The primary character, a best-selling novelist who is vacationing with his wife in Bright Falls while wrestling with his writer's block. She disappears abruptly, and Alan comes to in a wrecked car in the wilderness, missing a week's time, and searching for clues as to what happened to his wife.
The subsequent events of the game were written out by him in a novel titled "Departure", which is being brought to life by the magic of Cauldron Lake. The Dark Presence touched him and affected his mind, convincing him to write a horror story that would allow him to bring his wife back, but would also give the Presence enough power to spread over the entire world. Realizing this and breaking free of its control, he rewrote the story so that he was the protagonist and could fight the Presence and save his wife.
- Action Survivor: He's literally just a novelist who spent a bit of time on the gun range and wears a quite dapper tweed jacket. This is generally shown in his performance in-game; Wake can't run very far without getting tired, he can't take very many hits, and he's not an exceptionally good shot. If the enemy is more than twenty or thirty paces away, he's not likely to hit them, even with the hunting rifle.
- The Alcoholic: Mainly due to the many parties thrown in the wake of his most recent novel. The Anderson brothers' moonshine had that extra special kick to it.
- Author Avatar: For writer Sam Lake.
- Badass Bookworm: He's a novelist that's a surprisingly good shot.
- Berserk Button: It's Alice and Dr. Hartman who have provoked it with his writer's block.
- Captain Obvious: Has a couple of these moments.
- Determinator: He is going to find his wife. Get out of his way.
- Did You Just Rewrite Cthulhu?
- Happily Married: He and Alice do fight occasionally, but Alan wouldn't keep looking for her with such determination if they didn't have a good marriage.
- Help Your Self in the Future: Just about every useful item in the game was written into the plot by Alan himself. Lampshaded in his internal monologues when noting that flash grenades aren't exactly standard electrician equipment.
- The Hero
- Heroic Sacrifice: Maybe. As of the end of "The Writer", he's on his way back to the real world.
- Jerkass: He has quite the short temper.
- Large Ham: The insane part of his mind that antagonizes the rational part (the player character) throughout the two DLCs could possibly make even Mr. Scratch look like a salad in comparison.
- Nerves of Steel: Earned them after the events at Bright Falls. In American Nightmare, he notes multiple times that he has a hard time getting stressed out anymore.
- Perma-Stubble: Becomes more noticeable as the game progresses, especially when compared to his flashbacks.
- Private Eye Monologue: His in-game narrations to various events (including meeting characters for the first time) has some shades of this, and he sometimes speak in metaphors. Played straight if you read his manuscript pages the moment you pick them, as Alan monologues about events that happened shortly after.
- Reality Warper: His manuscript pages foreshadow various events throughout the game.
- Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere: As of the end, Alan is trapped in the cabin under Cauldron Lake.
- Took a Level in Badass: Twofold in American Nightmare. He's much better at working with the plans he's written into being as well as his own instincts. However, he's also altered the genre of the story from Surreal Horror to a surreal form of Action, allowing himself access to bigger guns.
- Took a Level In Kindness: In American Nightmare, Alan is far more patient with the other survivors than he was during his time in Bright Falls. He notes that, given the sheer insanity of the challenges he faced in the original game and beyond, there's next to nothing that could really get his blood pressure up anymore.
- The Un-Smile: Alan mentions that he has never been capable of smiling in a convincing way.
- Weapon of Choice: Light and noise to combat the darkness, in the form of a flashlight and guns.
Alan's wife, who helps him write and manage his novels, and is vacationing with him at Bright Falls.
Taken hostage by the Dark Presence, which is forcing Alan to write "Departure" and free it.
- And I Must Scream: While trapped under Cauldron Lake.
- Damsel in Distress: Her kidnapping is what sets Alan on his journey through Bright Falls.
- Dead All Along: As revealed to Alan by Dr. Hartman. DON'T BELIEVE HIS LIES.
- Posthumous Character: Although not dead, most of her characterization comes through flashbacks.
Alan's agent and best friend, who rushes to Bright Falls when things go down. Initially skeptical of what's happening, he rapidly catches on and begins to help Alan. By the end of the game, he's loaded with flares, Christmas light body armor and a headlamp to fight the Taken.
- Acrofatic: His girth doesn't seem to slow him down even when a school bus is flung at him. He's not exactly obese, though. Just a bit on the heavy side, and his jacket makes him look bigger than he really is.
- Big Applesauce
- Comic Relief: It's implied he does this partially to compensate for Alan's generally grim demeanor.
- Companion Cube: A running gag has him carrying around the cardboard cut-out of Alan and snarking about Alan to it.
- Deadpan Snarker: Continues making wisecracks even when their lives are in danger. This is sometimes to help comfort Alan in such situations.
- Imaginary Friend: In the DLCs anyway.
- Shout-Out: Delivers many references including Zork and The Lord of the Rings, to name a few.
- Tender Tears: When saying goodbye to Alan as he leaves the Well-Lit Room.
- Took a Level in Badass: After arming himself in the general store and taking out a huge Taken with a flare gun.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: It is never revealed what happened to him and the others in the Well-Lit Room.
- The Alan Wake Files reveals that he's out and about, and was suing the writer of said file for awhile until he was persuaded to stop.
- American Nightmare reveals that he's now a manager in the music industry, and the Old Gods of Asgard are one of his clients. He also keeps in touch with Sheriff Breaker, and co-handles Alan's works with Alice.
The "Kidnapper" who contacts Alan in Episode 2 and is the antagonist throughout Episode 3, claiming to have his wife and offering her in exchange for the manuscript pages of "Departure". Is quite dimwitted and have aggression issues. Actually working for Dr. Hartman.
- Badass Normal: Does remarkably well fending off the Taken. Indeed, he's well-versed with their weaknesses, and is entirely unintimidated with fighting them (so much so that he has absolutely no problems setting up his meetings with Alan to take place in the middle of the night deep in the Taken-infested woods).
- Dangerously Genre Savvy: Alan quickly deduces that he is the kidnapper and repeatedly asks for his gun. Mott simply replies that things are going to be done his way and refuses to let go of his only weapon.
- Early-Bird Cameo: First seen on the ferry at the beginning.
- I Have Your Wife
- Villainous Rescue: Rescued Alan after he loses his gun.
- You Have Failed Me...: One manuscript page reveals that Hartman was incredibly frustrated that Mott gave Alan only 2 days to finish his manuscript instead of the full week Alan wanted. He doesn't get killed until the Dark Presence comes along.
The waitress at the diner in Bright Falls, and one of Alan's biggest fans. Is touched by the Dark Presence and used to drug Alan and Barry in Episode 3, and doesn't quite recover. At the end of the game, is implied to be the next Lady of Light.
- And I Must Scream: When she is possessed by the Dark Presence and unable to control her actions.
- Break the Cutie
- Creepy Monotone: While under the influence of the Dark Presence.
- I'm Your Biggest Fan: Is a fangirl for authors, especially Alan.
- Passing the Torch: Implied to be the new Lady of the Light.
An FBI agent investigating and pursuing Alan Wake. Taken by the Dark Presence in Episode 5, and implied to be the Presence's next avatar after Jaggar's form is destroyed.
- The Alcoholic: Brought on by his partner's death. Before that he never even touched the stuff.
- And I Must Scream: The ending suggests that he has become the new avatar for the Dark Presence.
- Ax Crazy: Even Wake declares at one point that he sounded unhinged.
- Big Bad Ensemble: With the Dark Presence and Dr. Hartman, but doesn't acknowledge either of them and only aims to capture Alan Wake.
- Cowboy Cop: A deconstruction, as he is portrayed as reckless and dangerous in his pursuit of Alan and the townsfolk don't particularly like him.
- Inspector Javert
- Jerkass: It's no wonder nobody in Bright Falls likes him.
- Jerkass Woobie: Can be seen as this if you've read his backstory in The Alan Wake Files bundled with the limited edition of the game.
- And carried on with the Novel which goes into even more detail; he and his partner were two By The Book cops, until the latter's death at the hands of the Dark Presence.
- Jerkass Woobie: Can be seen as this if you've read his backstory in The Alan Wake Files bundled with the limited edition of the game.
- Knight Templar
- Obstructive Bureaucrat
- Pet the Dog: Comforted a broken Rose during his interview with her.
- Rabid Cop: Considering he has almost no evidence but manuscript pages to go on, he spends an awful lot of time attempting to use deadly force on a suspect who never draws a gun on him, endangering civilians in the process.
- Running Gag: Calls Alan by different author names.
- What You Are in the Dark: Makes up his relatively few Pet the Dog moments.
Sheriff Sarah Breaker
Head of the local Bright Falls sheriff's office, who is investigating Alice's disappearance and eventually joins Alan in fighting the Dark Presence. Is at least partially aware of the weirdness around Cauldron Lake, which is why she readily works with Alan.
- Action Girl: Accompanies Alan and Barry while armed with a shotgun.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: In contrast to Agent Nightingale, is ready and willing to listen to Alan.
- Shotguns Are Just Better: The fact that it has unlimited shells probably helps.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: It is never revealed what happened to her and the others in the Well-Lit Room.
- In The Alan Wake Files, set after the game, she's talked to the author on a few things, but doesn't talk about what happened during the game or why there's a lot of damage and missing people in Bright Falls.
- American Nightmare implies she's still sheriff, and states that she and Barry still keep in touch.
One of Bright falls' residents, who is obsessed with making sure all the lights in the town are working properly. Was a friend of Thomas Zane before he vanished, and became the Lady of Light, devoted to safeguarding the town, Zane's memory and maniscript, and the Clicker.
- The Atoner: She protects Bright Falls in remembrance of Tom.
- Crazy Prepared: Guess who left all of those safe havens and supply caches for Alan to conveniently find.
- Not to mention the Well-Lit Room (which is the absolute end all of crazy, but is completely necessary and useful) and her underground tunnel (lit the whole way) that goes right to it.
- Mysterious Protector: She is the Lady of the Light.
- Properly Paranoid: A timid-looking old woman who carries a lantern and is afraid of the dark? Well, there's a good reason...
Odin and Tor Anderson
Two brothers who formed a heavy metal band in the '70's on their farm near Cauldron Lake, and renamed themselves as Norse gods to further their image of reborn deities. Now mentally-unstable old men who live in Dr. Hartman's clinic, but occasionally sneak off to raise hell in town or get some moonshine. Have encountered and fought against the Dark Presence in the past, and were aware of both the Lady of Light and Thomas Zane, and their significance in fighting the Dark Presence.
- Cool Old Guys
- Crazy Prepared: Left the primer to defeating the Dark Presence in the lyrics of their songs, and their farm has enough weaponry to arm a mid-sized militia.
- Drop the Hammer: Tor, at least.
- Eyepatch of Power: Odin.
- Heavy Mithril: They model themselves off of Norse mythology.
- Passing the Torch
- The Power of Rock: Literally. "The Poet and The Muse" explains how to defeat the Dark Presence, while "Children of the Elder God" details how to fight the Presence and the Taken. And considering the nature of Cauldron Lake, those songs may be the entire reason why the Taken are vulnerable to light in the first place.
- Invoked again in American Nightmare with their new single, Balance Slays The Demon. As you can probably guess, its lyrics detail how to defeat Mr. Scratch. And a reversed message saying "It will happen again, in another town. A town, called Ordinary."
The Dark Presence
The central antagonist of the game, a hostile, aggressive supernatural entity that exists within Cauldron Lake, which creates the Taken. Its power is limited by what is written or created by the artists around Cauldron Lake. The Presence was originally encountered by Thomas Zane, and convinced him to bring back his deceased love Barbara Jagger - but since Zane didn't specify how she came back, the Presence took over her body and used her as an avatar.
- Author Avatar: It makes stories come to life, it directs the flow of the plot, and it ultimately is the reason anything in the game happened. Draw your own conclusions.
- Big Bad: Of the first game, and the series in general.
- Blue and Orange Morality: The developer commentary track remarks that the Dark Presence is an utterly alien being that simply doesn't understand human morality, or even human behavior, which is why it lets Wake get away with a lot of the stuff he does. However, it does understand humans well enough to manipulate Wake by holding Alice hostage, as well as to lure him into a trap using Rose.
- Eldritch Abomination: According to Alan's reading of Zane's poetry, the Presence is an avatar of a vast, horrible monstrosity that is explicitly compared to a Lovecraftian being.
- Everything Trying to Kill You: The poltergeist objects in particular. Including the parade float.
- The Heartless: Literally, in Jagger's case: Zane cut her heart out after she Came Back Wrong.
- Humanoid Abomination: The Taken forms as well as the avatar of Barbara Jagger.
- Reality Warper
- The Virus: It corrupts some of the Bright Falls locals, turning them into the "Taken" who you fight most of the time.
A poet and apparently bestselling author who lived in and around Cauldron Lake in the 1960's, and was in love with a woman named Barbara Jagger. When Barbara drowned, the Dark Presence convinced him to bring her back using his poetry, but he didn't explain how she returned, allowing the Dark Presence to put in its own explanation and take over her body. In response, Thomas Zane chose to write himself and his actions entirely out of existence, thereby containing the Dark Presence. He also wrote in a loophole that allowed Cynthia Weaver to remember him and what had happened, allowing her to become the Lady of Light.
Later on, when Alan Wake arrived at Cauldron Lake, Alan wrote Thomas Zane into his novel as a guide, taking on the form of a man in a diving/space suit, who would help Alan fight the Dark Presence.
- The Atoner
- Deus Ex Machina: Writing this allowed the Presence to take over Barabara Jagger's body.
- Enigmatic Empowering Entity
- My Greatest Failure
- The Obi-Wan: He acts as Alan's guide and aids him, though indirectly. Becomes much more direct in "The Signal" and "The Writer" DLC, which are almost completely Zane trying to guide Alan through the Dark Place and teach him to fight it's influence.
- Posthumous Character
- Reality Warper
- Ret-Gone: Did this to himself.
A retired cop who is now the host of a late night radio program. Alan first meets him on the boat into town where he asks him to stop by later for an interview. In Episode 3, Alan does stop by the station, but he's not there for an interview...
- Cool Old Guy: It may not be obvious the first time you meet him, but he is definately more awesome then he first appears.
Works at a local garage and ends up becoming the first elite Taken.
- Ax Crazy: He even has an actual ax!
- Large Ham: "The name's Stucky, CARL STUCKY! Pleased... TO MEET YOU!"
- Trademark Favorite Food: Hot dogs. He even has a top ten list of his favorite brands!
Dr. Emil Hartman
A doctor who owns a clinic reserved for artists near Caldren lake. He's also the one who convinced Alice to bring Alan to Bright Falls. As it turns out, he intended to use Alan to his own ends, but meets a gruesome fate before any of his plans can come to fruition.
- Asshole Victim: Alan locks him inside his own office when the Dark Presence starts invading Cauldron Lake Lodge. Given all the things he's done to his patients Wake and Thomas Zane, the proud grin on Alan's face as he walks away is warranted.
- Big Bad Ensemble: With the Dark Presence and Agent Nightingale, but never meets the latter.
- Blatant Lies: Alice isn't dead, dammit!
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Aims to control the Dark Presence. By the end of Episode 4, he becomes yet another of the dark presence's many victims.
- The Man Behind the Man: He was manipulating Mott.
- Smug Snake
The antagonist of Alan Wake's American Nightmare. Originating from the Dark Place, he is the embodiment of all negative stories and loose rumours ever told about Alan, making him a maniacal, flamboyant, sadistic serial killer. Capable of travelling freely between the Dark Place and the real world, he finds delight in threatening to take over Alan's life and taunting with his evil deeds.
- Attention Whore: Is pretty clear about this right from the start. In his own words:
"But the difference between you and me...? I'm not afraid to be the center of attention."
- Ax Crazy: Unlike the calm, collected Barbara Jagger, this guy's a loudmouth psychopath in love with himself.
- Big Bad: Of Alan Wake's American Nightmare.
- Card-Carrying Villain: He is fully aware that he is one, and it appears that he is embracing it on some levels, while resenting it on others.
- Cutscene Boss: Once Alan loaded Alice's film into the projector, he really didn't have a chance...
- Disproportionate Retribution: While speaking to Alan via tv in the observatory, the guy in the next room begins getting on his nerves. It's heavily implied he strangled the poor bastard.
- Does Not Like Guns
- The Dragon: Alan makes an informed guess that Mr. Scratch probably doesn't have his own agenda, but rather works as an agent for one of the many Eldritch Abominations that lurks in the Dark Place.
- Dressed to Kill
- Evil Counterpart: To Wake.
- Evil Tastes Good: He describes the most terrible, evil things he can think of as "Sweet", accompanied by rolling-eyes and a face slack with pleasure from just contemplating it.
- Faux Affably Evil: He feigns pleasantness when he wants his victims to be off guard.
- The Hedonist: Everything he does in his existence is for his own enjoyment.
- Hidden Depths: One video has him oddly subdued, but clearly agitated. He opens up to Alan, since they're so much alike being dopplegangers, and mentions that the fact of his existence is extremely disturbing to himself. He tries several times to ask Alan for help and to work together, but he literally can't get the words out. For whatever reason, Mr. Scratch was trying to reach out to Alan.
- Humanoid Abomination: He might be a new avatar for the Dark Presence. When Barbara Jagger drowned, it took on her appearance and was able to move about the world much like Mr. Scratch. She was also known as "The Scratching Hag" around Bright Falls.
- Kick the Dog: Good lord, he's basically a dog-kicking machine. Just when you think he's finally topped himself, Alan turns on another tv, and Mr. Scratch finds some new way to get under Alan's (as well as the player's) skin.
- Knife Nut: He doesn't believe that he can truly "connect" with people by using bullets.
- Large Ham: You wouldn't think it, given he shares a voice/mo-cap actor with the rather down-to-earth Alan Wake. However, it's clear he enjoyed himself as Mr. Scratch. A lot.
- Non-Action Big Bad: For all his boasts and taunts, all he ever bothers to do is send random taken after Alan rather than try to deal with him directly. Even his victims are all either tied up and helpless or taken by surprise.
- Rage Against the Author: Promotional material depicts him killing Sam Lake in one video, and enslaving him in another after going on a killing spree throughout Remedy's offices.
- Slasher Smile: One of his most noted features whenever he's in a good mood.
- Weaksauce Weakness: As it turns out, he can't withstand the light much better than the mooks he sends after you. Small motel lights and things like that are apparently fine, but anything close to a floodlight and he's toast.
- Weapon of Choice: Small knives, or razors.
A female mechanic you meet in American Nightmare. She's also into new age stuff.
- Back from the Dead: At least twice. She's killed by the Darkness at the end of Act 1 and 2, although she starts remembering her deaths in Act 2, and in 3, she and Alan figure out how to finally prevent it by stopping the Taken from knocking out her garage's fuse box.
- Dirty Coward: She thinks of herself as one, as she ran away when Mr. Scratch began killing a man to gain access to the Mount Redtooth Observatory and didn't even call the police. Alan assures her that this isn't the case.
- New Age Retro Hippie
- Wrench Wench: A female mechanic, and one used to getting shit for it too.
Dr. Rachel Meadows
A female scientist you meet in American Nightmare who works for Redtooth Observatory. She eventually helps you to decode a mysterious signal that holds the key to defeating Mr. Scratch.
- Grandma, What Massive Hotness You Have!: Definitely not old, but appears to be in her late 40's. And damn does she look good in that dress and labcoat.
- Hot Scientist: Big time...
- Little Black Dress: Wears one under her white lab coat. Alan asks her if she always wears it to work, and she explains it as the result of being called away from a party she was attending.
- Meganekko: Goes great with her lab coat and Little Black Dress.
- Mission Control: Well, in and around the Observatory anyway. She frequently talks to you over a loudspeaker system.
- Nerds Are Sexy: And she's got the glasses and a sexy British accent to go with it.
- Stiff Upper Lip: Her response to a mass of Taken swarming throughout the observatory on the last visit? "I really wish they would stop flagrantly breaking the laws of physics in my observatory. It's rather rude."
- Unfazed Everyman: She takes time looping best out of all three women (possibly because she doesn't have anything bad happen to her) and actually expresses some minor interest in letting it continue so she can study it.
Serena is a film maker and a supposed friend of Alice Wake, encountered in American Nightmare. Since Alice thought Alan was dead, with the help of Serena, they made a film based on Alan for the annual Night Springs Visual Art Show Film Festival.
- And I Must Scream: She has no control over her actions, but is left fully aware of her behavior. On the second time Alan passes through the drive in, he doesn't have to help and can leave her like this.
- Brainwashed: Touched by the Darkness via Mr. Scratch, and becomes a total slut. You can snap her out of it by turning on the lights to her building, which cures her instantly. As she retains full memory of her actions, she feels disgusted afterwards and thanks Alan for not taking advantage of her.
- Although helping her is optional in Acts 2 and 3 for some reason.
- Meganekko: Just like the woman Alan visited before her... maybe one of the developers has a thing for this trope.
- Mind Rape: Being touched by the Darkness leaves her very disturbed and worried about going crazy.
Radio host based in Night Springs. He's pretty much AN's version of Pat Maine.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Of Pat Maine.