Major William Cage
- Action Survivor: He graduates from New Meat to this early on, at least once he starts to figure out how to avoid dying immediately. It's from there that he begins to become more of a badass.
- Afraid of Blood: Mentions this to his defense when the general commands him to go filming with the first wave. Which makes the After Action Patchup scene, where he casually fixes Rita's shoulder wound, a subtle but powerful milestone of his Character Development.
- Beginner's Luck: For most of the first battle Cage is pathetically useless, with no idea of how to operate his Jacket, screaming for anyone to tell him at least how to take the safety off his weapons. But when he finally manages to find the safety release he actually manages to gun down an attacking Mimic right away, which considering how badly humanity is getting mauled is almost enough to count as a Curb-Stomp Cushion in its own right. But then he does one even better when sheer luck lets him kill an Alpha with a claymore mine and, well, the reset is history.
- Break the Haughty: Cage is rather content with his current position and station. He makes no secret of the fact he thinks the frontlines are Someone Else's Problem. The beginning of the film quickly puts an end to that notion.
- Boom, Headshot!: Being shot in the head becomes the go-to 'reset' method.
- Butt-Monkey: Is this for J Squad, until he manages to earn their respect.
- The Call Knows Where You Live: Cage can't escape dying and being reborn every day. He can't stop the war. He can't stop humanity losing. He can't stop everyone dying. He can't even get a good afternoon drunk going.
- Character Death: More than one.
- Character Development: He begins the story as an arrogant, cowardly Jerkass, and across the story evolves to a much more heroic figure. Particularly notable, as this is the result of Cage literally getting "Stop Being A Douchebag" beaten into him very, very slowly.
- Charles Atlas Superpower: Reliving the same events over and over makes both him and Rita into superhuman fighters, as well as being able to (from the viewpoint of other characters) predict the future and read minds.
- The Chosen Zero: The look of utter contempt on General Brigham's face perfectly mirrors the audience's feelings for the worthless turd Cage is at the beginning of the movie.
- Dangerous Deserter: Treated as one initially thanks to the faked documents. Whilst he is, technically, a deserter, it soon becomes obvious that the only person he's dangerous to is himself.
- Despair Event Horizon: After losing Rita one too many times he resigns himself to killing the Omega in a solo effort and caring about nothing else. Even letting people die he'd saved in previous loops, Rita included. He snaps out of it once he realises the visions of his target are in fact a trap.
- Dirty Coward: To begin with. Tries to weasel and blackmail his way out of the front lines, and even tries running away several times on his first loop. Other characters even call him this outright. He becomes more of a Cowardly Lion through repeated loops and eventually a bonafide badass.
- Draft Dodging: He tried, but failed.
- Feel No Pain: As a result of the time loops, he becomes considerably more numb to pain.
- Genius Bruiser: Not only does the constant fighting he does on the loops makes him stronger, he also been able to memorize nearly every single detail on the past loop and use it to advance further in the current loop.
- Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: After Cage gets used to his time shifting powers, he rejects the helmet when the armorer tries to put one on him. It's justified as his primary method of resetting time is dying by headshot. If he survives a headwound, he runs the risk of bleeding out and losing his timebending powers.
- How Do I Shot Web?: Given an awesome suit of Powered Armor which he has no idea how to use, and expected to fight in it after one day of training, he naturally doesn't last long in the first few iterations of the battle. After he learns how to fight in it, he's able to take a level in badass.
- Jerkass: At first. He gets better.
- Majorly Awesome: Yes to the Major part, no to the awesome, at least at the beginning. Cage was in ROTC in college and only joined US Army Media Relations after he lost his advertising firm thanks to the war. He becomes awesome later, but only after being demoted all the way down to Private.
- The Many Deaths of You: Cage dies from a near endless list of horrible, painful and at times darkly humorous deaths.
- Modern Major General: While not a General, he qualifies. He is quite skilled at propaganda and at playing public opinion, but he has never seen active combat and has no clue how to fight. At the start of the film, he repeatedly asks other soldiers how to turn off the safety on his guns; he only figures it out seconds before his first death.
- New Meat: At the start of the film, he is a Major with no battle experience. He is demoted to Private and sent to the front lines. In the original book, his character is a more traditional young Private.
- Non-Action Guy: He prefers to be a Major who leads far away the from the actual conflict and even professes a dislike of seeing blood from paper-cuts.
- One-Man Army: Becomes this once he hits his Despair Event Horizon a second time.
- Overranked Soldier: Early on, Cage is a Major in name only because he did ROTC while in College. He joined the Army as a PR person and ended up getting the high ranking by default. In reality, he had no real authority whatsoever.
- Screams Like a Little Girl: Does this at times. It is hilarious.
- Surprisingly Elite Cannon Fodder: Sgt. Farell looks surprised when Cage overperforms at the battlefield during later runs.
- Time Master: Accidentally acquired this ability which kicks off the plot.
- Too Dumb to Live: Literally and metaphorically. He starts the movie by refusing a direct order from his superior officer, and then escalates by trying to blackmail the guy. It works out just as well as you'd imagine.
- Took a Level in Badass: Thanks to innumerable "replays" of the same day, he goes from "completely clueless" to "god of war" in his mastery of battle suit warfare. He takes two in particular, however. One involves his mastery of his "Groundhog Day" Loop to kill a lot of Mimics, the other involves Rita's Training from Hell actually teaching him how to react to his knowledge of the battlefield.
- Took a Level in Kindness: In addition to the above trope, he increasingly becomes a nicer dude fight after fight.
Sergeant Rita Sara/Rose Vrataski
The Angel of Verdun, the hero of the first battle humanity won against the mimics. She killed hundreds of mimics on her first day of combat, and a marketing campaign centered around her recruited millions of soldiers to the cause.
- The Ace: She has been hailed by the propaganda machine as a peerless hero, and is indeed an astoundingly powerful warrior thanks to countless days spent training and studying Mimic tactics in a time loop. It's precisely her reputation that prompts Cage to seek out Rita's help in the first place; he believes that she can help stop the doomed beach invasion. He's correct, but not for the reason he initially thinks.
- Action Girl: She's renowned as humanity's mightiest warrior, and she gets to amply demonstrate it throughout the film.
- Action Girlfriend: Eventually.
- Amazonian Beauty: She is a legendary soldier with the nickname of "Full Metal Bitch" and sometimes has to fend off lewd comments. Every time she and Cage meet, she is inside of a target range doing push-ups wearing a tank top (and showing off the muscle Emily Blunt put on for the movie).
- Badass Normal: Unlike Cage she no longer has the ability to reset and avoid the threat that killed her previously, but she still can hold her own against the Mimics in close combat.
- Beauty Is Never Tarnished: In her many death scenes her face is unmarked except for some dirt.
- Broken Ace: She has quite a few emotional wounds on her, as a result of fighting in this war for so long. And because she already looped at least 300 times previously watching her previous lover die that many times.
- Broken Bird: Just like Cage, Rita was previously an Alpha, forced to relive the Battle of Verdun until she survived it. This leaves the implication that she literally went through the same hell Cage did, only without the assistance of anyone else.
- Worse still, there was one person she had. Hendricks. It was heavily implied she did everything she could to try and transfer the power to him so he would reset the time loop when he died too, but it never worked. As such, she could never save him in any time loop.
- Bruiser with a Soft Center: A rare female example, Rita has shades of this when a loop is ending badly. It is implied this is how Cage comes to learn some of the private details of her life, despite the fact that she is not a fan of small talk and prefers focusing on the mission. The strongest example is at the end, when she openly accepts the fact that both she and Cage are going to die without a do-over since he can no longer reset the day. Before going to meet said fate, she compliments him for the first time in any loop and gives him a parting kiss.
- Charles Atlas Superpower: Similar to Cage, gaining the Mimics' time travel power allowed her to become a badass Super Soldier.
- Come with Me If You Want to Live: "Find me when you wake up." (Though that's more "come with me if you want to not die over and over again for nothing".)
- Dark and Troubled Past: She reveals some of it to Cage over time.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Averted. Even though she starts bonding with Cage during their short time together, she always resets to being cold and rude at the start of each loop.
- Dropped a Bridge on Her: In each loop, barring Cage's intervention, she barely sees any combat before a Mimic projectile just flies from behind her, instantly killing her. This serves as the first hint that there's more to her reputation than the viewer knows at this point, in addition to reinforcing the horror of war.
- Feel No Pain: As a result of the time loops, Rita has become considerably more numb to pain.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: From the point of view of everyone else, she is this: she went into battle as little more than a warm body stuffed into the new Powered Armor, but in her first day of battle she slaughtered literally hundreds of mimics and turned the tide of the battle, and came out the other side a steel-eyed war legend.
- Glass Cannon: She's by far the most lethal and instinctive Mimic fighter on Earth after her time in the loop. But her storied invincibility was solely a product of practicing the same battle hundreds of times. Now that she has no idea what will happen, she gets hit and dropped like any other soldier.
- Good Is Not Nice: There's a reason she's called the "Full Metal Bitch".
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: She maybe a colder example than most, but she's firmly humanity's hero.
- Hates Small Talk: Ostensibly because she prefers to remain focused on the job, but actually because getting to know someone is a step towards liking them, making their inevitable death all the more painful.
- Hero of Another Story: She has gone through a series of time loops herself, netting her hundred plus kills in the Battle of Verdun. We may never know how her story started.
- Heroes Prefer Swords: The only soldier in the UDF to wield a sword, and also the most badass.
- I Let Gwen Stacy Die: In Verdun, Rita watched a close friend (either a lover, or someone she became attached to over hundreds of loops) die three hundred times without being able to save him. As a result she shuts herself off from any involvement with her fellow soldiers, and gets angry if anyone even tries to speak to her. When an After-Action Patch-Up leads to some mild flirtation by Cage, her response is to draw her pistol, point out that she's in pain and suggest they just reset again.
- Jeanne d'Archétype: Action Girl? Check. Inspirational? Check. Prophetic visions? Check. Heavy armor? Check. Hair of Gold? Check. She even has a similar nickname. Compare 'The Angel of Verdun' with Joan of Arc's 'The Maid of Orléans.' And Verdun is located in Lorraine, Joan's native province. The comparison is confirmed by Word of God.
- Jerkass: She clearly shows where she got her Full Metal Bitch nickname. Having seen her comrades (one of them implied to be a Love Interest) die hundreds of times, she refuses to connect with anyone, beginning each reintroduction by demanding to know who said Cage could even speak to her. Cage, on the other hand, never gives up being a PR man, so he's able to convince his Ragtag Bunch of Misfits he's telling the truth because he remembered details of their private lives. Even though she's a member of an elite squad, Rita never mentions the possibility of getting them into the act, having apparently failed to bond with her own unit.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: She can be very cold, at one point stealing Cage's suit battery and leaving him to die (and this is before she knows he can even reset). His suit is implied to be damaged beyond repair anyway, meaning he is as good as dead but she offers no explanation or words of comfort.
- The Man Behind the Curtain: A heroic and involuntary example. No one other than Dr. Carter and Cage knows why she was unstoppable at Verdun — or that she can't repeat it. And trying to tell people didn't work very well even when she was looping. Cage is thoroughly shocked the first time his former propaganda symbol is killed out of hand in Normandy.
- The Many Deaths of You: She admitted to seeing a close companion die three hundred times, meaning she died at least that many times even before the movie starts.
- Memetic Badass: In universe, Rita is the poster child of the Human Resistance earning the nickname The Full Metal Bitch.
- Ms. Exposition: Provides Info Dumps about Cage's condition and The Plan.
- Multiple-Choice Past: A mild version — Cage mentions some things he knows about Rita from his past encounters, but Rita claims they're wrong and she probably said them just to shut him up.
- Mysterious Past: Everything about Rita's experience at Verdun, specifically the fate of the man she had to watch die hundreds of times (and presumably couldn't save before the battle ended).
- Red Baron: She's known widely as 'The Angel of Verdun' or, alternatively, 'Full Metal Bitch'.
- Sacrificial Lion: Even though she is probably the most skilled Mimic fighter the humans have, she is killed early in the battle if Cage does not save her. This underscores the dire situation faced by the human army.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Her frequent deaths, as well as those of friends, have taken an emotional toll on her.
- The Stoic
- Team Killer: After Cage reveals that he has the ability to reset the day following his death, Rita shoots him at point-blank range when he becomes unable to train further due to being injured or being surrounded by soldiers at Whitehall after attempting to steal a transmitter that will help him locate the Omega. This is justified because Death Is Cheap for Cage; the unpleasant experience of being shot is simply encouragement to train harder.
- The Tragic Rose: Rose is her middle name, which she only reveals as she's dying in one of the loops.
Master Sergeant Farell
Cage's sergeant, who takes special pleasure in explaining how Cage is a deserter who will be forced into combat.
- Blood Knight: Farell is seen wearing a massive smile on his face everytime he's in combat.
- Colonel Kilgore: He's utterly enamored with war and has numerous flowery speeches prepared about being 'baptized' in combat.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: It's justified because he has to deal with a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits, but he has no problem telling the soldiers under his command that he expects them to fight (and maybe die) gloriously.
- Large Ham: A massive one.
- Rousing Speech: He has several prepared, as a matter of fact.
- Southern-Fried Private: Sargeant instead of Private, but still fits, hailing from Kentucky and loving to kill .
A British general with a strong dislike of cowards and a massive stubborn streak. He is the one who sends Cage to the front lines.
- Big Good: He's the leader of humanity's armed forces.
- Commander Contrarian: Gets a huge Lampshade Hanging from Cage. No matter how many times he tries to convince Brigham or whatever methods he uses, Brigham always stonewalls him and refuses to cooperate.
- Exact Words: After Cage tries to blackmail him to avoid covering the invasion, Brigham responds that Cage won't be filming it. He then has Cage arrested and sent to fight in it.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Having Cage arrested for trying to blackmail him? Makes sense. Having him stripped of rank, given papers identifying him as a deserter, and then put into the first wave of the invasion with no combat training? Bit much.
- General Failure: It's not his fault, though - the Mimics' superpower means that any tactical or strategic decision he makes will retroactively become the worst possible one.
- Good Is Not Nice: He may be the Big Good, but he's a very stubborn and quite polarizing figure as seen in the Jerk tropes below.
- Jerkass: Goes back and forth between having a heart of gold and being a flat-out jerk. He strongarms Cage into doing a war documentary despite Cage's obvious reservations about combat, but he's trying to put a good face on something that is objectively going to be a horrible tragedy even if it succeeds. When Cage tries to blackmail him out of doing it, he has Cage arrested, thrown into a penal unit, and falsifies documents claiming he's a deserter and impersonating an officer. Later on, when Cage is trying to talk Brigham into giving him Carter's device, he notes that every single tactic he's tried has utterly failed to get even an ounce of cooperation from him (which isn't that surprising, given their past meeting). His one successful method turns out to be a betrayal anyway. Even Rita notes that she couldn't work with the man; her attempts to get him to believe she could time-loop got her dissected in one loop, and Cage even mentions that she shot him during one of their previous loops. On the other hand, he got his secretary's son transferred to Australia instead of the front-lines of Europe. Summed up, clearly he's just very big on loyalty and cooperation, but to somewhat amoral extremes.
- Jerkass Has a Point: He is absolutely right about the PR angle of the war. If Cage had been more cooperative about the whole thing, Brigham probably would have sent him in as a VIP with a fair bit of protection. Brigham even notes that the beach seems to have little enemy movement and Cage would barely see any action (he's horrifically misinformed, but that's not his fault). Cage instead breaks the law and tries disobeying a lawful order and then blackmailing a superior officer. Brigham decided to quietly get rid of him. Cage flouted every standard of conduct for an officer, so Brigham's duty was to have him arrested and tried in a court martial. Instead, Brigham abuses his authority to overstep his bounds. Cage may be nothing but an activated reservist, but being a reservist means you can be called up and not wanting to go means squat.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He quietly pulled strings to have his secretary's son assigned to a quiet, relatively safe location.
- Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: On the other hand, he blatantly and illegally falsified documents to put Cage, a completely inexperienced PR officer, on the front lines when he refused to cooperate with his attempt to sell the invasion plan and threatened to cause a PR nightmare for him — in effect sentencing a man to death. He not only sacked Dr. Carter but relegated him to being a suit mechanic when Carter approached him about the aliens' ability. He also had Rita dissected when she convinced him that she had the time travel power. It says something that she shot him in at least one previous loop (according to Cage).
- Small Role, Big Impact: Though he mostly exists to play the stubborn, unhelpful general role, if not for him pulling an Uriah Gambit on Cage, the entire war would have been lost.
- Tranquil Fury: When Cage tries to blackmail him, Brigham calmly walks him to the door and, without raising his voice, tells the MPs to arrest him. In one the later loops, when Rita and Cage confront him, he speaks with them again quite calmly, but it's easy to tell that he's extremely pissed off. When they try to leave, Brigham responds by siccing Powered Armor security teams on them.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: He has no qualms about forcing the inexperienced Cage into battle with a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits—or with throwing entire armies into a campaign that can potentially end in disaster. On the other hand, he is perfectly aware of the realities of war and sincerely wants to end the Mimic invasion once and for all, even if it means trying to sugarcoat the inevitable stream of body bags and the possibility of failure. Given the circumstances, he did not have much of a choice.
A scientist who was studying the mimics before he was demoted because his ideas were dismissed as too radical. He is the only other person besides Rita who knows about Cage's looping ability.
- Almighty Janitor: He is a brilliant mind and used to work as a scientist at Whitehall, trying to find a way to defeat the aliens. However, he got demoted to do low rank mechanics work for the mistake of believing in Rita's story.
- Cassandra Truth: He tried to explain the whole situation with the Mimics, and even came up with a weapon to defeat them. Not only did they not believe him, but they fired him on the spot. Brigham kept his invention, though, so it's possible there's more to his disgrace.
- Mr. Exposition: Acts as this with the help of The Big Board to provide necessary Info Dumps about Cage's condition, the biology behind the Mimics and the Omega as well as The Plan to defeat them.
- Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Despite being a (xeno)biologist, he was the first person to figure out the physics of time travel that the Mimics use.
- Reassigned to Antarctica: He's a certified genius punted down to grunt maintenance.
A private who's often seen in his yellow aloha shirt. He's apparently Sergeant Farell's second-in-command on the battlefield. He's also best friends with Skinner.
- Heroic Sacrifice: In the final battle, he was heavily injured after the quadcopter crashed, so he stayed behind to hold off the Mimics as long as he could. Skinner stayed with him and died holding the line alongside him, but due to Cage resetting the day, they never died in the first place.
- The Lancer: He's apparently one to Sergeant Farell, who orders him to take care of Cage on the battlefield and they're often seen near each other during the battle.
- Those Two Guys: He's apparently best friends with Skinner, and they both died together in a blaze of glory during the final battle.
A tough, hardened private who's best friends with Griff. He often picks on Cage.
- Heroic Sacrifice: After clearing the path for the Quadjet and allowed Cage, Rita, and Ford to continue on to kill Omega, he chooses to stay with Griff to hold the line against a horde of Mimics. After they run out of ammo, Skinner holds up his frontal armor which is laden with claymore bombs and detonates when the Mimics get within range, blowing themselves up along with the gas tanker and destroying a large amount of Mimics in the process. Fortunately, his and his friends' deaths were undone after Cage resets the day again in the ending.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He picks on Cage in every single loop, but only because he doesn't want Cage's antics to get him and J Squad in trouble with Sergeant Farell. He's also the first one to believe Cage's tale about time loops after Cage is able to tell personal info of all J Squad members due to all the time he had spent with them in previous loops.
- Those Two Guys: He's apparently best friends with Griff, and they both died together in a blaze of glory during the final battle.
The only woman on J squad.
- The Squadette: The token female of J Squad, but based on background footage, female soldiers make up a large number of the UDF.
A bombastic private who claims to be on his twentieth mission, to the disbelief of his squad mates.
- Black Dude Dies First: Inverted and ultimately averted. He is the last one of their ranks to die. And due to Ret Gone, neither he nor the rest of his squadmates end up dying.
- Dead Person Impersonation: Turns out Ford is not his real name. The real Ford was killed in action and he took the name for himself and sent his wages to the dead man's family.
- Miles Gloriosus: Claims he's been in over 20 battles against the Mimics. His squadmates don't believe him, but he insists it's true. It's more likely that the real Ford was a 20-battle veteran, while this guy is New Meat.
- Pet the Dog: Despite stealing a dead man's identity, he sends his first paycheck to the dead Ford's family.
By far the biggest member of J squad, he is known for going into battle naked (besides his Jacket).
- Fat Comic Relief: He is the fat member of J Squad. He even goes to battle buck-naked underneath the armor and has a teddy bear strapped to his chestpiece.
- Full-Frontal Assault: He uses his Powered Armor in the buff. It mercifully has a crotch plate. It does not, however, cover the lower half of his ass.
- Too Dumb to Live: Literally. Every single loop he is so excited by the battle that he gets crushed by a crashing dropship. When Cage's loop-apathy hits its peak, he just watches the man die without even trying to save him from his stupidity.
A silent member of J squad.
- The Silent Bob: In an early loop, Cage attempts to prove he has seen the future through knowledge of personal details and realizes that Kuntz never talked to him. In fact, Kuntz only has two lines in the entire film.
Aliens who invaded the Earth via a crashed meteorite. They have never given any explanation or attempted to communicate with humanity, preferring instead to slaughter indiscriminately.
- Combat Tentacles: All of them sport these, either as appendages or as actual skin.
- Hive Mind: The Mimics have one, which Cage accidentally enters by killing an Alpha and being splashed with its blood, with the Omega Mimic being the Hive Queen.
- Horde of Alien Locusts: The only motive they are suggested to have in destroying humanity is to exploit the earth's resources.
- I Let You Win: The victory at Verdun was nothing more than a means to give humanity false hope and convince them to invest all their resources into Operation: Downfall.
- Keystone Army: On two levels. Every Mimic force comes with an Alpha. If that dies, the Omega resets everything with foreknowledge of how things went down in the last loop, adapting until the Mimics win. Killing the Omega, however, stops all the Mimics.
- Lightning Bruiser: The entire lot of them. Even the smallest ones look like they'd weigh upwards of five hundred pounds or more, but they move incredibly fast, often killing in the blink of an eye.
- Planet Looters: Discussed. London barflies speculate that the Mimics are after either oxygen or minerals, but their true motives are left vague. As Cage lampshades, what the Mimics want makes no difference because they are trying to wipe out humanity and they have the means to do it.
- Save Scumming: They are practically invincible because the Omega will reset time if even a single Alpha is defeated.
- Silicon-Based Life: In a way. Their bodies are constituted of obsidian-like shards.
- Starfish Aliens: Both literally and metaphorically. Not only do they loosely resemble spider starfish (or creatures built out of heavy black spaghetti), but their biology and social structure is not even remotely human. All the Mimics are actually one giant organism, with the Alphas serving as a kind of central nervous system and the Omega being the brain, justifying its Hive Queen status.
Big, blue, and extremely rare (roughly one in sixty million mimics is an alpha), the alphas are the battlefield leaders of the mimics.
- Alien Blood: It's blue and turns black upon contact with human skin. Also it confers the power of mental time travel onto humans who come into contact with it... while melting their flesh agonizingly.
- Animalistic Abomination: Vaguely resemble lions.
- Roar Before Beating: Are prone to doing this during combat.
The ultimate leader of the mimics, it is immobile and never seen on the battlefield. Only a very rare number of people even know it exists.
- Achilles' Heel: Its greatest ability (to reset time) is also its greatest weakness, and it can be passed on to its enemy.
- Big Bad: Is a slightly complicated example — it's the aliens' leader, but that's because they're all a single, diffuse organism, and it's the brain.
- The Chessmaster: According to Carter, its only defeat (The Battle of Verdun) was intentional to lead the humans into a false sense of safety so it could crush them all at once at Operation Downfall. It also sends false visions into Cage and Rita's heads to lure them to traps.
- Eldritch Abomination: It's utterly incomprehensible and alien (even the expert can't truly explain just what it is), its motives and reasoning are Blue and Orange Morality at best, and it can control time.
- Final Boss: Certainly has this vibe, considering what Cage had to do to get there.