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Mark "Rents / Rent Boy" Renton
Played by Ewan McGregor
"Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose your friends. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pissing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats you've spawned to replace yourself. Choose your future. Choose life..."The Villain Protagonist of the story. Mark is the voice of (relative) sanity among his friends, many of whom he actually hates. At the beginning, he's in the middle of his addiction to heroin. He is capable of fitting in well enough to common society, is relatively good-looking and of above-average intelligence, but is often socially awkward, and uses heroin as a means to withdraw into his own world. A self-loathing Deadpan Snarker extraordinaire who narrates everything from supporting his drug addiction to interacting with "the normal world" in a cynical way.
- Adaptational Dye Job: He has ginger hair in the book. In the film, he has short, cropped hair. In the sequel, he has brown hair.
- Ambiguously Bi: He contemplates this for a time, even giving another man a blowjob at one point (and receiving one in return, which he didn't really find a turnon) and wanking off his disabled younger brother (though more to ease his frustration than out of any sexual gratification on his own part), though decides against it.
- Byronic Hero
- Character Development: The novel is about, in part, Mark's development from heroin addict into the mature adult that appears in Porno.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Embarrassing Nickname: He's not thrilled with the nickname "Rent Boy".
- Erudite Stoner
- Evil Vegetarian: Has no qualms killing animals, just hates the taste of meat.
- Four-Philosophy Ensemble: The Cynic.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Phlegmatic/Melancholic.
- Friend to Psychos: This comes with the territory for any of Begbie's pals, but unluckily for Renton every other nutter seems to dig him, too. For what it's worth, he acknowledges that he indulges their peculiarities as they make life more interesting for him. He later comes to regret justifying Franco's attacks on random folk and holds himself and the others in contempt for it.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Sick Boy prior to Porno. They reaffirm their friendship by the end of T2 Trainspotting, in contrast to the ending of Porno, where Renton burns his bridges with Sick Boy for good after finding out he intended to sic Begbie on him all along.
- Hipster: Mark was one even before the term was coined. This is reflected in his cynical view of modern society, his refusal to seek or keep any kind of employment and his refusal to play along with the social norms in his "Choose Life" speech.
- Improbable Aiming SkillsSick Boy: For a vegetarian, Mark, you're a fucking EVIL shot.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: As immoral and cynical as he may be, Mark does have moments that show a sense of humanity. He feels genuinely bad about getting Tommy addicted to Heroin and guilty that it killed him and tries his best to be a good friend to Spud, to whom he leaves his share of the drug deal money.
- Kissing Cousins: He attempts to hit on his teenage cousin Nina at one point in the book.
- Middle Child Syndrome: Caught between an elder brother in the army, and a younger, extensively disabled brother in a wheelchair. The former gets respect and earnings while the latter has constant doting attention from the family and close friends. Mark receives abuse from both: directly from Billy and his mates; indirectly due to people heartlessly insulting wee Davie in proxy to him.
- Only Sane Man: Of his friends, though when your friends include a complete psychopath and an immoral pimp with delusions of grandeur, it doesn't mean much. Spud may rival him for understanding of himself and others, but the key difference is that Renton can actually function.
- Tall Poppy Syndrome: Inverted. Begbie tells Renton that he should keep going to University so he can make something of himself. Allison cites Renton's self inflicted Tall Poppy Syndrome as one of the reasons she dislikes him.
- Textual Celebrity Resemblance: In the book, he's stated to be a dead ringer for Alex McLeish.
- The Unfavorite: to his parents. Especially due to throwing his chance as a university student away to become a dole mole heroin addict.
- Took a Level in Kindness: In Porno.
- Troubled, but Cute: Deconstructed by his on/off girlfriend Hazel:Hazel: "You just want tae fuck up on drugs so that everyone'll think how deep and fucking complex you are. It's pathetic, and fucking boring."
- The Unfavorite: His parents liked his brother Billy a lot more than him and paid more attention to his disabled brother.
- Villain Protagonist: He has no ethics at all, and the only thing that matters to him is getting his fix. Sadly, this is how many real-life drug addicts think. He is also, after all, an amoral heroin addict who steals, sells drugs, and gets his friend addicted to heroin.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With Sick Boy.
- "World of Cardboard" Speech: In the end of the film.
- Your Cheating Heart: He cheated on Fiona with Joanne in Skagboys. It's something he feels very guilty about though.
Simon "Sick Boy" David Williamson
Played by Jonny Lee Miller
"Personality, that's what matters. What keeps a relationship going. I mean, heroin has a great fucking personality."The Deuteragonist of the story. Amoral, stylish and Mark Renton's oldest friend, Sick Boy is a borderline-sociopath and born exploiter who only feels disdain for his friends and for society. He has an obsession with Sean Connery, and enjoys showing off with his ability to casually use heroin and stopping without developing an addiction. Sick Boy considers himself superior to everyone else he interacts with. In the story, he represents cold and calculating pragmatism without any moral restraints.
- Adaptational Dye Job: He's Tall, Dark and Snarky in the books, blond in the film.
- Adaptational Heroism: Ends up saving Mark's life in T2 Trainspotting, and is overall much less of a sociopathic womanizer in the films.
- Affectionate Pickpocket: He'll remove purses from any random schemie girl he pulls, and as for guys, his friends and employers have to watch out or he'll snake a sly hand round for their wallets even as he's pretending to comfort/greet them, too.
- Ambiguous Disorder: He exhibits most of the traits associated with sociopaths, though it's never outright confirmed whether he is one or not. It's more likely he has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, owing to his intensely selfish, manipulative ways and Lack of Empathy towards others.
- Ambition Is Evil
- Ascended Extra: In Porno and Skagboys, he gets more narration, especially in Porno.
- Bad People Abuse Animals: Likes to shoot dogs from a distance to see if he can get them to attack their owners then runs over with a baseball bat, pretending to be a hero and saves the owner from the dog.
- Byronic Hero: On The Other Wiki, he's described as a "combination of a Byronic hero and villain."
- The Cameo: He has a small role in A Decent Ride, which is set quite some time after Porno. It reveals Sick Boy is still directing pornography.
- The Casanova
- Character Development: Over the course of Skagboys he develops from a Loveable Rogue with a heart of gold to the borderline-sociopathic pimp and pusher that appears in Trainspotting and Porno.
- Character Focus: Whilst he does narrate two chapters in Trainspotting, he doesn't get much characterization. Whereas in Porno he is essentially the protagonist, and shares the role with Renton in Skagboys.
- The Chessmaster
- Chick Magnet: He's the biggest player in the group, and often seduces female tourists. Renton thinks, at one point, that he wants to keep Sick Boy as far away from Dianne as possible, not even mentioning him in conversation.
- Complexity Addiction: This proves to be his major flaw in Porno, as he draws out his manipulations and scams instead of just running off with the money - which is what Renton does.
- Cool Shades: Wears them in the movie.
- The Dandy: Downplayed.
- Delusions of Eloquence / Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Often. Skagboys shows that he used to carry a dictionary around with him and look up a new word for each day. You can tell he does this to make himself seem more intelligent.
- Despair Event Horizon: When his baby daughter Dawn dies from neglect. After that, all good in him is broken forever.
- Deuteragonist: In Skagboys.
- Embarrassing Nickname: He certainly thinks so in Porno.
- Empty Shell: After Dawn's death.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas
- Four-Philosophy Ensemble: The Realist.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Melancholic/Choleric.
- Friendly Enemy: In contrast to his friendship with Renton, Sick Boy has this mode of interaction with Begbie. He views Franco as a crass, vicious thug and tenapenny muscle for more dangerous scams. On Begbie's part, he's morally disgusted with Sick Boy's pimping and heroin related activities, but admires his scheming ways otherwise as it brings in money. Renton hates them both when they decide to socially gang up on him, stealing both female attention and parental affection.
- Handsome Lech
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Renton prior to Porno. They reaffirm their friendship by the end of T2 Trainspotting, in contrast to the ending of Porno, where Renton burns his bridges with Sick Boy for good after finding out he intended to sic Begbie on him all along.
- Hipster: Even more than Mark as seen in his high view of himself and his cultural snobbery.
- Humiliation Conga: In Porno, and how. Having spent the entire novel, no, his life scamming, fucking over, using and otherwise pissing off a great many people, it all comes crashing down on him. Trying to phone Renton from the Cannes porn festival, he realises with shock that Rents has cleared out the joint production bank account (in which were the embezzled earnings of dozens of Rangers supporters, to the tune of over £60,000) and stolen the prints of the film. He tries and fails to catch Renton via Begbie, and in doing so causes the latter grievous injuries in a car crash. Embarrassing himself in front of his friends and Nikki, he just barely misses Renton at the airport. To pour salt on his wounds, he learns that the authorities have found out he illegally produced the porno in the UK and is named and shamed in the paper. He's now forced to do a runner with Nikki, only to find... that she's left him to run away with Renton and Dianne. He headbutts himself in the mirror in self loathing yet decides to get one tiny victory over the comatose Begbie by taunting him at the hospital. But to cap it all off, Franco wakes up and grabs his arm with ferocious intent...
- Well and truly justified, because apart from everything else, he had always been intending to sic Begbie on Renton like he did on Spud.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: He actually made his arrest for making the porno worse, on account of having replaced his name over everyone else on the crew. As a result, the police are just looking for him.
- It gets to the point where he has literally nine different suspects (and counting) as to who got the cops on him, because he didn't realise how badly he antagonised certain people.
- It's All About Me: By the end, he is pimping young girls. Renton notes that he's become "untainted by compassion or conscience."
- Skagboys reveals that he was doing this when he first started using smack, with a sixteen year old girl and keeping her wrapped round his little finger with dope, no less.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Initially sort of started off as this in Skagboys. The 'heart of gold' part slowly erodes away over the course of the book though, especially with what he does to Maria. He actually admits at the end that he's done terrible things and that Mark's better than him. However, all the good in him seems to disappear after Dawn's death. He may have always been a Jerk with a Heart of Jerk, but there are a few instances that say otherwise.
- Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Most of the time he's just exploiting people for his own benefit.
- Lack of Empathy: By the time of Trainspotting. He did seem to have a degree of empathy in Skagboys, though his opportunistic side usually got the better of him. Examples are him genuinely being shocked at Coke's death, comforting Renton before his brother's funeral, actually intending to kill Maria's father's murderer, and internally begging Nicksy not to jump to his death, as Nicksy "has been sound" by putting him and Mark up in his flat.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Apart from his personal disaster in the third novel, in Skagboys he's milking a rich London girl Lucinda for all she's worth. Hoping to marry and bairn his way into the family fortune, he almost gets away with it, until Nicksy causes a scene with his attempted suicide. As a result, the Jamaican-Cockney bint he's been shafting gleefully tells Cinders about his infidelity, and the scam goes kaput big time.
- Doubly justified because he got Lucinda started on smack, and who knows how badly it would have progressed if not for his case of bad luck.
- Like Father, Like Son: His dad messed his mother about with various girls, just as he's been wont to do ever since puberty. But unlike the old man, he's had a measure of success with scams in other fields and has travelled Europe, showing his wider aspirations.
- Lovable Rogue: How he'd like to be seen by those around him.
- Manipulative Bastard
- Meaningful Name: As Renton notes in the first chapter of Trainspotting, Sick Boy is named as such not because he's always sick from heroin withdrawal, but rather because he's a "sick cunt".
- My God, What Have I Done?: Very briefly has a moment like this towards the end of Skagboys, though he lies to Renton about what it is he's done exactly.
- Narcissist: His defining characteristic.
- Never My Fault
- Nietzsche Wannabe
- Pet the Dog: Has a few moments, mostly in the prequel. An example would be when he gives Spud money, despite Spud having not asked for any. As his heroin addiction grows these moments get more rare, and begin to be more manipulative in nature. He also has far more Kick the Dog moments.
- The Pornomancer
- Really Gets Around
- Real Men Wear Pink: One of his few legitimate jobs was as a hairdresser. His employer didn't even mind that he was sleeping with customers, so long as they kept coming, but he eventually gets the sack for stealing from the till.
- Screwy Squirrel: As Renton puts it...The mischief making cunt staggers through life leaving these interpersonal booby-traps for his mates. What fucking pleasure the radge derives fae these activities is beyond me.
- Serious Business: Sean Connery.Renton: "He's always been lacking in moral fiber."Mother Superior: "Well he knows a lot about Sean Connery."Renton: "That's hardly a substitute."
- Small Name, Big Ego: Becomes more apparent in Porno.
- Smug Snake: He's nowhere near as clever or charming as he clearly thinks he is.
- The Sociopath: Borderline. Whilst he displays many of the qualities associated with sociopaths, it's left up to interpretation as to whether he truly is one.
- Sociopathic Hero
- Start of Darkness: This is his main arc in Skagboys.Sick Boy perceives himself as prisoner of his own lying lips. Standing every day at the shaving mirror, watching those eyes grow colder and more pitiless in face of drug's dictates and the world's brutal coarseness.
- STD Immunity: Seemingly, given his disdain for wearing condoms during sex coupled with the amount of girls he sleeps with.
- Sticky Fingers: To the point where even his own friends have to keep an eye on their wallets around him.
- Sympathy for the Devil: After his daughter dies.
- Textual Celebrity Resemblance: Nikki in Porno says that he looks a bit like Steven Seagal.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Throughout the course of Skagboys, and in Porno, where his already huge ego has expanded.
- Troll: Anonymously sends "poof's porn" to an incarcerated Begbie regularly, for no reason other than to fuck with his head.
- The Unfettered: "He doesnae care. Because he doesnae care, he cannae be hurt. Ever."
- Villainous Breakdown: See Humiliation Conga above.I'm in shock. It's like everything good's gone, and the rest's been turned upside down.
- Villain Protagonist: In Porno.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With Renton.
Danny "Spud" Murphy
Played by Ewen Bremner
"Ah suppose man, ah'm too much ay a perfectionist, ken? It's likesay, if things go a bit dodgy, ah jist cannae be bothered, y'know?"One of the stalwart members of the crew, he's by far the most gentle and pleasant to be around, albeit a major tea leaf. After being made redundant from his furniture removals job, he applies his skills in a more ropey fashion. Unfortunately, he also falls into heroin with the rest of the gang for the greater part of his life. Yet when he and Allison fall in love, things start to look up...somewhat.
- Beware the Nice Ones: He'll only recourse to violence as a last resort, if you attack one of his mates, or else if you really infuriate him.
- You also have to push his buttons pretty damn hard to get him to curse.
- Butt Monkey: Poor, poor Spud. He always screws up.
- Cool Shades: Attempts to invoke this during the drug deal in the movie. Key word being "attempts".
- The Ditz
- Four-Philosophy Ensemble: The Optimist.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Sanguine/Phlegmatic.
- Hidden Depths: Spud is surprisingly well-read and insightful about both himself and his friends for an unintelligible heroin addict. In both Porno and T2 Trainspotting, he writes a book.
- Kind Hearted Cat Lover: As many bad things as you can say about Spud, one thing you can't is that he doesn't love cats.
- Matzo Fever: His plans for his cut of the drug money involve settling down with a beautiful, rich Jewish princess.
- Morality Pet / Morality Chain: Acts as one to Renton. See Throw the Dog a Bone, below.
- Motor Mouth: Whilst on speed.
- Sticky Fingers
- Throw the Dog a Bone: At the end, when he rips off the others after the drug deal Spud is the only one Renton does right by, giving him his full share of the proceeds.
- The Unintelligible: It's hard to understand him if you're not an Edinburgh native. Even in the book, his chapters are narrated in a thick Scottish mush.
- Verbal Tic: Tends to describe people as cats and runs the full gamut of feline metaphors, from "wee sexy kittens" for attractive girls to "jungle cat" for Begbie and his nutter mates. Miaaaawwwow.
- Also, "likesay" or in other words, "know what I mean?". Other character occasionally use it but no way near as much as him.
Francis "Franco" James Begbie (later Jim Francis)
Played by Robert Carlyle
"Are ye sorry for being a fat fuckin cunt?"The only one of the main characters who doesn't do heroin (though in the original book and its sequel he does speed and cocaine). He does people, and regards junkies as the lowest forms of life. An ex-convict from prison, Begbie is extremely sadistic and frequently terrorizes his "friends" who are wary around him. In the past, he was much more like them, but after being in jail he has come to believe in his own (and their) propaganda about him being the baddest guy in town. Begbie views himself as a straight-up guy, a leader, and a heroic badass who everyone should respect.While he has beaten up people that deserve it and maybe fallen into at least one of those qualities at some point at irregular intervals, it doesn't apply... He seems to try to believe he has morals, though he still loves having an excuse to beat someone up, no matter how disturbingly minor said excuse is. The best defence against him is not being in the same room as him, as that poor guy with the bag of crisps can attest.By the time of The Blade Artist, Franco has gone through the prison cycle once again but this time actually reformed. He educated imself in art, literature and poetry and has become a respected shock-artist/sculptor in California, married to an American prison therapist who turned his life around. They have two lovely young girls, but "Jim Francis" as he's now known has cut almost all ties with Leith. But he's forced to return after a family bereavement and to come to terms with the past... or rather, make it and it's occupants come to his terms.
- The Alcoholic: At least until The Blade Artist.
- Armoured Closet Gay: Oh dear God, yes. He wasn't originally written that way, but Danny Boyle saw traces of it in the book and decided to play that aspect up in his film. Irvine Welsh later agreed that it was a fair portrayal. However the novel version of the character can easily be interpreted as straight, including in the follow-up works.
- Bi the Way: Taking into account that he's gotten married at least once.
- Ax-Crazy: Oh most definitely.
- Badass Mustache: In the film anyway.
- Berserk Button: Begbie has so many of these that having a conversation with him is akin to walking through a minefield.Renton has learned over the years that the worst thing you can do is to make Frank Begbie feel isolated, so he feels it politic to join in on his side.
- Blood Knight: Revels in the fight. In the movie, Renton notes that he "didn't do drugs, he just did people" just before he starts a massive Bar Brawl.
- Bullying a Dragon: How his friends mock him when his back is turned. They do so with great amusement but also paralysing fear of him actually catching on.
- Bump Into Confrontation: More or less every time he goes to a pub.
- Catch Phrase: "End ay fucking story!" and delivering a firm statement followed by "mates or nae mates", "fitba or nae fitba" etc.
- Chaotic Stupid: Begbie strays into this territory frequently, given that he insists not only on being a violent and often sadistic brawler, but often doing it within plain sight of people who are liable to call the police or remember his face. At one point, after kicking in a man's head and accidentally slicing open Spud's hand, he stands right in front of the bar and various shocked witnesses and demands that Renton take at least a minute to "bring me doon a fukken ciggareh" before even considering leaving — or taking his injured friend to a hospital. He's also been known to attack bystanders for eating chips too loudly. Neutral Axe Crazy might be a better description of his alignment, come to think of it.
- Character Development: Has gone through some by The Blade Artist, becoming more well-read, amicable and accepting of others, though his violent, psychopathic tendencies and urges - apparently stemming from what American analysts diagnose as intermittent explosive disorder - tend to resurface.
- Cluster F-Bomb: You rarely go more than eight or so words without a "fuckin", "shite", "cunt" or other hard curse stabbing in through Begbie's thoughts/speech.
- Combat Pragmatist: Relies on random tools and beer glasses to batter his enemies into submission. Failing that, he'll throw in a sneaky headbutt, quick one-two punches and multiple bootings while the guy is helpless on the deck.
- Disproportionate Retribution: He glasses a man, possibly fatally, for the crime of bumping into him and spilling his beer.
- He beats another with a pool cue for opening a packet of crisps and distracting him from taking his shot on the pool table. From the other end of the bar. While facing the opposite direction.
- Doesn't Like Guns: Zig zagged. Not out of morality, he just thinks they're boring. In the film, he's not above using a replica firearm as a Weapon for Intimidation.
- Domestic Abuser: An especially cruel one, who beats and kicks his pregnant girlfriend June in the groin. After she gives birth, he abandons both her and the child, never even mentioning them again. He also directly (albeit probably unintentionally) caused her to miscarriage from a violent shag. And that's not all; when she miscarriaged another time (likely due to alcohol and smoking) he utterly failed to comfort her, instead rubbing the bloodied underwear in her face and calling her a murderer.
- For what it's worth though, on the last one he might have shown some remorse in the form of a tear. Or Alison might have been mistaken.
- Notably never laid a finger on his later girlfriend Kate, although he threatened to.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Has a variety of aversions to sins he considers beyond the pale, despite having his own hypocritical flaws relative to each.
- Despises peadophiles with every fibre of his being, and incurred more jail time for his beatings on them. But his hatred of sex offenders hardly makes him any better of a father when you consider his neglect, poor parental advice and occasional violence against his sons.
- Has a measure of respect for the elderly. But he still kicks in his auld Uncle Dickey for forcing him to choose between loyalty to him and the advancement of his criminal reputation.
- He can't stand to see women beaten by abusive boyfriends... perhaps something of a projection of his own Domestic Abuser tendencies. It doesn't take much to get him to justify severly assualting his ex-wife, and he would have done the same to his new lassie Kate if not for a last minute change of heart.
- Fish Out of Temporal Water: In Porno. He's spent most of The Nineties in prison and everyone has mobile phones when he gets out, much to his chagrin. Also, his furniture store he owned with fellow bam Lexo has been converted into a Thai restaurant/cafe and he's not best pleased with the poxy payoff given as remuneration. And Sick Boy and Spud can hardly be bothered to play card games with him and the other nutters!"Wits fuckin wrong with ivray cunt?!"
- Football Hooligans: In Skagboys, he's revealed to be one of these, which should come as a surprise to no-one.
- Four-Philosophy Ensemble: The Apathetic.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Choleric/Sanguine.
- The Friend Nobody Likes: Tommy's thoughts on Begbie sum it up perfectly.Tommy: Begbie's fuckin' psycho, man! But he's a mate, so... what can you daenote ?
- Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Most definitely evil smoking. Gives it up by the mid New Tens.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: A normal conversation with Frank Begbie is like walking through a minefield.
- Hidden Depths: Apparently has a great singing voice. And who would have guessed he could paint?!
- Hypocritical Humour: Unintentionally by him, significant amounts of the dark comedy Begbie offers comes from this. For example, identifying other people as psychotic, drunks, impulsive etc.
- Blaming June for letting his sons watch Home Alone 2 as a scapegoat for their violence, rather than acknowledging his own behavior.
- Improvised Weapon: Carries around sharpened knitting needles in the book, and is said to be not much cop when it comes to a fair fight without weapons.
- In-Series Nickname: The Beggar Boy, Generalissimo Franco
- Jerkass: That's putting it very lightly.
- Knife Nut: In the movie, he always carries a "chib" with him and pulls it on just about everyone who sets him off. Averted in the books, where he prefers knitting needles and screwdrivers, since he finds it easier to stick them in between someone's ribs.
- Memetic Badass: In universe, the other characters built up a mythos around how much of a psychopath and all round badass Begbie is. Unfortunately, he starts to believe his own hype.
- My Sister Is Off-Limits!: Elspeth is a real honey, but this trope goes way beyond saying for any of his mates. Or indeed, for almost anyone else. Unfortunately, nobody told her new boyfriend that, or that Franco doesn't like to be slapped on the back even while choking on a chickenbone.
- Napoleon Complex: Implied in the movie but averted in the book, where he is described as tall and muscular.
- Parental Abandonment: Begbie abandons his son shortly after he's born, and the same likely happened to him.
- Properly Paranoid: He's convinced everyone's out to get him in some way or another, and often uses this as a flimsy pretense to beat someone up.Renton: The nutter's para glint ignites in Begbie's eyes.
- Redemption Equals Affliction: Gets run over in Porno and after a distraught Renton rushes to his aid, he implicitly forgives him for nicking his share of the cash. This makes him shift his focus to his real enemy, Sick Boy.
- Sadist / Torture Technician: As part of his Character Development in The Blade Artist, Begbie has adopted a more controlled, cold-blooded way of unleashing his violent impulses, such as torturing Davie "Tyrone" Power in the end before leaving him to die in a blaze.
- Sanity Slippage: Far from the most stable person in the first place, Begbie seems to be going through some sort of mental breakdown in Porno, suffering from tension headaches, most likely due to being a Fish Out of Temporal Water after having spent a decade in prison.Begbie: Muh heid is fuckin nippin. This fuckin migraine. Too much thinkin, that's ma problem, no thit some ay the thick cunts roond here wid understand that. That's what comes ay huvin fuckin brains; makes ye fuckin well think too much, think about aw the fuckin wide cunts thit need tae git thir fuckin faces burst.
- Serious Business: Rod Stewart. Don't even imply that he could be gay. You'll get your head smashed in.
- Sex Is Violence
- Sir Swears-a-Lot
- The Sociopath: Exhibits many of the qualities associated with low-functioning psychopaths, such as superficial charm, manipulation and a constant need for stimulation, not to mention his violent outbursts and inability to take responsibility for his actions. It's also revealed he harmed and even killed animals in his youth, which is an early indicator of psychopathy. By the time of Skagboys, Begbie has blossomed as a hardcore psychopath, through a combination of genuine mental disorder, environment, and being built up as the ultimate badass by his friends. He appears to have subverted it by the time of The Blade Artist, displaying what appears to be empathy, emotion and love, but he has ultimately just become better at hiding his psychopathic urges.
- Single-Issue Psychology: Averted. Not only does he have a mental disorder, but his mental instability is shown to partly come from being bullied for dyslexia in school, and his turbulent upbringing.
- Sociopathic Hero: How his friends treat him. The book makes it clear that Begbie's friends are just as guilty as he is - they have painted him as the ultimate psychopath so they will look cooler by hanging out with him. He believes that, and, unfortunately, believes his own hype as well. It takes getting hit with a car to get him to stop thinking like this.
- Straight Edge Evil: In the movie, Begbie has absolute disdain for drugs and all drug users and is easily the most despicable of the main characters. It's not really covered in the original book, but by the time Porno comes around, he's become a cocaine user, which really unhinges him. By The Blade Artist, he's totally given up alcohol, cigarettes and other drugs.
- Sympathy for the Devil: Begbie is a damn good singer when the occasion calls.Franco’s voice is something tae hear, it’s like wi it bein Hogmanay, he’s absorbed just the right amount ay alcohol n good vibes and they intersect at this wonderous vector as he briefly becomes something else, this force ay grace and soul.
Spud falls silent, as does the rest ay the room. We all instantly understand how Begbie sees that this wee fragment ay beauty in his soul has been exposed, and how even through his ain ego and the flattery received, he looks on it as a potential weakness, something that might one day compromise him.Begbie: "It’s jist fuckin singin, right."
- Not for long, however. He doesn't appreciate playing the soulful rocker, at least not with the attendant fan attention.
- Was beaten by his brother and his father was an absentee drunk. No wonder he turned out into such a bad egg.
- Villainous Breakdown: In the film when the police finally come for him, everyone around him has the sense to leave him alone and split while he tears apart the bedroom.
- Violent Glaswegian: Well, technically a violent Edinburgher.
- Where Did I Go Wrong?: His mother's reaction when he erratically nuts his sister's new boyfriend at Christmas dinner.
- Would Hit a Girl: Beats his pregnant girlfriend when she hassles him about not telling her where he goes.
Tommy Lawrence (Mackenzie in the film)
Played by Kevin McKidd
"Better than sex. The ultimate hit. I'm a fucking adult, I can find out for myself. Well, I'm finding out all right."A childhood friend of Renton's who doesn't do heroin, preferring instead to take speed. After a series of events initiated by Renton, Tommy's girlfriend, Lizzie, dumps him, leading Tommy to go on a downward spiral. He begins taking heroin, eventually becoming HIV Positive. Tommy dies in the film, and is mentioned to have died sometime between Trainspotting and Porno in the books.
- Adaptation Name Change
- Berserk Button: Seeing women getting abused.
- Can't Get Away with Nuthin': He had only been using drugs for a few months and had never done any of the bad things Mark and co did for a high but is still the only one to die from his addiction.
- Composite Character: Matty's death is given to him in the film.
- Despair Event Horizon: Losing Lizzie.
- Drugs Are Bad: Tommy's story is the closest that Trainspotting comes to a moral lesson.
- Four-Philosophy Ensemble: The Conflicted.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Leukine.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Second Prize.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold
- Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: After Lizzie finishes with him, he begs Renton to give him heroin.
- Textual Celebrity Resemblance: Alison mentions that he looks like Harrison Ford.
- Wouldn't Hit a Girl
Rab "Second Prize" McLaughlin/McNaughton
"Whit's aw this aboot? YE TAKE US AW THE WAY DOON HERE N THAIR'S NAE FUCKIN PEEVE, YA CUNTS!"A washed up former star striker. His drug of choice is booze, and in quantities to put even any of his friends to shame. In the original novel, he is one of the five who journey down to London for the big heroin deal. By the time of Porno, he's teetotal, found God and wants as little to do with the lads as possible. Second Prize's constant battle with the bottle mirrors the others’ dalliance with heroin and highlights the other social problems facing contemporary Scotland: namely, alcoholism.
- Adapted Out: He doesn't appear in the film despite having quite a prominent role in the book.
- The Alcoholic: His love of the bottle costs him his trial at Manchester United, but he ends up on the wagon by Porno.
- Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: It's how he got his nickname. When drunk, he often starts fights and ends up claiming "Second Prize" by losing.
- Berserk Button: When the others take him to a club that doesn't serve alcohol, he explodes in anger, shouting at the others before leaving.
- He also took a swing at Renton after Tommy got the virus, blaming Renton for introducing Tommy to heroin.
- Butt Monkey: Thankfully he's usually too drunk to even care.
- Broken Ace
- Composite Character: Some of his characteristics are given to Spud in the film.
- A Day in the Limelight: His narrative chapter, Her Man, could be seen as this.
- Demoted to Extra: He has narration duties in Trainspotting, but appears only sporadically in both Porno and Skagboys.
- Drowning My Sorrows
- Heel–Faith Turn
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Tommy.
- I Coulda Been a Contender!: Had a trial on the Manchester United youth team until the drink got the better of him.
- I Need a Freaking Drink: Much to his disgust in Skagboys, he finds that the Blackpool establishment they visit isn't licensed. He makes a speedy exit.
- I'll Tell You When I've Had Enough!
- The Load: Often described as a "liability".
- Meaningful Name: Gets into many fights whilst inebriated, which often end up with him 'coming second place', i.e. losing the fight.
- Out of Focus: When compared to the other main characters in the trilogy.
- Sixth Ranger: Joins the main four on the trip to London at the end of the book.
- The Teetotaler: His reaction to being stiffed for the money by Renton. He distances himself from the old crew, joins an alcoholics anonymous group and starts attending church.
- Wouldn't Hit a Girl
"Cunt, it's like a fuckin school project tae you! Well, it'll be like tryin tae find a needle in a haystack. Cunt, ye dinnae even ken whaire the fuckin skag is! They've goat guards, probably dugs..."A long time mate of the main group. Went down to London with Renton in the late 70s, riding the punk movement for cynical shits and giggles. Unfortunately, it only went downhill from there. Has been using heroin the longest out of any of them apart from the dealers. He serves to epitomise the thieving, self destroying junkie with poor health and hygiene which the others are in ever greater danger of becoming.
- Adapted Out: He's omitted from the film, despite being one of the main characters.
- Ascended Extra: To some degree in Skagboys.
- Berserk Button: Calling him a "tramp" or "scruff".
- Composite Character: His tragic death is combined with the literary Tommy's breakup and subsequent decline into heroin addiction for the film's version of Tommy.
- Country Matters / Sir Swears-a-Lot: In Skagboys, he starts almost every sentence off with the word 'cunt'. It seems he's stopped this by Trainspotting, which suggests he's even more dead inside by that point.
- Dreadful Musician
- Empty Shell: Has been doing hard drugs for so long (even before the beginning of Skagboys) that he's probably the most jaded, emotionless junkie of the group, living purely from fix to fix. The only less sympathetic individuals are the dealers. He does evoke pity, however.
- Jerk Ass
- Morality Pet: His daughter.
- Pet the Dog: He attempts to apologize to Renton after making fun of his disabled brother. It's pretty much the only moment in the trilogy where he does something "nice".
- There's also the fact that he wants to see his daughter after his girlfriend dumps him.
- The Pig Pen
- Really Gets Around: Well, really got around anyway, during the height of punk.
- The Rival: Views Keezbo as this. This culminates in him kicking out a plank that was Keezbo's only means of escape from a factory when they're being chased by security.
Played by Stuart McQuarrieA friend of the group who works in the dole office. His position there is taken advantage of by them more often than not. He is one of the few people Renton stays in contact with after he moves to Amsterdam.
- A Day in the Limelight: The short story Victor Spoils focuses around him.
- Demoted to Extra: Makes a small appearance in the first film, and he's only mentioned by name in the sequel.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Not much of a Jerk Ass, but he does have his moments. Nevertheless, he's one of the nicer lads in the group.
- Limited Advancement Opportunities: By the time Porno rolls around, he's still doing the same job. He tells Renton that he's been turned down for promotion so many times that he's stopped applying.
Davie MitchellA friend of Mark and Tommy's. He contracts AIDS after sleeping with a girl Alan Venters raped, and decides to get revenge on him before he dies.
- Adapted Out: He's omitted from the film.
- Demoted to Extra: Had narration duties in Trainspotting, but only appears as a supporting character in Skagboys.
- Composite Character: In the book it was him, not Spud, who had the humiliating "Traditional Scottish Breakfast" episode.
- The Everyman
- What Happened to the Mouse?: He is briefly mentioned in Porno as being still alive and in good health, despite being HIV positive.
Keith "Keezbo" Yule
"Ah'm starvin, Mr Tommy...ah'm wastin away tae nothing here. Tell them, Mr Mark!"A character mentioned briefly in Trainspotting as being in jail. In Skagboys, Keezbo is an overweight, extroverted member of the group who starts doing heroin alongside the others. He is revealed to be HIV positive in one of the final chapters. He is one of the five, along with Renton, Spud, Sick Boy and Matty, who go to try and steal heroin from a factory at the end of the book. When they are chased by police, he is left behind after Matty knocks down a plank of wood that was his only means of escape.
- Acro Fatic: To a degree. He knows how to bust a move on the dance-floor anyway.
- Ascended Extra: He's mentioned once in Trainspotting, but appears as one of the major characters in Skagboys.
- Big Fun
- Chick Magnet: Much to Renton's amusement.
- Fat Best Friend
- Forgotten Fallen Friend
- Kavorka Man
- Verbal Tic: Not really a tic, but he addresses everyone as "Mr." or "Mrs.", e.g. "Mr. Mark", "Mr. Frank", "Mr. Rab", etc.
- You Are Fat: Pretty much every insult thrown his way, usually by Matty, consists of this. That or the fact that he's ginger and wears glasses.
Brian "Nicksy" Nixon
"I ain't got much time for blokes who think they're better than anyone else, like they're the only ones full of big ideas and dodgy scams."A Cockney friend of Renton's, whom he met in 1979 with Matty during the punk scene. Renton and Sick Boy stay with him in his flat in London during Skagboys, as they agree to smuggle drugs across from Amsterdam on the ferries.
- Ascended Extra: Gets narration duties in Skagboys, having only been mentioned a few times in Trainspotting.
- Driven to Suicide: Doesn't go through with it though.
- Heroic B.S.O.D.: Seems to have one when he finds the aborted fetus of his unborn child in the skip.
- Nice Guy: One of the nicest members of the group.
Stevie HutchinsonA friend of the group who lives in London with his girlfriend, Stella.
- Commuting on a Bus: Since he lives down in London he keeps dropping in and out of the story periodically.
- A Day in the Limelight: The chapter Victory On New Year's Day is centered around him.
- Nice Guy: Along with Nicksy, he's one of the nicest members in the group.
- Only Sane Man
Nelly HunterA friend of Franco's who often hangs around with the group.
- Psycho Sidekick / Satellite Character: To Begbie, though he is far less psychotic than Beggars.
- Tattooed Crook: Has three tattoos on his face: an anchor on one cheek, a snake on the other, and a palm tree on his forehead. He's wisely had them removed by the time of Porno.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: The last we see of him in Porno, he's been stabbed in the back by Larry Wylie - a fellow psycho associated with Begbie. He returns briefly in The Blade Artist, still working for Davie "Tyrone" Power, only to be stabbed in the back again, this time by Begbie using a sharpened knitting needle.
DawsyA generic friend of the group who appears sporadically, with little to no importance. He apparently takes jokes way too far, often still finding something funny long after everyone else has grown tired of it.
- Demoted to Extra: His already limited role in Trainspotting is reduced in Skagboys, where he's only mentioned a few times.
- Flat Character
- The Generic Guy: He pretty much exists to fill space, along with Mony, Moysie, Saybo, Shaun and Sully, who are pretty much 24 Hour Party People with names. Whilst he does manage to get more lines than them, he has no discernible personality to speak of.
- Recurring Extra
- Satellite Character: To the main group.
Played by Kelly MacDonaldMark's underage one night stand, who returns in Porno as his Love Interest.
"You're not getting any younger, Mark. The world is changing, music is changing, even drugs are changing. You can't stay in here all day dreaming about Ziggy Pop and heroin."
- Age Lift: Is sixteen in the film, compared to fourteen in the book.
- Catholic School Girls Rule: Although she wears a shiny dress when she seduces Renton.
- Fille Fatale
- Hello, Attorney!: In T2 Trainspotting, she's become a lawyer.
- Really Gets Around: In the book, Renton is creeped out because she's fourteen and already so sexually experienced.
- School Uniforms Are the New Black
- Younger Than They Look: Particularly as she's dolled up on the night out.
Nikki Fuller-SmithOne of the main characters and narrators of Porno.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Enters into a relationship with Sick Boy, so this goes without saying.
- Alpha Bitch
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Genuinely cares about her friends.
Hazel McLeodMark's on-again, off-again "girlfriend of convenience".
KellyMark's Love Interest in the book.
- Catch Phrase: "Too radge!", though this is mostly limited to her narration.
- Demoted to Extra: Had narration duties in Trainspotting. She is barely mentioned in Porno, and only appears a few times throughout Skagboys.
- Nice Girl
Played by Susan VidlerSpud's Love Interest and a friend of the group.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Played with. She dated Billy Renton in her teens and has a casual relationship with Sick Boy. But she ends up with Spud who, despite burning his brain out on all manner of drugs and stealing from anyone, is very much a sweet guy.
- Ascended Extra: In Porno (to an extent) and Skagboys, where she gets narration duties.
- Beware the Nice Ones
- Composite Character: In the film she is combined with Lesley (who was the mother of the baby in the novel) and isn't shown again after the cot death scene. Strangely, her role in Porno is merged with Gail in T2 Trainspotting.
- Straw Feminist: Has a bit of this going on in Trainspotting.
LesleyA buxom barmaid and friend of the group. Her baby daughter, Dawn, dies in the book and film.
- Buxom Is Better
- Not What It Looks Like: She and Rents want to shag on Hogmanay 1985, but he's too bombed out to get it up, so they just literally sleep in the nude together. Spud and some others find them like this, and Renton's denial tells them that he "did" slip her a length. As opposed to if he had boasted about it, whereby nobody would believe that they did it.
- A Call Forward to the original novel, where Mark was briefly accused of impregnating her and leaving the baby to die of cot death.
Played by Shirley HendersonDavie's (Spud's in the films) girlfriend.
- Ascended Extra: To a small extent in the films.
- Composite Character: Seems to be taking Allison's part from Porno in the film's sequel.
June Begbie (nee Chisolm/Taylor)Begbie's abused ex girlfriend. Raised two of his sons almost exclusively while he was doing time in Saughton.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: To her great, great cost, as Renton snarkily observes.
Davie and Cathy Renton
Played by James Cosmo and Eileen NicholasMark's folks. They are quite understandably devastated about his addiction, along with the deaths of their other two sons. They try everything in their power to get him off the skag.
- Amazingly Embarrassing Parents
- Horrible Judge of Character: They're completely taken in by Sick Boy and Begbie's public personas, and regard Spud with suspicion and contempt.
Billy RentonThe elder brother of Mark, serving in the British Army. The two are constantly at odds with one another, dating back to their childhood years. Billy and his mates are Hearts supporters or "Jambos", in contrast to Renton and co's Hibernian team. Billy is killed by an IRA attack, and Renton is forced to endure the Protestant members of the family at the funeral along with army representatives. Renton gets acquainted with Billy's girlfriend Shannon in retaliation.
- Big Brother Bully
- Character Death: Killed by an IRA attack in the first book.
- Domestic Abuser
- Parental Favoritism
- Sociopathic Soldier: Quite possibly a Type 1. He supports Hearts, a stereotypically Protestant/Unionist team and seems to be in favour of keeping Ulster British. Plus one could interpret his squaddie duties as a natural extension of his bullying and loutish behaviour. He's presumably unable to take a regular job, so he signs on for a further tour of duty.Billie: "I cannae stick civvie street!"
Joe BegbieFranco's elder brother. While they hated each other growing up, they now seem to be on better terms. Joe is also violent but has a better control on his temper than Franco. He occasionally acts as a mediator for the Generalissimo's random acts of brutality, or to set up an appointment should you want to visit him in prison. Conversely, Beggars sometimes cites sticking up for him as a flimsy excuse to attack whoever he likes across Edinburgh's schemes.
- The Alcoholic: Definitely in middle age.
- Big Brother Bully: Beat Franco frequently as youths, until the wee lad figured to attack him with a half brick in his sleep.
- Football Hooligans: Introduces some of the group to the Glue boys before their epic battle against Rangers circa 1980.
- Retired Badass: While he might still go out looking for fights and to get trashed on alcohol, he seems to have simmered down somewhat in middle age. He's got a wife and two kids and is better in both capacities than Franco could ever dream of. He quite possibly even holds down a regular job, unlike his brother who relies on criminal activity and dole handouts to get by.
Leith's drug distributers. While they are mostly on good terms with the junkies, they are all definitely bad news. Each has a penchant for addicting young girls to heroin and then mercilessly pimping them out for more fixes, cash flow or first dibs on their bodiesnote . Some, however, are more agreeable than others.
Johnny "Mother Superior" Swan
Played by Peter MullanYet another of Renton and Sick Boy's teenage friends, playing amateur football for a small local team. He got deep into the seedy underside of Edinburgh in the eighties, becoming a long term dealer and user. He's one of the friendlier hustlers, at least superficially.
- Abhorrent Admirer: Towards Alison and Leslie.
- Affably Evil
- An Arm and a Leg
- Death by Adaptation: In T2 Trainspotting, Sick Boy mentions that he passed away some time between films, whereas in Porno he is mentioned to have made his way to Thailand, despite having had his leg amputated.
- Meaningful Name: He became a dealer in order to fund his own addiction. His nickname comes from how long he's had his habit.
- Phony Veteran: Starts begging after he loses his leg saying that he lost it in The Falklands War.
Raymond "Raymie" AirlieA dealer in Tollcross who serves as Johnny's sidekick. Known for his Cloudcuckoo Lander behavior and for spouting bizarre, nonsensical phrases.
- Affably Evil
- Ambiguously Bi: He jokingly kisses Sick Boy in the first chapter as he prepares to shoot heroin.
- Cloudcuckoo Lander
- Out-of-Character Moment: Speaks normally under the influence of acid in the short story A Smart Cunt, though it could be part of the narrator's hallucinations.
- Satellite Character / Sidekick: To Johnny.
Played by Irvine WelshA hardman from Muirhouse, who hangs around very sketchy characters while punting class As in his scheme. Instantly dislikes Renton due to him pulling a random bint he had a crush on, and the feeling is mutual.
- Abhorrent Admirer
- Friendly Enemy: With him and Rents, it's purely business. They resented each other greatly from their first meeting.
Craig "Seeker" LiddelProbably the most violent, scary dealer in town; on par with Begbie for sheer menace. Procures a highly potent strain of heroin from a Gorgie pharmaceutical factory, but when his inside man gets caught he angrily turns him into an (unwilling) national courier. Gets thrown into rehab along with the lads, but unlike most of the patients there he genuinely wants to get off heroin so that he can focus full time on dealing. He sticks to this plan, but by the time of Porno he's not changed for the better in any perceivable fashion.
- Ascended Extra: He's mentioned a few times throughout Trainspotting, but never makes an appearance. He makes an appearance in Porno, and is quite prominent in Skagboys towards the end.
- Badass Biker: Got himself into a nasty accident. What with all the metalwork from the surgery, he now relies on heroin to soothe his pains over the winter.
- Character Death: Revealed in The Blade Artist to have been killed by Begbie in a carpark after several previous altercations.
- Cool Shades
- Do Not Call Me "Paul"
- Evil Is Not Well Lit: While his light sensitivity could be said to provide one of his few sympathies, it certainly adds to his menace.
- Meaningful Name: It lends itself to several interpretations.
- He seeks drugs, junkies and lassies to further his nefarious interests.
- He simply seeks to bring out the bad in everyone while attempting to degrade the good.
- In Welsh's vernacular, "seek" is the equivalent of sick. He is one of the few individuals who you could make a fine case for being more twisted and manipulative than Sick Boy, so he's "sicker".
- Sunglasses at Night: Due to a biking accident, he's seen with shades even indoors (despite Scotland's usual terrible weather).
- The Unseen: At least until Porno and Skagboys.
Michael "Skreel"A Glaswegian junkie/dealer known for his unfathomably high level of skag consumption. Gets arrested for breaking out of rehab for a fix, and many years later helps Sick Boy with a scam.
- Too Dumb to Live: If you're going to Kirkaldy to get a fix, why bother returning to rehab? Why not head back to Glasgow or elsewhere, on the run?