A list of the characters from Queen Sugar and their associated tropes.
The Bordelon Siblings
- Played by: Rutina Wesley
Nova, the eldest of the siblings, is a dedicated journalist and activist who has to balance helping her family with helping her community.
- Betty and Veronica: Nova's Betty is a vivacious black woman named Chantal who shares many of her ideals. Her Veronica is Calvin, her white cop boyfriend who opposes some of her activist work.
- Big Sister Instinct: While a guest on a radio show, Nova defends Charley when the hosts start gossiping about the scandal surrounding her husband.
- Bi the Way: Nova is openly bisexual. She has dated a man named Calvin and a woman named Chantal.
- Black Gal on White Guy Drama: Nova's boyfriend, Calvin, is not only white, but a white police officer working for the department she antagonized. To make matters worse, he's married with kids.
- Canon Foreigner: Nova didn't exist in the novel.
- Cool Aunt: To both her nephews, but she's especially close to Micah. She even invites him to live with her during the week since his new school in Louisiana is much closer to her home than Vi's, where he and his mother live following her separation from his father. Charley forbids it because she doesn't like Nova's neighborhood. Over time, Micah begins emulating Nova more and more.
- Dreadlock Rasta: Nova wears her hair in long dreadlocks and is a down-to-earth spiritualist and herbal healer. This contrasts her with Charley, who straightens her hair and lived a glamorous, fast-paced lifestyle in L.A.
- Fatal Flaw: Her tendency to jump headfirst into big decisions without consulting anyone else.
- Intrepid Reporter: Nova is tired of writing shallow reports at her boss's behest and instead launches her own investigation into the racism, inefficiency, and corruption in the NOPD.
- Lack of Empathy: Played with. She's a crusader for social justice and dedicates herself to the oppressed and less fortunate, but has trouble acknowledging how her actions hurt the people closest to her. When her family members (and Darla) try to explain that her tell-all book will ruin their lives, she doesn't take their concerns seriously and tries to argue that the book will help millions of people, so it was okay for her publish it.
- Mama Bear: Nova's crusade against the NOPD revolves mainly around the case of a teenager called Too Sweet whom Nova is desperately trying to get released from prison so he can start his life over.
- The Mistress: To Calvin, a married cop.
- Parental Substitute: She's a mother figure to Too Sweet. His parents are not seen or mentioned in season 1, but in season 3 it's revealed that Nova is on good terms with his mother, Mary Anne.
- Really Gets Around: In season 2, she's shown having a string of unemotional one-night stands following the end of her relationship with Calvin.
- Secret Relationship: Nova and Calvin, due to the fact that he's married to another woman. Becomes less secret after he leaves her for Nova.
- Soapbox Sadie: Nova is vocal activist who trying to change the systematic racism in the local police department. This puts her at odds with her police officer boyfriend, Calvin.
- This get heavily deconstructed in season 4. Nova publishes a book about all her family's struggles with the intent of using their stories to help others. Everyone in the book is horrified by what she wrote about them and boy do they let her know. Aunt Vi outright disowns her.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: The Tomboy to her sister's Girly Girl.
Charlotte "Charley" Bordelon West
- Played by: Dawn-Lyen Gardner
A wealthy and successful sports manager, middle child Charley finds her life turned upside down after her father dies and her husband becomes embroiled in a sex scandal.
- Broken Pedestal: Toward Davis after his sexual assault of an escort is uncovered.
- Control Freak: Charley tends to micromanage the farm, which her siblings, especially Ralph Angel, find annoying.
- Determinator: Once she commits to making the farm a success, Charley goes to great lengths to reach that goal.
- Education Mama: She wants the best education possible for Micah, which is why she put him in private school and was reluctant to let him attend public school. She's horrified when he rescinds his Harvard acceptance letter to go to Xavier University of Louisiana.
- Expository Hairstyle Change: As she grows closer to her siblings, starts feeling more connected to St. Jo's, and prioritizes the farm over her flashy, high profile career, Charley stops straightening her hair and wears in it's natural state.
- Good Parents: To her son Micah. She's extremely loving, protective, and understanding toward him.
- Guile Hero: She uses her wits and charm to circumvent the Landys' attempts to steal their land.
- Happily Married: Charley and her husband Davis are a wealthy, famous, and successful couple with a wonderful teenage son who adores them. However things between them become strained when Davis's sex scandal break out and Charley eventually files for divorce after learning about the plight of his mistress.
- It's All My Fault: Charley blames herself for the deaths of two migrant workers in her employ. The workers had all wanted to go home, but she told them to work later than planned. The following morning, she found two of them lying dead in the fields and couldn't even identify them.
- Mama Bear: Charley does everything in her power to keep the scandal from touching her son Micah. She also doesn't appreciate Nova interfering in his life without her permission.
- She flips out when Micah tells her that the cop who arrested him threatened to kill him.
- Mixed Ancestry: Charley is the product of Ernest's relationship with a white woman.
- Never Got to Say Goodbye: Charley didn't make it to the hospital until just after her father passed away.
- Performance Anxiety: She used to play the piano when she was younger, but no matter how much she practiced, she couldn't perform well in front of a crowd.
- Rich Bitch: To an extent. She rarely goes out of her way to be malicious, but she looks down on sex workers and the poor, can be highly self-centered, and is willing to threaten her best friend to get a deal that'll save the farm.
- Slut-Shaming: Guilt of this. She's disdainful of sex workers and "low class" women who attach themselves to rich men. Once she learns of Melina's rape, however, she has a Heel Realization and becomes protective of women who've experienced sexual violence.
- Soapbox Sadie: Gradually becomes this, as she starts to take a stand against large corporations that try to explain the local farmers.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: The Girly Girl to her sister's Tomboy.
- Wicked Stepmother: Defied. She's nice to Davis's love child Tia because she understands that Tia isn't responsible for anything that happened between her and Davis. That said, Charley makes it clear she wants no part in raising Tia.
Ralph Angel Bordelon
- Played by: Kofi Siriboe
Ralph Angel, the youngest, is a young single father trying to make his in way in the world after being released from prison.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Ralph Angel pulls a gun on a man for trying to reposes his father truck. It's not the repossession itself that angers him, but the feeling that his life is changing too much and there's nothing he can do to stop it.
- Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Deconstructed. Ralph Angel is fully aware that he's the Foolish Sibling to Nova and Charley and finds it chafing. He considers his sisters' attempts to help him patronizing and doesn't think they have much faith in him.
- Good Parents: He's a loving and devoted father who's doing his best for his son, his legal and financial situation notwithstanding. Even after learning Blue isn't his biological child, Ralph Angel still considers himself Blue's real father and doesn't treat him differently.
- Like Father, Like Son: He takes after his father in several respects, for better or worse. Like Ernest, Ralph Angel is dedicated to the farm and his family, but he also resists asking for or accepting help due a belief that a man should be able to handle everything on his own.
- The Mentor: Ralph Angel starts a prison-reentry for ex-cons, inspired by his own difficulties with rejoining society after his incarceration. He gives them work on the farm and helps steer them away from returning to a life of crime.
- Papa Wolf:
- He's hostile toward Darla in the beginning of season one due to her neglect of Blue and is reluctant to let her have a second chance at motherhood.
- When one of the Landrys implicitly threatens Blue, Ralph Angel nearly throttles him.
- Pride: He wants to prove that he can support himself and his son without anyone's help and sometimes turns to illegal activity to maintain the facade. He hates showing his vulnerabilities and weaknesses, and gets defensive when others call him out on this or try to help him.
- Reformed Criminal: Deconstructed. Ralph Angel is not keen on returning to a life of crime, but circumstances and his own pride make it hard for him to stay out of trouble. For instance, he's roped into stealing from his job by his co-worker because the boss withheld his pay. He couldn't just get another job because not many places are willing to hire an ex-con. When he tries to back out, the co-worker threatens him because He Knows Too Much.
Violet "Vi" Bordelon
- Played by: Tina Lifford
The siblings' aunt and a waitress at a local restaurant.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: When she was seventeen, she fell in love a handsome ne'er-do-well named Jimmy, whom Ernest greatly disliked. Violet and Ernest become estranged when she married Jimmy, but they reconciled after Violet divorced him.
- Cool Aunt: Vi is the voice of reason for the Bordelon clan and a maternal figure to the siblings.
- Domestic Abuse: Her ex-husband Jimmy physically abused and raped her.
- Ill Girl: In season 2, she starts feeling faint at odd times and her hair begins to fall out. Her hairdresser suggests she see a doctor. She's later diagnosed with lupus.
- Mama Bear: Vi doesn't want Darla anywhere near Ralph Angel or Blue after the state she left them in due to her drug addiction.
- Parental Substitute: Vi helps guide her nieces and nephew after her brother's death. She was also Blue's legal guardian for a while during Ralph Angel's incarceration.
- Rank Up: Over the course of season one, she goes from being another waitress to the manager, since she knows the restaurant and the regulars better than anyone. Taken a step further at the end of season 3, when Hollywood buys the restaurant for her.
- Supreme Chef: She's well-known for being an amazing cook and even gets a contract to bake pies for a local supermarket chain. Eventually she opens her own diner.
- Trauma Button: The sudden reappearance of her abusive ex-husband Jimmy causes her to faint from shock. Afterwards she's anxious and despondent even though she knows he left town.
- What the Hell, Hero?: She admonishes Ralph Angel after finding out that he's turned back to crimes and then again after he gets back together with Darla.
Hollingsworth "Hollywood" Desonier
- Played by: Omar J. Dorsey
Violet's much younger boyfriend, an oil rig worker.
- Honorary Uncle: The Bordelon siblings consider him to be part of the family, even during his temporary break-up with Vi. He legally becomes their uncle after marrying Vi.
- Likes Older Women: Hollywood is much younger than Vi, but he's completely devoted to her.
- Mr Fix It: He's pretty handy with a hammer and does repairs to Vi's house when needed.
- Uncle Pennybags: He receives a large paycheck in compensation from the company he worked for after the rig he worked on explodes.
- Your Cheating Heart Hollywood had a wife the whole time he was with Vi. They had been separated for years, ever since her mental breakdown, but were still technically married. He formally divorces his wife to prove to Vi that he's loyal to her.
- Played by: Nicholas L. Ashe
Charley's fifteen year old son, an easygoing kid struggling to deal with the change going on around him.
- Big Brother Mentor: He's an only child, but he plays this role to his little cousin Blue.
- Break the Cutie: While driving the brand new car his father got him for his sixteenth birthday, Micah gets pulled over by a white cop. When he can't produce his license and registration, the cop pulls a gun on him, arrests him, and tosses him in a holding cell. His dad manages to get him out before long, but Micah is left terribly shaken by the experience.
- Broken Pedestal: He's horrified to learn that his father may have raped someone. Happens again when Davis confesses he's been hiding an illegitimate child for years.
- To Nova, after learning that she got back together with Calvin, a white cop.
- Expository Hairstyle Change: In season 4 he returns from a vacation in Paris, having replaced his usual hi-top fade for dreadlocks with an undercut, similar to Nova's look. Charley is put off by this and eventually admits she doesn't like how he's been presenting himself lately.
- Gender Flip: Micah was a daughter in the novel.
- Momma's Boy: He's closer to her than to his father, though he does still care about his dad.
- Never Got to Say Goodbye: His grandfather passed away before he and his mother could make it to see him.
- Parent with New Paramour: He's initially ambivalent about Charley's relationship with Remy, but comes to accept it. Later he helps Blue deal with this after Ralph Angel and Darla break up.
- Soap Box Sadie: Likely due to Nova's influence. When he sees a display honoring a Confederate general at his school, he petitions to have it removed, but no one else is really interested. When he hangs posters everywhere condemning the display, the school finally takes action, but he gets suspended for violating the code of conduct. Taken further after he's assaulted and wrongfully arrested by a white cop. He starts speakings at public rallies, befriends a groups of activists at his new school, and spends his summer vacation in Paris attending conferences and seminar about racial injustice.
- Played by: Timon Kyle Durrett
A star basketball player and Charley's husband, at the center in a scandal that threatens to destroy his family.
- The Charmer: As part of being a celebrity, he can be pretty charismatic when he wants to be. Even after everything he put Charley through, he still gets close to sweet-talking her more than once.
- Disappeared Dad: His father wasn't involved in his life, which is why he was close to Ernest and wants to do right by Micah.
- Domestic Abuse: To his mistress, Melina. He forced her to preform degrading sex acts, verbal abused her, and let his teammates rape her.
- Everything Is Racist: He claims to Nova that he's being presumed guilty because he's black, hoping she'd take his side since she wrote an article on racism in the police force. However, Nova counters by reminding him that despite his race, he's much wealthier and more privileged than the black men and women in her article.
- Good Parents: His one redeeming quality is his commitment to being a good dad to Micah. Having grown up with an absent father, he wants better for his son.
- Happily Married: To Charley, at least until Davis's sex scandal break out. She eventually files for divorce after learning about the plight of his mistress.
- It's All About Me: While he does feel bad about what he put Charley and Micah through, ultimately Davis is primarily concerned with his own desires and protecting his reputation.
- Spared By Adaptation: Charley was a widow in the book.
- Your Cheating Heart: He had a mistress for years while married Charley. Before that he fathered a secret lovechild with different woman just a few years after Micah was born.
- Played by: Ethan Hutchison
Ralph Angel's young son.
- Cheerful Child: He's an upbeat six year old who only wants to be happy with his family.
- Dead Guy Junior: Downplayed. Ralph Angel chose the name "Blue" because it rhymed with his late mother's name, True, and referenced a color, like his aunt Violet's name.
- In Touch with His Feminine Side: Blue plays with a doll named Kenya that he takes everywhere. One of his classmates bullies him over it.
- Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: In season 2, Darla confessions that she cheated on Ralph Angel shortly before learning she was pregnant, so Blue might not be a Bordelon by blood. Despite being heartbroken to learn this, Ralph Angel still considers Blue his son and doesn't love him any less.
- Played by: Glynn Turman
The late patriarch of the Bordelon family.
- Big Brother Instinct: He hated Violet's first husband, Jimmy Dale, for being physically abusive toward her. Hollywood alludes to an incident when Ernest beat him up in Violet's defense.
- Driven to Suicide: He almost took his own life after True's death, having avoided asking for help from fear of seeming weak, but Prosper stopped him and helped Ernest get himself back together.
- Good Parents: By all accounts he was a dedicated father. He was also a wonderful grandfather to Blue.
- Intergenerational Friendship: With Remy Newell, who's young enough to be his son.
- I Want Grandkids: He repeatedly asked Nova to get settle down, get married, and have children, but eventually accepted her desire not to. Or maybe not. Nova suspects he didn't leave the farm to her as punishment for her refusal to have a family.
- Papa Wolf: In her book, Nova tells a story that when she was a kid, her father protected her from three white men who were sexually harassing her during a fishing trip. From then on, Ernest was very concerned about Nova's safety and never let her out of his sight. It's heavily implied that he murdered those men, but later confirmed he didn't.
- Parental Favoritism: When they learn that Ernest left the whole farm to Ralph Angel, Nova and Charley come to believe he was their father's favorite.
- Parental Substitute: To Davis, who never knew his father growing up, and Remy.
- The Patriarch: Ernest Bordelon was the glue that held the whole family together. His death leaves a huge hole in his children's and sister's lives.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Prosper reveals to Nova that Ernest had once been in a war, and was haunted by the fact that he had been trained to kill.
- Your Cheating Heart: Ernest cheated on Nova and Ralph Angel's mother, True, to conceived Charley. Subverted. That's what Nova thinks happened, but it turns out True and Ernest had already broken up before he met Lorna. Ernest came back when he heard that True was pregnant with Nova, but True didn't want to get back together just yet, so he stayed with Lorna until their divorce. Eventually he got back together with True and they had Ralph Angel.
Trudy "True" Bordelon
Nova and Ralph Angel's late mother.
- Deceased Parents Are the Best: Everyone speaks highly of her, especially her kids.
- Due to the Dead: At her own request, Ernest buried her in an unmarked grave on the farm and told the family he had her cremated. Nova and Ralph Angel later find her grave and put up a small memorial.
- Missing Mom: She died when Ralph Angel was eleven.
- Like Father, Like Son: Appears to have been a lot like Nova. They're both herbal healers and spiritualists.
- Played by: Sharon Lawrence
- Parents as People: Though she didn't fully understand everything Charley went through as a black woman, since Lorna herself is white, she tried her absolute best to be a good mother to Charley.
- Wicked Stepmother: Averted. She tries her best to civil to Nova and wants her to know how much she admired her mother, True.
Residents of Louisiana
- Played by: Dondre Whitfield
A friend of the late Ernest Bordelon who helps his children manage the family sugarcane plantation.
- Going Native: He reveals to Nova that he is originally from Detroit, but considers St. Josephine's his real home because that's where he found purpose in his life.
- Intergenerational Friendship: With Ernest Bordelon, who was old enough to be his father. Charley is initially surprised when she meets Remy because she expected him to be much older.
- The Lost Lenore: His late wife died serving in Afghanistan.
- Love Interest: He gradually falls in love with Charley, but doesn't try to pursue a relationship with her because she's already married. They eventually get together after she leaves her husband.
- The Mentor: Remy, one of Ernest's old friends, helps the Bordelon siblings learn to run a farm. Interestingly, he's around the same age as them due to his and Ernest's Intergenerational Friendship.
- Nice Guy: He's quite friendly and patient, especially toward Charley.
- Nice Hat: Often seen wearing a white cowboy hat.
- Put On The Bus: He leaves sometime between season 3 and 4. He briefly returns halfway through season 4 but leaves against at the end of the episode.
- Race Lift: He was white in the book, but is black in the show.
- Played by: Greg Vaughan
A NOPD officer who's in a secret relationship with Nova.
- Black Gal on White Guy Drama: And in addition to the race issue, he's a police officer working for the department his girlfriend antagonized.
- Bystander Syndrome: When asked, he confesses that he stood by and did nothing when other officers brutalized black people.
- Secret Relationship: Due to the fact that he's married to another woman. Becomes less secret after he leaves her for Nova. In season 4, he finally meets Nova's family and they move in together.
- Your Cheating Heart: He's married with kids, but has a mistress. That said, he genuinely, deeply loves Nova. Eventually, he leaves his family for her.
- Played by: Bianca Lawson
Ralph Angel's ex-girlfriend and the mother of his son Blue, Darla is a former drug addict trying to get her life back together.
- The Atoner: For choosing drugs over her son. She's clean now and wants a second chance to be a good mother.
- Missing Mom: Darla lost custody of Blue because of her drug abuse, though she's making effort to stay clean and be part of his life.
- Like Father, Like Son: Her mother is a former alcoholic, meaning substance abuse runs in the family.
- The Oldest Profession: In the past, Darla used prostitution to get money for drugs. The Bordelons finally took Blue away from her after Hollywood and Violet found her high with a client while Blue was in the corner, dirty and dehydrated. She's since quit and gotten conventional jobs, but it took a while for a Bordelons to trust her again. Once, while she and Ralph Angel were out, a former client hit on her, causing Ralph Angel to get jealous.
- Parental Neglect: Darla had custody of Blue for a time while Ralph Angel was imprisoned and she was too busy getting high to properly take care of him. She deeply regrets it and is trying to be a better mother.
- Recovered Addict: She had a major drug problem in the past that cost her custody of her son but has so far managed to stay clean.
- Spared By Adaptation: In the book, she had died of a drug overdose.
- Your Cheating Heart: She admits to Ralph Angel that she had sex with someone else shortly before Blue was conceived, meaning Blue might not be his biological son. However, she mentions being highly intoxicated, so it may not have been consensual. It's later confirmed that she was actually raped by two different men.
- Played by: Marycarmen Lopez
Blue's teacher, who develops an infatuation toward Ralph Angel.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: She is never seen or mentioned after season 1.
- Nice Girl: Reyna is incredibly sweet and often helps out the Bordelon family in whatever way she can.
- Shrinking Violet: She's too shy to let Ralph Angel know that he has a crush on him, especially once she sees that he's back together with his son's mother, Darla.
Devonte "Too Sweet" Bonclair
- Played by: Isaac White
A young man being held in an adult prison whom Nova strives to free.
- Miscarriage of Justice: He's being held in an adult prison despite being a minor because he can't afford bail and his case is stuck in limbo because the system is overcrowded. Nova takes money from the farm to pay his bail, getting her in trouble with Charley, and Calvin pulls some strings to get his case dropped.
- Nice Guy: Hence his nickname, Too Sweet.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: He's only ever called "Too Sweet".
- Put On The Bus: He leaves St. Josephine's after being released from prison so he can start his life over. In season 3 Nova runs into his mother, Mary Anne, who tells her that he's doing well in school and has a job.
- Played by: Henry G. Sanders
The manager of the Bordelon farm, as well as an old friend of the family.
- Happily Adopted: To reassure Ralph Angel after finding out he wasn't Blue's biological father, Prosper tells him that in high school he found out that his dad wasn't his biological father, but he didn't care.
- Old Retainer: To the Bordelons. He's been helping take care of their land for decades.
- Parental Substitute: He's something of a surrogate father to the Bordelons and becomes especially close to Charley in season 3.
- Talking Down the Suicidal: He stopped Ernest from killing himself after True's death.
- What the Hell, Hero?: The Bordelon siblings' in-fighting wears away at his patience, though they do eventually convince him that they're serious about running a farm.
- Played by: Reagan Gomez-Preston
A beautiful activist that Nova falls in love with.
- Soapbox Sadie: Just like Nova, which is what initially brings them together.
- Played by: Tanyell Waivers
One of Micah's classmates, who's father is a family friend.
- Played by: David Jensen
A wealthy farmer who competes with the Bordelons.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Between owning most of the land in the parish and running its only operational mill, his family has got a complete stranglehold on the local sugar industry. This quality must have passed through the generations, since the Landrys used to own slaves, including ancestors of the Bordelons.
- Faux Affably Evil: He always puts on his best manners, but is clearly not a good person.
- Rich Bitch: He's smug about his wealthy and threatens to drive the Bordelons out of business if they don't sell their land.
- Played by: Walter Perez
A physician's assistant who falls for Charley.
- Played by: David Alan Grier
Violet's abusive ex-husband.
- Affably Evil: He comes off as extremely charismatic, friendly, and polite. It's not hard to see why Vi initially fell for him.
- Domestic Abuse: He physically and sexually abused Vi until she couldn't take it anymore and left him.
- Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: He returns to St. Jo's ostensibly to apologize and make amends, but as soon as the Bordelons reject him, he drops the act and taunts Violet by saying he's not at all sorry for how he treated her.
- Marital Rape License: He felt entitled to rape Vi whenever he wanted because he was her husband.
- Obnoxious In-Laws: Ernest hated him and became estranged from Violet when she married him. The siblings only reconciled after Violet and Jimmy got divorced.
Melina "Goldie" Galoudian
- Played by: Estrella Nouri
The woman who sparked the sex scandal.
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold: She was being completely honest about what the players did to her and just wanted some justice.
- The Mistress: To Davis, who verbally and sexually abused her. He also let his teammates rape her and tried to cover it up, which is what made her break her silence.
- Rape as Drama: Claims to have been gang-raped by several basketball players, though many believe she's lying to get money out of them. She's not.
- The Reveal: She first appears to be a vindictive woman trying to squeeze money out of famous ball players, until a voice mail recording reveals that every allegation was completely true.