Follow TV Tropes


Characters / 10 Cloverfield Lane

Go To

    open/close all folders 



A young fashion designer who awakens in an underground bunker following a car crash.

  • Abusive Parents: Her father is mentioned in particular as being rough and impatient with her.
  • Action Fashionista: An aspiring fashion designer and the film's resident Action Survivor.
  • Action Survivor: Despite being a fashion designer with no Action Girl experience whatsoever, she proves to be a determined, resourceful and intelligent heroine. The ending indicates that she will blossom into a full-fledged Action Girl.
  • Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: Tall, dark haired, and beautiful. The aloofness part is justified, though, as Howard is a stranger who often acts suspiciously.
  • At the Crossroads: At the end of the film, she's given a choice between driving to Baton Rouge where she'll be safe or toward Houston to fight the alien invasion. She decides to drive back to the action.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted completely; Michelle suffers a broken leg in a car wreck and the soles of her seldom-shod feet are shown to be dust-riddled as she climbs through a ventilation duct. She later gets cut across her face during the escape.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Michelle's personality is likable and level-headed, but when she finds herself cornered, she can become feisty. And if she has to, she gets medieval.
  • Bystander Syndrome: She feels sorry for once leaving a little girl who reminded her of her childhood as she was being being pulled away by her father.
  • Broken Bird: Michelle has a good deal of self-loathing and uncertainty about herself, viewing herself as a coward who always runs. This is coupled with an abusive past.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Her skills as a fashion designer come in surprisingly handy.
  • Contralto of Danger: Her voice is noticeably quite deep, almost on par with Howard, and she becomes a lot tougher over the course of the film.
  • Cowardly Lion: She chastises herself for running away or avoiding difficult situations, but one of the first things she does on-screen is almost stab Howard to death after sharpening one of her crutches into a spear. She eventually comes to accept her own bravery, and heads to Houston to help push back the invasion.
  • Determinator: She keeps on going no matter how many setbacks she faces.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Although she has access to her boots, Michelle chooses to remain barefoot the entire time she is in the bunker. She only puts them back on when she has to escape, as part of her makeshift Hazmat suit. Justified, as one of her legs got broken and she's resting off the injury; footwear would exacerbate pain. By the time she resumes being shod (as in when she escapes), her injury is all healed. Also, Word of God notes it's because the character is inspired by the shoeless predicament of John McClane in Die Hard. Winstead herself indicated she was kinda bothered having to walk around "full McClane" so she wore slippers and flip-flops for comfort in close-up shots.
  • The Fashionista: She's an aspiring designer.
  • Final Girl: Michelle, who despite being a fashion designer turns into one of the most incredibly resourceful, intelligent, and determined heroines in recent memory. The ending where she decides to join the fight against the Alien Invasion would seem to indicate her evolution into a full on Action Girl.
  • Handicapped Badass: When her car wrecked, Michelle's right leg got broken. Her broken leg is one of the excuses Howard uses to detain her in the bunker. By the time of the film's final act, the injury has healed.
  • Nice Girl: Michelle is overall a pleasant and friendly person.
  • Only Friend: Pretty much her fiancee is the only person she trusts and adores completely. She later finds trust in Emmett.
  • Precision F-Strike: She has a single, well-earned F-bomb in the entire movie.
  • The Reveal: She's not the first kidnap victim of Howard. And when she learns the original victim was murdered trying to escape, the climax of the film hits.
  • Sci-Fi Bob Haircut: Her hairstyle.
  • Sole Survivor: The only character to make it to the end credits.
  • Statuesque Stunner: She's 5'8.
  • You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!: After seeing an alien vessel loom into view, she responds with an exhausted "COME ON!"


Howard Stambler
"My goal in life was to be prepared - and I was."
Played By: John Goodman

"Crazy is building your ark after the flood has already come."

A former Navy man and survivalist who built the bunker.

  • Abusive Parents: Given the way he treats Michelle, whom he seems to see as a surrogate daughter, his personality in general and the reveal that his wife left him and took their daughter with her, it's heavily implied that he was this.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: There's something definitely off about Howard. He's obsessed with controlling Michelle and treating her like a daughter, showing no interest in her independence, he has an explosive temper and finds offense and insults in completely innocent behavior, he seems to have difficulty interacting with others, following social cues and even making eye contact, and he shows little empathy to others. That's in addition to his intense paranoia and possible delusions about what's happening outside the bunker.
  • Ambiguously Evil: A great deal of the film's tension comes the mystery surrounding Howard's nature and intentions. Is he a Well-Intentioned Extremist? A budding Serial Killer? A deluded survivalist? A tragic loner? He's actually all of these things at once.
  • Ax-Crazy: He has it a bit together at first but it becomes increasingly clear just how violently unstable Howard is.
  • Beard of Evil: He has a scratchy beard, and he's later revealed to be truly evil. Funnily, after the act that propels him out of Ambiguously Evil territory, he shaves.
  • Berserk Button: Any kind of disrespect, real or perceived, will send Howard into a rage.
  • Big Bad: He's small potatoes considering what the real threat is, but for the film itself, he's the villain.
  • Climax Boss: Despite being the film's Big Bad, the alien is ultimately the True Final Boss.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: He's a very big one as evidenced by his building of the shelter and belief in preparation.
  • Control Freak: He insists on everything in the bunker being kept a certain way and he tries to control Michelle as though she were his daughter, not paying any attention to her feelings on the subject.
  • Crazy Survivalist: The guy has a history of making bomb shelters. Although, it would appear his reasons for the bunker were not for survival alone.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: Howard is left to die in the flaming bunker by Michelle. But after she goes to the surface, she has to face the threat of an alien spaceship and its crew.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: He gets very upset if he feels he isn't being fully appreciated for his supposed kindness.
  • Evil Old Folks: His exact age isn't specified but, going by the age of the actors, Howard is in his sixties and roughly twice as old as Michelle and Emmett and he's the main threat of the story.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: He's the main villain and played by the very deep-voiced John Goodman.
  • The Extremist Was Right: Howard theorizes that the flashes he and Emmett saw are the first wave of some sort of an attack. Once Michelle escapes his bunker, she is attacked by an alien hound, and is almost taken by an alien craft; Howard had also theorized that ships doing ground sweeps would be the attack's next phase.
  • Fat Bastard: Howard is grossly overweight to the point where he can be heard wheezing just from talking. Of course, his size makes him a huge threat and just about impossible to overpower.
  • Faux Affably Evil: He first appears to be friendly but shows his true colors when finding out that Emmett and Michelle were plotting behind his back.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: It is implied that his wife and daughter leaving him is his Start of Darkness.
  • Grumpy Bear: Howard is pretty much always in a bad mood.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: He flies off the handle at random.
  • Important Haircut: Shaves his beard after killing Emmett.
  • It's All About Me: Howard shows a distinct Lack of Empathy from the very beginning, being more interested in controlling Michelle than comforting her, telling Michelle her family must be dead despite knowing little about what's happening on the surface. Emmet had to force his way into the bunker, yet Howard complains about his and Michelle's lack of gratitude for 'saving their lives'.
  • Jerkass: Even aside from his Ambiguously Evil nature, Howard is difficult company. He's intrusive, quick to anger, perpetually grumpy, overly controlling, and aggressive.
  • Large and in Charge: The tallest (6'2) and stoutest character and is the one in-charge of the underground bunker.
  • Made of Iron: He's smashed in the head with a bottle, falls face-down in flesh-melting acid that then bursts into flame, has a heavy metal set of shelves fall on him, and has his hand crushed. It takes an explosion to put him down for good.
  • Overprotective Dad: Howard, in his own twisted way, seems to act this way towards Michelle.
    • Howard justifies killing Emmett to protect the two of them so they live 'as they should be.'
    • Howard can't even acknowledge Michelle as a grown woman, not even being to say the word 'woman' when Emmett uses Michelle's gender as a clue while they are playing a game.
    • It would appear that Brittany, the girl he had previously abducted and sequestered in the bunker, was treated in the same way.
    • And that Howard's kidnapping of both Michelle and Brittany is to compensate for the loss of his own daughter, Megan, who left for Chicago with her mother.
  • No Sense of Humor: He treats everything seriously. Played for drama as this often means he interprets Emmett's harmless jokes as insults or disrespect which is a bad combination with his anger problems.
  • No Social Skills: He seems really uncomfortable talking with others and making eye contact. That's in addition to his short fuse.
  • Parental Substitute: He tries to fashion himself into one for Michelle. Too bad he's even worse than her real father.
  • The Paranoiac: He fits a lot of the requirements. His paranoia is obvious and he views people who aren't similarly prepared with disdain and doesn't seem all that upset about their suffering, he's overtly cynical about most of the world and distrustful of Michelle and Emmett, he's incredibly controlling both about the bunker and the behavior of people in there, he's self-important and sees himself as one of the last heroic men left, he's a huge conspiracy nut and he's a massive jerk. That's in addition to his explosive temper and his staunch belief in self-reliance and sufficiency as well as getting pissed when he feels that people aren't sufficiently grateful or respectful to him for his kindness, even though he was the one who forced Michelle off the road.
  • Properly Paranoid: Subverted. Howard is indeed a conspiracy theory nutball claiming an attack is the reason for the shelter and his kidnapping of Michelle, and while it turns out he was partly right due to aliens actually being the cause of the blackouts, he was also an insane murderer who was trying to recreate the life he had with his daughter who his wife rightly took from him.
  • Retired Badass: He's a member of the U.S. Navy for fourteen years.
  • Sanity Slippage: He wasn't the most stable person to begin with but, by the end of the film, he's devolved into a raging mess.
  • Serial Killer: Howard's whole MO is to abduct women to be substitutes for his daughter and murder them when they start to rebel against him. He did this with one woman before and to Michelle and likely would have continued on in that pattern had he had not died when his bunker exploded.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: He was in the Navy for a long time, working with 'satellites'. It's unknown how much it contributed to his paranoia or if he would have found other excuses for his survivalist tendencies.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: After admitting that he was the one who ran Michelle off the road, he becomes nicer towards Emmett and her. Right up until he learns about their planned escape attempt.
  • Walking Spoiler: Whether he's evil or not is one of the film's driving questions. He is, but he's also right about there being aliens.


Emmett DeWitt
Played By: John Gallagher Jr.

A local handyman who helped Howard build the bunker.

  • Badass Beard: He has an impressively full one.
  • Broken Ace: Mentions that he was a star track runner back in the day who is deeply afraid of failures.
  • Deadpan Snarker: He tends to make sarcastic remarks which often rub Howard the wrong way.
  • Global Ignorance: Emmett cannot tell the difference between South and North Korea.
  • Good Is Dumb: Downplayed. Emmett is a nice fellow and simple-seeming, and while certainly not dumb, he got into college on an athletic scholarship rather than any particular academic skills. His fears of being treated as stupid by those who had got into college via the academic route, which he recognizes as irrational, kept him from attending college entirely.
  • Handy Man: The only reason he's in the bunker is he helped Howard construct the bunker and was around at just the right time and he begrudgingly let him in.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: When Howard discovers the stolen scissors used to make the hazmat suit, Emmet takes full responsibility (claiming it was to make a weapon to steal Howard's gun) and is killed for it.
  • Hollywood Healing: Inverted. Despite the Time Skip montage, his broken arm still hasn't healed whereas Michelle's broken leg does.
  • I Coulda Been a Contender!: His backstory involves him being a star track runner that ended up earning him an athletic scholarship to a university, but ultimately was too afraid of failure that he refused to get on the bus and let his chance go past.
  • Lovable Jock: A track runner in his youth and an overall Nice Guy.
  • Nice Guy: He's very polite and friendly towards Michelle, and even tries to make small talk with Howard.
  • No Body Left Behind: Invoked. After killing him, Howard puts Emmett's corpse in a drum of acid so it will melt.
  • Taking the Heat: His aforementioned Heroic Sacrifice.

    The Aliens

  • Ambiguous Robots: The aliens revealed in the final act seem to be mostly robotic/mechanical, but with a few organic features, namely the Lamprey Mouth of the quadripedal hunter and the squid-like beak in the ship.
  • Feed It a Bomb: It is killed by inserting a molotov cocktail in its mouth.
  • Organic Technology: The alien 'craft' that Michelle destroys appears to actually be a living creature, as it picks up Howard's truck with tendril-like appendages, and she kills it with a Molotov Cocktail into its 'mouth'.
  • Outside-Genre Foe: Most of the film is a Bottle Episode thriller not unlike something you might see in a standard "creepy guy kidnaps girl" crime drama, though there are hints of something much more sinister at work on the surface. Specifically, an Alien Invasion was happening while the much more mundane human story was unfolding underground. Michelle ends up having to fight aliens only moments after defeating a perfectly terrestrial, human villain.
  • Real After All: It turns out that Howard wasn't actually wrong about the Alien Invasion.
  • Starfish Aliens: The alien attacking Michelle features tentacles.
  • True Final Boss: While Howard is the film's Big Bad, the final antagonist is the alien.
  • Walking Spoiler: Most definitely.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: