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Victor "Vic" Mackey
Played By: Michael ChiklisThe main character and leader of the Strike Team. Certainly not your typical television protagonist, as the character shot and killed a fellow police detective in the pilot episode of the series, without any remorse or regret. Despite this (and more), Vic attempts to do right by his family, the officers under his command, and the people in the community he is sworn to protect.
- The Ace: Especially in season 1 and 5 when the captains had a lot less power. Often gave speeches where people supported him, some refused to believe he was stealing drugs, Danny telling Julien he was mistaken in season 1, tough guy, friends with Gilroy, and often getting laid.
- Anti-Hero: An unscrupulous example in the first 4 seasons given that he's a Dirty Cop who is nonetheless genuinely committed to ridding Farmington of bloodthirsty drug lords, pedophiles, and serial killers (albeit while lining his own pockets and regularly breaking the law himself). However, as the series progresses, he increasingly prioritizes his own livelihood and desires at the expense of those around him thereby becoming a nominal hero if not a full-blown Villain Protagonist.
- Berserk Button: Hurting children and those closest to him, let alone any form of betrayal (as Terry found out), will cause you to suffer the full force of Vic's wrath.
- Consummate Liar: Here's Aceveda explaining to Kavanaugh why knowing enough about Vic to successfully hunt him down is nigh impossible without getting caught up in his corruption in the process:"You’ve never looked Mackey in the eye, had him lie straight to your face, and made you doubt yourself even though you know he was full of shit."
- The Corrupter: He's the one who draws the other Strike Team members into the cesspool of crime, and also the one who convinces Aceveda to take most of his really immoral actions during the course of the show.
- Cowboy Cop: Deconstructed. He begins as a somewhat well-intentioned dirty cop taking something extra for going the extra mile in his job and is acknowledged as a necessary evil at the precinct. As the series progresses, he grows more and more corrupt and amoral, to the point that he becomes a liability for the police force and he starts making so many deals with crooks he can no longer do his job.
- Dirty Cop: "And how!" doesn't even begin to cover it.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Loves his kids, does all he can to get them the money they need for his two autistic ones.
- Even Evil Has Standards: During seasons one and two, he demands a "no selling drugs to children" pledge from the drug dealers who he's in bed with.
- Played straight with his attitude towards child molesters.
- At the end of Season 1, he is absolutely aghast that Gilroy deliberately endangered innocent civilians to make a buck.
- Subverted towards the end when he is completely willing to murder Shane's pregnant wife and shows no remorse upon hearing that Shane murdered his son as a result of Vic's sadistic threats.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: He actually seems surprised that Olivia is no longer willing to work with him or let him operate on the street after he confesses his crimes to her.
- Evil Is Petty: Theft, drug dealing, lying and murder are a day's work. Being a complete jerk to Dutch? That's just for his amusement.
- A Father to His Men: Deconstructed. Vic is fiercely protective of his team, but at the cost of total subordination. Him playing leader also makes them desperately fight for his approval, which is essentially what kicks off much of the series' drama.
- Subverted in the Grand Finale: Vic may like his men, but ultimately, if he has to sacrifice them to save himself, he will.
- Faux Affably Evil: He often pretends to be likable and friendly in order to win over people, even those who already know he's dirty. The only one seemingly immune is Dutch.
- Friendly Rivalry: Zig-zagged with Dutch. They are outright hostile to each other at the beginning of the series, but they later develop into this after Dutch shows absurdly big balls while cracking a serial killer and even finds the guts to punch Vic. However, they return to hostilities after Dutch begins to snoop around his corruption case and begins a relationship with his ex-wife.
- Guns Akimbo: Once or twice he's gone in a bust carrying two guns.
- Humiliation Conga / Ironic Hell: His final fate.
- It's All About Me: Initially had this a bit. By the end, it has mutated to the point he doesn't give a damn about anyone but himself. Even his family just seem to be a way of him keeping control over his life.
- Jerkass: Aside from being a Dirty Cop, he also displays a highly pronounced sadistic streak and relentlessly bullies officers such as Dutch Wagenbach for his own amusement.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: At least during the first 4 seasons.
- Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk: His final characterisation.
- Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: During Kavanaugh's investigation and directly after it, due to Lem's death.
- Karma Houdini: Played with, but ultimately subverted. He gets away with his crimes, but loses his family, his friends, and his reputation and — perhaps worst of all for a Control Freak and Attention Whore like him — gets exiled to a desk job with no action, authority, or fame.
- Meaningful Name: Mackey as in Machiavelli.
- Moral Myopia: He can't stand his team or family being hurt, but is perfectly willing to manipulate, brutalize, or outright murder anyone if it suits his needs. He also can't stand any form of betrayal but is happy to betray anyone to suit his own needs.
- Not Me This Time: He really didn't have anything to do with Armadillo's murder, but Danny blames him for it anyway.
- Real-Life Relative: Cassidy, Vic's daughter, is played by Michael's real life daughter.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: In Season 1, he uses the protection given to him by Gilroy to openly flout Acevada's authority.
- Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: His standard M.O.
- Toxic Friend Influence: To his entire team, especially Shane.
- Villain Protagonist: He often fluctuates or
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: At first. However, as the series progresses, he becomes increasingly self-serving and ultimately discards all pretence of morality altogether.
- Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him?: While Vic is normally willing to shoot people who get in his way, there are several times where he lets Shane walk away when the smart thing to do would be to just kill him.
Played By: Walton GogginsVic's best friend and protégé. Impulsive, reckless, and at times racist, Shane drives much of the conflict in the series as his desire to move out of Vic's shadow causes much chaos and conflict.
- Alas, Poor Villain: It's hard not to feel sorry for him after reading his suicide note.
- Big Bad: One of several in Season 7.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Despite being an overt bigot who is often ribbed by his fellow officers as a "dumb hick", he is nonetheless a highly resourceful detective whose skills and decisiveness sufficiently qualify him to be Vic's right-hand man.
- Deep South: Hails from Atlanta, Georgia, and has "Dixie" for his cell phone ring tone.
- Dislikes The New Guy: Shane dislikes Tavon when the latter joins the Strike Team. This is due to both Shane's racism and his jealousy that team leader Vic is shifting trust and responsibility away from him to Tavon. The others all get along fine with Tavon.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Is horrified at Vic murdering a fellow cop in the pilot.
- Evil Mentor: For Army.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Shows shades of this. Despite displaying a good sense of humor in the company of his colleagues, he often flies into a blind rage at the slightest provocation while working in the field.
- Jerkass: Aside from his family and a select number of police officers at the Barn, Shane is an unpleasant, foul-tempered bigot.
- Mean Character, Nice Actor: Walton Goggins is one of the nicest, sweetest actors in Hollywood. Not that You'd know it from his performance here.
- Morality Pet: Mara and Jackson.
- My Greatest Failure: He is this to Vic, as far as the level of failure from Vic with the way he took Shane and turned him into a monster.
- Noble Bigot with a Badge: Evolved into this, largely due to Walt Goggins being uncomfortable with the casual racism of the character.
- Number Two: Vic's right-hand man.
- Politically Incorrect Hero: Before he makes the leap to outright villain.
- Rabid Cop: He's easily the most violent and unstable member of the Strike Team.
- Really Gets Around: Prior to marrying Mara in Season 3.
- The Rival: To Tavon in Season 3.
Curtis "Lem" Lemansky
Played By: Kenny JohnsonThe muscle of the Strike Team, as well as its conscience. Will often remind Vic and the rest of the Strike Team that they are supposed to be cops and try and rein in Vic's more corrupt notions (with various degrees of success). Unfortunately for him, he ultimately becomes a liability for the team and is killed off by Shane, to keep IAD from sending him to jail, where he would inevitably break.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: He gets a grenade in his lap.
- Gentle Giant: Loves kids and animals.
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: ...relatively speaking.
- The Heart: Tries to stop Vic and Shane when they go too far.
- Killer Cop: Actually averted. He's the only member of the Strike Team who never commits an actual murder during the course of the show.
- Morality Pet: For Vic.
- Only Sane Man: Will often interrupt Vic and Shane during various schemes to remind them that they are supposed to be on the side of law and order. Which leads to....
- Peer Pressure Makes You Evil: The fact that Vic and Shane largely get Lem to go along with the evil schemes of the Strike Team by exploiting Lem's need for a surrogate family, via peer pressure.
Ronald "Ronnie" Gardocki
Played By: David Rees SnellWith his facial hair and tech skills, Ronnie is the resident nerd of the Strike Team.
- Affably Evil: Ronnie came off as the nicest member of the Strike Team but slowly revealed himself to the most ruthless as well.
- Ascended Extra: The fourth member of the Strike Team had no plotlines and wasn't even a full cast member until season 5
- Badass Beard: Probably the best of his fluctuating facial hairstyles
- Beware the Quiet Ones: Ronnie flew under the radar but his no-drama approach to his work eventually built him up a reputation as someone you did not want to mess with.
- Character Development: Despite being in nearly every episode, his only role in the first few seasons was to get teased by the other Strike Team members. When he got promoted to regular cast member, the show revealed there was a reason he made so little impression: He was the only member of the team smart enough to keep his head down, and beneath his bland exterior he was ice cold — unemotional, ruthlessly efficient, and by far the team member least prone to mistakes.
- A Day In The Lime Light: "Back to One" showcases Ronnie, and specifically how good a cop he is when just doing his job.
- Even Evil Has Standards: While he was quite vocal about wanting to kill Shane, Vic's proclamation that he was going to kill Shane and his pregnant wife Mara (in front of their two year old son, no less) freaked even Ronnie out.
- Fake Guest Star: Appeared in almost every episode, but didn't get his Promotion to Opening Titles until Season 5.
- It's Personal: He does not take Shane murdering Lem well at all.
- Killer Cop: It takes nearly the entire run of the show, but he eventually pulls the trigger on a defenseless target in the Season 7 premiere.
- Not So Stoic: Ronnie was by far the calmest, most impassive of the Strike Team and even when attempting to have Shane murdered, he never even raised his voice... until he learned of how thoroughly Vic betrayed him, at which point he basically became a screaming, violent ball of rage.
- Only Sane Employee: The only member of the Strike Team who never creates problems that the others have to solve.
- Only Sane Man: The only member of the Strike Team who realizes that Shane is a threat that should be neutralized.
- Overshadowed by Awesome: "Back to One" shows that he could have been a great cop, if Vic and the Strike Team hadn't gotten their hooks into him.
- Porn Stache: His mustache in Seasons 1 and 2.
- The Quiet One: Barely even had any dialogue in the first few seasons.
- Scars Are Forever: Gets burned by a grill by Armadillo to taunt Vic. He later covers this up by growing a full beard.
- Senseless Sacrifice: Vic betrays Ronnie in order to gain immunity for his wife, who Vic did not know (but the viewers did) had already gained immunity in order to help Claudette bring Vic to justice.
- The Smart Guy: Works bugs, electronics, computers, and stuff.
- Tempting Fate: He specifically tells Vic that he considers going to prison to be a Fate Worse Than Death. He ends up being the only member of the Strike Team to be arrested for his crimes.
Played By: Reed Diamond"Driver" for the Strike Team, Terry Crowley was placed on the Strike Team by then-Captain Aceveda as a means to keep an eye out on the antics of Vic and his crew. Unfortunately for him, when Acaveda approached him about gathering evidence about Strike Team corruption, Terry agreed, only to get a bullet in the face for his trouble.
- Decoy Protagonist: Ads depicted him as the true star of The Shield.
- Expy: Of Reed Diamond's Homicide: Life on the Street character, Mike Kellerman.
- Good Is Not Nice: He's technically working for the good guys, but he's motivated only by his own ambition.
- Posthumous Character: He turns up for a cameo at the end of "Co-Pilot."
Played By: Brian WhiteA young black detective who is placed on the team due to orders from the brass, who want to include one Token Minority onto the all-white Strike Team. Unaware of Vic Mackey's corrupt nature, the skilled rookie detective made a big mistake when he went and told Shane that he was hoping that Vic would take him under his wing as a mentor. One massive brawl later and a car wreck, Tavon was written out of the series.
- Berserk Button: Racial slurs.
- The Bus Came Back: For one episode in season 7.
- Cowboy Cop: He wins Vic's respect by holding a (secretly unloaded) gun to a suspects head and pretending to play Russian Roulette to extract information.
- Hannibal Lecture: Delivers the mother of all speeches to Shane, when he comes back in season seven, about why he sucks as a human being.
- The Rival: to Shane.
- The Sixth Ranger: Technically fifth. The first of several though.
- Token Minority: On the team because the higher-ups didn't like the optics of an all-white Cowboy Cop force marauding through minority neighborhoods. The Strike Team actually anticipates and appreciates how a black member could open up new avenues for them, they're just nervous about having to keep secrets from him.
- Trauma Conga Line: He goes from being beaten badly, to almost dying in a car crash leading to months of recovery, to being told he struck a woman and it's all his fault...which he tearfully believes because the accident impacted his memory.
Armando "Army" Renta
Played By: Michael PenaArmy sniper who, after a tour of duty in Iraq, returned home and landed a job with the LAPD, where he was partnered with Shane Vendrell. The two got along well, but Shane's corrupt cop ways ended up getting the two in hot legal water. Rather than risk his luck, he ended up resigning from the LAPD and returning to the military.
- The Apprentice: To Shane, God help him.
Played By: Alex O'LoughlinA capable officer introduced as the one who will succeed Vic in leading the Strike Team. His arrival is initially met with some tension but Vic and co eventually warm up to him.
Played By: CCH PounderVeteran detective partnered with Detective "Dutch" Wagenbach. Though positioned as the conscience of the Barn, she's more than willing to turn a blind eye to Vic's brutality and corruption...at least, at first.
- Big Good: Eventually becomes this from Season 6 onwards.
- Da Chief: Has shades of this after finally becoming the captain.
- Foil: To Vic. She's just as brilliant, ruthless, and driven as he is, but she's also an honest cop who believes in justice.
- The Heart: Of the Dutch-Claudette partnership, she usually pursues a more emotional angle when it comes to dealing with victims and criminals.
- Honor Before Reason: Her battle against the D.A.'s office.
- I Am the Noun: "Don't lecture me about the struggle, son. I am the struggle."
- Platonic Life Partners: with Dutch.
- Secretly Dying: She has lupus, although she doesn't realize that it's become terminal until almost the end of the series.
- True Companions: with Dutch.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: with Dutch.
Holland "Dutch" Wagenbach
Played By: Jay KarnesDetective and partner of Claudette. A brilliant, but socially inept detective who deals with unsavory bad guys. The Rival to Vic Mackey.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: His social awkwardness is excused by his being a brilliant cop.
- Butt Monkey: Things rarely go right for him. Even his partner and best friend can't help he a jerk to him at times.
- Deadpan Snarker: It's the only way he keeps his sanity most of the time.
- Defective Detective: Despite being a brilliant detective, his personal life is often a mess.
- Dogged Nice Guy: While he goes on a few dates over the course of the series, all his attempts to actively pursue a woman's heart end up failing miserably.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: To say he deserved to have the only somewhat happy ending would be an understatement.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Though sometimes he just comes off as a Nice Guy.
- Knight in Sour Armor: As best demonstrated by this quote."We're animals... nothing more. And ya know what? I'm learning to be OK with that."
- The Lancer: To Claudette after she becomes Chief.
- Manipulative Bastard: A rare heroic example given his penchant for getting criminal suspects to confess during interrogation either by appealing to their vanity or exploiting their insecurities.
- Properly Paranoid: His mistrust of Vic is very, very justified.
- Platonic Life Partners: with Claudette.
- Secret Keeper: Keeps Claudette's lupus secret from the rest of the Barn.
- The Smart Guy: He's much smarter than Vic and could easily take him down, which Vic is very aware of.
- True Companions: with Claudette.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: with Claudette.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: He became a cop to impress his cold, distant father.
Played By: David MarcianoA veteran cop who is five years away from retiring and dead set on doing as little as possible until then, in order to ensure he sees the day of his retirement.
- Berserk Button: Could rival even Vic's and Lem's love for kids. Doesn't like them harmed.
- Cowboy Cop: When he's roused to action, he thinks nothing of planting evidence to get his man.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Usually won't raise a finger to help, unless it's a case of child abuse, in which case he will move heaven and earth to see that justice is done.
- Dirty Lovable Coward: Oscillates between the two adjectives.
- Kicked Upstairs: Subverted. When the brass realize what a disaster he is as captain, they broom him right quick.
- Never My Fault: He is outraged that he might actually lose his job for filing a bogus lawsuit against the city.
- Playing Sick: After breaking up a fight between Vic and Kavanaugh and hitting his head on a desk, he sues the city for a laundry list of imaginary ailments related to the injury.
- Pointy-Haired Boss: When he briefly became captain.
Captains and Administration
Played By: Benito MartinezThe politically ambitious police captain of the Barn and ultimately an influential member of the Los Angeles City Council. Despite being Vic Mackey's archnemesis and by extension the principal antagonist in Season 1, he and Mackey become begrudging allies in later seasons.
- Anti-Hero: A pragmatic example in the first three seasons prior to becoming an outright villain.
- Badass: Despite being a bureaucrat who primarily involves himself with public relations and soliciting support from LA power brokers, he is no less competent in the field than the police officers under his command.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: He takes great pains to present himself as an altruistic public servant who adheres to the rule of law. As the story progresses, he is increasingly revealed to be a ruthless careerist who has no qualms manipulating others and abusing his authority to satisfy his lust for power.
- Da Chief: In the first three seasons as a the Police Captain struggling to bend Vic Mackey to his will.
- Fair Cop: Given his lofty political ambitions, he makes a point of supplementing his attractive appearance by being meticulously well-groomed and maintaining an impressive physique. This is acknowledged in-universe given that Vic Mackey often refers to him derisively as a "pretty boy" publicity hound and the vampish con-artist, Deena shamelessly flirts with him every time she sees him (albeit while trying to persuade him to reduce charges against her).
- Fatal Flaw: Pride. It ultimately serves as the catalyst for his transformation into a villain.
- A Father to His Men: During his tenure as Captain in the first 3 seasons. Despite being frequently condescending towards most of his employees and having no qualms using them as pawns to advance his interests, he exhibits genuine concern for his officers' well-being and goes to great lengths to look out for them.
- Good Is Not Nice: During the first 3 seasons before becoming corrupted by his ambition. While he genuinely wants to improve the quality of life for Farmington's population, he is also vain, calculating and a covert sexual sadist.
- Happily Married: The Acevedas go through some serious problems, but they're still an example. However, given that his wife is just as ambitious and calculating as he is, it's unclear after Season 3 what extent their relationship's longevity is due to their genuine affection for one another as opposed to political expediency.
- Hero Antagonist: In Season 1. While it is made apparent early on that he is an ambitious and self-centered individual, his actions never rise to the level of making him a Big Bad given that his status as an antagonist arises solely from opposing the criminal practices of the series' corrupt protagonist, Vic Mackey. It is only in later seasons as he increasingly aids and abets Vic's activities to advance his career that he truly becomes villainous.
- Humiliation Conga: In Season 3 from "Mum" onwards.
- Karma Houdini: His reward for his role in passively (and sometimes actively) abetting Vic's crimes throughout the series? He's almost certain to be the next mayor of L.A.
- Knight in Sour Armor: Until he steadily prioritizes his ambitions over his own morality.
- Manipulative Bastard: He's no better than Vic in this department.
- Moral Dissonance: For the first three seasons, he expresses a sincere desire to serve the public by cleaning up crime in Farmington and rooting out corruption within its police department. However, this doesn't stop him from callously manipulating those around him to achieve this end nor prioritizing the interests of Farmington's Latino citizens over the rest of its population. By Season 4, he's pretty much discarded all pretence of morality in favor of advancing his own fortunes.
- Out of Focus: To varying degrees in Seasons 4, 5, and 6.
- Tautological Templar: Increasingly so as he let his sense of ambitions get to his head.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: He gains a big one in Season 4, when his mental problems and political position make him feel above everyone else.
- Your Cheating Heart: He begins seeing a prostitute following his rape.
Played By: Glenn CloseReplacement captain for the Farmington District after Aceveda left following his election to city council.
- Arch-Enemy: To Antwon Mitchell.
- Badass: Doesn't take crap from Vic or the top brass of the LAPD.
- Berserk Button: Negligent social workers.
- Big Good: Of Season 4.
- Doomed Moral Victor: She doesn't die, but she does sacrifice her career to win.
- Honor Before Reason: She probably could have kept her job if she had picked the Mitchell fight over the Social Services fight (or vice versa), but she just had to do both at the same time.
- Knight Templar: A somewhat heroic version. Her pursuit of Carl and Scooby's killers leads her to take the leash off Vic, and even try a couple of extreme moves of her own.
- Mama Bear: Protective of her fellow officers, especially after two of them are murdered on orders of Antwon Mitchell.
- Small Role, Big Impact: She only appeared for one season, but the IAD investigation she initiates ultimately destroys the Strike Team.
- Utopia Justifies the Means: Her seizure program rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, but she was putting money into the community.
Played By: Lucinda JenneyA civilian auditor appointed by the City Council to supervise the Barn's activities following the events of Season 1. She and Armadillo Quintero serve as the principal antagonists in Season 2.
- Ambition Is Evil: Implied. She commits some pretty heinous actions just for the sake of scoring points with her superiors in the City Council.
- Big Bad: Of Season 2. The whole story arc revolves around the Barn trying to maneuver around her intrusive supervision and subsequently weathering the fallout from her overly damning report.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: When first introduced, she acts very polite and respectful towards the police officers of the Barn. However, she quickly turns nasty and overbearing when they are less than prompt in providing her with the information she requests.
- Drunk with Power: Upon being appointed by the L.A. City Council to supervise the Barn's activities, she becomes a petty tyrant who routinely coerces law enforcement officers into giving her their unwavering attention and obedience even when they are engaged in vital police work and threatens to use her authority to ruin their livelihoods if they don't.Kellis::"When I ask for something I ask politely because that's my nature, but when you make me ask a second time I lose my patience....The people I work for want answers. They expect me to get them.I have the power to recommend changes, get people fired, even shut down this entire building if it's warranted! Do you understand what I'm saying detective!?"
- Hero Antagonist: Subverted. While she is technically on the right side of the law, she callously impedes the police work of honest officers like Dutch Wagenbach and Danny Sofer before ultimately threatening their very livelihoods merely for the sake of smearing Aceveda's reputation.
- Jerk Ass: When she drops the "polite civil servant" routine, she is insufferably arrogant and condescending towards those around her.
- Karma Houdini: She never does personally atone for the harm she does to the Barn.
- Lawful Stupid: Shows shades of this.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: She expects all officers to halt all their work until complying with her "requests" (even when citizens' lives are at stake) and inserts herself into EVERY aspect of Farmington's police business merely for the sake of digging up dirt on Aceveda.
- Principles Zealot: As far as PR is concerned.
Played By: Forest WhitakerIAD officer who goes after Vic Mackey and the Strike Team.
- Anti-Villain: Type III. Forest Whitaker name checked this trope in at least one interview.
- Berserk Button: Watching his meticulously crafted plans end in failure and anything involving his ex-wife, Claudia.
- Big Bad: Of Season 5. He starts off the season as a vain but principled officer trying to bring a thoroughly crooked cop like Vic to justice. It's the means he resorts to in pursuit of this end that ultimately lead him to become an outright villain.
- Good Is Not Nice: While he is genuinely committed to bringing down crooked cops like Vic Mackey, he is also narcissistic and vindictive. It is these qualities that ultimately drive him to jump off the slippery slope just for the sake of "beating" Mackey.
- Fallen Hero: Became corrupt when he tried to take down Vic.
- He Who Fights Monsters: After being outmaneuvered one too many times by Vic Mackey, he resorts to targeting the Strike Team's family members and conspiring with murderous thugs like Antwon Mitchell to bring Vic down.
- Hero Antagonist: The Hero part gets muddled as the season goes on.
- Knight Templar: He is zealously committed to bringing corrupt cops like Vic Mackey to justice by any means necessary.
- Not So Different: From Vic.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: He has the ear of the Chief of Police, so he can get away with things no other IAD investigator could.
Played By: John DiehlThe Assistant Chief of Police, Vic's political muscle within the department, and the man who created the Barn and formed the Strike Team.
- Arc Villain: At the end of Season 1, he briefly eclipses Aceveda as the story arc's preeminent antagonist.
- Asshole Victim: He's so crooked and pathetic that not even his wife cares after he dies. The only person who's moved by this is Vic.
- Beard of Sorrow: After his arrest in Season 1, he develops a Perma Stubble. After his body arrives in the morgue, it is revealed that it grew into a full-blown beard during his Mexican exile.
- Crime After Crime: In the last two episodes of Season 1, he commits a variety of crimes, ranging from blackmail to obstruction to murder, in order to cover up his involvement in a hit and run and the real estate fraud he's working in Farmington.
- Evil Former Friend: Even Vic is outraged by his callous disregard for the safety of Farmington's citizens.
- Smug Snake: In Season 1, he tries to use Vic Mackey and David Aceveda as pawns in his real estate scheme but gets outsmarted by both of them.
Danielle "Danny" Sofer
Played By: Catherine Dent
- Butt Monkey: Crap keeps happening to her.
- Cool Big Sis: Has shades of this when she mentors Julien for the first two seasons.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: Always had the attitude, especially when she gives harsh lectures to Tina.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Is rough to new cops but only to get them ready for the tough life ahead.
- Secret Keeper: For a while, she was the only co-worker to know that Julien was gay.
- Team Mom: Becomes this in Season 5.
- Written-In Infirmity: Her pregnancy was written in when Catherine Dent actually became pregnant.
Played By: Michael Jace
- Belief Makes You Stupid: Often. The best example is when he is up in arms after a church is searched, even though it turned out to be a front for heroin distribution.
- Berserk Button: Hurt Danny and Julien will kick your ass.
- Black Best Friend: To Danny.
- You Are What You Hate: Inverted. He got very violent with a transsexual prostitute and it's outright stated that it was because of his own homosexuality.
Played By: Paula GarcesA new recruit assigned to serve as Julien's partner. Her going from vain pretty girl to competent cop was a major storyline for the later seasons of the show.
- Hidden Depths: Is not as vapid as she seems and capable of some good ideas out on the field.
Played By: Matt GeraldJulien's new partner following Danny's brief termination.
Played By: Walter Emanuel JonesA low-level drug dealer selected by Vic to hold the monopoly on corners in Farmington (in exchange for some regular "rent" payments, of course).
- Bullying a Dragon: He practically blackmails Vic in the Farmington Police Department and later shoots at him while high on cocaine.
- The Dragon: To Kern Little.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Likes to let everyone know that he's under Vic's protection, which Vic, naturally, is not pleased with.
- Smug Snake: He think he's far more irreplaceable and intelligent than he actually is.
- Too Dumb to Live: He grows addicted to his own product and recklessly threatens the man whose protection is crucial to the success of his business.
- Villainous Friendship: With Kern Little. It doesn't last
Played By: Sticky FingazA prominent L.A. gangsta rapper who happens to be, well, an actual gangsta. In between recording sessions, he calls the shots for the One-Niners. Until Antwon Mitchell gets out of prison, at any rate...
- Adam Westing: Sticky Fingaz is a real-life gangsta rapper. (Though, as far as anyone knows, he's never actually killed a man with his bare hands.)
- Affably Evil: Despite being a drug trafficking kingpin, he's shown to be a doting (albeit acquiescent) boyfriend who has no affinity for the for the bloodshed attached to his livelihood.Kern: "I'm nothing if not a man of peace."
- Crouching Moron Hidden Bad Ass: When first introduced, he merely appears to be a pretentious poseur who relies on his subordinates to do his dirty work for him. However, when Vic Mackey locks him up in a storage container with T-Bone to coerce them into making peace between their respective gangs, he proves that he's not all talk by brutally murdering the other gangster with his bare hands.
- Henpecked Husband: His girlfriend Tyesha has him wrapped around her little finger.
- Put on a Bus: Coincidentally off touring in Europe during most of Season 3 and all of Season 4.
- The Starscream: Antwon suspected he would be this, but had him killed before he could do anything about it.
- Villainous Friendship: With Rondell Robinson. It doesn't last
- Villain with Good Publicity: He's portrayed as a fairly popular rapper in L.A. who has also made a lucrative career as a music producer.
Theodore "Tio" Osmond
Played By: Cedric PendletonRondell Robinson's right-hand man...and eventual replacement.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Armadillo Quintero has him "necklaced." Look it up.
Played By: Anthony AndersonA high-ranking member of the One-Niners street gang and an old enemy of Monica Rawling, recently released after serving a thirteen-year sentence on drug charges.
- Abusive Parents: His father regularly beat him and raped his little sister. As an adult, he's hardly a loving family man himself given that he uses his own children as pawns in his criminal activities.
- Arch-Enemy: To Captain Rawling.
- The Chessmaster:While posing as a reformed criminal-turned-community activist, he seizes control of the One-Niners gang and single-handedly transforms it into a well-disciplined and highly sophisticated organization with ties to the Salvadoran Cartel and the Russian Mob.
- The Corrupter: To Shane, Aceveda, and ultimately IAD Officer Jon Kavanaugh.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Played with. He takes care of his children and siblings, but trying to use his son as leverage against him gets nowhere.
- Faux Affably Evil: He seems like a jolly, easygoing guy right up until he personally executes a young informant for compromising his criminal enterprises.
- Freudian Excuse: His father raped his younger sister (who ended up in a psychiatric hospital as a result) and his mother is doing life for killing him.
- Karma Houdini: Double subverted. Gets arrested and will serve life but is still running things and is very comfortable in jail enjoying women and drinks and has cops on his payroll.
- Might as Well Not Be in Prison at All: In Seasons 5 and 6, he continues to run his gang from his Luxury Prison Suite.
- Playing Against Type: Notwithstanding the likable persona he presents to the public, Antwon Mitchell is nothing like the comical, lighthearted roles previously played by Anthony Anderson in films like Kangeroo Jack and Agent Cody Banks 2.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: He's every bit as ruthless and calculating as Armadillo Quintero, a sociopathic Mexican crime kingpin and one of the main antagonists in Season 2.
- Villain with Good Publicity: Like Luther Mahoney on Homicide: Life on the Street, he presents himself as a community activist. When he finally gets busted, there are protests from honest citizens who have bought into his hype.
- Would Hurt a Child: Or mercilessly gun one down to be more precise.
Played By: L. Michael BurtThe street boss of the One-Niners after Antwon Mitchell is sent back to prison.
Played By: Danny PinoA sociopathic underworld kingpin from Mexico who moves into Farmington with plans to dominate its underworld. He and Lanie Kellis serve as the principal antagonists in Season 2.
- Big Bad: In Season 2. However, he is later revealed merely to be a Disc One Final Boss when he dies only 8 episodes into the season.
- Child Prodigy: He reportedly scored "off the charts" on his IQ at the age of 11.
- Dangerously Genre Savvy: He actively recruits minors as drug dealers in order to exploit laws preventing police from turning them into informants who could expose his operations. Similarly, he consciously goads Vic Mackey into maiming him so he can later use the event to blackmail the Strike Team.
- Disc One Final Boss: (See Big Bad section above)
- Enfant Terrible: He raped his teacher at the age of 11.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Subverted. Vic tries to use his brother as leverage against him, but Armadillo has him killed in prison both to protect himself and make a statement.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: Of the evil variety.
- Karmic Death: Gets shanked by one of the old-school Gang Bangers he screwed over during his takeover of Farmington's Mexican gangs.
- Macho Masochism: In addition to being a consummate sadist, he also appears fond of self-mutilation given the multitude of scars on his body as well as the manner in which he views them as testaments to his own masculinity.Armadillo:"Every scar is a victory. This is just my biggest."
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: He tatoos a dove on all his rape victims' faces so that they always remember they are "his."
- Ruthless Foreign Gangsters: He manages to destroy the drug operation Vic is protecting and take over two of the most powerful gangs in Farmington in the space of a couple of episodes.
- The Sociopath: He seems to have no conscience whatsoever based on his willingness to target children in grade school as a potential narcotics "market" and brutally murder his own brother to protect his gains. He is also quite sadistic given that he is a serial rapist and pedophile who maliciously compounds his victims' psychological harm by leaving a tatoo of a dove on their faces.
- Two-Faced: After Vic burns half his face.
- Visionary Villain: Upon arriving in Farmington, he begins systematically eradicating all his competitors in the drug market in order to lay the foundation for a massive criminal empire that stretches from L.A. to Mexico City.
- Would Hurt a Child: In fact, he would rape them.
Played By: F.J. RioA big-time property developer and one of Aceveda's key financial backers in his budding political career. Too bad he's also the front for The Cartel's plan to buy up Farmington and turn it into their new L.A. base of operations...
- Blackmail: His stock in trade.
- Death Faked for You: Vic fakes his death and turns him over to ICE rather than killing him on Beltran's orders.
- Unwitting Pawn: Vic plays him like a fiddle, particularly in regard to the Armenians.
Played By: Francesco QuinnChief of security for The Cartel and Pezuela's boss.
- Big Bad Ensemble: One of many villains in Season 7.
- Unwitting Pawn: Just like Pezuela, he gets completely suckered by Vic.
Played By: Kurt SutterA highly feared enforcer of the Armenian Mob who begins systematically hunting down and executing all those suspected of being involved in the Money Train Heist at the end of Season 2.
- Ascended Extra: He goes from being a highly unsettling yet minor character who appears in only one episode of Season 1 to being the main antagonist of Season 3.
- Badass: When a burly cellmate insults him at the Barn, he promptly kills him with his bare hands by snapping his neck. At the end of the same episode, he is ultimately revealed to have escaped from police custody by busting a window on a paddy wagon and leaping out at 40 miles per hour (while still cuffed) . Later, in Season 3, he and a handful of his thugs seem to have no trouble wreaking havoc among the Byz-Lats' hardened ranks.
- Big Bad: In Season 3. His actions threaten to implicate the Strike Team in a double homicide before he ultimately begins targeting the Team himself.
- Creator Cameo: Played by writer/producer Kurt Sutter.
- Creepy Souvenir: He takes the feet from all of his victims.
- The Dreaded: When he is first arrested by the Farmington Police Department, the Armenian mobsters with whom he is brought in are frightened into silence merely by his presence during interrogation.
- Fake Nationality: Played by Kurt Sutter, who is American.
- Foot Focus: He has a foot fetish, to the extent that Dutch almost catches him when he has a murder victim's feet chopped off, packed in dry ice, and mailed to his safe house in Athens.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: While he doesn't appear in many scenes, this is strongly implied. When first introduced in "Blowback", he shoots another Armenian mobster for "sampling" a line of cocaine he was preparing for himself during a drug deal. Similarly, while incarcerated, he promptly breaks the neck of one of his cellmates merely for calling him a "faggot."
- Man in White: In his first appearance.
- Noodle Implements: The contents of his apartment (such as a case of microwave popcorn, but no microwave).
- Psycho for Hire: A unique example. In Season 1, he appears to be merely an Ax-Crazy hitman (albeit a highly feared one) in the Armenian Mob's employ. This is partially subverted in Season 3 when he is revealed to be a high-ranking member of the Armenian Mob who nonetheless personally offers his "services" in order to satisfy his bloodlust.
- [[This troper always thought he offed his own man because he heard the sstrike team coming and wanted to strike fear into the hearts of his men.]]
- Psychotic Smirk: He gives a very creepy one while being handcuffed for murdering one of his cellmates in "Blowback."
A hitman dispatched by Margos Dezerian to locate those responsible for the Money Train Heist.
- The Apprentice: Implied to be this to Margos considering he adopts his modus operandi of cutting off his victims' feet.
- Bad Liar: His reply when asked about the contents of a package to he sent Athens encased in dry ice: "Books."
- Perpetual Frowner: Based on the few scenes in which he appears.
- Small Role, Big Impact: His murder of two Armenian mobsters on Margos's orders threatens to implicate the Strike Team in two murders that occurred at the Money Train Heist.
- Too Dumb to Live: He keeps the receipt for a package he sent to Margos containing the feet of those he killed.
Played By: Herzl TobeyA mid-level soldier in the Armenian mob responsible for overseeing the organization's Money Train.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: When he feels threaten by Margos Dezerian's men, he arrives at the Barn with his family in tow offering information in return for their safety.
- Moral Dissonance: He has no problems contacting Armenian hitmen to murder two colleagues. However, he is highly offended by the reckless disregard exhibited by a negligent driver who backends him in a fender-bender.
- Photographic Memory: He immediately recognizes Lem as one of the men he asked to serve as witnesses for a prospective insurance claim after being involved in a car accident in Season 2. He also remembers the alias given to him by Shane who was driving with Lem at the event in question.
Played By: Franka PotenteThe daughter of an Armenian Mafia chieftain, who secretly runs his organization after he is left comatose by a heart attack.
- Hypocrite: She goes after the families of those who cross her, but is outraged when Shane uses her father as a Human Shield.
Played By: Ludwig Manukian
Played By: Michael KellyA Serial Killer that murdered 23 people.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: Given a rather spectacular dressing down by Dutch.
Played By: Clark GreggA serial rapist, and eventual Serial Killer, who targets elderly women and "cuddles" with them afterward.
- Creepy Souvenir: He takes ceramic figurines from his victims.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: He's very eager to make sure his wife isn't affected by his arrest.
- Hannibal Lecture: Gives a devastatingly honest one to Dutch.
- Happily Married: Until he's found out.
- In-Series Nickname: The Cuddler Rapist.
- Manipulative Bastard: The entire reason for "cuddling" his victims is to keep them calm and less likely to speak to police.
Played By: Ray CampbellAn accused Serial Killer from Texas who relocates to Farmington, which soon sees a rash of murders matching his alleged M.O.
- Arch-Enemy: To Claudette.
- Consulting a Convicted Killer: Dutch shows him interrogation video of Lloyd Denton and asks for his opinion.
- Dangerously Genre Savvy: He's a meticulously organized killer and knows more about police procedure than many cops.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: His genuine love for his sister proves to be his Achilles' heel.
- A Fool for a Client: He represents himself during his trial. In a subversion, he actually does quite well for himself.
- Karma Houdini: Subverted. He'll spend the rest of his life in prison, but he manages to blackmail the LAPD and the prosecutors into taking the death penalty off the table.
- Lack of Empathy: He literally thinks of his victims as objects.
- Malcolm Xerox: Any suspicion that falls on him is based purely on racism, dammit!
- Sherlock Scan: He figures out that Claudette is ill almost instantly when her lupus flares up.
Played By: Kyle GallnerA teenage boy who claims to have shot a burglar in his home, but whom Dutch suspects of being a budding Serial Killer.
- Big Bad Ensemble: One of several villains in Season 7.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Claudette implies he loved her mother even though he killed her.
- Narcissist: His hobby is drawing pictures of himself.
Played By: Cathy Cahlin RyanMrs. Vic Mackey.
- Mama Bear: The season finale, where she took the kids and ran, proved this in spades.
- Stepford Smiler: Has to become this.
Played By: Michele Hicks
- Freudian Excuse: Think she's bad? Wait until you meet her mother.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: She's very racist against black people.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Gives one to Vic.
Played By: Jamie BrownA hooker and crack addict who serves as Vic's unofficial informant.
- Morality Pet: To Vic.
Played By: Nichole HiltzA Con Artist who successfully manipulates Shane.
Played By: Laura Elena HarringA criminal defense attorney retained by Vic to represent the Strike Team in the face of Kavanaugh's investigation.
- Horrible Judge of Character: She completely buys Vic's line about how the Strike Team are basically good cops being made into patsies by the brass.
Played By: Laurie HoldenA special agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement who helps Vic bust The Cartel...and becomes his last hope for a lifeline when his web of lies and crimes starts to unravel.
- The Dog Bites Back: She's the one who really puts the screws to Vic and ensures his deal turns into an Ironic Hell.
- Horrible Judge of Character: She even lampshades it in the Grand Finale. But boy, what a payback she scores.
- Minion with an F in Evil: She's one of Pezuela's many blackmail victims and jumps at the chance to take him down.
- My God, What Have I Done?: When Vic unveils the true extent of his evil... just after she gave him total immunity for his crimes.