About the Book

Book Protagonist: Mark Watney
Publication Date: 2011
Genre: Action and Adventure, Science Fiction

Character List

The Martian

By Andy Weir

Throughout 'The Martian,' Weir weaves together believable characters that make Watney’s predicament very real. 

The novel features members of the crew, NASA ground control, and men and women outside the NASA institution. These various characters all have ideas about Watney’s rescue and chances of survival as well as how the crew of the Hermes should behave. 

The Martian Character List

Mark Watney 

Mark Watney is an astronaut and the main character of The Martian. He’s the protagonist and the narrator who carries large portions of the story. He is one of the six members of the Hermes crew, part of the Ares 3 mission. At the beginning of the novel, he’s left behind on Mars accidentally in the midst of a large storm. His crew, under the impression that he’s dead, start their return journey home. He has to figure out a way to survive on the planet, 50 million miles from Earth, by himself. 

He’s the mission’s botanist and the lowest-ranked member of the crew. But, his botany skills and engineering prowess enable him to survive. He has a good sense of humor that he employs rather than dwell on his impossible predicament. He’s initially operating under the belief that he’s going to be on Mars for four years till the Ares IV mission retrieves him. But, he never gives in to despair despite the many things that could and do go wrong. 

Commander Melissa Lewis 

Lewis is the commander of the Ares 3 mission that results in Mark Watney being left behind on Mars. She takes her responsibilities very seriously and cares about the well-being of her crew over everything else. She’s also a geologist. Her characterization is expanded by her interest in 1970s memorabilia, disco music, and more. 

Major Rick Martinez 

Major Rick Martinez is a member of the Ares 3 mission, filling the role of pilot. He’s a skilled pilot, something that the other characters in the novel often mention. He’s married and has a young son. 

Beth Johanssen 

Johanssen is an intelligent coder and software engineer. She works to override NASA controls so that the Ares 3 can perform the “Rich Purnell Maneuver” without authorization. She’s beautiful, something that turned her into the “poster girl” for the mission. By the end of the novel, she’s fallen in love with Beck. 

Teddy Sanders 

A NASA administrator. It’s his decision what the Ares 3 crew does and doesn’t do. He’s seen as accountable for everything that goes wrong, and right, on the mission. This is something he takes as seriously as it deserves. This also means that he’s unwilling to take risks. 

Mitch Henderson 

Henderson is the Flight Director for the Ares 3 mission. He expresses his opinions on how to communicate with the crew throughout the book. For example, after Watney is discovered to still be alive, he fights with Sanders about telling the crew. He wants to share the news, believing the crew has a right to know. He also wants the ship to perform the Rich Purnell Maneuver. 

Mindy Park 

Mindy Park is an employee at NASA who reads satellite images. She is the first person to find out that Watney is still alive. Her proximity to the mission allows her to participate in high-level conversations she normally wouldn’t be privy to.  

Dr. Irene Shields 

The flight psychologist on the Ares mission. She knows all the members of the crew, including Watney, very well. She discusses the impact of extended time in space, and in isolation, with the Mark Watney Report. 

Annie Montrose 

A director at NASA. She is responsible for sharing news about the mission with the public. She makes stories seem as positive as possible for both the mission and NASA. She is one of the only women in the upper ranks of NASA. 

Alex Vogel 

A German member of the Areas crew and the only non-American on the mission. He is the mission’s chemist. 

Venat Kapoor 

The Director of Mars Operations and one of the primary managers at NASA. He usually stands behind Ted Sanders’ decisions. He promotes Mindy in front of the other NASA managers, making up for underestimating her in the beginning.


A radio communications operator at NASA.


The mission’s doctor and EVA specialist. It’s his responsibility to leave the ship to retrieve Watney during the rescue mission. He falls in love with Johanssen during the mission. 

Jack Trevor 

A software engineer who finds the code that allows Pathfinder to “talk” to the rover. This improves communications between Mark Watney and NASA. 

Rich Purnell 

The man who comes up with the “Rich Purnell Maneuver.” It is risky but allows the ship to change course and fly by Mars and pick up Watney. 

Guo Ming 

The director of the China National Space Administration.

Dr. Keller 

A nutritionist who helps Watney manage his food supply.

Brendan Hutch 

Hutch is in charge of mission control from 1 to 9 AM. He is a rising star in NASA. He is the first person to find out that Hermes disobeyed orders from NASA. 


Who is the main character in The Martian by Andy Weir?

Mark Watney is the main character of The Martian. He is also, by far, the most important character in the novel. He becomes stranded on Mars and has to survive by himself with few resources. 

What type of character is Mark Watney?

Mark Watney is determined, resilient, intelligent, and optimistic. Without these character traits, he likely wouldn’t have survived on Mars by himself. He’s also very humorous. He uses jokes to lighten the mood and improve his outlook. 

Is Mark Watney a real person?

No, Mark Watney is not a real person. The story in The Martian is fictional. But, because of how Weir wrote the novels, it feels as though it could be a retelling of events. 

What are Mark Watney’s two specialties?

Mark Watney’s two specialties are botany and engineering. It’s with these two skill sets that he’s able to figure out how to grow food on Mars, specifically potatoes. 

Emma Baldwin
About Emma Baldwin
Emma graduated from East Carolina University with a BA in English, minor in Creative Writing, BFA in Fine Art, and BA in Art Histories. Literature is one of her greatest passions which she pursues on Book Analysis.
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