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Characters / John Carter of Mars

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This is trope page specific to characters from John Carter of Mars. See here for the character sheet to the Warlord of Mars and here to the 2012 movie

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     John Carter 

John Carter, Prince of Helium, Warlord of Mars
Confederate veteran of the American Civil War, he finds himself transported to Mars through mysterious ways involving astral projecton. Due to the planet's atmosphere and gravity, he is much stronger there than he is on Earth. There, he encounters both formidable alien creatures and various warring Martian races, wins the hand of Martian princess Dejah Thoris, and rises to the position of Warlord of Mars.

  • The Ageless
  • Ambiguously Human: Well, he looks, acts, and considers himself human, but there is the little matter of the immortality...
  • The Berserker: When a red haze covers his vision, it's probably best to be somewhere else; he'll slaughter everyone in the vicinity.
  • Big Good: After becoming the Warlord of Mars.
  • Blood Knight: He admits that he enjoys fighting a great deal, although he's a pacifist compared to the Barsoomians.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: If any personal duel Carter is in is not this it's generally because Carter is deliberately sandbagging to waste time or because he doesn't want to kill his opponent (e.g., he can't kill Sab Than because Dejah Thoris has been semi-forcibly engaged to him, and a Martian custom says that a woman can't marry the man who kills her fiancé). In the entire series there are only a couple of times when Carter acknowledges that he's facing someone nearly as good as he is.
  • Dual Wielding: While he usually prefers the long sword alone, he carries the traditional Martian short sword as well and uses both when necessary.
  • Guile Hero / Idiot Hero: An odd combination, depending on context. He's quite clever in a fight, but can often be clueless in social situations, particularly (and self-admittedly) around women.
  • Heavyworlder: Of the second variety - an Earth-normal human on a light-gravity world.
  • The Hero: Of the initial trilogy and some of the later books.
  • Heroic BSoD: Has one at the end of The Gods of Mars when he sees his wife being trapped inside the Temple of the Sun with a very jealous rival ready to kill her, and there is nothing he could do to save them.
  • Lady and Knight: He is the White Knight to Dejah's Bright Lady, being a Virginian gentleman and a unparalleled warrior sworn to defend his lady love.
  • Master Swordsman: Carter himself is often referred to as the greatest swordsman of two worlds, for good reason. Only Tars Tarkas is ever described as being nearly his equal. In The Warlord of Mars, though, he meets his equal in the form of the Yellow Martian warrior Solan, and the narration spends pretty much their whole duel waxing poetic about how good they both are (Carter wins more through luck than anything).
  • Mighty Whitey: Though he's a human among aliens, rather than a white man among non-whites; also the mighty part is unusually literal.
  • Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond: On Earth, he's perfectly normal. However, due to lower gravity on Mars, he's superhuman by comparison.
  • Out of Focus: He's the main character of the first three books, then fades into the background for a while so that other characters can take the spotlight, then becomes The Hero again later in the series.
  • Outside-Context Problem: Carter is this for the rest of Barsoom; an monstrously-strong, nigh immortal juggernaut of a warrior that no one ever faced before in its history.
  • Slasher Smile: his "fighting grin" is a heroic version.
  • Super Strength: With muscles built for Earth's gravity, he's far stronger than even a Green Man.

     Dejah Thoris 

Dejah Thoris
Princess of Helium and John Carter's Love Interest. She is repeatedly captured through out the books.

  • Deuteragonist: In the first book, of which she is the eponymous character.
  • Distressed Damsel / Defiant Captive: She gets kidnapped a lot. Still, while she doesn't usually fight her captors physically, she's generally quick to show her contempt for them. In Warlord, she once has to be knocked out and carried by her captors, as there was no way they could drag her along with them.
  • Damsel out of Distress: Sometimes she can get herself out of trouble, or if nothing else, assist John in doing so.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Dejah doesn't wear sho....okay, she doesn't wear much of anything really. But it's fairly notable that Mars is a very rugged, rocky desert planet. Red Martians in general don't wear much, but they do at least wear boots - Dejah on the other hand was, is, and evidently always will be barefoot.
  • Green-Skinned Space Babe: Very likely at least the Trope Maker, if not the Ur-Example, though with red skin, rather than green. It would be Star Trek that would introduce specifically green-skinned space babes.
  • Happily Married: With John Carter.
  • Hot Scientist: Went on a scientific expedition to find and fix the atmosphere factory.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Done to her constantly by Tal Hajus, Sab Than, a few Black Martians, Thurid, Matai Shang, Salensus Oll and the list goes on.
  • Interspecies Romance: With John Carter.
  • Kirk Summation: She delivers an epic one to the Tharks who captured her while attempting to convince them to reach peace with the Red Martians.
    "Why, oh, why will you not learn to live in amity with your fellows, must you ever go on down the ages to your final extinction but little above the plane of the dumb brutes that serve you! A people without written language, without art, without homes, without love; the victim of eons of the horrible community idea. Owning everything in common, even to your women and children, has resulted in your owning nothing in common. You hate each other as you hate all else except yourselves. Come back to the ways of our common ancestors, come back to the light of kindliness and fellowship. The way is open to you, you will find the hands of the red men stretched out to aid you. Together we may do still more to regenerate our dying planet. The grand-daughter of the greatest and mightiest of the red jeddaks has asked you. Will you come?"
  • Lady and Knight: The Bright Lady to John's White Knight, being a proud and fiercely aristocratic Red Martian princess who needs protecting.
  • The Matchmaker: She develops a talent for this, because her husband has no idea how to deal with women falling in love with him. She usually befriends the women in question and pairs them off with someone else.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Like most female Martians. Hell, its even Lampshaded by Carter in her first appearance.
    "She was destitute of clothes (...) save for her highly wrought ornaments she was entirely naked, nor could any apparel have enhanced the beauty of her perfect and symmetrical figure."
  • Nice Girl: Dejah is a faithful wife, a caring mother and overall a empathetic and nice person. She managed to push a Thern, of all people, who tried to kill her into perform a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Only Sane Man: By the time of the first book, all Martians are fully aware that the atmosphere will soon be unbreathable. Dejah Thoris is the only political figure interested in any truce to try to prevent this common problem.
  • Out of Focus: She has little screen-time in later books than she does in the first book.
  • Princess Classic
  • Proud Warrior Race Girl: In attitude, though she isn't herself a fighter.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: She's an incredibly popular political figure in Helium, and she's introduced leading an expedition to test the conditions of Barsoom's decaying atmosphere.
  • So Beautiful, It's a Curse: Virtually every male Big Bad in the first trilogy tries to force her into marriage or rape her.
  • Stripperiffic
  • World's Most Beautiful Woman
  • Xenafication: The Film of the Book gives her the fighting skills to back up aforementioned Proud Warrior Race Girl attitude, making her a full-on Lady of War.

     Red Martians

The Red Martians are the most predominant people in Barsoom, originated from the interbreeding between White, Black and Yellow Martians. They are organized into a system of imperial city-states such as Helium, Zodanga, Ptarth and many others. They resemble humans very closely, except for their red-copper skintone and laying eggs instead of giving birth.

Tropes related to the Red People:

  • Bizarre Alien Biology: They lay eggs instead of give birth, they mature extremely quickly (Carthoris is already an young adult by the time he reunites with his father only after a decade has passed) and after reaching physical maturity, their aging process is significantly slowed down.
  • Butt-Monkey: The Red Martians are preyed on by quite literally everyone else in the planet. If they aren't being raided by Greens or Blacks, they are being lured to A Fate Worse Than Death by the Whites.
  • Foil: To the Green Martians.
  • In the Future, Humans Will Be One Race: They are the product of crossbreeding between the (supposedly) long extinct precursors in Barsoom history.
  • Human Aliens: They are the most human people in the series. For whatever the term holds.
  • Perma-Shave: Facial hair is considered unknown to Red Martians.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: While Red Martians respect noncombatants more than the Green and Black Martians do, they still honor warriors among all other men, and their honor is largely based on their warrior code. Even men who aren't warriors wear a weapon harness and often go armed.
  • Red Skinned Space Babe: Female Red Martians are noted for their extreme beauty and pretty much all female love interests in this series belong to this race.
  • True-Breeding Hybrid: They're believed to have been descended from Black, White and Yellow Martians that crossbred with eachother.


Son of John and Dejah. He was born the very day his father disappeared from Barsoom.


A young princess of Ptarth that was captured 15 years ago by the White Martians and made their slave. She is freed by Carter when he returns to Barsoom and develops an infatuation to the Earthman. She is the female lead of Thuvia, Maid of Mars.

  • All Love Is Unrequited: She falls hard for John Carter, but shows this through Courtly Love. Since his goal is to reunite with Dejah Thoris, she does everything she can to get him back to her.
  • Ascended Extra: After being a supporting character in Gods and Warlord, she gets to be one of the two central protagonists of the fourth book, which is named for her.
  • The Beastmaster: she has the ability to command banths (great hairy brutal beasts with More Teeth than the Osmond Family), and uses this frequently.
  • Damsel out of Distress: Somewhat more active than Dejah; she shoots and kills a Thern who had abused her and manages to throw off the influence of Tario, who while completely insane was still one of the strongest psychics on the planet. She also helps Dejah and Phaidor kill Salensus Oll.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Well, all banths, anyway. It's said she always had a way with them ever since she had one as a pet when she was a child. She doesn't understand this ability any better than anyone else.
  • Love Father, Love Son: She initially showed attraction towards Carter, but could plainly see he was faithful to his wife. When his son, Carthoris, began to spend more time in her company in her own spin-off book, she eventually came to admire and love him.
  • Loving a Shadow: John Carter theorizes that she doesn't know him well enough to 'really' be in love with him.
  • Psychic Powers: Beyond the usual subtle telepathy of Red Martians, she can communicate with and control banths.

Tara of Helium

Daughter of John and Dejah and younger sister of Carthoris.

  • Half-Human Hybrid: Half-Red Martian, half-Earthling. Unlike her brother, however, she demonstrates none of her father's Super Strength or other abilities; except maybe his Nerves of Steel (below).
  • Head-Turning Beauty: She has inherited her mother's extreme beauty, and many men are willing to ignore her less-than appealing personality flaws because of it.
  • Nerves of Steel: She inherited her father's resourcefulness and resolve.
  • Royal Brat: She's among the richest and most beautiful women of Mars, member of its most powerful royal family, and you don't disrespect the daughter of John Carter if you want your head to stay attached. Unfortunately, knowing all this has gone to her head.
  • Spoiled Brat: At the beginning of Chessmen of Mars. She suffers a Humiliation Conga that leaves her a bit less full of herself.
  • Super Strength: Averted. Despite being a half-Earthling, she's physically no stronger than any other Red Martian woman.
  • Survival Mantra: "I still live"—learned from her father.

Kantos Kan

A Jedwar (Captain) in Helium's army.

  • The Lancer: To Tardos Mors.
  • The Reliable One: He's a good soldier (nothing super-exceptional), but notable mainly as John Carter's sturdiest and most reliable friend in Helium.

Tardos Mors

Dejah Thoris' grandfather and Jeddak of Helium.

Tan Hadron of Hastor

The main protagonist in A Fighting Man of Mars, Hadron is a officer in Helium's army who embarks in the search of his beloved Sanoma Tora.

  • Badass Normal: Compared to John Carter, Ulysses Paxton and Carthoris, Hadron is just an average Red Martian soldier that lacks Super Strength like other main protagonists of other books and is also several times more vulnerable than they are, which makes all his feats of bravery even more impressive.
  • Impoverished Patrician: Hadron is technically a prince of Gathol through his mother's side, but he doesn't enjoy any special privileges. It frustrates him because Sanoma Tora won't spare a thought about him due to his station.
  • The Hero: In A Fighting Man of Mars.
  • Humble Hero: Hadron is quite comfortable with his humble life as a padwar in Helium's army.
  • Loving a Shadow: He is infatuated with a idealized version of Sanoma, projecting many virtues that the real deal lacks. Later in the book he's bitterly disillusioned when Sanoma Tora betrays him from pure selfishness.
  • Oblivious to Love: Hadron doesn't realize he fell in love with Tavia until late in the story.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: He just considers Tavia a good friend. After his heart's broken he begins to value her Undying Loyalty much more.
  • Survival Mantra / Badass Boast: He also uses John Carter's "I still live."


  • Action Girl: An early example. Tavia is self-motivated and completely willing to fight on her own behalf, figure out her own solutions and act to help the hero.
  • Battle Couple: With Hadron.
  • Boyish Short Hair: She is described as having cropped, short hair.
  • Damsel out of Distress: Specifically in contrast to Sanoma Tora.
  • Deuteragonist: In A Fighting Man of Mars.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Only occasionally - she's usually supportive of Hadron but knows stupidity when she hears it.
  • Fallen Princess: She was Made a Slave before her book begins, and doesn't regard her royal ancestry as important.
  • Gratuitous Princess: In a unsurprising turn of events, Tavia reveals she is actually a princess.
  • Made a Slave: Long ago, as a child.
  • Plucky Girl: Optimistic and energetic.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: She escaped from Tul Axtar's harem by disguising herself in male warrior trappings.
  • Tarnishing Their Own Beauty: Makes herself unappealing enough for Tul Axtar to leave her alone.
  • Tomboy Princess: Though its not initially established she is an princess, Tavia is definitely a tomboy. In fact, she is deemed too masculine-looking for Axtar's tastes and he strands her alongside Hadron, rather than adding her to his harem (much to Hadron's relief).

Sanoma Tora

  • Alpha Bitch: Daughter of one of Helium's richest men, she grew up wanting for nothing.
  • Beauty Is Bad: Tora is extremely beautiful and alluring, but these are pretty much her only redeeming traits.
  • Dirty Coward: Most Martian women don't engage in battle anyway, but she'll do anything to avoid peril.
  • Distressed Damsel: Being captured by Tul Axtar and added to his harem is what kicks off the events of A Fighting Man of Mars as Hadron goes to rescue her. In a unusual turn of events, she betrays her rescuers and sides with her kidnapper.
  • Romantic False Lead: To Hadron.
  • Rich Bitch: Her father is a Nouveau Riche, who is merely distinguished by his immense wealth than any other quality.
  • Ungrateful Bitch: Hadron spends the book searching for her out of love, to prevent her from being made Axtar's concubine and manages to save her and imprison her captor. At that point, Sanoma basically sells Hadron and Tavia out by siding with Tul Axtar (in exchange for a promise of marriage to Axtar, to fulfill her dream of becoming a queen.) Everyone Has Standards, though - she made Axtar promise not to kill Hadron and Tavia.
  • Uptown Girl: She is this to Tan Hadron at first. While he has Blue Blood himself, he is neither rich or privileged - he is identified rather as a lowly, poor padwar (army officer) than a chieftain and as such Sanoma looks down on him, despite his relation to royalty.
  • Veronica

Tul Axtar

Bent on conquering the world, Tul Axatar caused several advanced war products to be developed which would make victory guaranteed; disentegrating rays,disintegration-proofing, cloaking devices. He also deliberately overpopulated his land so that he could Zerg Rush enemies with immense armies - who cares if they starve between wars? He also had a harem of thousands of women kidnapped around Mars, with Sanoma Tora as the newest addition.

  • Big Bad: In A Fighting Man of Mars.
  • Dirty Coward: While some of Barsoom's villains have Villainous Valour, Axtar has none. He postpones his conquest of Barsoom out of fear, despite his deliberate cultivation of all possible advantages. Whenever he is backed into the corner by Hadron, he is utterly terrified.
  • Evil Overlord: Rules his kingdom of Jahar with iron fist, regularly kidnaps beautiful women for his harem and has plans to conquer Barsoom.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Does this to Sanoma Tora. Would have done it to Tavia too, but she took measures to make herself look unappealing enough for him to leave her alone.
  • Take Over the World: His ultimate plan.
  • We Can Rule Together: Makes this offer to Sanoma.

Phor Tak

Originally from Jahar, this ancient scientist fled Tul Axtar's oppressive influence and relocated at an old castle he named Jhama. He is the creator of the disentegrator ray (and its countermeasure), a paint to render objects invisible, and "the flying death," a smart bomb.

  • The Dragon: He was originally this to Axtar.
  • Enemy Mine: He forms an alliance with Hadron to help against Axtar, though its clear that Phor Tak is just as evil and also wants to take over Barsoom.
  • Evil Laugh: Has a very distinctive cackle that sounds like "Heigh-oo."
  • Mad Scientist: Definitely unstable, but he's made several staggering advances in war technology. His last and most terrible (which modern readers would immediately recognize as a stealth-capable drone loaded with explosives) is kept for himself.


  • Animal Motifs: Spiders. He has his inner quarters decorated with them. And then there is his nickname.
  • Beard of Evil: Unusual in Red Martians, since they are said to lack facial hair.
  • The Caligula: Even more so than Tul Axtar.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: His favored pastime.
  • Karma Houdini: After the heroes escape him, Ghron is never mentioned again and therefore never faces any punishment or repercussions for his actions.
  • Torture Technician: He's got some subjects who are skilled at torture, but he also likes to keep in practice himself.
  • The Red Baron: 'The Spider of Ghasta.'

Ras Thavas

  • Creating Life Is Bad: Ras Thavas discovers this the hard way when he creates the Hormads.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: He tends to immediately exploit the profitable applications of a new discovery. It's not Greed, he just sees this as a way to keep funding his ongoing research.
  • For Science!: Initially he is portrayed as a monstrous Mad Scientist, but as time goes on it's shown that he also does good things - he's generations ahead of other Barsoomian healers in forms of medicine that can do great good. He's completely indifferent to whether an action is called 'wonderful' or 'monstrous.'
  • Grand Theft Me: He specializes in surgical brain transfers, and trains his student, Vad Varo, to transfer his own brain into a younger body.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: He's not personally concerned with morality. He starts off largely evil, is given a second chance by Ulysses Paxton on condition of working for the welfare of Barsoom, and then one of his experiments goes horribly wrong and he ends up working for the bad guys again, before being rescued and turning good once more.
  • Mad Scientist: In The Master Mind of Mars he's financing his studies by transferring the brains of the very rich into young, handsome, kidnapped bodies. In Synthetic Men of Mars, he's mass-producing deformed 'synthetic men' to sell to those who want Cannon Fodder.
  • Tin Man: Ras Thavas, just like the Toonolians, appears to have reached this state from excessive desire to be The Stoic. He professes to be above such things as sentiment, but when he manifests it, and Ulysses Paxton calls him on it, he is in complete denial.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: He falls victim to this with the Hormads.

Valla Dia

  • Grand Theft Me: She falls victim to this.
  • So Beautiful, It's a Curse: Warriors used to fight to claim her. She is perfectly fine with having her body switched with a old hag if it means no more people dying because of her.


  • Big Bad: In Master Mind of Mars.
  • Evil Old Folks: Just like Issus, Xaxa is extremely old and looks like it. Given how slowly Martians age, she must be centuries old.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: She is said to have cruelly taxed and exploited her citizens and used the fear of their deity to keep them from rebelling.
  • Grand Theft Me: She switched bodies with Valla Dia.

Sab Than

  • And Now You Must Marry Me: Or your precious home will fall.
  • Arranged Marriage: With Dejah Thoris.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: With Tal Hajus in A Princess of Mars. He is the final obstacle to be overcome in the first book.
  • Flat Character: There isn't much to his character other than being a Prince of Zodanga (the rival city-state to Helium) and forcing Dejah to marry him and secure peace between the two.
  • Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace: The marriage ceremony is crashed by Carter with an army of Tharks. According to Martian customs, a woman cannot marry the man who murders her husband or groom. The problem is settled when Tars Tarks is the one to kill Than instead of Carter.

     Green Martians

The other most predominant race in Barsoom, the Green Martians are a nomadic, primitive race of green-skinned humanoids with two pair of arms. They are extremely warlike and brutal, pretty much being orcs, as they frequently raid Red Martians and are the most common foes battled by the main heroes, with the exception of the Tharks, who become allied to them from the end of first book on.

Tropes related to the Green People

  • Always Chaotic Evil: Subverted with the Tharks at least. They are shown to be savage raiders that look down upon weakness, have no written language or do not form bonds of marriage or family, but they can be reasoned with and eventually become allies to Carter (albeit only because of his strength).
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: Their society runs on Klingon Promotion, but this is checked by council rule. If you want to challenge the chief (either the jed of a tribe or the jeddak of a federation), you can only do so with the chief's consent (such as him attacking you) or the unanimous approval of the chief's council.
  • Barbarian Tribe: They have this kind of society, organizing in barbarian-style tribes.
  • Foil: To the Red Martians as two most predominant peoples of Barsoom.
  • Humanoid Aliens: They are easily the most monstrous and inhuman-looking race in the planet.
  • Green-Skinned Space Babe: Averted! While they are green-skinned, they are not even remotely attractive.
  • The Horde: Any tribe that isn't the Tharks.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: Green Martians have two pair of arms.
  • Our Orcs Are Different: Notable that they precede the Trope Codifier, but they have elements of both the Tolkien and Blizzard molds.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: They value strength above everything else; it is why they dislike Sola for being too soft or Tal Hajus for being a coward and why they respect Carter.
  • Super Breeding Program: They breed exclusively for size and strength.
  • Unbuilt Trope: They're one of the first examples of a species that might be Our Orcs Are Different. But while they have a bit of The Usual Adversaries about them, they're not Always Chaotic Evil, and they're savage Barbarian a deliberate adaptation to the After the End world that they ride across. Their technology is also as good as anyone else's, and better in some ways (such as their rifles).
  • Would Not Hit a Girl: The honor code for Green Martians works differently in this respect from the Red version. As the two genders occupy different social spheres, not only is it dishonorable for a man to hit a woman, but it's equally dishonorable for a woman to hit a man. This also only applies to Green Martians; other races are fair game.

Tars Tarkas

A Thark warrior who is the first being to befriend John Carter when he first sojourns on Mars. He is Carter's most valuable ally and his blood brother, having become Jeddak of the Tharks with his help.

Tal Hajus

Jeddak of the Tharks in A Princess of Mars.



A very cruel and bitter Green Martian crone charged with looking over the Tharks' prisoners.

  • Asshole Victim: Tars has her exiled to the River Iss upon becoming a Jeddak. Nobody ever heard or saw her again, but given what awaits everyone who undertakes pilgrimage to Valley Dor, it supposedly wasn't a very good way to die. Not that she didn't have it coming either way.
  • Evil Old Folks: She is 900 years old and a very evil Martian.
  • Jerkass: Sarkoja cruelly abuses Dejah while she is her captive and tries to have Carter killed for daring to step up to protect her. It's also revealed she is responsible for the death of Sola's mother Gozava.

     White Martians

The White Martians are the Precursors in Barsoom's history. It's said they ruled Mars over 500.000 years ago as a seafaring culture, but their empire degenerated over the years after the oceans started to dry up. White Martians resemble Caucasian humans with blonde hair though some of their descendants are either auburn-haired or bald. Their people still live to this day as reclusive beings split into three races:

  • The Orovars, the original White Martian people hiding within Horz, one of the oldest of the dead cities of Mars, and are very adamant about keeping their existence secret.
  • The Therns, who inhabit Valley Dor and promote a complex Path of Inspiration in order to lure other races to their homeland in search of paradise, only to enslave and devour them. They are the primary antagonists in the second and third book.
  • The Lotharians, a Dying Race of very powerful psychics who spend their time debating philosophy among themselves.

Tropes shared by the White Martian Peoples

  • Bald of Evil: The Therns are completely hairless, but use wigs to emulate their ancestors and it's considered extremely shameful to be seen without them.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: The Therns like to think themselves as the masters of Barsoom; in reality, they are just puppets to another people who manipulated them the same way they had with the other Martian peoples.
  • Dirty Coward: The Therns are noted to fight dirty and refuse to strike back at the First-Born pirates who venture into their domain and capture any female Therns they can put their hands on.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: A race of white-skinned, blonde haired and blue-eyed people who sees themselves as superior and therefore has the right to exploit them however they sees fit. A Nazi by Any Other Name is averted however, since they were introduced decades before the Nazis came to power.
  • Dying Race: By the time they are discovered, there are only 1,000 Lotharian males left, with no females. On one hand, they have been able to live indefinitely thanks to their powers, but on the other hand, they have became such shut-ins that it's very unlikely they would have been able to rebuild themselves or be re-integrated with the remaining Therns.
  • A God Am I: The Therns of Valley Dor have this attitude. Ironically, the Lotharians (who have extremely advanced superpowers such as spontaneously creating life to back up the claim) lack it because of their complete detachment from reality, perceiving the whole world as an illusion.
  • Hidden Elf Village: Valley Dor for the Therns, Horz for the Orovar and the Torquas Swamps for the Lotharians.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: The Therns devour the flesh of Red and Green Martians after it has been drained of its "defiling" blood by Plant-Man.
  • Light Is Not Good: White Martians have served as antagonists from time to time in the books. While it is mentioned in the background Whites have joined the heroes after Issus' downfall and became integrated to Red Martian society, the number of sympathetic named characters can be counted in one hand.
  • Made a Slave: The Therns enslave those lured to Valley Dor (who survive the White Apes and the Plant Men).
  • Moral Myopia: The Therns are horrified by the fate of Thern women taken by black pirates (deduced by their never taking men alive). They don't have a problem with doing this to other races they see beneath them.
  • Religion of Evil: The Therns used to promote the Cult of Issus to make slaves out of anyone who ventured into Valley Dor. They are also on the receiving end by the First-Born who lured them towards the Temple of Issus in the underground Sea of Omean where paradise waited them.
    • The Lotharians venerated a deity called Komal (in reality, it was a large banth) to whom Tario sacrificed people who displeased him.
  • Vestigial Empire: Once the White Martians were the most predominant people of Barsoom, now all that remains are three hidden cities, of which only one of them still preserves their past.

Matai Shang, "The Father of Therns"

The Holy Hekkador (High Priest) of the Therns.

  • Bald of Evil: Like all Therns, he's naturally bald but wears a wig to cover it up.
  • Big Bad: Of The Warlord of Mars, shared with Thurid and Salensus Oll.
  • The Chessmaster: He knows how to plan.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: He and Thurid agreed to inflict any vileness they could think on John Carter's princess.
  • Evil Gloating: Gloating evilly is part of being a full-of-himself villain, like he is.
  • A God Am I: He's the High Priest of an A God Am I race, so yeah.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: In Gods he's mentioned a lot but never shows up in the flesh. This changes in the first chapter of Warlord.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: He says to Carter's face that this is what he intend to do with Dejah after killing him.
    (...) But that the death you die tonight may be doubly bitter, know you that when you have passed, your widow becomes the wife of Matai Shang, Hekkador of the Holy Therns, for a Martian year. At the end of that time, as you know, she shall be discarded, as is the law among us, but not, as is usual, to lead a quiet and honored life as high priestess of some hallowed shrine. Instead, Dejah Thoris, Princess of Helium, shall become the plaything of my lieutenants—perhaps of thy most hated enemy, Thurid, the black dator."
  • Priest King: Of the Therms.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: With Thurid; he's the blue. He's a cold-blooded schemer who stays away from the action and is mostly motivated by a desire to maintain his power.
  • Smug Snake: A huge ego insufficiently backed up by evidence.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: With Thurid; they hate each other, but hate Carter more.
  • Try to Fit That on a Business Card: Matai Shang, Holy Hekkador of the Holy Therns, Father of the Therns, Brother of Issus, Master of Life and Death Upon Barsoom.

Matai Shang's daughter, she was introduced being captured by the First Born.

  • Alas, Poor Villain: Carter and Dejah are legitimately moved and grieved at her death.
  • Alpha Bitch: The Martian equivalent of one, being the princess of a cannibal cult that looks down on all other Martian peoples and consider themselves as divine beings, acting extremely condescending towards John Carter at times. While her age is not specified, she is possibly much younger than Carter, who refers to her as "young girl" many times.
  • Anti-Villain: While she's not a very good person, and has all the character flaws of your average Thern, she's genuinely in love with John Carter and Obliviously Evil for most of her life.
  • Avenging the Villain: Part of why she kills Thurid- at the very least, his murder of her father was the immediate provocation.
  • Break the Haughty: She is captured by Black Martian pirates which is considered A Fate Worse Than Death among her kind and upon learning that her people are not truly gods, but prey to another race that had manipulated them the same way her people did with the Red and Green Martians, she sits in a corner with her face buried in her arms sobbing, more like a very unhappy little girl than a proud and all-powerful goddess.
  • Cute and Psycho: She is an extremely beautiful and sweet young girl who is introduced as a unfortunate damsel abducted by the First-Born pirates and falls for John Carter when he attempts to rescue her. She also smiles cruelly when Carter kills said pirates and turns murderous when learning he was already married to another woman and tries to kill the poor woman.
  • Daddy's Little Villain: To Matai Shang.
  • Dark Chick: In Warlord of Mars. She is not really part of the Villain Team-Up between her father, Thurid and Salensus Oll, she is just mostly along for the ride.
  • Distressed Damsel: An evil version, mind you.
  • Driven to Suicide: After her Heel Realization, invoking Death Equals Redemption.
  • Establishing Character Moment: In her first scene, Phaidor is a First-Born captive. When Carter releases her saying he will kill her captors, she flashes a Slasher Smile towards him, which greatly disturbs Carter over how could such lovely and beautiful face sport such cruel smile. It gives the impression that she isn't as innocent as she appears.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: About half her dialogue to Carter involves expressing bafflement about why he does the things he does (the other half is her admitting she's attracted to him anyway).
  • Heel Realization: At the end of Warlord. After seeing the lengths Carter is willing to go to rescue Dejah, she realizes how shallow and selfish her own life and love for Carter has been.
  • Made a Slave: Very briefly was forced to be Issus' handmaiden.
  • Ms. Fanservice: She is described as divinely beautiful.
  • Obliviously Evil: It's clear that, even more than your average Thern, Phaidor simply does not get why being a cannibalistic would-be goddess or attempting to Murder the Hypotenuse would be a bad thing. She suffers a Heel Realization when she can't deny it anymore.
  • Shadow Archetype: To Dejah.
  • Villainesses Want Heroes: She wants Carter.
  • Woman Scorned: Let's just say that princesses of races of creepy mystics with god complexes don't take rejection very well...
  • Yandere: Trying to murder a woman married to a man that she is infatuated with certainly makes her one.


Jeddak of Lothar.

  • Asskicking Equals Authority: Rather unusually for White Martians, Tario is regarded as the most powerful mind among the Lotharians, therefore he is their Jeddak.
  • Evil Overlord: Of the Lotharians.
  • Evil Redhead: A red-haired villain.
  • Fed to the Beast: Tario throws those who displease him to Komal - a very large, monstrous banth (a Martian lion).
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Tario attempted this on Thuvia of Ptarth. It ended badly for him. Komak reveals that Tario was attempting to materialize a beautiful girl to serve this purpose.
  • Master of Illusion: He can create illusions.
  • The Needless: Believes that he doesn't need to eat illusionary food to keep his internal functions working, so he doesn't.
  • Psychic Powers: All Martians possess it to some degree, but the Lotharians have it to the extreme and Tario is considered the most powerful of them all.
  • Reality Warper: A low-key one, but he has this power; he can even create life (like Kar Komak).
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: This is what gives him reality warping powers. He has the most powerful mind in Lothar, which makes him the most powerful Lotharian.

Kar Komak

  • Archer Archetype: He is a bowman.
  • Humanity Ensues: Well, he is not necessarily "human", but he used to be a construct created from Tario's mind and summoned to serve him, but eventually becomes a being of flesh and blood.
  • The Lancer: To Carthoris during Thuvia, Maid of Mars.
  • Master of Illusion: Like his creator.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: He is the first fully sympathetic White Martian; unlike Phaidor who is introduced as a villain and performs a late Heel–Face Turn followed by Redemption Equals Death, Komak on the other hand is heroic from beginning to end.
  • Noble Top Enforcer: To Tario before rebelling.
  • Nice Guy: The very first thing he does upon meeting Carthoris is to greet him, and he quickly befriends the young red prince.
  • Reality Warper: He gains this ability later, being able to create his own construct-bowmen.
  • Red Is Heroic: Komak is described as having auburn hair and is firmly on the good side.

Ho Ran Kim

Jeddak of the Orovars in Horz.
  • Affably Evil: He and his people are noted to be surprisingly nice to Carter and seem to lack the same sense of superiority as his Thern cousins. But sadly he will still have to execute Carter to preserve their secret existence.
  • Anti-Villain: He's trying to protect his people from discovery and destruction by the outside world (which is a legitimately dangerous place). He does this by killing any outsiders who stumble on Horz.
  • Killed to Uphold the Masquerade: His policy towards any outside that discover the Orovars still live.
  • Knight Templar: Any outsiders are executed out of fear that their existence will be revealed to Barsoom.
  • Mr. Exposition: Kim explains Barsoom's backstory and the fall of the White Martian empire.

     Black Martians "The First Born"

Referred to as the very first race of men in Barsoom, the Black Martians trace their origins to 23 million years in the past, being the very first people to break from their egg shells. To the rest of Barsoom, they came from the nearest moon of Thuria but in reality, they dwell in the Lost Sea of Korus under Valley Dor, but they also inhabit the hidden stronghold of Kamtol in the great rift valley. The First Born are a proud people that consider themselves superior to all Martians.

Tropes related to the Black Martians

  • Abusive Precursors: The original humanoid race of Barsoom, at least according to their stories, now limited to a couple of Hidden Elf Villages sustained by raiding the rest of the world.
  • Dark Is Evil: They pull a Heel–Face Turn after Issus is dethroned, but they still remain ruthless racist pirate-lords as seen with the First-Born in Kamtol. Xodar is honorable, but it's clear he is the exception.
  • A Fate Worse Than Death: To any female Thern, being taken alive by the First-Born pirates is considered one. Considering they spend one year being forced to live as Issus' handmaiden and then sacrificed after that in her glory, it's pretty bad.
  • Food Chain of Evil: You know White Martians are bad because they eat Red and Green ones. The Black Martians eat all of these.
  • A God Am I: A society with delusions of god-like grandeur. Issus (the Supreme Deity of Mars) is the main example, being the Deity of Deities.
  • The Hedonist: First-Born's society is so decadent that they see menial labor beneath them. Everything that doesn't involve warfare is left to the slaves and it's said their females are so idle they require slaves to narrate and describe the world around then so they wouldn't have to open their eyes.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Red and White Martian females are the favorite prey of the First-Born pirates, as Dejah and Phaidor finds out. They have no use for female Green Martians, so they kick Sola out when she is captured alongside Dejah.
  • Made a Slave: The First-Born rely very heavily on pillaging and slavery so any of the Barsoomian races are prone to being this.
  • Master Race: They consider themselves so above everyone else in Barsoom that even the lowliest First-Born peasant is a God of his own right, tended by his own slave retinue. They even run the risk of being enslaved themselves when they fall out in favor of Issus.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: All men are expected to fight and die for Issus as their privilege, honor, and duty. Those that are defeated and survive suffer immense disgrace. They lose their favor with Issus and are reduced to slaves themselves; the only way to recover their favor was to fight in the arena.
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: Raiding Valley Dor and the Red People for women to enslave is not merely their pastime, it's their sacred duty.
  • Space Pirates: Played with. They are pirates from an alien planet that pilot air ships and were initially thought to be natives from one of Barsoom's moons, but they actually live underground.


The Supreme Deity of Mars, she is in reality an very ancient female Black Martian.

  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Issus ruled over her kingdom with iron fist, and had female slaves regularly sacrificed to her for no reason but to glorify her "divinity".
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: She was butchered by her own people after Carter revealed she was nothing more than a crazy old woman.
  • I Am a Humanitarian: After a year or so, Issus devours her handmaidens.
  • The Man Behind the Curtain: When actually confronted, she's revealed to be powerless.
  • Psychic Powers: Part of how she maintains the fiction of her divinity; most Martians are mildly telepathic, but the ability is unknown among the First Born - except for her. Carter recognizes what it is almost immediately, though.
  • Revenge by Proxy: She has Dejah, Thuvia and Phaidor thrown into the Temple of the Sun, sentencing them to a slow death by starvation, because all three women were in love with John Carter, the Earthman who dared to defy her "divine" will.
  • Time Abyss: Her age is not stated, but judging by how long Barsoom venerated her as a goddess, it's believed she is over hundreds of thousands years old.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Issus gradually loses her sanity after having her will defied by John Carter. When he has the crone at his mercy, she had gone so off the deep end that it even disturbed him.
    And then it was that she went mad. A screaming, gibbering maniac writhed in my grasp. It bit and clawed and scratched in impotent fury. And then it laughed a weird and terrible laughter that froze the blood. The slave girls upon the dais shrieked and cowered away. And the thing jumped at them and gnashed its teeth and then spat upon them from frothing lips. God, but it was a horrid sight.



A First Born Dator that first appeared in the second book to humiliate Xodar after he had fallen from grace. John defends Xodar by knocking out Thurid and severely wounding his pride. He joined forces with Matai Shang in Warlord of Mars, providing him with a secret entrance to the Temple of Issus where his wife Dejah Thoris is imprisioned, motivated to absolutely hurt the Earthman for humiliating him.


     The Yellow Martians

Believed to have been wiped out by the Green Martians thousands of years ago, the Yellow Martians of Okar still live as recluses in the North Pole. They kept themselves hidden using their technology to bring down any ship or vehicle that came near, and due to the extreme conditions of their land, travel on foot is considered impossible. They lived under domed cities that protected them from the extreme cold. The only two city-states known to exist are Kadabra and Marentina. Yellow Martians are noted for being very large and powerfully built as well as sporting beards.

Tropes related to the Yellow Martians

  • Beard of Evil: The Yellow Martians of Kadabra are very much evil.
  • Grim Up North: They inhabit the North Pole, which is dubbed Okara among the Barsoomians.
  • Hidden Elf Village: A combination of their naturally hostile environment and their anti-aircraft technology kept them hidden for centuries. Unlike the Therns and the First-Born, the Okarans don't bring outsiders close to their domain and risk revealing their existence.
  • Higher-Tech Species: Their technology is comparatively more advanced than all other races in Barsoom, since they constructed giant domed cities to live in the cold North and their anti-aircraft protection to stop ships from coming close is superior to anything else on Barsoom.
  • Large and in Charge: They are much larger and imposing than the Red, White and Black Martians.
  • Not So Extinct: They were thought to be wiped out by the Green People milennia ago, but they managed to stop their invaders dead in the North Pole and proceeded to hide themselves and make everyone believe they were gone.

Salensus Oll

Jeddak of Okara, seated on the city of Kadabra.


Oll's rebellious nephew, he is the Jed of Marentina.

  • Rebel Leader: Against his uncle's rule.
  • The Wise Prince: He provides Carter his support into helping rescuing his wife. The Okarans prefer him over his uncle as well.


Though he appears to be nothing more than a mere, old Yellow Martian lackey, Solan is a fearsome swordsman, arguably the best challenge faced by Carter in any of the books.

  • Elite Mook: What he amounts to story-wise, though it doesn't quite do him justice.
  • Master Swordsman: Considering he's able to overcome the advantage of Carter's super-Martian strength, he's probably the more skilled of the two by a fair margin. He was almost certainly the best swordsman on Mars.
  • Worthy Opponent: Carter himself regrets that no one witnessed their duel because of how impressive they both were.

     Other Characters 



  • Aliens Are Bastards: Bandolian is a invader from Jupiter (or as Martians call it, Sasoom) and quite the Jerkass.
  • Big Bad: Of Skeleton Men of Jupiter.
  • Dem Bones: Being a Morgor, he has a ghoulish appearance resembling a undead skeleton.
  • The Emperor: Of the Morgors.
  • Fantastic Racism: Bandolian has little patience with Barsoomian races and refers to them as "things" and "animals".
  • Karma Houdini: Bandolian is still at large at the end of the book and his plan hasn't been spoiled completely yet. As a result of his plot being left unresolved due to Died During Production, he is the only major villain to survive.
  • Outside-Context Problem: Unlike John Carter's enemies who were Martian beings, Bandolian is a being from another world much like Carter himself.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: More psychotic than Barsoomian's races since Morgors are a conquering race.
  • Modest Royalty: Unlike most Evil Overlords in the series, Bandolian doesn't distinguish himself in appearance from his men and dresses plainly, except for a single metal plate with a hieroglyph that indicates his rank.
  • Take Over the World: Wants to invade and enslave Mars.

Ulysses Paxton


A Tarid princess who was kidnapped from Domnia, her home country, and was made the wife of Ul Vas, Jeddak of Ombra. She tried to seduce John Carter into freeing her. He turns down her advances but still vows to free her from her husband.

  • And Now You Must Marry Me: Victim of this.
  • Distressed Damsel: This one was taken from her home and forced to marry an tyrant. If that wasn't bad enough, her life is at stake when it's clear that her husband has found another, more beautiful, woman to take her place...
  • Hot Consort: To Ul Vas, but not by her own volition.
  • I Just Want to Be Free: She begs John Carter to help her escape her death.
  • Woman Scorned: Subverted. She attempts to seduce John Carter into helping her escape from Ul Vas and seethes with jealousy when she realizes he is already taken. Ozara, however, takes it with more grace than Phaidor ever did and ends up befriending Carter instead.

Ul Vas

Tarid ruler of Ombra and an obstacle faced by the heroes while they are on Thuria.

  • The Blue Beard: He is prone to changing Jeddaras very frequently. That is because he disposes of his wives once he grows bored with them, or finds another one even more beautiful.
  • Evil Overlord: Of Ombra.
  • Human Sacrifice: Ul Vas worships the Fire God instead of Issus like the Barsoomians, and sentences John Carter and his friends to be sacrificed in his honor once they are his prisoners.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: His favorite pastime, in fact.