- Winston Smith – the 39-year old protagonist who is a phlegmatic everyman harbouring thoughts of rebellion and is curious about the Party's power and the past before the Revolution.
- Julia – Winston's lover who is a covert "rebel from the waist downwards" who publicly espouses Party doctrine as a member of the fanatical Junior Anti-Sex League. Julia enjoys her small acts of rebellion and has no interest in giving up her lifestyle.
- O'Brien – A mysterious character, O'Brien is a member of the Inner Party who poses as a member of The Brotherhood, the counter-revolutionary resistance, to catch Winston. He is a spy intending to deceive, trap, and capture Winston and Julia. O'Brien has a servant named Martin.
- Aaronson, Jones, and Rutherford – former members of the Inner Party whom Winston vaguely remembers as among the original leaders of the Revolution, long before he had heard of Big Brother. They confessed to treasonable conspiracies with foreign powers and were then executed in the political purges of the 1960s. In between their confessions and executions, Winston saw them drinking in the Chestnut Tree Café—with broken noses, suggesting that their confessions had been obtained by torture. Later, in the course of his editorial work, Winston sees newspaper evidence contradicting their confessions, but drops it into a memory hole. Eleven years later, he is confronted with the same photograph during his interrogation.
- Ampleforth – Winston's one-time Records Department colleague who was imprisoned for leaving the word "God" in a Kipling poem as he could not find another rhyme for "rod"; Winston encounters him at the Ministry of Love. Ampleforth is a dreamer and intellectual who takes pleasure in his work, and respects poetry and language, traits which cause him disfavour with the Party.
- Charrington – an officer of the Thought Police posing as a sympathetic antiques dealer amongst the proles.
- Katharine Smith – the emotionally indifferent wife whom Winston "can't get rid of". Despite disliking sexual intercourse, Katharine married Winston because it was their "duty to the Party". Although she was a "goodthinkful" ideologue, they separated because the couple could not conceive children. Divorce is not permitted, but couples who cannot have children may live separately. For much of the story Winston lives in vague hope that Katharine may die or could be "got rid of" so that he may marry Julia. He regrets not having killed her by pushing her over the edge of a quarry when he had the chance many years previously.
- Tom Parsons – Winston's naïve neighbour, and an ideal member of the Outer Party: an uneducated, suggestible man who is utterly loyal to the Party, and fully believes in its perfect image. He is socially active and participates in the Party activities for his social class. He is friendly towards Smith, and despite his political conformity punishes his bullying son for firing a catapult at Winston. Later, as a prisoner, Winston sees Parsons is in the Ministry of Love, as his daughter had reported him to the Thought Police, saying she heard him speak against Big Brother in his sleep. Even this does not dampen his belief in the Party, and he states he could do "good work" in the hard labour camps.
- Mrs. Parsons – Parsons's wife is a wan and hapless woman who is intimidated by her own children.
- The Parsons children – a nine-year-old son and seven-year-old daughter. Both are members of the Spies, a youth organization that focuses on indoctrinating children with Party ideals and training them to report any suspected incidents of unorthodoxy. They represent the new generation of Oceanian citizens, without memory of life before Big Brother, and without family ties or emotional sentiment; the model society envisioned by the Inner Party.
- Syme – Winston's colleague at the Ministry of Truth, a lexicographer involved in compiling a new edition of the Newspeak dictionary. Although he is enthusiastic about his work and support for the Party, Winston notes, "He is too intelligent. He sees too clearly and speaks too plainly." Winston predicts, correctly, that Syme will become an unperson.
Additionally, the following characters, mentioned in the novel, play a significant role in the world-building of 1984. Whether these characters are real or fabrications of Party propaganda is something that neither Winston nor the reader is permitted to know:
- Big Brother – the leader and figurehead of the Party that rules Oceania. A deep cult of personality is formed around him.
- Emmanuel Goldstein – ostensibly a former leading figure in the Party who became the counter-revolutionary leader of the Brotherhood, and author of the book The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism. Goldstein is the symbolic enemy of the state—the national nemesis who ideologically unites the people of Oceania with the Party, especially during the Two Minutes Hate and other forms of fearmongering.