As our favourite fictional politicians return to Netflix on Friday, Stylist recaps the characters' stories so far and drops some (spoiler-free, but look away if you haven't finished season three) hints about what to expect
Francis J Underwood
Who? A power-mad former congressman, now US president.
Story so far: Spent the last three series lying, deceiving and murdering people to become president. Has a fondness for talking directly to the camera.
Last seen: Winning the Iowa caucuses for the 2016 election. Angry his wife Claire was absent from his victory speech, he tells her she is nothing without him.
What to expect: Francis (aka Frank) finally gets his comeuppance… or does he?
Who? First Lady who is set on a more active political role.
Story so far: Appointed UN ambassador despite the Senate voting against her nomination. Embarrassed when Frank asks her to step down.
Last seen: Complaining to Frank about their unequal partnership. Announces she’s leaving him before the vital New Hampshire primary.
What to expect: Goes head to head with Frank. Karma has a name: Claire Underwood.
Who? The White House’s chief of staff aka Frank’s loyal right-hand man.
Story so far: Fell in love with former prostitute, Rachel Posner, who goes on the run. Tracks her down, gets hit over the head and ends up in hospital. Loses job. Pretends to work for the opposition. Gets job back.
Last seen: Shovelling dirt over Rachel’s body in the desert.
What to expect: Thick eyebrows. Bullying everyone into supporting Frank – shocker.
Who? Political consultant.
Story so far: All that’s known about this new character is that she has her own consultancy firm in Claire Underwood’s hometown of Dallas, Texas.
Last seen: In Party Of Five and Scream. Wait, that’s the actress, not the character.
What to expect: An encounter with Doug Stamper and a partnership with one of the Underwoods — two things that never end well.
Who? Democratic candidate for the 2016 election. Very rich.
Story so far: Former solicitor general who led the investigation that prompted the resignation of President Garrett Walker, thus promoting Underwood. Decides to run against him. Bad idea.
Last seen: Being deceived by Doug into thinking he would help her take down the Underwoods.
What to expect: Poses a threat to the Underwood campaign. Forced to choose between her ethics and the presidency.
Who? Political lobbyist and former communications director to Frank. Always on the phone.
Story so far: Switches allegiances depending on who can offer him more. In love with congresswoman Jackie Sharp.
Last seen: Retiring from politics and having hotel room trysts with married Jackie… again.
What to expect: Even more clandestine meet-ups.
Season four of House Of Cards premieres on Netflix on 4 March
Words: Katie O’Malley