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For character tropes specific to the Netflix series, see Altered Carbon

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     Takeshi Kovacs 

A former Envoy who has turned to crime. He is possessed of incredible mental, physical, and social skills.


  • The Ace: Has an immense amount of skill at just about whatever he does.
    • Broken Ace: It doesn't prevent him from getting into way, way more trouble than he should. Sometimes it's his fault, sometimes not.
  • Antihero: Verging on Nominal Hero at times.
  • As the Good Book Says...: While an atheist, has this attitude towards the writings of Quell.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Don't go talking about religious aversion to re-sleeving to Takeshi Kovacs if you value your life. Also, a milder version occurs if you mispronounce his name as "kovaks" instead of the original Hungarian "kovach". If you do that, he won't like you. If he doesn't like you, he'll have much less restraint in doing nasty things to you.
    • In general he goes nuts whenever someone abuses or takes advantage of women. It’s one of his few relatively solid moral boundaries. Surprise, it's all about his abusive father.
  • The Casanova: Virtually every woman he meets wants to have sex with him. It's part of his Envoy training.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Has developed a full blown case of this by Broken Angels.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Grew up in an abusive home living in abject poverty, served as a torturer for very bad people, and ended up as an elite soldier in nasty conflicts.
  • Deconstruction: Of the standard alpha male detective/soldier archetype. He’s written with a very straight face, but for all Takeshi's strength, willpower, and sexual prowess, it gradually becomes clear that his reliance on force has stunted him in other ways.
  • The Determinator: ...Yes.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Sends Kristan Ortega back to her boyfriend in Altered Carbon. Similarly parts ways with Tanya Wardani in Broken Angels.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Murders the entirety of everyone involved in a Wedge platoon because they hurt one of his new companions despite it not being their decision to kill him.
  • From Camouflage to Criminal: He ran with street gangs before joining the military, and after leaving the Envoy Corps resumes a life of crime.
  • Genius Bruiser: Is definitely one of these thanks to his Envoy training.
  • Grand Theft Me: Part of the setting is this is a common occurrence and he's been known to walk around in other people's bodies, regardless of their desires.
  • Guile Hero: While he can definitely handle himself in combat, he just as often handles a situation by playing his enemies against each other.
  • Hot-Blooded: Played with. He’s prone to bursts of extreme violence, sometimes against his own better interests, but his analytical side remains active even through the worst of it. His narration throughout the series is deeply cold, almost clinical in tone.
  • Intimate Healing: Is capable of using sex to help people overcome PTSD. No, seriously.
  • Knight In Sour Armor: Is this in the show, where a lot of his indifference stems from having lost everything he ever loved.
  • Mixed Race: Reveals he is originally of Slavic and Japanese descent, hence his disparate names and being bilingual in at least English and Japanese.
  • Morality Pet: Sylvie in Woken Furies. He genuinely cares for her safety.
  • Multi-Ethnic Name: Attributes his name to his Slavic father and Japanese mother.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: Part of his problem is his Envoy training inclines him toward killing, no matter what the problem is. At one point in Altered Carbon, Kovacs defeats an attacking thug and has to consciously resist the urge to kill the man instead of merely beating him into submission.
  • Nominal Hero: Sways between this and Pragmatic Hero. The Nominal part is definitely true in Broken Angels, though. His motivations are probably the least questionable in Woken Furies, where he genuinely wants to protect Sylvie, but he still racks up an enormous body count through both the demands of the mission and his personal vendetta against the Knights of the New Revelation.
  • Red Baron: Had several nicknames during his prior lifetime, including the Icepick, One Hand Rending, and Mamba Lev.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Does this rather a lot.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Played with. Takeshi is certainly affected by his past but his training keeps him from feeling the worst of it.
  • Sherlock Scan: One of his Envoy abilities is a Downplayed Trope version of this.
  • Sociopathic Soldier: The UN Protectorate's Envoy Corps seeks a blend of sociopathic tendencies and strong pack loyalty in their recruits, which Takeshi describes as nearly paradoxical.
  • Straw Nihilist: Is accused of being one in Broken Angels.
  • The Sociopath: Doesn’t take the Lack of Empathy far enough to be a full example, but he lies frequently, shows little respect for the UN or other social authorities, and commits violence with a casual ease few normal humans could manage. Then again, so do the people he’s up against.
  • Tranquil Fury: When he is well and truly enraged past the point of reasoning, he tends to show it via being cold, collected and killing everything in his way.
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Altered Carbon

     Kristan Ortega 

An Organic Damage Detective who has a mysterious hostility to Takeshi Kovacs upon his arrival.


  • Always on Duty: Is seen investigating day and night.
  • Fantastic Racism: Has this against Meths and Catholics (for their anti-sleeve policies).
  • Hypocrite: Hates Catholics for being against re-sleeving but hates Meths for being immortal.
  • Loving a Shadow: As the series goes on, it's pretty clear that Ortega's feelings for Takeshi are...complicated, due to the fact that he's sleeved into her lover's body. Takeshi himself sees to realize this, and makes the decision to return Ryker's sleeve to its original owner, so Ryker and Ortega can be together.
  • Noble Bigot with a Badge: Catholics piss her off for protesting sleeves. Doesn't mean she's at all tolerant of spree-killers who perma them because they know their victims won't name them.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Has a session of hatesex with Takeshi after finding a video with him and Miriam Bancroft.
  • Spicy Latina: Argues with everyone, including people she loves, while still being fiercely protective of them.
  • Tsundere: Is definitely hot and cold to Takeshi. Doesn't help that Takeshi is wearing Ryker's sleeve.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Cheats on her boyfriend Ryker with Takeshi, who's wearing Ryker's sleeve at the time.

     The Methuselahs in general 
Ultra-weathly citizens who can afford to virtually live forever through the use of re-sleeving into clone bodies.

  • Aristocrats Are Evil: They are portrayed as decadent, corrupt, and arguably insane from too much money mixed with too much time.
  • A God Am I: Laurens says he and other Meths like them have replaced God. More interestingly, there are other humans who agree with them, noting that for the first time, humanity has gods that may answer.
  • Really 700 Years Old: The Methuselahs, or "Meths" are all super wealthy and each is centuries old. Bancroft is over 300 years old and has been married to Miriam for 100 of them.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: The Meths are almost completely above the law, even able to publicly flaunt violating it. Their immunity has limits, however.

     Laurens Bancroft 
A three-hundred year old Meth who is one of the richest men on Earth.

  • Accidental Murder: Killed a prostitute while drugged by a business rival.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: A pervert who uses his money to get whatever he wants. A Downplayed Trope example as he's actually got an idealistic streak and killed himself over an accidental murder.
  • Driven to Suicide: What the cops believe happened. They're right.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: He's a sadistic libertine hedonist straight out of Marquis de Sade, but he's extremely proud that he has never permanently murdered anyone and has absolutely no desire to do so. Finding out he actually did is the cause of his suicide; someone set him up with a Catholic prostitute — who can't be re-sleeved — and didn't tell him until after he killed her. Turns out that is the one line he couldn't cross, so committing suicide was the only way he could erase the memory of that act.
  • Evil Virtues: He really only has two; never break a promise and never murder. He thinks this makes him a "decent man" despite his insatiable greed and sadistic perversion; after all, he pays cash on the barrelhead and his "victims" are resleeved the next day no worse for wear. Finding out he's been tiptoeing the line so closely all it took was a few micrograms of chemicals and an altered file to make him both a liar and a murderer drives him first to suicide and then to confessing his crimes before surrendering to the authorities.
  • I Gave My Word: One of his few virtues. If he makes a promise, he keeps it, no matter what it costs him.
    Reileen Kawahara: He has an archaic streak. You'd call it "honor".
  • Madonna–Whore Complex: Hoo, boy. He has a very extreme case. On the Madonna side, he adores his wife, sees to her every need and desire, and would do anything for her to the point of completely ignoring her constant infidelity. On the Whore side, he's so sublimed his attraction towards her that he can't respond to her, and takes it out on prostitutes by paying for their new sleeves in advance so he can kill them after sex.
    Bancroft: Your limited life experience cannot possible encompass what it is to love another person for over 100 years. You achieve something close to veneration. How does one match such respect with the basest desires of the flesh?
    Kovacs: So, you love your wife too much to fuck her?
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: His attitude to the world.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: He mocks Kovacs for his past as an Envoy, noting that Kovacs has led entire armies to slaughter and slagged the stacks of countless enemies, while he himself has never permanently killed anyone. Turns out discovering he did do so is why he actually committed suicide.

     Miriam Bancroft 
The wife of Laurens Bancroft and similarly aged.

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     Reileen Kawahara 
One of the most powerful women on Earth.
  • Accent Relapse: Her Fusion City accent returns when she gets really-really angry.
  • Bi the Way: Is Miriam Bancroft's lover.
  • The Don: The most powerful of these in on Earth.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Always keeps her word. And that's about it - she's willing to do absolutely anything else which is profitable.
    • And even that isn't a standard. She says she may go back on her word at any time, and just likes lording it over Kovacs.
    • More like she'll do only what she says and nothing else - she said she'd let Sarah go if Kovacs cooperates. She didn't promise that she wouldn't bring Sarah back if Kovacs annoyed her or that she wouldn't kill Kovacs once he'd done what she asked.
      Kovacs, on Kawahara: I had no doubt that Kawahara would keep her word as far as releasing Sarah was concerned. The old-style yakuza were funny about that sort of thing. But she had made no such binding promises about me.
  • I Have Your Wife: Takes Takeshi's long-time girlfriend hostage to force his cooperation.
  • Killed Off for Real: Takeshi makes sure this happens. Using a grenade.
  • The Mob Boss Is Scarier: She regularly makes examples of her goons to make the remainder fear her.
  • My Grandson Myself: Impersonates her son Marco to seduce Miriam Bancroft.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: She's the one who suggests to Bancroft that he employ Kovacs in the first place.
  • Noodle Incident: Kovacs hates her because of her heinous actions on New Beijing while he was working for her, but the actual details are never gone into. Given some of her other activities that are described, this is probably for the best.
  • Related in the Adaptation: Is Tak's sister in the show.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: A darker version of Laurens Bancroft's own attitude.
  • Torture Technician: One of her stocks in trade. She employs more.
  • Virtue Is Weakness: She's a prevalent believer in this, to the point of outright mocking Bancroft's steadfast refusal to break promises or Real Death people.

     Oumou Prescott 
The lawyer retained by the Bancroft family. She is engaged to liaise with the Bay City Police Department and other "lower" individuals for her employers, including Takeshi Kovacs.
  • Boomerang Bigot: Looks down on non-Meths despite being one herself, though openly plans on becoming a Meth. Since the only thing separating Methuselahs from those who aren't can be boiled down to age and money, her plans are technically achievable, but will be next to impossible without the support of somebody like her employer, Bancroft.
  • Amoral Attorney: Of the Smug Snake and Social Climber variety.

Broken Angels

     Tanya Wardani 
An archeologue (archaelogist) who is an expert in Martian technology as well as their culture. She is freed by our (anti)heroes from a prison camp.

     Matthias Hand 

A Voodoo-practicing corporate executive who agrees to help them recover the Martian ship.


  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Played with as he genuinely wants to help the world and believes the corporations are the best way to do it. He's also a deeply spiritual man. Played straight when you discover he manipulated Kemp to nuke Sauberville.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Says the people who want to blame the corporations for the war should note both sides were brutal murderers beforehand who also make ample use of their technology.
  • The Millstone: Gets the party involved in an assassination plot against him as he neglects to inform them of how many enemies he really has.
  • Real Men Love Jesus: Real men practice Voodoo in his opinion, at least.
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     Isaac Carrera 

Heavily decorated military veteran and current head of Carrera's Wedge, a mercenary organization.


  • Badass Normal: No Envoy training, no ridiculous body modifications, just hundreds of combat engagements. Even Kovacs doesn't want to face him in a zero-G fight.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: He's not portrayed sympathetically, but he makes many good arguments.
    • He points out that he had nothing to do with starting the war and that things would only get worse on Sanction IV if the Kempists win.
    • Kovacs willingly signed up for the Wedge, and has at the minimum gone AWOL from his duties, so Carrera is going easy on him at first, if anything.
    • And after Kovacs massacres nearly a hundred Wedge soldiers for something they had nothing to do with, Carrera is clearly justified in completely going berserk.
  • Make an Example of Them: For certain offenses, Carrera will publicly torture his soldiers to death; he believes it necessary to enforce discipline.
  • Private Military Contractors: His stock in trade, obviously.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: At worst. He enforces absurdly strict discipline and at one point threatens to have Wardani sexually assaulted, but otherwise commits fewer dishonest and evil actions than Kovacs himself does in this book.

Woken Furies

     Quellcrist Falconer (Nadia Makita) 

A philosopher-turned-revolutionary (or a philosopher-turned-terrorist, depending on your point of view) from Harlan's World believed to have been killed during the Unsettlement, which she instigated, approximately three hundred years before the events of Woken Furies.

When they ask how I died, tell them: still angry.

  • Body Backup Drive: A particularly horrific example. While attempting to escape an assassination attempt, her helicopter was struck and vaporized by angelfire from the Orbitals but the Martian technology preserved a copy of her mind, keeping her consciousness trapped inside its data storage system for three centuries.
  • Elite Army: During the Unsettlement, she led the Black Brigades, whose members became infamous for, among other things, being willing to have explosives implanted in their bodies that could be activated during interrogation.
  • Nom de Guerre: Her real name is Nadia Makita.
  • Warrior Poet: She originally became known for her poetry before she became a revolutionary, continued to write poetry and philosophical tracts during the Unsettlement, and eventually had an entire school of thought (Quellism) named after her.
    The human eye is a wonderful device. With a little effort, it can fail to see even the most glaring injustice.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: She is viewed as a hero by a respectable portion of the population of Harlan's World, and as a dangerous menace to society by the U.N. and the First Families.
     Virginia Vidaura 

A Quellist ex-Envoy who trained Kovacs.


  • Bio-Augmentation: Her body is an expensive sport sleeve customized for surfing.
  • Heel–Face Turn: To an extent, going from an elite and brutal enforcer of Protectorate rule to a member of a faction dedicated to carving the people of Harlan's World greater freedom from their grasp. However, this being the series it is, no political group is shown to be remotely pure in their methods or ideals.
  • Sexy Mentor: Kovacs has had something of a crush on her since he first laid eyes on her. She reciprocates...eventually.
  • Sociopathic Soldier: She was an Envoy and fought alongside Kovacs on many missions, but is somewhat less bloodthirsty than he is.
     Takeshi Kovacs 

The leaders of Harlan's World kept some highly illegal backup copies of potentially useful people - including Takeshi Kovacs. So when they begin having Kovacs trouble, they figure that another Kovacs might just be the thing they need.


  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: Really has no desire to work with the Harlan Family and the Harlan's World Yakuza, despite the generous payment he's offered. Since his very existence is illegal and he risks erasure if he tries to leave, though, he accepts the job.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: Many decades out of date and still an Envoy in his own mind.
  • Future Me Scares Me: No, he finds his future self to be a washed-up loser. His future self thinks he's a naive punk.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: He's given a chance to go and make his own way in the world, for good or ill. As he's leaving, he is unceremoniously disintegrated.
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