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This is the characters page for everyone in Escape from New York. Tropes pertaining to characters who first appeared in Escape from L.A. may be added to this page.

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    Snake Plissken 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/escapefromnewyorkplisskenpic1.jpg

Played By: Kurt Russell

Snake Plissken is a decorated Special Forces soldier/war hero who turned to a criminal life after feeling he was betrayed by his country. As the original film begins, he is arrested for his role in an attempted robbery at the U.S. Federal Reserve, and is conscripted into helping rescue the President in exchange for a full Presidential pardon, under threat of an Explosive Leash.

He later enacts a second suicide mission 13 years later, when he is conscripted by a fundamentalist President to retrieve the launch controls for the "Sword of Damocles", a superweapon that can shift the balance of power in his favor, as well as assassinate his rebellious daughter, Utopia.

  • '80s Hair: Snake is never seen without his signature mullet hairstyle.
  • The Ace: Is considered this by a lot of people due to his exploits, including being awarded two Purple Stars and being the youngest soldier to be decorated for bravery, for his actions in Leningrad and Siberia.
  • Afraid of Needles: He tells Cronenberg this verbatim, and he's right to be suspicious, considering he gets injected with an Explosive Leash immediately after this.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • The original, unused opening sequence for New York shows the Federal Reserve robbery and reveals that Snake originally worked with a partner, who he refused to leave behind. The finished film only refers to this incident vaguely, treating it more as a Noodle Incident than anything.
    • The novelization goes into more detail about Snake's past heroics, including his involvement in the Battle of Leningrad and his service history.
    • Snake's actions between the films are covered in the BOOM! Comics sequel series, which also explains the "Cleveland Incident" mentioned in L.A. (Snake steals the U.S. Bill of Rights from a Federal vault).
  • Anti-Hero: Snake doesn't care about anyone else's problems but his own, is just as loathed as he is respected and leaves a body count (friend and foe alike) in his wake.
  • Armed Altruism:
    • During the climax of the original film, Snake voluntarily gives his signature revolver to Maggie so she can attempt a Last Stand against the Duke. The look on his face makes it clear that he's doing so because Brain's death got to him, and he wants to make amends by giving Maggie the chance for revenge.
    • In the sequel, he gives the 1911 he takes from the Surgeon General Of Beverly Hills to Talisma, though this does absolutely no good, as she dies in the next scene.
  • Badass Biker: He proves that he's more than capable of riding a motorcycle when he gets to L.A.
  • Badass Longcoat: He upgrades to one given to him by the government before he heads into Los Angeles. He also becomes fond of it, to the point that he steals it back from the thug who took it from him just before escaping the island.
  • Badass Normal: He's only one man, but he's completed at least two suicide missions, been a highly decorated Special Forces soldier and leaves people who meet him in awe. Counting the Expanded Universe, he's beaten a robot enforcer that imprinted his personality onto itself (thus knowing all his tricks) and carried out many other dangerous missions. Not bad for a guy with only one eye.
  • Boxed Crook: Both films begin with Snake in this situation. The first time, it's caused by a botched robbery on the Federal Reserve. The second is caused when he's arrested for gun-running in another state.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Snake looks directly into the camera at the end of L.A. while smoking a cigarette.
  • Byronic Hero: Though Snake is generally cold and uncaring, he does have a subtle moral compass and hates injustice. He uses a Secret Test to gauge the President's reaction to the loss of their allies in New York (and uses his response as his decision to swap the tape with the secret of nuclear fusion). 16 years later in Los Angeles, he becomes upset by Taslima's death, and eventually decides to activate the Sword of Damocles worldwide as a way to equalize the playing field.
  • The Cavalry: Shows up to help the President, Brain and Maggie escape the top of the World Trade Center when they're besieged by a group of insane Native residents who've sabotaged the glider.
  • Celibate Hero:
    • While there's no shortage of women who show interest in him (including the unnamed woman in the Chock Full O'Nuts store, Taslima and plenty of prostitutes in L.A.), he's never seen in a relationship and never gets a chance to do anything more than light flirting due to the confines of the current mission.
    • Also invoked in the BOOM! comic series. When Romulus and Remus offer Snake a man and woman as his "entertainment" for the night, he roughly kicks them both out of his room.
      Woman: We're your reward, Snake.
      Man: The Twins weren't sure which way you leaned.
      Snake: Neither. (slams door in their faces)
  • Combat Pragmatist: He has no problem doing whatever is necessary to survive and get the edge in combat, whether it's carving out a man-sized hole in a wall with gunfire, shooting a steam pipe to distract his Arch-Enemy or gunning down a quartet of goons by tricking them into a "Bangkok Rules" gunfight where he doesn't follow the rules.
  • Covered with Scars: As seen during his Lock-and-Load Montage in L.A.
  • Deadpan Snarker: He displays a very dry humor.
  • Defector from Decadence: He seemingly turned his back on the U.S. government after the "Leningrad Ruse" (the same events which reportedly caused him to lose his eye in the first place).
  • Determinator: Nothing and no one will stop Snake from completing his mission if his life is on the line.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": He doesn't like it when people refer to him as "Plissken", though there are exceptions to this rule.
  • Dramatic Dislocation: Has the ability to dislocate his shoulder in the BOOM! comic series, which comes in handy when he's thrown out of an airplane by a pair of U.S. Police Force soldiers and needs to activate his parachute while his hands are tied.
  • Escort Mission: His mission in New York involves rescuing the President. By the time he actually escapes the island, he's practically dragging the President along with him to the containment wall.
  • Expecting Someone Taller: He often gets this reaction from the people he meets in Los Angeles in 2013.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Sports one due to a previous eye injury (see Eye Scream below).
  • Eye Scream: According to the novelization of the original film, Snake lost his eye during the Battle for Leningrad when nerve gas seeped into his visor and damaged one of his eyes beyond repair. He subsequently took to covering it with an eyepatch.
  • Fallen Hero: Snake is a highly-decorated Special Forces soldier who was highly decorated for his military accomplishments, but turned on the government and pursued a life of crime after feeling betrayed by their actions during the Leningrad Ruse and the death of his parents via the U.S. Police Force. By the time he completes his mission in L.A., he plunges the world back to the Stone Age in order to stop its fundamentalist President from holding too much power — and on live television, no less.
  • Famed In-Story: Snake's actions in the Battles of Leningrad and Siberia, his military commendations and the fact that he was considered dead by some cause him to be a figure of legend for many citizens who meet him. The shine wears off somewhat by the time he goes to L.A. (where the residents remark more on his height and general appearance than any specific accomplishment), but the reverence is still there.
  • Forced Prize Fight: Is forced by the Duke to take part in a Blood Sport battle against a hulking gladiator using baseball bats, with the intention that he'll be brutally killed.
  • Gambit Roulette: Enacts this at the end of his mission in Los Angeles. Snake's plan relies on a number of random factors, including (a) using the helicopter crash as a diversion, (b) assuming that Utopia will be caught and the "real" mini-disk player will be confiscated before Malloy takes it from him, and (c) that no one would try to physically touch him while all of this is happening (due to him using a hologram).
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: The final fight in each film (against the Duke and Cuervo Jones, respectively) has Snake going up against them in a brief fistfight in order to knock them out and get away.
  • The Gunslinger: By the time he's sent to L.A. in 2013, Snake is very proficient with quickdrawing, leading him to be able to gun down four assailants in a standoff in a matter of moments.
  • Guttural Growler: His voice is raspy and hoarse. Kurt Russell said he inspired it by Clint Eastwood.
  • Handshake Substitute: The closest Snake ever gets to properly thanking someone who's helped him is when he high-fives Pipeline, who's given him a brief primer on surfing and allowed him to catch up to Map-to-the-Stars Eddie.
  • Here We Go Again!: Snake doesn't take kindly to being sent on another suicide mission in L.A., this time courtesy of the President himself.
    President: If you go to Los Angeles, and come back with that black box and put it in my hand, you'll be given a full pardon for every moral crime you've committed in the United States.
  • Hidden Depths: Though rare, there are times when Snake is shown to genuinely care for the people who help him. The fact that the President in 1997 was flippant about the deaths of Cabbie, Brain and Maggie motivates him to sabotage the summit speech in response. 16 years later, he becomes nearly distraught when Taslima is shot in the back and dies while he watches helplessly.
  • Hollywood Healing: Averted in both films. During the New York mission, he takes an arrow to the leg and is noticeably limping for the rest of the film, not to mention in serious pain. In L.A., he suffers another leg injury (not to mention being bit in the same spot by Cuervo Jones) and limps around during the final confrontation.
  • Iconic Item: Snake's Eyepatch of Power and his leather jacket, the latter of which he kept for at least 16 years (long enough to be present when he was arrested by the government before the missions in New York and L.A.). Kurt Russell kept the original jacket from New York after filming, and produced it to show to John Carpenter when production began on L.A. Lampshaded in the "Escape to New York" arc of the BOOM! comic series — Snake goes back to retrieve his signature jacket from a locker on Ellis Island, having been unable to retrieve it when he fled from Hauk's men in the first arc of the comic (and solving a minor Continuity Snarl in the process).
  • I Just Want to Be Free: His declared motivation at the beginning of both films.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Despite the lack of one eye, Snake has extreme proficiency with multiple types of weapons. He can use throwing knives with deadly accuracy, shoot and land headshots while firing backwards and limping, take out four targets in a matter of seconds with Guns Akimbo revolvers, and score kills while firing from a motorcycle.
  • It's All About Me: Snake doesn't seem to care about anyone's interests but his own. Considering he runs straight into the Black and Gray Morality of the world around him, it's hard to blame him.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He has shades of this. While he's generally cold and uncaring about others, he will break from tradition on occassion when something offends or disturbs him. The unfeeling attitude of the President regarding the loss of the allies who helped them escape NYC prompts Snake to sabotage the summit in 1997, and 16 years later, he refuses to kill Utopia when he has an order to kill her on-sight.
  • Living Legend: Even before he arrived in New York, Snake had a reputation for several feats (including his military career, Unexplained Recovery from an event where he was presumed dead and his heist at the U.S. National Reserve).
  • Mr. Fanservice: He's Tall, Dark, and Handsome and occasionally shows his athletic and well endowed torso. Some female characters also seems to be attracted by him.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • In the first film, the circumstances behind Snake's arrest (the robbery on the U.S. Federal Reserve) are left vague at best. A sequence showing the robbery and Snake's capture was shot, but deleted from the final print.
    • Something Snake did in Cleveland is so notable that people mention it before and during his mission in Los Angeles. The incident in question is finally shown in full in the final arc of the BOOM! comic series — Snake steals the original U.S. Constitution from a museum in Cleveland.
    • The events of Kansas City, where Brain apparently left him and Fresno Bob to their fate, are given no more details than "Do you know what they did to Bob?"
  • No One Gets Left Behind: In the original opening sequence for New York, Snake is given the chance to flee without his partner, Taylor, but elects to stay and wait until they can rendezvous because they have a past history together. Ultimately subverted, as Taylor is killed by the Police Force just after they reunite.
  • Not in This for Your Revolution: Both of his major rescue missions kick off with Snake telling an authority figure (Bob Hauk and the President/Malloy, respectively) that he wants no part of what's happening and would much rather go off on his own, forcing them to use potentially-lethal means in order for him to cooperate.
  • Not So Stoic: When Taslima dies during his mission in L.A., it's the first time in either film that he very nearly breaks down, and he's reduced to stunned silence as he watches her pass away.
  • One-Man Army: Snake is generally sent into dangerous areas with everything he needs to get the job done. Subverted in L.A. — he loses his glider as soon as he arrives on the island, along with his weapons soon after when he's captured. Regardless, he still manages to complete the mission.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: As his signature line suggests, Snake is very particular about what people call him, and he never reveals his true name to anyone in either of the films. The one time he breaks from tradition, he tells his real name to the dying captain of a boat, Ron, in the final issue of the Marvel Comics Adventures of Snake Plissken series. By the time L.A. rolls around, his arrest record shows the name "Bob" as an alias, though it's left unclear if this is actually his name or simply an alias referencing the deceased "Fresno Bob" (mentioned in the first film).
    Call me Snake.
  • The Pardon: This is used as leverage to get Snake to cooperate during his New York and Los Angeles missions.
  • Passing the Torch: At the end of the comic series produced by BOOM!, Snake gifts the profits he made from his life of crime, along with his dog Fresno to Action Girl Sadie, and tells her that he's done trying to live a normal life and is going back into illegal activities.
  • Perma-Stubble: He's never shown shaved in the films. In the BOOM! comic series, he shaves exactly once during the "Escape from Cleveland" arc, in order to identify himself to the pursuing USPF forces, who promptly freak out upon realizing who they're chasing.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: As if loudly disparaging the President in front of Hauk wasn't enough, Snake refers to the transgender Hershe by her pre-op nickname, "Carjack", despite her insisting otherwise.
  • Recruiting the Criminal: The government enlists Snake twice to undergo a dangerous mission in part because he's a wanted criminal who lands in their lap both times (once for robbing the U.S. Federal Reserve, and once after being caught for gunrunning in another state).
  • Red Right Hand: His missing eye covered by the eyepatch.
  • Refusal of the Call: His main reason for rejecting the missions given to him in the films, due to the fact that he doesn't care about anyone else's problems except his own.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: To the point that it's his Weapon of Choice. Snake prefers to carry at least one revolver on him at all times, though he doesn't have many opportunities to show his prowess with them. To note, just after he uses them (Guns Akimbo) to dispatch a group of Cuervo's men in L.A., he loses them when he's captured.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: On at least two separate occassions, Snake shows that he has a subtle moral compass, via sabotaging the President's speech by swapping the real tape out after hearing how the latter has no respect for the people who saved his life, and using the Sword of Damocles to wipe out Earth's electricity in order to level the playing field and stop the President's fundamentalist theocracy.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Telling Hauk that he'd rather fly the Gullfire to Canada than rescue the President in New York is what motivates the former to tether him with an Explosive Leash. Snake later tries to do the same thing upon initially finding the empty Escape Pod, only for Hauk to threaten to shoot him out of the sky or burn him alive if he attempts to go over the wall.
  • Signature Line:
    Call me Snake.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Is rarely seen outside of combat without a cigarette in his mouth. The ending of L.A. has him find a discarded pack of "American Spirit" cigarettes with one still left inside, and lights it up while musing about the future.
  • Stolen MacGuffin Reveal: Pulls one of these during his New York and Los Angeles missions. He first swaps the President's tape containing the secret of nuclear fusion with one of Cabbie's, which plays during the Hartford Summit. The second time, he fakes out Malloy and the President by pretending that he gave the real Sword of Damocles to Utopia, only to reveal that he held onto it all along.
  • Took a Level in Badass: By the time the events of L.A. begin, Snake has progressed from being a capable soldier into a man who can fire weapons while riding a motorcycle one-handed, walk with a limp after being shot in the leg with a Desert Eagle, and achieving quickdrawing against multiple enemies. References in the latter film and the comic series explain that despite the time gap, his emergence from retirement, mission to steal the U.S. Bill of Rights in Cleveland and what appears to be several weeks (if not months) taking part in prize fights in New Bangkok has made him much more proficient than before.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Nearly every person Snake meets in the original film can't believe he's alive, and reference something that happened in the past where he was reportedly killed. Snake ignores these concerns, but whatever happened was significant enough to be heard by many of the prisoners in New York.
  • Unwitting Pawn: During his Los Angeles mission. Unlike what happened in New York (where he's given an Explosive Leash), the Plutoxin-7 "virus" is just a case of the flu. Exemplified afterwards when the President says, "We took you on a little ride, and you held up your end of the bargain."
  • What's in It for Me?: Snake generally holds this attitude when he's presented with a deal. When he meets Hershe in Los Angeles, he says this to her verbatim.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Snake has no problem beating up Meemaw, the heavyset protector of the Twins in the BOOM! comic series.
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    The President (1997) 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/escapefromnewyorkpresidentpic1.png
Played By: Donald Pleasence

An unnamed President who is travelling to a global summit on Air Force One when it's commandeered by terrorists who take over the cockpit. He uses an Escape Pod to eject into New York City before the plane crashes, and is subsequently captured by The Duke and his men, forcing Bob Hauk to enact a rescue mission to save him with Snake's help.

  • Action Politician: Despite the situation he found himself in, he has no problem grabbing a weapon and gunning down the Duke when presented with the opportunity.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Snake uses a Secret Test to gauge the President's response on the loss of life over the last few hours, and the latter's response makes it clear that he's indifferent that several people died helping him get to safety.
  • Break the Haughty/Trauma Conga Line: By the time he's rescued from New York, the President has lost a finger, been mentally tortured, shot at, and been emasculated by having a wig and makeup put on him. He finally manages to regain his senses by the time he's treated by presidential aides and is given a shave and a new suit.
  • Broken Record: When he finally has the chance to kill the Duke, he snaps, repeating the latter's Madness Mantra ("You're the Duke! You're the Duke! You're A-Number One!") back at him in an Ironic Echo.
  • Create Your Own Villain: In the BOOM! comic series. Snake's switch of the cassette tape causes the President to lose faith with his administration, eventually leading to his impeachment. This, coupled with Sanity Slippage (see below) leads him to take up the role of Duke of New York, and he is the main antagonist Snake runs up against during the third arc of the comic series.
  • Fingore: Immediately loses one of his fingers when he's captured by the Duke's men, which is subsequently presented to Hauk by Romero later on.
  • Hoist by Their Own Petard: In the BOOM! comic series. Harker (who has just massacred the film crew sent to interview him) inadvertantly lets Snake film him gloating over his crimes to the public, which causes his own troops to turn on him and deliver a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown in response.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: It turns out that he's quite proficient with an assault rifle, shooting multiple rounds on-target into the Duke from an elevated position, and in a crazed state, no less.
  • The Load: He is (initially) a non-action combatant who has to be protected by Brain, Maggie and Snake during their escape. When push comes to shove, though, he proves that he's very capable with a weapon, using it to save Snake's life by gunning down the Duke.
  • No Name Given: His name is never mentioned on-screen, and everyone simply identifies him by his title. In the novelization and the BOOM! comic series, he is identified as President John Harker.
  • No Party Given: No clear policies or moral stance are ever revealed by him, but judging from the fact that John Carpenter based his character off Ronald Reagan (who was still in power at the time the film was produced), he is most likely a Republican.
  • Our Presidents Are Different: The President is evidently not an American citizen, as he has a British accent. He also has no problem grabbing a weapon and gunning down the Big Bad, though this was caused by a day's worth of psychological torture.
  • Sanity Slippage:
    • By the time he finally escapes the prison, the President has been psychologically affected by the tortures he's endured, leading him to machine-gun The Duke while yelling, "You're the Duke! You're the Duke! You're A-Number One!" in a deranged voice. By the time he has a few minutes to recover, though, he's largely back to himself.
    • Happens again in the BOOM! comic series — Snake's actions after rescuing him (destroying the tape with the secret of nuclear fission) have caused him to be impeached and subsequently driven insane, whereupon he goes back to New York, obtains the Duke's old clothing and subsequently become the new Duke of New York, who Snake faces off against during the third story arc.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: During the final run across the 69th Street Bridge, he immediately starts running once he sees Brain get blown up by one of the mines, leaving the stunned Snake and Maggie in his wake.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Despite Snake and the others helping him escape the city (with nearly all of them perishing in the process), his response to Snake upon being asked how he feels shows that he is indifferent (if not having any respect whatsoever) for the fallen. This is what motivates Snake to sabotage his speech.

    Bob Hauk 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/escapefromnewyorkhaukpic1.jpg
Played By: Lee Van Cleef

The Commissioner of New York City's police force, stationed at Liberty Island. After the President's Escape Pod crashlands in New York, Hauk conscripts Snake to undertake a rescue mission within 22 hours, under threat of an Explosive Leash.

  • Badass Boast: When Snake attempts to renege on the mission after entering the city, Hauk has some choice words for him.
    Hauk: If you get back in that glider, I'll shoot you down. You climb out, and I'll burn you off the wall.
  • Badass Moustache: Sports a heavy gray mustache, as is befitting of many of the characters played by Van Cleef.
  • Badass Normal:
    • The moment he realizes that the President's Escape Pod has crashed in Manhattan, he personally leads a team beyond the prison walls to go rescue him. He's only stopped by the fact that the Duke and his men got there before he did, forcing him to enact his contingency plan of utilizing Snake.
    • When Snake gets back from the city, Hauk nonchalantly asks if he's still thinking of killing him. Snake tells him he's "too tired" but claims that he might later, which doesn't cause any reaction from the commissioner.
  • Cool Old Guy: He's the aging commissioner of New York's security police, doesn't take flak from anyone and has no problem personally leading a squad into the prison to save someone.
  • Create Your Own Villain: In the BOOM! comic series. Snake's actions caused Hauk to take the fall for the switched cassette tape, and he was tortured by the President's troops before being dumped unceremoniously in Siberia. As a result, he forces Snake to face him head-on during the second storyline of the comic series. Snake is forced to kill him as a result.
  • Da Chief: Of New York City's police force.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Once Romero reveals that the Duke has the President and begins a verbal countdown (under threat of ordering the men to kill him), Hauk immediately realizes when he's beaten and retreats from the island with his men.
  • Missing Child: The novelization for the film reveals that Hauk's child is missing somewhere in the city and he has been searching for him for quite some time.
  • Mission Control: Acts as this to Snake for the duration of the mission.
  • Not So Different: Hauk indicates in his initial conversation with Snake that he's a Special Forces vet just like him, and has heard all about his Living Legend status.
  • The Power of Trust: Hauk believes in Snake's ability to complete the mission, so much so that he's able to stall the Secretary of State's request to storm the island so Snake will have the allotted time to complete his mission. He also refuses to believe that Snake is dead after the latter's transmitter cuts out, and practically cheers when it re-activates again towards the end of the film.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Despite his machinations, Hauk keeps his word at the end of the film and allows Snake to walk free. He even offers him another job, and says that they worked well together. He isn't even bothered with Snake's pre-mission threat that he'll kill him.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Has a Signature Scene where he's shown smoking a cigarette by one of the security stations at dusk.

    Cabbie 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/escapefromnewyorkcabbiepic1.jpg
Played By: Ernest Borgnine

A mild-mannered, happy-go-lucky resident who voluntarily stayed behind in Manhattan when it was turned into a prison, and has had a long-running career as a cab driver. He encounters Snake in a theater and becomes a chauffeur for him, eventually getting involved in the plot to rescue the President.

  • Beware the Silly Ones: He's introduced smiling and grooving along with a play in a run-down theater, then shows up a few minutes later to rescue Snake from the Crazies, nonchalantly lighting a Molotov cocktail and using it to stall them while Snake escapes with him.
  • The Cavalry: Shows up twice to rescue someone. He first saves Snake as the latter is fleeing from the Crazies, then he shows up to rescue Snake, the President, Brain and Maggie towards the end of the film as they're fleeing from the Duke and his men.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: He inadvertantly saves the day twice over: first by trading his hat to Romero in exchange for the cassette tape with the secret to nuclear fusion (which the latter doesn't understand and wants to pawn off as soon as possible), then by showing up to rescue the group as they flee from the Duke towards the end of the film.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: The murky nature of whether his friend "Eddie" exists aside, Cabbie tells Snake that he voluntarily stayed behind in Manhattan when it turned into a prison. He didn't even commit a crime — he just enjoyed living there.
  • Cool Old Guy: He's the only unambiguously heroic person still living in New York, as he's just an older man who is happy driving a cab around the city. Despite the violence on the streets, it seems that nothing dampens his optimism and he's happy to help Snake and his friends escape.
  • Cowardly Sidekick: He only helps the heroes until he hears the sounds of the Duke's convoy in the distance — then, he'll immediately flee the general area.
  • Double Take: Has this reaction (going into triple-take territory) when he sees Snake walk past him in the theater.
  • The Driver: Acts as a chauffeur for Snake, Brain, Maggie and eventually the President towards the end of the film. However, Snake co-opts his driver's seat during the final chase.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep"/Only Known by Their Nickname: If he has a real name, he never mentions it, and everyone seems content to simply call him "Cabbie".
  • Nice Guy: He's an optimistic cab driver who is by far the most carefree and happy person in the film.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: He chooses to rescue Snake and the rest of the group from the World Trade Center as they flee from the Duke — and dies just a few minutes later, as he's the only casualty of a mine detonating under the cab, while everyone else is largely unscathed.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Is the first member of the squad to die during the climax of the film, just to prove how dangerous the mines on the bridge are.
  • Too Happy to Live: He's by far the happiest character in the city, and is introduced grooving away to a theatre production while everyone else looks on morosely. Nothing dampens his optimism, yet he is the first to die during the gang's escape at the end of the film.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: He's so optimistic and good-hearted about things that even a gun to the face doesn't dampen his spirit. He generally seems to regard his situation in a positive light and goes out of his way to help Snake and the group rescue the President.

    Harold "Brain" Hellman 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/escapefromnewyorkbrainpic1.jpg
Played By: Harry Dean Stanton

An acquaintance from Snake's past who fled from a job, they once again cross paths in New York City. This time, though, "Brain" works for the Duke and helps pump oil from the ground in order to fuel his convoy. He reluctantly takes part in Snake's plan to rescue the President.

  • Alliterative Name: Harold Hellman.
  • Arranged Marriage: It's implied by Cabbie that the Duke "gave" Maggie to Brain in order to keep him happy. Though given how she immediately moves to defend him in the scene afterwards where Snake threatens him, and her response later on when he dies from the mine on the bridge, it's clear that she genuinely cares for him.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: He's only involved in the scheme for his own benefit, and is trying to keep both Duke and Snake from killing him by stringing them along as much as possible.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul"/Embarrassing First Name: He hates it when people refer to him by his given name, "Harold".
  • Improvised Weapon: Resorts to throwing stones at the residents who sabotage the glider and push it off the top of the World Trade Center.
  • Insufferable Genius: To the point that everyone in the city hates him, save for Maggie and Cabbie. Had he not made himself invaluable by being able to produce oil for the city from the pump inside the NYC Library, he would likely have been executed beforehand.
  • It's All About Me: His main objective is to escape at all costs, and he doesn't care who he has to double-cross (except for his wife and the President) along the way. The third act of the film is motivated by him electing to rescue the President with Maggie's help.
  • The Navigator: He's set up as this, having spent the better part of a day figuring out if Snake could have parked the glider on top of the World Trade Center and pilfering a diagram that shows the location of mines on the 69th Street Bridge. However, it's eventually revealed that he can't read the directions as well as he thought, which leads to both Cabbie and himself dying when they run into mines along the way.
  • Noodle Incident: Whatever happened in Kansas City where Brain abandoned Snake and Fresno Bob.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Part of his backstory. Four years before the events of the film, he abandoned Snake and "Fresno Bob" during a job in Kansas City, after initially being tasked to wait for a rendezvous with them. Snake doesn't take kindly to seeing "Harold" alive and well, and tells him that he still remembers what happened.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: During the chase across the bridge, he orders everyone to follow him around the left side of a vehicle turned on its side to avoid a mine, having just given them wrong directions that resulted in Cabbie's death. Everyone else runs around the right side of the vehicle while he continues on around the left, running smackdab into another mine that launches him into the air and kills him instantly.

    Maggie 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/escapefromnewyorkmaggiepic1.jpg
"Harold? You never told me you knew Snake."
Played By: Adrienne Barbeau

Harold "Brain" Hellman's wife, who lives with him at the New York City Public Library. She proves to be a crack shot with a gun and assists the group as they try to escape from the city with the President.

  • Battle Couple: With Brain. When they rescue the President from Romero, she snipes his lackeys in the head while Brain guts Romero with a knife.
  • Broken Bird: Her behavior implies that something bad happened to her in the past, but no confirmation is given either way.
  • Dies Wide Open: The eventual result of her Last Stand against the Duke.
  • Happily Married: With Brain, and living a comfortable (well, as comfortable as living in a prison can be) existence in the New York City Public Library.
  • Heroic BSoD: Goes into a brief one when Brain is killed.
  • Last Stand: Attempts this against the Duke, partially to give Snake and the President time to escape and partially to avenge the death of Brain.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Chooses to wear low-cut blouses that display Absolute Cleavage.
  • Together in Death: Implied to be part of this reason why she stays behind to have a Last Stand against the Duke. Prior to this, she suffers from a momentary Heroic BSoD after seeing Brain's body, and implores him to Please Wake Up.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: Is the only girl of the bunch.
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    The Duke 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/escapefromnewyorkdukepic1.jpg
Played By: Isaac Hayes

The most feared man in New York. The Duke runs a gang with an iron fist, and runs afoul of Snake when the latter attempts to rescue the President by himself soon after arriving in the city. The Duke plans to escape from the city with his gang by any means necessary.

  • Alas, Poor Villain: The camera lingers on his shocked face and bullet-ridden body as he dies, implying that he's more of a tragic villain than a straight-up antagonist, in tandem with his leadership of the gang.
  • Arch-Enemy: To Snake. Notably, Duke's right eye twitches involuntarily whenever he's in Snake's presence.
  • Badass Boast: Has one while addressing the crowd at the Blood Sport fighting match.
    Duke: They sent in their best man, and when we roll across the 69th Street bridge tomorrow, on our way to freedom, we're going to have their best man leading the way — from the neck up! On the hood of my car!
  • Bald, Black Leader Guy: He is the most imposing leader in the city, and rules over his men with equal parts fear and admiration.
  • Big Bad: Of the first film.
  • Car Fu: Uses his personal vehicle as a weapon to run down Maggie.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Spends a good amount of time taking potshots at the wall around the chained-up President so he can psychologically break the latter.
  • The Dreaded: He has this reputation among the inhabitants of New York, so much so that Cabbie decides to turn tail and run the moment he hears the Duke's convoy approaching.
  • A Father to His Men: He wants to use the President as leverage not only to escape the city, but to allow his followers to get out without being killed by the police. However, this is eventually subverted in the final chase, where he (and he alone) follows the gang over the bridge as they try to escape (though a deleted scene would have revealed that his followers would have been impeded by a car crash that disables their vehicles).
  • Hoist by Their Own Petard: After a day spent torturing and trying to psychologically break the President, Duke gets gunned down by him just when he's within arm's reach of getting over the wall. The fact that the President mocks him by parroting the words he beat into him is just icing on the cake.
  • Nice Hat: Sports a black pirate hat, befitting his status as the "A-Number One" of New York.
  • Red Right Hand: His twitching right eye.
  • Scary Black Man: Has this reputation among the inmates on the island, to such a point that Cabbie claims that anyone who meets him and isn't part of his gang will be killed immediately.
  • Soul Brotha: The Duke's attitude and speech runs headlong into this. Being portrayed by Isaac Hayes helps.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Gets machine-gunned down by the President, who pumps him full of bullets while yelling, "You're the Duke! You're the Duke! You're A-Number One!"

    Romero 
Played By: Frank Doubleday

The Duke's right-hand man, Romero is rarely seen without the Duke and follows his orders without question. He is the one who reveals to Hauk that the President has been captured, thus kicking off the latter's quest to bring him back with Snake's help.

  • All There in the Manual: His name is never said within the film itself, and was instead identified in the DVD commentary by Carpenter.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: It's implied that there's something... off about him. He has slow, almost-delayed movements and appears to be childlike in many ways. He simply doesn't understand what a cassette tape is, attempts to listen to it like a telephone, and pawns it off at the nearest opportunity in exchange for a hat. He laughs at odd times with a strange, high-pitched squeal. While he follows the Duke's commands, he's easily tricked and is slow to catch on that something is wrong, which eventually leads to him being killed by Brain.
  • Ambiguously Gay: He acts somewhat flamboyant and sports painted fingernails, not to mention that he immediately dresses the President up in a wig and makeup at the first opportunity. However, no confirmation is given either way.
  • The Dragon: He is the Duke's second-in-command.
  • The Hyena: Has a strange, high-pitched laugh, which is most notable when Brain gets up to leave after his meeting with the Duke.
  • Nice Hat: He trades the MacGuffin (off-screen) to Cabbie in exchange for his hat, which he wears in his final scene.
  • Shonen Hair: He wears a spiked, upswept haircut.

    The Woman 
Played By: Season Hubley

An unnamed resident of New York who Snake meets while hiding from the Crazies in the Chock Full O'Nuts shop. She gives him some information about the city and the current situation.

  • Decoy Protagonist: It's implied that she'll play a large role acting as Snake's sidekick, but this doesn't long before she's caught and killed by the Crazies.
  • No Name Given: She never tells Snake her name in the film, and is only referred to as "Woman in Chock Full O'Nuts" in the credits. However, in the novelization, she tells Snake that her name is Maureen.
  • Noodle Incident: Who she is and why she is imprisoned in New York is never explained.
  • One Last Smoke: She asks for one, is given it, and dies to the Crazies a short time later.
  • Sacrificial Lion: She only appears for a matter of minutes before she's suddenly ambushed and dragged down underground by the Crazies.
  • Ship Tease: She implores Snake to bring her along with him, and her body language makes it seem that she's going to kiss him. However, this is quickly dashed when the Crazies pull her through the floor.
  • Special Guest: Hubley receives this title in the credits, and only appears for a single scene.
  • Spotting the Thread: She immediately figures out that Snake is a recent arrival on the island, as she quickly asks him for a "real smoke" upon meeting him.

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Characters featured in the comic series produced by Boom! Studios:

    The Twins 
The "Twins" (a.k.a. Romulus and Remus) control the state of Florida and have fashioned it into a free state... despite only being 13 years old. They attempt to enlist Snake to help them invade the U.S. and claim it for themselves.

  • Easily Forgiven: At the end of the first arc, they call their parents and explain the situation (and their failed coup). Despite the fact that they were indirectly responsible for Florida seceding from the country, what the Twins say indicates that their parents seem to be okay with what their sons did, though it's not explicitly confirmed if they'll bother to bring them back home.
  • Expy: They are basically American version of Johnny and Luther Htoo as they led an army and personified themselves as gods.
  • Karma Houdini: They seemingly get off scot-free for their actions, despite directly being the ones who detonated the nukes that caused Florida to secede from the States.
  • Insistent Terminology: They repeatedly refer to themselves as being "13-and-a-half" whenever Snake remarks on how they're just children.
  • Mouthy Kid: They enjoy taunting Snake and believe that nothing can ever go wrong for them.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: Their grand plan is to invade the rest of the United States, with Snake leading their army and a stockpile of nukes in their arsenal. Naturally, their plan goes to pot immediately when Snake decides he wants no part of it and decides to escape.
  • Tempting Fate: They decide to activate the nuclear detonator in the final issue of the first arc, despite Snake warning them that he's already dug up and replanted the warheads along the Florida border. They refuse to believe it and press the button, thus activating the warheads and severing the continent from the mainland.
  • Theme Naming: The Twins are named Romulus and Remus, after the twin brothers who helped create the city of Rome.

    Meemaw 
The protector of the mouthy Twins, Meemaw is a no-nonsense Mama Bear who protects the boys at any cost.

  • Absolute Cleavage: She sports an Amazon-like outfit that amplifies her... natural attributes.
  • The Beastmaster: She claims to have wrestled and reined in animals from the Florida wilds, including large alligators and snakes.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted - she has a large set of claw marks across her face, which are implied to have been caused by an alligator slashing at her.
  • Between My Legs: Seen when she knocks out Snake during their first encounter.
  • Covered with Scars: To the point that Snake points out that she's probably lost plenty of times against alligators and snakes, considering that she has large claw marks across her face and plenty of scars on her arms and legs.
  • Failed a Spot Check: She doesn't seem to notice (or care) that Snake steals the supposed detonator for his Explosive Collar while she's slightly intoxicated (despite it sitting right beside her in the passenger seat), and she never brings it up after the fact.
  • Large and in Charge: The heavyset protector of two boys, who has no problem beating sense into people that threaten them.
  • Mama Bear: She is highly protective of the Twins, and will knock out anyone who threatens their well-being.
    Time for sharing and playing nice is over. You tried to hurt me and my babies.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: She only refers to herself as "meemaw", a slang word for "mother". She uses the term to describe her own mother while talking with Snake about her premonitions.
  • Third-Person Person: She speaks in this way throughout her appearances.

    Jayne 
A Satanist (claiming to be a missionary) who accompanies Snake during his journey to Florida.

  • As the Good Book Says...: In the first issue:
  • Dirty Coward: When Aleister and Anton attempt to rob a convenience store in order to get some money for their trip, Jayne hides in the cab of a pickup truck, only revealing herself when Snake commandeers it during his escape. Subverted when she decides to aid him by pulling out two guns and attacking the pursuing police officers.
  • Guns Akimbo: Wields a pair of shotguns in this way during the escape with Snake from the convenience store.
  • Religion of Evil: It is implied (but not explicitly stated) that she is a member of the New Church of Satan, who are seen watching former President Harker's speech at the end of the Escape to New York story.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Beats feet once Snake gets to the entrance of the Crucible, reasoning that she'd have more fun outside and is more interested in a nice-looking car than facing a Death Course.

    Sadie 
A resident in Cleveland who joins Snake's gang as they decide to raid a Federal Vault, and eventually gets roped along in Snake's quest to escape the U.S. Police Force.

  • Action Girl: Proves to be a very capable member of Snake's team, as she aids him during his escape and goes through several increasingly-violent battles that sees her survive when other armed members of the city perish.
  • Passing the Torch: Snake gives her a lockbox with the remaining money he's saved from his various jobs over the years, along with ownership of his dog, Fresno, and tells her that he's returning to a life of crime.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Initially appears to be an unassuming support member of Snake's crew, but eventually ends up as the only other surviving member of the team, standing side-by-side with Snake battling hordes of USPF officers as they fight their way out of downtown Cleveland.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Calls out Snake in their final conversation for letting her go off to his house alone, knowing that it was booby-trapped and that the USPF would be looking to siege it.

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