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The Thrombeys

    In General 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/thrombeys1.png

The extended family of famous mystery fiction author Harlan Thrombey.


  • Bait the Dog: Some of them initially act nice to Marta, particularly the women and Walt where the rest of the men are usually just all around outright unpleasent.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: As noted by Blanc, they just love twisting the knife into each other. But they more or less get over their own differences to gang up against the possibility of an outsider — who's an immigrant, to their greater horror — inheriting their patriarch's estate and money.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Most of the Thrombeys, with the exceptions being Harlan, who inverts it, Ransom, Jacob and Richard, who are upfront jerkasses, and possibly Meg (who seems to deeply regret her one act of jerkassery and profusely apologise to Marta) hide their more insidious attitudes behind genteel affability.
  • Enemy Mine: They vehemently snipe and hiss at each other (as illustrated by the first half of their disastrous Family Disunion). However, when their comfortable lifestyles are threatened, they quickly band together against Marta, who becomes the new perceived evil. The exceptions are Meg, who actually has the kindness and sense to suggest that maybe they should let Marta have the inheritance; and Ransom, who simply can't stand his family (and vice-versa). Except those two are eventually revealed to have participated in this campaign against Marta, in one form or another - though Meg at least has a My God, What Have I Done? moment and profusely apologises to Marta, which may well be genuine.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Despite their many, many flaws, none save Richard are willing to defend Ransom after he is arrested for his crimes (murder and attempted murder), most of them having to avert their eyes in disgust as he's taken away.
    • While Richard and Donna are racist and the rest are somewhat terrible in some way all of them (except his parents which is no surprise for his racist mom) seem to look down on Jacob for his far-right views.
    • Invoked by Marta who states despite their flaws none of them are murderers. She was right except for Ransom.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: They all assume that Marta somehow "got her claws" into Harlan, because they can't fathom (or perhaps, just don't want to face) that maybe Harlan was simply fonder of her than he was of his own family, because she's a good and kind person and they ultimately aren't.
  • Family Theme Naming: Funnily enough, even people who just married into the family are named after famous musicians.
    • Walt and Donna - Steely Dan
    • Joni - Joni Mitchell, whose late husband was named Neil
    • Richard and Linda - Richard and Linda Thompson
  • Faux Affably Evil: Some of them actually seem genuinely pretty nice at first, but it all falls apart after The Reveal, and their attempts at appearing affable become paper-thin. As in the scene with Walt blackmailing Marta, where the background music turns chillingly dark and Walt and his cane are framed in menacing close-ups, even though he's still trying to sound benign towards her. Understandably, she slams the door on him out of fear.
  • Gold Digger: Pretty much every member of the Thrombey clan wants a piece of Harlan Thrombey, be it his fortune, the publishing and royalty rights to his novels, or his house. Joni is perhaps the biggest example, however, as unlike the others she is not a blood member of the family; she's the widow of Harlan's son who just kind of kept hanging around after his death. Naturally, as soon as it's revealed that Marta is Harlan's sole inheritor, she becomes a veritable magnet for barely veiled accusations of being one of these. She isn't, however.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: While not evil, Linda and Walt, two of the older, money-grubbing siblings, smoke cigarettes and cigars, respectively. Meg, a much younger, more sympathetic cousin, is seen vaping in her first appearance. For further contrast; Fran, the sweet housekeeper, is an avid pot-smoker.
  • Hypocrite:
    • The Thrombeys all promise Marta that they'll take care of her like she's one of the family, but once she's named the sole heir, they quickly shift to demands that she respect the real family.
    • Meg and Joni are the more liberal of the Thrombeys, Meg even marked as a "Marxist" by the others, but they unite with the family interests when their finances are threatened - though Meg at least seems to regret it.
    • The Thrombeys are all elated to find out Ransom was cut from the will saying it's the best thing that could have happened to him. They start singing a different tune when Harlan's will is read and everything is left to Marta. Ransom's quick to point this out.
    • The Thrombreys all value themselves as a family unit and turn on Marta insisting that she has to look out for Harlan's "real" family. However, Richard, Joni, and Donna only joined the family through marriage, and Joni's link to them, her husband Neil, has been dead for years, with her only remaining part of the Thrombeys by complete choice.
    • The more conservative Thrombey family members have a very negative and harsh view of immigrants who don't enter the country "the right way" in their eyes; Richard is especially adamant that adverse consequences be visited on immigrants who break the law. But once they find out Marta's mother is undocumented, they use her as leverage to blackmail Marta (if they really wanted illegal immigrants to face "consequences" as they claimed, they would have simply turned in Marta's mother right away, instead of offering to keep her secret if Marta gives up her inheritance).
    • The Thrombeys repeatedly claim to consider Marta as part of the family, but in separate interviews they each give different countries of origin for her family, heavily implying that they've never actually bothered to find out the correct one.
  • Lack of Empathy: An understated flaw of much of the Thrombeys. It's particularly noted when Blanc sits down to interrogate Nana, rightfully suspecting that no one in the family has comforted her after the loss of Harlan.
  • A Lighter Shade of Black: Downplayed — although some of them are more openly nice (Meg) or less racist (Joni and seemingly Walt and Linda), the film makes it abundantly clear that all of them are ultimately just different heads on the same hydra (albeit a rather neutral hydra than outright evil).
  • Missing Mom: Linda and Walt's mother (or if they have the same mother) is not mentioned during the film. However, it is implied that she is deceased, since she is not mentioned in the will (nor is any living ex-wife).
  • Not So Different: The family members have political ideas ranging from conservative to liberal, but all of them are pretty self-serving and entitled when the chips are down.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Poor Marta is subjected to a lot of verbal abuse from them, since they clearly don't respect her status as a Hispanic employee with an immigrant mother. Over the course of the film, not only do the Thrombeys call her a little bitch and a dirty anchor baby, despite saying that Marta "is like a member of the family," it's also clear that none of them seem to know which country Marta is actually from. Even if some are less racist about politics themselves (Linda, Walt, Joni).
  • Token Evil Teammate: Marta states that she believes "none of them are killers." And she was right. Except for Ransom.
  • Token Good Team Mate: Relatively speaking, Meg might be this - she does something pretty awful (revealing that Marta's mother is undocumented to her racist family who're all looking for leverage), her expression immediately afterwards reads as a My God, What Have I Done? moment and she apologises profusely to Marta later on. Whether she means it is an open question (and it's an awful thing to do, regardless of regret), but it's suggested she does.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Blanc hands out a very well deserved one to the entire family after he reads the toxicology report proving Marta's innocence. It's the one and only time he drops his Bunny-Ears Lawyer tendencies and is genuinely furious at the family.
  • Self-Made Man:
    • Played straight with Harlan, who to all evidence did, in fact, make his entire fortune simply by being a self-published author.
    • Subverted with Linda, Walt, and Joni, who all believe themselves to be self-made, but that their relatives succeeded entirely on the back of Harlan's fortune. Downplayed with Blanc: his father was a police officer, but what role he played in Blanc's own success as a detective is unclear.
  • White Anglo-Saxon Protestant: A rich, overall conservative white family from Massachusetts. This is contrasted against the Latina Marta's working-class immigrant background.
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    Harlan 

Harlan Thrombey

Played By: Christopher Plummer

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/harlan.png
The Patriarch

A wealthy mystery fiction author and the patriarch of the Thrombey family, whose mysterious death sets the plot in motion.



  • Actor Allusion: Christopher Plummer once again dies from massive blood loss from a neck wound.
  • All for Nothing: He committed suicide to protect Marta from getting in trouble for his death, but it's ultimately revealed he never received the morphine overdose in the first place.
  • Anti-Nepotism: Harlan always encouraged his children to stand on their own two feet but he was softer when it came to his grandchildren. Harlan came to recognize how complicit he was in giving his family everything they have under the guise of helping them "build" their own paths, and at the time of his death was taking steps to cut them off — ending Joni's embezzlement, exposing Richard's affair to Linda so that she could move on, replacing Walt at the publishing firm, refusing Ransom any inheritance at all — in the hopes that it would ultimately help them. He even willed the entirety of his holdings to Marta specifically because he hadn't spoiled her like he did his immediate heirs: she'd made something of herself on her own, and they were able to become close friends despite their differences.
  • Asshole Victim: Depending on your viewpoint, Harlan can zigzag this. Overall, personality-wise he seems to be a likeable and decent man, though he does admit and clearly regret mistakes made in his past which have resulted in his family turning out the way they are. But while he has some legitimate contentions with his family, such as stealing money from him or his son-in-law cheating on his daughter, others are more open to interpretation — in particular, while he frames it as an act of kindness, firing Walt from his position in the publishing house and disinheriting Linda and Walt since they did nothing wrong can be read as unreasonable and unfair. Overall, however, it's made clear that while Harlan was a flawed man he didn't deserve what happened to him.
  • The Atoner: He recognizes that he isn't blameless in how his children (and children-in-law, and grandchildren...) turned out, so he wanted to give them all some tough love before dying.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: He wants to use Tough Love to help his Big, Screwed-Up Family to grow a spine. and stand for themselves... and one of them does exactly that, planning to kill him (but only driving him to suicide) to preserve his part of the inheritance.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Presumably the reason he left his entire estate to Marta, the only one who seemed actually fond of him as a person.
  • Benevolent Boss: He might have been Marta's employer, but their interactions make it clear that they're genuinely close friends. Hell, he likes her better than anyone in his family, not without justification.
  • Complexity Addiction: From decades of writing mystery novels. The man can't even do something as simple as talking to his daughter without making it needlessly complicated. When faced with likely death, rather than taking the fleeting chance on survival, he builds a convoluted process to completely obfuscate Marta's involvement in his death.
  • Control Freak: His mug "My House, My Rules, My Coffee" says it all, really. He also keeps his family on a tight leash, either putting him in charge of aspects of his business or dependent on him for loans or college tuition, under his exact stipulations. What he says, goes, and those who don't fall in line get written out of the will.
  • Cool Old Guy: While he is the patriarch of his family and calls all the shots, he is a genuinely friendly and eccentric character. He lives in a manor full of wondrous oddities and secret passages, has ensured that his family is well-off (and then retracting all of it to get them to learn to stand on their own two-feet) and then leaving all of his belongings to Marta in his will. Even when he finds out that he was going to die in under ten minutes due to his caregiver's negligence or so they thought, he is more intrigued by it if nothing else, taking the time to write down the information behind his "accidental" death as an intriguing murder-mystery idea and then formulates a plan to make his death look like a suicide to prevent Marta and her family from being held accountable for it.
  • Crazy-Prepared: As a mystery writer, he tends to think of a lot of things about how people would do things ahead of time. When he attempts to force Richard to tell Linda about his affair before he sends a letter confirming it himself, he holds up a particular pink letter and puts it away in a hidden space. And on the off chance Richard managed to find it and tried to get the letter first, he wrote it in heat-sensitive ink to make sure he would think it was just a bluff to get him to come clean, when in reality Linda, who knew Harlan and his passions enough to recognize the invisible ink, would try and hold a fire under it
  • Cruel to Be Kind: Saw firing Walt from the publishing company during his birthday party as this. It's definitely seen as cruel by Walt himself (given how many years he loyally worked for his father, only to be let go when he pressed for film adaptations), and speculated to be such by the rest of the family since they saw how devastated Walt was after the conversation, but in Harlan's mind it's the kindest thing he could do, forcing his son to spread his wings and write his own stories rather than publish Harlan's.
  • Death by Genre Savviness: He gets so caught up in plotting a way for Marta to get away with accidentally injecting him with the wrong liquid and the appeal of a novel new method of murder to his dramatic sensibilities, even to the point of cutting his own throat, that he fails to realize that if he'd been given such a massive dose of morphine he almost certainly wouldn't be as perfectly lucid and clear-thinking as he is right up until the exact moment the overdose will supposedly kill him.
  • Drama Queen:
    • Loves to get in public arguments, which made his closed-door blow-up with Ransom on his birthday all the more unusual.
    • This ends up killing him, as instead of letting Marta call an ambulance he concocts an overly complex and dramatic plan to commit suicide so that she wouldn't be implicated in his death, though it was later revealed he wasn't actually dying. Indeed, it's probably that same flair for dramatics that has him thinking less about how someone shot full of such a massive overdose of opiates could be thinking and speaking as clearly as he is and more about how to help his friend arrange to get off without legal trouble.
  • Face Death with Dignity: When Marta tells him that she injected him with lethal amounts of morphine, he doesn't hold it against her at all and quickly tries to calm her down and set up a plan that would remove her from suspicion of killing him before calming slitting his own throat.
  • Famous Last Words: Just before he slits his throat to save Marta from going to jail.
    Do exactly as I say, and everything will be just fine. I promise.
  • Fatal Flaw: His Control Freak tendencies, flair for drama, and Complexity Addiction. He thinks he knows what's what better than anyone, and when it seems like Marta accidentally administered a morphine overdose, he immediately overrules her desire to call an ambulance and orchestrates a complex cover-up via suicide to keep her beyond suspicion. As Detective Blanc explicitly states at the end, had Harlan simply listened to Marta, he would still be alive.
  • Genre Savvy: As a bestselling mystery author he is intimately familiar with mystery tropes. He has a trick window built into his house and leaves messages for loved ones in invisible ink. Even during his own death scene he recognizes the switched medicine as a plausible mystery fiction plot, and is instantly able to concoct a convoluted plan for Marta to get off scot-free.
  • Heroic Suicide: He slit his own throat so Marta wouldn't be sent to jail for accidentally giving him a morphine overdose.
  • Hypocrite: Preached the importance of being a Self-Made Man (or Self-Made Woman) to his family, yet frequently gave them loans to start their businesses, paid for their college tuition, or let them mooch off him entirely, and especially kept his youngest son Walt stuck in his shadow by putting him in charge of his publishing company instead of encouraging him to write his own stories or find his own way. Eventually, Harlan came to realize this, and wrote his family out of his will partially to teach them actual self-reliance.
  • Iconic Item: His "My house, my rules, my coffee" mug.
  • Interclass Friendship: His closest friend was Marta, who is noticeably less wealthy than him — not exactly poor, but probably not what you'd call "comfortable." Harlan seeks to fix that with his will.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: The best way to describe his relationship with Marta, despite her being his employee.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • He can be curt, and spends most of his birthday alienating his family by cutting them off, but means well and wants them to learn self-sufficiency. He also wills his entire estate to his nurse and best friend Marta.
    • He also has a pretty good reason to be angry when it comes to certain family members. He confronts Richard on his infidelity, Joni on her double-dipping into money intended for Meg's education, and Ransom for being a Rich Idiot with No Day Job. He's noticeably gentler when he tells Walt he plans to cut him off.
  • Knife Nut: Keeps a decorative display of knives in his home. He also always seems to have at least one knife with him, and even holds one in his portrait.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Downplayed. Shortly before his 85th birthday, he comes to realize he allowed his family to become selfish, mooching, materialistic vultures, and gives most of them a verbal dressing down during his birthday party. He also wrote them completely out of his will, leaving everything to Marta.
    • A more literal example with Walt. Harlan came to realize he did Walt the greatest disservice of all, preaching the importance of being a Self-Made Man but putting his son in charge of his publishing company, keeping Walt stuck in his shadow rather than encouraging him to write his own stories or start his own business. Harlan seems the most remorseful when talking about it to Marta in flashbacks.
  • Never Suicide: He is found dead of a slashed throat with a knife in his hand, but Blanc quickly suspects he was murdered. It's ultimately zigzagged; he did cut his own throat, but the circumstances surrounding his death were ultimately orchestrated by Ransom.
  • Not Afraid to Die: On the night of his death, Harlan told Marta that at his age he was fully ready to die. He showed little concern on learning he had been fatally dosed and was more concerned with protecting Marta than saving himself.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: His son Neil (Joni's husband and Meg's father) passed away years before the events of the film.
  • Papa Wolf: He found out Richard was cheating on Linda and told Richard that if he doesn’t tell her himself then he will with a letter to give to her.
  • The Patriarch: It says so on his character card. Indeed, he's the wealthy family head looking after a brood of backstabbing leeches.
  • Pet the Dog: He was always grateful for Marta's nursing and treated her like she was actually in the family.
  • Posthumous Character: The film kicks off with his death, but he still has a significant role to play in the story via multiple flashbacks.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Delivers one to Richard, Joni, and Ransom, and a more diplomatically worded one for Walt.
  • Secret Keeper: He tells Marta to "think of [her] mom" when persuading her to go along with his "fake suicide" plan, because he knows Marta's mom is undocumented.
  • Self-Made Man: Not only did he build his writing career from the ground up, becoming one of the best selling mystery authors in America, he also established his own publishing company to print and distribute his books, making himself quite wealthy in the process.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: Since Marta gave him the right medication, his suicide was ultimately for nothing.
  • Slashed Throat: How he dies, by his own hand.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Go, actually. Harlan plays Go with Marta and Ransom.
  • Sore Loser: Played for laughs. When Marta hands him his ass in Go, he flips the board over in a huff.
    Marta: Such a bad loser.
    Harlan: This is elder abuse!
  • Spanner in the Works: If he hadn't flipped the Go board and knocked over the medicine, Marta might very well have given him a morphine overdose like Ransom intended. By turning his own death into a suicide instead, he unwittingly put Ransom in a situation where the only way to keep Marta from getting the inheritance was by hiring a detective who would find evidence of her involvement in Harlan's death.
  • Spiteful Will: Realising that his family was a group of leeches, he wrote them all out of his will and left everything to Marta.
  • Token Good Teammate: He and his mother were the only ones in the family who never (intentionally) did anything wrong to Marta.
  • Too Clever by Half: Had he simply allowed Marta to call an ambulance like she wanted instead of jumping to orchestrate a complex cover-up to frame his supposed overdose as suicide, and slit his own throat before the supposed ten minutes were up, he would still be alive.
  • Tough Love: Sees writing his entire family out of his will as partially this, to force them to make their own way in life rather than continue to mooch off him.

    Linda 

Linda Drysdale, née Thrombey

Played By: Jamie Lee Curtis

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/lindat.png
The Real Estate Mogul

Harlan's eldest daughter and Richard's wife, who is a real estate mogul.



  • Big Sister Instinct: Defends Walt, her "baby brother," when she thinks the police are insinuating he had something to do with Harlan's death. She also refuses to say anything negative about him regarding his place in the business, though it's unfortunate for Walt that her husband didn't feel as restrained in his opinions.
  • Cigarette of Anxiety: She smokes throughout, which increases when it's revealed that her son is the murderer and her husband cheated on her. Even using her lighter to reveal the invisible ink on Harlan's letter to her.
  • Daddy's Girl: Idolized her late father, as noted by several characters. She’s also the only one of his adult descendants he didn’t single out for a berating.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Despite being just as vicious and materialistic as the rest of her family, Linda seems to be the only one of Harlan's descendants actually grieving her father's passing. As mentioned below, she's also the only one whom Harlan was on genuinely good terms with. She also sticks up for Walt in front of the police and refuses to talk bad about him.
  • Everyone Has Standards: She's embarrassed and appalled when her husband drags Marta into a family argument about immigration, even telling him to "leave the poor girl alone."
  • Hypocrite:
    • Despite having multiple platitudes about the virtues of being a self-made woman who gained her fortune by her own merits, is the first to accuse Marta of having slept her way into the will.
    • After she boasts about being a Self-Made Woman one too many times, Ransom (of all people) points out that she started her multi-million dollar business "from the ground up" after her father gave her a million-dollar loan to start said business.
  • Hidden Depths: Communicated with Harlan through secret codes and hidden messages as a hobby and knows enough to decipher his last one after his death.
  • Iron Lady: Very stern and no-nonsense.
  • Irony: Her Establishing Character Moment shows her acting cold and sarcastic regarding her father's death, but in the long run she's shown to be more grieved over his passing than all his other descendants, and the least interested in inheriting his money.
  • Lady in a Power Suit: Frequently wears expensive-looking and flamboyant suits, since she's a no-nonsense business woman.
  • Parental Favoritism: Of his descendants and extended family Linda appears to be Harlan's favorite; he speaks of her more respectfully, doesn't single her out for a telling-off like the others, she's the only one we see genuinely grieving his death, they have a secret way of communicating and, while she still had a leg-up from her father, Linda appears to have come the closest to becoming a Self Made Person in the way that Harlan values. It's also strongly implied during the will reading that she just wants to inherit the house for sentimental reasons; she isn't shown salivating over the money or publishing house the way the rest of her family does.
  • Pet the Dog: Literally happily exclaiming "Hello puppies!" when the dogs come running towards her. She is petting one in the scene of the will being read.
  • Self-Made Woman: Downplayed. Linda claims to have built her real-estate business from the ground up, though Ransom tells Marta that she only did so after receiving a million-dollar loan from her father. She then proceeded to turn it into a success herself and as such is the only child who had no need of her father's money.
  • Thicker Than Water: Of the Thrombeys, Linda is the one shown to care about her family the most and shows deep loyalty to them even if she doesn't personally like some of them. The negative side to this is that she is incredibly harsh to people whom she doesn't consider blood relations and true members of the family, best shown in her treatment of Marta after the will is revealed. It's likely that Ransom gets the negative parts of this trait from her.
  • Token Good Teammate: In the sense that she's the only one of Harlan's children or grandchildren who has no contentions with him. She did take a loan from him to start her own business but did pay it back, and is the only one besides his mother mourning her father's death. Harlan's final note to her contains an apology for breaking bad news to her and saying she deserves better.
  • Who Would Be Stupid Enough?: Linda is not stupid enough, but her husband sure is.
    Linda: If you think I'm dumb enough to shit-talk my little brother in front of a police detective and a state trooper—
    Gilligan Cut to her husband's interview
    Richard: Walt doesn't run shit!
  • Woman Scorned: After finding out Richard was cheating on her, he's next seen with a black eye.

    Richard 

Richard Drysdale

Played By: Don Johnson

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/richarddrys_1.png
The Desperate Son-in-Law

Linda's husband, Ransom's father, and Harlan's son-in-law.



  • Angry White Man: Goes on a xenophobic and racist tirade about undocumented immigrants. He insists he has nothing against legal immigrants, while casually expecting his father-in-law's Hispanic nurse to clear the table.
  • Bumbling Dad: Although not a positive version, he is portrayed as much dimmer than his wife Linda.
    • This is established very quickly in a Gilligan Cut where he unnecessarily spills his family's guts to the authorities, immediately after Linda pointedly asks Who Would Be Stupid Enough? to do that.
    • He also seems to believe that bribing a police officer literally involves waving a wad of cash at them, out in the open with several witnesses, as they are hauling their perpetrator away. He was quite lucky that neither of them bothered to charge him with that.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Despite his conservative views, he openly hates his nephew Jacob, referring to him as a "little shit" and a Nazi.
  • Gold Digger: A rare male example, it's abundantly clear through the film that he only married Linda for the Thrombey Family money. He and Linda never seem particularly close, Richard is rude and crass for most of her family, and Linda's siblings clearly only tolerate him for her sake. Even Harlan refers to him as a deadbeat in his final letter to Linda.
  • Hate Sink: The second most hateful character behind his own son Ransom. He's a xenophobic, hypocritical, cheating gold digger and has none of the charisma or cleverness Ransom has. It's clear that no one in his family particularly likes him.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: In a more subtle, drawn-out way than most: After searching Harlan's desk for the evidence of Richard's affair, he throws Harlan's baseball out the window to land on the front lawn. It gets picked up by Blanc, who carries it around for a day before using it to play fetch with one of Harlan's dogs. Towards the end, Linda discovers the baseball while petting one of the dogs. While returning it to her father's desk, she discovers the invisible-ink letter from Harlan that Richard left out, having dismissed it as blank. She decodes it easily, discovering her husband's affair. He's sporting a black eye in the final scenes of the film.
  • Humiliation Conga: By the end of the movie, he's lost out on a large inheritance, had his son arrested for murder, and been outed as an adulterer not mention his wife punches him giving him a black eye.
  • Hypocrite:
  • During a xenophobic rant, Richard voices a belief that breaking the law for any reason must have consequences. When his son is arrested for murdering his grandfather out of nothing but greed, Richard openly tries to bribe the arresting officers into releasing him. Also, if Richard were really committed to his stated belief that lawbreakers should face consequences, he would have turned in Marta's mother right after Meg revealed that Marta's mother is undocumented. Instead the Thrombeys offer to help legalize Marta's mother if Marta will give up her inheritence. So again, money ultimately proves to be more important to Richard than his (supposed) belief that lawbreakers should face consequences.
  • Goes on a long rant about the dangers of allowing immigrants into the country, a scant few scenes after he quotes the "immigrants get the job done" line from Hamilton. He also expresses pride in being descended from immigrants (Irish) several times, despite disparaging modern-day immigration.
  • His appreciation of "hard-working immigrants" that don't leech off the public is pretty rich considering that Richard is a Gold Digger deadbeat that doesn't do anything and lives off Linda's money.
  • It's All About Me: Tried to persuade Harlan from telling Linda that Richard was cheating on him by claiming Harlan should butt out of Richard's marriage and he can do whatever he wants within that marriage, despite Harlan (rightly) protesting that Linda is his daughter, and he has the right to tell her information that is pertinent to her happiness.
  • Jerkass: Richard is crass, mean-spirited, and plainly a closeted racist who pats himself on the back about not turning out as bad as his son while clearly being part of where Ransom gets it from.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: As mentioned above, thanks to his accidentally revealing his own affair, Linda is almost guaranteed to divorce him, and thanks to the massive pre-nup he signed before their marriage, she's likely to get ownership of everything. Add that to Harlan cutting him out of the will, and the materialistic, money-grubbing Richard is about to find himself penniless very soon.
  • Oh, Crap!: At the end, when he sees his wife glaring at him and realises that she has discovered her father's letter revealing his affair.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: While none of the family knows which country Marta is from, Richard actually gives two completely different answers (Paraguay and Uruguay).
  • Your Cheating Heart: Is having an affair. Harlan has photographic proof of this and threatens to tell Linda, thus giving Richard a motive for his murder.

    Ransom 

Hugh Ransom Drysdale

Played By: Chris Evans

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/ransom.png
The Trust Fund Playboy

Richard and Linda's son, referred to as the Black Sheep of the family. He's a foulmouthed Rich Idiot with No Day Job.



  • Animals Hate Him: Harlan's dogs don't like Ransom, which is ultimately a good indicator of his true nature.
  • At Least I Admit It: Makes no pretenses that he’s anything but a complete Jerkass and selfish member of the Idle Rich, but at least that means he’s not a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing like most of his family, and he can be disarmingly charming and sincere-seeming in contrast to them... even though he’s the worst of the bunch.
  • Big Bad: Everything in the film ultimately springs from his plan to frame Marta for Harlan's murder, and he proves quite active in smoothing out the inevitable complications when his plan goes awry.
  • Big Bad Friend: Acts as a friend to Marta but turns out to be the Big Bad.
  • Black Sheep: Is referred to as the black sheep of the family, since he has no patience for their petty backstabbing and prefers to be a loud-mouthed asshole.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Downplayed, but (as described below) Ransom refuses to work and yet demonstrates a lot of intelligence when he speaks to Marta after the will reading and when planning the cover-up about his own role in Harlan's death. Harlan's not wrong when he says there's a lot of him in Ransom.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In his Establishing Character Moment, Ransom makes it clear that "only the help calls me Hugh." Fran's last words expose her killer's identity when Blanc and Marta realise that she was saying "Hugh did this" rather than "you did this".
  • Chekhov's Skill:
    • His brief tenure as Harlan's research assistant comes in handy while helping Marta. It also came in handy during his plot to kill Harlan and to frame Marta for it.
    • Similarly, Harlan mentions Ransom's inability to tell a real knife from a prop one. This inadvertently saves Marta's life in the climax, when Ransom attempts to stab her with what is revealed to be a collapsible stage dagger.
  • The Chessmaster: The only person who could regularly beat Harlan in Go... except for Marta. He really should've looked further into that; he might've anticipated her outplaying him coming.
  • Deadpan Snarker: He's seldom without a mean-spirited quip.
    Ransom: [to Blanc] What's this? CSI KFC?
  • Didn't Think This Through: Despite the cunning of his overall plan, Ransom clearly failed to consider the possible downsides of hiring a master detective to investigate a crime that he himself orchestrated.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": The help is not allowed to call him "Ransom," like his family does — they have to call him by his real first name, Hugh.
  • Enemy Mine:
    • He's unquestionably a massive douchebag, but teams up with Marta — someone he'd normally be just as much of a jerkass to as anyone else — because he hates his family.
    • This is a lie, but the trope is actually still in effect. He does indeed hate his family, but in his mind, the greater enemy is Marta. So although he has bad blood with them, he's put in the work for the circumstances to be in favor of himself and his family against Marta.
  • Establishing Character Moment: He arrives to his grandfather's will reading after ignoring the funeral, is promptly harassed by Harlan's dogs, and ignores and insults the police and Blanc when they greet him.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Nothing makes his plans fall to pieces more than his failure to predict Marta's genuinely good nature; killing Fran ends up working against Ransom when Marta tries to save her instead of just letting her die.
  • Evil Is Petty: Apart from being a bona fide felon and villain, he's also just a dickwad, period. He takes unbridled pleasure in the tumult that ensues after Harlan's will is read out, and bars "the help" from calling him by the name he actually likes to go by — "because you're an asshole," as Marta plainly puts it.
  • Fatal Flaw: Arrogance and a flair for the dramatic, shared with his grandfather, as Harlan himself points out. At every turn, his plans are foiled by his persistent underestimation of Marta, starting with the very evening of the murder, where she instinctively grabs the correct-but-wrongly-labeled vial simply because she is a very good nurse who can feel the minute differences in viscosity between the two liquids and injects him with the correct one. He goes on to underestimate her intelligence in all-but properly covering up the "murder," her compassion in calling in medical aid for a housekeeper he'd tried to manipulate her into thinking was blackmailing her, and her quick thinking and even physical fortitude, when he starts bragging and monologuing about how he's going to get away scot-free before she reveals she was lying about the housekeeper's survival by vomiting all over him. Then he tries to grab a knife to stab her, and fails to realize it's a prop knife until it's too late.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Ransom can be charming and charismatic when he wants to be which is how he convinces Marta to trust and work with him. Once the veneer comes off however, he's the same arrogant, racist jerk as the rest of his family.
  • Functional Addict: As seen on the table during the diner scene. Over the course of a single afternoon with Marta (a noted non-drinker), Ransom finishes off four beers and half a glass of scotch, and seems none the worse for wear. Walt also makes a snide reference to Ransom being on a designer drug, though it's left unclear whether this is true or not.
  • Global Ignorance: He believes Marta and her family come from Brazil. While no one else in the family knows what their country of origin is, the fact that Brazil's official language is Portuguese, not Spanish, shows just how much more ignorant he is.
  • Graceful Loser: Downplayed. Once everything goes against him and he realizes that he's just confessed to murder, Ransom tries to murder Marta as revenge, reasoning that he has nothing to lose from being convicted of two murders instead of one. When it becomes clear that he grabbed a prop knife instead of a real one, however, he utters a dejected "shit" and doesn't resist arrest any further, calmly and quietly walking into a police car without a fuss, even as his father tries (poorly) to bribe his way into freedom. As he's about to get in the car, he also looks up at Marta with nothing but calm and an ambiguously respectful nod.
  • Hate Sink: Gleefully invokes this in-universe. His repulsive nature makes him the one subject that all other members of the Thrombey family are willing to put their differences aside to agree on.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Ransom did many things to secure the exposure to his own crimes, such as anonymously hiring an expert detective, and underestimating Marta's integrity.
  • Honor Before Reason: If he simply stuck to his claim of helping Marta stay on the down low in exchange for her giving him a cut of the inheritance when he found out Marta didn't overdose Harlan instead of trying to frame Marta for Fran's murder, Marta likely wouldn't have shown the tox report to Blanc and Ransom wouldn't have been found out. However, rather than taking the less risky option, Ransom's pride couldn't allow a servant to get the family inheritance, so he opens up the risk of him being found out all for his sense of family ego.
  • Hypocrite: Tells Marta honestly that he just couldn’t abide her inheriting his family’s fortune, which he calls their ‘birthright.’ But literally everything his family is arguing over his grandfather built, from his money to his house to his publishing empire, and Ransom is therefore no more or less entitled to it than she is. Blanc even outright laughs at him when he says this.
  • Idle Rich: The closest he's come to having a job is working as his grandfather's research assistant for a summer.
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: He exploits his own pair of pretty blue eyes by batting them at Marta when convincing her to trust him. These are framed as full-fledged Creepy Blue Eyes after he's revealed to be responsible for everything, however.
  • Ironic Echo: When the rest of the Thrombeys find out that they're not getting anything from Harlan's will, Ransom sarcastically says that he thinks it could be the best thing to happen to them while driving off with Marta, mirroring what the family said to him when they thought it was only Ransom who was cut from the will.
  • It's All About Me: Ransom claims to be looking out for his "birthright", but couldn't care less about the rest of his family as long as he gets his own share.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • Colossal asshole though he may be, Ransom is justified in calling out the family's reaction to their disinheritance, especially considering how pleased they all were when they thought that only he had been disinherited. It loses its punch somewhat when it's revealed that the only reason he was being such a Smug Snake was because he assumed his plan was still going to play out perfectly and leave him with his inheritance.
    • While his mother constantly boasts of how she's a self-made woman who started her own business, he points out that she was only able to start her real estate business "from the ground up" after Harlan gave her a million dollar start up loan.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: He's a loud-and-proud asshole when first introduced. Then, he seemingly earns the trust of Marta to help her get to the bottom of the case, only to be revealed later on to have framed her for the murder of Harlan Thrombey out of greed and never indicates that forcing Marta to kill her best friend and his grandfather which would ruin her life and then, when he finds out she avoided his trap, framing her for the crime is something he has any compunctions about.
  • Laborious Laziness: Faced with the reality of having to make his own way in life, Ransom comes up with a plot to secure his inheritance to continue his jobless existence, a plan that becomes very convoluted and requires a lot of upkeep after being put into action.
  • Manchild: According to the other Thrombeys, he really, really needs to grow up. In this case, it's a massive Jerkass Has a Point. He's played by Chris Evans (in his late 30s while filming) and has visibly the oldest parents among his cousins, so it's evident that he's the eldest cousin, yet acts the most like a bratty teenager. Absolutely crosses over to Psychopathic Manchild, of course.
  • Meaningful Name: His name is given as "Ransom". Guess what his motive is.
  • Middle Name Basis: He is only called "Hugh" by his grandfather's employees, because he forces them to do so. Because he's an asshole.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Quite a lot of viewers were pulled in for the treat of watching Chris Evans in a cable-knit sweater. The film's official Twitter account even rebranded itself as a Chris Evans and His Sweater thirst account for a day.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!:
    • Part of his plan was to have Benoit Blanc do an investigation into his grandfather's death, use what evidence he had ensured would be there so that Marta would be framed for his death, thereby losing her position as sole-inheritor in Harlan's will. The only problem? He paid a man who's job is to investigate suspicious events anonymously. With cash in an envelope. This catches Benoit's interest and clues him in that there was a third party orchestrating the whole thing.
    • When Marta tells everyone that Fran survived her overdose, Ransom drops any pretense of innocence of the crimes and admits that he was the one who tried to kill her. Then Marta vomits, having basically got him to confess to murder.
  • Not So Similar: As Harlan himself notes, he and Ransom are "Too Much Alike." Ransom is also a murderous jerk who lacks his grandfather's heart of gold.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: A rather unusual example. When he arrives for the will reading, which is also when the audience first meets him, he's smug, cocky and arrogant, gleefully provokes the rest of his family into a screaming match, and reacts with laughter when it turns out they've all been disinherited in favour of Marta. However, when Marta reveals what really happened to him he becomes a lot more serious, implying that even he is shocked enough by what happened to take it seriously. However, Blanc realises that the OOC moment was actually his behaviour at the will reading, knowing that Ransom is definitely not the kind of person to react in such a way to his own disinheritance unless he already knew what was coming... and had made his own plans to get around it.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: He behaves like a spoiled, lazy teenager despite being well into his thirties. The "psychopathic" part comes to light when you find out that he tried to murder his own grandfather for cutting him out of the will.
  • Rich Idiot with No Day Job: Comes across as this, with his only known job having been a summer working as Harlan's research assistant. In truth, he's actually very intelligent and clever, using his knowledge of murders to frame Marta for Harlan's death.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Boasts that, with a good lawyer and deep enough resources, (which he claims to possess) he will be out of jail in no time since they can’t directly pin a murder on him. Of course, it just goes to show that this guy is such an idiot that he seriously seems to think arson and attempted murder is a minor rap. (To say nothing of the fact openly swearing revenge on Marta in front of three witnesses, two of whom are police officers, once he is released is a great way to torpedo any future parole hearings) It doesn’t matter anyway because Marta tricks him into confessing to murdering Fran.
  • Shout-Out: Named after the main character of The Space Trilogy.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Tells his family members, "Eat shit" several times.
  • Smarter Than You Look: While on the surface, he's a lazy jerk with little positive attributes, he does showcase a surprising amount of cleverness. He very nearly gets away with murder.
  • Smug Smiler: Sits around with an arrogant smirk at the will reading because he knows what's going to happen, how - he thinks - he's going to get his cut out of it anyway, and just wants to watch the fireworks.
  • Smug Snake: Quite a bit more cunning, devious, and observant than initially believed, as well as ruthless and skilled at improvisation. He plans several genuinely clever and well-disguised Xanatos Gambits that almost get Marta blamed for his grandfather’s death... but he’s arrogant and just a bit too clever, hiring Blanc himself to open the investigation back up, and simply can’t quite predict Marta’s behavior because Evil Cannot Comprehend Good.
  • Sore Loser: Once he learns he will not be in grandpa's will anymore, he arranges to have him killed, and he also tries to kill Marta out of spite once he's been cornered.
  • Taking You with Me: After his guilt is proven, he attempts to murder Marta as his final act before being arrested, reasoning that since he's already going away for one murder and one attempted murder, one more won't change much. Fortunately, he grabs a fake knife by accident.
  • Thicker Than Water: Ransom at first seemingly subverts this as he has no actual love lost for his family and is amused to watch them bite each other's heads off. When he learns the truth of Harlan's death from Marta he offers to be her confidant in exchange for giving him, and only him his share of the inheritance. But then it turns out that Ransom was trying to set Marta up as a patsy all along; as much as Ransom hates his family, he still believes that the fortune should rightfully be theirs.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: When he realizes that the knife he just tried to stab Marta with is a stage knife, he simply mutters a flat "Shit."
  • Token Evil Teammate: While all of the Thrombeys are hypocritical, mean, back-stabbing people to some extent or another, Ransom turns out to be this, as it's revealed he was going to murder Harlan and frame Marta. And then killed Fran when she had the evidence of his dirty deeds. Marta was right that none of the Thrombeys were killers except when it came down to him.
  • Too Clever by Half: He considers himself clever enough to plan a murder, but when the murder is not discovered, he secretly contacts a famous Great Detective to be his Detective Patsy. The Great Detective solves the case the very first day of the investigation, but he holds back the information until he discovers who contacted him.
  • Troll: Takes quite a bit of delight in egging on and aggravating almost everyone.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: When Marta screws up his plans to kill Harlan and retake his inheritance, he proves adept at making things up on the fly to cover his tracks.
  • Would Hit a Girl: He killed Fran and attempted to murder Marta.

    Joni 

Joni Thrombey

Played By: Toni Collette

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/jonith.png
The Lifestyle Guru

Meg's mother and Harlan's widowed daughter-in-law, Joni is a famous lifestyle guru.



  • Bourgeois Bohemian: An extremely shallow example. Joni is a so-called "lifestyle guru" who practices meditation and shows generally left-wing political beliefs, but she has been living off her father-in-law's money since the death of her husband and when the chips are down, she's just as ruthless as her conservative in-laws in getting Marta to renounce the inheritance.
  • Dark-Skinned Blonde: Downplayed. Her tan is evidently not her real complexion, but it's quite deep. This is clearly meant to represent her plasticity as a person, as her fake tan is extremely orange and the blonde of her hair is so yellow that it's undeniably artificial. Her façade of kindness also grows paper-thin as the movie progresses.
  • The Ditz: Simply put, Joni is not very smart.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Her political views seem to suggest that, despite her selfish nature, she’s at least against racism and abuse of immigrants.
  • Flipping the Bird: Gives one to Ransom when he drives off with Marta and condescendingly tells the family that getting cut out of the will could be the best thing to happen to them after the will reading.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: While she's not an outright Black Sheep like Ransom, none of the other Thrombeys are fond of her, either being annoyed with her, or in Linda's case, outright dismissing her existence multiple times.
  • Gold Digger: Implied. She steals from Meg's education fund, and seems much more concerned with having her lifestyle maintained.
  • Granola Girl: An Informed Attribute, which goes along with her hypocrisy. Joni seems rather indifferent to any environmental issues, but she shows off that she meditates and does various other hippie-ish activities.
  • Hidden Depths: Despite having been cut off financially by Harlan earlier that day, she is willing to go up and check that he's alright after hearing a heavy thump from his room above hers and thinking that he may have fallen. She also seems genuinely concerned about Meg's college fund above all, despite the fact that it was her who endangered it in the first place.
  • Hypocrite: Puts on airs of being an enlightened bohemian, but when the chips are down the real entitlement and nastiness comes through. Also a subtle example at the beginning; she claims that her company, Flam, promotes spirituality and a break from modern consumerism and ego... but it's clearly all about selling people unnecessary stuff, and notice how subtly tetchy she gets when Lt. Elliot doesn't seem to recognise it. She also justifies forcing her daughter to join them in their attempt to discredit and ruin Marta by claiming that they need to protect "their" inheritance, but of all the Thrombey clan she is probably the least entitled to anything (being that she is not actually a blood family member).
  • It's All About Me: Despite claiming to be interested in her daughter's education and feigning sympathy for Marta, at the end of the day, Joni's primary concern is herself. She lied to and stole from Harlan under the guise of maintaining Meg's education, abandons any pretense of compassion when it becomes clear that Marta stands to inherit Harlan's estate, and shamelessly manipulates Meg to use her friendship with Marta as a weapon in the family's attempt to reclaim what is "rightfully" theirs.
  • Like Mother, Like Daughter: Both Joni and her daughter are rather strident Bourgeois Bohemian types who, for all their pretences regarding left-wing politics and new age culture, are clearly Not So Different from the more conservative and more openly backstabbing side of the family when the crunch time comes - though Meg at least regrets it and is being manipulated by her mother.
  • Mama Bear: Despite using her daughter as a means to scam money from Harlan, Joni leaps to Meg's defense after Ransom tells her to "Eat shit", threatening loudly to slap the smug grin off Ransom's face.
  • Meaningful Name: Her brand is called "Flam." Flim-flam means "nonsensical or insincere talk," which is relevant both to her attempts at entrepreneurship and her empty politics.
  • Mock Millionaire: A lifestyle guru who likes to live it large and whose daughter goes to an expensive school... but Joni herself is flat broke and siphons money from her father-in-law.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Of Gwyneth Paltrow, complete with a line of products that do nothing useful. And from a physical perspective (false blond hair and an orange fake tan), Donald Trump, which is made hilarious by the fact that she despises him.
  • Social Climber: She represents a common type of ultra-fake person, who tries to seem good but is really just out for some social climbing. It's revealed early on that she's been stealing from Harlan under the guise of financially supporting her daughter (a lie she maintains all throughout the film, pretending that Meg possibly needing to drop out is her principal concern), and she has the stereotypically bullshit job of "lifestyle guru."
  • Snake Oil Salesman: Implied in the final film and outright confirmed in a Deleted Scene where Blanc develops a rash from one of the moisturizers she sells. He later goes online and discovers other customers experienced the same thing.
  • Valley Girl: Speaks and acts like one, despite being a middle-aged woman.
  • Widow Woman: Married into the Thrombeys, having wedded Harlan's deceased son Neil. Despite this, she has taken to the Thrombey's merciless attitude and sniping at each other like a duck to water.
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    Meg 

Meg Thrombey

Played By: Katherine Langford

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/meg_23.png
The Social Activist

The daughter of Joni and Harlan's late son Neil, and Harlan's granddaughter. She's a college student getting a liberal arts degree.



  • Ambiguous Situation: In general, her worse actions are shrouded with much more ambiguity than her relatives, and are much more up to audience interpretation.
    • The circumstances of her telling the other Thrombeys about Marta's mother's immigration status are unclear.
    • The ending also makes it unclear if Marta will support her college degree at the end. On one hand, Marta did seem to honestly forgive Meg for the aforementioned betrayal. On the other hand, Meg is among the family, even focused on, when they look up at Marta standing queen-like on the balcony of HER estate.
  • Bourgeois Bohemian: She's a rich progressive girl and is getting a degree in some post-modern field of social science, but once it's clear that her privileged lifestyle will be under attack by Marta getting the inheritance, she is quick to act somewhat selfishly.
  • Brainy Brunette: An SJW college student who seems very intelligent with long dark hair.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: An ambiguous example; she's more vocally left-leaning than the others and is Nice to the Waiter, but she is ultimately quick to turn on Marta when her wealthy, privileged lifestyle is threatened. And while she seems to genuinely regret what she's done and apologises to Marta, it's unclear how much of this is sincere and how much of this is either just an act to try and retain her moral high ground and/or trying to keep in Marta's good books in case she needs to.
  • Condescending Compassion: A possible interpretation of her friendliness to Marta and Fran, given her ambiguous character, is that she is the sort of wealthy person who enjoys distinguishing themselves from other wealthy people by ostentatiously making friends with and standing up for "the help" (and thus making it clear to everyone what a good, progressive person this makes her) while simultaneously being willing to quickly cut those friendships loose the moment they become inconvenient for her personally.
  • A Degree in Useless: What some other family members say about her degree at an expensive liberal arts college, which is something "Marxist". Ransom calls her an SJW major. Ironically, her rich grandfather pays for the degree, so Meg is utilizing the privilege her education likely deconstructs.
  • Easily Forgiven: By Marta, for betraying her confidence to the rest of the family. Marta instantly hugs her and tells her she won't have to worry about anything financially. It's unclear if this definitely still stands by the end of the film, but Marta never actually contradicts it.
  • Establishing Character Moment: When Marta arrives at the estate in the beginning Meg greets her like a sister.
  • Foil: To Jacob. Both are Gen Z teens with the opposite political views, with Meg being a progressive SJW and Jacob being alt-right. Both also embody their stereotypes, as Meg is sociable and pursuing a useless degree while the schoolboy Jacob's true venom is spewed behind an online persona. Meg treats Marta with respect initially but quickly turns on her to preserve her privileged lifestyle while Jacob is openly hateful despite admitting to "degenerate" masturbation while otherwise being timid.
  • Hypocrite:
    • Is noted to be quite the "post-modern deconstructivist Marxist" but she quickly turns on Marta once it's clear that her lifestyle will be threatened by Marta getting the inheritance, even if she does seem to regret it afterwards. Most glaringly, Marxism actually opposes the concept of hereditary wealth.
    • She disdains Ransom for being a "trust fund prick" even though she's been just as spoiled as he has, and is completely reliant on Harlan's money.
    • Meg uses the "we're his family" justification for why the Thrombeys deserve Harlan's inheritance over Marta. However, it's shown before this that Meg makes every effort to avoid interacting with her family even when they're together and didn't care about her grandfather enough to even stay at his birthday party long enough for the cake to be served.
  • Interclass Friendship: She's friends with Marta, her grandfather's working-class nurse. Which doesn't stop her from betraying her confidence to the rest of the family.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Variant when she says that she needs to raid Fran's weed stash to better cope with the absurd events of late.
  • A Lighter Shade of Black: Meg is considerably nicer than the rest of her family, and is the only one who fights for Marta's right to the inheritance. Until she realizes that it would affect her personally, and make her drop out of school (or need to get student loans and a job), then she joins with her family in trying to pry the inheritance from her. Additionally, she betrays Marta's confidence by revealing that her mother is undocumented. She champions the idea that the family should continue to support her after Harlan's death; but when Marta offers the same support to her, she seems to become cold and find it as patronizing. However, she does seem sorry for her actions which no-one else in the family is, profusely apologising, and the circumstances of her revealing Marta's mother's status are left ambiguous (she may or may not have been bullied into it), so it's unclear how much "lighter" she really is.
  • Like Mother, Like Daughter: Both Meg and her mother are rather strident Bourgeois Bohemian types who, for all their pretences regarding left-wing politics and new age culture, are clearly Not So Different from the more conservative and more openly backstabbing side of the family when the crunch time comes - though Meg may regret it.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Clearly horrified by what her family used her to try and do.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Played with. She seems to genuinely like Marta and treats Fran well, but when push comes to shove and her lifestyle of wealth and privilege is threatened, she ultimately sides with her family and turns on Marta. She is suggested to feel genuinely bad about doing so, however (or, depending on your viewpoint, she could just be better at pretending to be so than the rest of her family).
  • Not So Different: She clearly disdains Ransom as a "trust fund prick". But while she doesn't stoop to the levels he does and shows (or at least puts on a good performance of) guilt, like him she ultimately proves willing to turn on Marta in order to keep Harlan's inheritance within the Thrombey family where it "belongs" — and so that she can continue to benefit from it.
  • Only Sane Woman: Eventually Subverted — or not, depending on your opinion. Aside from being Nice to the Waiter, Meg also provides some much-needed levelheadedness among her family members. After Linda demands to know if Marta had been "boinking" Harlan, Meg is the one who calls out this absurdity.
  • Political Correctness Gone Mad: Her family certainly considers her this, and it's pretty telling that when Ransom, fed up with Joni's self-righteousness, snaps "Up your ass!" at her, Meg's first response is to scold Ransom for the homophobic nature of his insult rather than the fact that he insulted her mother.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Meg's more pleasant combination of natural skin tone and dark hair is especially conspicuous next to her mother, whose orange fake tan and yellow hair makes her look like she's been deep-fried.
  • Rich Kid Turned Social Activist: Played With. Meg is the only granddaughter of a rich family, but she is getting a degree in something "Marxist", she disapproves of her more right-wing relatives, and her cousin Ransom regards her as a SJW. However, when her lifestyle is challenged, Meg appears to pivot back to the 'rich kid' part of this trope and joins in her family in keeping the money from Marta.
  • Secret Keeper: She and Marta are close enough that Marta let her in on the secret of her mother being undocumented. Which Meg then spills to the family when the going gets tough, though she does appear to regret this.
  • Secretly Selfish: Heavily implied, though the jury remains out on exactly how selfish she really is. A case can be made that she's an example of a certain kind of wealthy person who gets off being seen as a virtuous, egalitarian and caring person more than actually being one, and she certainly ends up being quick to side with her family when her lifestyle is threatened by being cut off from the Thrombey fortune.
  • Soapbox Sadie: She calls just about everyone out on their racism, and seems to go on political rants. On the other hand, she is right about Marta being badly treated.
  • Spoiled Sweet: Deconstructed. Meg appears to meet all the requirements (she's very nice, she views Marta as a genuine friend) as well as coming from serious money, but actually, the "spoiled" part of this is shown to always win out. When it comes down to it, Meg wants to protect what is hers - and her mother's - before Marta gets anything.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Ironically enough, the family member she seems to despise the most, her cousin Jacob, is also the one she looks the most alike, having very similar features and identical coloring.
  • Token Good Teammate: Meg is easily the nicest and most amiable of the Thrombeys, and the one who treats Marta the best (barring Harlan himself). The family takes advantage of her closeness with Marta and uses her to try to get the latter to renounce her inheritance. She's also the only one to voice the sentiment that Harlan's will should be honored, before her mother reveals to her that they're broke without that money - and even then, she regrets it.
  • Ungrateful Bitch: Linda grumbles about Meg quickly ditching Harlan's birthday party to hang out with her friends instead, pointing out that considering that her grandfather supports her to the point of paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for her college tuition fees, the least Meg could do is sacrifice her evening long enough for the cake to be served.
  • White Sheep: Maybe. Meg is portrayed as being the most selfless and kind of the Thrombey family. Unlike her mother and Walt, she doesn't breakdown into a hypocritical rant when Marta is revealed as Harlan's sole inheritor. With that said, she does leak Marta's mother's illegal immigrant status to the rest of her family, and tries to emotionally guilt her into relinquishing her rights. But then it's also implied that she did this at the behest of her family, not of her own volition.
  • Wild Card: Even to the audience. It's very unclear whether Meg gladly backstabbed Marta, whether she was pressured into it by her family, and whether her sincere apology is genuine. It seems to be.

    Walt 

Walt Thrombey

Played By: Michael Shannon

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/waltthrombey.png
The Publishing Heir

Harlan Thrombey's youngest son, and the executive of his publishing company.



  • Authority in Name Only: His family are very aware that his role as head of the publishing company means pretty much nothing. With Harlan having adamantly invokedrefused any screen adaptations of his works (despite Walt receiving juicy offers from the likes of Netflix), Walt's duties consist of essentially being a glorified middleman between Harlan and the bookstores, and his attempts to take initiative are quashed by his father.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Is affectionate and kind to Marta, even suggesting to take care of her along with Meg, but then attempts to blackmail her with her mother's undocumented status. Can be subverted as he didn't do it out of malice but out of desperation shown by a deleted scene.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Harlan seems to imply that he believes Walt has it in him to become a successful author on his own but is held back by his focus on publishing and licensing Harlan's novels.
  • Cigar Chomper: Smokes enormous cigars, which a disgusted Harlan notes can be smelled from the third floor.
  • Creative Sterility: His Black Sheep status among Harlan's issue is his lack of ambition to create anything for himself, instead preferring to leech off the success of his father's books. While the other Thrombeys are supported in some way by Harlan, they all pursued their own path. Walt, on the other hand, is permanently stuck in his father's shadow, and everyone (including Harlan himself, implicitly) looks down on him for it. In his defense, he does sometimes try to take initiative within this role, negotiating for adaptions and the like, but his father never lets him take too much power over his life's work.
  • Did Not Think This Through: He attempts to blackmail Marta with having her undocumented mother deported, then makes the mistake of telling her with powerful resources and lawyers (from the inheritance), the Thrombeys can help fight the case for her. His victim responds that if what he says is true, then they can just do it themselves and don't need him at all, before slamming the door in his face.
  • Everyone Has Standards: A downplayed example. Walt does try to discourage his wife from going on a racist rant at Harlan's birthday party, but only does so half-heartedly. He also can't even look at Ransom when he's arrested for his crimes averting his eyes in disgust.
  • Evil Cripple: He has an unspecified leg injury that requires him to wear a walking boot and use a cane. This gives him a hunched-over posture that takes a sinister edge as the plot unravels. Though ultimately, it's downplayed as Walt never really does anything overtly evil in the film, apart from his failed attempt at blackmailing/threatening Marta and even that is justified as of a deleted scene. Indeed, Walt might alternatively be described as more a Pathetic Cripple than anything else; his leg injury ultimately symbolises his fundamental impotence as an inept father who's passively allowed his son to drift into alt-right politics, a glorified secretary dependent on his father's legacy and charity for his income and an all-over weak man incapable of standing up for himself.
    • Deleted scenes reveal that he owed money to the kind of people who would break his legs for failing to pay them.
  • Failed Attempt at Drama: Although sinister, his attempt at blackmailing Marta with her mother's immigration status doesn't ultimately do anything but get her door slammed in Walt's face.
  • Freudian Excuse: A deleted scene shows the reason why he blackmails Marta and seemed so desperate was because there were people who were going to do very horrible things to him if he didn't get them money.
  • Hypocrite: In one of the flashbacks, he gives a dismissive laugh when Richard says all of the adult Thrombeys built their share from the ground up despite Walt probably being the most reliant on Harlan out of all of them as he serves little more than a middleman between Harlan and bookstores.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Walt has something of a right to be upset at being let go from his father’s publishing company for essentially just doing his job. Even Harlan tries to stress that it isn’t actually anything Walt did.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Played with. He comes off as mostly pathetic and blind to his son's alt-right habits. He's a much less bad person than his racist wife, whom he attempts to stop from going on a racist rant, and Nazi son who he's willing to come to blows with Richard over. He even suggested bringing Marta into the family and taking care of her along with Meg, and comforts a mourning Linda in one scene. He doesn't do anything wrong in the film until his conversation with Marta when it's clear he's threatening her with her mother's deportation though a deleted scene indicates that even this is brought about more by desperation than outright villainy.
  • Lame Comeback: "I will not eat ONE IOTA of shit!"
  • No Respect Guy: Pretty much his entire family looks down on him for not being a "self-made" like them.
  • Not So Different: He is much more amiable than his awful son and racist wife and arguably sill can be considered better than them as he only has one antagonistic moment but that is when it's revealed that they're inheriting nothing, it's ultimately him who threatens Marta's mother with deportation. But could be subverted as adeleted scene shows he had a very good reason for that. Also, while his family looks down on him for "only" serving as a glorified secretary to his father, they are all, to varying degrees, also dependent on Harlan and his fortune for their success.
  • Papa Wolf: Almost comes to blows with Richard after the latter insults Jacob, Walt's son and claims he was "masturbating to images of dead deer."
  • Pet the Dog: Comforts a mourning Linda in one scene. Also sticks up for his son when Richard smack talks him.
  • Rule of Symbolism: His leg injury. We never learn how he came by it and it serves no real plot purpose in the film as releasednote , but merely reflects what a weak and impotent man Walt is overall.
  • Shame If Something Happened: The morning after Marta is named the sole inheritor of Harlan's fortune, Walt confronts her at her apartment and makes not so subtle threats of the possibility of having her mother deported.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: He tends to describe his father's books as "ours". Everyone else rather dismissively points out that he just acts as a glorified middle man between Harlan and the publishing, and Harlan himself (gently but rightly) reminds Walt that they're not his when Walt does this in their confrontation.
  • The Runt at the End: He is Harlan's youngest son, and looked down on by everyone for his weak leadership and lack of real power, and he seems equally incapable of actually making a difference in his fight for his inheritance - the only time he shows some actual backbone is when his son is threatened.
  • Technologically Blind Elders: Downplayed. He knows how to work modern technology just fine, but he's blind to how social media exacerbates his son's growing alt-right extremism, and downplays his son's behavior as wacky stuff that kids find on the internet these days.
    Meg: Alt-right troll!
    Jacob: Liberal snowflake!
    Walt: I don't know what any of those words mean!

    Jacob 

Jacob Thrombey

Played By: Jaeden Martell

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/jacob_5.png
The Internet Troll

Walt and Donna's son, and Harlan's grandson.



  • Advertised Extra: Martell is one of the biggest stars in his age group but has barely half-a-dozen lines.
  • Creepy Child: A teenager, but still. Jacob shows interest in the alt-right. His family considers him this too, with Richard calling him a "Nazi" and accusing him of "joylessly masturbating to pictures of dead deer".
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Subverted. Multiple characters believe he was masturbating in the bathroom when he was overhearing the argument between Harlan and Ransom. A flashback shows he was not.
  • Deadly Prank: One of his trolling tactics borders on this, as it's mentioned that he likes swatting people.
  • Evil Is Petty: Jacob is an alt-right troll, but all the audience sees of his budding alt-right tendencies are pettily mean actions. He calls Meg "Liberal snowflake." During the chaos that ensues when Harlan's will is read out, he yells derogatory racial remarks at Marta. He also films Marta leaving for his Instagram Live, causing masses of people to gather outside the Cabrera household. It adds to the mounting pressure Marta is already facing and helps his father blackmail her.
  • Foil: To Meg. Both are Gen Z teens with the opposite political views, with Meg being a progressive SJW and Jacob being alt-right. Both also embody their stereotypes, as Meg is sociable and pursuing a useless degree while the schoolboy Jacob's true venom is spewed behind an online persona. Meg treats Marta with respect initially but quickly turns on her to preserve her privilege while Jacob is openly hateful despite while otherwise being timid.
  • G.I.F.T.: Implied. He's supposed to be a vicious troll online, but besides livestreaming Marta's harassment we never see any evidence of his online activity, and aside from some racist comments towards Marta (and even then only when the rest of his family is attacking her as well, giving him license and cover to do so), in person he seems quiet, soft-spoken and even awkward. The clear suggestion is that he's ultimately a bit of a coward doing things behind the veil of online anonymity that he'd never have the courage to do in person.
  • Ironic Name: The family member who's outright called a Nazi is named Jacob, who was the patriarch of the Israelites in Abrahamic tradition.
  • Jerkass: A thoroughly unpleasant boy with alt-right tendencies.
  • Phoneaholic Teenager: He's the stereotypical modern teenager who rarely takes his eyes off his smartphone.
  • School Uniforms Are the New Black: We never see him in school but wore his uniform to the party on the night of the murder, as well as in most of the promotional pictures. Visually, this helps make him look like the youngest Thrombey.
  • Silent Antagonist: While he does talk very occasionally, his lingering presence and willingness to pull out his phone to pile on Marta makes him enigmatic and therefore impenetrable.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Ironically enough, the family member he seems to despise the most, his cousin Meg, is also the one he looks the most alike, having very similar features and identical coloring.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Pretty much everyone in the family save for his parents views him as a Nazi, and refers to him as such on three occasions.
  • Troll: Described as such by his cousin Meg, whom he calls a "liberal snowflake" in return.

    Donna 

Donna Thrombey

Played By: Riki Lindhome

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/donnathrombey.jpg

Walt's wife, Jacob's mother, and Harlan's daughter-in-law.



  • Absolute Xenophobe: She goes on a rant disturbingly claiming that immigrants are destroying American society. She claims not to be racist on the basis that she'd be saying the same thing if the immigrants in question were white, but the fact that she goes out of her way to avoid addressing real issues immigrants face (such as hate crimes and legal discrimination) clearly shows how bigoted she is.
  • Feeling Oppressed by Their Existence: She seems personally outraged at the mere existence of immigrants in the US, to the point of dismissing (or implicitly justifying) whatever cruel treatment such immigrants face.
  • Jerkass: If her anti-immigration rant during the family's political discussion is any indication, it is probable that she is where her son gets his racist attitudes from.
  • Nervous Wreck: Lets out a shrill scream and spills most of her drink when Richard drops a fork, ironically after her husband calls her "his rock." A deleted scene calls into question whether this is something innate and constant with Donna, or a result of Walter being in debt to loan-sharks, with them having broken his leg before.
  • Out of Focus: She gets the least amount of screentime and plot relevance out of the Thrombeys. She doesn't even have a poster and in the final shot where everyone is staring up at Marta looking down at them from their old home, her reaction is the only one of the Thrombey's not shown.
  • The Quiet One: Apart from the aforementioned rant, she doesn't have many lines.

    Great-Nana 

Wanetta "Great-Nana" Thrombey

Played By: K Callan

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/knives_out_lg.jpg

Harlan's elderly mother.



  • Actually Pretty Funny: After Blanc delivers his "The Reason You Suck" Speech to the Thrombeys, Nana chuckles a little.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Most of the family, even Marta, treats her like a living prop or a burden. Blanc treating her with complete respect prompts her to disclose what she saw the night of Harlan's death.
  • Only Sane Woman: The only member of the Thrombey family to completely steer clear of the constant infighting and petty sniping.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: An unusual example in that it is the result of the parent living to an exceptionally old age, rather than the child passing away prematurely (the child dies in old age here). Nevertheless, it is tragic that Blanc is the only one who even acknowledges this fact.
  • The Quiet One: Doesn't speak much, but when she does, it proves to have a significant impact on the case.
  • Scatterbrained Senior: Has lost some mental faculty in her advanced age, to the point that even Marta doesn't worry much when she catches her outside the window and mistakes her for Ransom. However, she proves to be more astute than she looks.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Doesn't have many lines, but it is her mistaking Marta for Ransom on the night of the murder (specifically saying "Ransom, you're back again already") that allows Blanc to come to the conclusion that Ransom had returned to the house.
  • Token Good Teammate: Is this. Maybe because she's hardly part of the team except being their relative by blood. The rest of the Thrombeys' negligence towards her is even a major plot point.
    • If what ruined the rest of the family was money, this makes sense: Harlan made the fortune. She could have been any class growing up.
  • Vague Age: She is old enough to have an eighty-five-year-old son and adult great-grandchildren, but nobody in her family actually knows how old she is. Unlikely to be less than 100 due to sheer biology but no age is ever given.

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Thrombey Employees

    Marta 

Marta Cabrera

Played By: Ana de Armas

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/martacabrera_4.png
The Devoted Caretaker

The Thrombeys' family nurse, and the main protagonist of the film.



  • Accidental Murder: She killed Harlan, after he knocked a Go board over and she accidentally mixed up his medicine bottles in the confusion. Except not; Ransom had switched the bottles and taken the antidote out beforehand, but Marta knew the density of her medicines without looking at the bottles' labels, so the injection she gave Harlan was in fact completely harmless.
  • All-Loving Hero: Even after learning the Thrombeys' true nature, she still feels an inclination to use her inheritance to help them, though it's left unclear whether she does.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: She has a strange condition where she vomits whenever she tells a lie, which could be a form of anxiety disorder.
  • Ambiguously Brown: She's definitely Latina and her family's country of origin is repeatedly commented on, but the Thrombeys can't remain consistent on where they think she's from. The movie doesn't clear it up either.note 
  • Ambiguously Christian: She has a cross dangling from her car's rear-view mirror, but her religious beliefs are never stated.
  • Bad Liar: A unique example. Marta can tell a lie while maintaining eye contact and an even tone... except she will throw up almost immediately afterwards. All the Thrombeys know about this; Harlan specifically plans around it when working on his cover-up, instructing Marta to use very specific fragments of the truth, while Ransom exploits it, having seen it firsthand the year prior when Marta tried to participate in a game of "Mafia," forcing her to come clean about (what she thinks was) her role in Harlan's death.
  • Beauty Inversion: Downplayed. Marta was downright described in the script as a “pretty Latina caretaker”, and is played by the very attractive Ana de Armas. However, the unkempt hair, unflattering clothing, and vomiting make it pretty clear she's not a Spicy Latina.
  • Beneath Notice: Discussed by Harlan, who reasons that once she is "cleared" of suspicion as his accidental killer by his cover-up plan, nobody will think twice about her.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Is so tender-hearted that she borders on Incorruptible Pure Pureness. She eventually asserts herself as the owner of Harlan's inheritance.
  • Break the Cutie: Marta is under constant distress as the Thrombeys give her new reasons to be on edge.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Marta is by far the nicest person who's been under the roof of the Thrombeys, but after everything she endured, she secures Harlan's will by finally standing up to the rest of the family.
  • Cannot Tell a Lie: Marta is physically incapable of lying. She vomits immediately after she says something untrue. However, she gets around it by saying Exact Words while omitting potentially dangerous implications. Even then, she is only able to last through the interview and a calm walk to the bathroom before collapsing in dry heaves over the toilet. She does manage to lie late in the movie, but barely manages to keep it in long enough for Ransom to confess before vomiting in his face.
  • Chaste Heroine: She has zero romantic or sexual subplots in the film and doesn't wear anything revealing. Of course, it's hardly like these are the circumstances for either, but there isn't so much as a passing reference to any Love Interests she may have had, save for the Thrombeys (and, thanks to Jacob's live stream, loads of other people) speculating that she and her boss Harlan had some sort of amorous affair — which they decidedly did not.
  • Clear My Name: She has to clear up the fact that she did not "seduce" Harlan and that she killed him entirely by accident, and is not after the inheritance at all. Later on, she also discovers she didn't even accidentally kill Harlan despite Ransom switching her medicine bottles. The detectives help her provide the evidence.
  • The Confidant: Harlan trusted her enough to confide in her about the family's personal problems, including Richard's affair, Joni's double-dipping and his intent to fire Walt.
  • Extremely Protective Child: She is motivated in everything illegal she does after inheriting Harlan's money so she can protect her mother, who is an illegal immigrant, from deportation.
  • Fingerless Gloves: Wears a teal woolen pair when she's outdoors.
  • Good Is Not Dumb: She possesses borderline-Incorruptible Pure Pureness and an extremely diffident nature; these are things that people around her exploit, and for some time Ransom does successfully manipulate her by appealing to her kindness. When it comes down to it, however, she's smart enough to play Xanatos Speed Chess with the best of them. And sufficiently proficient a nurse to know the correct medication to give by touch alone.
  • Good Is Not Soft: After receiving a movie's worth of Kick the Dog, she bites back by the end.
  • Hidden Depths: While she is an expert nurse, who would have guessed that she's good at Go (a game that's notorious for being difficult to master) as well - to the point where Harlan admits that the only two people who can beat him at it are Ransom and her... and she's defeated Harlan more times than Ransom has.
  • Honorary True Companion: Subverted. The Thrombeys say that she's practically part of the family, but once Harlan leaves everything to her they all immediately turn on her.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Downplayed. Does several dubious things, but all with the very best of intentions. She doesn't even think of saving herself from the legal ramifications of accidentally killing Harlan until Harlan himself points out that her mother would be deported if she were convicted. Blanc notes that all her criminal actions are nothing more than minor infractions of the law — she didn't even actually give Harlan the wrong dose. Although Ransom tried to make her slip up by switching labels, she instinctively knew the correct bottle of medicine to give Harlan, and so was never even guilty of accidental homicide in the first place. Being pure of heart is how she triumphs over the Thrombeys.
  • Interclass Friendship: Of the Thrombeys, she's genuinely close to Harlan and Meg. Harlan proved himself to be a true friend, quite literally until the end. Meg? Not so much, though as noted in Meg's folder, she's part of an Ambiguous Situation - did she gladly backstab Marta, or was she bullied into it by her family? Did she genuinely mean her profuse apology and My God, What Have I Done? moment, or not?
  • Intergenerational Friendship: The best way to describe her relationship with Harlan, despite her being his employee.
  • Karmic Jackpot: Being such a good friend and nurse to Harlan pays off, big time. She ends the film with a vast fortune, a publishing company, and a huge mansion thanks to Harlan deciding to cut his family out of the will and leave it all to her.
  • Mistaken Nationality: A subtle Running Gag throughout the film is that the Thrombeys are very inconsistent in where they think she and her family came from. In several different scenes, they matter-of-factly claim she's from Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Brazil. And it is noteworthy that the official language in Brazil is Portuguese, instead of the three countries mentioned, in which the official language is Spanish. This is yet another proof of the ignorance of the Thrombeys.
  • Morality Pet: Subverted. Despite her kindness, she constantly gets kicked around by the Thrombeys (though Meg at least regrets it), save for Harlan and Nana.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: She thinks she kills Harlan when she gave him the wrong dosage of medicine by mistake. This trope immediately ensues.
  • Nice Girl: She's so kind and sweet-natured that Harlan gave his will entirely to her.
  • Not Hyperbole: Blanc and co. assume she's exaggerating when she states that trying to lie makes her puke. They find out she's not exaggerating when she tries to cover up that Richard is cheating on Linda.
  • Not So Above It All: Is without a doubt the most responsible and altruistic member of the Thromby household. She's also not above partaking of Fran's secret stash of joints with Meg, or helping Harlan get "fucked up" on morphine.
  • Nurse with Good Intentions: She's Harlan's nurse, and she cares for absolutely everyone - even those who've been awful to her - throughout most of the film.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Or, perhaps more accurately, obfuscating naivete or ignorance. In the film, when she's trying to put the investigators off the scent, at several points she exploits what they presume to be her ignorance of police procedure to "unwittingly" contaminate evidence. For example, at one point she has walked ahead of the cops and Blanc when the latter realises that a muddy field will have been wet the night of the murder and may contain the murderer's footprints. When he calls for her to stop, Marta — realising this — "misinterprets" him as calling her back and obediently trots back to him... thus concealing her own footprints which would have been there.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • A purely dramatic example when she realizes/thinks she gave Harlan the wrong dosage of medication... and for some reason, the antidote isn't in her bag. The poor girl is in tears from the instant she realizes what's happened, and it gets worse.
    • Also her reaction when she gets a note with a copy of Harlan's bloodwork, and a note saying "I know what you did."
  • Pinocchio Nose: She vomits whenever she lies.
  • Positive Friend Influence: To Harlan. She made him realize what he'd done wrong with regards to his family as well, causing him to become The Atoner before his death.
  • Rags to Riches: Maybe not rags, but she goes from a nurse (a notoriously underpaid job) living in a modest apartment with her mother and sister, to the sole owner of a gorgeous mansion and a publishing company, with more money than she knows what to do with.
  • Shrinking Violet: She's timid and prone to blaming herself for everything, readily taking responsibility for things that may not even be her fault.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Marta's savvy nature is established by the fact that she is better at Go than both Harlan and Ransom. It also serves to foreshadow her outsmarting Ransom in the finale.
  • Spanner in the Works: She makes a few critical mistakes while executing Harlan's intricate plan, seemingly ensuring he will have died for nothing and she will be found out as his slayer. However, it is much more noticeably the true murderer, Ransom, who has his plans repeatedly upset by underestimating her. First, her skill as a nurse confounds his attempt to poison his grandfather when she grabs the correct-but-mislabeled bottle on instinct, feeling the minute differences between the liquids, and does not actually overdose him with morphine, then her compassion in calling an ambulance for and attempting to save the life of her seeming blackmailer, and finally, her quick thinking and physical fortitude in coming up with a bluff and holding back her vomit long enough to give him enough rope to hang himself.
  • Stress Vomit: Whenever she lies, she pukes her guts out, and lies by omission only delay this. In the climax, she manages to hold it in that she lied about Fran's survival until after Ransom confesses.
  • Token Minority: Played With. Among the suspects, the Latina Marta is the only non-white character (besides her family, the only other person of color in the cast is Lt. Elliot, who is black). The Thrombeys and their other employees are all white. Instead of being a side character, however, she is the protagonist. Marta is the working-class daughter of an undocumented immigrant, which contrasts her with her wealthy white xenophobic employers, who view her as an outsider.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Believes she accidentally kills Harlan via overdose, is the direct witness of Harlan's suicide, gets flak by the Thrombeys for receiving Harlan's will after everything she'd done to help, becomes threatened by Walt with the deportation of her and her mother, and gets baited and framed by Ransom. And to top it all off, Ransom tries to kill her upon being found out.
  • Turn the Other Cheek: She readily forgives Meg for revealing her mother's undocumented status and even agrees to continue paying her college tuition.
  • Unexpected Successor: Ends up being named the sole inheritor to Harlan's entire estate.
  • The Watson: When he begins his investigation, Blanc quickly latches onto her to assist him in the investigation, because she is the only one of the suspects who wouldn't benefit from Harlan's death, and goes as far as calling her Watson while he tells her this. In reality, Blanc does this because he had noticed the speck of blood in her tennis shoe and wanted to keep her close until he figured everything out.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Benoit Blanc notes that Marta has a good heart and she proves it by going out of her way to help others even if it means putting herself at a disadvantage.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: She frequently comes up with ways to disrupt the investigation to divert suspicion away from her, often with only seconds to come up with something. The best example is during the climax, when after receiving the phone call from the hospital that could jeopardize their takedown of Ransom, Marta almost instantly fakes news that Fran is alive, tricking Ransom into confessing out of anger.

    Fran 

Fran

Played By: Edi Patterson

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/fran_0.jpg

Harlan's housekeeper. She's the first person to find Harlan dead in his room. Or so it initially seems.



  • Almost Dead Guy: She manages to point Marta to both her stash and that Hugh Ransom killed her before slipping into unconsciousness and dying shortly after.
  • Amateur Sleuth: She's clearly snooping around the house on her own after Harlan's death. Failing to coordinate with law enforcement and trying to confront the murderer on her own gets her killed.
  • Blackmail Backfire: Attempted to blackmail Ransom for attempting to get Harlan poisoned. She gets killed for her efforts.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • She herself is largely unimportant in the initial proceedings, but her actions lead to clearing Marta's name.
    • She mentions a cousin who works as a receptionist in a throwaway line. Said cousin gets her the tox report that leads to the above.
  • Famous Last Words: "Stash... You did this..." Actually, she was saying "Hugh", not "You"; only the help calls Ransom by his first name.
  • Idiot Ball: It was a pretty dumb move to meet Ransom in a dark and secluded location. He easily overpowers and kills her.
  • Kindly Housekeeper: Unlike the usual example, she's younger and is the kind to keep a stash of marijuana hidden in the house, but she was on great terms with Harlan before his death and is friends with Meg and Marta.
  • The Stoner: Downplayed in that she's never shown smoking onscreen, but she has a hidden drawer full of joints that she shares with Meg and Marta. This becomes an important plot point, as she had hidden a copy of Harlan's blood results with her stash which reveals that Harlan was not actually poisoned.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Fran loved Harlan, and found out that Ransom had tampered with his medicine. She was a witness to him doing so on the day of the funeral. As Benoit sadly puts it, she should have told the police but wanted to verify Ransom was guilty by sending him a copy of the toxicology report. Then she met Ransom in a remote location, ranting about how everyone would know what he did. Three guesses to what Ransom does to her.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy:
    • She mentions having watched invokedHallmark Channel murder mysteries while talking about the situation, and tries to dramatically confront the killer with evidence of his guilt after engaging in a bit of Amateur Sleuthing. Unlike in these Lighter and Softer murder mysteries, though, rather than instantly giving up when confronted, the killer promptly murders her too.
    • If her genre-savviness about mysteries went any deeper, she'd know that figuring out who the killer is and trying to blackmail them is the fastest way to get yourself killed in classic Agatha Christie stories.
    • Presumably she'd planned on mentioning that she had evidence hidden in case anything happened to her, but Ransom attacked quicker than she expected.

    Mr. Proofroc 

Mr. Proofroc

Played By: M. Emmet Walsh

The elderly security guard of the Thrombey mansion, who has held the job for decades.



  • Technologically Blind Elders: Proudly claims the job is now much easier on him with "all this modern technology" — as the camera pans over to a security system of buzzing CRT screens, at least 25 to 35 years out of date with the setting (in which people have modern cellphones). Proofroc's finicky top-loading VCR, which has a habit of eating videotapes if not handled delicately, even gives Marta an excuse to steal the footage.

    Alan Stevens 

Alan Stevens

Played By: Frank Oz

Harlan Thrombey’s lawyer who comes to deliver the dead man’s will.



  • Locked Out of the Loop: Harlan changes his will a week before he died, and per his requests, no one was allowed to view it until the time came. Alan is as surprised as anyone else to learn that Harlan’s home, fortune, possessions, and all other assets have been given over to Marta.
  • Mister Exposition: His main role is to deliver Harlan’s will, and thus deliver the big twist.
  • Only Sane Man: Alan sits as patiently as he can behind his desk while a hysterical screaming match breaks out over the contents of Harlan’s will, and calmly explains the law as the Thrombeys try to weasel their way back into the fortune they think they deserve.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: When Richard proclaims him useless because he can't get Harlan's will negated, he uses that as an excuse to leave the whole messed up situation.

The Investigators

    Benoit Blanc 

Benoit Blanc

Played By: Daniel Craig

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/benoit.png
The Renowned Investigator

"That fateful night seems at first glance to fill that hole perfectly. A donut hole in the donut's hole. But we must look a little closer. And when we do, we see that the donut hole has a hole in its center - it is not a donut hole at all but a smaller donut with its own hole, and our donut is not whole at all!"

A famed detective hired to investigate Harlan Thrombey's death.

  • Advertised Extra: Downplayed; the trailers made him out to be the film's protagonist, whereas in reality, Marta is the main character and Blanc is merely a supporting player, albeit an important one.
  • Alliterative Name: Benoit Blanc.
  • Badass Baritone: Blanc's Southern accent blends extremely well with Daniel Craig's natural deep voice.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: Despite his flamboyance, he's first introduced sitting in the background, not saying a word, for several minutes, and in many scenes with other characters he's also silent while they ramble on. When he starts talking, he shows he's been listening, and deduced a lot of 'hidden' information from just minor clues. His final speech while breaking the case has him talking practically non-stop for over 15 minutes.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: His flamboyant personality and tendency to focus on who hired him to investigate over the circumstances of Harlan's death itself makes it easy to underestimate him, but when the chips are down, he's still an excellent detective.
  • Boring, but Practical: Despite his eccentric behaviour and bizarre explanations of his train of thought, Blanc is actually considerably less flashy than most fictional detectives in his methods (similar to his obvious influence, Poirot). He doesn't have any CSI kits or super detective abilities, but instead does solid detective work, going over the scene of the crime and interrogating the witnesses, noting small but key details such as Harlan's blood on Marta's shoe. He predicts how events will unfold as the case proceeds, while avoiding assumptions where possible, then notes and investigates when events differ from his predictions. His ability to judge character is also a key skill in this investigation.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Seems to be operating on a different wavelength from most of the people around him, but is still very competent at his job.
  • Cigar Chomper: He spends part of his first day on the case working his way through a lancero cigar.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Despite the promotional material portraying Blanc as the main character, it quickly becomes clear that Marta is the real focus of the story, with Blanc remaining mostly in the background until the end. He gets top billing and he is the one who deduces the truth behind the sordid affair, but Marta is the focal viewpoint character. His face is not even clearly seen (only unfocused in the background) until 8 1/2 minutes into the movie, doesn't even say his first line at around 12 1/2 minutes, while Marta is the first main character we're introduced to.
  • Deep South: Has a deep Southern accent, something Ransom mocks.
    Ransom: What is this, CSI: KFC?
  • Disappointed by the Motive: An unusual example; Blanc correctly figures the motive is Harlan's money. But when Ransom tells Marta that more than that, he just couldn't stand the idea of her, an outsider, inheriting the family fortune, Blanc is genuinely galled that the whole affair is driven more by petty vanity than anything.
  • Eureka Moment: Benoit Blanc finally is able to put everything together once he sees the toxicology report is normal.
  • Everyone Knew Already: Well, he did anyway. It turns out that he knew all along that Marta was involved in the "crime", since he noticed a spot of Harlan's blood on her sneaker the very first time they met. He simply trusted that, due to her fundamental decency, she would reach a point when she informed him of her own volition.
  • Expy: He has a funny accent, and a French-sounding name that is mispronounced on a few occasions. At the end of the movie he brings major characters and police into a room and runs through the entire case from the beginning. In other words, he's a Hercule Poirot Expy, if the Agatha Christie influences weren't already obvious regarding the whole motion picture.
  • Famed in Story: see Smith of the Yard
  • Gentleman Detective: Is an affectionate parody, and the subject of an in-universe New Yorker profile titled "The Last of the Gentlemen Sleuths." His exact background is unknown, though he does talk like a member of Southern aristocracy.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Downplayed. He's a pretty nice guy, but rather abrasive. He notes outright that he has a tendency of hurting other people in his relentless pursuit of the truth. At first meeting, he tries to use Marta's compulsive vomiting to hear what he wants to hear about the Thrombeys, even though the woman is clearly distressed and nauseated from all the puking she's already done.
  • Great Detective: He uses his immense intelligence to deduce the truth behind Harlan's death.
  • Hero Antagonist: He temporarily becomes one to Marta when she tries to hide her apparent part in Harlan’s death and then work with Ransom to find the blackmailer.
  • Heroic Lineage: Blanc mentions that his father was a police detective who knew Harlan Thrombey.
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation: By his own admission, Blanc is not able to fully Pull the Thread on the case with Marta just happening to be such an honest person.
  • Hidden Depths: Sings show tunes to himself when he's waiting for Marta.
  • Hyper-Awareness: Sees a stain of blood on Marta's shoe the very first time he speaks with her and figures out that she is involved with Harlan's death somehow. He really has much of the mystery in hand from the very start.
  • Ice-Cream Koan: There's a scene where he's rambling to himself while Marta is driving. It's established later that this trail of thought is what allows him to crack the case.
  • Money, Dear Boy: Invoked; while he does have a genuine interest in ensuring that justice is served and is intrigued by the reasons behind why he was contacted, he also makes it clear that there is also a significant financial reason why he's snooping around the Thrombey family affair:
    Blanc: An envelope full of cash showed up at my apartment yesterday with a newspaper clipping of Thrombey's death.
    Wagner: An envelope? That worked?
    Blanc: [Mildly exasperated, holding his thumb and finger apart as far as possible] An envelope full of cash.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: A mild example; after he first provokes Marta into a lie, he's genuinely shocked and apologetic when she actually does vomit, as he'd assumed that the claim that lying makes her vomit had just been figurative.
  • Nice Guy: Eccentricities aside, Blanc is a pleasant and well-meaning man who wants justice to be served. He never looks down on Marta, treats Nana with respect, and is utterly furious with the Thrombeys when he realizes just how self-serving and backstabbing they all really are.
  • Nice to the Waiter: He's genuinely pleasant and friendly with people of supposedly "lesser" social status. Despite being the Great Detective of the piece he treats the regular police as respected equals, in contrast to the typical attitude of superiority that tends to come with the trope. He's nice to Marta and recognises her decency and positive qualities. He appears sincerely relieved when it seems that Fran has survived her attack. And, while it's not quite this trope, in contrast to almost everyone else he makes a point of treating the ignored, neglected Nana as both a grieving mother and as a lonely old woman who just needs some friendly company.
  • Noodle Incident: Joni mentions a previous case of his involving a tennis pro; the film doesn't elaborate on the details.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: A good portion of the film makes it unclear if he’s totally incompetent or a Bunny-Ears Lawyer, but in the end he turns out to be the Great Detective his reputation suggested.
  • Pull the Thread: The end reveals that he had spotted the blood on Marta's shoe from the very beginning and was specifically manipulating her to see what she would do to help get the truth to light.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: After reading the toxicology report and realising that Marta never got the medication mixed up, he drops the Southern charm and Obfuscating Stupidity and brutally informs the Thrombey clan exactly what he thinks of all of them.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Blanc never uses a ten-dollar word when a twenty-dollar word would do.
  • Sherlock Scan: He apparently saw a tiny speck of blood on Marta’s shoe when they met, and only never brought it up because he was also trying to crack the problem of who hired him.
  • Smarter Than You Look: He seems like a "Detective Foghorn Leghorn" in Ransom's words. Marta doesn't even think much of him as she's obstructing the investigation. It turns out his flamboyance is an act to hide his observational skills, and he knew Marta had something to do with Harlan's death thanks to the blood on her shoe. The reason why he didn't move to implicate her is that someone anonymous hired him to investigate a suicide, and instinct told him that Marta wasn't a killer. Whoever did hire him had an ulterior motive, and he wanted to get to the bottom of that first. That instinct pays off when he has the proof that Marta is innocent and realizes Ransom is the real killer.
  • Smith of the Yard: Is a well-known figure in the world of the film, having received a New Yorker profile dubbing him "The Last of the Gentlemen Sleuths." and giving Ransom the inspiration to hire him.
  • Southern-Fried Genius: Comes from the Deep South, complete with gravy-thick accent, and is a very skilled detective.
  • Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist: Played with. Benoit Blanc becomes one near the halfway point of the film when it is revealed that Marta was responsible for Harlan's death, but circumstances surrounding the incident were such that she bore little culpability in the matter; he really did commit suicide to protect her from any undeserved consequences and the audience is expected to side with Marta for the duration of the film in the Battle of Wits between her and Blanc, even though Blanc is eminently likeable and charming. The "antagonist" part is ultimately subverted after Blanc reads the tox report and learns that Marta had absolutely zero culpability, is entirely innocent of any wrongdoing, and for the remainder of the film he is her advocate, a development he seems to relish.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: His southern accent is a hodgepodge of the Deep South Southern accent, a Louisiana accent, and a smidge of the Hollywood imitation of one. (Ransom even mocks him as "Foghorn Leghorn" at one point.) As a result, it sounds affected and fake, but in the film, it's supposed to be genuine. (Well ... maybe. He could be exaggerating his accent as a form of Obfuscating Stupidity, given that people tend to underestimate people with Southern accents, and a detective as perceptive as Blanc would surely know this. Indeed, as mentioned above under Deep South, Ransom derides Blanc's intelligence specifically on these grounds, which no doubt is part of what led Ransom into hiring Blanc, thinking he could outsmart him. Ransom was wrong.)
  • Worf Had the Flu: In a sense. He's introduced as the last of the great gentlemen sleuths but Marta is able to stay one step ahead of him all film, indicating that maybe he's not that brilliant after all. Near the end of the film, he reveals that he knew Marta had something to do with Harlan's death all along because he noticed a speck of blood on her shoe, and admits that rather than focusing on the case at hand, he spent most of the film trying to figure out who hired him which is the biggest key to the puzzle.

    Lieutenant Elliot 

Lieutenant Elliot

Played By: Lakeith Stanfield

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/elliot_75.png
The Police Detective

The lead investigator into Harlan Thombey's death.



  • By-the-Book Cop: He just wants to get the case solved and has little patience for Benoit Blanc's flamboyance, although he does appreciate his contributions when they come.
  • Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: He's the Only Sane Man of the three law enforcement figures, having to contend with the eccentric Blanc and the star-struck Wagner.
  • Inspector Lestrade: He's a decent cop, but he repeatedly falls for the logical tricks set up by the culprit.
  • Noodle Incident: It is apparent that he and Blanc have some friendly history with one another, as they are familiar enough for Elliot to call him "Benny." However, the exact nature of this history is not specified.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The moment real evidence of foul play comes to light, he starts giving Blanc his full cooperation.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: He has the most classically nice suit of the film's three main investigators, which reflects the fact that he is the most reasonable of them. He's also played by the very handsome Lakeith Stanfield.
  • Those Two Guys: With Trooper Wagner, who tag along with Blanc for most of the film and offer little more than commentary.

    Trooper Wagner 

Trooper Wagner

Played By: Noah Segan

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/trooperwagner.jpg

Lieutenant Elliot's partner in the investigation. A big, vocal fan of Benoit Blanc and the Thrombeys' work.



  • Adorkable: He's a huge mystery fanboy who's simply thrilled to be investigating the death of his favorite author and working with Blanc, frequently compares events to plot points in detective stories, thanks suspects while arresting them, and is overall one of the nicest characters in the movie.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Wagner is a big fan of detective fiction, reacting to Harlan Thrombey, Benoit Blanc, and a murder mystery film starring Danica McKellar with glee. He also apparently likes Joni Thrombey's Instagram.
  • Audience Surrogate: He reacts to Blanc's revelations and theatricality with the same glee as the audience would.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: His perspectives are rather... silly in comparison to the others on the case.
  • Evil All Along: Parodied. He's clearly harmless and goofy, but Marta briefly thinks Blanc has just named him as the surprise villain during The Summation.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: His fanboyish outbursts provide some levity.

Marta's Family

     In General 
  • Disappeared Dad: Marta's father is never seen or mentioned. Given the family's immigrant status, he may still be in their home country.
  • Foil: To the Thrombeys. The closeness, warmth and clear love that the Cabrera women have towards each other is a marked contrast to the viciousness, backstabbing and bitterness we see among the Thrombey clan.

     Marta's Mom 

Marta's Mom

Played By: Marlene Forte

Marta's mother, an undocumented immigrant.



  • Good Parents: Very caring towards her daughter and her feelings.
  • The Illegal: Came into the country illegally, some time before her children were born.
  • Minor Major Character: Only appears in two scenes, but her illegal immigrant status drives major decisions from both Marta and the Thombrey's.
  • No Name Given: Her first name is never given.

     Alice 

Alice

Played By: Kerry Frances

Marta's sister



  • Annoying Younger Sibling: To a minor, lighthearted degree.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Watches a crime story while Marta is still rattled over Harlan's death. While she gets in a shouting match with her mother about it, she's genuinely apologetic to Marta herself when she realises the insensitivity.
  • Rags to Riches: Seems excited about this upon finding out Marta inherited Harlan's money.

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