- Portrayed by: Connie Britton
Rayna, a nine-time Grammy Awardwinner and fifteen-time CMA Awardnominee, is the daughter of the late Virginia Wyatt and her husband, politician Lamar Wyatt. She grew up from a wealthy family whose father is Lamar Wyatt who used to be the mayor of Nashville. Her mom died when she was 13. She and her father are estranged for a long time. She loves country music, her father never approved of it and kicked her out of the house at 16. Early in her career she was dating songwriter and guitar player Deacon Claybourne, but he was an alcoholic. Soon after Rayna sent Deacon to rehab (which would be his last time), she married Teddy Conrad. The couple had two daughters, Maddie and Daphne. Teddy is not Maddie's biological father, and there are hints that it may be Deacon which is revealed to be true later on in season one.
- The Ace: Rayna's position in the country music business. Her losing this position is a major part of the series.
- Christmas Cake: Rayna Jaymes is the object of many male co-stars' attention (and the audience) despite being the mother of a teenaged daughter.
- Expy: Possesses elements of Reba Mcentire, Carrie Underwood, and Faith Hill.
- Irony: Rayna finally reconciles with her father when she needs his fortune to buy out her contract. Right before his assets are frozen.
- The Maiden Name Debate: She was never credited as Rayna Conrad during her marriage to Ted.
- Mama Wolf: She does not take it well when her children are messed with, resulting in Juliette receiving a "The Reason You Suck" Speech after her secret gig results in Maddie having to go to the hospital. But at least Juliette makes amends, and more importantly doesn't try to have Maddie signed to Edgehill and get fired as a result when Rayna lays the smack down... unlike Jeff Fordham.
- Meaningful Name: She's been repeatedly touted as the Queen of country music In-Universe.
- Ms. Fanservice: Her Christmas Cake status above comes with a good reason.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Rayna and Juliette during their tour.
- Really Gets Around: A rare positive example as Rayna becomes involved with several men over the course of the show and is desired by almost all men she meets.
- Statuesque Stunner: Aside from being a renowned beauty, she's also visibility tall and is the tallest female main character.
- Took a Level in Dumbass: What else could explain her sticking by Deacon, the man who put her in a coma.
- Two First Names: Jaymes is a common male name.
- Well Done Daughter Girl: Inverted as her father wants her approval more than anything. He gets it and loses it right before he dies.
- Portrayed by: Hayden Panettiere
Juliette Barnes, originally from Alabama, was discovered singing at a country fair by her manager, Glenn Goodman, who believed he could turn her into one of America's biggest country stars. Juliette, being young, beautiful and ambitious, had no qualms about leaving her dysfunctional home life and her drug-addicted mother behind. She quickly rose to become Edgehill Republic Records biggest star, a pop-country sensation, with legions of young teenage fans and sell out tours. Despite Juliette's singing talent being questioned by several characters, including Rayna Jaymes, she shows not only raw talent but has also proven herself to be a capable songwriter and works with talented musicians such as Deacon Clayborne and Avery Barkley. Juliette and Rayna, however, have two things in common, both of them had bad parents and both of them left home when they were 16 to become famous country music stars.
Juliette is initially played as a demanding, arrogant diva, but there is another side to her. The main reason why she was the main antagonist in the series. She is a girl who has fought for everything she has and is prepared to do anything to get to the top. However, her hard exterior shields a world of pain that she rarely lets people see. She has no friends, no-one she can truly turn to, and she has seen the worst of people growing up, which has left her unable to connect with people emotionally. As a result, she shows a desperate desire to be loved by anyone who shows her the slightest bit of affection, such as when she falls in love with her mother's drug counselor.
- Berserk Button:
- As Glenn found out, going against her wishes isn't a wise move.
- Ditto speaking ill of her late mother, such as claiming Jolene is burning in Hell ("I'll Keep Climbing").
- ...And never touch her food.
- Can't Get Away with Nuthin': The show's not exactly filled with morally upright people, but Juliette does get caught out more often than not; that or things go up in her face.
- Children Raise You: She checked herself into rehab for her postpartum depression, so she could be a mother worthy of Cadence.
- Deadpan Snarker: "In case you haven't noticed, there's no one I can't say 'Screw you' to."
- Expy: One for Taylor Swift (for her less than stellar singing ability), LeAnn Rimes and Mindy Mc Cready (particularly the latter's numerous string of celebrity romance and drug addition).
- Green-Eyed Monster: Juliette wants the respect Rayna Jaymes has desperately. The problem is, at the start of the series, she plays nothing but bubblegum country-pop music.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: No one on the show is more prone to losing it than Miss Barnes.
- It's All About Me: Her early attitude. Has mirrors with Scarlett - Juliette survived a tough childhood by getting even tougher as a survivor, Scarlett by comparison is a very softhearted person.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: She is selfish and crass, but she does form a genuine and supportive friendship with Rayna's daughter Maddie, and eventually one with Rayna herself.
- MayDecember Romance: Briefly has one with Deacon.
- Military Brat: It's revealed in "All Or Nothing With Me" that her late father (killed in a training accident when she was just four years old) was a Blackhawk operator.
- Ms. Fanservice: You bet. She even does a shoot for Vogue dressed in not very much (while pregnant, mind).
- My God, What Have I Done?: Her mindset after sleeping with the last named in...
- Really Gets Around: Deacon, her producer, Sean (including a very brief marriage), Dante, Charlie Wentworth, Avery, and even Jeff Fordham.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: One of her less pleasant attitudes.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: With Rayna during their tour and later with Layla.
- Troubled, but Cute: Outside of Jason, the biggest example on the show
- Portrayed by: Chip Esten
- The Ace: How he's viewed by country music singers. All of them think of him as a living legend despite being Rayna's backup.
- The Alcoholic: His primary problem. At his lowest point puts Rayna in a coma after driving drunk
- Berserk Button: Call Rayna Jaymes a bitch when he's around. We dare you. It's also not wise to mistreat Scarlett or one of her boyfriends either
- Broken Ace: He may be The Ace, but he's also a recovering alcoholic.
- Cool Uncle: He is one of the few constant good men in Scarlett's life.
- I Coulda Been a Contender!: Deacon, for emotional reasons, put his own career on hold to support Rayna Jaymes.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Deacon's attitude for the entirety of Rayna's marriage.
- Jerkass: Has his moments, especially when he's drunk
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Still is one of the most supportive men in all of Nashville
- MayDecember Romance: Briefly has one with Juliette.
- No-Hit Wonder: In-Universe, incredibly respected and loved in Nashville despite having little success outside of playing for Rayna and later Juliette.
- Really Gets Around: Rayna, Juliette, a veterinarian, and a lawyer are just some of his on-screen girlfriends.
- Romantic Runner-Up: What he considered himself during Rayna's marriage.
- Portrayed by: Clare Bowen
- The Ace: Originally just wrote poems, but Gunnar helping her set one to music immediately caught the attention of Watty White. He calls her up for a demo and her musical career takes off almost immediately. Even after she has a breakdown on stage, label heads immediately accept her as a possible replacement for Zoe in ZAG (later the Exes).
- Amicable Exes:
- When Scarlett has her mental breakdown Avery is the one who takes care of her, and she wouldn't have had it any other way.
- Also with Gunnar, the two even form a successful country duo known as "The Exes"
- Broken Bird: Alludes to a truly horrible childhood but never brings it up directly.
- Embarrassing Middle Name: She is referred to as "Scarlett Blue Sky O'Connor" in "That's Me Without You."
- Expy: Is believed to be one for June Carter in her early career.
- Important Haircut: Chops off her long locks in Season 4.
- Southern Belle: Has elements of this, minus the upper-class elements.
- Portrayed by: Sam Palladio
Gunnar Scott is a kind-hearted aspiring musician who is a former sound engineer at The Bluebird Cafe and a singer-songwriter. After writing a hit song for superstar Luke Wheeler, Gunnar makes a name for himself in the country music industry. He dated Scarlett in season one, and dates Zoey in season two and later gets back with Scarlett.
- The Ace: He's the best songwriter in Nashville for a reason
- Amicable Exes: with Scarlett, the two even form a successful country duo known as "The Exes"
- Berserk Button: Like Deacon for Rayna, it's really not wise to disrespect Scarlett in any way in front of him, especially with regards to her musical talent.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Has shades of this in the first season, what with him making constant and unwanted advances on the unavailable Scarlett, quickly subsides early on, even after Scarlett breaks up with Avery.
- Broken Ace: After his brother dies.
- Even the Guys Want Him: At least Will did
- Expy: Has some similarities to an early Johnny Cash.
- Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Responsible to Jason's Foolish
- Odd Friendship: with Avery, now the two are occasional writing partners, and roommates.
- The Rival: Formerly with Avery over Scarlett.
- Two First Names: Scott is a common male name.
- Portrayed by: Jonathan Jackson
Aspiring musician with a bad-boy streak. He and Scarlett are in a relationship when the series begins, but soon separate. In season two he dates Juliette but breaks up with her after finding out that she cheated on him with Jeff Fordham. In season three it is revealed that Avery is the father of Juliette's baby, and Avery and Juliette marry later in the season.
- The Ace: Avery is actually quite good at playing guitar. It's just his life-decisions keep sabotaging his career. he's also an incredible producer
- Amicable Exes: When Scarlett has her mental breakdown Avery is the one who takes care of her, and she wouldn't have had it any other way.
- Casting Couch: A rare male example. He's willing to sleep with his (attractive older female) manager in exchange for her patronage.
- Long-Haired Pretty Boy: A good looking man who sports neck-length hair.
- Odd Friendship: with Gunnar, now the two are occasional writing partners, and roommates.
- Papa Wolf: He will protect Cadence against anyone, even her own mother
- Smug Snake: His initial characterization before he...
- The Rival: Formerly with Gunnar over Scarlett.
- Took a Level in Kindness: In season two, with Juliette being the primary beneficiary.
- Your Cheating Heart: Doesn't with Scarlett. It doesn't help.
- Portrayed by: Chris Carmack
Scarlett and Gunnar's neighbor and aspiring country music singer. He and Gunnar enjoy each other's company and they soon become friends. He is also a closeted homosexual. In the season two he starts dating and marries Layla Grant. He eventually tells her that he is gay, causing both of their lives to spiral out of control before they both later agree to get a divorce. He also later comes out as a gay man in a press conference and is dating his songwriting partner Kevin Bicks.
- Amicable Exes: Makes it clear that he still (and did) loves Layla, just not romantically, and is one of her biggest supporters.
- Better as Friends: With Gunnar, not that he had much of a choice.
- Expy: Pretty obviously based on first openly gay country singer Ty Herndon, who also married women to hide his sexuality and was arrested in a park for "indecent exposure".
- Gay Cowboy: A pretty literal example.
- Gayngst: He has an increasing case of this due to his decision to stay in the closet for his career.
- Incompatible Orientation: He made a drunken pass at Gunnar who is straight and Will also married Layla and the marriage fell apart when he admitted to being gay and not being attracted to her.
- Mr. Fanservice: The shows most blatant example
- Straight Gay: He has no stereotypical homosexual tendencies and while he was in the closet he could successfully pretend to be attracted to women and could go as far as having sex with them.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With Gunnar
- Portrayed by: Lennon Stella
Maddie is Rayna's elder daughter, legal daughter to Teddy, and biological daughter to Deacon .
- Ascended Extra: Gets her own story arc in relation to the reveal that Deacon is her father in season 1 and in later seasons becomes a full fledged main cast character with her story becoming about her attempts to become a country music star like her parents.
- The Ace: Apparently has the potential to become a country music star as great as her mother and her biological father, Deacon.
- Dark Secret: In the first season, it was a secret that Deacon is her biological father and she finds out when she discovers the DNA test in the closet.
- Sibling Team: With Daphne as they grew up performing music together and their mother allowing them to do live performances at her concerts until Maddie starts pursuing a solo career.
- Two First Names: Conrad is a common male name.
- Portrayed by: Maisy Stella
Daphne is Rayna and Teddy's younger daughter.
- The Ace: Has the same musical talent as her sister but time will tell if she goes after it like her.
- Deadpan Snarker: She definitely has her moments.
- Sibling Team: She is this with Maddie as they perform music together doing duets, but this starts to fall apart when Maddie starts pursuing a solo music career.
- Two First Names: Conrad is a common male name.
Former Main Characters
- Portrayed by: Aubrey Peeples
A runner-up in a singing competition and a new singer in Nashville who is a new rival for Juliette. She gets dropped from the label, after her single tanks, though she strikes up a romance with Will, and they eventually get engaged. She is a participant in a reality show featuring her and Will, and their impending nuptials. She and Will get married, he later tells her that he is gay. Layla goes to Jeff Fordham and demands to make her next album go gold or she will out Will. Layla and Will are now divorced and she began secretly dating Jeff, who managed her music career.
- Amicable Exes: She had an, understandably, hard time getting there, but finally is at the place where she considers Will one of her closest friends.
- Expy:Of Cassidy Pope, both are reality stars who struggle to get their career on track.
- Good Bad Girl
- Hidden Depths: Can actually songwrite really well once she finds her voice, deferred from Harvard to sing.
- Incompatible Orientation: Her marriage with Will because of the fact that he is gay and only married her in his attempt to stay in the closet, even going as far as being able to have sex with her to maintain his secret.
- The Rival: To Juliette.
- Two First Names: Grant is a common male name.
- Portrayed by: Oliver Hudson
The new label record executive in second season, who clashes with Rayna and Juliette, and eventually has sex with Juliette, thus making her cheat on Avery.He was fired from his record company and began secretly dating Layla and managing her music career before being hired as Luke Wheeler's CEO just before he fell to his death trying to save Juliette Barnes.
- Portrayed by: Powers Boothe
Rayna's father and a wealthy, powerful and controlling patriarch and local politician who disapproved of his daughter's career as a country singer. He dies of a heart attack while Teddy watches and does nothing.
- Affably Evil
- Ambiguously Evil: We never learn if he killed Peggy or his wife.
- Character Death: Dies of a heart attack.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: A Downplayed Trope.
- Expy: Of Al Gore, Sr. (Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore's father).
- Two First Names: Wyatt is a common male name.
- Your Cheating Heart: His wife cheated on him with a country music star, which is why he disapproves of Rayna's career in country music.
- Portrayed by: Eric Close
Raynas husband who, after a business failure, is now living on his wifes income. He runs for mayor with help from his father-in-law and wins election, later divorcing Rayna.
- Berserk Button: Anyone referring to Deacon as Maddie's father.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: A mild example. He embezzled a couple of million dollars for a project before paying it back. Played painfully straight in season 3: Jeff showed Teddy a good time by hiring prostitutes for the evening, though Teddy wasn't aware of that until after Jeff told him. Later on, said prostitute informs Teddy that she's under investigation by the FBI and needs money to flee town. Teddy blackmails his financial officer to start a phony construction project, with $500,000 mis-appropriated to himself so he can secretly pay off the prostitute.
- Evil Is Petty: Cancelling Deacon's festival concert appearance.
- Looks down on Lamar for being a Corrupt Corporate Executive but took his money to get elected.
- Sleeps with Deacon's girlfriend after years of looking down on him for his feelings towards Rayna.
- Papa Wolf: Makes it clear that he does not want his girls around Deacon during his drunken benders, and utterly shuts down Lamar's attempts at using Maddie's parentage against Rayna.
- Smug Snake: How some of his detractors view him.
- Two First Names: Conrad is a common male name.
- Your Cheating Heart: With Peggy. Later, with Deacon's girlfriend.