The characters of The Confidant, a 2012 Hong Kong television drama produced by TVB, are both fictional and real-life characters living during the reign of the Tongzhi Emperor, the tenth emperor of the Qing Dynasty. The drama is a dramatisation on the life of imperial eunuch Li Lianying, one of the most powerful figures of the latter years of the Qing Dynasty.
Born Lei Ying-tai (李英泰), Lin-ying was born in Hejian Fu, and is the second of three sons to Lei Yuk and Cho Kuk, a couple who owns a small leather store in the capital. In order to pay for his father's gambling deaths, Lin-ying got castrated and entered the palace to become a eunuch. He served in the King-yan Palace, which lived the lonely and young Dowager Concubine Yuen, before moving to the Cheung-chun Palace to serve Empress Dowager Chee-hei, who is attracted by Lin-ying's intelligence and loyalty. Accommodating and friendly, Lin-ying makes many lifelong friends within King-yan Palace. Lin-ying is also best friends with On Tak-hoi, Chee-hei's personal eunuch and close confidant. Together, Lin-yin and Tak-hoi are the students of the elderly and wise Lau Dor-sang, a eunuch stationed at the Forbidden City's archival room.
At a young age, Tak-hoi was sold to the palace to become a eunuch. A student of Lau Dor-sang, Tak-hoi is also the best friend of Lei Lin-ying, a eunuch serving King-yan Palace. Tak-hoi risked his life to help Empress Dowagers Chee-hei and Chee-on resume their power in court, winning the trust of both empresses. Chee-hei appoints Tak-hoi as her personal eunuch, and he also becomes her one of her closest friends and confidants. Compassionate and ambitious, Tak-hoi is displeased with Chan Fuk abusing his powers as Forbidden City's Head Eunuch, and he strives to take over his position. Accused of having affair with Chee-hei and is beheaded.
Born to a family of medical practitioners, Sheung-hei is a simple and honest eunuch who serves the medical department of the Forbidden City. After the death of his father, his family was thrown into poverty, and Sheung-hei was forced to become a eunuch to provide for his family. Sheung-hei becomes a close friend of Lei Lin-ying after the latter saves him from a severe punishment for trying to escape the palace to see his dying mother.
Also serving in the King-yan Palace, Tim-sau is the student of Lei Lin-ying. In order to pay for his family's expenses, Tim-sau accumulated many gambling debts. He cherishes his mentor-friendship relationship with Lin-ying, and he vows to serve by Lin-ying's side forever. When Lin-ying was asked to serve Empress Dowager Chee-hei, Tim-sau also followed. Tim-sau idolises On Tak-hoi, Chee-hei's confidant, and hopes to one day reach the same success as him. Tim-sau had a pure and innocent heart, but he is later seduced by fame and wealth, and is willing to overstep the bounds to reach his goals.
The nephew of Head Eunuch Chan Fuk, Sam-shun is a seventh-ranking eunuch of the management bureau who often abuses his relationship with the former to collect favors and to taunt his subordinates. When medical department's eunuch, Yiu Sheung-hei, requests for a vacation leave to visit his dying mother, Sam-shun refused his request due to monetary loss. When Sheung-hei attempts to escape, Sam-shun grabs an entire team of eunuchs to capture him. Sam-shun often competes with Lei Lin-ying and On Tak-hoi for power.
Appointed by Empress Dowager Chee-on, Chan Fuk is the fourth-ranking Head Eunuch of the Forbidden City. Chan Fuk entered the palace at a very young age, and has been through three eras of reign. Chan Fuk dislikes Empress Dowager Chee-hei, believing that she is a threat to the Aisin-Gioro clan, no more less to the entire Qing empire. Chan Fuk works closely with Prince Kung, Chee-hei's brother-in-law, to weaken Chee-hei's power in court.
Concubine Dowager Yuen's personal maid and her confidant. Sin-yung served in the King-yan Palace for much of her life. Independent and courageous, all of the servants in King-yan Palace look up to her, including Lei Lin-ying. Sin-yung strikes a romance with the handsome Pak-lun, a palace guard. After Pak-lun leaves for war, Sin-yung discovers that she is pregnant. As all palace maids are expected to retire by the time they turn twenty five years of age, Sin-yung believes that she will be able to escape punishment. However, Sin-yung suffers a miscarriage after she is brutally beaten by Sam-shun.
Also known as So Mor-mor (蘇嬤嬤), So is Empress Dowager Chee-on's nanny, and is currently serving in the Chung-sui Palace as Chee-on's confidant. So is loyal but unscrupulous, and treats Chee-on's enemies as her own.
Also regarded as the "West Empress Dowager" and the title "Holy Mother Empress Dowager", Chee-hei is the de facto ruler of the Qing Empire. She was selected by the Ham-fung Emperor as a concubine and gave birth to his only son, who becomes the Tung-chi Emperor upon Ham-fung's death. Chee-hei is known for opposing westernisation.
A lively youth with a creative and brilliant mind, but because his mother, Empress Dowager Chee-hei, has the real hand in power, Tung-chi never had an affluent influence over court affairs. Tung-chi attempts political reform, but his efforts are shot down by his mother. Tung-chi is much closer to Empress Dowager Chee-on, and he also chooses Chee-on's niece to be his wife rather than his mother's own selection.
Born of the Alute clan, the empress is the daughter of Empress Dowager Chee-on's older cousin. Although at least two years Tung-chi's senior, Tung-chi decides to marry Ka-shun as his empress as oppose to his own mother's selection.
Also known as the Sixth Imperial Prince, Prince Kung is the sixth son of the Do-kwong Emperor. Prince Kung expected himself to succeed the throne after the death of his older brother, the Ham-fung Emperor. When Empress Dowager Chee-hei pushes her son, the five-year-old Tung-chi, to the throne, Prince Kung turns to regard Chee-hei to be the despot of the weakening Qing empire.
The sickly night daughter of the Do-kwong Emperor, and the Tung-chi Emperor's aunt. The princess is bored of her life in the palace and develops an attraction to the eunuch, Yiu Sheung-hei. Dies in Ep:28.
Concubine Yuen is a neglected concubine of the former Ham-fung Emperor. She falls in love with the handsome Peking opera singer, Yuk-jun, and he sires a son with her. Chee-hei discovers that her son was not Ham-fung's biological son, and orders her infant son to be killed. Yuen committed suicide (Ep:5) after being exiled by Chee-hei for attempt to dethrone her.
Cilla Kung as Consort Wai (慧妃), a concubine of the Tung-chi Emperor. Empress Dowager Chee-hei wants Consort Wai to be empress, but Tung-chi ultimately chooses Empress Dowager Chee-on's niece, who becomes Empress Ka-shun.
Tsui Wing as Guwalgiya Sing-po (蘇完瓜爾佳·勝保), a general and Prince Kung's assistant.
Lo Chun-shun as Law On-tai (羅安康), a eunuch serving in King-yan Palace.
Fred Cheng as Lei Wing-ning (利永寧), a eunuch serving in King-yan Palace.
Au Sui-wai as Prince Shun (醇親王), also known as the Seventh Imperial Prince, Prince Kung's younger brother.
Eric Li as Pak-lun (伯倫), a palace guard and Sin-yung's lover.
Peter Pang as Kwai-cheung (葉赫那拉·桂祥), Empress Dowager Chee-hei's younger brother.