Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington)
The leader of Olivia Pope & Associates, and the central character of the series.
- 10-Minute Retirement: At the end of Season 3. She's back for good at the end of the first episode of Season 4.
- Ambition Is Evil: No one on the show embodies this more than Olivia herself. The only reason why she never went for more power is because of her love for Fitz and desire to be moral. However, over the course of the show, her morality erodes, sped up by several traumatic experiences, and her and Fitz are constantly separated, either by circumstances or by their own relationship troubles. When Fitz departs for Vermont in the Season Six finale after his presidency ends, taking him out of the picture for the forseeable future, Olivia loses her Morality Chain, and with the encouragement of her similarly ambitious parents, goes all out: on top of being Mellie's Chief of Staff, she resurrects B6-13, with her as Command. When Cyrus, the true mastermind behind Luna Vargas' plot to take the presidency, asks her what it's like to be the most powerful person in the world, her only response?"It feels right."
- Control Freak: Of the Ambition Is Evil variety. Olivia must always be in control of everything in her life, and is obsessed with power, even if she is incapable of admitting it to herself.
- Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: Can be personable, but when she is working on something she can be icily detached.
- Awesomeness by Analysis: Sees through people's bullshit in a flash. People who threaten her often end up horrified when Olivia psychologically dismantles them immediately afterwards.
- Black Boss Lady: She's black and in charge of a (mostly) white team.
- The Chessmaster: It's In the Blood, her father was the commanding officer of B613 for years, while her mother used to be a spy who often manipulated both people and events.
- Dark Mistress: Is a version of this for President Grant, what with her being his mistress and being a part of The Conspiracy to get him elected. Whenever he was in bind, Olivia always bailed him and his family out, and it's no secret to the Grants and most of their administration that Olivia is the main reason why they've gotten as far as they have.
- Dragon-in-Chief: Once Mellie becomes president. Olivia makes it clear that Mellie has no real hold over her. Olivia is the only person who really has Mellie's back and Mellie needs Olivia more than Olivia needs Mellie.
- The Dreaded: People in Washington are terrified of her. It's absolutely no secret to anyone that she could destroy a person's political career with just a few choice phone calls.
- Expy: of crisis manager Judy Smith.
- The Heroine: She starts off as this. She becomes more and more evil as the series moves along.
- Hope Bringer: Basically called one by her dad, of all people.
- Eli: In the face of darkness, you drag everyone into the light. ...At least I like to think that is the point of you.
- Horrifying the Horror: Former B613 agent Tom Larsen admits to fearing her, for the simple reason that she was raised by Command, and is by far his greatest achievement. As the series goes on, we find that Tom was right to be scared of Olivia.
- I Coulda Been a Contender!: Season Five is Eli forcing Olivia into thinking she's this so he can have more power, as he sees his children's power as his own. Even though she's the successful head of a crisis management firm and has connections and contacts all over the world with very powerful people, Eli firmly believes she could be so much more than that. Thus, he manipulates his "son" Jake Ballard into taking initiative and becoming the National Security Advisor in hopes of convincing Olivia doing similar things. Olivia does, by becoming Mellie's campaign manager — a path that leads her to murdering two US Vice-Presidents and resurrecting B613 with her as Command, all while also doubling as Mellie's Chief of Staff when she becomes President, effectively making her the most powerful person in the world. The Season Six finale implies that Eli has come to regret pushing her that far, even though she's become everything he wanted her to be.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Despite having a cold appearance and unfeeling demeanor, she actually harbors a softer caring side, especially with her employees, and is probably the most emotional person in the show. Even more so she is tough but sympathetic with her clients, and despite taking underhanded tactics herself to help most of them she usually pushes the people she works for to do the right thing, and never shies away from showing those that do her respect, even when it cost them their careers.
- Karma Houdini: She did one heinous thing after another, especially in the final season, but she got off scot-free.
- Kid with the Leash: Olivia is this to Huck, which he bluntly tells her in Season 3 when he's apologizing for what happened with Quinn.
- Like Father, Like Son: Or in this case, like daughter. Olivia is The Chessmaster like her father, is ruthless like her father, gets her "soldiers" from troubled corners like her father, is the real power behind the president like her father and becomes Command of B613 like her father.
- Morality Pet: To her dad. Eli will always forgive her and will move Heaven and Earth for her......while having no issues killing pretty much everybody else.
- Morality Chain: Fitz. For all her faults, Olivia genuinely loves Fitz and many of her questionable actions concerning the Presidency are done to protect him and prevent him from ever compromising his morals. Notably, Olivia only embraces her hunger for power when he is out of the picture, having departed to Vermont to run his foundation.
- Not So Different: With Mellie. Like Mellie, she is a brilliant and capable mind, held back by social norms and expectations. It's why she ends up breaking up with Fitz in Season Five, even though his divorce from Mellie means their relationship can be finally out in the open — like Mellie, being First Lady is beneath her and she can't stand being stuck in the Gilded Cage that is the White House as Fitz's glorified hostess and housewife as Mellie was for years.
- One True Love: Fitz. Their relationship may be as tumultuous as a typhoon, but when it comes down to it, they're the love of each other's lives. While Olivia does love Jake as well, the biggest reason why their on-and-off relationship is constantly on the rocks is because they both know Olivia loves Fitz more.
- Properly Paranoid: After the assassination of Frankie Vargas, Olivia's immediate reaction is to blame his running mate Cyrus Beene, who stood the most to gain from his death and isn't above murder. Despite most of the season seemingly proving her wrong as he was so obvious a choice that the actual conspirators went as far as to frame him, she was right. While Cyrus wasn't directly involved in the actual assassination plot itself, he deliberately set the wheels in motion by planting the idea in Luna Vargas's head.
- Poisonous Friend: To Abby, when she made her believe David was a domestic abuser to break them up...and then comforted her afterwards.
- Slowly Slipping Into Evil: By Season Six, it becomes clear that the entire show is about Olivia's Start of Darkness in the pursuit of more power. It's implied that this fall would've gone faster had she not fallen for Fitz, and would've stalled indefinitely had it not been several traumatic experiences and the encouragement of her parents, who were extremely ambitious in their own right and taught Olivia to be the same. Once the season six finale ends, there's no question who the true Big Bad has been all along.
- The Spock: A strange example, as she is the heroine.
- This Is Unforgivable!: When Abby says she holds her responsible for Harrison's death, Olivia loses it and gives her a blistering "The Reason You Suck" Speech that culminates with Olivia stating this trope verbatim.
- Villain Protagonist: In all honesty, Olivia is actually this. She is the protagonist and she did agree to have the election rigged so that Fitz would win and become President of the United States. By the end of season two, it will all come back to haunt her. The season six finale finally drops all pretenses of what she is, after she reinstates B613 with her as Command while also doubling as Mellie's Chief of Staff (long-established as the true power behind the President), effectively making her the most powerful person in the world.
Quinn Perkins AKA Lindsay Dwyer (Katie Lowes)
The newest addition to Olivia's team (and the one through whose eyes the series is introduced). Has a mysterious past which is gradually revealed throughout seasons one and two.
- Action Girl: She's becoming one, via her new gig as a spy.
- Ascended Fan Girl: In-Universe example. Quinn started the series as a huge fan of Olivia. Towards the end of Season Six, after proving she is just as capable as her mentor and Abby, Olivia hands over OPA to her while she's transitioning to her new job as Chief of Staff at the White House.
- Badass Bookworm: She's become quite the hacker via Huck sharing his skills with her. It makes her quite useful to B6-13.
- Classical Anti-Hero: At first. She Took a Level in Badass courtesy of joining B6-13
- Corrupt the Cutie: To the point where she joins B6-13.
- Dating Catwoman: With Gideon. It doesn't last
- The Dragon: To Charlie after her FaceHeel Turn.
- FaceMonster Turn: From baby-faced newbie to torture-obsessed spy in less than three seasons!
- Fake Defector: Maybe. She deliberately let herself be seen on one of Huck's security cameras taking the Daniel Douglas file.
- Hero-Worshipper: Which almost leads to Broken Pedestal. As of Season 3, that pedestal is gone.
- Hidden Depths: Her real name isn't Quinn, and she didn't exist in that identity until two years ago. Not only is her name falsified, but it's stated that agents from all corners of the US government have warrants for her real identity. As season two reveals: her real name is Lindsay Dwyer, she was framed for a bombing that killed seven people, and the conspiracy surrounding why stretches to not only Olivia, but the Supreme Court, the First Lady, the president's most trusted adviser, and the national security of the United States.
- "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: In "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang" Huck ambushes her in her home and tells her "There's still a gladiator in you." And then he kisses her.
- Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Uses it in the Season Two finale when Huck freezes up. This may be one of the things that triggers Olivia to focus more on her employees, although it's not clear if she knows about it.
- The Mole: Briefly becomes this for B613 after a complicated series of events leads to her unknowingly murdering a watchman on video camera. However, Huck quickly finds her out. He apparently tortures her, but a series of flashbacks at the end of "YOLO" reveals that it's more complicated than that. It's not yet clear how this is going to play out.
- Turns out, she didn't take Huck's torture well. She quits working with the team and finds new employment by joining B6-13 for real.
- We Used to Be Friends: As of mid-Season 3, she and Olivia Pope and Associates.
- You Are in Command Now: In preparation for Mellie's ascension to the Presidency and her own new position as her Chief of Staff, Olivia gives Quinn a Secret Test of Character. When Quinn passes with flying colors, Olivia leaves OPA to her.
- Your Cheating Heart: When she joined B6-13, she began a relationship with Charlie, only to end up being caught with her pants down with Huck by Abby and Harrison. She later tells Charlie, who didn't take it well and responds by tanking whatever chances she had with Huck by telling her where Huck's family is.
Huck/Diego Muñoz (Guillermo Diaz)
A former marine and CIA official who now works as the technical support in Olivia's firm. He is extremely loyal to Olivia and, while his CIA training led him to enjoy hurting people (and made him very good at it), he tries to avoid doing so, and attends AA meetings to try to cope with this.
- Cold-Blooded Torture:
- Just one of the many skills "the Agency" (presumably the CIA) taught him. The Agency also taught him to enjoy it, a fact which horrifies him.
- Is the victim of it when he is thought to be the shooter that tried to kill the president. And we learn that he was kept in a dark hole for two months in order to make him forget about his wife and baby.
- Exact Words: He tells Quinn he won't spill any more blood, so when something needs to be done about treacherous Vice President Andrew Nichols, Huck induces a stroke and sends Nichols into a coma. However, no more than a few episodes later this promise seems to have been entirely forgotten, as Huck slashes Susanne Thomas' throat purely to prevent her from talking, and Quinn helps him cover it up.
- Hidden Depths: Huck's dossier is apparently thicker than most spy novels, most of it is redacted, but he has CIA/espionage/military training as an assassin and Olivia trusts him to break a dictator's wife and children out of the embassy with only five minutes' leeway. He's also spent time homeless and suffering from PTSD, begging on the DC subway, which is when Olivia found him. He also falls for a woman he thinks is a fellow addict, but she turns out to be a spy and assassin like him.
- I Hate Past Me: He hallucinates his former B6-13 self taunting him in "Dead in the Water." That version, also seen in "Seven Fifty Two," is clean-shaven and a little more wild-eyed.
- Madness Mantra : "Seven fifty two". The hour at which he met his son again, while he was homeless in the metro.
- Mental World: While figuring out how to escape a sinking car in "Dead in the Water," his mind palace looks like the OPA office.
- Retired Badass: He does not want to hurt people anymore. This does not mean he does not still enjoy doing so.
- Retired Monster: According to him, especially considering B6-13 trained him to effectively and thoroughly torture people and very much enjoy it. He says as much to Olivia during a somewhat What the Hell, Hero? speech that informs Olivia that she is his Kid with the Leash.
- Huck: No, you went too far.Olivia: Excuse me?Huck: You took in a wild monster, and you groomed me and petted me and trained me to sit at your feet. But that doesnt make me a puppy, Liv, that just makes me a very loyal monster. So I didn't go too far, I went exactly as far as my leash allows. And you hold the leash."
- Secret Secret-Keeper: In "Blown Away" he says to Olivia, "Do I tell you who to love? No! So don't tell me!" This strongly implies he knows about Olivia and Fitz, and never told Olivia.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: This comes up now and then, with flashes of past horrors coming up and causing him immense amounts of psychological distress.
- Token Evil Teammate: Is the guy Olivia uses to do the more unsavory things like assassination and torture.
Marcus Walker (Cornelius Smith, Jr.)
A neighborhood activist and former candidate for mayor of Washington DC. He joins OPA in Season 5, but is different from his fellow gladiators. He is not as beholden to Olivia as they are, and is willing to go "off script" when the need arises.
- Hidden Depths: While not quite as amazed by Olivia as everyone else, "Dead in the Water" shows he deeply cares about her and the team despite being The New Guy.
- Malcolm Xerox: Starts out like this when he first appears in "The Lawn Chair," commenting on Olivia's Prada purse and how she got a white Republican elected president twice.
- Marcus: Your black card's not getting validated today."
- Odd Friendship: Starts one with Mellie in season five. Gets a Relationship Upgrade in season 6.
- Only in It for the Money: Not entirely, but he's willing to get paid by OPA until they run out of money.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Toyed with. Like Harrison, he's young, black and charismatic. Unlike Harrison, he's not as willing to be shady to "slay dragons."
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Dishes these out.
Abby Whelan (Darby Stanchfield)
- Dating Catwoman: In season two, she sleeps with David Rosen mainly to distract him from his investigation into Pope and Associates. Then she starts falling for him - before Harrison fakes her into believing David is an abuser, triggering her into leaving him. The truth is revealed, but they do not reunite until season 3, becoming the show's Beta Couple.
- Domestic Abuse: The victim thereof, and what brings her to Olivia's attention (and eventually team).
- Hidden Depths: Abby likes Stephen, and was married to a famous U.S. politician until she ran away. Their marriage had a history of domestic abuse and he's still searching for her.
- Housewife: A dead ringer for Bree van de Kamp before Olivia gets her out of her situation.
- Number Two: To Olivia and Fitz much later.
- The Resenter: "Seven Fifty-Two" reveals Abby is starting to resent Olivia for the debt she owes her, regarding her divorce from Charles. Abby wonders if that debt cost her a chance to be genuinely happy with David.
- Rousing Speech: Gives a great one to Olivia.
Harrison Wright (Columbus Short)
A lawyer who works for OPA and Gladiator to the core.
- He Knows Too Much: Why Eli has Tom kill him.
- Hidden Depths: Harrison was convicted of insider-trading. He was also involved with something called Clearwater.
- Irony: The team's Social Expert was ultimately a lonely man. At his funeral Liv mentions that the only people he had in his life were Olivia and associates. The people mourning are Olivia, Quinn, Abby and Huck, with Jake just there as Olivia's tagalong.
- The Lancer: Becomes this to Olivia in Season 2.
- The Social Expert: He can talk his way out of (almost) anything. The "almost" part gets him killed.
- Undying Loyalty: To Olivia, no questions asked.
Stephen Finch (Henry Ian Cusick)A Scottish-born litigator who worked for Olivia during season one. Between seasons one and two he was Put on a Bus.
- The Bus Came Back: Returns in season four to save Olivia from her captors.
- Hidden Depths: Stephen was a hotshot lawyer, then had a breakdown in the middle of a trial where he was defending a large company that had destroyed a few lives through their chemical manufacturing.
- Put on a Bus: Between seasons 1 and 2 he marries his fiancé and moves to Boston.
President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn)
The President of the United States of America and Olivia's lover. He is a popular president overall, in large part due to Olivia's work in his campaign and presidency. Currently serving his second term in office.
- Amazon Chaser: Admits this in season 6 episode 12.
- Amicable Exes: With Mellie season five onward. While the initial separation and divorce was very bitter, he and Mellie do ultimately care for each other, as the respective parents for their children. Their relationship is best akin to that of Vitriolic Best Buds.
- Awful Truth: He learns that his wife, who he blamed for their dead marriage because she refused intimacy with him, was raped by his father. Fitz, rather understandably, did not take that well, and even initially refused to believe Olivia at first (even though he knew she'd never lie to him about something like that).
- Driven to Suicide: His Heroic BSoD in the wake of his dead son included his attempt at this.
- Big Good: When Olivia really needs help, he's there. Also, what he is to the American people. This, along with being Olivia's Morality Chain, is why Rowan all but demanded he resurrect B6-13 with Fitz as Command.
- Determinator: Nothing can keep him from fulfilling his duties as President. Not even being shot in the head and possible brain damage.
- Grand Romantic Gesture: Some men get their loved ones flowers. Fitz builds Olivia a house.
- Green-Eyed Monster: This comes out in "Hunting Season."
- Heroic BSoD: Cannot function after the events of the Season 3 finale.
- Hidden Depths: He was involved in something called "Operation Remington" during the first Gulf War. The details are so redacted even Cyrus (the White House Chief of Staff) doesn't have access to it. During his stint as a fighter pilot, Fitz was ordered to shoot down a passenger plane that was being used as part of a terrorist plot by Maya Pope.
- Honor Before Reason: Tries so hard to be this when everyone around him isn't.
- Hypocrite: Flips out when he discovers that Mellie is having an affair with Andrew Nichols.
- Morality Chain: To Olivia Pope. Olivia never pursued many of her ambitions because of her love for Fitz and desire to ensure that his morality and idealism never eroded. Unfortunately, this caused her own morality to erode, and by Season Six it's made clear that Fitz is the only one keeping her in check. Once his presidency ends and he departs to Vermont, all it takes is a couple of nudges for Olivia to go full-blast and set herself up as the Big Bad for the final season.
- Nice to the Waiter: According to Morris the guard.
- No Party Given: Averted, he is a Republican.
- One True Love: Olivia is the love of his life, something even his wife Mellie acknowledges and accepts (reluctantly). It's implied that Fitz had cheated on Mellie both before and after he met Olivia (including his affair with Amanda Tanner prior to Season 1). Olivia is the only one he had a lasting relarionship with, and the only woman he's truly interested in.
- Preppy Name: Literally, his entire name.
- Fitzgerald: The middle name of John F. Kennedy.
- Thomas: The first name of the third president of US, Thomas Jefferson.
- Grant: The last name of the 18th president, Ulysses S. Grant.
- the III: self-explanatory.
- So Beautiful, It's a Curse: A few characters snark about how handsome he is. His opponent in the election called him a matinee idol.
- When He Smiles: Is always attractive but when he smiles with Olivia his whole face changes.
President Mellie Grant (Bellamy Young)
The First Lady of the United States.
- Ambition Is Evil: She will do anything to stay in the White House and clearly has designs on building her own political career when Fitz's term ends. Come episode 1 of season 6 and Mellie wants to get the hell away from the White House, and considering all that's happened over the years, it's hard to blame her.
- Anti-Villain: Mellie is a very ambitious woman who is willing to do whatever it takes to keep what power she has and taking great strides to gain more. She is also a loving mother, and much of her belligerence is rooted in her unhappy marriage to Fitz, which was more-or-less destroyed when Fitz's father Jerry raped her, unbeknownst to Fitz himself for several years.
- Brainy Brunette: When she says she is smart enough to run a war or the CIA, she might not be exaggerating. At one point during her campaign, Olivia straight up calls her a know-it-all.
- The Conspiracy: Is a member of one. See the trope entry on the main page for details.
- Drowning My Sorrows: Fairly common coping mechanism in Season 3, escalates to constant inebriation in the months after Jerry's death.
- I Coulda Been a Contender!: Mellie was first in her class at Harvard Law, and could've been successful on her own like Olivia is had she so wished. She gave that all up for her marriage to Fitz in hopes of becoming First Lady. While that did happen, considering what it cost her, it's obvious some part of Mellie regrets choosing Fitz at all. Mellie even admits that real reason she stuck around after years of a dead marriage and finding out that her husband was cheating on her was in hopes that Fitz would make it up to her by helping her with her own political ambitions, making everything all worth it, because it had to be.
- Mama Bear: She may claim to not like children, but when Fitz get's pissed at his kids for wanting to stay away, after discovering the Defiance Conspiracy Mellie is quick to jump to her kids' defense, delivering one hell of a "The Reason You Suck" Speech to him about his current behavior as a father. And she is utterly devastated by Jerry's death.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: She is Hilary Clinton. Her husband is a philandering president, she becomes a senator, is known for being something of a centrist rather than an ideologue and has a reputation for being a cold and calculating politician, oftentimes in the eyes of both her enemies and friends.
- Not So Different: With Olivia. Even when hating her, Mellie noted their similarities and respected and admired her for it.
- Odd Friendship: After learning of the affair, Mellie hated Olivia for the longest time. However, after coercing her into running her campaign for the Presidency, the two start to bond and form a genuine friendship. One can only imagine how the American people felt, seeing one of their President's be succeeded by his ex-wife, with her chief of staff be the mistress he cheated on her with and eventually divorced her for.
- Puppet King: As of season 6 episode 11, Mellie is the president but not the one in charge.
- Stepford Smiler: Mellie believes EVERYONE is a Stepford Smiler to one extent or another.Mellie: Pretending is what's real.Fitz: What?Mellie: Every married couple alive pretends. They pretend they don't hate their in-laws or their husband's stupid jokes or their wife's laugh or that they don't actually love one of their children more than the others. Marriage is, well, it's almost all pretend. For everyone. That's the reality. That's what's real. Buying into the delusion that there's any other way to live together, to get through an entire life together, that's, well that's the fantasy. That's pretending.Fitz: Did I do this to you? Or have you always been like this? Because if it was me, I'm sorry. I'm sorry.
- Sympathetic Adulterer: Or not. She had chances with Andrew Nichols, Fitz's former lieutenant governor, but turned him down. Until she started having an affair with him, that is.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Once she finds out about Fitz and Olivia, she beings handing these out from time to time to her husband. She hands out a blistering one in the first of Season 4, regarding her husband's attempted suicide in the wake of their murdered son.
- We Used to Be Friends: Mellie was much more appreciative of Olivia before she learned of the affair. A flashback shows a still unaware Mellie hugging her and proclaiming how much they (the Grants) needed her after saving Olivia from a drunk Fitz. It isn't until Mellie and Fitz finally divorce and Olivia agrees to run Mellie's campaign for the Presidency that their relationship has any semblance to what it used to be.
Cyrus Beene (Jeff Perry)
President Grant's Chief of Staff.
- Ambiguously Jewish: He sarcastically mentions sitting shiva for Amanda Tanner.
- Anti-Villain: May be shaping up to be one of these, but it's still not entirely clear what his motivations are. Compared to Hollis Doyle, though, he's downright heroic.
- At Least I Admit It:Admits to Olivia that no matter what, he was always going to end up a power-hungry man willing to stab anybody in the back to climb the ladder.
- Big Bad: Ultimately the big one for the series.
- Big Bad Duumvirate: With Jake Ballard in the last couple of episodes, of the final season.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder:By the end of the series, he has betrayed everybody at some point.
- The Conspiracy: Is a member of one. See the trope entry on the main page for details.
- The Corrupter: Cyrus has never been one to shy away from less-than-moral methods to get what he wants, and often pushes others to do the same. In particular, he had Luna Vargas do all his dirty work by pouring a little bit of honey into her ear, and got what he wanted in the end.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Cyrus proves time and time again that he will throw anyone under the bus to preserve the reputation of President Grant and the White House. However, after being front and center to his fake fiancé's homophobic parents' hatred of their own son, and learning of how they sent him to conversion therapy camps, he simply can not do the same to him.
- Gay Conservative: And a married one at that.
- Happily Married: They have their problems, but Cyrus and James love each other. When James dies, Cyrus is devastated.
- Heel Realization: Happens to him in "A Door Marked Exit." A little odd, given the other nasty stuff he's done.
- I Coulda Been a Contender!: One of Cyrus' biggest hang-ups. By all rights, a man of his political acumen should've been President — this is the man who mentored Olivia Pope, after all. Unfortunately, Cyrus wasn't particularly handsome and, as he found out later in life, he's gay. The former, the country could probably live with, but the latter ensured that he could never be elected (at least, not in his lifetime). As a result, he had to settle for Chief of Staff; all the power, even more so than the President, but none of the glory.
- Kill the Ones You Love: Cyrus orders a hit on his husband to prevent him from testifying against him in regards to Defiance. He calls it off at the very last second.
- And now his husband is dead via Cyrus calling in a favor from B6-13. But James' death was unintentional this time.
- Man Behind the Man: He was responsible for everything that happened in season 6. Frankie's death, the Peus conspiracy, Maya Pope's attempted hit on Mellie, everything.
- Manipulative Bastard: He was Olivia's mentor, and one of the few that can go toe-to-toe with her. Case-in-point, the season six finale reveals that he manipulated Luna Vargas into assassinating her own husband, knowing that Olivia would sniff her out, all in a plot to become Mellie's Vice-President with the highest approval rating possible and a President who isn't afraid to use the back channels of Washington.
- My God, What Have I Done?: After he kills David Rosen, he admits to Olivia that he can't particularly enjoy anything anymore. Not even the idea of becoming president appeals to him anymore.
- One True Love: James Novak is the love of his life. Even long after his death, Cyrus still refers to him as such, even though he has more-or-less moved on with Michael, and still holds a grudge against Jake Ballard for the same reason.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Cyrus gives these to Fitz pretty often when he gets into a sulky mood over Olivia or Mellie.
- Trauma Conga Line: By "YOLO" and "A Door Marked Exit," it's clear the show is trying to break him as much as it's trying to break Olivia. He now seems to believe he is literally the devil. having his husband cheat on him, then realizing he was indirectly responsible for murder can do that to a man.
- And now his husband is dead, unintentionally via a favor that Cyrus himself called in.
- True Companions: With Olivia and Fitz. At the end of the day he will be there for them.
- Undying Loyalty: To President Grant. In "State of the Union," he Lampshades that his loyalty is to unhealthy extremes. Ultimately turns out to be utter garbage. Cyrus Beene cares about Cyrus Beene.
Vice President Andrew Nichols (Jon Tenney)Fitz's former Lieutenant Governor and current Vice President of the United States
- And I Must Scream: Courtesy of Huck.
- The Conspiracy: "Where the Sun Don't Shine" reveals he is part of one to start a war in West Angola.
- FaceHeel Turn: He smugly tells Fitz that Olivia has been kidnapped.
- Ignored Enamored Underling: Except maybe not so ignored. He's in love with Mellie, and she's aware of this.
- Laser-Guided Karma: After Olivia is rescued, Huck does something to him that induces a stroke and causes him to go into a coma, invalidating the need for complicated legal procedures to depose him. Olivia eventually ends up killing him.
- Millionaire Playboy: Has this image, although all the women he's dated are "age appropriate." He also never got married because he's in love with Mellie.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Or so he seems at first. Later episodes reveal he's not.
David Rosen (Joshua Malina)
- Use your imagination. I'm wearing a ten-gallon white hat. Just for the record.
Assistant U.S. attorney who has a friendly rivalry with Olivia. Becomes Attorney General in Season 4.
- Amazon Chaser: Fitz points this out to him, Rosen agrees.
- Ambiguously Jewish: Judging by the name and the matzoh ball soup references.
- Character Death: In the very last episode.
- Dating Catwoman: Starts seeing Abby in season two. They become the show's Beta Couple in season three.
- Defeat Means Friendship: After Olivia effectively ruined him, causing him to have to resort to high school teaching, her office lends a hand and helps him get back up.
- The Determinator: Cracking Olivia's 4-digit safe code to get the Defiance datacard took a while.
- Idiot Ball:Really, Dave? Taking a drink from a guy who you know is fine with betraying and backstabbing anyone on the way to power, when he is inches away from becoming president and you are the only thing standing in his way?
- Survivor Guilt: Has this after Jake kills James, Vanessa Chandler and Shelby right in front of him. Being forced to cover it up doesn't help matters.
- To Be Lawful or Good: Worried about this at times. He still has his conscience, as he says.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: What he grows into with Olivia, though he's technically her boss.
James Novak (Dan Bucatinsky)Cyrus Beene's journalist husband.
- Camp Gay: While an exceptional journalist, James is also quite fixated on the idea of having a "fat, smushy baby" and, in a flashback to the early days after Fitz's election, excuses himself to make wedding plans after he and Cyrus are newly engaged.
- Dating Catwoman: What counts more as a journalist's enemy than a politician behind a massive conspiracy and cover-up? Especially when he contemplates putting a hit out on you.
- House Husband: James quit his job some time before the series began because his husband promised him a baby. Unfortunately for Cyrus, he didn't deliver, which led to James returning to his work.
- Intrepid Reporter: Much to his husband Cyrus's annoyance at times.
- Killed Off for Real: In Season 3.
- Lost Lenore: To Cyrus. While Cyrus did genuinely come to love his second husband Michael, he constantly refers to James as the love of his life and it has left him with a longstanding grudge against his killer, Jake Ballard.
- Mistaken for Cheating: While investigating the vote-rigging Conspiracy, the lies about his location and the frequent calls from David Rosen make his husband think he's having an affair.
- And then he actually does cheat on Cyrus season 3. With Sally Langston's husband. It's complicated.
- Sympathetic Adulterer: When he realizes that his husband Cyrus set him up to be an unwitting Honey Trap for Sally Langston's husband, he decides to actually go through with it and sleeps with him. Partially because he's learned how morally bankrupt his husband actually is and what he has done and also because he cannot believe that Cyrus set him up like that.
- Really Gets Around: Before he dated his husband, James was (to quote his husband) "a bit of a slut". Which Cyrus found quite appealing.
Former Vice President Sally Langston (Kate Burton)The former Vice President of the United States, a religious conservative. She and President Grant had a tenuous relationship, since he mostly offered her the VP spot to appeal to the religious right while she mostly accepted for the sake of his endorsements in future endeavors. Cyrus and Olivia both dislike her. Eventually split from the administration to run against Fitz.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Much of her dislike of the main characters stem from her not getting the Supreme Court Justice she wanted in favor of Verna Thornton.
- Mission from God: How she sees her political career.
- Samus Is a Girl: The fact she is a woman is a bit of a surprise after the way Cyrus described her in the episode before her first appearance.
- Sympathetic Murderer: Becomes this after finding out her husband is gay and cheating on her.
- Well, technically she already knew he was gay. It was the cheating on her part - and the fact that it was with the husband of her main rival at the White House, no less, who's a reporter and could bring it up in an article if he chose - that really upset her. That and the fact that he implied in their final argument that she never would have gotten anywhere in her political career without him.
Billy Chambers (Matt Letscher)Initially chief of staff to Vice President Sally Langston.
- Betty and Veronica: Was teased as the Betty to Fitz's Veronica for Olivia (as Archie, obviously, being Olivia...).
- Hannibal Lecture: Gives a pretty spittle-soaked one to David Rosen in "White Hat's Back On".
- Kick the Dog: A very subtle one when he mocks the agent guarding the door.
- Malicious Slander: Something he's trying to instill.
- The Bus Came Back: After roughly a season of not being seen, is revealed towards the end of season two to have been "Albatross", a mole that has been causing the Grant administration problems for most of the season.
Leo Bergen (Paul Adelstein)Sally Langston's campaign manager
- All Jews Are Cheapskates: "Apparently, God's servant can't fly coach."
- HeelFace Turn: In Season 4, Leo deliberately tanks the senate campaign of Abby's ex-husband after learning Charles used to brutally beat Abby. At least part of his motivation is he is sweet on Abby.
Gideon Wallace (Brendan Hines)A reporter for the (fictional) tabloid newspaper The D.C. Sun who is investigating the Amanda Tanner scandal and begins dating Quinn Perkins.
Amanda Tanner (Liza Weil)A former White House intern who had an affair with President Grant at the urging of Billy Chambers, whom she was dating and who hoped to use the resulting scandal to bring down the White House.
Alissa (Brenda Song)David Rosen's assistant.
- Asian Airhead: Almost, as she is apparently clever, but shallow...
- Deadpan Snarker: Surprisingly enough, considering some other tropes she's associated with.David: Stop calling me 007. You're using it sarcastically.
Justice Verna Thornton (Debra Mooney)
- Armor-Piercing Question - When Olivia is berating her for hiring an assassin to kill the president, and implies that Verna did it to avoid implicating herself in the election rigging, Verna throws her argument back in her face.Verna: "Then turn me in. Go ahead. You're such a pillar of courage, go over to Justice and tell them I shot the president....except you can't, can you?"
- The Conspiracy: Is a member of one. See the trope entry on the main page for details.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: She was part of the election rigging that put Fitz in the presidency, because she legitimately believed in him.
- She also hires an assassin to kill him to put the election rigging genie back in the proverbial bottle.
Hollis Doyle (Gregg Henry)An oil man who made a major contribution to the Grant campaign and expects favours in return.
- The Conspiracy: Is a member of one. See the trope entry on the main page for details.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Of the oil company variety.
- Dirty Old Man: Is constantly making crass comments about sex.
- Doting Parent: Is implied to be this to his kids. Deconstructed, as it made his daughter into a Spoiled Brat, souring their relationship. She eventually became so desperate for money that she staged her own kidnapping to make him pay a ransom.
- Engineered Public Confession: His downfall comes when Olivia meets him for a private meeting and Hollis brags that he doesn't believe a single word of the amazingly bigoted and wild stuff he says and that he'd rather spit on the people who buy into it than count on their votes. The next day, Hollis interviewed on Sally's show where she plays the tape revealing he's a total fraud on every position and his support collapses.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Hollis Doyle is a scumbag of the highest order but when it comes down to it, he loves his family. When it seems his only daughter's kidnapping (which he initially dismissed as a desperate attempt by her to squeeze money out of him) seems to be real, he's horrified and willing to pay the ransom as long as he can have her back. He is even more devastated when it turns out he was right and that she did stage the kidnapping (going as far as to mutilate her own ear off). He gives her an ultimatum, where she can have the money and forever be barred from her family, or come back to the family for good. When she chooses the former and skedaddles, his only reaction is to stare forlornly into space while comforting his ex-wife. Even the Gladiators pitied him after that.
- Evil Virtues:
- He will stand up when the President of the United States enters the room.
- He genuinely loves his children and is implied to have cordial relationships with his numerous ex-wives.
- Expy: Of J.R. Ewing. It is possible he thinks that is how Texas billionaires are supposed to act.
- Large Ham: Hams it up pretty much always.
- Not Me This Time: It turns out he didn't hire Becky to shoot the president.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: He repeatedly refers to both Cyrus and his husband, James Novak, as each being the other's "wife". Cyrus is not amused.
- Properly Paranoid: He correctly assumed his daughter would be willing to stage her own kidnapping to get his money. However, he isn't particularly happy when his fears are vindicated.
Elizabeth "Lizzie Bear" North (Portia De Rossi)The head of the RNC.
- The Conspiracy: Is part of one to start a war in West Angola for unknown reasons. It includes kidnapping Olivia to influence Fitz.
- HeelFace Turn: After her coup attempt with Andrew Nichols fails, she seems to undergo this. Some of this is due to pressure from Huck and other sources, but she also genuinely seems to repent her actions. She becomes Mellie Grant's enthusiastic campaign advisor and takes over as Chief of Staff at the end of season four.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: She was only known as "Lizzie Bear" until "Inside the Bubble."
- Power Hair: Bright blonde as well.
- Promotion to Opening Titles: Portia De Rossi officially joined the main cast in Season Five.
- Slave to PR: She has concerns where President Grant's second term is taking the Republican Party.
- Southern Belle: Based on her accent.
- Strawman Political: Slightly subverted. She wants Fitz to act like a "Real Republican," but doesn't seem too hamfisted about it. Until we find out she's part of The Conspiracy to start a war in West Angola.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: Maybe. She sent a sex worker named Michael to Cyrus as part of a plan to get him out of the way. When it fails, she uses her backup plan: kidnapping Olivia to influence Fitz.
- Unexpected Successor: Takes over as Chief of Staff after Cyrus is fired at the end of Season 4.
Admiral Jacob "Jake" Ballard (Scott Foley)
A naval officer who seems to be particularly close to the President, he is also introduced as a romantic interest of Olivia's in the latter half of the second season. Grant assigns him to spy on and protect Olivia from various threats.
- Big Bad Duumvirate: With Cyrus in the last few episodes of the final season.
- The Chains of Commanding: Starts to feel them after taking over B6-13.
- Conveniently an Orphan: He monologues about this in "No Sun on the Horizon." It Jossed a fan-theory that he and Fitz are half-brothers.
- Deadly Euphemism - He uses this to threaten Olivia.
- Jake: " James Novak died in a car jacking. Accept that, and the world keeps spinning."Olivia: "And if I don't?"Jake: "Bad things happen to good people all the time."
- Drops this one on Cyrus too, saying he will 'dissolve thir partnership'.
- Dogged Nice Guy
- "Nice" doesn't really describe him anymore.
- Four-Star Badass: He starts off as a Captain, but becomes a flag officer later on.
- Hidden Depths: He was involved in something called "Operation Remington" with Fitz Grant during the first Gulf War. At the start of the third season, Cyrus had to get his security clearance raised to read about it. It horrified him. Fitz shot down a passenger plane as part of a terrorist plot by Maya Pope. Jake was presumably Fitz's co-pilot or wingman on the mission.
- Iconic Sequel Character: Despite being one third of the main Love Triangle of the show, he didn't appear until the second half of the second season.
- Like Father, Like Son: He mentions that Eli Pope was the closest thing to a father he ever had. Jake becomes more and more like him each season.
- Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Why he ends up betraying Olivia and killing his second wife.
- Not So Different: Olivia calls him as much by comparing him to her father, who he inherited Command from.
- Super Dickery: "Honor Thy Father" was advertised as though Jake had pulled a FaceHeel Turn and was trying to prevent David's case against B613. In reality, he was actually trying to help, and it was David's assistant (a B613 agent) who was threatening the case.
- Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: Ponders this at certain times.
- Unexpected Successor: Takes Rowan/Eli's place as Command of B6-13.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Has this dynamic with Eli Pope, even though he has a hard time admitting it to himself.
"Command"/Rowan/Eli Pope (Joe Morton)
- The Bad Guy Wins: Combined with Karma Houdini. He ultimately gets away with everything. He shows up before the senate and goes scot-free.
- Big Bad: Of Season 4.
- Bigger Bad: Of Season 3, as its revealed he used Maya to further his own gains and get himself reappointed as Command.
- Breakout Villain: Went from just being an extra to the show's most popular villain.
- The Chains of Commanding: He gives a speech to Olivia about this, saying that the number of people he's responsible for ordering the deaths of weighs on him every day."183. That is the number of people I am responsible for killing... I always suffered a bit with each one. The responsibility of that - the gravity of that, the weight of it - It marks me, it stains me, it never leaves me. I am responsible."
- The Chessmaster: Implied before, but proven as of Season 4 episode 8. He utterly dismantles the protagonists' plans to take him down. Jake Ballard's files were replaced with blank pages and had been long before Jake even gave them to David Rosen. He also reveals that he knew Olivia was leading him into a trap the entire time, that the tactical team waiting outside to kill or capture him are already dead, and that the only reason he came to that restaurant was to give Olivia a "The Reason You Suck" Speech and to inform her that she is entirely on her own from this point forward. He then exits the restaurant, gets in his car and leaves, completely unmolested.
- Cold Sniper: Can pull this off easily.
- Dating What Daddy Hates: And Daddy hates everybody. He never quite says it out loud, but it's obvious Rowan doesn't think anyone's is good enough for Olivia. Not even the President of the United States.
- Deadly Euphemism: He is quite fond of these.
- "When I say the word 'fire,' I am employing a euphemism."
- Good All Along: Or at least not completely evil. It turns out at the end of "YOLO" that the case against Olivia's mother was not fabricated.
- Evil vs. Evil - Jake outright tells Olivia that just because her mother was the true villain does not mean that her father is good; he is still a bad guy, and is still the man who did horrible things to him and Huck.
- Disc-One Final Boss: Of season 4. Much of the season's first half is Jake, Fitz, and Olivia trying to bring him down, and he ultimately leaves during the mid-season finale after it becomes clear that Olivia is willing to kill him. The true Big Bad turns out to be Andrew. At least, it seems that way at first. He is the Big Bad of the last few episodes of season 4.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Despite everything that has happened between them, when it comes down to it, he genuinely loves his family. When Luna Vargas's goons tried to blackmail him in season six into assassinating Frankie Vargas by targeting the love of his life, he murdered the woman himself without a second thought. It's only when they started threatening Olivia that he came to heel. Also, despite knowing she was a terrorist, he was still unable to kill his wife, instead leaving her to rot in a hole for decades.
- Fake Guest Star: After his first episode, he appeared in an unbroken string of 25 episodes that included the entire third season. In fact, disregarding one absence, the string lasted an additional eight episodes. For anyone keeping track at home, that's a better attendance record than several members of the main cast.
- As of the fifth season, he's officially been bumped up to the main cast.
- Gone Horribly Right: As of the Season Six finale, Olivia is finally the person he wanted her to be, and it's implied Eli deeply regrets making her that way.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: In the season 4 finale Rowan basically wipes out B613 on his own, killing every agent who knew him by sight and torching every shred of evidence and gloats to Olivia that "Command is dead, I'm just Eli Pope now." Remembering the billions of dollars of the B613 account, Olivia arranges for her father to be arrested for long-term embezzlement of his "job" at the Smithsonian. When he snaps that he'll beat it no time, Olivia fires back his own words that he's no longer Command but just a simple man with no power and no one to help and leaves Eli to rot in jail.
- I Have No Son!: Or in his case "I have no daughter". He pulls this card all the time, but he never fully follows through, he will always come back for his daughter.
- Informed Ability: Apparently he got recruited by the government because he could code and speak 8 languages. We see nothing of this.
- Karma Houdini: B613 is no more by the end of series, but Rowan was done with it anyway and he goes scot-free. His relationship with his daughter improves, he gets his freedom and he doesn't have to answer for anything.
- Large Ham: And the fans love it. This man can give an epic Breaking Speech.
- Lonely at the Top: Said word for word in episode 17 of season 7.
- Necessarily Evil: He believes that America needs someone like him to protect it from the bigger monsters. He also says that the world would be worse off without him doing what he does. [spoiler: He is right, things start going to hell when he's no longer head of B6-13.]]
- Oh, Crap!: When he has this face at the end of "Paris is Burning," you know it is serious.
- Jake: "The Lourve is on fire."Rowan/Eli: "Lazarus One?"Jake: "Looks like it."Rowan/Eli: "And Nero fiddled while Rome burned."
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: At the end of "Paris is Burning." It might be the only time in the series he has looked frightened.
- Papa Wolf: Ultimately, he will never give up on his daughter and he will always come back for her.
- Parental Substitute: A very dark one to Jake Ballard. Command sees him like a son, but that doesn't mean Ballard is exempt from his wrath.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: He gives a vicious one to Fitz in "A Door Marked Exit," calling him a "boy" who never had to work for anything. He gives these frequently to...pretty much everybody else.
- Scary Black Man: Sweet mother of god. You do NOT wish to piss him off.
- Shadow Dictator: How he views the job of Command.
- True Final Boss: Of season 4.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: No matter what deplorable deeds he's done, he remains convinced that it's for the good of the Republic. At least as far as Olivia's mother goes, he was right.
- And he legitimately believes his actions and the actions of Jake Ballard by proxy do have a legitimate point."If there are no more white hats, if the deck is always stacked, and if everyone you love is a monster, there is in fact someone worth saving."Olivia: "Who?""Everyone. Everyone is worth saving. Even the monsters, even the demons, everyone is worth saving. In the face of darkness, you drag everyone into the light."
- And he legitimately believes his actions and the actions of Jake Ballard by proxy do have a legitimate point.
- You Have Failed Me: Not yet, but when helping to sabotage Fitz and employ Sally Langston against him, he outright threatens Sally's political adviser with this, complete with Deadly Euphemism.
- "If you fail me, then you are fired."
Becky Flynn/Kate (Susan Pourfar)
- The Bus Came Back: Appears in Season Six's "A Traitor Among Us." She's still in prison, and tells Huck his weakness is he is a sucker for a sob story.
- Complexity Addiction: She was careful to set up Lindsay Dwyer as a suspect for the Cytron bombing. She could have set up Huck for shooting President Grant, but didn't. He was suspected of it anyway, though
- Disproportionate Retribution: when Huck turns against her, she responds by murdering every member of the family that Huck had taken a liking to, including their dog. And they would've had absolutely no idea why.
- Distaff Counterpart: Both she and Huck are professional killers, which she sees as making them perfect for each other.
- Hidden Depths: Formerly a member of B613 before going freelance. Set up the Cytron bombing for Hollis Doyle and shooting President Grant for Verna Thornton.
- Name's the Same: Invoked. "Like Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farms."
- Stalking Is Love: First took a "professional curiosity" in Huck, which later turned to love the more she learned about him.
Charlie (George Newbern)
- Badass Boast: "I killed a king once. He had a crown and everything."
- Easily Forgiven: Rejoined B6-13 with little difficulty.
- Everyone Went to School Together: He and Jake were in the same "class" at B6-13.
- Evil Mentor: For Quinn starting in "Icarus."
- Rousing Speech: Of all people, he gives a great one to Olivia in "Dead in the Water."
- We Used to Be Friends: George Newbern says Huck was the closest thing to a friend Charlie ever had.
Tom Larsen (Brian Letscher)He started off as a Secret Service agent on Fitz's detail in season 1 before being revealed to be B6-13 in season 3. Eventually, in season 5, he somehow ended up working for Cyrus and was later shown to be sleeping with him, too. His last scene in 5x21 had Cyrus breaking up with him.
- But Not Too Gay: In season 5. Come Fates Worse Than Death there was a chunk of screentime devoted to how thirsty af Tom was for Cyrus.
- Bodyguard Crush: Retroactively, there are a few hints suggesting he's always been interested in Cyrus.
- Extreme Doormat: He's usually a naturally accommodating person, but come his relationship with Cyrus, there was a point when he'd literally do anything to make Cyrus happy.
- Heartbroken Badass: He's a super-secret spy extremely skilled in espionage and possessing mad sniper skills who literally begs his boyfriend not to break up with him and is thisclose to crying when said boyfriend does anyway. Fates Worse Than Death ramps this up.
- Longing Look: Directs several towards Cyrus before and after the reveal of their relationship.
- Man Scorned: He left Cyrus alone when Cyrus first broke up with him, but when Cyrus got together back with him in order to advance Cyrus's own political interests, and then, dumped him again, saying he didn't take it well is a bit of an understatement.
- Murder the Hypotenuse: Really wanted to do this. Given what happened, from his POV, not doing this turned out to be a big mistake.
- One Head Taller: Both Letscher and Matthew Del Negro (Michael) are significantly taller than Jeff Perry (Cyrus).
- Please Don't Leave Me: "Don't. Dont say that, alright? Just tell me. Whatever I did, I can make it up to you, I promise."
- Secret Relationship: After several episodes hinting at it, Thwack! did a bedmate reveal of him and Cyrus.
- The Stoic: Completely for the first three seasons. Though calmness is still a large part of his characterisation, season 4 and onward have shown cracks in his stoicism.
- Unequal Pairing: He and Cyrus started sleeping together while he was working for Cyrus. Aside from this, from Cyrus's POV, Tom was a minion who provided good sex, whereas, on Tom's side of things, he's canonically in love with Cyrus.
Maya Pope (Khandi Alexander)
- Affably Evil / Faux Affably Evil: Can be quite charming with both the good guys and the bad guys. And she will flat-out murder you if she thinks you are disrespecting her.
- Boxed Crook: Becomes this in season four after being "rescued" from Eli and held in a real prison.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: She has a genuine concern for Olivia's well-being. She sees Unfortunate Implications in how, politically speaking, Olivia is "the help." In season four, she agrees to help David, Huck and Quinn in return for a television with basic cable, so she can see Olivia on various news shows.
- I Have Many Names: Had a different name in every country she worked, as a spy.
- The Man Behind the Man: She was the person who gave orders to Peus.
- Not Quite Dead: She's alive, and has been kept in prison for 22 years.
- Twice now! Once again presumed dead in-between three and four, only to be revealed to be alive, and kept in prison again by Eli.
- Only in It for the Money: She tells Adnan Salif, "I don't make bombs, I make money."
- The Unfettered: According to Khandi Alexander, Maya has become this after 22 years locked up by Eli.
- Walking Spoiler: Will definitely become this.