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The Section’s top agent, a highly skilled trained killer. Despite this, he is constantly wracked with guilt and regret over his actions.
- Berserk Button: Whatever you do, don’t damage any of his model soldiers.
- Da Chief: As Hunter.
- Experienced Protagonist: He's a veteran of the army, has spent time in prison, and is one of the Section’s more long serving agents. Despite his best efforts.
- Feeling Their Age: In “Breakout”, he laments how he has to work to keep up with the younger agents.
- Hitman with a Heart: He’s one of the most efficient murderers you could ever meet. He’s also probably the most remorseful.
- It's Personal: Many of his assignments end up becoming this.
- Omniglot: Can speak Russian.
- Only Sane Employee: Or rather the only humane one, most of the time.
- Rank Up: He becomes Hunter in Series 4.
- Resignations Not Accepted: He’s too valuable to the Section, to ever be allowed to truly leave.
- Take This Job and Shove It: He repeatedly states this to Hunter. It never works.
- Torture Is Ineffective: Despite great emotional pain, he’s able to resist interrogation at the hands of the KGB. Well, the second time around, anyway.
- Wargaming: His one passion in life. Making model soldiers is one of the things that helps him keep his sanity whilst imprisoned by the KGB. By the time of the Reunion Show, he runs a store selling military memorabilia.
The cunning, ruthless head of the Section, a rank held by numerous characters across the series.
- Codename: All the Hunters use the codename Charlie. The original is also referred to as Colonel Hunter.
- Da Chief
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Only three of the Hunters ever have their real names revealed: The original, Colonel Leslie (Ronald Radd), the third, John Ramsey (Derek Bond), and of course Callan himself when he takes the job.
- Good is Not Nice: They’re technically fighting for the safety of the realm, that doesn’t necessarily mean they have high moral standards.
- I Did What I Had to Do: They firmly believe that the ends justify the means.
- Legacy Character: Hunter is a job title, passed along to whoever’s holding the position at the time.
- Manipulative Bastard: Most of the Hunters are this. Colonel Leslie, in particular is a nasty piece of work, to the point where even his own successor is appalled by his callousness.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: John Ramsey, at least in comparison to his predecessors.
- Younger Than They Look: Ronald Radd was in his late 30s when playing Hunter, yet to look at him, you’d think he was 50.
A top Section agent, sadistic and calculating.
- Affably Evil: Not exactly evil, but nasty nonetheless.
- Fire-Forged Friends: Well, they’re not really friends, but close enough. Callan and Meres initially hate each other, but over time gain a grudging respect for the other’s skills, and eventually form a productive, if often tense relationship. They sometimes have a genuine camaraderie, and even ultimately end up on a first name basis.
- The Other Darrin: Played by:
- Peter Bowles in “A Magnum for Schneider”
- Anthony Valentine in the series
- Peter Egan in the 1974 film
- Put on a Bus: Departs for Washington between Series 2 and 3. He later returns in Series 4.
- Sadist: And how!
Meres’ replacement in the Section. Every bit as ruthless, and twice as intense.
- Clear My Name: In “Suddenly - At Home”, Cross reluctantly asks Callan to help prove his innocence, after a woman is killed with bullets matching his own.
- Fur and Loathing: In Series 4, he is frequently seen wearing a beige fur coat.
- Hot Blooded Sideburns: Sports a pretty epic pair in Series 4.
- Killed Off for Real: Shot to death, in “If He Can, So Could I”. Callan does not take it well.
- Office Romance: He briefly dates Liz in Series 3. It does not end well.
- The Rival: He blatantly wants to usurp Callan as the Section’s top agent.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: For Toby Meres. Both are well-dressed, dark haired young, smug, and incredibly ruthless. Meres, however is more competitive, angrier, and prone to wearing louder clothes, at least in Series 4.
The Section’s resident sadistic shrink. He’s in charge of psychologically assessing all the agents, and interrogating prisoners.
- The Shrink: A particularly nasty example.
- Torture Technician: And a highly efficient one at that.
Hunter’s dedicated and highly efficient secretary.
- Beware the Quiet Ones: In “A Village Called G”, she seeks to kill a German war criminal, responsible for the deaths of her family. She’s incapacitated before she can carry it out however.
- A Day in the Limelight: Series 3’s “A Village Called G”, although she doesn’t get much screen time.
- Fake Nationality: She’s Polish, raised in England, and played by a Swedish actress.
- Married to the Job: Rescued as a child in Poland, she has no living family or friends, with no real life outside the Section. She’s utterly dedicated to her position, as a result.
- No Name Given: Early episodes credit her simply as "Hunter's Secretary".
- Office Romance: She briefly dated James Cross. She also pretends to be sleeping with Callan in Series 4, to help him cover up the concealment of Lonely in his flat.
- Omniglot: Is fluent in Polish, Russian, German and English.
- Only One Name: Almost always just Liz. “If He Can, So Could I” reveals her surname as March, after her adoptive parents.
- The Other Darrin: Played by:
- Judy Champ in “A Magnum for Schneider” (voice only)
- Lisa Langdon in the series
- Veronica Lang in the 1974 film
- Felicity Harrison in “Wet Job”, the 1981 reunion special
- The Stoic
- Tragic Backstory: In 1944, her home village in Poland was wiped out by the Germans. She was the sole survivor, her parents and three brothers killed alongside the whole village. She was only three at the time. She was rescued by looters, and passed through various refugee camps for almost a decade, before being adopted by an English couple. They were later killed in a hit-and-run just prior to her joining the Section.
A meek, cowardly member of the criminal underworld, who does odd jobs for Callan, usually acting as a fence or burglar.
- Blatant Burglar
- Cowardly Sidekick: To Callan.
- Fake Brit: He’s a cockney played by a Scot.
- Incredibly Obvious Tail: Surprisingly averted. He’s quite good at following people, unnoticed.
- Lovable Coward
- Signature Scent: He has a condition, which causes him to “pong” when he’s nervous. It’s why he’s called “Lonely”. It makes him quite easy to identify. One character was able to deduce his recent presence, simply by the distinctive lingering odour.
- The Woobie
A refined, duplicitous civil servant, who serves as Hunter’s superior.
- Only One Name: He’s usually only referred to as Mr. Bishop. His white file in “First Refusal” gives his full name as Charles St. John Bishop.
A top Soviet agent, who claims he wants to defect.
- Big Bad: In Series 4.
- Mercy Kill: He begs Callan to kill him, to spare him being handed over to Snell.
- Mirror Character: To Callan. They’re both highly skilled, yet tired of their profession, and want to get out. Or so he claims…
- Not Even Bothering with the Accent: McKenna uses his own accent for the role. Since Richmond spent many years in Dublin, it's justified.
- Specs of Awesome: He’s a badass spy, and wears horn rimmed glasses.