Hari Seldon, a psychohistorian who is the founder of both the First Foundation and the Second Foundation. Originally a mathematician working at a university on the imperial planet of Trantor, Seldon developed the discipline of psychohistory, which he uses to predict the end of the Galactic Empire. Seldon is arrested by the Empire because of his predictions, but he manages to outwit its rulers, who allow him to form the two Foundations. These Foundations are the chief organs of the Seldon Plan, which is intended to save the Galaxy from twenty thousand years of barbarism. Seldon dies shortly thereafter but reappears in video recordings to instruct later generations.
Salvor Hardin, the first mayor of Terminus, the remote planet where Seldon has set up the First Foundation. Hardin chafes under the rule of the Encyclopedists, who think that the only purpose of the Foundation is to prepare an Encyclopedia. When Hardin realizes that the neighboring planet Anacreon is about to annex the Foundation and that the declining Empire will do nothing to prevent this, he seizes political power in Terminus. His theories about the Foundation’s imperial mission proven, Hardin outwits the rulers of Anacreon and paves the way for the Foundation’s growing regional power.
Hober Mallow, the mayor of Terminus approximately eighty years after Hardin. A merchant trader from the planet Smyrno, Mallow is mistrusted by the Foundation’s elite, who resent the fact that he relies on trade rather than their religion of science to establish Foundation power in neighboring regions. Mallow exposes the Foundation elite as authoritarian and dishonest, and he becomes mayor himself after defeating the rival power of Korell.