Rent Boy, whose real name is Mark Renton and who also goes by Rents, lives in Leith and is friends with a group that includes Sick Boy, Spud, Begbie, and Second Prize… read analysis of Rent Boy
Begbie, whose real name is Francis Begbie and who also sometimes goes by “the Beggar,” is part of Rent Boy’s friend group, although no one in the group likes him very much. Begbie is… read analysis of Begbie
Simon “Sick Boy” Williamson (sometimes also called “Simone” as a joke) is one of Rent Boy’s closest friends, although the two joke about being enemies then grow apart for real over the course of… read analysis of Sick Boy
Daniel “Spud” Murphy is perhaps the most agreeable member of Rent Boy’s friend group, but his somewhat innocent personality causes the other group members to take advantage of him. His nickname “Spud” (like a… read analysis of Spud
Davie Mitchell is a resident of Leith who is friends with Tommy and peripherally knows Rent Boy and some of his other friends. Davie Mitchell doesn’t use heroin, and perhaps as a result, the… read analysis of Davie Mitchell
Tommy is an old friend of Rent Boy’s and also a friend of Davie Mitchell. At the beginning of the story, he does almost every drug but stays away from heroin. He and… read analysis of Tommy
Rab McLaughlin (a.k.a. Second Prize or Secks for short) is a member of Rent Boy’s friend group. Like Begbie, Second Prize doesn’t use heroin, but he drinks so much that his own… read analysis of Second Prize
Dawn is the infant child of Lesley who dies of what seems to be sudden infant death syndrome while several characters (including Dawn’s likely father, Sick Boy) are high on heroin. The incident… read analysis of Dawn
Billy is one of Rent Boy’s brothers (along with Davie Renton). He bullies Rent Boy as a child and has much more conservative, pro-British views than Rent Boy. When Billy dies serving the… read analysis of Billy
Lesley is an acquaintance of Rent Boy’s who has a traumatic experience when her infant child Dawn dies while she and some friends are high on heroin. Although Matty declares that Dawn died… read analysis of Lesley
Johnny Swan is a dealer who earns the nickname “Mother Superior” due to how heroin users like Rent Boy and Sick Boy come to him to cure their withdrawal. Johnny falls so deep into his… read analysis of Johnny Swan
Dianne is a teenage girl who Rent Boy picks up at a nightclub and has sex with. Rent Boy didn’t pay attention to her age because he was on speed and Dianne was wearing a… read analysis of Dianne
Stevie is a friend of Rent Boy’s who doesn’t use heroin. After confessing his feelings to a woman named Stella, he waits nervously for her to get back to him with an… read analysis of Stevie
Matty is the first major character in Rent Boy’s circle of friends to die during the timeline of the novel. He doesn’t realize that he has HIV, and he gets a serious brain infection… read analysis of Matty
Hazel is Rent Boy’s longtime on-again, off-again girlfriend at the beginning of the novel. She and Rent Boy rarely have sex because her father sexually abused her as a child, and she seemingly suffers… read analysis of Hazel
Davie Renton was Rent Boy and Billy’s brother; he was fully paralyzed and died before the events of the novel. Other kids made fun of Davie’s condition, and they made fun of Rent Boy… read analysis of Davie Renton
Gi (short for Giovanni) is a gay older man from Italy who meets Rent Boy at an all-night pornography theater in London. Gi had to leave Italy when word got out that he had a… read analysis of Gi
Venters is an HIV-positive man in Davie Mitchell’s support group. Despite his diagnosis, Venters lives recklessly and soon ends up in hospice care. Davie pretends to be Venters’s friend, but really, he is plotting… read analysis of Venters
Kelly is a friend of Rent Boy’s who works as a bartender. She likes him at the beginning of the story, and for a brief period of time they have a relationship, but it… read analysis of Kelly
Alison is a member of Rent Boy’s friend group, although she remains antagonistic toward Rent Boy himself most of the time. She is particularly good friends with Kelly. She has sex with Sick… read analysis of Alison
Sharon is Billy’s girlfriend who is pregnant with his child when Billy dies serving in the army. Billy beat her, but she still felt loyal to him and wanted to change him. Sharon and… read analysis of Sharon
Kevin is the son of Venters and Frances, and he’s the only person that the cruel Venters really cares about. To get back at Venters, Davie Mitchell stages photos that make it look like… read analysis of Kevin
Lizzy is Tommy’s strong-willed girlfriend. They break up after he chooses to go to an Iggy Pop concert instead of a movie with her, setting off Tommy’s descent into heroin addiction.
June is Begbie’s on-again, off-again girlfriend who gets pregnant with their child. After Begbie refuses to get involved as a father, June must raise the child largely on her own, showing how conservative gender roles influence life in Leith.
Nina is a young woman who dresses like a goth. On two separate occasions, one of her male cousins flirts with her at a funeral (Geoff and Rent Boy).
Uncle Andy is Nina’s uncle who dies of a heart problem. Nina thinks for a moment he’s still alive, but it turns out to just be an electric blanket warming his corpse.
Auntie Alice is Uncle Andy’s wife and Nina’s aunt. Nina has good memories at their house, but it takes Nina a while to acknowledge that, as she tries to repress her grief over Uncle Andy’s sudden death.
Granty is a member of a poker club with Billy, Lenny, Jackie, and others. While Granty is holding the group’s money, he dies, and his girlfriend, Fiona, seemingly runs off with the money, causing conflict between his surviving friends.
Stella is a friend of Stevie’s. After he confesses his love to her, she calls him back on New Year’s Eve to say she loves him too. At the end of the story, the two of them live together in London.
Gail is briefly Davie Mitchell’s girlfriend. Her whole family gets a nasty surprise when Davie comes down to dinner with sheets full of his own vomit from the previous night and accidentally spills it all over Sunday breakfast.
Na Na is Spud’s grandmother. She has several children with different men, with Dode being the youngest.
Lenny is a friend of Billy’s who is part of his poker club. After the club loses all its money, they look for a scapegoat and beat up fellow member Jackie.
Jackie is a friend of Billy’s who is part of his poker club. He gets accused of being part of a scheme to steal the group’s money, so all his friends beat him up on a stairwell.
Dode is Spud’s uncle. He is half West Indian, which earns him unwanted attention from Nazis on one occasion, but Dode seems to have built up his resilience to these threats.
Fiona is the girlfriend of Granty who, after his death, seemingly finds and steals the money he’s holding for his poker group and uses it to take a vacation.
Gav is a minor friend of Rent Boy, Spud, and the others. He works at the unemployment office.
Frances is the ex-girlfriend of Venters who has a son, Kevin, with him. She becomes a key figure in Davie Mitchell’s revenge plot against Venters, although Davie never actually hurts her.
Planet of the Apes
Planet of the Apes is a pub patron who looks like an extra from the movie Planet of the Apes. He becomes an early customer in Sick Boy’s scheme to sell sexual favors from women he knows.
Dr. Forbes is Rent Boy’s psychiatrist for a short time and diagnoses that Rent Boy’s heroin addiction is connected to his relationship with his dead brother Davie Renton. While there seems to be truth to Dr. Forbes’s words, Rent Boy isn’t ready to acknowledge it.
Andreas is a hotel owner who used to commit petty crimes with Sick Boy. Though he tried to distance himself from Sick Boy after becoming successful, he agrees to do one last big heroin deal with Sick Boy, and this motivates all the events in the novels’ final chapter.
Peter Gilbert is a drug-dealing middleman that Andreas connects with Sick Boy and the others from Leith. His professionalism and detached attitude contrast with the more haphazard actions of the novel’s major characters.
Molly is an HIV-positive sex worker who likes Sick Boy. Sick Boy seems to like her in return, but he ends their conversation by asking to borrow money from her, showing how he continues to treat many of his relationships with women as transactional.
Raymie is a minor friend of Rent Boy’s who is almost never seen in the same place as Spud, causing Sick Boy to jokingly theorize that they’re the same person.
Mel is Rent Boy’s friend in London that he is headed to see when he meets Gi.
Geoff is a cousin of Nina’s who flirts with her at Uncle Andy’s funeral.