A list of major and supporting characters on Damages. There will be spoilers.
Patricia "Patty" Hewes
A brilliant attorney who wins her high-stakes lawsuits by any means necessary. Hewes is a tempered-steel Iron Lady, but still manages to frequently surprise with the depths she'll sink to to Pay Evil unto Evil. Her backstory and true motivations are slowly revealed as the series progresses. Could easily be the poster child for Amoral Attorney, and in any other show, would be the villain.
- Amoral Attorney: She will cross ANY line to win a case.
- Anti-Hero: Walks the line between types III and IV. Arguably a Villain Protagonist from the start she certainly becomes this as the series progresses
- "Blackmail" Is Such an Ugly Word: Gives one of these to Ray Fiske.
- Career Versus Family: She had to make this decision once in her Backstory. Her unborn daughter lost out to her career
- Deadpan Snarker: Patty has her moments, one particularly humorous one in the pilot:Lawyer: Patty if you were a man I'd beat the shit out of you.Patty: *smiling* If you were a man I'd be worried.
- Easily Forgiven: Averted. Ellen does eventually forgive Patty for being a huge Jerkass and trying to kill her but it takes all of season 2 and Ellen holding a gun to Patty and almost killing her for it to happen. Arguably, her forgiveness of Ellen after she tried to sell her out to the FBI qualifies.
- Go-Karting with Bowser: Discusses the case in season 1 with Ray Fiske whilst walking their dogs.
- Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Played straight. Although in a Flashback she is seen to intentionally induce a miscarriage whilst heavily pregnant so that she can focus on her then up and coming career, she also isn't good.
- Good Is Not Nice: She is a cold and manipulative person who is vicious and merciless to anyone in her path. The only thing keeping her from being outright villainous to the viewer is that she usually targets people who are even bigger and worse than her.
- The Heavy: For the final season, in which the machinations of the actual Big Bad take a backseat to Patty and Ellen squaring off against each other.
- Iron Lady: One of the biggest themes in the show is of Patty's willingness to cut out everyone and everything in her life to win. Ellen never knows whether she wants to strive toward becoming her someday or run away at full speed.
- It's All About Me: She is extremely egocentric, which led to the breakdown of her relationship with her son.
- Justice by Other Legal Means: Steps in where the legal system fails.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Through a complex sequence of events spanning the whole series, Patty's decision to have Pete send Patrick Scully to kill Ellen in Season 1 ultimately leads to Patrick Scully killing Patty's son in the series finale.
- Manipulative Bitch: There are several good examples of her magnificent bastardry... but arguably the best example is in the resolution to season 2 wherein not only does she win the case but manages to use it as an opportunity to gain immunity and nullify the case that the FBI and Ellen were building against her.
- Morality Pet: Her son Michael.
- Mysterious Past
- Pay Evil unto Evil: Her whole method.
- Pet the Dog: Gets a few of these moments with her son here and there.
- Also the series hints that she sees Ellen as a surrogate daughter
- She was also deeply upset by both Uncle Pete and Tom Shayes' deaths.
- Power Hair: She's a fierce lawyer with fairly traditional short hair.
- Villain Protagonist: By the end of the series, certainly, although some may argue that she crosses it when she sends Patrick to kill Ellen.
Begins the series as a fresh out of law school intern to Hewes and Associates, personally hired by Patty, who dreams of becoming a corporate lawer. Initially seeing Patty as a role model, she learns that there is a dark side to corporate litigation and that her new boss has no scruples when it comes to winning. Arguably the true protagonist of the series, the entirety of season 1 shows her gradually learning the stakes and becoming a chess master in her own right.
- Ambition Is Evil: Ellen's entire problem in a nutshell; even though a sane person would have walked away from Patty after season one, Ellen's driving ambition to be the best sadly keeps her in Patty's orbit in order to be used by her. While Patty spends most of seasons two and three trying to get Ellen to embrace her destiny and let herself be groomed to run the law firm when Patty retires, by season four Patty realizes that Ellen will never bow down to her in order to "get her reward" and wants to outdo Patty (hence her taking on not-Blackwater).
- Brainy Brunette: A newly qualified but respectable lawyer.
- Break the Cutie: The entire first season is this for Ellen.
- Broken Bird: After David's death for sure.
- Broken Pedestal: Heavily implied that Patty Hewes is this for her especially after the events of season 1.
- Cartwright Curse: As promised from the opening scenes, but gets it even worse throughout.
- Fake American: Ellen is played by the Australian Rose Byrne.
- Foregone Conclusion: SUBVERTED. Her demise is revealed in a flashforward at the end of the season 5 premiere, but it isn't until the last fifteen minutes of the final episode that we see she was actually alive.
- The Mole: In season 2 for the FBI.
- Naïve Newcomer: At the start of the series.
- Not So Stoic: Although she starts off stoic, she starts to crack.
- Promoted Fangirl: Is a big fan of Patty who is a giant in the lawyering world.
- Sadistic Choice: A milder version. Given these by Patty throughout season 1 to see if she's more loyal to her career or her family.
- Shoot the Dog: Season 5 is partly about how comfortable Ellen has become with doing this. At one point she has to destroy a bereaved teenager's credibility by subjecting the girl to a relentlessly cruel line of questioning. Season 1 Ellen might have had qualms about it. Season 5 Ellen doesn't flinch.
- Stepford Smiler: After the first season finale and up until the end of season 2.
- Supporting Protagonist: She's much less active than Patty.
- Took a Level in Badass / Took a Level in Jerkass: Compare season 1 Ellen to the Ellen of seasons 2 and 3.
- Welcome Back, Traitor: After season 2.
- White Sheep: To the rest of her family.
- You Remind Me Of Me: Patty tells her this in season 2. Season 1 Ellen would have jumped for joy at this. Season 2 Ellen... not so much.
Patty's partner in her firm and one of the most moral members of the main cast. Unlike Patty he doesn't get many of the high-profile cases because of his stern moral code.
- Butt-Monkey: Nothing goes right for Tom.
- Can't Get Away with Nuthin' For most seasons Tom is the series Butt-Monkey. The one time he tries to play chess master with the Tobins (whom he despises for suckering him and countless individuals into losing their life savings in a ponzi scheme) ends with his murder.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: His death.
- Foil: He's one to Patty, being a basically decent person working for far less moral employers.
- Foregone Conclusion: His demise is revealed in a flash forward at the beginning of season 3
- Happily Married
- Killed Off for Real: At the end of Season 3, although it's revealed at the beginning.
- Nice Guy: Which, Patty argues, is his Fatal Flaw.
- No Respect Guy: Despite Patty's numerous insistences that she respects Tom, she doesn't treat him well at all, in fact often valuing Ellen above him, and he also struggles to get any sort of fulfilment from his family or friends, especially after he's a victim of
- Number Two: To Patty.
- Undignified Death: [[spoiler:Drowned in a toilet by feckless alcoholic Joe.)
- The Starscream: Tries to be this to Patty, but it never ends well for him.
- Took A Level In Bad Ass: Subverted. It doesn't end well for him.
Peter "Uncle Pete" McKee
Patty's right hand man for several years. According to Patty he is her maternal uncle. When Ellen becomes a liability in Season 1, he is ordered by Patty to kill her. Luckily Ellen survives the attempt.
- Bungled Suicide: After he knows the FBI is on to him.
- Chekhov's Gunman: He's shown in the background for years.
- Clean Up Crew: His stated job for Patty.
- Cool Old Guy: He loves Patty like his own daughter and will do just about anything for her.
- Dead Pan Snarker: Like Patty.
- Driven to Suicide: An unsuccessful attempt.
- Older Sidekick: To Patty. He'd do anything for her.
- Sickbed Slaying: Patty does this to him eventually.
A corrupt executive of a major company. Patty represents his former clients who were defrauded out of millions by his schemes.
- Affably Evil: Comes off as more of a thickheaded teenager who simply never grew up than really evil, although he transfers into Faux Affably Evil by the end of Season 1.
- Big Bad: For season 1.
- The Bus Came Back / Commuting on a Bus: The latter in season 2, the former in season 3.
- Clear My Name: His goal throughout the series, but he did it, so...
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: He owes a major company and stole everyone's pensions via insider trading, not to mention the load of crimes he commits once he goes up against Patty.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Initially.
- Family Values Villain: He genuinely loves his wife and son and claims to be genuinely affected by both Ray's suicide and embodies family value.
- Guilt-Ridden Accomplice: Ends up having a decent collection of these.
- HeelFace Revolving Door: Of sorts, after the first season.
- It's All About Me: Eventually revealed to be The Sociopath, largely through this.
- Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: For a while, it's not clear if Arthur is corrupt - then, when it is, he still has some scruples, but he decays into a destructive, insane murderer.
- Karma Houdini: After season 1. Subverted eventually.
- Morality Pet: His family, especially his son.
- Murder Is the Best Solution: Doesn't feel this way at first but eventually gives in and he went Jumping Off the Slippery Slope.
- Put on a Bus: In the middle of season 2. Happens more permanently in season 3 when he finally goes to jail.
- Reformed, but Rejected: Keeps playing this card in seasons 2 and 3. Its not true though.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: His whole attitude.
Frobisher's lawyer and insider trader.
- Amoral Attorney: One of the milder ones in the series.
- Anti-Villain: Throughout the season he is haunted by dreams indicated his turmoil over this case.
- Armored Closet Gay: Eventually revealed to be this, though it does seem to be known to some people, specifically to Frobisher.
- Ate His Gun: How he commits suicide.
- Even Evil Has Standards: He's an Amoral Attorney, but he is still one of the more surprisingly moral characters in the series.
- FaceHeel Turn: Subverted. It seems as if he's about to turn on Frobisher, but he rejects it and commits suicide before Patty can reveal it.
- Friendly Enemy: He and Patty walk their dogs together and seem to genuinely like and respect one another.
- Gayngst-Induced Suicide: Kills himself in Patty's office after she blackmails him about his sexual orientation.
- Incompatible Orientation: Wants Gregory Molina who is actually straight.
- Love Makes You Crazy: Relatively, his love for Gregory makes him act a lot more impulsively, results in him revealing Frobisher's insider trading, and eventually to his [[suicide]].
- Sacrificial Lion: It shows how deeply immersed Frobisher is in villainy and Ray is one of his few confidantes.
- Southern Gentleman: An identity he attempts to embody while struggling with the limitations of it, both morally and sexually.
- Straight Gay: He seems to genuinely love his wife, despite wanting Gregory. If he values her outside of being a friend, it might be If It's You, It's Okay. The storyline isn't explored thoroughly enough to make it clear.
- Worthy Opponent: Patty calls him this, and seems genuinely upset by his suicide.
Ellen's fiance. He is a doctor and initially disapproves of Ellen joining Patty Hewes' law firm.
- Foregone Conclusion: His demise, also counts as a First-Episode Twist.
- Killed Off for Real
- Nice Guy: Is loyal to Ellen and good to his patients, even when he is the target of a stalker.
- Sacrificial Lion: His death in the first episode clearly kicks off the plot.
- Stuffed in the Fridge: A Rare Male Example as he was also tortured before his death.
- Too Good for This Sinful Earth: He is loyal to Ellen, very loving, and a saintly doctor...who gets viciously murdered at the end of Season 1.
- We Hardly Knew Ye
David's sister and Ellen's future sister-in-law.
- Advertised Extra: After becoming a main cast member in season 2 she contributes a whole lot less to the plot than she did in season 1.
- ChekhovsGunwoman: Had a one night stand with a witness Patty wanted to testify against Frobisher. To get closer to the witness Patty hired Ellen, knowing that she was sister-in-law to be to Katie, and tried to get to the witness through her.
- Dumb Blonde: Subverted.
- Fake American: Anastasia Griffith is a British actress playing an American.
- Promotion to Opening Titles: In season 2.
- Unwitting Pawn: To the Frobisher case.
A respected scientist and former friend of Patty in the past. He becomes involved in Walter Kendrick's energy profiteering scam. He has his own secrets that he is trying to hide...
- Corrupt the Cutie: In his backstory with Patty.
- Happily Married: Subverted. He tried to kill his wife when she found out about his involvement with Kendrick. Unbeknownst to him, she was still alive when he left, only for a hitman hired by the Kendricks to come in and finish the job.)
- Luke, I Am Your Father: He's the biological father of Patty's son Michael.
- New Old Flame
- Not So Stoic
- Real Life Writes the Plot: William Hurt didn't enjoy the fact that he frequently received only fractions of a script at a time which made it difficult for him to navigate his character's arc as he had never worked on a TV series before. This led to him being difficult to work with and caused his arc to be less prominent, with Marcia Gay Harden's character expanded to fill in his role in the plotline and the creation of a new villain in the form of Walter Kendrick.
- Smug Snake
- The One That Got Away: For Patty.
- Ascended Extra: Originally supposed to be a minor character, her role was beefed up when Willaim Hurt's role was scaled back due to behind the scenes issues.
- Put on a Bus
- The Rival: For Patty.
- Aborted Arc: In the second season finale when he saves Patty's life it seems to hint at the beginning of some sort of storyline more directly involving the two of them. Unfortunately, the potential arc got shelved thanks to Olyphant becoming unavailable for the third season other than a couple brief scenes in the finale.
- Similarly, his backstory: implied to have a personal reason to hate Frobrisher and his backstory (which falls under Multiple-Choice Past) has him either as a disgraced dirty ex-cop or a crook being blackmailed.
- Anti-Villain: Starts out like this until his HeelFace Turn.
- Back for the Finale
- The Bus Came Back
- The Mole: For Rick Messer.
- Multiple-Choice Past: One episode implies that he's a dirty ex-cop who owes his freedom to Messer and another implies that he's a criminal that flipped into being his personal slave in exchange for him not arresting him for an unstated crime.
- Put on a Bus
- The Power of Love: Facilitates his HeelFace Turn.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: Olyphant getting cast in Justified caused the producers to have to shelve any plans they had for the character beyond season 2.
- Big Bad
- Evil Old Folks
- Eviler Than Thou: He's this to Arthur Frobisher.
- Put on a Bus: To prison.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: See this trope's entry under Daniel Purcell.
A whiz-kid mathematician.
- Chekhov's Gunman: He stabs Patti.
- Hookers and Blow: The two main components of his Sanity Slippage.
- Nerd in Evil's Helmet: Technically the Big Bad...but actually a nerdy child-genius mathematician.
- Psychopathic Man Child: As shown by his breakdowns throughout Season 2.
- The Alcoholic: On the wagon at the start of season 3. Falls Off the Wagon spectacularly later on which leads to his downfall.
- Anti-Villain: Is a genuinely nice guy who is shocked at his father's misdeeds and just wants to his family out at first.
- Big Bad: Eventually. It's even him who kills Tom.
- FaceHeel Turn: Over the course of the season.
- Love Makes You Evil: His constant attempts to protect his family result in this.
- Mama's Boy: Kind of. While his mother is a Manipulative Bitch, she also seems to genuinely adore him and goes to great lengths to protect him.
- Moral Event Horizon: Killing Tessa, who is totally innocent in everything.
- Offing the Offspring: Tessa, although he doesn't know she's his daughter. He takes it BADLY when he finds out.
- Protagonist Journey to Villain: Although he isn't as much of a protagonist as Patty or Ellen, he's arguably the most significant Tobin and it results in him turning into a villain by the end of the season.
- Token Good Teammate: Deconstructed. He's in serious denial about his family's fraud and appears to be the nicest member by far...which actually results in him falling further when he discovers the truth about his family and goes to serious lengths to hide it.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: How he feels towards Louis, though it contributes to his Sanity Slippage in a big way.
- Played by Len Cariou
- Anti-Villain: A lot of what he did, including secretly keeping Danielle and Tessa Marchetti in his life and even the Ponzi scheme began as attempts to shield his son from the consequences of potentially life-destroying mistakes.
- Knight Templar Parent: Eventually revealed to be one, as he attempted to protected Joe for years.
- Parental Neglect: Zigzagged. Accused by his wife of making his son feel like "a ghost," but also went to great lengths to protect Joe and clean up his messes.
- Small Role, Big Impact: Only appears in a handful of scenes outside of the episode in which he kills himself, but his fraud and his neglect of his son are the causes of most of the bad stuff that goes down during the third season.
- Driven to Suicide: She jumps off a bridge in the final episode of Season 3.
- Evil Matriarch: Ultimately, although it may be more of a case of Love Makes You Evil, but getting Joe to kill Tessa, his daughter and her granddaughter, a fact she knew is the point of no return.
- Fake Guest Star
- I Was Quite a Looker: Mumbles something to this effect during the season finale just before she commits suicide.
- My Beloved Smother: Towards Joe, who she loves more than anyone, but she's also extremely manipulative of him and ends up pushing him even further down the road of Sanity Slippage even as she apparently tries to help him.
- Parental Favouritism: Joe. She goes to great lengths to reintegrate him into the family despite his alcoholism.
Leonard Winstone /Lester Wiggins
- Affably Evil: An Amoral Attorney
- Amoral Attorney: He's worked for the Tobins.
- Dead Person Impersonation: Leonard Winstone isn't his real name.
- The Dog Bites Back: Despite lying about his identity, Lenny was loyal to the Tobins. Until Joe turned on him. Then he brought them all down and made off with a big chunk of their hidden fortune.
- Karma Houdini: He gets away with being a huge part in the Tobins' fraud, but he also pays deeply for it.
- Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: To the Tobins. He seems to have genuinely cared for them prior to discovering what Louis really said about him courtesy of Joe.
- Mysterious Past: In poverty.
- Playing Against Type: Martin Short is more known for his comedy work. His serious turn was nevertheless well received by critics and fans alike and even garnered an Emmy nomination for the role.
- Why Are You Not My Son?: He invokes this in an arguement with Joe, saying that Louis trusted him far more than Joe with the secrets of the scheme and the business and he "was more his son than you ever were." Subverted as Joe laughs that his father called Louis "my little monkey" and didn't like him as anything more than an employee.
Howard T. Erikson
A private military contractor with lucrative US government contracts.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive
- Family Values Villain: Gets some genuine Pet the Dog moments with his sons, whom he tries to raise properly.
- My Country, Right or Wrong: Almost outright stated. No one denied his patriotism, only his execution of that patriotism. Well, except for Boorman, but he's a jerk.
- Private Military Contractor: CEO of Blackwater Expy Highstar Security.
- Put on a Bus: To prison
A CIA agent who has collaborated with Howard Erikson on secret operations in Afghanistan.
- Big Bad: Responsible for much, if not all, of the mayhem in season 4.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Much of Season 4's plot happens because Jerry doesn't grasp the concept of loyalty. If he'd just left Chris alone, Chris would have probably kept his mouth shut out of respect for Erikson, and Ellen would have had no case.
- It's All About Me
- I Regret Nothing: His last words are "I'd do it again!"
- Killed Off for Real
- Manipulative Bastard
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: His efforts to stop Chris from snitching are what make Chris willing to blow the whistle.
A high school classmate of Ellen's who works for Highstar Security.
- Played by Ryan Phillippe
An Expy of Julian Assange and Edward Snowden who runs a Wikileaks-like website. Becomes Ellen's client in Season 5
- Ambiguous Disorder: Is bad with social cues and often offends people by accident, lives by a rigid personal code while caring little for other people's rules or notions of politeness, and is often hyper-focused on his work.
- Be as Unhelpful as Possible: Even though Ellen is his lawyer and required to keep all of his secrets, he can't stop deceiving her to save face, even when it hurts his case.
- Chick Magnet: Turns out a lot of ladies are drawn to a brooding rebel and global celebrity who looks like Ryan Phillippe.
- Mr. Fanservice: His bare chest and/or his butt makes it into frame almost once an episode.
- Played by John Hannah
A one-time old-school print journalist who now works as Channing's Number Two
- Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: His main role is to make sure the website runs smoothly despite Channing's Ambiguous Disorder.
- Never Found the Body: The viewer watches him die, but the main characters never find out.
- Older Sidekick: Rutger sees himself as more of a partner than a sidekick, but this is how most people see him.
- The Resenter: His motive for betraying Channing and getting Naomi Walling killed.
- Played by Janet Mc Teer
A mysterious lawyer who joins Ellen's firm after years out of practice. Has a history with Patty.
- The Dutiful Daughter: Zigzagged. Kate and her sister both see themselves this way, but each was dutiful toward a different parent.
- Foil: To Patty. Appropriately enough, as they're sisters.
- The Maiden Name Debate: The fact that she took her husband's name is significant, because it hides the fact that her maiden name is 'Hewes,' and it helps underscore the differences between her and Patty.
Patty's teenage son with Daniel Purcell. He is the closest thing to a Morality Pet that Patty has, although she is not above manipulating him for her own ends.
- Blackmail Backfire: What ultimately gets him killed.
- Despair Event Horizon: Tries to kill his mother after she has his girlfriend arrested for statutory rape
- The Dutiful Son
- Parental Favoritism: He's Patty's only child but her soft spot for him puts Michael firmly in this category.
Detective Rick Messer
- Beard of Evil
- Dragon Their Feet: After the case with Arthur Frobisher is more or less resolved he spends the bulk of season 2 tying up his own loose ends related to the case.
- Corrupt Cop
- Detective Mole
- Killed Off for Real
- Internal Affairs: Messer spent several years working in the NYPD Internal Affairs division, where he used his position to protect dirty cops and create a network of friends who all owed him huge favors which he routinely cashed in for evil purposes.
- Noodles Incident: His connection with Wes Kulick; one episode implied that Wes was a dirty cop that lost his job but managed to avoid being arrest for an incident that Messer investigated during his time in IAD (hence Wes owing Messer) while another one implied that Wes was a two-bit crook who Messer was blackmailing into being his informant, and ultimately a spy/assassin.
- Playing Against Type: David Costibale is largely known for playing nice guys, the type who are goofy or eccentric and The Woobie. Rick Messer is quite the polar opposite.
- The Reveal: In the season finale when he goes into a crime scene to retrieve some evidence while the cops are still around... only for him to pocket it and make his way out the door because he's actually a cop.
- Villain with Good Publicity