- Arch-Enemy: The Italians, and to a lesser extent, the Latinos. In Seasons 3 and 4, it becomes anyone who isn't black as well as the Muslims.
- Being Good Sucks: Redding's attempt to reform the group, by switching them from selling drugs to working a phone bank for pay, is kind of an unpleasant experience for everyone involved.
- Gang Bangers: Most of them fit into this archetype, save for Adebisi and Paul Markstrom.
- Scary Black Man: Adebisi and Malcolm Coyle.
- Token Good Teammate: Jefferson Keane, Poet, Augustus Hill in Season 1, before he became part of The Others.
The original leader of the Homeboys. A deeply troubled man, he converts to Islam after meeting Kareem Said.
- The Atoner: When he converts to Islam, he actively tries to work against the drug trade that he set up.
- Being Evil Sucks: His conversion to Islam is motivated by him finally getting sick of the thug life.
- Being Good Sucks: Though his conversion to Islam brought him inner peace, it lost control of his gang to the maniacal Adebisi.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: His love for his family helps drive his desire to turn his life around.
- HeelFace Door-Slam: He does achieve a kind of redemption, but just as things are going well, he's manipulated toward a death sentence.
- Heroic Sacrifice: He allows himself to be executed in an attempt to end the brewing war between the Homeboys and Italians. It works, but not for long.
- Redemption Equals Death: Immediately after he resolves to be a better person he's set up to be killed by the Italians.
- The Stoic: Especially when compared to Adebisi or Johnny Post.
A 16-year-old inmate who quickly becomes a member of the Homeboys.
- Asshole Victim: He literally becomes one to Adebisi. He later winds up getting killed by his bullying victim Guillaume Tarrant.
- The Baby of the Bunch: Explicitly in Season 1, where Said and Keane compete over what his path should be, and discuss how young and impressionable he is.
- Big Bad Wannabe: He tries to convince others to call him 'Bricks', acts like a big shot, and thinks he's a badass. In reality, he's a pathetic pawn of more powerful inmates.
- The Bully: With the the weaker inmates, he acts like he's the big kid on the playground. Heck, the way he torments Guillaume Tarrant looks exactly like school bullying. Unfortunately for him, Oz is no playground, and all of the other kids are much bigger.
- Butt-Monkey: To Adebisi. Literally in some cases.
- Do Not Call Me "Paul": Demands that the other inmates call him "Bricks". They do not.
- Evil Is Petty: Hell yeah, it is. He's in jail for killing another kid over his jacket.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Twice over. In season 2, he murdered Adebisi's mentor Jara, thereby derailing the closest thing Adebisi ever had to a HeelFace Turn. Cue Season 4 when Adebisi decides to set his Evil Plan in motion. He quite purposely gives the contraband gun to Wangler's bullying victim Tarrant, then sits back and waits for the inevitable.
- Karmic Death: He ends up getting shot by Guillaume Tarrant, the man he bullied mercilessly. Even better, he's killed over a pair of shoes, almost exactly the motivation for his original murder.
- Mugging the Monster: Starts in on Guillaume Tarrant about his shoes yet again. Fails to realize Tarrant has been secretly given a gun by Adebisi.
- The Napoleon: He's a short dude, who talks tough and nicknames himself "Bricks" to try and compensate.
- Papa Wolf: Has his wife and her lover murdered when he learns that they've been abusing his baby boy.
- Smug Snake: His default attitude is unjustified swagger. All it does is get his ass kicked. Repeatedly.
- The Sociopath: Despite the best efforts of the prison staff, he ends up being a monstrous little creature. His reaction to the murder of his wife (which he ordered from prison)? He fakes grief in front of McManus, and when he's out of earshot, he starts laughing uproariously like it was some kind of joke.
- Start of Darkness: His entire arc is his slide into true evil; McManus tries and fails to save him from becoming just another psychopathic hooligan.
- Tagalong Kid: Literally, as he is only sixteen when he first joins the Homeboys.
- Teens Are Monsters: He's a murderer at the age of 16. And he only gets worse from there.
- Unwitting Pawn: He's set up to be gunned down as part of Adebisi's plot to incite a race war in Em City.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: He seems to have a brighter future ahead of him once McManus starts to make him go to class... Then Adebisi forces him to stop going and he becomes worse than he ever was before.
Arnold "Poet" Jackson
A high-ranked Homeboy who writes and performs poetry.
- Ascended Extra: Starts off as a bit character in Season 1 before becoming one of the principal cast members.
- Chronic Villainy: He's granted early release and gets his poetry published. Then he spends all of the money on drugs and gets shipped back to Oz after shooting his dealer.
- Deadpan Snarker: Especially when high.
- Faux Affably Evil: Zigzagged; He can be genuinely friendly and good-natured, but he gradually loses any real redeeming qualities.
- Greek Chorus: His main role in Season 1 before becoming Adebisi's Number Two.
- His Name Really Is "Barkeep": In the first season, he was only shown in cameos performing in the canteen, and credited simply as "poet" as a common noun. When he was ascended the writers decided that "Poet" was his street name.
- Inadequate Inheritor: Briefly leads the Homeboys after Adebisi's death. But is clearly not cut out for the job, and quickly bows knee to Redding when he takes over.
- Inspired by...: His brief period of freedom in the second season is inspired by the story of Jack Abbott, a real-life jailhouse writer who was paroled after a campaign by literary admirers, but killed a man in a trivial altercation after only six weeks of freedom and was returned to prison for life.
- Kill It with Water: He survives an attempt by Adebisi to kill him with boiling water.
- Ungrateful Bastard: To Kareem Said, who went out on a limb to get him released.
A half-crazed Vietnam vet who ran the streets where Augustus Hill grew up in, and acted as a foster father to the boy. He eventually controls the Homeboys post-Adebisi. A lot of what befalls Augustus is Burr's fault.
- The Atoner: After Augustus is killed.
- Badass Grandpa: Even the younger Homeboys were terrified of him.
- Beard of Evil: Not evil, per se. But he is a career criminal and is responsible for Hill's drug addiction.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: He at one point uses LSD as a weapon against one of his rivals.Redding: It's a miiiiind-fuck!
- Hanging Judge: Burr Redding adopts this role for himself when he kills Tugg Daniels for conspiring against him with Supreme Allah, holding a mock trial before "sentencing" him.Redding: I believe every man deserves a fair trail... before the execution.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: He was in love with Hill's mother, but she married Redding's best friend.
- Jerkass: Even to Hill, his surrogate son. He mellows out a bit over time, but not by much.
- Large Ham: Enough to turn most of his lines into either a crowning moment of funny or a demonstration of his badassery (and sometimes both).
- Papa Wolf: Redding's out for blood when he discovers someone has gotten Hill back on drugs.
- Parental Substitute: To Augustus.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Downplayed; he was pretty rough even before Vietnam, but killing women and small children certainly didn't help.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: His attempts to get the Homeboys to stop selling drugs are a bit... extreme, to say the least.
An unstable homeboy and drug addict.
- Butt-Monkey: Omar somehow manages to get it worse than just about every other prisoner. He even gets his ass kicked by Said.
- Cornered Rattlesnake: He's a wimpy little bastard, but when he's backed into a corner, he can fight like a beast. Just ask Cutler, who gets his ass handed to him on his first day in Oz.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Ends up getting killed off-screen by Lemuel Idzik.
- Establishing Character Moment: Omar is in Oz for murdering a woman, however his flashback shows that he also had the chance to kill her daughter at the same time but refuses. Omar may be impulsive and violent, but he isn't downright evil.
- Hidden Depths: The man can really sing when he puts his mind to it.
- Insane Troll Logic: Frequently his default setting. His explanation of why he beat the crap out of McManus is a good example.
- Slashed Throat: By Lemuel Idzik.
- Talkative Loon: He is unable to stop talking nonsense for a single second.
- Uncle Tomfoolery: Way more goofy than any functioning human being should be. Then again, he does stretch the definition of "functioning human being".
An inmate on Death Row for killing his girlfriend and her husband after discovering she was married.
- Affably Evil: Probably the nicest death row inmate you'll ever meet.
- Bald of Evil: He's not on death row for nothing, after all.
- Better to Die than Be Killed: Rather than be executed, he jumps off of the truck bringing him to donate his organs in a failed escape attempt., killing him.
- Determinator: He digs through his wall for weeks just to get a shot at Mark Miles. Not to mention he's been chilling on death row for almost a decade waiting for his appeal to come through. It's shown to be slowly wearing away on his already tenuous grip on sanity, however.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Gets the hospital staff to look at Nat Ginzberg as he doesn't want to see him endure the pain of a slow death from AIDS. He is also disgusted at Mark Miles' killing of his families.
Malcolm "Snake" Coyle
An intimidating and psychotic prisoner.
- Awesome Mc Coolname: Snake Coyle. Doubles as a Punny Name.
- Bald of Evil: It somehow serves to make him even more intimidating.
- For the Evulz: Why he committed the murders.Hill: What did this family do to you?Coyle: Not a thing.Hill: Then why did you kill'em?Coyle: For fun!
- Hidden Depths: He doesn't seem like much, and the crime he committed was relatively minor. Then we find out he's a deranged killer.
- I Love the Dead: We don't know if he's actually a necrophile but he did rape a woman while she was bleeding out and didn't seem to mind her being dead.
- Jaywalking Will Ruin Your Life: Subverted. He's doing 50 years for what is ultimately a trumped-up robbery charge but he actually deserves much more than that, having brutally murdered an entire family just for fun.
- Scary Black Man: On par with Adebisi no less.
- The Sociopath: Rival Kirk in the regard.
- Truth in Television: Child killers do NOT last very long in maximum security prisons. He's no exception.
- Would Hurt a Child: Has killed two. Even Kenny calls him a "sick motherf-cker" when he proudly reveals it.
A loyal homeboy henchman of Jefferson Keane. He unintentionally sets the events of the first Season in motion.