Residents Of Annville, Texas
Rev. John Custer
Jesse Custer's father and former preacher of Annville.
- Adaptation Personality Change: He's quite different from his comic counterpart, who was an often irreverent ex-marine. This version is straight-laced and openly religious.
- Adaptational Job Change: His comic counterpart was a marine, and a bartender after meeting Jesse's mother. He's a reverend on the show, having built the church where Jesse currently ministers, and with no mention of any military past.
- Adaptational Jerkass: Downplayed. Marine Private John Custer was a tough, straightforward but loving man who never beat his kid, and dearly loved his wife and son. The first Preacher Custer also loved his family, but was much more stern, even harsh, in dealing with Jesse and especially his young friend Tulip. John Custer beat his son in front of other children on at least a couple of occasions to instill discipline, and rather cruelly shipped Tulip off to Child Services, ignoring the protestations of his son. While Preacher Custer is indeed a basically good man and definitely loves his son, it is very hard for anyone who has read the original comic to imagine Marine Custer being so cruel.
- Anti-Nihilist: John urges Jesse to be a good guy since there's "too many of the bad."
- Boom, Headshot!: How he is executed by Jody, on Miss Marie's orders.
- Dare to Be Badass: "We Custers don't cry. We fight."
- Death by Origin Story: His death is what ultimately puts Jesse where he is at the start of the series and goes a long way to explain why he is the way he is.
- Face Death with Dignity: He shows no fear whatsoever in the face of death.
- Posthumous Character: He's long-dead by the time the show begins.
- Real Men Love Jesus: Surprisingly enough for this series, this is played mostly straight. From what has been revealed about him so far, he's both devoutly religious and traditionally manly.
- Tough Love: John appeared to have not only put Jesse to work in maintaining the church they resided in, but also regularly thrashed him with his belt in front of other children in order to "set an example."
A young widow and single mother of three, Emily excels in the practicalities of life, juggling several jobs and upholding her church duties for Preacher Jesse Custer, but simmering beneath the surface are a whole lot of dark and debased desires.
- All Love Is Unrequited: Implied to have feelings for Jesse.
- The Anti-Nihilist: While the rest of the townspeople are shown doing whatever they please after learning that God has gone missing, Emily tells her children that is no reason at all to stop doing good things.
- Canon Foreigner: Probably the most prominent example in the first season.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Is presumably killed along with everyone else in Annville after the methane explosion.
- Friend to All Living Things: She was willing to let Cassidy consume Miles just so she wouldn't have to feed him any of the animals Tulip bought.
- Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: She goes from a nice if somewhat emotionally troubled woman to feeding Miles to Cassidy!
- Locked Out of the Loop: Only knows Jesse as the other person in town besides her who cares enough to keep the church running; Cassidy is just a free-loader who holes up with Jesse; and Jesse does everything he can to keep any knowledge about Tulip away from her. No idea about any of the strange powers, vampires, or criminals in town. She eventually learns about Cassidy's true nature in "Finish the Song".
- Never Found the Body: Due to everything in Annville being blown to smithereens. There's a chance she'll have survived somehow, of course, but Word of God says not to hold your breath on this one.
- Rage Breaking Point: Mild example but the stress of working multiple jobs and dealing with annoying church-goers like Ted puts a strain on her and when Jesse, who seems to be her only colleague, says he intends to quit, she responds to her loud kids by snapping their iPad.
Sheriff Hugo Root
Sheriff Root is Annvilles local lawman, a tough, conservative redneck who loves his deformed son but is dubious of Eugenes faith in Preacher Custer.
- Adaptational Expansion: He gets an expanded look at his personality and skillset in the series, and he even comes out more well rounded and competent for it, even if he is still largely an asshole. He even possibly survives his last appearance on the show; unlike his comic counterpart, who was enough of an asshole that he inspired Jesse to use the Word to to have Root mutilate and defile himself. After that particular indignity, Comic Root had his son retrieve his gun as he was being loaded into the ambulance, and he killed himself immediately.
- Adaptational Badass: The show version of Root is a lot more perceptive and intelligent than he was in the comics, not only able to deduce Cassidy being a vampire from few bits of circumstantial evidence but also devise an effective interrogation method. In addition, while his most impressive feat in the comics was to get the drop on Tulip and Jesse, in the series he is able to draw and shoot a charging Cassidy without breaking a sweat.
- Adaptational Heroism: He's hardly a nice guy, but he's far more sympathetic and human than the racist, homophobic, frothing-at-the-mouth, abusive one-note jerk from the comics.
- Catchphrase: Whenever he encounters something fucked-up (which happens a great deal in Annville), will always shake his head and top that off with "This world...".
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Is implied to be a heavy reader of tabloids, and takes rumors and personal statements at more or less face value. He also figures out that Cassidy is a vampire off very little information, and chides himself for not noticing it sooner.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Was in Annville when the methane explosion took out the entire town, presumably killing everyone but the Seraphim.
- Everyone Has Standards: Like Tulip, he's disgusted by Odin's utter Lack of Empathy for a dead woman. He also derisively refers to the townsfolk as 'jackals' for their bloodthirsty voyeurism.
- Jerkass Has a Point:
- He refuses to act on Jesse's fears that Donnie is a Domestic Abuser, but it's later revealed to be Safe, Sane, and Consensual BDSM play.
- He seems overly harsh towards his son, who only seems to want to be nice and make Dad happy but when you learn that Eugene tried to commit a murder-suicide because the girl he had a crush on wasn't interested and she's still a vegetable because of it you can understand why he's a little conflicted about the issue. This is subverted in that she actually shot herself and he ended up trying (and failing) to kill himself in order to not take the blame for it.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Sheriff Root shows a disgusting lack of concern for Betsy when her husband beats her and doesn't let his son attend church, but as certain facts come to light his actions become much more understandable. He also makes it clear that he loves his son, despite their differences, and has been jaded by the horrible things he's witnessed as a lawman.
- Overprotective Dad: His behavior in Episodes 2 and 3 indicate that he keeps Eugene out of church and the public out of paranoia rather than embarrassment, and some of his dialogue indicates that he memorizes cases where parents lost their children in especially horrible ways. This is somewhat justified by the fact that he already nearly lost his son, and it puts him in marked contrast with his comic book counterpart. "The South Will Rise Again" shows that almost all of Annville has it out for Eugene, going anywhere from denying him entry to a cafe and calling him "It", to death threats and attempted murder (as demonstrated by a crazed Terri Loach), showing just how necessary this approach is.
- Rage Breaking Point: After a particularly restless night caused by someone leaving a loaded shotgun in his son's room with graffiti painted saying "finish the job", his son tries to comfort him. Unfortunately, this involves trying to awkwardly try cutting his omelette for him despite his protests. Being on edge already, he snaps, screaming "Why don't you just do like they say and FINISH THE JOB!?" He immediately recoils, looking like he just shot him, and is clearly shocked by his own words. As Eugene walks out, he looks like he's about to cry.
- The Sheriff: Of Annville.
Quincannons right-hand man, Donnie is all brawny ambition. When Preacher Jesse Custer resurfaces and publicly undermines Donnies role as the town bully, Donnie becomes hell-bent on evening the score.
- The Bully: Donnie's the bully of the town, picking on anyone and everyone.
- Bullying a Dragon:
- He attacks Jesse for interfering with his marriage. His bullying tactics and threats are ineffective and he roundly gets his ass kicked.
- The second time he pulls a gun on Jesse in the bathroom stall, who unfortunately for Donnie has just realized the power of his voice and ends up with his gun in his own mouth, almost made to blow his own brains out before Jesse lays off.
- Butt-Monkey: He's made to squeak like a rabbit after threatening to hurt his son in front of Jesse, mocked by his kid's peers for said noise when letting his kid onto the school bus and finally, when trying to shoot Jesse, finds himself at the receiving end of The Hero's Compelling Voice, seated on a toilet with his own gun in his mouth.
- Despair Event Horizon: Upon finding out the truth about God the reveal left Donnie in a near-catatonic depression.
- Domestic Abuse: His son believes that he's beating his wife but in reality, the two participate in consensual sadomasochistic sexual activities.
- Dressed to Kill: He dresses in his Confederate uniform for the assault on Jesse's church.
- Driven to Suicide: Subverted. Partway through "El Valero", after seeing just how futile the fight against Jesse is, he goes to his car, places his head in the trunk, pulls out his gun and pulls the trigger. We don't see him again until he shows up in the church, sporting a pair of bleeding ears and feeling very proud of himself.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: He's in Annville when it blows up, and presumably dies along with everyone else who hadn't left and wasn't immortal.
- Establishing Character Moment: The first time the viewer sees him, he's firing a rifle at a squirrel right outside of the church and proudly stating that he "Abe Lincolned" it by shooting it in the back of the head. All you need to know about how much of a Politically Incorrect Villain Jerkass he is.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: The one redeeming trait Donnie has is his genuine love for his wife Betsy and son Chris.
- Handicapped Badass: Even after getting his arm broken by Jesse, he is still able to repeatedly slam the face of one of his subordinates into the car dashboard.
- Donnie deafens himself with a loud gunshot to render himself immune to Jesse's "Word". This enables him to singlehandedly end the church standoff by sneaking in and getting the drop on Jesse.
- HeelFace Turn: In the season finale, Donnie becomes Jesse's ally after undergoing an off-screen Heel Realization and out of gratitude for preventing him from becoming an actual murderer.
- Henpecked Husband: At first, it seems that he's an overbearing abuser. The reality is that he's just the dominant in a consensual sadomasochistic relationship, and his wife has all the power.
- Hidden Depths: In the season finale he's shown reading Gorillas In The Mist.
- Jerkass: He's a sadistic, violent bully.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He at least genuinely cares for his family and seemingly learns from Jesse's act of mercy towards him and uses it to (eventually) become a better person. Too bad about the town then...
- Life-or-Limb Decision: He goes as far as wrecking his own sense of hearing to be immune against Jesse's ability.
- No-Nonsense Nemesis: Despite coming off as a dumbass bully and Butt-Monkey for seven episodes, he is the first person in the series to come up with a counter to The Word: inducing deafness. With a gunshot.
- Number Two: To Odin Quincannon, whom the Corrupt Corporate Executive even refers to as his right-hand man.
- Pet the Dog: He does take the time to explain to his son Chris, a little awkwardly, that the pain he inflicts on Betsy is consensual, and he seems to find it important not to have his son thinking the worst of him.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: He's a Confederate sympathizer and his wife even repeats the words, "The South will rise again," to him to cheer him up.
- Punch-Clock Villain: He's the right-hand man for Corrupt Corporate Executive Odin Quincannon but he's otherwise in a loving relationship with his wife and son.
- Redemption Equals Death: After antagonizing Jesse throughout the series entirety he received an off-screen Heel Realization and became Jesse's ally. Too bad it was all for nothing when he and the rest of the civilians of Annville got blown up.
- Sadist: Donnie is a sadist of the highest order; he loves hurting people, regardless of who it is. He even breaks the nose of an underling just to make himself feel better and get through the day.
- Steel Eardrums: Averted and invoked. Just before the final raid on Jesse's church, Donnie goes to his car, sticks his head in the trunk, and fires his revolver inside it, looking to have killed himself...until he sneaks up to Jesse, gun in hand and with a pair of burst eardrums, rendering The Word useless against him."What was that? I can't hear you."
- Would Hurt a Child: After attacking Jesse, he states his intentions to go beat his son for telling Jesse about him beating his wife. This level of depravity is what sets Jesse off enough to kick Donnie's ass.
A small, decrepit man with the unscrupulous iron will necessary to be the most powerful man in Annville County, Texas. The chief employer in town, Odin runs Quincannon Meat & Power, a 125-year-old family run cattle slaughterhouse business.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: Odin is almost deformed looking in the comics, while in the show he's merely below average height and bald.
- Affably Evil: Quincannon may be the Big Bad of the first season but he's fairly polite to Jesse, even well disagreeing with everything he stands for.
- Bait the Dog: In Episode 5, Odin has become religious thanks to Jesse's Word of God and tells the mayor that he intends to do business with the eco-friendly company at last. When he does finally see them at the end of the episode, he's very genial, offering them drinks and speaking politely... until he suddenly pulls out a shotgun and kills all of them without changing expression.
- Bald of Evil: There's not a hair on his head or a touch of mercy in his soul.
- Big Bad: In the first season, Quincannon is the biggest opposing force to Jesse, butting heads with him over the land rights for his church.
- Brutal Honesty: Odin doesn't employ even a hint of tact when he tells those of his employees that have blunt weapons that they are human shields.
- Cessation of Existence: He believes that there is nothing beyond death and as such cares nothing for church services. The reason he believes this is that after his entire family was killed in a horrible cable car accident, he took apart their corpses as well as the corpse of a cow. Not seeing a soul or spirit within his family's viscera, he comes to the conclusion that human beings are just meat underneath; nothing less and nothing more.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Quincannon is introduced with his men intimidating a couple to sign over the rights to their house to increase his company's profitability. As the season goes on, he becomes more proactive in increasing his business' expansion and makes moves on Jesse's church for the land.
- Deadpan Snarker: He cruelly mocks Donnie for being a right-hand man without his right hand without even changing tone.
- Despair Event Horizon: Hit this after the death of his family, after he took apart his daughter's corpse and that of a cow, and realizing he couldn't tell which was which.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: He's presumably very near to the centre of the blast that destroys Annville since it originates at his factory and he's shown to be in his office at the time. Of all the Annville characters he's the least likely to have survived - and the outlook isn't good for anyone except the Seraphim to begin with.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: He cherished his family and his Start of Darkness began when they died in a ski accident.
- Exact Words: Jesse commanded him to "serve God". He did not specify which God. As Odin believes that only physical things exist, he serves the "God of Meat" aka the God of the physical world, and therefore wants to tear down Jesse's church as a place of worship of a nonphysical God.
- Excrement Statement: Angrily pisses on a pamphlet from an eco-friendly company whose ideas the mayor was urging him to consider.
- Fake Guest Star: Credited as a "special guest," but he appears in as many episodes as series regulars Eugene (counting hallucinations), Donnie, and DeBlanc.
- Flat-Earth Atheist: He doesn't believe in God or the afterlife, both of which do exist.
- Four Eyes, Zero Soul: He wears a pair of thick glasses and... well, look at the rest of his tropes.
- Freudian Excuse: His entire family died in a freak ski accident. This caused a Sanity Slippage in him, as well as a hate for the Christian God, as well as believing in the God of Meat.
- Hollywood Atheist: A very straight example. The death of his family has convinced him that there is no God or afterlife, and he's bitterly hateful towards religion for spreading what he regards as lies.
- Also subverted, as he clearly has a great deal of respect for Jesse before Jesse backs off on their deal to turn over the church.
- Hope Spot: When God finally shows Himself, the only question Odin has to ask is if his daughter is there with him. Much to his relief and joy, He confirms this. Then the truth is revealed and Odin joins other Parishioners in destroying the Church before going into full-on Sanity Slippage.
- Lack of Empathy:
- He ignores the looks of discomfort from the homeowners while intimidating them into giving up their land for his company. As he lists the employment fields Quincannon Meat & Power provides, he even boredly drones off, completely uninterested in the couple's plight.
- When Donnie feebly tries to pick up Odin's lunch tray with one hand while his other arm is in a sling, he irritably dismisses him and laments having a right-hand man "without a right hand".
- Madness Mantra: "MEAT!", combined with him beginning to praise his own "God of Meat" after Jesse unwittingly causes him to, indicates a sharp and permanent drop in his sanity.
- Sanity Slippage: While Quincannon is already pretty mentally unhinged, the revelation that God is missing drives him over the edge, especially when he had just been told by "God" that his daughter was in Heaven with Him. The last we see of him is him cradling a child-sized wad of meat dressed in what is presumably his daughter's parka.
- The Sociopath: Ultimately subverted; at first, he seems to be a clear-cut case of an unfeeling sociopath. He appears bored at the best of times and irritated the rest of the time. He prefers his solitude, during which he listens to animals being slaughtered on audiotape. He also allows his men to run wild, doing whatever they like as long as it doesn't impact negatively on him. When a young woman is killed due to a sadistic game his men were playing, Odin gets up and gives a speech only because it's expected. He makes it obvious he doesn't give a shit, merely telling the boys to be careful with rough-housing and the girls to watch their step. And yet, it's gradually revealed that he does have human feelings and his demeanor is brought on by cynicism and depression. He's still a dangerous killer, but he has loved and lost.
- Villains Out Shopping: Most of the time, he's seen in his office playing video games or painting models.
Donnie's wife who suffers from his physical abuse. Or so it appears. Her son Chris comes to Jesse asking him to hurt Donnie to end his beatings.
- Abuse Mistake: Jesse and her son Chris think that her bruises and such indicate spousal abuse inflicted upon her by her husband Donnie. As it turns out, it's from their fully mutually consensual BDSM sessions, which Betsy often initiates and directs.
- Casual Kink: The foundation of her and Donnie's marriage. She even dresses up like Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz at the end of Season One.
- Happily Married: Despite what it looks like to Chris (her son) and Jesse, she and her husband have a very passionate and loving, if twisted, relationship.
- Lady Macbeth: She is the one who compels Donnie to stop feeling sorry for himself and take action against the adversities that plague him.
- Not What It Looks Like: Jesse intervenes when he hears from Chris Schneck that his father beats his mother. But when Jesse confronts her with this, Betsy vehemently denies the "abuse" is against her will; she in fact gets off on it.
- Parenting the Husband: Betsy calls out Donnie on his moping around after getting humiliated by the Preacher.
- Quit Your Whining: It is Betsy who tells her husband to "man up" and take control of his life and conquer his troubles and self-doubt. When Donnie refuses to go back to work at Quincannon Meats, Betsy motivates him by threatening to have sex with a guy in Accounting who has been eyeing her.
- Safe, Sane, and Consensual: She admits to having a thing for BDSM, which is mistaken for spousal abuse by her son. Of all the things that Donny has done, being a wife-beater isn't really one of them.
- There Was a Door: After Tulip breaks into the Schenck's home, thinking Donnie (Jesse's former enemy) is holding him captive, and it's revealed that the Schencks are actually sheltering Jesse from the police, Betsy chides Tulip for breaking down their door, as it was open.
Mayor Miles Person
- Asshole Victim: While Emily had no knowledge of this and seemingly did it without any reason, the audience knows that Miles is covering four murders by Odin Quincannon and supports his shady practices in general. He even flat out told Emily at one point that Quincannon Meat and Power will always come before the church.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: He's a friendly guy and really does want his dying town to flourish, but he's so meek and easily cowed that he allows Odin Quincannon to run roughshod over everybody. Miles also feels somewhat entitled to Emily's affections, and his constant pursuit of her is both disrespectful and borderline obsessive: he's clearly trying to wear her down and make her feel like she owes him. In one scene, he's preparing breakfast for her children and shows concern over whether the milk is still fresh, but the second Emily goes he carelessly lets the kids use it anyway.
- Character Death: Towards the end of the first season, Miles is locked in a room with the ravenous vampire Cassidy.
- Dogged Nice Guy: To Emily. She resigns herself to allowing him to run errands for her but dislikes him on the whole. She even occasionally has sex with him, while simultaneously telling him that they're never going to become a couple. He starts to get more aggressive toward the end of the first season.
- Sacrificial Lamb: Emily tricks him into the locked room with starving vampire Cassidy, so that Cassidy may feed on him and recover.
- Secret-Keeper: He not only witnesses Odin Quincannon's mass murder of the corporate execs, he helps cover it up and dispose of the bodies.
- "No matter how hard I try, these urges, they're like big ropes pulling me."
The local school bus driver who harbors dark urges.
- Asshole Victim: He suffers under Jesse's hand, and he hasn't technically done anything wrong. It's very clear, however, from his lack of remorse during confession that he's very much a ticking time bomb, justifying what Jesse did to him. The little girls killing him once they learn the state of religion doesn't bring many tears either.
- Groin Attack: The girl he lusted after castrates him with a machete.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: Is told by Jesse to forget about the girl he lusts after. Unfortunately, the Word of God operates under Exact Words and Linus greets the little girl as if it was the first time they've met.
- Jesse took away the memory of the girl, while still leaving the underlying attraction, just making him creepier when he "meets" her again.
- Out of Focus: After his, er, "baptism", he's not a plot-important character for the rest of the season up until and including his brutal death
- Pædo Hunt: Jesse becomes enraged after learning about Linus' pedophilia and savagely forces his face into boiling water before using his Compelling Voice to order him to forget the girl he lusted after.
- And Show It to You: The unfortunate result of being told by Jesse to "open your heart". He does so in front of his elderly mother.
- Lonely Funeral: Sadly, only Jesse and Emily attend his funeral.
- Meaningful Name: His name is a clear reference to Ned Ryerson, the character played by Stephen Tobolowsky in Groundhog Day. They're rather similar; nice but irritating guys who have pretty much the same conversation with the protagonist every day while refusing to take a hint about how annoying they are.
- Motor Mouth: He continuously talked to Jesse about his problems, to the point of calling him in the middle of the night to do so.
- My Beloved Smother: Poor Teddy has issues with his mother, who manages to be overbearing from Florida.
- Sacrificial Lamb: His death by opening his heart to his mother shows the audience for the first time how the power inside Jesse works.
Odin Quincannon's secretary.
Chief Red Savage
The former mascot of Annville replaced by the more politically correct Pedro the Prairie Dog.
- Brownface: In-Universe example. He is played by a white man dressed as a Native American chief.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: An outdated Native American mascot named "Red Savage."
- Driven to Suicide: He hangs himself after finding out that God is missing.
- Loafing in Full Costume: He even wears the costume to church
- Straight Gay: He and Pedro are in a relationship, though they've hit a rough patch. After a heart-to-heart with Cassidy in jail, he's seen bringing Pedro flowers.
Pedro the Prairie Dog
The new, politically correct mascot of Annville.
- Ambiguous Gender: Always referred to as male but the gender of the person in the costume is unclear.
- Driven to Suicide: Hangs himself alongside Chief Red Savage after finding out that God is missing.
- Political Correctness Gone Mad: Depending on your perspective, the reason for his creation.
- Loafing in Full Costume: Often seen in full costume around town, including in church.