Captain Byron Hadley is the secondary antagonist in Shawshank Redemption. He is Warden Norton's second in-command and corrupt Captain of the Prison Guard. He was played by Clancy Brown, who is best known for voicing Mr. Krabs in the hit Nickelodeon TV show SpongeBob SquarePants.
Byron Hadley has been working in the state prison for a presumably long time. By late 1940's, he is the captain of the prison guard, next to Warden Norton in authority. Hadley is a cruel, wicked, corrupt, and sadistic prison guard who frequently abuses his authority. He is first seen in 1947 when Andy Dufresne arrives at Shawshank. He punches one of the new arrivals when he asks 'When do we eat?' Later that night he beats up a new inmate named 'Fat Ass' for crying in sorrow. Fat Ass dies due to his wounds the next day.
Hadley continues his violent rule of terror. In 1949, his estranged brother dies, leaving him $35,000 in his will. Hadley is seen complaining about this to his fellow guards, saying that he will be charged heavy taxes on the inheritance. Andy offers to help him legally shelter the money. This successfully gets him his money and he repays Andy by getting him and the inmates beer. Also, this starts to get Andy more privileges as other guards and the warden get more financial help.
Hadley learned that Bogs had been assaulting Andy and he was severely injured in the infirmary. Realizing Andy was too useful, Hadley later beat up Bogs Diamond and left him to eat out of a straw for the rest of his life for beating up Andy.
After Andy escapes Shawshank, he has the police arrest Hadley for his abuse and corruption with Norton. It is most likely he will be incarcerated in either Shawshank or another prison and has to endure retaliation from the prisoners who he has terrorized and brutalized for many years.
Offscreen it is revealed that the former guard was sentenced to life in prison with the chance of parole in 20 years.
Captain Hadley is a cruel, loutish, corrupt, and sadistic man who frequently abuses his authority by brutally beating inmates and sometimes killing them, often for petty reasons. This also includes beating up "Fat-ass" for not keeping his mouth shut.
The next day, Fat-ass dies from the injuries that Hadley inflicted, showing he absolutely does not care about the prisoners. This make him feared by the inmates. He is also a complainer, by inheriting a lot of money of his dead's brother and complaining about the payments on it. Unsympathetic and corrupt, he gets angry pretty easily with the inmates, whatever the minor things they do and shows many signs of enjoying making them suffer.
Despite Hadley's cruelty, he seemingly softens up to Andy Dufresne after the latter helped him with his money he inherited from his estranged brother (by giving the $35,000 in full, tax free, to his wife). He helps Andy rid of Bogs although it was purely for selfish reasons. He has a wife and children, however, it is unknown if he genuinely loves them or if he is abusive toward them, though his fury upon Andy asking him if his wife is faithful to him may suggest that he does care for them. However, despite briefly becoming softer towards Andy, he starts abusing him again once he starts stirring up trouble.
Unlike Mr. Norton, he decides not to resist arrest.
- When cast for the role, Brown declined the offer to study real-life prison guards as preparation for his role, because he did not want to base it on any one person.
- In the movie, Hadley was the lead guard until the end, whereas, in the novel, lead guards come and go. Also in the movie, Hadley was arrested, whereas, in the novel, he retired after a heart attack.
- According to Red, "he cried like a girl" when he was getting arrested as he understands very well what the prisoners are going to do to him afterward.
- Personality-wise, his character is relatively similar to Percy Wetmore in the 1999 film The Green Mile, which is also a Stephen King story, soon turned into a movie by director Frank Darabont.
- He is one of the most hated guards in Shawshank due to his cruelty to the imates.