Why did Doug Stamper murder Rachel Posner?

And why was Frank Underwood pleased with this?

What did she know about Frank?

  • 1
    Frankly (no pun intended), I think the Rachel plot is overrated in its importance. She was only relevant in her connection to Peter who is himself irrelevant by the end of the first season, so having Doug continue to bribe and hide her for so long seems pointless and contrived. If he wanted her quiet, he could have killed her right away (murder seems to be de rigueur in political thrillers, especially on cable). Either they wanted to really play up the Doug obsession to make the character more complex, or they just wanted to give Rachel Brosnahan more work).
    – Synetech
    Commented Apr 7, 2015 at 14:46
  • I do not believe she was killed, I think Doug killed someone else, or just took a body, and is protecting her somewhere.
    – user21524
    Commented May 25, 2015 at 20:31
  • i think rachel is claire's daughter
    – user23346
    Commented Jul 26, 2015 at 14:27
  • @user23346 Why?
    – vladon
    Commented Jul 27, 2015 at 0:01
  • @Synetech Believing Rachel is just filler is extremely shortsighted. You're failing to see the depths of Doug's character and the symbolic importance of Rachel. She represents his addiction and his inner demons in general. Doug is intelligent, cold, and calculating. But notice how his ability to perform his duties steadily declines after Rachel comes into the picture (to the point where it almost kills him, literally.) Much like alcohol, he both loves and hates her. He wants to let her go, because he love her. But he realizes the only way to kill the weakness inside himself, is to kill her.
    – arkon
    Commented May 25, 2016 at 19:20

7 Answers 7


NOTE: I cannot answer this without spoilers ... reader beware.

There are several things going on with Doug, Rachel, and the President.

Back in Season 1 of HoC, Doug Stamper pays Rachel Posner as a call girl to be with Rep. Peter Russo on several occasions. This ultimately ruined his chances of accomplishing anything in Congress and provides a means by which gets Russo out of the way and provide a hole with which to place the Vice President after Russo's death. Rachel is aware of her connection to this or at a very minimum, President Underwood believes she can figure it out. She was being paid by Doug to be the directed call girl just before Russo commits suicide (well, we know that Underwood kills Russo, but the press believes it was suicide). This is a connection which the President does not want revealed. During Season 2, Doug is supposed to take care of the situation, but instead begins falling in love with Rachel. He puts her up in an apartment and pays her meager bills. In the mean time she falls in love with a woman. When Doug figures this out, he goes to move her to a new location. The last episode of Season 2 shows Rachel jumping out of the car, Doug following, then Rachel nearly beating him to death with a rock.

At the beginning of Season 3, we see Doug's long recovery in process. He believes if he can only find Rachel and take care of her once and for all, things will be back on an even keel with him and the President.

Killing Rachel has a two fold reason for Doug. First, he wants to get rid of any connection between the President and Russo's apparent suicide. He believes this will provide an avenue for him to be back into Frank's inner circle. Secondly, since Rachel rejected his advancement and almost killed him, he wants his revenge. Frank is pleased about her being out of the way because there is no longer the connection, which might hinder his plans for the future.

  • 3
    Not sure how much more you can spoil after the question, tbh. :P
    – Catija
    Commented Mar 8, 2015 at 1:43
  • 1
    @Catija ... You are correct with that assertion! Commented Mar 8, 2015 at 1:47
  • This only covers what's on the surface. I'd urge you to take a deeper look at what Rachel represents. (I already explained some in the comment chain under the question itself, so I won't reiterate that here.) But Rachel symbolizes a facet of Doug's own mind. She wasn't simply a love interest/loose end in the context of this story.
    – arkon
    Commented May 25, 2016 at 19:27

Dougs character is established in season 1 as being well in control of his habbit. This is demonstrated through the rehabilitation of Peter Russo in which he was in touch with the ability to pin down addictions. When Rachel Posner was introduced, it created a whole different battlefield by which Stamper would fight a new addiction. Rachel. He was beyond infatuation to a level of obsession, which took control of him like his alcaholism. However alcohol never let him down, but Rachel did. She fell in love with another women putting Stamper in a state of selfish addiction where he would not have her leave him. The relationship dynamic was so over powered that Rachel felt the suppression of her freedom with only one way out. To kill stamper. After her attempt she seeks to dissappear to forget everything. However when doug is ready to kill his addiction he takes it to the most literal form. He cant kill her softly like his alcholism. He has to hit the habit and hit it hard. He does that by running her over. Finally, he buries her as a symbol that he was burying her memory and the addiction she represented.


I think that other commenters are correct in that killing Rachel would prove Doug's commitment to "doing whatever it takes" to please Frank, especially in light of the fact that he had talked to Heather Dunbar about Claire's journal, something that he could have been permanently ousted for. Doug is an extremely obsessive man: he is obsessive about working for Frank, he is obsessive about alcohol, and he was obsessive about Rachel. I think he realized he would never get over this woman, and that he could never have her. Witness his pathetic attempt to destroy his computer so he wouldn't keep watching the video, or checking emails. Rachel was a key link to the Russo murder, but Frank had become president without her information becoming a threat. My guess is the murder was an attempt to win over Frank and an attempt to end a painful obsession

I think Rachel was important because she was the closest thing to an innocent person in the entire story. It always broke my heart that she would buy little houseplants to decorate whatever grimy apartment she had been forced in to. It seemed like a tiny glimmer of hope hadn't been destroyed in her. She just wanted to get away and have a dog, quiet and trees. She's another fatality wrung up by the Underwoods (in their very sterile interiors) in their quest for power.


I had two thoughts about this. One being that Doug killed Rachel because when he was with her he felt that same obsession reignited. When she talked about wanting to move away and be invisible it was quite apparent that Doug would never be factored into that equation. If he couldn't have her he didn't want anyone else to. Secondly, when he was driving off it was as if a switch flipped. When the doctor discussed his traumatic brain injury to his frontal lobe in the beginning of season 3 she mentioned he would have poor impulse control and could be prone to violent outbursts. The other possibility is that it was due to the head injury. His emotions shifted so quickly from releasing her from her restraints, packing water for her walk, and directing her to the closest town to running her over like road kill and burying her in a ditch in the middle of nowhere.


Russo matters only indirectly. Rachel is the proof that Lucas is not crazy. But then Underwood may have anything to do with ZOE's death (which of course he does). The connection between Rachel and Russo only matter inasmuch Zoe met Rachel because she was investigating Russo's death. Of course, things went awry only because Claire betrayed Francis with the watershed bill. Otherwise, the dog in the first scene would be Underwood's only victim.

  • Welcome to Movies & TV (movies.stackexchange.com/tour). You might want to elaborate a bit more on your answer to provide additional information and differentiate it from the already accepted answer that says the same as this one with more explanations.
    – Panther
    Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 7:57

Doug was obsessed with her. He couldn't handle the fact the feelings weren't mutual. He was jealous, controlling and a stalker. He wasn't visiting her because he was being told to by Frank Underwood. He was visiting her because of his obsession with her. When he goes to her apartment, when she isn't there and smells her bedding. Rachel reading to him because he loved the sound of her voice. He has an addictive personality. He is OCD with everything he gets involved with. Frank, job, Rachel and alcohol. Doug is addicted to Rachel like Alcohol. He knows he will be constantly obsessed with her while she is alive. So he murders poor Rachel.


Doug seemed very upset when the hacker told him Rachel was dead. He clearly didn't want to kill her, but must have been told to do so by the president, as an ultimate proof of his good faith. Their last encounter tends to confirm that...

Therefore, you don't have to hate Doug, and you can't possibly hate Franck anyway!

  • Welcome! Do you have any evidence to support this claim?
    – Catija
    Commented Mar 22, 2015 at 21:44

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