This is for characters from the TV series. For characters from the 1981 film, go here.
Kapitänleutnant Klaus Hoffmann, aka "Kaleun"
- A Father to His Men: Though not much older than his crewmates, he cares for the men under his command and avoids risking their lives unnecessarily.Hoffmann: If the Captain really believes that a situation is hopeless, should he risk the lives of his men?Tennstedt: Hopelessness is not a fact, but a state of mind to be overcome. The key element is "unrelenting towards himself."
- The Captain: Though this goes without saying.
- Contrasting Sequel Main Character: While Captain Willenbrock from the original film was a seasoned veteran who already had his crew's respect, Hoffmann is younger and less experienced, and consequently still needs to prove himself. There are even a few crewmembers (like Tennstedt) who actually resent him, leading to mutiny.
- Decoy Protagonist: The U-Boat plotline is initially focused on him but he's written out of season 1 about halfway through. Only temporarily, though.
- My Greatest Failure: His failure to save Petty Officer Weisgerber, a sailor convicted for cowardice in the face of the enemy, from the firing squad. The fact that his testimony is what condemned Weisgerber doesn't help.
- No One Could Survive That!: Wrangel maroons him on a dinghy in the middle of the Atlantic. He gets better.
- Pet the Dog:
- Punch-Clock Villain: Nothing particularly malicious about him. Hes merely doing his duty.
- Rousing Speech: Gives one to his crew just before their maiden voyage:Hoffmann: We are men of the sea. That means we have to confront not only the elements, but the enemy. Out there we're on our own. Gentlemen, this boat is brand new. We will test it, and it will test us. And in that test, be conscious of the man who stands alongside you, as there's only one way we will prevail: Together!
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Even in the middle of a war, Hoffmann abides by the Code of the Sea.
- Tranquil Fury: When Sam reveals to everyone in the room how his father helped re-arm the German U-boat fleet so he could finance a run on the White House, the normally cool and steady Hoffmann is shown to be trembling with barely suppressed rage.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Played with. Being the son of a decorated Naval officer, Hoffmann has some pressure to be a strong leader in his own right. He is also eager to prove that his promotion is something he actually earned through hard work, as many believe his captaincy to be a throwaway role that was rubberstamped to him.Hoffmann: Now I'm expected to command a crew who probably think the only reason I got promoted is because...Gluck: Because?Hoffmann: Because I'm his son. Because I'm supposed to live up to his myth, and not because of who I am. What if I'm not the person everyone expects me to be?Gluck: Hoffmann, Germany needs you to be him. Precisely because of who you are! And there's no room for self-doubt. Not if we are to end this war.
Oberfunkmaat Frank Strasser
- Can't Kill You, Still Need You: His loyalty to Captain Hoffmann nearly gets him exiled when Team Wrangel comes out on top, but he's spared due to pragmatism.
- Defector from Decadence: He wanted to be one, but he got drafted before he got the chance.
- For Want of a Nail: U-612's regular radioman was injured in an accident, and Frank was assigned as a last minute replacement. This put a serious damper on his plans.
- Got Volunteered: Onto serving onto U-612.
- Lottery of Doom: He has the unenviable task of handing out the straws to determine who ends up sacrificing themselves to repair the electrical system.
- Matzo Fever: His girlfriend is Jewish.
- The Mole: He was helping The Maquis in exchange for a passport that would enable him and his pregnant girlfriend to leave Europe. But then he got drafted onto U-612.
- Someone to Remember Him By: His fiance is pregnant with his child. Subverted when he doesn't die.
Korvettenkapitän Ulrich Wrangel, aka "Der Alte"
- Attack! Attack! Attack!: He favored the wolf pack style of submarine warfare.
- An Officer and a Gentleman: His reputation suggests he might be one. He's not.
- Death Seeker: His plan was always to go down with the ship and he manipulates Tennstedt and the crew into helping him.
- Groin Attack: He admits that at least part of his penis was shot off during the attack that sunk his U-boat.
- Hidden Depths:
- He reveals to the chief that he feels responsible for the deaths of his crew because he got distracted by a pod of dolphins and did not notice the Allied plane that zeroed them in.
- When aboard the Soviet freighter, Wrangel knows almost from the start something is very wrong and that the crew are misleading them.
- Karma Houdini Warranty: By the end of the first season, he seems to have gotten away with his mutiny against Captain Hoffmann. However, Commander Gluck is suspicious of him, and Hoffmann is Not Quite Dead.
- Manipulative Bastard: After launching a suicide attack on an Allied convoy, (that turns out to be a trap) Wrangel flat out admits to Tennstedt that he used him.
- No One Could Survive That!: The U-113 gets destroyed with depth charges in the first episode. Wrangel survives.
- Sanity Slippage: After losing his entire crew and his boat, Wrangel has lost it a bit.
- Seadog Beard: A rather unruly one that hints at his instability.
- Survivor's Guilt: He blames himself for being the only survivor of his U-boat.
- Treachery Cover Up: Falsifies the log book to conceal evidence of his mutiny against Hoffman.
- Tyrant Takes the Helm: After his mutiny against Captain Hoffmann.
Oberleutnant zur See Karl Tennstedt
- Always Second Best: Is more experienced and tech-savvy than Hoffmann, but lacks the Captain's natural leadership abilities.
- The Dragon: To Wrangel during the mutiny against Hoffmann.
- Horrible Judge of Character: By the time he realized how badly he had misjudged Wrangel, it's too late.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: Once Sam Greenwood comes aboard and certain questions about his heritage are raised, Tennstedt's reaction has some racist overtones.
- Redemption Equals Death: He volunteers to enter a compartment filled with chlorine gas and battery acid (that will corrode any rebreather he takes in with him) to fix the ship's electrical system. He does this because he is partially responsible for the ship being trapped on the sea floor.
- The Resenter: Is somewhat bitter that he was passed over for promotion in favor of Captain Hoffmann.
- The Smart Guy: It's pretty much all book smarts though. His lack of street smarts is one of the reasons why Wrangel is able to manipulate him so easily.
- Unwitting Pawn: Wrangel plays him like a fiddle and gets him to support his mutiny against Hoffmann, letting Tennstedt believe it is his mutiny.
Oberleutnant Leitender Ingenieur Robert Ehrenberg
Samuel Greenwood, Jr.
A wealthy and mysterious American businessman who becomes a prisoner on the U-612 after his cargo ship is destroyed. Sam's presence causes considerable tension among the crew much to his satisfaction.
- Ambiguously Jewish: Some of the more antisemitic crew members wonder if he's Jewish, and Greenwood tells Tennstedt he is as a means of trolling him. He isn't.
- Big Applesauce: He's from New York.
- Bullying a Dragon: Telling Tennstedt to "Kiss my Jewish American ass!"
- Honest Corporate Executive: He seems somewhat disgusted by his father's corrupt business practices.
- I Owe You My Life: He says this to Hoffmann.
- Action Survivor: She gets into a couple scrapes, and keeps it together just enough to avoid getting killed.
- Broken Pedestal: Forster, after witnessing his Kick the Dog moments, and Carla, after witnessing her ruthless tactics and descent into addiction.
- Cruel Mercy: After stabbing Forster, Simone can't stand to watch the man bleed out. Though she considers finishing him off, she instead gives him the means to save himself, effectively giving him the choice to either kill himself or risk being ruined if his superiors investigate the circumstances leading to his injuries.
- Cunning Linguist: This goes with the territory of being a translator. Being raised in Alsace-Lorraine meant she was fluent in both French and German. Her English is also fairly decent.
- Deuteragonist: The land-based sequences focus on her, and she is the primary link between the U-Boat and Port Rochelle plotlines.
- Distaff Counterpart: She is one to the John le Carré style spy protagonist, who gets drawn into espionage reluctantly largely because of someone they know, and only experiences the Stale Beer aspects of the genre.
- Gayngst: Simone is a lesbian living in Nazi-occupied France.
- Incompatible Orientation: Forster has a crush on her and pursues her, but Simone is not that way inclined.
- Lipstick Lesbian: She always dresses and acts in a traditionally effeminate manner. Her being a lesbian is a big surprise for the audience.
- The Mole: She inherits this role from her brother when he gets shipped out.
- Questionable Consent: Simone submits to Forster's sexual advance, probably out of fear he might discover Carla hiding in her apartment otherwise. However, later she tells him he forced himself on her. We don't hear or see all that went on beforehand too. Since she's a closeted lesbian though, it's likely Simone wouldn't have sex with him except in circumstances like this, whether or not he would have taken "no" for an answer.
- Action Girl: She knows how to handle herself in a fight.
- Ambiguously Bi: She is romantically involved with Simone, but also implied to have a thing for Phillip.
- Drugs Are Bad: Is addicted to morphine due to the injuries she sustained in the Spanish Civil War. At first she appears to be a Functional Addict. But as time goes on, it becomes apparent that her addiction is negatively impacting her state of mind, leading her to increasingly reckless actions. She eventually succumbs to a Heroic RRoD.
- Gaydar: Despite claiming she didn't know Simone is a lesbian, Carla appears to realize her advances would be reciprocated as she had little hesitation about kissing her. After this they have sex with the same alacrity.
- She doesn't mind the Nazis murdering hundreds of innocent French citizens (the same people she's supposedly fighting for) because of her actions as it will make the French people hate the Germans even more. Simone sells her out to Forster rather than allow this to happen.
- She decries the excesses and cruelties of fascism despite being an avowed communist. The most well-known contemporary communist government (the USSR) operates on functionally the same basis as the Nazis do, complete with mass-murder, ethnic cleansing, silencing of political dissidents, disposal of social undesirables (homosexuals, for instance) and a war-machine that grinds away at the common people for the benefit of a select group of elites.
- Killed Off for Real: In the first season finale.
- Lady in Red: Frequently wears a red coat.
- La Résistance: She leads a cell of maquisards.
- Not So Different: Carla and Inspector Forster are both ruthless ideologues who are largely (almost sociopathically) indifferent to the civilians who die because of their actions, instead blaming the other side for their deaths.Carla: Maybe when you were winning people were excited by that. But defeat turns winners into criminals. Murderers.Gluck: And what about YOU?Carla: I just keep moving forward down the road. A road that gets narrower and narrower; so narrow that there's not even any room to turn around and go back even if I did want to.Gluck: Then you're like us.Carla: Except my side wins the war.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: She serves as the red to Simone's blue.
- Sanity Slippage: Her slow, painful descent from Functional Addict to Addled Addict.
- Secretly Dying: Toward the end, her morphine addiction has finally gotten the better of her, and she is implied to have developed an infection/illness from her injuries.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Her previous experiences in the Spanish Civil War left her with deep physical and emotional scars, and a morphine addiction that eventually gets the better of her.
Kriminalrat Hagen Forster
- Big Bad: Of the La Rochelle storyline.
- Faux Affably Evil: He is usually able to hide his cruel nature beneath a gentlemanly facade. When he does lose his cool, he can be downright savage.
- Hypocrite: He expresses disgust when a German naval officer downplays his men gang-raping a woman (who later died of her injuries) because she was French. He later tries to rape Simone after she provokes him.
- Pyrrhic Villainy: He's effectively wiped out the Maquis that were targeting Port Rochelle, but this is only a small fraction of the French Resistance, and he had to let Simone go. Not wanting to risk frying his reputation, he's picked a new assignment that is clearly designed to keep him in the Führer's good graces.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: This comes back to bite him with Simone.
- Received Pronunciation: His English sounds like this.
- Sharp-Dressed Man: When not in uniform, he tends to favor nice suits.
- Stalker with a Crush: Toward Simone.
- Villainous Breakdown: When he tries to rape Simone.
- You Said You Would Let Them Go: Forster implies that 100 civilians scheduled for execution can be spared if Simone helps him shut down Carla's resistance cell. After Simone holds up her end, he kills five random prisoners, insisting that an example needed to be made.
Inspector Pierre Duval
- Armor-Piercing Question: While pursuing a lead in a cathedral, a priest asks Duval if he has come to confess his sins, with a bitter tone implying that he resents Duval for being a collaborator.
- Cassandra Truth: He's suspicious of Simone very early on, but Forster doesn't want to believe it.
- Da Chief: A Chief Inspector, roughly equivalent to a Commissioner.
- The Dragon: To Forster.
- Les Collaborateurs: A Vichyite working with France's German occupiers.
- Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: Arresting a drunken sailor accused of cheating at cards inadvertently gives him a lead on Resistance activity.
- Pet the Dog: Duval recognizes Margot while checking a bus that's leaving La Rochelle to Vichy France, but lets her go with little Anna because her name is on the death list and he doesn't want her shot.
- Punch-Clock Villain: He serves the fascists, but he's really just doing his job and trying to mitigate the damage as best he can.Duval: My men are, umm... uncomfortable.Forster: Oh, I'm very sorry to hear that.Duval: They don't like arresting teachers, bakers, and ordinary French people. They just want to live in peace.Forster: We are the ones who grant peace. We permit you to live everyday lives, but we can take it away any time we want.
- Bilingual Dialogue: Most of his conversations with Carla involve them both speaking their respective native languages, though there is no language barrier. It's implied that Georges understands English perfectly, but doesn't speak it because his elderly father hates the British and does not approve of English spoken in his house.
- Defiant to the End: When his farmhouse is surrounded by German stormtroopers, he decides to go down fighting.
- La Résistance
- The Lancer: To Carla.
- The Medic: Treats Carla's injuries. Also cares for his elderly father.
- Guest-Star Party Member: He takes center stage for about two episodes, before serving as a reminder that Anyone Can Die.
- Hero of Another Story: He's implied to have had his own share of adventures helping other resistance cells.
- The Mentor: To Carla.
- Pretty Little Headshots: One of these is what does him in.
- "Reason You Suck" Speech: He tells Carla that her cell's ruthless tactics do not make them more effective, and implies that his superiors are not particularly impressed with them.
- Greater-Scope Villain: As the boss of both Simone and Captain Hoffmann, he is one of the primary links between the land and sea plotlines.
- Oblivious Mockery: After losing 12 U-Boats in a relatively short timespan, Forster wonders if the Enigma code may have been cracked. Gluck insists that this is impossible. In fact, the British cracked the code a few months earlier, and this is indeed why they are losing so many ships.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: In the sense that he seems somewhat suspicious of Captain Wrangel.
- "Reason You Suck" Speech: He gives a small one to Carla when he's her prisoner, pointing out that the Nazis view her and her cell as a nuisance at best and that the people who suffer the most because of her actions aren't Germans, but rather French civilians, who hate her almost as much as they hate the Germans.
- Shut Up, Kirk!:
- Gluck first does this to Captain Hoffmann, after refusing to commute the death sentence of a sailor who has been convicted of cowardice in the face of the enemy.Gluck: The boy dies tomorrow. If it makes you understand who you need to be, then his death will have meaning.
- He does this again when Carla tells him that The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized.Carla: How many will they shoot for you?Gluck: Hundreds.Carla: Well, when the war is over, they'll build monuments in their names. Not yours, though.Gluck: How comforting to them.Carla: Well, mass shootings are a legitimate instrument used during a revolution. More workers strike, more will be executed, more resist.Gluck: Your resistance mostly costs the lives of French citizens. The people hate you more than us.
- Gluck first does this to Captain Hoffmann, after refusing to commute the death sentence of a sailor who has been convicted of cowardice in the face of the enemy.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: He gets called out on this when Hoffman mentions talk has changed from winning the war to simply ending it. Is on the other end of this when he notes some holes in Wrangel's Treachery Cover Up.