HBO Max's The Tourist Characters Ranked

Given its premise, the appeal of "The Tourist" is ironic. HBO Max's latest bingeable thriller, created and written by the Williams brothers ("Angela Black," "Liar"), focuses on Elliot (Jamie Dorman), a man with no memory who is pursued by hitmen and ne'er do wells. That plot alone made the show worth anticipating. However, the limited series' secret weapons are how well-drawn its titular amnesiac is and how charming its criminals are. Sure, there's nothing new about a show populated by appealing rogues, much less an Australian one ("Animal Kingdom," a TNT show about attractive and alluring rogues, is adapted from an Aussie feature film), but the unabashed confidence with which "The Tourist" deploys its ensemble suggests it has some aces up its sleeve.

Boy, does it ever. By the time "The Tourist" shows its hand, it's suckered you so deep into its narrative there's no guarding against the gut punches it starts throwing with precision. That makes its cast of characters a triumphant Trojan Horse for lofty themes, shocking beats, and some of the most memorable television of the year.

Here is our ranking of the characters of "The Tourist."

14. Justin

Justin's story is a cautionary tale. 

The right-hand man of hitman Billy (Ólafur Darri Ólaffson), Justin exists just long enough to say he's had enough of playing second fiddle before Billy bashes his skull in. Because he's played by the esteemed Aussie actor Benedict Hardie, Justin is also a storytelling fake-out of the highest order. 

Hardie is a Leigh Whannel and HBO series regular ("The Invisible Man," "Eden") whose face is familiar to audiences. Even if viewers don't know him, they know he means business. So when Justin gets the life beaten out of him between a beam and a car door, the effect is genuinely shocking. It suggests any character on "The Tourist" is expendable. Beyond that, Justin's death creates a thrilling status quo for the show in which shocking plot twists are the norm. 

So pity poor Justin, but happily pour one out for him because his death makes "The Tourist" better.

13. Marco

Marco (Damien Strouthos) is the unluckiest character on a show with characters who keep catching awful breaks. The low-level thief is a small cog in Kosta's (Alex Dimitriades) drug operation, but he's also someone Elliot trusts. His predicament is the first sign that something is wrong in Burnt Ridge. When we first see his haunted visage, it's buried under layers of the harsh Australian outback. Marco is six-feet under but still alive and demanding Elliot's help. 

Since he seems like a relatively solid guy, the jeopardy Marco's in is alarming. Concurrently, his death due to a scorpion sting is a tragedy for both Elliot and the show's audience. What makes Marco interesting in the long run, though, is how he's something of a false sympathy flag. Initially, Marco is proof that the memory-wiped Elliot has good intentions, and he takes pains to do the right thing. But if Elliot, as we learn, was a deeply awful person, then there's no telling who Marco was either. We only see him through Elliot's eyes or in the haze of Elliot's scattershot memory. In this way, Marco is more interesting as a reiteration of the show's themes than a character, but his presence is vital until the second it's gone. 

12. Sue and Ralph

"The Tourist" is deeply inspired by the Coen Brothers and Elmore Leonard.

The Coens and Leonard found their voices writing Westerns and noir. They also share a pervasive love of characters. There's not a single boring person in their best films or novels, making the dramatis personae of their stories as thrilling as the murder, robberies, or plot twists. That goes for "The Tourist" as well.

Case in point: Sue and Ralph (Geneviève Lemon and Danny Adcock) who own the bed and breakfast in Briar Ridge that Elliot stays at. Both show quirks from the beginning. Ralph watches TV all day despite being deaf, and Sue can't help making puns so bad they almost stop the show in its tracks. Yet, Sue and Ralph show the audience Briar Ridge's heart. They seem as lived in as decades-old shoes, and the show wouldn't work as well without them.

Sue and Ralph help put "The Tourist" in conversation with truly great artists. Their spot on this list is earned. 

11. Arlo and Jesse Dobson

"The Tourist" is a co-production between the Australian streaming service Stan and the BBC, but it translates well for an American audience. 

Think about it. Both noir and Westerns are American inventions. Hollywood brought both genres to the world, inspiring filmmakers as disparate as Kurosawa, Jean Pierre-Melville, and Sergio Leone to make essential contributions to cinema. It's not strange for American audiences to watch a regional spin on these styles. That said, American audiences might not know that two of the funniest characters in "The Tourist" are played by a comedy duo that's beloved in Australia. 

That would be The Umbilical Brothers, David Collins and Shane Dundas, who play Arlo and Jesse Dobson, respectively. 

The show molds itself to the team's brand of comedy when they appear. Getting broader and weirder the second both show up, the show doubles down on their patented weird streak when Arlo appears in Elliot's LSD trip as a completely different character. It's details like this that make "The Tourist" a singular strain of noir Western that's both defiantly Australian and gloriously bizarre.

10. Dimitri and 'Dimitri'

I wouldn't call Dimitri much of a character. A reformed gangster now running a silent retreat sanctuary in India, Dimitri is the reason the events of "The Tourist" happen (Lisa heard about Dimitri's brother, Kosta, while "silent retreating" at his compound). That said, his sole appearance on the show is as an exposition machine and nothing more.

On the other hand, "Dimitri" (Alex Andreas) is a fascinating character. 

Introduced as Kosta's best friend, "Dimitri" is an imaginary friend that spurs his violent streak. When Kosta kills his family's dog as a child, it's "Dimitri" who tells him to do it. As an adult, Kosta murders a taxi driver with an environmentally friendly metal straw, and it's all "Dimitri's" idea. The show cleverly depicts how "Dimitri" takes over Kosta's psyche, too. Whenever Kosta and "Dimitri" wax poetic about their childhood or search for something that makes them feel young — that makes them feel anything but anger — trouble is brewing.

The dual Dimitris illustrate how deep evil's roots can take hold in a person and how difficult weeding them out can be. They bring the major themes of "The Tourist" to chilling life. 

9. Ethan Krum

"When people show you who they are, believe them."

Maya Angelou advised this, and she also wrote a poem about the struggle for freedom and the strength it takes to find your voice in the midst of fighting for one. That's worth mentioning because in "The Tourist," Ethan Krum (Greg Larsen) quickly shows Helen Chambers (Danielle Macdonald) and the audience who he is. He will silence Helen's voice to better hear his own.

When Helen takes an interest in Elliot's crash and the mysterious circumstances surrounding it, Ethan dismisses her drive as a delusion of grandeur. He does this before going out with the boys to celebrate a promotion to the grocery's fish section — Talk about delusions of grandeur! He drags her to weight loss seminars. He demands she shows up on time for things he desires and threatens to end their engagement if she doesn't. Ethan is an emotionally abusive man who puts his partner in a cage through coercive control. That makes him a weak wet blanket of a man who is unable to find any strength in himself that isn't rooted in cruelty to others. We see him plainly, but the fact that Helen doesn't is deeply disquieting.

8. Sergeant Rodney Lemmon

Sergeant Rodney Lemmon (Kamil Ellis) knows exactly who he is. 

Lemmon is a recruit to the local police force who is possessed of limitless inscrutability and puppy-dog enthusiasm. He wants to make a difference. While it is clear that Lemmon's wide-eyed streak drives some people crazy, it both fuels and blinds him. He's too excited by life's possibilities to see the literal danger riding next to him.  

Like Lemmon, Detective Inspector Lachlan Rodgers (Damon Herriman) is a man who's exactly who he says he is right up until the moment a phone call from Kosta changes everything. When Rodgers is told his wife's being held hostage, he goes from being the kind of officer Lemmon wants to be to the kind of guy Lemmon wants to arrest. Lemmon can't see that. He's blinded by the man's resume and resolve. By the time he's sniffed Lemmon out, the detective is seconds away from putting Lemmon in the ground. And he and does. 

It's a heartbreaking moment that suggests there's no room for a self-actualized character in the many shades of grey that color "The Tourist." If the show is going to own that sometimes bad things happen to good people (and that good people do awful things), the loss of a character like Lemmon is both devastating and necessary. 

7. Kosta

Kosta has everything but the feeling. 

Which feeling? Any of them. A man who has built a drug empire on the horrifying treatment of his drug mules and his reckless taste for murder, Kosta recognizes he should be anything but numb. And yet he is. The boar hunts, lavish dinners, and microdoses of LSD don't compel him to feel anything, so Kosta chases anything that makes him seem important. When we meet him in "The Tourist," that happens to be his fiancé, who conned him of his fortune and then abandoned him.

The only things that could truly allay the level of loss and brokenness Kosta is mired in are true love or a memory wipe. As fate would have it, Elliot gets the latter. Kosta's brother, Dimitri, tries to offer Kosta the former. Tellingly, Kosta doesn't accept that when it's thrown his way. He chooses the chase instead.

The chase mattered more than anything, and as a result, Kosta dies as he lived — numb. 

6. Lena Pascal

In many ways, "The Tourist" builds to Lena Pascal's (Victoria Haralabidou) arrival at Elliot's jail cell. 

The Russian woman is set up to be the key to Elliot Spencer's identity, and that setup is no red herring. "The Tourist" even resolves its other mysteries before Lena makes her long-overdue arrival, allowing her to take the spotlight she so richly deserves. Once she appears, the show fundamentally changes. 

Lana shows Elliot what appears to be a C-section scar, strongly suggesting that she might somehow be his mother. As wild as that may seem, what does happen is wilder and infinitely more shattering. Lana was a drug mule that Elliot coerced into transporting heroin for Kosta and his massive operation. Two other people he hired to do this with Lana died. The bag of heroin Elliot convinced Lana to swallow burst in her body and almost killed her, leading to the horrendous operation that left her scarred. 

In the 11th hour, Lana forces Elliot and the show to confront the actual constraints of its narrative — what happens when the hero of your show was once entrenched in a major crime operation — and asks the audience to consider who's worthy of love and what loving someone means. She does so in under four minutes of screen time. If Lana's character doesn't work, "The Tourist" doesn't work. 

However, both Lana and the show stick the landing.

5. Bill Nelson

Bill Nelson (Ólafur Darri Ólaffson) is more than happy to tell you about his mother.

You shouldn't listen to him. If you do, it's probably too late. The assassin utters "you remind me of my mother" once per episode and that phrase nearly always leads to someone's death. It's part of his ritual. In each tale, he changes his mom's profession and overall temperament, much as the Joker (Heath Ledger) does in his stories about his father in Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight." Yet, Nelson doesn't want to watch the world burn. He's singularly focused on ending Elliot's, and he'll slay or spare whomever he has to accomplish that. 

All this makes Bill sound either cookie-cutter or supervillain-like, but it's a tribute to the brilliant writing of "The Tourist" (and Ólafur Darri Ólaffson's performance) that there are devils in Bill's details. 

For a guy employed by a wealthy drug lord, Bill's car and home are rather threadbare. He chooses a shotgun when a ranged weapon might do. As a character, Bill is wonderful and terrifying because he's bereft of any purpose other than assassination. He's a man who becomes three-dimensional only when murder is on the table. Bill lives to kill.

4. Detective Inspector Lachlan Rodgers

Amazingly, Detective Inspector Lachlan Rodgers gets a hero moment.

Up until that moment, Rodgers has been a decorated and celebrated officer who suddenly breaks bad because his wife is taken hostage. That makes him worthy of sympathy, but when he kills Sergeant Rodney Lemmon, most shows would make Rodgers irredeemable.

However, "The Tourist" is not like most shows. 

Early on in "The Tourist," Rodgers describes how and why he calls his wife every day at 10:00 on the dot. He had cancer, and he realizes life is precious. You should spend every moment you can with the ones you love. For Rodgers, earning more of those moments means crossing a terrible line. His heel turn is less about corruption than finding out that the person you love most in life will be taken from you unless morality leaves the picture. For Rodgers, that takes the form of murder. Yet, "The Tourist" holds to its belief in the power of unorthodox love stories. Rodgers still gets to save his wife and the proverbial day, however briefly. The worse version of himself is still rich with affection and care.

That uneasy dichotomy makes Rodgers one of the series' best characters.

3. Luci

Early on in "The Tourist," Luci (Shalome Brune-Franklin) tells Elliot a story about how her dad would discuss coffee beans. 

Her dad saw them as malleable, possessed with the ability to roll wherever the wind blows them. If this metaphor sounds flimsy or silly, that's because Luci is just making it up. And when Elliot asks her why she's fibbing, her response is remarkably transparent: "I liked the story, so I borrowed it. That's what people do, you know, tell little white lies, make a version of themselves." 

That's definitely what Luci does. As it turns out, this beguiling enigma is a con woman who separates people from their money, and that means lying for a living. What's tricky for Elliot, though, is that Luci's affection for him is intrinsically linked to her duplicitousness. It's not clear if Luci loves Elliot, but their chemistry is meaningful. That means Luci must make a series of Hail Mary plays to save a man she can't be honest with. That also makes Luci's final moments heart-shattering as dies of a bullet wound sustained while trying to help Elliot. 

At that moment, Luci finally shares a story about who she and her dad were. It's not particularly revelatory, but it's honest. In her last moments, she doesn't defer to the tiny lies that people often tell themselves. That makes her extraordinary.

2. Elliot Stanley

Elliot doesn't know who he is. When "The Tourist" comes down to the end of its final act, what Elliot has or has not done in his life isn't clear. Is he an accountant who doubled as a drug mule recruiter? Is he the man who gives $1,000,000 to the woman he accidentally made a widow? The fact that the series demands that no quarter be given between these truths tells the audience a lot about who Elliot is. People are what they do. When the actions you take change radically, so do you. 

What's fascinating, though, is that the audience learns a lot about who Elliot is before his identity is clear. Elliot is funny. Elliot is more irritated by the bands and foods he doesn't remember than he is by the convoluted web of danger and deceit he's stumbled into. Most importantly, Elliot has a conscience. Even if a reset button has been hit on his personality, there's no promise that a sense of right and wrong will show up during that reboot. Nevertheless, one does. 

Deep down, Elliot has some good in him. That fact makes "The Tourist" and its final moments both complicated and rewarding.

1. Helen Chambers

Late into "The Tourist," Helen Chambers (Danielle McDonald) is told that her love story with Elliot could be "the greatest of all time." 

That sentiment isn't inaccurate. Helen and Elliot have stuck by each other through thick and thin, triumphing over a cadre of villains, memory loss, and a plot to sully their names. On top of all that, Helen has already endured an emotionally abusive relationship. She's been stuck in a precinct that undervalues her keen eye and unwavering optimism. Helen Chambers is a diamond in the rough, and no one except a man who has no other friends in the world has been able to see it. 

There has never been a character on television quite like Helen Chambers. She's a hero who isn't particularly good with weapons. She's a plus-size woman with an ingenue's arc. Helen has agency and spunk and verve. If she got her own show in the wake of "The Tourist," nobody would complain. You can't give a stronger compliment to a secondary character than that. Helen could be the subject of some of the greatest stories ever.