Characters in Cold Case.
Det. Lilly Rush
- Big Brother Instinct: Big Sister Instinct. Despite her terrible relationship with her sister throughout the series, in the finale, she goes all out to find her when she's kidnapped by her abusive boyfriend and is ready to kill the guy. The final moments of the finale indicate that she's going to do everything she can to take care of her and her newfound niece.
- Broken Bird: Lilly's hard exterior protects a broken interior, as she is afraid to get hurt again and refuses to let anyone in, which is a significant factor in her relationship failures.
- Damsel in Distress: Has a higher tendency to be shot, kidnapped and being thrown off a bridge than other characters, specially in season finales.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Lilly's parents were both alcoholics, and her father abandoned her when she was six due to his toxic relationship with her mother. Her mother neglected her, perferring alcohol over her children, forcing Lilly to take on the unappreciated role of the caretaker of the family. When she was 10, this resulted in Lilly getting violently assaulted as her mother had her sent out in the night to get her more alcohol. Once she thought she would finally be happy and got engaged, her sister and her fiance slept together.
- The Dutiful Daughter: Despite her mother's neglect, Lilly keeps taking care of Ellen when she needs her.
- Dying Dream: She has one in Into the Blue, putting together the clues of the current case while she is drowning.
- The Hero: Established in the pilot as The Hero of the show as she instiagtes the investigation of a cold case, refusing to give up or to be intimidated. She's always concerned with getting justice for the dead, no matter who they were.
- Kindhearted Cat Lover: Lilly Rush has several cats that she adores. One of the cats is even missing a leg.
- Married to the Job: Her job has caused her to break a relationship and that's only in the last seven to eight years.
- Mommy Issues: Her mother, Ellen, was an alcoholic who neglected her and never appreciated Lilly for taking care of her. This has caused her to develop major trust issues, and she becomes extremely suspicious of women that remind her of her mother.
- My Sister Is Off-Limits!: Lilly is less than thrilled to learn that Scotty has been seeing hers.
- Noodle Incident: The reason that relation with her sister is so strained is that she stole her boyfriend/fiancee in the 90s but the whole incident has never been fully explained.
- Parental Abandonment: Her father left the family when Lilly was a child due to his toxic relationship with her mother, later telling her he couldn't stay with her and survive.
- Parental Neglect: Her mother Ellen neglected her due to her alcoholism, at one point sending her out to get a drink in the middle of the night, resulting in Lilly being violently assaulted. Ellen didn't take care of her after that, and refused to take responsibility for it, even decades later.
- The Smurfette Principle: Until Kat became a regular, Lilly was (famously) the only female homicide detective.
- Two Girls to a Team: After Kat joins the squad.
- The Unfavorite: To her mother, who prefers her sister Christina despite the fact that it is Lilly who keeps taking care of her.
- Vigilante Execution: A major part of her character arc in the final season is whether or not she'd ever be willing to cross this line. She considers killing Moe Kitchener after he pulls a Karma Houdini in court but Kitchener's victim's father beats her to him. Then she has to talk down Diane Yates from doing this to Paul Shepard in "Bullet." In the Grand Finale, however, she finally decides to do it to her sister's abusive boyfriend... only for Scotty, who in the prior episode had become accessory in the death of a serial rapist, to tell her it isn't worth it.
- White Sheep: She is the only upstanding member of the family. Her mother is an alcoholic who neglected her children her whole life, her sister is involved in crimes, gets hopped up on doxy, and ends up having a relationship (and baby) with a drug dealer, and her father is an alcoholic who abandoned his family - though he, at least, cleaned up his act later in life.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: She really has a thing for pursuing old cases and bringing justice where everyone else considers it impossible, to the point of accepting to investigate cases that are 80 or 90 years old just because some distant descendant of the victim asks her to.
Det. Scotty Valens
- The Charmer: Scotty is cocky but chivalrous, and always ready to flirt with an attractive woman - though his affairs often get him in trouble.
- Hot-Blooded: Scotty's temper is his probably his Fatal Flaw and has landed him in plenty of trouble. He is easily angered and provoced, especially when some of his personal issues (like mental illness) or women are concerned, leading to a number of violent outbursts.
- Idiot Ball: In "Breaking News", when he learns that Frankie has lied him about being divorced and that she's still married. He is disgusted but when he meets her later in a bar he goes to play bed bondage with her... in the middle of a crime investigation.
- Jerkass Ball: Usually alternated between him and Vera, although other squad members have been known to hold it on rare occasions.
- Karma Houdini: More often than not. While many fans consider his Cowboy Cop antics "heroic" and "the right thing to do", in reality, his actions would have him either demoted, fired or even imprisoned. Heck, other team members ended up taking his punishments for him instead.
- Latin Lover: But not to Lilly, no matter what the Fandom wants to believe. The Grand Finale shows how much they care about each other though.
- Rabid Cop: He's sometimes as bad as UnStabler.
- Writer on Board: Danny Pino wrote the episode "Stealing Home", which shows both the actor's love for baseball and his hatred of the Castro dictatorship. It is a Scotty-centered episode.
Det. Nick Vera
- Cop/Criminal Family: When looking for suspects in an old police ledger he says: "South Philly thugs. I probably have relatives in this book."
- Fat Idiot: Subverted. His appearance, and general attitude give this impression of a bumbling overweight guy, but he's actually a good detective. He once figured out that a seemingly random sequence of letters and numbers was a periodical number. Another time he cracked a case by noticing the color of the victim's luggage.
- Formerly Fit: A flashback to his rookie year showed that he was once in very good shape.
- Gentle Giant: Despite being snarky, he's amazingly good with children and as Rush tells a rape victim: "He only looks like a Neanderthal."
- Heroic BSoD: In "Flashover", after realizing he had arrested wrong man who subsequently died in prison. This ends with him giving up his badge.
- Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Implied at the end of "Wilkommen", when his singing causes everybody around to cover their ears. And he claims to have played Danny Zuko in a Grease play in High School...
- Kavorka Man: Has four (way better looking) love interests through the series despite being a fat, lazy alcoholic with a hard hearing voice and
possiblymost definitely infertile. He even uses his 'charms' to get a testimony from a woman in "Two Weddings" (the lady was a tramp, though).
- Noodle Incident: His "would have been 19 years old now" son with Megan mentioned in "Ravaged".
Det. Will Jeffries
- Badass Baritone: Has a very deep voice and is very cool with it.
- Bald, Black Leader Guy: When Stillman was on forced leave.
- Butt-Monkey: If there was one teammate who could qualify as this, it's him. Played for Drama against suspects, who aren't ashamed to act racist towards him (in fact, the only other squad member who gets as much crap from suspects is Lilly herself, being a woman), but Played for Laughs among his fellow detectives, especially since he usually takes it in stride.
- Cool Old Guy: He is sixty... something, but when he loses his temper (and that's hard), he loses it, as that ADA learned in "Death Penalty: Final Appeal"
- Embarrassing Old Photo: Vera finds a photo of him at his High School prom and distributes copies of it at the station to prove the "hottie" that accompanied Jeffries and he has bragged so much about wasn't hot at all. Jeffries then counterattacks distributing copies of Vera's prom, but Vera is delighted if anything.
- Genius Bruiser: Former football player and boxer. Aspiring writer (once he retires) with quite more culture than his teammates.
- Gentle Giant: He's the tallest and brawniest of the men on the squad, but is also the kindest and least prone to anger and violence.
- Mangst: For his wife, who was run over by a truck in the 90s. He got better after confronting, and ultimately forgiving, the man who accidentally killed her.
- Nice Hat: The fedora he uses sometimes.
- Number Two: To Stillman.
- One True Love: Married his high-school sweetheart, Mary. She was killed in a hit and run in 1995 while changing a tire on the road.
- Writers Cannot Do Math: In "Strange Fruit" he is shown to be 12 in 1963 but in Best Friends (aired in 2005) it's his 60 birthday. Lampshaded in "November 22nd":Will: [talking about the day Kennedy was assassinated] I was playing touch football at recess.Scotty: Recess? I thought you were, like, forty-five when that happened.Lilly: No, you're thinking of when Lincoln was shot.Will: Keep it up. See what happens.
Lt. John Stillman
- Benevolent Boss: Especially to Lilly. Extremely kind, supportive, and understanding.
- The Captain: well, technically, Lieutenant.
- Cool Old Guy: Is not ashamed of calling out criminals and other witnesses when he needs to and is progressive and supportive.
- Da Chief: The lead of the Cold Case unit (most of the time).
- A Father to His Men: Especially to Lilly.
- Married to the Job: Official explanation of his divorce before Agent Yates showed up.
- Papa Wolf : To his daughter Janie.
- Team Dad: As befitting his calmness and supportiveness.
- 10-Minute Retirement: Took a forced leave in place of Scotty in season 5 but helped the squad extra-officially anyway.
- The Mentor: To Lilly.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Implied more than really shown and seems to have gotten over it years ago (mostly).
Det. Kat Miller
- Affirmative Action Girl
- Embarrassing Old Photo: She shows one to Vera at the end of "Stand up and holler"
- Overprotective Mom: Is very resistant to let her daughter meet her father despite the guy seems to have fully recovered and reinserted in society. The actual reason is that she's embarrassed of their former relationship and protecting her daughter is just a pretext.
- Sassy Black Woman: Especially in her scenes with Vera.
- Sixth Ranger: Is also the latest to join the Cold Case unit, although she then becomes a fully fledged member.
- Tomboy: She describes her young self as one in Wednesday Women.
- Two Girls to a Team: With Lily.
Dep. Comm. Patrick Doherty
- Character Development: Its eventually revealed that the reason he's such a hardass in regards to John is because he was the one who sent his drug addicted son to prison for a series of petty crimes. He comes to reluctantly admit to John that his son going to prison was the best thing that ever happened to him, as it helped him get his life back on track.
- Dirty Cop: He was a known associate of various crooked city officials (including the killer in "Jurisprudence") from his first appearance, but isn't revealed to personally be dirty until the Grand Finale, where it transpires that he covered up a manslaughter committed by his son.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: In "Street Money" and "Jurisprudence".
Agent Diane Yates
- Best Served Cold: The entire point of her career is to find who killed her boyfriend when she was 18 and kill the murderer herself.
- Blood-Splattered Innocents
- Cowboy Cop: She uses her position as an FBI agent and her former relationship with Stillman to make the PPD re-open her One Case and help her investigate it. As it turns out, she's doing so completely on her own, but her supervisor has to suck it up and let her continue the investigation because his position would be the most threatened if the whole thing was uncovered.
- If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him: Lilly manages to convince her to not kill her boyfriend's murderer when she has him handcuffed, though interestingly she does so without using these exact words
- Jerkass: Oh so much.
- Mrs. Robinson
- New Old Flame: To Stillman.
- No Woman's Land: She claims the PPD was this when she left for the FBI.
- Really Gets Around
- The Reveal: She is the young woman seen in the Drive In at the beginning of her first episode
Family & Friends
- Addiction Displacement: Tried coffee the short period she actually stopped drinking alcohol.
- Amazingly Embarrassing Mother: To Lilly.
- Bus Crash: A disputed case. While she wasn't exactly Put on a Bus, her death was off-screen and her funeral never showed up on the series
- Dying Alone: Her main fear. She's so obsessed with it that she marries four times in her lifetime. Ultimately happens, as her last husband leaves her, her younger daughter is nowhere to be found and her older daughter is always working
- I Was Quite a Looker
- Killed Off for Real: Dies of cirrhosis.
- Lady Drunk
- Never My Fault: She was the one who sent Lilly out to buy her beer late at night as a child which caused her to be assaulted, but she then claims that she went out under her own volition.
- Off the Wagon: Ultimately leading to Character Death.
- Too Dumb to Live
- Armor-Piercing Question: How Lilly defeats him.
- Breaking Speech: In both of his episodes. In the second one, everything he says is either a this or a Villainous Breakdown.
- Child by Rape: It's implied this is why his mother hated him so much.
- Deconstructor Fleet: George manages to deconstruct the very same show in his debut episode ("Mindhunters").
- He was the first Serial Killer to appear in the series, and as such he didn't have any relation with his victims, unlike other previous killers.
- He killed more than once and he liked it. His weren't the usual "rage of the moment" killings that make half of the show, but executions planned to the minimal detail.
- He knew the cops would eventually come after him and likely planned his interrogation years before it happened. Instead of being caught in their usual interrogation methods, he mocked them and researched the detectives extensively to use their weaknesses against them.
- Unlike other perps, he knew (and lampshaded) when to shut his mouth and that he could walk out any time he wanted since the police did not have definitive evidence against him.
- He was a rather low-profile guy nobody paid attention to, so nobody remembered him and/or could identify him when the police asked about him years later. This also helped him to commit crimes while working as a caretaker for the Police Department.
- Since he gets away with the crime, his first episode is the first (and one of the very few) to not feature the victim's ghost appearing at the end.
- Even Evil Has Standards: OK, his definition of "strong woman that deserves to be stripped down, hunted for miles and beheaded like an animal" is flexible enough to include a 14 year-old, but once he decides a target, he goes after that target and no one else. In one occasion he postponed his plans until a mother was separated from her daughter so he had not to threat or physically harm the child.
- During interrogation, he implies that he did in fact threaten to harm the little girl if her mother didn't come with him, so it's more likely that he simply didn't want any witnesses or the hassle of trying to deal with two victims at once.
- Evil Plan: In "The Woods". He deliberately uncovers the house where he hid the skulls of his victims so the PPD will reopen his case and his mother's, then kills the one woman that escaped him and does not bury her body to drive off the police's attention to the forest, knowing Stillman will not let Lilly go with them for fear of her being targeted by George, while correctly predicting at the same time that Lilly will not give up but go alone to the house to investigate herself. There he confronts her, takes her hostage and tries to break her resolve.
- Eye Scream: he extracted the eyes of his victims and repalced them with black glass eyes used in taxidermy to mount deer.
- Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: His hobby.
- Impersonating an Officer: How he captures his victims. A favorite tactic of serial killer Ted Bundy.
- Killed Off for Real: Shot dead by Lilly.
- Lonely Funeral: It's mentioned by Lilly in the start of the Season 3 premier "Family" that the only people who showed up for his burial after he was Killed Off for Real were the coroner and the gravedigger.
- Meaningful Name: This Marks man is a proficient marksman.
- Mommy Issues: He was raised by a crazy woman who blamed him for her (non-existent) blindness and sold him to a rapist to spare herself of the harm.
- Not So Different: Thinks this of Lilly Rush because of some similitude in their backstories (both were raised by terrible single mothers and attacked at a young age due to their mothers being selfish; he also wanted to join the police but failed the psychological test) and wants her to admit it. However, Lilly thoroughly refutes this.
- Off with His Head!: After shooting his victims, he cut of their heads and took them to his mother's home.
- Ominous Walk: Arguably, what he likes more than killing.
- The Perfect Crime: Technically not the first killer in the show to walk away free, but certainly the first who beats the main character's interrogations and the team would like to jail but can't.
- Rape Leads to Insanity: Was revealed to have been raped in "The Woods" as a child by an intruder, and it's also why he murders his mother.
- Self-Made Orphan: His mother was his first kill.
- Serial Killer: Pretty much.
- Start of Darkness: "The Woods"
- Suicide by Cop: Makes Lily shoot him after she discovers his Dark and Troubled Past.
- Tragic Villain: Yes he's a total bastard but it isn't his own fault he had a shit mom or that his mom allowed him to be raped to save herself.
- Very Loosely Based on a True Story: His MO is nearly identical to Alaskan serial killer Robert Hansen's; one of the main differences is that Hansen targeted prostitutes, most of whom he raped.
- Composite Character: Besides Hansen, Marks also has characteristics in common with serial killers Edmund Kemper (his first kill was his mother, who was abusive and locked him in a dark room when he was a child, and he passed most of his young years ripping dolls apart) and Charles Albright (he had an interest in taxidermy and extracted the eyes of his victims). And as mentioned above, impersonating a police officer to get close to his victims was Bundy's M.O.
- Villainous Breakdown: When Lilly realizes George was raped as a kid and uses it against him, he goes from Smug Snake to screaming madman.
- Worthy Opponent: He thinks Lilly is the only one cop that deserves to confront him.
- Would You Like to Hear How They Died?: In an especially creepy variant, he constantly talks about this hypothetically. It nearly pushes Vera and Scotty to attack him in "Mindhunters", and they just restrain themselves.
- Played By: eljko Ivanek
- Bald of Evil: Zigzagged. Although he's this in present day, he was no less evil when he had hair many years previously.
- Evil Cripple: Unlike most examples of this, it's actually not clear that there's anything wrong with him, but he has multiple sclerosis and his crimes are triggered by the disease's progression.
- Fate Worse than Death: What his MS is presented as, which is somewhat up for debate.
- Reminiscing About Your Victims: The main thrust of his episode, "One Night".
- Bad Boss: When an employee doesn't lock up Paul's store, allowing vandals to get in, Paul fires the guy despite his apologies and offer to help repair the damage. Then, after being exposed as a Serial Killer and with nothing left to lose, Paul goes back and kills the poor guy.
- Beard of Evil: A villain with a very prominent one.
- Clashing Cousins: As an adult, Paul fights with his cousin Tom for not giving him a rent extension (as well as out of envy for Tom's wife getting pregnant while Paul and his own wife are unable to conceive and eventually kills him.
- Cold Sniper: Although it fades as his episode goes on.
- Freudian Excuse: His father's suicide.
- Just One Little Mistake: Probably shouldn't have kept that incriminating magazine subscription.
- Serious Business: East of Eden.
- Shoot the Messenger: Three of Paul's victims were targeted solely for this reason. One is a bank secretary who took phone calls about his dad's loan (and who his dad had already harassed into quitting her job with abusive phone calls). The other two both told him that, as Technology Marches On, "nobody cares" about businesses like Paul's video store or his father's drive-in.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Paul is overweight, bespectacled, and about fifteen years older than his conventionally attractive wife.
- Villainous Breakdown: When the police began closing in, he devolved into a spree killer.
- Continuity Nod: As Lilly leaves, he screams "Don't you walk away!" as George Marks did in "Mind Hunters".
- Cruel Mercy: Lilly refuses to take the bait and kill him, and so he's carted off to a small prison cell. Keep in mind, he's a severe claustrophobic.
- Enfant Terrible: If a flashback is anything to go by.
- Evil Gloating: One of his main modes of torture to his many victims.
- For the Evulz: His background is never elaborated on, no Freudian Excuse or anything is ever offered. He just really gets off on breaking people.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: He imprisons his latest victim within hearing distance of a church that rings its bells every Sunday, enabling the woman to retain her sanity by keeping track of the days. Therefore, she won't snap like his previous victims, rattling him so much that he makes the error that gets him caught. Then, his attempts at getting Lily to give up like his other victims backfires when he TELLS Lily the name of the hymn the woman was humming even as he entombed her and left her to die. Sure enough, Lily not only realizes the woman's still alive, she realizes where the woman's being held because she grew up in that neighborhood and remembers the church.
- Just One Little Mistake: The only reason he was caught was because a local sheriff spotted him driving somewhat erratically.
- Idiot Ball: His plan was foolproof, he just couldn't stop talking to Lilly.
- Laser-Guided Karma: A severe claustrophobic who's modus operandi is to lock up women until they're driven mad. He ends up arrested and will remain locked up in prison for a very long time.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: As we never learn his real name, which only added to his creepiness.
- Mind Rape: Half his MO.
- Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere: The other half of his MO.
- Smug Snake: Really believes Lilly isn't going to find Brenda. She does.
- Suicide by Cop: It fails.
- They Look Just Like Everyone Else!: A former neighbor only remembered him because he was the only white guy in the neighborhood. Even the cop who arrested him describes him as polite and well-mannered, "I wouldn't have picked him out of a crowd". He himself states, "I'm not the guy you look at and think "rapist". I'm more like the guy you see at the dentist's office.", indicating that his average Joe appearance is what made it so easy for women to fall into his traps.
- Villainous Breakdown: His latest abductee's refusal to break disturbs him so much that it leads to the one little mistake listed above. After Lily saves the last one he completely loses his control.
- Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Lures his latest victim in by (a) claiming to have car trouble, (b) claiming to be in a rush to get home and bring his pregnant wife the junk food she's craving, and (c) acting miffed that the woman doesn't recognize him—he claims to be a paralegal at the law firm where she works, "Big shot lawyer like you wouldn't recognize some low-level guy like me. Thoroughly roped in, she gets into the car of her own free will (to test the engine) and is taken prisoner almost immediately.
- Freudian Excuse: He only became a Mad Bomber after he got laid off from his job, had his daughter die from cancer when her screening got delayed, had his marriage fall apart, and had his house destroyed to make way for a tech company, only for that to be made pointless when the company when bankrupt after the tech market crashed.
- Mad Bomber: He went on a bombing spree to get back at the system, or more accurately, anyone he associates with the system.
- The Alcoholic: Which helped play a part in his ultimate death.
- Asshole Victim: Even though his murder was investigated as any other murder, it's easy to see why on a personal level no one gave a shit about his character being dead.
- Crime After Crime: He didn't even commit the murder the team was initially investigating.
- The Man Behind the Man: Subverted. The cadet who actually committed the murder wasn't evil, just stupid and jealous, but he himself was the puppetmaster.
- The Neidermeyer: Treats the cadets like crap.
- No Sympathy: Doesn't feel one once of remorse for his involvement in the murder cover-up.
- The Rival: to Lilly.
- Smug Snake: Oh, yes. To Lilly and other characters.
- Vigilante Execution: He ends up being killed by the father of the female cadet whose death he helped to cover up.