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    Hill 

Augustus Hill

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Augustus_Hill_1411.jpg
"In my hood, you had to learn to run, before you learned to walk."
Played By: Harold Perrineau

"At the end of the day, everybody wants somewhere to rest, somewhere to lay their bones, even if it's in a land called Oz. Yeah, like Dorothy says when she wakes up in her own bed back at Aunt Em's, "There's no place like home." There's no fucking place like home."

Prisoner #95H522. Convicted November 6, 1995 - Possession of illegal substances, murder in the second degree. Sentence: Life imprisonment, up for parole in 20 years.

A prisoner who uses a wheelchair who also serves as the show's surrealistic narrator, breaking the fourth wall by talking to the audience about the themes of each episode (often serving as a vehicle for beliefs of the show's creator). He also introduces every prisoner, and informs us of their crime and sentence.


  • The Atoner: For his crimes; when your criminal actions put you in a wheelchair, you end up with a lot of regret. Hill stays clean, keeps out of conflict if possible and tries to quietly do his time.
  • Butt-Monkey: Despite being one of the few characters who genuinely wants to move toward rehabilitation, Hill rarely gets what he wants. He's ultimately killed.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: A rare courageous example, as he's ratted out a couple of prisoners and they all completely deserve it, or alternately, he's able to prevent an escalation of violence.
  • Disabled Snarker: His sharp tongue sure isn't disabled.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Despite arguably being the show's lead character and the damned narrator, Hill is killed off in a pretty shitty way: accidentally shanked by a random attacker.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Often gets mistreated or ignored by his fellow prisoners which angers him considering he’s a lifer who killed a cop.
  • Famous Last Words: Heart-breakingly, his last living words are, "I can feel my legs".
  • Greek Chorus: His main role for most of the story. He continues even after death.
  • Large Ham: During his narrations, but less so in the 'reality' of the show.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Occasionally interacts with the characters in his role as narrator. One memorable example had a drugged out Adebisi watching Hill narrate the story with a look of utter confusion on his face.
  • Lemony Narrator: He tells the story from inside one of Emerald City's glass cells; sometimes he's dressed differently, sometimes he's writing on it, sometimes the entire cell is rotating, sometimes he's been covered in paint...his narration is certainly unusual.
  • Not in This for Your Revolution: When he enlists Said's help to appeal his conviction, Said seems to think he's helping with the 'cause' of prison reform and exposing an incomptent system. Hill just wants out.
    Said: Do you want to replace me? You wanna get Beecher to take up our cause?
    Hill: Our cause? This is not our cause, this is my fucking life! I am not you, man! I don't want to be a martyr or a fucking saint! All I want is to get out of here and be free. Either you can do that or you leave me the fuck alone!
  • Only Sane Man: Hill is one of the few characters who actively chooses to stay under the radar, do his time, and not get involved with the crazy shit going down all around him.
  • Taking The Knife: For Burr Redding, who doesn't exactly deserve such a sacrifice.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: The infamous "paper route" speech to Burr Redding.
  • Token Good Teammate: Compared to the rest of the prisoners.
  • Sacrificial Lion: His death signals that even more so than before going into the final season Anyone Can Die.
  • Wicked Cultured: Has a wide array of knowledge on history, politics, literature, and philosophy — as seen in his narration. He even writes a book about his time in Oz.
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    Beecher 

Tobias Beecher

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Tobias_Beecher_6668.jpg
"Same old story. I got fucked in the ass."
Played By: Lee Tergesen

Prisoner 97B412. Convicted July 5, 1997 – Driving while intoxicated, vehicular manslaughter. Sentence: 15 years, up for parole in four.

Reporter: So, how would you describe your time in prison?
Beecher: You ever read the story of Job?

A graduate of Harvard Law School, a successful attorney, husband and father, but also an alcoholic. One night, he drives drunk — something he had already been arrested for – twice — and hits and kills a nine-year-old girl named Kathy Rockwell. He is offered a plea bargain that would have allowed him to serve his sentence in a minimum security prison, but Beecher, not wanting to do any time in prison, instead goes to trial seeking an acquittal. The effort fails and the judge, a family friend of the Beechers, decides to make an example of him and sentences him to 15 years in a maximum security prison with a chance for parole after four.


  • The Alcoholic: Beecher struggles with numerous addictions, but alcohol was what landed him in Oz in the first place.
  • Arch-Enemy: The feud between Beecher and Schillinger begins in the first episode and lasts throughout the entire series; it's essentially a war between two people with numerous deaths racked up along the way.
  • The Atoner: For the death of Kathy Rockwell, which haunts him throughout the series. Later for the deaths of Andrew and Hank Schillinger.
  • Ax-Crazy: As a result of his Sanity Slippage, Beecher briefly goes insane and becomes rather feared within Oz. He even seems to play it up.
    "Thank God I'm crazy, 'cause I don't give a shit!"
  • Badass Beard: From time to time.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Beecher is a rather shy but friendly enough guy, and even after taking a level in badass he's generally well-intentioned. He's still highly dangerous. Metzger found this out to his detriment.
  • Bi the Way: Beecher was married, but ultimately falls in love with a man (Chris Keller).
  • Break the Cutie: Poor Tobias is put through the ringer. And his sanity never truly recovers.
  • Butt-Monkey: More so in Season 1, but rarely catches a break even as the show goes on and he takes several levels in badass.
  • Deadpan Snarker: He gradually becomes very snarky and sardonic.
    "Reading Mein Kampf? Let me tell you how it ends. The Aryans get their asses kicked!"
  • Defiled Forever: Manages to escape the worst of this by fighting back and brutalizing the man who raped him, although the other inmates still toss him occasional jabs over his past as Schillinger's prag.
  • The Dragon: Briefly becomes this to O'Reily in 'A Game Of Checkers'.
  • Drugs Are Good: Mostly averted, as his alcohol addiction led to the crime that got him incarcerated in the first place. However, when Beecher tries PCP, he throws a chair through Schillinger's cell, beginning his vengeance against his tormentor. If he hadn't altered his mind in such a profound way, he might never have found the courage for this initial counterattack.
  • Drunk Driver: How he ended up in Oz; vehicular homicide.
  • Establishing Character Moment: He is introduced to the series screaming for his life after seeing a fellow inmate get stabbed. He'll be doing a lot of that by series' end.
  • Fish out of Water: He really doesn't belong in a maximum security prison. And it shows.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: When he first arrives, he's a pushover who quickly gets pragged. He goes on to be one of the most feared inmates around.
    • It's implied Beecher always had a violent side buried within him. At the very least, he quickly learns to hold his own in a fight.
  • Had to Come to Prison to Be a Crook: Imprisoned for vehicular homicide, he is a murderer several times over by the end of the series.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: His battle with Schillinger takes a toll on his morality, as he sinks to new lows to even the playing field with a Nazi rapist.
  • Humiliation Conga: Pragged by Schillinger, has a swastika burned into his butt, is forced to perform in drag for the whole prison, forced to eat pages of a law book, and finally forced to wear a Confederate Flag around the prison when Schillinger finally tires of him and orders him to do it so one of the black inmates will kill him. At the last, he finally snaps.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Beecher gets revenge on Schillinger for sodomizing him by victimizing Schillinger in the opposite way, physically speaking.
  • Naïve Newcomer: It doesn't survive the first episode.
  • Nice Guy: Even at his craziest, he still retains a strongly compassionate nature.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Tobias means well, but his attempts to help others almost always backfire. His attempts to make peace with Schillinger only ever get him hurt or put his family in danger. His advice to Said to "embrace the Adebisi side of himself" leads to Said going off the deep end. His attempt to help Hill get over the death of his mother causes him to relapse and almost kills him.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: Is ultimately this to Chris Keller. When Beecher rejects him completely, he commits suicide.
  • Madness Mantra: His nursery rhymes, when he's really crazy.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: When he realizes that he's too late to call off the hit on Schillinger's second son.
  • Odd Friendship: Has a surprisingly genuine friendship with Ryan O'Reily.
  • Sanity Slippage: Due to a combination of humiliation, trauma and a cocktail of drugs, Beecher's relationship with sanity becomes very tenuous.
  • Shame If Something Happened: Beecher pulls this card on ol' Vern with regards to his parole.
    You get into a fight, you fuck up your parole. And I hear for the next three months, you're gonna be a good little boy, so you can get outta Oz, see your two sons. You know, I think that's great. But, you know what I'm wondering? What if Vern doesn't get out? What if, as he comes up for parole, he gets into a brawl, a knock-down, drag-out with his old roomie? What if every time he comes up for parole, Vern gets into some ugly incident and has to serve his entire sentence? And his two sons, they become monsters. That's what I'm wondering about. Prag.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Oz forces him to become a badass in order to survive, transforming him from a meek newcomer who's easily taken advantage of to a formidable and cunning inmate. Perhaps the exact moment when he took a level in badass was when he fights back against Schillinger, throwing a chair through his cell and injuring him.
  • Trauma Conga Line: By the end of the series nearly his entire family and his lover has died.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Augustus is the only one who will call him out as he's losing his mind.
  • White Male Lead: A white, Harvard-educated lawyer from an upper middle class family, and one of the show's central characters. Despite having more resources and social support than many prisoners, his incarcerated life begins with a hellish period of abuse, and his life continues to unravel even after he grows vicious enough to effectively defend himself. His bisexuality is also unusual for this trope. On the other hand, the prison staff seem to treat him with more respect than many of the black and Hispanic inmates, which makes his life somewhat easier.

    O'Reily 

Ryan O'Reily

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Reily_9654.jpg
"I'm like the lord of the fucking dance. I got moves."
Played By: Dean Winters

Prisoner #97P904. Convicted July 12, 1997 - Two counts of vehicular manslaughter, five counts of reckless endangerment, possession of a controlled substance, criminal possession of a weapon, parole violation. Sentence: Life imprisonment, up for parole in 12 years. Convicted of murder in the first degree in 1998 and parole was extended to 40 years.

An Irish-American career criminal who serves as an Iago-figure, pitting the various gangs and cliques within Oz against each other for the purposes of surviving.


  • Abusive Parents: His childhood was pretty horrible, due in no small part to his alcoholic, violent and belittling father.
  • Affably Evil: Can be a pretty pleasant guy if you don't piss him off or get in his way.
  • Alliterative Name: Close enough, anyway. Ryan O'Reily.
  • Arch-Enemy: Dino Ortolani in the first episode, who shot O'Reily and a friend shortly before coming to Oz. The fact that Ortolani doesn't survive the first episode demonstrates that O'Reily is clearly not someone to be fucked with.
    • Nikolai Stanislofsky in Seasons 3 and 4, much of the conflict in his storyline in those seasons comes from them trying to one up and later murder each other.
    • Jia Kenmin in Season 5, who antagonizes him and Cyril and later manipulates Cyril towards a death sentence.
    • Robson in Season 2 and thereafter.
  • Awakening the Sleeping Giant: Schillinger's decision to rape Cyril and then taunt both brothers about it turned O'Reily from someone defined mostly by Pragmatic Villainy into someone with a specific and very deep grudge. Bad idea. For Andrew.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Cyril is the only person he'll go to bat for, and he does so with no hesitation whatsoever.
  • Book Dumb: He's undoubtedly intelligent, brilliant even, despite being a high school dropout.
  • The Chessmaster: At any given time, he's playing everyone against everyone. And no one's ever the wiser.
    O'Reily: I'm a man of logic, I'm a man of planning. I consider every detail, I factor in every possibility. Then I flip a coin.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: It's rare that he allies with another inmate for more than an episode or two. The only longstanding alliance he has is with himself.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Probably the biggest wise-ass in the main cast.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: His late mother was one of the few people he truly cared about. When his real mother shows up, he shows her much the same affection.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: O'Reily, sociopath and all round Manipulative Bastard, nevertheless has a code regarding the sort of crimes he will tolerate. He was disgusted that William Cudney could murder a child. He is also disgusted with Patrick Keenan, a rapist. Although this was perhaps only because O'Reily had a crush on the person Keenan raped. He is openly disgusted when he sees the footage of Malcolm Coyle's murders on the news when other inmates are indifferent.
    • O'Reily also tends to have a soft spot for those who are not hardened or violent criminals and attempts to protect them from the more vicious bullies of Oz. For example, O'Reily is the only prisoner in Em City to try to help Beecher cope with being abused by Schillinger and cheers him on when he sees Beecher attack Vern. He's also sympathetic to Guilliame Tarrant when he enters Oz, advising him to stand up to Wangler and Pierce as soon as the opportunity arises.
    • He doesn't seem to like the Aryans much, even before they rape his brother.
  • Fighting Irish: Downplayed; he tends only to fight when provoked, preferring more subtle means to get his way.
  • Genius Bruiser: Definitely more the former than the latter but he can still hold his own in a fight.
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: "I'm no fag!" is almost a catchphrase for him.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: A lot of the things that befall him (and especially his brother Cyril) are his own fault, and brought on by his own manipulations.
    • On the other hand, he's very good at staying alive and gets out of most of the messes he creates without a scratch.
  • The Irish Mob: The leader of the all-Irish Bridge Street Gang.
  • It's All About Me: Not even Cyril is safe from Ryan's supreme selfishness.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Does not even begin to describe him. He often offers help to people of different factions and seems welcoming to new prisoners, but he usually does this as an attempt to steer them into completing actions that benefit himself. As he explains to Patrick Keenan:
    O'Reily: When I want someone dead, I never grease him myself. I always talk someone else into doing the deed for me. I make them believe the person I want dead is their enemy.
    Keenan: That's so cool.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Ryan was so guilt-ridden over Cyril's brain damage that he went on a drunken, drug-fueled rampage through the city. He ended up killing two people and causing untold amounts of property damage, which gets him sent to Oz.
  • Non-Action Guy: In a show filled with violence, O'Reilly almost never fights. He prefers to let others do his dirty work. Notable exceptions include: attacking Schillinger in the cafeteria after he's raped Cyril, attacking an Aryan when he mocks him about having cancer, attacking Schillinger again after he mocks his relationship with Dr. Nathan, and of course, killing Patrick Keenan.
  • Not Good with Rejection: Not at all. Enraged that his doctor rejected him for...her own husband.
  • Odd Friendship: With Beecher in Season 1, and sporadically thereafter. Unlike virtually every other connection O'Reily makes in Oz, he appears to be friendly with Beecher simply because he enjoys his company and not because he is seeking to gain anything from him. And off-and-on with Adebisi throughout the series, though some Enemy Mine is involved.
  • Raised Catholic: Though he's pretty all over the place in terms of how he practices his faith. He wears a cross, prays, and holds some respect for Father Mukada, but he's also fairly immoral and lashes out at his priest cellmate due to his resentment of Catholicism.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Ryan O'Reily (rather than O'Reilly or O'Riley).
  • Stalker with a Crush: To Dr. Gloria Nathan.
  • Straight Edge Evil: He quits using drugs cold turkey after Season 1, but still deals heroin to the other inmates.
  • Villain Protagonist: Most inmates on Oz flirt with this to some degree but Ryan fits this trope best as he is one of the most central characters, extremely self serving, manipulative and villainous but without ever sliding into straight up antagonist territory like Schillinger and others.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Possibly his greatest skill is his ability to adjust his plans as time goes.

    Saïd 

Kareem Saïd AKA Goodson Truman

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Kareem_Said_7484.jpg
"You wanna save this place, right? And I want to destroy it. Brick by hypocritical brick."
Played By: Eamonn Walker

Prisoner #97S444. Convicted June 6, 1997 – Arson in the second degree. Sentence: 18 years, eligible for parole in five. Later, found not guilty of one count of murder in the first degree, and pled guilty to two counts of attempted murder and sentenced to an unknown period of time.

A devout Muslim and Black nationalist who was imprisoned for blowing up a white owned warehouse. Saïd immediately took charge of the Muslim prisoners, who sometimes chafed at both his extreme moral code and his apparent violations of those same standards. Saïd is one of the most powerful prisoners in Oz with considerable influence and control of a large portion of the inmate population. Saïd is also a very powerful figure outside of prison with a network of fellow Muslim leaders, a large political influence and numerous contacts in the media. Saïd and the other Muslims renounce themselves from smoking, alcohol, foul language, abnormal sex, drug smuggling, and drug use, because these things strongly violate their religion.


  • Achilles in His Tent: After he snaps and beats the hell out of Omar White, he elects to stay in Ad Seg for an extra week to sort out his issues in solitude.
  • Angry Black Man: Starts becoming this after he kills Adebisi.
  • Anti-Hero: One of the very few characters who might be considered truly "good" or even heroic by non-Oz standards. Saïd sticks his neck out for Poet, Keane, Omar, Beecher, Hill, and other prisoners in ways that rarely benefit him directly and sometimes create friction with the other Muslims. Saïd is also far more likely to reach for non-violent conflict solutions than most of the other characters, including the prison staff. Despite this, he's still perfectly capable of violence when he finds other methods lacking.
  • The Atoner: He becomes this in the aftermath of Season 1's riot, focusing more on legal and spiritual aid to the prisoners.
  • Badass Preacher: A strong contender for the most badass preacher in Oz.
  • Black Sheep: His father and sister are both Christian ministers and took his conversion to Islam personally. Despite this, their relationship seems relatively normal.
  • Big Good: Upon his entrance to Oz, Said sees himself as this. He sets about making himself a leader with smug confidence, seeing himself as a champion of the oppressed prison population. Following a riot, however, he becomes more self-aware and realizes he's just as flawed as anyone. Later seasons have him sharing this role with McManus.
  • Break the Haughty: His experiences in Oz are humbling to say the least.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: His offscreen, long in the past conversation with Lemuel Idzik , who would later show up and murder him over it. Idzik even admits that Said probably forgot about the conversation entirely.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Gunned down by a fake reporter a mere 5 episodes from the finale.
  • Enemy Mine: He's briefly willing to take Schillinger's case, with both men hoping to benefit from the Appeal to Audacity of a black nationalist Muslim defending the legal rights of a white supremacist. Their alliance quickly falls apart once Said realizes Schillinger is actually being justly prosecuted.
  • Establishing Character Moment: His first scene has him convert an inmate, simultaneously getting him to quit smoking, get Keane and Adebisi to stand down without throwing a single punch, and command one of his followers to punch him repeatedly in the face to demonstrate how tough he is. Schillinger's comment about how dangerous he is almost seems redundant by that point.
  • Fake Defector: He brings down Adebisi by pretending to join with him. Adebisi nearly kills him when he finds out.
  • Famous Last Words: "Afrif... Don't harm him...
  • The Farmer and the Viper: Said's efforts to help other prisoners frequently end with them either blowing the opportunities he secures for them, or just straight up manipulating him.
  • Foil: To McManus — Both are attempting to reform prisoners and the prison system, one from outside the system and one from within.
  • For Great Justice: Professes high ideals, including having written several books about the justice system.
  • Friendly Enemy: Said is frequently willing to cross group lines to help other prisoners if he feels they have a legitimate grievance against the justice system. He's willing to help gay inmate Jason Cramer (to the disapproval of his fellow Muslims) and even briefly takes on a legal defense of white supremacist Schillinger.
  • Good Is Not Soft: While he's committed to his ideals and will fight for other prisoners even at cost to himself, he's also capable of fighting against you just as fiercely.
  • Heel–Faith Turn: Before his conversion, he was a Straw Nihilist and a drug addict.
  • Heteronormative Crusader: Opposes homosexuality and bisexuality for religious reasons, though with less personal hatred than many prisoners. Despite his underlying views, he forms a strong friendship with Beecher and agrees to help Cramer with his case. He also applies his views equally to Schillinger and other men who force inmates into sex, while the rest of prison seems to reserve the homosexuality taboo for their victims.
  • Honor Before Reason: Say what you will about his ideals, he's willing to stick his neck out for them.
  • Knight Templar: Said believes that because he fights against a corrupt and racist system, any actions he takes against it are justified. Then, of course, is the crime that got him into Oz, for which he never seems remorseful. He loses this attitude when he begins to see the effect it is having on others.
  • Large Ham: As a preacher and self-styled voice of the powerless, Said can definitely get theatrical at times. It mostly works for him (see Rousing Speech below).
  • Malcolm Xerox: Subverted; Despite having the outward signs, he lacks the hypocrisy, one-dimensionality, and misplaced rage of this trope. He especially contrasts with the more aggressive of his followers, particularly Khan and Mershah. The result is a rare realistic portrayal of a Black nationalist character.
  • Manly Tears: Breaks down crying after Leroy Tidd's Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Minored In Ass Kicking: He's mostly a religious leader, rarely personally violent (at least relative to the other inmates), and his first line of attack is usually a legal or intellectual one. But on the occasions when Said is drawn into a fight, he's handed some of Oz's most fearsome inmates their asses.
  • My Greatest Failure: Because of his admiration for Adebisi, Said deeply regrets not being able to reform him. The fact that Said ends up being the one to kill him only makes it worse.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Dishes a spectacular one out to Robson.
  • Not So Above It All: Deconstructed and Reconstructed. In the middle of Season 4, Said is forced to kill in self-defense for the first time, causing a crisis of conscience. At first he attempts to embrace the violent side of his personality, but it turns him into a rage-fueled bully. When forced to confront what he has become, he has a nervous breakdown, until he realizes that the two sides of his personality are not in conflict, and he's just as human as anyone else.
  • Odd Friendship: With Beecher, a white, alcoholic and bisexual inmate. Especially notable in Season 3 as all of the other inmates have taken sides based purely on race in the impending race war in Em City.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Evolves into the closest thing there is to this among the inmates after his Heel–Face Turn, with even Father Mukada seeking his counsel at one point.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Delivers an epic, not to mention humiliating, one to Governor Devlin on live TV.
  • Rousing Speech: A specialty of his.
  • Sanity Slippage: Really starts losing it after Adebisi's death. He gets better.
  • Springtime for Hitler: His representation of Jason Cramer. His intent was to get Cramer a new trial based upon a bad jury, but expected that Cramer would lose his second trial due to his obvious guilt. Said never intended to win, just get Cramer a fair trial. Unfortunately, he underestimated how badly flawed the first trial was, and once the legal issues were worked out, there was not nearly enough evidence left to convict. Cramer walks free, and Said has to deal with the guilt of letting a murderer go in the name of justice.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: With Tricia Ross.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Said fights for civil rights, but he does so by blowing up warehouses, cynically manipulating other prisoners, and instigating riots. After the riot, he starts to grow out of it.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: He gets this a lot in his more dark moments.
  • Where Da White Women At?: A major issue with both his family and his fellow blacks is his romantic interest in exclusively white women. He mentions that he was engaged to a white woman before he converted to Islam.

    Alvarez 

Miguel Alvarez

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Miguel_Alvarez_6235.jpg
"I'm so tired. I'm tired of trying. I'm tired of the walls. The lies. The fear. The death. I'm so tired."
Played By: Kirk Acevedo

Prisoner #97A413. Convicted February 3, 1997 - Assault with a deadly weapon, criminal mischief in the second degree. Sentence: 15 years, up for parole in two.

The main Latino prisoner of the show. A loser whose father and grandfather are both imprisoned in Oz, Alvarez spends most of the series being driven to madness by the prison staff via being put into solitary confinement (though he pretty much deserves it, seeing as he gouged out the eyes of a prison guard in a desperate bid to avoid being expelled from the main Latino prison gang, due to being "too white". He does not mean his white skin but his attitude being "too soft."


  • Arch-Enemy: His former friend Chico Guerra, who turns on him when El Cid Hernandez takes over the Latino gang. Also Warden Leo Glynn, who takes a personal interest in making Alverez's life a living hell.
  • The Atoner: He zigzags all over this trope. However, his one consistent story arc is trying to earn the forgiveness of the CO he blinded.
  • Being Evil Sucks: Trying to fit in with the more hardened Latino gangsters only makes his life progressively worse.
  • Being Good Sucks: Unfortunately, his attempts to reform don't improve his fortunes.
  • Butt-Monkey: Alvarez is exceptionally good at making enemies, which goes about as well as you might expect.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Taunting Glynn about his daughter's rape does not work out in his favor.
  • Break the Haughty: Upon his entrance into Oz, he's arrogant, callous and casually cruel. His experiences swiftly break him.
  • Bystander Syndrome: He doesn't lift a finger when Mukada is dragged away and beaten during the riot, despite Mukada begging for his help.
  • Cosmic Plaything: Whatever forces are at work in the universe of Oz have conspired not to give Alvarez a single moment of happiness.
  • Despair Event Horizon: After dancing on the verge of it for the entire series, he finally succumbs to true despair after a parole board member privately makes it clear to him that he will never, ever be paroled.
  • The Determinator: Played with. He does carry on despite all the crap he goes through, but it requires a substantial kick in the pants.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Gradually becomes this to the Latino gang members, who resent the fact that he is scared of his own shadow. All of the leaders try to kill him, and even when he's let back in by Hernandez, he's treated like dirt.
  • Generation Xerox: His father and grandfather are both in Oz, and his grandfather has spent the last several years in solitary. Alverez attempts to defy this trope, but circumstances always work against him.
  • Had to Come to Prison to Be a Crook: He was a petty criminal pre-Oz with a two year sentence, and is a murderer several times over by the end of the series in for life.
  • Latino Is Brown: El Cid cites this trope to support his disapproval of Alvarez; he argues that Alvarez isn't "brown" enough, and doubts he's Latino.
  • Mr. Fanservice: His female following is pretty sizeable, likely more than any other in the main cast.
  • Put on a Bus: Escaped and was on the run, off screen, for much of Season 4 so that Acevedo could shoot Band of Brothers.
  • Raised Catholic: This factors into his The Atoner arc from time to time, and his friendship with Mukada.
  • Refuge in Audacity: He adopts this approach to survive after being kicked out of the Latino gang; he acts so ballsy that the other prisoners leave him alone out of respect, fear, or both. Surprisingly enough, it works.
  • Sanity Slippage: His relationship with sanity is a tenuous one; over the course of the series Alvarez goes through severe mental episodes, including hallucinations, self-harm and crippling depression.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: With Wolfgang Cutler's widow. Due to Schillinger's influence, it doesn't work out, contributing further to his downward spiral.
  • Stop Being Stereotypical: Gets this from parole board member Ruiz, who lambasts Alvarez for acting like a negative stereotype of Latinos. Ruiz implies that this is the reason Ruiz will make sure Alvarez's parole is denied every time.
  • Tattooed Crook: Has at least five tattoos; the cross on his arm and the script on his back are actor Kirk Acevedo's tattoos, but the others, including the prominent rose on his hand, belong to the character.
  • The Uriah Gambit: The Latino gang leaders hate him and constantly pull this on him when he tries to ingratiate himself.
  • "World of Cardboard" Speech: Subverted. He gives a truly impressive, ballsy speech to Enrique Morales about how he's killed and wounded enough people that he knows he's proven himself. Then he promptly picks a fight with Giles — tiny, elderly Giles — and gets unexpectedly curb stomped, to the hilarity of all watching.

    Schillinger 

Vernon "Vern" Schillinger

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Vernon_Schillinger_5166.jpg
"Whatever I've done. I've done for righteous reasons. Any laws I've broken don't deserve to be laws."
Played By: J. K. Simmons

Prisoner #92S110. Convicted October 21, 1992 – Aggravated assault in the first degree. Sentence: Eight years, eligible for parole in five. Convicted in 1998 of conspiracy to commit murder and sentenced to ten additional years without the possibility of parole.

One of the most feared inmates in Oz. As leader of The Aryan Brotherhood in Oz, Schillinger controls most white inmates and has a reputation for ruthless brutality and rape. He is shown to be a high ranking member of the Aryan Brotherhood outside of prison, thus giving him power outside of Oz through a vast network of allies.


  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: His death during the play is met with deafening applause.
  • Arch-Enemy: To Tobias Beecher. Their enimity begins in the first episode and lasts throughout the series. Also to Said, on a more ideological level.
  • Badass in Charge: Of the Aryan Brotherhood. You don't climb to the top of a mountain of killers, rapists and sadistic thugs without being one tough son-of-a-bitch.
  • Bald of Evil: Well, mostly bald.
  • Being Evil Sucks: Like many convicts, Schillinger's actions rarely if ever net him any gain. His cruelty and racism have given him nothing in life and taken a great deal.
  • Berserk Button: Don't pronounce his name incorrectly.note 
    "Schillinger! God DAMN IT! Schillinger! I've been here NINE FUCKING YEARS! You'd think you'd know how to say my goddamn name!"
  • Big Bad: For Beecher's storyline.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: In the first episode only, when we're introduced to him in the same way as Beecher. He appears to be a possible mentor, instead of the predator he really is.
  • Category Traitor: For all Schillinger's neo-Nazi symbols and racism toward black and Latino inmates, he's still happy to rape and murder his fellow whites in prison, despite some superficial gestures of solidarity. He's even willing to toss white inmates misleading offers of "protection" to lure them into the Aryans' grasp as sex slaves. His white supremacist views seem to revolve more around hatred for other races than love for his own.
  • Create Your Own Hero: "Hero" is stretching it, but his abuse of Beecher turns the formerly shy, submissive inmate into a deadly enemy. In the first season alone, Schillinger ends up beaten, half-blinded, and sexually assaulted back by his former prey. Much like the immediate drop in status of his sex slavs, Schillinger faces a good amount of mockery for getting his face shitted on, leading to a drop in the Aryans’ status. A trio of black inmates even beat him up in his cell. While Schillinger recovers and remains a powerful force, his war with Beecher continues to cost him dearly, culminating in the deaths of Andrew, Hank, and eventually Schillinger himself.
  • Deadpan Snarker: For a Nazi scumbag, he's quite adept at the humorous barb.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Despite expressing contempt for gay inmates, Schillinger has a habit of raping other men.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Played straight at times, yet subverted at others. He does love his sons and mourns their deaths, but he's responsible for Andrew's death. Played a little straighter with his son Hank's girlfriend and her daughter/his granddaughter.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Played straight with his disgust at a pedophile priest and protecting Augustus from Malcolm Coyle, and then subverted horribly when he has Beecher's son killed.
  • Evil Is Petty: Though he prefers to inflict rape, drug abuse, and physical abuse on his enemies, Vern occasionally settles for petty slights such as messing up someone's lunch tray and only giving Beecher the envelope of the letter from his grandmother under the pretense that it had to be confiscated.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Subverted. He does get a nifty black eypatch to cover his eye after it was glassed, but because this was done by his former prag, of all people, it only makes him look a bit pathetic.
  • Famous Last Words: "That cocksucker..."
  • Faux Affably Evil: His polite moments are mostly this, but has the strange tendency to occasionally blur this with Affably Evil.
  • For the Evulz: A lot of his more horrible actions really don't have any point to them besides the fact that he enjoys the suffering of others.
  • Freudian Excuse: His father is just an older, more bitter version of himself. It's little surprise Vern turned out the way he did.
  • Heteronormative Crusader: Seems to consider himself heterosexual, and agrees when Said calls homosexuality an abomination. Said calls him out on this.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Stabbed with the same knife he had planned to stab Beecher with.
  • Humiliation Conga: He gets a brutal one at the tail end of The first season. He gets his eye injured when his sex slave Beecher eye abused one times too many, he loses his spot in Em City, and he gets sent to genpop. Following that, Beecher knocks him down and takes a dump of his face right in front of a group of prisoners. Schillinger has to work very hard to get his cred back after this.
  • Kick the Dog: Like it's a football game. Most of his treatment of Beecher in the first season, for starters. Later there's his taunting the O'Reily brothers about his rape of Cyril, and his daily gratuitous humiliation of Busmalis (spitting in Busmalis' food and forcing him to eat it).
  • Knight Templar: He's a Neo-Nazi, so this is pretty much a given. In fact it's the reason he's in prison, having beaten a black drug dealer half to death.
  • Malicious Misnaming: Frequently on the receiving end of this due to unclear pronunciation of his name and the rest of the inmates and prison staff's dislike of him. Only Beecher, Father Mukada, and Said pronounce his name correctly.
  • Moral Myopia: If someone else does it, its horrible. If Vern does it, it's excusable.
  • Never My Fault: He loves blaming Beecher and conveniently forgets that he started it all with his vile abuse. He's also in denial about his shortcomings as a parent.
  • Noble Bigot: What Vern thinks he is in spite of his rapist tendencies and murdering of innocent children.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Well, he is a Nazi.
  • Quip to Black: When something bad happens to an inmate at his hand, the very next scene will be him shooting pool in his cell, complete with snarky one-liner about the situation.
  • Straight Edge Evil: He is strongly opposed to drug use, making the Aryans one of the only gangs not involved in the drug trade in Oz.
  • Threw My Bike on the Roof: His Jerkassery is made even worse by the fact that there is absolutely no benefit from it.
  • Villainous Breakdown: He has at least one of these per season.
  • Would Hurt a Child: He arranges the death of Beecher's young son Garry. Very ironic because he considers raping a child to be wrong; and yet he had no problem with murdering one.
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    Adebisi 

Simon Adebisi

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Simon_Adebisi_2245.jpg
"I have everything. Everything I need. Every love satisfied. But it's not enough."
Prisoner #93A234. Convicted May 2, 1993 - Murder in the first degree. Sentence: Life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

A gigantic, deranged maniac of Nigerian descent; incarcerated for decapitating a police officer with a machete. His flirtations with insanity and religion are transient. However, Adebisi remains one of the most powerful inmates within the walls of Oz.


  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: Completely averted. He was so badass, that his death was met with gasps of disbelief.
  • Affably Evil: Can be a pretty easy going guy if you don't get on his bad side.
  • Ax-Crazy: Adebisi isn't only feared for his size and strength, but his unpredictable nature and drug-fueled violent rampages. He rapes, he fights, he cuts off heads.
  • Bait-and-Switch: His final fight with Said. He emerges looking victorious and unhurt...then he spits up a gallon of blood and drops dead.
  • Being Evil Sucks: Briefly in Season 2, when he meets Jara and reconnects with his culture, and loathes what his life in America/Oz has become.
  • Big Bad: Of the first half of Season 4.
  • The Brute: Of the riot leaders; Said, O'Reily, Ross and Alvarez are all pretty organized but Adebisi's drug withdrawal turn him into even more of a maniac then he used to be.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Completely agrees with Said's negative appraisal of his character. And is damn proud of it.
    O'Reilly: [Said's] right. You do have a bad heart.
    Adebisi: What can I say? I'm a bad-heart muthafucka.
  • Combat Pragmatist: In addition to being a Genius Bruiser, he has no qualms about using whatever he thinks will get the job done. He wrecks Pancamo with a soup can.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: He gets cornered by Schibetta and Pancamo in the kitchen... and proceeds to beat the absolute SHIT out of both.
  • Death Seeker: Implied. Kareem Said says that Adebisi had a look in his eyes like he wanted to die. This fits with Adebisi falling for Said's very obvious plan to betray him, as well as Adebisi's comment that he has all he wants and is still unhappy. On the other hand, Said is traumatized by having to kill Adebisi and may not be an entirely reliable narrator.
  • Depraved Bisexual: The bisexual psychopath to Chris Keller's bisexual sociopath.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: During Season 4. He's the Big Bad for a good stretch of time but is killed off halfway through.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Male on Male: Because his "quarry" are men and not women, he's regarded as particularly manly and badass for being able to dominate other men on every single level, including the sexual one.
  • Dragon Ascendant: Initially he was The Dragon to Jefferson Keane, but Keane converted to Islam. Markstrom takes over, but is revealed to be an undercover narc and killed. Adebisi quickly promotes himself to the leader of the Homeboys.
  • The Dreaded: Adebisi is quite rightly one of the most feared (perhaps the most) feared inmate in OZ. He's incredibly strong and utterly fearless.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: He refuses Kenny Wangler's plan to steal the $3,000 set aside to send Bob Rebadow's dying grandson to Disney World.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Or at least, cannot comprehend emotional connections. Because he generally thinks of sex as a means of pleasure or domination, he's caught off guard by Augustus saying that he sleeps with his wife, even when he can't feel anything, for her pleasure.
  • Friendly Enemy: With Said. The two are diametrically opposed in every way, but still have mutual respect for each other. When Said is abandoned and humiliated by the other Muslims, Adebisi is one of the first to approach him with an offer of friendship and protection. The two even manage to share a pod with no trouble. This lasts right up until Said betrays him.
  • Genius Bruiser: Adebisi is a big guy, but he's no Dumb Muscle. Under that nifty hat lurks a cunning and observant brain.
  • Good Feels Good: Most of the time, evil feels better. Still, Adebisi does lapse into this once.
    Wangler: Rebadow collected like 3 G's. And that money's gone tomorrow. Know what? I'm thinking we go to Rebadow, we take the dough, and so these other fucks don't get mad, we make Rebadow swear he sent it.
    Adebisi: No.
    Wangler: What do you mean, no? It's $3,000.
    Adebisi: I said no.
    Wangler: Why?
    Adebisi: 'Cause sometimes it's good to be human.
  • Hidden Depths: His storyline with his African mentor at the end of Season 2 hinted at a desire for redemption and inner turmoil.
  • Improbable Weapon User: It's kind of a specialty of his: he attacks Poet and Pierce with boiling water, beats Pancamo's face in with a can of vegetables, and uses an HIV-infected needle against Antonio Nappa. Basically, anywhere in the prison Adebisi goes to work, he'll find a creative ways to hurt people with the implements at hand.
  • Laughably Evil: Adebisi is hilarious, but he's definitely not someone you want to meet in a dark alley. Or anywhere else, really.
  • Lonely at the Top: He confesses to Said that, even when he's essentially running Em City and wants for nothing, he's still unsatisfied.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Really shines in Season 4, when he plays the Latinos, the Italians, and the Administration like a one-man bandstand.
  • Nice Hat: Always wears a tilted wooly cap which never falls off. No one is sure how it stays on.
  • Nothing Can Stop Us Now!: Chants a variation on this, standing on a tabletop no less, after Said pledges his loyalty. Of course, Said is plotting, and successfully pulls off, a betrayal.
  • No Shirt, Long Jacket: Shows off his chest an awful lot.
  • Not Good with Rejection: He and Shirley Bellinger trade love letters. O'Reily eventually arranges for them to meet (so they can have sex). Her response? "But you're a nigger." Needless to say, he doesn't take that well. He has to be dragged away while demanding oral sex from her.
  • Sanity Slippage: Debateable as to whether he was remotely sane in the first place, but he definitely gets crazier as the show progresses.
  • Silent Snarker: Perhaps due to language barriers, but Adebesi is adept at conveying his contempt or the fact that he feels Surrounded by Idiots with a mere glance.
  • Scary Black Man: Adebisi is easily one of, if not the, most terrifying characters in the entire show. He takes pleasure in other people's fear.
  • The Sociopath: He's a textbook example, being a master manipulator with no empathy, no shame, and no qualms.
  • Villainous Breakdown: He loses it when he discovers Said has double-crossed him.
  • We Can Rule Together: He genuinely believes this about Kareem Said, to the point of a borderline Villainous Crush.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: As his power base increases, Adebisi grows even more unstable. All his desires are satisfied, and he grows bored while realizing that for all his strength, he's still in prison.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Jarra's mentorship seems to be steering Adebisi toward some sense of peace, possibly even (by Oz standards) a Heel–Face Turn. Then Wangler stabs Jarra to death.
  • You Killed My Father: When Nappa and Wangler orchestrate the death of Adebisi's father figure, he spends all of Season 4 orchestrating a plan to have everyone involved killed.

    Keller 

Christopher 'Chris' Keller

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Chris_Keller_6287.jpg
"At first I wanted unconditional surrender, then I wanted unconditional love."
Prisoner ID 98K514. Convicted June 16, 1998 - felony murder, two counts of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, robbery, driving under the influence and reckless driving. Sentence, 88 years, with the possibility of parole in 50. Convicted in 2002 of Murder in the first degree and was sentenced to death, Overturned in 2003.

A bisexual serial killer who preyed upon gay men in the outside world while hiding his sexual orientation through a series of marriages. Perhaps the most amoral figure in the entire milieu, he is a master of emotional manipulation and only seems to really enjoy himself when those who care about him are made to suffer.


  • Affably Evil: Despite his cruelty and selfishness, Keller is a charming man who's easy to like.
  • Becoming the Mask: Initially, Keller was a Honey Trap for Beecher who wanted to screw with his mind and betray him. He ends up falling in love with him for real, or at least as real as love gets for Keller.
  • Being Evil Sucks: His sociopathic tendencies drive away the one man he really wants: Tobias Beecher. He never gets better, which derails any attempt the two make at a real relationship. When Toby finally rejects him once and for all, it drives Keller to suicide.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Keller frequently betrays his friends and allies, and his allegiance seems to only be to himself.
  • Domestic Abuse: Toward Beecher, through physical violence and manipulation alike. Keller also seems to have abused his ex-wives on an emotional level.
  • Defiled Forever: Averted. During a stay at another prison, Schillinger coerced him into sex for exchange for protection, but he faces no apparent mockery or drop in status within Oz, even from Schillinger himself.
  • Depraved Bisexual: The bisexual sociopath to Adebisi's bisexual psychopath.
  • Driven to Suicide: Rejected entirely by Beecher, Keller decides to end his life with a Thanatos Gambit.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: At times, Keller’s capacity for violence and manipulation proves an asset for Beecher, but he stabs him in the back too many times to count.
  • Famous Last Words: "Toby, I love you... Beecher, don't!"
  • Hates Being Touched: Oddly enough, despite being pretty handsy with everyone else, he doesn't much like being on the receiving end.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Is he trying to be good? Is he inherently evil? Is he selfish? Is he too psychologically damaged to know what he's doing? Is he loyal to Beecher? Is he working for Schillinger? Is he trying to get help from Sister Pete? Is he trying to screw with her mind? The answer to all these questions and more are a half-hearted shrug.
  • Heel Realization: After breaking Beecher's arms and legs, Keller spends most of Season 3 and 4 realizing just what a reprehensible person he is and absolutely loathing himself for it.
    Keller: You saw my ex, Bonnie? When I met her, she was all alone, and very unhappy, so I knew it'd be easy to get her to fall in love with me. But what I didn't know, was after I broke her heart, would she still love me. See, I am a piece of shit. I am worthless. As bad as they come. And to have someone keep loving me, no matter how bad... You happy now? You got me to open up and spill my guts all over your table. Breakthrough.
  • [[Hell]]: Claims he experienced this realm after he was shot, and attempts to reconcile with Beecher and Sister Pete to escape punishment for his sins. He also seems to fear damnation over his relationships with men.
  • If I Can't Have You...: He doesn't love, he possesses.
  • It's All About Me: Keller is unable to see past his own gratification and needs; he manipulates and tortures the ones he claims to love.
  • I Just Want to Be Loved: What he's after is unconditional love; he needs to know that he can be the biggest asshole on the planet and someone will still love him. His favorite of his ex-wives is Bonnie for this reason. While his other wives are gorgeous, Bonnie was fat and unattractive, making her desperate.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Averted; Keller wants his beloved with him so he can be happy. When Beecher finally gets paroled and is getting his life back together on the outside, Keller misses him a lot. So he tells Beecher a sob story of his sick ex-wife who supposedly needs a non-FDA-approved drug in order to ease her suffering, and begs Beecher to pick it up for her even though it would be a violation of his parole. And then he tips the cops off about the deal, resulting in Beecher's arrest and return to Oz. Beecher, understandably, was unable to forgive this and Keller didn't get the reunion he was hoping for.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Keller and O'Reily eventually see a kindred spirit in the other; both are manipulative beasts who are expert schemers.
  • Morality Pet: Downplayed with Beecher. Keller turns against the Aryans because of his guilt over assaulting Beecher in the gym, and he seems to develop some genuine, self-sacrificing love for him. Keller goes so far as to protect Beecher by falsely confessing to murdering Hank, accepting the resulting trip to Death Row. But in the end, Keller can't or won't change his manipulative, possessive nature. Even his "good" deeds often involve manipulating Beecher or Sister Pete, or killing other inmates.
  • Mr. Fanservice: He's a huge fan of the form-fitting white T-shirt, and that's when he decides to wear one at all.
  • Opposites Attract: With Beecher. This perhaps best highlighted in their final conversation together.
    Beecher: "The only thing I believe in is life. Every life is precious, not just yours and mine, but every single person on the planet who's breathing, their lives are precious. And the loss of a single life, even in Oz, is my loss too.
    Keller: "Well that's bullshit, the only thing that matters is you and me."
  • Poisonous Friend: Beecher's love for Keller drives him to do some very questionable things. Beecher wises up to this several times, but always comes back for more.
  • Really Gets Around: 3 ex-wives and an innumerable series of lovers. The man is nothing if not prolific.
  • Serial Killer: It's eventually revealed that he was a killer of gay men.
  • Sociopathic Hero: Despite being incredibly manipulative, amoral and selfish, he's firmly on Beecher's side for most of the series.
  • The Sociopath: What Keller ultimately is. Even his "love" for Beecher is warped and self-serving.
  • Thanatos Gambit: Keller throws himself over a railing, yelling 'Beecher' as he does and thus poor Beecher gets blamed for the 'murder'.
  • Tattooed Crook: His trademark Crucifix Tattoo which was real and not make-up.
  • Yandere: For Beecher. It escalates to the point where he murders all of Beecher's former lovers and even gets him sent back to Oz so that he can be with him.

Prison Staff

    Glynn 

Warden Leo Glynn

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Leo_Glynn_2777.jpg
"People, we've got three murders in two weeks. I got the Commissioner yelling in my ear and the press shoved up my ass. The Governor's threatening to send in the feds. And my daughter wants to move into an apartment with her boyfriend. Somebody, help me out here."
Played By: Ernie Hudson

Glynn: Look, we're doing everything we can to keep the number of reported rapes down.
Sister Pete: Reported? Listen to you, your own daughter was raped!
Glynn: Well... this is different. This is Oz.

The warden of the prison. A conflicted person trying to maintain law and order in an often chaotic environment. He does what he can to manage every conflict present in Oz. Sister Pete calls him "the best man for the worst job."


  • Ambition Is Evil: Downplayed; his ambition doesn't make him a bad guy, but it does make him a jerk. It also makes him neglect his job, with horrific results.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: We never get to see him in action, but he's ripped underneath that fancy suit and is a pretty decent boxer to boot. And as a prison guard, he was good enough to rise all the way to warden.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: A mild example. Beneath his veneer of respectability lies a deeply prejudiced and somewhat self-centered man. He's what Devlin would be if he had even a shred of humanity.
  • Butt-Monkey: Naturally, being the warden of a maximum security prison. When something does go off without a hitch, he can never bring himself to believe it.
  • He Knows Too Much: His investigation of Loewen's murder ends with him, in turn, being murdered as he gets closer to figuring out Devlin ordered the hit.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Despite his flaws, he takes his job seriously and does care for his staff and his family. Even if he doesn’t always agree with the more liberal members of his staff like Mc Manus, Dr. Nathan or Sister Pete, he respects their efforts and tries to meet them halfway on the issues.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: His attempts to end racial tensions in Oz grow increasingly more desperate, ending with him essentially turning over control of Em City to Adebisi. Only when McManus shows him the extent of the havoc that Adebisi has wreaked does he finally come to his senses.
  • Knight Templar: He's essentially Devlin-lite, prioritizing keeping order over everything else. Unlike Devlin, however, he actually believes in the whole Law and Order ideal.
  • Moral Luck: Occasionally his arguments about why prisoners "deserve" certain treatment falls under this category.
  • Never Speak Ill of the Dead: After he dies, there's a lot of Character Shilling about how he was amazing at his job.
  • Not So Above It All: He is not above treating the prisoners poorly or playing favorites with issues.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: It's noteworthy that as unfazed as he is by most of the goings-on of Oz, he's openly furious at the guard who screwed up and let Idzik sneak a gun in, which Idzik then used to murder Kareem Said.
    "Pack up your things... and get the FUCK OUT OF MY PRISON!"
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: For the most part, but his pettiness often gets the better of him.
  • Revenge Before Reason: After his daughter his raped by a latino, he focuses his rage on the first latino he sees: Miguel Alvarez.
  • Sanity Slippage: Mostly it's a power craze, but the various stresses he deals with and his repeated problems in his personal life don't do him any favors.
  • Save the Villain: Averted. Schillinger pleads to be allowed to help one of his sons, and Glynn shuts him down hard, flat-out admitting that it's payback for Schillinger fucking with him in the past. When Schillinger frantically protests that his son will die, Glynn tells him "Maybe you'll be luckier with the second." He isn't.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: During his run for Lieutenant Governor. He gets better once he pulls out of the race.

    McManus 

Tim McManus

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Tim_McManus_2372.jpg
"I may be blind but I'm not dumb."
Played By: Terry Kinney

A liberal idealist who forms Emerald City for purposes of making a perfect prison where rehabilitation and conflict are resolved. Often seen as weak for supposedly soft approaches to dealing with the inmates, he still manages to come out on top of many situations.


  • Bourgeois Bohemian: Downplayed, but he's implied to be college-educated and left leaning politically. This puts him at odds with the more conservative Glynn, and the working-class prison guards. Querns describes him as "a white, candy-ass liberal".
  • Butt-Monkey: Things just seem to conspire against him.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Its usually the only way he can keep his sanity.
  • Establishing Character Moment: His first central scene has him calmly explaining to Dino Ortolani the purpose of Em City and why he's there despite being a lifer. It ends with him screaming at Ortolani to get the fuck out of his office.
  • Freudian Excuse: McManus grew up near Attica, in a town where everyone either worked as a prison guard at the prison or (like his dad) worked at a business where a good chunk of the customers were prison guards. For his tenth birthday, rather than a party, McManus was forced to attend the funeral of one of his friend's dad, who died at the infamous 1971 riot at the prison. He discusses this with Said, who lampshades it by saying, 'Emerald City is your birthday party.'
  • Good Is Not Nice: He's a very good guy with great intentions but he can be really petty at times.
  • Head-in-the-Sand Management: Occasionally his Wide-Eyed Idealist nature strays into this. Him blowing off Ryan O'Reily's warning about Guillaume Tarrant and his unfathomably stupid decision to put Omar White in the same cell with Idzik are examples that led to completely unnecessary deaths.
  • Holier Than Thou: Very moralistic and judgmental, despite also having some idealistic tendencies.
  • Honor Before Reason: He surrenders himself as a hostage during the prison riot, despite knowing it will put him at the mercy of Scott Ross, who pretty obviously wants to kill him.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Part of what makes his job so difficult is he's forced to trust people that really ought not to be trusted.
  • Hot-Blooded: He can be an angry, angry man.
  • Hypocrite: Despite all his idealistic talk and desire for making Oz better, when he had the chance to expose the corruption and drug running going on in Oz to the news he blatantly refused because it would mean betraying Glynn for giving him back his job after his mental breakdown. It's clear Tim cares little about his ideals, the prison's well being, or the prisoners' rehabilitation as much as he says he does. Only keeping his job and feeling significant as a "redeemer" figure for self-important reasons.
  • Internal Reformist: He recognizes that the prison system is fundamentally flawed, but believes the solution is to build a better, more compassionate prison.
  • Kavorka Man: It's unclear whether he's Informed Attractiveness or not, but the ladies can't get enough of this guy.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Wittlesey moving to England drove McManus to drinking, singing Camptown Races at a wake for a slain black CO, and Glynn finally firing him.
  • The McCoy: To Glynn's Kirk and Governor Devlin's Spock.
  • Not So Above It All: Tim tends to lose his temper just as much as, if not more than, the prisoners in his care.
  • Really Gets Around: Without exception, he's slept with all of the female staff except Sister Peter Marie. In fact, when a liaison from the government joins the staff, it ends up being his ex-wife. It becomes an issue when he's accused of sexual harassment. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, no one can seem to believe him.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: He's constantly making stupid decisions, which no one ever hesitates to point out.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: His belief in rehabilitating his prisoners and reforming the prison system sometimes verges on foolishness and willful blindness. This is portrayed as both a positive and negative character trait.
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    Sister Pete 

Sister Peter Marie Reimondo

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Peter_Marie_Reimondo_9943.jpg
"Don't think of me as a psychologist. Don't think of me as a nun. Think of me as your mother."
Played By: Rita Moreno

A psychiatrist and nun, she is the main force of good inside of the prison and often is helpful to McManus, Father Ray Mukada and Dr. Gloria Nathan in whatever conflict they are trying to solve.


  • Cool Old Lady: She's one of the few figures beloved by everyone in the series.
  • Grandma, What Massive Hotness You Have!: The reaction of many inmates towards her. A small group actually voted her the hottest woman in the prison. Then again, she is played by Rita Moreno. When she was younger, va-va-voom!
  • Hidden Depths: Sister Pete has had an interesting life outside of being a nun, and is very knowledgeable about a number of topics.
  • Hollywood Nuns : Averted. Sister Pete doesn't wear a habit and her primary role is as the prison's psychologist. She's also warm-hearted and motherly, in contradiction with the stereotype. The only oddity is that she insists that she's a nun rather than a sister, and the former are usually cloistered while the latter are normally engaged in helping professions. But even sisters are sometimes called "nuns" in casual conversation.
  • The McCoy: Sister Pete is quite passionate about her causes, particularly the death penalty.
  • Never Mess with Granny: When she is attacked during a rally against the death penalty, her response is to calmly kick the attacker's ass.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Not ranked all that high in the prison hierarchy, but probably the most reasonable authority figure in Oz.
  • Team Mom : One of few "feminine" influences on the inmates, she cares for them in a way their own mothers probably did not.
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