open/close all folders
Played by: Jonathan PryceA hapless, comfortable bureaucrat whose constant daydreams of fighting injustice and finding the woman of his dreams may be premonitions of a terrible future to come when he's promoted to work at the Ministry of Information.
- Beleaguered Bureaucrat: This should go without saying, but Lowry somehow manages to up the ante by showing his job to be nothing more than filing each and every one of the formats and reports ranging from simple formalities to outright annihilation orders as well as the government's punching bag when things like paperwork go awry.
- Big Brother Is Employing You: Deconstructed with Lowry and his ordeal through the Ministry of Information. His everyday consists of having to go back and forth asking what he has to do without getting a clear answer from anyone since "it's not their department" and they're real busy themselves, constantly seeing people being taken for Information Retrieval for everyday procedures and having to turn a blind eye to most things going on. And it's not like he is exempt from the ministry's ire. God help him when he gets unavoidably tangled in the toils of Information Retrieval...
- The Big Damn Kiss: Between Sam and Jill once they finally, finally are united in Ida Lowry's apartment.
- Classical Anti-Hero: A normal, everyday man with no special attributes other than an enormous imagination, a great passion for freedom and a need to escape from the monotony and oppression of everyday life in Brazil. Much like Winston, his involvement ends up bringing the few last members of a possible revolution down as well as causing mayhem for everybody.
- Death of Personality: His fate.
- Declining Promotion: At first, he refused to go work for the Ministry at a desk job, since he feels more comfortable where he is. It's only when trying to help Jill and giving into his mother's ambitions that he accepts the promotion.
- Dreams of Flying: Sam had recurring flight dreams. In one of them, he meets his love interest before meeting her for real.
- The Everyman
- False Utopia: Sam's dreams, especially the last one, which turns out to be a mere Hope Spot.
- Gone Horribly Right: A rare and brief heroic example. When Sam decides to rebel against the bureaucracy, he attempts to participate in a terrorist attack. The terrorist he's assisting isn't one, and points out the horrific carnage around them, telling him he needs to help the people hurt.
- Knight in Shining Armor: That's how Sam imagines himself in his Dream Sequences.
- Love Before First Sight: There's a recurring dream Lowry has about a woman whom he's supposed to rescue. He later meets this woman by the name of Jill Layton by a chance encounter in the Ministry of Information.
- Momma's Boy: If his fantasy segment involving her is anything to go by, he simultaneously fears his mother abandoning him while wishing she were dead.
- Mr. Imagination: Has a vivid dreamlife which he thinks about during his waking life. Specifically Jill.
- My Beloved Smother: His mother patronizes him much to his chagrin.
- Percussive Maintenance: Sam oversleeps because his alarm clock stopped working. When he tabs it, it starts up again and runs fast forward to make up for the lost time. It's implied this happens quite often.
- Poster-Gallery Bedroom: He has posters of movie stars on his bedroom walls.
- Prefers the Illusion: One of the possible endings has him retreat permanently into his Happy Place as a means to escape his torture. Oddly, this isn't as heartbreaking considering the Crapsack World he lives in.
- This Is Your Brain on Evil: Sam enjoys his moment of rebellion when he and Jill Layton escape from Information Retrieval and make a getaway in her cab... until he spots
an innocent bystandera soldier giving chase being slowly burnt to death and realizes how much damage they have caused.
- Tragic Hero
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Lowry dreams that he is a hero fighting an evil regime. He could not be further from the truth.
Played by: Kim Greist
- Action Girl: Jill rescues Sam with her truck.
- Bandage Babe: Jill wears a bandage on one of her hands. According to Word of God, it was added to give her "more personality."
- Bifauxnen: By 80s standards, anyway.
- Damsel in Distress: The fantasy version of her (with the long flowing hair) is this for Sam, although the real-life version is a lot more capable and independent.
- Girl of My Dreams: Sam is obsessed with her because he fell in love with her in his dreams.
- Killed Off for Real: First Sam fakes this, so that she won't be pursued. Then later it happens for real.
- The Last DJ
- Ms. Fanservice: Sam wakes up to find Jill kneeling on the bed wearing nothing but a smile and a giant ribbon.
- Sound-Only Death: When the militia arrives to capture Lowry, the screen goes black and we hear gunfire, likely directed at her.
- Unperson: Sam has Jill erased from the files at the department which then gets turned against her as her murder by resisting arrest needn't even be covered up.
- Wrench Wench: She drives a truck for a living and wears a grimy pair of overalls.
Played by: Michael Palin
- Inspector Javert: He thinks of himself as a clever intelligence operative when he's actually just a glorified interrogator who's so featherbrained that he has difficulty keeping track of the names of his children.
- Fair Weather Friend: Michael Palin's character is willing to perform Cold-Blooded Torture on longtime friend Sam when circumstances turn against Sam.
- Punch-Clock Villain: He's a white-collar torturer who brings his kids to the office.
- Torture Technician
- With Friends Like These...: "This is a professional relationship..."
Played by: Ian Holm
Played by: Katherine Helmond
- Magic Plastic Surgery: She regenerates to the point where her last appearance is played by a different actressnote — although it could be argued that was fever-induced.
- Mother Makes You King: Lowry's promotions are all the work of his mother.
- My Beloved Smother
- Nice Hat: Sports a shoe as a hat. Nice.
- Rummage Sale Reject: Her fashions look like a terribly expensive version of this.
Played by: Ian Richardson
Played by: Bob Hoskins
Played by: Derrick O'Connor
Played by: Barbara Hicks
Played by: Kathryn Pogson
- Braces of Orthodontic Overkill: Her brace contraption is comically large.
Played by: Brian Miller
Ms. Veronica Buttle
Played by: Sheil Reid
- Broken Bird: Turns into this after the fateful events around her husband.