Deckard is the novel's main character. The book revolves around one extended case in which he hunts down six especially advanced androids. He is an everyman figure. Late in the book another character, John Isidore, describes Deckard as a forgettable bureaucrat. Despite this description, Deckard is very much the hard-boiled detective of film noir. He works alone in an ethically complex situation. He continually risks his life but no longer believes in his cause. He is married but cheats on his wife with the wrong woman (Rachael Rosen). He succeeds at the almost impossible task of killing six advanced androids in a single day but gets nowhere. At the end of the day, he is right back where he started, and all the bounty money he earned is gone.
Rachael Rosen is the same kind of android Deckard is assigned to track down. She is also the physical template for one of the female androids, so she and Pris Stratton are physically interchangeable. Rosen is an example of the "femme fatale" common to detective fiction. The hero finds this sort of woman extremely attractive, but she betrays him. In this case, Rosen betrays Deckard when they sleep together: he assumes their connection is genuine, while for her it is tactical. She sleeps with Deckard so he won't be able to hunt androids anymore. Rosen is also an example of the "dark-haired girl" Dick found attractive, a physical type who shows up in a few of his other fictional works.
John Isidore exemplifies a lot of what is wrong with human society and the world after the nuclear war. Radiation has damaged his genes, so he can't leave for another planet. He is also mentally limited, so he is considered "special." He can only work at manual labor (driving a truck). Despite his limitations, Isidore is compassionate and empathetic. When he hears another person in his empty apartment building, he immediately goes to see who it is. He makes overtures, and tries to make friends. Later, he shelters the androids even when he learns they are androids—and even when he realizes they are taking advantage of him.
Early in the novel, Iran is characterized shallowly, but vividly. She is clearly unhappy with Deckard's job and their life together. She uses their "mood organ" to shape her emotional responses to the world, and often to punish both Deckard and herself. She is almost a genre cliché, not from science fiction but from pulp or detective fiction: the shrill wife the hero escapes by going to work. However, Iran deepens as the novel progresses. She becomes much more compassionate toward her husband and actively takes care of him in the book's final pages.
Wilbur Mercer, the main figure in Mercerism, is a complex and contradictory character. Throughout the novel he suffers in a Christ-like fashion. People persecute him, throwing stones much like they did to Christ before his crucifixion. Around the world people use their "empathy boxes" to fuse with Mercer and share his suffering. However, late in the novel it is revealed that Mercerism was a fabricated movement. The visions people experience sharing with him were created on a movie set, and a minor actor named Al Jarry played Mercer. Despite this revelation, Mercer appears to both Isidore and Deckard late in the novel.