This page is for characters that debuted in the novel Ender's Game.
Anyone who has read the Shadow novels please update the summaries to include information from them.
Battle School Students
The Third Child. Ender is the end result of a government program designed to create the perfect commander to win the war for the human race against the Formics. Ender is shipped to Battle School where his ruthless pragmatism and ability to think outside the box sends Ender up the ranks at an unprecedented rate and eventually brings him into the Bugger War. However the horrors of war, the pressure from everyone to be the best, and the isolation that comes from that takes its toll on his mental state. Eventually it's too much and upon his graduation Ender takes a space ship to parts unknown.
By the events Speaker for the Dead, thousands of years later, Ender's work in the Bugger War has become the stuff of infamy, and Ender himself is living under an alias, Time Dilation keeping him young. Ender has become a Speaker for the Dead, a person hired to tell the life story of someone who is deceased in their voice as much as possible. Ender is hired to speak for someone on the planet Lusitania, home to the only other known alien species since the Buggers, the Pequeninos. Once there, Ender is brought into a murder mystery involving the Pequeninos, and eventually works towards preserving the aliens race, which is covered in Xenocide and Children of the Mind.
- Angst Coma: After defeating the buggers and learning it wasn't a simulation, he sleeps for several days and has multiple nightmares, to the point that his supervisors need to put an IV in his arm to make sure he doesn't dehydrate.
- The Atoner: By the conclusion of the first novel. Ender hates that he's seen as a hero for committing xenocide and writes about the Bugger Queen to make sure that no one forgives him. Suffice to say, it works and Ender is known as a genocidal monster in later books, surprising people in the colonies when the soldier with a high body count is a mild-mannered teenager.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Deconstructed. Ender honestly is one of the nicest people there is, but when a bully pushes him too far he will beat down his attacker to a pulp and then some just to make sure the bully never comes back. It horrifies Ender himself just how brutal he'll become, when he doesn't want to hurt anybody.
- Blessed with Suck: Ender's ability to empathize with his enemy gives him what he needs to destroy them. Also, he's one of the few humans that has no compunctions about killing, which means he is able to understand what the Pequeninos want: to not murder but for Ender to complete a ritual that allows them to evolve.Ender: In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think its impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves. And then, in that very moment when I love them-..... I destroy them. I make it impossible for them to ever hurt me again. I grind them and grind them until they dont exist.
- Cain and Abel: The Abel to Peter's Cain. Also Peter united the Earth and the Human Race while Ender obliterated a race of sentient beings. Well, most of the race.
- Child Prodigy: The prodigy in a school of child prodigies.
- Chosen One: Played With, as Graff acknowledges that he has no idea if Ender's actually the one that could lead their forces to victory, but considers Ender to be the best shot.
- Combat Pragmatist: In spite of being gentle and compassionate, Ender is absolutely merciless in combat and once he's staring down his opponent he throws any sense of honor or morality out the window until he's won.
- Death Seeker: At the end of Ender's Game, he has no reaction to learning the Russians broke the Warsaw Pact and want him dead. Ender just rolls over in bed, refusing to evacuate to safety.
- Heroic BSoD: This happens twice in book one.
- After he kills Bonzo, Ender doesn't know exactly what he did but can damn well guess. He goes back to Earth, spending days drifting on a raft that he built. He doesn't even seem to care about things. Graff calls in Valentine to give Ender her trademark pep to get him willing to fightoutright admits again.
- After he wins the bugger war, he spends several days in an Angst Coma, not caring when Graff has his only Pet the Dog moment by telling Ender he doesn't want the kid to be killed by Russian soldiers. Ender just doesn't care and explicitly says he was trying to waste away or wait for death to come. His friends manage to coax him to talk at least, but he's still depressed and traumatized, understandably. Valentine outright admits she's manipulating Ender to become governor of the Formics colony but points out this time it's their choice and she does care about him. Ender agrees while admitting he isn't one hundred percent fixed. He seems to be haunted for the rest of the books, even as he becomes The Atoner.
- It Sucks to Be the Chosen One: Hoo boy. Not only is all the pressure to succeed terrible, but he quickly realizes the teachers are determined to strip him down as finely as possible to extract every bit of genius from him. This includes things like isolating him, making him a target of bullying, separating him from any good friends, stacking the battles against him, and doing nothing about jealous rivals who are after his blood. And he has to deal with this all when he's six.
But surely the love and fame that will come from saving humanity will make his ordeal worth it, right? Well... it turns out Ender was being bred not merely to defend humanity, but to commit xenocide on its attackers. Ender was "the chosen one" solely to be a scapegoat so Graff and Rackham could keep their hands clean and because a child would have the stamina. On top of that, Earth wasn't even in danger because the Formics had decided they weren't going to attack again. So much for being "the chosen one". It gets to the point that Ender smears his own name to make sure that generations know he was a xenocidal commander and not a hero.
- Kick Them While They Are Down: Practically his trademark. It's not enough for Ender to beat the enemy once; he must beat him forever. Kicking them while they're down makes them too afraid to come back and fight him again.
- Kid Hero: Deconstructed, as in the process Ender witnesses and commits acts that no child should ever have to experience.
- Magnetic Hero: Ender is specifically trained to become a leader, and other kids start flocking to him as his training progresses. The fact that Ender embarrasses the jerkasses in his class and plays Loophole Abuse with the rules certainly helps.
- Out-Gambitted: Twice Ender is faced with impossible odds in a game and decides he's not to going to honor the game's rules anymore. Twice he learns afterward that that's exactly what Colonel Graff wanted.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Twice, Graff knew that Valentine would give Ender the spirit he needed to complete his tasks at military school and as a commander. At the end of the book, Valentine comes of her own volition to revive Ender of his Heroic BSoD and convince him to become a governor on the Formics Colony and spend the remains of their childhood together. Ender considers it. Then he agrees. But then he says he's not doing it for her, but to atone to the buggers for his mistake.
- Tranquil Fury: His usual expression whenever things get serious but catch him in a physical fight this can change very quickly.
- Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: A lot of horror from the book comes from Ender casually committing horrific, disturbing acts that contrast his otherwise-gentle demeanor. Highlights include beating another boy to death with his bare hands (twice) and wiping out an entire species. Though the last one probably doesn't count as he thought he was running a simulation at the time and went catatonic when he learned what he had actually done.
- The Unfettered: Turns into this in combat. He exploits the moral guidelines or ethical hang-ups his opponents might have to make chumps out of them, and has no problem using dirty, disturbing tactics as long as it means victory.
- Took a Level in Kindness: He's a lot mellower in later books, and kinder to people he's just met. Justified since he's not being groomed for battle.
- Unstoppable Rage: Whenever he gets angry in a fight no one is safe from his ruthless brutality. This can contrast from his usual expression of his rage.
- We Are Not Going Through That Again: He absolutely refuses to be anyone's pawn after Ender's Game, because he knows what it's like to be manipulated and turned into a monster. Valentine is the person with the most influence on him and even she has her limits on his behavior.
- Youngest Child Wins: Deconstructed. Being the winning child means he's bullied endlessly by his older brother, and it turns out winning isn't all it's cracked up to be.
The smallest soldier in Dragon Army. He grew up on the streets of Rotterdam, the Netherlands, until aid from the nun Sister Carlotta helped him get into Battle School.
Bean is the protagonist of the "Ender's Shadow" quintet of novels.
- Ambition Is Evil: Played somewhat straight through its absence. Along with physical ability, the metric Bean scored lowest on at Battle School was ambition, and the desire to dominate and crush others. And, during the rest of his spin-off, it is this lack of ambition that prevents him from falling into corruption like so many of his peers.
- Blessed with Suck: Bean is so intelligent because he has a condition that causes his brain to never stop growing. His body has to keep growing to keep up with it, so eventually he will die of giantism before he is 20, yet be the smartest human ever to live.
- Deliberate Under-Performance: Bean is just a little bit smarter than Ender, the top student at the Battle School, but performs averagely in classwork because his harsh homeless upbringing has conditioned him to view attention as too dangerous. He eventually starts performing better once it becomes clear the teachers are still finding his behavior suspicious and aren't going to be fooled by what would fool a street bully.
- Embarrassing Nickname: He never got a name, having never met his parents. He's dubbed "Bean" by a gang because he isn't worth one bean to them because of his size. He doesn't like the name but figures it's better than nothing. After being adopted by his biological parents, he gets the name they intended for him: Julian Delphiki II.
- Informed Flaw: During the assembling of the jeesh at Eros, Bean leads only small squads of starfighters because he's said to be bad at commanding large units but can use a few as precisely as a scalpel. We never see any evidence of this in action. Which is intentional. Mazer Rackham doesn't want Ender to burden Bean with too much because Bean is his backup, so he lied about Bean to keep him from shouldering too much early responsibility.
- Last of His Kind: Bean is the last of thirteen babies who were genetically altered to be born with the condition Anton's Key. When the scientists scrambled to burn all the evidence, including the kids, Bean was the only one to successfully escape. Since he views his condition as a major drawback, he prefers to remain the last of his kind, not wanting to pass it on.
- Little Professor Dialog: A form of it. Everyone is amazed that he can talk as eloquently as an adult despite being the size of a toddler.
- Never Given a Name: It's revealed that Bean was nicknamed as such by a street bully, due to him being so small. Bean was raised in a lab and never given a name, but his birth parents are eventually tracked down and they give him the name Julian Delphiki.
- Not Now, Kiddo: Bean is the youngest student by far, so his peers and teachers can take awhile to fully grasp how accurate his calculations are.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: He never got a name, having never met his parents. He's dubbed "Bean" by a gang because he isn't worth one bean to them due to his size.
- Properly Paranoid: Having grown up on the streets where every scrap and alley could mean the difference between life and death, Bean applies the same experience to being at Battle School. Within a day he's already learned to go naked to the bathroom (they track you through your clothes), to not play computer games (they give the teachers psychological insight), where to hide and spy on teachers (the air vents), and how the students' social hierarchy works. This paranoia continues to save him even after he graduates. Several times he exits a building while dragging his incredulous friends along because he's certain he's too vulnerable there... and the building is bombed each time.
- The Spock: Bean's mindset is ruthlessly logical, with only two goals: learn and survive.
- The Stoic: Averted. Bean would like to be this, but he has emotions like any other person. For the most part he avoids letting them cloud his rational thought, but fear is his biggest weakness. Graff notes Bean tends to panic if he's unprepared for danger, thus doubting his ability to lead.
- Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: His first dialogue in Ender's Shadow has him advise Poke that she should get her own bully to protect her gang, and if the bully doesn't agree then kill him. "Once you see brains you're done." He's only four at the time.
The first friend Ender makes at Battle School. They band together due to mutual bullying from Bernard.
- Embarrassing Nickname: Bernard dubs him "Buttwiggler" because of the way Shen walks. After getting lots of exercise his butt gets smaller, though.
- First Friend: To Ender, bonding with him over being bullied by Bernard and sticking close to each other for protection. Too bad the faculty didn't want Ender to grow too dependent on someone else...
Another one of Ender's early friends, who becomes one of the members of Ender's Dragon Army, and one of his lieutenants at Command School. He is the one that calls Ender's group of friends a "jeesh".
- Big Good: After the war he becomes the Caliph of the unified Muslim nations, known as the Crescent League.
- Bully Turned Buddy: Alai starts out as a crony of the bully Bernard before he and Ender find common ground during their first visit to the battle room.
- The Lancer: To Ender, very briefly before Ender's promoted to Salamander Army. The two try to keep meeting and practicing together but circumstances keep pushing them apart. When he joins Ender's jeesh, though, he becomes his second-in-command.
Salamander Army's best sharpshooter. She teaches Ender how to aim and for a time commands him when leading Phoenix Army.
- Action Girl: Petra is a great shot who has much to teach Ender early on, and who proves to be one of the most competent fighters throughout the book. She suffers a breakdown later by pushing herself too far, as a direct consequence of being so valuable to Ender.
- Characterization Marches On: Near the end of Shadow of the Hegemon she decides she wants to have Bean's children which becomes a huge part of her characterization from that point on. Babies babies babies. Her original aggression is greatly downplayed and her original ambition is reduced to some petty banter and occasionally sniping at Peter.
- The Lad-ette: She tested so aggressive and non compliant that the teachers actually performed a DNA test on her to make sure she's a girl.
- Motor Mouth: She loves to talk, and rarely holds back her opinion.
- My Greatest Failure: During the assaults on the Formic colonies, Petra blacks out from the strain. Since she commands the bulk of the fleet, the battle is nearly lost until Ender manages to exploit several flaws in the Formics' immediate scramble to rip apart her ships. She gets to sleep for a few days, and afterward refuses to listen anyone who tells her it's not her fault she passed out.
- The Smurfette Principle: She's the only girl in Salamander Army, though not the only girl in the Battle School. There are about half a dozen others since they rarely test high enough on tests of ambition and aggression.
- Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: She's secretly ashamed when she hears Ender tell reporters that he relied her on the most during the war, and trusted her with the body of the fleet. All it does is remind her more and more that she blacked out in a battle and nearly lost the whole fleet in the process.
The head of the Salamander Army, which Ender is assigned to. Ender and Bonzo butt heads over Bonzo's inferior skills. Bonzo gets Ender transferred to the Rat Army, which just gives Ender a chance to prove his superiority.
- General Failure: Even after Ender prevents him from losing a battle (for which the rest of the army likes him) Bonzo punches him in the stomach and insults him. Ender can hear mutinous muttering over this from the rest of the Salamanders.
- He also can't get it into his head that Ender is just that good, after Ender destroys one army after another, thinking that the teachers are rigging things in Ender's favor, when it's clearly the other way around. Even after Bonzo's own Salamander army gets a 20-minute head start to pre-position their forces for an ambush, Ender once again destroys them. Unfortunately, Bean makes it worse by telling Bonzo that the teachers have chosen Ender and not Bonzo as their commander. Bonzo goes ballistic and tries to attack Ender.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Bonzo constantly appears as if he will blow at any moment.
- The Napoleon: In the film, Bonzo is shorter than Ender, so he compensates by asserting his authority at every chance he gets. Unfortunately, he lacks the tactical brilliance of Napoleon, with temper to fill the gap. Averted in the book, where Bonzo is much bigger than Ender and much more of a threat.
- Pronouncing My Name for You: He makes a point of his name being pronounced the Spanish way (bone-so), not the clown way (bahn-zo).
- Would Hit a Girl: He smacks Petra hard across the face when she keeps making jests during his first speech towards Ender.
A low-ranking bully on the streets of Rotterdam, who was forcibly coerced by Poke and her gang to become their thug. He managed to get the gang to follow him instead, and with Bean's advice turned the social structure of Rotterdam's bully hierarchy in its head. This reached the attention of the IF and Achilles became a potential Battle School candidate. Despite Sister Carlotta's best attempts to stop them, Achilles was enlisted and so became desirable to the Russians after the war. He used their resources they provided him to plan his conquests of larger and larger nations, eventually to lead the best one that would control the world.
- A God Am I: He believes the universe works to his will, and will alter its course to suit his desires.
- Batman Gambit: Once his neurosis to never be seen helpless is known by the heroes, it's often exploited to keep him from killing them. At one point, Petra beats him in a fight but then pretends she thinks he purposely lost. Suriyawong rescues Achilles by throwing him a knife to cut his bonds, but insists that he only gave him the knife so Achilles could free himself.
- Blue-and-Orange Morality: He will kill anyone who, in his mind, disrespects or humiliates him. Anyone who takes any kind of control from him or sees him in a helpless state counts as humiliating him. When fellow urchin Poke set a trap and had him at her mercy but spared him, he decided to kill her. But when Bean told Poke that Achilles was too dangerous and urged her to kill him right then and there, he took that as a sign of respect and decided to spare Bean.
- Chronic Back Stabbing Disorder: His modus operandi is to dupe one nation's government into accepting him as an advisor by offering his services as a Battle School veteran (despite the fact that he was actually expelled from Battle School), so they will entrust him with their high-level military secrets and troop deployment info - at which point he will betray them by defecting to one of that nation's more powerful rivals, using the secret information he was entrusted with to undermine his original host nation. Rinse and repeat. In this fashion he moves from Russia to India, then betrays India in a massive invasion by China. Surprisingly, no one seems to catch on to this - though it's possible he planned to stick with China because their new pan-Asian super-state was at the top of the heap.
- Confusion Fu: His strategies aren't really that great. What makes them work is that he always chooses to do something his opponent was not expecting and acting with overwhelming violence in person to demoralize.
- Evil Counterpart: To Bean or Peter depending on the scene. He's the other Rotterdam street rat compared to Bean while he's also Peter's greatest rival and the one who makes everyone else see that Peter isn't such a bad choice after all.
- Evil Cripple: He had a gimp leg during his years on the streets but it was corrected via surgery before he went to Battle School. The "evil" part wasn't corrected, though.
- Evil Only Has to Win Once: Achilles never stops seeking revenge, but he is very patient about it. He will only act if he's certain he can get away with it.
- Faux Affably Evil: None of his kindness is ever sincere. But he's very good at seeming compassionate and trusting.
- The Farmer and the Viper: He has a pathological need to kill anyone who has ever seen him helpless — including but not limited to a girl who lifted him from low-ranking thug to leader of a prosperous gang, a nun who got him off the streets entirely and enrolled in a good school, and a doctor who dared use anesthesia to help fix his bad leg.
- Freudian Excuse: Averted. Carlotta briefly considers whether the harshness of life on the streets of Rotterdam drove him to his crimes, but on consideration realizes that he murders people not to survive but to maintain his pride.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: He shoots down an empty shuttle believing that Peter Wiggin is on board, which brings the IF into the conflict. To keep retaliation from being aimed at them, China quickly sells him out and abandons all defense of him. He's then left alone in the Hegemon compound with only the Thai troops commanded by Suriyawong and, unfortunately for him, they were never loyal to him like he thought.
- In-Universe Factoid Failure: Achilles thinks that Josef Stalin was promoted by Vladimir Lenin then imprisoned and killed him, when in reality Lenin died of a stroke while urging his followers to not put Stalin in charge. It may be due to his own lack of schooling coupled with his desire to become a dictator twisting his memory of history.
- Karmic Death: He never wants help from anybody, and will eventually betray those who give him any. So when he begs Suriyawong to help him before Bean kills him, his aide responds with the words they were introduced with: "I expect you to solve your own problems."
- Lack of Empathy: He only understands people's emotions and desires enough to get them to do what he wants. He doesn't understand the emotion of hope at all and has nothing that that he truly desires, leaving him fumbling around looking for some sense of purpose through conquest.
- Make It Look Like an Accident: One tactic of his to pass off his murders.
- Out-Gambitted: Achilles follows Bean into the air vents at one point, expecting now is the perfect time and place to murder him. Instead he gets caught in Bean's trap, where he's forced to confess his murders to a recording device or else be left to die.
- Psycho Knife Nut: Skilled enough to kill at least two armed soldiers alone with only a knife. He's also incredibly insane.
- Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome: Inverted. He's said to be around twelve at the beginning of Ender's Shadow, but then somehow stops aging until the beginning of the next book, where he's still twelve and therefore only slightly older than Bean.
- Villainous Crush: He has one on Petra.
A toon leader in Rat Army. His toon is rather independent from Rat, comparable to a smaller army within a large one. Dink becomes Ender's toon leader and mentor during his time in Rat.
- Conspiracy Theorist: Dink incorrectly speculates that the Battle School is secretly training the students to fight enemies on Earth rather than continue the Formic Wars.
- Passed-Over Promotion: Subverted. He's refused every offer to become a commander because he doesn't want to be a cog in the Battle School system. However, he's decided the Battle Room is too fun for him to leave the school for good.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: In fact, the first decent leader Ender has. He's also (in the book) the only one to figure out Bonzo's plan to kill Ender and attempts to stop the fight from happening.
The commander of Rat Army. He is slobby, unprofessional, and ill-tempered. Despite this his army is one of the highest ranked in the school.
- Badass Israeli: Invoked but subverted. There's a legend around the school that Jewish commanders can't lose. Rose encourages the legend, being Jewish himself, but really he has no idea how his army is winning.
A Thai Battle School student who served in Dragon Army. After the war he becomes a prominent commander in the Thai military.
- Bodyguard Crush: For a while he serves as Virlomi's protector, pretending to be in constant awe of her so that her God Guise seems convincing. He comes to actually love her during that period, but when they see each other again his forces are defeating her army.
- FaceHeel Turn: After rescuing Achilles on Peter's orders, he serves him faithfully and becomes his Dragon. But he's doing it all so he's in a position to betray him at a critical moment. When Bean confronts Achilles for good, Suriyawong doesn't help him and lets Bean kill him.
- Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight: Invoked. When Bean pulls out a gun to kill Achilles, Suriyawong's only help when asked is to give him a knife, with the words "I expect you to solve your own problems."
A former Battle School student, who graduated before Ender arrived. When Achilles comes to India with promises of making it great, Virlomi sees through his lies and works against him before he betrays her country. Through a God Guise she becomes the new leader of India, but eventually comes to believe her own claims a little too much.
- A God Am I / Believing Their Own Lies: She starts out pretending to be a physical manifestation of India, then gradually she starts believing she actually is India.
- Does Not Like Shoes: She isn't wearing shoes when having gone into hiding and seemingly doesn't wear any again after that.
- I Am the Noun: Zigzagged. Sometimes she refers to herself as India to the point of personification, other times she refers to India as her husband.
- I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!: Attempts this a few times to try to secure alliances for her nation. She first tries to lure Peter during his bid for Hegemon, but he turns her down because he knows allying too closely with India would look like favoritism to the other nations. She then visits Alai and strips naked in front of him and his guards, offering her beauty as the body of India, his for marriage. Alai rebuffs her, until she threatens to leave his palace naked and let the rest of the world fill in the blank. He thinks she's crazy, but goings along with her idea for their marriage unifying India and the Middle East. It doesn't work. She's bought into her own god story and sends her troops out as a mob rather than an organizing army. Worse, she accelerates division in the Muslim high command, which drives out Alai and causes the whole organization to fragment instantly.
- Manipulative Editing: When the former President of India meets with her in hopes of regaining his position, she rebukes him for trusting Achilles then has her media men make a slanderous film about him. One clip that's played repeatedly is of him being pelted with dirt, which was actually done not (overtly) to insult him, but to make him seem more like a common man before meeting her.
- My God, What Have I Done?: She feels great remorse after her Indian army overextends into invading China, which causes them to be flanked by Thailand and take many casualties. She vows to live a thousand lives in mourning to make up for all that were lost.
- Smurfette Breakout: Averted in-universe. Since Virlomi was one of the few girls at Battle School and one of the best, she expected she'd be famed there after she left. She's disappointed to see none of the later students have heard of her.
The head of Battle School and the person in charge of finding someone to stop the Buggers. Graff is responsible for Ender's upbringing in Battle School, for good or ill.
- Black Comedy: Falls back on this defense when some of his remarks skirt too close to treason.
- Card-Carrying Villain: When speaking to Anderson in private, he sometimes puts on an obvious act of being a wicked villain. It seems to be a way of coping with his actions; they seem less real if he's pretending they're an act. Sister Carlotta gets him to admit that he's full of shit.Graff: It's our job [to screw Ender up]. We're the wicked witch. We promise gingerbread, but we eat the little bastards alive.
- The Chessmaster: In the end, he does produce exactly the commander the Fleet needs, though he's a more spontaneous player than most Chessmasters (or possibly just a luckier one).
- I Did What I Had to Do
- Idiot Ball: His sending Achille to Battle School was the stupidest thing he ever did, even with the nun who rescued Bean telling him not to do it. He goes Oh, Crap! when Sister Carlotta tells him that Achille is a Serial Killer and has Lack of Empathy for those who want to help him.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He's a an asshole to his trainees, but deep down he really does care about and even love Ender, as he admits after the Third Invasion is over and he sees Ender going through his Heroic BSoD. It's just he has to deal with the needs of Ender the child and The Needs of the Many for Ender, savior of the human race and he can't afford to be sentimental until the war is over.
- Magnificent Bastard
- Karma Houdini: Court-martialed and cashiered at the end of the book, but he walks right into the prestigious government job that he'd wanted all along.
- Lackof Empathy: While he cares for Ender, he can't really comfort him about having committed genocide beyond saying they won a war. More significantly, after he gets his government job he leaves Ender behind and doesn't renew ties with him, as he's fulfilled his purpose (though Ender has his own journey to undertake as well).
- Let's See YOU Do Better!: His defense when court-martialed at the end of the book. Since the jury can't prove that Ender still could have succeeded without Graff's questionable actions, he is cleared of all charges.
- My God, What Have I Done?: He has this reaction after the "final exam" when Ender is mid-Angst Coma just doesn't care about Russian insurgents wanting him dead. Yeah, he pushed the kid to this point, but he didn't want Ender suicidal.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Cultivates a touch of this, and is called out on it in the novel. For instance, when asked about Bean since his potential in some ways passes Ender's, Graff deliberately plays vague and claims to not know who is being talked about in order to avoid discussing his favoritism.
- Pet the Dog: Subverted for the most part. Ender and Valentine recognize that any kindness on his part are carefully calculated acts to motivate and shape Ender to be mankind's ultimate military commander. He does show a softer side once the Third Invasion is over when he admits to Mazer Rackham that he does care for Ender, but only when he thinks Ender can't hear him. Graff also sincerely tries to evacuate Ender to safety when Russian insurgents want his head. Ender isn't interested and later says he wanted to die.
- Post-Stress Overeating: As juggling running the Battle School, demands from the Fleet, and Ender take a toll on him, Graff starts overeating and thus gets very overweight. After Ender goes to Command School, he gets a different shade of stress that causes him to instead rapidly lose weight.Graff': One kind of stress puts it on, another puts it off. I am a creature of chemicals.
- Villainous Breakdown: He acts increasingly erratically as the book goes on, as his doubts about the war's morality and his affection for Ender come into conflict with his bloody-minded dedication to winning at any cost.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Graff is fully aware that he is one, but recognizes that his methods to destroy the Formics are ultimately what's keeping humanity from going extinct. The films don't really go into this.
Colonel Graff's aide. They both want Ender to defeat the Buggers, but clash over the best way to train him.
- Gender Flip: A man in the book but a woman in the movie.
The hero of the Second Invasion, who defeated the Buggers during their assault near Saturn. However, much of the reason for his victory is kept secret from the public eye.
- Cassandra Truth: None of the xenobiologists believed him when he told them the Formics have a queen, and were defeated because he killed her. Why? Because they didn't find a queen. Naturally, because she got blown to pieces.
- Colonel Badass: In the film (in the novel, they've made him an admiral).
- Facial Markings: In the movie, Mazer Rackham's face is covered in Māori ta moko markings. He didn't have them during his military career, but got them after the war in honor of his father, who was killed by the Formics.
- Posthumous Character: His victory was 70 years before the events of Ender's Game, but he's become as legendary as George Washington. It turns out that he's not dead, though, but went on a relativistic flight to train the next great admiral of the International Fleet.
- Sealed Badass in a Can: He went on a relativistic flight to the future to train the next commander.
- Trickster Mentor: His first meeting with Ender has him sit in his room for hours without saying a word, then knocking Ender to the floor when he's not looking. It continues even after their introduction, as Rackham is pretending the "simulations" Ender's jeesh fights are programmed by him.
Strategos of the International Fleet (and later Polemarch). One of the most powerful men in the military.
- Famous-Named Foreigner: He shares a first name with Jawaharlal Nehru, the architect of the modern Indian state. (His surname isn't shared with any real people at all; it's the name of a town.)
- Interservice Rivalry: Although he presides over the entire IF, he casually dismisses its regular army in favor of an almost religious veneration for the extrasolar navy.
Ender's beloved sister. Valentine was considered for Battle School before Ender, but was deemed too compassionate. Valentine loved and was very protective of her little brother, and while he was in Battle School she acted as some sort of mental grounding point, keeping him sane. At first Ender thought he was writing letters to her, until he found out the school was blocking his letters.
On the surface, Valentine was informed by her brother Peter of the escalating tensions between nations, and convinced by him that they could make difference to reveal the truth. The two of them became demagogues, Valentine writing anonymously as "Desmothenes" and so managed to warn many about the upcoming world war.
Valentine followed her brother into space, and by the events of Speaker for the Dead has started her own family, so when Ender has to go Lusitania, Valentine has to stay behind. She does follow eventually follow Ender, but Time Dilation causes weird age differences.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: As she tells Ender, she won their freedom from Peter because she wanted to spend the rest of her life with a brother she loved rather than a brother she hated. Except that Ender has only known her as the Nice Girl he puts on a pedestal, and by now he has his own baggage that she can't ever erase. While their relationship is close, it's not exactly what she wanted.
- Becoming the Mask: Despite herself, she enjoys being Demosthenes and even puts in some of her real opinions with Demosthenes's fake ones. Initially she took the role at Peter's suggestion and used him for her cruel words before coming up with them without his help.
- Beware the Nice Ones: She is Demosthenes, aka a troll with influence that openly questions the New Warsaw Pact's legitimacy and everyone's dedication to peace. She also tells Ender that she won their freedom by videotaping Peter dissecting squirrels, and threatening to release them to the public unless he made sure Ender could never return to Earth and let her go reunite with Ender.
- Brutal Honesty: To show that she's grown from being a naive girl, when she makes her offer to Ender for him to become governor of the Formics' homeworld, where they'll spend what remains of their childhood together. He intuits that she's trying to make him into her pawn, and tells him bluntly that in this world you don't have control over your destiny, and can only hope the people that want to control you actually love you, and compared to working for Peter at least Valentine has Ender's best interests at heart. Ender bluntly responds that he'll take the governor position, not out of love for her but as a means of atoning for what he did to the Formics.
- Child Prodigy: Just like Ender, though she was deemed too kind for Battle School.
- Cool Big Sis: In deliberate contrast to Peter's abusive, sadistic nature, Valentine is Ender's protector and confidant, and the person he loves most in the world.
- Evil Feels Good: She's the kindest and most empathic of the three siblings. However, much to her shame, she turns out to be really good at playing an aggressive and racist demagogue. For her, the worst part of it is that she actually finds it fun to turn people in raving fanatics.
- Gone Horribly Right: Graff hoped that she would be kind enough to relate to her soldiers and inspire them to love her. She turned out too good at doing so, and not ruthless enough to fight a war.
- Nice Girl
- Purity Sue: Discussed, but averted. Ender sees her as the epitome of purity, but Valentine is far more complicated than just being nice and kind to everyone. When Ender's journey to The Outside accidentally creates a clone of Valentine who is a Purity Sue, the real Valentine isn't exactly thrilled to find he views her like this.
The oldest Wiggin child. Peter was not put into Battle School because of his sociopathic tendencies. Instead he tortured Ender for most of Ender's childhood, and was the thing Ender always feared turning into. When Ender went to Battle School, Peter started taking over the world with his sister Valentine, under the name Locke.
- Alas, Poor Villain: When he finds out who the Speaker for the Dead is, Peter as an old man declares, "If he can speak for buggers, he can speak for me!" Peter gets to tell his story, long after he has brought peace to his world.
- Ax-Crazy: Peter was a very disturbed child and especially has natural talent for violence as well as an unusual love for hurting other living things.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: As Valentine and Ender note with irony, Peter ultimately become better remembered than Ender by saving millions of lives, while Ender wiped them out for the good of humanity and Ender made sure that no one would ever forgive him for his actions. Except it means that Peter paid the price by having to let Valentine and Ender, his two siblings who understood him the most, escape from him and leave him Lonely at the Top. The only time Peter is genuinely nice to Ender is when he's a seventy-year old dying man, and asks Ender to tell his story, all of it.
- Becoming the Mask: Peter takes on the pseudonym "Locke" and the persona of a kindly mediator who wants international peace. It's partially invoked become because he wants to start becoming a kinder person if for no other reason than to compensate for his weaknesses regarding Lack of Empathy.
- Big Brother Is Watching: After Ender had his monitor implanted, Peter would avoid beating him because he knew he'd be seen and caught. The very day it's removed, Ender is beaten black and blue again.
- Big Good: He eventually becomes Hegemon of the world, and a surprisingly compassionate and wise one. A Foregone Conclusion given that the book his life is the companion text to The Hive Queen.
- Break the Haughty: Despite being a prodigal genius, Peter was kicked out of Battle School for being too aggressive. Then again, it is somewhat implied that this was an invoked trope - the real reason he was kicked out was because he lacked the charisma to lead people. He would never gain that in an environment like Battle School, so they kept him out so he could use his talents elsewhere.
- Cain and Abel: The Cain to Ender's Abel. Also Peter united the Earth and the Human Race while Ender obliterated a race of sentient beings. Well, most of the race.
- Colonel Kilgore: Was rejected from the battle school for being too blood-thirsty.
- Dude, Where's My Respect? / The Resenter: Peter was rejected from Battle School for being too vicious, and his younger brother Ender is his replacement - quite literally, as due to strict population controls since the Bugger Wars began, families are usually restricted to having only two children. Given that the Wiggins already produced two genius-level children, both rejected (Peter and Valentine), they were given special permission to have a third child in hopes of producing a perfect candidate the next time. Ender wouldn't even exist if Peter hadn't been kicked out, and Peter sees him as the living embodiment of his own rejection from Battle School. Peter bullies him mercilessly, though in a private moment (when he thinks Ender is asleep) he breaks down crying and basically admits that he doesn't blame Ender personally, and loves his brother, but he's angry at the situation fate put them in.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: He often needed help from Valentine to write his Locke persona while she needed little to write Demosthenes.
- For Science!: After the Wiggins move, Valentine finds dissected squirrel bodies in the woods, thanks to Peter. She knows that he would sit and watch them until they died, assuming it was a way of venting his bloodlust. However, from his perspective, he wanted to study their physiology and simply did not care enough about them as living creatures to care about their suffering or derive any pleasure from it.
- Humble Pie: It's indicated that the real reason he didn't grow up in Battle School was because he was too arrogant and too lacking in charisma. He was told it was due to excess aggression, which was a related issue. With this in mind, he worked to cultivate his charm.
- Ignore the Fanservice: During his campaign for Hegemon, Virlomi, the leader of India, opens their meeting with a kiss and offers marriage for India's ratification of his new constitution. Peter turns it down because he knows favoring India will turn other nations against him.
- Jerkass Has a Point: When he tells Valentine about how the New Warsaw Pact is mobilizing for war again. She hates having to cooperate with him, but agrees it's necessary.
- Lack of Empathy: He only has a superficial level of charm and doesn't gain much loyalty because even at his best he rarely cares about what others think or want. Oddly, it's also what kept his vivisection of squirrels from being the act of a proto serial killer: He didn't care about their pain, but that also meant he derived no real pleasure from it. To him it was basically just a science experiment. Peter was feared to be a sadist, but it's more that he's ruthlessly pragmatic, and will do whatever it takes to achieve his goals - but he doesn't enjoy wanton violence and cruelty. Even so, he never had the likable leadership qualities Ender did. By the time he's twelve, however, he adopts the Locke persona to become a more moderate and likable figure. Much to his annoyance, while people respect Locke they don't really become invested in him. Instead, the hate spewing Demosthenes (played by Valentine) appeals solely to emotions and has rabid fans.
- Overshadowed by Awesome: The reason he hates Ender so much is because Peter was denied entry to Battle School while Ender was accepted and became their greatest student. He's determined to flip the tables and make himself the greater hero again.
- Parting-Words Regret: Implied when he only gets into contact with Ender at the end of his life, to ask Ender as the Speaker for the Dead to tell his story. He didn't want his last interaction with Ender to be of Peter beating him up.
- Pet the Dog: Peter's an extremely nasty, mentally unbalanced genius, but he's not inhuman. At one point, unaware that Ender is only feigning sleep, he breaks down and confesses that he loves his brother. Later, he opens up a lot to Valentine... though even being emotionally vulnerable is part of his plan.
- The Sociopath: A high-functioning one. During the opening, he demonstrates sadistic tendencies, a grandiose sense of self-worth, skill at manipulating people and his lack of empathy is a recurring theme. Even his taking up a more benevolent and likable online persona (Locke) is intended to moderate his worst traits. Becoming a benevolent ruler of Earth just happens to be the convenient outcome. On their own, they may not make a sociopath, but the traits do appear to add up.
- Too Spicy for Yog-Sothoth: Subverted. He's told that he can't go to battle school because he's too aggressive, but is later informed that this is nonsense: The more aggressive and ambitious battle school students are, the better they do. The actual problem is that he has no charisma, meaning soldiers will not follow him. He can only speak to peoples' logic, not their hearts.
- Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Peter's mistreatment of Ender goes beyond mere sibling bullying. He strangles him, beats him, swears at him, and threatens his and Valentine's death.
- Xanatos Speed Chess: Peter decides, at age twelve, to take over the world. And then he does, largely because a lot of top players realized that bad as Peter may be, he's still better than anyone else who could actually manage it.
Ender, Valentine, and Peter's father. He was born in Poland as Jan Paweł Wieczorek, the seventh of nine children. His family's non-compliance with the population restriction laws caused them to be denied public schooling and government aid. When a Captain of the IF came by to test three of his brothers for possible Battle School enlistment, she noticed him reading and decided to test him early. Jan passed with flying colors and reached the attention of then-Captain Graff.
Graff offered to enlist Jan for the Battle School, but Jan wouldn't abandon his family. They then made a deal: Jan would enlist if his family was immigrated to the United States with all of their children being cleared of their population violations, letting them get schooling and health care. Graff agreed, but knew Jan was still too attached to his family to leave with them. He decided instead to bide his time, planning for Jan grow up, find a wife who could match wits with him, and so bring in a smarter child who could become his prodigy.
- Cassandra Truth: His mother didn't believe him when he said he could read. She thought he was just pretending to because he was so young.
- Child Prodigy: Intelligent enough that Graff thought he might be the one they'd been looking for to lead the fleet. Ultimately, though, he settled on his son.
- Eye Scream: One of her eyes is stabbed out when Bean finds her dead body.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Lets Achilles kill her in secret as long as he promises to not kill Bean. Bean oversees this and is incredibly confused at why she bothered to save his life.
- Puppet King: Achilles starts turning her into this. By the time she realizes her authority no longer matters, it's too late.
- Sweet Polly Oliver: She dresses like a boy and keeps her gender secret so she doesn't become a target for rapists. She's not very good at it, though, so most everyone can tell she's actually a girl and refer to her as "she" in private.
- Team Mom: Is this to her gang. Bean thinks she's too compassionate, which makes her easy to push around by bullies.
The first alien race human beings encounter, they nearly destroy humanity in two failed invasions.
- Aliens Steal Cable: When Ender asks why the buggers attacked Earth, Graff hazards a guess that they may have caught a transmission of our movies and thought we were too violent but the theory turns out not to be true.
- The Battlestar: Used these in their invasions.
- Blue-and-Orange Morality: The Formics' understanding of intelligence is so different from that of the humans, they genuinely didn't realize they were killing things that could think and feel pain when invading Earth. Once they realized the truth they retreated and vowed to leave Earth alone. Unfortunately the humans were able to reverse-engineer their technology and launch a counter-attack that nearly wiped out the entire Formic species.
- But What About the Astronauts?: Shadows In Flight reveals there were Formic Queens still on early colony ships but the one we see is dead.
- Colony Ship: One was responsible for the second invasion of Earth.
- Fling a Light into the Future: Leaving Ender a Hive Queen egg.
- Hive Mind: Although the queen apparently suppresses individual minds.
- Hive Queen: The only true individuals among their race, and the only ones considered to be "people". The race is often referred to as "the Hive Queens" in later books because of this, since the Queens are the only intelligent members of the species. Or at least, that's how they explain things to Ender. The workers actually are intelligent but are functionally slaves to the Queens. It's a necessary part of their biology but they don't tell Ender since it looks bad.
- Hollywood Tactics: They colonised dozens of planets, each with its own Hive Queen. All their spare Queens went to the homeworld with a massive fleet protecting the planet, but it's still putting all their eggs in one basket after all the colonies were wiped out. Eventually subverted: They gave this impression on purpose, but actually evacuated multiple younger queens and left one in stasis for Ender to find to act a diplomat while pretending to be the only queen.
- Key Stone Army: Eliminate a hive queen and her swarm's Zerg Rush grinds to an immediate stop.
- Last of His Kind: The final queen Ender brings with him in his travels. However, their race begins to rebuild on Lusitania. Shadows in Flight shows another Hive Queen, though it died of unknown causes and caused the collapse of the colony. It's indicated that there are almost certainly more Hive Queens out there and the one with Ender is something like a test to see if coexistence is possible while the rest of the race goes off to repopulate the race.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Upon realizing individual humans are sapient.
- Remember the New Guy?: Shadows In Flight introduces a new type of male drone that's never been mentioned before despite their breeding previously being discussed in detail.
- Starfish Aliens: Described in the novels as four-foot tall, red, green-eyed ants.
- Starfish Language: Their hive mind operates on "philotic" communication, using images, not words, and these connections can't really be made with a human being. They eventually overcome this and can communicate in English, though still telepathically.
- Subspace Ansible: Their Hive Mind lets them telepathically communicate instantly over any distance.
- Sudden Name Change: Later books call them Formics rather than Buggers. Given the Anachronic Order, characters will refer to them as Buggers, Formics then back to Buggers again.
- Walking Spoiler: It's difficult to discuss their role in later books without spoiling the end of the first.
- Zerg Rush: They fight their battles by spamming the enemy with nearly limitless numbers of expendable worker.
A primitive alien race native to the planet Lusitania. They have a relatively stable peace with the resident humans, and are happy to accept their advanced technology. Their biology is extremely unusual due to the descolada, a virus-like organism which rearranges and combines genetic material from different species and inhabits all life on Lusitania.
- Bizarre Alien Biology: Their life cycle is complicated, to say the least. They develop from animals into plants.
- One-Gender Race: Assumed at first, as all members of the village the humans interact with identify themselves as male. Eventually it's revealed that pequeninos give birth in infancy, and the process kills the mother, and as a result males are much more common than females. The females who survive to adulthood are sterile, are sequestered in their own villages, and form the leadership of surrounding territories.
- Planimal: They metamorphose from animal to plant as part of their life cycle, just like every other species on their homeworld.
- Starfish Aliens: They look vaguely like humanoid pigs as juveniles... but upon reaching full adulthood they are ritually vivisected and transform into a tree. This bizarre biology is noted to not make a great deal of sense and later turns out to be the result of a genetic engineering project. Their oldest surviving myth is about the arrival of the probe that mutated them into their current forms.
An unseen species which created the descolada, leading to the evolution of the pequeninos.
- Ambiguously Evil: They are the creators of the descolada, an incredibly destructive virus that rewrites genetic information and causes mass extinction events on whatever planet they release it on, completely altering the global ecosystem. Why they made such a virus is unknown. When a first contact team approaches their planet, they seem intent on capturing the team. All of this seems to point to a species that doesn't care to get along peacefully, but by this point the heroes have learned not to assume hostile intent when dealing with alien morality systems.
- Inscrutable Aliens: Next to nothing is known about them, given that they are introduced at the very end of the series and have barely any interaction with humanity.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: The descolada creates them.
- Starfish Aliens: The dilemma of the humans is determining their intentions and how dangerous they are. What little interaction there is has multiple interpretations.
- Starfish Language: The only meaningful communications that the first contact team got from them were chemical formulae. The aliens apparently expected the team to synthesize the chemicals and ingest them. This leads to the theory that maybe injection of chemicals into each other is how they communicate, but this is unconfirmed.
- The Unseen: They have yet to be interacted with directly.