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Dagny Taggart

"I started my life with a single absolute: that the world was mine to shape in the image of my highest values and never to be given up to a lesser standard, no matter how long or hard the struggle."

Vice-President in Charge of Operation of Taggart Transcontinental and – everyone knows – the one who truly runs her family business. She’s determined to keep her railroad running no matter how difficult the looters in power make it for her with their torrent of new regulations and directives. Every grasp she and her lover Hank Rearden make for victory, however, seems to be thwarted by an unknown Destroyer who’s making the great businessmen and industrialists of the world disappear one by one…

  • Daddy's Girl: Her father was very proud of her throughout her life.
  • Deadpan Snarker: When asked when she wants her transcontinental track of Rearden metal, answers, "Tomorrow morning — three years from now is when I'll get it
  • Determinator: Seeing as she worked her way through menial jobs to eventually become the operating president of Taggart Transcontinental, she definitely qualifies.
  • Good Bad Girl: Loves sex but has only been with three men in her life.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Hates injustice and charity and fights both.
  • Hero's Muse: For John Galt… and Hank Rearden… and Francisco… and probably for Eddie Willers…
  • Honest Corporate Executive: A ruthlessly honest company Vice-President.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: To her brother Jim, the technical "President" of Taggart Transcontinental.
  • Hypocrite: She is what many might consider a benevolent example. Her stated philosophy is radical selfishness of roughly the same type as John Galt's, but she contravenes it by continually sacrificing her own happiness to save her company, the country and its people—or at least the "worthy" among the latter, but even that is still a decidedly unselfish motive.
  • Idiot Ball: In Part III when she leads the enemy right to John Galt.
  • Intelligence Equals Isolation: Was a straight-A student and the least popular girl in school. It confused her but didn’t bother her.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: When, in the flashback, Francisco slaps her for joking about her school grades, she muses that she would have killed any other man who struck her, but with him she only finds it exciting.
  • Like Brother and Sister: With Eddie Willers, her partner and best friend since childhood.
  • Love at First Sight: For John Galt when he picks her up from the wreck of her plane in Part III>
  • Married to the Job: Which people like Bertram Scudder don't consider appropriate.
  • More Deadly Than the Male: Except for Ragnar Danneskjold, the latter-day Viking, she is the only one of the heroes who actually kills a villain face to face.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Nice job leading the enemy right to John Galt, Dagny!
  • Noble Demon: Hates and fights looting, injustice, plunder, and even unkindness, as shown when she meets Jeff Allen... but insists she cares about no one but herself.
  • Non-Idle Rich: Spends every waking minute trying to keep the railroad functioning for the sake of her love for it.
  • #1 Dime: Has two — her bracelet from Hank Rearden ("the first thing ever made of Rearden Metal"), and the first $5 coin she earned working in Atlantis.
  • Ojou: Not royalty but sophisticated and dignified and treated with respect by just about everyone.
  • One Degree of Separation: From the inventor of the motor and the "destroyer".
  • One of the Boys: As a young girl, spending all her time playing in the woods with Eddie and Francisco.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: With Eddie Willers — her constant companion whom she never looked at romantically.
  • The Quest: For the inventor of "the Motor" and for the Destroyer.
  • Rail Enthusiast: Loves the railroad.
  • Railroad Baron: Runs the railroad.
  • Real Women Don't Wear Dresses: Dagny, the female protagonist described as "the best of women" by Rearden and the narrator, is decidedly masculine in her interests and general mindset, running the railroad, loving mathematics in school, embracing violence and free love, etc. By contrast, the manipulative Lillian Rearden, characterized as "the vilest of women" by the same authorities, is a stereotypically feminine (though evil) housewife who supports charity and high culture and is not very interested in sex.
  • The Mole: After the looters capture John Galt, she successfully convinces them she's his enemy.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Hates profiting from government handouts or unfair directives like the Anti Dog-Eat-Dog Rule. Unfortunately, Jim doesn’t share her ideals.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: Hank Rearden and Francisco D'Anconia are deeply impressed by her elegant, fragile and delicate appearance. She equals (or even exceeds) each of them in toughness.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: ... and desperately looking for people who aren't.
  • Tomboy: As a young girl. Her mother eventually helped her find her feminine side for her first ball.
    • Foreshadowing: by the end of the ball she complains to her mother most of the guests were rather stupid and could barely sustain a conversation. Cue 20 years later, most of the intellectual and business class around her age are the Looters themselves.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Unable to give up on the world and her faith in humans’ capacity for reason.
  • Worthy Opponent: To Hank Rearden and John Galt, which they all love every minute of.

Eddie Willers

"Business and earning a living and that in man which makes it possible – that is the best within us, that was the thing to defend…"

The first character introduced in the book. One of Dagny’s closest childhood friends and currently her Special Assistant. He is fiercely devoted to Dagny and the railroad and becomes more and more distressed at the looters’ efforts against them. He finds comfort in confiding in a mysterious, nameless friend he eats lunch with every day in the Taggart Building cafeteria…

Hank Rearden

"I work for nothing but my own profit – which I make by selling a product they need to men who are willing and able to buy it… and I am proud of every penny that I have earned in this manner. I am rich and I am proud of every penny I own. I made my money by my own effort, in free exchange and through the voluntary consent of every man I dealt with…"

Owner of Rearden Steel, inventor of Rearden Metal (the result of years of tireless experiment and effort – stronger, lighter, and cheaper than the strongest steel), deeply loathed and hated for the crime of being wealthy – including by his own family, whom he financially supports – but admired by his employees and men with whom he does business, Dagny’s secret lover, trapped in a loveless marriage to an emotionally abusive version of Katherine Smith from 1984, and one of the looters’ most uncooperative victims.

Francisco D’Anconia

"If you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater his effort the heavier the world bore down on his shoulders – what would you tell him to do?"

Dagny’s and Eddie’s closest childhood friend, who spent every summer with them on the Taggart estate. Proud heir to D’Anconia Copper. Once they grew up, he and Dagny became lovers for a few years before he inexplicably transformed from an energetic businessman, who believed wealth and greatness had no value unless earned, into a lazy, hedonistic, wasteful playboy surrounded by a million fangirls. The image he presents to the world doesn’t make sense either to Dagny or Hank Rearden, but if his new persona is just an act, what possible motive could lie behind it?

  • The Ace: An omnitalented supergenius...
  • Born Winner: ...from his earliest years.
  • Blue Blood: d'Ancon(i)a is a Real Life noble family coming from Naples during the Spanish rule over Southern Italy and ennobled by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in 1520 AD. Their coat of arms has argent as the dominant color.
  • Character Filibuster: Fond of these, although none of them is even a tenth of the length of John Galt’s.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Had a romance with Dagny when they were children.
  • Fiction 500: One of the richest businessmen in the world.
  • Growing Up Sucks: Learned in college just what kind of world he lived in.
  • Herald: For Hank Rearden, being assigned to recruit him for the cause. Rearden's later sorry he didn't recognize that Francisco was the one "sent after me."
  • Instant Expert: Immediately and effortlessly learned anything he put his mind to in childhood.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Knew when he left Dagny to join the strike that she would find someone else but is genuinely glad to see her happy with someone else.
  • Loved I Not Honor More: Left Dagny to join Galt’s strike.
  • Proud Merchant Race: The D'Anconias have run a lucrative copper empire for generations, which he's as proud of as every one of his ancestors.
    • Zeerust: During the book's timeline (fictional 1950s after a gradual evolution of 1930s technology and economy), Argentina had been a very wealthy country and a great supplier of metallic ores, the ideal place for a fictional mining empire. After late 20th century economic downturns, it sounds a bit unrealistic for modern readers.
  • The Mole: He uses his near-monopoly on copper to sabotage the socialist regime by drawing in as much capital as possible and then systematically wrecking his entire empire, so that copper production is almost wiped out worldwide.
  • Overly-Long Name: Francisco's full name is "Francisco Domingo Carlos Andres Sebastian d'Anconia." Easter Egg: His first two Christian names comprise the name of a pirate and former slave from The Golden Age of Piracy.
  • Rich Idiot With No Day Job: Poses as a useless, girl-chasing playboy to maintain Obfuscating Stupidity while he prepares to make his contribution to Galt's master plan.
  • Sadly Mythtaken: Fortunately for the purposes of his metaphor, the sky is probably no less heavy than "the world."
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: First one to admit in front of Hank and Jim he could have been wealthier than ever dreamed by doing literally nothing and leaving the Looters to launder money through his company. He drives the company bankrupt (which, by his In-Universe pain and struggle, amounts to cutting his own right hand) to get rid of them.
  • Spoiled Sweet: Rich and kind; has no concept of social class differences whatsoever, while determined not to let people like the Looters destroy the world.
  • Title Drop
    "...To shrug."

John Galt

The Destroyer who, one by one, convinces the greatest movers and shakers of the world to go on strike against the tyrannical government that wants to redistribute their honestly earned wealth to those who haven’t earned it (this is a mystery and twist that, of course, pretty much everyone knows by now via the It Was His Sled-effect). To that end, he invites them all to live in a secluded valley hidden by the mountains of Colorado and a hologram-projecting screen of his own design, known as the Utopia of Greed, Atlantis, Mulligan’s Valley (after its owner), and Galt’s Gulch.

  • The Ace: Perfect in every way (according to the narrator) and constantly praised as such by the text and other characters.
  • Almighty Janitor: Worked for the past 10 years as a track laborer; also practiced by his strikers on a vast scale.
  • Anti-Hero: Out to save the world by destroying it.
  • Arc Words: "Who is John Galt?"
  • Author Filibuster: His infamous radio announcement.
  • Badass Boast: "I will stop the motor of the world."
    • Foreshadowing: He said this first and foremost to be heard by Ivy Starnes - the one woman who, 12 years later and living in squalor, gives Dagny the creeps as "the face of pure evil".
      Galt realized In-Universe that Communist ways of organization should have been unsustainable from the start - unless they could have got their hands on an infinite resource. At first glance, people may say he destroyed his magic engine to deny the Starnes siblings profit from it. His real reason was much deeper: to deny any potential tyrant the armed power which comes with infinite energy. Dr. Ferris, Mr. Thompson and Wesley Mouch were going to build a terror weapon to keep people into submission, the Galt generator could have got them both power for the weapon and the way to give free energy for the public, for the industry and so on. A perfect, indestructible form of carrot and stick.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: As he says on the radio, all he’s done is relieve society of the greedy villains everyone hates for exploiting and abusing them, so what does anyone have to complain about?
  • Big Good: The leader of the strike and rebellion against the government oppressors, worshipped by the heroes as a god.
  • Break Them by Talking: His interrogators barely escape each meeting with him with their sanity intact.
  • Character Filibuster: That speech
  • Dark Messiah: Again, out to save the world by destroying it.
  • Deadpan Snarker: An expert at mocking and snarking at his enemies.
  • Do Not Adjust Your Set: His taking over the radio.
  • Electric Torture: Subjected to this when he’s captured in Part III.
  • Famed In-Story: Everyone knows his name and eventually his identity.
  • Flat Character: An intentional example: Rand wanted him to be perfect, so she deliberately didn't give him any of those pesky weaknesses or flaws that people usually look for in fiction.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Singlehandedly invented voice-recognition devices, handprint readers, a cloaking device, and a Perpetual Motion Machine among many other things.
  • The Ghost: Discussed and alluded to but never shown overtly to the reader until Part III.
  • Good Is Not Nice: His goal is to save people and stop tyranny; his methods are severe and dishonest.
  • Guile Hero: Succeeds through manipulation and intellect more than physical prowess.
  • Herald: For all of his Chosen Ones.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: Doesn’t even bother to use a pseudonym or hide his address in New York.
  • Invincible Hero: Again, considered perfect in every way and constantly praised as such by the text, his allies, and his enemies, who are unable to cause him the slightest bit of anxiety even under torture.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: The whole plot started because he gave up and went on strike against the system rather than try to fight it.
  • Living Legend: "Who is John Galt?" The legends about him are compared in-universe to those of Prometheus and the like.
  • Love at First Sight: Describes falling for Dagny this way.
  • Magnetic Hero: Almost everyone who meets him is irresistibly attracted to him and jumps at the chance to join his cause. Almost.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Can convince almost everyone to leave everything behind they've ever known to come follow him. Almost.
  • Mr. Fixit: Is the repairman in Mulligan's Valley (which makes sense, since he designed just about all the technology that would need repairing).
  • Principles Zealot: Is willing to watch the world crash and burn in the name of his philosophy. Though to be fair, he believes collapse is inevitable, anyway, due to the corruption and incompetence of the Looters—He's just helping it along so it comes a little faster.
  • Pure Is Not Good: By most conventional moral standards, at any rate. Galt is Incorruptible Pure Pureness personified, who will never betray his ideals—but his ideals are the sort of principled "pure selfishness" that Objectivism hails as the greatest good.
  • Right in Front of Me: Worked at Taggart Transcontinental for 10 years.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: To the Twentieth Century Motor Company… and to the world.
  • Self-Destructing Security: His preferred security system.
  • The Social Darwinist: The individualist, hyper-capitalist type. He believes in the complete virtue of selfishness and heartlessness. Anyone who tolerates weakness and dependence is evil; he even outright forbids his followers from showing any mercy to non-productive elements, considering pity a worse sin than cruelty (though to be fair, he likes neither).
    Galt: Pity, Francisco?
    d'Anconia: Yes, forget it. You're right.
    • Fridge Brilliance: While preaching selfishness and lack of pity, he didn't act upon them in practice. Otherwise he might just as well accept Mr. Thompson's offer, turn himself The Dragon and live like a King, while in practice he lived very modestly. His hidden reason had been teaching people responsibility for their fate, that even the smallest trifle had to be earned. As in the scene with the luxury car: Dagny was doubly shocked as people in the Gulch charged each other money for everything, and charged ridiculously small amounts. Nobody hires in our timeline a luxury car for $0.25 per day. And neither Galt or Mulligan did it for profit. But to make each other responsible for the object, as it was not a gift to be used carelessly, but a paid service.
  • Sociopathic Hero: Incapable of feeling "fear or pain or guilt."
  • Stalker with a Crush: For Dagny for 10 years prior to her arrival in Atlantis.
  • The Stoic: Believes pain is a sin and practice what he preaches in his attitude, at least.
  • Übermensch: Rejects and transvaluates all traditional morality, and leads a revolution of the productive geniuses of society against the corruption and mediocrity of greedy, parasitic socialism and democracy.

    Residents of Atlantis 

Ragnar Danneskjold

"My only love, the only value I care to live for, is that which has never been loved by the world, has never won recognition or friends or defenders: human ability. That is the love I am serving – and if I should lose my life, to what better purpose could I give it?"

Met Francisco D’Anconia and John Galt in college, where the three became best friends and started the strike. While Galt recruited men and Francisco tricked the looters, Ragnar became an infamous pirate, seizing government "relief" ships of handouts sent between countries, exchanging the goods for gold, and returning the gold to strikers as restitution for what their government stole from them as punishment for their talent for earning money.

  • Analogy Backfire: Out to correct one – the use of Robin Hood (who was originally famous for robbing money from the looters and restoring it to the earners) as a symbol justifying robbing from the "productive rich" and giving to the "thieving poor."
  • Anti-Hero: Defends his profession by saying that since the only justice his enemies acknowledge is the use of force, he’s willing to use force to right others’ wrongs. Notably, he is the only one of the heroes willing to use large-scale violence to fight back against the Looters (the others preferring to simply withdraw from society instead). John Galt and the others on his team think Danneskjold is the most radical and unsavory of their teammates, and don't really support his methods—though they don't really oppose them, either.
  • Badass Bookworm: Such a bookworm, he worked his way through college as a library clerk!
  • Famed In-Story: Everyone in the world seems to know about and fear the famous pirate.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Well, more like "vigilante with bad publicity."
  • Hypocrite: In a lecture to Rearden, he makes it a point of pride that he attacks only government ships, never private ones, since it is the government that is his enemy—but a couple of pages later, he proclaims that he bombed Orren Boyle's factory for producing Rearden Metal, and will do the same to any new one he builds. Possibly justified, since Boyle was receiving government assistance, so his might no longer qualify as a "private" enterprise by Danneskjold's standards.
  • Inexplicably Awesome: It is never explained how he, a private individual, secretly obtained a top-of-the-line battleship, superior to any military vessel. The most likely answer is that Galt's Super Science had something to do with it.
  • Intimidating Revenue Service: Inverted. He believes income and capital gains taxes are theft, and so plunders the government's assets, then gives the proceeds back to the gouged industralists.
  • Just Like Robin Hood: The original version of Robin Hood before his legend was distorted over the centuries; most think of him as a rogue who "stole from the rich and gave to the poor," but he notes that he was actually a rogue who "stole from the thieves and gave to their victims" – a legend he hopes to restore to its proper meaning.
  • Happily Married: To Kay Ludlow, to Dagny’s initial astonishment.
  • Karmic Thief: Robs from governments he believes have unjustly robbed from others, sells the goods, and gives the money to the original victims.
  • N.G.O. Superpower: He is hunted by most of the world's governments, but manages to keep out of harm's way, with hidden bases and contacts no one knows about. His ship is said to be superior to any in the British Navy.
  • Noble Demon: Hank Rearden accuses him of being one of those altruists who risks his life for the benefit of others at no profit for himself. Ragnar insists he does it to satisfy his own love of justice, and, thus, the risk is worth it to him.
  • The Philosopher: He majored in philosophy and, by Akston's description, wanted to be nothing but an "ivory-towered" academic originally—but the insanity of the Socialists drove him to become a pirate/warlord trying to tear down the whole corrupt system, instead.
  • Pretty Boy: Much attention is given to his "delicate" and "fragile" beauty when Dagny first meets him, not yet knowing who he is.
  • Ruthless Modern Pirates: A ruthless pirate of the modern world who only targets Asshole Victims (from his point-of-view) but is nevertheless feared the world over. However, he is also an Anti-Hero with his own code of honor—for example, he warned the workers at Orren Boyle's plant before he bombed it, so innocent people wouldn't be killed just for working for a crook.
  • Unperson: At first, the pro-government press rages against him as a terrorist and criminal. Then, as he keeps inflicting endless new defeats on them, they gradually cease to mention him at all, realizing that it only demoralizes their supporters to hear how helpless they are to stop him. By the end of the story, the bad guys try their best to simply pretend he doesn't exist.
  • Warrior Poet: A skilled warrior and a scholar, who actually prefers philosophy to piracy and goes back to his books once the war is over.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: The regime naturally sees him as a dangerous criminal, while he and his followers consider themselves justified rebels against tyranny.

Midas Mulligan

"I was born on a farm. I knew the meaning of money. I had dealt with many men in my life. I had watched them grow. I had made my fortune by being able to spot a certain kind of man. The kind who never asked you for faith, hope and charity, but offered you facts, proof and profit."

A banker who joined the strike after he lost one-too-many court cases ordering him to lend/give money to someone he knew was a bad investment. Owner of the valley that serves as the strikers’ hiding place.

Hugh Akston

"I quit and joined him and went on strike because I could not share my profession with men who claim that the qualification of an intellectual consists of denying the existence of the intellect."

A philosophy professor who became Francisco’s, Ragnar’s, and John’s mentor in college before joining them in Mulligan’s Valley.

  • Cool Old Guy: Older than most of the heroes but respected by and friendly with them all.
  • Opposed Mentors: With Dr. Robert Stadler — the rivals were both mentors for John, Francisco, and Ragnar and taught them completely different philosophies. One guess which one the boys chose to follow.
  • The Philosopher: A Doctor of Philosophy.
  • The Professor: A former college professor, for 3 of the heroes, even.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Joins the strike and disappears when he gets sick of how the government is running the country.
  • Supreme Chef: Runs a successful diner. Dagny loves his cooking, which he taught at least John.
  • Team Dad: Serves as a father-figure Dagny and others, in addition to his students.

Kay Ludlow

"Whatever quality of human greatness I have the talent to portray – that was the quality the outer world sought to degrade."

An actress who joined the strike because she was sick of being forced to play villainized Veronicas who always lose to the glorified Betties.

Quentin Daniels

" 'Governmental scientific inquiry' is a contradiction in terms."

A research scientist who went to work as a night watchman rather than sell out to the government’s scientific institutes long before even hearing about any strike or Destroyer. Recruited by Dagny to try to solve the mystery of an abandoned generator that supposedly should be able to turn atmospheric static electricity into a viable energy source and ultimately leads Dagny to its inventor, the Destroyer, and the valley all at once.

  • Almighty Janitor: A scientific genius who took a job as a security guard.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: A genius with technological gadgets, even undertaking trying to find the secret of Galt's motor.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Hates injustice and government relief and fights both.
  • Herald: For Dagny, inadvertently — she literally follows him into the belly of the whale. In a plane.
  • Jade-Colored Glasses: Lost hope in the world prior to meeting Dagny and John Galt.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Chose working as a night watchman over working for Robert Stadler.

Ellis Wyatt

"I am leaving it as I found it. Take over. It’s yours."

An oil baron and the John Galt Line’s best customer who went on strike when the looters launched their new plan to enslave the industries of Colorado. The flame left burning on the oil field he destroyed before disappearing became known as Wyatt’s Torch.

Ken Danagger

"They do not need me, they say, they only need my coal. Let them take it."

To the coal industry what Hank Rearden is to metal and Ellis Wyatt is to oil. Joins the strike shortly after being caught purchasing more than his “fair share” of Rearden Metal.

Richard Halley

"I do not care to be admired by anyone’s heart – only by someone’s head."

Dagny’s favorite musician (until he disappeared...) who believes an artist is "the most exacting of all traders" and joined the strike because he couldn’t find the genuine admiration he sought in the outside world.

  • Chekhov's Gunman: Mentioned in passing as Dagny's favorite musician in early chapters. Actually appears as an important strike member in Part III.
  • Compliment Backfire: Finds it painful to be admired by fans for the wrong reasons.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Joins the strike and disappears when he gets sick of the values of the world, particularly towards artists.

Judge Narragansett

"The purpose for which I had chosen my work, was my resolve to be a guardian of justice. But the laws they asked me to enforce made me the executor of the vilest injustice conceivable."

Joined the strike with Midas Mulligan when the courts reversed a ruling of his refusing to force the latter to loan someone money, showing him the Double Standard under which the legal system was now operating.

The Fishwife

John Galt: She’s a writer. The kind of writer who wouldn't be published outside. She believes that when one deals with words, one deals with the mind.



Cherryl Brooks-Taggart

"I’ve never tried to hide that I came from the slums. And I haven’t any sympathy for that welfare philosophy. I’ve seen enough of them to know what makes the kind of poor who want something for nothing."

A young girl who meets Jim Taggart while working in a dime-store and marries him in Part II. The more she learns about her husband, however, his cronies, and what they’re doing to the world, the more depressed she grows until she finally can’t take it any longer...

  • Back for the Dead: She only appears for 3 chapters. After the marriage, she reappears near the very end to commit suicide in a chapter disconnected from the rest of the plot.
  • Break the Cutie: A sweet girl who gets brutally broken over the course of the book.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Heads over it fast after feeling overwhelmed by the looters’ power, including her husband’s.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Can't stand the thought of anyone pitying her miserable marriage, especially Dagny.
  • Driven to Suicide: Jumps off a bridge after she finally snaps.
  • Hope Spot: Dagny makes her feel much better after their talk, even (she thinks) strong enough to go home and face Jim....
  • Kill the Cutie: Her abusive husband drives her to suicide.
  • Loving a Shadow: Was so sure that Jim was a great creator. She does not take her discovery of the truth too well.
  • Morality Pet: Jim expects her to be this, but she just won’t cooperate!
  • My God, What Have I Done??! Who have I married?! How have I treated his sister?!
  • Survival Mantra: "If you don’t know, the thing to do is not to get scared, but to learn."


"There’s so many things I wish I’d known sooner[...]"

A boy who went to college wanting to be a metallurgist but ended up as Washington’s overseer of activity at Rearden Steel. Although he at first seems to believe everything they taught him and in the laws he’s been hired to enforce, he gradually grows to believe in Hank Rearden more and more and to remember what he always wanted to be.

Jeff Allen

"Yours to work, from sunup to sundown, month after month, year after year, with nothing to show for it but your sweat, with nothing in sight for you but their pleasure, for the whole of your life, without rest, without hope, without end[...] From each according to his ability, to each according to his need[...]"

A former employee at the Twentieth Century Motor Company back when the owners introduced a plan that everyone would work according to his ability and be paid according to his need. He recounts to Dagny the four years they all worked and lived in Hell, all but the man who quit the night the plan was introduced, some guy named John Galt...

  • Dark and Troubled Past: Forced to work in a hellish, slavery-like environment for four years.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: he's grateful for Dagny's help but doesn't want her to act like she feels sorry for him. She sense this and complies.
  • Hobos: He is one, found stowing away on Dagny's train during one of her cross-country trips. Noting that he's made at least some effort to look after himself, she lets him ride as her guest instead of having him thrown off.
  • Pet the Dog: A meta-example for Objectivism – Dagny’s treatment of the tramp found hiding on her train proves that Objectivism’s promotion of "rational self-interest" does not translate to "never be kind."
  • Start of Darkness/My God, What Have I Done?: Tortured by his vote for the plan and the things living and working under it made him feel and do.
  • Tall Poppy Syndrome: Survival at the Twentieth Century Motor Company meant striving not be accused of being too able.
  • Wham Line: The chapter featuring him has him giving a lot of them, providing for Dagny the final, concrete answer to "Who Is John Galt?"


James Taggart

"Rearden. He didn’t invent smelting and chemistry and air compression. He couldn’t have invented his Metal but for thousands and thousands of other people. His Metal! Why does he think it’s his? Why does he think it’s his invention? Everybody uses the work of everybody else. Nobody ever invents anything."

Dagny’s brother and President of Taggart Transcontinental, which consists of taking credit for everything Dagny does, which all of their employees know.

  • Attention Whore: Cherryl eventually calls him out on his addiction to attention and praise.
  • Cain and Abel: His Archenemy is his sister Dagny.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Runs the railroad through lies, bribery, pull, and eliminating the competition through dishonest means, not caring how his customers or employees suffer as long as he gets a big check or good connections out of the deal.
  • Domestic Abuser: Emotionally and mentally abuses his wife Cherryl to gain a sense of power.
  • Driven by Envy: Envies Dagny and Hank Rearden specifically to the point of affecting his health, like a drug addiction.
  • Evil Counterpart: To Dagny, the Honest Corporate Executive of the railroad business.
    • Arch-Enemy: Ever since his teenage years hated Francisco d'Anconia to his guts, for no other reason that Francisco was visibly smarter.
  • For the Evulz: His treatment of his wife Cherryl.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Why Cherryl calls him a "looter of the spirit."
  • Hypocrite: Preaches the importance of social responsibility and the evils of money while pocketing as much money as he can in exchange for deals in Washington.
  • It's All About Me: See the chapters where Cherryl tries to understand him. Her interactions with him are pretty much Jim constantly demanding attention for "ME! ME! ME!"
  • Lack of Empathy: Cares about and for no one or how much he makes them suffer.
  • Prince Charming Wannabe: His motive for marrying Cherryl.
  • Railroad Baron: Runs the railroad with all the honor of a mafia boss.
  • The Resenter: Towards Hank Rearden and John Galt... primarily.
  • Rich Idiot With No Day Job: None that requires any real work on his part, anyway.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: He's a full-fledged member of the "Aristocracy of Pull," who uses his connections to get subsidies, breaks, and his enemies eliminated.
  • Straw Loser: Even as a kid, he was nothing but an unending, worthless failure.
  • The Alleged House: Inherited the sumptuous Taggart Mansion as the firstborn of the family and the only son. Keeping in line with his slob character, he never cared for it and left it uninhabited to rot away like junk.
  • Villainous Breakdown: After witnessing John Galt’s torture session.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Thought Cherryl would be his Morality Pet and Love Martyr whom he could treat like crap and then beg to love and redeem him.

Wesley Mouch

"Freedom has been given a chance and has failed. Therefore, more stringent controls are necessary."

Hank Rearden’s "man in Washington" who double-crosses him to become head of the Bureau of Economic Planning and National Resources.

  • Ascended Extra: Has a much more prominent role in the film adaptation of Part I, as opposed to his threatening influence simply being felt and discussed everywhere in Part I of the book without him ever actually appearing in person until Part II.
  • Amoral Attorney: Rearden's treacherous attorney.
  • Badass Boast: His representative quote given above. Calmly proclaiming the obsolescence of freedom in this manner has a certain impressive villainous gravitas.
  • Big Brother Is Employing You: The Ministry of Plenty, to be more precise.
  • Catchphrase: "I need wider powers."
  • Double Agent: In Part I before he shows his true colors.
  • Dystopian Edict: His brainchild Directive 10-289, forbidding anyone from changing their job, salary, purchasing, or production output, is this.
  • The Evils of Free Will: Preaches about how free will is evil.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: From nondescript lawyer-lobbyist to economic dictator of America, in his case.
  • The Ghost: In Part I of the book — constantly mentioned, never appears until Part II.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: He becomes the virtual Platonic type of one, once he is appointed Bureau chief. As such, he is an unelected budget czar with Stalin-like powers to control of the entire economy—and he uses them to strangle every sort of initiative or improvement.
  • People's Republic of Tyranny: Crucial to helping to start one.
  • The Resenter: Of all businessmen, like everyone in his Blue Blooded family.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: And makes the connections for others.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: As head of the Bureau of Economic Planning and National Resources, he makes and changes restraints on business and industry at his every whim.
  • Treacherous Advisor: To Hank Rearden before his true loyalties are revealed.

Lillian Rearden

"I can’t bring men down to their knees in admiration, but I can bring them down to their knees."

Hank Rearden’s wife, whom he eventually learns married him for the same reason any abuser does – the power-trip of devoting your life to torturing and breaking one human being and watching them suffer.

  • Analogy Backfire: Tells her husband "Who are you to cast the first stone?" against the government when he’s guilty of adultery. That ultimatum was originally given to a mob who was being told that they had no right to cast stones at an adulteress.
  • Attention Whore: Usually goes to her kindred spirit Jim Taggart to feed her desperate attention fix.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Be it lawful that Dagny takes up what’s cast away, Mrs. Rearden.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Tells Jim Taggart he's the greatest man in New York City. "It's a good joke on New York City."
  • Domestic Abuser: Emotionally abuses her husband, constantly trying to make him feel guilty and depressed, because it makes her feel powerful.
  • Driven by Envy: As she admits while drinking with Jim – she can’t create railroads or bridges or fantastic new metals, but she can destroy the people who do!
  • It's All About Me: Pretty much every conversation she has with her husband consists of demanding he obey her and making him feel obligated to please her, no matter how much she can see it hurts him.
  • Lack of Empathy: Likes seeing and making people feel miserable and inferior but is never shown truly caring for anyone.
  • Lie Back and Think of England: Sex is her least favorite wifely duty.
  • Straw Loser: Rich, beautiful, admired, above-averagely intelligent, evil, married to a top-tier man—and portrayed as completely pathetic, envious, and unhappy.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Towards her husband (whom she sadistically likes to mess with) and Jim Taggart (whom she thinks can be useful to her). Ultimately subverted when Hank realizes that the only power she has over him is that which he chooses to give her.
  • Villain Has a Point: While Lillian is written as a very unlikeable, emotionally abusive and passive-aggressive leech, she does have a point that her husband's treatment of her in return (threatening her with physical violence and divorce in a bribed court, leaving her with nothing, if she objects to his extramarital affair) is hardly very admirable, either.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Her reaction when she realizes her ex-husband couldn’t care less about her final desperate grasp for revenge against him by sleeping with James Taggart.

Dr. Floyd Ferris

"There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws."

The novel’s closest thing to a Big Bad in terms of prominence, influence, and malice. Driven not by envy or hypocritical greed but by a sheer lust for power. Fond of delivering breaking speeches and publishing books denouncing all intellect and the very act of thinking. Creator of the Weapon of Mass Destruction, Project X, and the Electric Torture device, the Ferris Persuader.

  • Affably Evil: Says the most evil stuff as if he's joking or commenting on the weather and acts completely respectful and gentlemanly while blackmailing or threatening people.
  • Cold Blooded Torturer: Invents and uses the villains' torture device.
  • Consummate Liar: He tells people whatever he thinks they "should" hear, without much regard for truth, in order to control them—though he will equally readily tell the literal truth, when that is what best serves his purposes. By and large, he convinces almost everyone, something that baffles Dr. Stadler.
    Stadler: But, good God! The feeblest imbecile should be able to see the glaring contradictions in every one of your statements!
    Ferris: Let us put it this way, Dr. Stadler. The man who doesn't see that, deserves to believe all my statements.
  • Evil Genius: The closest thing among the bad guys to it.
  • Evil Is Cool: The majority of the looters are almost comically inept and often (In the case of James Taggart) attempt to justify their villain nature. Not Ferris, a man who seems to openly delight in his calm ability to control the world through blackmail, clever partnerships, careful manipulation, psychological mind games and the occasional doomsday weapon. Ferris is clearly meant to be despised, but in a narrative where the heroes are often stiff and unpleasant, Ferris really steals scenes with his sheer love of being evil.
  • Knight of Cerebus: While the other looters are often comically inept clowns, the sinister Ferris is perhaps the one villain who is never played for laughs. He consistently pushes the most cynical and inhumane policies imaginable, that even the other looters are sometimes horrified by, and whenever something truly horrible is about to be done (i.e., Directive 10-296, Project X), he will be there to introduce it.
  • The Man Behind the Man: In his very first scene, it becomes obvious that it is he, and not the figurehead Stadler, who really runs the Science Institute.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Until he met John Galt, always knew exactly how to trick, bribe, or blackmail someone into joining his side.
  • Oh, Crap!: He is deeply unsettled by seeing Galt cause Jim's Villainous Breakdown, not wanting to know exactly what it was that Galt awakened in his ally, and being stunned by its effect on him while somewhat fearing the same for himself. Seeing Galt so confident and in-control despite being tortured doesn't help him.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: All he desires is control. Whether it is obtained by propaganda and sham democracy or mass executions and gulags doesn't matter to him—except for which is the cheaper and more efficient alternative. Thus, he prefers the first method at first... but also has no qualms about the second when the Looters need it to stay in power.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: Ferris believes that the common people are an imbecilic rabble, driven solely by emotion and incapable of any sort of independent thought. John Galt basically agrees with him—but points out that humanity was not this way originally, and is so now only because Ferris and his ilk have spent generations dumbing down their culture and turning them into this.
  • Straw Nihilist: Embraces a sort of postmodernism that plays this completely straight. Or at least, this is his public persona; how much he actually believes it is less clear, as privately he will freely admit that since truth does not exist, he only tells the masses what he thinks they "ought" to hear.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Tall and dark-haired, and while not super-attractive, he is noted to be the handsomest scientist several of the characters have ever seen.
  • Villain Cred: Gives this to the labor boss Kinnan several times, whom he recognizes as a fellow shrewd manipulator. While Kinnan is Book Dumb, his innate psychological insights and experience dealing with the looters have given him much the same sort of view of humanity as Ferris himself has obtained from his careful sociological studies.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Though he is the coolest and calmest of the villains, even he comes close to one in his final confrontation with Galt.
  • We Can Rule Together: To Hank Rearden, with a chaser of Don't Make Me Destroy You. When this doesn’t work, he later switches to the Sadistic Choice tactic.
  • What Is Evil?: Uses this theory as his defense — who's to say there's such a thing as good or evil?
  • Wicked Cultured: A villain who's well-versed in what he and colleagues consider good art, music, and literature.

Dr. Robert Stadler

"Our weapons are so helplessly, laughably childish: truth, knowledge, reason, values, rights! Force is all they know, force, fraud, and plunder!"

Head of the State Science Institute, formerly a professor at Patrick Henry University whom Galt and his two friends originally adopted as their mentor before turning to Hugh Akston. Convinced that the only way to survive in the looters’ world was to join them, he eventually betrayed all the values he once preached to his prized pupils and sold out to the government, allowing them to put his name on any false report or dangerous invention they wanted in exchange for a few bucks and a laboratory. Spends the book lamenting the decline of intellect and integrity in the country, hating Dr. Ferris more and more, and insisting there’s no other option but to give in and go along with it, and no reasonable person would expect him to do otherwise!

  • Alas, Poor Villain
    "On the site of what had once been Project X, nothing remained alive among the ruins – except, for some endless minutes longer, a huddle of torn flesh and screaming pain that had once been a great mind."
  • Broken Pedestal: Was mentor and respected teacher to three of the heroes, who now can't bear to speak of him.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: He is legitimately not only a genius, but one of the greatest scientists in the world in his time, and possibly the greatest of all save for John Galt himself. So he is obviously very intelligent and capable... within his own narrow field of theoretical physics. Unfortunately, he is entirely devoted to that, and not very politically savvy at all—Which makes him an easy prey for his nominal subordinate at the Institute, Dr. Ferris, as well as the looters more generally.
  • The Dark Side Will Make You Forget: The progress of his confrontation with Galt shows exactly how his mindset changed after he joined the looters and how he forgot and abandoned everything he once believed in.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Fell over it long ago, which is why he joined the proverbial dark side — he sees no hope in fighting them.
  • Digging Yourself Deeper: His nervous attempts to justify his actions to Galt come across as horribly empty and pathetic, something that Stadler has trouble ignoring as he hears himself voice all of this out loud. Once he's done taking, Galt calmly tells him that Stadler has already said everything Galt himself would have, causing the professor to scramble from the room in horror.
  • Evil Counterpart: To his old rival and fellow college professor Hugh Akston.
  • For Science!: His motive for joining the enemies of science, reason, and truth was to guarantee himself the resources and freedom necessary to study science.
  • Good Is Impotent: His reasoning for going to the proverbial Dark Side.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Killed by a death ray he or at least his name helped make.
  • Hypocrite: Claims to still respect science and intellect, but Dagny and everyone else are disgusted that he's betrayed everything he claims to believe in.
  • Ignored Epiphany: When Project X is demonstrated, he realizes that this will cement the hold of tyranny on the land forever, and is tempted to speak out against it when he is called upon to praise and justify it. However, he ends up reading from the prepared script with no deviations, in order to save his own skin.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: A book-long process for him.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Word of God was that he was based on Robert Oppenheimer
  • Logical Fallacies: Unless he's just that big a hypocrite...
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Post-Face–Heel Turn, to add insult to injury.
  • Necessarily Evil: he truly believes evil is necessary to survive in this world.
  • Never My Fault: He couldn’t help it!
  • The Obi-Wannabe: In his Backstory.
  • Opposed Mentors: With Hugh Akston — the rivals were both mentors for John, Francisco, and Ragnar and taught them completely different philosophies.
  • The Resenter: Towards John Galt, who he sees as the embodiment of everything he's worked to destroy.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: After the "John Galt Plan" blows up in his colleagues’ faces. Unfortunately, he could not pick a worse route to go...
  • Villainous Breakdown: Following his last meeting with Galt, he completely loses it.

Mr. Thompson

"I’m no match for you, and you know it."

Head of State, but, interestingly, neither the Big Bad nor a revered and feared Big Brother-type figure – just another looter who thinks the solution to any problem with the economy is to pass more regulations, impose more taxes and penalties, and give more money to the most unproductive businesses that obviously need it the most.

  • 0% Approval Rating: Neither his subjects nor his cronies like him or think he's running the country well.
  • Bad Boss: For one, would have no problem torturing his associate Robert Stadler if it would get Galt to cooperate.
  • Batman Gambit: Successfully tricks Dagny into leading them right to John Galt.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: He finds himself losing control following John Galt's speech, and after Galt has been captured and the others discuss what to do with him.
  • Catchphrase: The word "flexible."
  • The Chains of Commanding: He may be the looters' leader, but his position is anything but fun.
  • Control Freak: Every time someone tells him things would be better if he lifted some controls, he snaps, "No!" He is literally unable to bear the thought of giving up control.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Lives here, believing there's no hope for the world and the most they can do is try to buy just a little more time.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Cannot comprehend why John Galt rejects everything they offer him.
  • Logical Fallacies: The only solution to the problem caused by too many regulations is passing more regulations, which require passing more regulations, whose complications require passing more regulations...
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: As Head of State, he makes and changes laws, regulations, taxes, and restraints on business and industry at rapid-fire speed.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Complains to Dagny that none of his underlings have any intelligence whatsoever.
  • We Can Rule Together: Becomes desperate to make John Galt join them.

Orren Boyle

"Nobody can accuse me of running a profit-making business!"

Steel tycoon who thrives on the "aristocracy of pull."

Fred Kinnan

"I’m a racketeer – but I know it and my boys know it, and they know that I’ll pay off. Not out of the kindness of my heart, either, and not a cent more than I can get away with, but at least they can count on that much."

Head of Amalgamated Labor of America, a national Union, which gives him the pull of workers and manpower in negotiation at the table of the aristocracy of pull.

  • Anti-Villain: Whenever the "bad guys" are gathered together, as a rule he's the one who forces the others to face the reality of what they're doing. His Establishing Character Moment in his introduction is a major "The Reason You Suck" Speech to them all.
  • At Least I Admit It: The only one of the looters to admit he’s not motivated by concern for the public.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Not proud of it, just not ashamed to admit it.
    "Sure, it makes me sick sometimes, it makes me sick right now, but it's not me who's built this kind of world — you did — so I'm playing the game as you've set it up and I'm going to play it for as long as it lasts — which isn't going to be long for any of us!"
  • Evil Counterpart: To fellow (if symbolic) union leader John Galt, who genuinely cares about the people's defending.
  • Family-Values Villain: He outright admits he swindles everyone - he just knows he can get away with it as long as he keeps those workers warm and fed, so he will do everything in in his power to make sure they are.
  • Friendly Enemy: Genuinely admires John Galt and openly shows it.
  • Lack of Empathy: Zig-zagged. He doesn’t care how much the workers he "represents" suffer as long as he profits by it, but on the other hand, he knows he has to keep them alive and loyal, so he can be trusted to fight for them.
  • Logical Fallacies: His proposed solution to having too few working men supporting too many non-working men? Require businesses to hire more workers.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: He'll throw his followers just enough crumbs from the table to keep them loyal. Which is still better than his competitors, who don't care about their workers at all.
  • The Snark Knight: Cynically lampoons the high-minded verbiage of the other leading looters, thereby greatly annoying them, as he recognizes them as nothing but fellow grafters and control freaks.
  • We Have Reserves: His attitude towards his workers.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: He basically disappears after he expresses admiration for Galt, with no explanation.

Gene Lawson

"I can proudly say that in all of my life I have never made a profit!"

Former president of the Community National Bank of Madison during the Twentieth Century Motor Company’s Marxist era. Proud that he lost his bank in giving loans based on need only. Now the most naïve of the looters, if his words are taken at face value, who genuinely believes the destructive regulations and controls are necessary for the good of "the little people" and constantly encourages the others to pass whatever new directives are necessary to get people to make the sacrifices necessary to help the people!

  • Ambition Is Evil: Seems to believe it much more sincerely than his teammates who preach it only because it’s convenient for their policies.
  • Evil Counterpart: To fellow but honest, successful banker Midas Mulligan.
  • Knight Templar: By all appearances, genuinely believes that everything the tyrannical government does is necessary and for the best.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Talks as if he's the foremost authority on banking and finance despite causing his own bank to collapse.
  • Logical Fallacies: His "need not greed" policy.
  • Necessarily Evil: Seems to sincerely believe the looters' policy are genuinely needed, no matter how much pain or destruction they cause, to help the country.
  • Never My Fault: He would like Dagny to know he’s not responsible for anything that happened in Starnesville and Madison. It’s the rich people’s fault for not bailing them out!
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: He’s not ashamed of any of the loans or investments he’s made or the way he ran his business into bankruptcy. Not ashamed at all! How dare you think he has anything to be ashamed of!

Cuffy Meigs

"In the long run, we’ll all be dead."

Director of the Railroad Unification Plan who knows only one way to run a business and a country: intimidation.

Emma "Kip's Ma" Chalmers

"At a time of desperate public need, it’s our duty to sacrifice out luxurious tastes and eat our way back to prosperity..."

Mother of Kip Chalmers, a politician whose unreasonable demands lead to the deaths of a trainload of passengers (including himself). Despite having no official position in Washington herself, after her son’s death, she’s given enough power to carry out her own personal crusade as the country’s economy collapses – getting the public to eat healthier!

  • Control Freak: Seeks to control what the country eats.
  • Disaster Dominoes: She commandeers thousands of railroad freight cars to move her soybean crop, which turns out to be unfit for consumption due to being harvested too early. And with the cars out of circulation, the country's wheat crop can't be shipped and rots in storage, triggering nationwide food shortages.
  • Granola Girl: Soybeans are salvation!
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: She sincerely promotes her knowledge of the saving power of soybeans like she believes she knows everything about food.
  • Life Imitates Art: A relative of a politician who proceeds on a personal campaign to improve the country's diet in the midst of serious crises.
  • Too Dumb to Live: She gains her influence because her son fell victim to this trope, ordering a coal-burning locomotive to pull his train through a tunnel whose ventilation system wasn't designed to handle it.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Soybeans apparently hold the key to the nation’s salvation!