clone Jesus: The resurrected Ryuji Takayama. As a baby, he was extracted form the Loop program and raised in the real world, but brought the Ring Virus with him, where it mutated into the Metastatic Human Virus cancer.
- The Hero
- Heroic Sacrifice: Willingly dies to stop the Metastatic Human Virus in the real world and is reborn in the Loop world as the revived Ryuji.
- The Medic
- The Philosopher: Enjoys philosphising. It makes a lot of sense considering he is revealed to be the reborn Ryuji.
A journalist friend of Kazuyuki, Yoshino could be considered the tritagonist of the first novel. Working in the Yokosuka city hall press club, Yoshino performs secondary tasks for Kazuyuki to find information of Sadako's past. In Ring: The Final Chapter
, Yoshino becomes Akiko Yoshino, Kazuyuki's subordinate, a Shrinking Violet
but very loyal to her superior.
- A Day in the Limelight: Has his own chapters in Ring and is a supporting player in Lemonheart.
- Badass Beard
- Curiosity Is a Crapshoot: Very wary around urban legends but investigates Sadako's past on Kazuyuki's request, but is kept in the dark about some of the more darker elements of his friend's investigation. Ends up being one of the few characters to escape Sadako's wrath in one piece.
- Demoted to Extra: Has one scene cameo in the 1998 film, but gained a supporting role in the retconned Rasen film.
- Fire-Forged Friends: With Kazuyuki.
- Gender Flip: In Ring: The Final Chapter.
- The Heart: Akiko for Kazuyuki.
- Intrepid Reporter
- Ship Tease: Akiko and Kazuyuki. Akiko often serves as a motherly figure for Yoichi.
- Shrinking Violet: Akiko, though she becomes more confident and open.
A supporting character in Spiral
. Miyashita is Mitsuo Ando's co-worker at the pathology department and also his friend. He is a smart person, down to Earth, scientifically oriented and disbelieves in the paranormal. In the TV series, Miyashita is replaced by a female character Rieko Miyashita. Rieko is a very hardworking microbiologist, scientifically oriented, and a loyal friend to Asakawa.
Tomoko Oishi, Shuichi Iwata, Haruko Tsuji, and Takehiko Nomi
Four high school students who go on a trip to the Izu Pacific Land Resort. There, they stumble across Sadako's curse, which is recorded onto a videotape and they watch it. A week later, the four all die of heart attacks, kicking off Asakawa's investigation.
Sadako's mother. Gaining Psychic Powers
via supernatural means, Shizuko had an affair with Heihachiro Ikuma and gave birth to Sadako. After a botched public demonstration of her powers, Shizuko became depressed and eventually was Driven to Suicide
- Broken Bird
- Disastrous Demonstration: Her attempt to display her powers to the public and the press failed. Made worse in the films, where a journalist accused her of faking her powers, only to be killed by an angry Sadako. This has severe consequences for Sadako in Ring 0.
- Driven to Suicide: Grew depressed and threw herself into a volcano. In the novels, it was due to the botched public demonstration of her powers and the loss of her second child. The films had her go mad after Sadako killed a man by sheer will and then split into two twins.
- Expy: Shizuko is based on Chizuko Mifune, a woman who claimed to have foresight. Dr. Tomokichi Fukurai, a university psychology professor, studied her and exposed her to the public. She was branded a fraud, which shook Chizuko so much that she committed suicide via poison.
- Karmic Death: Shizuko predicts that Mount Mihara will erupt on a specific date. She jumps in into the volcano on the day it erupts.
- Mirror Scare: The film's cursed videotape has Shizuko brushing her hair in front of a mirror, which Sadako telekinetically moves around as a prank. In Ring 2, Mai witnesses a live demonstration of this, before Shizuko acknowledges her presence and gives her a haunting Death Glare before the mirror explodes.
- Missing Mom: For Sadako after her suicide.
- Parental Abandonment
- Posthumous Character: Been dead for at least thirty years by the time the story kicks off.
- Psychic Powers: Gains the power of foresight after picking up a statue of Japanese figure of folklore En no Ozuno. In the films, it is implied Shizuko had her powers at birth, but gave birth to Sadako through paranormal means.
- Sanity Slippage: Spends hours attending to her hair in front of a mirror, looking quite mad.
Sadako's father. He was a psychology professor at Tokyo University, having an affair with Shizuko after learning of her powers and eventually fathered Sadako. In the films, he is ultimately responsible for chucking Sadako down the well.
- Deadly Doctor: Subverted. He cared for the Sadako twins, but drugged the evil one and kept her locked away. The good twin was allowed to live a normal life but her powers caused her to be the victim of a Witch Hunt. After the twins reunite and kill numerous people, Dr. Ikuma realises he must protect the world from Sadako and throws her down a well, much to his regret.
- Disastrous Demonstration: Arranged Shizuko's public demonstration of her powers. It didn't go very well, leading to her suicide.
- Expy: Dr. Ikuma is based on Dr. Fukurai, a real life Deadly Doctor, who tried to prove the existence of psychic powers. It took the deaths of two women for him to call it quits.
- Meditating Under a Waterfall: Sat under waterfalls to try to gain psychic powers but it only gives him tuberculosis.
- Necessary Evil: Threw Sadako down the well in the film canon.
- Papa Wolf: To Sadako.
- Posthumous Character: Died of tuberculosis in the novels, and is confirmed dead in the films.
- The Professor
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: His choice in casting Sadako down the well.
- Your Cheating Heart: Had an affair with Shizuko behind his wife's back. Shizuko ended the affair to avert scandal, but Ikuma divorced his wife anyway.
Shizuko's cousin and Sadako's uncle. A fisherman and inkeeper living on Oshima, Takashi has a minor role in the novels. In the films, he was the instigator of Sadako's doom, and became a bitter man in his later years.
- Ascended Extra: Films only.
- The Atoner: Expresses great regret for what happened to Shizuko and Sadako, sending the latter's body out to sea in an attempt to appease her spirit.
- Character Development: Takashi is haunted by the memory of Sadako, but also has great guilt for playing a part in the fates of her and Shizuko. Upon being forced to admit Sadako existed, he ends up taking Reiko and Ryuji to the mainland to appease Sadako. In the second film, when he learns Sadako was alive in the well for years, he takes possession of her body and performs a burial at sea.
- Driven to Suicide: Drowns himself in Ring 2 to try to stop Sadako.
- Commits suicide in Ring: The Final Chapter or at least implied when Kazuyuki receives a letter from him stating he has taken Shizuko's body to the volcano and won't be seen again.
- Grumpy Bear
- Evil Uncle: By no means evil, but he thought Sadako was a monster.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Takashi sacrifices himself to Sadako to end her rage, drowning in a swimming pool.
- Redemption Equals Death
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: Pretends not to know Sadako, mainly because of how horrifying she was to Takashi.
- Tears of Remorse: In Ring: Kanzenban, Takashi cries when Kazuyuki hands him Sadako's corpse.
- Trauma Inn: His home has seen a lot of drama over the years like Shizuko's breakdown, and Ring 2's third act takes place there.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Films only. Takashi suggested putting Shizuko on display to the press, kicking off the chain of events that led to Sadako's imprisonment in the well.
Characters Introduced in The Ring Trilogy
The female equivalent for Kazuyuki, Reiko fulfils the same role as he does in Ring
, investigating rumours of a cursed videotape following the death of her niece Tomoko. She often leaves her son Yoichi home alone, and is ex-wife to Ryuji.
- Adult Fear: When Yoichi watches the tape, causing Reiko's true Mama Bear to emerge, and she grows increasingly determined and desperate to find a way to save him.
- Awesomeness by Analysis: Very obsverant and notices small details in things, which helps in her job as a journalist and investigating the cursed videotape.
- Badass Normal: Willing to go to great lengths to protect her son.
- Broken Bird: By the second film, three dead family members and her son's powers boosted by Sadako has made her a very different woman then she was in the first.
- Chekhov's Gun: The copy of the tape she makes for Ryuji.
- Gender Flip: The female equivalent of Kazuyuki.
- Heroic BSOD: In an ongoing state of this trope in Ring 2 following the deaths of Ryuji and her father.
- Hot Scoop: Reiko's actress Nanako Matsushima is quite the looker.
- Intrepid Reporter: Pursues the rumours of a cursed videotape at first as a simple news piece, but it becomes personal when Reiko finds a connection to Tomoko's death.
- Lurid Tales of Doom: The rumours of the cursed videotape are this to Reiko but she still handles it in a professional manner. Turns out the rumours are real.
- Mama Bear: Cares very deeply for Yoichi, and also shows motherly concern towards Sadako.
- Married to the Job: Type 1. Reiko is very focused on her job, often leaving Yoichi alone to fend for herself. It has shades of parental neglect at times. In one scene, Reiko answers a call from Yoichi while researching newspapers with Ryuji and tells Yoichi he will be fine alone for a little while longer before hanging up. Ryuji, who has no role in his son's life, looks visibly uncomfortable with his ex's actions. He promptly tells her to spend some time with Yoichi whilst she can.
- Necessary Evil: Forced to ask her father to watch the tape in order to save Yoichi's life.
- The Stoic: Becomes this in Ring 2, completely altering her appearance too, going from lively and curious to reserved and grouchy.
- Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Killed in both sequels. In the retconned Rasen, she dies off-screen in a car crash. In Ring 2, Reiko is hit by a truck.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: As part of Sadako's plan to spread the tape.
- Working with the Ex: Teams up with Ryuji to investigate the videotape. Both have a very good relationship despite being divorced, and there is still some love between them. Reiko even tells a policeman that she is Ryuji's wife, though that was to get into his apartment.
Son of Reiko and Ryuji, Yoichi is young and innocent but experiences a lot of hardships in his life. He possesses Psychic Powers
and comes off as a little creepy.
- Break the Cutie: Suffers quite a lot, losing four family members to Sadako's wrath, but comes out of it surprisingly well.
- Cannot Tell a Lie: Is very honest and always tells the truth, even if he is cryptic about it. He knows falling into the well will lead to his and Mai Takano's escape from Sadako.
- Children Are Innocent: Definitely the most purehearted of characters in the film series until Nagi comes along.
- Creepy Child: Yoichi is innocent through and through, but there something a little creepy about him and how he silently reacts to everything even when his own family members are dying.
- Cute Mute: Doesn't talk much but is quite adorable.
- Demonic Possession: Subverted. Implied to be haunted by Sadako's anger, boosting his powers,
- Psychic Powers: Presumably inherited from his father, Yoichi is able to sense supernatural auras and talk to ghosts. In Ring 2, his powers are boosted by Sadako, allowing him to project his voice through other people, astral projection, telepathy, and even pull a Psychic Strangle on a police officer. The condition of his powers are unknown after Ryuji's ghost absorbs his anger and grief.
- Tranquil Fury: Expresses this after Reiko is killed by a truck, taking his fury out on the police officer who played a hand in her death but is calmed down by Mai.
Reiko's elderly father who has a close relationship with his grandson Yoichi.
Tomoko's best friend who tells her the rumours of the cursed videotape. It turns out to be true and Masami witnesses Tomoko's death, driving her mad and being institutionalised.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Tomoko.
- Innocent Bystander / Mauve Shirt: Merely a witness to Sadako's first kill, Masami is influenced by her powers and develops thoughtography powers. She plays a supporting role in Ring 2, being used as a mouthpiece by Yoichi to contact Mai.
- Playing with Syringes: Masami is used as a test subject by Dr. Kawajiri to remove Sadako's psychic energy and transfer it to a blank videotape. It works at first only for Masami to drop dead suddenly.
- The Pollyanna: Comes off as this in the first film until Tomoko's death. Then she becomes a Broken Bird.
- Psychic Powers: Develops thoughtography which causes trouble for her and others. Dr. Kawajiri attempts to exorcise her powers but it leads to her death.
- Room Full of Crazy: When Masami approaches a television in the hospital, it nearly summons Sadako, causing all of the mental patients present to freak out.
An intern working alongside Reiko. He has a minor role in the first film but becomes an Ascended Extra
in the sequel, teaming up with Mai to find Reiko, but his own curiosity about the videotape leads him to A Fate Worse Than Death
- A Fate Worse Than Death: Ends up in psychiatric care with Kanae's laughing ghost tormenting him.
- Ascended Extra: Only has two scenes in Ring, but becomes a supporting protagonist for the first half of the sequel.
- Asshole Victim: His actions make him this.
- Dirty Coward: In Ring 2, he agrees to watch the videotape to save Kanae's life but turns coward and locks his copy in his draw. This comes back to bite him in the rear.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Okazaki's cowardice proves to be his undoing when he fails to keep his promise and watch the tape. Kanae comes back from the dead as a ghost to torment him forever.
- I Gave My Word: Promised Kanae he would watch the videotape for her sake. He doesn't.
- Intrepid Reporter: A milder version than Reiko, and when it gets too much for him, he chickens out.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Chickening out of watching a copy of the videotape leads to Kanae's death. He is then haunted by her ghost and is institutionalised.
A teenage student who is curious about the cursed videotape, meeting Okazaki and obtains a copy for him, only to watch it first
A parapsychologist treating Masami after her hospitalisation, Dr. Kawajiri believes the psychic energy created from the videotape can be neutralised via an energy transfer and would like to prove his theories. He is old friends with Ryuji.
- Agent Scully: Refuses to believe in the existence of ghosts or the afterlife, despite overwhelming evidence they exist. Ironically, when they do show up, he goes crazy and commits suicide.
- Energy Absorption: The intended purpose of his experiments, to absorb psychic energy and make it harmless by exposing it to a neutralising component.
- Labcoat of Science and Medicine
- Mad Scientist: Believed to be this by his colleagues at the university. Turns out he might be judging by his arrogant need to prove his theories work.
- Playing with Syringes: His methods to remove the psychic energy from Masami and Yoichi falls into this trope even though Kawajiri's intentions are good. Both are strapped to chairs and asked to feed their energy through a monitor into a secondary container (i.e. a blank videotape and swimming pool). Masami's test ends with her death, so Dr. Kawajiri introduces water as a neutralising factor for Sadako's energy. That doesn't go very well either.
- Psycho Psychologist: Becomes this in his second experiment, driven mad by what he sees and commits suicide by leaping into a swimming pool with electrical equipment.
A police officer investigating the deaths of Ryuji and Reiko's father.
- Agent Scully: He has a hard time believing in the powers of Shizuko and Sadako, and calls Yoichi a monster after being struck by a psychic attack.
- By-the-Book Cop: Just an ordinary cop who is horrified by the supernatural horrors around him.
- Hello Again Officer: A subverted non-funny one where Mai meets Omuta at the hospital after his previous visit to her apartment to discuss Ryuji's death.
- The Inspector: Investigating the mysterious deaths of Ryuji and Reiko's father, leading him into the plot of Ring 2.
- Psychic Strangle: Choked telepathically by Yoichi after Reiko is hit by a truck.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: A relatively fair cop but he has his limits, forcing Mai to reveal where Reiko and Yoichi are hiding when Kanae turns up dead. He also separates Reiko and Yoichi to interview the former, only to invoke Yoichi's psychic wrath.
- You Monster!: Subverted. Omuta calls Yoichi a monster after witnessing his psychic powers. Reiko, realising Yoichi could end up like Sadako, flees with him.
The antagonist of Ring 0
, Akiko is a journalist tracking down Sadako to avenge her husband, the journalist who Sadako murdered during her mother's fateful press demonstration.
A character who appears on the cursed videotape, Towel Man wears a cloth over his face and points enigmatically offscreen. He materialises during Ring
, pointing out things of significance to Reiko.
- Enigmatic Minion: His purpose seems to be foreshadowing or pointing out things to those who have watched the tape. He alerts Reiko to Yoichi watching the tape, and then again to Ryuji's copy.
- The Faceless: Wears a cloth or towel, hiding his face. There is speculation he is either Ryuji Takayama (since he wears Ryuji's clothes) or Hiroshi Toyama, considering Sadako enslaves the ghosts of her victims.
- Rule of Symbolism: Believed to represent Sadako's biological father when he appears in Ring 0.
Characters Introduced in Sadako 3 D
The protagonist of Sadako 3D
, a teacher who possesses Psychic Powers
, Akane encounters Sadako after hearing of a video online that drives viewers to commit suicide.
- Bad Ass: A right Determinator when it comes to saving Takanori from Sadako, taking on an army of monsters, albeit whilst being absolutely terrified.
- Cool Teacher: Very popular among her students and motherly towards them.
- Dark and Troubled Past: As a child, she saved fellow students from a knife-wielding psychopath with her powers but she was ousted by the others as a result. She contemplated suicide until saved by Takanori, the only person grateful for saving him.
- Demonic Possession: Becomes a target for Sadako to possess.
- Driven to Suicide: Nearly throws herself off as a roof as a child, but is convinced by Takanori to keep living.
- Expy: Of Reiko in terms of character role, but also of Sadako had she been loved rather than hated.
- Hot Teacher: Satomi Ishihara, Akane's actress, is quite pretty.
- Make Me Wanna Shout: The basis of her Psychic Powers, Akane can release a sonic scream when terrified that is able to repel Sadako.
- Mama Bear: Towards her students and her own daughter Nagi.
- Not So Different: Sadako believes she and Akane are very similar due to their powers and being rejected from society. Akane denies this, having never used her powers to harm others or get revenge on the world. Not that this stops Sadako from possessing her.
- Posthumous Character: Takanori claims she died giving birth to Nagi. This is a lie, Akane is actually in a comatose state beneath a hospital, forced into this to prevent Sadako from escaping her body.
- Screaming Woman: Does a lot of screaming in the movie, though it helps she has a sonic scream as a psychic ability.
- Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Said to have died during childbirth but actually alive. Akane is then actually killed by a crazed policeman.
Akane's boyfriend who is a graphics designer. He is the protagonist of the fifth novel S
, and is the son of Mitsuo Ando.
- Back from the Dead: In the books, he is the resurrected child of Mitsuo Ando from Spiral.
- Badass Normal: Stops Akane from killing herself as a child, rescues her from Sadako, and takes a severe beating in Sadako 3D 2 to protect his daughter Nagi.
- Disappeared Dad: To Nagi in Sadako 3D 2. The film makes it look like he resents her for Akane's "death", though it turns out to be quite the opposite.
- Distressed Dude: Taken prisoner by Sadako to lure Akane.
- Papa Wolf: Becomes this for Nagi.
- Understanding Boyfriend: Completely okay with Akane's powers. As a child, she rescued fellow students from a psychopath but he was the only one who was grateful, stopping Akane from commiting suicide. He becomes her Secret Keeper.
The protagonist of Sadako 3D 2
. Takanori's younger sister who becomes the guardian of his daughter Nagi.
- Badass Normal: Risks life and limb to protect Nagi.
- Bath Suicide: Her mother died from this.
- Break the Cutie: A bit of a fragile flower, which stems from witnessing her body commiting suicide in a Blood Bath. She goes through a lot of trauma in the film but all to protect Nagi.
- Heroic BSOD: When Akane is shot dead before Nagi's eyes.
- Mama Bear: Perhaps the best motherly character in the entire franchise. She is extremely dedicated to caring for Nagi despite her niece's grumpy attitude and anti-social demeanour. While she is admittedly afraid of Nagi, she still sticks by her.
- Parental Substitute: To Nagi.
- The Power of Love: Rescues Nagi from Sadako using this trope.
- Promoted To Parent: She is the parental guardian of Nagi since her brother doesn't want to care for her.
The daughter of Akane and Takanori introduced in Sadako 3D 2
. She comes off as a quiet Creepy Child
who always seems to be around when someone dies. Meant to serve as a host for Sadako to be reborn in, but her parents had other ideas.
- Children Are Innocent: Nagi is actually innocent, never killing anyone, and is sad that everyone is scared of her.
- Creepy Child: Nagi is very quiet and stares a lot. She resembles a young Sadako.
- Demonic Possession: Meant to be a host for a reborn Sadako, but her mother averted that.
- Enfante Terrible: Believed to be by those around her since she is always around people who die or commit suicide. Turns out she is guiltless in the whole thing.
- Four Is Death: Nagi is around four to five years old, and can see how people will die.
- Nightmare Fuel Coloring Book: Nagi draws nightmarish drawings of those she sees will die, usually on black card with very sharp pens.
- Psychic Powers: Presumably inherited from Akane and possible Sadako, Nagi is able to see how a person will die.
An internet artist who posts a video online showing his suicide. He is actually in league with Sadako, intending to resurrect her and get his own personal revenge on the world. In the novel S
, Kashiwada is another alias for Ryuji Takayama.
- Affably Evil: Very charismatic and polite to Fuko when she visits him in prison.
- Brown Note: His suicide video.
- Character Death: He is hung at the end of Sadako 3D 2.
- The Chessmaster: His goal is to resurrect Sadako, spreading his cursed suicide video online to find a host for his undead friend. The plan expands to resurrecting her anew as a baby, which was Nagi's purpose until Akane intervened. However, it seems Kashiwada left other roads for Sadako to return as implied at the end of Sadako 3D 2, with other girls being possessed or actually being Sadako.
- The Dragon: To Sadako.
- Driven to Suicide: He records his apparent suicide live, but it turns out to be fake, actually a new weapon for Sadako to use for her resurrection.
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Of the Japanese male variety.
- Freudian Excuse: His career as an artist was destroyed by plagarism accusations. This was enough for him to team up with Sadako.
- Lack of Empathy: Shows not a twinge of guilt for killing his victims.
- Mad Artist: As evidenced by what hides behind his apartment's wallpaper.
- Man in White: Wears a distinctive white suit in his suicide video.
- Psycho Supporter: His desire for revenge led him to team up with Sadako, though he seems to be pretty nutty and fanboyish to support her regardless.
- Room Full of Crazy: His apartment seems normal until Detective Koiso discovers the wallpaper is made of sleeping moths, and the walls are covered in drawings and scribbles about Sadako's resurrection.
- Serial Killer: Murdered several woman and dressed them up to resemble Sadako, before chucking them down the well as offerings and potential hosts to Sadako.
- Small Role, Big Impact: His "suicide" kicks off the events of Sadako 3D and its sequel.
- Stalker with a Crush: Subverted. Kashiwada sends letters to Nagi, but Takanori hid them from her. Kashiwada tells Fuko that he is a "fan" of Nagi.
The main protagonist of the series. A hardworking journalist from Seattle who investigates her niece's mysterious death and connections to an alleged cursed videotape. Upon watching the tape, Rachel discovers the rumours are true and teams up with her ex-boyfriend Noah to find its origins before they and their son Aidan are killed within seven days.
- Action Mom
- Badass Normal
- Expy: Of Reiko Asakawa.
- False Reassurance: She tells Aidan that they did nothing wrong when they sent Samara's tape out into the public.
- Good Parent: To Aidan, yes. To Samara, no.
- Heroic BSOD: When she finds Noah's corpse.
- Heroic Sacrifice: In the second film, Rachel allows Samara to drag her into the tape's monochromatic world to protect Aidan. She escapes though after sealing Samara in the well.
- Hot Scoop
- Intrepid Reporter
- Mama Bear
- Necessarily Evil: In The Ring 2, when Samara has fully taken over Aidan's body, the only way to subdue her and drive her out of her son is by nearly killing him. Which Rachel accomplishes by taking a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and lacing it with enough pills to horrify the audience.
- Parental Abandonment: It's strongly hinted that Rachel's focus on her career takes her away from Aidan, resulting in her being in the dark about his anxieties (if not outright dismissive) and going to parent-teacher meetings only out of obligation. This changes A LOT by the second film, specifically seeking out a smaller newspaper so she can spend more time with her son.
- Poor Communication Kills: Granted, the Curse is hardly believable as it is, but she only has herself to blame when the lack of reasonable explanation for her actions in the second film gets Child Protection Services on her head.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Surprisingly does this a lot in the series. Aidan calls her out when she reveals she freed Samara's body from the well, but he never told her before that she can never be at peace so he shares this trope.
- Rachel unleashes the tape onto an unsuspecting world, causing the events in Rings.
- And again in the second film when she seals Samara in the well.
- Working with the Ex: With Noah, who was her boyfriend for a time until they had Aidan.
Rachel's ex-boyfriend and a media analyst, Noah is enlisted by Rachel to discover the origins of the cursed videotape. He is Aidan's father but doubts he would ever be a good father due to his own being a disappointment.
Rachel and Noah's young son who possesses a degree of psychic powers.
- Creepy Child: On par with Samara, and it becomes worse when she possesses him.
- Demonic Possession: At the hands of Samara, who appears behind him in The Ring Two in a public bathroom and approaches him with each photo he takes of himself in a mirror.
- Expy: Of Yoichi Asakawa.
- Nightmare Fuel Coloring Book: He drew many unsettling sketches of his cousin Katie buried deep underground (or even underwater) in the run up to her death. After watching the tape, his artistic focus changes to Samara's house, the inside of the well, and progressively obsessive drawings of circles.
- Promotion to Parent: Rachel's parenting and Noah's absence have forced him to take this role.
- Psychic Powers
- Poor Communication Kills: He never volunteers any information on his visions, it has to be Rachel who asks him about them after his behavior or drawings tip her off. It's only after Rachel frees Samara from the well that he tells her she will continue to kill people.
- What the Hell, Hero?: He's the one to break this to Rachel.
The antagonist of the series and the American version of Sadako Yamamura. An eight year old who was tossed down a well by her adoptive mother Anna, Samara created the cursed videotape to get attention and possible revenge on the world.
Anna and Richard Morgan
Samara's foster parents. Anna and Richard Morgan ran a family horse ranch on Moesko Island and were renowned horse trainers in the local area. After adopting Samara, Anna suffered from horrible visions caused by Samara's powers, causing Richard to banish the girl to the barn. In revenge, Samara tortured the ranch horses into suicide by jumping off cliffs. Anna eventually kills Samara by pushing her down a well, before committing suicide herself by leaping off a cliff.
- Abusive Parents: Richard in particular, forcing Samara to live in the barn and prefers the horses to her.
- Bath Suicide: Richard kills himself via electrocution in a bath. It's not a pretty sight.
- Cool Horses: The Morgans' famous racing horses made them famous. Then they killed themselves, making them even more famous.
- Down on the Farm: Make that horse ranch.
- Driven to Suicide: Pretty much everyone in the family save Samara. Anna leapt off a cliff, Richard electrocuted himself in a bathtub, and the family horses leapt off cliffs thanks to Samara.
- Electrified Bathtub
- Expy: Anna is the equivalent of Shizuko Yamamura, and Richard is the equivalent of Takashi Yamamura.
- False Reassurance: Richard tries to pull this on Rachel when she asks about the existence of Samara and the tape.
- Foreshadowing: As soon as Rachel reveals she's made a copy of the tape, Richard realizes that killing her right then and there with a hook won't keep the curse from spreading.
- Horse Racing
- Ironic Echo: When Richard refers to all reporters (and Rachel in particular) as unable to leave well enough alone, "spreading the sickness" via their investigations. Which is exactly what Rachel did with Samara's curse.
- Mirror Scare: A scene on the tape depicts Anna brushing her hair and the mirror is moved about telekinetically by Samara, lifted straight out of the Japanese films.
- Red Herring: That Richard killed Samara, when in fact Anna did. In-universe example: Rachel believes Anna may have made the cursed video, when it was actually created by Samara.
- Villainous Breakdown: Richard ("MY WIFE WAS NOT SUPPOSED TO HAVE A CHILD!")
Samara's birth mother. Having possibly mentally unstable prior to child birth, Evelyn was young when she gave birth to Samara and lived in a hospital run by nuns. However, Samara did not cry unless put near water. Evelyn claimed Samara was possessed by a demon and was told by her daughter to drown her in order to save her. She attempted this but was stopped by the nuns and carted off to an asylum. She appears in The Ring Two
, and cryptically tells Rachel how to exorcise Samara from Aidan.
Editor-in-chief of the Daily Astorian newspaper, Max Rourke becomes Rachel's ally in The Ring Two
. He is very sceptical about Samara's existence and powers, but the strange goings on changes his mind. He is eventually killed by Samara.
Katie Embry and Becca Kohtler
Best friends who discuss the rumours of the cursed videotape. Katie is Rachel's 16-year old niece and close to her and Aidan. Katie reveals to Becca that she and three other students, Josh, Stacey and Scott, went to Shelter Mountain where they became the first viewers of the tape. Minutes later, Katie is killed by Samara. Her death leads to the events of the film. Becca witnessed her friend's death and was institutionalised, possibly gaining psychic powers in the process.
- Bedlam House: Poor Becca ends up in one after seeing Samara kill Katie, and has a fear of televisions.
- Haunted Technology: Katie has to deal with a TV that turns itself on, and the fridge door which opens by itself too.
- Nightmare Fuel Coloring Book: Katie draws sketches of images in her head in her work book, eventually writing "Why is this in my head!?"
- She also scribbled "hair" over the faces in a fashion magazine, making all the models look like Samara.
- Peek-A-Boo Corpse: Perhaps one of the scariest images of the film is when Kaite's mum Ruth opens a closet and finds Katie's body with a deformed face. The fright is not from the corpse but from the sudden appearance of the imagery.
- Katie's facial fate is hinted at in the final frames of the opening scene when the camera zooms at her face - it distorts.
- Power Born of Madness: Becca appears to gain some form of Psychic Powers, predicting the number of days Rachel has to live.
- Victim of the Week: Katie fills this along with three others, or four if you count Becca as witnessing her death.
The Ring Groups
After Rachel released the tape into the public, copies were made among teenager groups, creating a teenage cult called "Rings" as seen in the short film of the same name. These Secret Circles of Secrets
involve about five people, each person watching the tape to see how long they can last with the supernatural symptoms of the curse, whilst recording what they see. If they panic or give up, they can pass the tape to the next member, and so on. Very few rings have seen anyone get beyond Day 7, and the Astorian Ring seem very determined to do that, particularly with their newest member Jake.
- Asshole Victim: Subverted for Jake, who desperately tries to trick his friend Emily to watch the tape only for her to close her eyes when watching it.
- Hidden Agenda Villain: Vanessa really wants to see the outcome of Day 7, regardless of who gets sacrificied.
- Love Hurts: Jake's crush on Vanessa leads to his involvement with the tape and to his fate at the beginning of The Ring Two.
- Secret Circle of Secrets