The protagonist of Death Stranding, and one of the few survivors in the post-stranding world. He makes a living as as a BRIDGES courier, braving the dangerous wastelands between surviving settlements to deliver his packages.
- The Aloner: To go along with his Hates Being Touched, Sam is one of those on the continent who would rather remain isolated.
- Amnesiac Hero: It's heavily implied that he's forgotten a large portion of his past, which is part of how he adapted so well to the post-stranding world.
- Conditioned to Accept Horror: Sam seems less intimidated by the monsters than his cohorts, most likely due to having to deal with them on a daily basis.
- Cool Bike: The release date trailer shows him with a nifty futuristic motorcycle.
- Courier: His occupation. He's even known specifically as "the man who delivers". Given he's tasked with carrying some truly ridiculous amounts of cargo, on foot, across a Death-Stranded World, it's actually quite a feat.
- Covered in Scars: Sam suffers many small injuries over the course of the game. One scene in the E3 2018 trailer shows him sitting in a bathtub/shower type setup, and as the camera pans up one can see he's covered in dozens of tiny, bloody wounds.
- Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Using his bridge baby, he can return to life if he is killed by the monsters. However, whenever he dies, he leaves a giant crater behind. Sam's superiors in BRIDGES advise him to avoid death anyway.
- Good Thing You Can Heal: Sam exposes his injuries to Timefall to accelerate his body's ability to heal them (ex. ripping off a dead toenail and then exposing the gash to the phenomena so he can grow a new one). This also ages him in those areas, but he's rather cynical about the prospect of living a long natural life anyway.
- Guttural Growler: Courtesy of Mr. Reedus.
- Hates Being Touched: Likely an aversion (not of the trope) borne from a betrayal that Sam experienced in the past. According to Norman Reedus, this is a fear that Sam gradually overcomes over the course of the game.
- Ink-Suit Actor: Looks nearly identical to Norman Reedus.
- Knight In Sour Armor: Fully believes that America is irreparably damaged and people can't reconnect to each other again. Yet he still goes out and makes the deliveries to try to change that. Given how the Briefing trailer ends with Sam seemingly refusing to go along with it, it seems it will take a good reason to convince him to do it.
- Mark of the Supernatural: His body can be covered in handprints - each marks a "voidout" as a result of being captured by the B Ts.
- Meaningful Name: Sam Porter Bridges is a porter whose deliveries bridge the scattered remnants of human civilization. Formerly, he was a Strand - reflecting his disconnect from humanity.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: In the Release Date Reveal trailer, Sam says something like this to an unknown party who, judging by Sam's speech, is implied to be the one behind the Death Stranding:Sam: Covering the world in cable didn't bring an end to war and suffering. Don't act surprised if the world comes apart if you try to do it again!
- Unskilled, but Strong: Unlike the Snakes before him, Sam relies on the type of wild, force-filled strikes you expect from a practitioner of Good Old Fisticuffs. It doesn't stop him from kicking as much ass in melee as he does with a gun.
- Walking Shirtless Scene: Sam appears completely naked in the first teaser. Subsequent trailers show that whenever he enters the limbo between life and death, he appears this way as well.
- Working-Class Hero: Word of God has described Sam as a blue-collar worker, a stark contrast to the likes of heroes with military backgrounds, such as Solid Snake.
This is Sam's companion in the post-Death Stranding world. The Bridge Baby, or BB for short, serves as the means for Sam to sense and avoid the Beached Things that stalk the landscape.
- Cuteness Proximity: While explaining to Sam that BB is a tool and to not develop an emotional attachment, it appears that not even Deadman can resist, as he starts cooing and waving at BB.
- Powered by a Forsaken Child: Bridge Babies are physically removed from the wombs of their braindead "stillmothers", and are placed inside portable chambers that BRIDGES personnel connect to in order to sense BTs. Needless to say, this is not a pleasent for unborn children to experience, so measures are taken to mitigate stress on the BBs, lest they become unpredictable and more prone to failure.
- Your Days Are Numbered: According to Deadman, no Bridge Babies have remained in service for more than one year. Sam's BB is noted to be due for "retirement" before the end of his expedition west.
The United Cities of America
The last remnants of the American federal government, reorganized into a network of loosely-aligned City-States across the eastern seaboard.
- Authority in Name Only: Despite their pretensions of being a legitimate continuation of the United States, the United Cities face constant threat from terrorists and separatist factions, barely holding on to what little territory they control. Sam bluntly tells Bridget that she's "the President of jack shit."
- Big Good: They're one of the few forces in the post-Stranding world trying to rebuild society and change things for the better.
- Disaster Democracy: A post-apocalyptic continuation of the US government.
- Fallen States of America: The US has been reduced to a wasteland with the occasional city and town, and apparently not all of these are in good communication with each other. The huge craters left by voidouts in the Midwest seen in the Gamescom 2019 footage have essentially cut off the UCA from the western side of the country.
- Hereditary Republic: With most of the nation utterly annihilated and the majority of surviving settlements isolating themselves from outside contact, elections and the line of succession aren't exactly a priority. When Bridget dies, Amelie takes over.
- The Remnant: They're all that's left of the old United States.
The ailing President of the United Cities of America. She and Sam seem to have a past connection. Amelie's mother.
- Ill Girl: The Oval Office has more or less been converted into a hospice room for her; when she meets with Sam she's lying in bed, hooked up to life support with a headwrap covering what is presumably treatment-induced baldness.
- Meaningful Name: Bridget.
- Posthumous Character: By the time of the Briefing trailer, Bridget is confirmed to have passed away.
Sam's direct superior in BRIDGES.
- Awesome Mc Coolname: Die Hard-man?
- Cool Mask: Wears a dark grey skull-like mask. It seems to be attached to his face, as the jaw moves with his mouth when he talks.
- Mission Control: Maybe. Kojima has stated that this character has one of the largest, if not the largest, amounts of spoken lines in the whole game.
- Sharp-Dressed Man: As one of a high position within BRIDGES, he dresses in a suit and tie along with a grey Waistcoat of Style.
A member of BRIDGES desperate to survive in the post-stranding world.
- Acrofatic: Despite his plump size, he can move when he has to.
- Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: A slightly Downplayed mix of this and Ink-Suit Actor. The character's likeness was directly contributed by Guillermo del Toro, but the actual performance and voice were provided by Jesse Corti. This was consciously done as Del Toro was far too busy to do the performance himself, though Corti is very clearly doing a Del Toro impersonation.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: Sports a ghastly scar across his forehead, hinting that his head was literally cut open at one point.
- Intangibility: Seems to have this ability, casually phasing through walls as he gives his explanation of the Bridge Baby. Likely the effects of using hologram technology, allowing Deadman to communicate with Sam in a BRIDGES outpost.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Deadman warns Sam against getting attached to his Bridge Baby, because they only last a year and they know so little about how they "work". He specifically refers to them as tools and cautions Sam against developing an emotional attachment to his BB.
Bridget's daughter, who inherits her position as President of the UCA. She led an expedition west to reestablish contact with surviving settlements, but was captured by Homo Demens, held captive in Edge Knot City as a bargaining chip to ensure their independence. Sam is tasked with continuing her work and rescuing her.
- The Ageless: According to Die-Hardman in the Briefing Trailer, Amelie hasn't aged since she last saw Sam ten years ago. This is because her body is on the Beach, likely because of the Death Stranding.
- Gilded Cage: Homo Demens doesn't keep her locked up, and even allows her to freely contact the outside and continue governing the UCA - but she cannot leave Edge Knot City.
- Meaningful Name: Amelie is spelled as "アメリ" (Ameri) in Japanese. Add a "カ" (ka) to the end, and you get a character named "America".
- Tears of Blood: Does this at one point.
A member of BRIDGES who has the unfortunate fate of having his heart stop every 21 minutes before being revived by an AED device strapped to his chest after three minutes.
- Artistic License Biology: The cavalierness with which he treats his numerous daily deaths is frankly astonishing, given that minutes spent without any kind of blood flow can cause massive tissue damage throughout the brain and organs due to the lack of oxygen, and the suddenness with which it resumes would cause even more damage to the slowly necrotizing tissues. Suffice to say that he should have truly died a long time ago just from repeated brain damage caused by his numerous, predictable instances of sudden cardiac arrest. It's possible that the Death Stranding's effects—humankind being abandoned by the cycle of life and death—are what's keeping his body from shutting down entirely while he's dead, which would justify this predicament.
- Blessed with Suck: How he views his condition, as shown by the above quote. Most people would've been driven mad with the knowledge that they will die every twenty-one minutes without fail and spend three minutes in the world of the dead, but he's gotten used to it now and uses his three minutes of death to look for A.) something on the other side that could aid in BRIDGES's mission, and B.) his dead family. Heartman even mentions that most of his hobbies and daily needs can fit into his "schedule" rather nicely. He does, however, mention that his condition makes sleeping difficult since he know he's going to be woken up by a shock to the heart every twenty-four minutes. There's also the matter of sexual intercourse, but being in his position, it's not something he has to concern himself with.
- Crazy-Prepared: A close look at his quarters in his debut trailer shows that all his walls and surfaces are padded with foam, likely in the event that he's standing up when he dies, so as not to hurt himself from falling over.
- Man of Wealth and Taste: Despite being precluded from extended bouts of enjoying said finer things, he has a great appreciation for music, film, the arts, and other aspects of the pre-Death Stranding cultures. He even has an extensive collection of short films and stories, everything he can enjoy in under his 21 minutes of life.
- Meaningful Name: Crosses over into Ironic Name. Heartman's heart keeps stopping every 21 minutes, needing a machine to restart it.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Her name is only given as "Mama", as she is her baby's "mama".
- Meaningful Name: Almost every scene featuring her in the trailers shows she is strongly connected to babies in some form. Specifically, her child was born on the other side as a Beached Thing, but is still connected to Mama via their umbilical cord. As a result, she can't move from her current location.
- Meganekko: The only female character shown to wear glasses.
- Wrench Wench: Implied. Sam meets her in an area that appears to be a garage for BRIDGES vehicles.
A domestic terrorist organization from Edge Knot City that fiercely opposes the United Cities of America. Notably, they are only united by a shared ideology; they lack a formal structure and every cell is self-sufficient.
- Bomb-Throwing Anarchists: Their goal is to destroy what's left of the American federal government so that Edge Knot City can remain isolated and independent.
- Meaningful Name: Homo demens is an obscure alternate name for Homo sapiens, meaning "mad man," in the original context specifically in the sense of humans being the only creatures who have irrational delusions. It also sounds like "demons".
- Suicide Attack: Part of their modus operandi. They essentially "grief" the world by engineering voidouts.
A jovial psychopath with equipment similar to Sam's. He is a major figure in Homo Demens.
- Affably Evil: Maintains a jovial attitude towards Sam, even when trying to kill him.
- Cool Mask: His golden skull mask is very cool.
- Evil Wears Black: He's a member of the Homo Demens and he seems to find summoning Animalistic Abominations to kill Sam to be all in good fun, all the while wearing a dark coat.
- In the Hood: His cloak has one that manages to hide that his mask only covers his jaw.
- Large Ham: Very boisterous and over-the-top, but no less menacing or dangerous.
- Lecherous Licking: Does this to Fragile when she gets held captive by them.
- Mask of Power: His golden skull mask appears to be one, as it can be used to summon a giant lion/sphinx-like creature. Unlike other examples of the trope, Higgs uses his mask by pulling it off and waving it in simple (easy-to-read) motions.
- Meaningful Name: He is named for the Higgs-boson particle.
- Multilayer Façade: Underneath his golden mask is a black one that covers his entire face, seemingly for protection.
- Tears of Blood: He sheds tears of the same creepy black liquid that Cliff sheds.
- Teleportation: He can appear and disappear from and into thin air.
- They Look Just Like Everyone Else!: Despite the level of secrecy that wearing two masks and a hood would seem to imply about his true face, there's a brief shot in the release date trailer that shows him to look...basically just like a slightly scruffier Troy Baker.
The Other Side
A mysterious soldier with supernatural powers. He is Sam's greatest enemy throughout the game.
- Anti-Villain: Possibly, if Mads's description of the character is any indication.
- Big Bad: Confirmed to be the main antagonist of the game. Though, Mads Mikkelsen suggests that "he's not a villain".
- Cool Guns: Both his first trailer appearance and the Decima engine showcase has him armed with an incredibly decked-out assault rifle.
- Cool Helmet: He's first seen with a night vision goggle-equipped helmet that dematerializes, almost as if burning away.
- Couldn't Find a Lighter: In the release date reveal trailer, he lights a cigarette on the burning ashes falling around him.
- Creepy Doll: He is associated with one in the trailers - it's likely that this is his version of a Bridge Baby.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Though he's a major antagonist, Cliff seems to care about the Bridge Baby in his care greatly, often speaking to it like a father would to his own infant.Cliff: I'll show you the real thing soon, I promise. [...] The whole wide world will be yours to explore. You'll be able to go wherever you want. Even the moon.
- Tears of Blood: In the second trailer, tears of what is presumably oil are on his face, but not all of it is moving downwards for some reason.
A courier working for FRAGILE Express.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Mostly acts rather chipper in spite of the fact that the world has been subjected to an eldritch apocalypse. For starters, she walks around with an umbrella-like gadget like she's Mary Poppins, and she eats a fetus-looking cryptobiote like it's a delectable snack.
- Commonality Connection: Seems to have one with Sam over their DOOMS condition - he gets unusually talky and trailers suggest she visits his quarters in person at least once.
- Conditioned to Accept Horror: Like Sam, she doesn't seem that very intimidated by the monsters, again, probably because she has to deal with it on a regular basis.
- Dark Is Not Evil: She wears a spiked black leather jacket and black leather, but is on the side of good.
- Distaff Counterpart: Appears to be one to Sam, being a package carrier who's gotten acclimated to the monsters she confronts daily.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Her name is currently unknown. The cast listing calls her "Fragile", which only refers to the company she's working for, similar to Sam's "last name" being "Bridges", like the company he works for.
- Shameful Strip: Implied, as the trailer shows her held by Homo Demens at gunpoint while she's stripped of her FRAGILE armor. Higgs also licks her during this, which suggests that Higgs finds her attractive.
- Working-Class Heroine: Is in the same delivery profession as Sam, though her cargo usual consists of less-durable objects.