Badass: All the other characters get more and more paranoid and scared, while MacReady just gets more determined to kill the creature. He never freaks out and screams when he sees it, instead spouting one-liners and getting more and more determined to kill it.
Badass Beard: Unlike some of the other team members (who presumably grow one out due to the frigid Antarctic weather), Mac's beard also serves to show him as a badass; he kills more Things than anyone else in the film.
The Call Knows Where You Live: All Mac wanted to do was go to his home shack and get drunk, but The Thing situation getting worse made him unable to have a single drink. To add insult to injury The Thing invades his shack to frame him. At the end after the big explosion Mac was carrying a bottle with him before he collapses into the snow prior to Childs finding him.
Establishing Character Moment: He's introduced playing chess against a computer. When he loses, he destroys it by pouring his drink into the circuits — demonstrating both an unwillingness to concede defeat, and that what he lacks in pure intelligence he makes up for by playing dirty.
He figures out how the Thing operates quite quickly and begins making very rational decisions to help stop its spread and identify it. Everyone else is quick on the uptake of the concept and generally avoid being Genre Blind.
He also Defies the Not Quite Dead trope and insists that even corpses be tested for being the Thing.
The Hero: Out of all the characters he's definately the central focus of the film, and determined to stop the Thing from spreading.
Nice Hat: Wears one whenever he leaves the outpost.
Sore Loser: At the beginning, playing chess on a computer, MacReady would rather destroy the game than lose it— which is what he does at the end of the movie, burning down the camp in order to deny the Thing victory. This was noted in an article in Script Magazine.
Sanity Slippage: When he realizes the potential of a Thing outbreak on the mainland, he is determined that all outside contact should be broken and he and his team left to die for the good of mankind. He eventually becomes a raving lunatic who attacks Windows and shoots up the communications room.
Establishing Character Moment: Enters the room with the dead Norwegian on rollerskates, quips that they might be at war with Norway, contradicts the leader of the camp, insults the only guy agreeing with him, and then leaves. This shows that he isn't prone to taking things too seriously.
Pretty Boy: Somewhat younger and more effeminate than the rest.
What Happened to the Mouse?: The last time we see him, he's walking down some stairs. The original script had him getting attacked by a jack-in-the-box like alien, only they cut the scene as the special effects didn't look real enough, and Carpenter liked leaving it ambiguous anyway.
The Stoner: Openly smokes marijuana joints in front of the whole group, spouts off on how aliens are real and "taught the Incas everything they know." His generally non-threatening and comical personality might be why the alien assimilated him, because he didn't draw much suspicion.
The Lancer: He becomes MacReady's second man once the team is whittled down to four people.
Scary Black Man: He's one of the more intimidating team members and one of only two black ones, the other being the more effeminate Nauls. Especially when Mac is suspected of being another thing, and he breaks through the door with an ax so he can kill him with his flamethrower.
Cruel and Unusual Death: Norris has had a heart attack, and Copper tries to resuscitate him with the defibrillator. Suddenly, Norris' chest opens up and bites Copper's forearms off, revealing Norris to be one of the Things. Copper presumably dies from shock and/or blood loss, because the next time we see him (after Norris-Thing has been taken care of), he's dead.
Nice Guy: He is adamant to provide his patients with the proper care.
Surprisingly Sudden Death: There's next to no buildup to his death scene. The Thing goes so far as to fake a heart attack and receive medical treatment, then out of nowhere reveals its killer jaws and eats the Doc's arms.
Beware the Nice Ones: Tends to remain calm and diplomatic instead of arguing, and goes along with the group's decisions without protesting even when he has every right to be angered by them (notice how he doesn't hesitate when Mac tells him, Copper, and Garry — at the time the main suspects — to move away from the others). But when the group's safety is being threatened, he will not stand idly by. When Childs tries to take command, Clark pulls a knife on him. And when Mac wants to have everybody tied up, Clark tries to take him out.
Boom, Headshot: Gets shot by MacReady while lunging against him with a scalpel.
Friend to All Living Things: His job is to take care of the sled dogs on the station, and he loves the animals. This devastates him when they're forced to kill all the infected dogs.
In the Back: Tries to stab Mac when he's looking the other way. Gets shot for his trouble.
The Mutiny: Attempts to overthrow MacReady by stabbing him in the back. Mac turns around and shoots him in the head.
Red Herring Mole: MacReay suspects him to be one of the Things, and shoots Clark when he makes a move on Mac. It later turns that out that he was still human, for which Childs calls MacReady a murderer.
Better to Die than Be Killed: MacReady and the others find his charred corpse in the snow outside. They speculate that he burned himself before the Thing could get to him.
Genre Savvy: Proposes to MacReady that everyone should prepare their own meals and eat from cans to avoid being assimilated.
Heroic Sacrifice: Implied. He is found as a charred corpse. Nauls immediately suspects the Thing did it purposefully, but others suspect Blair did it himself to avoid being assimilated. Being separated from the group long enough for the others to consider killing him on sight makes it murky.
Killed Off Screen: His death scene isn't shown, only his incinerated corpse is found.
Communications Officer: Serves this role in theory. However, at the beginning he states that he "[hasn't] been able to reach shit in two weeks". Later on, the radio equipment is destroyed by Blair, making the whole point moot.
"I doubt if anybody's talked to anybody on this entire continent, and you want me to reach somebody!"
Alien Blood: Every cell of The Thing will try to defend itself, as opposed to regular human blood, which is inert. This is part of the basic nature of the Thing; even when it's replaced multiple people, each individual will act independently. In essence, every cell of the Thing is the Thing as a whole. In the original short story, people repeatedly make the mistake of assuming that you can't be a Thing if you attack a Thing.
Animalistic Abomination: It also spends most of the time disguised as a dog, and in the 2011 prequel it first surfaces as an insect/arachnid like thingie that may or may not be a distorted form of the alien pilot. In Campbell's novel, it is also implied it assimilated an albatross, and is now flying towards us.
Dangerously Genre Savvy: It knows it wouldn't stand a chance against a united camp (especially after nearly being killed already), so it sets out to spread paranoia, covertly destroy any equipment and cause sleep-deprivation until enough of its enemies are out of the picture.
Face Stealer: The Thing steals people's identities by absorbing them.
From a Single Cell: The characters speculate that all it takes is one Thing cell to infect someone. Alan Dean Foster, in the novelization, seemed to think this is implausible, and has Blair talk in detail on the subject. Of course, that depends on whether you think Blair was still trustworthy at that point. Ultimately it's left up to fans to decide what pseudoscience to believe.
Generic Doomsday Villain: Rare case of this not being an issue, it only occurs because the story doesn't explore what it's motives are, and it would likely be a lot less frightening the viewer did understand it.
Harmless Freezing: The original Thing was frozen for around 100,000 years. When it's thawed, out it's completely fine. Childs even points out how impossible this sounds, to which Mac points out that it's from outer space and different from us. After the Thing abandons its plan to escape, its new goal is to kill all the survivors and simply freeze itself again until new hosts wake it up.
Hair-Trigger Temper: When exposed it doesn't just try to attack anyone near by, it roars and screams before transforming. Clark calls it "Weird and pissed off." for a reason.
Hiss Before Fleeing: The Thing hisses and moans when it's currently in an imperfect copy of its host. The blood also finds a way to scream when it jumps from the petri dish.
Kill It with Fire: Fire is the only thing the characters have on hand that can kill the thing. Since it's a shapeshifter, shooting it would barely inconvenience it and it can survive for thousands of years frozen. Luckily, ice stations have handy flamethrowers.
Losing Your Head: Decapitating the monster doesn't work, in one instance the head grows legs and walks away.
Manipulative Bastard: The Thing knows that paranoia only makes the situation worse for the humans and does what it can to spread that paranoia even more than it already does by nature alone.
Nigh-Invulnerability: To destroy the Thing completely, not one single cell can be left alive, since even one cell is an independent organism with the power to assimilate an entire host body. The group burns them to ash, but realistically this would be unlikely to kill every single cell - which is why they haul the remains outside where they can freeze. During the scene where Blair is examining the dog-Thing, A deleted line had him mentioning that it was still alive. It's implied that this creature is the one that eventually got Blair. Unless he was infected during the autopsy.
No Biochemical Barriers: The Thing can infect Earth life just as easily as it did alien life. It's not clear how long this took or what the alien was like. Actually lampshaded in the original novel, where it's potential to infect us (or carry some alien disease) was initially dismissed based on the otherwise logical assumption that all of Earth's life forms, including plants and fungi, are more closely related to us than the Thing is, and their diseases can't affect us.
Non-Malicious Monster: It doesn't do all these stuff for malice. It's just trying to survive and remain alive.
One-Winged Angel: Whenever the Thing is exposed, it assumes very dangerous, monstrous forms to attack the protagonists with. Particularely noteworthy when it confronts MacReady at the end, and the Thing turns into a huge monster shapeshifter mash-up. Also an example of Clipped Wing Angel.
Paranoia Fuel: In-Universe. It's basically the physical embodiment. The Thing is all about creating this in the camp and turning everyone against each other, thus making it even easier to infect them all.
Shapeshifter Default Form: Only in the book, where its true form is apparently a blue-skinned humanoid with three red eyes. There were plans to depict this form somewhere in the movie, but it was ultimately scrapped for looking too silly, which is probably all to the good. In the movie version it doesn't seem to have a "true" form, beyond some kind of blob of undifferentiated cells.
Shock and Awe: Both Who Goes There? and the unmade sequel miniseries have using electricity as a prominent way to deal with The Thing. One of the Boss-Things in the videogame was killed through electricity.
Starfish Aliens: There really is not a word other than "The Thing" to call it, because no one even really knows what it is. It is capable of perfectly replicating anything it has ever come in contact with, and every single cell of its body is a separate, hostile organism. It's so utterly alien that people aren't even sure if it has a true form or not, even the huge, grotesque monstrosity it forms in the end.
Tomato in the Mirror: Discussed. The survivors wonder, if the Thing perfectly mimics who it copies, does it even know it's a fake? The novel claims it does, absorbing the memories and personality of the thing, and Carpenter in the commentary agrees that if it did, it wouldn't matter - it'd use their personality to react accordingly. Given that the Thing-imitations take several actions to frame unassimilated humans, and one of them is secretly building a hovercraft, it seems probable that they know what they are. That said, the actor playing Norris mentions in the commentary that he played his character as being worried that he might be the Thing without knowing it. ( He's very much correct.) Note his reaction when offered Gerry's gun - "I'm not up to it.".
The Virus: Possibly the ultimate example. It can consume and imitate any life. Someone infected, assimilated and replicated by the Thing is such a perfect imitation that they never break character until either an opportunity arises for it to kill a bunch of people or it gets exposed. Even if other people get exposed as a Thing, a still-in-disguise Thing will remain in-character and even attack the other of its own kind, just to keep up the act. Worse yet, the monster apparently retains the knowledge of everything it's eaten (one isolated one is trying to build a spaceship to escape) and can even mix-and-match parts from the various creatures it's assimilated.
You Are Who You Eat: The Thing absorbs other people so it can assume their identity, leading to paranoia as to who is a thing or not. The alien can either consume a person in one go, but its individual cells also have the ability to slowly do this to an infectee, literally eating them from the inside out.
You Cannot Grasp the True Form: Nobody knows what the original Thing is or even what it looks like. Even John Carpenter notes that one could go crazy even thinking about it.