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Characters / Perry Mason (2020)

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Perry Mason
Portrayed By: Matthew Rhys
A small-time farmer and WWI veteran, eking out a living in LA as a private investigator employed by an attorney's office.
  • The Alleged Car: He drives a beat-up milk van.
  • Beard of Sorrow: Well, Perma-Stubble of sorrow, but he has a very noticeable five o'clock shadow and is pretty depressed.
  • Blackmail Backfire: Perry stakes out comedic actor Chubby Carmichael on behalf of the studio, and when he snaps pictures of Carmichael with an up-and-coming starlet, he tries to blackmail his employer for more cash. In response, the studio pays him a grand total of one dollar and burns his chest with the barrel of a gun. By his own admission, he overplayed his hand considerably.
  • Bullying a Dragon: He has a tendency to clash with much more powerful people, like a studio boss and the LAPD.
  • Closest Thing We Got: He only becomes an attorney because no other lawyer will take Emily Dodson's case.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Perry always has a great one-liner ready.
  • Disappeared Dad: He fails to pay alimony and is mostly absent in his son's life. While he does appear to feel bad about it, he doesn't really take any steps towards changing the situation.
  • The Eeyore: He’s often depressed and rarely shows any kind of joy. One of his first scenes shows him in a movie theater watching one of Carmichael's movies; everyone is laughing uproariously while he simply stares at the screen emotionlessly. He gradually becomes more animated and lively over the course of Season 1. Lampshaded by Pete.
    Pete: You know what your problem is? You don’t find any joy in life.
  • Evil Stole My Faith: He quips that God left him in France (i.e. in the war).
  • Hardboiled Detective: A classic one, right down to wearing a fedora and trench coat and always being accompanied by his trusty camera.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Perry is an alcoholic, depressed cynic, but his heart is in the right place and he’s proves to be a firm believer in giving justice to innocents.
  • Jury and Witness Tampering: He bribes a juror (via Pete) to get Emily a mistrial; it turns out to be unnecessary, since Perry did manage to convince two jurors of Emily's innocence for real.
  • Mercy Kill: During the war, Perry killed grievously wounded soldiers of both German and American persuasion.
  • Messy Hair: As part of his generally disheveled appearance, he can't bother to get his curls under control (although he does start making an effort after changing careers).
  • My God, What Have I Done?: After inadvertently getting Emily arrested in his desperate attempt to prove Matthew innocent.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Perry is the one who reveals Emily Dodson's affair to the police and thus gets her arrested.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Baggerly brings up how Perry's "blue ticket" discharge from the Army, an administrative discharge for undesirables, was the kind normally used for black people and gay people.note 
  • Phony Degree: Subverted. His law degree is real, but the way by which he comes by it involves fake documents and cheating on the bar exam.
  • Private Detective: A classic example. He never leaves home without his fedora, notepad, and camera.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: His experiences during wartime left him with lingering trauma.
  • Wrong Line of Work: Perry is, frankly, a terrible PI when it comes to anything outside of investigating, since he's too confrontational and emotional to avoid pissing people off, even when it's a really bad idea. Those same qualities turn out to make him a rather good and charismatic lawyer. Tellingly, he starts to lighten up and become less depressed after becoming one.


Della Street
"So many windmills, so little time."
Portrayed By: Juliet Rylance

The loyal and driven legal secretary of E.B. Jonathan.


Officer Paul Drake
Portrayed By: Chris Chalk

An expecting father and LAPD beat cop who becomes involved in the Dodson case when he stumbles on some suspect evidence.

  • Dirty Cop: Averted. He’s the only honest cop on the LAPD, and though Holcomb and Ennis almost force him into becoming one, he ultimately quits rather than compromise his principles.
  • Only Sane Man: For the LAPD, being the only officer who isn’t corrupt or incompetent, or any combination of the two.
  • Race Lift: white in the original show, now Black.


Pete Strickland
Portrayed By: Shea Whigham

Mason's work partner.

  • Ascended Fanboy: He's a big fan of Chubby Carmichael’s movies, and is clearly excited about meeting him, even if he’s supposed to be gathering dirt on them. When a naked Carmichael chases after him and Perry, Pete is completely enamored.
    Perry He threw a shoe at me.
  • Bribe Backfire: Ennis attempts to bribe Pete with a prostitute; Pete is so offended that he continues his investigation despite Perry being unable to pay him.
  • Butt-Monkey: He's the victim of Mason's jokes and ire, and E.B. considers him a "degenerate".
  • Deadpan Snarker: He works well with Perry.
  • Dirty Cop: Formerly; he used to work on the vice squad and is implied to have indulged in some less-than-legal perks of the job. He's not proud of this and despises corrupt cops like Ennis and Holcomb, and parts ways with Perry after the latter asks him to bribe a juror.

    Sister Alice 

Sister Alice McKeegan
Portrayed By: Tatiana Maslany

A preacher and leader of the Radiant Assembly of God.

  • Believing Their Own Lies: It's ambiguous just how much Alice believes in her own abilities, especially after the debacle of Charlie's "resurrection"
  • Cosmic Plaything: Alice is a genuinely good person, but things continue to go wrong for her because of her well-meaning actions and the abusive and predatory people surrounding her. Ultimately, she winds up leaving town and escaping to a new life after having enough.
  • Expy: of Aimee Semple McPherson, founder of the Angelus Temple megachurch in Los Angeles' Echo Park neighborhood.
  • Token Good Teammate: She's the only member of the Radiant Assembly of God who isn't a corrupt hypocrite concerned with lining their own pockets and who genuinely wants to help people.


Elias Birchard "E.B." Jonathan
"Be my eyes, son."
Portrayed By: John Lithgow

A struggling attorney and regular employer of Perry Mason.

  • Broken Ace: E.B. is an intelligent man and brilliant attorney, but his career has taken a major downturn and he finds himself struggling to keep his practice together, is beset by potential financial ruin and his age is taking a serious toll on him.
  • Cool Old Guy: He's a sharp, hammy older man who's immediately endearing despite having a grumpy streak. He's also played by John Lithgow, making him one by default.
  • Disappeared Dad: As it turns out, he's completely estranged from his son and son's family.
  • Driven to Suicide: When Barnes blackmails him and he's faced with either purposefully losing a case or being disbarred, he gasses himself to death.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: He’s helped almost all of the powerful authority figures on LA reach their positions, yet when he asks them for favors, he gets dismissed within seconds.
  • The Gadfly: He proclaims he will get his hair cut so he looks good when he laughs at Maynard’s flimsy evidence. He later has himself interviewed as he is getting his haircut just to stick it to him.
  • Grumpy Old Man: E.B. can come across as more than a little bitter and crotchety, although he's hardly mean or cruel.
  • Large Ham: He has a dramatic and grandiose way of speaking. Of course being played by John Lithgow makes him being hammy inevitable.


District Attorney's Office


District Attorney Maynard Barnes
Portrayed By: Stephen Root

The LA district attorney.

  • Ambition Is Evil: He pursues the Dodson case not because he cares about justice for a murdered child but because the publicity will further his career and enhance his chances for higher political office.
  • Amoral Attorney: He will ruin people's lives and commit illegal actions for the sake of forwarding his own career.
  • Establishing Character Moment: He’s introduced smugly bragging about how he’ll pin the murder on the innocent Matthew and tries to bait him into anything that can be taken as a confession; when EB calls him on it and takes the crying Matthew out, Maynard watches them without a shred of empathy. This immediately establishes him as an Amoral Attorney who does whatever it takes to kick off his career, no matter how unethical.
  • Hate Sink: Barnes is consistently shown to be absolutely loathsome: he's smug, hypocritical, selfish, callous, and corrupt, and any redeeming qualities he shows are quickly subverted.
  • Hypocrite: Barnes is constantly smugly mocking and bragging his opponents when he has an advantage on them. The second they do the same to him, he's immediately sent into a self-righteous rage. It's subtly implied his blackmail of EB was motivated by EB mocking him the same way Barnes had been mocking him for several episodes, and Perry smugly grinning at Barnes after getting a mistrial declared contributes to his Villainous Breakdown.
  • Kick the Dog: Having Emily arrested in the middle of her own son's funeral was unnecessary and needlessly cruel, and he could easily have arrested her afterwards, but he wanted to make it a spectacle to drum up publicity for himself. When she starts begging to stay for the whole funeral and starts calling out her dead son's name while crying, he watches her completely unmoved.
  • Lack of Empathy: He clearly doesn't care that he’s ruining an innocent and grieving couple's life just to forward his own career, and he's often shown coldly watching Matthew and Emily's plight without a shred of empathy.
  • Large Ham: Much like EB, he is very dramatic and grandiose.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The Dodson case being declared a mistrial and his subsequent assault of a reporter ruin his career and tank his chances of moving up the political ranks.
  • Smug Snake: Perpetually smug, and spends much of his time with EB bragging about his supposedly airtight case, when in reality his evidence is so thin he winds up having to blackmail EB to have a chance. The second Perry starts winning the case, Barnes completely deflates.
  • Villainous Breakdown: He has two. The first comes when Perry starts winning the case, at which point Barnes visibly deflates and is reduced to calling out objections ineffectively. The second comes when the Dodson case is declared a mistrial, where he goes into a fit of barely Suppressed Rage while Perry smugly grins at him, and ends with him attacking a reporter for asking him awkward questions.


Assistant District Attorney Hamilton Burger
Portrayed By: Justin Kirk

  • The Beard: He and Della are this to one another, as he is gay and she is a lesbian.

The Radiant Assembly of God


Birdy McKeegan

Portrayed By: Lili Taylor

Alice's mother.

  • Abusive Parents: Besides keeping her daughter on a short leash and psychologically compliant, a flashback shows her pimping out the teenage Alice when their car breaks down in the desert.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Besides her treatment of Alice, it's strongly implied she was the mastermind behind the disappearance of Charlie's body and his "resurrection"
  • Stage Mom: Manages Alice's image from behind the scenes.


Herman Baggerly
Played By: Robert Patrick

Matthew's wealthy and illegitimate father and a member of the Radiant Assembly of God who hires EB to defend them in court.

  • Toxic Friend Influence: He proves to be a bad influence on Matthew, encouraging him to become increasingly self-righteous and spiteful.


Elder Brown

Portrayed By: David Wilson Barnes

A member of the Radiant Assembly of God.


Elder/Deacon Eric Seidel

Portrayed By: Taylor Nichols

A member of the Radiant Assembly of God.


George Gannon

Played By: Aaron Stanford

A member of the Radiant Assembly of God who Emily had an affair with, who has a critical connection to the case.

  • Asshole Victim: Considering he kidnapped the Dodgsons' baby and was partially responsible for said baby's accidental death, it's hard to feel sympathy for his death.
  • Never Suicide: He's found with his head blasted to bits by a seemingly self-inflicted shotgun blast... but it's no suicide.

The Dodsons


Emily Dodson
Portrayed By: Gayle Rankin

The mother of Charlie Dodson, a 1-year-old child who is mysteriously kidnapped.

  • Replacement Goldfish: At the end of the first season she apparently decides to take in the baby Birdy gave her as the "resurrected" Charlie, despite clearly knowing he's a different baby.
  • Slut-Shaming: The prosecution focuses on the fact she had an affair to villainize her to the jury.
  • Sympathetic Adulterer: Zig zagged. Her relationship with Matthew had stagnated and George made her feel wanted, but she also left Charlie alone in a hotel room while she had sex with George next door.


Matthew Dodson
Portrayed By: Nate Corddry

A grocery store owner whose 1-year-old son, Charlie, is kidnapped.

  • Disproportionate Retribution: He tried to have Emily declared guilty and executed just because he’s angry at her infidelity.
  • Never My Fault: He refuses to accept his responsibility for Emily's affair, even when it's all but stated that she only did it because of his gambling addiction and abuse of her.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: While far from perfect, he starts out as a sympathetic victim who clearly cares about Emily in spite of his flaws. A combination of the stress of the trial, Baggerly's influence, and the discovery of Emily's affair results in him becoming increasingly spiteful and cruel.

Los Angeles Police Department


Sgt. Joe Ennis
Portrayed By: Andrew Howard

An LAPD detective.

  • Asshole Victim: Howard and Holcomb have him drowned for calling to much attention to himself.
  • Bald of Evil: He's bald and a ruthless dirty cop with no qualms about committing murder.
  • Dirty Cop: The end of the first episode reveals him to be a part of the kidnappers plot when he murders the three kidnappers.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: He threatens to shoot Perry for annoying him. Judging by his later actions, he probably would have followed through with it if Holcomb hadn’t stopped him.
  • Establishing Character Moment: He has two in the first episode. His first scene has him callously questioning Matthew Dodson and implying he killed his own son, and his second scene has him threatening to shoot Perry, and having to be forced to leave by Holcomb to make sure he doesn’t follow through on his threats. Both of these establish that Ennis is corrupt, cruel, and perfectly willing to flat-out break the law to get what he wants.
  • Icy Blue Eyes: He has blue eyes, which convey how much of a monster he is.
  • Jerkass: The man is a gigantic dick: bullying, racist, sexiest, cruel and sadistic.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: It initially seems like he’ll get away with his involvement in the kidnapping, but Holcomb has Al Howard’s men drown him for calling to much attention to himself.
  • Lack of Empathy: While murdering the kidnappers, he doesn't show any emotion as he methodically guns them down them, and when he runs out of bullets, he calmly crushes an already fatally wounded kidnapper's throat as though he were merely stepping on a bug.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: He makes an extremely racist and racial slur-filled joke about black protesters, and later he mocks Drake for doing his job and “playing detective”.
  • Sadist: Ennis loves making other people squirm, and takes great joy in making people suffer, especially if they can’t fight back, whether it be merely taunting them, to drawing out their deaths for his own amusement.
  • Smug Snake: Ennis is always self-assured and unbearably smug.
  • You Have Failed Me: The reason Holcomb and Howard have him killed.


Det. Gene Holcomb
Portrayed By: Eric Lange

An LAPD detective.

  • Dirty Cop: He's corrupt, but far more pragmatic about it than Ennis.
  • Establishing Character Moment: His comes when he notes to Perry that he doesn’t care about finding Charlie Dodgson’s true killer, and simply wants to put his career into the fast lane, but genuinely thanks him for the information he brings while threatening him at the same time, and preventing Ennis from attacking him. This establishes Holcomb as corrupt, but far more restrained and less sadistic than his partner.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: He’s clearly uncomfortable with arresting Emily in the middle of her own son’s funeral.
  • Ignored Epiphany: During Alice’s speech at Charlie Dodson’s funeral service, he clearly looks like he’s feeling guilty about his corrupt actions, but he goes ahead and arrests Emily in the middle of the funeral immediately after.
  • It's All About Me: He wants to pin Charlie’s murder on his own father Matthew just so he can get himself on the fast track to a promotion.
  • Jerkass: He arrests Matthew in the middle of a church service about his dead son, and later arrests Emily in the middle of her son’s funeral.
  • Karma Houdini: Gets away with helping cover up the kidnapping ring and his corrupt behavior.
  • A Lighter Shade of Black: Holcomb is a corrupt, self-interested piece of work but he's notably more reserved and careful than his partner Ennis; he doesn't show any overt signs of sadism.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: He is just as corrupt and villainous as Ennis but he recognizes that some crimes are just not worth committing because they are too high profile for them to cover up if things go wrong.

Other Characters


Lupe Gibbs
Portrayed By: Veronica Falcón

A pilot who is in a sexual relationship with Mason.

  • Spicy Latina: She's Latina, and is a driven, passionate woman in a casual relationship with Mason.

    Judge Wright 

Judge Fred Wright

Played By: Matt Frewer

The judge of Emily’s case.


Virgil Sheets
Portrayed By: Jefferson Mays

A morgue attendant and informant for Perry.

  • Nice Guy: He's rarely anything other than polite and cheerful.


Al Howard

Portrayed by: Andrew Divoff

The corrupt owner of the casino where George Gannon worked.

  • Affably Evil: He's always friendly and amiable, and is one of the only people to be one-hundred percent helpful to Perry during his investigation. He's also a crime boss, and has Ennis drowned as a favor to Holcomb.