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The Strike Team

    Vic Mackey 

Detective Victor Samuel "Vic" Mackey

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/axn_081208_0005_1b3c8b4f_1_1287.jpg
"I don't do desks!"
Played By: Michael Chiklis

The main character and leader of the Strike Team. Certainly not your typical cop show protagonist; he shot and killed a fellow police detective in the pilot episode of the series, without any remorse or regret. Despite this (and more), Vic attempts to do right by his family, the officers under his command, and the people in the community he is sworn to protect.


  • The Ace: Especially in seasons 1 (in which his friendship with Assistant Chief Gillroy effectively insulates him from nearly any sort of legal repercussions to his extralegal actions) and 5 (in which Captain Billings has almost zero ability or desire to rein him in). Vic's ability to charm people and to talk his way out of difficult situations is unmatched, and he not only fools nearly everybody that he comes across throughout the series, but also bed multiple women as well.
  • Anti-Villain: In the first 4 seasons. He's a Dirty Cop who is nonetheless genuinely committed to ridding Farmington of bloodthirsty drug lords, pedophiles, and serial killers (albeit while lining his own pockets and regularly breaking the law himself). However, as the series progresses, he increasingly prioritizes his own livelihood and desires at the expense of those around him thereby becoming a full-blown Villain Protagonist.
  • Bad Boss: Downplayed. He's often genial towards the rest of the Strike Team and generally fair to them, but he's very prone to lashing out whenever they screw up and often fails to take their opinions and advice into account.
  • Bald of Evil: He's a Cop Killer and overall corrupt human being, plus he's bald as a bean.
  • Berserk Button: Hurting children and those closest to him, let alone any form of betrayal (as Terry found out), will cause you to suffer the full force of Vic's wrath.
  • Broken Ace: By the end, Vic is isolated to a desk job and ostracized by his colleagues with his sins laid bare for all to see.
  • Consummate Liar: Here's Aceveda explaining to Kavanaugh why knowing enough about Vic to successfully hunt him down is nigh impossible without getting caught up in his corruption in the process:
    "You’ve never looked Mackey in the eye, had him lie straight to your face, and made you doubt yourself even though you know he was full of shit."
  • Cool Shades: Vic frequently uses sunglasses during his most "hand-on" approaches to policing like gang raids, perp searching and team meetings.
  • Control Freak: As demonstrated repeatedly throughout the series, particularly in regards to his relationships with women. Vic is someone who tends to always believe that he's capable of acting on behalf of other people's best interests, regardless of their actual wants; and he tends to become infuriated when challenged. This tendency also ends up coming back to bite him at several points throughout the series, as he arrogantly presumes that he can control anybody that he allies with or does business with, regardless of who they are or how their specific interests might diverge from his own.
  • The Corrupter: He's the one who draws the other Strike Team members into the cesspool of crime, and also the one who convinces Aceveda to take most of his really immoral actions during the course of the show.
  • Cowboy Cop: Deconstructed. He begins as a somewhat well-intentioned dirty cop taking something extra for going the extra mile in his job and is acknowledged as a necessary evil at the precinct. As the series progresses, he grows more and more corrupt and amoral, to the point that he becomes a liability for the police force and he starts making so many deals with crooks he can no longer do his job.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Oh, yeah. One example upon seeing a dead body at a crime scene, "Hey, who's the dead guy?"
  • Dirty Cop: "And how!" doesn't even begin to cover it. He takes bribes, commits murder directly and indirectly several times over, and forms alliances with various drug dealers and criminals.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: He loves his kids, and partially commits his crimes to acquire the money he needs to get treatment for his two autistic ones.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • During seasons one and two, he demands a "no selling drugs to children" pledge from the drug dealers who he's in bed with.
    • Vic absolutely loathes rapists and child molesters.
    • At the end of Season 1, he is absolutely aghast that Gilroy deliberately endangered innocent civilians to make a buck.
    • In the series finale, he is completely willing to murder Shane's pregnant wife and sadistically threatened Shane and his family, but at the police station, right before Ronnie was arrested, Claudette called him in to show him how Shane had murdered his wife and son, them committed suicide with an unfinished suicide note Claudette read to Vic. He was angered and shocked, and realizing that Claudette was watching him through the security feed made him feel even worse.
    • Vic detests any form of violence against women and children. In Season 1, he goes out of his way to save a baby's life while he's off duty.
    • Although he's willing to brutalize suspects in order to get information or results, pointless sadism, like when his old partner Joe and his coworker Lester attempt to superglue a man's mouth shut and force a man to drink up his buddy's piss from a toilet, disgusts him. In both instances he intervenes to stop the torture from occurring further.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: Unlike many of the other cops, Vic has no issue with homosexuality.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: He actually seems surprised that ICE is no longer willing to let him operate on the street after he confesses his crimes to Olivia.
  • Evil Is Petty: Theft, drug dealing, lying and murder are a day's work. Being a complete jerk to Dutch? That's just for his amusement.
  • Establishing Character Moment: His killing of Terry in the first episode makes it clear very early on that he is a guy who won't hesitate to kill anyone, not even fellow cops, in order to save his own skin.
  • Fatal Flaw: Hubris. As some critics have so astutely pointed out, Vic self-righteously believes that he can make due as a violent cop that flouts laws for his own benefit while still being the fundamentally noble family man and defender of innocents that he presents himself as. The fact that his uncanny ability to improvise and manipulate people get him out of many bad situations throughout the series only feeds his delusion that he's the good guy. Unfortunately, this tendency leads him to repeatedly compromise his morality throughout the series, culminating in him betraying his only remaining friend in a desperate attempt to both protect himself and to maintain a degree of control over his family life.
  • A Father to His Men: Deconstructed. Vic is fiercely protective of his team, but at the cost of total subordination. Him playing leader also makes them desperately fight for his approval, which is essentially what kicks off much of the series' drama.
    • Subverted in the Grand Finale: Vic may like his men, but ultimately, if he has to sacrifice them to save himself, he will.
  • Faux Affably Evil: He often presents a likable and friendly front in order to win over people, even characters who are well aware of his nature as a crooked cop (such as Claudette, Aceveda, and even Dutch in those instances where Vic isn't antagonizing him). To Vic's credit, the facade is an effective one, and the only characters to consistently see through it are Mara and Kavanaugh.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Choleric. A capable leader, but also bossy and aggressive.
  • Friend to All Children: Vic is surprisingly gentle around children and is very protective of them. Hurting a child is the best way to get on his bad side.
  • Friendly Rivalry: Zig-zagged with Dutch. They are outright hostile to each other at the beginning of the series, but later develop into this after Dutch shows absurdly big balls while cracking a serial killer and even finds the guts to punch Vic. However, they return to hostilities after Dutch starts snooping around Vic's corruption case and begins a relationship with his ex-wife.
  • Genius Bruiser: Built like a rhinoceros, and a highly skilled strategist with a knack for thinking on his feet.
  • Guns Akimbo: Once or twice he's gone in a bust carrying two guns.
  • Humiliation Conga / Ironic Hell: His final fate.
  • It's All About Me: Initially had this a bit. By the end, it has mutated to the point he doesn't give a damn about anyone but himself. Even his family just seem to be a way of him keeping control over his life.
  • Jerkass: Vic is not a pleasant guy on the best of days. Outside of being a Dirty Cop, he's overly aggressive, sadistic, arrogant, self-righteous, and a bully, especially to Dutch. However, he's very good at turning up the charm when he needs to, which helps make him so popular at the Barn.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Despite his harsh attitude, he appears to genuinely care for his colleagues and honestly wants to keep the city safe. This trait slowly disappears during the final three seasons, as his desire to protect his career overrides his desire for justice.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: During Kavanaugh's investigation and directly after it, due to Lem's death.
  • Karma Houdini: Played with, but ultimately subverted. He doesn't formally pay for his crimes, but loses his family, his friends, and his reputation and — perhaps worst of all for a Control Freak and Attention Whore like him — gets Kicked Upstairs to a desk job.
  • Kavorka Man: Pushing into his 40s and still has a knack for bedding beauties.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • His murder of Terry.
    • He threatens to out Julian as gay if he doesn't recant his statement.
  • Killer Cop: Established at the end of the pilot episode when he murders Terry Crowley.
  • Manipulative Bastard: While he's rarely completely successful, he can manipulate most Farmington cops enough to keep his Batman Gambit and Indy Ploy maneuvers rolling.
  • Lack of Empathy: Vic is coldly detached. When Kavanaugh brings in Terry's brother to see Vic's reaction he is totally unfazed.
  • Meaningful Name: Mackey as in Machiavelli.
  • Moral Myopia: He can't stand his team or family being hurt, but is perfectly willing to manipulate, brutalize, or outright murder anyone if it suits his needs. He also can't stand any form of betrayal but is happy to betray anyone to suit his own needs.
  • Motive Decay: At the beginnning, Vic only engages in criminal behavior when it's necessary to take down the bad guys. As the show goes in, his desire to bring criminals to justice slowly gives way to a desire to keep his career safe.
  • The Napoleon: Vic comes across as a downplayed example of this due to Michael Chiklis' height of 5'9 (1,75 meters). In many scenes, Vic appears slightly, but still notably shorter than most of his male peers in the police, but he is also easily the loudest and most aggressive person amongst them.
  • Not Me This Time: He really had nothing to do with Armadillo's murder, but Danny blames him for it anyway.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • His kind treatment of drug addicted prostitute Connie. He gives her money to so she can buy food and support her baby and even tries to help her detoxify herself when she's high.
    • Despite his antagonism with Dutch, he actually tries to make him feel better when he fails to apprehend a Serial Killer and later congratulates him when he does find said killer.
    • After Julian is outed as gay, Vic tries to comfort him by telling him the guys who are bullying him are assholes and that most don't judge him for it. He later encourages Julian to take revenge on the cops who assaulted him because he wants Julian to regain the respect of the other officers.
    • He comforts a young child prostitute after rescuing her from a child porn ring and even plays blackjack with her to help put her at ease.
    • A twisted example occurs when, after he blackmails Julian into backing down from testifying against him by threatening to expose his homosexuality, Vic sincerely thanks Julian for it and advises him to embrace his sexuality, telling him that he shouldn't be ashamed of who he is.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: While he's not as openly racist as Shane, he makes a few racist quips here and there, most memorably telling Aceveda that he doesn't answer to him, "Not today and not on Cinco de Mayo!" in the pilot.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: By the finale, he successfully obtained full immunity for his past crimes along with a 3-year job at ICE. At the cost of losing his family, his best friends, being branded a traitor and despised by literally everybody around him, and getting stuck on a desk job. His bigger crimes tend to cause more problems for the team than they solve, although he usually manages to work through it.
    • Killing Terry, while necessary at the time, only attracts more suspicion to Vic, and gets Internal Affairs looking more closely at him.
    • Robbing the Armenian Money Train gets the team more money than they imagined, but they spend most of the third season hiding it to avoid retribution from the Armenians. Then, the money gets burned.
    • He gets Lem to go on the run to avoid getting killed in prison, which gives Kavanaugh the opportunity to resume his investigation into the team. To make matters worse, Shane murders Lem under the mistaken impression he was going to sell out the others.
    • He arranges Shane's assassination, only for Shane to escape and start plotting to kill him and Ronnie.
    • In the finale, just about all of Vic's crimes are exposed to the public. While he can't be charged with anything, his success at evading justice costs him everything and everyone he ever loved.
  • Really Gets Around: Especially started doing this after the Strike Team formed.
  • The Rival: To Dutch, who he constantly bullies and serves as the main obstacle to his efforts to hookup with Danny. However, Vic does genuinely respect Dutch as an investigator. He simply feels he has to bully Dutch because of his arrogance and tendency to act like he's above the rest of the Barn.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: In Season 1, he uses the protection given to him by Chief Gilroy to openly flout Aceveda's authority.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: His standard M.O. Vic happily uses his authority as a cop to casually break the law if it benefits him.
  • The Sociopath: By the end, he has become willing to sell his team down the river to save himself, only cares about having his family as way to control his life, and spurs Shane into killing himself with little feeling. Subverted when he finds out Shane had also killed his wife, son and unborn child, and reacts with anger and shock.
  • Soul-Crushing Desk Job: In the Grand Finale, this is how he sees being a Desk Jockey.
  • Stout Strength: He's got quite a gut, but is very strong nevertheless.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: To his entire team, especially Shane. Lem is corrupted because of his influence which Kavanaugh calls him out on.
  • Tragic Hero: His Pride and need for control ultimately lead to him losing everything he has, although he gets what he was after.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Despite Ronnie's loyalty to him Vic gives him up to save his own skin.
  • Villainous BSoD: He spends the last few minutes of the series in the midst of one.
  • Villain Protagonist: He often fluctuates between this and Anti-Hero.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: At first. However, as the series progresses, he becomes increasingly self-serving and ultimately discards all pretense of morality altogether.
  • Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him?: While Vic is normally willing to shoot people who get in his way, there are several times where he lets Shane walk away when the smart thing to do would be to just kill him.
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    Shane Vendrell 

Detective Shane Vendrell

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/svvwx2014_7864.jpg
"So we close a triple murder before breakfast, start a race war before dinner. That's a pretty good day."
Played By: Walton Goggins

Vic's best friend and protégé. Impulsive, reckless, and at times racist, Shane drives much of the conflict in the series as his desire to move out of Vic's shadow causes much chaos and conflict.


  • Alas, Poor Villain: It's hard not to feel sorry for him after reading his suicide note.
  • All for Nothing: He murdered his best friend Lem to protect himself and the rest of the Strike Team from prosecution, only to learn after the fact that Lem had no intention of selling them out.
    • Shane's entire arc over the show ends up being this, from helping Vic murder Terry onward. By the end of the show, Shane and his family are dead, and his reputation as a cop is completely tarnished.
  • Anti-Villain: Shane is a racist Jerkass, but he still remains somewhat sympathetic due to his guilt over the horrible things he does. He shifts into being a downright Tragic Villain in the final season as things become increasingly worse for him.
  • At Least I Admit It: What keeps Shane sympathetic, even as he starts doing more terrible things, is the fact that he has no illusions that the things he does are wrong, and that he's not a good person.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Steps up to fulfill this position in the later half of season 7 alongside Beltran and Lloyd Denton.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Despite being an overt bigot who is often ribbed by his fellow officers as a "dumb hick", he is nonetheless a highly resourceful detective whose skills and decisiveness sufficiently qualify him to be Vic's right-hand man.
  • Butt-Monkey: Pretty much everything Shane does blows up in his face.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: One minute you're talking to a boorish buffoon, the next you're watching him successfully getting a suspect to confess to a murder he committed over a year ago, as Dutch found out in Season 1.
  • Deep South: Hails from Atlanta, Georgia, and has "Dixie" for his cell phone ring tone.
  • Despair Event Horizon: After he learns Vic has beaten him to an immunity deal, he realizes he has run out of options to save himself and his family, and kills them and then himself.
  • Deuteragonist: Effectively occupies this position in the story from the third season onward. Although Vic is billed at the main character, Shane's actions have just as big of an impact on the progression of the overall narrative, and the development of his relationship with Mara deliberately contrasts the disintegration of Vic's relationship with Corrine.
  • Dislikes the New Guy: Shane dislikes Tavon when the latter joins the Strike Team. This is due to both Shane's racism and his jealousy that team leader Vic is shifting trust and responsibility away from him to Tavon. The others all get along fine with Tavon.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: In "Pay in Pain", after a suspect mildly snarks at him, Shane loses his temper and beats the man within an inch of his life before urinating on him.
  • Driven to Suicide: Eats his gun in "Family Meeting".
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Is horrified when Vic murders a fellow cop in the pilot, and is plagued by guilt in his role in it after the fact.
    • He reacts with horror and outrage when Antwon Mitchell murders Angie (a teenager) in front of him.
  • Evil Mentor: For Army.
  • Fatal Flaw: Impulsiveness. Although much more astute than he initially may seem, Shane's extreme emotional volatility and inability to avoid rationalize away his guilt over the consequences of his actions leads him to take several stupid actions throughout the series that end up not only leading to his own death, but those of his family and Lem as well.
  • Foil: To Vic. Both are violent crooked cops with a propensity for vulgar humor, both tend to have nasty tempers, and both end up killing a fellow cop in acts of self-preservation. However, whereas Vic has a successful track recording of scheming and is able to consistently delude himself into believing he's acting for the great good, Shane's schemes constantly blow up in his face and the guilt that he feels over his worst actions stems from the fact that he harbors no illusions about the fact that he's a criminal. Furthermore, Mackey's relationship with his wife is markedly contrasted to the one that Vendrell has with his: Vic consistently lies to Corrine and attempts to hide the truth about the extent of his crimes to her, which eventually leads to her turning against him whereas Shane is totally open with Mara about the darker aspects of who he is, and he ends up dying alongside her in the most tragic and horrifying way possible.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Sanguine. Exuberant and sociable, but also the most volatile and impulsive member of the Strike Team.
  • Freudian Excuse: Downplayed, but a line that Shane delivers in the third season heavily implies that his relationship with his father was an abusive one. Though it isn't explicitly mentioned, one can infer that both Shane's bond with Vic (who effectively functions as a fraternal authoritative figure), and his attraction to Mara (who herself grew up with an abusive parent) are partially informed by his upbringing.
  • Happily Married: For all their faults, Shane and Mara are consistently portrayed as being utterly loyal to one another, so much so that Mara not only forgives him when he cheats on her, but is also willing to give up her entire life when he becomes a fugitive; even refusing to abandon him when he asks her to turn herself in order to protect herself from his crimes.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Shows shades of this. Despite displaying a good sense of humor in the company of his colleagues, he often flies into a blind rage at the slightest provocation while working in the field.
  • Heel Realization: His final character arc sees his guilt over killing Lem slowly bringing him to the realization he and Vic are both terrible, monstrous human beings. Shane concludes in his suicide note that they brought their own worst sides out in each other, and that his greatest regret in life was meeting Vic.
  • Ignored Epiphany: He's horrified when Vic kills Terry and is genuinely guilt-ridden over it, to the point he nearly confesses during an interrogation. However, Vic interrupts, and Shane immediately backtracks. By the time the investigation into Terry's death is finished, all of Shane's newfound doubts about the Strike Team and Vic vanish.
  • Jerkass: Generally an unpleasant and foul-tempered bigot to everyone exempting his family, the other members of the Strike Team, and a select number of police officers at the Barn.
  • Kick the Dog: At one point he gets information out of a female witness by threatening her with rape.
  • Killer Cop: Responsible for the murders of Dead-Eye, Lem, and finally, his own wife, son, and unborn child.
  • The Millstone: His attempts to imitate Vic's style of 'policing' continually blow up in his face, putting the rest of the Strike Team in jeopardy and forcing Vic to save him from himself. His killing Lem is what finally destroys the team for good.
  • Morality Pet: Mara and Jackson.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Spends several episodes after murdering Lem in a state of shock and guilt, and it gets worse when he learns that Lem never intended to betray the team, meaning he killed him for nothing.
  • My Greatest Failure: He is this to Vic, as far as the level of failure from Vic with the way he took Shane and turned him into a monster.
  • Never My Fault: Shane has a bad tendency of blaming his mistakes on other people. Averted in the finale, as he acknowledges in his suicide note that although Vic led him on, it was still his own decision to keep following him.
  • Noble Bigot with a Badge: Evolved into this, largely due to Walt Goggins being uncomfortable with the casual racism of the character.
  • Number Two: Vic's right-hand man.
  • Pater Familicide: Kills Mara, her unborn child and Jackson before killing himself in "Family Meeting".
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Shane is casually racist and very prone to spouting racial slurs at the drop of a hat. As well, he's the most openly violent and villainous member of the Strike Team.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • While he has many flaws he's a loyal friend to Vic and offers to kill Gilroy to spare him from having to kill his old friend.
    • When Dutch scores with a girl Shane was interested in you may expect him to be angry but he's actually quite impressed with and happy for Dutch.
    • Despite his racism he gets along with Armie and only comes back to the team on the condition Armie is also given a spot in their unit.
    • Even When Vic offers him a chance to kill him and save himself from Antwon Shane refuses as he honestly sees Vic as his friend. In the following episode Shane decides to kill Antwon to protect the team. It would be a better option for Shane to confess his crimes but he refuses because that would mean taking his friends down with him.
    • He "kidnaps" Vic's family in order to protect them from an Armenian mob hit. He does this despite Vic hating his guts at this point and turning his Armenian allies against him by doing so.
  • Rabid Cop: He's easily the most violent and unstable member of the Strike Team.
  • Really Gets Around: Prior to marrying Mara in Season 3.
  • The Rival: To Tavon in Season 3.
  • Shoot the Dog: Subverted. Shane thinks that his murder of Lem will help protect his family, as well as Vic and Ronnie, from Kavanaugh's investigation into The Strike Team. When he learns that Lemansky was never going to flip however, he doesn't take it well.
  • Suspicious Spending: He buys an expensive new house and renovates it, but makes sure to get receipts showing that him and Mara's combined salaries are enough to pay for it. Unfortunately, that's all they're enough to pay for, leaving the couple no actual money to live on, making it obvious he's getting more money somewhere else. Kavanaugh sarcastically asks him if he's moonlighting as a security guard.
  • Tragic Villain: Eventually becomes one during the final two seasons, following his murder of Lem. Although he's doubtlessly a major liability to Vic, and attempts to murder him and arranges for Ronnie to get killed, most of the more drastic actions he takes are either in response to provocations on Vic's part or out of a want to protect his family. His incredibly tragic end only reinforces this.

    Curtis "Lem" Lemansky 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/lemvwx2014_7205.jpg
"I've always gone along with everything you ever wanted, and all it's done is get us deeper and deeper into shit."
Played By: Kenny Johnson

The muscle of the Strike Team, as well as its conscience. Will often remind Vic and the rest of the Strike Team that they are supposed to be cops and try and rein in Vic's more corrupt notions (with various degrees of success). Unfortunately for him, he ultimately becomes a liability for the team and is killed off by Shane, to keep IAD from sending him to jail, where he would inevitably break.


  • Anti-Villain: Type IV. Lem is a genuinely kind and heroic guy who almost always tries to do the right thing. His only failing is that the fraternal attachments he feels for the other members of the The Strike Team lead to him getting dragged into their various misdeeds.
  • Ascended Extra: Starts off as one of the background characters in the Strike Team, eventually becomes one of the most important characters on the show, likely due to his popularity with the cast, crew and fans.
  • The Big Guy: Class 2. He's The Heart of the team, and takes point during busts with a shotgun.
  • Break the Cutie: In Season 5.
  • The Conscience: It's kind of necessary when you have the more Hot-Blooded Shane and Control Freak Vic on your team.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: He gets a grenade tossed in his lap, which doesn't kill him right way.
  • A Day In The Lime Light: "Throwaway." He is shown comforting the sister of a former gang banger he accidentally shot.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Phlegmatic. The most easygoing and friendly member of the team, but also the weakest willed one as well.
  • Gentle Giant: Loves kids and animals.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: ...relatively speaking.
  • He Knows Too Much: Shane kills him so he can't testfy against the rest of the Strike Team, only learning later that Lem never intended to sell them out.
  • The Heart: Of The Strike Team. Vic, Shane, and Ronnie are all clearly quite close with him, and his death functions as the moment in which the rest of the team truly begins to break apart.
  • Killer Cop: Actually averted. He's the only member of the Strike Team who never commits an actual murder during the course of the show.
  • Morality Pet: For Vic.
  • Nice Guy: For all of his faults, Lem is a genuine sweetheart, and is beloved by the rest of the Barn.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Sadly, his attempts to help others in Season 5 end up biting him in the ass, big time.
    • In "Kavanaugh", he saves Kavanaugh from a stray grenade during a raid on Guardo Lima's factory. At the end of the episode, after Lem and Vic eavesdrop on a conversation between Jon and his mentally ill wife, Kavanaugh formally arrests him and has him thrown in the cage.
    • While hiding out in a trailer park in "Postpartum", Lem goes to investigate a crying child in a neighboring trailer. However, he gets caught by the locals, who promptly call the cops on him, sending him on the run once again.
    • In the same episode, Lem tries to negotiate his surrender to the authorities and take the heat for all the Strike Team's crimes, only for Kavanaugh and Aceveda to spin it so it looks like he's trying to save himself at the expense of the team, in a last-ditch attempt to ensnare Vic. Vic doesn't fall for it, but Shane does, and takes matters into his own hands by murdering Lem.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: He's almost always referred to as "Lem" (itself shortform for "Lemonhead", referring to his blonde mop), not Curtis.
  • Only Sane Man: Will often interrupt Vic and Shane during various schemes to remind them that they are supposed to be on the side of law and order.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Courtesy of Shane.
  • Token Good Teammate: Of the Strike Team.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Although their friendship temporarily breaks apart during the end of Season 3 and remains strained for much of season 4, Shane and Lem are repeatedly shown to have a strong, practically brotherly bond defined by good-natured teasing between the two. Which makes it particularly tragic when Shane kills him.
  • Wife-Basher Basher: He assaults a Los Mags gangbanger who had branded his ex-girlfriend.

    Ronald "Ronnie" Gardocki 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/shield-davesnell1_8912.jpg
"Oh, I want the rest of the day off!"
Played By: David Rees Snell

With his facial hair and tech skills, Ronnie is the resident nerd of the Strike Team.


  • Affably Evil: Ronnie's generally relaxed, affable, and good humored, but he also proves himself to be the most ruthless and pragmatic member of the Strike Team as well.
  • Ascended Extra: The fourth member of the Strike Team had no plotlines and wasn't even a full cast member until season 5.
  • Badass Bookworm: Resident Techno Wizard, check. See Character Development for the rest.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: Beneath the seemingly tranquil and unassuming exterior is a dangerously efficient cop who has zero contrition about doing what it takes to survive.
  • Consummate Professional: Rational, efficient, and lacking of any emotional reservations or attachments.
  • Character Development: Despite being in nearly every episode, his only role in the first few seasons was to get teased by the other Strike Team members. When he got promoted to regular cast member, the show revealed there was a reason he made so little impression: He was the only member of the team smart enough to avoid suspicion by keeping his head down, and doing only what he deemed necessary to his self-preservation.
  • Characterization Marches On: The more meek, bland, and awkward Ronnie that we see in the first season is markedly different from the more sardonic, pragmatic and detached characterization that he grows into over the course of the show.
  • A Day In The Lime Light: "Back to One" showcases Ronnie, and specifically how good a cop he is when just doing his job.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Possibly moreso than anyone in the show save for Dutch and Billings.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: While he was quite vocal about wanting to kill Shane, Vic's proclamation that he was going to kill Shane and his pregnant wife Mara (in front of their two year old son, no less) freaked even Ronnie out.
  • Fake Guest Star: Appeared in almost every episode, but didn't get his Promotion to Opening Titles until Season 5.
  • Flat "What": Gives this out after being informed that Vic sold him out in order to get an immunity deal for himself.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Melancholic. Ronnie's nearly unflappable demeanor and quiet nature set him apart from the other 3 more extroverted members of the Strike Team.
  • It's Personal: He does not take Shane murdering Lem well at all.
  • Killer Cop: It takes nearly the entire run of the show, but he eventually pulls the trigger on a defenseless target in the Season 7 premiere.
  • Not So Stoic: By far the calmest and most detached member of the Strike Team, he hardly ever raises his voice or betrays any extreme amount of emotion. Until the finale, when he explodes in a violent display of rage and indignation as he's being arrested and he realizes just how badly Vic betrayed him.
    • Despite how strongly he advocated killing Shane, Ronnie is shown to be shocked and saddened to the point of tears when he learns about how his erstwhile friend killed both himself and his own family.
  • Only Sane Employee: The only member of the Strike Team who never creates problems that the others have to solve. In fact, he's often Locked Out of the Loop on their plans.
    • Best exemplified during the fifth season, in regards to Kavanaugh's investigation of the Strike Team. Although he quickly nails Lem on possession of heroin, and manages to put pressure on Vic and Shane by looking into the financial transactions that both made on behalf of their families, Kavanaugh admits that he's unable to find anything to incriminate Gardocki on due to how judiciously he has covered his tracks. Furthermore, whereas Vic is dead-set on using only one attorney to represent the Strike Team, Ronnie wisely suggests that it's more expedient to hire four separate attorneys to poke holes in Kavanaugh's case.
    • In the Grand Finale, he's told of the charges he's facing thanks to Vic. And he lets him have it with all barrels.
  • Only Sane Man: The only member of the Strike Team who realizes that Shane is a threat that should be neutralized.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: "Back to One" shows that he could have been a great cop, if Vic and the Strike Team hadn't gotten their hooks into him.
  • Porn Stache: His mustache in Seasons 1 and 2.
  • The Quiet One: Barely even had any dialogue in the first few seasons.
  • The Scapegoat: His final fate.
  • Scars are Forever: Gets burned by a grill by Armadillo to taunt Vic. He later covers this up by growing a full beard.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Dresses in a stylish suit and tie during the last few episodes of the series.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: Vic betrays Ronnie in order to gain immunity for his wife, who Vic did not know (but the viewers did) had already gained immunity in order to help Claudette bring Vic to justice.
  • The Smart Guy: Works bugs, electronics, computers, and stuff.
  • Tempting Fate: He specifically tells Vic that he considers going to prison to be a Fate Worse than Death. He ends up being the only member of the Strike Team to be arrested for his crimes.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Has a pretty epic one when he learns he's been scapegoated for the team's crimes. He flies off the handle, screaming and struggling against the officers dragging him away.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Is subjected to one of these by Dutch, who plainly out spells out all of the crimes that Gardocki is being arrested for. Shortly after this, Ronnie himself, after learning that Vic sold him out as part of his immunity deal delivers a particularly pointed one to his friend, cutting through Mackey's self-justifying apologies and lambasting him for putting himself before the Strike Team.

    Terry Crowley 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/img_20140711_224622_7295.jpg
"I'm gonna need moving expenses. Plus a car and a big fruit basket. I'm giving up my life, you gotta give me something back."
Played By: Reed Diamond

"Driver" for the Strike Team, Terry Crowley was placed on the Strike Team by then-Captain Aceveda as a means to keep an eye out on the antics of Vic and his crew. Unfortunately for him, when Aceveda approached him about gathering evidence about Strike Team corruption, Terry agreed, only to get a bullet in the face for his trouble.


  • Boom, Headshot!: Courtesy of Vic Mackey.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Ads depicted him as the true star of The Shield. Vic kills him in the first episode, establishing himself as the Villain Protagonist of the show.
  • The Driver: Of the Strike Team.
  • Expy: Of Reed Diamond's Homicide: Life on the Street character, Mike Kellerman.
  • Good Is Not Nice: He's technically working for the good guys, but he's motivated only by his own ambition.
  • He Knows Too Much: In an Establishing Character Moment, Vic murders him by shooting him in the head with a drug dealer's gun to prevent him from reporting back to his superiors about Vic and the rest of the Strike Team's corruption.
  • Jerkass: He only seems to be looking out for himself, and bluntly runs his mouth about wanting a very cushy job with the Justice Department in exchange for testimony against the Strike Team.
  • The Mole: Something the Strike Team finds out fast.
  • Posthumous Character: He turns up for a cameo at the end of "Co-Pilot."
  • Small Role, Big Impact: One of the most famous examples in television history. Vic's murder of Terry in the pilot hangs over the Strike Team for the rest of the series and comes back to bite them in the ass more than once.

    Tavon Garris 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/tavon_garris.jpg
"Ain't got nobody here to get your back. But now I know who you really are. And so do you."
Played By: Brian White

A young black detective who is placed on the team due to orders from the brass, who want to include one Token Minority onto the all-white Strike Team. Unaware of Vic Mackey's corrupt nature, the skilled rookie detective made a big mistake when he went and told Shane that he was hoping that Vic would take him under his wing as a mentor. One massive brawl later and a car wreck, Tavon was written out of the series.


  • Berserk Button: Racial slurs.
  • The Bus Came Back: For one episode in season 7.
  • Cowboy Cop: He wins Vic's respect by holding a (secretly unloaded) gun to a suspects head and pretending to play Russian Roulette to extract information.
  • Hannibal Lecture: Delivers the mother of all speeches to Shane, when he comes back in season seven, about why he sucks as a human being.
  • The Rival: To Shane, albeit unintentionally.
  • The Sixth Ranger: Technically fifth. The first of several though.
  • Token Minority: On the team because the higher-ups didn't like the optics of an all-white Cowboy Cop force marauding through minority neighborhoods. The Strike Team actually anticipates and appreciates how a black member could open up new avenues for them, they're just nervous about having to keep secrets from him.
  • Trauma Conga Line: He goes from being beaten badly, to almost dying in a car crash leading to months of recovery, to being told he struck a woman and it's all his fault...which he tearfully believes because the accident impacted his memory.
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    Armando "Army" Renta 
Played By: Michael Peña

Army sniper who, after a tour of duty in Iraq, returned home and landed a job with the LAPD, where he was partnered with Shane Vendrell. The two got along well, but Shane's corrupt cop ways ended up getting the two in hot legal water. Rather than risk his luck, he instead resigned from the LAPD and returned to the military.


  • Put on a Bus: Reenlists in the military to avoid getting into more trouble with the Strike Team and their exploits.

    Kevin Hiatt 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/kevin_hiatt.jpg
"Detective Hiatt. But you can call me Detective Hiatt."
Played By: Alex O'Loughlin

A capable officer introduced as the one who will succeed Vic in leading the Strike Team. His arrival is initially met with some tension but Vic and co eventually warm up to him.


  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Cpt. Rawling brought Hiatt in as a more reliable, law-abiding replacement for Vic Mackey as Strike Team leader, in the hopes of salvaging the team's reputation. Unfortunately, while Hiatt was indeed a straight shooter compared to Vic, he also proved himself incapable of getting the same results as Vic's more "morally grey" style of policing.
  • By-the-Book Cop: More than most other Strike Team members, at least.
  • The Casanova: He has a one night stand with Tina in fairly short order. When Claudette mentions that as her superior, his behavior was inappropriate, he shrugs it off as something that's handled "with a wink and a look the other way every other place I've been."
  • Fair Cop: Dude's handsome.

Detectives

    Claudette Wyms 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/a7claudette_9168.jpg
"It's good to shake things up once in a while."
Played By: C.C.H. Pounder

Veteran detective partnered with Detective "Dutch" Wagenbach. Though positioned as the conscience of the Barn, she's more than willing to turn a blind eye to Vic's brutality and corruption...at least, at first.


  • Action Girl: She doesn't get much chances to show it, but Claudette isn't afraid to fight when it comes down to it. Most notably, she takes down a serial rapist with a well-timed punch to the balls.
  • Big Good: Eventually becomes this from Season 6 onward.
  • Black Boss Lady: After being promoted in Season 6.
  • Da Chief: Has shades of this after finally becoming the captain.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Is especially biting in her final conversations with Vic.
  • Death Glare: Claudette is very good at expressing her contempt for people through nothing but a withering glare.
  • Fatal Flaw: Pride, specifically moral pride. She's one of the very few characters in the show to stick with her principles, but it causes her to suffer friction and tension between higher-ups in the LAPD and the justice system that prevent her from doing her job.
  • Foil: To Vic. She's just as brilliant, ruthless, and driven as he is, but she's also an honest cop who believes in justice.
  • The Heart: Of the Dutch-Claudette partnership, she usually pursues a more emotional angle when it comes to dealing with victims and criminals.
  • Honor Before Reason: Her battle against the D.A.'s office.
  • I Am the Noun: "Don't lecture me about the struggle, son. I am the struggle."
  • Mama Bear: She is extremely particular about the men in her daughters' lives. One can argue she is also this to the rest of the Barn.
  • Only Sane Man: The single most down to earth and reasonable person in the Barn. Whereas everyone else is varying degrees of dysfunctional, Claudette is mainly concentrated on doing her job as efficiently as possible without letting her personal issues get in the way.
  • Overprotective Dad: A gender-flipped variant. She's very disapproving of her daughter's new boyfriend and constantly makes it clear. She even goes so far as to interrogate him at one point.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: With Dutch.
  • Secretly Dying: She has lupus, although she doesn't realize that it's become terminal until almost the end of the series.
  • Selective Obliviousness: She willingly turns a blind eye to the Strike Team's corruption, mainly due to them being fellow cops even if she doesn't entirely approve of Mackey's methods.
  • The Stoic: Claudette is often calm and not much seems to faze her. Even being attacked by a serial rapist doesn't shake her up too much, albeit mostly because she took him out with a single punch.
  • True Companions: With Dutch.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: With Dutch.

    Holland "Dutch" Wagenbach 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/dwvwx2014_6425.jpg
"If you're so special, how come a lowly civil servant like me just caught you?"
Played By: Jay Karnes

Detective and partner of Claudette. A brilliant, but socially inept detective who deals with unsavory bad guys. The Rival to Vic Mackey.


  • Ambiguous Disorder: Dutch displays multiple signs of being on the autism spectrum. He displays multiple symptoms of the condition; he's socially awkward, he becomes upset whenever his routine is disrupted (i.e., whenever his workspace is disrupted), he's intensely obsessed with a certain subject (profiling), he's clumsy and uncoordinated, has trouble reading social cues, and he often unintentionally comes across as insensitive and self-absorbed to others.
  • Badass Bookworm: One of the more well-read detectives, and one of the street smart ones as well.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: Just ask Sean Taylor. Dutch is a goofy, socially awkward Butt-Monkey, but he's a brilliant detective who is an excellent profiler and is scarily good at interrogations.
  • Break the Haughty: Vic views Dutch as an arrogant snob, and leads the Barn against him to deflate his ego. While Dutch is definitely egotistical, much of the bullying is unprovoked and he's such a dorky sadsack that it reads more as kicking him while he's down.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Dutch is socially awkward, dorky, and the Barn's resident Butt-Monkey, but he's still a brilliant cop who is very good at what he does.
  • Butt-Monkey: Things rarely go right for him. Even his partner and best friend can't help he a jerk to him at times.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Comes across as awkward and is socially inept, but is an excellent profiler and has a way with words when it comes to catching bad guys.
  • Deadpan Snarker: It's the only way he keeps his sanity most of the time.
  • Defective Detective: Despite being a brilliant detective, his personal life is often a mess.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: While he goes on a few dates over the course of the series, all his attempts to actively pursue a woman's heart end up failing miserably.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: To say he deserved to have the only somewhat happy ending would be an understatement.
  • Freudian Excuse: Dutch had a bad childhood with a cold, unloving father. It's heavily implied this ingrained his numerous insecurities and his desperate need to be respected by his colleagues.
  • Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse: While apologizing to Danny for publicly giving her a "The Reason You Suck" Speech, he initially starts to cite his terrible childhood only to dismiss it and call himself out for trying to use it as an excuse.
  • Guile Hero: The man's brain and profiling skills are just some of the reasons he catches some of the smarter criminals on the show.
  • Hero of Another Story: In a typical police procedural he'd be the quirky Great Detective protagonist and Vic would be the Dirty Cop Big Bad.
  • Heroic BSoD: Dutch is absolutely horrified after watching child porn as part of an interrogation, especially since he had previously been callous towards the victims' plight.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Dutch has a bad tendency to inadvertently come off as self-absorbed and callous to others because of his lack of social skills.
  • Inferiority Superiority Complex: Dutch is fairly arrogant and tends to view himself as above his colleagues, but he's deeply insecure and has low self-esteem.
  • It's Personal: Dutch's investigation into Sean Taylor becomes much more emotionally motivated after Taylor murders a young child prostitute.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Dutch is arrogant, self-centered, blunt, and socially awkward, but he's got a good heart and is a very loyal friend.
  • Kick the Dog: Strangling the cat. Played less as a moment of establishing villainy, though, and more as a symptom of Dutch's mental turmoil at the time.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: As best demonstrated by this quote.
    "We're animals... nothing more. And ya know what? I'm learning to be OK with that."
  • The Lancer: To Claudette after she becomes Chief.
  • Manipulative Bastard: A rare heroic example given his penchant for getting criminal suspects to confess during interrogation either by appealing to their vanity or exploiting their insecurities.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: In "Cherrypoppers", he's clearly guilt-ridden once he realizes how much of a Lack of Empathy he's been showing to "Sally Struthers", a child prostitute who was Sean Taylor's latest victim.
  • No-Respect Guy: He's a brilliant detective well-versed in book smarts and street smarts, but he's constantly bullied and picked on by his colleagues, especially Mackey, who goes as far as leaving dog shit inside of his desk. Even Claudette sometimes get in on being a jerk to him.
  • No Social Skills: His awkward way of asking women on dates is exhibit "A".
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: His wife was a alcoholic so Dutch got her involved with an AA programme only for her to cheat on him with her sponsor
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Occasionally shows some bigoted tendencies, although these pop up often due to insensitiveness and exasperation rather than malice.
    • When trying (and failing) to get information on a package for Margos Dezerian, he snaps and yells: "If I sound superior, it's because I'm American and you're Greek".
    • Deconstructed in season 4, as this gets him in trouble with Rawlings when he makes an islamophobic comment.
  • The Profiler: He fancies himself one and his theories do tend to be rather useful, as proven in season 1 when he carries on a lengthy interrogation with a serial killer.
  • Properly Paranoid: His mistrust of Vic is very, very justified.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: With Claudette.
  • Rage-Breaking Point: Things go wrong for him even moreso than usual throughout "Cherrypoppers". His work station is destroyed by a flood, he's forced to watch child porn as part of an interrogation, he loses seven hours worth of his investigation into a serial killer because of an idiot trying to prank his friend, and Aceveda decides to abruptly stop the manhunt Dutch was leading to catch said killer. When Danny asks him to help her study for her sergeant's exam after she had previously blown him off to go on a date with Vic, Dutch loses it and gives her a vicious "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • After Danny inadvertently pushes him past the Rage-Breaking Point after a particularly bad day, Dutch loses it and gives her a vicious one,
    Dutch: Sure. Why don't we do that right now? I'll just drop my pissant serial killer thing just to help you study. Because what you want always comes first, doesn't it, Danny? Comes before me, comes before EVERYBODY ELSE HERE! Even comes before a dead thirteen year-old girl who we're all supposed to forget about come tomorrow! So grab your books! Let's find a nice quiet spot. We'll study for that test right now.
    • He gives a cutting one to Sean Taylor.
    Dutch: It's pathetic.
    Sean Taylor: What is?
    Dutch: How typical you are. Soon as you're caught, you try to be special.
    Sean: I killed twenty-two people. Well, twenty-three if you wanna count the hunting accident back in Rockford. I'm special alright.
    Dutch: If you're so special, how come a lowly civil servant like me just caught you?
  • Secret-Keeper: Keeps Claudette's lupus secret from the rest of the Barn.
  • Secretly Selfish: Dutch's investigation into Sean Taylor is initially motivated mostly by his desire to play out his fantasies of being an FBI agent than any desire to see justice done. This admittedly changes into genuine altruism after he realizes how callous he had been towards Taylor's victims.
  • Sheltered Aristocrat: Downplayed. Dutch implicitly comes from a middle-upper class background, and while he's fairly street smart, he's oblivious to aspects of the job that are second hand to his colleagues (i.e. knowing Spanish, among other things).
  • The Smart Guy: He's much smarter than Vic and could easily take him down, which Vic is very aware of.
  • True Companions: With Claudette.
  • Underestimating Badassery: His social ineptness means that the rest of the Barn often forget what a brilliant detective he is, best demonstrated during his handling of the Sean Taylor case.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: With Claudette.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: He became a cop to impress his cold, distant father.
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    Steve Billings 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/steve_billings.jpg
"I think a profiler would call that a pattern of shitting where you eat."
Played By: David Marciano

A veteran cop who is five years away from retiring and dead set on doing as little as possible until then, in order to ensure he sees the day of his retirement.


  • Berserk Button: Could rival even Vic's and Lem's love for kids. Doesn't like them harmed.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: He's a veteran detective with skills that rival Dutch. However, with only 5 years left before retirement, he's not particularly inclined to try very hard on cases.
  • Kicked Upstairs: Subverted. When the brass realize what a disaster he is as captain, they broom him right quick.
  • Lovable Coward: Oscillates between this and Dirty Coward.
  • Never My Fault: He is outraged that he might actually lose his job for filing a bogus lawsuit against the city.
  • Playing Sick: After breaking up a fight between Vic and Kavanaugh and hitting his head on a desk, he sues the city for a laundry list of imaginary ailments related to the injury.

Captains and Administration

    David Aceveda 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/500px-david-aceveda1_8902.jpg
"Mackey's not a cop. He's Al Capone with a badge."
Played By: Benito Martinez

The politically ambitious police captain of the Barn and ultimately an influential member of the Los Angeles City Council. Despite being Vic Mackey's archnemesis and by extension the main antagonist of Season 1, he and Mackey become begrudging allies in later seasons.


  • Ambition Is Evil: Starting around season 4, although he showed shades of this as far back as the pilot, willing to let Vic employ his brutal methods on a pedophile holding a little girl hostage, in order to get results.
  • Anti-Hero: A pragmatic example in the first three seasons prior to becoming an outright villain.
  • Badass Bureaucrat: Despite being a bureaucrat who primarily involves himself with public relations and soliciting support from LA power brokers, he is no less competent in the field than the police officers under his command.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: He takes great pains to present himself as an altruistic public servant who adheres to the rule of law. As the story progresses, he is increasingly revealed to be a ruthless careerist who has no qualms manipulating others and abusing his authority to satisfy his lust for power.
  • Break the Haughty: His rape midway through Season 3 throws most of his life into disarray. He eventually bounces back, and hard.
  • Da Chief: In the first three seasons. He's the head of the Barn, but spends most of his time struggling to bend Vic Mackey to his will.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Especially when Vic is the subject.
  • Fair Cop: Given his lofty political ambitions, he makes a point of supplementing his attractive appearance by being meticulously well-groomed and maintaining an impressive physique. This is acknowledged in-universe given that Vic Mackey often refers to him derisively as a "pretty boy" publicity hound and the vampish con-artist, Deena shamelessly flirts with him every time she sees him (albeit while trying to persuade him to reduce charges against her).
  • Fatal Flaw: Pride. It ultimately serves as the catalyst for his transformation into a villain.
  • A Father to His Men: During his tenure as Captain in the first 3 seasons. Despite being frequently condescending towards most of his employees and having no qualms using them as pawns to advance his interests, he exhibits genuine concern for his officers' well-being and goes to great lengths to look out for them.
  • Good Is Not Nice: During the first 3 seasons before becoming corrupted by his ambition. While he genuinely wants to improve the quality of life for Farmington's population, he is also vain, calculating and a covert sexual sadist.
  • Happily Married: The Acevedas go through some serious problems, but they're still an example. However, given that his wife is just as ambitious and calculating as he is, it's unclear after Season 3 what extent their relationship's longevity is due to their genuine affection for one another as opposed to political expediency.
  • Hero Antagonist: In Season 1. While it is made apparent early on that he is ambitious and self-centered, his status as an antagonist arises solely from his opposition to the criminal practices of the series' corrupt protagonist, Vic Mackey. It is only in later seasons as he increasingly aids and abets Vic's activities to advance his career that he truly becomes villainous.
  • Humiliation Conga: In Season 3 from "Mum" onwards.
  • Hypocrite: He moralizes constantly about Mackey's corruption, yet he frequently allows him to engage in his brutal tactics if it benefits him.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Aceveda is an arrogant, hypocritical careerist, but he genuinely wants to improve life in Farmington and he is trying to put away a corrupt cop even if it's motivated more by his political ambitions than anything else.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: When trying to get Lem to make a deal he tells him that if the positions were reversed Vic would not be so loyal. Ultimately Vic proves this correct when he throws Ronnie under the bus. He also offers to get the team's prison sentence reduced to 1 year which as he points out isn't too bad of a punishment when taking into account all the crimes the team has commited.
  • Karma Houdini: His reward for his role in passively (and sometimes actively) abetting Vic's crimes throughout the series? He's almost certain to be the next mayor of L.A.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Aceveda is a cynical careerist who is very attuned to the shady tactics it takes to get ahead in politics, but he still tries to do the right thing most of the time even if much of it is done for optics as much as it is altruism. However, as the series goes on, he steadily prioritizes his ambitions over his own morality.
  • Manipulative Bastard: He's no better than Vic in this department.
  • Moral Myopia: For the first three seasons, he expresses a sincere desire to serve the public by cleaning up crime in Farmington and rooting out corruption within its police department. However, this doesn't stop him from callously manipulating those around him to achieve this end nor prioritizing the interests of Farmington's Latino citizens over the rest of its population. By Season 4, he's pretty much discarded all pretense of morality in favor of advancing his own fortunes.
  • Out of Focus: To varying degrees in Seasons 4, 5, and 6.
  • Pragmatic Hero: Aceveda is well-aware of when to pick his battles, and he frequently tries to dissuade the officers under him from pursuing investigations if they're draining too much time and manpower or are downright self-destructive. He's also perfectly willing to callously manipulate his employees if it can net him an advantage on Vic and Gilroy.
  • Tautological Templar: Increasingly so as he let his sense of ambitions get to his head.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: He gains a big one in Season 4, when his mental problems and political position make him feel above everyone else.

     Monica Rawling 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/monica_rawling.jpg
"A drug dealer uses a car to distribute drugs, we're gonna seize that vehicle. A gang sells crack out of their back room, we're gonna take that home."
Played By: Glenn Close

Replacement captain for the Farmington District after Aceveda left following his election to city council.


  • Doomed Moral Victor: She doesn't die, but she does sacrifice her career to win.
  • Honor Before Reason: She probably could have kept her job if she had picked the Mitchell fight over the Social Services fight (or vice versa), but she just had to do both at the same time.
  • Knight Templar: A somewhat heroic version. Her pursuit of Carl and Scooby's killers leads her to take the leash off Vic, and even try a couple of extreme moves of her own.
  • Mama Bear: Protective of her fellow officers, especially after two of them are murdered on orders of Antwon Mitchell.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: She only appeared for one season, but the IAD investigation she initiates ultimately destroys the Strike Team.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: Her seizure program rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, but she was putting money into the community.

    Lanie Kellis 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/lanie-kellis_8071_9356.jpg
Played By: Lucinda Jenney

"When I ask for something I ask politely because that's my nature, but when you make me ask a second time I lose my patience....The people I work for want answers. They expect me to get them.I have the power to recommend changes, get people fired, even shut down this entire building if it's warranted! Do you understand what I'm saying detective!?"

A civilian auditor appointed by the City Council to supervise the Barn's activities following the events of Season 1. She and Armadillo Quintero serve as the main antagonists of Season 2.


  • Ambition Is Evil: Implied. She commits some pretty heinous actions just for the sake of scoring points with her superiors in the City Council.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Of Season 2 alongside Armadillo Quintero. Throughout the season, the Barn is compelled to maneuver around her intrusive supervision while carrying out its law enforcement duties before ultimately weathering the fallout from her overly damning report.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: When first introduced, she acts very polite and respectful towards the police officers of the Barn. However, she quickly turns nasty and overbearing when they are less than prompt in providing her with the information she requests.
  • Drunk with Power: Upon being appointed by the L.A. City Council to supervise the Barn's activities, she becomes a petty tyrant who routinely coerces law enforcement officers into giving her their unwavering attention and obedience even when they are engaged in vital police work and threatens to use her authority to ruin their livelihoods if they don't.
  • Hero Antagonist: Subverted. While she is technically on the right side of the law, she callously impedes the police work of honest officers like Dutch Wagenbach and Danny Sofer before ultimately threatening their very livelihoods merely for the sake of smearing Aceveda's reputation.
  • Jerkass: When she drops the "polite civil servant" routine, she is insufferably arrogant and condescending towards those around her.
  • Karma Houdini: She never does personally atone for the harm she does to the Barn.
  • Lawful Stupid: Shows shades of this.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: She expects all officers to halt all their work until complying with her "requests" (even when citizens' lives are at stake) and inserts herself into EVERY aspect of Farmington's police business merely for the sake of digging up dirt on Aceveda.
  • Principles Zealot: As far as PR is concerned.

    Jon Kavanaugh 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/jon_kavanaugh1_3237.jpg

Played By: Forest Whitaker

"Why is it that the guy with the conscience always gets caught holding the bag? And we don't ever want that guy, do we? We want the guy that put him into motion."

An IAD officer who goes after Vic Mackey and the Strike Team.


  • Entertainingly Wrong: Some of his theories about the Strike Team’s crimes are only a few degrees off. In particular, he concludes that Lem wasn’t hit by the Salvadorans, but by Vic because he knew too much. He’s almost correct, only it was Shane who killed Lem, not Vic.
  • Fallen Hero: Became corrupt when he tried to take down Vic.
  • Good Is Not Nice: While he is genuinely committed to bringing down crooked cops like Vic Mackey, he is also arrogant, vindictive, and obsessed with winning at all costs. It is these qualities that ultimately drive him to jump off the slippery slope just for the sake of "beating" Mackey.
  • Graceful Loser: He loses his private war with Mackey, but is able to hold his head high after turning himself in. When Mackey visits him in jail, he's at peace, intending to serve his time and rebuild his life, confident that karma will take care of Vic eventually.
  • Heel Realization: Realizes just how far he's fallen and decides to confess to his crimes.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: After being outmaneuvered one too many times by Vic Mackey, he resorts to targeting the Strike Team's family members and conspiring with murderous thugs like Antwon Mitchell to bring Vic down.
  • Hero Antagonist: The Hero part gets muddled as the season goes on.
  • Internal Affairs: He's a lieutenant who works for IAD.
  • It's Personal: What starts as a professional case to bust the Strike Team for corruption soon spirals into a private war between him and Vic Mackey, especially after Vic has sex with his ex-wife.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Realising he can't bring in Mackey without breaking the law himself, he calls it quits and confesses to planting evidence and intimidating a witness.
  • Manipulative Bastard: He certainly tries, but often times his machinations fall short and he has to resort to intimidation or threats.
  • Married to the Job: His ex-wife explicitly describes him as such.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Seeing what he's done to Emolia, and realizing how many moral compromises he's made trying to bring in Vic and the Strike Team give him a full on Heel Realization, leading him to confess his crimes to Claudette.
  • Rules Lawyer: Comes with being an IAD officer.
  • Sanity Slippage: He becomes more and more unhinged as he becomes more obsessed with nailing the Strike Team.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: He has the ear of the Chief of Police, so he can get away with things no other IAD investigator could.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Kavanaugh is zealously committed to bringing corrupt cops to justice by any means necessary. Indeed, the one thing that keeps him sympathetic is that he's completely correct about Vic and co.
  • Worthy Opponent: Although he hates Vic and the Strike Team by extension for their continued allegiance, Kavanaugh does exhibit some respect for Ronnie for how capably and thoroughly he has covered his tracks. He even encourages Ronnie to get out of the Team's grasp while he can, pointing out that their recklessness and carelessness will land him in trouble he's too clever to get entangled in.

    Benjamin "Ben" Gilroy 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/ben-gilroy_7390.jpg
"Don't act like you're better than me. What things have you done? What've you done, then covered those things up?"
Played By: John Diehl

The Assistant Chief of Police, Vic's political muscle within the department, and the man who created the Barn and formed the Strike Team.


  • The Alcoholic: Has been flagged for five DUIs, but promptly buries them.
  • Arc Villain: At the end of Season 1, he briefly eclipses Aceveda as the main antagonist.
  • Asshole Victim: He's so crooked and pathetic that not even his wife cares after he dies. The only person who's moved by this is Vic.
  • Beard of Sorrow: After his arrest in Season 1, he develops a Perma-Stubble. After his body arrives in the morgue, it is revealed that it grew into a full-blown beard during his Mexican exile.
  • Bus Crash: After being smuggled out of the country by a coyote in Season 2, his next appearance in Season 4 has him show up as a corpse, having died of cirrhosis.
  • Crime After Crime: In the last two episodes of Season 1, he commits a variety of crimes, ranging from blackmail to obstruction to murder, in order to cover up his involvement in a hit and run and the real estate fraud he's working in Farmington.
  • Dirty Cop: If a hit-and-run, multiple DUI's, killing a witness, and a real estate scam don't convince you he's this, nothing will.
  • Evil Former Friend: Even Vic is outraged by his callous disregard for the safety of Farmington's citizens.
  • Hannibal Lecture: Near the end of season 1, he explains as actions to Vic as nothing he wouldn't have done himself.
  • Killer Cop: Guns down Jesus Rosales in order to keep him quiet.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Uses police resources to bring down value in the Grove, then uses his mistress to buy up the property and sell it for a sizable profit.
  • Smug Snake: In Season 1, he tries to use Vic Mackey and David Aceveda as pawns in his real estate scheme but gets outsmarted by both of them.
  • Villainous Friendship: He was close with Vic for many years and provided him with protection for his crimes. He also seeems honestly apologetitc about having to rescind that protection. Vic for his part decides to help Gilroy escape his hit and run charge even after Gilroy abandoned him. This likely plays a part in Vic deciding to spare his life at the end of season 1 and Shane even says they should just kill Ben when Vic smuggles him out of the country in season 2.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Goes from being the Big Bad of Season 1 to a broken, pathetic fugitive and pawn of the DA's office when he reappears in "Coyotes".

    Frances Housely 
Played By: April Grace

An IAD officer assigned to investigate Terry Crowley's death. She later returns to investigate Julian's testimony of having seen the Strike Team stealing drugs from a crime scene.


  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: After serving as the main recurring IAD throughout Season 1, she disappears for the rest of the series.
  • Failure Hero: Both times she appears, she fails to successfully charge the Strike Team with corruption.
  • Flat Character: She doesn't get much personality outside of being an IAD.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: She comes to the conclusion that Vic had nothing to do with Terry's death and lets him off without charges.

Officers

    Danny Sofer 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/danny_sofer.jpg
"Welcome to the life."
Played By: Catherine Dent

An LAPD officer working at the Barn, she is Julien Lowe's training officer, and an on-off lover of Vic Mackey.


  • Action Girl: It's sort of requirement when fighting street crime as an LAPD officer.
  • Action Mom: After having her child.
  • Butt-Monkey: Crap keeps happening to her.
  • Broken Pedestal: Loses much respect for Vic when he doesn't help her escape the blame for Armadillo's murder.
  • Cool Big Sis: Has shades of this when she mentors Julien for the first two seasons.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Always had the attitude, especially when she gives harsh lectures to Tina.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Danny is gruff and is harsh on rookie cops, but she's repeatedly shown to be a fairly nice person is almost always kind and understanding to her fellow cops. Perhaps too understanding, as it results in her turning a blind eye to the Strike Team's corruption.
  • Secret-Keeper: For a while, she was the only co-worker to know that Julien was gay.
  • Team Mom: Becomes this in Season 5.
  • Undying Loyalty: Always protects other cops even when their behavior is unethical.

    Julien Lowe 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/julien_lowe.jpg
"Went knocking, half the people weren't answering their door, the other half were sleeping."
Played By: Michael Jace

An LAPD officer working at the Barn under Danny Sofer's tutelage. He is a devoted Christian who is also struggling to come to terms with his homosexuality.


  • Belief Makes You Stupid: Often. The best example is when he is up in arms after a church is searched, even though it turned out to be a front for heroin distribution.
  • Berserk Button: Hurt Danny and Julien will kick your ass.
  • By-the-Book Cop: Being a zealous Christian, this was to be expected.
  • Gayngst: And how! His homosexuality placed him at great odds with his devout Christian beliefs, even to the point that he chose not to wear his vest to a bust, hoping the perp would kill him.
  • Honor Before Reason: Even though he knows it would make him a pariah to the department, he rats on Mackey and the Strike Team for stealing drugs from a crime scene.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Julien is initially unaware of a lot of the internal politics at the Barn and is disgusted at a lot of the LAPD's double standards, mainly the blue wall of silence.
  • Nice Guy: Julien is a principled, good-natured man who is almost always polite and amiable. Of course, there are exceptions to this which normally pop up due to his Gayngst.
  • Straight Gay: You'd think you were just talking to another LAPD officer.
  • The Stool Pigeon: In season 1, he volunteers to be this after witnessing the Strike Team stealing 2 keys of cocaine, knowing what kind of heat it will bring. He is eventually convinced otherwise. And by convinced, we mean blackmailed.
  • You Are What You Hate: Inverted. He got very violent with a transsexual prostitute and it's outright stated that it was because of his own homosexuality.

    Tina Hanlon 
Played By: Paula Garces

A new recruit assigned to serve as Julien's partner. Her going from vain pretty girl to competent cop was a major storyline for the later seasons of the show.


  • Hidden Depths: Is not as vapid as she seems and capable of some good ideas out on the field.

    Tommy Hisk 
Played By: Matt Gerald

Julien's new partner following Danny's brief termination.

CIs

    Connie Riesler 

A hooker and crack addict who serves as Vic's unofficial informant.


  • Butt-Monkey: Let's see: She's addicted to drugs, she's gets beaten badly during an undercover sting, her mother dies of a stroke which leaves her the only one to take care of her baby, nearly raped, shoots at a john because of the experience, is forced to go cold turkey unsuccessfully, and finally is killed in a hostage situation in Season 2.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: A sweetheart of a gal, she uses the money to raise her baby.
  • The Informant: One of Vic's earliest know CIs.
  • Morality Pet: To Vic.

    Emolia Melendez 

Another Confidential Informant for Vic in the El Salvadoran community. A single mother with an autistic child, whose testimony puts the Strike Team in IAD's sights.


  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: She comes across as a scared, single mother just trying to make ends meet. But a few times, when she has information she knows is more valuable than usual, she'll play hardball to get more money out of the deal, no matter what the consequences are.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: She jumps back and forth between helping Vic and Kavanaugh during their escalating war in Seasons 5 and 6. Claudette even compares her to a "ping-pong ball".
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Justifies her selling of information to Vic and later Kavanaugh, saying she needs the money to support her austic son, Sebastian.
  • The Informant: Seems to be her main source of revenue, first acting as a mole among the El Salvadorans for Vic. Later, she informs on the Strike Team for Kavanaugh.
  • Nothing Personal: She's genuinely suprised that Vic and the Strike Team don't want to keep her as an informant after her testimony gets Lem arrested, and ultimately killed at the end of Season 5. After all, it's not like she informed on the rest of them, right?
  • Only in It for the Money: She flat out tells this to Claudette, when asked why she's turned on Vic in favor of Kavanaugh.

    Van Bro 
Played by: David Raibon

One of the Strike Team's original CIs, Van Bro is an amateur street artist and retired gang affiliate who nevertheless keeps his hand in the pulse of the street, especially for any juicy intel.


The One-Niners

    Rondell Robinson 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/rondellvwx2014_7789.jpg

A low-level drug dealer selected by Vic to hold the monopoly on corners in Farmington (in exchange for some regular "rent" payments, of course).


  • Bullying a Dragon: He practically blackmails Vic in the Farmington Police Department and later shoots at him while high on cocaine.
  • The Dragon: To Kern Little.
  • Gangbangers: Albeit one that works for Vic.
  • Genre Blind: He seriously doesn't believe that blabbing about Vic's protection wouldn't attract Tio's attention.
  • The Millstone: Rondell is an incompetent moron who proves to be a liability to literally all of his allies thanks to his recklessness and impulsiveness. Even his best friend Kern eventually realizes that Rondell is too much of a liability to be left alive.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Likes to let everyone know that he's under Vic's protection, which Vic, naturally, is not pleased with.
  • Smug Snake: He think he's far more irreplaceable and intelligent than he actually is.
  • Stupid Crooks: He's dumb enough to believe he can go after cops without repercussion from Vic. He's also...
  • Too Dumb to Live: He grows addicted to his own product and recklessly threatens the man whose protection is crucial to the success of his business.
  • Villainous Friendship: With Kern Little. It doesn't last.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Vic has Til murder him after he is caught screwing up one too many times.

    Kern Little 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/kern-man_of_peace_7635.jpg
Played By: Sticky Fingaz

A prominent L.A. gangsta rapper who happens to be, well, an actual gangsta. In between recording sessions, he calls the shots for the One-Niners. Until Antwon Mitchell gets out of prison, at any rate...


  • Adam Westing: Sticky Fingaz is a real-life gangsta rapper. (Though, as far as anyone knows, he's never actually killed a man with his bare hands.)
  • Affably Evil: Despite being a drug trafficking kingpin, he's shown to be a doting (albeit acquiescent) boyfriend who has no affinity for the bloodshed attached to his livelihood.
    Kern: "I'm nothing if not a man of peace."

    Theodore "T. O." Osmond 

Theodore "Tio" Osmomd

Played By: Cedric Pendleton

Rondell Robinson's right-hand man...and eventual replacement.


  • Affably Evil: He deals drugs, but is more than willing to back down from peaceful religious protest and believes in working with Vic to keep a sort of peace in Farmington.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: He finds this out the hard way, courtesy of Armadillo.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Armadillo Quintero has him "necklaced." Look it up.
  • Gangbangers: Sensing a pattern here?
  • Man on Fire: Courtesy of Armadillo.
  • Only Sane Employee: Refuses to use his own product and has a better idea to run street drugs than Rondell.
  • The Starscream: A more benevolent example, as Rondell became a liability for Vic, Kern, and the streets.
  • The Stoic: Tio is almost always calm and collected, and never seems to lose his cool.

    Antwon Mitchell 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/antwon_mitchell_7657.jpg
Played By: Anthony Anderson

A high-ranking member of the One-Niners street gang and an old enemy of Monica Rawling, recently released after serving a thirteen-year sentence on drug charges.


  • Abusive Parents: His father regularly beat him and raped his little sister. As an adult, he's hardly a loving family man himself given that he uses his own children as pawns in his criminal activities.
  • Arch-Enemy: To Captain Rawling.
  • Big Bad: In Season 4. His designs on becoming Farmington's undisputed kingpin serve as the storyline's driving source of conflict.
  • The Chessmaster:While posing as a reformed criminal-turned-community activist, he seizes control of the One-Niners gang and single-handedly transforms it into a well-disciplined and highly sophisticated organization with ties to the Salvadoran Cartel and the Russian Mob.
  • The Corrupter: To Shane, Aceveda, and ultimately IAD Officer Jon Kavanaugh.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Played with. He takes care of his children and siblings, but trying to use his son as leverage against him gets nowhere.
  • Fat Bastard: Very fat. Very much a bastard.
  • Faux Affably Evil: He seems like a jolly, easygoing guy right up until he personally executes a young informant for compromising his criminal enterprises.
  • Freudian Excuse: His father raped his younger sister (who ended up in a psychiatric hospital as a result) and his mother is doing life for killing him.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare
  • Karma Houdini: Double subverted. Gets arrested and will serve life but is still running things and is very comfortable in jail enjoying women and drinks and has cops on his payroll.
  • Manipulative Bastard
  • Might as Well Not Be in Prison at All: In Seasons 5 and 6, he continues to run his gang from his Luxury Prison Suite.
  • Not Me This Time: While he certainly planned to have Lem murdered on arrival in prison, he had nothing to do with his death, and is greatly amused when Vic accuses him of orchestrating it. He truthfully denies any involvement just to savor the moment of Vic being so obviously clueless.
  • The Sociopath
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: He's every bit as ruthless and calculating as Armadillo Quintero, a sociopathic Mexican crime kingpin and one of the main antagonists in Season 2.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Like Luther Mahoney on Homicide: Life on the Street, he presents himself as a community activist. When he finally gets busted, there are protests from honest citizens who have bought into his hype.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Or mercilessly gun one down to be more precise.

    Moses 
Played By: L Michael Burt
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/moses___the_shield.jpg
The street boss of the One-Niners after Antwon Mitchell is sent back to prison.

Mexican Cartel

    Armando "Armadillo" Quintero 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/armadillovwx2014_3_8476.jpg
"I'm [here] looking for new opportunities....."
Played By: Danny Pino

A sociopathic underworld kingpin from Mexico who moves into Farmington with plans to dominate its underworld. He and Lanie Kellis serve as the main antagonists of Season 2.


  • Child Prodigy: He reportedly scored "off the charts" on his IQ at the age of 11.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: (See Big Bad section above)
  • Enfant Terrible: He raped his teacher at the age of 11.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Subverted. Vic tries to use his brother as leverage against him, but Armadillo has him killed in prison both to protect himself and make a statement.
  • Faux Affably Evil: He may seem like an easy-going guy, but beneath the facade lies a truly unpleasant person.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Of the evil variety.
  • Karmic Death: Gets shanked by one of the old-school Gangbangers he screwed over during his takeover of Farmington's Mexican gangs.
  • Kill It with Fire: He establishes his position in the criminal underworld by necklacing two feuding gang lieutenants.
  • Macho Masochism: In addition to being a consummate sadist, he also appears fond of self-mutilation given the multitude of scars on his body as well as the manner in which he views them as testaments to his own masculinity.
    Armadillo:"Every scar is a victory. This is just my biggest."
  • Manipulative Bastard
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: He tattoos a dove on all his rape victims' faces so that they always remember they are "his."
  • Ruthless Foreign Gangsters: He manages to destroy the drug operation Vic is protecting and take over two of the most powerful gangs in Farmington in the space of a couple of episodes.
  • Scars are Forever: Something he takes pride in.
  • The Sociopath: He seems to have no conscience whatsoever based on his willingness to target children in grade school as a potential narcotics "market" and brutally murder his own brother to protect his gains. He is also quite sadistic given that he is a serial rapist and pedophile who maliciously compounds his victims' psychological harm by leaving a tattoo of a dove on their faces.
  • The Stoic: He never loses his cool, even when being threatened.
  • Two-Faced: After Vic burns half his face.
  • Visionary Villain: Upon arriving in Farmington, he begins systematically eradicating all his competitors in the drug market in order to lay the foundation for a massive criminal empire that stretches from L.A. to Mexico City.
  • Would Hurt a Child: In fact, he would rape them.

    Cruz Pezuela 
Played By: F.J. Rio
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/mv5bm2ezmdi3mgmtodcznc00yzq0ltg4y2etyjqzywm0ywe2mjbmxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymti4mjyzotiy_v1.jpg
A big-time property developer and one of Aceveda's key financial backers in his budding political career. Too bad he's also the front for The Cartel's plan to buy up Farmington and turn it into their new L.A. base of operations. He serves as the main antagonist of Season 6.

    Guillermo Beltran 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/7x11_beltran_in_petty_cash.jpg
Played By: Francesco Quinn

Chief of security for The Cartel and Pezuela's boss.


Armenian Mob

    Margos Dezerian 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/dezerianvwx2014_19291_7670.jpg
"Hamegh votk'yery." Translation 
Played By: Kurt Sutter

A highly feared enforcer of the Armenian Mob who begins systematically hunting down and executing all those suspected of being involved in the Money Train Heist at the end of Season 2.


  • Ascended Extra: He goes from being a highly unsettling yet minor character who appears in only one episode of Season 1 to being the main antagonist of Season 3.
  • Barbarian Longhair: The man is a savage with the long hair to boot.
  • Big Bad: In Season 3. His actions threaten to implicate the Strike Team in a double homicide before he ultimately begins targeting the Team himself.
  • Creator Cameo: Played by writer/producer Kurt Sutter.
  • Creepy Souvenir: He takes the feet from all of his victims.
  • The Dreaded: When he is first arrested by the Farmington Police Department, the Armenian mobsters with whom he is brought in are frightened into silence merely by his presence during interrogation.
  • Foot Focus: He has a foot fetish, to the extent that Dutch almost catches him when he has a murder victim's feet chopped off, packed in dry ice, and mailed to his safe house in Athens.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: While he doesn't appear in many scenes, this is strongly implied. When first introduced in "Blowback", he shoots another Armenian mobster for "sampling" a line of cocaine he was preparing for himself during a drug deal. Similarly, while incarcerated, he promptly breaks the neck of one of his cellmates merely for calling him a "faggot."
  • Hidden Villain
  • Noodle Implements: The contents of his apartment (such as a case of microwave popcorn, but no microwave).
  • Professional Killer
  • Psycho for Hire: A unique example. In Season 1, he appears to be merely an Ax-Crazy hitman (albeit a highly feared one) in the Armenian Mob's employ. This is partially subverted in Season 3 when he is revealed to be a high-ranking member of the Armenian Mob who nonetheless personally offers his "services" in order to satisfy his bloodlust.
  • Psychotic Smirk: He gives a very creepy one while being handcuffed for murdering one of his cellmates in "Blowback."
  • The Quiet One
  • Shrouded in Myth
  • The Spook

    Lyor Slavok 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/3x01-lyor-slavok_5690.jpg
Played By: Vincent Angell

A hitman dispatched by Margos Dezerian to locate those responsible for the Money Train Heist.


  • The Apprentice: Implied to be this to Margos considering he adopts his modus operandi of cutting off his victims' feet.
  • Bad Liar: His reply when asked about the contents of a package to he sent Athens encased in dry ice: "Books."
  • Perpetual Frowner: Based on the few scenes in which he appears.
  • Professional Killer
  • Psycho for Hire
  • Small Role, Big Impact: His murder of two Armenian mobsters on Margos's orders threatens to implicate the Strike Team in two murders that occurred at the Money Train Heist.
  • Too Dumb to Live: He keeps the receipt for a package he sent to Margos containing the feet of those he killed.

    Armin Chorekian 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/arminvwx2014_7542.jpg
Played By: Herzl Tobey

A mid-level soldier in the Armenian mob responsible for overseeing the organization's Money Train.


    Diro Kesakhian 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/shield-potente48_8463.jpg
Played By: Franka Potente

The daughter of an Armenian Mafia chieftain, who secretly runs his organization after he is left comatose by a heart attack.


    Ellis Rezian 
Played By: Ludwig Manukian

Serial Killers

    Sean Taylor 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/1x10_sean_taylor_5_1.jpg
Played By: Michael Kelly

On the surface a well-to-do car stereo installer, he is in reality a psychopathic serial killer who spends his off-time soliciting and murdering prostitutes to take out his pent-up frustrations.


  • A Date with Rosie Palms: He's initially arrested for public masturbation. Dutch quickly realizes that he had done so at the sight of one of his killings and quickly intuits that he's the serial killer he's been tracking all season long.
  • Arc Villain: Taylor serves as one of the primary antagonists of Season 1; he never rises to Big Bad territory, but Dutch's obsession with tracking him down is given a lot of focus.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Dutch asks him the following question which causes his smug facade to crumble.
    Dutch: "If you're so special, how come a lowly civil servant like me just caught you?"
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Taylor is an intelligent man who nearly went to law school, but turned it down. In spite of his potential, he's a loner who keeps mostly to himself and works a well-paying but unfulfilling and menial job as a car stereo installer. This proves to be the main motivation in his crimes, as he takes to killing to take out his pent-up anger over his wasted potential.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: In Season 1. Taylor serves as the main villain for most of the first season, serving as the only overarching threat and with Dutch's race to capture him being one of the season's biggest subplots. He's finally captured right before Gilroy replaces him as the season's primary villain.
  • Fatal Flaw: His pride and sadism. Taylor arrogantly underestimates Dutch and can't resist the chance to verbally tear him apart for fun, which Dutch exploits by keeping him talking long enough for the police to find evidence that convicts him beyond the shadow of a doubt.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Comes across as polite and charming, but Dutch can easily see the monster within him.
  • Freudian Excuse: It's heavily implied that the loss of his parents at a young age and subsequently being raised by his aunt is what resulted in Taylor growing up to be a psychopathic serial killer as an adult.
  • Hannibal Lecture: Throughout his interrogation, Taylor tries to break Dutch emotionally by verbally eviscerating him and calling out all his inadequacies for hours on end. Dutch exploits this by keeping him talking long enough for the police to search his aunt's house and discover the bodies he hid under his crawlspace, but it still has an immense emotional impact on him and Dutch breaks down crying in his car over it.
  • Hate Sink: There is absolutely nothing likable about Taylor. Even before he appears in person, he murders a child, and when he does he proves himself to be a disgustingly smug sadist who enjoys hurting people.
  • Jerkass: While he initially appears polite, Dutch's interrogation results in him revealing his true colors: he's arrogant, disgustingly smug, and a sadist.
  • Sadist: Taylor loves to prey on the vulnerable, and clearly takes a lot of pride and enjoyment in his crimes. It ultimately leads to his downfall when he can't resist the chance to try and verbally tear down Dutch.
  • Serial Killer: Killed 23 people, including a 12-year-old prostitute.
  • Soft-Spoken Sadist: He always speaks in a calm, quiet tone, even when he's trying to psychologically break down Dutch or he brags about his murder.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Given a rather spectacular dressing down by Dutch.
  • Smug Snake: As Dutch digs further into his background and mind, his true personality shows up, and it becomes increasingly clear that Taylor is an arrogant, cold bastard who views Dutch as nothing but a pathetic "lowly civil servant". He can't help but show off by trying to break Dutch emotionally, which leads to his downfall when Dutch buys enough time for the police to search his aunt's house and find the corpses he had hidden under her crawlspace.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Among his victims is a child prostitute.

    William Faulks 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/cuddlerrapist.jpg
Played By: Clark Gregg

A serial rapist, and eventual Serial Killer, who targets elderly women and "cuddles" with them afterward.


    Kleavon Gardner 
Played By: Ray Campbell

An accused Serial Killer from Texas who relocates to Farmington, which soon sees a rash of murders matching his alleged M.O.


    Lloyd Denton 
Played By: Kyle Gallner
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/mv5bmmm2nzdmzdgtnzu4my00ymjhlwi0yjitnmq4mgfknjq2nzkyxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymti4mjyzotiy_v1.jpg
A teenage boy who claims to have shot a burglar in his home, but whom Dutch suspects of being a budding Serial Killer.

Independent Criminals

    Tulips 
Played By: Nichole Hiltz

A Con Artist who successfully manipulates Shane.


    Tomas Motyashik 
Played By: Brent Roam

A small-time crook and Julien's secret boyfriend.


  • Jerkass: He constantly pressures Julien to come out, almost always ignoring his protestations even when Julien points out he's already struggling with his homosexuality as it is. He eventually outs him to the entire precinct out of spite.
  • Lazy Bum: To an extent. Tomas doesn't have an actual job and instead makes his living through penny-ante crimes and odd jobs. Even his apartment is actually just someone else's home which he's house-sitting. Julien calls him out for not having an actual plan for his life and tells him to get a legitimate job.

Families

    Corrine Mackey 
Played By: Cathy Cahlin Ryan

Mrs. Vic Mackey.


  • Mama Bear: The first season finale, where she took the kids and ran, proved this in spades.
  • Stepford Smiler: Has to become this.

    Mara Vendrell 
Played By: Michele Hicks

Mrs. Shane Vendrell.


  • Doting Parent: In spite of her general irritability, she's nothing but completely sweet with her son Jackson.
  • Freudian Excuse: Considering how utterly callous, controlling, and unpleasant her mother is shown to be, it's not at all surprising that Mara carries as much emotional baggage as she does. Additionally, the speech she gives to Vic during the third season heavily implies that she's suffered in numerous bad romantic relationships prior to Shane.
  • Jerkass: Though not to the degree that her husband does, Mara also demonstrates a quick temper and a great deal of possessiveness.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Gives one to Vic during the third season.
  • Undying Loyalty: Deconstructed, Mara's devotion to Shane is so strong that she ends up committing crimes in attempts to protect him, ranging from assaulting Tavon and nearly killing him during his fight with her husband, becoming Shane's accomplice when he turns fugitive and refusing to protect herself and her son from the consequences of his actions even after both Claudette and Shane himself offered the chance to turn herself in, and even accidentally killing a women in an attempt to save Shane from a gang of ex-contacts of his.
  • Violently Protective Girlfriend: clocks Tavon on the head with an Iron when he gets into a fight with Shane. During the penultimate episode of the series, she even shoots at a group of Shane's ex-contacts when they threaten him, and inadvertently kills an innocent woman in the process.

Other Professionals

    Rebecca Doyle 

A criminal defense attorney retained by Vic to represent the Strike Team in the face of Kavanaugh's investigation.


    Olivia Murray 
Played By: Laurie Holden

A special agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement who helps Vic bust The Cartel...and becomes his last hope for a lifeline when his web of lies and crimes starts to unravel.


    Gordie Liman 
Played By: Mark Rolston

A private detective Vic hires to find Corrine and his children.


Civilians

    Jorge Machado 
Played By: Efrain Figueroa

An influential investor and developer who offers to back Aceveda's campaign in exchange for potential favors.


  • Corrupt Politician: He has a habit of making friendships with potentially influential people in exchange for favors. While some of them are benign (such as investigating the murder of his maid's husband), others are not (such as covering up a friend's sexual assault charges).

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