Francis Rawdon Moira Crozier
Captain of HMS Terror and second in command of the expedition, Francis Crozier is a peerless sailor, but also a lowborn Irishman who has reached his glass ceiling in Her Majesty's Royal Navy. He's had to accept his second-class status without internalizing it even as he sees his accomplishments again and again go unrecognized and his expert advice unheeded. When disaster strikes the expedition and he finally has a chance to prove himself, will he be able to face down his many demons and rise to the challenge of saving his men?
- Adaptational Villainy: A very minor example, but in the book, Crozier never orders his men to raid the liquor store of Erebus.
- Adapted Out: Not him, but his marriage to Silna and thus his two children dont carry over to the series.
- The Alcoholic: He has a crippling addiction to alcohol and he isn't particularly good at hiding it; most of the men know of his alcoholism and distrust him because of it. Come "First Shot's a Winner, Lads" he's starting fights with Fitzjames over stealing Erebus's whiskey, and after his latest drunken screw-up costs Blanky his leg, he forces himself to go Cold Turkey.
- An Arm and a Leg: Silna is forced to hack off his his left hand with an ulu to free him from being shackled to Hickey's corpse, which is lodged halfway down the Tuunbaq's gullet.
- The Atoner: One reason that he doesn't go back to England and remains in exile is that he feels intensely guilty for killing Tuunbaq, thus wrecking Silna's life and jeopardizing the lives of the local Inuit, and he's determined to pay that debt by any means.
- Brutal Honesty: He doesn't really mince words. He'll out and say what others are afraid to and doesn't give a damn what people think of him for it. It makes him a strong second-in-command, but causes him problems when he takes command, which is about people and not cold logic and hard facts.
- Byronic Hero: Male? Intelligent and capable? Moody and conflicted? Jaded with the society he lives in and disillusioned with rank, privilege, and authority despite having all of those things himself? Often broods over his own personal failings? Is melancholic but secretly quite passionate? Something of an outcast? Crozier fits the bill.
- The Captain: Of the titular Terror.
- Deadpan Snarker: He really can't stomach hearing Fitzjames' stories for the hundredth time.Crozier: Why don't you tell us about birdshit island, James? That's a capital story... [Slugs wine glass]
- Did Not Get the Girl: In a departure from the book, he doesnt marry Silna at the end and has no children. This was likely to make the ending more believable, as Silna had far more interaction and emotional connection with Goodsir, and descendants from a white man in the local Inuit population would probably have been noticed by someone who went looking for the Expedition (as they were, in real life, as a matter of fact).
- The Drunken Sailor: A particularly sullen and moody example, until he kicks the habit altogether.
- The Eeyore: To the point he actually catches flak over it, since his miserable and melancholic nature doesn't do wonders for the morale of the crew.
- Fire-Forged Friends: With Fitzjames. Almost literally, as they don't bond until after the Carnivale disaster.
- Hypocrite: He was brutally honest with Captain Franklin when he felt he had to be. But when Fitzjames and Blanky are the same thing to him, he takes it pretty poorly. Somewhat justified due to his drinking making him more and more irrational and irascible- once he kicks the habit, he becomes far more willing to accept criticism.
- Ignored Expert: He accurately predicts that if Erebus and Terror continue on their present course, they will be marooned in the ice indefinitely, hundreds of miles from the nearest western civilization. Sir John and Fitzjames ignore him. Ironically, he is by far the most experienced sailor and polar explorer of the three commanding officers, but unfortunately his general pessimism and grumpiness cause his warnings to come off as just yet more bitterness.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He is a good man, but that goodness is wrapped up in melancholy, alcoholism, insecurity and a general grumpiness.
- I Choose to Stay: When the rescue party eventually shows up, he has a chance to go back to England — but instead he fakes his death with the help of the Inuit band who've adopted him; he likely knows that there's nothing left for him as a captain who claims a monster killed his crew, and lost his ships and Franklin, the man he specifically came along to keep safe, meaning he has no chance with Sophia either.
- Kick the Dog: When Hickey disobeys orders and then argues against his punishment, Crozier orders him to be lashed thirty times as a boy, meaning he has his trousers pulled down and viciously whipped across his bare ass until it's scarred and bloody. Disobedience needs to be curbed harshly, but it still comes across as needlessly cruel.
- Sending Mister Blanky out into what is likely sub-zero temperatures with strong winds because Blanky wouldn't throw Lady Silence off the ship was pretty shitty. (Crozier was drunk at the time.)
- Knight In Sour Armor: Noble thought he is, Crozier certainly doesn't view himself as a hero.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Has this reaction when it hits him he sent Blanky outside the ship on an abortive errand just because he was pettily angry with him, which lead to Blanky having a run in with the Tuunbaq, barely surviving the encounter, and ultimately having to have his leg amputated. Crozier decides to quit drinking totally after this.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
- His ordering Hickey to be lashed in the most humiliating fashion possible turns much of Terror's crew against him, and also puts him firmly in Hickey's line of fire.
- When he drunkenly lashes out at Blanky and orders him above deck, it puts Blanky in immediate proximity to the Tuunbaq, and it ends with his leg heavily mauled and needing to be amputated. And worse, the replacement peg leg breaking down and the gangrene that sets in contributes to Blanky's eventual demise.
- Not So Stoic: Crozier is usually introverted and melancholic, but he shows increasing passion when the expedition leaders convene to discuss their plan of action. He even thumps the table when Fitzjames accused him of melodrama.
- Sole Survivor: In universe, he survives the Expedition, becoming part of a local Inuit tribe. He ignores an opportunity to go home too, since unlike the book, his tribe is met by a rescue party, but Crozier doesnt identify himself. This has some historical accuracy as well. In reality, there were unverified Inuit reports that Crozier was spotted with one other person in the Baker Lake area. This sighting was around 1858, meaning if it was real, he survived up to a decade with one other person past the Expedition getting trapped. There was some physical evidence for this as well, as later search parties found a box made of wood with dovetail joints (impossible for the Inuit to create) stowed in a cairn in that area. However, the identity of the officer is unknown, and there's evidence that more of the crews might have survived, with a man who might have been Fitzjames and two others actually settling down to have children with the Inuit.
- Stealth Insult: When Hickey tells him that he had 'no equal' on the expedition save for Crozier, (and even then he pays Crozier this compliment rather backhandedly, clearly still thinking himself superior) Crozier tells him faux-sympathetically 'he must be a very lonely man.'
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Crozier and Fitzjames initially cannot stand one another. His relationship with Sir John is even worse.
- That Man Is Dead: He is presented the opportunity to go home, as a search party locates the tribe hes living with at the end. He doesnt make himself known and instructs the elder to tell them he died with the others.
- Tongue On The Flag Pole: At one point he accidentally brushes a telescope against his eyelid, almost tearing it off in the process due to how fast it freezes.
- You Are in Command Now: He finds himself in reluctant command after the monster brutally tears Sir John apart.
Ice Master of Terror and longtime friend of Francis Crozier, Thomas Blanky has the experience to be a captain himself but prefers the thrill and challenge of battling the constant puzzle of the Arctic ice to the social demands and shallow politics of command. He is a resourceful, unflappable force on the expedition, who refuses to dignify any emergency with fear and trembling. When others retreat, Blanky stands his ground with a shrewd smile and twelve fantastic ideas about how to put any threat in its place.
- Action Survivor: Blanky survives an extended encounter with the Tuunbaq by jumping from mast to mast, culminating in him actually managing to injure it.
- An Arm and a Leg: He loses a leg from his battle with the Tuunbaq, but takes it in stride. Unfortunately, all the constant walking wears down his false leg and without proper medical attention, the infection from the amputation spreads. It leads to him deciding to sacrifice himself..
- Badass Grandpa: He isnt exactly young, but pulls off some impressive moves despite also being half frozen and jumping around in a blizzard. He manages to keep up with the rest of the Expedition during their march south, despite everything that happens to him prior.
- Cool Old Guy: Blanky's in his later years, but he's tough, no-nonsense and has a dark sense of humor.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: He successfully navigates the Tuunbaq into a position where the Marines can shoot it with a cannon, all while being chased by the thing and having to jump and swing around the ships masts. He does this while also taking a lantern apart and turning it into a signal flare to give the Marines their target. It doesnt kill the thing, but Blanky comes to closest of anyone in the Expedition to actually killing it.
- Defiant to the End: He literally has to sit down and let the Tuunbaq catch up to him. Up until that point hed consistently outwitted and outmaneuvered it. It only manages to kill him because hes decided hes had enough. He spends his last moments fighting the Tuunbaq with a boat knife, and dressed in a dozen or so forks he tied to himself for shits and giggles. Furthermore, he discovers the Northwest Passage just before he dies, fulfilling the mission of the Expedition despite not living to tell anyone. He dies laughing while trying to stab an Inuit spirit monster to death while adorned in forks. When it comes to being a badass to the end, none hold a candle to Ice Master Thomas Blanky.
- "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner: Blanky shows zero fear of the Tuunbaq when it comes for him."What in the name of God took you so fucking long?"
- Father Neptune: Complete with a Seadog Beard and Seadog Peg Leg.
- Go Out with a Smile: He laughs uproariously when the Tuunbaq comes to kill him, knowing that he found Northwest Passage and that he's only dying by the Tuunbaq because he's permitting it to kill him.
- I Will Only Slow You Down: He ultimately just decides to let the Tuunbaq kill him. With his stump leg becoming rotten, he realizes he will slow the Expedition down. So he just sits down, and finally lets the Tuunbaq find him. Even then, he gives it a fight.
- Seen It All: Blanky has been sailing all his life, has lived through the worst of conditions and knows how to handle just about any situation. Nothing that befalls the Franklin Expedition much surprises him. Although the giant demonic polar bear does throw him slightly, as it would for (hopefully) all of us. He grows accustomed to it pretty fast, however.
Caulker's Mate on Terror, Cornelius Hickey is a young petty officer whose rank on the ships should, by any standard, keep him invisible to the officers. But Hickey is not quite what he seems. With streetwise intelligence and intense social ambition, he attempts to ingratiate and triangulate his way up the social ladder. But when his early efforts fail, a newfound contempt for authority leads him to an even more dangerous agenda, threatening the expedition from within even as the men battle terrifying forces from without.
- Accidental Murder: Whatever his other faults, the death of Dr. McDonald cannot really be placed on his shoulders. He was trying to cut open a tent to save the lives of everyone inside, and barked several times to stand back. McDonald didn't seem to hear, and when Hickey cuts the tent open, he cuts open McDonald in the process.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: In the book, Hickey is repeatedly described as unusually short and ratlike. Adam Nagaitis is neither of these things.
- Adaptational Heroism: A very small example, but he does not mutilate Goodsir as he does in the book, nor does he even threaten to.
- Adaptational Personality Change: At the beginning anyway. Hes given much more developed and understandable reasons to be so pissed at authority, having lived as a second class citizen due to his Irish heritage, and also being gay in the Victorian Era. Prior to being threatened by Irving and misinterpreting his interaction with Crozier, he seems far more compassionate and level headed. He feels sorry for Young and even takes the time to cover him when his coffin breaks open. In the books, Hickey starts out a completely unrepentant sociopath who immediately considers murdering an officer to cover up his act in the hold, and his lover is a mentally deficient man likely incapable of understanding what Hickey does to him. In the show, its made clear Hickey's romantic relationship is consensual and characterized by genuine caring, only souring after an ignominious breakup. More of his unstable behavior is implied to be a result of the Expeditions tainted food and declining conditions than just being his typical personality. He doesnt start losing it for real until hes ingested lead for years like everyone else.
- In the show it's revealed that the man we know as Hickey is actually a murderer who killed and replaced the actual Cornelius Hickey and went on the Expedition to escape London permanently in search of warmer climes. This may or may not put him back on the same level of sympathy as his book counterpart.
- Notably, Nagaitis was told to avoid reading the book at all, whereas most of the other actors were asked to study it intensely, as the producers considered show!Hickey to be functionally a different person in the same role. Nagaitis drew most of his inspiration from the Villain Protagonists of the works of Jean Genet instead.
- And Your Little Dog, Too!: One of his first victims is Neptune, the Expeditions dog, which he butchers for meat. Its a stupid move too, since the Tuunbaq predictably attacks only after its gone.
- Ax-Crazy: After losing what little he had of his sanity by episode 7, he seems to consider himself Godlike. He kills with ease and is clearly mad.
- Big Bad: He ultimately becomes the biggest threat to the expedition's potential survival, and his actions doom all of them save for Crozier.
- Blasphemous Boast: During his ill-fated attempt to take control of Tuunbaq, he defiantly shouts "Bugger Victoria! Bugger Jesus!" at the other mutineers while trying to psych them up for the confrontation.
- Brief Accent Imitation: He mocks Crozier's Irish accent during his "trial".
- Combat Pragmatist: Has no qualms with attacking when someone isnt looking or isnt expecting it.
- The Corrupter: As he says himself, he never places his morality before practicality. He is always the first to recommend a course of action that leads others down very dark paths.
- Dead Person Impersonation: This man is not Cornelius Hickey. He has no name; he murdered the real Cornelius Hickey, dumped the body in Regent Canal and stole his identity so he could get aboard the Terror and do a "year's worth of nothing" before deserting in Hawaii. This casts all his actions, even the most sympathetic ones, in a very harsh new light.
- Depraved Homosexual: Surprisingly averted. Hes gay, and hes a nasty piece of work, but these qualities never intersect.
- Evil Is Petty He kills Irving for a slight Irving likely doesn't even remember, causes the death of an entire family of Inuit just to cover his tracks (and so that Crozier can't be proven right) and swans about wearing Irving's coat which he specifically must have stolen from the camp, and Fitzjames' boots, which he would have had to raid his grave to get.
- The Friend Nobody Likes: Hickey is often the brunt of jokes from other crew members. A Marine openly tells him hell gladly toss him to the Tuunbaq if the opportunity presents itself, and his own lover mocks him for his ignorance of Croziers drinking habits and the extent of his unwarranted self importance at getting to drink with him. After the mutiny, even those that joined in talk about killing him or betraying him.
- Groin Attack: Inflicts one on Irving, mutilating him after stabbing him dozens of times. It serves to further stoke the fears of the men.
- Half the Man He Used to Be: The Tuunbaq rips him in half before choking on him. Its every bit as satisfying as it should be after everything hes done.
- Historical Villain Upgrade: Little is known of the real-life Hickey besides his name and birthplace on the ship's register and his name carved into a knife, but it's safe to say that he probably didn't do any of the things depicted in the book or series. Subverted when we find out this character isn't the real Hickey.
- Karmic Death: After all the chaos and tragedy he causes, and all with that insufferable smirk on his face, it's highly vindicating to see his shock and horror when the Tuunbaq refuses him as a shaman, bites down on his arm, then seizes him and rips him apart.
- Kill and Replace: Whoever he is, he murdered the real Cornelius Hickey and dumped his body into Regent's Canal and used his seaman's certificate to bluff his way onto the Terror.
- Knife Nut: Hes very, very, very skilled with a knife, stabbing his opponents dozens of times in mere seconds and overwhelming them instantly. Irving doesnt even get a chance to realize whats happening before hes stabbed around 20 times.
- Laughing Mad: When he finally snaps for good and murders Irving and one other crewman, the camera spends some time lingering on him laughing hysterically while half naked and clutching himself in a very disturbing fashion
- Long-Haired Pretty Boy: When it comes to looks, Hickeys got the rest of the Expedition beat. It does an excellent job making him appear more charming than he should. Eating fresh meat- dog, cat, rat, human, and otherwise- when everyone else is still suffering from lead poisoning and scurvy keeps him shiny-haired and rosy-cheeked as ever, even if the same deprivations have already taken a heavy toll on his mental state.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Downplayed. A flashback reveals that the "Hickey" we know looks and sounds nothing like the real Cornelius Hickey. He was able to successfully bluff the one person on the Terror who had met the real Hickey simply by claiming that he'd grown a beard since their last meeting.
- Pet the Dog:
- Is the only one who who goes to the effort to reseal Young's coffin. Or so he claims. Hickey is completely out of sight during this act, only reappearing as the camera cuts to show him placing his hand into his coat pocket...
- He tries to rescue the men trapped in the burning carnival, and succeeds...but accidentally kills Dr. McDonald in the process.
- Sanity Slippage: His degrading sanity coupled with a lust for power leads him to ruin the Expeditions defenses by killing Neptune the dog. He then sacrifices any real hope of the Expeditions survival by slaughtering a helpful Inuit family. He does this only because it would make Crozier right, and he wanted to undermine him and take over. Had he just let Crozier and Irving work with the natives, they all couldve walked out of the Arctic with untainted food and survived. Then Hickey goes completely off the deep end once he stages his mutiny. It makes him even more dangerous, and much more unpredictable, culminating in a bizarre attempt to take control of the Tuunbaq. He never considers the possibility the Tuunbaq wasnt interested in another shaman or at least a white one, nor does he ever consider it wouldnt accept one that murdered a large number of the people that worship it.
- Slasher Smile: Hickey is frequently seen with a smile on his face. Even when he's killing people. Hell, especially when he's killing people.
- Smug Snake: Definitely, especially after he starts to truly go off the deep end in the latter half of the series.
- The Sociopath: All of his more human moments in the first half are fake, he is this at his core. His arc is just the viewer slowly realizing that all the little ways he seems off are his real personality shining through. Hes one of the more realistically portrayed examples, as he cant fool everyone and the longer people spend around him the more they sense he isnt what he says.
- Start of Darkness: When he tries to take the admittedly misguided initiative and save the party by capturing Lady Silence and bringing her in for questioning, he's not lauded as he clearly expected, but instead is harshly punished for going against orders and humiliatingly beaten in front of everyone. You can see the mind inside him hardening and growing even more sour. It's eventually averted, when he's revealed to have been a murderous criminal from England all along.
- Stupid Evil: It's uncertain how much of this is Hickey himself and how much is the starvation/lead poisoning etc, but Hickey consistently dooms himself and everyone else with his spitefulness and pettiness. His last act seals the deal; he honestly believes the Tuunbaq would accept a white shaman who's already caused the death of several of its own people.
- Hickey reveals that even before they set sail he murdered the real Cornelius Hickey to assume his identity and take his place on the voyage. Crozier tells him with no irony whatsoever that he could have easily just joined up.
- Too Spicy for Yog-Sothoth: It isnt made entirely clear if Hickey caused the Tuunbaqs death due to the foulness of his soul, like in the book. The Tuunbaq's death seems to be a combination of several factors, but Hickey (or rather his body) certainly contributed.
- Walking Spoiler: Oh, you think the Tuunbaq is the villain?
- Would Hurt a Child: He slaughters an entire family of Arctic natives, including a little girl no more than six.
- Worthy Opponent: Seems to think Crozier is this to him towards the end. Crozier thinks he's a homicidal maniac and treats him like a joke, but Hickey by then is too high off of himself to really notice.
Sir John Franklin
Captain of HMS Erebus and commander of the expedition, Sir John Franklin is an experienced leader with a blemished record in the Royal Navy, a man "everyone likes, but no one respects." He saw men die under his leadership on a previous polar expedition, and, nearing the end of his uneven career, would like to retire in full glory as the man who finally discovered the Northwest Passage. But despite his best efforts, his ambition puts his men in horrible danger and he must try to undo the damage caused by his Victorian hubris.
- Adaptational Heroism: In the book, Sir John was depicted as outwardly affable on the surface, but embodied the worst aspects of his era, being a reactionary, a virulent racist, a xenophobe, a sexist and a snob. In addition to this, he was a self-righteous, hypocritical, petty, pompous coward who would never concede to his own mistakes, seemed envious of every other living creature and feared sex more than the Tuunbaq. Conversely, by downplaying these qualities, the show makes him worlds more sympathetic. He's still a pompous snob, but he's shown to be more of a product of his time than a truly bad person, and his affable nature seems to come from a genuinely sincere place. He cares for the crew of Erebus and Terror. He's also shown to desperately seek Crozier's friendship, and goes out of his way to avoid hurting other people's feelings. Sir John also admits to his own mistakes, his racism is downplayed (although strongly hinted at), he's more socially at ease with his men and his greatest flaw is his self-blinding ambition, which itself stems from a desire for redemption. Even his eulogy for Gore comes across as heartfelt, rather than the self-aggrandizing opportunity to sermonize it was in the books. At times he borders on Adaptational Personality Change.
- The Captain: Of the Erebus.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: The Tuunbaaq tears off his leg, drags him for some distance, then throws him down a hole bored in the ice. He lands headfirst in a fire bucket suspended in the hole, causing further injury. Its not done with him.
- Deadpan Snarker: He has some wit."I think that's all for now, then, Graham, since we don't appear to be sinking. Wake me if that should change."
- Dramatically Missing the Point: Refuses to allow Crozier to send an eight-man team hundreds of miles to go get help, fearing that they will be lost. Crozier tries to spell it out to him just how screwed they are and that if no help comes and the summer does not end up thawing them out, their rations may not last and they'll all either starve or freeze to death, or maybe worse.
- A Father to His Men: The men love him, and generally he is very good to them. He can be inspirational in a way Crozier cannot.
- Hypocrite: He wishes Crozier would rise up to his position as the expedition's second-in-command more, and also wishes Francis would confide in him and not let his personal problems bleed into his professional work. When Crozier finally gives Sir John his candid thoughts about how serious their situation is and what he thinks they should do to solve it, Sir John gives him a withering "Reason You Suck" Speech that crosses some rather unprofessional lines, ignores his opinion, (again) tells him he is unfit for command altogether, and scoffs at Crozier's affirmation of their friendship.
- I Reject Your Reality: He is kind of just hoping for the best, believing that the divine will see them through. When Crozier confronts him, he continues to refuse to face facts.
- Karmic Death: One interpretation of his demise at the paws of the Tuunbaq, which hasn't escaped either Fitzjames or Crozier; it throws him down the hole he ordered the body of 'Lady Silence's' father to be unceremoniously dumped in earlier.
- Kick the Dog: Makes crystal clear to Crozier just how highly he really thinks of him in episode three.
- My God, What Have I Done?: When he realizes that what Crozier warned him about has come to pass and they are all now marooned in the Arctic, you can just see this reaction plastered all over his face.
- Never Live It Down: Besides his disastrous stint at governorship, he's also infamous for the fallout of a similarly unfortunate expedition where he had to subsist on an unorthodox diet of local moss and the leather from his own boots to survive.
- Never My Fault: Averted, he admits to Crozier that not following his advice was a mistake.
- Nice Guy: Sir John is considerate of others, and the closest he's come so far to chastizing his men is when he thinks Fitzjames is being too hard on Crozier. Even his "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Crozier is steeped in regret.
- Noble Bigot: It isn't as blatant as in the book, but it seems clear that he considers the Arctic natives heathen savages. His expression when Lady Silence and her father are brought on board says it all, but he does still allow Dr. Goodsir to try to save the man his men accidentally shot. He later orders for the Shaman's body to be unceremoniously dumped down an ice hole with no thought whatsoever for the man's burial customs, even though he affords a Christian funeral for his own men. He also makes some more subtle allusions to Crozier's Irish origins.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Gives a needlessly brutal one to Crozier in The Ladder, though hes right about several of Croziers failings."You are the worst kind of second, Francis. You abuse your freedoms. You complain in the safety of speculation, you claim foresight in disasters that never happen, and you are weak in your vices because your rank affords you privacy and deference. You've made yourself miserable and distant, and hard to love, and you blame the world for it. I'm not the sailor you are, Francis, never will be. But you will never be fit for command. And, as your Captain, I take some responsibility for that. For the vanity of your outlook. I should have curbed these tendencies, rather than sympathized with them, because you seem to have confused my sympathy with tolerance, but there is a limit to how much I can tolerate, and that is where we are presently standing! There are some things we were never meant to be to one another. I see that now. Friends on my side. Relations on yours. So let us turn our energies back to being what the Admiralty, and life, have seen fit to make us. We should give that our best. There can be no argument between us there."
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Hes attacked and mauled by a giant polar bear demon, which rips his leg off. Then hes thrown down a hole barely large enough to fit him. He lands on a burning pot of red hot coals. THEN the pot falls into freezing cold arctic water. Adding insult to injury, his body can never be recovered since it's now under pack ice.
Second in command of Erebus and third in command of the expedition, James Fitzjames is a rising star in the British Royal Navy. He has secured John Franklin's confidence in spite of his never having sailed in the polar regions before, and develops an enmity toward Crozier. Fitzjames perceives Crozier as a joyless alcoholic bore, but he secretly knows that Crozier sees through his self-aggrandizing bluster. And Crozier is not wrong: When the expedition finds itself in desperate straits, the confident mask Fitzjames presents to the world begins to slip, revealing a man with crippling secrets.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: A mild example that's almost more of a physical Translation Convention. The real James Fitzjames was not at all bad-looking- in fact, he was sometimes referred to as "the handsomest man in the Royal Navy"- but his surviving portraits show him to have had curly reddish hair in a very period-typical style and to have been a little bit plump. These were strikingly attractive features by Victorian standards (including the plump face and mild belly- it showed him to be a bon vivant who enjoyed eating well and had the means to, which were considered signs of a good character as well as a moderately wealthy one), but seem plainer to modern eyes. On the other hand, show!Fitzjames being Tall, Dark, and Handsome fits well within modern perceptions of good looks as well as the real Fitzjames' appearance did his own time.
- Adaptational Personality Change: Hes largely a Flat Character in the book, and spends most of it handling matters not presented to the reader. Hes characterized as your typical officer, more polite and lacking the show versions more annoying traits. He also has no enmity whatsoever with Crozier, and is never not friendly and cooperative with him. Hes even able to get Crozier to laugh at one point. In here, he's more of an outward Glory Hound and initially a bit of a yes-man to Sir John, prone to overtly complaining about Crozier's behavior and occasional bouts of frivolity.
- Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Brutally averted. Despite being presented as the handsomest of the commanding officers, and certainly the most aware of and proud of it, Fitzjames is badly disfigured by scurvy and sepsis and ultimately dies covered in sores, with bleeding gums and eyes and with his previously glossy, wavy hair going thin and brittle.
- Body Horror: Poor Fitzjames has a particularly agonizing death, as he succumbs to illness which causes his body to rot and his old wounds to re-open. It's horrifying to witness, and even if he had lived he would have probably been left paralyzed and with only one eye and one arm.
- Custom Uniform: A mild example- while his dress uniforms are pretty much the same as the others, he has an interesting collection of comparatively fashionable accessories and casual outfits assembled from pieces that technically fall under uniform requirements, such as a white waistcoat-sweater combination, a fairly close-fitting blue wool overcoat, a full-length cape and a fur-trimmed slop coat with an attached capelet.
- The Dandy: See Custom Uniform above, and also his (initially) clearly prized and elaborately cared-for hair.
- Desperately Craves Affection: Fitzjames needs badly to be liked by pretty much everybody he meets (due to his anxiety about his background) and spends the first few episodes alternating between trying a little too hard to be friendly and familiar with Crozier and ready to wring the other captain's neck for his gloominess and alcoholism.
- Fake Ultimate Hero: He has done everything he claims to have done, but essentially cheated his way into the expedition by helping cover up a scandal involving an admiral's son. In fact, his foster family helped him cheat on being promoted to midshipman in the first place, meaning that his entire naval career and everything he has done as part of it is based on a careful web of lies, including concealing his illegitimacy and real parentage as well. This weighs increasingly heavily on him as things get worse and worse on the expedition, but by the time he confesses to Crozier that he's a fake, Crozier assures him that he's still acquitted himself bravely, which gives him the confidence to continue acting with Nerves of Steel even as he's Secretly Dying.
- Fan Nickname: Jean Valjean. Mostly as a joke.
- Fire-Forged Friends: He grows into one of Croziers closest friends and staunchest allies rather quickly, as both men work through their issues to try and lead the Expedition home. Crozier is absolutely distraught at his death and does everything he can to comfort him. Its clear by the end theyre the best of friends. Crozier even tells Blanky he cant stand to lose another friend in the same day as Fitzjames.
- First-Name Basis: Tries a little too hard to force this between himself and Crozier early on, addressing Crozier as Francis virtually every other sentence, much to Crozier's intense irritation. It sticks once they actually are friends, but by then Crozier is on the same page (albeit still less frequently).
- Glory Hound: Fitzjames is on the expedition for the sake of bolstering his own reputation, and doesn't understand why anyone else wouldn't do the same (and in fact seems to think it should go unquestioned in other officers as long as they do their jobs). Crozier is often irritated by his boastful nature. Hes a very tragic example, as he admits to Crozier he only ever pursued glory and recognition because the more of it he attained, the less likely it was that people would realize he was illegitimate.
- Heroic Bastard: Illegitimate, with a probably-Portuguese mother (in an era where that would have qualified as being mixed-race), and living most of his life in fear of being found out. He constantly performs dangerous and heroic deeds in an attempt to avoid giving anyone any ideas about his background.
- I Cannot Self-Terminate: When he's dying from scurvy, he asks Crozier to poison him so that his suffering can end; Crozier has to physically help him swallow the poison so that his body won't reject it.
- Jerkass Has a Point: When he points out Crozier's blatant melancholy isn't doing the crew's already flagging morale any great favors.
- He chews Crozier out for using booze to run away from the fact that he is now in command. Fitzjames is trying to keep order and discipline over the men, (who are growing increasingly afraid and restless) but Crozier just locks himself away all day and all but refuses to lead them, all while demanding respect and obedience he hasn't actually earned.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He's pompous and a bit dismissive, but he has the expedition's (and the men's) best interests at heart.
- Early on, when Gore is giving Franklin a report that Franklin breezily dismisses, Fitzjames, who is reading quietly off to one side, catches Gore's eye and winks in approval- hinting that his reasons for clinging so stubbornly to Franklin's judgment are mostly because he likes the old commander so much and aches for his approval, and that he actually does recognize when the other officers are trying their best, too.
- Naïve Newcomer: Not that he'd admit it, but this turns out to be the main reason he kowtows so much to Franklin. He's in way over his head and implicitly trusts Franklin, who is something of a Parental Substitute to him, rather than just sucking up to him.
- Nerves of Steel: He demonstrates this during the Tuunbaq's rampage of the camp in Episode 8, calmly gathering rockets from the armory while the beast is slaughtering the men outside, and then firing a rocket into the Tuunbaq's face while it's charging right at him, showing complete sang-froid the entire time.
- Noble Bigot: A mild case that gets better. After Franklin's death, he goes through a period of being all too quick to blame Lady Silence for it and generally accusing the Inuit as a whole of being "covetous, treacherous, and cruel", to the point of growing stammering, teary-eyed and distraught with anger any time he has to speak much of Lady Silence at all. He does, however, balk at the eventual removal of her protection, and by the time the crews have to abandon ship he seems to have gotten over this attitude altogether with the realization that she had nothing to do with it and he joins in Crozier's condemnation of Hickey for murdering an Inuit family. note
- Not So Above It All: Has as much of a blast at the Carnivale (before everything goes pear-shaped) as the men he's meant to be commanding, including dressing up as the Goddess Britannia◊ (the personification of Britain, along the lines of the American Uncle Sam) and being carried around on the shoulders of a small group of men, pumping his shield in the air and chanting "oi" with them. The look of disapproval on Crozier's face throws cold water on his experience almost immediately.
- Parental Abandonment: Never knew his probably Portuguese mother, and fobbed off on an adoptive family as quickly as possible by his father, leaving him with quite the complex.
- Pass Fail: Conceals being half-Portuguese, due to that being mixed race by Victorian standards, even if generally not by modern ones.
- Repetitive Name: Obviously. As it turns out, hes rather ashamed of it, as it was made up mostly to have a name to put on his baptismal certificate, and his father chose a bad pun hinting at his illegitimacy- fitz-, meaning son of, was in earlier eras (long before the time in which Fitzjames was born) a way for a man to claim paternity of his illegitimate children, such as Henry VIIIs son Henry Fitzroy (Henry Son-of-the-King). Fitzjamess father had no interest in raising or claiming him and gave him a name linked with illegitimacy anyway as a joke.
- Tall, Dark, and Handsome: He's a good-looking man with dark, wavy hair and a jawline that can cut stone.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Crozier and he don't get on. Sir John tries to mend the rift, but that doesnt really happen until hes gone.
- The Storyteller: Hes a very bad one. All the stories he tells, hes told many, many times to the same people hes stuck with for months to years at a time. When he tries to tell one (again) during an officers dinner, everyone present is stone faced and silent. Except for Crozier, who looks ready to jump overboard to avoid hearing more of it, and Hodgson, who- in a Genius Bonus- was there for the incident in question and shares Fitzjames's delight in the retelling.
- Verbal Tic: Addresses Crozier on a First-Name Basis far more often than is necessary and long before they have come to be friends. It starts off as a slightly forced attempt at verbal intimacy, becomes a dressing-down, and then ends up a genuine sign of close friendship.
- What the Hell, Hero?: He confronts Crozier when it's clear the captain's drinking has simply grown out of control.
- What You Are in the Dark: Despite considering himself a Fake Ultimate Hero and having only joined the expedition to begin with as part of his need to construct a great, gilded life for himself, as the going grows more and more hopeless, Fitzjames turns out to be far more genuinely brave than he thinks he is. On his deathbed, alone with Crozier he asks Crozier to butcher his body to feed the others so they have a little more of a chance at survival. Crozier refuses, but it shows that for all his posturing and swashbuckling bluster, Fitzjames is willing to do the right thing for the men, even at the cost of not having even so much as remains to bury.
- Wholesome Crossdresser: He is shown considering wearing a lovely dress to the Carnivale and admiring the effect it has held against his body in the mirror. While he doesn't wear that particular costume, he still ends up going as the Goddess Britannia. It counts as a Historical In-Joke, because the real Fitzjames is attested to have performed in amateur theatrical performances in drag.
Dr. Henry "Harry" Goodsir
The most junior of the expedition's four doctors, Henry Goodsir is a gentle, moral soul who signs on with the Royal Navys Discovery Service as a surgeon and naturalist to explore the natural world of the Arctic. But his open-minded intellect and empathetic nature make him the first to realize something supernatural is also in play, and he sets about trying to understand the forces working to destroy the men even while he redoubles his efforts to try to connect with this vast and uncanny landscape and its indigenous people.
- Action Survivor: Has survived two encounters with the monster as of the third episode.
- Adaptation Expansion: Since Lieutenant Irving is more a secondary character in the series, Goodsir gets his role of interacting with 'Lady Silence' and possibly developing a crush on her.
- Break the Cutie: Being the most kindhearted and idealistic member of the crew, he has the farthest to fall over the course of the story. And boy, does he ever. His breakdown after Morfin's death is only the beginning.
- Character Development: He starts out as a meek figure who struggles to stand up for himself, but he grows more confident and outspoken as the story unfolds. Compare his early interactions with Dr. Stanley and Sir Franklin to his battle of wills with Hickey in episode 9 and his subsequent Taking You with Me plan.
- Driven to Suicide: He kills himself to avoid being of further use to Hickeys crew, and to poison them with his tainted body.
- Good Is Not Soft: As friendly, kind-hearted, sincere and sweet-natured as he is, Goodsir is no fool and no coward. He stands up to Hickey, only relenting when another man's life is threatened.
- Nice Guy: Goodsir is an inherently decent man, and it shows in his actions. He offers to do his part during the exploratory mission, and desperately tries to save Lady Silence's father after he's been shot.
- Notably, his Fan Nickname is Bestsir.
- No-Sell: Early on, it's made clear that he's immune to Hickey's charm, which even Crozier was initially fooled by.
- Not That Kind of Doctor: Played with. When Lt. Gore addresses him as "Doctor," Goodsir insists that hes "just a surgeon, and more of a naturalist." Gore replies, "Thats good enough for me, Doctor."
- Regret Eating Me: He opts to commit suicide and poison himself in order to kill Hickeys crew. Unlike the books, he doesnt even give them a warning not to eat him, instead simply letting them dine away. It causes those that eat him substantial pain and would have killed them had the Tuunbaq not done it first.
- The Load: Subdued compared to his novel counterpart, but still present. Goodsir is still a Naïve Newcomer to both the world of medicine and the Arctic, and has difficulty keeping up with the other men when hauling during Gores excursion. Its far more noticeable in the book, where he struggles just to keep pace with the hauling crew, even when not hauling himself and is clearly not built for the rough life of a sailor.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: He tells Hickey in no uncertain terms that he will not be cutting up Gibson's body for food. Although he does relent to save Hodgson's life, Hickey's response is still enough of a weak, desperate threat that the power of Goodsir's words isn't removed.
A member of the region's Netsilik people and the daughter of a formidable shaman, "Lady Silence" as she is nicknamed by the men of the expedition, begins our story as a dutiful young woman at risk of being overwhelmed by the destabilizing presence of two ships full of Europeans upsetting the delicate balance of her homeland. But she must quickly learn to manage her fears and find a way to attempt to protect her own people as well as some of the men on the expedition for whom she has come to feel an unexpected friendship. She and she alone may hold the key to reversing the supernatural disaster taking place alongside the men's desperate race for survival.
- Age Lift: Shes not much older than a child herself in the novel, while Nielsen was thirty-eight/nine during shooting. This is understandable, considering the events that unfold between her and other characters in the book. Making her older will definitely avoid problems the show wouldve had if theyd stuck to her original age.
- Adaptational Angst Upgrade: While in the book she was always calm, collected and had no fear of either the Franklin expedition or the monster, in the series she's on edge and fearful, not at all confident that she can control the Tuunbaq.
- Adaptational Modesty: Along with the changes to her personality, the series excises book-Silence's penchant for going around topless whenever possible.
- Adapted Out: Not her, but the series eliminates her eventual marriage to Crozier, along with their children.
- The Exile: For being a shaman who lost the Tuunbaq, she's sentenced to exile from her tribe. Despite the two-year Time Skip, Crozier never learns whether she's survived.
- Late to the Tragedy: After abandoning the crew in light of their murder of innocent Netsiliks, she turns around to try to help them in the third act, but only manages to save Crozier, the Sole Survivor.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Only in the last minutes of the finale does Crozier learn her real name: Silna.
- Tongue Trauma: After months of indecision, she finally takes on the role of shaman to the Tuunbaq, taking her father's place — and offering up her tongue after cutting it out.
- What the Hell, Hero?: She gives a pretty brutal one to Crozier (and by extension the expedition itself) in her native language, as seen in her character quote.
- You Are in Command Now: With her father's death, control over the Tuunbaq has fallen to her. Only problem is that she's as frightened of it as the white men are, and reluctant to interact with it.
A lieutenant on Terror, Lieutenant Irving is a religious man who happens upon Hickeys relations with a fellow crew member, earning him the ire of the Caulkers Mate.
- Condescending Compassion: The closest he gets to sympathy for Hickey is this; he essentially tries to turn Hickey away from homosexuality and toward either God or hobbies. It comes across as very patronizing, although foolishly well-intentioned.
- Possibly subverted, depending on how you feel about it, by the fact that he genuinely believes Hickey was sexually assaulting an unwilling Gibson. In light of that, his suggestions come off rather light.
- Pet the Dog: Hes compassionate toward Lady Silence, providing her a meal from the crews rations when Franklin orders her removed from the expedition, despite not being ordered to. He doesnt seem to blame her at all for Gores fate either.
- Noble Bigot: Unsurprisingly for the time period, he's very homophobic and the very idea of gay sex visibly disturbs and repulses him. Still, he keeps it to himself when he catches Hickey and another man in a homosexual encounter and makes no attempt to punish or humiliate them, instead opting to offer them both a chance at redemption. Certainly not PC, but not malicious, either.
- Real Men Love Jesus: He's very pleased to be a devout Christian.
Enlisted yeoman whose job is to act as the Captains personal assistant.
- Beauty Equals Goodness: His unfailingly kind, loyal, and sweet-natured personality goes hand in hand with his handsome looks.
- Blood from the Mouth: More like blood from the gums, but the first sign nonetheless that he is sick with lead poisoning.
- Break the Cutie: In his dying state, Jopson fully believes that Captain Crozier is a member of the party that has just abandoned him, and this leads him to utter despair.
- Kill the Cutie: And what came of this.
- The Caretaker: He looks after Crozier while he goes through alcohol withdrawl. He was previously this for his mother.
- Despair Event Horizon: Only the discovery that he's being left to die can trigger this.
- Dying Alone: In a truly Tear Jerker scene, Jopson dies alone in the middle of nowhere, having watched the remaining crew walk away and leave him behind forever.
- Field Promotion: Is promoted from an enlisted Yeoman to a Lieutenant in the field in a touching scene. Even Crozier says hes never seen it before, but fully approves.
- Hallucinations: The last episode has Jopson hallucinating a feast, with Crozier seated at the head of the table, completely oblivious to him. Jopson then proceeds to crawl on the table, knocking everything off, in an attempt to get Crozier to notice him, but then the scene cuts away and we are shown he's only been crawling on sharp rocks, a little ways from his tent, the recipient of Sanity Slippage, and the belief that Crozier left him for the dead.
- Hidden Depths: At first, he appears to be little more than Crozier's support, but develops his own character and has a heartbreaking backstory of caring for his ailing, drug-addicted mother.
- Ho Yay: He is very devoted to his beloved Captain.
- Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Remains idealistic, hopeful, moral, and devoteduntil he is abandoned in the last episode. And even then, the worst he does is hallucinate in disbelief.
- Innocent Blue Eyes: A really stunning pair, clear as glass.
- Irony: Despite being the first to go against Lieutenant Little's suggestion of leaving those too ill to walk behind, Jopson nonetheless finds himself in this same position he never supported in the first place.
- The Jeeves: As Crozier's personal steward who takes care of him, well-mannered Jopson is thisthough a much kinder and gentler variation of the usual standard.
- Married to the Job: Even when bedridden and seriously ill with lead poisoning, when Crozier comes to visit him, the first thing Jopson does is try to make himself look presentable while asking if there is anything he can do for his Captain.
- Nice Guy: A calm, genial, patient, gentle man.
- Please Don't Leave Me: A heartbreaking, soul-crushing scene in the final episode involves a dying Jopson crawling on the ground, pleading to avail not to be left behind by the crewof which he thinks Captain Crozier is a part of, due to his sickness clouding his mind, and making him susceptible to Sanity Slippage.
- Pretty Boy: Wide eyed with a very charming face.
- Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Black haired and pale.
- Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Oh yes.
- Tear Jerker: His death is rightly considered by many, to be the most heartbreaking in the entire series. And in the book he dies on his birthday, just 31; starving, ill, cold, aloneand thinking that Crozier has left him for the dead.
- Time-Passage Beard: Grows one due to both the passing time, but moreso, the terrible situation he and the rest of the crew find themselves in.
- Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Of course one of the nicest, kindest men has one of the worst, if not the worst, deaths in the entire series.
- True Companions: With Captain Crozier, which just makes the misunderstanding in the final episode all the more painful.
- Undying Loyalty: To Crozier, who may be something of a father figure to him according to some viewers, though to others, the mileage swerves rather hard in one direction.
- What Beautiful Eyes!: As viewers were rather quick to notice.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Becomes the recipient of this when he, along with a few other dying men, are abandoned by the remaining crew.
William "Billy" Gibson
- Ascended Extra: Gibson has no lines and is barely mentioned in the novel being just another steward occasionally seen doing his job. Here, he is a major recurring character with a distinct arc.
- Co-Dragons: To Hickey, with Tozer.
- Decomposite Character: He carries over Manson's sexual relationship with Hickey, but it becomes consensual (albeit strained) to make Hickey less of a Depraved Homosexual.
- Dirty Coward: Fearing punishment, he lies to Irving about the consensual nature of his relationship with Hickey, painting himself as an innocent led astray and Hickey as a devious seducer.
Dr. Alexander McDonald
- Good Counterpart: To Dr. Stanley.
- Guilt-Ridden Accomplice: A weak man at his core, Hodgson ends up joining with Hickey out of fear and desperation. It's fairly clear that Hickey views him only as a future food source.
- My God, What Have I Done?: His enabling of Hickey leads to a mutiny in which he becomes more victim than accomplice. He confesses his own terror to Goodsir in the dark of night, clearly distraught at where his weakness has lead everyone.
- The Brute: To Cornelius Hickey. He's big, strong, and obeys him without question simply because it never seemingly occurs to him that he has a choice.
- Decomposite Character: His (likely non-consensual) sexual relationship with Hickey is excised.
- Dumb Muscle: He's the strongest man on either ship, but has the mind of a child.
- Manchild: He can't even be called a Psychopathic Manchild, since he takes no pleasure in obeying Hickey's orders and barely has a mind of his own. Crozier even calls him a good boy.
- Co-Dragons: He's ostensibly the architect of the mutiny in the same capacity as Hickey, and the two men are almost hanged together as equal culprits. In reality, he's fairly subserviant to the more domineering Hickey, putting him on the same level as Gibson until Gibson's death.
- Eaten Alive: The last we see of him, he's approaching the Tuunbaq with gun in hand. As Crozier tries to free himself from his chains, he's yanked off his feet, and we see that the other end of the chain (that Tozer was shackled to) is in the Tuunbaq's mouth. A very nasty end for Tozer indeed.
- HeelFace Turn: After losing faith in Hickey, who then knocks him out and chains him up, Tozer re-aligns with Captain Crozier.
- Jerkass: Tozer's just...kind of a prick.
- Smug Snake: He's very confident and sure of himself; Tozer is fairly formidable, but for all his snide remarks, he isn't quite as clever or in-control as he thinks he is. He takes far too much pleasure in taunting Little when the former has a gun trained on him.
- Villainous Breakdown: After witnessing the Tuunbaq devour Collins' soul, he loses his composure.
- Bring My Brown Pants: His hallucination is so terrifying that he pisses himself before dying.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Although dying from illness, his actual death seems to come about as the result of utter fear as hallucinations take him.
- Foreshadowing: The Inuit man he sees in his dying hallucination, warning him to run away, is Lady Silences father.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: He reluctantly suggests leaving the sick behind during the march south to ease the burden on the other surviving crew. Crozier shoots him down. Once Little is in command, the surviving crew elect to do exactly that and you can see the dawning horror on Little's face when he points out he is sick.
- Undying Loyalty: After Crozier gets abducted by Hickey's group, Little tries to organize a rescue despite Crozier's order to continue marching south. It doesn't work as the men are too exhausted and fed up with the situation to agree.
- You Are in Command Now: Crozier's abduction leaves him the ranking officer, not that rank matters much at that point. His first command order is overridden by a simple majority vote, a vote that was held before the order was even given.
- Nice Guy: He was kind to just about everyone, and his death is devastates the crew.
The expeditions diver.
- Ascended Extra: In the novel, Collins appears just long enough to get brutally mauled by the Tuunbaq during an attack on Erebus. Goodsir patches him up, but he dies shortly thereafter anyway. In the series, he gets a lot more to do, such as clearing the ice from Erebus's propeller, and then he gets brutally mauled and dies, though in very different circumstances.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: During its assault on Terror Camp, the Tuunbaq runs poor Collins down and savagely mauls him, tearing out and eating his guts before devouring his soul.
- No One Gets Left Behind: When a man falls overboard in the first episode, Collins tries to dive in to rescue him, and has to be physically restrained. Unfortunately, the water is so cold that any man not wearing a drysuit and heavy insulation will freeze to death inside a minute, and Collins would only get himself killed in the attempt.
- Sanity Slippage: The longer the crew are trapped, the more Collins' sanity suffers. Dr. Stanley is no help whatsoever.
- Trauma Conga Line: Somehow manages to suffer this even as a member of a crew who are all going through hell together. Collins is greeted with very personal trauma from his first scene onward and is one of the only characters for whom there is never even so much as a Hope Spot.
Dr. Stephan S. Stanley
One of the four doctors on the Erebus.
- Actually Pretty Funny: He's taken aback when Goodsir finally throws one of Stanley's nasty barbs back in his face, but also seems faintly amused and even a little impressed.
- Ascended Extra: In the book, he had almost no scenes and no dialogue, only appearing by proxy in Goodsir's journal. Even his death is given after the fact, one of the numerous burn victims during the accidental fire at the carnivale disaster.
- Deadpan Snarker: With heavy emphasis on deadpan. He has a rather sardonic sense of humor.
- Dr. Jerk: In contrast to the kind and compassionate Goodsir, Stanley is a very bitter and world-weary man with an atrocious bedside manner. He also refuses to treat the Shaman even when the man's lying in front of him with a sucking chest wound, out of racism.
- Jerkass Has a Point: While Goodsir is sympathetic to Youngs wish not to be autopsied, Stanley rightly points out that they need to know if scurvy was the cause of death. He also isnt wrong about Youngs decision to hold off on reporting his symptoms, who may have lived had he just spoken up about being so ill earlier.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Hes such a monumental prick of a doctor he essentially gives one to a dying teenager. He openly insults and belittles Young for not reporting his symptoms earlier (a decision that leads directly to his death not much later), and does pretty much everything but spit on the kid, just for being too young to know any better and not wanting to be a burden to his Captain and crew. A kid who is terminally ill and hours from dying.
- Sanity Slippage: He goes insane and tries to kill everyone at the carnival by burning them alive. He succeeds in destroying a great deal of supplies, goodwill...and himself, when he self-immolates in front of everyone. It's all the more shocking for how stoic he usually is. The only hint given to his deteriorating mental state is when Collins glimpses a picture of his daughter that Stanley had been looking at, and even that could easily be explained away as missing his loved ones.
- Self-Immolation: How he is Driven to Suicide.
Subordinate Officers' Steward
- Big Ol' Eyebrows: He has very prominent, dark eyebrows.
- Bookworm: Knows his books, and encourages Peglar to read them as well.
- Bridal Carry: Does this to Peglar, after the latter becomes too ill to move on his own.
- Despair Event Horizon: After Peglar's death, Bridgens wanders off into the wilderness to die, unable to go on.
- Driven to Suicide: Sees no point in living after Peglar dies.
- MayDecember Romance: With Henry Peglar, who is significantly younger than he is.
- The Medic: He winds up as an assistant to Goodsir after all the other medical professionals wind up dead.
- Nice Guy: He has a heart as big as his eyebrows.
- Straight Gay: It borders on ambiguous at times, but it gradually becomes very clear that (like in the source material) Bridgens is gay and in love with Henry Peglar. Neither of them can openly discuss their feelings and it's uncertain if they're actually lovers, but there's a deeply-felt longing between the two of them.
- Tear Jerker: His implied death scene.
- Tragic Keepsake: Bridgens has Henry Peglar's notebook of personal poetry in his arms when he commits suicide after Peglar's death from scurvy.
- Bookworm: Enjoys a good novel, especially when supplied by Bridgens.
- Kill the Cutie: Thanks a lot, lead poisoning.
- MayDecember Romance: With Bridgens, who is much older.
- Nice Guy: A sweet, loving man.
- Purple Prose: The poorly spelled poetry he writes.
- Straight Gay: Just like his lover, Bridgens.
- Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Rather good looking!
Sir John's niece.
- Adaptational Heroism: In the book she uses Crozier for sex and treats him fairly coldly, and he foresees that she'll use her aunt's campaign for the Franklin expedition as a kind of widowhood-by-proxy, keeping all men at bay. In the show she feels bad about having to refuse him, and later admits to Lady Jane that she feels she's made a terrible mistake, probably referring to turning down his proposals.
- Age Lift: A minor example. The real Sophia Cracroft was in her late twenties to early thirties during the timeframe that the book and series cover, whereas Sian Brooke was in her late thirties during filming.
- My God, What Have I Done?: At the very end of the series, she copies Lady Franklin and experiments with how long she can tolerate the cold with no jacket or shoes. The look on her face when she realizes just how brutal the Arctic is, and how shes responsible for Crozier deciding to leave, clearly communicates this.
Lady Jane Franklin
Sir John's wife.
- Crusading Widower: She doesnt know it yet, but shes already one. Her attempts to secure rescue for John are already pointless as he himself is dead, but the real life Lady Franklin spent the rest of her days trying to learn what happened to her husband, and spent years trying to rescue a man whod died long before she ever started her efforts.
- Foregone Conclusion: Her attempts at a successful rescue wont work out. Furthermore, when it comes to her husband specifically, they were doomed before they even started, because he was dead long before she first approached the Admiralty.
- Hero of Another Story: She spends decades organizing rescue parties and missions to the North to try and find out what happened to her husband.
- Lady Macbeth: To Sir John; she encourages his ambition.
- Women Are Wiser: She is much more level headed and rational than her husband. She herself is aware of this, describing John as fallible as he is affable, and is well aware he wasnt the Admiraltys first choice. She still loves him, but between the two shes certainly the more intelligent. Lady Franklin became famous in British culture for her continued efforts to bring the Franklin Expedition home, arguably becoming more renowned than the husband she was searching for.
A nameless Inuit man who is traveling with Lady Silence. He is shot accidentally when he approaches the campsite of Gores excursion. He dies almost immediately after, abandoning Silence to the men of the Expedition.
- Body Horror: His tongue is missing. It was cut with something sharp. Considering what we see Silence sharpening at the end of Episode 3, it doesnt look like it was a pleasant or easy operation.
- Early-Bird Cameo: A hallucination of him appears before Young much earlier than his physical introduction. Its likely, given his name, that it was actually him using some kind of power, trying to deliver a warning ahead of time.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Hes never given a name and is known only by his title.
- Fate Worse than Death: Considering how real the Tuunbaq is, its entirely possible that the religious belief that Inuit have about continuing to feel physical sensation after death is true. If it is, that means the Expedition just doomed him to an extremely painful eternity trapped under the ice, in extremely cold water with nothing and no one around, except the blackness and complete silence of the water under the pack ice.
- Plot-Triggering Death: Granted the Franklin Expedition was doomed either way, but his death unleashes the full wrath of the Tuunbaq.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: It isnt much of a spoiler that he dies, since hes fatally shot the literal second he shows up. He does get one scene before this, but we dont know who he is at that time, he says nothing, and its in a dream like sequence during what seems to be a hallucination. We never even learn his name.
The beast that stalks the ice. Whatever it is, it certainly isnt a normal polar bear. Far larger than any natural animal, and far more intelligent, the creature stalks the crew of Terror and Erebus.
- Adapted Out: Almost all of its backstory is unexplained in the series. We get a very detailed description of what it is in the book (see spoilers below). Also its ability to walk on two legs, which in the book is said to be one of its most unnatural and creepy abilities.
- Adaptational Wimp: The Tuunbaq of Dan Simmons novel is infinitely more dangerous than the one we see in the show, for reasons outlined below. That said, in any iteration the Tuunbaq is nothing to scoff at. At it's wimpiest, it's nigh-unstoppable.
- Animalistic Abomination: Its not a normal polar bear. It is roughly the size of an elephant with long limbs, a short muzzle and blue eyes, making its head disturbingly human-looking. It is clearly modeled after the prehistoric short-faced bears that went extinct in North america 11,000 years ago.
- Blue and Orange Morality: Its some kind of Inuit spirit, but the Inuit themselves are clearly terrified of it. It seemingly punishes those responsible for killing the Shaman, but also seems to be skittish or uncomfortable around Silence, and even feeds her. What it wants and what exactly it even is has yet to be revealed. It remains enigmatic, although it's presented as a killable creature of flesh and blood and it does indeed eventually die.
- Death by Adaptation: In the book, Crozier had a vision the Tuunbaaq would eventually die from eating too many diseased bodies and souls, but it's still last seen alive. In the miniseries, it dies in the last episode after eating Hickey's group.
- It Can Think: Quickly becomes apparent, as it begins going to lengths far greater than any bear ever would.
- It's Personal: The Tuunbaq willingly isolates itself in the region provided the Inuit keep the tradition of having a shaman to communicate with it, and no one ever trespasses into its territory. The Expedition not only wanders in, but they get stuck there. So the Tuunbaq woke up one day, and found a bunch of trespassers parked their boats on its front yard. Then they accidentally kill its shaman. Then they dump said shaman under pack ice like its nothing. No wonder the thing is pissed off.
- Tellingly, the first two people it seems to specifically target are Franklin himself, who gets an absolutely brutal death, and the marine who shot the Shaman, who is left a lifeless husk with a trauamatic brain injury that appears to have left him completely and permanently catatonic. Both of these people were also in the tent when it attacks the Expedition at the ships for the first time.
- Taken to the extreme after Hickeys attack on the Inuit. The Tuunbaq hadnt bothered the Expedition since its little battle with Blanky. Once Hickey kills more natives however, it becomes clearly enraged, showing up out of nowhere and attacking the crew directly, forgoing stealth for the first time. It rampages through the camp and kills over 30 people. Then it starts stalking the remainder once again.
- Nothing Is Scarier: While large enough to not have to rely on stealth, the Tuunbaq doesnt like being seen. So far, theres yet to be a clear sighting of it. The closest we get is a shot of it watching Hickey on the deck, but its still too shrouded in fog to get a good visual of it. This only adds to the tension of every scene on the ice.
- Self-Disposing Villain: Eating so many disease-ridden sailors results in it giving itself lethally massive food poisoning.
- Soul Eating: Turns out The victims left comatose arent that way because of any injury. We see it consume Collins soul, ripping it from his still breathing body. Afterwards hes left just like the Marine, described as a book with all the pages made blank.
- Super-Persistent Predator: The Tuunbaq will not stop under any circumstances and continues to murder crewmen even as they hide in their ships. It doesnt even eat its prey, and even brings some of it back just to mess with the crew.
- Too Spicy for Yog-Sothoth: In a major departure from the book, it appears Hickeys soul had become so unbelievably foul that trying to eat it (and the rest of him) poisoned the thing, and it dies almost immediately after tearing him in half. Its also possible it just choked on him, it isnt really made clear. In the book, it never makes the attempt, as its so disgusted with the smell of him it doesnt even bother.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Rifling through the supplies of the first sortie to the shoreline indirectly results in the death of its shaman and eventually itself.
Sir James Clark Ross
- Ascended Extra: Sir James has no actual dialogue in the original novel, despite appearing in more than one scene. Here, he has several lines and establishes himself as a proper character.
- Hero of Another Story: He's an accomplished Arctic and Antarctic explorer in his own right, having previously commanded HMS Erebus on his Antarctic exploration. Quite a few landmarks in Antarctica owe their names to him, such as the Ross Ice Shelf and the Mountains Erebus and Terror.
- Late to the Tragedy: The series opens with him trying to find the missing Franklin Expedition. Of course, he's far too late.
- Retired Badass: He was the original choice to lead what would become the Franklin Expedition, but declined at the behest of his new wife who made him promise to give up polar explorations. He came out of retirement to go looking for his missing friends.
Sir John Ross
- Ignored Expert: His spotty career and his competence being eclipsed by that of his own nephew has made him a bit of a Black Sheep among his peers, but for all of Blanky's claims that he was an inept fop of a captain, he does his best to dissuade Sir John from going on the expedition at all unless he's prepared for the absolute worst comparable to what happened to him and his crew.