John Daniel "Jack" Torrance (Jack Nicholson)
- Abusive Dad: Jack broke Danny's arm in a drunken rage before the action of the story starts.
- Adaptational Villainy: The movie, compared to the book. While he loses himself and goes after his family in both, the movie downplays his sympathetic qualities (such as his intense guilt over hurting his family and struggle to do right by them) while playing out some things he does unintentionally in the book as malicious (ex, in the book Jack destroys the radio in a blind panic when hearing it tell him to kill Wendy and Danny, whereas in the movie he does it deliberately to keep them stranded).
- The Alcoholic: Very pronounced in the book, where his addiction, recovery, and struggle to stay sober are detailed in great length. Hinted at more obliquely in the movie, although he at one point says out loud that "I'd give my goddamned soul for just a glass of beer."
- Alcoholic Parent: He is an alcoholic and once broke his son's arm in a drunken rage.
- Anti-Villain: Played with, depending on how much the audience sees him as a bad person to begin with or a good man who was broken by the hotel's influence. The movie and the book come down pretty hard on exact opposite ends of this.
- Ax-Crazy: At the climax of his mental breakdown, he goes on a murderous rampage..with an actual axe, no less.
- Evil Eyebrows: Jack Nicholson's portrayal. One of the reasons why King objected to him being cast in the role is those distinctive eyebrows.
- Face–Heel Turn: Both book and movie have Jack going from swearing he would never hurt Danny to out-and-out attempting to murder him.
- Fatal Flaw: His alcoholism and his violent temper.
- Faux Affably Evil: After he finally snaps.
- Large Ham: In the movie. Jack Nicholson's eyebrows deserve an Oscar category all their own.
- Meaningful Name: His first and middle name is Jack Daniel and he's an alcoholic. The first drink he has in both the movie and miniseries is Jack Daniels.
- Most Writers Are Writers: Jack ostensibly takes the job because it will give him time to work on his writing; although the real reason is that his alcoholism and violent temper have cost him his previous job as a teacher.
- Nice Guy: Before his alcoholism took over.
- Though the movie subverts this. He didn't seem to care too much about his family even before staying at the Overlook.
- Parental Favoritism: Jack was his father's favorite, though he still beat him regularly. Jack still loved him as best he could, even when the rest of the family began to hate him.
- Protagonist Journey to Villain: Moreso in the book—he's not the sole viewpoint character but he is the main one, starting out a guilt-ridden man trying to straighten up his life and ending it a psychopath hell-bent on hurting the people he loves.
- Sanity Slippage: In the movie, he starts going from throwing a tennis ball around the hotel in boredom to just staring creepily out the window and losing his temper over the smallest things. In the book, it's represented by his drinking symptoms starting to resurface without the alcohol. In both cases, he begins to see more and more of the supernatural elements of the hotel as he falls under its thrall.
- Slasher Smile: Pick one.
- Split-Personality Takeover: Again, depending on interpretation of whether the hotel infects Jack with his madness or just amplifies what's already there.
- Tragic Villain: More so in the book, but still the case in both.
- Troubled Abuser: Jack's father was a violent Domestic Abuser, who also beat up his kids regularly. Jack himself also accidentally broke Danny's arm — while trying to spank him for misbehaving.
- Weapon of Choice: A roque mallet (an axe in the movie).
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: He's portrayed sympathetically. His turn to Ax Craziness is tragic AND terrifying.
- Your Cheating Heart: It was revealed in Doctor Sleep that Jack cheated on his wife, presumably several times.
Winifred "Wendy" Torrance (Shelley Duvall)
- Abusive Parents: Her mother abused her emotionally.
- Action Survivor: She manages to survive everything the Overlook throws at her, including escaping with Danny in tow.
- Adaptation Dye-Job: Wendy is blonde in the novel, but has black hair in the movie.
- Broken Bird: Wendy shows the beginnings of this early on in the film, likely due to Jack's alcoholism. By the end, she's been to hell and back, appearing on the verge of a mental breakdown.
- Daddy's Girl: In the book. She had a very close relationship with her father—her mother told her that this drove a wedge into their marriage as part of her emotional abuse.
- Wide Eyes and Shrunken Irises: Her reaction to the wave of blood and the man in a bear suit performing oral sex on another man.
Daniel Anthony "Danny" Torrance (Danny Lloyd)
- The Empath: He can read people's minds at will, and even when not trying can pick up the emotions or strong thoughts going on through their minds.
- I See Dead People: He has the power to see ghosts—both the incredibly malicious, lingering spirits kind and the kind that are echoes of past events.
- Psychic Powers: Danny has an Imaginary Friend named Tony who shows him visions of the future.
- Split-Personality Takeover: One choice point in the movie where it seems like Tony has overtaken Danny, with him saying that Danny's gone away to Wendy, as well as Tony/Danny's chanting of "redrum" as he draws the word on the door.
Richard "Dick" Hallorann (Scatman Crothers)
- Big Damn Heroes: In the book. In the movie, this is subverted, as he gets killed by Jack almost the minute he arrives, but in either scenario his arrival is what allows Wendy and Jack to escape (using his Snowcat).
- Black Dude Dies First: Dies the first death of the film with an axe to the chest courtesy of Jack.
- Death by Adaptation: Is killed by Jack in the film. In the book, he survives and lives to a ripe old age.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Takes an ax in the chest in the movie.
- Magical Negro: Subverted. Danny's powers are his own, but befriending Dick helps him feel a little more confident about it.
- Nice Guy: He's very friendly towards the Overlook's employees and the Torrence family. He even comes all the way back to the Overlook in order to make sure they're alright.
- Psychic Powers: Same as Danny. They can communicate even without talking simply by thoughts.
Stuart Ullman (Barry Nelson)
- Adaptational Heroism: Ullman in the film was more polite and less dickish than Ullman in the book.
- Adaptational Villainy: However, in the deleted ending, Ullman handing Jack's tennis ball to Danny indicated that he is well aware of the supernatural issues in the hotel.
Delbert Grady (Philip Stone)
- Affably Evil: Incredibly polite, charming, and personable. But then he did off his family before offing himself.
- Creepy Monotone: "My girls, sir, they didn't care for the Overlook at first. One of them actually stole a pack of matches, and tried to burn it down. But I corrected them sir. And when my wife tried to prevent me from doing my duty, I corrected her."
- Driven to Suicide: After killing his family he put a shotgun in his mouth.
- Evil Brit: Yup!
- Family Annihilator: He killed his wife and children.
- The Jeeves: Starts off as this. Then his identity is revealed.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: He is a vile racist and misogynist because being a murderer apparently wasn't evil enough.