The Thought Police are the ever-present, though often invisible, antagonists of 1984. Throughout most of the novel the Thought Police are a constant concern, but not an active presence in Winston’s life. Virtually all of Winston’s decisions are made with concern for how the Thought Police might respond if they found out, but this never turns into an actual confrontation. However, by their very presence the Thought Police work to prevent Winston from achieving his goal of personal autonomy and freedom of thought.

In the end of the book the Thought Police are successful, as Winston never reaches his goal. Nearly everyone Winston interacts with is either serving the Thought Police directly or is sympathetic to their cause. Winston’s neighbors, their children, and his coworkers all represent potential informants. The characters who are sympathetic to Winston and Julia’s situation, like O’Brien and Mr. Charrington, turn out to be actual members of the Thought Police who were working against Winston’s interests all along. Because every character besides Julia acts to thwart Winston’s goal, the antagonist can be considered to be everyone in the novel other than the two main characters.