Det. Ch. Insp. John Luther
A detective chief inspector for the Metropolitan Police Service, working in the Serious Crime Unit. He is a legendary figure in London's police force both for his dedication and his ingenious approaches to solving cases. However, the horrors of Luther's job have given rise to emotional demons which often put him at odds with colleagues and loved ones.
- Anti-Hero: John is relatively good, but dangerous. John has proved that he will go beyond the law and beyond 'good' to do what he needs to ultimately.
- Badass Baritone: Played by Idris Elba and is a very tough fighter.
- Berserk Button: Threatening Zoe sends him completely over the edge and makes him unpredictable.
- Cowboy Cop: His whole thing. He will not hesitate to break the rules (as he does with Lucien Burgess among others) or leave villains to die, such as Henry Madsen.
- Cultured Badass: Knows about Japanese culture and knocks out a Sociopathic Soldier.
- Death Seeker: If he's not outright suicidal, he's got a major adrenaline addiction.
- Defective Detective: A brilliant copper - whose personal life outside work is nonexistent and who frequently finds ways to put himself in life-or-death situations. The fact that Alice is his only 'confidant' says a lot.
- Dirty Cop: Possibly the only heroic protagonist to be this. Luther's definitely one of the good guys, but he's also pretty corrupt, though not in the traditional, bribe-taking sense. No, he's dirty in the sense that he's willing to go to any lengths to secure justice (or protect his friends), no matter what proper police procedure or the letter of the law require. Which basically means that he's not above planting evidence on people who are clearly guilty, nor using extremely underhanded tactics to produce evidence, consulting with a murderer, or letting a child murderer fall to his death (though he didn't die, at least not by Luther's hand).
- Establishing Character Moment: Right in the pilot: The very first thing he does after he extorted important information from a kidnapper who was responsible for the death of several abduceted children - allows him fall to his death from a broken walkway. From there it's quite clear that this isn't your usual "by the book"-tv cop.
- Fair Cop: He's played by Idris Elba, after all.
- Fearless Fool: Big time. You could say it almost overlaps with Death Seeker, because he almost always arranges situations were he's alone with the suspect with little backup.
- Friendly Enemy: With Alice.
- Genius Bruiser: Luther is large, can take a beating and throw a good punch. He can also exchange ideas on logic and philosophy with a genius sociopath.
- Good Is Not Nice: He has a nearly unshakeable moral compass, but he will do whatever it takes to get there, including police brutality, deceit, and sometimes murder.
- Grey-and-Gray Morality: He will bend rules to the breaking point. Help bury bodies and frame other criminals. Threaten witnesses to protect someone under his care. Hence his AntiHero status.
- Guile Hero: Has the ability to talk his way into and out of everything. One of the main reasons Alice is so attracted to him.
- Hero with Bad Publicity: John is helping people but all the people he works with just see rage issues and unreliability...
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: ...and yet, he manages to avert this trope. Everyone acknowledges that he's a brilliant cop - his boss responds with "he's back" when Luther sees through Alice in one conversation; Schenk admits that while he'll sack him on charges of improper conduct without blinking, he'll also do that to a good man and policeman; and Zoe immediately trusts him when told that she's in danger without any evidence at all, solely based on Luther being Luther.
- Hot-Blooded: Alice warns him that this is his biggest weakness in the first season finale.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Luther at 6'2 3/4" tends to tower over most of the women he's seen with.
- Limited Wardrobe: A rack of nigh-identical outfits is another sign of how much work dominates his life.
- Magnetic Hero: Interactions with him inspire Alice's and Justin's Undying Loyalty to him. Also, in the last episode of the first series he manages to convince Mark North, who until their meeting thought he was the one who murdered Zoe, not only of his innocence, but also to help him with his plan to bring down Ian Reed.
- Morality Pet: A loose one to Alice. He is the only person outside of herself that she cares for and is willing to curb her more bloody and self interested tendencies for.
- Odd Friendship: With both Alice, the woman who murdered her parents to see if she could and Mark, the man who used to sleep with John's wife.
- Papa Wolf: Has shades of this with Jenny Jones.
- Scary Black Man: Over 6 feet tall and with some serious anger issues just waiting to get out. Henry Madsen tried to escape him at all costs for a reason.
- True Companions: By the end of the second series, he's one with Alice, Justin, Mark and Schenk.
- The Unfettered: If you do something bad and Luther finds out about it, be ready.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: With Alice. Resolved prior to series 4, as shown in some of the series 5 flashbacks.
- You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry!: He's not too much easier to piss off than most people. The difference is when he gets pissed off, he breaks things, like doors, windows, and people.
A research scientist and highly intelligent psychopath who killed her parents in a calculated fashion that not even Luther is able to prove despite knowing she did it. Her core belief, that nothing in life ultimately matters, comes into direct conflict with Luther's own beliefs and thus she frequently insinuates herself into his business and personal life both as an enemy and ally from stalking him to helping him avoid criminal prosecution.
- Ambiguously Bi: When Luther visits her at a psychiatric hospital, she mentions that she "doesn't mind, per se" that most of her available romantic partners are women, but follows it up by saying "needs must", implying that it's a Situational Sexuality kind of thing.
- Anti-Hero: Nominal, when she's helping Luther.
- Attention Whore: Particularly with regards to John whom she sees as the closest she has to an equal.
- Badass Bookworm: She did make a physics doctorate in her teens, after all.
- Back for the Finale: Returns at the end of Season 3 after leaving midway through the previous season.
- Badass Decay: In Series 5. She goes from being a completely well-plotted manipulator who would threaten her targets but not hurt them if she didn't need to (such as with Mark) and a genius to petty, spiteful, and stupid, as shown when she refuses to let go of her feud with George Cornelius and ends up getting almost everyone close to Luther killed as a result.
- Berserk Button: Arguably Luther, whenever something stays in the way of their "friendship".
- Bus Crash: She was supposedly killed in between Series 3 and 4. The end of the first episode of season 5 makes it clear that she is very much alive.
- Crazy-Prepared: Alice appears to always know what's coming next.
- Deadpan Snarker: Completely above yet simultaneously revelling in whatever chaos surrounds her, Alice is always ready with a sassy quip.
- Demoted to Extra: She appears in every episode of Series 1, but only sporadically after that: two episodes of S2, one episode in S3 and not at all in S4. She's back in every episode of S5, though.
- Depraved Bisexual: Possibly, as she mentions she wouldn't mind being with a woman in the psychiatric hospital and she's a serial killer.
- Disney Villain Death: She (apparently) meets her end after attempting to shoot John for lying to her. When he is trying to pull her up from the edge of a construction site, she slits his hand, forcing him to drop her.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Alice can't empathise with others, and has a great deal of trouble understanding why people do the things they do.
- For the Evulz: What could you say about a woman who murdered her two parents who raised her just to see if she could get away with it? She tends not to be restrained and seems amused about John and his morals.
- Friendly Enemy: With Luther, at least until Season 5.
- Love Is a Weakness: Alice believes this with utmost certainty. Believing it makes one weak and vulnerable. Ironically, her obsessive love for Luther destroys her in the end. Turning her from a coldly, clinical mastermind. Into an impulsive, self-destructive fugitive desperate to break free of their emotional connection no matter what.
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Alice is a dark example. She's adorable and quirky, but she livens up Luther's life with violence.
- Manipulative Bitch: To everyone around her, even people she ostensibly cares about, particularly John.
- Meaningful Name: Obviously this isn't the first time television has seen a psychopath with the surname "Morgan".
- The Mentally Ill: Alice's narcissism is treated as a mental illness rather than a personality flaw. Luther notes that it isn't her fault that she is what she is, and when she takes the rap for him at the end of Season 1, she ends up in a psychiatric facility, not jail.
- Moral Event Horizon: She's generally crossed it before we meet her by killing her parents For the Evulz, but shooting DS Halliday crosses the line in John's eyes.
- Narcissist: Profiled by Luther as a malignant narcissist, a nasty form of narcissism that combines narcissistic personality disorder with traits of antisocial personality disorder, leading to grandiose behaviour, sadism, rationalized antisocial activities, and an inability to identify with any but the most powerful and sadistic of authority figures. That last part goes a long way to explaining Alice's identification with, and attraction to, Luther.
- Odd Friendship: Considers Luther her only real friend. Also ends up spending a lot of time with Mark, who she initially hates out of loyalty to Luther. He even offers to try and find her some psychiatric help, believing she is not beyond saving.
- Psychopathic Woman Child: Whenever she gets angry, she slips into this. Especially shown in Series 5 when she won't let George Cornelius go despite Luther's attempts to make her.
- Sadist: Comes with being a malignant narcissist. Hers is of a more psychological than physical bent.
- Self-Made Orphan: And now also a Black Widow, if she was telling the truth.
- Soft-Spoken Sadist: Rarely speaks above a whisper.
- Stalker with a Crush: Almost certainly.
- Taking the Heat: Takes all of the blame for Ian Reed's murder, keeping Luther and Mark North out of it.
- Token Evil Teammate: When she teams up with Luther and Mark North in episode 1.06. Then again in 3.04.
- Toxic Friend Influence: Majorly, to Luther. She'll talk him into murder and she'll help him out with it.
- Undying Loyalty: She flat out admits that she would never betray Luther.
- The Unfettered: You're just getting that now?
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: With Luther, even tried to get him to run off with her to see the world. Resolved prior to series 4, as shown in some of the series 5 flashbacks.
- Villainous Crush: On Luther.
- Yandere: Arguably this.
Det. Sgt. Justin Ripley
A young policeman. He is at first eager to be partnered with a detective like Luther, but doesn't quite realise what doing so would entail.
- The Apprentice: He fills this role for Luther. At one point Luther tells him that soon he'll be ready to do his job, and have his own Little Ripley's.
- Fake Defector: Appears to join forces with Stark at the beginning of the third season, only for it to turn out to be a lie in the following episode.
- The Lancer: To Luther.
- Nice Guy: One of the most friendly and agreeable characters on the show.
- Oop North: A noticeable Manchester accent.
- Sacrificial Lion: He's tragically killed by the vigilante killer in the second to last episode of Series 3.
- Ship Tease: With Erin Grey. He's killed off before anything can happen though.
- Took a Level in Badass: Throughout the whole series.
- Undying Loyalty: To Luther. First shown during Season 1 when Luther is framed for killing Zoe. And later in Season 3 when he refuses to sell him out to Stark and Grey, despite the pressure they force on him.
Det. Supt. Martin Schenk
Schenk works for Police Complaints and is universally feared for his steel-trap mind. A highly intuitive and observant individual, who appears unassuming, Schenk is determined to rid the force of corrupt officers which, despite Schenk's high regard for Luther's abilities, may include Luther himself.
- Benevolent Boss: In Series 2.
- Cool Old Guy: Throughout, as when he takes over Luther's unit, he understands Luther's methods and, while he doesn't necessarily approve of him, he understands him and they develop a warm friendship.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Plays the bumbling, easy-going old man but can be downright vicious when he needs to be.
- Inspector Javert: In Series 1, though of a far more sympathetic variant than many.
- Internal Affairs: A positively portrayed version.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: There's a great del of respect between he and Luther.
- Suddenly Shouting: A well-favoured interrogation tactic of his.
- Apparently, this is the reason why when Luther hears he's interrogating a perp, he believes there's no need for him in the interrogation room.
Benny 'Deadhead' Silver
The local technology nerd, takes care of finding info, tracking phones, scouring internet history.—
Det. Sgt. Erin Gray
- Black Boss Lady: She's Luther's arch-enemy and controls an investigation into him.
- By-the-Book Cop: Which causes her immense friction, first with Luther, and then with Stark.
- Fake-Out Make-Out: With Ripley in Series 3 when she sees Luther spying on them.
- Faux Action Girl: In Series 3. Although it initially looks like she Took a Level in Badass when she arms herself with a handgun along with DSU Stark, she is later shown to be very inexperienced with firearms and conflict, only managing to fire a single shot at Tom Marwood before being overwhelmed by gunfire and dropping her weapon.
- Heel Realization: For most of series 3, she's tolerant of Stark's methods, but has a doubt of faith after Stark goes after Mary.
- Hero Antagonist: Erin genuinely does mean well, and wants to see bad coppers brought down. She just also has a serious bone to pick with Luther that clouds her judgement.
- Inspector Javert: In Series 3.
- Internal Affairs: Transfers there after Ripley ruins her career in Serious & Serial.
- It's Personal: With both Luther and Ripley in Series 3.
- Kicked Upstairs: Ripley destroyed evidence that Luther was on Schenk's computer during a fire alarm, which led to her being transferred to Internal Affairs...and given a vocation.
- UST: Has a fair amount with Ripley.
Det. Ch. Insp. Ian Reed
Luther's oldest and closest friend on the force, Reed has some secrets of his own that he is doing his best to keep covered up.
- All There in the Manual: The official website states that Reed has been divorced three times, but this was never mentioned on screen. We are not told if he had any children.
- Big Bad Friend: To John Luther
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: A genuinely awful person hides behind Reed's friendly demeanour.
- Death Seeker: Does everything he can to force Luther to kill him in the end. Alice and Mark do it for him.
- Dirty Cop: Pretends to be one in Episode 3 of Series 1 order to lure out Lucien Burgess. We later learn he was involved in diamond theft
- Final Boss: Of Series 1, as revealed in Episode 5.
- Hidden Villain: Nothing prior to his HeelFace Turn in episode 5 would suggest he's as much of a villain as he is.
- It's Personal: With Luther, after he kills Zoe
- Killer Cop: Murders a number of people, including Zoe, to try and cover up his criminal actions.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Has this reaction after killing Zoe to frame Luther, complete with a Big "NO!".
- Never My Fault: Blames Luther for his crimes rather than accepting responsibility.
- Only Friend: In Series 1 he is Luther's only friend, unless you want to count Alice.
- Suicide by Cop: Tries to force Luther to kill him. When he refuses Alice steps in.
- Token Black Friend: Inverted. He spends the early part of the show as Luther's underdeveloped, white best friend, before taking centre stage in Episode 5.
- Vigilante Man: Luther becomes worried about Ian turning into one of these.
- Walking Spoiler: Mostly because of his abrupt FaceHeel Turn at the end of the first season.
- We Used to Be Friends: He and Luther were actually friends at some point, but it hasn't been true on Ian's end for a long time.
- Why Did You Make Me Hit You?: Blames Luther for making him kill Zoe and for making him attack him at the end.
- With Friends Like These...: Not only did Reed murder Luther's wife Zoe, he attempted to frame Luther for it. After Luther finally catches up to Reed, he slanders Zoe, calling her a whore and claiming that they slept together.
A Temporary Love Interest for Luther, introduced in Series 3. She ends up right in the middle of George Stark's investigation, and suffers for it accordingly.
DSU George Stark
An obsessive internal affairs officer who was brought out of retirement in Series 3 for the specific purpose of bringing Luther down. In sharp contrast to the likes of Schenk, Stark is willing to break just as many rules as the people he is investigating, so long as he gets his man.
- Cowboy Cop: Hilariously, Stark breaks just as many rules and plays just as loosely with the law as Luther.
- The Heavy: He's not a villain per se, but the conflict he instigates drives most of Series 3's non-case related action, with life-altering consequences for Luther and Ripley among others.
- Hero Antagonist: He means well, though one might question whether the lengths he goes to move him out of the "hero" category.
- Hypocrite: Stark's remarkably willing to violate procedure and the rule of law in order to bring in other coppers who do the same.
- Inspector Javert: Pursues Luther relentlessly throughout the final season.
- It's Personal: He makes it personal with Luther, trying to destroy his relationship with Mary Day just to unsettle him.
- Moral Myopia: When Luther violates procedure, it's bad. When Stark violates procedure, it's necessary.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: He's obviously no more moral than Luther and breaks just as many rules to bring him down. Luther describes him as "a bit of a prick, but he means well."
Zoe Gillian Luther (née Cornell)
Luther's ex-wife, Zoe works as a human rights lawyer. She is incredibly indecisive, regularly going back and forth between Mark North and Luther.
Det. Supt. Rose Teller
A no-nonsense cop who nonetheless is willing to tolerate Luther due to his ability to get the job done.
Luther's ex-wife's new boyfriend, Mark is a nice guy who finds himself pulled into Luther's increasingly screwed up world, as his relationship with Zoe draws anger from Luther, and worse from Alice Morgan.
- Beware the Nice Ones: It's Mark, not Luther, who finally tells Alice to kill Ian Reed.
- The Bus Came Back: He returns in Series 5 to help Luther out after he's being pursued by George Cornelius. [[A subversion of Back for the Dead, though, as he survives.]]
- Butt-Monkey: He's really just an ordinary guy who's caught up in the insanity of Luther's life.
- The Everyman: As Zoe's new boyfriend, he is our normal viewpoint on Luther's crazy world.
- Fire-Forged Friends: With Luther, following the events of the Season 1 finale.
- It's Personal: With Ian.
- Nice Guy: He really is.
- Odd Friendship: Despite her initially beating up and threatening him, he gains this with Alice, even trying to convince her she is not a psychopath and can be helped.
- Took a Level in Badass: When he steals the diamonds from Ian Reed's locker.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Vanishes after helping Luther halfway through Season 2. He does come Back for the Finale however.
A teenaged prostitute and porn star, Jenny is rescued from the control of Baba and her family by Luther, who allows her to live at his home. Baba and Toby both attempt to use her as leverage against Luther, forcing Jenny to grow up along the way.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Disappears after S2 with no explanation and is never mentioned again.
- The Cynic: She likes to think she is, though contact with Luther and Mark North softens her considerably.
- The Dog Bites Back: When Toby tries to rape her Jenny drives a knife into the back of his head.
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Jenny's not a bad person, just a deeply messed up one with some spectacularly bad choices under her belt.
A London crime boss and human trafficker who forces Luther to work for her by threatening Jenny and Caroline Jones. Her attempts at getting Luther to violate the law on behalf of her and her grandson, Toby, are a recurring plot thread beginning in the second episode of Series 2.
- Big Bad: Her plotline runs throughout Series 2, and drives almost all of Luther's actions that are unrelated to the specific cases he is working on.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Does seem to care about her grandson.
- Evil Old Folks: Well into her old age, and still evil.
- Karma Houdini: Luther's able to force her to leave he and Jenny alone, but she's never punished in any meaningful way.
- The Mafiya: A little bit of this and London Gangster, as it's implied by her name (Baba means "grandmother" in several Slavic languages) that she and her affiliates are of Russian or Polish descent, although you couldn't tell by her posh accent.
A former corrupt cop who now acts as one of Baba's top henchmen. He's far saner than Toby, and spends a lot of time getting the younger man out of trouble.
- Co-Dragons: To Baba, alongside Toby.
- Dirty Cop: Originally. By the time we meet him he's a retired dirty cop, and is working full time for Baba's human trafficking ring.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Lectures Toby about how he's misunderstood their relationship with Luther when the latter dismisses the DCI as a dirty cop, falsely foreshadowing the latter's death, implying it will be at Luther's hands.
Baba's psychopathic grandson, Toby is a gangster, a human trafficker, a murderer, and an attempted rapist. He acts as one of his grandmother's enforcers, and is without a doubt the most repulsive member of her organization.
- Attempted Rape: Of Jenny Jones.
- Co-Dragons: To his grandmother, alongside Frank Hodge.
- Don't Make Me Take My Belt Off!: Uses his belt as a set of brass knuckles on Jenny.
- Drugs Are Bad: Mixes cocaine and alcohol with predictably bad results.
- Enfante Terrible: Informs Jenny that when he was eight he cut open a cat to see if there were kittens inside.
- Ephebophile: Tries to rape teenage Jenny.
- Karmic Death: Knifed by a girl he was trying to rape.
- Kick the Dog: His interactions with, and subsequent attempted rape of, Jenny Jones are one giant Kick the Dog.
- Man of Wealth and Taste: Always well turned out.
- The Rival: He and Frank hate each other, and strive to outdo one another in his grandmother's esteem.
- The Sociopath: One of the more obvious examples on the show.
DCI Theo Bloom
DS Emma Lane
- Lipstick Lesbian: It's blink-and-you-miss-it stuff, but dialogue late in 4.1 reveals that she has a pregnant girlfriend. She talks to her on the phone in 4.2, but the dialogue (while clearly between romantic partners) doesn't give away that she's talking to a woman.
- Took a Level in Badass: The previously somewhat mousey Lane pops out of nowhere to cap the absolute hell out of series 4 killer/villain Steven Rose.