Characters appearing on Taboo
James Keziah Delaney
- The Ace: Early in his time with the EITC he scored top marks in each area of training.
- Ambiguously Evil: He's murderous, and when pushed to violence, excessive at it. His stated motives are, if nothing else, selfish and self serving.
- Anti-Hero: James is capable of a basic level of human kindness, but he's perfectly willing to threaten violence to advance his goals, even over fairly minor issues, and it's clear these aren't empty threats.
- Badass Longcoat: Always wears one while out on the town; the only time he's seen without is in his own home.
- Byronic Hero: Is in many ways a pretty classic example, between his great intelligence, Dark and Troubled Past, and intense moral ambiguity.
- Catchphrase: Downplayed, but "I have a use for you" is generally how he informs someone that he is about to bully/bribe/threaten them into doing something they almost certainly don't want to do.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: On the receiving end of it in the penultimate episode. He doesn't break.
- Combat Pragmatist: There is nothing refined about his fighting style: guts, throats, tendons, he'll tear them open or sever them as a rule, rather than a last resort.
- Dark and Troubled Past: The specifics haven't been referred to, but it's generally implied.
- His conversation with George Chichester in episode seven confirms that he was the man responsible for nailing the hatch down when the Influence sank, and that he then went on to be a slave dealer himself.
- The Determinator: Absolutely nothing will stop him from achieving his goals, not even the worst tortures of the Tower of London.
- The Dreaded: He gains this reputation, and deservedly so.
- Expy: In many ways of Heatcliff from Wuthering Heights.
- Fake Mixed Race: Hardy is Caucasian, while Delaney is half-Native American. The only reference to this is James' darker/tanned skin compared to the lily-white Englishmen he interacts with.
- Fanservice: True, it's for a man, but Hardy sure does show us those muscled legs a lot. He also shows off his rear view in a loincloth.
- Going Native: He apparently picked up quite a few local customs while in Africa, which include at least some knowledge of Twi (a Ghanaian language common on the Gold Coast).
- Guttural Growler: His voice is low and raspy as only Tom Hardy can deliver.
- I'm a Humanitarian: It's unknown if he actually eats people, but it's definitely one of the rumors associated with him, and his skill with a knife and penchant for biting his enemies lends credence to this.
- Knife Nut: Seems to be his Weapon of Choice, specifically a wickedly curved Karambit, which he uses to eviscerate and cripple his enemies.
- Man Bites Man: Bites the EITC assassin's throat out in episode 2.
- Playing Both Sides: He's playing the Crown, the East India, and the United States against each other; apparently to maximize his own profit and better his position as the trade lord of Nootka Sound, though if he has any further motivations, that remains unclear.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Although it's unclear if James has ever been in any wars, he does not do well in loud, hysterical throngs of people. This is seen the most in episode 4.
- Shrouded in Myth: The rumors about what he was doing in Africa are apparently quite horrific and mostly alluded to. We know that at the very least he's reputed to have engaged in cannibalism and several characters believe he's capable of some sort of dark magic.
- Tattooed Crook: They appear to be tribal tattoos of some sort.
Zilpha Geary (nee Delaney)
- Broken Bird: Due to her husband's abuse.
- BrotherSister Incest: Engaged in it with her half-brother James.
- Defiled Forever: Thorne seems to believe this about Zilpha, claiming he can "smell" James on her.
- The Dog Bites Back: She eventually snaps and murders her abusive husband.
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: It's unknown if Zilpha has the same magical abilities as James, but it seems she's able to hear and be affected by him in dreams.
- Never Found the Body: Zilpha's "suicide" note paired with her POV of jumping off a bridge says she committed suicide, but we never see Zilpha die. James certainly doesn't believe it, as he tells Lorna "if she (Zilpha) were dead, I would know it. If she were in the river, she would sing to me."
- Parental Favoritism: According to interviews with Hardy and Chaplin, Zilpha was Horace's favorite child, due to her English heritage and model behavior.
- Stepford Smiler: How she puts up with her husband.
A servant of the Delaney family.
- The Butler Did It: Killed Horace Delaney with arsenic as an "act of kindness".
- Brave Scot: A Scot who not only joins James on his dangerous schemes, but is bold enough to call him out on his recklessness as well.
- Cruel Mercy: Regards James leaving him behind when he leaves London as this, all-but begging him to tell him he's doing as an act of genuine kindness. James just tells him that he'd never survive true freedom. But the more probable reason (punishment for the aforementioned murder of his father) runs as an undercurrent beneath the entire conversation.
- Manly Tears: Sheds them several times, usually in response to either James' latest bit of self-destructiveness, or memories of Horace.
- Oh, Crap!: He covers it up with servile bravado most of the time, but every single time James reveals a bit of knowledge he should have no way of knowing Brace's face becomes a picture of horror (examples include James knowing his mother did not come from Naples, or her true name).
- Servile Snarker: One of the few who can snark at James and get away with it.
Zilpha's husband, and an insurance agent.
- The Alcoholic: Has evident problems with drinking from the start, and gets even worse after his botched duel with Delaney.
- Asshole Victim: Not even his death scene evokes much pity.
- Bullying a Dragon: His continuous antagonizing of James comes off as this. Despite the fact that Thorne towers over James, he comes off as a fop completely out of his depth, and is clearly prodding at someone far more dangerous than he realizes. It's telling that when he boasts that he'll kill James to Zilpha, her reaction isn't horror or concern, but laughter.
- Can't Hold His Liquor: Along with his drinking problems, Thorne gets drunk very easily which makes his already foul personality even worse.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: Is the picture of what a decent early 19th century christian Englishman was expected to be.
- Impoverished Patrician: Despite living in a large manor and employing at least one servant, it's heavily implied that Thorne's fortunes are at a low, possibly explaining his desperation to inherit the Delaney fortune and sell Nootka to the EIC.
- Jerkass: Does not have a single scene that portrays him in a positive or sympathetic light.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: He refers to James as the n-word several times; apparently of the opinion that James has gone so native that he's nothing but a savage. He's also controlling and domineering of his wife, to the point that it would be considered abuse today.
- Smug Snake: See Bullying a Dragon. He vastly overestimates how dangerous he is to Delaney.
- Somewhat subverted when he and James duel; Thorne actually would have won and killed James, being the quicker shot along with actually deadly accuracy - the impact of the powder showed that had his pistol been loaded, he would have shot James in the heart. That being said, James had already guessed the gun had no bullet, so would likely have been quicker himself if he had thought he was in actual danger.
Lorna Bow Delaney
Horace Delaney's third wife, and owner of half his estate. She's also an actress.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Lorna is friendly and kind, and absolutely unopposed to picking up a pistol and shooting the soldiers who are trying to kill her and her friends.
- Friend to All Children: Is one of the few people to show children any care or concern in the show; whether it's Winter, Robert, or the very young Temple (the boy who witnessed Winter's murder by an EIC agent).
- The Heart: One of the very few people to get James to open up and be honest.
- Mistaken for Prostitute: Lorna does *not* accept money for sex, and her virtues nearly cost her her life after the Crown sets her up to attack the Duke of Richmond when he tries to rape her.
- Took a Level in Badass: In episode four, when she survives Solomon Coop's sexual assault and physical threats in Newgate, not cracking under the pressure and trusting James to get her out.
- Does it again in episode eight, when she secures the safe passage letter from Countess Musgrove and doesn't even flinch when the Countess threatens her with a knife. She also picks up a pistol in the escape and shoots several British soldiers, though she's wounded in the process.
Owner of the Delaney shipping company, father to Zilpha and James.
- Asshole Victim: It seems no one liked him in life and no one mourns his death. Zilpha claims he is buried "to the depths of my love for him", which ironically, isn't deep enough to stop Resurrectionists from digging up his body.
- Posthumous Character: His death kicks off the plot.
- Speak Ill of the Dead: People don't exactly romanticise his faults simply because he's dead. Stuart Strange's first scene involves him clarifying that everything spoken at a meeting will be recorded unless the speaker raises their hand, and his next sentence has him call Horace a "bastard" and hoping he "rots in hell", while speaking on the record.
James's mother, a Nootka woman bartered as part of Horace Delaney's deal for Nootka Sound.
- Animal Motifs: Ravens. She wears a dress with raven's feathers on it, and her language sounds "as if it were ravens fighting".
- Madwoman in the Attic: How mad, though, seems to be debatable. Brace claims that "Anna" was sent to Bedlam when she tried to kill baby James by drowning him in the river, but James claims it was a spiritual ritual, and that his father locked Salish away simply because he didn't understand her and she was of no further use to him.
- Parental Abandonment: Was locked away when James was an infant, and seems to have died when James was quite young.
- Posthumous Character: Only seen in James's visions.
- The Lost Lenore: For James. He sees visions of her with increasing frequency, which seem to be tied to his obsession with Zilpha.
The young bastard son of Horace or maybe James Delaney sent to be fostered on the Ibbotsen farmstead on the outskirts of London. Is drawn into James' dark world soon after he takes over the farm mill as his gunpowder plant.
- The Apprentice: Becomes one to both James and Cholmondelay and takes readily to the criminal life.
- The Artful Dodger: Is in the early stages of becoming one under James' wing.
- Deadpan Snarker: Shows off his Delaney heritage with a hilarious barb tossed at a hungover and rambling Cholmondelay.Robert: "I just deliver messages, sir."
- Luke, I Might Be Your Father: He's widely believed to be one of Horace's bastards, although Cholmondelay asks James if Robert is his, to which James gives an oblique non-answer.
East India Trading Company
Sir Stuart Strange
- Big Bad: As leader of the East India Company, he's definitely Delaney's most powerful antagonist and the mastermind behind most of the plots against him.
- But for Me, It Was Tuesday: He doesn't remember commanding a young James Delaney, having commanded hundreds like him.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: In many, many ways. He freely engages in the slave trade despite it being outlawed in England and is completely willing to murder anyone who gets in the way of his company's profits.
- Evil Old Folks: He appears to be the oldest member of the board, and is by far the most competent and cruel of them.
- Surrounded by Idiots: He clearly views the rest of the board of the East India as irrelevant at best and incompetent at worst.
- Precision F-Strike: Has a tendency to drop these whenever he's annoyed. Which is a lot of the time.
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: Particularly when he's annoyed.
- Thinking Tic: Has a tendency to tap his walking stick against the closest surface available while he thinks.
Stuart Strange's minute taker, and a former classmate of James's at the EIC.
- Butt-Monkey: Ill-treated by pretty much everyone, including James, and the revelation of his...habits...only incites further ridicule.
- Incompatible Orientation: He was in love with James, who doesn't reciprocate.
- Non-Action Guy: Is the only one of James' associates who has absolutely no skill or indeed any desire to engage in combat. An intriguing thing, considering that he - like James - was raised as a Company Cadet.
- Token Good Teammate: To both the EIC (who are a bunch of corrupt scumbags) and to James's company, where he's not a killer or liar, and does not seem to be as "damned" as the rest.
- Wholesome Crossdresser: Lives at a molly house (a crossdressing club), and is easily one of the most morally upright characters.
Benjamin Wilton and John Pettifer
A pair of East India Company executives who aid Strange in his schemes.
- The Dragon: They jointly serve as Strange's dragons throughout Season One, although neither are terribly competent.
- Fat and Skinny: The rail-thin Wilton is paired with the heavy-set Pettifer.
- Not-So-Harmless Villain: Both seem fairly ineffectual, however, Wilton oversees the destruction of Delaney's first ship and Pettifer apparently headed up Winter's murder.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: In keeping with the show's portrayal of the Regency Era, the two share some rather nasty remarks about George Chichester directly before meeting with him.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: But of course, they're EIC men after all. Wilton moreso falls to this than Pettifer.
- Shoot the Messenger: How both ultimately meet their end, ironically after giving the shooters exactly what they wanted.
- Those Two Bad Guys: Rarely seen apart, and most of their actions are done jointly.
- Underestimating Badassery: Like the rest of the EIC, they completely underestimate James' brutality, tenacity, and smarts. What makes it worse, they have access to his records as a cadet - in which he was listed as excelling in everything before he cast it off to indulge his wilder side.
A criminal and former sailor under Horace Delaney.
- Affably Evil: Atticus is jovial, gregarious, honourable (to a point), and a hardened criminal.
- Bald of Awesome: Shaves his head, so as to best to show off his tattoo, and is one of the better fighters in the show's ensemble.
- Everyone Has Standards: He refused a commission to murder Horace Delaney.
- He's also very evidently unnerved by some of Delaney's more esoteric or brutal actions.
- Hidden Depths: He is actually literate and is writing a book, possessing a seemingly unending curiosity about the world.
- The Lancer: Quickly becomes Delaney's right hand in London, and serves as a counterbalance to his more deranged aspects.
- Tattooed Crook: Has a large nautical star tattooed on his head.
The gang of dockside criminals under Atticus, serve as muscle and spies for Delaney.
- Badass Beard: French Bill has a very large one courtesy of his actor, London poet and rapper Scroobius Pip.
- Badass Crew: Despite being a gaggle of London dock criminals they are able to pull off a flawless heist on the EIC's arsenal and fight evenly with a detachment of Household Cavalry and only take losses due to the latter outnumbering them ten to one.
- Bald of Awesome: Beyond the aforementioned Atticus, Cole is one of the strongest fighters in the gang and has a very smooth, very shiny pate.
- The Big Guy: Two, in fact. Martinez and Cole are the largest and strongest members of the gang. Only Cole makes it out of the final fight.
- The Dragon: French Bill seems to be Atticus' right hand man, seemingly operating with the most authority in the gang after Atticus himself.
- Mauve Shirt: All are minor characters at best, and a good number of them die unceremoniously in the final shoot-out, but each have their own distinct appearance and personality.
- Siblings in Crime: Not much is made of it, but apparently one of the members of the gang is Atticus' sister, Brighton, and her husband, Martinez.
- Wild Samoan: Interestingly for a 2017 production, Martinez (played by Anglo-Fijian rugbyer Danny Ligairi) is this in full effect. A massive, tattooed, cannibalistic Pacific Islander who fights with a number of pro-wrestling moves in the final battle on the docks.
A Madam of a low class brothel with a mulatto daughter named Winter.
Dr. George Cholmondely
An eccentric, and extremely talented, chemist hired by Delaney to manufacture gunpowder.
- Badass Bookworm: Easily the most academic of Delaney's crew and fights alongside the rest with grenades in the finale.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Drug-addled, womanizing, possibly insane, and a damned good chemist.
- Chewing the Scenery: Dear lord yes.
- Coitus Interruptus: Delaney makes a point of walking in on him as a means of introduction.
- Deadpan Snarker: Nearly every single line he speaks breathes sarcasm.
- Demolitions Expert: Pointedly hired by Delaney for his skill in producing gunpowder. He also rigs the explosive satchel that kills Strange.
- Uncertain Doom: Is critically injured in an explosion during the battle on the docks in the finale and is last seen aboard Delaney's ship delirious and near death.
Dr. Edgar Dumbarton
An American physician working in London, and a spy.
- Affably Evil: Is unfailingly polite and soft-spoken, and cheerfully discusses his cloth-dyeing hobby with visitors. Also unblinkingly disposes of corpses and dispatches assassins after those who cross him or his boss.
- Creepy Souvenir: A downplayed example in his keeping the Malay knife used on Delaney.
- Deadpan Snarker: Not so much as others, but he gets in a few good jabs over Delaney's dispatching of the two assassins sent for him as well as the (not so) fictional cholera outbreak.
- Dirty Coward: Turns on his country when he's made to avoid execution.
- Double Agent: In the season one finale it's revealed he's in bed with the EIC
- Eye Scream: James drives his head into a quill pen.
- Foreshadowing: The vats of red, white, and blue dye he tends to hint at his allegiance, as these are the colors of The Stars and Stripes. They are also incidentally the colors of The Union Jack, which hints at him 'serving two masters,' as he himself later puts it.
- Karmic Death: Delaney drowns him in a vat of his own dye for his betrayal. Fitting for a man whose colours ran.
- Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Comes with the territory of being a spy on top of his day job. Notably keeps a loaded pistol in his desk and deliberately botches his stitching of Delaney's knife wound in an attempt to hardball him.
- Patriotic Fervor: Ocassionally lapses into this. Presumably he's overcompensating to cover up his treason.
- Smug Snake: He really thought he was holding all the cards...
- Too Dumb to Live: Tries to intimidate James into signing over Nootka to the EIC. Ends catastrophically for him.
Genevieve Decoux, the Countess Musgrove
A Franco-American socialite infamous among the London elite for her wild parties. She is also the head of American Intelligence in London, operating under the alias of "Carlsbad".
- Affably Evil: While she may be a ruthless spymaster she can throw a swingin' party and always honors her deals.
- Gold Digger: It's evident she only married her husband for his wealth and position in the peerage.
- Samus Is a Girl: As "Carlsbad" she was presumed male, although Delaney caught on sooner due to Dumbarton having a slip of the tongue.
- The Spymaster: She heads up the American spies in London as "Carlsbad," and ultimately is the one who secures Delaney's passage out of London.
Prince George Augustus Frederick
The Prince Regent, later King George IV.
- Adipose Rex: True to real life, where he was nicknamed "the Prince of Whales" due to his bulk.
- Body Horror: Downplayed but certainly there. The congenital porphyria has already done a number on Prinny by 1814.
- Large Ham: His soliloquy to Coop in the second episode stands out. It makes his quieter moments (such as when [[spoilers: he comes to understand that James simply will not break under torture in The Tower]]) all the more telling.
- Precision F-Strike: Not as bad as Sir Stuart, but still...
- Rich Idiot with No Day Job: Well, he is the Prince.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Implied that he's not quite as stupid as he lets on.Stuart Strange: And that fat pig, Prince Prinny! He plays the fool so he may better play the game!
- Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: Finally just gets fed up with all the plots and intrigues blowing up in their faces and demands Coop kill Delaney, consequences be damned.
- Villainous Breakdown: In the finale the repeated failures of his underlings drives him to scream for Delaney's death, which would cause Nootka Sound to fall into American hands.Prinny: "I am the head of fucking state!"
A former slave, now part of the abolitionist Sons of Africa.
- Badass Pacifist: Entirely non-violent, but completely implacable in his quest for justice against people he knows are perfectly willing to kill.
- The Determinator: He will have justice for the slaves who died on the Influence.
- Nice Guy: One of the only genuinely moral people in the screwed-up hive of a world he lives in.
- Non-Action Guy: His only weapons are his education and eloquence.
- Politeness Judo: Is an able practitioner, only ever engaging in a handful of moments of snarkery, instead using his earnestness and the rules of polite society to outmaneuver his opponents.
- The Teetotaler: Doesn't drink and is far more ascetic in general than the other principal characters.
Helga's daughter, who lives at the whorehouse, and works as a mudlark.
- Ambiguously Brown: Presumably it's Winter's father who was black, as she's called a "mulatto" and Helga is white.
- Emotionless Girl: Winter is very eerie, and never seems upset or frightened, even with all the violence going on.
- Morality Pet: For James Delaney.
- Oracular Urchin: She seems to know a surprising amount about James's shamanism, his past with the EIC, and his connection to water.
- Son of a Whore: Daughter of one. Her father is unknown.
- Stuffed into the Fridge: She's murdered by the EIC in order to frame James and create mistrust amongst his associates. Her murder also serves to make James question his sanity, as he believes he did murder her, and sees her in a vision after her death.
Private Secretary to the Sovereign who serves the Crown's interests in London.
- The Dragon: Serves as the Prince-Regent's man on the ground throughout Season One.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Apparently has a wife whom he's fond of, given his comments.
- Faux Affably Evil: Never breaks his genteel character, even when sexually assaulting Lorna or overseeing Delaney's torture.
- Servile Snarker: How else could one serve the Prince-Regent and stay sane?Prince Regent: How's your faith, Coop?Coop: After years in your service, sire, it's in tatters.
- Smug Snake: Absolutely oozes contempt for those around him, and is a fairly capable schemer, but quickly finds himself over his head with Delaney
- The Spymaster: Maintains a network of spies in London that dwarfs even that of the EIC, a fact he smugly rubs in Strange's face.Coop: "Always assume I just know."
- Villainous Breakdown: A very subtle one throughout the penultimate episode and finale, particularly when his attempt to outright kill Delaney and his allies fails.
Robert Thoyt, Esq.
The crusty, pox-scarred attorney to Horace Delaney who is taken on by James as his own legal counsel.
- Amoral Attorney: Beyond the typical contract-bending and mercenary attitude, Thoyt goes as far to betray James by spying on him for the EIC, something he also did to Horace.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: His face is an absolute mess of pox scars, hinting at his shady nature.
- Grumpy Old Man: Most of his lines are him grumbling about something he finds irritating.
- Only in It for the Money: Thoyt doesn't give a toss whom he works for, only as long as he is paid.
- Loophole Abuse: As an AmoralAttorney this is his bread and butter. Most notably he tries to cheat out Horace's debtors from what they were owed and secures James' will so that should he die Nootka Sound would be ceded to the United States, effectively hamstringing the EIC and Crown in their attempts to secure it for themselves.
- What Happened to the Mouse??: Disappears in the penultimate episode with nothing made of where he went or what he was doing.