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I am willing to let your child wither and die inside of you if that's what's required. Am I the sort of enemy you want to make?
~ Claire to her pregnant former partner

Claire Hale Underwood, later returning to her maiden name Claire Hale, is the deuteragonist in Seasons 1 to 5, later main protagonist in Season 6, of the Netflix series House of Cards. She is Frank Underwood's wife and number one co-conspirator, as she happens to be as cunning, manipulative and ruthless as her husband.

After Kevin Spacey (who portrays Francis) was fired from House of Cards following several allegations of sexual harassment and assault, his character was written out of the show and Claire became the main character. 

She was portrayed by Robin Wright.

Biography

Early life

Claire is an only child, born at April 8, 1966 at Dallas, Texas. She comes from generations of ranchers and she lives at the elite enclave city of Highland Park. Grow up into riches and luxury, she becomes very sophisticated and she attends the the prestigious Phillips Academy before she goes in Radcliffe. However during her studies she was sexually assaulted by the future General Dalton McGinnis and as result got pregnant (although she had abortion). After her graduation at Radcliffe she went into Harvard. It is also believed that she met Frank Underwood during her time at Radcliffe.

Season 1

Claire is the CEO and the founder of Clean Water Initiative (CWI), a charity, non-profit organization intent on bringing clean, drinkable water to developing impoverished countries. However she is just as ruthless, cold-hearted and pragmatic as her husband since she did not hesitated to fire half of her staff including old people who could not get another job. She abused her position in order to help her husband in his political plays and as a way for her and her husband to appear as caring individuals. After Frank did not become Secretary of State, she agrees to help him take revenge and force themselves into the White House. However she did not hesitate to sabotage Frank when he did not grant her with fund for her projects. After that and for a few amounts of episodes she leaves him and go live with her lover, photographer Adam Galloway, in New York. She however returns back to Washington, DC after the death of Peter Russo (one of the her husbands puppets) and she continues assist Frank in his crooged way to power. At the end of Season 1 Frank has become the Vice-President and she leaves CWI to the hands of her former partner Gillian Cole.

Season 2

In season two, Claire has an office in the White House and secretly helps her husband to usurp President Walker. During an interview, it is revealed that she had been raped and as a result of that she had an abortion. After that she starts a bill to prevent military officials to rape female soldiers. She even convinces the First Lady to sign as she and herself have become very close friends. It is all fake however, since she exploits both the First Lady and another female rape victim to achieve her and her husbands goals. After she betrayed the female soldier who she used in order to gain publicity for her plans, she abandons both her bill and the woman, whose life and mental health are ruined because of Claire. She manipulates the First Lady into visiting a physiologists alongside with her husband in order to save their marriage. She then leaks this to the press implying that president's mental state is not healthy. This will leave the road open to Frank to give the decisive strike, force President Walker to resign and take the presidency.

Season 3

Claire is now the First Lady with all the luxuries. She however is restless since she wants to gain experience by holding political office in order to run for president in 2024. She has fail the commit for the US ambassador to the UN which results in her forcing Frank to place her in the position by abusing his power. She starts her career quiet successfully however, as she make several alliances in UN. But this won't last because a peace crisis breaks out between America and Russia involving the Jordan Valley. The Underwoods start negotiating terms but President Petrov refuses them. Claire makes alliances and manages for a peace keeping orientation and she agrees with Frank to send troops to Jordan Valley, something Russia sees as detrimental to Russia's sphere of influence in the Middle East. Her downfall however is with another incident between America and Russia. Russia has arrested an american activist, Michael Corrigan, because he protested against the tyrannical Russian administration. Claire and Frank travel to Russia for negotiations for both Corrigan and the crisis at Jordan Valley. Claire requires to have a private talk with Corrigan in order to persuade him to sign Petrov's contract and return to America. She fails though and Corrigan commits suicide. Both parties agree to an announcement and then there would be made peace at the Jordan Valley. Claire however announces to all the world that Corrigan committed suicide because of Russia's torture and inhuman ways of treating him. This ruined the peace plans and all relations between America and Russia. During the trip back to America, Claire argues with Frank which leads to her being fired of the ambassador office. She returns to be the First Lady again and starts helping Frank to win the Democratic nomination for Presidency. She lays a partial role in his campaign. However, she feels a certain disappointment because of her being only the way to Frank's power goals. She confronts Frank in the oval office and tells him he is not enough for her. After probably the greatest fight between both of them she decides to leave him in the middle of his campaign.

Season 4

Season four starts with Claire being back to Dallas to her parents' house. There she meets with her mother, who is dying of cancer. She refuses to speak with Frank and she hires a political operative, Lyanne Ferguson, to be her campaign manager for the 30th district. Frank discovers her plan and sabotages it by endorsing someone else in the race. She then is forced to tell the world that she is with her mother and not her husband.

She reluctantly returns to Frank, but secretly undermines him by exposing dirty secrets to the public, such as Frank's late father's involvement to the KKK. When Frank discovers what she has done, she tells him that if he wants to win the election he has to nominate her as his Vice-president. He refuses and tells her that she will only be the First Lady. However, Frank is shot, she returns to the White House and manipulates the acting President, Donald Blythe. She actually rules the White House and starts unauthorized projects by the president. During the G8 meeting she confronts Petrov and persuades him to sign with the Chinese and stop the oil crisis. When Frank regains his strength and is informed about her actions, he congratulates her and apologizes for his behavior. He finally admits that he needs her, and agrees to let her be his Vice President. Through their usual lies and manipulations, Frank and Claire gradually eliminate all the other candidates for Vice President until Claire clinches the nomination.

During the last episode of season 4, the Underwoods are hit with two crises at once: a terrorist group kidnaps an American citizen, and journalist Tom Hammerschmidt publishes a damning investigative article exposing Frank's crimes. Claire tells Frank that they must create an atmosphere of fear and panic in order to distract the public; she suggests that they let the hostage die. In the last scene, she and Frank watch as the terrorists murder their hostage in front of the entire world.

Season 5

In season 5, Claire's story begins as the opening scene of the season: shooting a propaganda commercial in order to stir up fear. Throughout the beginning, she helps make the campaign's focal point about the fear of terrorism and how they can stop the threat.

On Election Day, Claire and Frank learn that they may lose because of low voter turnout. They exploit a possible terrorist threat to close down multiple polling centers in key states, such as Ohio. This leading to numerous states filing lawsuits and refusing honoring the election results.

Nine weeks later, with neither side winning the majority of electors, the House (now Republican-controlled) will decide the President and the Senate (Democrat-controlled) for the Vice President, the first instance of this happening for the President since the 1824 presidential election and the first time for the Vice President since the 1836 presidential election. Claire eventually wins when Blythe issues a bill to block any filibuster in the Senate; while the House cannot reach a majority. In the meantime, Claire is sworn in as Acting President of the United States and begins to exert her limited power by excluding Frank from certain presidential functions, such as the swearing-in of the new Justice of the Supreme Court.

During her short-lived presidency, a truck with nuclear energy goes missing and puts D.C. into lock-down, a scheme devised by several members of Frank's cabinet and Republican presidential candidate Will Conway's campaign. During the emergency, Claire is visited by diplomat Jane Davis, who says that she can track down a leader of ICO for the Underwoods. Claire is also faced with a series of diplomatic crises: Russian soldiers have taken over an American base, and the Russians and Chinese are vying for possession of a boat in Antarctica that has a stowaway American working for the Russians. After making a deal with the Chinese, Claire orders for the boat to be destroyed so that neither the Chinese nor the Russians can get what is on board. Around this time, Claire agrees to an open election in Ohio for not only the President, but also the Vice President, in order to avoid a possible Conway-Underwood administration.

Frank acquires a recording of Conway verbally abusing a pilot, as well as a recording of Conway's running mate, General Ted Brockhart, threatening to kill Frank, which Frank and Claire use to blackmail Conway's campaign manager Mark Usher into helping them; they then releases the tapes anyway. Voters turn against Conway, and the Underwoods win the election.

Soon afterward, Congressman Alex Romero encourages Republicans in the House to start up the Declaration of War committee to investigate Frank, which puts Claire and Frank in damage control.

By this time, Claire and Yates have fallen in love, which complicates both their lives. During an unguarded moment, Claire tells Yates that Frank murdered Zoe Barnes and Congressman Peter Russo. She immediately regrets it, and tells Yates that they can't see each other anymore. In response, Yates threatens to publish a book detailing the Underwoods' crimes. Claire invites him to Usher's home, and poisons him. He dies while having sex with Claire, and she has Usher get rid of the body. Around this time, Claire and Frank convince Stamper to take the fall for Zoe Barnes' death. Frank also starts to become suspicious of Claire as she disappears for a period of time (she had started talking to Davis in a secret corridor) and starts to memorize her testimony defending herself but not Frank, in case she has to testify.

Walker publicly testifies against Frank, prompting him to appear before the committee and resign the presidency. When an incredulous Claire confronts him, Frank says that it was his plan all along to resign and set her up to be president, so that the two of them can run Washington together—she from the White House and he from the private sector. For the plan to work, however, Claire must pardon Frank, which would damage her politically. Frank resigns and Claire is sworn in as the 47th President of the United States.

However, Claire does not announce that she is pardoning Frank in her first address to the nation as President. Frank calls her repeatedly, but she forwards the calls. She sees that Frank has burned a hole into the American flag in the Oval Office, and breaks the fourth wall, saying: "My turn."

Season 6

The sixth season begins four months later. Claire is President, with Usher as her Vice President. Frank has died of an apparent heart attack, but Claire suspects that he may have been murdered. Throughout the season, she tries to disassociate herself from Frank, returning to her maiden name and calling him "my biggest regret". She makes enemies of Bill Shepherd and his sister Annette, two political power brokers who oppose her agenda. As she returns to the White House from giving a speech, an attempt is made on her life; a disgruntled ex-soldier shoots at her motorcade and commits suicide.

Claire also faces a threat in Stamper, who recants his confession and makes a deal with federal prosecutors to give them Claire as revenge for her turning her back on him and Frank. She makes a shaky alliance with him, however, by promising to protect him in return for his help getting rid of Durant, who she fears will testify against her regarding her and Frank's crimes. Days later, Claire pardons Stamper, and Durant apparently dies of an embolism; it is later revealed, however, that she faked her death and fled the country.

Meanwhile, Claire grows suspicious of Usher, who is secretly working with the Shepherds. She fires her cabinet to neutralize his influence, and leaks information tying him and Bill Shepherd to laundering money for the Russian government; she also punishes Annette Shepherd by revealing to the press that Annette's son, Duncan, is in fact the biological child of one of her serving staff. To clear the field of potential threats to her power, Claire has Durant, Davis and Hammerschmidt killed. When Stamper confronts her about what Frank left him in his will, Claire says that she is pregnant with Frank's child. The Shepherds try to undermine her by developing a voting app that would essentially steal the upcoming midterm elections; Claire retaliates by having Duncan, who created the app, arrested for treason.

In the series finale, Claire arranges a meeting with Stamper, whom she (correctly) suspects has been hired by the Shepherds to kill her. During a heated exchange, she gets him to confess that he poisoned Frank in order to stop him from killing her, in order to protect the Underwood "legacy". He attacks her with a letter opener, superficially wounding her in the throat, but cannot bring himself to kill her, instead collapsing into her arms. Claire then stabs him and watches him die on the floor of the Oval Office, saying, "There, no more pain."

Personality

Claire is a very strong and decisive woman. She is ready to do whatever it takes to gain what she wants and doesn't let her feelings get in the way. She is cunning, ruthless, cruel and manipulative. She is willing to betray everyone and also erase anyone who will pose as threat to her. However she has a soft side since she is being seen to have some regrets (ex. when she fails to save Corrigan or when she abandons her protege) and she has affection towards others such as Tom Yates, Adam and even her mother, whom she has a very troubled relationship.

Gallery

Trivia

  • She had at least three abortions because both she and Frank decided it would be too cruel for them to raise children. However, it is not yet clear if she regrets it or not.

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