I Am Legend Character List 📖

‘I Am Legend’ is a dystopian horror novel that offers only a few characters who assist in pushing Richard Matheson’s apocalyptic storyline to a satisfactory end.

I Am Legend

Richard Matheson

Robert Neville

The first section of ‘I Am Legend’ introduces the reader to the world that Robert Neville currently lives in and his position in that world. In the second part of the book, the reader meets new characters. These characters include the living and the undead, with whom the main character relates.

Robert Neville also runs into some men who are nameless during flashbacks. One of these men tries to get him to drive his mother’s body to be cremated with Virginia’s body.

Robert Neville

Robert Neville is the central character of this book. He is thirty-six and the only existing human being after a vampire epidemic in Los Angeles, California, in 1975. Although not entirely, he believes he is unaffected by the plague because he was beaten by a vampire bat some years earlier. Before the epidemic hit, Robert, an ordinary American, was married and living in a middle-class suburb. When all his friends and family get affected by the vampirism plague, he lives alone.

His life is transformed by the predicament he finds himself in. Struggling with depression and loneliness, he turns to alcoholism as a coping mechanism. He also tries to understand and solve the mystery of the plague and expresses feelings of fear and hatred for the monsters. His nightly wariness leads him to kill unaware vampires as he decides to purge the entire city of them.

When he is introduced to a living vampire named Ruth, he sees from her perspective and realizes he is as dangerous to the vampires as they are to him. While they search for and kill humans, he also kills them as they sleep. Eventually, he is caught by the mob of vampires, and as he dies, he concludes that just as the medieval-era vampires brutally killed humans, he, too, has become a legend – a distinguished human who sought and killed vampires.


Virginia is Robert’s young wife who dies after contracting the vampiric germ. Not much is said about her because when the novel starts, she has been dead for seven months. From Robert’s recollection, we learn that she is sick at the beginning of the pandemic. Her illness is characterized by constant weakness and tiredness until she dies one day. Instead of burning her body like the law states, Robert buries her in a cemetery. One night, she returns from the dead seeking his blood. He kills her and reburies her in a crypt. Even though we have no idea of Virginia’s identity, Robert’s love for her is an important aspect of his personality.

Ben Cortman

Ben Cortman is Robert’s friend who used to live down the street. Before he becomes a vampire, he escorts Robert to the fire pit to drop his dead daughter, Kathy. Unfortunately, Ben Cortman also contracts the germ. Although he becomes a dead man walking, he retains some ability to reason. Every night, he stands outside Robert’s house with the other vampires shouting for him to come outside. Somehow, he knows his former friend is free from the virus. Cortman becomes one of Robert’s reasons for living. As the story advances and Neville becomes more carefree about killing vampires, he starts to enjoy hunting for Ben Cortman during the day.


Ruth is a senior officer in the new society of living vampires. Living vampires are those who retain their memory and intelligence after they contract the germ. They also ingest capsules that help them manage their vampirism. Toward the end, Ruth is sent to spy on Robert. Pretending to be a normal human being, Robert runs into her on his search for Ben Cortman and brings her back to his house. She is the first human being he sees in three years, and she claims to have been hiding with her husband not too far away from Robert until he died the week before. She also says their two children died during the 1975 plague.

When Robert insists on examining her blood and detects she is infected, she knocks him out. Although she is to help with seizing Robert because he is responsible for many deaths in her community, she discovers he is only a human trying to survive. Upon realization, she leaves him a letter trying to save him, but he does not listen till it’s too late. She finally gives him poison pills to aid a painless death.

Freda Cortman

She is Ben Cortman’s wife. Although she becomes ill because of the vampiric plague, she does not join the vampires that assemble outside Robert’s house at night.


Kathy is Robert’s daughter, who dies of the plague many months before the novel begins. When she dies, Robert has to throw her in a burning pit according to the law. This act that is so painful he decides to bury his wife, Virginia, when she dies.

Dr. Busch

Dr. Busch is a Los Angeles doctor who gives Neville some facts about the vampire plague, yet he does not appear in the book. He possesses knowledge about vampires as he declares that they must be struck in the heart with a stake to be destroyed.


Fritz is Robert Neville’s father. Robert detests him for his unchangeable reasoning. He fervently negates the presence of vampires until his death.


Who is the protagonist of ‘I Am Legend’ Novel? 

The protagonist of ‘I Am Legend’ is an American citizen called Robert Neville. He ends up as the last human survivor after the destruction by the plague. Asides from grieving the loss of his family, he learns to protect himself from the vampires that now exist on earth. He also experiments to discover the cause and cure of the vampiric germ.

What Role Does Virginia Neville Play?

Virginia Neville is Robert’s wife and mother to Kathy Neville. She dies of the vampiric germ and is buried. Two days later, she returns to have Robert’s blood. He kills her again and buries her in a crypt. Robert has flashbacks about his experiences with Virginia as he thinks about her from time to time. She is the most painful link to his past.

What is Ben Cortman’s Relationship with Robert Neville?

Ben Cortman is Robert Neville’s friend and neighbor. He becomes one of Robert’s most dangerous enemies when he gets infected with the vampiric germ. Before Ben’s infection, he follows Robert to have his daughter, Kathy, burned at the fire pit. After his infection, he calls Robert every night to come outside. Robert also enjoys hunting him during the day.

What Does Robert Learn from His Encounter with Ruth?

Before he meets Ruth, Robert Neville believes he is the only living being on earth. When he meets Ruth, he suspects she’s infected. After he tests her blood, she knocks him out and leaves him a letter. This letter explains that she’s a member of the new society that can manage the vampiric germ. She insists they will survive by taking the pills that help them control their vampiric tendencies. She also tells Robert the conscious vampires intended to rebuild a new community.

Fave Ehimwenma
About Fave Ehimwenma
Fave Ehimwenma is a proficient writer, researcher, and content creator whose love for art and books drives her passion for literature reviews.
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