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    Ethan Mars 
Played By: Pascal Langdale
"Everything I did, I did for love."

Ethan is an architect with a wife and two sons. Two years prior to the main story, his elder son, Jason, dies in a car accident that leaves Ethan in a six-month coma. Now awake, Ethan remains depressed and stricken with grief. He suffers from agoraphobia and lives alone, estranged from his wife Grace Mars and distant from his other son, Shaun. Ethan soon discovers that Shaun may become the next victim of the Origami Killer, and is forced to go through five trials (danger, suffering, brutal suffering, murder and sacrifice).

  • Action Survivor: Ethan is an architect with no combat experience whatsoever. He doesn't get fighting scenes, he gets running away scenes and survival scenes.
  • Adult Fear: Nothing does it quite like a serial killer who kidnaps children. And who can forget JASOOOOOON!
  • Almost Kiss: Shared with Madison, it's just up to the player if they go through with it.
  • Beard of Sorrow: After the death of his son, Jason, he puts down the shaving cream.
  • Big Damn Heroes: It's possible for him to save Madison from Scott Shelby in the final level by shooting him from behind just as he corners her and prepares to kill her.
  • Big "NO!": Yells out one of these just before Jason is run over by a car, and after Shaun has been taken.
  • But Thou Must!: You don't want to make Ethan a murderer by doing the shark trial? Tough luck, you still have to at least start to go through with it. However, the final result is optional.
  • Classical Anti-Hero
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Ethan occasionally delves into these when he sees what his trials entail, but he only really goes to town if you don't do all the trials and end up without all the letters of the address Shaun's being held at.
  • Convenient Coma: He goes into a six-month coma after Jason dies.
  • Determinator: Becomes one if you have him complete all the trials.
  • Dirty Coward: If you don't do the trials. Best example, you can refuse to do the Lizard Trial, and use your two hands to help you and Madison escape, but you end up being shot in the arm instead. The game even calls you out on it with the door leading to freedom in the Butterfly trial being labeled "Coward", should you choose not to do the trial.
  • Driven to Suicide: Any ending where Shaun dies. He either hangs himself in his jail cell after being convicted, shoots himself in his home surrounded by pictures of his family, or similarly offs himself in front of Shaun's grave.
  • Drives Like Crazy: The Bear trial requires Ethan to drive at 60 MPH on a rain-slicked freeway on the wrong side of the road.
  • Expy: He is extremely similar to Harry Mason in both appearance and personality. He is also similar to Lucas Kane, the main protagonist of Indigo Prophecy/Fahrenheit, Quantic Dream’s previous game before Heavy Rain.
  • Fingore: Loses his pinky finger during the Lizard trial, if the player decides to go through with it. If you opted out the trial instead, Ethan will have the same finger shot off during his successful escape from the police. The only way for him to keep the finger is skipping the trial and staying locked up.
  • Gangsta Style: Ethan uses this on the drug dealer briefly in the Shark trial.
  • Happily Married: To Grace at the beginning of the game and possibly Madison in his best ending.
  • I See Dead People: In the deleted scenes showing Ethan’s blackouts, which he develops after waking up from his coma, he sees some of the other victims of the Origami Killer, as well as John Sheppard.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Uses this to justify his actions while completing the trials, especially the final one. Justified, as he is trying to rescue his son.
  • Improbably Quick Coma Recovery: Implied. No one seems to mention the coma or physical therapy he would have needed afterwards as an alibi when he is suspected of being the Origami Killer, as both would have rendered him incapable of doing so.
  • The Killer in Me: Subverted.
  • Love Makes You Evil: The player has the option to have Ethan commit a cold blooded murder for the sake of finding his son.
  • Made of Iron: Not to a great extent, but he can survive jumping from a motel roof with enough stamina left over to escape the police chasing him and survive a gunshot point blank to the stomach from the Origami Killer in the final level.
  • Optional Sexual Encounter: Between himself and Madison.
  • Papa Wolf: His thread of the story is his fight to save his living son, Shaun, from a serial killer. Get into it, and you'll see he'll go To Hell and Back to save his kid, to the point that he could easily be a reincarnation of Harry Mason. Invoked, since the entire point of the tests are to prove he's a father capable of giving his life to save his son.
  • Please Wake Up: During his attempts to revive Shaun via CPR. If Ethan has come to the warehouse alone, Shaun ends up doing this himself moments later when he's gunned down by police outside.
  • Plot Armor: Despite the ridiculously high number of situations he faces that would be fatal to almost anyone, Ethan can't die until near the end of the game.
  • Psychic Link: In deleted content, it is revealed that the reason Ethan has blackouts is because he has a psychic link to Scott Shelby that was formed during the accident where Jason died, enabling Ethan to see Scott’s memories. This would imply that one or even both of them have some form of Telepathy, though we don’t know how the link affected Scott.
  • Right Through His Pants: If he sleeps with Madison, he'll have his underwear on before waking up.
  • Room Full of Crazy: In the worst ending, he commits suicide in a room full of Origami figures.
  • Sadistic Choice: All of Ethan's trials involve these.
  • Say My Name:
  • Split Personality: Suggested, but it's ultimately a trick of his own mind. It's resolved when Ethan finds out who the Origami Killer actually is. Towards the end of the game, he believes his "other self" is and is testing himself to see if he truly cares for his son. This is not true, but makes sense. The game certainly likes to play it up this way.
  • Stress Vomit: Ethan will vomit if you make him kill the drug dealer during the Shark trial.
  • Trauma Conga Line: His son gets run over by a car, he ends up in a coma for six months, when he wakes up, his wife wants to divorce him, and his other son hates him. That's before the game even starts.
  • The Unfettered: Ethan’s main goal throughout the game is to rescue Shaun. Depending on the player’s choices, he can be willing to do anything to achieve this - ranging from causing physical injury to himself in the first three trials he’s given to potentially attacking a team of police officers that attempt to arrest him, if he’s initially apprehended in his motel room but escapes to committing up to two murders, the latter of which he shows little if any remorse for given the victim was the person responsible for Shaun’s kidnapping in the first place. And despite how injured he might get as the game progresses, he’s still determined to get his son back, whatever the cost. Nothing will deter him from that goal, not even getting shot at point-blank range by the Origami Killer in the last chapter, if only he and Madison are present.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Calls out Madison when he found out she's a journalist.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Throws a little black book towards Madison due to his anger over her being a journalist.

    Madison Paige 
Played By: Judi Beecher (voice) & Jacqui Ainsley (motion capture)
"There has to be another way."

Madison is a young photojournalist living alone in the city. Suffering from chronic insomnia and nightmares, she occasionally checks into motels, as they are the only place she can properly sleep. She eventually finds herself involved in the latest Origami Killer case, conducting her own investigations.

  • Action Girl: And how. For your ordinary journalist, she does a pretty damn good job fending off serial killers.
  • Action Survivor: Shared with Ethan.
  • All Just a Dream: Madison fighting the burglars in her apartment.
  • Almost Kiss: Shared with Ethan, it's just up to the player if they go through with it.
  • Alone with the Psycho: In chronological order; she sneaks into Leland White's house only to end up trapped in the same building as a serial killer when White arrives home early; she pays a visit to Dr Baker, running the risk of being drugged and vivisected; finally, she decides to investigate the Origami Killer's lair, only to be held at gunpoint by the man himself.
  • Badass Adorable: She may be a beautiful, young, and kind photojournalist, but throughout the game, depending on the player, she can quite defend herself very well in tough situations.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Madison is the most bright-eyed, well-dressed insomniac you'll ever meet.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Kind, compassionate, and more than willing to crush Paco's balls if he doesn't start talking.
  • Biker Babe: She owns a motorcycle and she's a hottie, 'nuff said.
  • Captain Obvious: "It's a painkiller, it'll help ease the pain."
  • Cassandra Truth: This is the reason why she can't tell Ethan that she's a journalist. Not only that, but also afraid that he'll get a bad reaction when he found out about it which it happened exactly as she expected.
  • The Combat Pragmatist: Most notably in her brawl with Dr Baker, in which she ends up fighting him with his own power tools.
  • Damsel out of Distress: She gets into several situations where she faces a high probability of being raped, killed, or both, but she can escape from them on her own if the character performs the correct actions.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: According to cut content, she was a reporter embedded with U.S. soldiers during the Iraq War. The horrors she witnessed in combat left her with some serious psychological scars. And then there's the stuff she went through in The Taxidermist.
  • Expy: Madison's jeans, printed biker jacket, affinity for motorcycles and general look is very reminiscent of Claire Redfield.
    • She also heavily resembles Monica Bellucci's character in obscure French film The Stone Council.
  • Fan Disservice: She is far from unattractive, but the striptease in Sexy Girl may be this more than Fanservice because Madison is being forced to remove her clothes by Paco.
  • Florence Nightingale Effect: On just about every occasion she meets Ethan, he's been seriously injured and she has to bandage his wounds; this escalates into a desire to help him through the Origami Killer's trials and get the police off his back, to the point that she's willing to endanger her life if it means uncovering the clues, and finally ends in full-fledged romance. This can end in marriage if the player allows Ethan to forgive her for trying to write a story about him.
  • Going for the Big Scoop: When not taking big risks for Ethan, Madison can be found taking big risks for her career; Taxidermist, anyone?
  • The Insomniac: The twist is that her insomnia fails if she's sleeping in a motel.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Just damn.
    • Her Motion Capture actress is a supermodel, and Madison is introduced in a scene which basically consists of her roaming around in her apartment while wearing only a tank top and panties.
    • Within minutes of her initial appearance in the game, Madison has an exceptionally long quick-time event in which she fights home invaders in her underwear. This scene has absolutely no effect on the plot.
      • Just like having her take a shower before the home invaders hit, with Madison flaunting her well-endowed upper body completely naked for quite some time.
    • Especially in the Sexy Girl chapter, where she unbuttons her shirt, rips off part of her skirt so the bottom comes to just below her ass, and does sexy dancing in high heels. It would be especially heavy Fanservice if you weren't concentrating on the QTE to make her dance well.
    • When she fakes having sex by moaning, etc. in Paco's office to trick his guard from coming in, leaving Paco's mouth dropped open in shock.
  • Optional Sexual Encounter: Between herself and Ethan.
  • Sanity Slippage: In the ending "Square One", in which her insomnia reaches critical levels and her nightmares turn into full-fledged halucinations.
  • Second Love: Depending on player choices she can become this to Ethan himself.
  • Shaking the Rump: Did this when Paco forces her to strip at gunpoint, but she does it to distract him so that she can club him with a lamp.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Although she wasn't a soldier, cut content reveals that she covered the Iraq War as a reporter embedded with U.S. troops. She witnessed quite a few horrific things in combat and these experiences were intended to explain her hallucinations/nightmares.
  • Show Some Leg: As she admits herself, she'll do anything to get the information she needs...
  • Took a Level in Badass: See Action Girl.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: If Shaun dies and Ethan lives, she will callously tell Ethan that life must go on and that she'd like to have a child with him. Thing is, she tells him all this as he is standing over his son's grave a few hours after his funeral had taken place.

    Norman Jayden 
Played By: Leon Ockenden
"I'm not sure that's entirely legal."

Jayden is an FBI profiler sent from Washington to support the police force with their investigation into the Origami Killer. Jayden possesses an apparatus which consists of experimental augmented reality glasses and a single right hand glove called ARI, or "Added Reality Interface". This allows him to rapidly investigate crime scenes and analyze evidence. He is also struggling with an addiction to the drug triptocaine, which helps him cope with the mental side effects of using ARI.

  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: If he dies during the investigation, this can happen if you get the "Uploaded" ending.
  • Badass Bookworm: He is the most technologically savvy of the cast and an FBI agent.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The endings "Case Closed" and "Resignation".
  • Blue Oni: To Blake's red.
  • Brain Uploading: Implied during the "Uploaded" ending, which occurs if Jayden dies over the course of the investigation- but, ironically, not if he dies of an ARI overdose.
  • By-the-Book Cop: And he's a better man for it: he genuinely does good police work by sticking to the rules, while his unhinged partner Blake apparently makes a hobby of wiping his ass with a suspect's Miranda Rights.
  • Butt-Monkey: Poor guy is already a drug addict and gets more bullying and disrespect from the police force than he deserves, and he always ends up in some seriously aggravating to painful situations. He even lampshades it himself at one point; reading his thoughts after he goes to interrogate Paco has him observe that he spent most of the investigation getting the shit kicked out of him. To cap it all, the only ending where his situation makes a definite improvement is the one where he fails to solve the case and resigns.
  • The Combat Pragmatist: As Jayden isn't exactly the most imposing member of the cast, he has to resort to a lot of dirty tricks to survive in hand-to-hand combat, especially in his second fight with Mad Jack.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Implied.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Has his moments with Blake. Also with Perry, getting the both of them suspended if Ethan dies.
  • Driven to Suicide: He will die of an overdose of Triptocaine if Shaun dies.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Subverted; he uses Triptocaine to prevent over-exposure to the ARI. Norman gets killed by Triptocaine or ARI if he uses too much of either of the two. Makes for a bit of a Zig-Zagging Trope, considering how often his drug relapses interfere with his investigation, and how his use of it isn't exactly doing wonders for his health. See also Driven to Suicide.
  • Elmuh Fudd Syndwome: His East Coast accent frequently tilts over into a childish rhotacism. "I wanna find da owigahmi kiwwuh JUST as much as you do!"
  • Expy: He's similar to Fox Mulder.
  • Eye Scream: If you take too long investigating with the ARI in one scene, he starts to bleed from his eyes. If you keep using it, he will eventually die.
  • Fair Cop: He is youthful and a cop.
  • FBI Agent: He is a profile but he must be a special agent since he is allowed to perform arrests.
  • Fight Magnet: He has to throw down with almost everyone he encounters. Almost always without backup.
  • Functional Addict: To a point. Even with his addiction to Triptocaine which can interfere with his work and personal safety, he is the most competent officer of the police station (player involvement aside).
  • Ghost in the Machine: Seemingly his fate in the "Uploaded" ending, which would happen if Jayden dies at any point in the game before the finale.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: He has some unexplained faded scars on his face.
    • Leon Ockenden had gotten these scars from an ex-girlfriend that liked to scratch him.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: The "Resignation" ending.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Accusing Blake of being the Origami Killer will result in turning in his badge.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: If Norman choses save Scott Selby from falling to the waste grinder, it would result in the fight between the two to last longer.
  • Oh, Crap!: His reaction to seeing tiny virtual desk tanks in the "Case Closed" ending.
  • Only Sane Employee: As mentioned below, Norman is the only cop who isn't a useless Jerkass.
  • Only Honest Agent: The only useful reinforcement with common sense.
  • Police are Useless: Subverted, Jayden is the only law enforcement official worth a damn in the whole story.
    • Also Played Straight. Carter Blake and his superior officers commit numerous felony offenses right in front of him and other than a few weak protests, he does nothing about their dangerous, illegal actions, even then he could have arrested them and put their entire precinct under federal investigation for Police Brutality.
  • The Profiler: He's even referred to as such in the game. And he's actually spot-on.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: He's the only cop shown to be trying to bring in the Origami Killer by the book.
  • Sanity Slippage: As he starts overdoing ARI, he starts experiencing visions of the ARI office world even without his glasses on. This continues even if he succeeds in solving the puzzle and saving Shaun's life, and it's worsened to the point where he's hallucinating miniature tanks crawling over his desk.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Always in a suit.
  • Shout-Out: Leon Ockeden based his accent on the Boston accents prevalent in The Departed.
  • Shower of Angst: In his suit. Justified by the fact that he was having some seriously disorienting and painful withdrawal symptoms at the time. The guy could barely stand upright at the time; taking off his clothes would have probably been extremely difficult.
  • Sunglasses at Night: Justified, since ARI is high-tech crime scene analysis technology. Has a song now! [1]
  • Tears of Blood: If you take too long during Jayden's final use of ARI, his eyes start bleeding under the glasses.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Subverted if you allow him to kill Nathaniel and Scott.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: In the "Smoking Mirror" ending, the man he is talking to is revealed to be himself, before he dies from an overdose after passing through the Despair Event Horizon.
  • Took a Level in Badass: And HOW! Norman gets his ass handed to him by Mad Jack and The Origami Killer in Fish Tank. Jump a few chapters later to round 2 with the killer in The Old Warehouse, and Jayden's fist-fighting him on even ground, bashing his head around like a pinata with a metal pipe, and can possibly survive a sledgehammer to the face.
  • Troubled, but Cute: Good looking but addicted to at least two substances.
  • Turn in Your Badge: The ending "Resignation".
  • Weak, but Skilled: Not necessarily weak, but most of his QTE fight scenes have him up against larger, stronger, and often armed opponents.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Gets the non-killing type of the trope from Blake in "Solving the Puzzle".

    Scott Shelby 
Played By: Sam Douglas
"Goddamn asthma, can't breathe when it rains."

Shelby is a former police officer and Marine who suffers from asthma. He is currently working as a private investigator conducting an investigation into the Origami Killer.

  • Acrofatic: Despite being on the more unhealthy side of slightly overweight, Scott is still surprisingly able to hold his ground in fast-paced fights.
  • Alliterative Name: Scott Shelby.
  • Badass Longcoat: A typical fashion of a hard-boiled private investigator.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: He's an easygoing, overweight private investigator who looks after babies, persuades liquor store robbers to put down the gun and leave without resorting to violence, and he makes a mean omelet. He will still kick your ass if you challenge him. Also, he turned out to be none other than the Origami Killer.
  • The Combat Pragmatist: Scott isn't very choosey on how he takes his opponents down; assuming he doesn't actually have a gun on him, he'll often resort to using anything that can be vaguely classified as a weapon: lamps, panes of glass, bottles, furniture, Samurai swords, bits of scrap metal... and that's when he's not just pummeling them into submission with his bare hands. This becomes even more obvious in the fight between him and Jayden on the conveyor belt, in which they end up attacking each other with just about anything in reach.
  • Deuteragonist: Comes with the territory of being the main antagonist responsible for putting the plot in motion. As such, he's also the only character besides Ethan who can't die midway through the game.
  • Dirty Cop: Implied. According to Paco Mendez, Scott kept him out of prison several times. Considering that Paco had a huge criminal record and clearly wasn't a nice guy, it gives the impression that Scott wasn't much of a By-the-Book Cop.
  • Expy: He looks like Douglas.
  • Fat Bastard: He can be downright cruel if it means getting what he wants. Then comes the revelation that he's actually the Origami Killer.
  • Hardboiled Detective: His entire character is a throwback to this archetype. And a subversion of it.
  • Leitmotif: Scott Shelby's Main Theme.
  • Lightning Bruiser: His QTE fights (if done well) show that for a big man, he's a lot quicker than he looks. In particular this includes the ones where another player character has to fight him.
  • Nice Guy: He is by far one of the nicest characters of the game, namely his Pet the Dog moments below. Though he is revealed to be Affably Evil in the end.
  • Pet the Dog: Many, many moments. A big one where he treats the wounds of a woman who has failed a suicide attempt and takes care of her baby, or the scene after the incident at the watch repair place where he comforts Lauren as she's crying in the rain over her son's death. Finding out the truth about him, though, leaves all these moments open to interpretation.
  • Private Detective: He spends most of his time investigating the Origami Killer. Subverted. He's using it as a cover to investigate his killings and destroy any evidence.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: As a child he had an accent that sounded like it was somewhere between British,Irish and French.
  • Younger Than They Look: As someone in his mid 40s, he definitely qualifies for this. Given that the twins were in their early teens and the incident happened 34 years ago, he can't be older.

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