Belters are the hardscrabble colonists who work in the asteroid belt, harvesting minerals and ice (for water). Very much the proverbial Third World of the solar system after Earth and Mars, the two superpowers which have become dependent on their resources but give little in return. Their capital and largest port is Ceres, the dwarf planet/largest object in the belt. Routine mining runs also harvest ice from Saturn's rings.
Most Belters at any one time actually live on their ships, mining resources in the asteroid belt. Several of the larger asteroids such as Ceres and Vesta are major hubs for shipping and commerce, as well as a few large artificial habitats such as Tycho Station. Full scale agricultural colonies also exist in the Jupiter and Saturn systems, though these outer planets get lumped in with the Belters as well due to their very low gravity. In the Jupiter system, Ganymede and Europa are major breadbaskets, while Callisto is the location of a major MCRN shipyard (the fourth major moon, Io, wasn't heavily colonized due to volcanic activity). In the Saturn system, Titan is a major settled colony as well. Numerous smaller mining and scientific outposts are scattered throughout the other smaller moons and into the Uranus and Neptune systems - but just "outposts", not big enough to be considered colonies.
In the first episode, Ceres and the rest of the belt are technically a United Nations protectorate governed by Earth, though everyone fears that Mars is imminently going to make a push to capture the belt from Earth - and Earth will launch a full scale war in retaliation to take it back. The winner of such a fight is uncertain, but the Belters will lose either way. Meanwhile, an underground resistance/terrorist movement has gained widespread popularity in the Belt, wanting to set themselves up as a third independent nation known as the Outer Planets Alliance (OPA).
- Asteroid Miners: Belters have this as one of their major occupations. Poorer Belters work as "rock hoppers" moving from asteroid to asteroid to try and find enough harvest-able material to sell in order to survive.
- Belters have to resort to drugs or hormones to compensate for growing up in microgravity, and they don't always work well. Detective Joe Miller has ridges along part of his spine where the bones didn't quite grow properly, for example.
- Asteroid mining can be quite dangerous and loss of limb accidents are not uncommon, resulting in a disproportionately large number of Belters using prosthetic limb replacements. Keep in mind, the technology to completely regrow a severed limb exists back on Earth, but it's too expensive for hardscrabble miners in the asteroid belt to afford - another reason why prosthetic limbs are disproportionately common.
- Conlang: The Belters speak a patois that features words from Russian, Turkish, German, and others (Chinese is also heard in station announcements) with incorporated hand gestures (due to the need to communicate in spacesuits). Officially it is called "Belter Creole". They also continue to speak English, using an accent that sounds vaguely Afrikaans.
- Fantastic Slurs: While officially called "Belters", people from the inner planets also use the less polite terms "Skinnies" and "Long Bone" for them, referring to how they grow tall and thin from living in microgravity.
- On the flip side, Belters refer to people from Earth and Mars as "inners" and "inyalowda."
- Libertarians IN SPACE!: The Belters are a hard-hitting Deconstruction of this; the no-margin-for-error conditions of deep space has produced that bizarre combination of civic pride and steadfast independence prized by this philosophy; Belters instinctively look out for each other and don't go crying to the authorities when something breaks, they fix it - by any means necessary - as they happen. However, the nasty side of this is that they're prone to vigilantism; heroic actions like aiding in the assault on Thoth Station, grey actions such as the summary murder of administrators who won't keep the air filters clean, and villainous ones such the indiscriminate spacing of "Inner" refugees.
- Light Worlder:
- Belter stations like Ceres and Eros are artificially "spun up" to maintain an internal gravity of 0.3-g and most native-born Belters will never experience anything stronger. Inhabitants require hormone boosters to increase bone-density and muscle mass (although brittle bone disease continues to be a problem).
- Belters who haven't received hormone treatments have long and thin bones and are significantly taller than the average human.
- Smaller Belter settlements don't even have gravity and some Belters will spend their entire lives in zero-g. There are numerous adverse health effects that come from such lifestyles and most die young.
- Belters can't handle Earth's gravity for long and need to be kept submerged in tanks of water in order to ease the strain on their bodies. Because Belters struggle to simply breathe and stay upright in Earth gravity, forcing them to endure it is considered a violation of their human rights, although the UN will use gravity torture in black sites.
- No OSHA Compliance: The Earth corporations that the Belters work for cut corners everywhere, resulting in very unsafe work conditions, particularly for asteroid miners. Basic necessities such as water and air are tightly controlled and constantly being shorted. The Earth corporations so frequently outfit Belter habitations with crappy third-rate air scrubber units, which barely recycle air to breathable levels, that it is not uncommon for many Belter children to receive irreversible brain damage from hypoxia.
- Space People: The Belters are the only people who based their entire livelihood in space except those living in domed settlements on Ganymede.
- Space Trucker: Shades of this, with a modern twist. They're working-class miners and truckers, getting squeezed by big corporations from Earth and Mars. They're not just a straightforward Expy of truckers in space, but their own unique hybrid culture.
- Tattoo as Character Type: Cultural. Several Belters such as Naomi have a stylized tattoo around their necks that feature an off-center gap, symbolizing contact burns from the helmet connection collars of older space suits that Anderson Dawes sports.
- At least two other Belters have the stylized anarchy symbol of the OPA on them.
- What the Hell Is That Accent?: When lifelong Belters speak English rather than Belter Creole, the resultant accent sounds like a fusion of Afrikaaner and Chinese.
- Younger Than They Look: Belters have the lowest life-expectancy in the system, roughly around 60 years, which means most Belters are actually a good deal younger than they look. Lack of medical care and a lifetime in low-G and thin air takes its toll.
Star Helix Security
Detective Josephus Miller
A detective with the Star Helix aboard Ceres Station. A native Belter who's never been off Ceres, he dresses like an Earther and has a certain amount of disdain towards his own kind.
- Adaptational Villainy: The pilot has him accepting bribes to look the other way for someone who is using shoddy air filters, then threatening to space the man when people become deathly ill as a result. In the books the man who got spaced after tampering with air filters was a story that Miller told after the fact to demonstrate how heinous this was from a Belter perspective, and Miller never solicited or accepted bribes in the book.
- The Atoner: He treats his increasingly-personal search for Julie Mao as a way to make up for his crimes, symbolically cashing in the poker chips he had collected as bribes to pay for his trip to Eros.
- Boomerang Bigot: He dresses as if he's from Earth, works for Star Helix (an Earth corporation), and generally behaves as if he's superior to most Belters despite being a Belter himself. That said, when he riles up the CPM mob at the end of season 1, he drops back into thick Belter Creole and deftly taps into the crowd's mood.
- Cool Hat: His fedora, although in-universe its considered pretentious by the Belters.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Miller has ridges along his spine, the result of his bones not fusing properly due to his being given cheap medication as a child and are the mark of someone who was raised as a ward of the state. He later tells Holden that he was a street kid who would steal chips from pachinko parlors to survive. He eventually joined the Star Helix because he decided that he'd prefer being the one handing out beatings rather than the one receiving them.
- Dirty Cop: He's happy to take bribes from slum lords and to hand out gratuitous beatings.
- The Dulcinea Effect: Bitten so badly by it, that it sends him tilting at very dangerous windmills.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Done twice:
- In "Godspeed", he decides to stay behind on Eros to manually detonate a damaged nuke while the Nauvoo is heading in to ram Eros into the sun. He ends up not having to bother due to circumstances changing.
- In the following episode, "Home", he talks Julie Mao, who has been assimilated by the protomolecule on Eros and is now guiding the asteroid, into diverting its course into Venus. He stays with her and even infects himself just before they crash.
- Hypocrite: Played With. Protests the killing of evil scientists because they could provide useful information alive only to immediately kill their leader in retaliation for Eros. This being said, Miller correctly points out that keeping him alive to spout his beliefs would have probably been an even worse idea.
- Hard Boiled Detective: Dresses the part, complete with trilby, and drinks like one.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He's abrasive and corrupt, but he occasionally shows a gentler side and there are limits as to how much illegal activity he'll ignore. He genuinely tries to reform himself during his search for Julie, although considering how that turned out it's an open question whether any of it will stick.
- Last-Name Basis: Is referred to almost exclusively as 'Miller', even by close friends, confidants, and his love interest.
- Old Cop, Young Cop: old to Havelock's young.
- Revolvers Are Just Better: When scavenging weapons at the Blue Falcon on Eros, Miller throws away a semi-automatic in favor of a revolvernote .
- Street Smart: He knows his way around Ceres and the OPA, which makes him a foil to both Havelock and Holden.
- Talking the Monster to Death: He's able to talk Julie Mao into diverting her transformed self into Venus by being honest and dedicated with her.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: Averted. Despite being on the side of good (albeit very much an Anti-Hero), Miller has probably the highest personal body count of any lead, and doesn't hesitate to shoot first and attack by surprise.
- Thrown Out the Airlock: He almost does this to a Ceres landlord, and it later almost happens to him at the hands of Dawes.
- Together in Death: He and Julie Mao die together as she directs Eros into Venus, where it won't hurt anyone.
- Token Evil Teammate: When he joins the crew of the Roci, Holden starts to see him as a threat due to his unpredictable nature and his more personal agenda.
- Turn in Your Badge: Miller is fired by Shaddid after he starts digging in the wrong places.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: He utterly hates space, which is fairly ironic considering he's a Belter.
- Working the Same Case: Miller and the crew of the Rocinante become entangled in the same mystery (of what happened to the Scopuli and the Canterbury), but approach it from different angles.
- Wouldn't Hurt a Child: He might be corrupt and callous, but Miller does seem to have a soft spot for children. When a landlord's cost-cutting results in the deaths of several children, Miller very nearly throws said landlord out the airlock.
The captain of Star Helix Security's Ceres detachment.
- Corrupt Cop: She's on the payroll of Anderson Dawes and the OPA. She doesn't even bother hiding it after firing Miller.
- Da Chief: Of Star Helix Security on Ceres.
- Have You Told Anyone Else?: A non-fatal example. When Miller comes to her with secret files, she ascertains who else has seen the files and then confiscates them before firing Miller.
- Jerkass: An extremely unfriendly and abrasive woman. She doesn't even seem to give a shit about half of her cases, which is telling since most of her paychecks come from Dawes.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: After she fires Miller, she's never to be seen again.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Non-lethal version. After Miller twigs ever closer to what actually happened to Julie, Shaddid immediately destroys the evidence right in front of Miller's face and fires him on the spot.
Miller's green new partner on Ceres. Unlike everyone else on the station, he's an idealistic. Which also makes him the only clean cop around.
- Demoted to Extra: Plays a far more prominent role in the books, even becoming a POV character in the latter books. Here, his role is incredibly small and that of an Audience Surrogate.
- Fish out of Water: He's an Earther on Ceres, meaning he's viewed largely with disdain by the Belters.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Non-fatally by OPA thugs.
- Old Cop, Young Cop: He's the young to Miller's old.
- Platonic Prostitution: With Gia. She instead teaches him how to talk and move like a Belter, though he still pays for her time.
- Put on a Bus: He gets injured during a Belter uprising on Ceres. When Miller leaves for Eros Station, he leaves Havelock behind.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: He's set up in the first episode like he's going to have some influence on Miller's character arc, but ultimately doesn't have all that much.
Crew of the Canterbury
Shed Garvey the med-tech aboard the Pur'N'Kleen ice hauler, the Canterbury (which supplies water for the Asteroid Belt's residents). Even though he's closer to an EMT than a doctor, Shed is all the crew has got as he's called upon for everything from social diseases to life-or-death surgeries. When the Canterbury was gutted to clear the way for cargo, the medical bay was removed, so Shed now has to operate at a dining table in the galley. In addition to his official medical duties aboard the ship, Shed also provides more 'recreational' supplies to the crew.
- Actor Allusion: to Royal Pains, being affiliated with medicine.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Joined the Canterbury crew to get away from a drug dealer he owed money to.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Non-fatally. When Alex's vac-suit starts crapping out, he shares his own oxygen with him. He nearly dies as a result of it.
- Killed Mid-Sentence: Gets his head blown off during the attack on the Donnager, in the middle of trying to calm down Alex.
- The Medic: Responsible for patching treating the Canterbury crew's various injuries no matter how big or small.
- Motor Mouth: When he gets a little nervous... words happen. He gets nervous quite a few times.
- Phony Degree: Faked his MD so he can work on a ship as far away from a drug dealer as possible. That said, he does seem to know enough to be a competent medic and trauma surgeon.
- Plucky Comic Relief: Much goofier than the rest of the characters, even after the Canterbury incident.
- Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Seriously, who names their kid "Shed?"
The Captain of the Canterbury.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: He's a competent and respectable captain, but he has a weird fondness for tiny ceramic kittens. He has dozens of them lined up in a shelf in his quarters. Jim could never figure out what the deal was with them.
- Good Is Not Soft: He's a good guy, but he has shit to get done. When he sees the distress call, he promptly orders his crew to ignore it and wipe it from their records. It's a reasonable move given that the area was rife with pirates, and he had ice to deliver to Ceres - a political powder keg.
- The Good Captain: Reasonable and good to his crew. Pretty much everyone likes him.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: He appears only once in the first episode from dying in the destruction of the Canterbury.
Navigator Ade Nygaard
The Canterbury's navigator.
- Adaptation Name Change: In the books, her last name was Tukunbo.
- Friend with Benefits: Her relationship with Holden.
- The Heart: She is quick to remind McDowell of their obligation to investigate the Scopuli's distress signal, despite the potential risk to the Cant.
- Race Lift: Ade Tukunbo was Nigerian in the books; Ade Nygaard is white in the show.
- Zero-G Spot: How she and Holden are introduced.
The Executive Officer of the Canterbury.
- Does Not Like Shoes: That or....Earthy Barefoot Character. He breaks all the plant pots in his room and starts stomping on the soil barefoot. More reasonable explanation is.....he's lost his fucking mind.
- No Name Given: As befitting a cameo role.
- Sanity Slippage: Too long in space causes him to lose his sanity entirely.
- Revolvers Are Just Better: Shot up his entire quarters with a revolver, and damn near shot Jim too.
A childhood friend of Miller and former member of Star Helix. In the present, he's relocated to Eros where he works as private security/dock inspector for the CPM.
- Bait the Dog: He is a considerable improvement over the "gangsters for hire" that largely make up the CPM, and it's implied that he had to leave Ceres because he grew a conscience and crossed the wrong people. When pushed into a corner he turns out to be considerably more morally ambiguous. He's perfectly willing to kill a survivor on Eros for a mere suspicion that the guy had become infected, and wants to leave Holden and Miller behind, even pulling a gun on Naomi to try to force the Roci crew into leaving.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: He initially comes off as a very chill guy, but he's entirely willing to kill or abandon others to try to save his own skin.
- Cowboy Cop: Apparently engaged in this on Star Helix, which led to him getting fired.
- Dirty Cop: Zigzagged. He and Miller entered Star Helix to "be the boot" instead of the ant. However, in the past he apparently got fired for not toeing the line. However, he discourages Miller from making his mistake and to look out for himself. He ultimately falls back into the Dirty Cop role when he tries to take control of the Rocinante to escape Eros.
- Friend on the Force: Miller uses the connection with him to get information about what is happening on Eros, and hopes that Semi can use his connections to do things like cover up or shield Miller's involvement in various things.
- I Did What I Had to Do: When he realizes how bad the situation on Eros is, he adopts this mindset all the way. Shooting infected survivors to make sure nobody else gets infected, leaving people behind, it's all fair game.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Both Amos and Miller regard his attempt to force the Roci into taking off early, without Holden and Miller as this. Is it the right thing from a moral standpoint? No. In terms of pure pragmatism and survival? Yeah, it probably is the right call. Unfortunately for him, he makes the mistake of pulling a gun on Naomi, and Amos responds by shooting him at the first opportunity.
- Kick the Dog: When he, Amos, Alex, Naomi, and a few other survivors make it back to the Roci, he wants to leave right away, giving Holden and Miller no chance to catch up, not even the time Naomi promised Holden.
- Killed Mid-Sentence: He pulls a gun on Naomi, then orders Alex and Amos to prepare for takeoff. Amos acts like he's going along with the orders, and moves behind Semi. While Semi is in the middle of lecturing Naomi about how he will go through with shooting her, Amos shoots him in the back.
- Pet the Dog: He's absolutely furious when he sees some of the gangster cops in CPM abusing civilians, and tries to put a stop to it. When one of them shoots a civilian, Semi immediately starts firing on all the CPM guys there.
- Street Urchin: According to Miller, he and Semi grew up as this, desperately scratching out a living. As Miller tells it, Sematimba was the one realized that if they didn't get in with the powers that be, they'd spend their whole lives being ground underfoot by the authorities. This set in motion them getting into Star Helix on Ceres and becoming cops.
- We Used to Be Friends: Subverted. Miller and Sematimba are still friends in the present and Miller carries no resentment for Sematimba's attempts to abandon him on Eros. In fact, Miller thinks he made the right call.
Praxidike "Prax" Meng
A Belter botanist on Ganymede Station. When Ganymede is caught in the crossfire of a Earth and Mars battle, he finds himself taken to Tycho station and begins a search to find his daughter, Mei.
- Adaptational Backstory Change: In the book series, he came to Ganymede as a child and is unfamiliar with Belter slang; in the series, he states that he was born and raised on Ganymede and speaks Belter creole just fine (in fact, it saves his life).
- Adult Fear: His daughter is being held by a group of people with dubious morals that likely want to experiment on her with a dangerous virus.
- Bait-and-Switch: Shortly after he's introduced he pulls a sealed sample container out of his pocket that emits a blue light when he checks its content, heavily suggesting he's involved in the protomolecule conspiracy one way or another. It's just a soybean sprout he was probably carrying on him as part of his job when Ganymede went to hell.
- The Chew Toy: Life is not kind to him. His daughter contracts a rare disease, he's taken millions of miles away during an attack, leaving Mei alone with a doctor who may have been using her for his own experiments. Then he watches a group of Inners get shoved out the airlock. And that's before he encounters the crew of the Rocinante.
- Deadpan Snarker: He can get very snarky when if fits the situation, like when he witnesses Holden smashing the Roci's coffee maker to pieces in a fit of rage.Prax: You should try tea.
- Fire-Forged Friends: He initially sees the Roci crew as dangerous thugs who dragged him on a half-baked mission that he nonetheless needs to find Mei. In return, they consider him spineless deadweight that they're helping in order to find The Conspiracy. After saving Holden from the Hybrid, they've warmed up to each other considerably.
- Foil: To Jules-Pierre Mao. Both are scientists desperately searching for their daughters after a tragic incident, hoping for their safe return. However, Prax is a Belter without any power who nonetheless holds more of an ethical backbone than the manipulative Mao.
- Gender-Blender Name: In some sense. He's probably named after the moon Praxidike, which naturally has no biological sex. However, its namesake is a Greek goddess (or in some accounts, a facet of Persephone) of vengeance and judicial punishment, which makes it a pretty Non-Indicative Name in his case.
- Green Thumb: As a botanist, his job was to help develop new plant strains to grow in Ganymede's agricultural domes. He says that he is better with plants than with people. Aboard the Rocinante, he cobbles together a plant-based air-filtration system to ease the burden on the ship's limited air scrubber supply.
- Honorary True Companion: After everything they've been through together, it's outright stated that he's now a member of the Rocinante's crew. He however elects to go back to Ganymede to try and help rebuild it. His departure hits Amos especially hard.
- Nice Guy: Is nothing less than polite to everyone he meets. And even when he knows his daughter could be brutally tortured and experimented on, he makes the call to save Draper and Avasarala first. He's also one of the very few persons in the show, if not the only one, who never shows any of the rampant racism between Earthers, Martians and Belters.
- Non-Action Guy: Poor Prax starts out as a peaceful botanist in an agricultural colony at the ass-end of the solar system, only to be forced to take several levels in badass very quickly when events conspire against him and his family.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Nobody ever calls him by his (admittedly unwieldy) full name.
- Papa Wolf: When he finds his daughter's backpack, he opens fire on a room full of armed people.
- Put on a Bus: After the Time Skip in "Delta-V", he and his daughter leave for Ganymede Station to aid in the rebuilding effort.
- Roaring Rampage of Rescue: Finding and rescuing his daughter becomes more or less the sole driving force behind his actions once he learns she might still be alive. It reaches its crescendo when the team arrives on Io where it becomes clear that Prax will stop at nothing to get Mei back safe and sound.
- Science Hero: Slowly evolves into this. He's the one who masterminds a plan to lure the Hybrid out of the Roci by comparing it to his plants. He similarly uses his science know-how to improve the Roci's air filtration system.
Prax's daugher, who lives with him on Ganymede.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: After all the shit she went through, she was finally reunited with her dad and went back to Ganymede.
- Ill Girl: She has a disease that's apparently common to children being raised in the low-gravity environment on Ganymede.
- Living MacGuffin: Prax is determined to find her, which is what leads him to join the Roci's crew.
- Never Found the Body: She's presumed dead following the Ganymede incident. It's not until Prax reaches Tycho Station and studies the security footage that he learns she's still alive.
- Powered by a Forsaken Child: Dr. Strickland intends to feed her and the other children to the protomolecule, both to study it and to create hybrid soldiers. Fortunately, she's rescued before that happens.
- Put on a Bus: She and Prax return to Ganymede after the events of "Immolation".
A young slingshot racer from Ceres out to make a name for himself and prove his love to his girl. When the Ring finishes building itself outside of Uranus's orbit, he sees his chance to make history by being the first to go through it.
- Family-Unfriendly Death: His death is easily the most gruesome the series has shown on-screen to date. Just as he enters the Ring, his ship is rapidly decelerated by the Slow Zone. His slingshotter was going at roughly 900 km/s, and in a split second was immediately decelerated to just 600 meters per second. However, the Slow Zone only affects the hull of the ship - everything inside, including Manéo himself, was still traveling at 900 km/s. The resulting, unimaginable g-force and sudden vector shift tore his body in half. Face first. In a case of very dark comedy and Memetic Mutation in the Expanse fandom, Manéo is typically associated with a red splat (like a bug on a windshield) - as that's literally all that's left of him in his ship.
- Hot-Blooded: Even more so than your usual Belter, the man is pure undiluted testosterone.
- Killed Mid-Sentence: The Slow Zone rips his body apart right before he could finish his Badass Boast.
- The Power of Rock: His theme song is "Highway Star." 'Nuff said.
- Small Role, Big Impact: He only appears in a single episode, and only a couple of scenes at that, but it's his sacrifice that leads to the activation of the Ring, changing the lives of everyone in the Sol system forever.
- Theme Music Power-Up: Also counts as his Leitmotif. Whenever he's about to do something historic/reckless, he plays (and headbangs to) a badass "Belter cover" of Deep Purple's "Highway Star."
- Time-Passage Beard: He grows a long unkempt beard during his appearance, helping viewers track how long he's been in space.