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Chris Keller is a fictional character on the HBO series Oz, portrayed by Christopher Meloni from 1998 to 2003.

Chris Keller
Oz character
First appearance"Losing Your Appeal" (episode 2.04)
Last appearance"Exeunt Omnes" (episode 6.08)
Portrayed byChristopher Meloni
TitleID 98K514
Spouse(s)Three ex-wives. Bonnie he married twice.
Significant other(s)Tobias Beecher


Character overviewEdit

Prisoner ID 98K514. Convicted June 16, 1998 - felony murder, two counts of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, robbery, driving under the influence and reckless driving. Sentence, 88 years, with the possibility of parole in 50. Convicted in 2002 of Murder in the first degree and was sentenced to death, overturned in 2003.

A charming sociopath, Keller is extremely cunning and adept at manipulation. Throughout the series, he has a complicated, intimate relationship with fellow inmate Tobias Beecher. Keller has been married and divorced four times. As a young man he spent time in prison where he met and was raped by Aryan leader Vernon Schillinger.

Keller is frequently presented as immoral and untrustworthy, manipulating and destroying anyone who tries to get close to him. He has a strong desire for dominance in any relationship and often chooses partners based on how he can treat them and still have them love him. Despite his sociopathic tendencies, Keller appears to feel genuine love for Tobias Beecher,[1] though he cannot express it and is aware of how despicable his actions can be. He harbors deep self-loathing, once telling Sister Pete that he is "worthless, as bad as they come."

Season 2Edit

Upon his arrival, Keller allies himself with the Aryan Brotherhood gang, "owing" the gang's leader, Vernon Schillinger, who protected him as a 17-year-old during a previous sentence, in exchange for sex. Schillinger arranges for the bisexual Keller to meet Tobias Beecher, Schillinger's former sex slave, with the intent of gaining his trust and seducing him. A mutual attraction forms between them, and the two eventually exchange confessions of love. Unbeknownst to Beecher, however, Keller has betrayed him to Schillinger and the Aryans, who beat him so mercilessly that they break both his arms and legs.[2] Keller enjoys the beating, but is briefly seen experiencing a moment of regret when he returns to his empty cell.[episode needed]

Season 3Edit

Keller later tries to seek Beecher's forgiveness, but Beecher rebuffs him, refusing to have anything further to do with him unless he confesses his role in the attack to prison authorities. Keller complies, but Beecher still rejects him. Keller begins attending counseling sessions with the prison psychiatrist, Sister Peter Marie "Sister Pete" Reimondo, as a ploy to win back Beecher's favor. During the meetings, Keller first tries to make her feel ineffective as a psychiatrist; then through various sexual provocations, forces her to question her commitments as a nun. When Sister Pete discovers that his confessions are insincere, she turns her back on him.[episode needed]

Keller briefly allies himself with Ryan O'Reily, an inmate equally devoid of conscience, for protection against the Aryans, who now harbor enmity toward him for becoming Beecher's lover and for confessing to his participation in Beecher's beating and his implication of Schillinger. Keller and O'Reily plague Schillinger and, along with Beecher, play a role in the death of Schillinger's son, Andrew.[episode needed]

Keller eventually does get a chance at redemption when he saves Beecher's life after Schillinger stabs him and Beecher requests that Keller be moved back into their old familiar cell; they share a happy reunion on New Year's Eve.[episode needed]

Season 4Edit

Keller and Beecher's renewed relationship does not last in the face of Schillinger's machinations. In the season premiere, Keller is shot in the shoulder. The shooter kills two inmates and one guard, and set the alarm before Keller got hit. The shooter then kills himself. Sister Pete, upon hearing that Keller desires to see Beecher after his discharge from the hospital ward, tells Beecher that Keller is "a manipulative, sociopathic liar." Unbeknownst to Beecher, Schillinger contracts his son, Hank, to kidnap Beecher's children, Gary and Holly. Mad with fear and grief, Beecher believes false rumors claiming that Keller is responsible for the kidnappings. An attempt on Keller's life in retaliation ends their brief reunion, and the two spend the rest of the season attempting ways to hurt one another. Beecher delves into promiscuity, and Keller kills Beecher's lovers, including inmate Mondo Browne, to discredit the new manager of Em City, Martin Querns.[episode needed]

After killing Browne, Keller takes up with his former cellmate/lover, Ronald Barlog, to hurt Beecher. Barlog then secretly makes a deal with FBI Agent Pierce Taylor to give evidence against Keller and have him convicted of three murders in exchange for his own freedom. Beecher is immediately suspicious of Barlog and warns Keller, who dismisses the warning as mere jealousy. But Keller soon starts to have his own suspicions and eventually murders Barlog, snapping his neck while receiving oral sex from him. Just before killing Barlog, Keller confesses that he had indeed committed the murders the FBI suspected him of, and that his victims — all young, gay men — represented something within himself that he hated. When the police discover that Schillinger's other son, Hank, had been murdered, Keller takes responsibility for the crime to protect Beecher and his family. He is then sent to Massachusetts to stand trial for this murder.[episode needed]

Season 5Edit

Keller is transferred back to Oz the following year, after Agent Taylor proves he lied about his involvement in Hank Schillinger's murder. He is then put in protective custody while the District Attorney's office tries to convict him of an unsolved murder (which he had indeed committed). While in protective custody, he begins an affair with one of the guards, Officer Claire Howell, but soon tires of her and begins rejecting her advances. Enraged, Howell brutally beats him, putting him in the infirmary, and tells her superiors that he attacked her. After he recuperates from his injuries, he is found guilty of the murder charge, and sentenced to death.[episode needed]

Season 6Edit

When Beecher is paroled, he shows his gratitude to Keller by helping him appeal his death sentence, which is subsequently overturned. At about this time, Beecher's father is stabbed to death in a suspiciously empty hall. While Keller's relationship with Beecher is by now somewhat estranged, he tries to show his former lover that he still cares by killing Franklin Winthrop, the inmate who had murdered Beecher's father to advance in the Aryan Brotherhood.[episode needed]

Keller then concocts a plan to ensure that he and Beecher can be together again; he asks Beecher to deliver a package of illegal medicine for his dying ex-wife. Beecher hesitates, but eventually agrees and takes the package. Shortly after Beecher leaves the room, Keller makes an anonymous telephone call to tip off the police, getting Beecher caught and sent back to Oz. Furious, Beecher rejects Keller once and for all. At this time, Beecher is offered a deal from the FBI to set Keller up and he seriously considers it. Meanwhile, Keller seems to get on friendly terms with Schillinger again.[episode needed]

A production of Macbeth is being put on by a number of prisoners with Schillinger in the lead role and Beecher as Macduff. Keller takes a job backstage managing the props. He tells Schillinger that they will kill Beecher then later tells Beecher that he is being friends with Schillinger to keep Beecher alive. He then kisses Schillinger and tells him that he will switch Schillinger's prop knife with a real one so he can kill Beecher onstage. However, during the final fight scene, Keller switches Beecher's knife with a real one. Beecher stabs Schillinger unintentionally during a fight scene, thinking the knife in his hand is a prop. Keller claims to have no idea how a real knife got onto the set. Schillinger's death is considered an accident.[episode needed]

Afterward, Beecher discovers that Keller is his new cellmate and that Keller, despite their past, still believes they should be together. Keller reaffirms his love for Beecher and explains that he eliminated every obstacle between them, referring to Schillinger. He also claims to have taken care of the entire Aryan Brotherhood to keep Beecher safe from any retaliation. However, during a heated conversation Beecher demands to know whether Keller had set him up with the illegal drugs; when Keller admits the truth, Beecher rejects him for the final time. During a subsequent confrontation in Emerald City, Keller, while professing his love for Beecher, falls over a railing, fatally breaking his neck. While falling, Keller shouts out, "Beecher, DON'T!", and even though Beecher cries out "No!!", the rest of Em City sees this and thinks Beecher threw Keller off the balcony, implicating Beecher as a murderer. Beecher possibly faces the death penalty, but whether he is found guilty of murder or not is not revealed.[episode needed]

At the same time, a package arrives from a friend of Keller's, containing an unknown contaminant. When opened by the Aryans in the mail room, the contents are released into the air, killing the inmates and two guards in the room and resulting in a total evacuation. In the final scenes, the entire prison is empty and several buses leave the premises loaded with prisoners and staff, and the camera focuses on Beecher, who smiles in the knowledge of who was responsible.[episode needed]

Murders committedEdit

  • Bryce Tibbets, Hyman Lewis, and Mark Cirracchi - Kidnapped, tortured and then killed after Keller had sex with them prior to coming to Oz.
  • Unknown store worker - Shot after robbing their store.
  • Nate Shemin - Diced apart for sleeping with Beecher, to get Martin Querns fired as Emerald city unit manager and frame Supreme Allah for the murder, Ryan O'Reily was connected to the murder.
  • Raymond "Mondo" Browne - Diced apart for sleeping with Beecher, to get Martin Querns fired as Emerald city unit manager and frame Supreme Allah for the murder.
  • Ronald Barlog - Killed by snapping his neck during oral sex, for giving him up about the 3 murders of the homosexual men to FBI Agent Taylor.
  • Franklin Winthrop - Killed for the revenge for killing Beecher's father.
  • 6 Aryans and 2 C.O.s - Sending anthrax to kill the Aryans in the mail room to prevent their retaliation against Beecher, though Keller was already dead when the anthrax arrived.


  1. ^ Tropiano, Stephen (May 1, 2002). The Prime Time Closet: A History of Gays and Lesbians on TV. Hal Leonard Corporation. ISBN 1476847983. Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  2. ^ Ferber, Lawrence (February 18, 2003). "Prisoners of Love". The Advocate.