There are too many Persona 5 characters for the average player to keep a lid on. Knowing your Phantom Thieves from your Confidants is hard enough, and over a 90-100 hour playthrough, you're going to meet a lot of new faces with dynamic arcs and motivations. And with Persona 5 Royale on the way later this year you'll be able to meet them all over again.
In our Persona 5 characters guide, we're going to run through the main players that are on a need to know basis, show you how to work on their social links and discuss whether they're worth adding to your party for maximum efficiency in the game's dungeons. We won't be spoiling any plot points, more so giving you an idea of each character and their motivations.
The Phantom Thieves
If you've set foot in Persona 5 for more than five minutes you most likely know who this is. Joker is the player-character and protagonist of the story who is transferred to Shujin Academy following a run-in with politician and main antagonist Masayoshi Shido, who frames Joker for a crime he did not commit.
Reserved but cunning and mischievous, Joker can summon multiple Persona's instead of relying on just one, and is the leader of the Phantom Thieves.
Joker's right-hand man is Ryuji, a loose cannon with a short temper but an endearing soul. Ryuji is hurt by a troubled upbringing, and is a former track star scorned by his coach. He is first to join your party in the game, and his Persona is the mighty pirate Captain Kidd.
Ryuji is a brilliant physical damage dealer who you should keep in your party for most of the game, especially if you're working on developing his social link to improve his ability in battle. Reliable and strong, he can also buff party members with abilities like Tarukaja that increase attack power.
Chariot Confidant: Established automatically during the course of the game, but can be furthered by visiting him on 2F of Shujin Academy on school days, or at the Shibuya Arcade when school is out. He likes noodles. Like... a lot.
A cat that Ryuji and Joker stumble upon in the Metaverse, Morgana is a compelling character right from his first introduction. Full of wisecracks and cutting jabs, this kitty has claws, but is also incredibly knowledgeable about the inner workings of the Metaverse. Kind of the brains of the Phantom Thieves. Morgana can transform into a car to help the gang travel through Mementos, and is madly in love with Ann, for some reason.
You want to keep Morgana around in the early game of Persona 5 for his luck-based abilities (which can turn tides very easily if used properly) and his healing magic that will no doubt keep you alive. He can seem fairly disposable in the late-game when you get better party members, but is still very useful throughout.
Magician Confidant: Morgana's social tree is furthered automatically throughout the story, and unlocks a series of important abilities as you progress through the game. Basically, don't worry about it!
Lady Ann is a foreign student and model who joins the Phantom Thieves after being subjected to the rumour mill and suffering a tragic loss that sends shock waves through Shujin Academy.
Her persona, Carmen, is a fashionable femme fatale who specialises in fire magic, but is weak to ice. Much like Ryuji, Ann is well worth keeping around until at least the late game due to her magic offensive, which is easily one of the best in the game when combined with the concentrate skill. She's also great at confusing enemies and deals devastating fire damage.
Lovers Confidant: After you beat the first palace this social tree will unlock automatically. Further it by heading to the Shibuya Underground Mall, and Ann will gain powerful abilities in battle.
A tortured artist, Yusuke is a Kosei High School student who was orphaned as a young boy and taken in by a famous painter. Eccentric and dedicated but deeply kind, he joins the Phantom Thieves early on in the game ahead of the second palace.
His persona is Goemon, a deadly ninja with high strength and agility. Goemon deals terrifying physical damage in the later levels, and is highly useful against fire-powered foes due to his ice abilities. It's fairly common to swap between Yusuke and Ryuji, who are fairly similar. It all depends on the theme of the dungeon and the type of enemies you're facing.
Emperor Confidant: This social link is available after the second palace, simply head to the Shibuya Underground Station during the day to progress his tree. Yusuke manufactures skill cards which you can use to upgrade your persona's and give them special abilities, so it's well worth the investment. Just be sure to take him to places that indulge the artistic side of life.
The clever-clogs of the group, Makoto is a charming top-class student with a critical mind. Though, she balances this with feelings of subordination in relation to her sister, Sae, the pair of them being rocked by the death of their father. She holds her cards close to the chest, but not in battle, where she unleashes her motorcycle persona, Johanna.
Makoto is a potent all-rounder that many (myself included) have opted to use throughout the entire game after her introduction. Plenty of enemies suffer at the hands of her nuclear abilities, and her varied skillset makes her a jack of all trades, useful in any kind of bind, especially when you start to unlock her more potent buffs and damage-dealing abilities.
Priestess Arcana: You can start this social link in June by visiting Makoto on the third floor of Shujin or at the school gates on a day off. By furthering her link she will become more potent in battle. Just make sure you have Knowledge rank three first, or you won't get very far. Hit the books!
Futaba is a talented hacker and dedicated dork who struggles with social occasions and is tormented by an unfortunate childhood. An endearing spirit you constantly want to root for, she serves as the eyes and ears of the Phantom Thieves.
Her persona, Necronomicon, is a UFO with a gargoyle on top. Futaba does not actually feature in battle like the other Phantom Thieves, but rather spends her time buffing the group during and after a battle if her social tree is pursued.
Hermit Arcana: Find Futaba outside Cafe Leblanc during the day and head to electric town (Akihabara) to indulge her nerdy nature and you will be rewarded with incredibly powerful team buffs, like abilities that negate deathblows and offer up extra treasure.
A keen gardener and heiress to a burger business empire, Haru embraces her persona in an attempt to escape an arranged marriage. With few friends and a shy nature, she joins the Phantom Thieves as their final member.
Her persona is Milady, a musketeer with an all-around skillset. Yet, her main attack advantages lie in Psy and Gun skills, which are hard to implement and master properly, though can be devastating if built correctly and complemented well within a team. As you make friends very late in the game, it can also be difficult to max out her tree and make her potent compared to your other confidants, which makes Haru difficult to reccomend.
Empress Arcana: You can find Haru on the roof of Shujin Academy after school. Her social tree is only started in late October though, so if you want to max it out, make haste and improve your Dexterity skill to maximum so you can speed through her social ranks. This will reward you with the ability to grow crops with her on the roof and unlock her potential in battle.
Persona 5 Confidants
The scary-looking bloke who owns the Velvet Room (basically Persona's Black Lodge for the Twin Peaks fans out there,) Igor appears in most Persona games and charts the rehabilitation of Joker throughout Persona 5, liberating him from his mental shackles and unlocking the power of his persona through fusion, which can be performed in his prison-like den.
Fool Arcana: This confidant tree is unlocked throughout the course of the game automatically, requiring no input from the player, affording you extra persona and boosting your fusion capabilities.
Caroline and Justine
Sweet sisters Caroline and Justine serve as Igor's prison wardens, guarding the Velvet Room from danger and making Joker's life hell when necessary. Aside from serving you shade, they help you to manage your persona's and perform fusion when you need to improve your efficiency in battle.
Strength Confidant: Easily the most difficult tree to climb in the game, the Strength Confidant asks you to curate specific persona's to use in fusion, often asking for particular abilities as a result. It's all very confusing so it's definitely worth seeking out a guide for this one. Once you obey their commands you will unlock extremely helpful fusion upgrades.
Owner of Cafe Leblanc, Sojiro is a wise old sage who lets you live in the attic for the duration of your stay at Shujin. He can be a bit of a hard-ass at first but you'll see his soft side soon enough. He makes a mean coffee and curry combo, and acts as an adoptive father figure to many of the Phantom Thieves.
Hierophant Confidant: Sojiro's confidant tree is a rewarding story which needs to be probed to get the most out of Persona 5. Start it up by talking to him in the evenings at his cafe at the end of April, and you'll slowly gain the ability to cook restorative items at Leblanc. Just make sure your Kindness skill is in check.
A difficult, complex character with a satisfying arc focused on corruption, Sae Nijima is a prosecutor introduced in the prologue. Sae interrogates Joker throughout the game to learn the story of the Phantom Thieves. Sae is also Makoto's cold older sister who is constantly bound to her work in an attempt to distance herself from her emotions.
Judgement Confidant: Don't worry about this one, it unlocks automatically throughout the course of the game.
A homeroom teacher at Shujin, this confidant doesn't trust Joker initially due to his supposed criminal past. However, the Thieves find out about her side job as a maid she is forced due to extortion and she opens up and helps Joker with school, who returns the favour by investigating her case. A worthwhile social tree, especially given the rewards.
Temperance Confidant: This unconventional confidant is activated via a phone call from Cafe Leblanc at night time near the end of May, once you've grabbed her phone number by talking to her at school. Kawakami will help perform activities that would usually advance time whilst you go out for meet cutes with other confidants. This is fairly essential, as it helps you manage your precious time better.
A punk doctor with a dark sense of humour but a warm heart, Tae is a useful confidant and vendor, who provides powerful drugs for use in battle. A victim of perjury, Joker must help clean up Takemi's reputation throughout the events of her social tree.
Death Confidant: Available in April, this confidant requires you to visit her clinic near Cafe Leblanc and take part in worrying clinical trials that require Guts (so go eat lots of big burgers.) As a reward for your foolhardiness, you will receive better items at her store at a cheaper price point.
Yuuki is a worrywart victim of bullying at Shujin who sets up the Phantom Thieves' fan website as the team grow in popularity during the course of the game. He becomes enraptured in his obsession with the group and the popularity of his website, which borders on dangerous, but overall his heart is often in the right place, a facet of his personality explored well in his social arc.
Moon Confidant: Yuuki moves around during the events of the game, appearing in Shinjuku, Akihabara and Shibuya respectively depending on where you're at in the story. Be vigilant to find him and progress his tree as his confidant is very important. Progressing will unlock experience bonuses for Joker and the rest of the Phantom Thieves.
With his Gallagher parka and tattooed neck, you can quickly judge what kind of personality Iwai is going to have when you walk into his airsoft store in Shibuya. He is a weapons dealer to the Phantom Thieves who acts as a fence for your stolen items. Don't rule him out straight away though, be sure to play out his social tree for one of the more involved and surprising character arc's in the game.
Hanged Man Confidant: A worthwhile confidant with great benefits, you can start this tree by visiting Iwai in his store at night. Complete the tasks he sets out for Joker and you will be rewarded with discounts on weapons at his store. Simple, but very useful as the battles increase in difficulty.
A politician with a sullied reputation, Yoshida is in need of some help with his public speaking so he can capture the hearts and minds of the public around Station Square. Constantly wrapped up in a scandal, Yoshida's self-esteem has hit rock bottom, and he needs your help to invigorate the populace once more in order to change his home country.
Sun Confidant: You can kick this one off outside Shibuya Station at Nighttime by taking an active interest in his campaign, then working at the beef bowl shop and listening to many of his speeches. It's a worthwhile effort too, as it improves your negotiation skills with shadows in dungeons, affording you the ability to gain more money and particular persona's during battle.
A fortune teller from Shinjuku with an infectious smile and a suite of mysterious abilities, Chihaya is forced under contract to limit her true powers and sell useless trinkets. Joker helps her unlock her true potential over the course of her character arc.
Fortune Confidant: This one is a bit more difficult than the rest to unlock. First you have to make it to the end of June, then you have to talk to her at nighttime in Shinjuku and buy her stone for 100,000 yen to even begin the social tree.
Once this is done, advance through her story and complete her Mementos request to unlock a seriously powerful advantage - fortunes. Receiving one does not advance time and boosts social stats and confidant bonds without putting in the legwork. If you're a completionist, you want to push this one as fast as possible, so save your cash before June rolls around.
A lassez-faire journalist who has lost all integrity, Ohya is a clickbait queen burned out by the industry and pushed away from reporting scandals and breaking news. Now trapped by her work and wallowing away in a Shinjuku bar, Joker must help this devil regain her spark.
Devil Confidant: When the end of June rolls around head to the bar in Shinjuku to talk to Ohya at night and advance her interesting storyline. Her reward is fairly inconsequential, lowering the security level within a palace (this can be ignored with good stealth) but perhaps its useful to flesh out if you're struggling to stay in the shadows.
A Kosei High School student alongside Yusuke, Hifumi is a championship Shogi player but everyone likes to focus on her good looks rather than her abilities, suggesting she fixes matches and bribes her competitors to gain favour in the Shogi community. Joker offers to help her through this minefield (provided he has the necessary knowledge and charm.)
Star Arcana: First you have to advance Yusuke's confidant to Rank 2 and raise your charm. Then, in late June you must travel to Kanda Church at night to start this social tree. Hifumi will reward the player with various abilities that are very useful in battle, like a skill which lets you run away from dangerous battles with ease and swap party members whilst in a dungeon.
The 'Gamer King' of Akihabara, Shinya is a shy kid with a foul mouth who rules the arcades. That is, until a notorious cheater comes along and ruins all of the fun. He's bullied for losing and leads a lonely existence, struggling to find his way in the world. Joker comes along at the right time to help him take some hearts and restore his love for gaming, whilst dealing with his troubled home life. This is a great arc charged with emotion that you shouldn't miss out on!
Tower Confidant: In early September you should head to the Akihabara arcades and follow a request to take the heart of a cheater in Mementos. Return to the arcade afterwards and you will kick off Shinya's storyline. As a reward for wrapping this up, you will receive boosts to your gun-based abilities, with the max skill affording Joker the ability to skip all resistances when shooting at foes.