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The Tail

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/the_tail.jpg
One Tail
The Tail is located on the furthest end of Snowpiercer. The residents here are the stowaways, more commonly referred to as Tailies, who boarded Snowpiercer illegally. Due to not being considered passengers, they do not have any rights or have permission to visit other cars except on rare occasions. They live in the dark, and it has been stated that the people have not seen the sun since first boarding the train seven years before. The Tailies are packed like cattle, fed the bare minimum to avoid starvation, and treated as subhuman slaves. Even though there's enough room and food to provide for them decently if it were distributed more evenly. So it's no surprise the Tailies want to change that; they've led numerous rebellions over the years, all of which have ended in failure and body counts so far.

Shared Tropes

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  • An Arm and a Leg: Every time a revolt goes belly up, one or more Tailies have their dominant arm put through a porthole until it's frozen, then shattered as punishment.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Two to three years after Snowpiercer left Chicago, there was a killing cult; the cult killed and ate anyone regardless of their age or gender to survive. Before the cult could kill everyone else, Layton took it upon himself to take out the leader and his followers. After the deed was done, he took the leader's heart, split it, and ate the pieces alongside everyone else as a way to show that none of them was innocent. There hasn't been an act of cannibalism ever since.
  • Fantastic Slurs: Referred to as "Tailies" by those above them, though they themselves take it as a badge of honor as it's who they are now.
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  • Fantastic Underclass: All those who live in the Tail are treated like garbage and used as slave labor; notably in Sanitation, where they have to clean the piss and shit in the train. Even after the success of Layton's revolution, Wilford is able to stir up so much resentment against them that the other classes on the train turn on them.
  • Population Control: The women are forcibly sterilized, and it's been stated that there hasn't been a child born in the Tail in five years.
  • Reduced to Ratburgers: Aside from the protein bars that they're given for food they've kept a surplus of rats in a metal cage for consumption.
  • Slave Liberation: The Tailies are sick and tired of being treated nothing more than slaves and being on the constant brink of extinction, so it's no surprise that they want to free themselves of their shitty situation. However every revolt they've led all end in failure, death, and the aforementioned An Arm and a Leg above. Even after leads them in successful revolution, it's all too easy for Wilford to turn Third and other disaffected sections of the train against them.
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  • The Illegal: All residents of the Tailies are this, as they boarded the train in desperation in order to survive seven years ago.
  • Out of Focus: Aside from Layton and Josie they're surprisingly absent from the finale.

Leadership

    Andre Layton 

Andre Layton

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/tv_series_snowpiercer_daveed_diggs_black_wool_coat.jpg
Portrayed By: Daveed Diggs

The leader of the Tail and main protagonist. Thoughtful and intelligent, Layton has managed to lead the Tail through Snowpiercer's journey. But it's his former life as a homicide detective that sees him exposed to the outside Train for the first time - a journey that has serious consequences for Snowpiercer.


  • Batman Gambit: Outs Melanie's secret to L.J. Folger, knowing it'll distract First with their revolt as the Tail's own gets going.
  • Berserk Button: Terence merely implying he'd sell out Josie as Layton's spy in Big Alice is enough for him to order the King of the Janitors killed.
  • The Chains of Commanding: He's in charge of the train following the defeat of Grey and the Folgers - and judging by episode 10, isn't finding it any easier than Melanie did. The start of season 2 has him reluctantly declaring martial law until the threat of Big Alice and Wilford is over, something that makes him very unpopular with some of the Third Class fighters that supported him, while his Tail-first policies rebound on him hugely later in the series. By the end of 2x08, Layton loses Snowpiercer to Wilford, gets arrested, and is sent to Big Alice as a prisoner.
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • His plan to distract Melanie and First by outing her as Wilford end with the Folgers starting their own revolution. While he's able to defeat Nolan in the Night Car, he didn't expect Nolan to be ruthless enough to resort to gassing the rest of the train, and ends up reluctantly teaming with Melanie to get rid of him and the Folgers for good.
    • He also seems to have failed to anticipate that after years of starving in the Tail, many of his people would go on the rampage, looting the vital food cars Snowpiercer needs to stay alive.
  • Dreadlock Warrior: While he may not be the Tail's best fighter, he can hold his own in a fight.
  • Enemy Mine: Very reluctantly ends up teaming with Melanie to get rid of Grey and the Folgers.
  • Good Is Not Soft: The struggle against first Grey and the Folgers, then Wilford, increasingly has him heading this way. He sacrifices a car full of prisoners to ensure the former are eliminated for good, while some of his moves against the latter include coercing Audrey back into a clearly toxic relationship with him, lying to the train about Melanie's possible demise in order to keep hope alive, and having Pike kill Terence when he threatens to sell Josie out to Wilford as Layton's spy.
  • I Shall Return: Vows this to Zarah as the pirate train plan comes to formation; as she's unwilling to join him with a child on the way, he gradually accepts it, then promises he'll be back for her.
  • Messianic Archetype: Andre has MANY parallels between him and Jesus. Let’s look at the details:
    • He becomes the leader of a group of followers whom all look to him for guidance and disobey the normal religious rules.
    • He tries to reason with all enemies and allies of the train, even if he is antagonized and doesn’t agree with him.
    • He comes from a much poorer part of the civilization that is frequently persecuted.
    • He has long hair that flows to his shoulders, similar to iconic paintings of Jesus.
    • When he meets with LJ to give her important truthful information, he wears a hood over his head like His cloak.
  • Not So Different: Despite his mantra of change over order, is stuck telling Roche to keep order after his own Tailies and Third start looting First and the greenhouse cars. Lampshaded by a frustrated Roche when he sarcastically asks where they've all heard that before.
  • Odd Friendship: With Melanie in season 2; despite their many earlier differences, the two seem to reach a mutual understanding based on their experiences leading the train. Lampshaded by both Wilford himself, when he comments how odd it is to see them breaking bread together despite one overthrowing the other, and Josie, who explodes at Layton for working with the woman who maimed her.
  • Out-Gambitted: His plan to have Wilford fix the problems with the Engine in episode 8 without any fanfare might actually have worked but for a modification of Melanie's causing the original fix to fail - allowing Wilford to use his engineering knowledge to improvise a new solution while broadcasting his instructions to the rest of the train. Consequently Wilford is seen as a hero and Layton ends up a prisoner.
  • The Peter Principle: His arc in season 2 shows that while Wilford's manipulation of events isn't helping matters, there's a strong implication that without Melanie he tends to still act like he's just the Tail leader rather than leader of a whole train; talk of equality for all is well and good, but he tends to put the Tail first in his decision making and keeps allies who could be useful or loyal (like Ruth or Till) out of his inner circle unless he has no other choice.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: To the extent where Melanie recognises his leadership after her own so catastrophically failed, knowing that he'll at least be fair towards everyone.
  • Rebel Leader: He is pretty much in charge of the Tail and is planning the rebellion against Mr. Wilford. Eventually succeeds after a lot of twists and turns, and is in charge by episode 10.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The quiet, thoughtful blue to Pike's red.
  • Sadistic Choice: He reluctantly sacrifices a car full of prisoners to ensure the success of the rebellion.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: While he loathes Melanie over Josie's death, he works with her to ensure the defeat of Grey and the Folgers, knowing their rule would be far worse than anything Melanie could do.
  • Turn the Other Cheek: While he's got a lot to be angry about, he realizes that change over order has to be real, consequently forgiving both Melanie and Zarah for their roles in Josie's death and ensuring no reprisals are taken after the revolution.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Zigzagged. Pike says he's this, but his actions during and after the Night Car battle directly defy this. It's not until Grey and the Folgers start threatening to gas the entire train - something everyone thinks is mad due to the slaughter of Snowpiercer's work force - that he folds. Melanie also sees it as a flaw - neglecting to tell him of the prisoners in the classroom cars when he disconnects the Folgers in case he jeopardises their plan by trying to save everyone. But he does do it, much as he hates himself for it.

    Pike 

Pike

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/snowpiercer_8.jpg
Portrayed By: Steven Ogg

A hardened and battle-scarred leader in the Tail and a warrior of his people. He was a career convict, serving time in Cook County Jail for armed robbery at the time of the Freeze, but escaped.


  • Ambiguous Situation: He's taken from the drawers by Grey and gives him information on Layton in exchange for the luxuries of First, but it's unclear if he is truly a turncoat or is simply stringing Grey along. The former seems to be the case when he admits to loving the joys of proper food for the first time in years. Events conspire to keep him from facing any consequences either way.
  • Badass Beard: Thickly bearded, physically imposing, and the only survivor of his own attempted rebellion.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: According to his offical character profile he was a career criminal who'd escaped just prior to the Freeze, just in time to board the Tail as Snowpiercer left. This lends new light to his desperation to escape the Tail, as he'd essentially traded one form of incarceration for another.
  • Defector from Decadence: Inverted: when a staggered Layton asks why he is now helping Grey and the Folgers, he replies honestly; clean sheets and actual good food after years living on scraps in terrible conditions in the Tail. After the revolution ends he helps himself to the Folgers' luxuries, much to L.J.'s horror.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Believes he'll be safe from the anti-Tail riots because, without his beard and hair, no-one will recognise him. He's very, very wrong.
  • Everyone Has Standards: When he goes to kill Terence, offers him a shiv so he at least has a chance fight back.
  • Heroic BSoD: Breaks down when he realizes so many of his followers have been killed in the episode 1 rebellion for the gain of only a single train car.
  • Hot-Blooded: Pike is someone who tends to act without thinking of the consequences. The first episode rebellion happens mainly because Layton wasn't around to restrain him after Old Ivan's death.
  • Important Haircut: Shaves himself bald and cuts off his Badass Beard after killing Terence on Layton's orders, symbolizing his shame at what he's had to do.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He's a resolute asshole, but he has genuinely noble intentions, is a true believer in rebellion against his oppressors, and isn't afraid to fight alongside those he would put in danger. Subverted later when the promise of good food and clean living after years of the Tail prompts him to help Grey and the Folgers - even knowing it'll end in Layton's execution. It's played straight again when it's revealed that Pike is actively trying to be a better person as penance for something that happened in the Tail's past.
  • Karma Houdini: Sells out Layton to Grey and gives him information on how to blunt Layton's strategies, yet not only survives Grey's defeat but manages to set himself up in the Folgers' old carriage afterwards. L.J. even lampshades how he sold out all the people now adulating him just before he throws her out her home.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Gives teen sociopath L.J. a nasty speech about how she no longer matters as she has no friends, shortly before kicking her out her own home to survive alone in the lower classes. To be fair, his expression immediately afterwards indicates he didn't enjoy it.
  • Must Make Amends: Despite his selfish actions, such as selling out Layton's Rebellion in exchange for a better life, Pike's trying to be a better person as penance for a past event. Years ago, Pike was one of the cannibals that plagued the Tail; everyone wanted to hang him, but Layton saved his life, and he's been trying to be better ever since.
  • Put on a Bus: For most of the first season. He and two other Tail section rebels, Z-Wreck and Strong Boy, are consigned to the Drawers after the rebellion in the first episode. Grey reawakens him to provide information on how Layton thinks in episode 8, a.
  • Rank Up: With Layton's express approval, takes over the Big Alice weed trade, killing Terence so he can rule the train's black market trade.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The brash, aggressive red to Layton's blue.
  • Sanity Slippage: Has clearly cracked in the aftermath of killing Terence, leading Layton to comment he's accidentally broken his former comrade.
  • Undying Loyalty: Season 2 expands on why Layton and Pike keep trusting each other despite everything; Layton saved Pike from being hung for cannibalism back when they were all crammed in the Tail, something he's never forgotten.
  • The Starscream: Grey awakens him from the drawers to provide information on Layton during the rebellion.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: Pike and Layton do not get along, with the aggressive Pike clashing with the more cerebral Layton. Yet, they're still allies and understand that they need to work together. Layton even talks him into surrendering.

    Josie 

Josie Wellstead

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/josie_wellstead.jpg
Portrayed By: Kate McGuiness

A strong, no-nonsense woman who lives in poverty at the tail of the train. One of the leaders of the Tail, she's Layton's significant other and Miles's foster mother.


  • Big Damn Heroes: Sides with Layton when Boki is unable to separate the cars, destroying the aquarium to forcibly separate the train.
  • Deliberate Injury Gambit: Shatters her own hand to escape her restraints and attack Melanie.
  • Empowered Badass Normal: She was already a formidable Tail leader, but when the Headwoods fix her frostbite they turn her into another version of icy Bob, allowing her to survive the cold on top of the train.
  • Fingore: Loses a finger to Melanie's icy torture when she proves unwilling to rat out the Tail's plans.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Knowing Melanie will kill her for what she knows and will use Miles to make her talk, she gives her life in an attempt to kill Melanie. Even though she doesn't succeed, it denies Melanie any leverage her life might have.
  • The Leader: In the absence of both Layton and Pike she emerges as the Tail's leader.
  • Mama Bear: She'll do anything to protect Miles.
  • Not Quite Dead: In season 2, she turns out to have survived the freeze in Melanie's office, but she is severely frostbitten, leaving her so disfigured that nobody can identify her until Zarah stumbles upon her while working in the clinic.
  • Number Two: Generally Layton's right-hand woman.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Gives a searing one to Layton when he visits her in the infirmary, blasting him for working with Melanie and selling out his original goals.

    Old Ivan 

Old Ivan

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/old_ivan.jpg
Portrayed By: Mark Margolis

An 84 year-old former piano tuner and a leader of the Tail.


  • Cool Old Guy: Ivan is one of the oldest, if not the oldest people in the Tail. He lost an arm for taking part in a prior rebellion and is one of the more insightful members of the faction.
  • Driven to Suicide: He hangs himself on his birthday after a bout of depression in the pilot.
  • The Promised Land: He saw the front section once when brought there to perform some work and is an advocate of the tail pushing forward.

Other Tailies

    Miles 

Miles

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/miles_08.jpg
Portrayed By: Jaylin Fletcher

One of the few children in the tail end of the train. Whip smart and talented, he has the intelligence to potentially move up the train if he can get a coveted apprenticeship.


  • Affectionate Nickname: Everyone refers to him as Miles and Miles; when he moves up to Third Class and eventually the Engine, they still call him that.
  • Child Soldier: Sees himself as such in service to the Tail, though Bennett just thinks he's tragic.
  • The Mole: Melanie lets him into the Engine as a unwitting hostage to use against Layton, but Miles knows the score and uses his position to further Layton's plans.
  • Orphan's Ordeal: His dad and sibling were unable to make onto the train in time and his mother was thrown off. Loses his surrogate mother Josie as well before the series is out.
  • Put on a Bus: At some point between seasons 1 and 2 he's promoted from Engineering to Life Systems, working on getting the first colonists back outside. As such, he's only seen when Josie is moved to Big Alice to heal her frostbite wounds.
  • Teen Genius: Despite being a kid he's incredibly adept at mathematics and technical problem-solving - so much so that Melanie's making him an Engineer seems as much motivated by genuine abiity as it is using him against Layton.

    The Last Australian 

The Last Australian

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/the_last_australian.jpg
Portrayed By: Aaron Glenane

A scrappy Tailie charmer from Perth with an intense desire to survive because, as far as he knows, he is the last Australian.


  • Big Damn Heroes: Leads Strong Boy and Z-Wreck to save Layton and Roche from Grey and the Jackboots literally seconds before Layton's execution.
  • Last of His Kind: It's right there in the name: he's the Last Australian left alive, at least as far as he knows. In season 2 one of Wilford's crew, Amelia, turns out to be Australian too, much to his delight.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Everybody, even Layton, always refers to him as the Last Australian. He's gobsmacked when Miss Audrey turns out to know his real name - Murray.

    Big John 

Big John

Portrayed By: Jonathan Lloyd Walker

A tail section passenger sometimes drafted to perform harsh labor up train.


  • Courier: Layton slips him a message to take back to Josie and the others at one point.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Dies giving the other revolutionaries time to get away once the ammo for their ballista runs out.
  • Hold the Line: During the Rebellion in episode 8 he's assigned to barricade the tail and fight back any brakemen and jackboots trying to get through.

    Patterson 

Patterson

Portrayed By: Dylan Schmid

A tail section young man living with his mother and sister.


  • Mauve Shirt: A constant presence throughout the season before dying in the Rebellion near the end of it.
  • Sexual Extortion: He's a victim of this, forced to service Oz to help his family.

    Strong Boy 

Strong Boy

Portrayed By: Kurt Ostlund

One of the Tail's primary fighters.


  • The Big Guy: The largest and most physically imposing of the Tail's inhabitants. Justified in that many of the other Taillies give up their rations to keep him well fed in case they need him in combat.
  • Suddenly Voiced: He's the epitome of the strong, silent type - until being woken up from the Drawers when he's suddenly yelling in Mandarin, a language he apparently hadn't known beforehand.

    Santiago 

Santiago

Portrayed By: Michael Issa Rubio
A Tailie rebel living with his grandmother.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Calmly takes in the success of the rebellion and comforts a fellow prisoner while facing near-certain death from the cold.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Melanie has been an enemy of him and the tail for a long time but they talk while prisoners together. Melanie confirms there's an ocean uptrain to comfort him, and he in turn offers to say a prayer for her as she's taken to be executed.
  • Nice Hat: He wears a baseball cap on backwards.
  • Perma-Stubble: He has a somewhat scraggly, unshaven face.
  • Uncertain Doom: While a prisoner of the First Class he's in a car detached from the tail and almost certainly freezes to death afterwards.
  • The World Is Just Awesome: He shows interest in seeing an ocean.

    Winnie 

Winnie

Portrayed By: Emma Oliver
Patterson's younger sister.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Her real name is Winnipeg, but everyone just refers to her as Winnie.
  • The Baby of the Bunch: She's one of the youngest Tail Section characters.
  • Courier: By season 2, Winnie has become this, smuggling messages from a contact on Big Alice to Layton.
  • Girlish Pigtails: She has a braided pigtail on either side of her head.
  • Little Miss Badass: She tries to help out during Pike's rebellion by grabbing a severed hand and racing to the door to use it as a Borrowed Biometric Bypass.
  • Oh, Crap!: Understandably freezes in terror when she opens the door to the next car with a Jackboot's severed hand - only to find Grey and a mass of fully armed soldiers on the other side.

    Z-Wreck 

Z-Wreck

Played By: Kwassi Thomas
Another of the Tail's fighters.

    Mia 

Mia Kaicheck

Portrayed By: Carolyn Yu
Another tail section child who is given an apprenticeship at the same time Miles is.

    Suzanne 

Suzanne

Played By: Sarah Stranger
The mother of Patterson and Winnie.
  • Doomed Hurt Guy: After her arm is shattered she lasts for several episodes as the others care for her, but eventually dies.
  • Mama Bear: She takes a shattered arm for Winnie and is concerned about the implications that Patterson is giving sexual services for her medicine.

    Mama Grande 

Mama Grande

Played By: Renee Victor
Santiago's grandmother.

    Lights 

Lights

Played By: Miranda Edwards
One of the tail section spokespeople and fighters.
  • Fingore: In season 2, unknown assailants chop off her pinkie and thumb, leaving her hand in a grim parody of the Wilford salute.
  • Parental Substitute: Becomes this to Winnie in the aftermath of the deaths of her mother and brother.
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