|Books character||TV character|
Her Excellency, Chrisjen Avasarala is the Secretary-General of the United Nations. As Secretary-General she serves as both the head of state and government of Earth, and is the chief executive of the United Nations.
|“||I like getting shit done and, I like keeping my head attached to my neck.||„|
in "The Seventh Man"
A master politician and maneuverer, she achieved one of the highest ranks in UN government without ever standing for election. She manipulates those in the highest seats of power through careful cultivation of relationships with their spouses, friends, and staff nearest to them.
Chrisjen belongs to a longstanding political dynasty on Earth, dating back to the early days of planetary exploration and colonization. Martian separatists assassinated her father during a period of interplanetary tension. Her son, a Marine, died in the line of duty while defending Earth’s interests from Belter revolutionaries.
She had temporarily occupied the position of Secretary-General until losing the election to Nancy Gao, who was serving as Under-Secretary-General for Home Affairs in Avasarala's Senior Management Group (SMG) before resigning to run. She accepted a position in Nancy Gao’s Secretariat to facilitate emigration to interstellar colonies. Upon Gao's death, Avasarala accepted a position in the provisional SMG of Acting Secretary-General David Paster.
She previously served as Under-Secretary-General of the Executive Office of the Secretary-General under Esteban Sorrento-Gillis, but ascended to the position of Secretary-General after the resignation of Sorrento-Gillis and the imprisonment of Deputy Secretary-General Sadavir Errinwright on charges of treason and conspiracy, following a scandal involving the Protomolecule and Jules-Pierre Mao that sent Earth to an unfounded war with the Martian Congressional Republic.
Throughout the series
In "Dulcinea", Chrisjen is seen torturing a suspected Outer Planets Alliance operative, Heikki Sabong, for intelligence on the OPA’s smuggling of revolutionary stealth technology, as a result of political unrest growing in the Belt, and thus a threat to the UN’s holdings there.
In "The Big Empty", after interrogating (torturing) the Belter smuggler, Avasarala comes to the conclusion that Mars is feeding the OPA stealth technology. This would indicate that the MCR is trying to arm the OPA to fight for Belter independence, thus destabilizing the region and compromising Earth’s control of the Asteroid Belt and the resources from it, which Earth depends on.
In "Remember the Cant", in order to find out if Mars’ stealth ships were used to destroy the Canterbury, Avasarala lies to her friend Franklin DeGraaf, the UN's ambassador to Mars, that Earth has proof Mars is guilty. By monitoring her friend to see if the ships are missing, it indicates to her that Mars is innocent. She realizes whoever blew up the Canterbury intends on starting an interplanetary war by making everyone think the Martian government is responsible of the attack.
In "Rock Bottom", Avasarala starts to suspect that traitor, Fred Johnson, may be the person that blew up the Canterbury as a power play by the Outer Planets Alliance. She blackmails a colleague into identifying an operative to spy on Fred Johnson on Tycho Station. It is then revealed that the OPA is responsible for her son's premature death.
In "Windmills", with the knowledge from her spy that James Holden and crew have left Tycho on a fighter ship, Avasarala goes to Holden’s mother, Elise, to learn what she can about him. She surmises that Holden is a kindhearted child caught up in a bad situation, and not allied with whomever is trying to start a war. Her boss, Undersecretary Errinwright, reveals he had sent a Black Ops team to kill Holden.
In "Salvage", Avasarala warns Errinwright that the Black Ops team he had sent to retrieve Holden must leave Holden alive, or he will be a martyr that will give fuel to an Outer Planets Alliance uprising, but Errinwright has plans of his own. Avasarala receives bad news: her friend DeGraaf, whom she betrayed in order to test Mars’ involvement with stealth ships, has reportedly committed suicide.
In "Leviathan Wakes", Avasarala visits the home of her recently deceased friend, DeGraaf, the Martian ambassador she tricked in "Remember the Cant". She surreptitiously searches his files and discovers that he was researching the whereabouts of missing stealth gunships, built on Earth, with drives like those that destroyed the Canterbury and the Donnager. Soon thereafter, Fred Johnson publicly broadcasts his evidence that the Donnager was destroyed by stealth ships built on Earth. DeGraaf’s death may not have been a suicide, and his blood may not be on her hands, after all. Undersecretary Errinwright tells Avasarala that said ships were privately commissioned on Earth, and smuggled to Fred. Chrisjen realizes Errinwright is lying and is somehow involved in the Canterbury’s destruction and the attempts to start a war.
In "Safe", with the knowledge that undersecretary Errinwright and industrialist Jules-Pierre Mao are somehow involved with the efforts to start a system-wide war, Chrisjen Avasarala plays the role of the dutiful Earth politician to gather intelligence on the matter. When a dilapidated science center on the Saturnian moon Phoebe goes dark, Mars and Earth blame each other and prepare for war.
In "Static", after the UN destroys the Martian moon of Deimos as retaliation against Mars’ perceived role in the destruction of Phoebe station, Avasarala fears war is imminent, and sends a secret message to Fred Johnson, believing he could help uncover the conspiracy behind the acts of aggression.
In "Godspeed", Avasarala receives a message back from Fred Johnson with coordinates to a stealth ship with casualties on board. The ship can can be traced back to a company owned by Jules-Pierre Mao, whom Avasarala knows to be involved in the larger conspiracy to cause a Earth/Mars war. It can also link Mao to the stealth ships used to start the conflict between Earth and Mars. She leaks the information, but Mao plays dumb when confronted.
In "Home", the news that Eros is traveling for a collision course with Earth ignites a frenzy of panic among the populace. Projections for loss of life range from disastrous to catastrophic. With no way to track the massive asteroid hurtling towards Earth, Avasarala urges the UN Security Council to hand off control of a horde of nuclear missiles to Fred Johnson who, through the crew of the Rocinante, has eyes on the asteroid.
In "Paradigm Shift", Avasarala consults with an old friend and scientist, Dr. Iturbi. He is convinced that the Eros incident was the result of extraterrestrial phenomena. Iturbi convinces Avasarala to grant him assignment to Arboghast and access to Venus, where Eros crashed. In return, he will be her unfiltered eyes and ears on site. Avasarala confronts Errinwright about his involvement with Jules-Pierre Mao. Having pieced together that Mao is connected to the incident on Eros, Avasarala gives Errinwright a message to deliver to Jules: Give her all the information he has on Eros, or she will destroy his family and empire.
In "The Seventh Man", as the conflict on Ganymede resulted in over 3,000 dead with more injured and while the UN is taking the news as a war cry from Mars, Avasarala sees this as an opportunity to call a ceasefire and she petitions the Prime Minister to call a peace summit on Earth. Not only will this deescalate the growing conflict, but it will give Mars an easy out to a war they know they cannot win.
In "The Weeping Somnambulist", Avasarala and Errinwright discuss the Arboghast’s mission on Venus. Afterwards, Avasarala enters into the peace summit with Mars. The talks get off to a rocky start but settle quickly when Bobbie Draper gives her testimony about what happened on Ganymede. The Martian marine's team plays the scapegoat and, thus, avoids war but, Avasarala senses that something else is going on so she requests more time with Bobbie. Bobbie lets it slip that a “something” with no vacuum suit attacked them, but quickly gets back on script.
In "Cascade", Avasarala's suspicions about Errinwright's role in the larger protomolecule conspiracy are confirmed. She finally confronts him about the staged suicide of her old friend Franklin DeGraaf. Hopeful that Errinwright can yet redeem himself, she decides not to go public with his role in the conspiracy just yet. Avasarala is still not convinced of Bobbie’s testimony and her claim that her unit was responsible for the incident on Ganymede. The MCR appears to be using the peace talks as a smokescreen for some ulterior purposes. Avasarala knows she needs to get more information from Bobbie. She finds Bobbie getting her first look at the ocean, and tries to derive the truth from her but Bobbie is still reeling from her experience at the UN.
In "Here There Be Dragons", Avasarala warns Errinwright that when the Eros post mortem begins, the UN government will use him as their scapegoat because of his collusion with Jules-Pierre Mao. Avasarala suggests it would be the prefect moment for him to atone for his sins. Soon after, she receives a message from Jules-Pierre Mao requesting her attendance aboard one of his ships to negotiate. Her associate Cotyar believes it to be a trap, but Avasarala accepts the invitation regardless. After Bobbie has a falling out with her superiors, she requests asylum on Earth and tells Avasarala everything she knows: the MCR was using her crew and Ganymede as a testing ground for a new weapon involving the protomolecule.
In "The Monster and the Rocket", Avasarala departs Earth for Jules-Pierre Mao’s ship, the Guanshiyin, with Bobbie and Cotyar serving as her muscle. Aboard Jules’ luxurious ship, Avasarala and the business magnate discuss the terms: in exchange for access to the protomolecule technology, Jules wants his family assets freed from UN control. While Mao is still laying out his terms, Errinwright sends a message to Jules-Pierre and Avasarala that the Martian Defense Minister Korshunov has passed away. With Korshunov dead, Errinwright holds all the power to bankroll the protomolecule project. Avasarala is the only one alive that could expose his role, thus Errinwright orders her shuttle to leave her, Bobbie, and Cotyar stranded on Mao's ship. There, Mao's men prepare to silence Avasarala and her aids forever.
In "Caliban's War", trapped on the Guanshiyin, Avasarala, along Bobbie and Cotyar, tries to stay alive. Cotyar is bleeding out quickly from the earlier gunfight, but he manages to create a diversion for Bobbie to escape the room and retrieve her Martian armor. Bobbie returns wearing her bulletproof armor and rescues Avasarala and Cotyar.
In "Fight or Flight", Chrisjen utilizes portable auto-doc to save Cotyar Ghazi. She convinces Theo to recover Errinwright message from Guanshiyin's buffers. She is able to successfully escape Mao's yacht with Draper on the Razorback, Julie Mao's racing skiff.
In "IFF", she must leave their escape in Draper's hands. Impatient as UN ship tracks the Razorback, she prompts Bobbie to use the emergency beacon in Bobbie's Marine Recon Power armor undersuit liner. She strokes out before they dock with the Rocinante.
In "Assured Destruction", Avasarala recovers in the Rocinante med bay. She tries to convince Holden to end Errinwright's war but he doesn't want to get involved. She and Bobbie later disclose Jules-Pierre Mao's involvement with the protomolecule hybrids and in turn the crew reveal their previous encounter with a hybrid. After learning that Naomi Nagata gave a sample of the protomolecule to Fred Johnson, Avasarala strongly disapproves. However, upon hearing of the crew's mission to rescue Prax's daughter from Io, she agrees to support their mission. She later privately speaks with Naomi in the galley, insisting they didn't have to be enemies if not friends. A hostile Naomi voiced her suspicions that Avasarala wanted to obtain a sample of the protomolecule to help Earth stay in the game; Avasarala responds they are indeed not going to be friends.
In "Reload", Avasarala watches Sorrento-Gillis addressing the General Assembly. She subsequently shows Holden and Nagata Errinwright's admission of treason and insists they send it out to Admiral Souther. When Nagata refuses, Avasarala explains that Errinwright is manipulating Sorrento-Gillis and the recording would expose him and put an end to the war. She identified Anna Volovodov from the broadcast, a close associate of Sorrento-Gillis, who would be able to deliver the evidence covertly. Holden relented and told Nagata to discreet transmit the message to Anna. Subsequently, she speaks to Martian Ensign Sinopoli, asking him to show the recording to his commanding officer to pass along to Admiral Souther.
In "Triple Point", ...
In "Immolation", with Alex's and Naomi's help, Chrisjen finds the Agatha King infected. She tells them the hybrid pods would be headed to Mars. They take the Razorback to try and recall the pods. Tries to have Naomi patch her through when Cotyar broadcasts but must only watch his final words. In the aftermath, Holden hands over Mao to Avasarala, who thanks him with a nod.
In "Delta-V", after the arrest and imprisonment of Errinwright and the resignation of Esteban Sorrento-Gillis, Avasarala is shown to have become the new Secretary-General of the United Nations. In a speech delivered from her offices in New York, she pleads that Earth, Mars and the Belt should move past their former conflicts and unite as one species in order to investigate the Ring that has been recently formed by the Protomolecule.
In "Abaddon's Gate", in her office at the UN building, Chrisjen observes a hologram of the Ring network leading to 1300 different solar systems, which was reactivated as a result of the Slow zone incident.
She is in political race against new opponent for her post, Nancy Gao. Sends Holden and Rocinante to New Terra/Ilus
"Exodus" · Chasing down leads
Bobbie sends Avasarala a report indicating that she has burned another contact but she's confirmed certain details
"Exodus" · Chrisjen says hello to Amos
she detains Amos on Luna…
"Churn" · Troubles letting go
Ashanti visits her mother, Chrisjen Avasarala, and encourages her to go to Arjun to patch things up… Nancy Gao admonishes Chrisjen to stop pursuing her unsupported investigation of Marco Inaros suspicions, submit in writing anything she has and get back to work on her assigned task.…
"Churn" · Chrisjen raises suspicions
"Churn" · It takes strength to be kind
After finishing affairs in Baltimore, Amos looks over the water thinking and reminiscing about things Lydia said to him. Then, he decides he needs to see someone and reaches out to Chrisjen for help.
"Mother" · A second opinion from the private sector
She questions private sector scientist Dr Alaoui regarding Hasami findings. Soon she and Delgado realize there really must be a Marco plot so she coaxes Delgado to use his connections in an attempt to repurpose the watchtower satellites in an effort to identify and isolate the rogue asteroids Marco is hurling into collision trajectories with Earth…
"Mother" · The churn
Delgado goes to Avasarala frustrated to share the realization their efforts to redirect the watchtower satellites has hit a brick wall of resistance with his contacts realizing Delgado is in league with Avasarala in those efforts thus they're being refused. Delgado will not invest any more influence in the doomed objective nor can he afford to further jeopardize his career.
"Gaugamela" · Persistence vs. Perseverance
Chrisjen is wandering the halls of the UN Ring Emigration Commission on Luna desperately trying to reach anyone who will listen to her evidence that the asteroids are not a rogue anomaly but an attack by Marco Inaros. Nobody is listening. She finally manages to get through to Nancy Gao just in time via the chef, Casey. Then, she witnesses the traumatic downing of the UN One via the connection with Casey.…
"Gaugamela" · The watchtowers' new task
"Tribes" · The face of the new Secretary-General
"Hard Vacuum" · David Paster addresses Earth and Luna
"Hard Vacuum" · Earth starts to organize
"Hard Vacuum" · Delgado speaks candidly
"Winnipesaukee" · Creating partisans
"Winnipesaukee" · Chrisjen lets go
"Nemesis Games" · Humanity united
"Nemesis Games" · A knife in the darkness
Chrisjen belongs to a longstanding political dynasty on Earth, dating back to the early days of planetary exploration and colonization, and takes her role very seriously. As a consequence, her family has often been at the forefront of great turmoil throughout the Solar System. Martian separatists assassinated her father during a period of social unrest, while her son, a Marine, died defending Earth from Belter revolutionaries. Despite these personal losses, Avasarala herself remains unfazed in the face of impending peril and will do whatever it takes to defend Earth, which she sees as the cradle of humanity.
Unlike her coworker Sadavir Errinwright, Avasarala is openly distrustful of big corporations and their owners, namely Jules-Pierre Mao, and has no qualms with harming his family and business if it means the survival of Earth. This fear proves accurate when Errinwright and Mao both betray her and try to kill her for planning to expose their conspiracy.
Avasarala's personality is often one of clashing traits. She is erudite and elegant, always properly and beautifully dressed, but is also notorious for her use of foul language and profanity, and was described by Bobbie as cursing "like a trucker". She has been shown to be cold and ruthless one moment, as she tortures a prisoner for information or manipulates her close friend DeGraaf into ruining his career for her political gain, while she is warm and maternal the next, playing with her grandson or giving Errinwright a chance to redeem himself. She is shrewd and intelligent, knows her way around people, and is also an astute and remorseless deceiver, often lying to advance her goals, such as when she pretended to know Captain Yvgeny to convince Sorrento-Gillis to do what she wanted, or attributed fake quotes to the deceased Admiral Souther and called him her friend, while in truth they barely spoke to each other.
Avasarala is also incredibly ambitious, something that has been pointed out by those closest to her; she will do anything to win, and though usually her ambition is driven by a righteous drive to protect the Earth, she has been known to go too far in her desire to be the best. This is most evident when she has to compete with Nancy Gao for the position of Secretary General, as Avasarala weaponizes gossip and information against Gao and slowly starts to lose sight of her initial purpose. Her ambition exacerbates her ruthlessness and her manipulative tendencies, to the point that she uses the memory of her deceased son for political advancement, something that makes her husband Arjun disillusioned with her.
Though stubborn and unapologetic, Avasarala has been shown to also be capable of personal reflection and growth. At the start of the show, she is shown to be fiercely patriotic and dismissive of the other cultures in the Solar System, but this is gradually changed through her genuine friendship with Bobbie and her experiences with the crew of the Rocinante. As she tells Admiral Delgado, she had learned to listen to others and think on her shortcomings, such as when she advises Nancy Gao to not make the same mistakes as her and to ensure that she doesn't devote all of her life to her political position. While at the beginning she would remorselessly order for the destruction of Martian bases or the deaths of enemy soldiers, throughout the years she changes and becomes more compassionate, empathizing with the grief of Belters who lost their loved ones and refusing to attack settlements in the Belt even if it would help them take out Marco Inaros.
|“||Good. And, please, let them know that if they can't, I will rain hellfire down on them all. I will freeze their assets, cancel their contracts, cripple their business, and I have the power to do it, because I am the fucking hero who helped save Mother Earth from the cataclysm that Jules-Pierre Mao unleashed. Tell his children that the government is more powerful than any corporation, and the only reason they think it tilts the other way is because we, poor, public servants, are always looking for some fat, private-sectors payoff down the road. But I'm not looking. And by the time they can pull the strings to force me out, it'll be too late. Their family will be ruined. Their mother, the children, their children, all of them, pariahs - outlaws! Hunted and on the run for the rest of their days until we find them, and nail each and every last one to the wall. Make sure you tell them that!||”|
|— Avasarala to Errinwright in "Paradigm Shift"|
|“||I have a file with 900 pages of analysis and contingency plans for war with Mars, including 14 different scenarios about what to do if they develop an unexpected new technology. My file for what to do if an advanced alien species comes calling? It's three pages long, and it begins with "Step one: find God".||”|
|— Avasarala to Iturbi in "Paradigm Shift"|
|“||His job is to explain science to politicians. In that regard, it's a useful skill.||”|
|— Avasarala to Iturbi in "Paradigm Shift", referring to Colonel Janus|
|2 "The Big Empty"||Appears|
|3 "Remember the Cant"||Appears|
|5 "Back to the Butcher"||Credit Only|
|6 "Rock Bottom"||Appears|
|9 "Critical Mass"||Credit Only|
|10 "Leviathan Wakes"||Appears|
|2 "Doors & Corners"||Credit Only|
|6 "Paradigm Shift"||Appears|
|7 "The Seventh Man"||Appears|
|8 "Pyre"||Credit Only|
|9 "The Weeping Somnambulist"||Appears|
|11 "Here There Be Dragons"||Appears|
|12 "The Monster and the Rocket"||Appears|
|13 "Caliban's War"||Appears|
|1 "Fight or Flight"||Appears|
|3 "Assured Destruction"||Appears|
|5 "Triple Point"||Appears|
|8 "It Reaches Out"||Credit Only|
|10 "Dandelion Sky"||Credit Only|
|11 "Fallen World"||Credit Only|
|12 "Congregation"||Credit Only|
|13 "Abaddon's Gate"||Appears|
|1 "New Terra"||Appears|
|7 "A Shot in The Dark"||Appears|
|8 "The One-Eyed Man"||Appears|
|10 "Cibola Burn"||Appears|
|5 "Down and Out"||Credit Only|
|7 "Oyedeng"||Credit Only|
|8 "Hard Vacuum"||Appears|
|10 "Nemesis Games"||Appears|
- Avasarala doesn't appear in the books until Caliban's War, but was brought into the first season to add the Earth's political counterpoint earlier in the story. To accomplish this task, plot events were constructed in the TV series which didn't occur in the Leviathan Wakes timeline.
- Avasarala has been repeatedly established by wiki fans as the best character of the whole series, winning both SEAFAV2 with scores greatly exceeding 9 (9.21).
- In several interviews Shohreh Aghdashloo who portrayed Avasarala in the television series said that her portrayal was inspired by several high ranking real-world female politicians namely: Indira Gandhi, Benazir Bhutto, Margaret Thatcher and Madeleine Albright.
- Season 5, Episode 1: "Exodus" ("Monica's new story" [24:09])
- Season 5, Episode 1: "Exodus" ("Chrisjen says hello to Amos" [39:27])
- Season 5, Episode 2: "Churn" ("Troubles letting go" [29:11])
- Season 5, Episode 2: "Churn" ("Chrisjen raises suspicions" [44:52])
- Season 5, Episode 2: "Churn" ("It takes strength to be kind" [46:48])
- Season 5, Episode 3: "Mother" ("A second opinion from the private sector" [00:04])
- Season 5, Episode 4: "Gaugamela" ("Persistence vs. Perseverance" [15:30])
- Season 5, Episode 4: "Gaugamela" ("The watchtowers' new task" [29:24])
- Season 5, Episode 6: "Tribes" ("The face of the new Secretary-General" [01:20])
- Season 5, Episode 8: "Hard Vacuum" ("David Paster addresses Earth and Luna" [14:59])
- Season 5, Episode 8: "Hard Vacuum" ("Earth starts to organize" [22:23])
- Season 5, Episode 8: "Hard Vacuum" ("Delgado speaks candidly" [38:51])
- Season 5, Episode 9: "Winnipesaukee" ("Creating partisans" [11:25])
- Season 5, Episode 9: "Winnipesaukee" ("Chrisjen lets go" [21:51])
- Season 5, Episode 10: "Nemesis Games" ("Humanity united" [42:25])
- Season 5, Episode 10: "Nemesis Games" ("A knife in the darkness" [45:05])
- syfy.com: The Expanse's Avasarala Storyline: Everything You Need To Know
- syfy.com: 10 Times Avasarala Was Our Everything