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Frank Underwood
Frank Underwood 4
Name: Francis John Underwood
Alias(es): Little John Secret Service Alias
Status: Alive
Age: 57
Date of birth: November 5, 1959
Birthplace: Gaffney, Cherokee County, South Carolina, United States
Nationality: Flag of the United States American
Political party: Democratic
Religion: Southern Baptist
(de jure)

(de facto)

Residence(s): 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW,
United States of America
1609 Fair St. NW,
Washington, D.C.,
United States of America
Education: The Sentinel, Harvard Law School
Affiliation: United States House of Representatives (1991–2013)
Profession: House Majority Whip (2005–2013)
49th Vice President of the United States (2013–2014)
46th President of the United States (2014–present)
Father: Calvin T. Underwood
Mother: Catherine Underwood
Sibling(s): None
Marital status: Married to Claire Underwood
Spouse(s): Wife:
Claire Underwood (Sep. 3, 1987 - present)
Significant other(s): Ex-lovers:
Tim Corbet (1976-1980)
Zoe Barnes (2013)
Edward Meechum
Children: None
Other family: Mother-in-law:
Elizabeth Hale
Played by: Kevin Spacey
Seasons: 1, 2, 3, 4
First episode: "Chapter 1"
Appears in: 4 seasons, 52 episodes

Francis Joseph “Frank” Underwood, born November 5, 1959, in Gaffney, South Carolina (D-SC), is the 46th President of the United States, assuming office after the resignation of President Garrett Walker, and formerly was the majority whip for the United States House of Representatives, serving South Carolina's 5th district. Along with Doug Stamper (Francis' chief of staff), his wife Claire Underwood, and publicist Seth Grayson he gradually began to get revenge for being snubbed as Secretary of State by President Walker and eventually manipulated his way to becoming the 49th Vice President and after a time, the 46th and current President of the United States.


Early life

Frank was an only child born on November 5th, 1959. Frank's father was a peach farmer in Gaffney, South Carolina, who died of a heart attack at the age of 43. (Chapter 3) Underwood has stated that he and his father had nothing in common whatsoever, and upon his father's death, he felt neither regret nor remorse. He also speaks about his father's cowardice, weak personality and drunken behavior.

Raised in impoverished circumstances, he found his hometown suffocating at the time. (Chapter 3)

Frank attended military college at "The Sentinel", based on The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina. He began attending the academy "just after Jimmy Carter had been elected president" (1976).  In his senior year, his grades suffered when he volunteered for a U.S. Senate campaign in the fall 1980 and was nearly expelled from the military college. Despite his poor grades, Underwood was accepted and graduated from Harvard Law School in 1984. It is shown that he had a sexual and romantic relationship while in military college with another cadet, Tim Corbet. (Chapter 8). The incident and others put Frank's sexuality into question.


On September 3, 1987, Frank married Claire. It could be inferred that Frank met Claire while attending law school at Harvard due to the incomplete pamphlet shown for the Underwood Library opening ceremony stating "Harvard Law School... in 1984, where he met...". (Chapter 8) Although Claire was interested in having children, Frank soon decided that it would be cruel to bring a child into a world of pain.

Claire became pregnant during Frank's early campaigning years, but the child was aborted to help further Frank's political career. In 2014, Claire declares in a TV interview that she had the abortion because she was impregnated from being raped by her boyfriend early in college, a man who later became a decorated general; this, however, is a lie, as the rape did not result in pregnancy.

Frank is bisexual or pansexual. He engaged in a long-term relationship with Tim Corbet during their time at the Sentinel. In Season 2, Frank and Claire have a threesome with Secret Service agent Edward Meechum. In Season 4, Frank reveals he had feelings for Tom Yates.

Political Career

South Carolina State Legislature

Frank was first elected to public office in 1984 at the age of 25 as a member for the South Carolina State Senate, as one of the youngest state legislators in state history. He was re-elected in 1988 before successfully running for Congress.

Representative Election

Frank was first elected as U.S. Representative from South Carolina's 5th congressional district in 1990 and was sworn into office in January of 1991.  He has since served for 12 terms, winning re-election for his 12th term in 2012. Frank steadily rose to higher power within Congress, eventually becoming the House Majority Whip for the Democratic Party in 2005. (Chapter 1)

Season 1

Secretary of State Passover

While beginning to announce his ideas to White House Chief of Staff Linda Vasquez for when he becomes Secretary of State, Vasquez informs Frank that President Walker had passed him up for the position, breaking a promise that he had made to Frank and angering him. This led to him attempting to bring down the nominee for Secretary of State, Michael Kern, an incompetent politician, and replacing him with a person he deemed a tougher, smarter candidate: Catherine Durant. (Chapter 1)

Frank begins his overture by orchestrating a fall from grace by Kern. Through Peter Russo, a morally torn congressman, Frank is able to manipulate a drug addicted editor of the Kern's former college newspaper. Kern is then pelted by media for a piece he allegedly authored regarding the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. This subsequent negative media attention leads the President to select someone else, a personal friend of Frank's, Catherine Durant, Senator from Louisiana.

Peter Russo for Governor

Taking the young representative under his wing, Frank Underwood´s seemingly grooms Peter Russo for Governor of Pennsylvania. He asks Russo to give him one month of sobriety, not for Frank, but himself. While it does appear that Frank truly wishes for Peter Russo to succeed, he knows his true plan will not come to fruition if he actually wins. Frank and the campaign team decide to portray him as a phoenix, in some respects; an alcoholic who was once at the very bottom of his life, now arisen from the ashes, via his children's and God's love. He pretends to be open with his former addictions and problems, but reveals only a small portion of his past. However, this does not work and voters slowly start turning away and losing interest.

Peter eventually manages to gain trust and respect in his state, first by partnering with his old friend with the unions, then by putting the Vice President in his place after he (the beloved former Governor of Pennsylvania) begins meddling in the campaign. However, he eventually relapses due to Doug Stamper 's influence in the reappearance of the call girl, Rachel Posner, who Russo was previously associated with. Russo even had another short affair with an unnamed male prostitute that was hinted to be under aged. The morning after Peter relapses, he absolutely ruins a morning radio show where he is clearly drunk and confused. With the election thus slipping from Russo's grasp (as Frank knew would occur and cleverly planned for), Frank quickly takes control of the situation and implies the Vice President could take back the governorship of the state. Underwood then murders Russo, planting it as a suicide, either accidental or not, by carbon monoxide poisoning when he realizes Russo is out of control and is no longer afraid of Frank.  

Education Bill

Meanwhile, Frank gains publicity with a controversial education bill. The bill makes teachers go on strike and they begin to riot over the contents. He makes a damaging appearance on a news debate with Marty Spinella. Frank himself even admits that Spinella "schooled" him. It is later mentioned that memes and a techno song were created because of Frank's performance. Either way, after the debate Frank takes charge and garners support when a child dies during school hours. He arranged a meeting with Spinella to come to a compromise which Frank had promised. Once they arrive at the meeting though Frank declares that does not plan to compromise. He provokes Spinella into punching him and Frank makes him end the strike or he will file charges. Allowing Frank's bill to pass.

Vice Presidential Attempt

After Frank secures an open spot in the Pennsylvania Governorship race (by killing Peter Russo), he begins to influence the Vice President to run. Previously, he had gotten Jim Matthews to campaign with Peter Russo, where he (the Vice President) was reintroduced to the love and adulation of a constituency that loved him. This reminded the Vice President of his glory days as a politician, the glory days that had not continued in his Vice Presidency. Knowing that he was unhappy, and very eager to feel important once more, as well as having freed up a space for Governor, Frank suggests the Vice President as Governor. The President and V.P. heartily agree, a decision further amounted to, because of an evident dislike for one another. Frank ensures they are both aware of this mutual dislike, by mentioning their comments told in confidence to him, to the other. 

As the V.P. campaigns for the certain victory, Frank and White House Chief of Staff, Linda Vasquez, create a fake list of Vice Presidential nominees.The nominees are incompetent and definitely not appropriate. This leads the President to become desperate and be ready to say yes to anything. They cross off every name, as they attempt to build up to Frank becoming the Vice President. 
Season 1 Chapter 13

Frank accepts the nomination for Vice President.

After being vetted by billionaire business magnate Raymond Tusk, a confidant and old friend of the President, Walker officially offered Frank the Vice Presidency, which Frank quickly and heartily accepted. Meanwhile, Frank's phone, left at home, rang as Doug attempted to inform him of Zoe Barnes' (a journalist working closely with Frank) betrayal.

Season 2

Vice Presidency

Frank eventually had a few discussions with Zoe, before meeting with her in a subway station. After having her erase their digital history together, she began to question and probe the death of Peter Russo. With her becoming too close to discovering his scheme, Frank threw her in front of an oncoming train, killing her.

As Vice President, Frank first set out to sever the close ties and drive a wedge between President Walker and Raymond Tusk. He did this by back channelling with China regarding the building of a Port Jefferson Bridge and successfully lobbied the President to go against Tusk's interests in the project.

Tusk started guiding his money to the Republicans and Frank ordered Seth Grayson to assist a reporter in revealing Xander Feng's connections to the money. The ensuing investigation led to Tusk's implication of President Walker and Walker's resignation. Frank ensured that Jackie Sharp whipped up enough votes for impeachment in the house by having Claire rework the Military Sexual Assault bill and he convinced Michael Kern to help him whip votes in the Senate by hinting at an eventual nomination as Secretary of the Treasury.

With connection to China exposed, President Walker was trapped and resigned his presidency. Frank was promptly sworn in as President. His first act is to renounce the asylum of Xander Feng, resulting in his deportation back to China and almost certain execution.

Season 3

Presidency (2014–present)

Season 2 Chapter 26

Frank enters the Oval Office as President for the first time.

Frank stepped into the Oval Office for the first time as President and knocked his ring twice on the desk, his trademark.

Congressional leadership has expressed their distaste for President Underwood.

Presidential elections 2016 campaign (late 2014-2016)

Main article: Frank Underwood presidential campaign, 2016

In Season 3, Underwood ran for the Democratic nomination against Heather Dunbar and Jackie Sharp, albeit him announcing that he would not run for re-election earlier in the season. Season 3 finishes before the Democratic nominee is chosen, with Frank beating Heather by a slim majority in Iowa.

Season 4

With the 2016 election looming, Frank continues his campaign under much stress without Claire. Often he would fantasize or dream about beating Claire. Into a mirror he would throw her, creating cracks. She pulls a piece of the broken mirror and stabs Frank in the gut. After a power battle, they make amends and work together. Claire also suggests to Frank that he put her on the ticket for vice president.

Lucas Goodwin attempts to assassinate President Underwood. This leaves Frank in a critical state. Complications ensue during his stay at the hospital. Frank leaves the hospital in a weakened state, however makes a recovery. Goodwin's suicide note, uncovered after his death at the rally, contained incriminating accusations of the President which now threaten Underwood's political power. 

In one of his schemes, Frank allows the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to hold an open election of the vice president in an attempt to replace Catherine Durant for the vice presidency. After pulling strings with superdelegates, the votes stack up with Claire. Catherine Durant announces that she is withdrawing at the stage, and encourages the delegates to vote for Claire. Claire becomes the nominee for the vice president. 

During the DNC voting, Conway calls Frank out for his failure to act on the terrorist group ICO. Frank decides to meet with Conway to call his bluff. The private meeting results in no change of policy, but instead a tense conversation. Conway reminds Frank he is behind in the polls by double digits and says that Frank is desperate to win. 

Hammerschmidt meets with Frank weeks before election day to get a comment on his story, which tells the truth of Frank's deeds. Though it has no factual evidence, it does have the word of Walker, Jackie Sharp, and Remy Danton. Frank hammers down on ICO, reacting with full out war against the terrorist organization. In the end, it seems Frank may be hopeless to achieve the popular vote so surrounded by scandal. However, the season ends before the election takes place. 

Behind the Scenes


Season 1
"Chapter 1" "Chapter 2" "Chapter 3" "Chapter 4" "Chapter 5"
"Chapter 6" "Chapter 7" "Chapter 8" "Chapter 9" "Chapter 10"
"Chapter 11" "Chapter 12" "Chapter 13"
Season 2
"Chapter 14" "Chapter 15" "Chapter 16" "Chapter 17" "Chapter 18"
"Chapter 19" "Chapter 20" "Chapter 21" "Chapter 22" "Chapter 23"
"Chapter 24" "Chapter 25" "Chapter 26"
Season 3
"Chapter 27" "Chapter 28" "Chapter 29" "Chapter 30" "Chapter 31"
"Chapter 32" "Chapter 33" "Chapter 34" "Chapter 35" "Chapter 36"
"Chapter 37" "Chapter 38" "Chapter 39"
Season 4
"Chapter 40" "Chapter 41" "Chapter 42" "Chapter 43" "Chapter 44"
"Chapter 45" "Chapter 46" "Chapter 47" "Chapter 48" "Chapter 49"
"Chapter 50" "Chapter 51" "Chapter 52"


Frank is a patient, cold, duplicitous, cunning, and ruthless politician that knows exactly how to take what he wants. Almost machine-like in his approach, he is known to be "extremely effective at what he sets his mind to" according to the likes of Raymond Tusk. Displayed as a power-hungry man with the skills and the resources to match, his quest for power and vengeance leads him to break old alliances and trample on and destroy those that stand in his way. We later learn that he is even willing to kill those who become a threat, as shown through his murder of Peter Russo after he threatened to expose Frank along with himself and Zoe Barnes when she realises that Frank murdered Russo. He is a more than capable political maneuverer and can act warm, jolly and caring to people to gain their trust. He has no qualms of killing people or ruining their lives and careers if it serves his goals.

Despite these traits, Frank can be warm and gentle to those he truly cares about, particularly to Claire Underwood and to a lesser extent Zoe Barnes. He protects and takes care of those around him such as Doug and Steve and Edward Meechum, his bodyguards.

With fellow schemers and politicians who understand his game, he has a definite respect for, such as Catherine Durant or Raymond Tusk. However, they can very easily become his enemies if they interfere with his plans. With others who are oblivious to his intentions or less intelligent, he adopts a different façade, acting more caring and generous than he really is to mask his true personality.


  • "There are two kinds of pain. The sort of pain that makes you strong, or useless pain. The sort of pain that's only suffering. I have no patience for useless things. Moments like this require someone who will act. Who will do the unpleasant thing, the necessary thing. There, no more pain."
  • "The nature of promises, Linda, is that they remain immune to changing circumstances."
  • (about Claire Underwood) "I love that woman. I love her more than sharks love blood."
  • (about Michael Kern) "I almost pity him. He didn't choose to be put on my platter. When I carve him up and toss him to the dogs, only then will he confront that brutal, inescapable truth: "My God, all I ever amounted to was chitlins.""
  • "That's how you devour a whale, Doug--one bite at a time."
  • "Power is a lot like real estate. It's all about location, location, location. The closer to the source, the higher your property value."
  • "We're in the same boat now Ms. Barnes. Take care not to tip us over, I can only save one of us from drowning."
  • "If you don't like how the table is set, turn over the table."
  • "Forward, that is the battle-cry. Leave ideology to the arm-chair generals, it does me no good."
  • "I have zero tolerance for betrayal which they will soon indelibly learn."
  • "I must not lose my resolve. I will march forward even if I have to do so alone."
  • "It only takes ten seconds to crush a man's ambitions."
  • "I pray to myself, for myself."
  • "For those of us climbing to the top of the food chain, there can be no mercy. There is but one rule: Hunt or be hunted"
  • If we didn't do the things we shouldn't do we'd never feel good about doing the things we should.


  • Underwood is named probably after the actual first Democratic party Whip in the House of Representatives: Oscar Underwood. John Kern created the first Whip in the Senate.
  • Check UK USA similarities for the changes from the British counterpart.
  • Frank has met all of the main characters, except Janine.
    • He was aware of Janine.
  • The Sentinel is a fictional stand-in version of The Citadel.
Party political offices
Preceded by
Bob Birch
House Majority Whip
January 3, 2005 – November 10, 2013
Succeeded by
Jackie Sharp
Political offices
Preceded by
Garrett Walker
President of the United States
October 30, 2014 – present
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Jim Matthews
Vice President of the United States
November 10, 2013 – October 30, 2014
Succeeded by
Donald Blythe

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