Follow TV Tropes


Characters / Les MisÚrables

Go To

A listing of characters from Victor Hugo's Les Misérables and their associated tropes. Note that the novel was published in 1862 and thus qualifies for Spoilers Off.

For an index of the actors and actresses who have played in adaptations of Les Misérables and have their own page on this wiki, see here.

    open/close all folders 

Main Characters

    Jean Valjean 

Jean Valjean/Mayor Madeleine/Ultime Fauchelevent

"The galleys make the convict what he is; reflect upon that, if you please. Before going to the galleys, I was a poor peasant, with very little intelligence, a sort of idiot; the galleys wrought a change in me. I was stupid; I became vicious: I was a block of wood; I became a firebrand. Later on, indulgence and kindness saved me, as severity had ruined me."

The lead character, a convict who spent nineteen years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread and repeatedly trying to escape. After getting his parole ticket, Valjean steals silverware from the Bishop of Digne. When the police arrest him for this, the bishop says the silver was a gift and gives him two silver candlesticks as well, telling Valjean to let go of his anger at society and use the silver to make something of his life. Several years on, Valjean becomes the guardian of young Cosette after making a promise to her mother Fantine.

  • Actual Pacifist: In the book, Valjean actively refuses to fight or physically hurt anyone after his encounter with the bishop (even Javert, Thenardier, and everyone on both sides of the barricades). (In the musical and many other adaptations, he is only a technical pacifist.) However, on two occasions, once with Javert immediately after Fantine's death, the second with Thenardier shortly after buying Cosette, he makes it VERY clear that if they make one more wrong move he will go to violence, and that it would be a very bad idea for them. Both back off.
  • Anonymous Benefactor: One of M. Madeleine's pastimes apparently involves breaking into other people's houses – and leaving some money there. At some point, the citizens catch on, and it's no longer anonymous.
  • The Atoner: After his encounter with the Bishop, Valjean spends the rest of his life trying to make up for his criminal past, often to the point of self-flagellation.
  • Badass Bookworm: He becomes exceedingly well-read in his later years. He thinks of books as "cold but sure friends."
  • Badass Pacifist: At the barricade, he refuses to take any lives, settling for just tending to the wounded. However, to give the illusion that he's doing something so the rebels won't get angry, he does pick up a rifle and shoots the hats off of several soldiers- showing he very well could have killed several of them, had he been so inclined.
  • Be All My Sins Remembered: He does not believe he deserves even the most basic luxuries because of his criminal past. He eats only black bread and secludes himself in a cold porter's lodge instead of staying in the house with Cosette.
  • Being Good Sucks: Repeatedly sacrifices his own happiness to do what's right, whether it's denouncing himself to prevent an innocent man from going to prison in his place, or risking his life to save the man his daughter loves, even though he doesn't approve and he believes it means he'll lose her.
  • Benevolent Boss: As M. Madeline, he improved conditions for the factory workers and was incredibly generous to everyone. When he found out that Fantine had turned to prostitution after getting fired from his factory for lying to him, he goes out of his way to help her.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Even after he swears off crime, there are two instances where a Berserk Button of his involving Fantine and Cosette gets pressed and he threatens the offending party with violence.
  • Broken Ace: As Madeleine, he is the wealthiest and most beloved man in town. Little do people know of his Dark and Troubled Past.
  • But Now I Must Go: Valjean leaves Cosette so his past doesn't taint her marriage to Marius.
  • Chaste Hero: The book mentions that he has never fallen in love with a woman in his life.
  • Chronic Villainy: Valjean robs a boy out of habit even though the Bishop's silver is worth more money than he has ever dreamed of. The realization that he enjoys theft horrifies him and convinces him to turn his life around.
  • Criminal Doppelgänger: Played with. Champmathieu is also an ex-convict, but unfortunately for everyone involved, he is mistaken for Valjean.
  • Death by Despair: Valjean takes to his deathbed when Marius takes Cosette from him. It is averted when Marius and Cosette track him down to apologize and reunite with him. (But he still dies.)
  • Death Seeker: After he finds out about Marius, he turns himself in to Javert, expecting to go back to prison. When this doesn't happen, he ends up essentially neglecting himself to death after Cosette and Marius get married. (Possibly, Miles to Go Before I Sleep or Martyr Without a Cause.) Note this exchange between him and his housekeeper:
    "But you ate nothing yesterday, poor, dear man!"
    "Certainly I did," replied Jean Valjean.
    "The plate is quite full."
    "Look at the water jug. It is empty."
    "That proves that you have drunk; it does not prove that you have eaten."
    "Well," said Jean Valjean, "what if I felt hungry only for water?"
    "That is called thirst, and, when one does not eat at the same time, it is called fever."
    "I will eat to-morrow."
  • Disease Bleach: In the novel, his hair turns completely white after he decides to turn himself in to the police.
  • Doting Parent: To Cosette. He promises her mother that she would never want for anything, and he delivers.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Wears a French National Guard uniform to cross the barricade.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After all the trials Valjean goes through throughout the novel and musical, he achieves the redemption he has been fighting for and dies with the knowledge that his surrogate daughter will live in happiness.
  • The Everyman: His story of redemption is meant to be relatable to everybody, hence his name, which means "Jean, Voila Jean".
  • Faking the Dead: He pulls it off to escape parole in the novel and the anime. For added irony, it is declared by Javert of all people.
  • The Fettered: In his later years he draws strength from virtue.
  • Good Is Not Dumb: Although he's a near-Messianic Archetype and grew up in poverty, he's very intelligent. Although the Thénardiers think he's this.
    "Thank you both... For Cosette/ It won't take you too long to forget."
  • Guilt Complex: In the book, after his encounter with the bishop (and to a great degree after the convent), Valjean develops intense feelings of guilt and unworthiness beyond what is merited by his crimes. This leads to strange, unhealthy behavior such as living in a little shed even though he has a house (for Cosette and his housekeeper), keeping his shed unheated and eating bad food.
    "Father, I am very cold in your rooms; why don't you have a carpet here and a stove?"
    "Dear child, there are so many people who are better than I and who have not even a roof over their heads."
  • Had to Come to Prison to Be a Crook: Before going to prison, Valjean is just a hardworking kid trying to keep his head above water and his family from starving. One petty crime leads to 5 years of hard labor, which snowballs into 19 years. Valjean comes out of prison with far more animosity and criminal leanings than he went in with.
  • Head-in-the-Sand Management: In the musical adaptation, he leaves most of the day-to-day affairs of his garment factory to his lecherous foreman. This leads to Fantine getting fired.
  • Heel Realization: Has one when Bishop of Digne lets him go with the candlesticks — struck by the Bishop's act of forgiveness, he repents and becomes a good man.
  • The Hero Dies: The book, the play and (usually) the movies end with him on his deathbed.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: In prison, after contemplating how unjust the circumstances of his imprisonment were, Valjean starts entertaining vague revenge-on-society fantasies. This is what initially motivates him to learn to read.
  • Honest Corporate Executive: A successful one, thanks to his new cheap method of manufacturing black jet, until his conscience forces him to abandon his business in favour of saving Champmathieu.
  • Iconic Outfit: The national guard uniform he wears to get in to the barricade in the musical.
  • I Have Many Names: To take directly from Wikipedia's page, "Jean Valjean: a.k.a. Monsieur Madeleine, a.k.a. Ultime Fauchelevent, a.k.a. Monsieur Leblanc, a.k.a. Urbain Fabre, a.k.a. 24601, a.k.a. 9430."
  • I Just Want to Be Free: Much of the story revolves around him escaping from the law.
  • I Just Want to Be Loved: Love from Cosette essentially saves his life, and being separated from her kills him.
  • I Let Gwen Stacy Die: He never forgave himself for Fantine's death, thinking it could have been avoided as she was his employee.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: A really, really skilled shot, especially considering the level of accuracy of the firearms in this era.
  • It Was a Gift: The candlesticks the Bishop gives Valjean despite the fact that Valjean just stole his silverware the night before. This act of generosity spurs Valjean's new life. He never sells the candlesticks and they're still with him as he dies. He specifically leaves them to Cosette.
    Jean Valjean: (on his deathbed) They are of silver, but to me they are gold, they are diamonds; they change candles which are placed in them into wax-tapers. I do not know whether the person who gave them to me is pleased with me yonder on high. I have done what I could.
  • Jay Walking Will Ruin Your Life: Spending nineteen years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread took its toll on Valjean.
  • Load-Bearing Hero: Valjean saves a man trapped under a heavy wagon by single-handedly raising it up, but it has serious consequences since Javert witnesses the event.
  • Lonely at the Top: Valjean as mayor. All his good deeds were acts of penance instead of charity. Half the town only liked his generosity, the other half were suspicious of his intentions. It is true that he only learned to love when he adopted Cosette.
  • Meaningful Name: As stated above, "John's as good as any other John." His alias, Madeleine, is derived from Mary Magdalene (Marie-Madeleine), the repentant sinner.
  • Messianic Archetype: He's kind, generous, forgiving, loving, self-sacrificing, etc. In the musical, Fantine and Fauchelevent both tell him directly that he comes from God, and Fauchelevent and Marius both call him 'a saint'.
  • Must Make Amends: All the time. Nearly every action he makes post-Bishop of Digne is to atone for his criminal past.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: After he steals the bishop's silver after the latter showed him mercy. In the musical, the song even opens with (and is titled) "What have I done?" and continues with "Sweet Jesus, what have I done?"
  • Overprotective Dad: He's very protective of Cosette, as he considers her to be the only joy in his life and is afraid of losing her. He was even tempted to stay at the convent and have Cosette become a nun but realised that he was being selfish and decided to leave. Even after moving out of the convent they live a very isolated life. His overprotectiveness is sometimes justified, as in the case of Marius, who is a stranger apparently bent on wooing her.
  • Parental Substitute: He's a substitute father to Cosette, per his promise to Fantine to care for her.
  • Prisons Are Gymnasiums: Thanks to Working on the Chain Gang, his time in prison gave him tremendous strength.
  • Reformed, but Rejected: All his good deeds get negated when his past gets brought up.
  • Repetitive Name: Jean Valjean
  • Secretly Wealthy: Has around 600,000 francs hidden in a forest. They don't call him "the beggar who gives alms" for nothing.
  • Self-Made Man: As Madeleine, becoming a rich man and factory owner (and eventually mayor), starting out with nothing but his modest prison wages and a set of silverware.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: In many of the English language films, if they end around Javert's suicide.
  • Super Strength: He's very strong. Seeing Madeleine lift a cart raises Javert's suspicions of Madeleine since Valjean was the only person he knew strong enough to pull something like that.
  • Technical Pacifist: Alongside his new lease on life, Valjean seems to have taken on an aversion to killing. Even in the midst of a bloody revolt, he refuses to take a life.
  • Tragic Hero: His is The Greatest Story Never Told. Is implied no one's visited his grave in a long time. We could just hope his example is passed to Cosette and Marius.
  • Turn the Other Cheek: Valjean is a master at this. The standout example is when he spares Javert's life at the barricade, despite the fact that he's spent years running away from him.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Valjean's decision to help Javert escape sets up the man's suicide.
  • Walk the Earth: Since he is a fugitive, he has to keep moving when the police get too close.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Early in the story, Valjean actually has a chance to send someone else in his place to jail due to a case of mistaken identity, but he could never live with such a decision.
  • Wife Husbandry: Seems to consider doing this for a split second at one point. Probably fortunately for all involved, the idea just as quickly grosses him out. Some adaptations play this up a little more, particularly the 2000 TV miniseries, whose Valjean comes off a little creepy.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: He believes himself safe in his new identity as Madeleine, only for Javert to make the whole thing crumble and put Valjean in front of the terrible choice of going back to prison or letting an innocent go to prison in his place.
  • You Are Number 6: Javert refers to him by his prison number name, usually "24601".


Inspector Javert

"You speak now like a brave man and an honest man. Courage does not fear crime, and honesty does not fear authority."

Inspector Javert is a guard in the prison Jean Valjean is released from, who later joins the Paris police force. In the musical, he infamously makes it his life goal to track down Valjean, but in the original novel he is really no more dedicated to catching Valjean than to dealing out justice to any other criminal. In fact, he runs into Valjean several times through pure coincidence and fails to recognize him.

  • Adaptational Attractiveness: He is described as having a flat nose and thin, pinched lips that, along with his furrowed brow and thick sideburns, give him a permanent visage of 'unyielding, cruel authority'. Some of the most well-known adaptations have had Philip Quast, Anthony Perkins and Russell Crowe play the role. There are many notably attractive actors who've played him in stage adaptations, such as Hadley Fraser and Norm Lewis.
  • Adaptational Villainy: In the novel, he's a Type II Anti-Villain, a good person at heart, but too morally inflexible to truly be a hero. In the various adaptations, he's more of a straight villain.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: In the anime, Javert overcomes his belief that no one can change and aids Marius when Thénardier tries to blackmail him. This also means he doesn't kill himself at the end of the story.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Hugo gives few subtle hints in his description of Javert's past which suggest he might be mixed-race, including possibly part Romani, but since the subject of his parentage is never mentioned again, it's debatable whether it is canon or a case of Lost in Translation. He's unambiguously black in the 2018 miniseries.
    'Javert had been born in prison, of a fortune-teller, whose husband was in the galleys. As he grew up, he thought that he was outside the pale of society, and he despaired of ever re-entering it. He observed that society unpardoningly excludes two classes of men,—those who attack it and those who guard it; he had no choice except between these two classes; at the same time, he was conscious of an indescribable foundation of rigidity, regularity, and probity, complicated with an inexpressible hatred for the race of bohemians whence he was sprung.'
  • Antagonist in Mourning: In the anime, Javert visits Valjean's grave when he dies.
  • Anti-Villain: Like all those after him, he is the well-intentioned variety. He believes in the infallibility of the law and works to uphold this at all costs.
  • Badass Baritone: Quite literally, since his role in the musical is played by either a baritone or a bass-baritone.
  • Badass Beard: Or Badass Muttonchops, depending on the adaptation.
  • Badass Boast:
    • In the anime, when Javert arrests Thénardier for the second time, he practically vows that if the latter breaks out of prison again and again, he will just send him back until he repents.
    • From the book: Thénardier points a gun at him and then Javert says: "Shoot! Your gun will misfire!" Naturally, it does.
    • In one of russian radioplays he also adds: "I told you so. A gun aimed at Javert never fires."
  • Badass Longcoat: Owner of a very nice black trenchcoat, and is the terror of criminals everywhere.
  • Berserk Button: He has Thenardier's loans called in when he suspects him of selling a child at his hime to a known fugitive from the law, resulting in the Thenardier family falling into severe poverty. Most crimes are equal in his book, but to him, child abuse of any sort is the absolute worst, especially if he finds out about it.
  • Big Damn Heroes: In the book (and the anime), he rescues Valjean (whom he didn't recognize at the time) from Thenardier's knife, complete with a witty one-liner.
  • Black and White Insanity: When Jean Valjean proves this belief system wrong, Javert is incapable of accepting it and kills himself in the process.
  • Blood Knight: Shows tendencies of this in the book when he is chasing after Valjean. He repeatedly lets him go and closes in on him again for the thrill of the hunt, and the narrative describes him as being incredibly "excited", looking at Valjean "fondly", and "in ecstasy".
  • Born Lucky: It's mentioned that he has tremendous good luck. This is part of the reason why criminals are so afraid of him.
  • Broken Ace: Is described as being "bathed in glory" but is so morally inflexible that one tug and he unraveled.
  • BSoD Song: "Javert's Suicide," which doubles as a Sanity Slippage Song.
  • By-the-Book Cop: Serious, competent, and follows his Black and White Morality code to a T. Even so, he refuses to arrest Valjean without proof, which frequently ends up giving him time to skip town due to the delay.
  • Celibate Hero: No matter the adaptation, he never shows any interest in the opposite sex. The novel seems to suggest that he finds such a thing distracting, so he completely eschews it.
  • Character Exaggeration: In the musical, Javert is completely obsessed with finding Valjean, while in the novel, it is more about his loyalty to the law.note 
  • Character Tics: Javert has a very strange laugh/smile, which contorts his face in a frighteningly feral way. Also, his penchant for snuff.
  • Clueless Detective: In many, if not most, adaptations. Note that in the book, he was just about the exact opposite of this.
  • Defective Detective: Likely due to his workaholic tendencies, Javert is not generally the most well-liked or sociable guy.
  • Defiant to the End: After his real identity is exposed by Gavroche, he doesn't beg for mercy or try to run, choosing instead to make clear his disdain and contempt for the rebels. The "end" part ends up being subverted, since Valjean chooses to spare his life.
  • Determinator: If you're a criminal, he will turn you in. Taken to the Implacable Man trope in some versions of the book.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Javert goes undercover to destroy the revolutionists, but is ratted out when Gavroche sees through his Paper-Thin Disguise.
  • The Dreaded: Amongst the various dispossessed of France.
    "Javert was the terror of that whole class which the annual statistics of the Ministry of Justice designates under the rubric, Vagrants. The name of Javert routed them by its mere utterance; the face of Javert petrified them at sight."
  • Driven to Suicide: After Valjean spares his life twice in a row, Javert becomes confused by his enemy's kindness and his own beliefs, leading him to take a plunge into the Seine.
  • Face Death with Dignity: When he is found out by the students he is calm. When he is about to commit suicide, he is not.
  • Femme Fatalons: Implied by him describing himself as having "the claws of a woman."
  • The Fettered: Is motivated by honor and justice most of all.
  • Freudian Excuse: The reason for Javert's extremely harsh black and white worldview and his complete inability to relate to other people. The trope is very interestingly used in Javert's situation, as he was born in prison the child of a prostitute and a thief, but completely rejects the idea that circumstances rather than evil nature can explain crimes, possibly because, since he raised himself from the gutter with his integrity and dedication, he can't see why any good person in dire straits wouldn't be able to do the same.
  • Friendly Rivalry: Apparently, with Gavroche in the 2012 film. Gavroche asks Valjean to spare him at the barricade, and Javert is aghast to discover Gavroche among the dead after the battle. His reaction may also have do with the fact Gavroche is a child, though.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: The most formidable policeman in France began his life in jail, as the child of a fortune-teller and a thief.
  • Good Is Not Nice: He is law-abiding, justice-seeking, and is as harsh on himself as he is on criminals. But he is not kind.
  • Hero Antagonist: His uncompromising nature aside, there is next to nothing even remotely villainous about him.
  • Hero of Another Story: Almost surely. Presumably when he's not hunting down Valjean, he's chasing down and arresting muggers, arsonists, rapists, and murderers. Considering the tenacity, integrity, and courage he shows in dealing with Valjean, he's probably very good at it too.
  • Honor Before Reason: When Javert accuses the mayor Madeleine of being Valjean and is informed Valjean is already in custody, he doesn't just apologize or resign. He goes into the mayor's office and asks to be dishonorably fired for making such a grave mistake. Madeleine asks him to keep his job, because he's too much of an honorable man to lose (and also because he was right).
    "If I were not severe towards myself, all the justice that I have done would become injustice."
  • Hot Blooded Sideburns: Is described as having thick sideburns, and while he is mostly cold and serious about his work, can get extremely hot-blooded and bestial in his pursuit of Valjean.
  • I Am the Noun: Javert likes to emphasize that "[he] is the law" in the musical.
  • Inspector Javert: Trope Namer. He won't give up on arresting Valjean, as he doesn't believe Valjean can change.
  • Kill Me Now, or Forever Stay Your Hand: To Valjean. He does not take it well when Valjean chooses the latter.
  • Knight Templar: Believes in justice, clean-living, and the law. Unfortunately, this also means that he believes in absolute justice without reason or mercy.
  • Lawful Stupid: Almost literally. It is mentioned that Javert avoids reading and introspection except in moderation because he is afraid of getting seditious ideas in his head. His enforced ignorance helps to explain why he still believes in the infallibility of the law after having lived through the chaos of the Revolution and the many regime changes it brought about.
  • Nerves of Steel: Sort of. No danger can shake his cool, calm reserve: he'll arrest an armed gang with a grin and a barrage of pithy one-liners, stare down the barrel of a gun and (accurately) predict it will misfire, duck hurled paving stones, and face his execution at the hands of angry revolutionaries with equanimity. Show him mercy when he's not expecting it, though, and it's a whole different story...
  • Nice Hat: Wears a nice 19th Century French hat or a top hat, depending on the adaptations.
  • No Sense of Personal Space: In the book, he is described as being extremely touchy-feely. He stands uncomfortably close to others when talking to them, especially Valjean, and fiddles around with his possessions (such as the wooden shavings on his desk) subconsciously. When he meets Valjean for the final time, he also brings his face uncomfortably close to his.
  • Not So Stoic: After Jean Valjean saves his life, he's notably emotional and conflicted about the whole ordeal.
  • Only One Name: It's never told in the book if Javert is his first or last name, or if he even has any other name beside it.
  • Oral Fixation: Snuff. The narrator snarks that, "This proved he was human."
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: His disguise as a revolutionary was easily seen through by a child. This was exaggerated in adaptations such as the comic series, which has him wearing a cap - and suddenly nobody recognizes him, except for said kid.
  • Pet the Dog: In the 2012 adaptation, he leaves his medal on Gavroche's dead body.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: Towards Mme. Thenardier, when she was trying to crush him with a large rock.
    Javert: What a grenadier! Mother, you may have the beard of a man, but I have the claws of a woman. (proceeds to casually arrest her and her husband)
  • Principles Zealot: Don't bother trying to convince him that you're a Justified Criminal. He is not going to be swayed from his stance.
  • Pure Is Not Good: Incorruptible, selfless, and chaste - and nigh monstrous as a result.
  • Rags to Riches: He goes from the son of a gypsy and a galley slave to the most respected police inspector in France.
  • Redemption Equals Death: His finally understanding Valjean's kindness and gaining a less black-and-white worldview confused and depressed him so much he drowns himself, but not before writing a letter to the rest of the police about what needs to be changed to make France a better place for everyone to live.
  • Self-Made Man: He started out as the son of a fortune-teller and a galley slave, born in a prison. He eventually becomes a high ranking police officer and the most feared lawman in Paris. This is especially impressive if he really is of Roma descent (see Ambiguously Brown)- 19th century western Europe wasn't a place known for its good treatment of racial and ethnic minorities.
  • Shoot Out the Lock: In episode 3 of the 2018 miniseries, when he's searching for Valjean he does this.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: In the 2007 anime, he turns back at the last moment before committing suicide.
  • Stern Chase: Javert never gives up the chase to get Valjean.
  • Strawman Political: Javert's entire character is a parody of the political and moral philosophy of Joseph de Maistre, an anti-rationalist who believed that all order and authority in France was divinely ordained.
  • The Stoic: He's essentially a straight-faced rock in most of his appearances. Although it's debatable how stoic he is on the inside, as his fanaticism gives him a fiery side. He kind of has a fire and ice personality.
  • Tall, Dark, and Snarky: He is described as tall, wears a black coat, and is a Deadpan Snarker. He is also often portrayed as having black hair and slightly tanned skin, due to his implied half-Roma heritage.
  • To Be Lawful or Good: Arresting Valjean (as the law states) vs. letting him go (good). The idea that it's possible to be lawful but not good and vice versa is so alien to Javert it leaves him Driven to Suicide.
  • Tragic Hero: A good and honorable man Driven to Suicide when he finds himself unable to reconcile his unyielding belief in justice and the law with the moral ambiguity of the real world. His death is portrayed as unambiguously tragic.
  • Villainous Breakdown: He flips when Valjean spares him and spirals into suicide. Averted, since he is technically a good person during his breakdown.
  • Villainous Rescue: He ends up rescuing Valjean and Marius from Thenardier's gang, easily arresting the violent criminals in the process.
  • Voice Types: As mentioned above, the part calls for a baritone. Makes sense, as he's the primary antagonist in Valjean's story.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Valjean lands one on him after Fantine's death. "You have killed this woman." Notably, this is the first of two times since his encounter with the Bishop that Valjean threatens violence on anyone. He's just that pissed off about how Fantine met an untimely end because of Javert.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: His devotion to law and order includes the belief that no court judgment is ever wrong, no official is ever corrupt, and no law is ever unjust.
  • Will Not Tell a Lie: In the book, at least.



"Six months to earn seven sous a day! but what will become of Cosette! My daughter! My daughter!"

A single mother, Fantine suffers through life trying to earn money to send to her daughter Cosette, under the care of the Thénardiers. After losing her job, her beauty, and her dignity, Fantine dies in a hospital — but not before Jean Valjean appears with the promise to find and care for Cosette until his death.

  • The Alcoholic: Some adaptations have her getting addicted to drink as part of her downward spiral.
  • Barefoot Poverty: As a child, as she was homeless and orphaned, she walked around barefoot.
  • Break the Cutie: She starts out as The Ingenue, but ends as a Broken Bird.
  • Breakout Character: Fantine got so popular that a painting was made of her.
  • Broken Bird:
    • By the time Valjean rescues Fantine, she has sold her hair, some of her teeth, her clothes, and took up prostitution to get money for Cosette and is on the edge of sanity. Best punctuated by "I Dreamed a Dream".
      Fantine: I had a dream my life would be / So different from this HELL I'm living!
    • Lampshaded by her suitor Tholomyes, who noted that Fantine was a "dreamer". When Reality Ensues, her fall begins.
  • Butt-Monkey: One of these most known in literature.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Fantine's hair and teeth which are her best features are sold to provide money for Cosette.
  • Death by Despair: Fantine already developed an Incurable Cough of Death from living in poverty, but shows signs of improving when Monsieur Madeline takes her to a hospital and promises to fetch Cosette from the Thenardiers on her behalf. When Javert barges into her room, announcing Madeline is the convict Valjean who would never keep his promise. Fantine's last hope shatters and she drops dead from shock.
  • Decoy Protagonist: In the book and most adaptations, she gets an extremely heavy amount of focus in the early parts of the story. The first volume of the novel is even titled after her. Then she dies rather abruptly.
  • Defiled Forever: Nobody looks at her twice once they discover that she has an illegitimate daughter, believing her to be this trope. This is the beginning of her downward spiral.
  • Demoted to Extra: In the 1972 mini-series, she's got only a tiny role.
  • Dies Wide Open: And Valjean closes them.
  • Disease Bleach: After she cuts her hair, what's left of it turns gray.
  • Doom Magnet: Nothing seems to go right for Fantine. She grows up an orphan, in her naivete bears an illegitimate child thanks to a man who leaves her, and is fired from her job when this is discovered — all the while thinking her daughter is being well-cared for, when in reality she's being abused. The rest of her life consists of her taking extreme measures in order to provide for Cosette, culminating in her death.
  • Doorstop Baby: She was found and named by a stranger who found her wandering barefoot in the streets as a child.
  • Doting Parent: To Cosette, as much as she could. All of her efforts are devoted to ensuring Cosette is well-cared for.
  • Eternally Pearly-White Teeth: The narrator explicitly points out that she has great teeth a few times. Makes the fact that she rips a few of them out herself with pliers even more cringe-worthy.
  • The Fool: She starts out innocent and naive, until she isn't.
  • Go Out with a Smile: In the musical, it was instead too late to save her but she dies happy knowing her daughter will be cared for.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: She starts out sweet, innocent and virginal. Alas, life is not so kind to her.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Her reputation is posthumously soiled by her association with Valjean.
  • Heroic Bastard: Unambiguously a good person, even though nobody knows who her parents are.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: She becomes a prostitute for her daughter's sake.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: All of Fantine's misfortunes can be traced back to her being too trusting of people. First, she has a child with a man she believes is her true love, but leaves her once he tires of her. Then she places Cosette in the care of criminals that enslave the little girl while they bilk Fantine to nothing.
  • Ill Girl: Reduced to "a ghost of herself" after being thrust out on the streets.
  • I'm Cold... So Cold...: Her "the night grows ever colder" line could be interpreted as this.
  • Important Haircut: Her hair is the first thing, in the book, that Fantine sells for Cosette's sake. Symbolizes her loss of innocence.
  • Mama Bear: She adores Cosette with her life, and gives up everything for her.
  • Meaningful Name: From "enfantine," childish.
  • The Not-Love Interest: In the book, musical, anime, and many other adaptations, while Valjean values her-even after her death-greatly and treats her as well as he can and then some, there is no deliberate romantic subtext.
  • Parents as People: Her struggle to provide for her daughter is a highlight of the first act.
  • Psychopomp: In the musical, she seemingly fulfills this role for Valjean at his death, appearing alongside Eponine.
  • Promoted to Love Interest: A few adaptations really like to throw this into her dynamic with Valjean.
  • Single Mom Stripper: Sadly resorts to prostitution to pay the Thénardiers for Cosette's up-keeping.
  • Struggling Single Mother: Has to hide the existence of her bastard daughter and secretly support her. After she is outed, Fantine resorts to prostitution to support Cosette.
  • So Beautiful, It's a Curse: In the musical, as it evokes the jealousy and the foreman’s interest that eventually get her fired.
  • Spiteful Spit: To Valjean, after his strict moral codes drive her to her lowest point. Seeing the state she's in, he forgives her instantly.
  • Take Care of the Kids: Fantine's request to Valjean to look after Cosette, becomes his key motivation in the book, musical, etc.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Most likely in her case. It is not stated when Fantine was born, other than that the Directory still was in function at the time (and therefore, she never was baptized). This lasted until 1799, when Napoleon took the helm. Fantine was then born no later than 1798, and was abandoned in 1817. Do the math. The book states that Fantine was 22 years old in 1818, when she left Paris for Montreuil. With Cosette being between two and three years at the time, Fantine gave birth at the age of 19. That would make her a straight example, although becoming a mother in her late teens.
  • The Tooth Hurts: In the book, she sells her two front teeth (and rips them out herself with pliers) to raise money to help Cosette.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: She trusts the Thènardiers too much to take good care of Cosette, which leads to her selling out her life and body to pay for her daughter's supposed needs and illnesses. In reality, the Thènardiers are just ripping her off, lying about each need, and mistreating Cosette regardless of if they have enough money to raise her.
  • Woman in White: In the musical, she's in white on her deathbed and when she takes Valjean to heaven.


Euphrasie "Cosette" Fauchelevent

"I have been loving a little more all the time that has passed since this morning."

The poster girl of the book and musical, Cosette is the daughter of Fantine, left in the "care" of the Thénardiers. Becoming their abused child servant, Cosette manages to keep an optimistic outlook on life and is eventually adopted by Jean Valjean as her mother's final request. She grows into a lovely woman and falls in love with Marius.

  • Adaptation Dye-Job: She has brown hair in the novel, but she's usually blonde in adaptations to invoke Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold.
  • Animal Motifs: In the book, she is compared to a bird, with the narration describing her as "more of a lark than a dove".
  • Barefoot Poverty: As a child in the book, but wears boots/shoes in the musical. Although the book explains that she had wooden shoes but no socks in the freezing winter, the engraving of a barefoot Cosette has become the signature image of this story. It is also the page image for Barefoot Poverty's Literature work page.
  • Break the Cutie: As a child when she was abused. Luckily for her, she got better.
  • Cinderella Circumstances: Treated like garbage by her step-family, rescued by a savior, and falls in love with a handsome man.
  • Daddy's Girl: Adores Valjean, her adoptive father, well into adulthood.
  • Demoted to Extra: In the musical, her adolescent self appears to have less stage time compared to the book.
  • Disappeared Dad: Cosette's real father. She does not remember him and accepts Valjean as her father.
  • Elegant Gothic Lolita: After Valjean adopts her and before she grows up, she's dressed in an elegant black dress.
  • Extreme Doormat: The book describes young Cosette as this, thus explaining why she was so compliant during her and Valjean's escape to Paris. Justified, due to her abuse from the Thenardiers. She later grows out of this somewhat, as her older self is much more spirited and well-adjusted.
  • Fairytale Wedding Dress: Her wedding dress in the 2012 film is rather fancy, complete with Giant Poofy Sleeves.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: In plenty of adaptations, although she was brunette in the original novel. This is probably to highlight her ingenue status, invoking this trope.
  • Happily Adopted: After Valjean adopts her she calls him "Father/Papa" as if he sired her himself.
  • Happily Married: To Marius near the end of the novel and musical.
  • Heartwarming Orphan: After Fantine's death, her story becomes one of surviving abuse and growing up to be happy.
  • Heroic Bastard: Fantine's illegitimate daughter, but she's still the kindest, sweetest person in the whole story.
  • Hourglass Plot: With Eponine. Cosette starts off abused and forced to do labor for the Thenardiers while they spoil Eponine. Eventually, Cosette gets adopted by Valjean, who treats her very well and gives her a happy life. The Thenardiers lose all their money and have to live in poverty and turn to a life of crime, forcing Eponine to participate. When Cosette and Eponine appear as teenagers, the changes are hard not to notice.
  • Iconic Outfit: Her black dress, in both the book and the musical.
  • Infant Immortality: Abused little girl Cosette grows up into a lovely young woman.
  • The Ingenue: She's sheltered, wealthy, beautiful, innocent...
  • Ironic Nickname: Fantine names her baby Euphrasie in a moment of romantic inspiration, but soon calls her "Cosette" all the time (which means, basically, "Pampered" or "Indulged"). Then she leaves her child with the Thénardiers, who verbally and physically abuse the child, starve her, clothe her in rags, and force her to work for her keep — all the while still calling her "Cosette," little Indulged. Becomes a Meaningful Name after her adoption by the wealthy Valjean.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: To Valjean, who wastes away and eventually dies of grief when separated from her.
  • Love Triangle: Between herself, Marius and Éponine; she and Marius love each other while Eponine is in love with him..
  • Meaningful Name: After Valjean adopts her, she really is "pampered" and "indulged".
  • Nice Girl: Incredibly kind, sweet, genuine and friendly, even to the Thénardiers.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname:
    • Her real name is Euphrasie, but this is left out of most adaptations. She herself likes "Cosette" better.
    • The locals in Montfermeil called her "the Lark."
  • Orphan's Ordeal: She's abused by the Thenardiers, who milk her working mother's devotion for all its worth. She finds a safe and caring home in Valjean and gets to marry a handsome man.
  • Precision F-Strike: In episode 3 of the 2018 miniseries, she speaks rather coarsely about a nosy neighbor who pops in on her and Valjean at the inn. Valjean isn't exactly amused, though he does share her opinion.
    Cosette: Nosy old bitch.
  • Proper Lady: She's very polite and proper. This is turned up in the musical where she has less stage time.
  • Purity Personified: Pretty, polite, and innocent.
  • Rags to Riches: Although she grew up poor, she's adopted by the wealthy Valjean.
  • Rags to Royalty: Cosette is Baroness after marrying Marius.
  • Series Mascot: It's her face that shows up in ads.
  • She Is All Grown Up: Marius does a double-take when he realizes that the unattractive girl he ignored for six months grew up into the lovely Cosette.
  • She's Got Legs: Before Marius officially starts courting Cosette, he is very embarrassed when a gust of wind flips up her dress and allows him to see that she has great legs. He is also disturbed when he sees an elderly man nearby seems to have noticed as well.
  • Son of a Whore: Or Daughter of a Whore. Variant in that her mother Fantine wasn't a prostitute when she was born, but turned to prostitution to support her.
  • Spoiled Sweet: Valjean basically takes the attitude that she deserves everything good and nice in the world, though he lives very ascetically himself; she manages to turn this around on him, cajoling him into lighting a fire in his room and eating better by spending hours with him and then complaining of the cold and insisting that she eats what he does.
  • Voice Types: Soprano, representing her beauty and innocence.

    Marius Pontmercy 

Marius Pontmercy

"Let us be just, my friends! What a splendid destiny for a nation to be the Empire of such an Emperor, when that nation is France and when it adds its own genius to the genius of that man!"

A charming young bachelor, Marius falls in love with Cosette, leading to Love Triangle between the two and Éponine, who is very much his friend and confidante (whether he wants her to be or not). He is a law student and an associate of the Friends of the ABC, and fights in the revolution against the French law.

  • Adorkable: He is endearingly awkward.
  • Author Stand-In: Hugo Victor revealed Marius is a portrait of how he was as a youngster.
  • Badass Bookworm: Yes, he is something of a bumbler. But this young law student still manages to pull off some impressive feats in the climactic battle at the barricade. Highlights include shooting a policeman seconds before he spears little Gavroche, making two simultaneous shots with pistols while Dual Wielding, and single-handedly repelling the first assault on the barricade... by taking a match to a large barrel of gunpowder and threatening to blow everyone up.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: Marius seems to be under the impression that the existence of a life debt precludes the debtee from being involved in the persecution of any wrongdoing, past present or future, on the part of the debtor. Happens with his father's debt (passed onto him) to Thenardier, again when he considers Javert's death to be a murder (rather than the execution of a spy it was to all the other students) because he believed Javert's killer to be Valjean, whom Javert had saved once (unwittingly). Again when he finds out Valjean saved his life, which makes his previous negative opinions of the ex-convict evaporate instantaneously. At least he's consistent about it.
  • Break the Cutie: When all his friends are killed, leaving him as the Sole Survivor.
  • Compressed Adaptation: His rather extensive backstory, detailed throughout Volume 3 of the book, is probably the largest cut from book to musical. The play never so much as mentions his grandfather Gillenormand, his other rich relatives, his father's tragic story, his fall into poverty, how he met Eponine and Les Amis, and his mistaken belief that he owes a debt to Thenardier. The film version of the musical adds Gillenormand back in, but he still doesn't do much.
  • Disappeared Dad: His father, George Pontmercy. Marius was the result of an Inter-Class Romance between a wealthy girl and a middle-class man. Gillenormand despised Pontmercy and forbid him from ever coming near Marius, and Marius was led to believe that his father abandoned him.
  • Emo Teen: Angsts about his father not being there for him, then angsts about his grandfather for not letting him see his father. Dude has a lot of parental issues.
  • Happily Married: To Cosette near the end of the novel and musical. At least, theoretically. We only see the wedding.
  • Heel Realization: In the novel, he cruelly manipulates Valjean into breaking off contact with Cosette and in the end comes to regret this decision. (In the musical, Marius acts in a more sympathetic manner, although the situation is similar).
  • Heroic BSoD: When he learns he is the only survivor of the barricade fight, he goes into a funk where he mourns them and curses his status as Sole Survivor.
  • Impoverished Patrician: He's a dirt-poor Baron, thanks to a combination of the Restoration government not recognizing his title (which was granted to his father by Napoleon's regime) and his rich family throwing him out for being a political leftist.
  • Like a Son to Me: Valjean calls him this on "Bring Him Home".
  • Living Emotional Crutch: Eponine sees him as this (more so in the musical, where their relationship is closer, but there's shades of it in the book as well). She doesn't quite love him as much as she loves the idea of him; she just sees him as the one good thing in her terrible life.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: Losing his father and isolating himself from his strict, but well-meaning grandfather turns him into this.
  • Love at First Sight: To Cosette in the musical. In the book, it's actually inverted - the only reason he notices her is because he sees the stark contrast between her black dress and Valjean's white hair. Six months later, She Is All Grown Up.
  • Manipulative Bastard: More sympathetic than most, but after learning of Valjean's criminal past (not to mention mistakenly thinking he killed Javert in cold blood) he comes to believe he is dangerous and conspires to limit his time with Cosette, resulting in Valjean wasting away. After learning the whole story (from Thenardier, ironically enough) he suffers a major Heel Realization.
  • Meaningful Name: "Marius" comes from Victor Hugo's own middle name, Marie, representing his Author Stand-In status.
  • Naïve Newcomer: His politics rub Les Amis the wrong way at first and he is out of depth with city life.
  • Not in This for Your Revolution: Yes and no. He is very liberal, to the point Granddaddy Gillenormand threw him out for it, but he came to some meetings of Les Amis largely on Courfeyrac's insistence in an attempt to make friends, ended up embarrassing himself by fanboying Napoleon instead of the Republic, and didn't come back until the final battle.
  • Oblivious to Love: Oblivious to Éponine's love, and sending her off to deliver a love letter to Cosette is a right dagger in her heart.
  • Raised by Grandparents: He was raised to believe his father abandoned him (when in truth Gillenormand did not see him as a worthy match for his daughter and sent him away) by Gillenormand, gaining much of his Royalist views on the world. Later, he becomes a Bonapartist after leaving his grandfather.
  • Relationship Compression: With both Cosette and Éponine in the musical. Éponine becomes his best friend rather than a mere associate.
  • Stalker with a Crush: The behavior he exhibits was seen as very romantic at the time, but he does basically stalk Cosette. Taken to ridiculous levels in the 2012 film, when all he does is just look at Cosette, and is obsessed with her instantly.
  • Starving Student: How he lived after he left his grandfather's house — he shacked up in the same house the Thenardiers were in and worked to finished his studies.
  • Suicide by Cop: His primary reason for joining the revolution is to die at the barricades.
  • Survivor Guilt: Especially in "Empty Chairs and Empty Tables," where he angsts about the rest of Les Amis being killed at the barricades. He would have joined them too had Valjean not intervened.
    "Oh, my friends, my friends forgive me / that I live and you are gone..."
  • Taking You with Me: Marius attempted to do this to hold off the army.
  • Tell Me About My Father: Marius researches on his father after his death, learning he was a colonel in Napoleon's army and was saved by Thénardier of all people.
  • Tenor Boy: Downplayed. He fits personality-wise, being a lovestruck naive young man, but the role in the musical calls for a lyric baritone (the part, however, can be and is often played by tenors).
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: To the point of seeing the world in terms of black and white (note his treatment of Valjean after the latter's confession).

    Éponine Thénardier 

Éponine Thénardier

"This summer, I'll be hungry; this winter I'll be cold. Are there some fools... to think they can scare a girl?"

The eldest daughter and first born of the Thénardiers, Éponine starts off as spoiled bratty girl who is mean to Cosette. But, her parents' inn becomes bankrupt and the family are forced into poverty. She falls in love with Marius, and ends up bringing him and Cosette together.

  • Abhorrent Admirer: In the book. Granted, it's not so much that Marius dislikes her as it is he finds her creepy. And he's not entirely unjustified in feeling that way, either. Interestingly, she had her own abhorrent admirer in the book too, Montparnasse.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: While the narrator claims Book Éponine is rather ugly due to her horrid circumstancesnote , she is notably more attractive in the musical. She's also a lot less creepy. This predated the musical. Classical illustrations of Eponine often portray her as looking older and prettier than she is described in the book.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Her yandere qualities are removed from the musical.
  • Adapted Out: There are adaptations where she does not appear and is not even mentioned.
  • Affably Evil: Okay, maybe not evil, but still quite manipulative.
  • Ascended Extra: Her adolescent self in the musical. While she is still very important in the book, she appears to have more stage time than Cosette.
  • Barefoot Poverty: Walks around barefoot as an adolescent in the novel to represent her family's Riches to Rags status (as in her childhood she had the prettiest clothes).
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: In some tour musical productions, Valjean has a few verses where he warns Eponine to be cautious, likely to make her spirit's visit to Valjean's death scene make sense.
  • Breakout Character: Mostly due to the musical playing up how tragic her character is.
  • Character Exaggeration: Most, if not all, productions of the musical focus more on her unrequited love for Marius (as it fits into the musical's theme of yearning for what is ultimately impossible) and not really highlight everything else about her character from the novel. However, the numbers "Castle on a Cloud" and "The Robbery/Javert's Intervention" do highlight how Éponine lived as a child and then as a teen.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: In the novel, Éponine is the "young (working) man," dressed in a grey blouse and pantaloons. While it is hinted once by Hugo that it was her, it was not made official until after she took the bullet for Marius at the barricades.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: She doesn't take kindly to Cosette and Marius falling in love. (She probably gets it from her mom.)
  • Cool Big Sis: Azelma sees her as this and aspires to be just like her.
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • In the 1998 film adaptation, she only appears as a child. Likewise, to the love triangle between her, Marius and Cosette are absent.
    • She also only appears as a child in one scene in a 1988 animated adaptation and in one panel as an adolescent in a comic book adaptation.
  • Driven to Suicide: Fed up with her shitty life, she decides to go die at the barricades.
  • Dying Declaration of Love: She confesses her love for Marius as she's about to die.
  • Emo Teen: Though with everything she's been through, it's not like she doesn't have a reason to be like that.
  • Famous Last Words: "And then, do you know, Monsieur Marius, I believe I was a little in love with you."
  • Grey and Grey Morality: Contemporary critics have noted that she was the most emotionally complex character in the book because of this. Her death begs the question: "Can a selfless deed done for selfish reasons still be considered selfless?"
  • Hopeless Suitor: Marius sees her as an associate (although they're closer in the musical) and he only has eyes for Cosette.
  • Hourglass Plot: With Cosette. As children, Éponine is the pampered, well-off girl where Cosette is the poor and put-upon outcast. By the time they're both older, Cosette is wealthy while Éponine has ended up on the streets.
  • Iconic Outfit: The large trench coat and baker boy hat she wears at the barricade in the musical.
  • If I Can't Have You...: In a rather shocking move, Éponine anonymously tells Marius that his friends are expecting him at the barricade. Believing Cosette has left for England, Marius goes, with Éponine close behind hoping they can die together.
  • Ironic Echo: When Cosette was a child, Hugo said "Cosette was ugly. Happy, she might, perhaps, have been pretty." However, when she and Éponine's statuses switch as adolescents, Hugo says this about Éponine: "The most touching thing about it was that this young girl had not come into the world to be ugly. In her early childhood, she must have even been pretty."
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy:
    • Shows traits of this despite resenting Cosette and being very clingy to Marius. This is a possible interpretation of why she took the bullet for Marius.
    • Could be seen as a deconstruction too; oh yes, she's bringing Marius and Cosette together because she knows it's what Marius wants...and the closer together she brings them, the more she dies a little inside.
  • Karmic Transformation: Éponine grows up and has a dreary and impoverished life, while Cosette becomes the opposite of this.
  • Lady Drunk: She's a drinker in the novel. She drinks brandy and liquors, resulting in her hoarse voice.
  • Last Request: In the novel, Éponine asks Marius to kiss her on the forehead after she dies. He does. Musicals usually either have her kiss Marius herself, or lean up to do so but die before she has a chance.
  • Loving a Shadow: In the musical, the song "On My Own" makes it explicit that she's in love with the idea of Marius rather than the man himself. In a move that makes her even more tragic, it's shown that she knows this, but keeps pursuing him anyway, because he's the only ray of hope left in her miserable life.
  • Manipulative Bitch: She deliberately attempts to sabotage the relationship between Marius and Cosette, driving the former to go to the barricade.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Adaptations will sometimes portray her as flirtatious and sexually charged, in contrast to the prim-and-proper Cosette. Her costume in the musical shows a lot more skin than would be typical for a woman of her day (though some of the illustrations in the book back this up), and her dress in the film of the musical strongly emphasizes her cleavage. Ironically, the narratorial voice in the book describes Cosette as by far the more attractive of the two.
  • Nice Hat: She has a famous one in the musical.
  • The Ophelia: Poverty has not been good to her sanity. She's even compared to the Trope Namer.
  • Psychopomp: In the musical (but not in the 2012 film), she and Fantine fulfill this role for Valjean.
  • Race Lift: She's been played by Asian actresses, most prominently Lea Salonga, who starred in the 10th anniversary concert (who had risen to prominence with the title role in Miss Saigon, interestingly). Prominent African-American Eponines also appear, such as Chasten Harmon in the 25th anniversary tour.
  • Riches to Rags: Her family starts out as well-off innkeepers, but slowly descend into poverty.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: The first major character casualty of the barricade in the musical.
  • Samus Is a Girl: Éponine disguises herself as a boy to secretly go to the barricades and die with Marius after telling him to go there, and when she takes a bullet for him and her identity is revealed, he is shocked.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: She never gets the chance to, poor thing, but the narration mentions that she would if she could.
  • Spoiled Brat: As a child, she got everything she wanted and was terrible to young Cosette.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Because she's in love with him she basically follows Marius around.
  • Street Smart: One would have to be to live the life she led.
    Gavroche: That's Eponine, she knows her way about / Only a kid, but hard to scare
  • Suppressed Mammaries: In the 2012 adaptation she binds her chest in order to pass as a boy.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Éponine disguises herself as a boy to secretly go to the barricades and die with Marius after telling him to go there.
  • Taking the Bullet: She takes a bullet meant for Marius at the barricades, which kills her.
  • Together in Death: The other possible interpretation as to why she took the bullet for Marius. She actually confirms this to Marius moments before her death.
    "See, you are lost! Nobody will get out of the barricade, now. It was I who led you into this, it was! You are going to die, I am sure. And still when I saw him aiming at you, I put up my hand upon the muzzle of the musket. How droll it is! But it was because I wanted to die before you."
  • Took a Level in Badass: Eponine goes up against six hardened burglars to protect Marius and Cosette, only a few days before she is shot at the barricades.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: She helps out both old Mabeuf and Marius, protecting him from her "own kind", before she joins the revolutionaries.
  • The Tragic Rose: Described as "a rose in misery" in the book.
  • Unkempt Beauty: The book notes her to be one; she's rather more traditionally pretty in the musical. In the book, Hugo calls Éponine "beautiful" during her visit with Marius at The Field of the Lark.
  • Vocal Dissonance: In the book, she was a teenage girl whose voice was frequently compared to a middle aged man's, presumably due to years of drowning her sorrows in alcohol. This was changed in the musical for very obvious reasons.
  • Voice Types: Mezzo-soprano, to contrast with her foil Cosette (soprano).
  • Yandere: In the book. She's in love with Marius, but he hardly knows she exists and is in love with Cosette. So, she decides to drive him to the barricades so they could both die and be Together in Death.



"Citizen, my mother is the Republic."

Head of the Society of the Friends of the ABC, Enjolras and his friends seek radical change in France, and participate in the June Rebellion, a revolution against the July Monarchy in France.

  • Adaptational Villainy: He of all characters is hit with this hard in the 1935 American film adaptation, in which, due to the Thenardiers' screen time being drastically reduced, he's actually the closest character to pure evil. He is portrayed as an Ax-Crazy Blood Knight who stages a coup on Maruis's nonviolent protest movement, sparking the violence. He's even played by John Carradine, who is better known for playing Dracula numerous times and who looks about as unlike a radiant young man as possible. The reason for this is due to the film being made during the First Red Scare, and a heroic revolutionary being considered too much for the public of the day to swallow.
  • Adaptational Badass: The novel makes it clear that Enjolras and his club are merely one group involved in the June Rebellion, and a fairly minor one at that. The musical and movie more or less portray him as the Rebel Leader who inspires the people to revolt.
  • Adapted Out: There are adaptations where he does not appear and is not even mentioned.
  • All-Loving Hero: Single-mindedly devoted to liberating the people of Paris. In the book, he is deeply moved by the sacrifices of others (including Mabeuf), and encourages the men of the barricade to leave after he realizes they will not succeed. In the musical, he barely knew Eponine but is still deeply moved and grief-stricken by her sacrifice for Marius.
  • Angry Mob Song: He leads "Do You Hear the People Sing?" in the musical.
  • Asexuality: Possibly this. Has zero interest in women, even going so far to claim his homeland as his mistress.
  • Badass Gay: Another possibility. He is compared to quite a few gay classical figures, is described as feminine, and has a certain amount of Ho Yay with Grantaire. Needless to say, his sexuality's been a topic of some debate; the only thing certain is that he's a Celibate Hero.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Rare male example. He fights for hours, doesn't sleep for more than a day, is never wounded, and is still so pretty at the end that he makes the National Guard pause.
  • Blue Blood: Specifically the only son of a very wealthy family.
  • Bring My Red Jacket: In the musical, he usually wears a red vest, and of course, he gets shot.
  • Celibate Hero: "He chastely dropped his eyes before everything which was not the Republic," and "it did not seem as though he were aware there was on earth a thing called woman."
  • Crucified Hero Shot: His death in the musical is usually staged this way.
  • Demoted to Extra: In the 1998 film adaptation. Much of his role in the movie is given to Marius.
  • Died Standing Up: Cornered by guards in a tavern after the rebellion fails.
  • "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner: Complete with chest-baring. "Shoot me."
  • Foil:
    • To Grantaire, who is described as practically Enjolras's antithesis.
    • Also to a lesser extent Combeferre, who is described as rounding out Enjolras' dogma with a more grounded and humane view of the revolution.
  • Go Out with a Smile: Dies with a smile after Grantaire declares himself to be "one of them", and asks permission to be shot with Enjolras.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: He has a very strong sense of morality and justice.
  • Holding Hands: How he and Grantaire die, notable because up to that point he is mostly annoyed by Grantaire, and earlier on the barricade he renounces faith in him. "Grantaire, you are incapable of believing, of thinking, of willing, of living, and of dying."
  • Iconic Outfit: His red vest in the musical, fondly called the Red Vest of Doom.
  • Ideal Hero: He's pretty much a classical romantic hero placed into a world of Grey and Grey Morality, and an embodiment of absolute faith, a very inspiring figure.
  • La Résistance: He heads Les Amis de l'ABC, "a society which had for its object apparently the education of children, in reality the elevation of man." They participate in the Rebellion.
  • Last-Name Basis: His first name is never given.
  • Last Stand: With the rebellion all but defeated, Enjolras holds back an entire battalion by himself to cover the others' retreat into the restaurant, and does not stop fighting until his gun breaks in his hands.
  • The Leader: The "chief" of Les Amis.
  • Manly Tears: When he shoots a soldier in the book, a tear falls down his "marble cheek." In the 2012 film, this happens after Eponine's death.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed: In the novel, Victor Hugo states that "in the Convention, he would have been Saint-Just."
  • No Name Given: Due to it being difficult to pronounce, Enjolras's name is actually never spoken in libretto during the entire musical, though beginning the ABC Cafe scene with an exclaimed "Enjolras!" has become a pretty regular ad-lib, nowadays.
  • One-Man Army: Towards the end of the battle at the barricade, he volunteers to go at the soldiers alone to buy the few survivors time to get out. He lasts quite a while.
  • Pretty Boy: Described as being "angelically handsome".
  • Race Lift: In the 1998 film adaptation and the 2014 Broadway revival, where he was played by Kyle Scatliffe.
  • Rebel Leader: Of Les Amis.
  • Red Is Heroic: In the musical, the song "Red and Black." Enjolras sings about how red is the blood of martyrs, the color of passion, and the dawning of a new age. He also gets a snazzy red vest.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Vilified: Hugo intended to portray him as the Doomed Moral Victor, and adaptations rarely stray from this. The one notable exception is the 1935 film adaptation, in which he is essentially a Card-Carrying Villain.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: His faith in the people of Paris to rise with them is misplaced.

    Monsieur and Madame Thénardier 

Monsieur and Madame Thénardier

Monsieur: [Fantine's payment] will serve to pay my note for one hundred and ten francs which falls due to-morrow; I lacked fifty francs. Do you know that I should have had a bailiff and a protest after me? You played the mouse-trap nicely with your young ones.
Madame: Without suspecting it.

A pair of devious, greedy innkeepers who take in Cosette but use her as a cleaner, demanding bigger payments from Fantine. After Jean Valjean adopts Cosette, the Thénardiers are forced out of their inn and become criminals in Paris. They have five children, who are Éponine, Azelma, Gavroche and two other unnamed sons.

  • Abusive Parents: Mainly Thénardier, who goes so far as to force Eponine into prostitution and mutilate Alzema to make her a better beggar. Madame Thénardier seems to genuinely care for her daughters, and continued to be so when they were in poverty. However, she is the most clearly abusive of Cosette, abandoned all three of her sons, and in the musical, she clearly doesn't care a bit about Éponine post-bankruptcy.
  • Accidental Hero: Monsieur Thénardier, when he saves Marius's father's life in the process of looting the man.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Madame Thénardier in the 2012 film; they cast Helena Bonham-Carter. This is played with by having her verse of "Master of the House" sung to a guest in flirtation, distracting him with the sexy while she steals from him. Later, she tries to do this near the end of "Javert's Intervention" to Javert but he remains unfazed. Also in the 2000 mini-series.
  • Adaptational Comic Relief: In the musical, though that doesn't stop them from being legitimately awful.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Madame was still villainous in the novel, but genuinely loved her daughters and both feared and objected to one of her husband's schemes when it injured one of them. This is not the case in the musical, wherein she gladly goes along with everything her husband does, ceases to care about Eponine after the family goes bankrupt and clearly doesn't mourn her death after the fact.
  • Adaptational Wimp: While Monsieur is always an utterly villainous character, the musical (and all adaptations thereof) makes him a Laughably Evil Henpecked Husband, whereas his literary equivalent is a vicious thug played totally straight, whom even his wife is afraid of.
  • Adapted Out: Both of them in the 1952 film. They are only mentioned once as "an innkeeper and his wife."
  • Awful Wedded Life: Madame Thénardier's part on "Master Of The House" describes how terrible even she thinks her husband is.
    "What a cruel trick of nature landed me with such a louse
    God knows how I've lasted living with this bastard in the house!
  • Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Despite the above, some versions of the musical portray something like this between them; the implication that they genuinely love each other is probably the only redeeming quality either of them have in the musical. Mostly averted in the book, as though Madame is stated to be quite possessive of her husband, she's also stated to fear him (implying that their marriage is...a LOT less pleasant behind the scenes) and is understandably furious with him later when he intentionally injures their daughter for pity points.
  • Bad Liar: Marius accuses him of this in his "The Reason You Suck" Speech to him at the climax.
  • The Barnum: Thénardier's song "Master of the House" is all about how he makes his living ripping people off and stealing from his guests.
  • Big-Bad Ensemble: Thenardier is the closest thing the story has to a villain besides the French system itself (as personified by Javert). He runs into the main characters several times by sheer coincidence, each time working a despicable hustle (whether it be as an innkeeper, a grave robber, or a crime boss) in an attempt to either get rich or get revenge against someone who prevented him from getting rich. His actions end up indirectly driving the plot, usually negatively. For example he indirectly causes Fantine's death by lying to extort money from her and causes Valjean to be discovered by Javert again when his gang kidnaps and attempts to murder him.
  • Blatant Lies: When Valjean takes Cosette away, Thénardier makes a big speech about how much he cares for her, how much he will miss her, in order to get some money out of him. This after Valjean has clearly seen how abusively they treat her. Valjean clearly doesn't believe a word of it, but forks over the cash anyway just to get the transaction over with.
  • Brawn Hilda: Madame is described as a giantess of a woman.
  • Break the Haughty: Madame Thénardier in the book, when she's arrested by Javert in the Gorbeau ambush, and ultimately dies in prison.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: In the musical at least. Their songs all show that they both know that they're horrible people and are way more proud of it than they should be.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: In the chapter that introduces them from the novel, Madame is stated to be this way when it comes to her husband (God only knows why), which is apparently the reason she never hired any female servants before Cosette. This is probably where Éponine gets it.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Thénardier threatens to do this to Valjean with a red-hot poker, in order to get him to talk. Valjean does it to himself to prove that's not going to work.
  • Demoted to Extra: They barely appear in a lot of the film adaptations.
  • Dirty Coward: Thenardier likes to weasel his way out of tough scrapes as opposed to fighting, though this doesn't make him any less intimidating. It pays off, as he ends up being the only prominent character besides Cosette and Marius to survive the events of the story.
  • Dissonant Laughter: Their upbeat, happy musical number is about how they con all their guests to earn money.
  • Domestic Abuse: Thenardier is implied to be one in the book, as Madame is stated to fear no one but him.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: When Javert arrests them, Madame Thenardier cries that if they go to jail, no will be around to care for their children. Her husband doesn't seem to care.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Even Madame objected to her husband forcing Azelma to cut up her own hand so they can earn pity points. Also a more subtle one for Thenardier himself—it's implied that the only reason Madame would force Cosette to be their maid is because she knew her husband wouldn't make a move on her, suggesting that he wouldn't stoop so low as to sexually solicit a child (didn't stop him from prostituting his own daughters later, though).
  • Evil Counterpart: Like Jean Valjean, Thénardier has the shrewdness of a criminal, uses various aliases, takes care of Cosette in Fantine's stead, goes through rough times and runs from the law. While Valjean loves Cosette like she were his own daughter, Thénardier doesn't really care for her or any of his own children. After Jean Valjean sees the error of thieving ways, he becomes rich through honest means yet hardly uses the wealth for his own benefit. The selfish and greedy Thénardier in turn repeatedly tries to get rich however he can, and he never repents. While Valjean became an embittered convict due to circumstances and a harsh justice system, Thénardier has wrongdoing in the blood.
  • Evil Gloating: Thénardier pulls this when he has captured Valjean.
  • Evil Is Petty: There is absolutely no low Thenardier will not sink to to scrounge up just a little bit more cash, it's practically his defining trait. This includes heinous acts such as murder and forced prostitution, but also extends to petty things like overcharging on rent, watering down the wine he sells, or beating a child and forcing her to do manual labor. It's also stated that his main source of income prior to getting the inn was robbing dead soldiers.
  • Evil Matriarch: Madame Thénardier.
  • Exact Words: Thenardier in the musical. Remember when he said he served "food beyond belief"? Or that he treated Cosette like "one of his own"? He wasn't lying about either of those things...
  • The Fagin: Both of them live through conning other people.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Thénardier is capable of turning on the charm when he wants to, but at his core, he's a slimy, amoral bastard. Though it's worth noting that few characters fall for it.
  • Fostering for Profit: They take in Cosette so they can demand more and more money from Fantine in return. In fact, the money they get from her becomes their main source of income. They eventually progress to flat-out lying about Cosette being sick in order to get even more money.
  • Girls with Moustaches: According to Javert, Mme. Thénardier has "the beard of a man."
  • God Is Dead: In the music, Thénardier professes to believe this in "Dog Eats Dog", as contrasted with Javert's belief in a strict/vengeful God and Valjean's belief in a kind, loving one. It's how he justifies his deeds.
    "And God in His Heaven / He don't interfere / 'Cause he's DEAD as the stiffs at my feet!"
  • Hate Sink: Thenardier is the only truly, 100% evil character in the story. Even his wife has some redeeming qualities, while he has none.
  • Henpecked Husband: Thenardier in the musical and 2012 film. It's the other way around in the book though.
  • Huge Girl, Tiny Guy: Mme Thénardier is large and fat, whereas M Thénardier is a tiny shrimp of a man.
  • I Have Your Daughter:They try to kidnap Cosette during the Gorbeau ambush in order to extort a huge sum of money from Valjean. He foils this by giving them a false address.
  • Jerkass: Both of them, though M Thénardier is a much bigger asshole than his wife.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Thénardier gets away with all of his crimes in the musical. He and his wife even sing a song about it in the musical!
    We know where the wind is blowin'
    Money is the stuff we smell!
    And when we're rich as Croesus
    Jesus, won't we see you all in HELL!
    • In the book; the mister does spend several years in jail for his crimes after being arrested by Javert. So he didn't get off completely scot-free.
    • Averted for Thénardier in the 2007 anime, but still played straight with his wife, though—she survives prison and gets released, with her worst punishment being losing a whole lot of weight.
    • Downplayed in the 2012 film. While they still don't receive any formal punishment, they are last seen being beaten up and physically thrown out of the wedding for impersonating a Baron and Baroness.
  • Lady Macbeth: Madame is shown to be much more terrifying than her husband, especially in the musical.
  • Large Ham: The musical version of Thénardier frequently qualifies, particularly as played by Matt Lucas and Sacha Baron Cohen. In the book on the other hand, he's deadly serious and not loud or over-the-top at all.
  • Laughably Evil: They're despicable, but this is often played for comedy in the musical, especially in "Master of the House".
  • Last-Name Basis: Their first names are never known.
  • Misplaced Accent: The musical usually gives him a Cockney accent for some reason. The book heavily implies he's Belgian. Specifically, the narrator speculates that he was "some Fleming from Lille, in Flanders, a Frenchman in Paris, a Belgian at Brussels, being comfortably astride of both Frontiers".
  • Morality Pet: Éponine and Azelma to Madame, at least; they're the only ones she shows a semblance of kindness and caring for. Averted in the musical, wherein Azelma is Adapted Out and Madame stops caring about Eponine when the family goes bankrupt.
  • Parental Abandonment: To their three sons, whom they left out on the streets (the eldest of whom is Gavroche).
  • Parental Favoritism: Madame favors her daughters in the book. Her sons, however, she doesn't care for.
  • Pet the Dog: Weirdly enough, Thenardier himself gets one of these moments in the 2012 film, in his own way—during "Master of the House", he can be seen teaching a young Eponine how to scam people, and she seems quite happy with the whole thing.
  • Playing the Victim Card: Thénardier does this regularly. A standout example is during the Gorbeau ambush, where he goes on an extended rant against society in general. During this, he goes off on a tangent about how he served at Waterloo, and put his life at great risk to save another officer, who isn't grateful to him in the slightest. This is all a lie, but he gets so into it that you wonder if he's so deranged that he actually believes his own story.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: In the musical, due to the fact that no other characters served this role in the book (except maybe Gavroche). Still creepy, though.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Thénardier is purely concerned with whatever benefits him at the moment. There's no crime he won't commit if he thinks he'll profit from it, but he can also restrain himself when he senses that doing so might endanger him.
  • Robbing the Dead: In the musical, they take advantage of the battle to loot the corpses of the dead. In the book, Monsieur also looted corpses after the Battle of Waterloo.
  • Self-Serving Memory: Thénardier claims that he sold Cosette to Valjean for a pittance and tries to find a way to extort more after their paths cross again. In fact, Valjean paid him 1500 francs to get custody of Cosette, which was a lump sum worth considerably more than what Fantine would have been paying for him to raise Cosette in that time period, delivered in monthly payments of 10 francs.
  • Slimeball: Thenardier in quite possibly every version of the story is a slimy scheming scumbag through and through, lacking even the very few redeeming qualities of his wife.
  • The Sociopath: Thénardier is a more high-functioning example, but he definitely qualifies. He drives Fantine to her death without remorse, was willing to kick Cosette into the street, and sees his own children only as means to an end, abusing or abandoning them as he sees fit. By the end of the book, most of his family, including his own wife, are dead, and it's clear that he couldn't care less.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Madame Thénardier in the musical, the 2007 anime, and the 2012 film. In the book, she dies in prison while her husband escapes a few years later, and thus doesn't appear in the second half of the story.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Thenardier orders a thug to shoot Javert when the inspector comes at the head of a group of lawmen to arrest them. The thug refuses, causing Thenardier to attempt to do so himself. It doesn't end well for him; Javert accurately predicts his gun will misfire, casually tosses a stone tossed at his head by Thenardier's wife, and then casually arrests them both. Thénardier gets the death sentence for attempted murder of an officer (or would've, if he hadn't broken out).
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Thénardier, big time. Check out the entire Gorbeau ambush, which he carries out after Valjean has already promised him regular financial support. He also couldn't care less when Gavroche saves him during his escape from prison.
  • Unholy Matrimony: They're married, and the most villainous characters in the story.
  • Villainous Rescue: When Javert becomes suspicious that Valjean may have been the man who took Cosette, they lie to him that it was her grandfather. This is purely self-serving, since they want to get rid of Javert as quickly as possible before he starts investigating them.
  • Villain Song: "Master of the House", "Dog Eat Dog" and "Beggar At The Feast".
  • Would Hurt a Child: Thénardier forces Azelma to cut her hand open for pity points. He was also perfectly willing to let his wife kick Cosette out into the street, knowing she would likely die if they did this.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Thénardier decides to just kill Valjean when he makes it clear he's not going to give Cosette's whereabouts to him. Fortunately, Marius intervenes just in time.



"The mouse has caught the cat."

The eldest son and third born of the Thénardiers, Gavroche fends for himself in Paris and has little connections to his family. He joins the rebels at the barricade.

  • Adapted Out: In the 1935 film, he doesn't appear.
  • Ascended Extra: In the anime, he was Cosette's friend since young, preventing her from falling into despair. Hence, Cosette was a lot happier and brighter when Valjean comes for her.
  • The Artful Dodger: He makes a living picking pockets and generally being sneaky.
  • Badass Adorable: He's a scrappy young boy who boldly runs in front of an entire line of infantry without an ounce of fear in him. This changes after he learns that there is no Infant Immortality, but he still tries to move forward any way.
  • Child Soldiers: Takes part in the rebellion.
  • Come to Gawk: Seems to like watching public executions.
  • Death of a Child: Almost invariably dies at the barricades with varying degrees of brutality depending on the adaptation. A particularly harsh example is the 2012 movie, as the camera is up close as he gets shot while singing "Little People".
  • Heartwarming Orphan: Gavroche isn't actually an orphan, but he still basically fits in that his parents abandoned him and he's forced to fend for himself.
  • Kid-Appeal Character: Strangely enough for the time period, he was actually based on a child hero of the French Revolution, and intended to appeal to rebellious and politically active children.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: In most adaptations, he's killed in the midst of singing an uplifting song.
  • Parental Abandonment: The reason he lives on the streets — not that his sisters Eponine and Azelma are much better off.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: He survives the 2007 anime.
  • Street Urchin: To the point that, after the book was published, "gavroche" essentially became the French word for "street urchin".
  • Tagalong Kid: An inversion; he proves to be very helpful to the rebels, although they all find it disconcerting to have a little kid fight alongside them.
  • The Unfavorite: The Thénardiers favored their daughters and left him to grow up on the streets.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Believes that Infant Immortality will keep him from getting killed storming the front lines. He's sadly mistaken and dies barely a minute later.

Supporting Characters

     The Bishop of Digne 

Bishop Charles Francois-Bienvenu Myriel of Digne

"You have promised me to become an honest man. I am purchasing your soul, I withdraw it from the spirit of perversity and I give it to God Almighty."

A friendly bishop who takes Jean Valjean in after he left prison. Valjean steals two candlesticks but is arrested and taken back to Bishop Myriel. To Valjean's shock, the Bishop claimed he had given to him as a gift and tells Valjean to use the candlesticks to make something of his life.

  • Badass Preacher: When the bishop decided to travel alone to reach a far-off mountain parish, knowing fully well the passes were packed with highwaymen, he should earn the title of badass good and proper. He also ventured the trek all by himself, because the gendarmes were too scared to travel with him. When the highwaymen (a dreaded gang in the area) actually left him alone, and even showed him reverence! And he dared this at the age of 70. The book relates this incident just to remind us "what a man this bishop actually was".
  • Decoy Protagonist: The book starts with establishing his personality and describing his life; then, Valjean bursts onto the scene.
  • Demoted to Extra: The book devotes its first 60+ pages to introducing him. Abridged versions will either make drastic cuts, or omit his introduction entirely, starting at Valjean's entrance.
  • Eccentric Mentor: The Bishop is merciful beyond what anyone would expect, which ultimately prompts Valjean's Heel–Face Turn.
  • Go and Sin No More: The bishop gives Valjean the candlesticks and tells him not to steal anymore.
  • Good Shepherd: A very good-hearted, generous priest.
  • It Was a Gift: Said pretty much word-for-word about the candlesticks when Valjean is brought to him after he steals them. Those sticks go on to have great personal significance for Valjean, as a reminder of his atonement.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Valjean learns of his death of old age via newspaper. It helps to encourage him to stay on the straight and narrow.
  • Posthumous Character: He lives on through the brief interaction with Valjean, which forms the basis of his life philosophy.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Only appears at the beginning of the tale, but his influence not only triggers Valjean's Heel–Face Turn, but shapes the man he soon turns into. The Bishop's simple act of forgiveness ripples through the rest of the play and is felt in every decision Valjean makes after meeting him.
  • Turn the Other Cheek: He forgives Valjean's theft of his candlesticks, claiming they were a gift.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: When heard the story of the state prosecutor proving a counterfeiter's guilt by preying on the jealousy of his lover, he denounced the prosecutor for using foul means in the interest of justice.

    Les Amis de l'ABC 

The Society of the Friends of the ABC

A group of gentlemen led by Enjolras who participate in the June Rebellion against the French monarchy. Other members include Courfeyrac, Combeferre, Jean Prouvaire, Feuilly, Bahorel, Laigle (nicknamed Bossuet), Joly and the resident drunk Grantaire (with his own section below).

In General

  • All There in the Script: Easy to miss for the first-time watcher, but Combeferre, Courfeyrac, Grantaire and Feuilly are all name-dropped in the same song. Everyone else's name is never mentioned, but their names do find their way onto the program - with the one exception of Bahorel. Enjolras's name is often ad-libbed in the opening of the Cafe scene.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Abaissé (oppressed) is pronounced "ah-be-see" in French.
  • Defiant to the End: Although outnumbered and outmatched, they keep fighting until their death.
  • Doomed Moral Victor: They're very right about the state of politics in France, but are wrong in thinking the people will rise to join them.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: All of them die during the June Rebellion.
  • I Coulda Been a Contender!: Described as "a group which barely missed becoming historic."
  • I Just Want to Be Free: Their motivation. They want France to be free from its capricious monarchy.
  • Kill 'Em All: None of them survive the rebellion, with only Marius and Jean Valjean making it out of the final assault.
  • La Résistance: They are one, seeking to overthrow the July Monarchy in France.
  • Last-Name Basis: Marius and Jean Prouvaire, who goes by "Jehan", are the only ones who escape this treatment.
  • Named by the Adaptation: Inverted — in some adaptations they are unnamed.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Vilified: Les Amis are almost never portrayed in a negative light. Sure, they're a bit misguided, but their hearts are in the right place.
  • Tragic Hero: A gang of them.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: save for Grantaire. Justified as most of them had participated in a successful revolution two years earliernote .


"There are people who observe the rules of honor the way you and I observe the stars - from afar."

A scholarly young medical student described as the "guide" of Les Amis.

  • Actual Pacifist: He tries to dissuade Enjolras from targeting the artillery sergeant, and dies trying to save one of their enemies, though he supports Enjolras and claims "We will share your fate!" after he executes Le Cabuc.
  • Animal Motifs: Compared to a swan in his introduction (as opposed to Enjolras's "angel with the wings of an eagle").
  • Badass Bookworm: He's handy in the final battle and is a noted scholar.
  • Combat Medic: Shown to be tending the wounded on the barricade.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Most gloriously to Marius. Two words: "Être libre."note 
    Marius: (fanboying Napoleon) Let us be just, my friends! What a splendid destiny for a nation to be the Empire of such an Emperor, when that nation is France and when it adds its own genius to the genius of that man! [...] to sound athwart the centuries a trumpet-blast of Titans, to conquer the world twice, by conquest and by dazzling, that is sublime; and what greater thing is there?
    Combeferre: To be free.
  • Foil: To Enjolras, described as rounding him off by being gentler and more rational.
  • The Lancer: The narration notes that he is "made of softer shades" than Enjolras, and represents the "philosophy" of the revolution, which can end in peace, as opposed to Enjolras and the "logic" of the revolution, which can only end in war.
  • Nice Guy: Explicitly so, in contrast to Enjolras. He is very compassionate, and he is even killed while tending to a wounded soldier.
  • The Philosopher: A peaceful thinker to temper Enjolras.
  • The Smart Guy: His introduction suggests a range of intellectual pursuits, including geology and translating hieroglyphics (at a time when they'd only recently been discovered).


"My dear boy, a word of advice. Take your nose out of books for awhile...there's something to be said for girls."

Marius's closest friend in the novel, and a warm and charismatic young man.

  • Big Brother Instinct: He shows this in taking in Marius, offering him his spare mattress when he has no other place do go, despite the fact that he doesn't end up joining the Amis. In the 2012 film, he takes on this role towards Gavroche, an actual child.
  • Blue Blood: Implied since he is de Courfeyrac, but he doesn't use it since he is anti-royalist.
  • The Charmer: He's a very charming person, and the reason Marius associates with Les Amis in the first place.
  • Foil: The narrator explicit states Courfeyrac is the Good Counterpart of Fantine's ex-lover Tholomyès.
  • The Heart: Courfeyrac is described as the "center" of Les Amis, "shedding more warmth" than Enjolras and Combeferre.
  • Nice Hat: Whenever he's not losing it.
  • Really Gets Around: Courfeyrac apparently has a "collection" of women.
  • Sword Cane: The narrator notes he has one on the barricade.

Jean Prouvaire

"Long live France! Long live the future!"

Prouvaire, who spells his name "Jehan", is a Romantic poet who is highly interested in the middle ages. He is gentle but intrepid.

  • Adorkable: Described as a sweet poet who dresses badly, a "still softer shade than Combeferre", but this doesn't stop him from being pretty badass.
    He spoke softly, bowed his head, lowered his eyes, smiled with embarrassment, dressed badly, had an awkward air, blushed at a mere nothing, and was very timid. Yet he was intrepid.
  • Blue Blood: The only son of a rich family.
  • Fan of the Past: Very interested in medieval times.
  • The Heart: He "loved the people, pitied women, and wept over the child."
  • In Love with Love: Said to be addicted to love, in fact.
  • In-Universe Nickname: Jehan, a medieval spelling of Jean.
  • Kill the Cutie: He is captured during the fighting and executed by the National Guard, alone but still valiant.
  • Prisoner Exchange: When Jean Prouvaire is captured by the National Guard, they plan to trade him for Javert. Defied, as he is swiftly executed.
  • You Always Hear the Bullet: When he dies at the Guard's hands, his friends hear the gunshot that kills him from the other end of the street.


''"I have sworn to go through fire, but not through water. I don’t wand to get a cold."

Another medical student, Joly is a hypochondriac and best friends with Bossuet.

  • Adorkable: Stresses over his health, looks at his tongue in a mirror, and rubs his nose with his cane when he's thinking.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Bossuet. They are specifically mentioned to share everything, including Joly's own mistress Musichetta.
  • Hypochondria: This is apparently a result of spending so much time at the hospital (he's training to be a doctor).
  • Official Couple: Him and Bossuet sharing everything notwithstanding, Joly is described as "wild for" Musichetta.


"Well, then, let us drink. Besides, we might miss the funeral without missing the riot."

The notoriously unlucky member of Les Amis, with a limitless supply of good humor.


"Can anyone understand those men [...] who had promised to join us, and taken an oath to aid us, and who had pledged their honor to it, and who are our generals, and who abandon us!"

The only member of Les Amis who is not a student, Feuilly is an orphaned fanmaker who taught himself how to read and write. Very interested in international affairs, especially Poland, whereas his friends are occupied chiefly with France.

  • Hero Worship: He incites this in Enjolras.
  • Parental Abandonment: Already disadvantaged by being working class, he has no family.
    "This orphan had adopted the peoples. As his mother had failed him, he meditated on his country."
  • Working-Class Hero: The only one of the nine named members of ABC who is a worker.


"This bishop’s prose shocks me; I want to eat eggs without being permitted. Your style is the hot and cold; I am amusing myself. Besides, I’m not wasting myself, I’m getting a start; and if I tore down that charge, Hercle! ‘twas only to whet my appetite."

A law student of eleven years with no intention of becoming a lawyer, who serves as a connection between the ABC and other unorganized groups. He is from a peasant background. He dies first out of the ABC on the barricade.

  • Big Brother Instinct: In the book, he acts as a mentor for Gavroche during the rebellion, and teaches him their argot.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Friendly, cheerful, and always up for a good fight.
    "a wholesale blusterer, that is to say, loving nothing so much as a quarrel, unless it were an uprising; and nothing so much as an uprising, unless it were a revolution; always ready to smash a window-pane, then to tear up the pavement, then to demolish a government, just to see the effect of it ..."
  • Large Ham: Loudmouthed and bombastic.
  • The Slacker: He has been a student for a very long time, yet only "rarely" passes by the law school, and he wastes his somewhat-large allowance "in doing nothing."
    He sauntered. To stray is human, to saunter is Parisian.



"It is a pity that I am ignorant, for I would quote you a crowd of things, but I don't know anything."

A hard-drinking, cynical member of Les Amis de l'ABC who joined the cause because of his ardent admiration of Enjolras.

  • Adaptational Attractiveness: He's described as ugly in the book. Actors to have played him include Hadley Fraser, Joseph Spieldenner, and George Blagden.
  • Adapted Out: There are adaptations where he either doesn't appear or isn't mentioned by name.
  • The Alcoholic: One of his most notable traits is his love for drink.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: His love for Enjolras is left unreciprocated until their execution.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The standout example in the novel; a sure indicator of his skeptical nature.
  • Defiant to the End: Refuses to surrender even when it's clear that the June Rebellion has failed.
  • Doomed Moral Victor: Along with the other members of Les Amis de L'ABC. He gets a special mention, as he chooses to die at their side despite his clear lack of passion for their cause.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: "I'd like a drink. I desire to forget life."
  • Foil: The book dedicates an entire paragraph to describing how he's the exact opposite of Enjolras.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Rather than surrending, he is shot with Enjolras.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Subverted. His and Enjolras's relationship is compared to that of Orestes and Pylades — with Grantaire being "an unaccepted Pylades."
  • Homoerotic Subtext: Their relationship is also compared to that of Achilles and Patroclus, and Alexander and Hephaestion.
  • Holding Hands: How he and Enjolras die.
  • Last-Name Basis: His first name is never revealed.
  • Not in This for Your Revolution: He's really not. He's in it for Enjolras.
  • Opposites Attract: Given as the reason for his devotion to Enjolras. "We are attracted to what we lack."
  • Purple Prose: Has a tendency to slip into dramatic, flowery dialogue when monologuing about the misery of the world.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Grantaire, whom Enjolras thought a faithless drunk, wakes up from his drunken stupor just in time to pronounce his belief in the Republic and die beside him.
  • Sad Clown: He's a comic relief character, yes, but that's only because he has a distinctly lack of purpose in his life. He copes with this through alcoholism and cracking the occasional joke.
  • Self-Deprecation: Grantaire can paint, dance, is skilled with an array of sports, and can reference a great deal of classical literature, as well as being very eloquent. However, he describes himself as being ignorant, and claims to "understand only love and liberty."
  • Slept Through the Apocalypse: Passes out (unsurprisingly) drunk in the restaurant and sleeps through the majority of the battle... Only waking up in time to find the army about to shoot Enjolras.
  • Sour Supporter: He criticizes the ideals of Les Amis and is really only around for his personal affection for his friends, and his admiration for Enjolras.
  • Undying Loyalty: He would rather die by Enjolras's side than live without his friends.
  • Wall of Text: Has at least two very long rants concerning philosophy, revolution, and general rambling nonsense.

    Azelma Thénardier 

Azelma Thénardier

The second daughter and second born of the Thénardiers. During her childhood, Azelma, like her sister, is spoiled and imitates her mother's mistreatment of Cosette. After Cosette is taken away by Valjean and the family falls into poverty, Thénardier starts abusing his own daughters, which changes her; in the second half of the novel Azelma becomes quiet, shy, and constantly afraid of angering him. She survives the June Rebellion, only to end up emigrating to America with her father to live off slave trade.

  • Barefoot Poverty: As an adolescent, to reflect the state of the Thenardiers' finances.
  • Empty Shell: By the later chapters when she is an adolescent, she's become a quiet ghost of herself thanks to her father's abuse.
  • Riches to Rags: See Eponine's entry.
  • Spoiled Brat: As a child, she was spoiled by her mother and thus treated Cosette badly.
  • Trauma Conga Line: She's neglected and abused, both physically and emotionally, by her father. She's so terrified of him that she'd rather break a windowpane with her bare fist than risk his anger. After that, she's caught by Javert and thrown into prison. Soon after, her whole family dies... except for her abusive father, and ends up going to America with him.


Monsieur Mabeuf

"Poor child, you can say that you had a father who loved you well."

An elderly churchwarden, Mabeuf knew Marius's father and is the one who tells Marius that his father loved him. He has a great love of books and is a fairly prominent horticulturalist, but he lives in poverty after his experiments with growing indigo failed. When he runs out of money to buy food with, and his servant requires expensive medicines, he is forced to pawn his life's work and sell off his collection of rare and unique books one by one.

  • Adapted Out: In the musical adaptations and some films.
  • Badass Bookworm: His love for books is given much focus.
  • Death Seeker: After having sold his last book, he joins the rebellion simply because he has nothing left to live for.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: He is shot down after waving the revolutionary flag atop the barricade and calling out:
    "Vive la revolution! Vive la république! Fraternity! Equality! And death!"
  • Honor Before Reason: Gavroche gives him Valjean's purse full of money so that he can recover from his poverty, but instead he turns it in to the police as a lost article. This is particularly ironic because the audience knows the purse will never be returned to its owner.
  • Inspirational Martyr: After becoming the first to die on the barricade, he becomes an inspiration to the young revolutionaries.
  • Tattered Flag: Enjolras takes his blood-soaked, bullet-ridden coat after his death and declares it the new revolutionary flag to honour his sacrifice.



A man whose life Valjean saves early on; later grants him and Cosette sanctuary at a convent.

    Luc-Esprit Gillenormand 


"The French Revolution is a mess of scamps."

Marius's conservative, wealthy grandfather. A through and through royalist, he never approved of his daughter's marriage to Marius's dad. After her death, this led him to Blackmail Colonel Pontmercy into giving him Marius' custody and never seeing his son again. He threatened to dishinerit Marius should the Colonel not have complied. When Marius discovers this, he confronts his grandfather about it and abandons his home after a heated fight, leaving Gillenormand heartbroken. Gillenormand misses his grandson, but he's too proud to extend an olive branch. Only Marius being returned to him nearly dead after the insurrection scares Gillenormand into changing his ways.

  • Abusive Parents: Abusive Grandparent, in this case. Gillenormand largely expresses his "affection" for his favored grandson with angry tirades and a raised cane, leaving Marius "trembling and mute" before him.
    "M. Gillenormand never addressed this child except in a severe voice, and sometimes, with uplifted cane: "Here, sir! rascal, scoundrel, come here!—Answer me, you scamp! Just let me see you, you good-for-nothing!" etc., etc. He idolized him."
  • Dirty Old Man: Still maintains an active interest in skirt-chasing. His suggestion that Marius make Cosette his lover instead of marrying her is what causes the second rift between them
  • Disco Dan: Gillenormand is close to 90, and was a young man during the end of the Ancient Regime, and hasn't changed his attitudes, dress, etc., even though the world has changed around him. The result is that without changing anything, he's gone from a well-dressed man of the Enlightenment to a ridiculously unfashionable reactionary.
  • Heel Realization: After Marius gets shot and nearly dies, he completely changes the way he acts around Marius, actually showing him care and affection and even apparently changing his political views.
  • Malicious Slander: Gillenormand uses a combination of this and tight-lipped silence to imply that Marius' father is a bad sort, and as a result Marius grows up feeling embarrassed and disdainful of his father, despite him being a noble and brave man.
  • Parental Favoritism: He favours Marius and Marius' mother; Marius' distant cousin Theodule is the unfavorite. note 
  • Rambling Old Man Monologue: His rants tend to be long-winded, but his speech during Marius' and Cosette's wedding truly takes the cakenote .



Four petty thieves who closely associate with Thenardier. They try to rob the house where Valjean and Cosette take up residence, and are promptly arrested.

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Montparnasse, to Eponine. Doesn't stop him from occasionally threatening to murder her, though.
  • Adapted Out: In some film adaptations, they don't appear.
  • Conveniently Cellmates: When Thénardier and the Patron-Minette gang get arrested, only Thénardier is put into a different cell from the others, who of course quickly devise a plan together and even manage to communicate the plan to Thénardier.
  • Dumb Muscle: Gueulemer, who's brawny but not that bright.
  • The Fighting Narcissist: Montparnasse, who became a vicious street crook for the sake of staying fashionable and prides himself on his beauty even as he murders and steals his way through life.
  • The Ghost: Claquesous; it's mentioned that nobody had ever seen him in a decent light in all his recorded life.
  • It's All About Me: Brujon (in the musical) is only out for himself.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: Like their boss, they seem to worm their way out of punishment, but in the book it's mentioned that they were convicted for the Gorbeau Robbery in absentia and sentenced to life in prison. If they're ever arrested again, they're screwed.
  • The Killer Becomes the Killed: After killing a innocent civilian Claquesous is executed by Enjolras.
  • Malevolent Masked Man: Claquesous, who refuses to ever be seen without a mask.
  • The Mole: A police badge was found on Claquesous' dead body, implying he was one.
  • No Indoor Voice: Musical Brujon shouts all the time.
  • Pet the Dog: In the musical, Montparnasse and Eponine seem to be on better terms than they are in the book. In a weirdly adorable way, in fact, as "Attack on Rue Plumet" shows that they have nicknames for each other ("'Parnasse" and "'Ponine").
  • Pretty Boy: Montparnasse's good looks and "wide hips" are given emphasis in the narrative.

Example of: