DCI Cassie Stuart
DCI Cassandra 'Cassie' Stuart
Played By: Nicola Walker
- Alone Among the Couples: In series 3, Sunny is happy in his new relationship, her father is nearing proposing to his current beau and her son Adam is off in America with his girlfriend leaving Cassie struggling with loneliness. It's gets better though.
- Daddy's Girl: Cassie has a very close and loving relationship with her father, Martin. In fact she still lives with him.
- Empty Nest: Both of Cassie's children have left home and according to her only see her when they want money or laundry doing. When Adam, Cassie's son, comes to visit however he asks for neither and she's overjoyed when he's home.
- The Heart: Cassie argues the importance of solving cold cases because if anyone knew the victims or even if anyone remembers the people that knew them society has an obligation to help.
- During the Jimmy Sullivan case Cassie kept calling Maureen, the victim's mother, even when she had no new breaks in the case, just to talk to her.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Has one when she realises she left the police file on Peter Carr behind in a cafe and again later after he's stabbed as a result of the file's contents going public and he ends up dying. Cue Cassie weeping in a toilet cubicle over the mess up.
- Platonic Life-Partners: With Sunny, after they decide they're Better as Friends after a brief kiss.
- Widow Woman: Cassie's husband died when her children were young. It seems she hasn't remarried since.
DI Sunny Khan
DI Sunil 'Sunny' Khan
Played By: Sanjeev Bhaskar
- Affectionate Nickname: Sunny's name is Sunil but everyone calls him Sunny.
- Family Man: Often seen talking with Cassie about his daughters, often asking for advice on some problem he's having with them.
- Henpecked Husband: Ex-husband to his high-maintenance wife.
- Parents as People: Sunny struggles to be a good father to his two daughters often not understanding them but comes across mostly as a good parent.
- Platonic Life-Partners: With Cassie.
- Rank Up: Refereed to as Detective Sergeant in all the series' credits but is more commonly called Detective Inspector and this is seen on his warrant card in series 3.
- Second Love: Finds one in Sal in series 3.
James 'Jimmy' Sullivan
Played By: Harley Alexander-Sule
- Abusive Parents: Thomas, Jimmy's father, was violent alcoholic and used to beat both his wife and child. Maureen his mother was also an alcoholic but loved her son dearly and only drank to cope with her abuse.
- Liverpool: In the voice over we hear of Jimmy's letters he had a very thick Scouse accent.
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Jimmy worked as a male prostitute to earn money to send back to his mother so she could escape his abusive father.
Played By: Tom Courtenay
- Bungled Suicide: Didn't quite manage to kill himself in the car crash he causes but he did end up paralysing himself.
- Gayngst: Eric was a gay man during the time when homosexuality was still illegal in England and was torn up about it, wishing that he wasn't.
- Guilt-Ridden Accomplice: To Claire, after she killed Jimmy.
- The Penance: While the car crash that disabled him and put him in his wheelchair was inflicted upon himself by himself, Eric sees the chair as a more fitting punishment for his perceived role in Jimmy's death.
- Your Cheating Heart: Cheated on Claire with multiple men during their marriage.
Frank Phillip Cross
Played By: Trevor Eve
- Beard of Evil: Has a prominent white beard and has a particularly questionable past.
- Driven to Suicide: Ends series 1 by hanging himself in his prison cell.
- Happily Married: Before the Sullivan case Phillip appears to be happily married to his wife and has good relationships with his children, particularly his daughter Bella.
- London Gangster: Phillip worked as a debt collector for a prominent family, the Fenwicks. His speciality was apparently breaking the joints in people's fingers with bolt cutters and nailing their hands down.
- Rags to Riches: Has rough beginning in the East End of London but became a successful business magnate later on in life, successful enough to earn himself a knighthood.
Father Robert Greaves
Played By: Bernard Hill
- Dirty Old Man: Engaged in a several weeks long relationships with a woman he claimed was seventeen but was actually fifteen.
- Pedophile Priest: Had a "relationship" with a fifteen-year-old girl.
- Your Cheating Heart: The relationship Robert had that resulted in his daughter's birth was during his first year of marriage to Grace.
Played By: Ruth Sheen
- Abusive Parents: After her mother's death, Lizzie's relationship with her father turned abusive. She never specifies if the abuse was emotional, physical, or sexual.
- Character Development: In-universe. Lizzie was a member of the National Front, a far-right political group, when she was younger, during which she took part in various hate crimes. She soon matured when she was outside the influence of her boyfriend and marries a black man, has a child with him, helps found a football team for young people of colour and mentors a young black teen to help him with his education.
Played By: Gemma Jones
- The Beard: Unhappily so to Eric.
- Crazy Jealous Girl: She killed Jimmy because Eric cheated on her with him.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Horrifyingly inverted. Claire's son knows all about her murder of Jimmy and seems prepared to punish her for it.
- Evil Old Folks / Retired Monster: Claire killed Jimmy, but she is no longer dangerous due to her dementia.
- Sanity Slippage: After giving birth to both of her children Claire displayed symptoms of postpartum psychosis and Eric says even before this she wasn't well mentally. Later in life Claire develops dementia.
Played By: Daniel Gosling
- Asshole Victim: Once you learn what Walker did in the past you quickly don't feel sorry about him being murdered. Sunny Lampshades this.
- Bondage Is Bad: Enjoyed sex of the rougher variety and is a complete monster.
- Posthumous Character: He is linked to most of the misdeeds of the series, even ones that initially appear not to be about him, such as Colin being accused of rape.
- Rape as Backstory: Walker was sexually abused by a teacher when he was in primary school.
- This becomes a point of contention between Cassie and Sunny when it's revealed Walker went on to become and abuser himself. The former says she can understand how abuse like that can mess someone up but the latter says anyone who endures abuse like that should know how it feels and should never go on to inflict it.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Sexually assaulted a girl twice when she was twelve and raped Sara Mahmoud when she was thirteen.
Played By: Mark Bonnar
- Dark and Troubled Past: Sexually assaulted by a family friend for around six months of time when he was only nine-years-old. Particular Nightmare Fuel mentions goes to how he describes the abuse to Cassie:Colin: He did things...which actually physically damaged me for life. [beat] Because a 48-year-old man is not meant to put himself inside a nine-year-old boy.
- Depraved Bisexual: Subverted. It appears to be played straight with the revelation that he raped a woman during a staff party (as he's currently married to a man), but he didn't do it.
- Family Man: David Walker's murder case muddies the water of his and Simon's adoption of a young girl, Flora.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Simon mentions that Colin has a particularly volatile temper but seems to have gotten to grips with managing it. However, we do see it slip through a few times.
- Rape and Switch: Played with. Colin is a gay man who was raped by a family friend as a child, but he actually suggests that this left him in more denial about his sexuality.
- Straight Gay: Colin is happily married to his husband Simon but shows nothing in the way of overt stereotypically "gay" behaviour.
Played By: Rosie Cavaliero
- Abusive Parents: Marion's father began molesting her in her early teens before out and out raping her. Her mother, while not abusive herself, was complicit in that Marion told her of the abuse but she did little to nothing to stop it.
- Ambiguous Disorder: It's mentioned by Tony, Marion's husband, that she should go back onto some medication and she herself makes reference to her family thinking she's "nuts".
- Bi the Way: Married in the present to Tony but had a relationship with Sinead Quinn when she was younger.
- Cain and Abel: Seen as the Cain to her sister's Abel by her sister, husband and mother. Though when the cause behind her anger and other issues comes to light this becomes much less apparent.
- The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: A dark version between she and her sister, who seems to have everything Marion doesn't, but it gets happily settled when her sister finds out about Marion's prior rape and freaks out.
- Inverse Law of Fertility: Is seen talking with a fertility doctor and appears desperate for children but at her age the odds aren't good.
- Nurse with Good Intentions: Marion isn't bad nurse at all but she oversteps the boundaries she has with one of patients out of care.
- Sour Outside, Sad Inside: She is extremely abrasive to anyone trying to help her, as a result of her deep sadness over being sexually abused by her father.
Played By: Badria Timimi
- Dark and Troubled Past: After her mother died, Sara began acting out and ran away from home at thirteen and some time later was subject to sexual abuse at the hands of David Walker.
- Happily Married: Enjoys a warm and loving marriage to her husband Hassan and the two have three sons together.
- Islamic Dress: Sara wears a hijab but like many Muslim women doesn't wear one when at home with only her family around.
- Missing Mom: The death of her mother in a car crash is what steered Sara down the path that lead to her abuse.
- Old Shame: In-universe, her past as a prostitute.
- Rape Leads To Promiscuity: In the past, after David sexually abused her.
DI Tessa Nixon
DI Tessa Nixon
Played By: Lorraine Ashbourne
Played By: Will Brown
Played By: Bronagh Waugh
Played By: James Fleet
- Ambiguous Disorder: Averted. He outright says that he has bipolar disorder but it went diagnosed around the time of Hayley Reid's death.
- Hero with Bad Publicity: Chris was a loving, responsible father, who was unfairly accused of being a child pornographer and so lost his wife and daughter, who he has never seen again.
- Insane Equals Violent: Played with before being subverted. Chris had a meltdown the night of Hayley Reed's death due to his undiagnosed bipolar disorder, which causes him to come under suspicion, but he had nothing to do with it.
- Mad Artist: A bipolar artist.
- Starving Artist: He's a brilliant artist and highly creative man who lives in a caravan and never has enough money. Justified, though - he was previously a respected advertiser who was unfairly accused of child pornography charges and so dropped out of society and lost his business.
Played By: Kevin Mc Nally
- Famed In-Story: As a TV host.
- Knight Templar Parent: although unusually not a positive version, he covers up most of his son's indiscretions because he really believes he could be a murderer.
- It's All About Me: Notably when his wife leaves home, he throws Pete out and indirectly causes his death.
- When You Coming Home, Dad?: His relationship with his son Elliott.
- Your Cheating Heart: A chronic cheater.
Played By: Alex Jennings
- Abusive Parents: Finch mentions a father who could be violent occasionally.
- Big Bad Friend: He takes care of his friends, such as giving Chris money and constantly looking after him, but he is a serial rapist and murderer.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Finch has no problem setting his friends up for multiple crimes he committed, while giving them all - especially Chris - help and money.
- Expy: He's a lot like Martin Vanger, from the Millennium Trilogy books. His monologue near the end is almost identical.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Possibly. Whilst he agrees that he feels something towards his daughters it is uncertain if it's outright love.
- Faux Affably Evil: A serial killer who appears polite and calm while being a despicable murderer and rapist of teen girls.
- Foil: To Cassie. Both are very smart individuals, Finch a doctor and Cassie a DCI, but while Cassie is The Heart and full of love, empathy and emotion, Finch is cold, unfeeling and a rancid hebephile and murderer.
- Mad Doctor: Realistically, but he's a murderer and rapist.
- Nature Vs Nurture: He brings up the argument in his interrogation stating that it must be an interaction between the two but wonders why he is a serial killer but his sister isn't.
- Serial Rapist: Not only did Finch rape and murder Hayley Reid he also raped and murdered Alison Baldwin and two other teenage girls, Natasha and Victoria. His murder of them lends itself towards Murderers Are Rapists.
- The Sociopath: Finch refers to himself as a textbook psychopath listing a lack of empathy, above average intelligence and superficial charm. The chilling way in which he recounts Hayley's rape and murder makes him seem almost bored.Sunny: Whatever he's doing I think that's the closest thing to evil I've ever witnessed.
- Villain with Good Publicity: A highly respected GP who is abusive to his patients, murderous, and sexually sadistic.
- Wine Is Classy: Enough so that he's confident in confronting a waitress over a corked wine.
Played By: Neil Morrissey
- Affably Evil: Unlike Finch, the Faux Affably Evil villain of the series, Pete behaves in a way that is often reprehensible - such as stealing from vulnerable people - but he genuinely loves his family and wants to be better than he is.
- Henpecked Husband: Due to their financial problems, and to death.
- Con Man
- Death Equals Redemption: Before being stabbed to death by a vigilant, he shows his softer side.
- Red Herring: Ultimately had nothing to do with Hayley's death despite all his crimes major and minor coming out.