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Det. Lt. William Somerset
Played By: Morgan Freeman
"Ernest Hemingway once wrote, "The world is a fine place and worth fighting for." I agree with the second part."
- Admiring the Abomination: Somerset doesn't quite 'admire' the killer, but he does recognize him as a Worthy Opponent who is not to be underestimated and ought to be treated with cautious respect.
- Badass Bookworm: Proves this when he looks up anything covering the Seven Deadly Sins.
- By-the-Book Cop: More inclined to think about the legal aspects than Mills.
- Crapsack World: How Somerset sees the world around him. There isn't much in the way of evidence to prove him wrong.
- Cultured Badass: Somerset is well-versed in the works of Dante and other renowned authors. Needless to say, he enjoys reading and prefers drinking wine.
- Cynicism Catalyst: A retroactive example. Somerset explains to Mills that his whole life in the city gave him a pretty dark, pessimistic view on the world.
- Dark and Troubled Past: From the starting of his pessimistic views of the world to how he convinced the woman carrying their child to get an abortion because he didn't want the child to grow up in a Crapsack World.
- Deadpan Snarker: In a more subtle, dry and restrained way than Mills.
- Determined Defeatist: Where he is at the end of the film, deciding that the world being beyond saving is not an excuse to stop fighting for it.
- Foil: To Mills who is a Hot-Blooded Manchild. Somerset is a calm professional who thinks before acting.
- Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Played with in his backstory. He made his girlfriend get an abortion and remains a very moral character - but he also deeply regrets his choice.
- Knight in Sour Armour: Somerset is a pessimist but still a good man.
- Mysterious Past: How did he get such good connections to the FBI that he found out about the bureau using the library system to keep track of any potential criminal?
- Nice Guy: He's a pessimist, but still a good man underneath it all.
- Not So Different: From the killer. Both of them are intelligent, well-educated and cultured, and are both intimately aware of just how much of a Crapsack World they live in. Where they differ is in their respective approaches to trying to improve the world.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The wiser, cool-headed Blue Oni to Mills' inexperienced, short-tempered Red Oni.
- Salt and Pepper: The pepper to Mills' salt.
- Worthy Opponent: Somerset recognizes the killer as an intellectual equal, and the killer seems to think the same.
Det. David Mills
Played By: Brad Pitt
- Blood Knight: Mills wants to be this way, which is why he got reassigned to the city. While he does become it by killing John Doe, it's poisonous and completely destroys him.
- Book Dumb: Desperately needs Cliff's Notes to comprehend Dante.
- Cowboy Cop: He breaks down Doe's door and bribes a woman to say she reported suspicious noises from inside the apartment.
- Deadpan Snarker: And not that subtle about it, either.
- Despair Event Horizon: Mills spends the majority of the film as a Wide-Eyed Idealist, only to lose it all when John Doe reveals to him that he has killed his wife and unborn child.
- Deuteragonist: He gets the second amount of screentime after Somerset.
- Downer Ending: He becomes the seventh and final victim of John Doe for the sin of Wrath. He has lost his wife, his unborn child, and, with them, his hope for the future, and while the outcome of his trial is uncertain (the Captain assures Somerset that the department will do its best to protect him), his career is without a doubt over, even if only by choice.
- Fatal Flaw: His Hair-Trigger Temper proves to be his undoing when John Doe kills Tracy, in order to provoke Mills into wrath. It works.
- Fate Worse than Death: John Doe seems to regard his ending as this. He's the only victim not killed by Doe.
- Foil: To Somerset, who is a calm professional who thinks before acting. Mills is a Hot-Blooded Manchild.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Mills is very quick to anger and takes most things to heart.
- Hates Being Touched: By Somerset, anyway.
- Henpecked Husband: His wife invites Somerset to dinner without asking him.
- Heroes Love Dogs: Owns two dogs he affectionately calls "the kids".
- High-School Sweethearts: He was already in love with Tracy in high school.
- Hot-Blooded: Which leads to his Hair-Trigger Temper.
- Jerkass Has a Point: David may be a hot-blooded, immature Cowboy Cop, but he correctly points out that Somerset's cynical attitude is little better than the apathetic attitude Somerset decries. He also shoots down John Doe's claims that Doe's actions will change the world, saying (probably correctly) Doe will end up "a T-shirt, a Movie of the Week, at best," and that Doe has delusions of grandeur.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: As easily angered and snarky as he is, David is a good man at heart.
- Manchild: Mills acts like a teenager's idea of a cop, being an angry swearing Leeroy Jenkins eager to pull his gun.
- Leeroy Jenkins: Tends to rush into situations.
- Politically Incorrect Hero: Mills may be a dedicated cop but he's also shown to be homophobic.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The inexperienced, short-tempered Red Oni to Somerset's wiser, cool-headed Blue Oni .
- Salt and Pepper: The salt to Somerset's pepper.
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: Every other word is a curse, lending to his image as a Manchild and making him a good foil for Somerset.
- Thousand-Yard Stare: In the car at the end.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: He tends to believe that the world isn't as crappy as Somerset believes.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: He thinks he's a fierce, moral cop who will eventually triumph over evil. Most of this is right, but evil destroys him rather than the other way around.
- Wrath: Invoked by John Doe. At the end of the film, John Doe kills Tracy in order to provoke him into becoming a victim of this sin.
Played By: R. Lee Ermey
Played By: John C. McGinley
- Blood Knight: As Somerset notes, he and the rest of the SWAT team love their job.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: Says Victor, a paedarest and a drug dealer, deserved what he got in as many words.
- Large Ham: He's all barking orders and yelling.
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: While he doesn't swear quite as often as Mills, he curses heavily in most of his screen time.
Played By: Kevin Spacey
- Ax-Crazy: Violent behaviour combined with a calm demeanor to create a very disturbing man.
- The Bad Guy Wins: Everything that happens goes according to plan, and he gets exactly what he wants without any karma biting back at him.
- Bald of Evil: He's bald and he's an utterly loathsome monster.
- Batman Gambit: Doe's entire goal is to kill based upon the seven deadly sins, and his entire plan hinges on proving himself guilty of the sin of envy by killing Mills' wife and unborn child, thus intending to make himself the sixth victim at the hands of a vengeful Mills. Somerset rightfully points out that Doe's plan is only successful if Mills kills him.
- Believing Their Own Lies: John seems to have genuinely convinced himself that he's a noble crusader for morality instead of the twisted sadist he really is.
- Berserk Button: He gets really pissed off when Mills says that his victims were innocent.
- Big Bad: Of the entire film, of course.
- The Chessmaster: Seriously. This guy can give Jigsaw and Hannibal Lecter a run for their money in this department.
- The Chosen One: He believes he was chosen by God to carry out his killings to help cleanse the world of sin.
- Creepy Monotone: Tends to speak in this manner most of the time. It's seriously unnerving.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: The murders he commits are all this.
- The Cynic: He has a pretty dim view of humanity to say the least.
- Deadpan Snarker: As befits a character played by Kevin Spacey. However, Doe's snark is much crueler and even nightmarish at times.Mills: I seem to remember us knocking on your door.
John Doe: Oh, that's right. And I seem to remember breaking your face. You're only alive because I didn't kill you.
- Envy: He admits by the ending that Envy is his own deadly sin, since he envy detective Mills life and says it is a perfect, which Doe could only dream of having. Thus he kills Mills wife so Mills can become Wrath, the only remaining sin.
- Even Evil Has Standards / Villain Has a Point: He attempts to invoke this by discussing how horrible his victims were but it falls flat as most of their supposed crimes (being overweight, being vain, working as a prostitute) are hardly the awful sins he makes them out to be and Doe is several magnitudes worse than any of them.
- Evil Counterpart: For Somerset; the two believe that the world is an evil place, but have conflicting views on how to deal with it.
- Evil Genius: He's very well-read in a variety of subjects, an exceptional planner and he's smart enough to evade capture right up until he turns himself in as well as keep all traces of his identity a secret.
- Evil Gloating: He brags about taking Tracy's "pretty head".
- Evil Sounds Deep: A demonic serial murderer with a deep and cold voice. Being him played by Kevin Spacey this shouldn't be a surprise.
- Faux Affably Evil: John is a very polite fellow despite being a Serial Killer, yet his civility is shallow and all it does is highlight how utterly creepy he is. He retains this tone all while gloating to Mills about the murder of Tracy and her unborn child.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: He was just an average man with little to make him stand out before he embarked upon his killings.
- Green-Eyed Monster: At the end of the film, he admits that he is jealous of Mills' average life. This leads him to murder Mills' wife, and this, in his eyes, makes him guilty of the sin of Envy.
- Hannibal Lecture: "It's more comfortable for you to label me insane."
- Let's see. He forces the Gluttony victim to eat to death, meaning he's partially responsible for the sin itself. The Greed victim is allegedly a Amoral Attorney, yet he employs one that actually comes across as smug and overstepping his legal boundaries. He also forces someone else to horrifically rape a woman to death, kills a completely innocent woman, and he sets himself up as the Envy victim to force Mills to kill him. Meaning, even by his own logic, if we can call it that, he's damned to hell.
- When he justifies his murder of the Greed victim by saying he helped get rapists and murderers back on the streets, Mills points out he is one himself but Doe is so wiled up in his monologue that he rolls right past it, seemingly oblivious. There's also the implication that he raped Tracy Mills, going by his "tried to play husband" statement.
- He mutilates Pride's face just for taking some value in her own beauty, but given the nature of his notebooks wherein he rants about how pathetic the rest of humanity is in comparison to himself, even vomiting on a random pedestrian just for annoying him with small talk, he proves that his vanity exceeds any that he perceives in others.
- Insane Troll Logic: He has an...interesting sense of morality. He views the world as a rotten cesspool of sin that needs to be cleansed. To accomplish this task, he brutally and sadistically murders people for "crimes" ranging from being a drug dealer to simply being obese and he claims to only care about his work and message, obscuring all traces of his true identity, yet openly brags about how his work will be studied and copied for years to come and alter the world. He also murders a defense attorney whom he claims put murderers and rapists back on the street yet uses one just as amoral and he ignores the fact that he is a murderer and forced a man to rape a woman to death and that he brutally murdered Tracy, who was completely innocent. It's fair to say that John's mindset is pretty twisted.
- Kick the Dog: What he does to Tracy, an innocent young woman. That's low, even for him.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: He certainly seems to believe this is the case for his crimes, that his cruelty is acceptable because his targets were deserving. But it's clear he's just trying to justify his actions to himself.
- Knight Templar: He thinks he's a man fighting for a better world when he's really just a sadist trying to justify his actions.
- Lack of Empathy: He never express an even slight amount of remorse for what he's done. The fact that he claims that his victims were bad people is just an excuse.
- Manipulative Bastard: He manipulates everything and everyone in the last act of the film perfectly.
- Meaningful Rename: He takes on the name "John Doe" to fit his obscured identity as he wants all the focus to be on his actions.
- Misanthrope Supreme:Somerset (reading one of John Doe's journals): "What sick ridiculous puppets we are and what gross little stage we dance on. What fun we have dancing and fucking. Not a care in the world. Not knowing that we are nothing. We are not what was intended."
- Motive Rant: He launches into a truly epic one when Mills says that his victims were innocent:Doe: "Innocent? Is that supposed to be funny? An obese man, a disgusting man who could barely stand up, a man who if you saw him on the street, you'd point him out to your friends so that they could join you in mocking him, a man, who if you saw him while you were eating, you wouldn't be able to finish your meal. After him, I picked the lawyer, and I know you both must have been secretly thanking me for that one. This is a man who dedicated his life to making money by lying with every breath that he could muster to keeping murderers and rapists on the streets!...A woman, so ugly on the inside she couldn't bear to go on living if she couldn't be beautiful on the outside. A drug dealer, a drug-dealing pederast, actually! And let's not forget the disease-spreading whore! Only in a world this shitty could you even try to say these were innocent people and keep a straight face. But that's the point: we see a deadly sin on every street corner, in every home, and we tolerate it. We tolerate it because it's common, it's trivial. We tolerate it morning, noon, and night. Well, not anymore. I'm setting the example. What I've done is going to be puzzled over and studied and followed forever."
- Mr. Smith: Obscures all traces of his real identity and uses the name "John Doe" as it's his message that's supposed to be important, not himself.
- My Death Is Just the Beginning: His own death is a part of his plan, and comprises one of the seven sins. He is confident that his killings will inspire a great deal of fascination, study, and, ultimately, a following, and that his influence will change the world. Mills counters, more plausibly, that John Doe's killings will only inspire a TV movie and a T-shirt logo, a la Charles Manson.
- Narcissist: He has an absurdly inflated opinion about himself, believing himself to be leagues above everybody who crosses his path.
- Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: An unnaturally calm, soften-spoken man whose demeanor doesn't even hide the deeply hateful murderer underneath, John Doe is one of the most disturbing serial killers in film.
- Nothing Is Scarier: None of his crimes are ever shown on screen, only the aftermath. Probably for the best.
- Not-So-Well-Intentioned Extremist: All his talk about cleansing the world of sin is just an excuse he gives himself. He does what he does because he's a sadistic monster.
- Offscreen Villain Dark Matter: Exactly how Doe survives, let alone funds his killings, is a mystery as he has no employment history nor is he mentioned as having inherited money. Despite this, he has no issue renting out multiple apartments, filling his home with equipment for his killings, buying hundreds of journals, bribing cops for information and paying five-hundred dollars to a delivery driver.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: Implicitly targets Gould for his Jewishness (hence the "pound of flesh" comment on the murder site) and rapes (by proxy) a woman to death for being a "diseased whore."
- Ridiculously Average Guy: There's nothing about John's appearance to hint at what a monster he is.
- Room Full of Crazy: His apartment is filled with instruments of murder, religious imagery hanging everywhere (including a neon cross over his bed), and shelves of journals containing his unfiltered thoughts.
- Sadist: It's very clear this is his main motivation for what he does, regardless of how much he claims otherwise. He himself admits that "there was nothing wrong with a man taking pleasure in his work."
- The Scourge of God: What he believes himself to be. Doesn't stop him from enjoying it however.
- Serial Killer: Well, clearly. Technically, he directly murders Gluttony and Tracy Mills, murders Lust by proxy, and forces Pride to commit suicide. He also mutilates Pride, spurring her to kill herself, and is responsible for his own murder.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Played Up to Eleven in the comic book prequels.
- Shrouded in Myth: Everything about Doe is a complete mystery.
- Slasher Smile: He displays some truly unnerving grins after being captured.
- Small Name, Big Ego: As noted above, he has a very high opinion of what he imagines his legacy will be. This is despite the fact that he's a low-level killer working in a fairly small city and whose crimes, while certainly shocking and brutal, hardly took much in the way of intelligence or cunning. John imagines he's a revolutionary rather than the sadist he is.
- The Sociopath: Has an Old Testament outlook on humanity with zero compassion for his victims.
- Soft-Spoken Sadist: He has a calm, unassuming voice but as Somerset notes, he enjoys hurting people.
- The Spook: We learn almost nothing about him. Not his backstory, not even his real name, just his message.
- Suddenly SHOUTING: When he turns himself in.Doe: Detective.
Somerset: After this I'm gone.
Mills: No big surprise.
- Suicide by Cop: He successfully manipulates Mills into murdering him.
- Thanatos Gambit: His own death is the finale of his plan, comprising the last two sins. He himself becomes the Envy victim, being shot to death by Mills for murdering his wife out of jealousy. Consequently, Mills has lost his wife, broken the law, and will be sent to prison, thus becoming the Wrath victim.Somerset: If you kill him now, he WINS!
- They Look Just Like Everyone Else!: He's an average-looking guy whom you wouldn't think twice about if you passed him in the street. He's also a truly monstrous serial killer.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Completely averted in the film, but played straight in the non-canon graphic novel, where his early life is very much what you'd expect from a serial killer.
- Worthy Opponent: He seems to regard Mills and Somerset as this, repeatedly telling them how much he admires them. The effect comes across as creepy more than anything else.
- Would You Like to Hear How They Died?: He taunts Mills about how he killed Tracy by beheading her and thus also killing her unborn child. It's also implied, given the fact that he "tried to play husband", that he raped her first.
Played By: Bob Mack
- Balloon Belly: Already obese, his stomach suffered nightmarish distension over the course of his torture, as the medical examine later notes in the aftermath of the autopsy.
- Belly Mouth: The cover of the Comic-Book Adaptation's first issue features him with a massive fanged maw running across his stomach.
- Character Death: One of Doe's victims.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: What Doe put him through was horrific, and all the more so given how long it went on for: as if force-feeding the poor bastard to the point of physical exhaustion wasn't bad enough, Doe ran out of ingredients halfway through the fatal feast, and actually went to the store to pick up more supplies just so he could continue torturing him.
- Creepy Souvenir: Doe keeps several empty cans of spaghetti sauce to memorialize the man's torture.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: He dies by having his stomach burst open from the inside.
- Death by Gluttony: Enforced by Doe. He is forced at gunpoint to eat spaghetti until he passes out, at which point the killer kicks his stomach and it ruptures on the inside.
- Fat Bastard: Invoked by John Doe but ultimately averted. There is no indication that he was a bad person. The Comic-Book Adaptation reveals that he was a quiet man with major self-esteem issues - one who genuinely wanted to turn his life around but didn't know how.
- Force Feeding: The crux of his torture at the hands of Doe, being forced to scarf down plate after plate of spaghetti - hands free - until he starts passing out. The comic expands on this treatment by showing that Doe also went so far as to shove a few forkfuls into the victim's mouth... complete with a stray cockroach.
- No Dead Body Poops: Averted. According to the police officers who found him, he'd been sitting in his own piss and shit for several hours by the time Mills arrived - their first good clue that the victim was dead.
- No Name Given: Only in additional materials he is given a name. Two, actually: Peter Eubanks in the Novelization, and Peter Eugene in the Graphic Novel.
- Posthumous Character: While none of Doe's victims are actually seen in the process of being killed, Gluttony was dead before the film begins.
- The Shut-In: Judging by the state of his home, Somerset speculates he was a bit of a shut-in.
- Tampering with Food and Drink: The comic reveals that Doe was able to subdue him by pretending to be a lost pizza deliveryman, trusting that the victim wouldn't be able to resist the chance to take the pizza off his hands; unfortunately for him, the pizza was laced with sedatives.
- Vomit Indiscretion Shot: In the comic book adaption, a huge plume of vomit shoots out of his mouth when Doe fatally kicks him. Plus, the limited edition cover to the issue features a clump of bloody spaghetti pouring out of his mouth.
- Weight Woe: Played for drama. According to the comics, he was a deeply depressed individual who had seen several family members die from obesity-related disorders and hated himself for not being able to change his ways, lamenting the fact that no matter how much he ate, he still felt empty.
Greed (Eli Gould)
Played By: Gene Borkan
- Amoral Attorney: According to John Doe, anyway; we know little about him as a person. The comic books elaborate further on this by demonstrating that Gould is indeed a greedy, self-absorbed scumbag with no interest in anyone who couldn't line his pockets immediately. Doe himself actually went so far as to test this tendency by posing as a potential client, only to be turned away as soon as the words "payment plan" were used.
- Asshole Victim: Left ambiguous in the film, confirmed in the comic books - in which he was captured by Doe immediately after presiding over the defense of a rapist.
- Character Death: One of John Doe's victims.
- Creepy Souvenir: A set of Gould's bloodstained legal textbooks are found in Doe's apartment alongside other trophies from his victims.
- Even Evil Has Standards: As the comics demonstrate, Gould might be a heartless defender of rapists and slumlords, but even he seems disgusted by having to deal with Theodore "Victor" Allen. At one point during their meeting in "Sloth," Victor drunkenly asks what a pedarest is; Gould wearily replies "it's what you are, Mr Allen," and exits - leaving his client with the bar tab.
- Greedy Jew: Though never mentioned, it is invoked due to his name and the pound of flesh, a reference to The Merchant of Venice
- Ironic Hell: During the "Sloth" issue, Victor hallucinates Gould in hell, forcing a massive boulder against other boulder-wielding sinners - the classic ironic punishment for the greedy as envisioned by Dante.
- Lack of Empathy: In the comic book adaptation anyway. At one point, he's confronted by an impoverished woman being thrown out of her apartment by his current client, demanding to know where her children are supposed to sleep; Gould's only reply is a dead-eyed stare and a mutter of "remove your hand from my coat."
- Sadistic Choice: He was told to extract a pound of flesh from his body, and eventually chose one of his love handles. As a result, he bled to death.
Sloth (Theodore 'Victor' Allen)
Played By: Michael Reid MacKay
- Addled Addict: The comic books demonstrate that Victor was headed in this direction by the time Doe got a hold of him; already subtly pockmarked by years of barely-functional drug use, he was too spaced-out to recognize that taking a strange man home with him might be a bad idea. Doe punished this accordingly by slowly pumping him full of drugs to the point of physical and mental collapse.
- And I Must Scream: Spends an entire year strapped to a bed, drugged into semi-consciousness and unable to speak; though Doe's photographs show Victor with his mouth gaping open as if to scream, no complaints over noise are ever issued by the landlord, meaning that he couldn't even call for help. Eventually, he's able to let out a rasping scream, but by then, the damage to his brain and body is irreversible.
- Asshole Victim: While the other victims are debatable at best, Victor was indeed a drug-dealing pederast who has also dabbled in armed robbery and assault. Nobody mourned his death, least of all the cops who found him. Except, to their horror, he wasn't quite dead yet.
- Auto Cannibalism: Over the course of the drug torture he was subjected to, Victor apparently chewed off and swallowed his own tongue - either due to muscle spasms or simply because he was desperate for solid food after months of intravenous sustenance.
- An Arm and a Leg: John Doe severed Victor's hand at the wrist and used it to paint fingerprints on a wall in Eli Gould's office.
- Body Horror: Victor could be the poster boy for this trope; horrifically emaciated after a full year of paralysis, he's covered in bedsores and wallowing in his own filth... and yet he's somehow still alive. Worse still, photographs left at the scene demonstrate Victor's gradual deterioration over the course of the year, his features visibly withering as drugs, starvation and bedsores gradually eat away at him.
- Bound and Gagged: For a year - though he wasn't gagged and likely couldn't speak anyway due to all the drugs in his system.
- Bring My Brown Pants: Played for horror. In keeping with the sloth punishment, Victor was not allowed to leave his bed for any reason, and was forced to simply soil himself - and lie there in it. Suffice it to say that, thanks to the smell of excrement and open sores, Victor smells absolutely putrid by the time his year of hell came to an end, to the point that Doe had to cover the apartment in air fresheners just so he wouldn't arouse suspicions; when California finally whips the sheet off him, the stink is so horrendous that even Mills and Somerset are disgusted.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: After a year in the hands of John Doe, Hell would probably be a welcome escape. Most of this was purely drug-inflicted... except for the part when Doe started severing limbs.
- Creepy Souvenir: His severed hand is found in a jar of formaldehyde at John Doe's apartment, as part of a collection of trophies. As Doe spends the rest of the movie fleeing the police, this is the last souvenir he's able to collect and keep.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: He goes through absolute agony on his way to the afterlife.
- Cruel Mercy: Doe did everything in his power to keep Victor from dying until the very end, even dosing him with antibiotics to stop his bedsores from getting infected. He's not even dead when the police find him.
- Disease Bleach: Prior to his capture, Victor was dark-haired. Following a year of torture, what little hair he still possesses is now tinged a sickly yellowish-white.
- Empty Shell: After a full year spent drugged and bound to a bed, Victor is barely capable of screaming in agony; his doctor claims that his brain has been reduced to "mush," and that he wouldn't be able to speak even if he hadn't chewed off his own tongue.
- Fate Worse than Death: He goes through an entire year of paralyzed suffering, drug torture and amputation, and doesn't even get the relief of death. The novelization mentions that he died a couple of days after being admitted to a hospital.
- Frame-Up: He's finally discovered when his fingerprints are found at the scene of the Greed murder, briefly including him on the list of possible suspects. It's not until the police actually find Victor's body, minus one arm, and realize that Doe was just stringing them along.
- Getting High on Their Own Supply: A drug-dealer by trade, the comics demonstrate that Victor definitely isn't above using his own product, to the point that Doe is able to recognize four distinctive signs of long-term addiction just by looking at him - including the pockmarks from crystal meth, speed-induced deterioration of bone mass, the erosion of nasal cartilage due to cocaine, and the needle scars from heroin use. For good measure, crime scene photographs reveal that Victor's apartment is cluttered with what have to be several months worth of drug paraphernalia, from crackpipes to used syringes.
- Mushroom Samba: According to the comics, Victor was subjected to this when Doe gave him a spiked heroin injection, sending him on a hallucinogenic journey to hell. By all appearances, he spent the remainder of his life in this state.
- Nothing but Skin and Bones: The state John Doe leaves him in; he's so gaunt and ravaged with bedsores that the police initially mistake him for a corpse. It's not until Victor lets out a single coughing scream that they realize that he's still alive.
- Never Speak Ill of the Dead: Averted. Just before Victor awakens, SWAT team leader California says that he "got what he deserved." Even Dr. Beardsley says that he "still has Hell to look forward to."
- Orgy of Evidence: Doe went out of his way to take samples of Victor's hair, fingernails, urine and stool, along with photographs of the victim's horrific deterioration, just so the police could have enough evidence of what happened and how long it went on for. However, this isn't a prelude to a setup, but - as Mills puts it - a sign that Doe is toying with them.
- Slime Ball: The comic book adaptation shows that, in life, Victor was an oily, ingratiating scumbag that few people could stand to be around for any length of time. Even his lawyer seemed genuinely irritated with him.
- Technically a Smile: Photos discovered at the scene of the crime reveal that, three days prior, Victor's torture had left his face frozen in a particularly agonized-looking grin. Thanks to all the drugs in his system, it's doubtful he was even able to control his facial muscles, and it only looks all the more disturbing given that his gums have started to recede, making his teeth look longer.
- Tongue Trauma: He chewed off his tongue long ago.
- Younger Than They Look: Somewhere in his twenties or thirties, but after all the torture he's been put through, he looks like a decrepit old man.
Played By: Cat Mueller
- Cruel and Unusual Death: She's given possibly the most gruesome death in the whole film.
- Disposable Sex Worker: John Doe seems to have chosen her at random solely because she was a prostitute.
- Groin Attack: Victim of a fatal one.
- No Name Given: We never find out her name.
- Out with a Bang: Because her killer is forced to wear a strap-on blade while raping her.
- Rape by Proxy: Doe forces one of her clients to have sex with her at gunpoint.
Pride (Rachel Shade)
Played By: Heidi Schantz
- Asshole Victim: In the comics, she was definitely a nasty piece of work, neglecting her daughter and treating her underlings like shit.
- Bandaged Face: Found in this condition, having been brutally mutilated by Doe.
- Beauty Is Bad: Definitely Doe's perspective. In the comics, she's revealed to have been a beautiful model who was determined to make the lives of everyone around her into a living hell, relying on her looks and the status she earned as a result of them to escape repercussions.
- Character Death: One of Doe's victims, of course.
- Driven to Suicide: Having been given the "option" by Doe, she chooses to die rather than live disfigured.
- Empathy Doll Shot: Found lying in bed with a teddy bear by her side. The comics reveal that it actually belonged to her daughter.
- Facial Horror: Nose severed by John Doe, before being bandaged up and given the option of death or life spent in ugliness.
- Fate Worse than Death: She viewed living deformed as this.
- Nasal Trauma: Nose cut off by John Doe.
- No Name Given: Subverted. While her name is never spoken in the film, the bottle of medications she used to commit suicide with has her name Rachel Shade written on it.
- Parental Neglect: In the comics, she barely gives enough of of a damn to dismiss her daughter from her presence.
- Red Shirt: She receives considerably less focus than Gluttony, Greed, Sloth and Lust, and her scene is quickly overshadowed by the Envy/Wrath climax of the film.
Theresa 'Tracy' Mills
Played By: Gwyneth Paltrow
- Ain't Too Proud to Beg: She begs John Doe to spare her and her unborn child. It doesn't work.
- Decapitation Presentation: Averted. Her head is cut off, but only Somerset sees it. The viewers don't.
- Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Tracy considers getting a secret abortion because she doesn't want her child to grow in a Crapsack World. She probably decides to keep it when she begs for her unborn child's life when John Doe is about to kill her.
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: She's blonde and a fairly likable character in the film.
- High-School Sweethearts: She was already in love with Mills on high school.
- Morality Chain: Tracy is one of the few people Mills isn't a jerk to. When he finds out that John Doe killed her, Mills shoots him.
- Nice Girl: One of the most decent, polite characters in the film. Despite a minor moment of insensitiveness (asking Somerset why isn't he married soon after meeting him and inviting him to dinner without asking Mills), she's a friendly person overall.
- Stuffed into the Fridge: Ultimately, had her head chopped off by John Doe.
- Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Probably the kindest character in the movie, she dies a brutal and horrifying death and John Doe's hands.
District Attorney Martin Talbot
Played By: Richard Roundtree
- Deadpan Snarker: He has some of the best lines despite his minimal appearances.
Man in Massage Parlor Booth
Played By: Michael Massee
Crazed Man in Massage Parlor