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    Rocket/Buscape 
Portrayed By: Alexandre Rodrigues/Luis Otávio
  • Abusive Parents: A case of Values Dissonance.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: Part of his plot.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Did not get Angelica.
  • Intrepid Reporter: He's the only person willing to go into Cidade de Deus and take pictures of the crime that goes on there.
  • May–December Romance: Rocket and the woman whom he does lost his virginity.
  • Morality Pet: To his brother Goose, who wants him to study and stay out of criminal life, making him promise to never use his gun.
  • Nice Guy: Despite his insecurities, he is a decent, well-meaning young man who is treated well by most people.
  • There Is Only One Bed: How Rocket loses his virginity.
  • Useless Protagonist: Though he meets and talks to several of the characters (and get in danger more than once) he doesn't interfere in any ways with the conflicts of the gangs, or even in the plot. He is meant to be nothing more than a witness of violence, and a narrator. His character is completely neutral: he doesn't act violent, but doesn't do anything against Ze Pequeno either.

    Zé Pequeno/Little Ze 
Portrayed By: Leandro Firmino da Hora/Douglas Silva
  • Arch-Enemy: To Carrot and Knockout Ned.
  • Ax-Crazy: He's a murderer, a ruthless druglord, and later a rapist.
  • Badass Mustache: He's an ambitious, heartless kid. As soon as he's old enough, he becomes a psychotic crimelord, changing his name to Zé Pequeno. He also grows a mustache for the occasion, marking his coming of age.
  • Big Bad: He stands out as the most violent of the gang bosses whose ambitions for wealth and power effectively drive the plot. Though as the film points out, the gangs who oppose him aren't any better.
  • Bloodbath Villain Origin: His murder spree in the hotel.
  • Dissonant Serenity: His laugh as he kills innocent people in a motel is the first indicator that he's an irredeemable sociopath.
  • The Dog Bites Back: A villainous example. When he was still a kid (then called Lil' Dice), he was bullied by Rocket's older brother Goose. After the motel massacre, the two bump into each other again. Goose callously takes Lil' Dice's money and slaps him for good measure. It proves to be a fatal mistake.
  • The Dreaded: Only Benny isn't afraid of him.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: The only thing that keeps him from being a Complete Monster is that he actually gives a rat's ass about Benny, with the one reason he leaves Carrot alone is because he's friends with Bené.
  • Evil Is Petty: Destroyed Knockout Ned's life just because had envy of Ned's lucky with the girls.
  • Forced to Watch: Lil' Ze forces Knockout Ned to watch him rape his girlfriend.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: He starts off as a Small Name, Big Ego punk who is pushed around by the older gangsters. Later - with a few years of robbery and rampant murder under his belt - he gains the fear and respect that he craves. He then decides to go the full mile and take over the drug trade, becoming the most powerful gang boss in the city. He even changes his name to "Lil' Zé" to cement the occasion.
  • Gun Twirling: He does this.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: After spending his life clawing his way to the top, he dies with nothing; his gang's defeated, he's lost all his money, and he's gunned down by the very people he abused in a filthy alley. In short, he loses it all. Now that's Karma.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: A very subtle example. The "pai-de-santo"(kind of religious authority) told him that, should Zé have sex while wearing his necklace, he would lose his spiritual protection. After he rapes Ned's girlfriend while wearing said necklace, his luck started to go downhill.
  • Might Makes Right: He certainly thinks so. He rises to become a powerful drug lord by murdering all of his competitors and maintains his authority via excessive violence and intimidation.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: His philosophy on life.
  • Pet the Dog: He gives Buscapé the camera because Bené would have wanted it.
  • Porn Stache: Has one.
  • Scary Black Man: Many of the characters are (incidentally) black, but he stands out for being both charcoal black and having a crazed stare.
  • The Sociopath: If he isn't one, no one is.
  • Teens Are Monsters: Alone, he was responsible for at least hundreds of deaths.
  • That Man Is Dead: After an Umbanda ceremony, he changes his nickname from Little Dice to Little Ze.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behaviour: Even in his youth, he was already ruthless.
  • Would Hurt a Child: He has no qualms about shooting a little kid to make a point.
  • You Need to Get Laid: Benny said Ze needs a girlfriend.
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