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Capt. David Shepherd
"I have only ever tried to embody what is good about this nation."
Played By: Christopher Egan

A counterpart to the biblical David. David is an idealistic young soldier who finds himself in the unfamiliar world of court intrigue after he wins national fame destroying a Goliath tank. Incredibly loyal to King Silas, David is not ready at all for what his idol is really like.

  • Holy Halo: At the end of the pilot, the crown of monarch butterflies settles on his head, just like the crown that Silas took as a sign of God's favor.
  • Humble Hero: Despite the machinations at court, David remains remarkably humble, even to the extent of interpreting the butterfly crown as a sign he should serve the king, not be one.
  • Youngest Child Wins: David is the youngest of seven sons and had the series reached a proper conclusion he would have become king of Gilboa (and possibly Gath, too).

King Silas Benjamin
"Take a good look at your life right now, captain, and think hard: what does God want you to do, today?"
Played By: Ian McShane

"Peace is not a lamb, but a lion - and it requires force and discipline; otherwise it will go wild, feed on you. I make no meek apology - history will thank me; you will, too."

A counterpart to the biblical King Saul. Silas has united the kingdom of Gilboa and built its capital city, Shiloh, but now fears that God has forsaken him.

  • Cool Old Guy: Evil he may be, but he's got charisma and charm to spare.
  • Hypocrite: Just using examples from the pilot, he proclaims that Jack cannot be gay because "we give up what we want when we want power" and, NOT TWO SCENES LATER, is revealed to still be in a relationship with the woman he truly loves (and, in fact, never stopped despite Cross thinking he gave her up to marry Rose) and has a child with her.
  • It's All About Me: Silas is the centre of his own universe, with the rest of the nation just revolving around him.
  • Narcissist: In Silas' mind, everything is all about him. This is why he can't regard David's secret relationship with Michelle as anything other than a personal betrayal, and why he tries to kill David after God reveals David is to be the next king—he simply cannot process the idea that they aren't doing it just to hurt him. Even his affection for his children is based on their acting as extensions of his will; when they go against him, Silas again cannot see it as anything other than high treason.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: In the pilot, Silas calls Jack's homosexuality 'sickening' and later screams that he is "no prince, you faggot".
  • Rage Against the Heavens: Used to believe he enjoyed God's favor; comes to have a much less friendly relationship with his faith.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: As absolute monarch, he personally oversees day-to-day governance of his kingdom and also occasionally goes out to the front lines to command military actions. There's also one day a year where he listens to the personal grievances of a selected group of citizens, no matter how petty, as a way of showing his people that their king cares about their issues.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: He likes suits so much that the palace has an in-house tailor.

Queen Rose Cross Benjamin
"I hate nothing more than lies - wasted words, clouds that darken the blue sky yet bring no relief of rain."
Played By: Susanna Thompson

Queen of Gilboa, a counterpart to the biblical Ahinoam, Rose is the wife of King Silas. The queen claims to abhor politics, but ruthlessly manipulates court life from behind the scenes.

  • The Chessmaster: Despite her repeated insistence that she doesn't like to get involved in politics, Rose manipulates nearly everything from behind the scenes.
  • The Cynic: "Desire for comfort overcomes desire proper and the chairs here are very comfortable. I picked them myself."
  • Mama Bear: When asked if she would accept the death of her brother for the salvation of her children (the cutting of a poisoned limb to save the body), she says without hesitation, "Cut and cut again until there is nothing left but my children."
  • Hypocrite: Her picture quote about lies is, of course, a lie - her own daughter was shocked to find she promotes art as a maneuver instead of an earnest love of ballet, everything she does is politics despite her proclaimed hatred of it, and she slaps her son for being honest about being gay immediately after saying that quote.

Princess Michelle Benjamin
"I already live with God's disappointment; I can't live with my father's."
Played By: Allison Miller

Princess of Gilboa, a counterpart to the biblical Michal. Silas's daughter and crusader for improving the kingdom's health care system, Michelle finds herself drawn towards David.

  • Ill Girl: Was one when she was younger.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Constantly and consistently. Hell, her poor decisions are a bigger threat than Cross.
  • Rebellious Princess: Her fight for healthcare reform and her relationship with David are just some of the actions Michelle takes that her royal parents do not approve of.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Michelle literally swore a vow to God to Actually Do Something and, as such, campaigns like clockwork to have her healthcare reforms approved.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Michelle falls into this trope with such stunning regularity that it's amazing she survives a season.

Prince Jonathan ‘Jack’ Benjamin
"The truth doesn't get any easier to tell - it only gets harder, until it's gone forever."
Played By: Sebastian Stan

Crown prince of Gilboa, a counterpart to the biblical Jonathan. Jack is Silas's ambitious and frustrated son, who initially sees David as a rival at court. Jack plays the role of a dissolute, womanizing rake in front of the kingdom's press, but is secretly gay. The king knows that Jack is gay, and challenges him to restrain his desires if he wishes to become king.

  • Adaptational Villainy: In the books of Samuel, Jonathan is David's best friend and The Good Prince who abdicates in favor of David (not that it mattered, since he died before either were in a position to take the throne). Jack, by contrast, is ambitious and manipulative, and views David as a rival at first.
  • Depraved Homosexual: Subverted with Jack. He's both gay and a pretty bad guy, but the one thing has nothing to do with the other, and most of his Pet the Dog moments come when he starts to come to grips with his sexuality.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Said almost word for word by Silas when Jack turns himself in for treason. He's locked in a room with his fiancee, forced to have sex with her until they produce an heir for Silas to raise. Thomasina isn't sympathetic.
  • Gilded Cage: Atter his failed coup he is confined to his rooms, not a prison. Arguably, his circumstances even early in the series might give this appearance to much of his life.
  • Hidden Depths: Starts out an apparently womanizing, carefree party boy; turns out to have a Morality Pet in the form of Joseph, a heart capable of being broken, and intelligence to go with his ambitions.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Runs in the family.
  • Narcissist: Not to the same degree as his father, but Jack definitely has trouble viewing the actions of others as being aimed at anything other than him.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Like the scions of the British Royal Family, Jack served in the military, trying to actively cultivate a 'war hero' image for when he ascends to the throne.
  • Straight Gay: Deliberately attempts to act as straight as possible to avoid being outed.
  • Transparent Closet: At least to his father, who's been keeping photos of Jack in compromising positions out of the press for years, Jack's rake veneer is pathetically obvious.

Rev. Ephram Samuels
"Change comes from inside the heart... those you love to be its agents. "
Played By: Eamonn Walker

A counterpart to the biblical prophet Samuel. Reverend Samuels was instrumental in Silas's rise to power, but his relationship with the king has since become strained.

William Cross
"There's a language to civilization, and a small group of scholars who can read it. I was born fluent."
Played By: Dylan Baker

Industrialist and brother to Queen Rose. William finances Silas' Royal Treasury, but withdraws his funds when, contrary to his wishes, Silas seeks an end to the war with neighboring Gath.

  • The Chessmaster: Like his sister, stays in the shadows and uses his money and influence to manipulate events on a large scale.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Is genuinely shocked when Andrew leaks nude photos of Michelle to the press, and demands to know why he want to hurt his cousin like that.
  • Evil Uncle: To Jack, who he is using, and Michelle, whose birthright he intends to help Jack steal.
  • Papa Wolf: He takes slights against his son very personally.
  • War for Fun and Profit: His control of money has an enormous effect on the cessation or continuation of the war.

Gen. Linus Abner
"I would rather fall on my sword than lay it down."
Played By: Wes Studi

A counterpart to the biblical Abner, is the head of Gilboa's military. Though initially loyal to the king, Abner eventually betrays Silas as he believes the king has become too 'soft'; in the episode "Brotherhood" Abner is killed by Silas for his betrayal.

  • General Ripper: Hates Gath and will do anything for the war to continue.

Helen Pardis

Played By: Sarita Choudhury

A counterpart to the biblical Rizpah, King Silas's mistress and mother of his illegitimate son. Silas attempts to offer up his relationship with Helen as a sacrifice to God in order to save his son's life, but eventually returns to her



Andrew Cross
"I broke his favourite thing."
Played By: Macaulay Culkin

The son of William Cross and nephew to the king, who was exiled from Gilboa for unspecified reasons, but has returned as part of a deal between Silas and William. He plays a role in his father's attempted coup, eventually betrays him to Silas, and is last scene freeing Vesper Abaddon.

  • The Dreaded: Downplayed. Andrew isn't feared the world over, but his relatives and the rest of the court find him very disturbing, and nobody save his father is happy when he comes home.
  • Enigmatic Minion: To his father and Silas. Andrew's goals, motivations, and loyalties are kept cryptic and opaque, with no real clue as to why he does anything (if indeed there is a why).
  • The Exile: Exiled from court prior to the show.
  • Lack of Empathy: Andrew doesn't seem able to process the idea that other people actually have feelings, hopes, and dreams. The only thing he cares about is what he can get from them.
  • Psychotic Smirk: One of his few facial expressions.
  • Smug Snake: It runs in the family.
  • The Sociopath: To appropriate Terry Pratchett, Andrew sees things differently from the rest of the characters, in that he sees the rest of the characters as things. Even his own father is disposable, in his eyes. He's also got the lack of affect, shallow emotions, intense boredom, impulsive behaviour, and screwed up sexuality that is typically associated with the trope and the diagnosis.
  • Stalker with a Crush: To his Aunt Rose.
  • The Stoic: Taken to an extreme. Andrew is void of emotional affect.

Jessie Shepherd

Played By: Becky Ann Baker

David's mother.

  • Almighty Mom: Told off the king and lived to tell the tale.

Ethan Shepherd

Played By: Tom Guiry

David's brother. He attempts to launch an insurrection against Silas in order to keep Prosperity.

  • It's All About Me: David accuses him of caring more about glory then his insurrection.

Damien Shaw

Played By: Mark Margolis

The Premier of Gath.

General Mallick

Played By: Miguel Ferrer

The head of Gath military.

  • Evil Counterpart: Seemingly a more war-hungry version of Abner until Abner shows to be just as bad.

Chancellor Marcus Hanson

Played By: Michael Crane

Vesper Abaddon

Played By: Brian Cox

The former King of Carmel, Vesper Abaddon is kept sealed in the dungeons by Silas, who occasionally consults him on political matters. Befriends David in prison and is freed at the end of the series by Andrew Cross.

  • Machiavelli Was Wrong: Admits as much to David, and tells him to take love over fear, right after telling Silas that he should take fear over love.
  • Manipulative Bastard: One of the few characters who can effectively manipulate Silas.
  • Pet the Dog: His conversation with David, in which he encourages him to take comfort in the fact that he was loved.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: A more realistic version, as he's in prison.
  • Villainous Glutton: Justified. Vesper hasn't eaten well in three decades, so when presented with good food he gorges himself.
  • 0% Approval Rating: Hated by his own people to the point where they held celebrations when Silas defeated him.


Played By: Marlyne Afflack

The efficient palace secretary and aide-de-camp.

Perry Straussler

Played By: Steve Rosen

Court historian and biographer of King Silas.

Joseph Lasile

Played By: Michael Arden

Jack's clandestine boyfriend.

  • Driven to Suicide: Apparently, though the circumstances are quite coincidental.
  • Morality Pet: To Jack, at least some of the time.
  • One True Love: Jack goes to him when he is free to do anything during the blackout, then tells him "You're the only real thing I ever touch."
  • Straight Gay: No more camp than your average metrosexual.

Katrina Ghent

Played By: Leslie Bibb

  • Sadistic Choice: Gives one to Rose: expose Jack's sexuality or Michelle's nude photos.

Boyden & Klotz

Played By: Jason Antoon & Joel Garland

Paul Lash

Played By: Michael Stahl-David

Michelle's partner in her health care plan.

Lucinda Wolfson

Played By: Kathleen Mealia

Jack's fiance following Katrina's death


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