For the characters as portrayed in its 2004 film adaptation, see A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004).
For the characters as portrayed in its 2017 series adaptation, see A Series of Unfortunate Events (2017).
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The Baudelaire Children
The Baudelaire Children
Orphaned when their parents die in a fire, the Baudelaires now have to escape the greedy hands of Count Olaf... and on their way, they uncover a massive conspiracy.
- A Boy, a Girl, and a Baby Family: Violet and Klaus, 14/15 and 12/13 respectively, fit the bill for the two older siblings. Although Sunny is no longer referred to as a baby from Book the Tenth onward, she is undeniably the age-distant baby.
- Ambiguously Jewish: Daniel Handler has mentioned that he tends to write characters as Jewish by "default" until elaborated otherwise. More to the point, in the final book, the Baudelaires mention that it is their family's tradition to name babies after deceased relatives — a Jewish tradition in real life.
- Anti-Hero: They end up in this territory from book 7 on-wards. All three of them are fundamentally good people, but circumstances lead to them being on the run and doing questionable things to survive. The resulting conflict is a major theme of the later books.
- Badass Adorable: All three. Especially Sunny, who's badass even though she's a baby.
- Badass Bookworm: Klaus and Violet both count, though Klaus is a bigger example as his specialty is researching.
- The Beautiful Elite: The Baudelaires are from a vastly wealthy and likely upper-class family, and are described by Lemony Snicket as possessing pleasant facial features.
- Brainy Brunette: All three of them have black hair and they're all intelligent, though the adaptations portray Sunny as blonde.
- Break the Cutie: Not quite, but it comes pretty damn close at times.
- Brother–Sister Team: All three of them, especially since they have very few people to fully rely on.
- The Cassandra: They are usually ignored.
- Cassandra Truth:
- No one believes the Baudelaires whenever they see Count Olaf, except in the final book.
- The general public also refuse to believe the Baudelaries aren't murderers.
- Cinderella Circumstances: With Count Olaf, they were treated like slaves whilst they were under his care.
- Conveniently an Orphan: Deconstructed, as their status as orphans leaves them bouncing from one awful home to another with no way out till Violet turns 18.
- Despair Event Horizon: A variant: in Book the Twelfth, the Baudelaires lose faith in the justice system and in staying "noble" people after realizing the judges of their Kangaroo Court are corrupt and are allowing Count Olaf to kidnap Justice Strauss, taking advantage of everyone being blindfolded. Violet pretty much says even if Justice Strauss wants to help them, she can't because the system is too corrupt, and if the Baudelaires are away from society then Olaf can't get their fortune even if he has them. In Book the Thirteenth, they only decide to return to society when they outgrow the deserted island and need to see how the world has fared.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Possibly, as bits of narration and The Beatrice Letters suggest that they've managed to clear their names and re-enter society.
- Foregone Conclusion: Book 2 reveals that they manage to survive their childhoods to thoroughly regret them.
- He Who Fights Monsters: The Baudelaires fear this and even do some morally questionable things later on — it's actually quoted in the tenth book.
- Hero with Bad Publicity: From book 7 onwards, thanks to Count Olaf faking his death and framing the Baudelaires for his murder.
- It Runs in the Family: An Inverted Trope, in that the members of the Baudelaire family are the least insane people they encounter.
- Power Trio: Sunny, as the baby, fills the Id, and Claus the walking encyclopedia fills the Superego. Violet usually leads the family as the Ego.
- Promotion to Parent: Violet to Klaus and Sunny, and later, the three of them to Beatrice Snicket.
- Properly Paranoid: They aren't just seeing things; Count Olaf IS always there.
- Only Sane Man: Pretty much the only sane people who aren't in the VFD in the entire story, outside of the Quagmires. Unfortunately it rarely helps them.
- Orphan's Ordeal: The poster children for this trope.
- Seekers: Eventually.
- Surrounded by Idiots: Idiots who have power over them unfortunately.
- Took a Level in Badass: The Baudelaires are already a Badass Family, but the real clincher is when Violet politely tells Mr. Poe at the end of The Grim Grotto that they're not going with him because they got a coded message telling them to meet with someone else, and implying that they aren't going to trust adults blindly again, as they seem to be unreliable.
- Weirdness Magnet: Well, more like "Count Olaf magnet", who is one of the weirdest of them all.
- Wise Beyond Their Years: Their situation forces them to act and think more maturely than kids their age should.
Violet BaudelaireThe oldest of the Baudelaire Trio, Violet is an intelligent 14-15 year old inventor and responsible older sister.
- Big Sister Instinct: Before and after their parents' deaths, she cared deeply about her brother and sister.
- Character Tics: Violet always ties her hair back when she's thinking hard — usually about inventing.
- Cool Big Sis: Is the eldest child and has a knack for creating functional inventions.
- Gadgeteer Genius: Rarely anything particularly outlandish, as she did not often have much to work with.
- Girly Girl with a Tomboy Streak: She may be polite and well-dressed, but she's also a Wrench Wench.
- Lethal Chef: Violet burns everything she cooks, even toast.
- Locking Macgyver In The Store Cupboard: This happens to her roughly once per book
- Perky Goth: Violet's character design changes from a rather innocent 50's girl style, to a lolita-style goth in the film.
- Promotion to Parent: Violet takes the vow she made to look after her younger siblings very seriously.
- Team Mom: Only natural, given her circumstances.
- Tomboyish Ponytail: in the film and tv adaptations, anyway.
- Wrench Wench: Violet loves inventing and tinkering with machines and gadgets. Many times she has to quickly invent something to extricate herself and her siblings from the latest tragic predicament.
Klaus BaudelaireThe middle Baudlaire and only boy, Klaus is extremely bookish and prone to using big words. The vast amount of things he's learned from his reading, as well as his research skills, come in handy.
- Badass Bookworm: Though all the siblings qualify as this, Klaus's thing is that he uses books to kick ass.
- Big Brother Instinct: He displays a strong brotherly instinct for his sisters. When Violet is captured in The Hostile Hospital, he and Sunny do their best to save their elder sister.
- Blind Without 'Em: He can't see well without his glasses, which plays heavily into Olaf's plot in The Miserable Mill. Downplayed in the film where he only needed them for reading.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: In Book the Fourth; he even appears to have Mind-Control Eyes on the cover.
- Character Tics: Klaus has a habit of polishing his glasses.
- Heart Is an Awesome Power: His specialty is reading, which doesn't seem too good on paper and isn't looked highly upon by the villains. Usually, he'll find a library in a novel that will give him the power to help the Baudelaires get out of a jam. In later books, his range of knowledge basically covers anything that his sisters don't know.
- Love Hurts: With Fiona in The Grimm Grotto, even asking Violet "how someone so wonderful could do something so terrible".
- Middle Child Syndrome: Klaus originally resented Sunny when she was born, but got over it quickly when he got to know her.
- Mouthy Kid: Klaus is usually the first Baudelaire to talk back to adults, seeing as in many cases he knows better than they do.
- Photographic Memory: He remembers absolutely everything he's ever read.
- Running Gag: Adults explaining to Klaus the definitions of words that he already knows.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Klaus is fond of big words, much to the annoyance of the villains. He also explains the definitions of words to his siblings often.
Sunny BaudelaireThe youngest Baudelaire is only a baby and only intelligible to her brother and sister (at least at the beginning). However, she is extremely intelligent, and in addition to having four very sharp teeth as a weapon, she also demonstrates admirable cooking skills later on.
- Baby Talk: This changes when she starts to speak coherently towards the series' end.
- Badass in Distress: Despite being able to take care of herself, Sunny is still a baby. She's the target of multiple kidnappings and once contracted a dangerous disease.
- The Big Guy: Especially at the beginning when her special ability was her sharp teeth. Sunny was often called upon to chew ropes or rocks and once fought off a sword with her teeth.
- Character Tics: Sunny likes to bare or sharpen her teeth, chews on objects when she's agitated or just for fun and bites people gently in greeting and hard if she doesn't like them.
- Chef of Iron: The later books show her developing an aptitude for cooking and The Beatrice Letters mention grown-up Sunny discussing her recipes on the radio.
- Child Prodigy: What she will definitely grow up to be.
- Cute Little Fangs: Four of them. Usually drawn in illustrations with the tip of one tooth sticking out of her mouth
- Deadpan Snarker: In Baby Talk. Especially prominent in the movie and the Netflix series, where every other thing she says is some kind of insult or sarcasm.
- Genre Savvy: She uses the word "MacGuffin" to refer to the Sugar Bowl.
- Intelligible Unintelligible: People who know her well understand her.
- In "The Slippery Slope", Sunny takes advantage of her tendency towards baby talk and repeatedly insults Olaf, knowing he can't understand her.
- And in later books, instead of gibberish, she often says words (or partial words) that relate to her response, or at least the topic being discussed. For example, when describing a sword fight, she says "Flynn", when somebody mentions a train, she says "Esoobac", when talking about going undercover, she says "Dragnet", and when somebody asks her to do something impossible, she exclaims "Unfeasi!"
- Even toward the beginning of the series, she often says things that seem like gibberish but are real words in other languages, making her a Bilingual Bonus. Some highlights include "Arigato", "yomhuledet", and "yomhashoah".
- Little Miss Badass: She once fought against a sword-wielding hypnotist with her teeth, and held her own for a good while.
- Odd Friendship: She shares this with Monty's Incredibly Deadly Viper.
- Pint-Sized Powerhouse: In between the sharp teeth and her intelligence, she is quite formidable for a baby
- Supreme Chef: Grows into this. By about the 11th book, she knows cooking and food theory.
- Vague Age: While the other orphans are given exact ages, Sunny is just known as a baby. This is probably to keep her antics from being too unbelievable by tying it to an age.
- Wise Beyond Her Years: Even moreso than the other Baudelaires, as she's a very intelligent baby.
Lemony SnicketThe mysterious narrator of the series who holds a torch for a deceased woman named Beatrice.
- Alter-Ego Acting: Daniel Handler and Lemony Snicket — separate characters in the books themselves.
- Author Appeal: Mild example — Daniel Handler is something of a gourmand, and hence the Lemony Narrator never misses an opportunity to describe some delicious dish, even providing a salad recipe in the midst of an urgent-seeming message to his sister embedded in the tenth book.
- The Eeyore: He is very sad.
- The Faceless: Largely because he's a wanted criminal. Averted in the TV series; not only does Warburton clearly show his face to the audience, but there are numerous non-obscured photographs of Snicket.
- Greek Chorus: Lemony Snicket provides a running commentary on the events, and often addresses the reader directly.
- Lemony Narrator: Of course.
- Lovable Coward: Lemony Snicket himself. In nearly every book, while narrating some terrifying situation, he comments that, had he been in the Beaudelaire's place, he would have been unable to go on and would have instead run away in terror, dissolved into helpless tears, etc.
- Narrator: He tells the Baudelaires' story, even though he has very little connection to the children.
- Plot-Based Photograph Obfuscation:
- Snicket never shows his face in photographs, but there are several possible explanations for why this is, and most such photographs are only seen by the audience in his author bio rather than by the characters.
- This also applies in-universe. A note in the Quagmire diaries indicate that Snicket's face is never seen in a photograph. And indeed, when the Baudelaires find a photo of their parents, there is an unidentified man with his back turned next to them.
- Stalker with a Crush: Inverted — Lemony's a good guy, but he does stalk the children of the woman he loved but couldn't have but should have had.
Count Olaf's Theater Troupe
Count Olaf's Theater TroupeCount Olaf has a large variety of henchmen he calls his "acting troupe."
- Dwindling Party: Starting around The Hostile Hospital the henchmen begin leaving the group either via Heel–Face Turn (the hook-handed man and the white-faced women) or dying (the bald man and the person of indeterminate gender). By The Penultimate Peril, of the original troupe members present since Book One, only Olaf remains and the more recent additions to the troupe are abandoned to the hotel fire at the end of the book by Olaf.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Fernald has a sister, and the white-faced women once did as well.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Most of them are horrified at Olaf's callous disregard for the death of the one who looks like neither a man nor a woman.
- Master of Disguise: With the exception of the one who looks like neither a man nor a woman, they're a lot better at it than Olaf; the Baudelaires never see through them.
- Minion with an F in Evil: In the adaptations. In the original books they're quite as evil as Olaf and arguably more competent than him.
- Punch-Clock Villain: All of them, with varying degrees of actual malice involved.
- Significant Anagram: Each has a Go-to Alias which is an anagram of "Count Olaf".
- The Trope Without a Title: Prior to the carnival freaks joining the troupe, every one of them is referred to this way. This eventually changes for the hook-handed man; the 11th book reveals his real name as well as revealing that Olaf calls him "Hooky".
The main villain of the series, Count Olaf is a villainous actor whose goal is to murder the Baudelaire children and steal their fortune, no matter where they go and how many stupid disguises he has to wear. He's revealed to have a connection to the shadowy organization known as VFD.
- Abusive Parents: He's one to the Baudelaires... an abusive foster parent, anyway.
- Adults Are Useless: Averted — he is the most competent villain in this series and only the Baudelaires manage to thwart him.
- Alas, Poor Villain: After getting harpooned by Ishmael, Olaf realizes that all of his plans have been foiled, he has nothing left to live for, having lost everyone close to him, and he has no chance of obtaining the Baudelaire fortune. After learning that Kit has gone into labor, he does what Violet calls the single good deed in his life by carrying her to an area where childbirth will be easier. Although he has eaten an apple that cures him of the Medusoid Mycelium that was released when he was harpooned, he succumbs to his harpoon wound, but not before reciting the closing stanza of a poem and giving out one final "HA!"
- The Alcoholic: His house is littered with empty wine bottles, he gets heavily drunk at the dinner where he strikes Klaus, and the Baudelaire children outright state to Mr. Poe that he "drinks too much wine".
- Aristocrats Are Evil: Assuming he's a real Count, as it would be entirely in character for him to lie about something like that to make himself seem more important.
- Attention Whore: He demands he be the center of attention at all times, even when he's in disguise.
- Attractive Bent-Gender: Plausibly a parody, as the person who finds the Cross Dresser Olaf attractive is himself an unpleasant semi-villain.
- Bald of Evil: Has little-to-no hair on his head and is a wicked individual.
- Big Bad: Olaf is the main antagonist pursuing the Baudelaires.
- Card-Carrying Villain: Is pretty proud of the fact that he sets fires and kidnaps children for their fortune.
- Clark Kenting: The Baudelaires never fall for it. Everyone else does. Lemony Snicket's Unofficial Autobiography reveals that none of the disguises that he's used in the series are even of his own invention, they're moldy leftovers from a generic VFD disguise kit he received back when he used to be a member.
- Devil in Plain Sight: Part of the tragedy and dark comedy of the series comes from everyone barring the Baudelaires being oblivious either to just how evil he is or when he's wearing a disguise, despite how obvious it is.
- Creepy Crossdresser: On two occasions, the first time dressed as a secretary named Shirley and the second as Kit Snicket.
- Determinator: As he swears at the end of the first book, he will get the Baudelaire fortune if it's the last thing he does.
- Dirty Old Man: He hints he plans to consummate his marriage with Violet.
- Don't You Dare Pity Me!: To the Baudelaires and Kit in the final book, though neither party was in much of a hurry to do so.
- Dumb Muscle: He's ultimately reduced to being both the dumbest person remaining in the series' final chapters and the only person strong enough to carry Kit Snicket inland so she can give birth to her child safely.
- Evil Is Petty: Count Olaf forces the orphans to do all his household chores when they first stay with him. Also, in book 3, he briefly considers Aunt Josephine's offer to fake her death and let him have the Baudelaires, but changes his mind and throws her into the lake to be eaten by the Lachrymose Leeches when she foolishly corrects his grammar.
- Evil Laugh: One of the author's more questionable choices in books 11 and 12.
- Evil Old Folks: He's significantly older than most of the adult characters in the series and, on multiple occasions, he's attempted to kill a bunch of children just to get their fortune.
- Expy: Appears to be heavily based off of Osamu Tezuka's character, Duke Red. Both have similar hair, a pointy nose, clothes and the fact that both characters are masters of disguise.
- Fauxreigner: One of his disguises is an auctioneer from an ambiguous country named Gunther, complete with a silly accent.
- Hidden Depths: Olaf has a Mysterious Past and is apparently an orphan himself. He also apparently had some sort of relationship with Kit Snicket.
- High-Class Glass: As Gunther.
- Hypocritical Humor: When disguised as Captain Sham, he says, "There ain't nothin' better than good grammar!”
- Illegal Guardian: Played utterly straight at first in book one.
- Ironic Hell: The Baudelaires are wonderfully bright and kind children who he frequently tries to murder even though they hadn't done anything to deserve it. Later, Esmé adopts Carmelita Spats, who is a monumental brat that endlessly harangues and bullies Olaf, but because his girlfriend is so fond of her, he can do little but grimace and bear the abuse.
- Just a Stupid Accent: Whilst disguised as Stephano and Gunther.
- Karma Houdini Warranty: Throughout the series, his plans are constantly thwarted, but he always manages to escape punishment and go on to threaten the Baudelaires again. His streak finally comes to an end in book 13, where he's shot with a harpoon gun and succumbs to the wound.
- Karmic Death: Though it comes far too late for the Baudelaires' taste, the toxic mushrooms he planned to use to threaten his enemies led directly to his death.
- Large Ham: Olaf's acting is VERY Narmy and over-the-top. Probably helps the Baudelaires recognize him all the time.
- Lean and Mean: Skinny as a rail and utterly vile.
- Manipulative Bastard: Though having said that, it doesn't really appear that difficult to manipulate someone in the Snicketverse.
- The Mistress: To the already married Esmé Gigi Genevieve Squalor. (Surprisingly, the fact that she is married is never lampshaded in the series.)
- Mr. Seahorse: Sent up in The End, where Count Olaf tries to disguise himself as a pregnant woman. The Lemony Narrator states that "pregnancy occurs very rarely in males," noting actual seahorses as an exception.
- Morality Pet: Kit Snicket. The only good deed he does in his life is to carry her to a safe place to give birth.
- Mysterious Past: Duncan and Isadora Quagmire mention newspaper articles that a man with similar traits as Olaf had strangled a bishop and escaped prison in just ten minutes and another report of him throwing a wealthy widow off a cliff. The Baudelaire children agree that it sounds like Olaf and believe him to be the man mentioned in the articles.
- Not Me This Time: ... Maybe? His last moments imply that no, he really didn't kill Mr. and Mrs. Baudelaire. God only knows if he was telling the truth — or if that's even what he meant. It's just vague enough that we'll never be sure. Just like everything else in this series.
- Old Man Marrying a Child: He attempts this with Violet in the first book and the film and TV series adaptations. He fails and attempts to kill Violet and her siblings.
- Opportunistic Bastard: Since it's implied he didn't burn down the Baudelaire Mansion, he clearly saw an opportunity for money and revenge and took it.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: His disguises only ever cover up his unibrow and ankle tattoo, which is what everyone always recognizes him by.
- Pet the Dog: Just before his death, he helps Kit Snicket deliver her baby daughter and they share a tender moment reciting poetry. Violet even notes that it might even be the sole selfless act in his life.
- The Power of Love: What snaps him out of his Despair Event Horizon in the final book to aid Kit Snicket one last time.
- Pyro Maniac: It's clear that he has at least burned a hospital, a carnival and a hotel to ground and it's suggested that he also burned the Baudelaires' mansion, but Snicket never confirmed the fact. In the final book, the Baudelaires confront Olaf over their suspicions of him burning down their mansion. His initial response is "Is that what you think?" followed by "You know nothing."
- Redemption Equals Death: His last action before dying is rescuing Kit Snicket.
- Small Name, Big Ego: While a major antagonistic figure in the lives of the Baudelaires, he's ultimately revealed to be a bit player in the worlds of theatre, espionage, and villainy as the story progresses.
- Small Role, Big Impact: He's one of the primary instigators of the VFD schism, but afterwards, he spent the following decades trying to get rich through illicit and largely unsuccessful moneymaking schemes, and hiding out in his shoddy home to wait for his nearby relatives to pass on so he could make a go at their fortune.
- Smug Snake: Is he ever.
- Uncleanliness Is Next to Ungodliness: Olaf has VERY poor hygiene.
- The Unreveal: Did Olaf burn down the Baudelaire mansion?
- The Film of the Book gave a definitive "yes", but it's likely non-canon.
- Wannabe Secret Agent: Lemony Snicket's Unauthorized Autobiography reveals that he was an agent of VFD when he was a child and for all the bedlam he was capable of, it's heavily implied that he wasn't a very good member, both in terms of morality and competency.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Maybe. It's implied that Beatrice and/or Bertrand Baudelaire and/or Lemony Snicket killed his parents with poison darts during a performance of La Forza del Destino.
- Would Hurt a Child: His plan to get the Baudelaire fortune have included him attempting to kill the trio. One included attempted marriage.
- You Are What You Hate: Olaf, a man whose parents were killed by poison darts while at an opera house, has a license plate with "IH8ORPHANS" inscribed on it.
- You Killed My Father: The film makes it more blatant that he was responsible for the death of Baudelaires' parents and the burning of their mansion than in the book, as Klaus finds the giant magnifying glass responsible for it and exposes it by burning the wedding contract. In the books the Baudelaires accuse him of the act, but his response, while not definite by any means, implies heavily that he did not do it.
- Younger Than They Look: Hints throughout the later books would suggest that Olaf was in VFD training with Kit and Lemony, making him around 39-45, but Helquist's illustrations depict a man that looks around 50-60 years of age. Also, the movie's depiction. This may be justified due to his unhealthy lifestyle and filthy habits giving him a prematurely aged appearance.
The Hook-Handed Man
O. Lucafont / Hooky / Fernald Widdershins / The Hook-Handed Man
- Belated Backstory: Although it takes a while, this is exactly what happens in Book 11.
- Bus Crash: Might have died after his offscreen ditching of Olaf.
- Dirty Old Man: In regards to Violet.
- Evil Is Petty: His idea of having a good dream is sneezing without covering his mouth and giving everyone the cold.
- Go-to Alias: Lucafont, used in books 2 and 8, the latter of which reveals that the alias also includes the first initial O, to make it a full anagram of "Count Olaf".
- Heel–Face Revolving Door: It seems like his whole life is a chain of Heel–Face Turn followed by Face–Heel Turn; in the eleventh book, he manages to do both in the space of three chapters.
- Heel–Face Turn: Ditches Olaf when he reunites with his family.
- Heel Realization: When Fiona confronts him over losing his hands, setting fires as The Daily Punctilio reports and learning he is one of Olaf's henchmen. He doesn't deny having set the fires and has the gall to blame a deathly-ill Sunny for getting him into so much trouble, but he admits that joining Olaf's band was Not What I Signed Up For. So much that they escape together in an Offscreen Moment of Awesome from Olaf after Fiona becomes a Fake Defector.
- Hook Hand: Both of his hands. Both the book and the film depict them as standard pirate hooks whilst the Netflix version has them as more realistic proshetics.
- Morality Chain: His younger sister Fiona. When she pleads with him to help her and the Baudelaires, he agrees, on the condition that he can go with them. Shortly afterward, when that plan fails, Fiona becomes a Fake Defector, and they both escape from Olaf in an Offscreen Moment of Awesome.
- Mysterious Past:
- It's not known exactly how he lost his hands, other than the possibility that arson was involved.
- How his burning of Antwhistle Aquatics went down is likewise uncertain. He says that the Daily Punctillio's accounting of events is inaccurate and the narration implies that his stepfather and/or Lemony might have played a role, but that's about it.
- Race Lift: Jamie Harris is white, while Usman Ally is of African and Pakistani heritage.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: In the 12th book, ditches Olaf with his sister offscreen.
- Stealth Mentor: In The Ersatz Elevator, he draws attention to the fact that Olaf never left the building, then subtly tips the Baudelaires off that they should look at the elevator more closely. Once we learn more about him, this starts to make more sense.
- This may be the case as far back as the first book. Though he delivers it as a threat, he goes out of his way to warn the Baudelaires that Olaf will kill them if he succeeds in getting their fortune.
The Bald Man with a Long Nose
Flacutono / The Bald Man with a Long Nose
- Adaptation Name Change: Merely "Bald Man" in both adaptations, as neither of the actors to play him has a long nose.
- Bald of Evil: Obviously.
- Character Death: Eaten by lions.
- Dirty Old Man: In regards to Violet. She even considers him the scariest of Olaf's minions, partially due to this.
- Go-to Alias: Flacutono, used in books 4 and 8.
The Two White-Faced Women
Tonuca and Flo / The Two White-Faced Women
- Even Evil Has Standards: The reason for their Heel–Face Turn is their growing sympathy towards a captive Sunny (who might have reminded them of their late sister) and their suspicion that Olaf was responsible for their sibling's death.
- Go-to Alias: Though they don't have aliases in their lunchlady disguises, book 8 implies they usually go by "Tonuca" and "Flo", which together form another "Count Olaf" anagram.
- Heel–Face Turn: In book 10, they get tired of hearing about all the terrible things Olaf has done, as it reminds them of their suspicion that Olaf set the fire that killed their sister.
- Named by the Adaptation: Jane and Jen in the film and video game.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: In book 10, they walk away from Olaf's camp and are never seen again.
The One That Looks Like Neither a Man nor a Woman
The One That Looks Like Neither a Man nor a Woman
- Adaptation Name Change: Both adaptations refer to them as "Person of Indeterminate Gender".
- Ambiguous Gender: Hence the name.
- Character Death: Died in the fire that destroyed Heimlich Hospital.
- Fat Bastard: Immensely fat and monstrously evil in the books. Averted in the film and the Netflix versions, where they are portrayed as more average in size.
- Gender Flip: Of a sort. Though originally described as a person whose gender is indeterminate, both adaptations depict them as a man with a slightly feminine fashion sense.
- The Voiceless: Never speaks, further obfuscating their gender. What sounds they do make are too inhuman to provide hints. Averted in both adaptations; the film version has a line, spoken in Craig Ferguson's distinctive Scottish brogue, and the TV series version is actually quite talkative.
The Carnival Freaks
The Carnival Freaks
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Hugo the hunchback, Colette the contortionist, and Kevin... who is ambidextrous.
- Contortionist: Colette works as one in ''The Carnivorous Carnival’'
- I Just Want to Be Normal: The reason they join Olaf. Subverted by the fact that most people do indeed think they're disgusting freaks.
- Properly Paranoid: Kevin is convinced that everyone is whispering about him all the time, just because he's ambidextrous. There is no reason for people to think there's anything different about him at first glance, but he appears to think there is, even accusing the Baudelaires of coming to Caligari Carnival to laugh at him. As it turns out, most people do think he's just as freaky as Hugo and Colette.
The Baudelaire's Other Guardians
Dr. Montgomery "Monty" Montgomery
- Good Parents: Out of all the useless adults in the series, Monty stands out as the best caretaker the Baudelaires ever had. It doesn't last.
- Repetitive Name: Dr. Montgomery Montgomery.
- Right for the Wrong Reasons: Figured out that Olaf was up to no good... but thought he was a spy for the Herpetological Society.
- Dirty Coward: Her paranoia descends into this trope at the climax of The Wide Window.
- Driven to Suicide: Subverted with Aunt Josephine. She's forced to write a letter under Olaf's threats and makes it look like she jumped out of a window. However, she just broke the window and made her escape to Curdled Cave.
- Grammar Nazi: Her entire schtick. Well, that and paranoia.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: She's terrified of, well, absolutely everything. Except caves, it seems; the orphans are able to coax her out of a cave by playing on her fear of realtors, of all things.
Sir and Charles
Sir and Charles
- Ambiguously Gay: Since their "partnership" clearly isn't a business one, it's implied they're a couple. Snicket goes a bit farther than implying it in the TV series.
- Bad Boss: Sir pays his employees in coupons and feeds them only gum.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Closer to this than Corrupt Hick, Sir is the amoral, cigar-smoking lumbermill owner who pays his workers in coupons and gives them gum for lunch; in a later appearance, business is bad, as nearby lumber source the Finite Forest is running out of trees.
- Extreme Doormat: Charles. As seen under Ambiguously Gay, possibly actually a Henpecked Husband.
- The Faceless: Sir's face is always obscured by cigar smoke. The one time he's seen without a cigar, he's in a sauna and his face still can't be seen. As with Snicket, averted in the TV series.
- No Name Given: Sir. Evidently he finds it easier than teaching people how to pronounce his name.
- Shout-Out: Sir owns a bathrobe monogrammed with "LS", which once belonged to an author. The implication is either that he stole it from Snicket, or that he stole it from Louis Sachar, who then wrote him into Holes as the villain Mr. Sir.
- The Unpronounceable: Mr. Poe makes several attempts at pronouncing Sir's name, but can only get one syllable in. And it's a completely different syllable each time.
- Chekhov's Gunman: He's a JS.
The VFD are a shadowy organization that everyone — from Olaf to the Baudelaires' parents — is connected to.
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: The narrator and his comrades imply that V.F.D. dates back to Ancient Greece, that Martin Luther King, Edith Wharton, and Thomas Malthus were involved with it — although Malthus was on the evil side of the schism — and that Shakespeare may be alive. However, these may be the result of revisionism in accordance with V.F.D.'s own views.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Some members qualify as this.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Most adults have this due to their involvement from an early age with V.F.D.
- The Ghost: The series has a wide backstory and several characters are only ever referred to. The most notable example is probably R., the Duchess of Winnipeg.
- Grey and Grey Morality: Initially implied to be an organization fighting against people like Olaf, it's later suggested they aren't so different. Both sides regularly kidnap children to recruit them for their own purposes. Olaf's parents might have even been killed by them.
- Knight Templar: Gregor Anwhistle, who wanted to use the deadly Medusoid Mycelium on V.F.D.'s enemies.
- Milkman Conspiracy: A secret conspiracy that many characters are involved in in some way, makes liberal use of secret codes, has been going on for centuries and was subject to a schism long ago... based on the Volunteer Fire Department.
- Mysterious Past: On one level, many details about V.F.D.'s history are unknown and we don't know how the schism happened (the closest being that it happened when characters like the Snicket siblings, the Baudelaire parents and Olaf were very young). On another, almost none of the backstories of the individual members are fully revealed and what we do know raises as many questions as it answers (which is par for the course for the series).
- The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: V.F.D., and specifically the transcript of the meeting of the vague "Building Committee" in the Unauthorized Autobiography — even the author didn't know some of what was being discussed here, and he was technically in attendance.
- Spy Speak: V.F.D., being a secret organisation, naturally uses copious quantities of this, so much so that there have been disputes among readers over whether certain phrases are in code or not."The world is quiet here.""I didn't realize this was a sad occasion.”
- Theme Initials: Once the children learn of the initials, they try to find out what they could possibly stand for. This leads to them going all over the place in the hopes that they can learn the connection with their family. They actually stand for "Volunteer Fire Department".
BeatriceSnicket's lost love, often alluded to.
- Dedication: Every book is dedicated to her, accompanied by a poetic way of explaining that she's deceased.
- The Lost Lenore: To Snicket.
- Posthumous Character: As Snicket poetically makes clear in every book dedication.
- The Reveal: The final paragraph of the series reveals what role she had in the story besides her past relationship with Snicket: she was the Baudelaire siblings' mother.
Mr. and Mrs. Baudelaire
Mr. and Mrs. BaudelaireThe deceased parents of the Baudelaire orphans.
- Posthumous Character: They perish in the first pages of the book series.
- Red Herring: The occasional implication that they're still alive never amounts to anything. The Netflix series spends its entire first season implying that the characters played by Will Arnett and Cobie Smulders are the Baudelaires, only for the seventh episode to reveal they're actually the parents of the Quagmire triplets.
- Except the Un-Authorised Biography reveals that Beatrice is implied to have survived the Baudelaire fire to die in a fire at the Winnipeg Castle between the events of The Reptile Room and The Grim Grotto.
Mr. PoeThe banker who is in charge of the Baudelaire's affairs after the death of their parents.
- Adults Are Useless: There are many useless adults in the series (and that's an understatement!), but Mr Poe is, by far, the uselessest one of all — and we're including Olaf, Aunt Josephine and Jerome in that.
- Aesop Amnesia: He constantly forgets that the Baudelaires are actually competent, intelligent, and justified in their suspicions, after they've proven themselves time and again. He even suggests they might be letting their imaginations run away with them when they insist Captain Sham is Olaf, citing how they believed the same of Stephano—who was Count Olaf, and whose unmasking Poe was present for.
- Character Tics: Coughing.
- Department of Child Disservices: A sort of one-man version, dumping the Baudelaires with one evil and/or utterly incompetent guardian after another, the sole exception being book 2 and possibly 3.
- Freak-Out: As Book the Second reveals, he jumps around and babbles incoherently when he panics.
- Hate Sink: While not explicitly mean or unpleasant, his stupidity, condescending attitude, and downright uselessness is as frustrating to the audience as it is to the orphans.
- Horrible Judge of Character: Mr. Poe towards literally every person he has placed into the Baudelaires custody, with the exception of Uncle Monty and possibly Aunt Josephine. Even in Monty's case, he sees a total Nice Guy as intimidating.
- Ironic Echo: A recurring schtick of his, usually appearing immediately after each book's recap of past events, is that his thought process is always on the exact opposite wavelength as that of Snicket or the Baudelaires.
Justice StraussCount Olaf's neighbor, a judge.
- Chekhov's Gunman: She's a JS.
PhilA lumbermill worker who is an optimist.
NeroThe vice principal of Prufrock Prep.
- Dean Bitterman: He is the vice principal and he is very nasty and cruel.
- Dreadful Musician: Nero, as Snicket puts it, has no idea how to play the violin but insists on doing so anyway.
- Evil Is Petty: Vice Principal Nero likes to punish students who miss his violin recitals by forcing them to buy a bag of candy for him and watch him eat it all.
- Giftedly Bad: Nero thinks he's a super genius and expert violin musician, but is really a stupid Jerkass Man Child who can't play the violin at all. Nonetheless, he forces all the students to attend 6 hour violin concerts with him playing the violin horribly every night.
- Man Child: Vice Principal Nero acts like a five-year old brat quite often, mimicking people, punishing students by making them give him bags of candy and forcing them to watch him eat it, etc.
- Meaningful Name: Vice Principal Nero, like the Roman emperor he takes his name from, is a Caligula-like figure who plays the violin.
- Sadist Teacher: Nero is relatively subtle in his torment of his students. For instance, the punishment for missing one of his six-hour violin concerts is to be forced to buy a bag of candy and watch Nero eat it. The glum expressions on the faces of such students stands out in the cafeteria just as much as those who have no silverware, no cup, or their hands tied behind their back for assorted other transgressions.
Mr. Remora and Ms. Bass
Mr. Remora and Ms. Bass
- Cloudcuckoolander: Mr. Remora and Ms. Bass are... rather odd sorts of teachers. In Remora's class, one listens to Remora tell bizarre three-sentence-long stories with no particular point; in Bass's class, one simply measures assorted objects (with the metric system!). Quizzes and tests involve remembering the details of the stories and measured objects.
- Saved by Canon: Remora and Bass are, in their initial introduction, blatantly revealed to have survived past their introduction... long enough for them to be arrested for robbing a bank, that is.
- Ship Tease: Remora and Bass are seen together at one of Nero's recitals, and implied to have become an Outlaw Couple.
- Theme Naming: Remora and Bass are both named after species of fish.
The Quagmire Triplets
The Quagmires TripletsThe Baudelaires' friends are two triplets who help the Baudelaires out and get kidnapped for their trouble. Duncan is a journalist while Isadora is a poet specializing in couplets. Later on, Quigley is revealed to have survived.
- Alliterative Name: Quigley Quagmire.
- Ambiguously Gay: Isadora gets called 'Sappho' (the name of a Greek poet known for writing about the love between two women) by Sunny in the fifth book.
- Angsty Surviving Twin: More like Angsty Surviving Triplets; Duncan and Isadora mourn their brother Quigley, not knowing he's alive.
- Brainy Brunette: All three have very dark hair and very intellectual interests.
- Brother–Sister Team: Isadora and Duncan.
- Bus Crash: Possibly. The VFD eagles destroy the mobile home in which Duncan and Isadora escape the Village of Fowl Devotees and it crashes into the Queequeg.
- Insistent Terminology: Isadora and Duncan are triplets by birth, but have to explain this to those they meet.
- Intrepid Reporter: Duncan, to a degree, since his main interest is journalism and he puts himself and his sister in serious danger for the sake of finding out the truth.
- Love Interest: Duncan and Quigley for Violet. The latter may even have gotten to kiss her in The Slippery Slope.
- Non-Identical Twins: Only because Isadora is female. It is stated in her first appearance that she looks like a female version of Duncan, and the illustrations show that Quigley is similarly alike to both his siblings.
- Odd Name Out: Isadora, Duncan (who have a Theme Naming after Isadora Duncan the dancer) and Quigley.
- Put on a Bus: Duncan and Isadora escape the Village of Fowl Devotees on a Self Sustaining Mobile Home.
- Theme Naming: Isadora and Duncan. (Isadora Duncan, after the dancer.)
Dr. Georgina Orwell
Dr. Georgina Orwell
Carmelita SpatsA bratty girl who becomes a hindrance to the Baudelaires in Book 5 and is later adopted by Olaf and Esmé.
- Alpha Bitch: In her first appearance as the rich bratty leader of the Prufrock Preparatory students
- Bratty Half-Pint: The standard rude child bully in her first appearance and she gets worse as time goes on.
- Catchphrase: Fond of calling people "cakesniffers".
- Enfante Terrible: She is rude, violent, filthy, but apparently one of the most popular girls in her school, and in her later appearance is to be crowned "False Spring Queen."
- Everything's Better with Princesses: Her "tap-dancing ballerina fairy princess veterinarian" costume from the eleventh book.
- Giftedly Bad: Is noted as Hollywood Tone-Deaf. The prose lampshades that she must have gotten the idea from Vice Principal Nero.
- Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Carmelita Spats, who sings like her mouth is full of mashed potatoes, and like someone is shaking her rather vigorously. She even wrote the song she performs for the kidnapped children.
- Jerkass: She treats the Baudelaires and the Quagmires like they're beneath her and she doesn't care about what happens to them.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: A self proclaimed "tap-dancing ballerina fairy princess veterinarian" and "ball-playing cowboy superhero soldier pirate".
- Tyke Bomb: In her second appearance, Count Olaf and Esmé Squalor adopt Carmelita Spats as a Tyke Bomb, but she's so thoroughly spoiled by Esmé as to be utterly unhelpful, and after demanding lessons on how to spit in exchange for shooting someone with a harpoon she's ditched by Olaf; he later turns his attention to Sunny as a possible replacement.
Esmé Gigi Genevieve SqualorOne of the Baudelaires' many foster parents turns out to be evil and becomes Count Olaf's girlfriend. She's a wealthy woman ridiculously dedicated to keeping up with every ludicrously inane fad that comes about.
- The Dragon: To Olaf in books six through twelve.
- Fashion-Victim Villain: In-universe. Her octopus outfit and lettuce leaf bikini among other clothes, and both the narrator and the orphans find her fashion sense abysmal.
- Fur and Loathing: Esmé is said to wear a coat made from the fur of animals that had been killed in extremely nasty ways.
- Fun with Acronyms: Her initials spell E.G.G.S. Probably the one time in the series when a set of initials really doesn't mean anything. (Also, talk about fun with acronyms!)
- Impossibly Cool Clothes: Her dress that looks like a fire. Lemony describes it as hideous, but really...
- Incoming Ham: Her habit of dramatically announcing her full name to people who already know it.
- Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: As shown when she believes the Baudelaires about the elevator and the Quagmires because she has joined Olaf's side, and pushes them down the shaft to trap them with a net.
- Manipulative Bastard: She likes to use other people's feelings to her advantage and make them do whatever she wants.
- Outlaw Couple: With Count Olaf. It doesn't last, though.
- Pimped-Out Dress: The dress that resembles a fire comes to mind.
- Rich Bitch: Ridiculously wealthy (as the sixth most important financial advisor of whatever city the Baudelaires came from)? Obsessed with all manner of "in" clothing no matter how silly they are? One of the villains and loves being bad? Yup, she fits.
- Villain with Good Publicity: The only reporter we see in the series is in Squalor's fan club.
- Your Cheating Heart: While still married to Jerome, Esmé runs away with Count Olaf and reveals in the next book that they're dating.
The Man with a Beard but no Hair and the Woman with Hair but no Beard