"Black van, feet first. I know the way out."
          - Moira about the odds to escape [1]

Moira is a main character in The Handmaid's Tale and the Hulu adaptation The Handmaid's Tale. She is Offred's best friend since adolescence, who became something of a legend amongst the Handmaids for successfully escaping the Red Center. She is portrayed by Samira Wiley in the television series.

In the novel Edit

In the past Edit

Before GileadEdit

Moira and Offred have been friends for years and attended college together. Offred remembers Moira throwing an “underwhore” party to sell sexy lingerie[2]. Moira is a feminist and gender equality activist; later in life, she realized she was a lesbian, though it's implied she had had relationships with men in the past, and her reason for dating exclusively women was that she found relationships with men dissatisfying[3].

Coup d'etatEdit

When the Republic of Gilead began its takeover of the US, which Moira saw coming when Offred didn't, Offred came to see Moira when she couldn't contact her mother. Moira comforts Offred and says that she too has been fired from her job and had her bank account frozen. She warns Offred that worse things are yet to come and that it's "You and me, up against the wall, baby.[3]"

At the Red CenterEdit

After Moira's unsuccessful attempt to escape to Canada, Offred meets her again at the Red Center, she having been rounded up and sent there to be indoctrinated. Moira and Offred pretend not to know one another because friendships arouses suspicion. They arrange to meet in the restroom to exchange a few words, which makes Offred feel terribly happy[4].

When Janine sits on her bed staring off into space, speaking to an invisible customer in a restaurant where she worked before Gilead, Moira slaps Janine and shouts until Janine comes back to her senses[5].

Moira resists the training, defying the Aunts and also mocking them behind their backs, whilst plotting to escape. Her first (actually second) escape attempt ends in failure and she is beaten for her actions: The Aunts tortured Moira by beating her feet with steel cables, the punishment for a first offense. The -punishment for a second offense was beating the hands. Aunt Lydia reminded the women that hands and feet did not matter for their purpose[6].

Third escape attempt Edit

Moira succeeds in taking Aunt Elizabeth captive by dismantling the toilet and using a piece of metal from it as a weapon. She ties the Aunt up, takes her clothes and pass, and then simply walks out. Moira becomes something of a legend and idol to the other Handmaids, who privately look up to her as a symbol of rebellion[7].

Unfortunately, it is later revealed that Moira was recaptured, though she came close to getting over the border with help from Quakers. Moira couldn't be sent back to Red Center, as her rebellious nature could be a bad influence on the other Handmaids, and was offered a choice: go to Colonies or become a prostitute at Jezebel's. After seeing a video of the horrific conditions in the Colonies - where Moira glimpsed her old friend Offred's mother - she agreed to become a Jezebel, her spirit having been broken by the regime and figuring it's better than the alternative.

Present time Edit

Moira meets Offred again at Jezebel's years later, where the two have a brief chance to catch up. Moira wears an ill--fitting Playboy bunny costume. She turns and sees Offred. They pretend not to recognize one another, and then Moira gives the old signal to meet her in the washroom[8]. Moira is accepting of her position in life and claims it's not so bad, as she is allowed cigarettes, alcohol and other forbidden luxuries, though Offred is shocked and disheartened by how apathetic Moira seems to have become. It is unknown what becomes of Moira, as after Offred encounters her at Jezebel's, she never sees her again. Moira mentions that she might be sent to a place known as the Boneyard after they find that she isn't useful anymore, but it is unknown whether this actually happens. It is also suggested that Moira was in fact a pseudonym, used by Offred to protect her friend's identity[9].

In the Hulu series Edit

Moira is portrayed by Samira Wiley.

Moira's character remains mostly unchanged. One change is that when Offred arrives at the Red Center, Moira has already been there for some time and shows Offred how things work in the Center, whereas in the book, their roles were reversed. In addition, in the novel, Moira is depicted as being Caucasian, whilst in the TV series, she is depicted as African American. This is due to a change from the novel, where African Americans, or the 'Children of Ham', as Gilead calls them, were discriminated against and extradited from the nation, which is not included in the TV adaption.

Before Gilead Edit

Moira is present when June and Luke meet the first time[10].

June is progressing through labor with Luke and Moira. She asks Moira if her mom has called and Moira says she'll text her again[11].

Moira tells June that she is going to get $250,000 for being a surrogate mother for a couple in England. June wonders if she won't get attached to the baby instead. Moira and June go to an ultrasound. Moira refuses the photo, though June pushes her to.

Moira goes to a birthing class with June. She looks around at the happy couples and becomes insulted when June tells her that Luke used to rub her feet every night when she was pregnant. Moira becomes insulted that she "throws Luke in [her] face". June answers that their marriage is not perfect and jokes about Luke's inability to load the dishwasher[12].

Moira has given birth and gives her baby, Gavin, to a doctor. He begins crying after leaving her arms. She watches as he is given to a new couple. June says that she forgot how small they are, to what Moira answers that she "[is] still sitting on ice". She continues to watch the baby with his new parents[12].

The parents send Moira a card on Gavin's six-month birthday. Later, Moira runs into Odette, the doctor who helped with her pregnancy. Odette helps her pick out wine and tells Moira to call her by her first name since she is not her patient anymore[12].

After the takeover Edit

June and Moira learn that the government has frozen all women's bank accounts and they cannot use any of their credit cards. They take part in a protest against the new laws, only for the police to turn violent, using machine guns against the crowds. The protesters flee, with June holding Moira's hand and narrowly escaping by hiding in a shop[13].

At the Red Center Edit

June and various other women are brought in the Red Center, where June and Moira meet again[14]. June later attempts to escape with Moira; they take Aunt Elizabeth captive and Moira takes her clothes and pass to disguise herself as an Aunt. They make it to the train station, but June draws the attention of a Guardian who becomes suspicious. Seeing Moira has a chance to escape on the train that has just arrived, June silently gives her her blessing and Moira is able to board a train, whilst June is taken back to the Red Center. [15].

Moira successfully makes it to a safe house owned by a Quaker family. They put her on the Femaleroad, but her courier is stopped and shot outside the city. Moira is later taken to the brothel "Jezebel's"[1].

Present time Edit

Commander Fred, Offred and Nick visit Jezebel's, a secret brothel/sex club where well-to-do men frequent. Visibly shaken, Offred sees Moira across the bar. Having to hide the shock, Offred excuses herself to the women's restroom and finds Moira. The two have an emotional reunion, but Moira is shooed out by a superior. Moira tells Offred to find her later. Fred and Offred go to stay in a hotel room. Later while Fred is sleeping, Offred sneaks down to see Moira. Moira tells her about her escape, the last time they saw each other, and how she found her post at Jezebel's. After insisting that they can't escape, Moira shuts Offred down and sends her away[1].

When Fred and Offred go to Jezebel's again, they go straight to the hotel room. Fred ordered Offred a "surprise" - a girl, Ruby, aka Moira. He noticed that they looked friendly the last time they were at the club so he thought it would be a nice surprise. Moira is furious that Offred is back at the club and a part of the rebellion movement. She refuses to get "Rachel's Package" for Offred, claiming not to know a "Rachel". Offred isn't able to retrieve the package when she's at the club, they return home. Moira is seen killing one of her customers in the club, putting on a uniform, and driving off in one of the black cars owned by the government.[16].

Offred is later seen going to the supermarket where she orders some meat. The butcher slyly gives her the secret package that she was supposed to retrieve at Jezebel's, with a note from Moira attached[16].

Moira manages to escape to Ontario, Canada. She ends up in a refugee camp where she is given clothes, a phone, money, and food. Luke comes and finds her there and she bursts into tears when they are reunited.[17]. She then moves into an apartment with Luke and Erin [18].

Moira is at a club drinking. She spots a girl and they have sex in the bathroom. Moira then introduces to her as "Ruby", her former alias in "Jezebel's". When she returns home early in the morning, she mobs (a still silent) Erin who is having cereal for breakfast. To her surprise, Erin replies "Blessed be the 'froot loops'", spoofing a Gileadean salutation towards Handmaids. They laugh [18].

Moira is sitting looking though photos of people who died trying to escape, to see what happen to her old girlfriend Odette. After the night of looking through pictures she finds her[12].

The Commander and Serena land in Canada. Moira recognizes Fred and she points him out to Luke and Erin as they watch television. Moira and Luke go to the U.S. embassy and ask Rachel to arrest Fred but she tells them that it isn't possible. She encourages Moira and Luke to attend a planned protest[19].

Luke, Moira, and Erin go through the stack of letters that Luke got from Nick. Moira is upset that it isn't something they can use against Gilead but Erin says that this is something that they can use against them. The next day, Commander Fred and Serena are told to go directly to the airport because the letters were uploaded to the Internet and the public outrage was overwhelming. At the airport, they can barely pull their car onto the tarmac. Moira is there protesting with a sign that shows Fred that her name isn't Ruby[19].

Later, Moira and Luke are celebrating their departure with a large group of people. They begin to sing "America the Beautiful"[19].

In the 1990 film Edit

Moira is portrayed by Elizabeth McGovern (IMDB). She has the same role as in the book and in the TV series, the only difference is that she and Offred did not know each other before entering the Red Center.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Episode 1.8, "Jezebels"
  2. Section 10
  3. 3.0 3.1 Section 28
  4. Section 13
  5. Section 33
  6. Section 15
  7. Section 22
  8. Section 37
  9. Section 38
  10. Episode 1.5, "Faithful"
  11. Episode 2.11, "Holly (Episode)"
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 Episode 2.7, "After"
  13. Episode 1.3, "Late"
  14. Episode 1, "Offred"
  15. Episode 1.4, "Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum"
  16. 16.0 16.1 Episode 1.9, "The Bridge"
  17. Episode 1.10, "Night"
  18. 18.0 18.1 Episode 2.3, "Baggage"
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 Episode 2.9, "Smart Power"

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