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Benjamin Barker/Sweeney Todd
The intentionally sympathetic Villain Protagonist. Was born Benjamin Barker and used to be married to Lucy, before Judge Turpin sent him to Australia on a false charge and raped his wife. When he comes back, he has gone completely insane, seeking bloody revenge on Turpin - and later, everyone in London.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: In the stage musical, he is normally played by a middle-aged actor. In the film, he's Johnny Depp.
- Anti-Hero: Type IV. Before Epiphany, where he goes completely mad.
- Anti-Villain: Type II
- Ax Crazy: Sweeney grows increasingly more unstable as the story goes on, until he is so far gone that he unknowingly kills his wife, whom he believed to be dead, and almost unknowingly kills his own daughter, just because he doesn't want any witnesses.
- Celibate Villain
- Evil Makeover / Madness Makeover
- Faux Affably Evil
- From Nobody to Nightmare
- He Who Fights Monsters: In pursuing revenge against Turpin, Sweeney becomes a frightening Serial Killer.
- Knife Nut: Sweeney's Weapon of Choice is the straight razor.
- Locked Into Strangeness: The movie version has him with a Skunk Stripe in his hair.
- Nietzsche Wannabe
- Not Distracted by the Sexy: Doesn't seem to really notice Mrs. Lovett's obvious flirting.
- Sanity Slippage
- Serial Killer: What Sweeney becomes after "Epiphany."
- Tragic Villain
- Villain Protagonist
- The Unfettered
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds
Mrs. Nellie Lovett was Benjamin's neighbor a long time ago. She's the owner of a meat pie shop that has fallen on hard times due to the meat shortage in London, and has always had a fondness for Benjamin. She's the one who hits upon the ghoulish idea of disposing of the people that Sweeney murders by baking them into pies in order to drum up some much-needed business for her shop.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: Is played by Helena Bonham Carter in the movie.
- Cute Psycho
- Hot Mom: To Tobias in productions that cast someone attractive (such as Patti LuPone or Helena Bonham Carter) as her.
- Faux Affably Evil
- Lady Macbeth: Todd would never have gotten as far as he did without her.
- Mad Love: Has an obvious crush on Todd.
- Manipulative Bitch
- Of Corsets Sexy: In the movie.
- Perky Female Minion: In the stage musical. She is much more obviously batshit in the movie.
- Psycho Supporter: Mrs. Lovett is just as nuts as Sweeney is.
- Villain Protagonist
The main antagonist of the play. Judge Turpin is a corrupt judge of London, a man of power with serious problems with controlling his libido around beautiful women. He sent Benjamin Barker off to Botany Bay on a false charge so that he could get at his wife Lucy, whom he ultimately raped at a masked ball he threw. He then adopted Lucy's then one-year-old daughter Johanna as his own, most likely out of remorse for his crime. Unfortunately, the Judge has come to desire Johanna as more than just a daughter with her coming of age. And little does he know that Benjamin has returned, intent upon revenge for Lucy.
- Asshole Victim: Admit it, you cheered on when he finally gets killed by Sweeney.
- Big Bad
- Dirty Old Man: An extremely evil example.
- Hanging Judge: Turpin's stock in trade. He is decidedly uninterested in whether or not the people called before the stand are guilty or not, as in his view, virtually everyone has done something to warrant a hanging.
- Kangaroo Court: Pretty much all of Turpin's trials are this way. Particularly Benjamin's.
- Kick the Dog: It's pretty much his lifestyle.
- Knight Templar
- I Have You Now, My Pretty: The climax of the "Poor Thing" scene. Poor Lucy...
- Hanging Judge
- Lust: The Judge's main vice, which sets the entire plot into motion.
- Obsession Song: "Johanna (Mea Culpa)," which is often cut from productions due to length and possible Squick.
- Oh Crap: The Judge's reaction on learning just who Sweeney is -- just before Sweeney finally kills him.
- The Stoic
- Villainous Crush: On both Lucy and Johanna.
- Wife Husbandry: His plans for Johanna.
An idealistic young sailor who saved Sweeney's life on board the good ship Bountiful and brought him to London, Anthony is the other protagonist of the story in general. He meets and falls in love with Johanna, Sweeney's daughter, and seeks to free her from her tyrannical guardian, Judge Turpin.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: In the movie he is in his twenties, handsome in a more delicate fashion, and a tenor.
- Do with Him as You Will: In the movie, after freeing Johanna from Fogg's Asylum, Anthony leaves Fogg at the mercy of his "children."
- Fish Out of Water: A lot of portrayals of Anthony make him out to be this, particularly the movie version.
- Meaningful Name
- Obsession Song: A good number of people cite "Johanna," particularly the second half, as this.
- Official Couple: While Benjamin/Lucy and Sweeney/Mrs. Lovett fans are fiercely divided over who is the first Official Couple, Anthony/Johanna is very much the second.
- Spanner in the Works: Sweeney would have killed Judge Turpin and ended the play right there and then in the middle had Anthony, who had recently talked to Sweeney about his plan to elope with Johanna in order to get her away from Turpin, not busted into his shop -- with the judge right there in the room -- in order to inform Sweeney that he has found Johanna and that she has agreed to the plan. Needless to say, this ends up blowing both the aforementioned plan and Sweeney's attempt to kill Turpin straight to hell.
- Stalker with a Crush: The more cynical readings of Anthony's character make him out to be this for Johanna. The lyrics of the second half of "Johanna" definitely don't help things, nor his rather creepy bloody face as he sings it in the movie. Judge Turpin, on the other hand, is ten times worse.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: As Sweeney tells him near the beginning, "You are young. Life has been kind to you. You will learn." Johanna says a variant of the same thing to him near the end.
Sweeney's sixteen-year-old daughter. When she was just one year old, her father was transported for life, and her mother was soon invited to Judge Turpin's mansion. The horrible events of that night would drive her mother to poison herself. She was then taken in by Judge Turpin, who raised her as his own and gave her a sheltered upbringing. But now that Johanna is growing up, she finds her guardian's mansion to be a prison, a cage like the birds whose songs she likes to hear, and she wants more than anything to be free of it. Worse, the Judge, who she has seen all her life as a father, is starting to look upon her with the same hungry eyes that he once looked upon her mother with. When Anthony Hope, a young sailor just arrived in London, catches her eye, the two of them fall in love, and Johanna sees her chance to finally escape.
Tobias Ragg is the young assistant of a street mountebank by the name of Adolfo Pirelli. Depending on the production, he is anywhere from childhood (such as was the case in the movie) to teenage, but definitely has a childlike air about him. After Pirelli comes into Sweeney's barber shop and does not come out, Toby is taken in by Sweeney and Mrs. Lovett, and becomes Mrs. Lovett's assistant in the pie shop.
The right-hand man of Judge Turpin, Beadle Bamford does the main job of carrying out the Judge's orders. He is quite easily flattered, but can also be quite cruel.