Peter Petrelli (Milo Ventimiglia)
A (fairly Emo) hospice nurse who starts to feel that he's meant to do something special in life. This leads Peter on a journey to understand his developing superpowers and ultimately use them to try and make a positive difference in the world, although he has a bit of trouble figuring out how to do so correctly. Peter is a highly empathic person with the ability to passively absorb the superpowers of others around him through their emotional connection, which (according to his own mother) makes him potentially the most powerful of all supers.
After his volume two Unwitting Pawn tenure, Peter's Drama-Preserving Handicap ineffectiveness continues in volume three where he goes on an evil kick for a few episodes after absorbing Sylar's ability of understanding (and its corresponding compulsion towards killing) in order to prevent yet another prophesied apocalyptic future. He finally gets Brought Down to Normal when his Big Bad Evil Overlord father steals all of his abilities and becomes a Physical God, forcing him to spend the rest of the Volume opposing his father's master plan without any powers.
In Volume Four, he returns with a Nerfed version of his powers courtesy of a stolen batch of his dad's Super Serum; now he can only copy one power at a time and must absorb it through touch.
- All-Loving Hero: In Volume 5, Peter finally seems to have gotten over his various Emo, Idiot Hero, and Darker and Edgier kicks, and has finally become the empathetic idealist that he was originally envisioned as. Hell, he even manages to redeem Sylar, for crying out loud.
- Alliterative Name: Peter Petrelli.
- Back from the Dead: Several times in Volume One.
- Badass Longcoat: He starts to wear a long coat in season 2 onward.
- Brought Down to Badass: Losing his original powers forced to become more creative and resourceful in a fight, and when he got a whole new power, his newfound intelligence allowed him to use them with more effectiveness. Long story short: the fewer powers he has, the more badass he is.
- Beat Them at Their Own Game:
- In Volume 5, thanks to his Discard and Draw ability, Peter now mainly fights by copying an enemy's power than fighting them with it one-on-one. Including a superspeed knife fight with Edgar early in the season, and his climactic Earthbender vs. Earthbender battle with Samuel Sullivan in the season finale.
- He also does this to Sylar during the Volume 4 finale, with even quicker success: since Sylar has so many powers, it was totally unexpected that he'd use shapeshifting to beat him.
- Beware the Nice Ones: As Isaac and Simone find out the hard way. Sylar learns this too.
- Combo Platter Powers: Thanks to being able to absorb the powers of others, he has access to a variety of different powers.
- Failure Hero: At times, the good things he does are either swept under the rug or make things even worse.
- Idiot Hero: A dramatic example. He's technically the most powerful character in the show, but the writers have accidentally made him Too Powerful to Live. However, this is balanced out by his naiveness and overly trusting nature which ends up getting him and others into a lot of trouble. For example, in Season 2, Knight Templar Adam tricks him into releasing a virus that could wipe out mankind (though Peter isn't aware of it) and despite many characters including people he is close to telling him Adam was evil, he refused to believe them simply because he just could not fathom the idea of Adam being evil simply because he helped him. Well that, and the fact that Adam saved his brother's life, but still.
- Betty and Veronica: He is the Betty while Isaac is the Veronica and Simone is the Archie. He is sweet, reliable and has a fairly stable life.
- Brought Down to Normal: In volume three, in the most contrived way possible.
- Criminal Amnesiac: That brief Oireland subplot with the Irish mob.
- De-Power: His father steals his original power.
- Discard and Draw: His new power runs on this principle.
- Drama-Preserving Handicap: By the end of the first season, Peter has discovered that he permanently gains the abilities of any superhuman he encounters, just by being near them. It would quickly become impossible to create a challenge for a guy who can teleport, manipulate time, turn invisible, has a Healing Factor that makes him virtually unkillable, can fly at supersonic speeds, reads minds, predicts the future, and on and on and on. To mitigate this problem, he holds on to the Idiot Ball constantly. In subsequent seasons, he is given Laser-Guided Amnesia and later De Powered so he can carry the ball less frequently.
- Dreaming of Things to Come: He absorbed the ability to see the future in dreams from his mother.
- The Dragon: Unwittingly one to Adam in season 2.
- The Dulcinea Effect: He'll drop everything he's doing just to help someone he doesn't even know.
- Dull Surprise: Milo Ventimiglia, who played him. About the most "emotion" he shows is a slight curl of his lip, but that's actually a result of partial face paralysis.
- Flight: He acquired the ability of unassisted flight from Nathan.
- Forgot About His Powers: Constantly. The writers had to deal with his story breaking powers by giving him various idiot balls:
- In the final episode of Season 2, Peter is using up immense amounts of telekinetic energy to break into a vault with a solid 24-inch thick riveted steel door. As impressive as this may have been for the special effects, he can walk through solid objects and could have saved himself a lot of time and exhaustion: though he may have needed Adam to find the virus This also caused issues with his trust of Adam Monroe, as numerous other characters warn Peter that Adam is using him and can't be trusted, Peter forgetting he can read minds. Then again, Adam could have been careful enough to conceal his true intentions. He's had hundreds of years to learn that.
- The best example comes in season 3, wherein a Mexican Standoff hostage situation, rather than using telekinesis or time-stopping, he uses newly acquired super-speed to attack one of the enemies. Subverted later on, when he uses TK to disable the speedster in the room.
- Forgotten Fallen Friend: Poor Caitlin. He's probably not coming back for Simone either.
- Future Badass: In an alternate future he turns into a jaded, bitter Badass Longcoat with a huge scary scar and "hasn't had a good fight in years."
- Healing Factor: From Claire, he acquired the ability to regenerate from nearly any wound.
- Hospital Hottie: He's a nurse, after all.
- Hot-Blooded: He's impatient, reckless and always looking for an adventure.
- How Do I Shot Web?: With his original power, he had to spend some time learning how to use his acquired powers. After taking the Super Serum, he automatically knows how to use them, removing this issue entirely.
- Human Shifting: He gained the power to shapeshift into other people from Sylar.
- I Did What I Had to Do: Covers most of the crap he pulls in Volume 3, which would otherwise come off as Moral Dissonance. Otherwise the Earth was going to go boom.
- I Just Want to Be Special: When he jumps off a building in "Genesis", he tells Nathan he wants to be somebody in life.
- Intangible Man: He gained the ability to phase through solid objects from D.L.
- Jumped at the Call: Because he wants to be somebody in life.
- Long-Lost Relative: He goes to Texas to save a cheerleader, Claire, and right off the bat, they develop a warm, caring rapport. Turns out that she's his niece.
- The McCoy: He genuinely cares about the people he takes care of and saves and will do just about anything to help someone, putting him in stark contrast with his more selfish family.
- Meaningful Name: Alliterative Name, Biblical, and both his first and the last name mean "Rock".
- Mind over Matter: He gained telekinesis from Sylar.
- Mr. Fanservice: It's Milo Ventimiglia, people! There is a reason Peter spent two episodes of Season 2 shirtless.
- Nice Guy: For much of the series, Peter is depicted as the kind-hearted young man from a (mostly) ambitious family that just wanted to make the world a better place. He was a hospice nurse, for God's sake, and he first risked his life for Claire just because he wanted to. Thanks so much for the attempts at darker and edgier that made him a moron, Kring. Finally brought back full circle in Season 5 (see All-Loving Hero).
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: He was tricked into giving his evil father all of his powers.
- This trope is basically a lifestyle choice for Peter. In Volume Two, he released Adam Monroe from the Company's prison. In Volume Three, his assassination attempt on Nathan changes history and puts the planet on track for an Earth-Shattering Kaboom. And in Volume Five, he undoes the measures taken by his mother to get rid of Sylar...by doing what he was explicitly told not to do by the Haitian.
- No Social Skills: At the start of the series, he's so eager to be acknowledged as special that he doesn't even consider how his actions could affect his brother.
- Not So Different: In Volume Three, after absorbing Sylar's ability (and Hunger). Nice going, Pete.
- Sylar explicitly says Peter is just like him. So he tries to cut Peter's head open.Sylar: You're just like me, aren't you?
- Sylar explicitly says Peter is just like him. So he tries to cut Peter's head open.
- Peek-a-Bangs: In Volume 1. He ditched them in Volume 2, but they're back with a vengeance in Volume 5.
- Perception Filter: He gained the ability to make himself unnoticeable from Claude.
- Perma-Stubble: Grew this in Volume 4, but maintained an on and off presence throughout the show.
- Personality Powers: His personality seems to shift a bit whenever he takes on a new power. He becomes notably Darker and Edgier whenever he plays around with powers he acquired from resident villains Sylar and Elle.
- Playing with Fire: He gains the ability to control fire from Flint, possibly from Meredith in the 5 Years Gone future.
- Power Copying: More specifically, a Power Sponge, where copying abilities was his default power; he just has to remember how that hero made him feel.
- Power Incontinence: A major plot point in the first season dealt with Peter having to learn to control the powers he absorbs. Power Incontinence seems to be a long-term, almost systemic problem for Peter. When he's under pressure, he seems to get some power, but it's never exactly what he needs (unless he's used it in the past few minutes). If he has time to work at it, though, he can call up a specific power.
- Rugged Scar: His Future Badass version sports an unexplained scar across his face.
- Samaritan Syndrome: Again, he cannot overlook someone in trouble.
- Shock and Awe: He gained the ability to control electricity from Elle.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: With Nathan. They share a very strong bond but the idealistic, empathetic Peter is a contrast to his gruff, cynical and aloof older brother.
- Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!: Finds himself on the receiving end of this from his family quite a bit, especially in season 1. Nathan even outright tells him he needs to grow up and his mother seems to consider being a nurse barely a step above pimping and selling heroin. His father all but disowns him for not following the family business of going into law. Given how badly they all manage to screw up at various points, it's probably best that he didn't listen.
- Stupid Good: "Adam's my friend! I won't let you hurt him!" and Stupid Evil when playing with intuitive aptitude for two episodes.
- Superpower Lottery: Access to all the powers of any other super he's ever met all at the same time.
- Superpower Meltdown: Literally, at the end of Volume 1.
- Super Strength: He gained this from Niki. Superpowered Evil Side not included.
- Telepathy: He gained the ability to read minds from Matt.
- This Is Your Brain on Evil: Apparently, the ability to "understand how things work" also comes with an uncontrollable addiction to cutting open peoples' heads to eat... err... "study" their brains.
- Teleportation: One of the abilities he gained from Hiro was to teleport from one place to another.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: In "Unexpected", possibly justified as it appeared to him that Simone eventually chose Isaac and he's feeling bitter.
- Training from Hell: During his brief mentorship under Claude in order to regain his powers . Peter was unable to fly, but ends up surviving Claude's training by recalling Claire's healing abilities as Claude taught him to do.Peter: I don't have to do anything!
Claude: ...Except fly. (Throws Peter off a skyscraper)
- The Unfavorite: His parents weren't subtle about expressing this view of him. Though his mother later admits he was always her favorite.
- What Have I Become?: A guy who was briefly addicted to cutting open peoples' heads.
- White Sheep: How exactly such a nice, noble and kind-hearted guy came from such a group of backstabbers, sociopaths, manipulators and murderers (his dad was all four) will forever be a mystery. The Petrelli family are ruthless, corrupt, scheming, and ambitious. Peter is sweet and idealistic. He chose to become a nurse (and later, a paramedic) because he'd rather help people instead. However, Peter is also not above using the same manipulative tactics if he has to, judging by his future self's actions and his (jealous) behavior towards Isaac Mendez.
- Why Couldn't You Be Different?: The White Sheep of the family who rebelled and became a nurse instead of a lawyer or politician.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Much to the chagrin of his family, who take many shots at his profession.
- Workaholic: By Season 4, Peter becomes extremely devoted to his job, ignoring his mother who's been telling him he works too much, and only takes powers that he would find useful at work such as speed or super strength. He even attempts to pull another double shift after getting off of one, but is dissuaded by his partner and told to go home instead.
- You Are Grounded: What Arthur says after taking away Peter's powers. He shouldn't have done that, his kids have guns now.
Nathan Petrelli (Adrian Pasdar)
- Ability: Flight
A highly ambitious politician, self-described "shark", and Peter's brother. Nathan has the ability to fly but has absolutely no interest in his superpowers, instead wishing to gain power via the political process. Something of a Manipulative Bastard, he finds himself torn between his ruthless political ambitions and his genuine affection for his idealistic younger brother, Peter.
In volume one, Nathan is a wealthy lawyer running for congress with a wife and two sons. He discovers his daughter Claire Bennet is alive, a child he had with ex-lover, Meredith Gordon, 15 years ago. Nathan believed his infant daughter died in a fire 14 years earlier but his parents knew Claire survived, kept Nathan unaware of this, and they placed her with the Bennet family. Later in season one, Nathan reluctantly joins The Company's plan to become the leader and unite mankind by destroying New York City but at the last moment, The Power of Love motivates him to perform a Heroic Sacrifice in the season one finale to save everyone instead.
Nathan spends most of volumes two and three acting as The Atoner, becomes briefly religious, and works with his brother for a short time against their Big Bad Evil Overlord father... before going back to being a Jerkass again at the end of volume three. Nathan switches sides to ally himself with his Big Bad Evil Overlord father in the hopes of helping mankind by giving everyone superpowers. Then, when that plan goes down the crapper, Nathan becomes a senator and cooks up his own scheme to round up all super-powered people to "protect" normals by finding a "cure" to eliminate their evolved abilities (of course, Nathan makes exceptions for himself, as well as for his mother, Angela, and daughter, Claire) However, Nathan becomes The Atoner yet again when his own status as a super is exposed, must save his daughter from his own former agents, and they're forced to go on the run so he can protect her as his authority over his government operation is gone and he's now hunted himself. When their family reunites, Nathan is finally forced to confront his own hubris and self-hatred. He also tends to get assassinated Once A Season.
- Aloof Big Brother: It did help Peter become a better person for it, as Peter claimed that Nathan didn't bring him down, but rather built him up.
- Ambition Is Evil: Zig-zagged. He's a heroic character but will usually sell out a moral or two to further his own career, no matter how much it messes things up for other people. Examples include: hunting all of the powered people, including his own brother, Peter; letting Linderman destroy New York; and falsely telling everyone Peter attempted suicide, oblivious to how it would hurt him.
- Arbitrary Skepticism: For a man who can fly under his own power, he sure is quick to dismiss Hiro's and Isaac's abilities in Volume One.
- Back from the Dead: Repeatedly! Honestly, two bullets and a sibling nuclear bomb didn't kill this guy. And he doesn't even have regeneration! Once he returned while being dead.
- Subverted when Sylar kills him at the end of Volume 4.
- Badass Baritone: Nathan has a very deep, calm but authoritative voice.
- Badass Normal: Can hold his own in a fistfight, even against a well-trained cop like Matt Parkman.
- Beard of Sorrow: In the first couple of episodes of Season 2. Its ugliness was lampshaded in-universe, as his sons tell him they don't like it and he should shave. Ouch.
- Big Brother Instinct: He's protective of his younger brother Peter, with whom he shares a strong bond. Even when they're at odds, it's clear how much Nathan cares for him.
- Boomerang Bigot: In Volume 4, he convinces the President that evolved humans are dangerous and need to be imprisoned while hiding his own status as one of them (also granting immunity to Claire and Angela). Peter even calls him out on it. Claire does too.
- Characterization Marches On: He was a pretty big Jerkass in Season 1. He grew out of it, though he does have some jerkass tendencies occasionally.
- The Chessmaster: He has his moments, with season one pretty much making him a Magnificent Bastard.
- Death Glare: Deployed a lot, especially against his little brother Peter, Danko (... all the damn time), Ma Petrelli, Parkman, even Noah Bennet (to no effect).
- Even Evil Has Standards: Not only did he not know that Tracey Strauss's escape was orchestrated to manipulate a government official into keeping the division up and running instead of shutting it down, but as soon as he found out about it, he told off the guy who orchestrated it, Danko.
- Flight: His ability, and unlike other flying characters, he's able to do it at super-speed. Ironically, the most stick-in-the-mud character gets one of the most fun powers.
- Handsome Lech: Well, sort of. When he's drunk.
- Hidden Depths: Even though he was a total jerk through most of Season 1, Nathan is actually a good man and cares deeply for his family, including his mother Angela, daughter Claire, wife, sons, and especially his younger brother Peter.
- HeelFace Revolving Door: Major example in Volume 4 where he went from a villain to a good guy again.
- Hero with an F in Good: Bless him, he tries to do right but his attempts usually end up backfiring on him.
- Heroic Sacrifice: In the season one finale, although he survives.
- I See Dead People: Well, one dead person (Linderman). It was an illusion, the result of Maury Parkman's power.
- In-Series Nickname: FLYING-MAN!!!
- It's All About Me: He mostly works under the assumption that everyone exists to benefit or serve him, including Peter. The most egregious is when he is completely willing to let Linderman destroy New York to help his political career. Given how his parents basically raised him to be a carbon copy of them, it's understandable.
- Killed Off for Real: He's seemingly killed a few times, but always manages to survive. It finally sticks at the end of volume 4.
- Luke, You Are My Father: He's Claire's biological father.
- Manipulative Bastard: Again, mostly in Season 1. Then subverted as he gets manipulated to hell and back by everyone in subsequent seasons.
- No Party Given: Enforced to the extent that, when we see the ballot for his congressional election in Volume One, no parties are listed for any of the candidates.
- Papa Wolf: For his daughter, Claire, whom he works to protect, but... despite his efforts, often manages to screw things up. As he tends to do. They make up though.
- Parental Favoritism: His parents both heap praise on him and ignore or insult Peter. His dad all but openly prefers him.
- The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: He's the Senator who never votes or attends committee meetings!
- Promotion to Parent: It's implied that Nathan became this as their parents seemed to have decided to neglect Peter in favor of Nathan's career ambitions.
- Puppy-Dog Eyes: Uses them on everyone - Peter, Heidi, Claire, even Noah in a couple of scenes.
- Put on a Bus: Not him, but his family: his wife Heidi and his two sons disappeared and were never mentioned again after Season 2. Justified since they divorced and she moved Out of Focus with the kids, but they're briefly glimpsed at Nathan's funeral, sitting next to Angela and Peter.
- Rage Against the Reflection: During the second season, Nathan sees a hideous version of himself in the mirror (probably what he would look like if Adam didn't heal him with his blood) as a reminder of what a jerk he used to be in the first season. He punches the mirror too in one episode. Didn't help him from becoming a jerk again in the next season...
- Blue Oni: To Peter's red.
- Only Sane Man: Starts out as this (throughout most of Volume 1), in contrast to his characterization in subsequent seasons.
- Spoiled Brat: Was this growing up and the effects are still there. Even in his forties, Nathan doesn't seem to understand that he can't just treat people like dirt and expect them to love him.
- The Straight Man: To Peter. Also to Hiro.
- Unwitting Pawn: Especially from the end of Season 1 onward. Seriously, it gets depressing.
- Waistcoat of Style: He likes to wear waistcoats and likes to take off his coat so he can show them off, too.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Season 3.
- Your Cheating Heart: In Season 1. In Las Vegas, Nathan encounters "Jessica" Sanders and the two sleep together. The one-night stand is recorded in a blackmail attempt by Linderman.
Claire Bennet (Hayden Panettiere)
- Ability: Rapid Cell Regeneration
Claire is an "invincible" teenage cheerleader with the ability to regenerate from all injuries, meaning she essentially can't die. She's quite disturbed by her powers at first, fearing that they make her a freak, and spends quite a good amount of time angsting about this. It doesn't help matters that her manifesting powers make her family life incredibly unstable, thanks to her adoptive father, Noah, turning out to be a Secret Agent Guy who hunts people with powers, but is doing everything possible to hide her powers from the Company, which he works for.
Claire's family life is taken to the next dysfunctional level when her biological origins reveal her to be the daughter of Nathan Petrelli and Meredith Gordon, two people with abilities who were told Claire died in a fire at 18 months old. However, her grandmother, Angela Petrelli, also an evolved human, knew she survived and has been hiding Claire from the Company, even after arranging her adoption with the Bennet family. Family drama ensues, particularly when she learns Nathan and Angela are willing to let New York blow up so he can become president. It's okay, though, because she inspires Nathan's HeelFace Turn and New York is saved. Armed with quite the assortment of daddy-issues, Claire continues her talent for inducing Heel-Face Turns in dad #1, Noah, throughout volumes two to three and again with dad #2, Nathan, in volume four. She even dates a guy who can fly, just like her biological father, Nathan.
Claire Took a Level in Badass in volume three where she stops wangsting, takes an active role in the fight against the Level 5 Supervillains and later Pinehearst Industries, culminating in a showdown against arch-villain, Sylar, where she helps save her father, biological mother, and grandmother. This continues in volume four when both Claire's fathers, Noah and Nathan, are revealed to be working a government initiative to round up super-powered people. Her dads grant her a free pass to protect her from this operation but she uses it to aid the resistance against the round-up by hiding super-powered people from her fathers and the government. In volume five, Claire attempts to live a normal life and goes to college, but ends up getting sucked into stopping Samuel's plans alongside the rest of the Heroes.
- Action Girl: She has problems against more powerful villains, but she can be very dangerous with a weapon, including a car.
- Badass Adorable: How badass? She nearly killed Sylar! You know, the Nigh Invulnerable murderer who has stolen multiple deadly superpowers. This places Claire at the top of a very short list of people who can claim to have done any kind of damage at all.
- Bi the Way: In final season with Gretchen. Given her Les Yay interactions with Elle, it shouldn't have been as much a surprise it was to most fans.
- Blessed with Suck: If you examine her Healing Factor, and healing factors in general, you can find a few things that point to this: she loses the ability to feel things (to the extent that she starts cutting herself because pain's the only thing that she can still feel), we don't know if she's subject to the Hayflick limit, and it may not have ever been stated whether her healing factor is the type that can make a person immortal, in which case she'll eventually end up at either Who Wants to Live Forever? or Living Forever Is Awesome.
- Blood Is the New Black: Every time she heals from a severe injury, she often ends up covered in her own blood.
- Book-Ends: Her first and last on-screen scenesnote both involve her demonstrating her power.
- Calling the Old Man Out: Her fathers, Noah and Nathan. Successful results involve Claire pushing them into a HeelFace Turn and forcing them to see the light. Sometimes, she's less successful, like in the early part of Volume Four, when both dads listen to her rage but just send her back home and tell her to go to school, have a normal life, etc. while they continue their government operation to round up everyone else with special abilities (from which Claire is granted immunity so she uses her free pass to secretly hide other specials from the government and her fathers).
- Car Fu: Does a variation to Brody. Knowing that she can't be hurt, she crashes Brody's car directly into a wall and does a real number on him.
- Cat Fight: With Elle. Unusually, this comes to a stalemate - Elle has Claire pinned to the ground under her electric blasts, but Claire's never going to succumb due to her healing power - that's broken by Sandra giving Elle a soaking.
- Cute Bruiser: Once she starts acting more proactive in Volumes Two and Three.
- Daddy's Girl: Noah, and later Nathan, will do anything to protect her. Zigzagged as their actions tend to strain their relationships with her.
- Death Glare: Renders her immune to psychological warfare, and can cause Noah to undergo a HeelFace Turn.
- Death Seeker: There's more than a little suicidal flavor to the way she repeatedly subjects herself to deadly force in order to gauge the extent of her powers. It still hurt, for starters.
- Death by Childbirth: In the time skip between the show and Heroes Reborn, she became pregnant and went into labor the day of the Odessa bombing. Unfortunately, one of her children is a power-absorber, like other Petrellis, and took Claire's healing factor, causing her to die in childbirth.
- Fan Disservice: How can anyone played by Hayden Panettiere provide this, you ask? Well, reviving in a morgue after being cut open ("One Giant Leap") and being caught in a blast of radioactive heat ("Company Man") will do that to you.
- From a Single Cell: Her healing abilities are incredibly powerful.
- Good Thing You Can Heal: Especially bad in Season 1, where she had to have been the most fatally accident-prone teenager ever.
- Girls Love Stuffed Animals: A large collection of teddy bears can be seen in her room and she brings a teddy bear with her when she goes off to college.
- Happily Adopted: Claire loves her adoptive family. Though she is curious about her biological parents and ends up developing loving relationships with them, considering Nathan and Meredith to be second parents, Claire's tight bonds with her adoptive family never diminish and they remain just as close as they always were. She occasionally has some troubles with her adoptive father, but that has nothing to do with the fact she's adopted and everything to do with the fact she is a danger magnet and he is... overprotective.Claire: (after being told she needs to join her biological family) I already have a family.
- Has Two Daddies: Noah and Nathan, particularly in volume four. Claire also Has Two Mommies in volume three when her biological mother, Meredith, moves in with her adoptive family.
- Healing Factor: Claire exhibits the power of rapid cell regeneration, a trait that allows her to recover from almost any injury in a matter of seconds. She also feels relatively little pain from even serious injuries, including burns and compound fractures, although she did grimace when her hand was damaged while retrieving a class ring from a running garbage disposal. She has not yet reached a limitation in her powers. Along with the injuries stated above, she suffered an injury where her neck was broken and turned around 180 degrees.
- Apparently, Claire cannot heal an injury if a foreign object is obstructing the wound. This is true of other characters with healing factors, who can still heal incorrectly, incompletely or not at all if certain conditions are not met, just like normal humans. For example, in the first episode, the bones of Claire's ribs were sticking out at one point. After a comment from Zach brought this to her attention, Claire had to move them around a bit before they would heal properly.
- I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!: How Claire gets into the drinking contest in "Into Asylum."
- I Just Want to Be Normal: Zigzagged. The thing with Claire is that she constantly has a "grass is always greener on the other side" mentality. Whenever her powers are put at the forefront of her life she wants to be normal, and when placed in a situation where she's basically allowed to live a normal life she complains about hiding "who she really is."
- Immortal Life Is Cheap: She is nearly immortal, so suffers deadly injuries on a fairly regular basis.
- Killed Off for Real: In the "Explosion Future", she's killed off Sylar taking the form of her father and absorbs her ability. It is left unclear what happened to her as Claire survives a similar attack in Vol. 3. In Heroes Reborn, this appears to stick when Claire is one of the listed deceased of the Odessa explosion. Given that Noah has missing and false memories, this is left unclear if Claire is indeed long deceased. While she's listed among the missing or unknown, it turns out she was never there on the day of the bombing, she was already in the hospital going into labor. The eclipse that was created that day took away her healing and she died giving birth.
- Long-Lost Relative: She's Peter's niece.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: Nathan is her biological father.
- Made of Plasticine: Her ability to regenerate is quite handy considering her uncanny ability to die at a moment's notice. Being knocked down causes her to break her neck where a normal person would just hit their head, a normally quite safe garbage disposal tears her hands to shreds and even stray branches pose a mortal threat. Sheer masochism is the only explanation for the number of times she intentionally hurts herself, or doesn't ever seem to bother trying not to get hurt note but it doesn't change the fact that you can't cut a toe off with scissors, that getting bumped into tends not to result in broken necks, and if you're pushed against a metal rod, you bruise; it doesn't go through you with less resistance than a toothpick through a meatball.
- Major Injury Underreaction: During the first two seasons, she often reacts to critical injuries such as broken ribs with little more than annoyance.
- Ms. Fanservice: She's a hot blonde cheerleader.
- Muggle Foster Parents: Subverted. Claire's adoptive dad is an incredibly badass secret agent, whereas her super-powered mother is a regular woman who lives in a trailer.
- The Not-Love Interest: For Peter at times (the whole "Save the cheerleader..." thing).
- Self-Mutilation Demonstration: Has done this quite a few times.
- Strong Family Resemblance: When you actually put a picture of Nathan and Meredith side by side, she actually does look like a combination of the two.
- Sweeps Week Lesbian Kiss: With Gretchen in the final season.
- Teens Are Short: At 5'1", Claire is the shortest character on the show throughout its entire run. (Micah and Molly are the only exceptions, as they are still below the age of puberty.)
- Took a Level in Badass: Defusing a Sadistic Choice scenario and taking out one of Volume Three's first genuinely menacing villains. And to top it off, in the Volume Finale, she's the one who gets to have the big final showdown with Sylar (after coming this close to killing him in the season opener, as Sylar himself admits in the course of duplicating her power). Her actions in Volume Four continue this.
- Too Kinkyto Torture: She almost enjoys it when she can get away with getting murdered.
- Uncanny Valley Girl: Although she definitely would qualify for World Class Beauty, she can cause you to look away when she shows her masochistic tendencies, especially when she jumps from tall buildings and get mangled.
- What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Invoked by herself, after season 1, when she complains that her power is useless without a fight ability.
Niki Sanders (Ali Larter)
- Ability: Super Strength
Niki is a financially distressed single mother, who owes a considerable amount of money to the mob. Her life is further complicated by her super-strong Superpowered Evil Side Jessica, a ruthless split personality who has absolutely no qualms about slaughtering everyone in her path (including her estranged husband), which threatens the well-being of her and her son.
Niki ultimately manages to gain control over her split personality, but joins the (kinder, friendlier) Company to try and set things right, and ends up seemingly being Killed Off for Real by the end of Volume 2.
- Action Mom: In season 1, she is an Action Survivor more than anything, but in the finale, she gains access to the Super Strength she always had. Meanwhile, Jessica is more of a Dark Action Mom.
- Alternate Identity Amnesia: Niki usually doesn't remember what Jessica does with her body and sometimes uses reflective surfaces, such as mirrors and fish tanks to see what's happening.
- Butt-Monkey: She tries her damn hardest to make a decent life for herself and her family, but the world seems intent on making it hell for her.
- Heroic Sacrifice: She runs into a burning building where Monica is trapped and buys enough time to get Monica to safety, but dies when a falling ember traps her in. Ali Larter remained on the show, playing a different character.
- Greed: According to Mr. Linderman, money is the only thing Jessica cares about. (Justified in that D.L. was the breadwinner in the family and left the family in dire straits when he was imprisoned.)
- I Did What I Had to Do: Jessica is willing to do whatever it takes to protect Micah, no matter the consequences.
- The Killer in Me: Jessica in spades.
- Love Makes You Evil: It was implied that the Jessica personality came about as Niki willing to do whatever it takes to protect Micah.
- Mama Bear: Obviously towards Micah. Jessica is a Knight Templar Parent.
- Mirror Scare: What happens when Niki and Jessica stare at each other.
- Ms. Fanservice: Niki's first appearance in the show is her taking off her clothes in a front of a webcam.
- Psycho for Hire: Jessica used her powers to commit several crimes, from theft to murder.
- Send in the Clones: Turns out she had two sisters she didn't know about...
- Single Mom Stripper: She is a webcam stripper, until Jessica took matters into her own hands.
- Split Personality: Aside from Jessica, there was a third alter-ego called Gina.
- Strong as They Need to Be: Her level of strength constantly varies from above human strength to bending reinforced metal like wet paper.
- Superpowered Evil Side: Originally, Jessica was the only one who could use super-strength.
- Super Strength: Her primary superpower. At first, only Jessica could use it but Niki gains access to the power in the season 1 finale. After her death, Dr. Zimmerman revealed her powers are a result of a Super Serum, not because she was born with them.
D.L. Hawkins (Leonard Roberts)
- Ability: Phasing
A former thief with the ability to phase (become intangible), which he uses to escape imprisonment for a murder he didn't commit. He mostly just wants to have a normal life and be a good father to his son, which isn't easy considering his wife's Superpowered Evil Side wants him dead, and the leader of the Company/mob boss is gunning for him due to a misunderstanding over a buttload of money.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: After the Volume 1 finale set him up to have been killed by Linderman's gunshot, it turns out that was fixed... only for him to be shot by a random thug while trying to get his wife (who was in the midst of a split personality issue) away from said thug.
- Intangible Man: He seems to enjoy using it in unique and creative ways as well, like letting a bullet phase right through his head, or choking out his crazed super-strength wife by phasing through part of her torso to reach her neck.
- Papa Wolf: You threaten Micah and you're screwed.
- Reformed, but Rejected: As Jessica points out, life is tough for a Black ex-con, even without a psycho assassin trying to kill him.
- Scary Black Man: A total subversion of the trope. Initially described as a bloodthirsty felon, he turns out to be a cuddly, devoted, hardworking dad. He was a construction worker who got caught up in a robbery scheme gone wrong.
Micah Sanders (Noah Gray-Cabey)
- Ability: Technopathy
Niki and D.L.'s son. He is a child prodigy and comic book fan with the ability to communicate with technology. From comic books, he's gotten the notion that he and his family should be using their powers to help people, but mostly he's just caught in the tug-of-war between his flighty ex-con father and his mother's possessive psychopathic split-personality. He finally finds a kindred spirit in his superpowered cousin, but their first attempt to fight crime goes horribly wrong.
In Volume Four, he succeeds in orchestrating a resistance against Building 26 and the Government's crusade against evolved humans, using the codename "Rebel" which, in the online comics, is revealed to actually be the name of a super team he's formed with fellow evolved humans West, Abigail and Sparrow Redhouse
- The Chessmaster: He's a Technopath, which enables him to covertly communicate with his "pieces" and listen in on government communications. However, he hasn't done much in the way of manipulation - he prefers to give direct instructions, and his plans tend to be short term. Then again, you don't need to be much of a chess master to outsmart the federal government.
- Kid Hero: The youngest of the series.
- Kid Hero All Grown-Up: Returns as a 19-year-old young adult in Heroes Reborn and is the operator of the "HeroTruther" Youtube channel.
- Mixed Ancestry: His father, D.L, was African-American while his mother, Nikki, was Caucasian.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: In Volume 4, he accidentally gave Sylar the idea of replacing Nathan.
- Put on a Bus: Disappears after Volume 4.
- Sealed Good in a Can: In Heroes Reborn he's captured by Renautas and forcibly plugged into its computer systems. He's even kept isolated and drugged up from the other captured specials, responding only to Matt's telepathic commands.
- Technopath: Micah "communicate with machines and electronics". His power seems to require physical contact with the device and a certain level of concentration, after which the changes he wishes to make are almost instantaneous. Using a cell phone, Micah can bypass the need for physical contact, at least in cases where the target device is controlled by a networked computer. In season three, when Micah demonstrates his ability to Tracy, it can be seen that he does not physically touch his computer when using his ability. When asked to rig an election, for example, Micah is able to reprogram the entire voting computer network, which covers the entire city, in roughly a minute, though doing so weakens him.
- Teen Genius: Or pre-teen genius anyway. Micah is also exceptionally intelligent, though this has not been linked to his power. He is shown dismantling a new computer recently given to him in "Six Months Ago" and later repairing its motherboard in "Genesis".
- Took a Level in Badass: As "Rebel". And his actions on the show are nothing compared to the Graphic Novel. He forms a team of badasses (including former Scrappy West) and proceed to lead them into battle where they kick the ass of every single one of Danko's agents, rescue people from Building 26 and, in the most recent graphic novel when Micah is tied up and at the mercy of Thompson Jr (son of Bennet's old boss), manages to destroy the entire building with a remote control crane, summon his super team to beat Thompson senseless and then put Thompson's name on the top ten most wanted lists...all while tied to a chair.
- True Companions: Micah forms these when his wish to form a Super-Team comes true.
Hiro Nakamura (Masi Oka)
A Japanese Salaryman and geeky Otaku who discovers he has the ability to bend time and space (which includes stopping/rewinding time, teleporting, and time-travel). Unlike all the other heroes, who spend several episodes just trying to figure out what the hell is going on, thanks to years of learning from comic books, Hiro knows he's got superpowers, and almost immediately and eagerly sets out on a quest to use his powers to Save the World from the impending nuclear destruction of New York City, dragging his non-powered lifelong buddy Ando along for the ride.
After learning of his destiny to help save New York by stopping arch-villain Sylar, Hiro ultimately succeeds in his quest but in the process sends himself back to Feudal Japan. Here he meets his childhood idol, legendary hero Takezo Kensei, only to discover the man is a cynical, drunken, and rather goofy British mercenary more concerned with gold than helping to free the populace from the resident Evil Overlord. Hiro spends Volume Two attempting to tutor him into becoming the great hero of legends, but the two have a falling out over a girl, leading to Kensei's transformation into the Volume's immortal, humanity-hating Misanthrope Supreme Big Bad (Nice Job Breaking It, Hiro).
After returning to the present Hiro learns of Kensei's (read: Adam's) scheme and stops him too. Hiro spends Volume Three attempting to prevent the prophecized destruction of the world caused by Pinehearst Industry's distribution of Super Serum, only to have his abilities stolen during his first confrontation with Physical God Big Bad Evil Overlord Arthur Petrelli. He spends Volume Four coping with the loss of his powers while trying to stop Building 26's crusade against evolved humans; he ultimately recovers a partial version of his original powers back (which he ultimately uses to pwn Danko and Building 26 once and for all), but it seems to take a major toll on his health as the new version forces him to Cast from Hit Points.
- Adjusting Your Glasses: he has the character tic of pushing his glasses up by the bridge of the nose in a way that straddles the line between the western "dork glasses" and eastern "serious moment". This is also lampshaded from time to time, like when Hiro meets his younger self, and they both adjust their glasses at the same time.
- Adorkable: His childlike enthusiasm about his powers and anything superhero related makes him so endearing.
- Ascended Fanboy: Hiro has been a comic book junkie for years when he discovers he has superpowers of his own. It's a bit of a surprise he hasn't put together his own costume yet. He certainly wants to. He also always wanted to be his childhood hero Takezo Kensei and kiss the princess he saves. He got the chance in season 2. Hiro is also a literal Ascended Fanboy, according to his father:Kaito: I have waited a long time for a Nakamura to ascend.
- Badass Pacifist: Hiro is indeed badass, but he does not try and kill his enemies, even if he wanted to. Instead, Hiro teleports them elsewhere. The varied future versions of Hiro seem to abandon the latter part.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Defeats the immortal Adam Monroe by burying him alive!
- Hiro already was a Master Swordsman. Future!Hiro didn't have to train for anything.
- Cast from Hit Points: Hiro gets a weakened version of his power back from Matt Parkman Jr.'s power, only to find out that every time he uses it, it takes a toll on his body and brain and is slowly killing him.
- Catchphrase: "Yatta!"note
- Cool Sword / Katanas Are Just Better: Takezo Kensei's sword.
- Crimefighting with Cash: When Hiro loses his powers he tries to do this with Ando.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: He is a Wrong Genre Savvy Otaku who spends most of each season suffering from severe Plot-Induced Stupidity. But when he gets his act together and wades into the fight, he will own you. He has basically singlehandedly defeated Sylar (a couple of times), two seasonal Big Bads, and an entire government black ops agency. The only villain on the show who was ever any match for him was Arthur Petrelli, who had his same power (among many others).
- De-Power: In Volume 3, Arthur Petrelli steal his ability and the catalyst. He remains powerless for most of Volume 4 until Matt's son restore his power.
- Did Not Get the Girl: Happens early in Volume One with Charlie. Happens again in Volume Two with Yaeko, and in Volume Five, where he manages to save Charlie from Sylar, but still loses her when she is sent back in time and builds another life without him. Hiro just can't get the girl.
- Discard and Draw: Always after Season 2. Or lost his power or is sick or his mind is damaged... Pick one.
- The Dreaded: In Heroes Reborn, news of his release from being a captive of Renautas comes after the daughter of the Big Bad reveals her plans. The latter is seen as a minor problem by comparison.
- The Dulcinea Effect: Though he eventually gives up.
- Future Badass: The most jarring one in the show (in the first alternate future). He who goes from scruffy-looking, broken-English-speaking comic book nerd to Badass Longcoat-wearing, hair-slicked-back, contemplative-yet-badass street samurai. And is pissed about it.
- What's really amusing about Badass!Hiro is that he's so exactly what Original!Hiro would have thought of as a Badass — it's unclear that he did it consciously, but he's the perfect incarnation of what Original!Hiro wanted to be. And is pissed about it nonetheless. This was actually requested by the actor as a nod to Future Trunks from DBZ.
- Future Me Scares Me: The Trope Namer. Hiro Nakamura and Ando have the following conversation in "Five Years Gone":Hiro: I look upset.
Ando: Go talk to yourself.
Hiro: No way! I scare me. You do it.
- Genre Savvy: And since he is about the only Genre Savvy character, it gives him a pretty big advantage
- Of course, he's pretty slow to react to anything non-comic book-like. E.g When freezing time he wastes time just touching things, standing around a fresh corpse when the serial killer is on the loose, talking about his powers excessively to the point where he comes off as crazy.
- Heroes Want Redheads: His main love interest is Charlie that is a cute redhead.
- I Just Want to Be Special: He's always longed to get out of his cubicle and become something extraordinary until the day he finally does become extraordinary and he leaves his cubicle.
- Idiot Hero: He is an enormously powerful character who acts bizarre because of his childlike nature in Season 1.
- Jumped at the Call: He recognised his powers the second he got them, and did everything he could to develop them so he could become a Super Hero. He didn't just jump at the call, he'd spent his life sitting by the phone.
- Master Swordsman: In addition to his power over time, Hiro is skilled with a katana, having been trained by his father.
- The Nicknamer: He does this enough that it might as well be one of his superpowers. Sylar is "Brain-Man", Daphne is "Nemesis", Matt Parkman's baby is "Baby Stop-And-Go", Nathan is "Flying Man", Claire is "Cheerleader", and Samuel is "Evil Butterfly-Man". Fans tend to accept the Engrish forms of Hiro's nicknames as their own. Isaac => Mister Isaac => Mystery Sock.
- Otaku: Even if he is Japanese, Hiro is an avid fan of western superheroes and science fiction.
- Parental Substitute: He's Tommy/Nathan's adoptive father, having married Anne and they raised him together in the past.
- Papa Wolf: He's the one who assigned Caspar to watch over Tommy and protect him. He sends Anne away with Tommy/Nathan when Harris comes to track them down.
- Plucky Comic Relief: He is the main source of humor in the show.
- Psychic Nosebleed: As of Volume four, it appears using his partially restored powers is causing Hiro some sort of brain trauma
- Rebel Prince: He doesn't want to take over Yamagato Industries and pointedly tells his father that Kimiko would be a better fit.
- Sealed Good in a Can: In Heroes Reborn he is forcibly trapped in Evernow by Hachiro Otomo.
- Shipper on Deck: Averts My Sister Is Off-Limits! by fully shipping Ando and Kimiko.
- The Slow Path: Nathan was born with the ability to absorb abilities. He inadvertently absorbed Hiro's ability, leaving Hiro stranded in 1999 and aging him fifteen years to the present.
- Speaks In Shoutouts: After having his brain messed with, only spoke in pop-culture references for a while.
- Steven Ulysses Perhero: His (Japanese) first name is a homophone for the English word "hero", and he's named after the city of (Hiroshima), which was destroyed in a nuclear explosion, calling back to his Volume One quest to stop New York from being destroyed by a nuclear explosion.
- Stupid Good or Lawful Stupid: "I can't kill someone begging for forgiveness. It's not part of the bushido code."
- Superpower Lottery: The ability to bend the fabric of space and time to your will...
- Time Master: Hiro possessed the power to control the space-time continuum, giving him the power to manipulate the flow of time in various ways, such as slowing or altogether stopping it, or even traveling through it. His time traveling basically set off the whole first series in an attempt to change the future; it's a lot harder than you imagine, apparently. Also in the second series, he travels back in time and creates the character he heard in his bedtime stories.
- Teleportation: He can also teleport to any location. Although being able to teleport and time travel great lengths at once, Hiro apparently had little control over how much time elapses when he teleports. This shows that, without further honing of his powers, he may not be able to teleport great distances without also traveling in time.
- Temporal Paradox: He's generally Genre Savvy enough to try to avoid causing these, if at all possible. His biggest violation of the timeline was when he forced Sylar to cure Charlie of her aneurysm, instead of killing her as he had originally done.
- Kensei's sword actually becomes an amusing example of this. In "Five Years Gone", if you look carefully, Hiro actually returns to the present with Future!Hiro's sword, not his own.
- Trademark Favorite Food: For the waffles!
- Why Couldn't You Be Different?: His father was disappointed that Hiro didn't want to conform to traditional roles as heir to Yamagato. Hiro points out to him that he already has an ideal heir in his sister Kimiko.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Naïve and over-eager, Hiro is the one character that aspires to the pure heroism of comic book crime fighters, shouldering the responsibility to use his powers for good.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Sadly, Hiro's behavior towards Daphne and Ando seems to show Volume Three is his turn to hold the Idiot Ball). (He bounces back to Genre Savvy pretty quickly, though, so props to him.)
Ando Masahashi (James Kyson Lee)
- Ability: Supercharging
Hiro's best friend and a fellow coworker at the same company. Despite his Deadpan Snarker personality, he is loyal to Hiro and is his almost-constant companion, though occasional feuds (such as the one caused when Hiro saw Ando kill him in an alternate future) do happen. More worldly than Hiro, often tries to rein his friend in, but he secretly enjoys their adventures sometimes. Most of his dialogue with Hiro is in Japanese, though he speaks English better than Hiro.
In volume three he gained the ability to "supercharge" the abilities of others via a Super Serum, which he has since developed to short-circuit electric locks and blast people unconscious.
- Characterization Marches On: Back in Volume 1 he was portrayed as Nikki's Stalker with a Crush who knows that The Internet Is for Porn.
- Cool Bike: The Ando-cycle.
- Empowered Badass Normal: After gaining his powers and training with them, he becomes one of the more powerful protagonists.
- Fake Guest Star: In season one.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Hiro.
- Kamehame Hadoken: After working on developing his powers, he eventually is able to do this.
- Only Sane Man: He tries to keep Hiro out of full Stupid Good mode.
- Powerup Letdown: Until he learns to control it better.
- Promoted to Opening Titles: Starting in season two.
- Relationship Upgrade: With Kimiko in Volume 5 thanks to Hiro. Ando had been in love with Kimiko Nakamura for years but she did not share his feelings. However, due to a change in the timeline, Ando and Kimiko are now happily in love and engaged to be married.
- Sidekick: He even gets a power that is all about helping enhance others' powers, until he learns how to use it offensively.
- The Straight Man: To Hiro.
- Super Empowering: Until he figured out how to use it as a concussive energy blast similar to an electric shock.
- Translator Buddy: He becomes this to Hiro in Volume 3 when Arthur Petrelli uses his powers to alter Hiro's memory and makes him think he is a kid. Hiro, therefore, knows only a few English words until he gets better.
Isaac Mendez (Santiago Cabrera)
- Ability: Precognition
A painter and comic book illustrator. He also had precognitive abilities — the catch was that his ability was dependent on heroin. He was killed by Sylar about halfway through Volume one. That hasn't stopped him from being a fairly important supporting character though.
- Addiction-Powered: Although eventually, he does manage to use his power while clean.
- Betty and Veronica: He is the Veronica while Peter is the Betty and Simone is the Archie. He is distant, conflicted and has a drug problem.
- Commuting on a Bus: A subversion: His paintings/comics are a recurrent plot device until Volume Four.
- Drugs Are Bad: His character arc is basically one long Aesop against drug abuse.
- Heroic Sacrifice: He allows Sylar to kill him so the future in which he is stopped can come to pass.
- Junkie Prophet: Again, his powers only work when he's high.
- Psychic Powers: Aside from seeing the future, his work in comic books imply he can somehow translate foreign languages.
- Prophecy Twist: Almost all of Isaac's paintings. Almost everything he paints comes to pass, exactly as depicted, but the visual might not be what it appears: he paints Hiro fighting a dinosaur (Hiro is startled in a museum and draws his sword on a statue), Nathan in the Oval Office (it's Sylar shape-shifted as Nathan), Claire's murder by Sylar (Sylar kills the wrong cheerleader the painting in which she's dead was finished by Peter, who drew it badly enough that you can't recognize the face), and Peter's death afterwards (He dies, but regenerates when Claire runs up to him and he mimics her power).
Matt Parkman (Greg Grunberg)
- Ability: Telepathy
A put-upon L.A. beat cop who discovers he has the ability to read minds. His powers put considerable strain on his family life when he learns his wife cheated on him with his partner. His life is further complicated after he's briefly kidnapped by the Company, and later he is recruited by the FBI to help track down superpowered serial killer Sylar.
In Volume Two, he ends up divorced from his wife, adopting Molly alongside Dr. Suresh, discovering his deadbeat dad is a founder of the Company, and ultimately developing the ability to control people's minds. Volume Three saw him on a "Spirit Walk" where he gains prophetic powers which lead him to fall in (puppy) love with speedster thief Daphne (his vision of the future shows the two of them were married). He spends the rest of the Volume attempting to reform her away from Pinehearst Industries (to his credit, at least he manages to avoid the evil/dick phase that all the other characters save Hiro were going through at the time).
He instead goes dark in Volume Four, where he goes on a revenge kick against Danko after the Building 26 leader denies Daphne medical treatment, leading to her death. He gets saved at the last minute by Hiro, who helps him reconcile with his estranged family from Volume One (now including his new son, Matt Parkman, Jr.). The season finale sees him arriving in Washington D.C. just minutes too late for either final showdown (vs. Building 26 or vs. Sylar), although he does play a role in the finale as a walking Deus ex Machina thanks to his ability to reshape minds. Even so, he is still a fan favorite.
- A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read: Experienced this when he first discovered his powers when attempting to stop a grocery store robbery. In Reborn, Matt eventually became villainous due to growing intolerant of the pettiness, misery, and cruelty found in the thoughts of the minds of others day and night. Not to mention his family leaving him and his self-loathing as an Evolved Human and overall person.
- Beware the Nice Ones:
- He loses it in Volume Four when Daphne gets killed. He starts using his powers to kill and torture people to get revenge.
- Just ask Sylar. He certainly learns his lesson about messing with Parkman and his family.
- Book Dumb: Sometimes. In Volume Three, he is able to lecture the other characters on how the Theory of Relativity posits that Daphne should be able to Time Travel if she can go fast enough.Sylar (while trapped inside Matt's head): There's so much space in here.
- Butt-Monkey: Especially in Volume One, but he can never quite catch a break at any point in the show.
- By-the-Book Cop: Until his powers cost him his job.
- Calling the Old Man Out
- The Chosen One: In Volume Four, he learns that he has been "chosen" to be a prophet, although who or what chose him is never quite explained.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Say what you want about his personality, at least he knows what to do when the bullets start flying...
- Dating Catwoman: His (attempt) at romancing Daphne.
- Dirty Mind-Reading: How he learned he was being cuckolded.
- Disappeared Dad: Played straight with his own father, then Parkman himself towards Baby Matt until Volume 4.
- The Empath: His power allows him to read the surface thoughts of nearby people, dig deeper into their minds to read the secrets they're actively trying to hide, and ultimately, to create realistic dreamscapes and trap people in them.
- FaceHeel Turn: However, in the present, Matt is now a full villain. He's currently working for Erica Kravid and is the Director of Sunstone Manor, telepathically brainwashing specials into being unable to leave the property. Erica promised him that he and his family will be on the list of people heading to the Gateway settlement in the future, especially since Janice left him for good over his issues with his powers.
- Jedi Mind Trick: He is able to do this with his powers, once they develop from simply reading minds.Matt: (holds up a wallet) This is a Secret Service badge. You're going to let us through.
Random Guard: Of course, go right ahead.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: He can completely rewrite someone's memories, as seen when Sylar basically gets his mind rewritten from Matt to make him think he's really Nathan Petrelli, after the real Nathan is killed.
- Laser-Guided Karma: In Reborn after his FaceHeel Turn. He crashes his car near a river and gets trapped inside.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: We never find out what became of him. As far as we know, Matt is still trapped in his car on the river bank.
- Left Hanging: The subplot about his sudden development of precognitive powers is completely dropped in Volume Five and the powers themselves are never mentioned.
- Living Lie Detector: He can hear people's thoughts, and so also knows whether or not they're lying. As long as the person he's talking to actually thinks in English, that is. He can also only compare what the person is saying to what they're thinking. While that is enough to tell a liar in most cases, Noah Bennet once managed to trick him by thinking something that wasn't true.
- Lotus-Eater Machine: He enters Daphne's mind in her last moment of life, creating a fictional storybook ending for her in Paris.
- Master of Illusion: Matt can implant telepathic illusions in another's head. An example when make Knox think he killed Matt and Daphne when they were actually in the other room. The illusion was convincing enough to fool Knox's sense of touch, something his father Maury was seemingly unable to accomplish.
- Mind Probe: Parkman's mind-reading powers eventually evolve to this degree. He uses this power in the Dark Future, whereas Present-Day Parkman finds it simpler to just command people to tell him the truth, seeing as how he's also developed mind control powers.
- Mind Rape: Both he and his father have the power to force some poor SOB into a living nightmare which puts their body in a coma and their mind in... Well, their worst nightmare. Maury gets the tables turned on him in a season two episode and gets trapped in his own mind by Matt. In a nasty case of Kick the Son of a Bitch, Matt locks Sylar in his own worst nightmare- a world where he is completely and utterly alone. Each hour that passes in the real world is a year in the nightmare.
- New Powers as the Plot Demands: After Volume Three, they needed a new precognitive artist, so he suddenly developed the power. Even though he can't even draw. Which gets lampshaded.
- Only in It for the Money: In the time skip after the big reveal, Matt's so tired of everything that he becomes a freelance consultant for anyone who wants to purchase his services as a telepath. Erica Kravid is his latest client, hiring him to read Noah's mind.
- Papa Wolf: Against Maury, in order to rescue Molly from her nightmare. It's badass.
- Threaten Janice and Baby Matt, get trapped inside a nightmare in your own head. Matt even goes as far as to build a brick cell around Sylar's comatose body.
- Psychic Powers: The show itself has stated that he controls every aspect of the mind. Full mind control over himself and others. The implication being that he can potentially develop every possible psychic power that exists.
- Seers: In Volume Four, the combination of the growth of his telepathy and the precognitive visions induced by Usutu grants him access to the "same plane of consciousness" that other precognitive characters access for their own powers, allowing him to draw the future. Unlike Isaac Mendez, he didn't show any artistic skills until gaining this ability, which also happens to other characters.
- Superpower Lottery: Excepting Sylar, Peter, and Papa Petrelli, he's probably won it.
- Telepathy: This was his first power, being able to hear the thoughts of others.
- Villainous Breakdown: In Heroes Reborn, he progressively goes through this, especially in Episodes 11 and 12. First, he becomes rather unhinged when he becomes aware that he and his estranged family may not be protected from the H.E.L.E., kidnapping Taylor Kravid at gunpoint and forcing her in a Hostage Situation to be a means to get the Gateway watches to safeguard his family for the future... then fully falls apart when, due to a car accident, he becomes trapped in his car and has said watches float down a stream, reduced to beginning to Cry Laughing as he screams out for someone to help him as the extinction of humanity is imminent.
Mohinder Suresh (Sendhil Ramamurthy)
- Ability: Super Strength
Professor Suresh is the series' narrator, an Indian geneticist whose father theorized the evolution of superpowered humans in response to impending global and environmental crisis. After his father's murder, Suresh travels to America to follow in his father's footsteps and investigate his theory of superpowered humans. Although he early on discovers he has an enemy called "Sylar" (the murderer of his father), he mostly ends up running face-first into dead ends, being the Chew Toy of the Company, falling in love with The Mole, and ultimately ending up as an Unwitting Pawn for Sylar himself.
In Volume Two he helps Mr. Bennet infiltrate the Company with the intention of bringing it down, only to be seduced by their "kinder, gentler" new image and ultimately joining them in earnest, killing Mr. Bennet for them (he gets better) and ending up as their Unwitting Pawn. Volume Three saw him crossing the Moral Event Horizon by engineering his own superserum for the Big Bad and experimenting on himself. Volume Four saw him trying to atone for this.
- Artistic License Biology: Yeah, yeah we know this is a series with people who fly and people who talk to machines. But every time Mohinder opens his mouth, you can hear Tim Kring's high school science teacher weeping quietly.
- The Atoner: Credit where credit is due — Mohinder's every bit as hard on himself as the fans are. He spends most of Volume 4 feeling rotten about Volume 3, for instance.
- Beware the Nice Ones: In Volumes Two & Three, his allies often remark that Suresh is absolutely trustworthy and completely harmless, just a few minutes before he shoots them in the face, cocoons them in spiderwebs, or simply beats them up.
- Bollywood Nerd: Now, granted, he and his father were both college professors, so it makes sense for them to be smart. But like Hiro, the implications of this are pretty difficult to ignore when he's pretty much the only Indian in the series. And he's a cab driver. And so was his father (lampshaded in the series itself, where Mohinder warns his father that Indian academics who migrate to America end up driving cabs).
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: A rare non-Magnificent Bastard example. Suresh's constant betrayals towards his allies are more out of confusion and desperation rather than any master plan, and the only reason he keeps getting away with it seems to be the show's unusually high Idiot Ball quotient.
- Demoted to Extra: He's largely absent from Volume 5, due to having been murdered by Samuel Sullivan 3 months earlier, then saved by a time-traveling Hiro only to get put into an insane asylum.
- For Science!: The cause of many a poor move in Volume 3. Lampshaded by himself in Volume 4
- Genius Bruiser: The superserum results in him gaining super strength and agility, but...
- Going Native: Mohinder works with Mr. Bennet to take down the Company from within, but eventually becomes convinced that the Company is really the heroic organization and Bennet was misleading him. What an Idiot!.
- HeelFace Revolving Door: He changes sides and trusts the wrong people far too often
- Hot Scientist: He's a geneticist who happens to be extremely easy on the eyes.
- Hypocrite: When he and Peter are at odds with each other during the first half of Volume 3, he calls Peter out on him working with criminals... in spite of the fact that they are working to stop Peter's father, who is MUCH WORSE. Somewhat Justified because of the fact that Peter is a little too trusting, and does not realize that they will likely kill him later. Or at least one of them will.
- I Just Want to Be Special: He became obsessed with creating a formula to give himself a power (though he justified it was for humanity), as he was feeling left behind now that nigh everyone he interacted with was superpowered in some way. This caused all sorts of problems for himself. Surprising in that, in the end, he actually managed full control over his now stable power, and it is treated as a proper power from then on.
- Ignored Expert: For the extremely brief moment at the beginning of Season 2 when he holds the Smart Ball, Mohinder is the first person to warn about the Shanti Virus. He's regarded as a crackpot.
- The Immune: In the first season, his blood contains the cure for the Shanti Virus which killed his sister.
- Improbable Weapon User: He has attacked people with tuning forks, syringes, microscopes, rolling chalkboards, elephant sculptures, and taxi doors with an astonishing rate of success. Please note that most of this is before he got Super Strength.
- Lovecraftian Superpower: He uses his own serum to grant him Spider Man-style powers (like Wall Crawl), with the side-effect of growing scales over his skin.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: In Volume Five, he is directly responsible for Samuel discovering the true nature of his powers, thus triggering the A-plot of the season.
- Opening Narration: Almost every episode of Season 1 and 2, although at this point he's toned it down to a couple per season.
- Papa Wolf: Whatever else you can say for Mohinder, at the end of Season 1 he does manage to single-handedly take down Matt Parkman and holds HRG off at gunpoint in order to protect orphaned Molly Walker. This leads to Molly's Has Two Daddies storyline with Mohinder and Matt acting as her parental substitutes.
- Professor Guinea Pig: In Volume 3, Mohinder takes a syringe of Maya's blood/DNA/super-powered-Phlebotinum out onto a dock all by himself and injects it into himself. He gets insect-like super-strength, agility, and wall-climbing ability, but as a side effect appears to be mutating uncontrollably. The entire plotline appears to be a direct reference to the 1986 version of The Fly.
- The Professor: He is a genetics professor from India who took up the research into evolved humans after the death of his father.
- Put on a Bus: In his last appearance, he waves goodbye to everybody and walks off, stating that he can't participate in the upcoming final battle against Samuel because he has to go home and patch things up with his girlfriend (although he is good enough to build them a compass to locate Samuel with).
- Super Strength: Exposure to a version of the formula enhanced with the catalyst caused his lesions and most of his superhuman abilities to disappear. His only power now is the super strength. Enough to rip the door off a car with no apparent problem.
- Too Dumb to Live: The number of instances is painful. Mohinder is not alone in this category by any means, but he stands out the most and warrants mention.
- What Have I Become?: A side-effect of the serum includes scales and gradual mutation (in one of the future timelines)
- What the Hell Is That Accent?: He's Indian, yet for some reason has a British accent. Possibly justified in that since he and Chandra are professors, they're likely high-caste, ie. the privileged, wealthy class of India, which are often educated at British-run institutions. Him speaking with a British English accent makes perfect sense.
Maya Herrera (Dania Ramirez)
- Ability: Poison Emission
Maya Herrera is an evolved human from Santo Domingo who made her way to New York City to meet Chandra Suresh in hopes that he could help her with her ability, which she believed to be a curse. She was originally on the run with her now deceased brother because they were both wanted for accidental murder. She lived with Mohinder, waiting for a way to get rid of her ability until he attacked her as a result of his ability, so she got someone else to do the job. She now lives in New Jersey trying to lead a normal life.
- Bad Powers, Good People: Despite her power, she is a goodhearted girl who just wants a normal life.
- Black Eyes of Evil: She has these when her power activates.
- Horrible Judge of Character: To be fair, Sylar was the only one aside from her brother that treated her nicely up until they got to New York. After that, she does recognize that he's not nice at all.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: She's not at all happy with her power and just wants to be rid of it and live a regular life, and she's one of the few characters that gets exactly what she wanted.
- The Load: You could probably count all the time she has been useful in one hand.
- Spicy Latina: She's played by Dania Ramirez, enough said.
- Person of Mass Destruction: With her anthrax tears.
- Put on a Bus: After her power is removed. Especially because the loss of her power is exactly what she wanted and once that was done, she peaced out.
- Walking Wasteland: Her power is that she releases an invisible cloud of lethal poison whenever she gets upset. And the world seems hellbent on giving her good reasons to get really upset on a regular basis.
Monica Dawson (Dana Davis)
- Ability: Adoptive Muscle Memory
Micah's cousin who is able to mimic the (non-superpowered) abilities and skills of anyone she sees. She was also introduced in Volume Two, but was much more well-liked by the fandom. She was unceremoniously Put on a Bus in Volume Three, although she appeared in the graphic novels several times.
- Aborted Arc: She was set up to become a crimefighter known as "St. Joan", but was Put on a Bus in Volume Three. Thankfully the graphic novels showed her having become a vigilante.
- Archer Archetype: In the graphic novels she has a crossbow which she uses to shoot out car tires when chasing criminals.
Tracy Strauss (Ali Larter)
- Ability: Freezing
Tracy Strauss is a former political advisor to New York Governor Robert Malden. She is an evolved human with the ability to freeze things. After joining forces with Arthur Petrelli's Pinehearst group to give people abilities, Tracy's ability was revealed to the American President by Nathan Petrelli. Tracy was captured by Danko and taken to Building 26 before being rescued by Micah Sanders. After sacrificing her own life, Tracy's powers evolved and she went on a killing spree. She soon saw the error of her ways and began seeking redemption by using her old life to help people.
- Big Damn Heroine: In the Season 5 finale when she rescues Noah and Claire
- Blonde Republican Sex Kitten: However, thanks to Characterization Marches On, she's more or less grown out of this. In fact, a recent episode showed her trying to get that career back, but after heavy consideration, she decided against it.
- Heroic Sacrifice: When she leads Danko's men to "Rebel", this is revealed to be her nephew, Micah Sanders. After Micah chastises her for betraying him, she regrets it and aids him in escaping. Tracy tells Micah to set off the sprinkler system, and as he flees she walks into the open, presenting herself to the troops, and releases a massive outburst of her ability, freezing everything and everyone in her surroundings, including herself. Afterward, her frozen form is shot by Danko, and she shatters. However, after the shattering of her body, her right eye can be seen blinking and a tear rolls across her icy "cheek" just before the camera moves on to the next scene.
- An Ice Person: Tracy can freeze objects at will by reducing the temperature of matter. She is capable of freezing human beings, as well as inanimate objects. While she suffers no ill-effects from the cold, she can be frozen if she uses her powers to create a very cold temperature ice wave, as shown in the episode "Cold Snap". While she at first could only focus her ability through her hands, she is later able to expand her control.
- Making a Splash: As of Volume Four, her ability has evolved to include water mimicry, allowing her to transform into water and manipulate herself while in that form, as seen in "An Invisible Thread". In "Orientation", she instinctively turns to water to avoid physical injury, and is shown to be able to use her freezing ability while still in her water form.
- Serial Killer: After a Roaring Rampage of Revenge in Volume 5, in which she wants revenge towards Danko and she is hunting down and killing former agents of Building 26 by drowning them. At least four victims can be attributed to her.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Rather than develop Niki's character, they give her an identical twin and then revealed there was a third identical triplet.
Sylar/Gabriel Gray (Zachary Quinto)
"The Face of Evil", Sylar is a manipulative serial killer who hunts down and kills other superhumans to steal their abilities, due to a drive to be "special". Formerly a New York watchmaker named Gabriel Gray, his initial ability to "understand how things work" allows him to steal superpowers by extracting the brains of his victims and study "what makes them tick". He ultimately attempts to destroy New York City in a complicated bid to become President of the United States (it actually does make sense), leading to a climactic showdown with the Heroes.
In Volume Two, he's been stripped of his powers by the Company, and spends most of his time attempting to get them back, while manipulating the twins Maya and Alejandro to achieve his goal. After getting his powers back, Angela manipulates him so that he spent Volume Three as The Atoner (with foot stuck in the HeelFace Revolving Door) partnered with Noah Bennet and protecting his "family" (believing Angela to be his mother, and Peter to be his brother). He is shown reformed with a family in a possible future.
We learn from a flashback episode that before he became Sylar he was dating Elle and that the Company pushed him to become Sylar. He rekindled his romance with Elle only to kill her afterward when he realized that it was all based on a lie. He then proceeds to give Big Bad Evil Overlord Papa Petrelli a fatal case of cranial intrusion (granted, Peter and The Haitian were about to kill the guy anyway), then goes after Mama Petrelli, leading to a final showdown against Claire, Mr. Bennet, Meredith Gordon, and the remaining Level 5 Supervillains.
He spends Volume Four searching for his biological family on a search for self that only leads to disappointment when he learns that he really takes after his real dad, a once feared power-stealing supervillain who's now a broken old man dying of lung cancer. Determined not to end up like his old man, he joins forces with Danko in order to capture and consume all evolved humans, which leads to him taking on a shapeshifting power that he tries to use to achieve world domination but which ultimately leads to him losing his sense of self...
- Abusive Parent: His adoptive father neglected him a few times, and his mother seemed to be domineering towards him, wanting him to be perfect, even ascending to the Presidency (which evidently contributed a lot to his character). In addition, when she discovers his powers she reacts like Carrie's mother in Carrie and tries to kill him, but Sylar inadvertently kills her by embracing her while they're struggling with a pair of scissors.
- They were pretty bad, but they had nothing on his biological father, who sold him to them for pocket money and then murdered his biological mother right in front of him.
- The Ace: On a number of occasions he's referred to by other characters as the most powerful of all Supers. While this might not be true in an absolute sense (at full power the likes of Future Peter and Arthur Petrelli outclass him), he is both extremely powerful and definitely the most infamous top-tier Super, and has also managed to survive while the few Supers more powerful than him have gotten themselves killed.
- Alliterative Name: Gabriel Gray
- The Aloner: Spends 3 years alone in a world where he is the only person alive, and an additional several years alone with only Peter Petrelli to keep him company, all thanks to being trapped in his worst nightmare by Matt Parkman.
- Ambiguous Situation: Before his powers were clarified, he seemed to possess Enhanced Strength, Super Toughness, and Flight in his earlier appearances. It was later shown that he shouldn't have had these specific abilities, strictly speaking. Word of God indicates that this was probably him getting creative with telekinesis.
- Later seasons heavily imply that his actual, in-born, super-human ability was Empathic Mimicry, just like Peter. His father's primary ability was Intuitive Aptitude, and presumably, Sylar gained it from him. Notably, this seems to have been planned as early as season 2, when the only ability he was able to hang onto after being infected by the Shanti virus was telekinesis, which he gained after murdering Brian Davis. Davis's murder was his first crime and the only one he still felt guilty over.
- Angry Eyebrows: He does this thing with his eyebrows when he's particularly pissed off. Combine with the Kubrick Stare for an especially angry Death Glare.
- Anti-Hero: A Nominal Hero, caring only about his own well-being and power, from season 3 onwards, until his permanent HeelFace Turn.
- Arch-Enemy: To pretty much every main character on the show, but especially Peter. After Peter foils his plan in Episode 9 of the first season, it's set. They clash several times, with higher stakes than any of the other characters.
- Ax-Crazy: He even says as much: "I really do want to change. But I'm insane, remember?"
- Badass Bookworm: In Volume One, his apartment is shown filled from floor to ceiling in books. In Volume Five, his "living space" in his mental prison was shown to have piles and piles of books and clocks.
- Badass Longcoat: Especially in Volume One.
- Beast and Beauty: Mostly Beast to Elle's Beauty, but also to Claire's Beauty.
- Berserk Button: Do not tell him that he's not special, let him find out you're manipulating his issues for your own gain, or lie to him. That's just asking for it.
- And unless you're his mother or Elle, don't ever call him by his real name.
- Beta Test Baddie: Sylar's desire to know how everything worked and his need for validation as special influenced his every decision. However, since he received nothing but constant rejection, it eventually drove him from mentally unstable to homicidally insane.
- Big-Bad Ensemble: Volume One, along with Linderman. Steals the spotlight from Danko towards the end of Volume Four.
- Big Damn Villains: In the third season, a depowered Peter heads off with the Haitian to kill his father and destroy the Formula. Just as Peter is shooting Arthur, Sylar shows up, complete with recently stolen lie detection power, to ask Arthur if he's really a Petrelli. Arthur revealed that he had lied, thus causing Sylar to allow the bullet he had grabbed in thin air to kill Arthur stone dead permanently. Sylar actually lampshades the fact that he prevents Peter from becoming a murderer. So actually he wasn't here to do the job, just to keep Peter from having remorse.
- Big Eater: He's fond of using food as metaphors, is often seen snacking on something, and once ate an entire pie by himself. This video even rounds up how often he's around food. His desire for more abilities is explicitly described as a "hunger".
- His first words after being reunited with his own body? "What's for dinner? I'm starving."
- Big Ol' Eyebrows: It's his most distinctive characteristic. Aside from the psychotic serial killer thing.
- Body Horror: Never mind the lobotomies. It seems Sylar's new shapeshifting power has a few side-effects... like extra teeth, uncontrollable shifting, and mental instability because The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body.
- Bored with Insanity: He goes off the deep-end before trying to reform, several times.
- Brain Food: Heavily implied in the first season. Debunked in a later season.
- Brainwashing for the Greater Good: Applied to him by Parkman on Angela's orders. He manages to break through it, albeit at the price of being thoroughly confused about himself by the end of the series.
- Breakout Villain: He was originally planned to be the series' Starter Villain, who would be Killed Off for Real at the end of the first season. However, due to the character's popularity with fans, he was made into a main character and "The Face of Evil" for the series, to the point that every following Big Bad ends up getting Hijacked By Sylar in their season's finale.
- Brooklyn Rage: He's from Queens, but his watchmaker's shop is located in Brooklyn and is where his Start of Darkness began with Brian Davis's murder.
- Brought Down to Normal: Throughout Volume Two.
- Card-Carrying Villain: All of the show's other Big Bads try to justify their actions as being for the Greater Good. Sylar, in contrast, is very upfront about being an unrepentant, sadistic monster.
- Carpet of Virility: During his amnesiac period in the Carnival, he wore shirts that were half-buttoned and showed off his chest hair.
- Chewing the Scenery: Indulges in some of his more evil\gloating moments ("MY NAME IS SYLAR!" and "I'm back" come to mind).
- Chronic Villainy: "Rehabilitation doesn't happen overnight. I AM trying."
- Cold-Blooded Torture: To Mook Daniel Simmons, screwdrivers through the hand. "Someone... isn't... paying... attention!"
- Cold Ham: His delivery is an intense Creepy Monotone, meaning he never goes fully Evil Is Hammy.
- Dark Is Evil: He has a head of jet black hair and dresses almost exclusively in dark clothing.
- Deadpan Snarker: The more evil he gets, the sharper and dryer his wit becomes. It really kicks into overdrive when he is in Matt's head and his every line is dripped in sarcasm.
- Dead Person Impersonation: Through most of the last few episodes in Volume Four. And then we get to the final episode and...
- The Determinator: With copious amounts of Badass and Villainous Willpower; he won't stay dead and he just keeps coming.
- Distracted by the Sexy: Pointedly strips off his shirt when speaking to Maya to hide the fact that he's just murdered her brother. It works.
- Do Not Call Me "Paul": Calling him Gabriel is a good way to shorten your life expectancy dramatically.
- The Dreaded: The very mention of his name makes even the most hardened individual scared.
- Easily Forgiven: By Elle. Also by Peter, but while it seems like it was instantaneous by everyone else, it was years for them.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Sylar is horrified when he learns he might be the one to blow up New York. "They're innocent. There's no gain. So why would I do it?" He gets over it pretty quickly after his mom dies though.
- Also around the time he decides he doesn't want to work with Danko anymore because killing a scared, lonely orphan is low even by his standards.
- When he is looking to take Claire's powers, she asks if he will eat her brain (at the time, this was a popular fan theory on how Sylar absorbed powers). This is his response:Sylar: Eat your brain? Claire, that's disgusting.
- Evil Counterpart: To Peter - one gets powers through empathy and questions whether it's worth it, the other discovers how they work (at first, opening people's heads to do so) and is always wanting more powers. Explicit in Volume Three.
- Evil Eyebrows: Of the big, low, and menacing kind.
- Evil Mentor: To Maya in Volume Two, as well as Luke in Volume Four (although that one doesn't last too long).
- Evil Is Not a Toy: Every Big Bad who has ever tried to use Sylar to fulfill their own agenda has had it blow up in their faces. Often with fatal results. In Volume Four, Noah spells this out to Danko once Sylar betrays him:Noah: Just how dumb are you? Who did you think would be left standing the minute Sylar got bored? You?
- Evil Sounds Deep: Occasionally in Volume One.
- Exact Words: When Sylar meets the person who uses Telekinesis, he offers to help him get rid of the power he has. He certainly meant it when he said that he'd help him get rid of it. What he doesn't tell him is that the way he's going to help him is by bludgeoning his head with a crystalline paperweight.
- Faux Affably Evil: He's a psychopathic serial killer who delights in stealing abilities, but he likes pretending to be nice.
- Finger Poke of Doom: He loves this trope to pieces.
- For the Evulz: Quite a few of his actions have no logic aside from pure sadism."Yeah... I don't have to kill people (to learn their powers), it's just something I do."
- Friendly Enemy: Much to Peter's annoyance since Volume Three. He's also this to Mohinder, Bennet, Parkman, and Angela.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: He was just an ordinary guy until he started killing people for their powers. Lampshaded: "I could've been a nobody."
- Gender Bender: The first thing he does when he gets the ability to shapeshift.
- The Gift: Rapidly masters all acquired powers, whereas most original owners (including our intrepid heroes) have to go through a long period of How Do I Shot Web? and Power Incontinence.
- Could be justified because Sylar's original ability was to understand how things work.
- Good Thing You Can Heal: When he took Claire's abilities, he basically stops trying to avoid getting hurt. Snap his neck? He sets it right back. Go ahead, shoot him, he'll get right back up. And when Elle blasts him full of all the electricity she can muster, all that gets destroyed are his clothes. This got especially glaring since up until he had her power he was a very good fighter and deflected bullets with ease so he never got hit in the first place. Jamming a shard of glass into the back of the skull would've never happened to pre-regeneration Sylar. Now he treats his body like a meat shield.
- HeelFace Brainwashing: Twice: when he's turned into Nathan, and after being stuck for five mental years in a nightmare.
- HeelFace Revolving Door: He switches sides every other episode in Volume Three, before finally settling down back to his old villainous self. At the end of Volume Five, his latest HeelFace Turn seems to actually stick.
- Hero Killer: Has by far racked up the show's highest count of both main character and supporting character kills. Every hero knows that when Sylar shows up, they're in for the fight of their lives. It's a credit to the heroes that by Volume Five most of them have become powerful enough in their own right to successfully fight against him.
- At this point it's less that they have become more powerful (though they have), and more that it seems Sylar has Fallen A Level In Badass, especially because he doesn't quite know what he wants, and either can't or doesn't want to kill.
- Hijacked by Ganon: Has a habit of backstabbing the season's Big Bad then taking over right at the beginning of the season finale. Evil Is Not a Toy, after all.
- Hollywood Nerd: As Gabriel Gray.
- Horror Hunger: Sylar has "the Hunger" for supernatural abilities. It's either a side effect of his own ability or a psychological addiction. Either way, he regularly goes on killing sprees to steal the powers of others.
- It would appear that this hunger isn't always confined to gaining new abilities and it could be a combination of a side-effect of Sylar's ability and a psychological addiction. Peter copied Sylar's ability for a few episodes at the beginning of season three. Peter is normally a sweet person who just wants to help others, but upon gaining Sylar's ability, he goes completely apeshit and starts trying to rip people's heads open, just like Sylar. It should be noted that Peter isn't really doing it to understand how abilities work. Peter tries to saw open Future Nathan's skull to better understand his thought process and attempts to do the same thing to Angela when he gets back to the present so he will know her secrets. It was more about learning how someone's thought process worked for Peter than acquiring abilities, especially because Peter had already copied Nathan and Angela's abilities.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: 6'3" to Elle's 5'1". Also has the same height difference with Claire and is One Head Taller than Maya.
- Hunter of Monsters: He hunts down and kills superhumans to take their abilities.
- I Just Want to Be Loved: Its shown quite often that Sylar really just wants a real family, which is why he seems willing to believe that Peter is his brother.
- I Just Want to Be Special: This is the foundation of Sylar's entire characterization. No matter how erratic he is, it's all because of his pathological need to be genuinely acknowledged as special.
- Identity Amnesia: In Volume Five his memories as Sylar were erased by Matt Parkman, who forced him to believe he was Nathan Petrelli. Nathan's personality controlled Sylar's body for months, but Sylar was eventually able to return to his body.
- Improbable Weapon User: He likes nailing people to walls and ceilings with common household objects.
- In the Blood: His real father has a similar power to him, which makes him just as Ax-Crazy as he is and caused him to murder Sylar's mother.
- Informed Flaw: For all the show's talk about "the Hunger", Sylar seems perfectly capable of interacting with other supers without the uncontrollable urge to kill them and "study" their brains. Notably, he has spared both Luke and Micah, and also refrained from snacking on Doyle despite dragging him across the country for more than a day. (Though he didn't really need Doyle's power, as his own telekinesis could already do the same thing better.)
- I Resemble That Remark!: When Matt calls him a "dangerous criminal", Sylar scowls at him and proceeds to make Matt's life hell.Sylar: Well that's not very nice. You're so quick to label.
- It's All About Me: He normally couldn't care less about the intentions behind blowing up New York or the rounding up of specials to lock them away; it's when his severely disturbed mental issues are exploited as tools that he gets really pissed.
- Joker Immunity: Sylar was supposed to die in Volume One but had become far too popular by the end. The writers have been trying, with increasing desperation, to justify his role on the show ever since. Volume Four briefly continued the trend by introducing yet another villainous father figure in his biological father, Samson Gray.
- Jumped at the Call: A big part of his fanbase comes from his absolute joy at having superpowers, especially when compared to someone like Claire who does nothing but complain about it.
- Just Between You and Me: Sylar tells Alejandro that he plans on using Maya as a toy after he gets her to harness her plague power. It's justified in this case, as he is perfectly aware that Alejandro won't understand a thing he says anyway, as Alejandro does not speak nor understand English.
- Kubrick Stare: See the picture of him above? That's his default expression. It's especially creepy with his Big Ol' Eyebrows; combine the two for an especially epic Death Glare.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: In the Volume Four finale, Matt mind wipes him (overwriting his memories/personality with Fake Memories) into believing he's Nathan.
- Lean and Mean: In spite of being a Big Eater, he's rather thin.
- Lighter and Softer: In an alternate future, he is a happy suburban dad who genuinely loves his son Noah and Peter whom he believes to be his brother. Naturally, this future is erased.
- Line-of-Sight Name: He got the name Sylar off the watch he was fixing when he killed his first victim.
- Lonely at the Top: In Volume Five, after receiving a kickass "The Reason You Suck" Speech from Hiro and being haunted by the absorbed memories of family, love, and brotherhood from Matt and Nathan, Sylar finally realizes that being the Ultimate Evil may have allowed him to become the most powerful man on the planet, but it's also completely cut him off from all human connections, making him destined to spend eternity alone. This eventual prompts a complete Villainous Breakdown and finally a seemingly genuine HeelFace Turn.
- Love Martyr: He lets Elle kill him repeatedly because he loved her, and later comments that he killed the only woman who ever loved him.
- Magic Pants: When he's locked up in a cell with Elle, she blasts him with enough electricity to rip him into pieces, but his pants stay on while the rest of his clothing is destroyed.
- Manipulative Bastard: Is currently taking it to new extremes while he's sealed up inside Matt Parkman's head. It bordered on Mind Rape eventually.
- Master of Disguise: Is very fond of using fake accents and/or stolen uniforms to gain people's trust or get access to places he's not supposed to be. Taken Up to Eleven in Part 4 when he acquires the ability to full-on shapeshift.
- Meaningful Name: Gabriel Gray: Alliterative, Biblical, and "Gray" can mean boring, neither good nor evil, or even "gray matter".
- Mind over Matter: His favorite and most used power and first acquired through the slice and dice method from Brian Davis. He can exert enough telekinetic force to flip a truck through the air or tear sheet metal, and he has enough control to cut off the top of a person's skull to expose the brain. Sylar has repeatedly been shown using telekinesis to shield himself from bullets, as well as to augment his own physical strength. And is able to use this power with relatively little concentration. Sylar typically uses hand gestures in conjunction with telekinetic feats, although he can use this ability without them (presumably they somehow help him to direct the power). He was able to incapacitate an opponent when he was unable to move, although it seemed to take intense concentration to do so.
- Mr. Fanservice: Has a shirtless scene every season.
- Misapplied Phlebotinum: Has the ability to "understand how things work," which could potentially be used to crank out Nobel Prizes on a weekly basis, and all he can think to do with it is steal brains.
- Justified by "The Hunger," which for some reason forces him to want to eat brains (or whatever it is he does).
- "The Hunger" is his need to know more. Humans are naturally curious creatures and Sylar is still human; if he understands how everything works except for abilities, it makes sense that he would have a "hunger" to figure them out.
- Justified by "The Hunger," which for some reason forces him to want to eat brains (or whatever it is he does).
- Motive Decay: Sylar's motivation has gone from "I want to be special" (first series) to "I have an uncontrollable Hunger which makes me lust after killing to get people's abilities" (second). By the third, though, he seemed to have decided that "this is just who I am and I'm happy with it." Now his aim seems to be simply Kill All Humans with abilities - Danko points out that "if we succeed, you'll be the only one left", and Sylar just smiles and agrees. After, he wants to be the President, secretly replacing the actual one. In the final season, he wants to be a good person. Believing that, without his abilities, he would not be a monster, Sylar asks Matt to rid him of them.
- My God, What Have I Done?:
- Briefly during Volume Three, in a flashback to his days as Gabriel Gray, shortly after his murder of Brian Davis when a horrified Gabriel tried to hang himself.
- And again in Volume Five, when he suffers from amnesia and begins to relearn his memories.
- My Hero Zero: He was Chandra Suresh's "patient zero."
- Neat Freak: A subversion. Prior to his Start of Darkness, it's been shown that his home is scarily clean and organized, with plastic covered furniture. Once he completely snaps and starts murdering people, he has no qualms about getting bloody and dirty.
- No-Sell: On a handful of occasions he's been able to weasel his way out of mind-control attacks despite not explicitly possessing a specific power that would allow him to do so. It's possible his ability to understand how things work gives him some advantage in this regard, though in Season 4 when Matt really wants to put the hurt on him he manages to make it stick.
- No Sense of Personal Space: Weaponized. It's his favorite way of screwing around with his opponents, especially the Petrellis and Bennets can testify.
- One Head Taller: Than Maya. He comforts her with a pat on the head as she clings to him crying after Alejandro yells at her.
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette
- Papa Wolf: In one alternate future, Future!Sylar has reformed, apparently, and is trying to be good. And then they kill his kid. BOOM!
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Done several times.
- Parental Abandonment: Sylar's bio-mom was murdered in front of him by his bio-dad when he was five, adopted father walked out on him at ten, and he became a (semi-accidental) Self-Made Orphan when his adopted mom attacked him with a pair of scissors. No wonder he snapped.
- Perverted Sniffing: He enjoys using this to screw with Claire.
- Powered by a Forsaken Child: The slice and dice method of power acquisition.
- Power Parasite: Another Power Sponge-type. Throughout the series, he has collected a huge number of powers (several of which were lost after Volume One when he was infected with the Shanti virus).
- President Evil: In "Five Years Gone." And he is narrowly prevented from becoming one in the main timeline in the Volume Four finale.
- Psychopathic Manchild: Sylar is extremely powerful and is more than capable of holding his own in a fight. He also loves indulging in childish behavior to mess with people and appears to prefer wearing sneakers over boots. He's shown to treat abilities like a toy collection and explicitly described Maya as a shiny new toy to play with. All of this emphasizes how deeply messed up and extremely dangerous he actually is.
- Really Gets Around: Hooked up with Elle, Maya, and ostensibly Lydia, and has kissed Claire and Angela. Except that he later kills Elle, shoots Maya in the chest (she survived), Claire jams a pencil in his eye as retaliation, and he kissed Angela just to mess with her. (Lydia escaped his wrath mainly due to his conflicting emotional issues, but she ends up dying anyway at the hands of Samuel and Eli.)
- Redemption Demotion: Seen in Volume Five during the process of his HeelFace Turn. Having lost his "killer instinct," Sylar is quite a bit less effective now that he's unable to kill (to the point of being taken captive by Doyle, a man who had previously been his Butt-Monkey on at least three separate occasions). Although he was apparently still powerful enough to pwn Eli the Replicating Man. On the other hand, he did manage to easily deal with Doyle shortly after being taken captive without killing him (by wiring him like a puppet and tying him up)
- Reformed, but Rejected: For ten minutes.
- Replacement Goldfish: Mind wiped Sylar becomes one for Nathan.
- Serial Killer: Throw in a slew of psychological issues and superpowers and you've got a doozy.Luke: Wow. So you're like a serial killer.
Sylar: I'm not a serial killer.
Luke: But you've got a pattern. You go after specific victims. You collect mementos.
Sylar: Okay, technically, I'm a serial killer.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: At the end of Volume Four, where Nathan, or at least Nathan's identity, is the can.
- Self-Made Orphan: He killed his mother semi-accidentally, in the fight after she tried to stab him with a pair of dressmaking scissors.
- Signature Move: Using his telekinesis to slice through a victim's forehead. Originally, he did this in order to get at the brain. Eventually, he started doing it to everyone, powered or otherwise. In Volume Four, he uncovers a repressed memory and learns that he picked it up from his biological father, who used it to murder his mother.
- Slouch of Villainy: Done in Volume Five, as he torments Parkman at home and at work.
- Social Darwinist: His initial justification for snacking on supers, although unlike most examples of this trope he doesn't seem to have any ill will towards normal, un-evolved humans... as long as they don't get in his way.
- Sociopathic Hero: In between Villainous Breakdowns.
- Stalker with a Crush: For Claire.
- Sort of makes sense, since they're both immortal and he'll essentially be forever alone without her there...
- The tattoo of her face doesn't really help.
- Staying Alive: He's Sylar, for crying out loud. Of course, he always survives.
- Stupid Evil: In Volume Three, when he falls off the wagon and kills again, Hilarity Ensues when he goes out and does it in broad daylight, not even trying to hide all that blood. (...cake?) Particularly glaring considering how stealthy he was back in Volume One.
- Stealth Hi/Bye: Does this almost as much as Jason Voorhees.
- He even manages to do it from sitting in the back seat of an occupied car. The most ridiculous part is none of this has ever been explained by any of his abilities either.
- A case of nensha-based Super Dickery which is All There In The Webcomics.
- In Volume One, it was heavily implied that he could levitate using telekinesis, which could explain most of his stealthy appearances and disappearances.
- Superpower Meltdown: In an alternative future.
- Sweet Tooth: Every time Sylar is seen eating, it's always something sweet or some kind of junk food. He lights up at the sight of a cake, despite the fact that his hands and torso were soaked in blood. He also loves pie so much that he ate an entire one by himself.
- Tall, Dark, and Snarky: He can take a scene where he's holding a mother and son hostage in front of a tortured soldier...and make you LAUGH during it. That's talent, boys and girls.
- Terrible Ticking: The ticking clock sound effect that plays whenever Sylar's up to his old tricks evokes this trope. Even though it's not literally a ticking he can hear, it symbolizes that he can see how everything works in a way no one else can, which drives him insane.
- That Man Is Dead: He's completely severed all ties to his previous life as Gabriel Gray, to the extent that being referred to by that name is a major Berserk Button.
- Troll: In Season 4, when he's trapped inside Parkman's head, he decides that he's going to unleash as much havoc as possible upon Parkman's life in order to get what he wants, which is out of Parkman's head, and partly to entertain himself. He once kissed Angela just to make her extremely uncomfortable, which made Peter really angry.
- Villainous BSoD: Sylar suffered from it thrice: Once was when he learned about his potential role in destroying New York City. The second was shortly after he gains his chameleon abilities, where it became apparent that he was losing touch with his memories and especially his sanity, where he was forced to write "I Am Sylar" in such a way that would potentially expose his survival just to ensure he held onto his sense of identity. The third (and presumably final) time he experienced this was when he was mentally sealed off. Sylar also was implied to have suffered one after Hiro meddled with the timeline.
- The Watchmaker
- Wild Card: Sylar is on no one's side but his own. His actions are good or bad, depending on whether he thinks he's got something to gain from either side's offers. But lying to him to get him on your side just results in a lot of blood and him defecting to the other side by default.
- Why Couldn't You Be Different?: Where that need to be special comes from.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Apparently, "understanding how things work" also comes with an uncontrollable drive to poke around inside people's brains. Okaaaaay, then.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: When his son dies.
- Wouldn't Hurt a Child: He generally leaves kids under puberty alone, although he's not above voicing threats at them. Teens and young adults like Jackie, Luke, or Claire herself, are fair game, although even that depends on his mood.
- The closest he got to hurting a child is his kidnapping attempt of Molly Walker when Matt and Audrey stopped him. (If he had wanted her ability, he would have killed her already, but he apparently decided that she was more useful alive and chose to kidnap her instead.)
- Granted that he had other issues to work through, but Micah managed to escape his encounter with him.
Adam Monroe/Takezo Kensei (David Anders)
- Ability: Rapid Cell Regeneration
The oldest, first known superpowered human. Adam Monroe was a British mercenary fighting in Feudal Japan under the identity of Takezo Kensei (a legendary hero and childhood idol of Hiro's) who discovered he had the ability to regenerate from all wounds, effectively making him immortal. Although initially a rudderless drunk, he was inspired by a time-traveling Hiro to become a legendary hero. However, the two had a falling out over a girl, leading to Adam Monroe pulling a FaceHeel Turn, spending the ages fighting in constant wars and growing to hate mankind more and more.
He ultimately comes to think of himself as a god, founded the Company by seeking out 12 like-minded superpowered disciples, and ultimately attempts to wipe out 99% of the human race with a super-virus to end hunger, poverty, and war and allow him to rule over the remaining survivors as their "hero". Adam returns in Volume Three when Hiro needs information about the Company's superserum. He makes a break for it and is ultimately caught by Arthur Petrelli's Legion of Doom and has his immortality stolen by Arthur, "aging" him to death.
- A God Am I: With the 12 founders of the company as his disciples.
- And I Must Scream: He's locked into a coffin and buried alive in Volume 2. Once again, do not horribly betray Hiro.
- Arch-Enemy: To Hiro; made especially clear in Volume Five when he returns to serve as the prosecutor in Hiro's trial at the gate to the afterlife.
- Back for the Dead: Volume 3. Hiro and Ando dig him up in hopes of gaining information on the formula. Adam escape, but is taken by Knox. Arthur then steals Adam's power of regeneration and heals himself. After having his power drained by Arthur, Adam seems to rapidly age, then crumbles to dust.
- Badass in a Nice Suit: Easily the best dressed of all the villains in the show.
- Big Bad: Of Volume Two.
- Broken Pedestal: On oh so many levels.
- The Chessmaster: Adam's plan to eliminate the majority of the human population has been in the works for decades. He's the one who even formed the company to assist in that task.
- Combat PragmatistHiro: ...but that's fighting dirty!
Kensei: That's fighting smart.
- Con Man: What he was before Hiro came along.
- Cursed with Awesome: How he feels when he first discovers his regenerative abilities. He gets over it quick.
- Dark Messiah: Especially his backstory founding the Company with the original 12 as his "disciples"
- Deadpan Snarker: With idiots like Peter and goofballs like Hiro, it's really the best way he can react.
- Disproportionate Retribution: His best friend seduced the woman he loved. So he decides to wipe out most of humanity.
- That and living through a few hundred years of war.
- Evil Mentor: He plays this for Peter Petrelli
- Humiliation Conga: He has his plan foiled, is buried alive, is brought back, captured and murdered by his old colleague. That's a frakkin' Humiliation parade.
- I Have Many Names: In the graphic novels he claims "a few dozen names", one of which is an alias with the same last name as Niki.
- In the Hood: He wears this so the audience will not recognize him when he kills Hiro's father.
- Knight Templar: Entirely convinced of the morality of his plan.
- The Lancer: Briefly to Hiro's "The Hero".
- Light Is Not Good: Light seems to be a theme with him, due to his Knight Templar motivation and his Fallen Hero status, so much so that the episode where he is killed is called Dying of the Light.
- Man of Wealth and Taste: Arthur Petrelli wishes he could make a suit look that good!
- Mighty Whitey: Deconstructed, because everything that makes him one causes him to jump off the slippery slope; thereby resulting in his Start of Darkness.
- Missed the Call: Double Subverted. He ignored the call until Hiro put him on the road to it, then pulled a FaceHeel Turn and lost it.
- Not-So-Harmless Villain: Over the course of Season Two, he goes from Hiro's goofy sidekick to Volume Two's main Big Bad.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: See his monologue in "Powerless".
- Sealed Evil in a Can: At the end of Volume 2, Adam has been buried alive by Hiro in a Japanese cemetery near Kaito Nakamura screaming for "Carp" to let him out.
- Serial Killer: He was systematically offing his 12 former disciples, leaving the "Godsend" / RNA symbol behind written in his blood.
- Sins of Our Fathers: His quote to Peter Petrelli: "Parents sin, children suffer."
- Straw Nihilist: A rare combination of this and Knight Templar.
- Training from HellHiro: Those are the 90 Angry Ronin.
Kensei: ...just how angry?
Hiro: Good luck, Kensei.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: The way he wanted to save the world by purging mankind was fueled by his heartbreak over Yaeko.
Samuel Sullivan (Robert Knepper)
- Ability: Terrakinesis
The owner of a carnival, Samuel is the new villain on the scene, but his motives are, for now, shrouded in mystery. Though it seems that his primary motivation is a huge thirst for power.
- Alliterative Name: Samuel Sullivan
- Badass Longcoat: A long black punk duster.
- Berserk Button: Hurting one of the "family" members. Although he himself has no qualms of doing so if it means framing a normal human, as evidenced by when he had Eli kill Lydia and frame Noah for the deed.
- Biblical Names/Meaningful Name: In the Old Testament, Samuel was the prophet who drove the Philistines from the Holy Land, formed the Kingdom of Israel, and anointed Saul as its first king.
- Cain and Abel: He murdered his brother Joseph in a rage after the latter refused to tell him the truth about his power.
- Dark Messiah: With more than a hint of The Anti-Christ.
- Death by Childbirth: It's implied that his mother died in the massive earthquake that coincided with his birth. Might also fall under Self-Made Orphan, as it is also implied that the massive earthquake happened because of his birth.
- Devil in Plain Sight: He looks and acts fairly sinister, but the only character who immediately sees his evil upon meeting him is Noah Bennet.
- Dishing Out Dirt: With a twist. He apparently utilizes some sort of unseen energy that connects Powered Humans to each other. The more that are close to him, the greater the magnitude of his powers. And thus his single-minded determination to gather specials to him.
- Disproportionate Retribution: After being turned down by his long-time crush, he wipes out an entire town and goes on to try and destroy New York City. This guy does not take rejection well. Admittedly this may have been more of a case of him giving up on his humanity and deciding to embrace his Dark Side.
- Heck, in the second episode, he creates a giant sinkhole under the house where he was born, killing and maiming a dozen people (and maybe more). Why? Because the owner of the house gave him the brush off when he asked to have a look around.
- Evil Counterpart: To Peter. In both cases they have older brothers who care about them, but while Nathan tried to build Peter into a better person by nurturing his potential, and ultimately Peter did everything in his power to (repeatedly) save Nathan from death out of sheer love for his brother, Joseph tried to hold Samuel back from discovering the true potential of his abilities and ultimately Samuel kills Joseph out of sheer resentment for what he believed was his brother making him waste his life.
- Expy: A concentration camp survivor with incredible power over an elemental force of nature who gathers together a group of superpowered mutants in a bid to destroy humanity? Where have we heard that before?
- However, Samuel Sullivan is a twist: Although Magneto's desire to eliminate humanity for the good of the superpowered mutants is genuine (in most mediums, anyways), Sullivan himself pretty much fabricated that belief, not really caring one bit for his mutants and is only recruiting them so he could have his powers ascend to godlike levels.
- Faux Affably Evil: He makes a big show of being a wise and caring Father to His Men, but inside he's a cold and manipulative Jerkass who cares only about satisfying his own selfish desires.
- Fetus Terrible: He nearly destroyed Coyote Sands when he was still in the womb.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: He used to be a drunk-off-his-rocker useless layabout assistant to his brother Joseph, a rather upright ringleader. It was only after accidentally killing his brother and learning more about his powers did he hijack the carnival, reinvent himself as an idealistic, charismatic messiah offering sanctuary, and claw his way towards Magnificent Bastardry.
- Gotta Catch Them All: He'll recruit as many "specials" as he can get, by hook or by crook.
- Heartbroken Badass: His rejection, by Vanessa, is ultimately what drives his plan to destroy New York.
- Jumped at the Call: Possibly. He mentions something to the effect of, "I was free when I found I could move the very earth beneath my feet."
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: His takedown of the police station and the cops who killed Jeremy.
- Large Ham: It makes sense, given that he's the ringmaster of a carnival. It really adds a larger-than-life air of gravitas to his character.
- Love Makes You Evil: Subverted. Although it is implied shortly after Vanessa breaks off the relationship with him that he decided to eliminate all of humanity because of her breakup, he later admits that his wanting to eliminate normal people's only relation to Vanessa was when she expressed fear of his powers, something he actually liked, meaning that her breakup had barely anything, if at all, to do with his next actions.
- Manipulative Bastard: Really shows this with how he has all of his family under his thumb, even staging an assassination attempt to eliminate any naysayers among his followers and gather their support.
- Monster Clown: Technically speaking, as he runs a carnival that more often than not would have people you'd expect from the circus, he qualifies as a clown. And boy, is he monstrous.
- New Era Speech: He really loves to give these to his "family," especially over their communal dinner table.
- Omniglot: Despite having no formal education whatsoever, he is fluent in at least three languages (English, Japanese, and American Sign Language), which just happen to be the three languages he needs to converse with every one of the season's major characters.
- Person of Mass Destruction: Without a notable power-up that he eventually intends to gain, he's able to level entire towns with a little concentration. If he gathers enough people around him, he'd probably rival Ted in sheer power, except Samuel would actually be able to control it. Supported by the many Volume 3 prophecies in which the earth is cracking open in a world full of specials.
- Popularity Power: An in-universe example. The more "specials" he gathers around himself, the more powerful he becomes.
- Self-Made Orphan: Sort of... His parents are never mentioned, but the closest to a parent is his brother, and he essentially murdered him after learning his brother called Danko to arrest him.
- Also, as noted by the Death by Childbirth trope, his mom died while giving birth to him during an earthquake, and it is implied that the earthquake was caused by his birth.
- Smarter Than You Look: Despite having little-to-no formal education, Samuel speaks Japanese and American Sign Language.
- Stalker with a Crush: To Vanessa.
- Villainous Breakdown: Starting when his "family" turns away from him; completely and utterly once Hiro teleports his former co-workers away from the carnival, effectively leaving him powerless.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Subverted. His stated goal of creating a sanctuary where "specials" can be protected from Fantastic Racism would be a laudable one...but it's only a cover for gathering together enough "specials" to boost his power to godlike levels.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Samuel's sanity really goes down a few notches once he learns about the full extent of his ability.
- You Kill It, You Bought It: Despite the name, the Sullivan Bros. Carnival was really run by his brother Joseph... until he killed Joseph and took it over.
Noah Bennet (Jack Coleman)
A.K.A. HRG (Horned-Rimmed Glasses) for his iconic spectacles. Initially (and falsely) identified as the Big Bad in the first few episodes, before the plot really got rolling. Noah Bennet presents himself as just an ordinary businessman at a paper company living a typical suburban life with his wife, two kids, and a dog — but he's actually a Badass Normal agent of the Company whose job it is to track down and tag super-powered individuals. A devoted family man, his job becomes complicated by his own daughter Claire being just such a "person of interest", a fact which he is hiding from his superiors in order to protect Claire.
After being pushed too far, Noah ultimately decides to screw his job and take down the entire Company himself (it doesn't turn out too well). In the third season, he's revealed to have been the Company's number one operative in the fight against supercriminals and directly responsible for the capture of most of the Level 5 Supervillains, making him something of the Heroes universe's version of Batman.
Noah is reinstated by the Company in Volume 3 to help re-capture the escaped villains, including a very awkward brief partnership with a seemingly reformed Sylar that quickly degenerates into the two attempting to off each other. In Volume 4, Noah is hired to help co-head Unit 26 in its crusade to capture and imprison people with abilities; it later turns out he's acting as a Reverse Mole, loyal (in his own roundabout way) to the interests of supers, particularly daughter Claire and his real boss, Claire's grandmother, Angela Petrelli.
- Affably Evil: Very much. Even before his turn, he seems like a pretty pleasant guy. He also treats the supers he works with the utmost respect.
- The Atoner: In volume five, especially regarding Jeremy Greer.
- Back from the Dead: As if he wasn't hard to kill already, the one time it was successful they used Claire's blood to revive him.
- Badass in a Nice Suit: He mostly dresses like this.
- Badass Normal: Oh yeah. It's like his special ability. At the start of season two, his boss at Copy Kingdom berates him and sneers at him for failing to respect the art of photocopying papers. A short session with Mr. Horn-Rimmed Glasses in the backroom, though, ends with two broken fingers and a never-to-be-repressed terror of his new employee. He doesn't have any powers and still manages to match everyone else by knowing how they work. And then, in a two-part episode, everyone loses their powers. And Sylar makes him mad.
- Batter Up!: In the Graphic Novel:Normal Lives, Noah beats Marcus with a baseball bat to prevent him from harming anyone else.
- Breakout Character: He was originally only supposed to be in a few episodes in the first season, but he proved so popular they wrote him in full-time (and ended up appearing in more episodes than anyone else except Claire). In the original pilot, he wasn't even identified as Claire's adopted father.
- And in Heroes Reborn, he's promoted to central character as he's drawn out of hiding to start investigating his missing memories and the truth behind the Odessa terrorism attack, coming into contact with the new cast.
- The Chessmaster: He doesn't just control the pieces, he practically built the board.
- *Click* Hello: Thompson gets the drop on Matt Parkman this way and taunts his telepathy by saying, "What am I thinking, Parkman?". Then Mr. Bennet gets the drop on Thompson by doing this and answers for Matt by saying "Your last thought". And shoots him.
- Cool Old Guy: More of a cool middle-aged guy but still.
- Crusading Widower: His first wife, Kate, was killed in a botched home invasion by a telekinetic. He would embark on a quest to eliminate his wife's killer and all specials until the Company intervened. Her would later re-marry, but he still harbors suspicions about specials.
- Cultured Badass: He can kick your ass and recite Shakespeare perfectly.
- The Dreaded: Bennet was pretty dreaded himself at first. Sylar is, in fact, the only thing more feared than "the man with the horn-rimmed glasses."
- Eye Scream: One of the most graphic prime-time TV deaths..
- Good Is Not Soft: Witty, friendly, impeccably polite, and will slit your throat if you hurt his family.
- HeelFace Revolving Door: As he puts it:Noah: I'm quite comfortable with being morally grey.
- HeelFace Turn: By Heroes Reborn, Noah is promoted to central protagonist, driving most of the main plot and attempting to avert a larger disaster than Odessa.
- Heroic Sacrifice: He's done several in order to save Claire and survives. He does the same for his twin grandchildren to use their powers at full capacity to save the world, but this time he doesn't survive.
- He Who Fights Monsters: Most of what he does he does to protect Claire, but pursuing the highly dangerous Level 5 inmates shaped him into the unscrupulous operative that he is today.
- Iconic Item: His horn-rimmed glasses.
- I Did What I Had to Do: His justification every time that he crosses the line to protect Claire.
- In Harm's Way: Bennet attempts to retire after the fall of the Company. It didn't take.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: Heroes Reborn reveals that his memories of the show's events have been erased from his memory and he's living in exile. Just before Rene dies from a gunshot wound, he reveals that Noah had asked him to erase and alter his memories of the day of the bombing and kill him because a tragedy worse than the bombing was coming and apparently he didn't want to be alive for it.
- Knight Templar Parent: He seems a little too eager to protect his daughter, despite her being almost physically invincible. It later emerges that he's trying to protect her from being imprisoned and experimented on by his bosses, who ordered him to return her to them if she ever developed a superpower.
- Manipulative Bastard
- Married to the Job: When he first started working for the Company, he was so ruthless on his missions that the Company all but ordered him to get a family life because he was killing specials instead of tagging them like they wanted.
- Memory Gambit: Pulls this in Volume One with the help of the Haitian, in order to protect Claire from the Company.
- Muggle Foster Parents: He and Sandra for Claire.
- Meaningful Name: Possibly. He shares his first name with an ark-building Biblical character, and also with a famous dictionary-compiler. What do they have in common? They all collect things.
- Never My Fault: He pushed Elle into manipulating Gabriel Gray into giving into his dark side that led to becoming Sylar. This same man led to murdering many innocent people and once attacked Claire. He does not take into consideration that he should've let Elle help him as opposed to seeing him as a monster (one that he helped create).
- No Name Given: Until the first season finale, he's only known as "Mr. Bennet," "The Man With Horn-Rimmed Glasses," or "HRG."
- Papa Wolf: Try to hurt Claire. See how long you last. Which made many fans wonder whether he'd been lobotomised during the Volume 4 season finale. He's also a Grandpapa Wolf for Tommy and Malina.
- Punch-Clock Villain: Noah, known in the early season of as 'Horned Rim Glasses' for his eminently clerkly appearance, was a frightening example of this trope played absolutely straight, until a family crisis pushed him into his HeelFace Turn.
- Retired Badass: By the time Heroes Reborn rolls around, this appears to be largely forced on him as he's actually in hiding with his memories wiped out. He's living under the alias "Ted Barnes" and returned to selling used cars.
- Scary Shiny Glasses: He wears horn-rimmed glasses, which ramp up his personal creepiness factor. Dramatically. His Fan Nickname during the first season, when he had appeared but his identity was not yet known, was simply "Horned Rim Glasses" or "The HRG."
- Sniper Rifle: He tracks Sylar and Elle down at the Canfield household and watches them have sex through the scope of a sniper rifle before opening fire.
- Took a Level in Badass: Now he was always badass, but it really kicked into overdrive when the eclipse came and took everyone's powers. He even beats up and kills Sylar fairly easily.
- Actually, he took it when his pregnant wife Kate was killed by a telekinetic. Before that, he was just a used car salesman.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Quite often. All of his actions are built on a solid foundation of genuinely good intentions (helping people with powers and preventing them from harming others, protecting Claire). He can simply be very ruthless with how he does it.
- Would Hurt a Child: He's willing to shoot eight-year-old Littlest Shanti Virus Patient Molly Walker.