The Ragtag Bunch of Misfits around which the series revolves. Formed several months after the Virus hit, the Mall Rats are a group of stragglers and young children who either couldn't or wouldn't join other tribes. Their base is the Phoenix Shopping Mall, which they discovered while fleeing from enemy tribes.
Uniquely, the Mall Rats are committed to democracy. Most of them respect the long-dead adults and are attempting to rebuild civilization (the "dream" mentioned in the opening theme) with innovations like school, inter-Tribe markets, fair distribution of labor, etc. They despise the morass of greed and violence that the City has fallen into, but believe they can rehabilitate rival Tribes if they try.
- Team Mom: A role she naturally assumes but occasionally resents.
- Teen Pregnancy: Gets pregnant via Bray, and gives birth on the run from the Technos, naming the child after his father.
- The Captain: Many of the other Mallrats thought of her this way after her false death in Season 1
- The Kirk: Rational, practical, empathetic, and a good leader.
- Not Quite Dead: it turns out in season 3 she survived the explosion on Eagle Mountain at the start of season 2, and has forged a new identity as "Eagle", the now-leader of the Eco tribe.
- A Friend in Need: If Bray had his way, he would never have joined up with anybody at all...but, well, you can't leave a pregnant teenager alone, can you?
- Chick Magnet: Girls go to war over him.
- The Drifter: He likes to wander off without telling anyone he's leaving, which often makes his tribemates wonder if they can trust him. One of Amber's first challenges as a leader is finding a way to make this habit useful to the tribe.
- The Hero: A role he grew into over the first season.
- Heroic Seductress: A rare male example. In A New World, he plays along with Eloise's attempt to rape him just long enough to tie her up and run.Eloise: Oh[,] this will be a pleasure.
Bray: Absolutely. A real pleasure.
- Imaginary Love Triangle: Believes he and Amber are in one with Pride. (Although Pride does have feelings for Amber, he fully understands that she doesn't reciprocate them. Bray is just picking a fight where none exists.)
- Informed Loner: He admits that every time he left the Mall Rats- and he left them a lot- he always knew in his heart that he would come back.
- It Seemed Trivial: The Mall Rats assumed that he was the father of Trudy's baby...which leads to a lot of sudden romantic conflict when Bray happens to mention, several episodes in, that he's not.
- Similarly, he confesses his love to Amber as a way of making another, barely related point.
- Reluctant Ruler: Because he doesn't believe in the concept of leadership...and also because the Mall Rats are a dumpster fire at the time that Amber suggests he lead them. After she's put in power, they eventually become co-leaders, but only after the strain of being responsible for everyone gets to her.
- Thicker Than Water: Although Zoot was a murderous psycho that Bray had to save Trudy from, he still mourns Zoot's death, because he was his brother.
- Abusive Parents: Lex's father beat both him and his mother.
- The Alcoholic: He struggles with this and his behavior is generally better when he's sober and has something productive to do.
- Anti-Hero: He's more than willing to take the role of The Big Guy whenever he gets something out of it.
- Badass Longcoat: a staple of his wardrobe.
- Book Dumb: he seems generally ignorant of most things (culture, art, politics, literature), more than the others around his age who didn't struggle academically as much as he was implied to.
- The Bully: Season 1 Lex is power hungry and domineering. He's also (see below) seriously insecure. In Season 2 these tendencies make him susceptible to Ebony's power grab attempts, and he and Ebony tend to be on better terms (though still antagonistic and exploitative) than Ebony and the rest of the Mallrats, such that she relies on him as muscle and makes him sheriff when she becomes city leader. Most of his early bullying is focused on Jack (for being a nerd) and the younger kids in the mall. He also hoards water and deceives the group about their supplies to manipulate his power struggle with Amber. He gets a little better when he's given something specific to do that alleviates him of the annoying aspects of leadership that he doesn't have the patience for.
- Cartwright Curse: A variant on it - Lex's partners are fine unless they say "I do."
- Dark Is Not Evil: Lex is a bully who dresses in mostly black, who is written with emotional depth and a massive inferiority complex. He's a pretty realistic portrayal of a self destructive young adult with a toxic masculinity problem, but he usually comes through for the Mallrats.
- Dirty Cop: As sheriff, he's known to take bribes. His policing style mostly consists of intimidation and threats and he more than occasionally dabbles in smuggling and price-gouging scarce items.
- Famed in Story: his killing Zoot in early Season 1 (by accident, no less) is something of an urban legend and has religious significance to the Chosen and the Zootists. This is true of all the Malrats but Lex seems to get the most of it and clearly loves the attention. Gel gushes over him in Season 5 and talks about him having "grand romantic adventures," but she has the wrong idea of who he is.
- Hidden Depths: he's very passionate and has a flair for the dramatic and proves adept at captivating an audience through performance when acting as a resistance leader against the Chosen leads to a raid and impersonation of a Chosen-propaganda performing theatre troop. He doesn't have much intellectual depth, operating out of a medium-level cunning, but he is given much emotional depth in his storylines during the early seasons (YMMV on whether he suffers Character Derailment later).
- Hot-Blooded: He can be low-key charismatic but he lacks impulse control. It's one of the reasons he's considered The Load, the others don't think of him as very reliable and they have good reasons.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Very much a jerk when he was introduced - and occasionally even later seasons as well - but he always came through for the Mall Rats, helping them to fight off attacking Tribes.
- A lot of his early behavior makes sense given what we learn of his backstory. He grew up with a father who is implied to have been an alcoholic who was abusive to him and his mother. He struggled academically and never learned to read, and this led to him developing an inferiority complex. His possessive and domineering attitudes with girls in the early seasons might be from watching his mother being abused, his sexual aggressiveness and general macho attitude is overcompensation, and on top of this he and Ryan were at one point conscripted into a paramilitary organization of teenagers where he was physically and sexually abused by a sadistic Drill Sergeant Nasty (and the fact that she was a woman might also have contributed to his misogyny early on. He gets a bit better when Tai-San helps him realize that what he really wants is an assertive, independent girlfriend who can call him on his crap and hold their own against him physically or intellectually. But this is only when he gets over insecurity. He also gets saddled with most of the "adult" storylines, being one of the older cast members, such as struggling with alcoholism, losing a spouse and child, being sexually aggressive with girls and learning to respect them, and being most susceptible to the virus and having to face accelerated aging and his own mortality. Really, the amount of emotional depth they give an abusive bully was very good writing.
- Leeroy Jenkins: this tendency often sabotages (however unintentionally) the Mallrats' plans. He suffers for it, getting beat up a lot to show how scary the latest enemy is. He fares well against the Chosen in Season 3 but goes rogue when he finds out when he thinks Tai-San has betrayed him.
- The Load: considered this by most of the others, though he's often useful to resistance movements, within his skillset. Notably, he is not exactly subtle, so Season 3 played to his strengths because he was out in the woods attacking the Chosen with Bray and Ebony, because if he was stuck at the mall he would not have been able to manage the passive resistance the others demanded of the tribe. In Seasons 4 and 5 the others kept him at arms length and only involved him as necessary because of his less reliable tendencies and their need for subtlety when dealing with the Technos.
- Mr. Fanservice: There's a Draco in Leather Pants vibe going on with him even though he's on the hero's side. He wears sleek, mostly black clothes, is a Pretty Boy with long raven hair, and his war paint is sparse and often tribal. He also has a fondness for leather jackets or the Badass Longcoat look.
- The Napoleon: Caleb Ross is not the tallest actor on the show. Younger and/or female characters frequently tower over him. It might contribute to his inferiority complex.
- Never Learned to Read: A major source of his insecurity. The first episode contradicted this, but after that the series was pretty consistent about it, and strongly implied that he had dyslexia.
- Off the Wagon: A pretty good depiction of a juvenile alcoholic.
- Ping-Pong Naïveté: he's Book Dumb and in addition to that, his Character Development doesn't always stick and he often seems to have Aesop Amnesia (but not always).
- The Rival: To Bray and pretty much any other postpubescent male.
- Sticky Fingers: some behavior and his comments imply a history of car theft or joyriding; he mentions siphoning petrol was something he's been doing for years; he stole vehicles from Tribe Circus and the Chosen, and is often seen hanging around in abandoned cars or trying to restart them. He's usually the one who suggests finding fuel and he seems the most familiar with cars and tends to be the group's designated driver. Note that the vehicles are usually stolen or attempts to commandeer an abandoned vehicle. The behavior is consistent with general lack of impulse control.
- The Worf Effect: as one of the oldest and most aggressive members of the cast, he naturally loses a lot of fights to demonstrate that there is danger. The number of fights Lex loses onscreen (even when sober) eclipses the times he's won (with the exception of the virtual reality plot arc but that was virtual reality).
- Token Evil Teammate: Along with Ebony in Season 2, but when he is first introduced, he's been out looting in order to impress the Always Chaotic Evil Locos enough that he can join their tribe. Zoot dismissed his loot, and decided to have fun with him instead, so the Mallrats were not exactly his first choice of tribes. Notably he dresses most like a Loco (until Ebony joins them), wearing a significant amount of red and black.
- Fake Defector: In Season 5.
- Gadgeteer Genius: having a talent for science and technology, he's responsible (along with Dal) for various inventions that benefit the tribe, including a water-filtration system and a wind turbine built from scrap.
- Hollywood Atheist: Averted. He doesn't put much stake in Tai-San's prophecies because they are unscientific.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Red to Dal's blue. His ideas are generally more fanciful and inventive than Dal's; but Dal is practical enough that when he and Jack work together they come up with some pretty amazing stuff, like a water purification system and an electric generator.
- The Smart Guy: Came up with various inventions to help make life easier for the Tribe, as described above.
Played By: Ashwath Sundarasen
- Badass Bookworm: Dal proves to be this during the tribe circus invasion of the mall.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Blue to Jack's red. He's the practical, cool head that sees Jack's inventive ideas through to their application.
- The Smart Guy: Like Jack he had a history of tinkering with electronics and chemistry sets. Despite being one of the younger members of the tribe, he was one of the smartest, even helping Jack to repair his rainwater collection system.
- Ambiguous Disorder: She fluctuates wildly between emotions, has paranoid fears about everyone, and obsesses over Bray. These traits were turned Up to Eleven after Zoot's death, although she was always mentally vulnerable.
- FaceHeel Turn: In Series 2, after returning from the Chosen.
- Give the Baby a Father: She tries to guilt Bray into dating her by appealing to this trope. Bray isn't into it, or the fact that she is using a human life as a bargaining chip.
- HeelFace Turn: After visiting the Nomads.
- Heroic Sacrifice: A non-fatal example; Trudy allows herself to be taken away by the Chosen to save Lex's life.
- Ill Girl: She is bedridden for most of season 1 because of pregnancy, a near-fatal fever, and (implied) depression, in that order.
- Teen Pregnancy: Much of the first series revolves around her getting pregnant by Zoot and her consequent decision to flee the Locos.
- Who's Laughing Now?: In Series 3, now that she has the Mallrats at her mercy:
- Trudy: Do you remember Jack? When I was just a scared pregnant girl begging to be allowed to stay here?
Salene: We took you in, Trudy!
Trudy: I was never welcome here! Do you have any idea how that felt?
- Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Before Character Development, she played up her frailty as much as possible to make Bray pay attention to her.
- The Fundamentalist: Vehemently opposed to Western science and medicine.
- The Lost Lenore: To Lex, in later seasons.
- Manipulative Bastard: Because she is so kind, few people notice that she never exposes her vulnerabilities or tells anyone about herself. When Lex accuses her of being cold, she grudgingly admits that he's right.
- Pragmatic Hero: She does whatever is necessary to keep the group stable, and isn't ashamed of any of it. 'Necessary' has, to her, included sleeping with Zandra's boyfriend, defecting to the Mall Rats' enemies, and saving The Guardian's life.
- Silk Hiding Steel: She never seeks a position of leadership and rarely gets angry...but somehow, she always ends up getting what she wants.
- Team Mom: Started as the more domestic version but eventually took Amber's place in the tribe.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Ryan is one of the nicest people, ever, yet if you get him angry he will beat the crap out of you.
- The Danza: Though it's most likely just a coincidence seeing how he's no more prominent than most of the characters.
- Big Fun: A very rare female example, Alice was a Cool Big Sis type of a character that several characters loved dearly for her often cheerful attitude.
- Ensemble Dark Horse: She was made a regular cast member for seasons 2 and 3 because she was voted the best guest character of the first season in a fan poll.
- Put on a Bus: Taken by the Technos in series 4, returns briefly for the last few episodes of season 5.
- Stout Strength: While she often was a fun, cheery gal to be around, if needed, she also could knock peoples' heads together, quite literally.
- Team Mom: For her own tribe in the beginning, and more or less for the Mall Rats whenever Amber wasn't around.
- Dead Guy Junior: Amber names the baby after his father, who it later turns out has been "deleted" by the Technos.
- Bratty Teenage Daughter (to her pseudo-parents, Salene and Trudy)
- Guile Hero: Once the older Mallrats start trusting her with her own tasks in their dealings with the Technos, it turns out that she's rather good at manipulating Ved.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: For Amber after her "death" in season 2.
- Heroic BSoD: After Jack is taken by the Technos in early Season 4.
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Towards Jack, and briefly Luke as part of his HeelFace Turn.
- The Smart Girl: Also a computer expert like Jack, which helps form their attachment.
- The Voiceless: Subverted. Although deaf, he does occasionally speak.
- Psychic Powers: He feels "vibrations," as his sister, Patsy, puts it.
- Team Pet: An elderly golden Labrador who doesn't do much other than react to the plot.
The main antagonists of Season 1. The Loco (sometimes called Locust) tribe are crazed anarchists who fetishize personal strength and attack whoever they see. They are held together by fear of Zoot, their leader, which morphs into a cultish reverence after his disappearance.
- Big Bad: As leader of the Locos during season 1.
- Burn Baby Burn: Gets sent off like this.
- Dark Messiah: Preaches an ideal of "power and chaos" (rejecting the old world of the adults with their rules) which the Locos adopt; after his death, the Chosen take this and turn him into a god figure.
- The Cast Show Off: Sings the series intro, and in most of the endings as well, as lead or backing vocalist.
- Dark Action Girl: A skilled fighter and an extremely ruthless one, with no compunctions about fighting dirty and no clear loyalties.
- Enemy Mine: Due to the break up of the Locos Ebony is forced to work with the Mallrats for most of Season 2, though neither side likes this arrangement.
- HeelFace Revolving Door: She'll work with or against the Mallrats as best suits her needs at the time.
- Not So Stoic: When it comes to Jay.
- Still Wearing the Old Colors: After joining the Mallrats, Ebony still wears the red and black clothing associated with the Locos, her old tribe.
- Wild Card: After the fall of the Locos, her only consistent allegiance is to herself, and she switches sides as best suits her needs at the moment.
The main antagonists of seasons 2 and 3. A cult dedicated to worshipping Zoot, who they refuse to believe is dead, and spreading his ideology of "power and chaos" over the City. They are repressed and fearful, dominated by their socially abusive leader.
- Big Bad: as leader of the cult "The Chosen" in Season 2-3, which kills/enslaves the members of the other tribes.
- The Fundamentalist: He turns Zoot into a god.
The main antagonists of seasons 4 and 5. An insular Tribe dedicated to technology, especially "Virtual Space" which they use to brainwash their enemies. Unlike rival Tribes, they have a reliable source of electricity.
- The Captain: This is his role as the military head of Ram's organization.
- A God Am I: His obsession with immortality in Reality Space comes close to this.
- Big Bad: As leader of the Technos in Season 4, subjecting everyone to insane virtual reality experiments.
- HeelFace Turn: After his defeat and abandonment at the end of season 4, he is slowly worked round over the course of season 5.
- Teen Genius: Manages to turn the City from post-apocalyptic wasteland into a high-tech dystopia, create a successful virtual reality and even a malevolent AI by the end of season 5.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: Cyberspace is this to him.
- Big Bad: After taking over the Technos in Season 5.
- Manipulative Bastard: Though the Technos are reduced in power after being overthrown in season 4, he cleverly manipulates his way to power.
- I Just Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Is fine with Lex still pining after Tai-San.
A tribe who live in the woods surrounding the City and Eagle Mountain. They are benevolent, defined by their strong commitment to the environment and to rejecting technology (which they blame for the horrors of the Virus). They befriend the Mall Rats in season 3, but care very little about what goes on in the City.
- The Big Guy: Season 3 and 4's best example of this.
- Chick Magnet: Second only to Bray.
- The Fundamentalist: Violently opposed to the idea of society returning to the evil old ways. In Season 4, believes that once electricity is switched back on it will carve the way for pollution, inequality and war.
- The Reliable One: In Season 3, one of the few characters whom all sides seem to trust.
- The Rival: To Bray, about Amber.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: After becoming addicted to the Game.
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: Is this often to Lex.
- Manipulative Bastard: Doesn't hesitate to play Ebony against Amber - all in the name of helping Lex.
- Odd Couple: With Dee.
- Gang of Hats: His tribe, Tribe Circus.