DCI Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister)
Also known as the 'Gene Genie', the boozing, womanizing, rough-housing, politically incorrect DCI. He's not the freewheeling Big Dog that he was in Manchester; London is too big for him to take on the "sheriff" role he had Oop North. DI Sam Tyler (see Life on Mars (2006)) must have been a good influence, as Gene is now on a mission to clean up the corrupt police force.
- Angel Unaware: One day in 1953, a young PC named Gene Hunt died after surprising a burglar with a shotgun. He woke up in Dead Copper Purgatory and remade it - and himself - into what he most wanted to be; a Cowboy Cop, old-school John Wayne or Gary Cooper type, where there's always bad guys to catch, but they're all afraid of the Gene Genie. Except he doesn't remember any of this until someone like Sam or Alex comes along and asks too many questions about the world.
- Badass Longcoat: Updated from his 70's camel hair coat to a charcoal coat more appropriate for The '80s.
- Billing Displacement: It's supposed to be about Alex, but the Gene Genie clearly stole the limelight with audiences.
- Catchphrase: Gene never seems to be able to say the word "armed" without following it up by "bastards".
- Also "(Let's) Fire up the Quattro!"
- Cool Car: Gene's bright red Audi Quattro, which he refuses drive through a pile of boxes with.
- Cowboy Cop or Old-Fashioned Copper (The British Equivalent)
- Fan of the Past: Specifically, the Old West , and trying to live-up to Gary Cooper roles, specially High Noon.
- Noble Fugitive: He's forced to go on the run at the end of season 2 when he near-fatally shoots Alex by accident.
- Psychopomp: He's the one who created this entire world, in order to help coppers like himself who die under tragic circumstances deal with their issues and move on to where they're supposed to go.
- Refuge in Audacity: The stunt with the naked suspects, the pool table, and the phrase "God save the Queen" in 1x02.
- Torture for Fun and Information: Trope Namer, for his creative and deeply horrifying-yet-hilarious ways of extracting information from suspects.
- Younger Than They Look: Despite having the appearance of a middle-aged adult, Gene is technically a nineteen-year-old boy (given that he died at that age and still retains much of his teenage mindset). It is implied that whilst in purgatory, he adopted the appearance he imagined he would have had as a seasoned adult cop.
DI Alex Drake (Keeley Hawes)
The time traveler this time around. She's a psychologist and an expert in profiling, and was writing a book about Sam Tyler. Alex is divorced from her former husband, Peter, and they have a daughter named Molly.
- Adventures in Comaland: A double whammy. When she finally thinks she's recovered from her bullet wound... it turns out she's in a coma in the other world.
- Big "NO!": Two of them, at the end of Series 1 when her attempt to prevent her parents' death in a car bombing has catastrophically failed.
- Dead All Along: Well, only in season three. The first two seasons, she was in a coma (like Sam) from the bullet she was shot with in the pilot. She actually dies in 3.01 when she "wakes up" in 1983 to Gene slapping her.
- Deadpan Snarker: "Your 'Sea Scallops with Pineapple Rings' are a memory that I'll take to my grave."
- Dirty Harriet: A few times, including the pilot, where half of Fenchurch mistakes her for a prostitute.
- Distaff Counterpart: To Sam Tyler from the show's prequel. Her gender makes for a somewhat different dynamic with Gene Hunt.
- Hallucinations: First the clown, then a young copper with half of his head blown off. They're Alex's father and a young Gene, respectively.
- Heroic BSoD: Alex is kind of prone to these, though they are understandable.
- I'm Ms. Future Pop Culture Reference: In 3.06, Alex tests to see whether Thordy really is Sam by asking him what was East 17's 1994 Christmas No. 1.
- Lady Drunk: "Signorina Drake, you drink so much."
- Ms. Fanservice: Oh boy howdy is she ever. Shall we list? Hooker Dress #1 in the pilot, bare bum-stamping in 1.02, Catwoman costume in 1.03, strips to her bra in 1.04, Hooker Dress #2 in 1.05, down to her bra again in 1.06, the many, many off-the-shoulder, bra-strap-baring tops, her various high-heeled boots . . . and this is just season one.
- Pretty in Mink: Alex, in her posh hooker getups and her date outfit in 3.07.
- Tsundere: She and Gene are constantly at each other's throats.
- Well Done Daughter Girl: Ever since her mother's tragic death when she was a child, Alex has had doubts about what her mother thinks of her. Eventually she gets to ask, though Caroline is none too approving of grown-up Alex.
DC Chris Skelton (Marshall Lancaster)
A slightly nervous, slightly bumbling member of the team. He's developed an affinity for technology, which he says he picked up from none other than Sam Tyler.
- Butt-Monkey: At least until his CMOA in 3.07.
- Failure-to-Save Murder: Why Chris' arc revolved around learning to stand up to Gene—he died when his "real" guv ordered him into the line of fire.
- Gadgeteer Genius: "Genius" is probably overstating things a tad, but Chris is more comfortable with technology than anyone, except possibly Alex.
- Insistent Terminology: Chris is cautious, not nervous.
- The So-Called Coward: Cautious, remember. Not nervous. Not incapable of badassery.
- Took a Level in Badass: Chris gets a lot darker and a lot more serious between seasons 2 and 3.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: In the beginning, though not after season 2.
- You Can Leave Your Hat On: Chris gets "attractively postmodern" to Shaz in 2.01.
DS (later DI) Ray Carling (Dean Andrews)
A rough character who seems to live most of his life with little to no control over his impulses. Has nothing but contempt for minorities, women, and anyone who isn't a 'man's man'. But Ray is not without redeeming qualities, having a crooked streak of chivalry running through him.
- Character Development: Both he and Alex start to respect each other more in Series 2; and in series 3, not only does he get an excellent day in the limelight episode, he makes DI and is generally more respected by the team.
- Driven to Suicide: How Ray found himself in Gene's world/Purgatory.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: It takes a while, but we finally see a softer, empathetic, and very perceptive side to Ray in 3x03. Even in Season 1 he gets several Pet the Dog moments though
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Ray's daddy issues drove him to suicide.
WPC (later DC) Sharon "Shaz" Granger (Montserrat Lombard)
The most junior cop in the office and Chris' love interest. She is a gifted police officer, but no one (except Alex) takes her seriously.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: Shaz is dismissed by everyone except Alex until the Season 3 finale, when Gene finally makes good on his promise to promote her to DC.
- Took a Level in Badass: In 2.08 - shooting a suspect about to kill Chris. While wearing her wedding dress. Not to mention in 3.08 when she expertly takes down a Dutch drug smuggler by kneeing him in the groin, disarming him, putting him in an armlock and putting his own gun to the back of his head.
PC (later Sergeant) Vivian "Viv" James (Geoff Francis)
Uniformed Sergeant at Fenchurch East.
- A Death in the Limelight: 3x06.
- Fire and Brimstone Hell: If Chris's dream is true, because Viv's soul was taken by Keats, he's ended up here.
- Genius Bruiser: Solves the cryptographic clues in 1.04 and still manages to knock heads.
- Redemption Equals Death: Sneaks a gun into a prison that he knows will kick off a riot, but only does it to get his young cousin out of a vicious jail.
Luigi (Joseph Long)
Long-suffering owner of the restaurant all the coppers hang out in.
PC Martin Summers (Gwylim Lee - Young!Martin, Adrian Dunbar - Older!Martin)
Fellow time-traveller and all 'round creepy dude, Summers makes Alex's life un-fun during season 2.
- For the Evulz: His explanation for why he's such a creep, why he's stalking Alex, and why he's not a nice guy? It's fun.
DCI Jim Keats (Daniel Mays)
Ostensibly sent from HQ to keep an eye on Fenchurch East, he actually has a more personal vendetta against Gene Hunt. He'll stop at nothing to bring Hunt down.
- Big Bad: One of the biggest and baddest on the show.
- Evil Counterpart: He is one to Gene.
- Evil Is Hammy: Having spent seven episodes carefully holding back, Jimbo pulls out all the stops for the Grand Finale, Chewing the Scenery as he wrecks it.
- FaceHeel Turn: One of the fastest and most surprising we've seen.
- It's Personal: He knows what Gene Hunt did three years ago. And he's taking him and his entire team down for it.
- Knight of Cerebus: Much more of a threat than the Bowie Clown, Supermac, or Martin Summers.
- Laughing Mad: Slips in and out of this in the finale.
- Manipulative Bastard: After 3x04, it becomes very clear that he's pulling the strings.
- Magnificent Bastard: By the finale, he's evolved into one.
- Promoted to Opening Credits: Midway through Season 3.
- Psychopomp: And not a very nice one, either, as we find out in 3.04 and 3.06.
- Satan: Revealed in the finale (Honestly, don't highlight this until you watch it). Or, at the very least, one of Satan's high-ranking minions. Remember, he does have a boss that he's on the phone with in 3.08.
- The Corrupter: His main goal, besides bringing down Gene, is to get Ray, Chris, Shaz, and especially Alex to turn on Gene.