Det. Raymond "Ray" Velcoro
A detective in the City of Vinci, Los Angeles County.
- Abusive Parents: Threatens his son into giving him the name of his bully. He clearly means well and loves his son, but his son is afraid of him
- The Alcoholic: A heavy drinker. He guzzles almost an entire bottle of whiskey like it was water. Never the less, by half way through the season he's managed to conquer his drinking problem, he gets noticeably more competent after doing so. Unfortunately he has a relapse in episode six.
- Bash Brothers: Ray and Frank in the final episode, armed to the teeth and taking down Osip and the Catalyst group in a night-time assault.
- Berserk Button: He's usually pretty calm, but do not fuck with his son.
- Bribing Your Way to Victory: Velcoro thinks that by throwing large wads of cash at his attorney will prompt her to spin some legal magic and get him custody of his son, despite the fact he is a raging alcoholic with anger issues.
- Bully Hunter: Velcoro uses the police dispatch to find the address of his son's bully, then proceeds to savagely beat the boy's father in front of him to ward him off bullying for good.
- Crazy-Prepared: Played for Laughs. His glovebox is filled to the brim with weed, various bottles of pills, and a half-bottle of vodka. He lets Paul take his pick to cure a hangover.
- Combat Pragmatist: He carries around a pair of brass knuckles and doesn't hesitate to slip them on and use them.
- Cowboy Cop: Has several shades of this, and is actually called out for it by Bezzerides in episode three.
- He also looks the part, with his bolo tie and his cowboy boots.
- The Cynic: As he puts it when asked about the state of Vinci "My strong suspicion is we get the world we deserve."
- Deadpan Snarker: By far the snarkiest of the cast.
- Defective Detective: Ray is an alcoholic, has temper issues, is violent and is the pocket of Frank.
- Dies Wide Open: After he is gunned down, his eyes are still wide open.
- Dirty Cop: He is in league with career criminal Frank Semyon, and beyond that, the entire Vinci PD is more concerned with the bottom line than in solving any crimes.
- Disproportionate Retribution: He delivers a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown to the father of a kid who bullied his own son.
- Dying Moment of Awesome: Goes down shooting against Burris and his men despite knowing he has no chance of survival.
- Enemy Mine: In the last episode, Ray briefly teams with, of all people, Len Osterman/The Birdman to work against Holloway and Burris. This despite the fact that Len shotgunned Ray in episode two.
- Expository Hairstyle Change: Before his wife was raped, Velcoro was a clean-cut LA County Sheriff's deputy. In the years that follow he becomes a long haired, mustached alcoholic and corrupt detective in a small industrial city.
- After he starts working full time for Frank he loses the mustache and cleans his look up a bit.
- Fatal Flaw: His love for his son, while normally a good thing, ultimately ends up being what does him in as his need to visit him one last time gives Burris the opportunity to put a tracker on his car and eventually kill him.
- Freudian Trio: The Id. Very passionate and driven, with not much in the way of self-discipline.
- Game-Breaking Injury: Taking a couple riot rounds square in the chest isn't good for his endurance. Downplayed, as he manages to force himself to keep going for quite a while, before it becomes to much to bare.
- Generation Xerox: His father was a police officer in Vinci.
- Genre Savvy: When he discovers the body of Katherine Davis he instantly realizes that he is being framed and being quite familiar with how DirtyCops operate, he concludes that forensics would reveal that the murder weapon was be one of his spare guns.
- Going Cold Turkey: His Near-Death Experience inspires him to quit drinking. He explains to Frank that booze normally calms him down, but this time he wants to stay angry, but the sudden awareness of his own mortality and slowly declining health seems to be a factor too.
- He drinks a beer with Frank the next episode, but he's barely touched it and doesn't show much interest in it.
- After the Time Skip in episode five, he reveals that he's 60 days clean of everything except for an occasional beer.
- He relapses badly in episode six after learning the man he murdered in 2004 wasn't his wife's rapist, and that his son doesn't want to be around him.
- He Cleans Up Nicely: Looks much younger shaved after the timeskip.
- The Hero Dies: Gunned down by Burris and his cronies in the finale.
- I Coulda Been a Contender!: Ray reflects his life would have been much healthier and normal if he had not jumped at the chance to kill the man Frank and Ray thought raped Ray's wife.
- Jaded Washout: A burnout man with few reasons to live.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Really Ray's not such a bad guy, he only got into corruption because someone raped his wife. He likewise only does jobs for Frank to help pay for his son. While having several problems, he never the less proves to be genuinely friendly, as well as caring and supportive to Ani and Paul.
- Knight Templar Parent: Disproportionately violent in protecting his kid.
- Last Stand: Ray dies in a gunfight against Burris and Ares security in the finale.
- Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: His son was born 9 months after his wife's rape, after Ray and her had been trying for a while. The boy is also pale and ginger, nothing like Ray.
- Made of Iron: Even after breaking/bruising several of his ribs, he's still able to force himself to keep up in a chase with a suspect. In episode 6 he also goes on a bender of cocaine and whiskey which should have killed him.
- Mr. Vice Guy: As he says, he's never lost one yet.
- My God, What Have I Done?: His reaction after learning the man he killed for Frank wasn't his wife's rapist.
- Never Found the Body: He murdered the man who raped his wife, but was able to cover it successfully up with Frank's help. Turns out he killed the wrong person.
- Near-Death Experience: Has one after getting shot by the Birdman, though it is brought on by fear of being dead rather than actual injures. Doing so however actually proves for the best as it gets him to start working to conquer his demons, and rethink what his life has become.
- Noble Top Enforcer: Admittedly for a given variant on "noble", but he's Semyon's go-to-guy in times of trouble.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: He hands these out like candy throughout the course of the season.
- Off the Wagon: His realization that Chad doesn't really want him around causes him to get seriously drunk and snort a massive amount of cocaine.
- Odd Friendship: He actually gets on pretty well with Ani, flying in the face of all logic that would suggest they should hate each other. It helps that he places a lot of importance on transparency.
- Also part of his relationship with Frank, who seems to genuinely think of him as a friend. Again, transparency plays a big part.
- Gets along pretty well with Paul too, despite the latter being an incorruptible straight arrow. His earnest admiration for Paul's military past is a factor.
- Papa Wolf: For all his faults he does love his son despite the kid probably being a Child by Rape.
- Perma-Stubble: It's there, becomes more noticeable after he loose his moustache.
- Pet the Dog: He's very supportive and helpful to a hungover Paul, offering to go get his things from out of his hotel room, and telling him not to worry about how the rest of the world sees him because his status as a veteran has proven that he is a survivor.
- Police Brutality: Ray resorts to beating the father of his son's bully with brass knuckles to teach the kid a lesson in the first episode.
- Politically Incorrect Hero: Averted for the most part, though other characters expect it of him. While Velcoro is often very macho acting (especially when concerning his son, Chad), he isn't much of a bigot. He's supportive of both Pual and Ani when they are emotionally vulnerable. The revelation of Paul's sexuality is a surprise for Ray, but he still thinks of Paul as his friend and wants to avenge his murder. And Ray is one of only a few men in the show who respects and even admires Ani.
- Porn Stache: Sports a pretty noticeable one, but shaves it off after leaving the force.
- Ship Tease: With the scarred waitress at the bar he frequents. He also has a bit with Ani after the time skip, causing the waitress to look on jealously.
- He and Ani consumate things in the penultimate episode.
- Start of Darkness: When his wife was raped and he took info on the junkie who committed the deed from Semyon. It clearly did a number on him and he's been an enforcer to Semyon ever since.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Burris and two Ares security contractors pepper Ray with bullets in the finale, killing him.
- Too Happy to Live: After getting his life back on track and seemingly finding an opportunity to live happily ever after with Ani, he is tragically killed.
Det. Antigone "Ani" Bezzerides
Ventura County Sheriffs Detective.
- Ambiguously Bi: She's seen browsing some pretty girly websites, but it's never stated whether she's looking for her sister, or for her own enjoyment.
- Amicable Exes: She had a brief fling with her partner, but they still get along well and it doesn't effect their work.
- Anti-Hero: Type III-IV.
- Action Girl: Being a Sheriff's Detective. Bonus points for being obsessed with martial arts and knife combat as a way of personal self defense.
- Becomes an Action Mom by the final scene, when we find out she now has a son by way of Ray. One of the last shots of the season is her putting her son in a nursing sling around her neck and then putting a knife in her boot, solidifying the whole Action Mom image.
- The Alcoholic: While not as bad as Velcoro (until he gets better), she seems to have drinking troubles, to the point of being kicked out of a Casino for being drunk. Episode 5 has her admitting that her problem is becoming worse, to the point where her hands are seen shaking.
- Big, Screwed-Up Family: A cult leader father, a mother who committed suicide, and a porn star sister.
- Broken Bird: Pretty much every aspect of who she is comes from her troubled upbringing.
- Casual Kink: Whatever it was that freaked the guy she was sleeping with, Bezzerides treats it as if it was no big deal.
- Covert Pervert: For such a hardass, she sure is kinky in bed.
- Defective Detective: Ani has gambling and alcohol issues, unresolved childhood trauma, problems with her family, one failed marriage under her belt, and obvious chip on her shoulder. Its likewise revealed in episodes six and seven, that she was sexually abused while still a child.
- The Determinator: In episode Six when she finds her missing person whilst undercover at a sex party, she stops at nothing to get her out safe, even killing one man and seriously injuring another. The fact she manages all this whilst drugged makes it even more impressive.
- Does Not Like Men: Not always, but Ani has a habit of emasculating and distrusting men as a way of venting her childhood traumas of being raped by a man.
- Fair Cop: Played by Rachel McAdams.
- Freudian Trio: The Ego, with an even mix of analytical coldness and impulsive anger and compassion.
- Genre Blind: After she gets chewed out by her superiors for having a sexual relationship with a subordinate, she angrily declares that they wouldn't take issue with the behavior if she were a man. Because a man who initiates a sexual relationship with a female underling totally wouldn't be in deep shit for abusing authority. Her superior likewise immediately calls her out on how ridiculous that statement is.
- Hidden Depths: Has a copy of the Hagakure, a philosophical guide on Bushido.
- Hippie Parents: Bezzerides' father is a lead member of a New Age spiritual commune in California. He even went as far to name her and her sister Antigone and Athena.
- Hypocrite: Admonishes her sister for being a cam girl, but whatever Ani was doing to her boy toy the night before was a bit too much for him.Ani Bezzerides: This isn't right. Its not healthy.Athena Bezzerides: Not healthy, really? And what do you know about being healthy?
- Ice Queen: Her personality.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Its subtle, but as time goes on this occurs to her, especially in relation to Velcoro.
- Knife Nut: Has several, including a karambit she hides in her boot in case of an emergency. She explains that it's her way of coping with the knowledge that any man she tries to arrest could physically overpower her, so she can instead make anyone who tries "bleed out in a minute."
- Meaningful Name: Ani Bezzerides' full first name 'Antigone', which means 'in place of one's parents'. This is significant, considering she seems far more concerned about her sister getting into porn than her father does.
- Oral Fixation: While driving, she is constantly puffing on an e-cig. Velcoro and Woodrugh both comment on it. After the Time Skip, she's swapped it out for a regular cigarette.
- Odd Friendship: She gets along pretty well with Velcoro, despite the fact that she's supposed to be gathering intel on his level of corruption. It helps that he treats her better than her own superiors do.
- Perpetual Frowner: She has a chip on her shoulder, and her facial expression reflects it.
- Rape as Backstory: Episode 6 revealed that her hangups about sex and getting close to people stems from being sexually abused by a member of her parents' commune as a child.
- Really Gets Around: Let's see. In the series alone, she sleeps with her partner Elvis, her subordinate Steve, Ray, and she's had a failed marriage.
- Revenge Before Reason: She brings the full wrath of her unit onto a porn house after learning her sister is working there, overlooking the little matter that it's an entirely legal operation.
- Sex Is Evil, and I Am Horny: Bezzerides is first introduced having wanted to something so kinky in the bedroom the guy she was sleeping with freaked out and refused. However, she is viewed as prudish and anti-sex by her sister, due to her appalled reaction upon discovering said sister is working in the adult entertainment industry.
- She browses a porn site alone in a hotel room, but it is ambiguous if she is looking for her sister or for her own personal enjoyment.
- Sole Survivor: She's the only investigator to escape the Caspere case with her life.
- Someone to Remember Him By: She gets pregnant with Ray's baby during their brief affair, and ends up raising their son with Jordan's help.
- Straw Feminist: Again, not usually, but her whole playing the "victim of sexism" card when getting fired for sexual harassment clearly paints her in the wrong.
- Your Cheating Heart: She wasn't the cheater, nor the cheated on, but in fact the third party in Elvis's marriage.
- Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Antigone. You can see why she prefers to be called Ani.
- Work Hard, Play Hard: Stern, hard-boiled detective by day, apparently a kinky sex freak who Really Gets Around by night. She also drinks and gambles a lot.
Officer Paul Woodrugh
California Highway Patrol officer.
- Abusive Parents: Word of God reveals that the burn scars on the left side of his body came from his childhood; his mother doused him in searing hot liquid.
- Armoured Closet Gay: He mentions being tempted to punch a "fag" who flirted with him, but he had at least one gay experience during his time as a military contractor, he eyes up male prostitutes, and he falls back in bed with the same man he did back in the military. Naturally, when he discovers that his girlfriend is pregnant, he is ecstatic and expresses a strong desire to marry her and raise the child, with the implication being that it's more for his own benefit than hers.
- Badass Baritone: Noticeably deeper voice than his colleagues.
- Badass Gay: He had a homosexual relationships before, during his time with Black Mountain and Woodrugh is undisputedly the most capable and dangerous hero. In episode 7, he manages to singlehandedly take out four of his former mercenary colleagues with just a hand gun, his wits and his bare hands...in the dark, having started out unarmed.
- Butt-Monkey: His colleagues tease him on whether the actress he pulled over for speeding did give him a blowjob or not. He's very pissed at this.
- Covered with Scars: One side of Paul Woodrugh's body is covered in burn marks, which he got before his time in the military.
- Word of God from Kitsch, citing Pizzolato, is that the scars come from his mother pouring hot liquid over him as a kid.
- Dark and Troubled Past: He has several burn scars down his left side, and enjoys driving his motorcycle at high speed a little too much. Whatever happened to him must be heavy.
- Death Seeker: A mild case, but speeding down the highway on a motorcycle, with the lights off, without a helmet, seems to point this way.
- Defective Detective: Woodrugh is struggling with his sexuality, having trouble readjusting to life after the military, and seems to be only comfortable when he is in dangerous situations.
- Defiant to the End: He's shot in the back, and all he has to say as he crawls for his gun is "Fuck you."
- Determinator: Gets shot in the back, and spends his last moments trying to reach his gun.
- Every Scar Has a Story: He is asked by his girlfriend if he got his burn scars from his time in army, but he says they are from before that.
- Fair Cop: Due to his good looks, he is commonly put to the task of chatting up female persons of interest such as prostitutes or the mayor's wife.
- Fatal Flaw: Ultimately, Paul would rather walk into what he knows is a trap and take his chances with a dozen armed men than allow himself to be outed publicly as gay.
- Foreshadowing: Fairly early in episode four, he mentions that his time spent in combat was far easier for him than life back in the states. Come the massive shootout at the end of the episode, he's by far the most competent and collected among everyone left standing.
- Freudian Excuse: The reveal that his single mother is homophobic, lends a little to explaining his issues.
- Freudian Trio: The Superego. Remains icy calm and in control even while being under fire, the only exception being whenever his homosexuality is brought up.
- I Did What I Had to Do: He seems to regard his stint in Black Mountain this way, saying that he and his fellow mercenaries were working for America.
- In the Back: How he goes.
- The Loins Sleep Tonight: Paul Woodrugh has to take a little blue pill and wait for a half hour before being able to have sex with his very keen girlfriend. Only a couple episodes later is it confirmed to be because Woodrugh is gay, rather than suffering from erectile dysfunction.
- Perpetual Frowner: Just about the only time he cracks a smile is when he learns his girlfriend is pregnant.
- Private Military Contractor: Woodrugh, a military veteran, is briefly mentioned to have worked for 'Black Mountain' before he joined the police.
- Sacrificial Lion: Dies at the end of the penultimate episode.
- Straight Gay: Couldn't be straighter if he tried (partially because he really does).
- The Stoic: Much less emotive than Velcoro or Bezzerides.
- Not So Stoic: His tremendous emotional baggage does lead to brief emotional breakdowns in episodes 4 and 5.
- Turn in Your Badge: Played with. Woodrugh is suspended, but with pay, due to false accusations that he accepted oral sex from a woman in exchange for cancelling a speeding ticket. Even his superior believes he is telling the truth, but has to suspend him so internal affairs can investigate.
- Tragic Hero: Just like a Greek tragedy, Woodrugh is a moral man, with a dark past who struggles with the one Fatal Flaw ( his inability to accept his sexuality) that brings all the troubles upon him, and ends up leading to his death.
A criminal turned entrepreneur in danger of losing his life's work.
- Abusive Parents: His dad used to lock him in the basement when getting drunk, which Frank presumes was done to protect him. Once his father was arrested, leaving Frank in the basement for days. His food ran out, then the bulb burnt out, and he had to kill the rats with his bare hands to stop them chewing him.
- Anti-Villain: A criminal with plenty of sympathetic traits, specially compared with the other, bigger crooks of the story.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Mops the floor with Danny Santo, a criminal associate who doubts Frank's leadership and badassery and considers it long time gone.
- Badass Decay: In-universe. After having to come back to the seedy deals of the underworld, his associates regularly wonder if he has gone soft.
- Bash Brothers: Frank and Ray in the final episode, armed to the teeth and taking down Osip and the Catalyst group in a night-time assault.
- Beneath the Mask: Beneath his temper, shadiness, and sleaze, Frank is an introspective man constantly tormented by his fears that the life he has built for himself will one day collapse all around him, ultimately leaving him with nothing, just like he started with. He loses everything in the end and dies alone, but Jordan ultimately ends up helping Ani raise Ray's son, in a way fulfilling Frank's desire to leave some sort of lasting legacy, even if it's not in the manner he anticipated.
- Big Fancy House: Frank Semyon's mansion in the Hollywood hills.
- Boxing Battler/Good Old Fisticuffs: As shown when he mops the floor with Danny Santo, this is his preferred method of fighting.
- Deadpan Snarker:Well, that's one off the bucket list. Mexican standoff with actual Mexicans.
- The Determinator: After getting stabbed in the side, he still finds the strength to walk out into the desert for quite some time before succumbing to his wounds (and even then he dreams that he is still walking for a minute).
- Diabolus ex Machina: Probably the most egregious example. Frank and Ray pull off killing Osip and stealing the money Frank needs to make a new life for himself and his wife... and then he promptly gets ripped off by the Mexican gangbangers he made an offhand deal with earlier in the season and ends up fatally stabbed for his troubles just because one of the gangers wanted his suit and Frank resisted. Unlike Ray's fatal mistake, Frank was basically railroaded at the worst possible moment by something he could never have possibly seen coming, seeing as how even the Mexicans were pleasantly surprised by the amount of money Frank happened to have on him at the time. He was on his way to the airport, so if the Mexicans had simply decided to, say, have lunch first instead of ambushing Frank at that particular point in time, he would have been home free.
- Dying Alone: Ultimately dies of a stab wound in the desert, with no one by his side.
- The Dying Walk: After being stabbed, he walks out into the desert, confronts his demons in the form of several hallucinations, and finally succumbs to his wounds and dies.
- Evil Is Bigger: Is the tallest member of the main cast.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Subverted. He hates prostitution and drug dealing and is enraged when called a gangster, but it doesn't stop him from moving into those businesses when the going gets tough. Lampshaded by Velcoro, who remarks that he didn't think Frank would ever go that far, upon which Frank retorts that Velcoro isn't as perceptive as he thinks.
- Played straight in episode six, he is clearly disgusted that the Mexican cartel members would brutally gut a young woman, just because she accepted some stolen items from a cop.
- Fatal Flaw: He expects everyone he deals with to be as honourable as he is, even though he deals exclusively with criminals.
- Also arguably his Pride. If Frank had simply parted with his suit, he at least still could have probably walked away with his life, but this final insult was on top of what was already a really bad week, and Frank had already lost basically everything save the clothes on his back by that point, and so things went the way they went.
- Faux Affably Evil: Introduced as a quite polite and personable career criminal, very supportive and friendly towards Velcoro, but when he doesn't get his own way, he usually resorts to threats and shows his ruthlessness, including to his old accomplice Ray.
- A Father to His Men: Is genuinely angered and saddened, when Stan (one of his men) is killed. He insists on him getting a proper burial, and he and his wife even go round to consul Stan's window and son.
- Foil: To Ray. He's a crook who appears to have his life together, as opposed to Ray who's life is barely held together. In fact he can be seen as one to the cops in general as he seems to have the fewest personal issues (trying to have a kid notwithstanding).
- Freudian Excuse: His childhood was pretty messed up, and his whole speech to his wife about him fearing his whole life to be merely 'paper-mache' goes a long way to just how damaged a man Frank really is deep down inside.
- Friend to All Children: Shows care for all children he encounters. Episode 6 highlights his contrast with Ray particularly, as his tender scene with Stan's son is immediately before an awkward and emotionally cold scene between Ray and Chad.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: He presents himself as friendly and soft-spoken, but underneath that, it's pretty clear he's really easy to set off.
- Large and in Charge: Is clearly quite a bit taller than his colleagues and followers.
- The Loins Sleep Tonight: He fails to achieve an erection when preparing for a sperm test, despite his wife's ministrations.
- Pet the Dog: Demands that the man who rents housing for illegal immigrants trim the grass to protect the kids from snakebite. He is also incredibly caring to Stan's son, illustrating that he has special tenderness for children.
- Likewise he claims to genuinely care about Ray and offers him a way out if he's had enough.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: He repeatedly refers to Latinos as spics and beaners. He's equally racist towards Asians.
- Reality Ensues: Turns out The Power of Hate isn't enough to keep you alive in a desert when you've been stabbed.
- Riches to Rags: The death of Caspere, his partner in a business, leaves Frank without his lifetime assets and desperate to recoup them.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: After Osip buys out Frank's casinos, Frank's response is to burn all of them down simply as a "fuck you" to Osip. He then enlists Ray's help to raid the cash exchange, murdering Osip, McCandless and everyone else there.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Though he normally talks in plain English, he has a habit of dropping some pretty advanced and unusual words (such as "Louche") into mundane conversations.
- Small Name, Big Ego: To an extent. A recurring issue is just how vastly Frank overestimates his reputation and influence in the underworld, to the point that it's almost a Running Gag for him to attempt to cut a deal with other racketeers, only to be instantly shot down, forcing him to resort to more brutal methods. The revelation that he gave up the wrong man as Velcoro's wife's rapist leads Velcoro to question if he was ever in as much power as he thought he was.
- The Stoic
- Not So Stoic: There are many moments that show that his calm exterior is merely a facade he is projecting.
- Torch the Franchise and Run: In-Universe. When Osip buys out all of Frank's interests, Frank calmly accepts it... and then he burns down every club he owns after emptying the safes and killing any of Osip's men who could be in a position to stop him.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Quite collected and affable after he went legit, the mounting pressure to regain his money throws away most of his external decency.
- Tranquil Fury: For all his anger issues, he's fairly quiet about it.
- White Collar Crime: At the start of the series. His financial troubles force him to return to racketeering and drug dealing.
- Wild Card: In the penultimate episode on. He decides to burn down his (now stolen) empire, settle up with his enemies and cash out to Venezuela.
California Highway Patrol
Vinci Police Department
- Big-Bad Ensemble: One of several central antagonists in the season.
- Da Chief: Of the VPD.
- Dirty Cop: Is clearly involved in the corruption. Episode seven reveals a prior connection between Vinci PD and Ledo Amarilla, meaning it is likely that Holloway and Chessani set up the detectives to be killed in the big shoot-out. He's also at the "powerful men" sex party that Ani infiltrates, and attempts to blackmail/murder Woodrugh to suppress his crimes.
- Jerkass: That's putting it lightly.
- Karmic Death: He survives getting attacked by someone whose life he ruined, only to be killed by friendly fire from other police officers.
- Killer Cop: During his time in the LAPD he was involved in the 1992 double-murder and robbery which is the root cause for a lot of the plot.
- Made of Iron: Paul pistol-whips the shit out of him, but by the next episode he barely shows any injuries from this. Then, he gets cut and stabbed by Len repeatedly, and he only finally dies after catching a bullet from one of his own men.
- Perpetual Frowner: Seemingly his default facial expression.
- Scary Black Man: Very intimidating, and a Killer Cop to boot.
Lieutenant Kevin Burris
- Big-Bad Ensemble: One of several main villains in the story.
- Da Chief: At the end of season 2, he becomes the new chief to replace the deceased Holloway.
- Deadpan Snarker: His way of talking at times.
- Dirty Cop: Is like the rest of the department involved in the corruption.
- The Dragon: To Holloway, from the perspective of the VPD.
- Hero Killer: A formidable antagonist with access to police and mercenary resources, which he uses to get rid of Velcoro and Woodrugh.
- Information Wants to Be Free: Kevin wants Velcoro to solve the case, but he also wants him to make sure the info the public will get is not the whole picture so that it doesn't make their situation more complicated.
- Jerkass: Just as bad as Holloway, if not worse.
- Karma Houdini: Unless Ani's evidence successfully reveals his crimes, Burris gets away with little more than a broken arm.
- In the Back: How he kills Woodrugh.
- Bait the Dog: Goes out of his way to help out Velcoro, even after the latter resigns from police service, but he doesn't actually care about Velcoro, readily murdering him to stop him and Ani.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: When talking about Woodrugh's death, he calls Paul a fag and tries to justify it as a reason that Ray shouldn't care about him being gone.
Det. Teague Dixon
- Big-Bad Ensemble: He was one of the cops involved in the '92 robbery/shooting. Unlike his conspirators, Dixon burns through the money, and they arrange for his 'accidental' death during the Amarilla raid.
- Boom, Headshot!: How he dies.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Who would've thought a slimeball like him could be one of the main reasons the plot started in the first place?
- Clueless Detective: He doesn't know what a 207 means in police code.
- Deadpan Snarker: Emphasis on deadpan.
- Dirty Cop: As with every member of the Vinci PD.
- Drinking on Duty: He carries a hipflask around in his jacket.
- Foreshadowing: While he and Ray investigate Caspere's house, he jokes that if dies, he wants all of his things burned. A few episode later, he's dead, and searching his possessions reveals a new break in the case.
- The Gadfly: He claims to takes offense to Woodrugh's homophobic comments, but it's pretty clear he's not sincere.
- Jerkass: While the other corrupt cops are at least somewhat good at hiding their true nature, Teague comes off as a scumbag from the start.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: While not exactly a genius, he was part of the 1992 double-murder and robbery, which led to Caspere's murder in the first place. Presumably, he was too drunk and clueless to move up the ranks like Holloway and Burris or hold onto his money, but smart enough make sure the investigation goes where he want it to without arousing suspicion.
- Sacrificial Lion: Killed in the shootout at the end of episode four, though we learn a lot more about his past and involvement in the plot after his death.
- Sharp-Dressed Man: Subverted. He is always seen in a gray suit, but it's pretty ratty.
- Sixth Ranger: He's also working the Caspere case, but whereas Velcoro, Bezzerides, and Woodrugh are doing fieldwork, Dixon mostly just hangs back and files paperwork.
- Sixth Ranger Traitor: Well, he dies before he can do any betraying per se, but he was never on the team's side to begin with.
- Surprisingly Sudden Death: He's randomly shot in the face during a huge shootout halfway through the season.
Ventura County Sheriff's Department
Det. Elvis Ilinca
Deputy Steve Mercier
- Jerkass: He doesn't exactly take being rejected by Ani well.
An Eastern European investor with underworld ties.
- Affably Evil: Quite a nice man actually in his own way. He even convinces his people to let Frank live and carry on running the clubs for them, after they take over.
- Ain't Too Proud to Beg: He begs Frank for his life, but to no effect.
- Big-Bad Ensemble: One of the main enemies of the storyline, and definitely the Big Bad of Frank's storyline.
- Boom, Headshot!: Frank kills him in this this way, and shoots his corpse several more times for good measure.
- Former Regime Personnel: In one of Frank's rants, he insults Osip by calling him a KGB agent. It's not known if he used to be with them before he joined the Mafiya.
- Like a Son to Me: Says this, a blatant lie, to beg Frank to spare his life.
- The Mafiya: A Russian mobster.
- Kosher Nostra: He's described by Frank as "Russian-Israeli".
- Smug Snake: He rips off Frank and pushes him around, expecting him to take it and accept Osip taking over the clubs and casino while Frank is relegated to a manager position. Frank burns both down as a "fuck you", then brutally guns him down. He apparently didn't realise that ruining the life of a connected criminal could have ramifications.
One of Frank's subordinates, he's "officially" one of his business associates helping out with the management of his casino.
- Bodyguard Betrayal: Secretly in league with Tony, Osip, and Pitlor.
- Character Death: Killed by Frank in Episode Seven.
- Dirty Coward: Has no problems weaselling and begging when he realises he's in danger.
- Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: In a desperate attempt to bargin for his life, he offers Frank to turn triple agent on the Russians and offers him information and help on a deal of theirs which is about to go down soon. As soon as he has told Frank everything he knows about it, Frank nonchalantly shoots him in the stocmach to ensure he dies a slow death as he declares that he has outlived his usefulness.
- Smug Snake: He think he's got everything under control, and his betrayal of Frank is unnoticed. His arrogance becomes clear when Frank confronts him over it.
- Too Dumb to Live: Frank lampshades how stupid it was for Blake to meet Frank in Frank's office without any backup. Blake was too much of a Smug Snake and too Genre Blind to realize that Frank has already figured out that Blake betrayed him and would kill Blake for it.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Why he jumps ship from Frank to Osip.
Frank's driver and subordinate. A bit dim, but loyal.
- Bodyguard Betrayal: Averted. He is the only henchman not to be bought out by Osip and Frank's other foes.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: He extracts information for Frank with a nail-gun.
- Dumb Muscle: This is likely the result of him getting shot in the head with a nail gun. He lived but clearly suffered brain damage.
- Meaningful Name/Weapon of Choice: He was once shot in the head with a nail gun and survived. He now has fondness for nail guns as weapons/torture devices.
- The Quiet One: Doesn't speak much.
- The Stoic: Rarely shows emotion of any kind.
- Undying Loyalty: Frank saved his life once and he will not forget that. Frank's only truly loyal lackey. Osip didn't even bother approaching him. The ending shows that he is still guarding Jordan and Ani, as per Frank's orders, long after Frank dies.
- Gender-Blender Name: You won't be blamed if the name sounds male to you.
- Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Averted: Jordan is easily the nicest and most stable of the main characters, yet she's very open about the fact that she had an abortion in her twenties, though it takes her a while to admit that she actually had three.
- Heroes Want Redheads: And the same is true for anti-heroes like Frank, apparently.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: She desperately wants to live a legit lifestyle, and is disgusted when Frank starts sliding back into his former gangster ways.
- Law of Inverse Fertility: She and Frank spend the whole season trying for a baby to no avail. Compare with Ray and Ani, who manage to conceive during a one-night stand, and whose baby Jordan is apparently helping to raise at the end of the season.
- Love Interest: For Frank.
- Morality Pet: To her husband; she's the driving force behind his desire to leave his criminal past behind him. When Frank takes a few too many levels in jerkass, she's the one who brings him back down to Earth.
- Rags to Riches: She and Frank bond over the fact that they both came from very underprivileged backgrounds - though, unlike Frank, Jordan doesn't dread going back to having nothing enough to do just about anything to maintain her status.
- Someone to Remember Him By: Averted. Jordan never did manage to get pregnant before Frank died. However, she is helping to raise Ani's son, who is this trope for Ani with regards to Ray.
- Satellite Love Interest: Despite being credited with the main cast, Jordan's story never really develops outside of her relationship with Frank.
- Spoiled Sweet: She's gone from being a poor waitress to the wife of a very wealthy man, and while it shows in her taste in fashion and home decor, it's very clear that Jordan deeply loves her husband and genuinely views their wealth as a bonus on top of being in a happy marriage, rather than the point.
- Widow Woman: Frank dies in the finale, leaving her a widow.
- Feigning Intelligence: He presents himself as an intellectual, but mistakenly calls Athena (the goddess of wisdom, ironically) the goddess of beauty. Ani has little patience for his pseudo-intellectual philosopher act.
- I Am Not My Father: He mentions that the reason for Hands-Off Parenting is that his father was a "harsh man", and he didn't want to be the kind of parent he was.
- My Greatest Failure: Allowing the man who raped his daughter into the commune, is for his, even decades later it still haunts him.
- Hidden Depths: She has a knack for sculpture and plans to leave the cam girl business behind after saving enough money. After a Time Skip she succeeds and manages to enroll in art college.
- It's Not Porn, It's Art: How Athena views her career as an online cam girl.
- Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Athena. Not that she cares.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: She has blue hair in her introduction scene, but it is later revealed that she is actually blonde like Ani and wears a wig on the job.
- Amicable Exes: At the start of the show when she allowed Velcoro to visit their son due to being divorced.
- Child by Rape: Has never been sure whether Chad's biological father was Velcoro or the man who raped her, since she and her husband were trying for a baby before she was assaulted. As the season goes on it becomes obvious that she believes the latter to be the case. Actually Averted, as she finally discovers that Velcoro is Chad's father after all.
- Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Downplayed, in that it's quite a complicated case. While Alicia apparently never considered getting an abortion after she became pregnant following a sexual assault, it is explained that she and her then-husband had been trying for a baby and that at the time they agreed to believe that they conceived before she was raped. This eventually falls apart after they split up and are involved in an increasingly bitter custody battle.
- Rape as Backstory: Played With in that while Alicia seems to have (mostly) dealt with her past trauma effectively and got on with her life, her being raped had a huge impact on Velcoro, and is pretty much the defining incident in his backstory.
- Though it does serve to highlight how far her relationship with Ray has deteriorated when she all but outright states that she hopes the man who raped her is Chad's biological father, since it will allow her to cut Ray out of their lives.
- Glory Days: She enjoyed her days as a showgirl and is pretty bitter that her pregnancy put a dent in her career.
- Incest Subtext: She comes across as a bit too touchy-feely with her adult son.
- Racist Grandma: Is a bit younger than normal, but soon will be one due to Emily being pregnant, and displays causal racism (being disappointed Paul's marrying a Hispanic), homophobia and sexism (attributes all her problems simply to being a woman, and states Paul being a man makes him entitled to anything he wants). Played for Drama; its implied her views helped cause several of Paul's problems.
- Trophy Wife: Her current status after Austin's first wife killed herself.
Mayor Chessani's adult son.
- Antagonistic Offspring: Is trying to usurp his father, at least in influence if not his job, through his blackmail plans. He almost certainly killed his father and set it up to look like suicide.
- The Bad Guy Wins: Becomes Mayor of Vinci after all his actions.
- Big-Bad Ensemble: The boss of the Mexicans, and a lynchpin which holds the main conspiracy together.
- Blackmail: Responsible for setting up the secret parties, which he could use them to threaten prominent VIPs.
- Karma Houdini: Gets off scott free for his actions, and even becomes the new Mayor of Vinci.
- Missing Mom: His mother killed herself prior to the start of the season.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: His introduced a spoiled rich kid, messing around with several hired hookers with a fake accent. However it later reveals he is secretly running and setting up the secret sex parties for rich and influential men. Using this to grease his wheels and supplant his father.
- Offstage Villainy: Despite being very important to the plot, he only shows up twice; first in episode three (when the audience and characters don't know about his villainous ambitions yet), and next at the very end of the finale, when he is being elected mayor.
- Pretty Fly for a White Guy: He affects an urban vernacular, complete with accent and slang, which he claims is good for his promotion business.
Mayor Chessani's late wife.
City Manager and the victim.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Acid was dripped into his eyes, and he was shot in the groin, until he died of a heart attack.
- Corrupt Bureaucrat: Was in league with Frank Semyon before his death. In fact he was involved in several shady deals; most notably, he was also a central member of The Conspiracy along with McCandless, Churman, Pitlor, Osip, and Tony Chessani.
- Covert Pervert: None of the people who knew him knew about his proclivities.
- Death by Irony: One of his fatal wounds was being blinded. This is the famous injury suffered by Oedipus, who was also accidentally incestuous.
- Dirty Old Man: His house is filled with erotic paintings and sex toys.
- Eye Scream: Got his eyes burned out with acid. And it wasn't what killed him.
- Guilty Pleasure: The guy was something of a sex addict, and would regularly spend a lot of money on prostitutes, however its revealed this caused him a lot of guilt. So much so he was taking therapy over it.
- Groin Attack: In addition to having his eyes burned out, he took a point-blank shotgun blast to the groin.
- Killer Cop: He was once an officer of the LAPD. During this time he was involved in the 1992 double-murder and robbery which is the root cause for a lot of the plot.
- Meaningful Name: Caspere is a rather appropriate surname for a man whose death haunts the main cast.
- Of Corpse He's Alive: A dark variant. Whoever transported his body made sure to prop him up in a way that made it appear like he was alive to the casual observer.
- Parental Incest: He was seduced by his assistant Erica, unaware that she was Laura, the daughter of a jeweller which he accidentally impregnated. Laura was unaware of this, and was attempting to find out his connection to the murder of her family.
Mayor Austin Chessani
Vinci's crooked mayor.
- The Alcoholic: He doesn't appear without a drink in his hand, and often talks in a slow, measured way.
- Big Fancy House: Lives in Bel-Air in a huge mansion.
- Character Death: Tony murders him and stages his death to look like a suicide.
- Corrupt Politician: Clearly in bed with Frank.
- Jerkass: Rude, misogynist and overbearing.
- Mayor of a Ghost Town: Vinci only has 95 permanent residents, despite all the workers that come in each day.
- Never Suicide: Frank figures out pretty quickly that Tony murdered him and made it look like a suicide.
- No-Sell: He has absolutely no reaction to Frank's blustering threats, and calmly tells him to behave himself if he wants to keep operating in Vinci.
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: He has quite a mouth on him when he's drunk. Which he always is.
- Sleazy Politician: He's a total scumbag.
- Smug Snake: Doesn't realise his own son is trying to usurp him.
- Suddenly SHOUTING!: Shouts a lot when he finds out that Bezzerides went to his house and talk to his "wife" and son to follow up on Velcoro's shooting.
The aide of Mayor Chessani in Vinci.
One of the State Attorneys overseeing the Caspere Murder case.
- An Offer You Can't Refuse: Tells Velcoro that she'll help him ensure that he can get custodial rights for his son if he joins in the covert investigation of Caspere's death.
- Big Good: Sets up the reinvestigation into Caspere.
- Determinator: Very driven to catch criminals and corruption, although Ray believes it's a ruse to either gain a good reputation or blackmail the criminal elements.
- Dropped a Bridge on Her: Ray finds her dead in her car.
- Heroic Seductress: Presumably not one herself, but sees nothing wrong with detectives doing so for info. In fact, she encourages it.
- Sacrificial Lion: By episode Seven.
One of the State Attorneys overseeing the Caspere murder case.
- Big-Bad Ensemble: Very much tied up in the conspiracy.
- Corrupt Politician: Davis is suggesting the possibility on why he's running for governor with a massive amount of money. He's also at the "powerful men" sex party that Ani infiltrates, which are all pretty hedonistic/rapey.
- Karma Houdini: He becomes the Governor and gets away with everything.
- Manipulative Bastard: What Davis believes him to be after he uses the Vinci Massacre to run for Governor.
An actress who accuses Paul of sexual assault.
Persons of Interest
A single woman who disappeared after quitting her job as a maid, she was subject to an investigation to a missing persons complaint by Bezzerides and Ilinca.
The chairman of Catalyst, he is familiar with Frank and Caspere officially in dealing with the California state government to create a railway line.
- Boom, Headshot!: How he dies.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: He does know about the land being bought cheaply before of its poisoned status.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: When Frank asks him to help him get some property to help get his money back, Jacob agrees if he can find a way to secure Caspere's compromising hard drive.
Tasha is a prostitute mentioned in passing by several of the characters. She was the recruiter for Tony Chessani's sex parties, and brought in both Vera and Laura. She later tries to blackmail the conpiracy, with her photos comprising a crucial clue. She does not appear in the series, as she is dead by the time the story begins, but she is responsible for tying many of the show's characters together and is arguably the prime mover of the plot.
- Posthumous Character: Her blackmail scheme does not go well, and Woodrough and Bezzerides find her murder scene in a small cabin in the woods.
A known pimp in Vinci, he's the main suspect in Caspere's murder.
- Cop Killer: He and his gang gun down several officers from the VPD and from the Ventury County's Sheriff's office.
- Combat Pragmatist: Shoots at the police using hostages as humans shields and shooting through them.
- Guns Akimbo: He carries a pair of automatic pistols when the shootout started in downtown Vinci.
- Human Shield: What Ledo did before he was shot dead.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: A gangbanger firing two fully-auto Glock 17s should not be as good a shot as he is.
- Weapon of Choice: Uses dual Glock 17s with full auto mode and a Colt Python revolver after ammo runs out.
Dr. Irving Pitlor
A well-known psychiatrist in southern California. He's a person of interest when the police inquire about Caspere's murder.
- Break Them by Talking: He tries this on Ray, the second time they meet. It doesn't work.
- Chekhov's Gun: His knowledge of Bezzerides' family background comes back to haunt him when Elliott tells Ani and Velcoro that he met him with Austin and possibly Ben in the 1990s. This gave Velcoro the info he needs to interrogate him on his knowledge on Caspere's activities.
- Cool Shades: He only takes them off voluntarily once.
- Driven to Suicide: Apparently slit his wrists to avoid the ramifications of his criminal acts. Though Ani suspects that it is just as possible that his co-conspirators had killed him for being a liability and set it up to look like a suicide.
- Psycho Psychologist: Was the one who had Helene admitted and prompted her to commit suicide. He tries to use this on Ray when he confronts him, trouble is it doesn't work.
- Red Herring: He has a raven painting in his office, but he is not the Birdman.
- Smug Snake: He seems to believe that he perfectly understands every aspect of who Ray is and can use it to scare him. It doesn't work.
- Sunglasses at Night: He's wearing his shades while sitting inside his dimly lit office in the middle of the night.
- Walking Spoiler: The second time he shows up, it's pretty much non-stop revelations.
The Birdman/Leonard Osterman
The killer of Caspere and the main villain. An eerie figure who hides his face with a raven mask and dresses in black.
- Ax-Crazy: Not the most stable guy around.I am the blade and the bullet.
- Big Bad: Caspere's murderer.
- Big Bad Wannabe: Ultimately, the corrupt members of Vinci's police are the far bigger threat to both Len and the detectives.
- Combat Pragmatist: He sneaks up on Velcoro and shoots him at point-blank range. He then shoots him again on the floor. However, the next episode reveals that he did not use real bullets.
- He didn't kill Ray because Ray wasn't involved in the murder of his parents.
- Cool Mask: He stole it from Caspere's creepy collections.
- Dark and Troubled Past: His parents are murdered for their money, his sister is sent into prostitution, and whatever he went through after the robbery caused him to become a very angry individual.
- Lean and Mean: He appears to be of slim build.
- Knife Nut: Stabs Holloway frantically.
- Knight Templar Big Brother: What does he do when Holloway reveals that Erica was Caspere's illegitimate child? Tackle him and begin to carve him up, of course.
- Malevolent Masked Men: He uses a raven mask that is evocative of witch doctors'.
- No Name Given: The Birdman is just the most common Fan Nickname given.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: His main motivation is revenge for the 1992 robbery that caused the death of his parents, his separation from his sister, and a whole host of other miserable events.
- Revenge Before Reason: Holloway was providing plenty of evidence that could put him, Burris, and Tony Chessani in jail... but Len's inability to control himself costs his life and the recording.
- Tragic Monster: He and his sister really were victims of circumstance.
- Shotguns Are Just Better: His Weapon of Choice, as he uses it to torture Caspere and shoot Velcoro.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: All he wanted was revenge on the men who orphaned him and his sister. His actions lead to a massive shake-up of Vinci and many innocent deaths.