SPOILERS BELOW. You have been warned.Please note that this page covers all of the media in the franchise, not just the games, as all of it is officially part of the universe.
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Christopher "Maverick" Blair
This list is alphabetical, but it's appropriate that Blair be its first entry, as he is the Player Character for most of the franchise's entries and one of its most central figures overall. Heroic, earnest and originally nameless, he was portrayed by Freddie Prinze Jr. in The Movie, and by Mark Hamill in the later games and the animated series.
The Ace: The most famous ace in Confederation history, responsible for ultimately ending the Kilrathi war.
Call to Agriculture: Blair retired to become a farmer after Wing Commander III. He wasn't much good at it, however, and couldn't turn down the call to return to active duty in the next game.
Leeroy Jenkins: In the second game, he disobeys orders to rescue Stingray and to attack the Kilrathi starbase at the end. In Wing Commander III, he can go out after Hobbes, but this indirectly leads to Vaquero's death. (As per the novelization, this is the canon path.)
Legally Dead: In Prophecy, Blair is lost when the Nephilim wormhole gate he's seeking to shut down collapses, leaving his fate uncertain. In the sequel Secret Ops, background fiction for the game says that he was declared legally dead.
You Are in Command Now: In Wing Commander IV, Blair is given command of the Intrepid when Eisen departs for Earth. Subverted in the novelization, in that a Navy lieutenant is the one to actually give the exact commands to carry out Blair's orders, but is too junior to be made Captain himself.
Though Blair was already the CAG by Wing Commander 3, and was shown to have some command-experience from Wing Commander Academy so he wasn't quite as ill-prepared for command as is typical for this trope.
You Gotta Have Blue Hair: As a result of the limited color palette available to VGA displays of the time the first game came out, the Player Character was given blue hair. When the series went to FMV, this resulted in the last name of the character becoming "Blair".
Jason "Bear" Bondarevski
Originally appearing in an Expansion Pack to Wing Commander II, Bondarevski was adopted by author William Forstchen as the main character of his Expanded Universe novels. Bear, like Blair, eventually reaches flag rank and helps to strike a number of devastating blows against the Kilrathi war machine.
Running Gag: His name. Many attempt to say it, most botch it badly.
Unusual User Interface: In the novel False Colors, he's offered the chance to have his cybernetic replacement arm (mentioned above) wired so he's directly connected to his fighter's controls. He declines the offer.
A mercenary out on the fringes of Confederation society, and thanks to an alien artifact a player in the Gemini Sector, in Privateer and its add-on Righteous Fire.
Right Behind Me: He starts bad-mouthing Commodore Blair, who inevitably appears. After being made aware of Blair's presence, he goes into full "recruit greeting a senior officer" mode.
Casey: "I must have heard everything about Blair." (lists off Blair's famous achievements, then pauses when he sees his audience stand at attention) "Except that he was onboard the Midway..." (muttered)
A wingman from the first game, Casey was killed in action not long after his son Lance was born. He was a very good pilot: generally, you'd fly four or five missions with each wingman, with the best ones saved for the late-game adventures. Iceman was second-to-last.
Badass: The other pilots are in awe and sometimes a little afraid of him, and Colonel Halcyon gets disappointed if he returns from a mission with no kills.
Danger Deadpan: Iceman is described in the manual for the first game as being the calm, cool, collected pilot, and the one on top of the scoreboard when you start the game. A fellow pilot notes that everyone else shouts in combat, but you sometimes have to strain to hear Iceman, because he's pretty much whispering in terse, two-or-three-word sentences.
Dropped a Bridge on Him: Died when Kilrathi stealth fighters attacked the Tiger's Claw. He was captured... and Kilrathi don't take prisoners.
Took a Level in Badass: Iceman was deemed an average combat pilot at best before his family was killed by Kilrathi. After that, his main purpose in life became to be the best killing machine in the cockpit he could.
Winston "Vagabond" Chang
A Chinese pilot from the third and fourth games with a Dark and Troubled Past, Vagabond has seen more of the universe than he necessarily wished to.
A pilot introduced in the original game's first expansion pack, Colson is more notable for being The Mole, the first perpetrator of the "secret defector" subplot which the franchise seemed to love.
Batman Gambit: His aim was to kill the pilots of the Tiger Claw. Spirit was one of the pilots. He attempts to blackmail her into not attacking a space station her fiancée was held hostage on. Her solution, for anyone who knew her, would have been a Foregone Conclusion.
Dramatic Space Drifting: In the winning ending of Wing Commander II: Special Operations 2, his empty helmet is shown floating in space.
Frameup: He destroyed evidence to make Blair get blamed for the destruction of the Tiger's Claw.
Failure-to-Save Murder: See below, to the point where he collaborates with the people responsible for the incident they failed to save his brother from.
Freudian Excuse: He blames his brother being killed at Goddard on the Tiger's Claw being delayed from responding to the colony's distress signal by an attack on a Kilrathi transport. Vengeance of the Kilrathi portrayed him as working with the Kilrathi to get his revenge on the crew of the Claw, however Special Operations 2 suggests he is a full blown collaborator without needing revenge for motivation.
Smug Snake: For sheer irritating smugness he gives Mr. Morden a run for his money. Even in the Secret Missions expansion to the first game, before he does anything actually evil, he has a smug, douchey smirk on his face all the time.
A technician in the third and fifth games who leads the ground crews that service fighter craft. Played by renowned porn star Ginger Lynn Allen in her first "dramatic" role.
Originally introduced as a studious, somewhat nerdy Belgian in the first game, Angel was promoted ahead of Blair, serving as his squadron commander when Blair is assigned to the Claw as per The Movie. In between the second and third she serves under him in a different fashion. Played by Saffron Burrows in the movie, and Yolanda Jilot in Wing Commander III.
Character Death: She dies as soon as she's introduced in Wing Commander III, although the player doesn't learn of her death until much later, and this sets up the last mission as being one for revenge.
Damsel out of Distress: Jazz gets an elbow to the face for trying to hold her hostage at gunpoint during the events of Wing Commander II and its add-ons, and even stands up to the Kilrathi when captured in Wing Commander III.
That's an Order: She uses several versions of the trope phrase in the movie.
Captain William Eisen
The Captain of the TCS Victory and then of the Lexington, the carriers out of which the third and fourth games take place, Eisen is a no-nonsense captain who treats Blair with respect (but is not above chewing him out if he screws up royally, or ejects unnecessarially). In the fourth game he defects to the Union of Border Worlds, convincing several of his best pilots to do the same, and is eventually elected captain of their carrier, the Intrepid.
Real Life Writes the Plot: probably would've shown up in Prophecy, but Jason Bernard passed away in '96. His final film, Jim Carrey's Liar Liar, is dedicated to him, and Prophecy has a carrier in his honor as well as the Real Life Barnard's Star renamed on the galaxy map that shipped with some versions of Prophecy to "Bernard's Star".
Reasonable Authority Figure: Especially compared to when Admiral Tolwyn was commanding the Victory, he's almost a model of reasonableness, willing to listen to others if they have something important to discuss.
What the Hell, Hero?: will do this to Blair if necessary, particularly if the player's starting wingman choices all focus on Hobbes, and if you chase down The Mole later in Wing Commander III, resulting in Vaquero's death.
You Are in Command Now: leaves the Intrepid for further espionage later in the game. The novelization elaborates that Blair is assigned a Navy Lieutenant to whisper in his ear; that character is captain in all but rank.
Mitchell "Vaquero" Lopez
A music-minded pilot from the third game who dreams of opening a cantina when he retires. Played by Julian Reyes.
A pilot from the fourth and fifth games. In the fourth, he's a retired Confed colonel who has taken up arms with the Border Worlds, becoming one of Blair's most trusted wingmen and providing a war-minded Spock to the McCoy of Tamara "Panther" Farnsworth. He returns in much the same vein in Prophecy, being one of several Mentors to Casey.
Shell-Shocked Veteran: He's been fighting a long time, and unable to accept the idea of peace with the Kilrathi.
Todd "Maniac" Marshall
One of the first wingmen you fly with in Wing Commander I. He's Blair's rival from the Academy, scoring second in their graduating class, and is also something of a Foil, the Red Oni to our Bluehair. Played by Tom Wilson in the later games and animated show, and Matthew Lillard in the movie.
The Ace: He's almost as good as his Boisterous Bruiser ego says he is (while serving up a large slice of ham, particularly when Tom Wilson steps into the role in Wing Commander III). Maniac has the 14th highest kill score in the entire Kilrathi War, behind Blair's 11th Place spot. All the other pilots in the Top 20 are dead. However, he's next to useless when you fly with him, almost never follows orders and runs away at the earliest opportunity. He's quite the match when he challenges Blair to a duel in Wing Commander IV, though.
Born Lucky: How Maniac has managed to survive for so long, according to Blair. He goes on to tell Catscratch that "there's one on every ship, but only one".
Suicidal Overconfidence: He tends to get killed a lot for blindly charging at the enemy in the original game. Once he gets Plot Armor, this becomes a justified trope: he's just that good. The problem, again, is that nobody else is.
Ted Baxter: His legend is real... but he certainly doesn't have a modest personality.
Doomsday: Now all we need is Maniac, so we can all die together. Spirit: What an uplifting sentiment.
The Eeyore: Almost every comm message he ever sends you is about his impending death. ("Yay, we killed everyone. I bet I'm going to die now.")
Irony: He is one of the few pilots from the original game to survive the war, and still flying combat missions (as a mercenary) in Arena, set in 2701.
Elizabeth "Shadow" Norwood
At the beginning of the second game, Blair is court-martialled for allowing the Tiger's Claw to be destroyed and Reassigned to Antarctica, if by "Antarctica" we mean "The Coast Guard IN SPACE," where he is expected to live out his career in obscurity and shame. Shadow is one of the few friends he makes there.
Plotline Death: Her death to a pair of Kilrathi fighters occurs in a cutscene, with the player not being able to affect the outcome.
Retirony: Killed shortly before she was set to go home.
A pilot whose official name is never established, he serves Admiral Tolwyn and is a member of the GenSelect program. Played by Robert Rusler.
Artificial Human: As part of the Genetic Enhancement Program, his base genome was modified with a genetic template composed of some of the finest pilots in the Confederation.
Blood Knight: He was literally bred for war, and gleefully participates in some of the most heinous atrocities of Wing Commander IV
The Dragon: In The Price of Freedom, to Admiral Tolwyn.
Knife Nut: One of his defining traits outside the cockpit is his love for a unique two-blade knife.
Master Race: Between genetically modified as the ultimate warrior and being brought up with the propaganda by the project, he believes himself and his fellow Genetic Enhancement Program members to be superior to un-modified humanity.
Another spaceplane-maintainer, this time working for the Border Worlds. He's grandfatherly and channels a little bit of the inventive spirit.
Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: His name is mentioned in dialog, but it was used only once, the rest of the time he was addressed by his nickname.
Percussive Maintenance: When he first finds a flash pak (a mine that cooks any ship from the inside out) he tries to work out what it is by dropping it on the ground, before resigning himself to actual work when it doesn't go bang.
Oral Fixation: Rarely seen without a wad of dip (chewing tobacco) in his mouth, especially in the novelization. This presents some difficulty to him while he's aboard the TCS Princeton, as he couldn't indulge in his normal habit of spitting out tobacco juice onto the deck without messing up the nice clean carrier.
James "Paladin" Taggart
Another franchise-long mainstay, Paladin is a pilot on the Claw who later transfers into Black Ops, particularly helping set up the Temblor Project which helps end the war. From the fourth game onward, he's been elected as a Senator.
Cool Old Guy: He was in his 50s when he was a pilot in the very first Wing Commander.
Badass Grandpa: Paladin is a skilled and tactical pilot. When he retires, his Temblor bomb project is ultimately responsible for winning the war with the Kilrathi.
Eyepatch of Power: In Super Wing Commander, released for the Macintosh and 3DO, Paladin has an eye patch. However, given his displayed abilities in the game, one might question how much "power" there actually is in that scrap of cloth. "Ach! He caught me with me kilt down!", indeed.
A quiet Japanese woman aboard the Claw, Spirit is one of Blair's oldest friends, staying loyal to him even after his court-martial.
Bilingual Bonus: Spirit's last words to Blair, before her Heroic Sacrifice. It's not, however, much of a bonus since your character translates it for you during the mission debriefing.
Colonel Badass: A Lieutenant Colonel, but has enough badass to qualify.
Good Is Not Soft: Probably the nicest character in all seven or eight games, but pragmatic to the point where she goes Taking You with Meon her fiance, who was a prisoner for ten years and may or may not have been on the space station she blew up.
Good Is Not Nice: In the novel Freedom Flight she gets rather upset when a pilot under her command disobeys orders, and blames herself when he gets himself killed. Hunter tries to put things in perspective.
Got Volunteered: She pulls this on Maverick when told of a Confed ship that needs rescuing. It kind of backfires when it turns out to be a captured Confed ship that lures would be rescuers into a trap.
Gratuitous Japanese: In the first game, she used more than a few Japanese phrases. Later showings toned this down, however.
Heroic Sacrifice: Lampshaded in The Secret Missions, but averted ("Anything I sacrifice today will bear fur and whiskers"). Then in Wing Commander II when her bomber is crippled...guess.
Poirot Speak: Her dialogue is painfully stereotypical in the first game. Fortunately they fixed this in Wing Commander II.
Ramming Always Works: Heaven's Gate is a heavily armored space station that Confed thinks will stand up even to bombers. Spirit has a rather unorthodox, Tear Jerker, but effective solution, given that her ship is too damaged to survive a return to base, thanks to sabotage by Jazz.
Stuffed into the Fridge: In Wing Commander II, she makes a Heroic Sacrifice when her fighter is damaged and rather than eject, she kamikazes into the Heaven's Gate station. Her death is not brought up afterward, except in a passing reference by Jazz, who wanted revenge on the Tiger's Claw crew for the death of his brother, and her death seems to exist to facilitate Maverick and Angel getting together.
First introduced in Wing Commander II as a weird combination of Obstructive Bureaucrat and Insane Admiral, Tolwyn appears to have something of a vendetta against Blair, believing wholeheartedly in the cowardist propaganda spread against him and resenting the need to take Blair aboard his flagship, the Concordia. Then the third game rolled around and Malcolm McDowell stepped into the role...
General Ripper: He was a Space Marshall for all of five minutes, above even admiral, where some of his actions at the lower rank included genetic profiling and eradication of anyone who did not fit his mold through bioweapons.
He Who Fights Monsters: The near-destruction of humanity during the Kilrathi War led him to conclude that Humanity must evolve into a warrior race via the horrific culling of the weak and near-constant warfare.
Jerk Ass: So much that he makes you miss the days of being with Colonel Halcyon back in Tiger's Claw.
Knight Templar: Above all, he ultimately wants to save the human race. What hewilltodoso make him almost as great a threat to humanity as the Kilrathi were. Almost.
Military Maverick: He is described as tactically brilliant but untrustworthy, too intent on fighting his own war to make a truly effective tool of Confed.
Narrative Profanity Filter: In the novel Fleet Action, when the Kilrathi Baron Jugaka demanded humanity's surrender, Admiral Tolwyn said, "Direct your inquiry to President Quinson. I'm sure he will tell you to go perform a certain impossible anatomical act." When the baron specified he wanted the fleet's surrender, Tolwyn "replied with what he assumed the President would have said."
Well-Intentioned Extremist: in Wing Commander IV, albeit zigzagged between the game and the novelization. The game makes it clear that Tolwyn crossed the Moral Event Horizon, but the novel has characters wondering (after his death, to boot) if the ends didn't justify the means.
Kevin "Lone Wolf" Tolwyn
The nephew of the famous admiral, Tolwyn is a novel-only character (though they flirted with the idea of including him in one of the games). He starts out pretty much a Spoiled Brat, but after a bit of Break the Haughty (and surviving one of the toughest missions in the war) he matures into a capable and outstanding pilot.
Glory Hound: He starts out as this in End Run, until it's pointed out that his seeking to kill a fighter, in End Run, left a wounded bomber open to an ambush, killing one of the bomber's crew members in the process.
The Commander Air Group of the Tiger's Claw.
Custom Uniform: His uniform is a different color from all the other Confed personnel in the first game and he has a hat while everyone else does not. (Ironically, it's very similar to the uniforms everyone would start wearing in Wing III.)
The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Although, as per the Wing Commander IIInovelization, commanders of carrier wings aren't required to fly missions, the briefings, debriefings, and the odd ceremony (medals or funerals) are the only things the player ever sees Colonel Halcyon do.
Unfriendly Fire: He suggests this as a way to deal with Maniac if he becomes recalcitrant in a briefing
Dirk "Stingray" Wright
Jerk Ass: He gets somewhat better over time, but he's 'quite abrasive at first.
Ungrateful Bastard: Even when thanking Blair (to an extent) for saving him, he brings up Blair's failure to save the Tiger's Claw.
Ralgha "Hobbes" nar Hhallas
A defector from the Kilrathi empire, Ralgha nar Hhallas joins the Confederation and is even accepted into the Space Forces, eventually achieving the rank of Colonel. Of course, since he's a Cat, a lot of people mistrust him; as such it doesn't hurt him to be loyal to Blair despite his disgrace in the second game, but since the Kilrathi are a Proud Warrior Race, Hobbes' trust means something. In the third game he gets an even bigger role.
Worthy Opponent: After being outed, leaves behind a recording for Blair indicating his respect for him and regret that, in order to remain loyal to the Kilrathi, he must betray him.
Prince Thrakhath nar Kiranka
The Darth Vader of the franchise, Thrakhath is Crown Prince of the Kilrathi Empire and the favorite grandson of The Emperor. He and Blair tangle quite frequently over the course of the franchise, and it is he who bestows on Blair his Kilrathi warrior name, "The Heart of the Tiger."
Blunt Yes: Declares that not only does he question Thrakhath's orders, but he also doesn't think he should still be in charge after his failure.
The Starscream: Betrays Thrakhath in Special Ops 1, leading to his capture by Paladin and Blair.
Thrakhath's toady—you know how every villain needs to have someone to talk to, in order to have Character Development? That's Melek, Prince Thrakhath's senior adviser. After the destruction of Kilrah, he assumes control of the Empire and formally surrenders to Blair; he returns in the fourth game in much the same office.
Friendly Enemies: with Blair, whom he considers a Worthy Opponent. Some Kilrathi certainly go on feeling the shame of losing to the "hairless apes," but Melek is not one of them.
You Are in Command Now: With the death of the immediate royal family, Melek takes the reins of the Kilrathi Empire... only to wind up in a seven-way Enemy Civil War with other Kilrathi nobles and warlords who lay claim to the imperial throne.