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The character sheet for the 2018 film Hereditary.


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    Annie Graham 

Annie Graham (nee Leigh)

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/annie_13.jpg
"Sorry, I know it's irrational."
Portrayed By: Toni Collette
"I just don't want to put any more stress on my family."
The mother of the Graham family, a neurotic artist who specializes in creating dollhouse miniatures of the myriad traumas in her life, and comes to suspect supernatural interference in the wake of her mother Ellen's passing.
  • Abusive Parents: Her mother was severely emotionally abusive to Annie and her older brother as children. Not surprising, since Ellen saw her children as little more than potential vessels for an occult ritual to summon Paimon, the king of Hell. Annie herself has a badly strained relationship with her own children.
  • Accomplice by Inaction: Played with. If only she'd been able to break free of Ellen after Charlie's birth, as she did with Peter's, she might have been able to save her family. Subverted at other moments, such as when she tried to burn Peter and Charlie alive.
  • Adult Fear: Somewhat impulsively forces Peter to take Charlie with him to a high school party, and the unthinkable happens.
  • Archnemesis Mom: Unintentionally so, but Peter has been scared of her ever since she tried to burn him alive, and it only gets worse from there for both of them and their relationship.
  • Calling the Young Man Out: Takes Peter to task over his role in Charlie's death, and when he fires back with an expletive, she responds with an explosive, bitter diatribe that rakes him over the coals for every single character flaw he possesses (real or perceived).
  • Death Equals Redemption: Horribly subverted. While she certainly tries to sacrifice herself in order to save Peter, she ultimately ends up getting possessed before trying to kill Peter and killing herself.
  • Driven to Suicide: Plans to kill herself after Charlie dies, but she actually never succeeds until she's possessed by Paimon.
  • Dying as Yourself: Attempted by her, but it's brutally subverted. She genuinely believes that she'll be immolated and free her family when she throws Charlie's sketchbook into the fire. She says a Dying Declaration of Love towards Steve and Peter. Subverted when Steve dies, and she falls even further into madness and despair, until she too is finally possessed, tries to kill Peter and commits suicide.
  • Knight Templar Parent: Actually one of the most harrowing things about the movie is that this is probably played straight. Annie's most horrible behaviour - such as trying to burn Peter and Charlie alive are strongly implied to be subconscious attempts to protect them from Paimon.
  • Mad Artist: Justified and downplayed. A celebrated miniaturist, the nightmarish events in her personal life drive her mad. Her work as a miniaturist has little to do with her insanity.
  • Mama Bear: The moment she finds out that she accidentally let Paimon in, she freaks out and does whatever she can to save Peter, although it sadly fails.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: When she realizes that she accidentally formed a pact with Paimon who intends on possessing her only surviving son, Annie's reaction is beyond horrified.
  • Nervous Wreck: She's extremely neurotic and prone to stress, owing to her troubled upbringing. This gets many times worse after Charlie dies and she is made to find her decapitated body in the back seat of the car.
  • Offing the Offspring: Annie's relationship with Peter and Charlie has never been the same since an incident in which a sleepwalking Annie nearly set her children on fire. In a later dream sequence, Annie reveals that she did everything in her power to induce a miscarriage while pregnant with Peter, and never wanted to be his mother. And in the final minutes of the film, a possessed Annie attempts to murder her son.
  • Off with Her Head!: Like mother, like daughter! Only unlike Charlie, Annie does it to herself.
  • Only Sane Woman: Was this in her family growing up as her father had psychotic episodes, her brother was a paranoid schizophrenic, and her mother had dissociative identity disorder. However, it's possible that these ailments were actually the result of Paimon rather than genuine mental illness.
  • Pajama-Clad Hero: In the final act of the movie, Annie attempts to track down Joan and thwart the cult and Paimon's forces and does so while wearing her pajama bottoms and t-shirt with her coat over it.
  • Parents as People: Annie wants to be a good mom, but she's struggling with some terrible issues that've clearly left their mark on her. She also can be horrible to Peter, but it's clear that she is overwhelmed by her own grief for Charlie.
  • Sanity Slippage: Annie was already somewhat unstable prior to the events of the film. Following the passing of her mother and horrific death of her daughter, not to mention the supernatural phenomena surrounding her family, this only gets worse.
  • Tragic Hero: At the beginning, possibly sliding into the Tragic Villain. All she wants is to get over her abusive mother's death, and then, to speak to her daughter one more time, which ultimately leads to summoning a demon that kills her husband, drives her to insanity and then suicide, and possesses her son.
  • Tragic Villain: At the end. All along, Annie never intended to hurt Peter or Charlie, but when she tried to burn them alive, Peter was never able to forgive her. She insists with total sincerity that she loves him, and she did save him from his evil grandmother by being separated from her, but her trauma over the many terrible things that happen to her family lead to her possession by Paimon and suicide.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Visiting a grief support group after the death of her mother, Annie lays out more than a lifetime's worth of personal trauma - her father suffered a psychotic break and starved himself to death when she was little, then her older brother succumbed to paranoid schizophrenia (or possibly an attempted demonic possession) and committed suicide as a teen, and her abusive mother spent her last dementia-riddled years in Annie's home while her relationship with her own children deteriorated. Just hours after this support group visit, Annie's daughter is gruesomely decapitated in a freak accident with both Annie and her son partly to blame.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: It's indirectly because of Annie's insistence that Charlie be brought along to Peter's party that Charlie dies. Annie doesn't take it well when Peter reminds her of this.
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    Peter Graham 

Peter Graham

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/peter_5.jpg
"Are you okay, mom?"
Portrayed By: Alex Wolff
"Mom, stop it! Dad, I don't like this!"
The teenage son of Annie and Steve and the brother of Charlie; a relatively normal kid preoccupied with girls and pot smoking.
  • Accomplice by Inaction: A thoroughly unintended variation. Leaving Charlie's headless body in his car is one of the main Wham Shots that utterly destroy Annie, but he only does this due to his extreme trauma, and even then, it remains ambiguous how much Paimon had to do with it.
  • Aloof Big Brother: A mild and normal version to Charlie. Doesn't want to take her to a party with him, abandons her, barely talks to her. However, she's also pretty aloof and cold to him and he does care about her.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Is he still alive at the end after suicide attempt when he's possessed or does Paimon just control his dead body? Some of his behaviors at the end indicate part of his personality is still active and Paimon only gained control because Peter was just too broken-down to fight him any longer.
  • Break the Haughty: Not overly, but he's pretty abrupt and cold to Charlie. Then his sister gets killed in a horrific accident that leaves him emotionally devastated, his relationship with his mother gets even worse, and he becomes subjected to Demonic Possession.
  • Broken Bird: Male example. If he's not this after his sister's death, by the end when he's sobbing in fear as he's terrorized by his possessed mother, he definitely counts. You just want to give the poor kid a hug.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Attempts to do this to his mother, but it never sinks in until it's far too late to help anyone. Justified, as she's reeling with grief and guilt.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Peter's entire world comes crashing down around him the moment he accidentally causes his sister's death, and he never recovers.
  • Driven to Suicide: By the final moments of the film, Peter has witnessed his sister's accidental decapitation, his father's immolated corpse, and his possessed mother attempting to kill him before sawing her own head off. At this point, all it takes is one final Jump Scare from some random naked cultists to make Peter leap out the attic window to his death. AND IT DOESN'T TAKE.
  • Empty Shell: His fate.
  • The First Cut Is the Deepest: Platonic version, but it seems that he especially never recovered from his mother dousing him in petrol and about to light the match in spite of all the other traumas he suffered.
  • Hormone-Addled Teenager: Normal example. He likes to ogle girls and fantasizes about hooking up with them while Annie and Charlie struggle with Ellen's death. The sign of the great trauma over Charlie's death leaves him unable to do anything.
  • It Sucks to Be the Chosen One: While technically Charlie was supposed to be The Chosen One as a vessel for the demon king Paimon, the ritual requires a male body. This means Charlie has to die, and Peter's soul has to be driven out of his body to make room for its new inhabitant. Naturally, this is an extremely unpleasant process.
  • Madness Mantra: "I DON'T LIKE THIS. I DON'T LIKE THIS." and calling out to his mom and dad when he needs them, which doubles as a Survival Mantra until it goes too far.
  • Male Gaze: An early scene shows Peter's point of view in class, determinedly focused on the rear end of Bridget as she sits in front of him. A later scene makes this Harsher in Hindsight by depicting Peter's classroom point of view after the accident that killed Charlie - he's now unable to focus on anything, and memories of the traumatic incident keep creeping into his field of vision.
  • Mind Rape: What Paimon does to him on a supernatural level. Very literal. There's also the breakdown he suffers.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Peter's mom forces him to take his little sister with him to a party. Peter leaves her unsupervised to go smoke weed with Bridget. Charlie eats cake with nuts in it and suffers a severe allergic reaction. Peter, while stoned, tries to drive Charlie to the hospital. When she sticks her head out the window to get air and Peter swerves to avoid a dead animal in the road, Charlie's head hits a telephone pole, decapitating her. Peter is essentially unable to process what just happened, so he, in a state of complete shock, drives home with her headless corpse in the backseat, crawls into bed, and lets his mother find the body in the morning.
  • Soulless Shell: Peter's body is vacated by the end of the film to make way for Paimon.
  • The Stoner: Spends most of his free time smoking pot, whether with buddies or alone in his room. As with Male Gaze above, he loses the ability to enjoy this simple pleasure as well after the accident.
  • Trauma Conga Line: As a child, he was nearly burned alive by his own mother while she was sleepwalking; he ends up being accidentally responsible for his little sister's death, breaks his nose due to a demonic possession at school, finds the burnt corpse of his father, is chased by his possessed mother before witnessing her death, jumps out of a window, and his body ultimately becomes a shell for a demon.
  • The Un-Favourite: Although Annie doesn't exactly ''favor'' Charlie, she and Peter have an extremely difficult relationship and are much more capable of antagonizing each other.
    • Also, it's possibly deconstructed in that Peter and Annie appear to have a much closer relationship than Annie and Charlie, and understand each other much better. It's just that they're constantly tearing strips off each other - and, when Annie finally confesses to him that she never wanted to be his mother, she immediately says that she loves him so much and is glad she had him.

    Charlie Graham 

Charlie Graham

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/charlie_03.jpg
"I want Grandma."
Portrayed By: Milly Shapiro
*cluck*
The aloof and possibly mentally disturbed daughter of Annie and Steve and the young sister of Peter.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Something is clearly a little bit off about Charlie. It might be entirely attributable to the fact that she is the Earthly vessel of the demon king Paimon.
  • Ambiguous Situation: How much did Charlie know about the fate planned for her, and did she ever have a hand in it?
  • Animal Motifs: Charlie's appearance and mannerisms are oddly indicative of birds or related to avian qualities such as her "clucking", frequently sleeping in a tree house which also resembles a large nest, a penchant for candy and sweets (similar to a hummingbird with nectar), many of the figurines/toys she makes resemble birds or use actual bird parts, and she has several drawings of birds in her sketchbook.
  • Body Horror: Sweet Mary her rotting decapitated head is terrifying to look at.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Has a severe allergic reaction to nuts in a cake, which are implied to be given to her by Paimon, as she knows how severe her allergies are. While her stoned brother attempts to take her to the hospital, she sticks her head out of the window to get some air and is decapitated. Made even worse by the fact that Peter, catatonic due to trauma, leaves her headless body for her mother to find.
  • Creepy Child: A textbook example. For example, when she cut the head off of a dead pigeon.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Presumably named for her late uncle Charles, Annie's brother, who committed suicide as a teen. Given later revelations, he likely did this either to keep Paimon from controlling him or because Paimon was controlling him.
  • Decapitation Presentation: Charlie's severed head is the centerpiece of the Satanic tableau the cultists set up in the treehouse at the end of the film.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Charlie is typically a masculine name that's short for "Charles" or a name in its own right. However, the name has recently become more popular for girls as a nickname for Charlotte or Charlene (although it's never stated if Charlie is her nickname or full name).
    • Since Paimon rejects female host bodies, an androgynous name like Charlie may be an attempt to placate the demon.
  • It Sucks to Be the Chosen One: Maybe. She does die by horrible decapitation, and while she comes back later, how much of it is her? Was she ever malicious towards Peter or Annie personally? Did she want to be Paimon or was it forced upon her by her evil grandmother?
  • Kill the Cutie: A Creepy Cute young teenager and the first character to die.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Although Peter is between the oddball side and the popular side (he's not overly popular, but he does have friends), Annie has to force Charlie to go to a party and it seems like she never hangs out or talks to anyone, even barely talking to her own family. And plus she's the human host of Paimon.
  • Off with Her Head!: Her head is ripped off in a horrific road accident.
  • Older Than They Look: It's easy on first viewing to mistake her for around nine or ten given how physically small she is and how many of her behaviors fit that of a younger child, such as fiddling with a toy during class rather than focusing on a quiz, sleeping in her treehouse rather than her bed, and only eating junk food. Her mother eventually reveals she's thirteen. The actress herself was sixteen during filming.
  • Parental Favouritism: Although not by her actual parents, she was mostly raised by her grandmother, and Annie, who is Ellen's daughter, admits that Charlie "was her favorite".
  • Raised by Grandparents: A rare supernatural example. Annie gave in and let Ellen have contact with Charlie from when she was very young, which she didn't with Peter. As a result, Charlie and Ellen are extremely close and Charlie is the only person in the family who is genuinely distressed by Ellen's death.
  • Replacement Goldfish: For Ellen, she functions as a strange one. Ellen always wanted to get her hands on Peter, which makes sense, because Paimon needs a male host. However, Annie wouldn't let Ellen near him, until she got pregnant with Charlie. Undaunted, Ellen seemed to move in on Charlie without worrying much, although it sets in motion much of the plot because Charlie needs to die and come back in a male body, which ultimately means that she replaces Peter inside his body.
  • Sweet Tooth: The only times Charlie is seen eating, she's eating a chocolate bar, M&M's, or chocolate cake.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Chocolate.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: After a pigeon flies into her classroom window and dies from the impact, she later goes to the dead bird, cuts off its head and puts it in her pocket.
  • Verbal Tic: Charlie compulsively makes a little clucking sound with her tongue. Even after her death.
    • She also has a tendency to respond to criticism with a monotone, "That's okay."
  • Walking Spoiler: Hereditary is marketed as a story about a family tormented by supernatural phenomena after suffering a loss. Most promotional materials indicate that this loss is Annie's mother, who passes away before the beginning of the film. In actuality, the bulk of the film deals with the aftermath of Charlie's much more jarring and traumatic death.
  • Wanted a Son Instead: Or grandson in this case. Her grandmother flat-out told her she wanted her to be a boy instead. It turns out this was because she was hoping for a suitable male host for Paimon right off the bat. When Charlie turned out to be a girl, this didn't stop the plans, just caused them to get shifted around as Charlie served as a temporary host.

    Steve Graham 

Steve Graham

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/steve_21.jpg
"You know, Annie, you can always build a shrine to all the terrible things in the world, but it doesn't mean that you have to destroy anything that is good."
Portrayed By: Gabriel Byrne
"I have a son to protect. That's what I care about now."
Annie Graham's grounded, supportive husband, and the father of Peter and Charlie.
  • Adult Fear: Loses his daughter in a freak accident, and then has to worry that his already-unstable wife will blame their son for what happened, leaving Steve to protect Peter from his own mother.
  • Agent Scully: Despite everything is going on, he doesn't believe in the supernatural.
  • The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes: Steve is a psychiatrist. He struggles realistically to help Peter and Annie with their grief, but is never able to help Peter. He was seemingly completely unaware that Charlie was being used as a host for a Satanic cult.
  • Genre Blindness: Genuinely believes that all of the strange phenomena surrounding the Graham family are just symptoms of his wife's mental breakdown, right up until the moment occult magic lights him on fire.
  • Man on Fire: Burns to death through Sympathetic Magic when Annie knocks Charlie's sketchbook out of his hands and into the fireplace.
  • Mundane Solution: How does Steve manage the death of his daughter and the ensuing grief and horror? Silently nursing resentment, taking illicit drugs, or delving into the occult like his son and wife? No: get medicated. One might almost think there's some moral to be implied by how functional Steve remains compared to the insanity unleashed by the other's coping mechanisms.
  • Only Sane Man: Ultimately, he's completely wrong about what's going on, but Steve is still the only member of the Graham family to remain mentally stable and grounded throughout the film.
  • Papa Wolf: When it becomes clear to Steve that his wife is losing her mind, his preoccupation turns to keeping Peter safe from her wrath.
  • Sacrificial Lion: As the one solid guy in the movie holding his shit together and somewhat protecting people, you already know he will be killed off eventually.
  • The Stoic: Steve provides a support system for his family during turbulent times, and only allows himself a brief moment to weep quietly near the end of the film.
  • Supernatural-Proof Father: He doesn't believe in seances, ghosts, or the occult and thinks Ellen's body being placed in their attic and Annie's rantings about a demon worshiping cult is the result of Annie having a nervous breakdown. He is also the only character to not encounter or experience anything supernatural until towards the end when he's burned to death by Paimon when Charlie's cursed sketchbook is thrown in the fire.

    Joan 

Joan

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/joan_70.png
"How's your relationship with your son?"
Portrayed By: Ann Dowd
"I expel you!"
A woman who befriends Annie Graham at a grief support group, and introduces her to the world of seance and the occult.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Joan's plan succeeds. The entire Graham family dies and the demon king Paimon is brought to Earth in Peter's body, with Joan there to welcome him.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: She displays sympathy and kindness to Annie for her plight, and seems to have only the best intentions in helping her heal, going out of her way to perform a seance to contact Charlie. But her real goal is kill the entire Graham family and to vacate Peter's spirit from his body to make way for Paimon.
  • Color Motif: Joan is always seen wearing red except for the ending where she's wearing a white cultist robe. A symbolic reading of this can be a warning that Joan is not who she appears to be and the danger she represents.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Joan informs Annie that she lost her son and grandson to a drowning accident. It's left unclear whether this is true, just a partial truth, or a complete fabrication to endear herself to the grieving and vulnerable Annie.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Repeatedly. She's completely unfazed by cults or Annie's breakdown.
  • The Dragon: Joan is a witch and cult leader in service to Paimon, and responsible for the hauntings that terrorize the Graham family.
  • Dragon Ascendant: If the photographs Annie found were any indication, Joan was the second in command in Paimon's earthly cult, and took over after Ellen's death.
  • Evil All Along: Joan only befriended Annie as part of a larger plan to sacrifice the latter's family and summon a demon.
  • Faux Affably Evil: She puts on a kind-hearted and cheerful façade, even after her true colors are fully revealed.
  • The Heavy: Although Paimon is the Big Bad, Joan does most of the direct work for him, such as orchestrating the deaths of the Graham family.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Her story about the deaths of her son and grandson.

    Ellen Leigh 

Ellen Leigh

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/grandma_9.png
Portrayed By: Kathleen Chalfant (uncredited)
The mother of Annie Graham, who passed away just before the beginning of the film.
  • Abusive Parents: According to Annie, Ellen was this towards her and her brother, particularly of the emotional variety.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Ellen always planned to sacrifice her entire family to summon Paimon. This was likely the cause of her husband and son's deaths, and results in her daughter Annie and her entire family being killed as well. Early in the film, Annie finds a note from Ellen apologizing for her "losses" and reassuring her that these sacrifices will be worth it in the end. She seemed to genuinely believe it was a worthy cause.
  • The Cassandra: Implied, but not probably intentionally on her part. Annie is deeply traumatised by some of the things Ellen said while suffering from a DID-induced breakdown at the end of her life...though it probably wasn't.
  • Deal with the Devil: As the cult member who sacrificed her family for the cause, Ellen was deemed their "queen" and apparently rewarded with great material wealth, as seen by images of other cult members showering golden coins on her and a passage in one of her books on the occult about "riches to the conjurer".
  • Evil Matriarch: Falls into this much more clearly than Annie. She possibly caused her own son's death, traumatised Annie, and then plotted with the cult to destroy her grandchildren. Then there's the fact that she is the matriarchal monarch of a whole cult.
  • The Ghost: We only clearly see Ellen once in the film, in the photograph at the beginning of the film in her obituary. She never appears after that except in shadowy copies, such as the miniatures Annie makes of her.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Arguably. While we learn that she was very abusive to Annie and her older brother, this is in fact because she's a cult leader who is aiming to bring Paimon, one of the Kings of Hell, to earth. It's never used to justify her actions, though.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: While the story is ultimately a supernatural horror film, a lot of Ellen's character remains ambiguous. She apparently had DID, but was she actually trying to tell Annie the truth or warn her? Did she kill her husband or son or were they just driven mad?
  • Plot-Triggering Death: The film begins with a title card of her obituary.
  • Posthumous Character: She raised Charlie, deeply traumatized Annie for her whole life, and her shadow looms large over the entire film, constantly forming plot points.
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    Spoiler Character 

Paimon

One of the eight kings of Hell, a demon who seeks Earthly form and covets a male body with promises of riches and forbidden knowledge to the cultists who follow him.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: He eventually ends up possessing Peter's body, free to roam the earth as he pleases.
  • Big Bad: The cause of almost all the horrible things that happened in the movie.
  • Came Back Wrong: Charlie was born as a vessel of Paimon, but was an unsuitable host as a female. Nearly everything that happens in the film is part of the cult's machinations to move Charlie's soul into Peter's body so that Paimon can have a proper Earthly host.
  • Demonic Possession: His favorite mode of expression. He possessed Charlie and also possesses Annie, before finally coming back - apparently permanently - in Peter's body.
  • Eldritch Abomination: What do you expect from an otherworldly being who's haunted an entire family for generations on end? We only see Paimon's "form" or "forms" in old books that Ellen had, and it's disturbing to say the least. It's implied that the light the characters see is the only part of his body they can comprehend.
  • Gender Bender Angst: Said to become "livid and vengeful" when given a female vessel, so of course the cult that wants riches and good familiars from him decide to make him a baby girl. That said, he seems pretty chill about, but he might also be suffering from possession-induced amnesia.
  • The Ghost: We never actually get to see Paimon (except as a strange shimmering beam of light) and really only ever see characters be possessed by him.
  • People Puppets: Most clearly with Peter at the end, and possibly Charlie for her whole life. Also a broader example, in that he manipulates the Grahams into killing each other or themselves.

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