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    Richard Mayhew 

Richard Mayhew

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/neverwhererichard.jpg
Played by: Gary Bakewell (Television), James McAvoy (Radio)

Richard is the perennial everyman. He's a good person but one who lives a life of exceeding normalcy, including an unsatisfying job and a fiancée who seems to view him more as an accessory than an actual person. However, even this humdrum life is taken from him when he decides to be a good Samaritan one night, inadvertently leads him into the terrifying world of London Below.


  • Action Survivor: Survivor is the keyword here, considering how many dangerous things there are in London Below.
  • All Take and No Give: The nature of his relationship with Jessica. Richard puts in all the effort to change himself and do things that will make her happy while Jessica never returns the favor. After his experiences in London Below, he turns down the opportunity to get back together with her because he's changed.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Even after he's seen a lot of seemingly impossible things in London Below, his first instinct when learning about a new strange thing is to deny its existence. He grows out of this over time.
  • Can't Stay Normal: At the end of the book, Richard finally manages to regain his normal life back. However, he really can't get accustomed to it anymore, so he decides to return.
  • Captain Obvious: Briefly becomes this during his initial confusion about the events going on around him.
  • The Champion: Lady Serpentine identifies him as such, claiming he's "Door's hero." When Door argues otherwise, Serpentine says she's learned to recognize the type over the years. Sure enough, Richard is willing to rush headlong into danger to save Door, to point where he faces and slays the Beast of London.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Richard's a bit too distracted by Lamia's looks to realize the ominous undertones to her flirtation. It almost costs him his life when she tries draining his life-force with a kiss.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Richard has recurring dreams of being in a maze facing the Beast of London.
  • The Everyman: Richard really isn't anything special (though Serpentine recognizes him as a Hero).
  • Genre Blindness: It takes him a few days to catch on, protesting that all these things are just Tube Stations!
  • Good Samaritan: He's eager to help people. This is the reason why he was drawn into the events of London Below.
  • The Hero's Journey: Richard leaves the familiar world (London Above) thanks to the Herald (Door). He learns to navigate the unfamiliar world of adventure (London Below). He grows, and finds he's stronger than he thought he was (he goes through an ordeal, slays a monster). At the end, he returns to his normal world then changes his mind.
  • Home Sweet Home: Triple subversionat the end, when Richard asks about going home, the Marquis says they can't do that—this isn't the Wizard of Oz. But then it turns out they can send him home, and he goes. After being home for a day, he changes his mind and decides to return to London Below.
  • I Choose to Stay: Double subversionfor a minute it seems like Richard might decide to stay, but then he goes home. After being back for a day, he changes his mind and returns.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Richard is the only person in history to claim the key to all of reality by surviving the third ordeal unscathed. He then plans on handing it over to Islington, the angel the key was meant to be protected from. Though, to be fair, neither he nor Door knew why it was being guarded.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Richard saves Door from dying on the street. And his reward? Being turned into an Unperson.
  • Red Baron: By the end, he's known as The Warrior, for killing The Beast of London.
  • Stranger in a Familiar Land: At the end of the book, when Richard finally managed to return back to the London Above, he finds it hard to fit in to a normal life again. Being unable to stand this, he manages to find a way back.
  • Supporting Protagonist: Richard is the main character; Door is The Hero.
  • Unfazed Everyman: After a day or so, he stops protesting impossible things and just starts accepting them, though he still doesn't really understand.
  • Unkempt Beauty: He has Messy Hair, and in the book he's described as having "a rumpled, just woken up look to him, which just made him more attractive"
  • Unperson: After he had helped Door, no one could remember him. They also could barely notice him, unless Richard really tried to gain their attention. And even then it's really minimal.
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    Lady Door 

The Lady Door

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/neverwheredoor.jpg
Played by: Laura Fraser (Television), Natalie Dormer (Radio)

The daughter of a noble family in London Below who're famous for their power to "open" anything, not just doors. Door finds herself the sole surviving member of her family after their slaughter at the hands of Croup and Vandemar. Her attempt to open a door to someplace "safe" leads her to Richard Mayhew.


  • Blue Blood: Door's family is among the nobility of London Below.
  • Harbinger of Impending Doom: When she shows up on the street in front of Richard, bleeding profusely.
  • Healing Factor: Her entire family has one to some degree. Not instant, but she recovers from a bad knife wound almost overnight.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: How useful would it be to open a door anywhere? Maybe inside your assassin's chest, critically wounding him or making the villains be Dragged Off to Hell.
  • The Hero: Though Serpentine would disagree.
  • Inelegant Blubbering: Much as the Marquis may protest, it's reasonable considering her family was massacred.
  • Kaleidoscope Eyes: Her multicolored eyes are mentioned almost every time she's described. What color they actually are isn't really mentioned, as they seem to constantly be changing.
  • Lethal Harmless Powers: She can open a door anywhere, like in your chest. Or to anywhere, like Hell.
  • MacGuffin Super Person: Why do you think her family, with their ability to open doors anywhere, were hunted down?
  • Messy Hair: As a result of her travels through the sewer, it's unkempt to the point that Richard wasn't sure of her hair color.
  • Mysterious Waif: Perhaps the ultimate example; an unnamed, oddly dressed girl appears from nowhere, bleeding and begging for help, which kicks off the adventure.
  • The Not-Love Interest: Door fills the role of the Magical Girlfriend, but she and Richard don't get together in the scope of the story. Lampshaded near the end, when Jess asks Richard if he met someone else. He hesitates, thinks about it for a moment, then says earnestly, "No." He's not leaving Jess because of Door, but because of himself.
    Jessica: Did you meet someone?
    Richard: [thinks for a moment] No. no one. I've just... changed, that's all.
  • Open and Shut: The whole family can open pretty much anything.
  • Our Doors Are Different: If she opens them.
  • Rummage Sale Reject: Her clothes are an odd mix of laces, velvets, and an oversized leather coat.
  • Sole Survivor: She's the last living member of her family after Croup and Vandemar killed them all. Or so she thinks, they spared her little sister, Ingress, because their employer initially wanted to use her for his plans.
  • Theme Naming: Her family—Portico, Portia, Ingress, Arch, and Door.
  • Vague Age: It's unclear exactly how old Door is throughout the book, mostly because Gaiman hadn't nailed down her exact age while writing. There are times Richard shifts from seeing her as a kid and a young woman.
  • You Killed My Father: In addition to protection from her family's killers, she's also out for vengeance against them. She gets it when she sends Croup, Vandemar and their employer, Islington, through a door to either Hell, or somewhere just as unpleasant.

    Marquis de Carabas 

The Marquis de Carabas

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/neverwheremarquis.jpg
Played by: Paterson Joseph (Television), David Harewood (Radio)

A roguish trickster that Door seeks out for help. Though he's been recruited to help Door survive and avenge her family's death, he doesn't work for free and trades in "favors." Very intelligent and helpful, his outright admission to be out for his own self-interest makes it difficult for him to be trusted.


  • Always Someone Better: As shown in the short story How The Marquis Got His Coat Back, his older brother Peregrine seems to be this for him. They're similar in many ways, but the Marquis seems to both emulate and resent him.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: His skin is jet black in the Comic-Book Adaptation.
  • Ambiguously Evil: In the beginning, it's unclear just whose side he's really on, and if Door is right to put her trust in him. She is.
  • Animal Motifs: Fittingly for a trickster who took his name from Puss in Boots, the Marquis is associated with cats.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: He's a marquis (an aristocrat), and while he's certainly not a villainous character, he's "a little dodgy in the same way the ocean is a little wet".
  • Back from the Dead: About halfway through, he's tortured to death by Croup and Vandemar, but by the end he's been brought back thanks to his Soul Jar.
  • Badass Longcoat: An iconic item on the Marquis. There's an entire story devoted to him getting it after it was taken from his dead body.
  • Big Brother Worship: He decided as a child that he did not want to grow up to be like his big brother Peregrine. Instead, the Marquis wanted to be "elegant, elusive, brilliant, and, above all things, he wanted to be unique. Just like Peregrine."
  • Chessmaster Sidekick: Casually snags what turns out to be an important trinket from Portico's study; it's a totem of the Beast Islington gave him, pulls an impressive Thanatos Gambit on Croup and Vandemar, and is generally awesome.
  • Con Man: He's a talented schemer and deceiver who manipulates others for his own gain.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Everything from a Soul Jar to a convenient bit of fruitcake.
  • Debt Detester: He loves it when people owe him favors, but he hates it when he's the one who owes someone else. He's slightly distressed when he realizes he's become indebted to Old Bailey and the real reason he's helping Door is because her father saved his life and de Carabas never got to pay him back.
  • Doctor Whomage: Gaiman says in the commentary that the concept behind this character was a black Doctor Who. Interestingly, his actor was considered a likely candidate to replace David Tennant as The Doctor and played Rodrick in the episodes, Bad Wolf and The Parting of The Ways.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Evil may be a bit of a stretch, but he's certainly self-interested and sketchy and, in the words of Portico, "might even be a bit of a monster." However, despite his bad qualities, he has an older brother that he both resents and cares about.
  • Evil Chancellor: Richard explicitly compares him to a grand vizier.
    Richard: I'm wandering around with a girl called Door, her bodyguard, and her psychotic grand vizier.
  • The Gadfly: The Marquis really does enjoy pushing other people's buttons. Sometimes it's light-hearted, other times it's disturbingly cruel. According to his narration, he created his identity, from his outfit to his personality, as an elaborate joke to prank a world he believes wants to be deceived.
  • I Owe You My Life: The honest reason he's helping Door. Her father, Portico, saved his life, and the Marquis was never able to pay him back prior to his death.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: It's very well hidden but it's there such as when he comes to Richard's rescue when Lamia's feeding on him or admits he's helping Door because he owed her father with a debt he couldn't repay.
  • Lack of Empathy: The Marquis isn't that great at empathy. He doesn't really know what to do when Door breaks down crying while processing her family's death, and he mocks Richard mercilessly about his highly probable death now that he's part of London Below.
  • The Lancer: Door is noble, Richard is good (though helpless), the Marquis is just kind of a selfish prick.
  • Lovable Traitor: Played with. Is he? Isn't he? He's a Wild Card.
  • Loveable Rogue: Played with. Is he? Isn't he? He's a Wild Card.
  • Meaningful Name: He's named for a character in Puss in Boots, which name he chose and styled himself after.
  • Only in It for the Money: Or, rather, he's only it for the "really big favor" that Door will owe him for his help, or so he claims. He seems to deal exclusively in favors he gets from others.
  • Race Lift: A bit of a weird example. On the show, and in the book, he was portrayed as a black man, and a black man voiced him on the radio. But in the comic adaptation, his hair and lips seemed those of a white person, while the rest of his face was actually the colour black.
  • Red Herring Mole: The bit in the middle when he meets with Croup and Vandemar is intended to make you think he might be their mysterious employer. He isn't.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Though not nearly as bad as Croup, he's willing to talk, and talk fancy.
  • The Smart Guy: He's the first one to figure out the plot, thanks to some clever gambits and some little bits and pieces the audience won't notice the first time around.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: He becomes less cruel and callous in the final parts of the book. Dying seems to have had a profound effect on him.
  • Wild Card: Given his self-interested nature, it's hard to pin down whose side de Carabas is on other than his own. Despite being out for himself, Door was right to trust him.
  • You Owe Me: He deals in favors. Those he deals with usually regret it.

    Hunter 

Hunter

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/neverwhere_hunter.jpg
Played by: Tanya Moodie (Television), Sophie Okonedo (Radio)

A living legend in London Below, Hunter is stoic warrior and hunter who earned her reputation through slaying the deadliest monsters to inhabit the underground. When Door is hunted by Croup and Vandemar, Hunter is hired on as her bodyguard.


  • Action Girl: She's the deadliest fighter on the heroes' side, able to effortlessly beat down a towering Psycho for Hire. That's not even mentioning her career choice of hunting the worst monsters prowling London Below.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Though mortally wounded, her reaction to realizing the one to slay the infamous Beast of London is Richard Mayhew causes her to burst out laughing before she dies.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Neil Gaiman was disappointed in the choice of actress, saying he wanted Hunter to be the most beautiful woman you'd ever seen and write her as such in the novelization.
  • Almost Dead Guy: In the labyrinth, her first tangle with the Beast ends with her trampled underfoot and mortally wounded. She summons the willpower to get up again, face a second charge while Richard delivers the fatal blow, and then survives long enough to deliver some last words.
  • Ambiguously Brown: She's described as "caramel" at points in the book, but her exact background isn't even alluded to.
  • Ambiguously Gay/Word of Gay: Her dealings with Serpentine in the past, along with the memory of her giving a pelt to a girl "who caught her eye" who is then described as being "appropriately grateful" (ie, probably slept with her). Gaiman has said two of the characters in the story are gay, and she seems like a likely bet, but this isn't confirmed in the story.
  • Animal Stereotypes: She's associated with a lioness.
  • Big Eater: Best shown when the group is having dinner at Serpentine's and Hunter demolishes all the food in front of her.
  • The Big Guy: She's the muscle for the group during their travels, and her passion is monster hunting.
  • Bodyguard Betrayal: Just before the labyrinth, it's revealed that Islington hired her before Door did. Hunter willingly hands Door over to Croup and Vandemar in exchange for the only spear that can kill the Beast of London.
  • Dark-Skinned Redhead: Not on the show, though.
  • Death Equals Redemption: After betraying Door to Islington in exchange for the spear that can kill the Beast of London, Hunter ends up mortally wounded by the Beast. She admits what she did was wrong and willingly sacrifices herself to give Richard a chance to slay the monster and save Door.
  • Egomaniac Hunter: All Hunter really cares about is the thrill of the hunt. She betrays Door because she can't pass up the opportunity to slay the infamous Beast of London.
  • Face Death with Dignity: She displays no fear after being mortally wounded. After helping Richard slay the Beast, she spends her final moments giving him her knife and educating him on the proper etiquette for a hunter after their kill.
  • Faux Action Girl: For a supposedly great hunter, her strategy in hunting the beast was basically just to stand there, let it charge her, and stab it. The plan fails, but, to her credit, her narration reveals similar strategies worked before, and she is able to tell Richard the exact moment to strike when the Beast charges again.
  • Hunter of Monsters: It's where she got her name. She's hunted and killed a fifteen-foot weasel beneath Bangkok, a blind alligator king in the sewers of New York, a bear under Berlin, and a black tiger in Calcutta's undercity, which she killed with her bare hands. Now she's set her eyes on slaying the Beast of London.
  • Instant Waking Skills: She's able to go from a deep sleep to awake in seconds after hearing Door make a noise in her sleep.
  • Living Legend: Tales of Hunter's exploits make her a legend in London Below. At one point, a jester is horrified when he finds out her identity because he almost made a joke at her expense.
  • Mistaken for Prostitute: Richard thinks she's a hooker. Of course, it helps that she told him that she "rents her body".
  • Mysterious Past: Relatively little is known about Hunter's life other than the legends of her hunting exploits. All that's known for sure is that she's Older Than She Looks and she once worked for Lady Serpentine and the rest of the Seven Sisters, doing who knows what.
  • The Mole: Revealed in the labyrinth. She was working for Islington the entire time and only wanted a magic spear so she could go after the Beast. She does regret her actions and willingly gives her life to atone.
  • Nothing Personal: After her treachery is revealed, she lets out a guilty, "No hard feelings."
  • Older Than They Look: Hunter is implied to be much older than she looks if some of the legends about her are anything to go by, with Serpentine saying Hunter aged much more gracefully than herself. When Door finds out Hunter worked for all the Seven Sisters thirty years ago, she finally asks how old she is, only for Hunter to dodge the question.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: She acted as Islington's spy, but only for a chance to slay the Beast of London. She's not a monster like Croup and Vandemar, and ends up regretting and atoning for her actions.
  • The Stoic: As Richard notes in his narration, Hunter displays little emotion outside effortless competence or tolerant amusement. It makes the one time she displays any vulnerability all the more shocking to him.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Despite her amazing fighting prowess, Hunter is incapable of venturing into London Above, unlike every other resident of London Below.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: In-Universe example. Richard (in the novel, at least) can't figure out if she's American, Canadian, African, Australian, or Indian. The fact she's travelled a lot doesn't help matters.

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London Below

Residents

    Angel Islington 

The Angel Islington

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/angelislington.jpg
Played by: Peter Capaldi (Television), Benedict Cumberbatch (Radio)

An angel who has been charged with keeping watch over London Below. It was in contact with Door's father prior to his death, and her father's final message to her daughter says the angel can help her.


  • Above Good and Evil: As revealed at the end, it doesn't view itself as bound by traditional morality.
    Mr. Croup: He's traveled so far beyond right and wrong he couldn't see them with a telescope on a nice clear night.
  • Ambiguous Gender: It's an angel, and no one objects to calling it "it".
  • Big Bad: As we learn about two-thirds of the way through, he's Croup and Vandemar's employer, and his entire scheme revolves around manipulating Door into letting him back into heaven.
  • Dissonant Serenity: It always speaks in tones of calm civility even while ordering torture and executions. Though it loses that serenity a few times.
  • Dragged Off to Hell: Door sends it to the place furthest from Heaven at the end when she opens the door meant to take it home.
  • Evil Is Petty: It's implied the reason it had Door's entire family murdered is because Portico laughed at it when it suggested Portico use his powers to send it back home.
  • The Exile: It's been exiled from Heaven in retribution for sinking Atlantis. It's meant to watch over London Below as penance, but it plans on going home early.
  • Fallen Angel: Islington was charged with watching over Atlantis. It sank the city instead and was punished by exile from Heaven. It's meant to watch over London Below as penance, but it plans on breaking back into Heaven instead. As the Marquis de Carabas notes, when angels go bad, they go really bad.
  • Faux Affably Evil: It's fairly polite, puts on a show of being unable to stomach violence, and it always speaks in a tone that sound compassionate and loving. In reality, it has no regard for human life or remorse for his atrocities.
  • Godhood Seeker: It plans on overthrowing God and ruling Heaven as the new deity worshipped by creation. This definitely speaks to Islington's ego given that it somehow plans on doing this singlehandedly.
  • Light Is Not Good: It wears pure white and can even lights up candles just by walking by them. It also sank Atlantis, had Door's family murdered, and is planning on taking over heaven.
  • Manipulative Bastard: It pretends to be an ally to trick Door into willingly retrieving the key it needs to get back into Heaven.
  • Not So Above It All: After spending most of its time acting otherworldly, it sings "Cheek to Cheek" as it anticipates finally returning to Heaven.
  • Our Angels Are Different: To begin with, most don't live in subway stations. Or Islington.
  • Psychopathic Man Child: At the end, it seems childishly confused when Door accuses it of killing her father, replying uncertainly "I didn't kill your father. I had him killed." Its temper tantrums also fit this trope. It's essentially a spoiled brat from the dawn of creation who's pissed off he was exiled after committing genocide.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: In the author's preferred text, after expressing a desire for godhood and waxing lyrical about how it'll reward the faithful and cast down those that are hateful in its sight, it mutters under its breath, "Bloody Gabriel, for a start."
  • Tautological Templar: Its reaction to being called out on drowning millions of men, women and children when it sank Atlantis is a self-righteous, "They deserved it!" Even centuries of exile has not caused it to reconsider, and it still sees itself as justified in all its crimes.
  • Villainous Breakdown: It starts when the Marquis implies Islington sank Atlantis causing the angel's benevolent facade to finally crack and show the madness beneath as it shrieks, "They deserved it!" The mask is gone completely when Door tricks him by opening a door to hell and it goes from pure rage to impotent pleading before its death.
  • Walking Spoiler: Because its fate is central to the Big Bad's motives.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: He orders Croup and Vandemar to kill Door, Richard and the Marquis as soon as he's back in Heaven.
  • Your Heart's Desire: It agrees to help Door find who killed her parents, and get Richard home. And get Hunter that spear. And it does tell Door who killed her parents, and why. As for Richard, finding the way home was kind of incidental to its own goals, so, technically...

    Old Bailey 

Old Bailey

Played by: Trevor Peacock (Television), Bernard Cribbins (Radio)

An associate of the Marquis de Carabas who has become indebted to him. He spends most of his time on rooftops along with his birds.


  • Cannot Tell a Joke: The narration tells the reader that Old Bailey is not, intrinsically, one of those people put in the world to tell jokes. In spite of that, he does it anyway. He specializes in shaggy dog stories and explaining the joke to his birds, who seemingly do find them amusing.
  • Cool Old Guy: He's a pretty nice old man, and one of the few people who treat Richard well even when he's just a lost nobody.
  • Fluffy Fashion Feathers: Bailey wears an outfit made of feathers.
  • Homeless Pigeon Person: Old Bailey spends most of his time on rooftops talking and joking with the rooks and starlings and other birds.
  • Knowledge Broker: In addition to bird meat, he also sells information at the Floating Market. He ends up being knowledgable enough that the Marquis de Carabas visits him to find out more about the Beast of London.
  • Let's Meet the Meat: Just because he can understand what birds are saying that doesn't mean he won't sell and eat rook meat himself.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: He can understand exactly what his birds are saying. Rats too but a lot of people in London Below seem to have that gift.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: What his relationship to the Marquis de Carabas resembles. When he first sees the Marquis, Old Bailey wants him gone, but he ends up genuinely saddened when he finds the Marquis dead.
  • You Owe Me: He owes the Marquis de Carabas a favor, so he ends up holding onto a silver box for him which Bailey is keen to be rid of. It turns out the box contains the Marquis's Soul Jar, which Bailey uses to resurrect him following his murder.

    Anaesthesia 

Anaesthesia

Played by: Amy Marston (Television), Yasmin Paige (Radio)

A girl who once lived in London Above before a life of suffering drove her underground where she became a member of the rat-speakers.


  • Broken Bird: Despite her young age, she explains the facts of life of London Below with the worldweary cynicism of someone who's already been beaten down by life and expects the worse.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Her necklace, specifically the bead that Richard picks up after Anaesthesia was taken by the darkness.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Her mother went insane and she was taken away from her and separated from her twin brothers. Her aunt took her in only for her boyfriend to physically and sexually abuse her. When she told her aunt what he was doing, she called her a liar and beat her as well. She ran away when she was eleven. It was her birthday.
  • Domestic Abuse: When she went to live with her aunt, her aunt's boyfriend physically and sexually abused her. She told her aunt about it, but her aunt called her a liar and started hitting her too.
  • Kill the Cutie: She disappears when traveling through the darkness over the Night's Bridge with Richard. It's ambiguous if she's dead or not, but Hunter believes she's just as good as. Others mention the possibility she may come back someday, as others have.
  • Rape as Drama: Her abuse at the hands of her aunt's boyfriend, which caused her to run away.
  • The Runaway: She ran away from home when her aunt refused to believe her claims about her boyfriend and started beating her as well.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: She gets a little characterization and reveals her backstory only to seemingly die shortly after being introduced. Her death illustrates to Richard just how dangerous London Below is.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Richard keeps one of the quartz beads that makes up her necklace after her possible death. Richard holding it during his ordeal for the key helps save his life. He even hears her voice telling him to hold on.
  • Uncertain Doom: Though she seemingly dies on the Night's Bridge, others make mention that those who disappear in the darkness sometimes return, leaving the possibility that Anaesthesia might still be alive.

    Lady Serpentine 

Lady Serpentine

Played by: Julie T. Wallace (Television)

A feared noblewoman in London Below. She's one of Hunter's former employers and is the second eldest of the mysterious Seven Sisters.


  • Amazon Brigade: Seems to employ women exclusively.
  • Ambiguously Evil: Door is utterly terrified when she finds out they're in Serpentine's territory. Later she says that parents in London Below tell their children stories about her like she's a monster. Despite her fearsome reputation, Serpentine never gets up to anything sinister in the book.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Her staff is all female and her previous relationship with Hunter is highly suggestive.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Her reputation is certainly sinister, but how much is true is unclear.
  • The Dreaded: Door's initial reaction to being in Serpentine's territory—even after finding out Hunter is old friends with her—is utter terror. She later says, when parents in the Underside want their children to behave, they warn them Serpentine will take them away otherwise.
  • Due to the Dead: Serpentine is the one to retrieve Hunter's body after she's killed by the Beast of London.
  • Genre Savvy: She's lived long enough to be able to recognize "heroes" when she sees them—something about their eyes—and claims that Richard is Door's.
  • Iron Lady: She's a ruthless, tough-as-nails noblewoman with a dark reputation.
  • Light Is Not Good: She's a foreboding figure who dresses all in white.
  • Never Mess with Granny: She's over a hundred years old and her hair is starting to gray, but she is not someone to trifle with.
  • Sacred Hospitality: When Richard and Door express skepticism about a restorative she offers the former, Serpentine says she wouldn't give them anything that would harm him while they're her guests.
  • Speak Ill of the Dead: She held Door's father in contempt for his idea to unite the Underside, and when she finds out he's dead moments after expressing this, she's satisfied with the news.
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The Old Firm

    Joint Tropes 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/croupandvandemar.jpg

A horrifying pair of assassins infamous for the atrocities they've committed across time and creation. Though opposites in terms of personality, they possess a shared love of death, destruction and all things macabre. Their most recent job was the total slaughter of Door's family.


  • Ax-Crazy: Both of them are psychopaths who delight in carnage and suffering.
  • Bad Boss: They hire Ross just to use him as canon fodder and when Varney fails the task they assign him, they literally rip him apart.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: Both of them have amusing qualities, coming either from their interactions between each other or their Dead Baby Comedy antics. However, Mr. Croup flat-out says that just because they're amusing doesn't mean that they aren't a danger. He tells the Marquis de Carabas this before the pair torture him to death.
  • Brains and Brawn: Mr. Croup has the brains, and Mr. Vandemar has the brawn.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: They're pure evil and they know it. In fact, they take pride in the fact that they don't have any redeeming qualities.
  • Co-Dragons: They're partners so they're of equal rank while working for their employers.
  • The Dividual: Syndividual type. They're polar opposites in terms of looks and demeanor, but they both possess the same sadism and each makes up for the others deficiencies. They seem like two halves of the same monster.
  • Dragged Off to Hell: When Door opens a door as far away from Heaven as possible to kill Islington, both Croup and Vandemar are also sucked in after their boss, presumably to their doom.
  • The Dreaded: Everyone that knows about Croup and Vandemar is horrified of them, and for good reason. They're touted as the deadliest assassins in all of space and time, and that might not be an exaggeration.
  • Flash Step: Both Croup and Vandemar are somehow capable of teleporting. One second they'll be in one place, the next they'll be right behind someone who has no clue how they got there.
  • The Heavy: Since their employer is hidden for most of the novel, Croup and Vandemar are the ones left moving the plot along by following their boss's orders.
  • Hero Killer: They are quite possibly two of the deadliest beings in the whole of creation, torturing an entire monastery to death before moving on to wipe out Door's family. Anybody who tries to fight them in any capacity finds themselves effortlessly outmatched.
  • Historical Rap Sheet: According to Croup, the pair of them burned down the city of Troy, brought the Black Plague to Flanders, assassinated a dozen kings, five popes, half a hundred heroes and two accredited gods.
  • Humanoid Abomination: They're human shaped, but we don't know what they really are.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: They eat a lot of things, most people wouldn't. It's also implied they're not above eating most people. Best not to think about what happened to Varney.
  • Inexplicably Awesome: There's no explanation for just what they are or how they're capable of teleporting and traveling through time.
  • Mister X and Mister Y: They're only ever referred to as Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar. They don't seem to have first names.
  • Mysterious Mercenary Pursuer: We don't know who hired them or why until the end.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Both of them delight in murder, torture, destruction, and all things dark and macabre.
  • Odd Couple: One is foxy, clever and loves big words. The one is wolfish, brutish and loves eating. They're also both pure evil.
  • Psycho for Hire: Both of them are mercenaries and they take exceptional pride in the violence and bloodshed their work entails. In fact, they get angry when their employer starts putting limitations on their work so that they can't torture and kill as much as they like.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Mr. Croup is the red to Mr. Vandemar's blue. The former waxes eloquent, emotes more often, and has a very short fuse, while the latter remains calm at all times, even in the face of oblivion.
  • Self-Mutilation Demonstration: A variant in which Croup stabs Vandemar's hand:
    "Oh, Mister Vandemar," [Mr. Croup] said, enjoying the sound of the words, as he enjoyed the sound of all words, "if you cut us, do we not bleed?"
    Mr. Vandemar pondered this for a moment, in the dark. Then he said, with perfect accuracy, "No."
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: They may do as their employer instructs, but that doesn't mean they like him. They both grouse behind his back at the restrictions he places on their work, to the point Vandemar suggests torturing him once they've finished their work. When Islington tries to bail on them without paying their fee, the only reason they don't attack him is because Door ends up killing all of them before they get the chance.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: One is never seen without the other and they have the standard back-and-forth dialogue where they refer to each other as Mister X and Mister Y.
  • Torture Technician: The pair of them enjoy torture just as much as they do murder, and, according to Mr. Croup, they are exceptionally skilled at the "excrutiatory arts." They crucify and torture the Marquis de Carabas to death for fun halfway through the book.
  • Unflinching Walk: They don't so much as chase their prey as they do casually stroll after them. Given that they're capable of outright teleporting, they likely just enjoy toying with their victims.

    Mr. Croup 

Mr. Croup

Played by: Hywel Bennett (Television), Anthony Head (Radio)

The foxy, oily-voiced half of the Old Firm. A sadist who loves inflicting pain almost as much as he loves the sound of his own voice, he's the brains to Vandemar's brawn.


  • Animal Stereotypes: Foxes. He's the shorter and smarter half of his partnership but not as clever as he thinks.
  • British Teeth: His teeth are described as "an accident in a graveyard."
  • Evil Redhead: In keeping with his fox motif, he's a psychopath with lank, red hair.
  • Extreme Omnivore: He even eats Tang dynasty china.
  • Faux Affably Evil: He's somewhat polite, but it's undercut by a current of really, really creepy evil. It falls flat since he's so obviously threatening everyone he talks to.
  • Horrifying the Horror: Even though he's one of the most terrifying creatures in existence, when walking through the labyrinth where the Beast of London is housed, Door is pleased to note he's terrified of it.
  • Jerkass: Though Mr. Vandemar can hardly be called a saint, he's more blunt and impersonal in his sadism, while Mr. Croup acts more personally malicious and insulting towards his victims.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness/Delusions of Eloquence: He really loves to talk, regardless if the word applies or not, or if he has to make a word up to get his point across.
  • Shorter Means Smarter: Vandemar's the big one and Croup's depicted as smarter than him.
  • Wicked Cultured: He waxes eloquent about a piece of Tang dynasty china, about how it brings joy and beauty into the world, about how it's an exemplar of superb craftsmanship. Then he messily devours it.

    Mr. Vandemar 

Mr. Vandemar

Played by: Clive Russell (Television), David Schofield (Radio)

The wolfish, brutish half of the Old Firm. He isn't as intelligent or verbose as his partner, but that makes him no less deadly. He possesses both a monstrous nature and appetite.


  • Animal Stereotypes: He's associated with being a wolf. Not only does he have a keen sense of smell, he outright howls when on the hunt.
  • Big Eater: Rats, pigeons, puppies, Varney. Whatevs.
  • Brutal Honesty: While Mr. Croup talks in circles, Mr. Vandemar is more direct when voicing what's on his mind.
  • The Comically Serious: A lot of Vandemar's comedy comes from a combination of his literal mindedness, disturbed thought processes and his sheer earnestness.
    Mr. Croup: What do you want?
    Marquis de Carabas: What does anyone want?
    Mr. Vandemar: Dead things. Extra teeth.
  • Creepy Souvenir: The rings on his hand are made of raven skulls.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Though he mostly eats animals, he's not too picky about which ones he eats. Or if they're still alive.
  • Faux Affably Evil: He'll occasionally pipe up with a comment every now and then, and act like it's insightful and helpful to whomever he's speaking to. The actual content of these comments tend to be macabre and horrifying, and the person he's speaking to is usually someone he's either about to kill, or wants to kill.
  • Literal-Minded: He tends to take things literally, which also means he has a habit of answering rhetorical questions.
    Mr. Croup: If you cut us, do we not bleed?
    Mr. Vandemar: ... No.
  • Obi-Wan Moment: Seeing Croup being Dragged Off to Hell, Vandemar simply shrugs, bids the protagonists "Buh-bye," and lets go of the table leg he was holding on to, following his partner into oblivion.
  • Voice Changeling: He's able to make a perfect impression of Portico's voice that fools even his daughter.

London Above

    Jessica Bartram 

Jessica Bartram

Played by: Elizabeth Marmur (Television), Romola Garai (Radio)

Richard's fiancée, a cultured socialite with a controlling streak.


  • All Take and No Give: It's clear that she prioritizes her own goals and interests over Richard's, and would rather change him than accept him as he is.
  • Control Freak: The narration makes it clear that—despite Richard and Jessica believing they love each other—Jessica really views him as a "matrimonial accessory" and she's constantly trying to change him into a more ambitious, cultured person that she believes she's entitled to.
  • Disposable Fiancée: Richard is engaged to Jessica in the beginning of the novel but she breaks off the engagement after he blows off their dinner plans with her boss to save Door instead. Richard spends the rest of the novel trying to get back his old life, including her, only to reject her in the end after he realizes he's changed.
  • Ice Queen: Jessica isn't exactly warm and fuzzy. She doesn't even let Richard call her "Jess" since she hates pet names. Her final scene with Richard where they don't get back together, has her show a softer side.
  • Jerkass: She really doesn't treat Richard all that well, and his friend Garry's comments imply others are scared of her. Even Door can't think of anything nice to say when she sees her for the first time.
  • Lack of Empathy: Her first reaction to a bleeding and dying homeless girl collapsing in front of her and Richard is to walk over her and refuse to help. It's unclear how much is due to the Weirdness Censor the people of London Above possess and how much it's just callousness, but given her treatment of both Richard and a regular homeless man, it seems empathy isn't her strong suit.
  • Not So Above It All: At one point, while Richard is still an Unperson but Jessica is able to detect him without remembering him, he trolls her by mentioning her habit of singing "I'm a Believer" while in the throes of passionate lovemaking.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Though the marriage never takes places, Jessica's parents drop pretty strong hints that they don't think Richard is good enough for their daughter. For example, flat-out telling him that to his face.
  • Rich Bitch: She comes from a wealthy family, has a high paying job, and loves shopping, but she's also pretty callous and self-centered.
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