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Characters / Tangled - Varian

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This character is a Walking Spoiler, and all spoilers are unmarked. You Have Been Warned!
"Don't touch that!"

Voiced by: Jeremy Jordan; Julien Crampon (French), Michael Lelong (singing, season 1), Sébastien Valter (singing, season 3); Yasuaki Takumi (Japanese); Jeong Jae-heon (Korean), We Hoon (singing)
Appearances: The Series

"Don't you see this path you're on leaves a permanent mark,
It feels good at first, then it slowly turns dark,
With each passing day, you're further astray from the light."

A young alchemist and inventor who tries to study Rapunzel's hair in the Season 1 premiere. Though initially a recurring ally, he becomes the Arc Villain of Season 1 after his father is frozen in crystal and his kingdom abandons him. In Season 3, he reforms and becomes Rapunzel's closest companion besides Pascal and Eugene.

Insecure yet gifted, Varian sought to make his father proud of him and his inventions. Starting off as an emotional and reclusive young teenager rumored to be a dangerous wizard, Varian would go through numerous adventures, for better or worse, that ultimately teach him more and more lessons and change his life forever.

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  • A Boy and His X: In this case, a boy and his raccoon, Ruddiger.
  • The Ace: Varian seems to just be able to perfect anything. He's skilled at singing, drawing, climbing, steering, inventing, building, farming, fighting, shooting, (possibly) swordfighting, horseback riding, translation of an ancient scroll, playing various instruments, and if a deleted storyboard scene from "Be Very Afraid" is any indication, skateboarding. This is the reason Rapunzel often looks to him for assistance.
  • Adult Fear: Inverted. Varian is very worried over the prospect of something bad happening to his dad again after the amber incident, to the point where he reacts badly to Eugene's concern that Quirin had been mind controlled in "Plus Est en Vous".
  • Affectionate Nickname:
    • Eugene has called him "Hairstripe", "Kid", "Buddy", and "Goggles".
    • Angry/Kiera calls him simply by "V".
  • Alchemy Is Magic: He insists it's not, but people assume he's a wizard anyways.
  • All for Nothing: By Season 3’s beginning, Varian reiterates that he only wanted to make his father proud, but considering everything he did to get him out of the Amber, Quirin wouldn’t be proud anyways.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Exaggerated. Though he already had a bad reputation due to his inventions that often backfire, towards the end of Season 1, he is forced to lie low due to everyone thinking he attacked Rapunzel, with even his "friends" never bothering to check on him following Zhan Tiri's blizzard. Things only get better in Season 3.
  • Ambiguous Disorder:
    • Varian does not reek of good mental health following his Face–Heel Turn, and his abandonment and betrayal issues have lead him to become openly calculating and vengeful, resorting to hostility and severe crimes to get what he wants. To a lesser extent, his inability to acknowledge his wrongdoings imply a sense of self-importance. Even King Frederic has to admit Varian needs help.
    • After his Heel–Face Turn, he is shown to still be heavily affected by his past misdeeds and events, to the point where he expresses moments of sadness and anger over them at certain intervals and is haunted by the prospect of them happening again, indicating he has (or had at the time) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
  • Ambiguously Bi: He had a crush on Cassandra in the first season, but "Be Very Afraid" shows that he's got a Flynn Rider wanted poster right next to his bed. Although this might be a case of downplayed Hero Worship.
  • Anti-Villain: As of the ending of "Queen for a Day", his goal is now to find the secret behind the mysterious rocks and reverse the condition inflicted upon his father... as well as take Revenge upon Rapunzel, since he blames her and the Kingdom of Corona for denying him and turning their backs on him when he needed help freeing his father, Quirin. He even gets no-one checking on him for the following few months after the snowstorm that contained the events which made him lose his father, and is unfairly hunted down and persecuted throughout.
  • Arc Hero: Most of his appearances are relegated to the arc-related episodes, because he's essential to helping Rapunzel solve the mystery of the indestructible spikes that make up a big part of the season. However, as of the end of "Queen for a Day", he makes his transition into the Arc Villain. He becomes this again in Season 3 after his Heel–Face Turn, as he's again essential in helping Rapunzel and plays a heroic role in the episodes he's in, attempting to solve two of Rapunzel's biggest issues of the season, namely her parents' memory loss and defeating Cassandra, who has stolen the Moonstone.
  • Arc Villain: The magical rocks turn out to not be evil after all, leaving Varian himself as the big threat to be dealt with in the first season finale.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Inverted. He gets made the Royal Engineer in the series finale, but by then he's already done a Heel–Face Turn for a while and had helped save Corona quite a few times. Of course, he lived in a manor, since his father is a high-ranking village leader.
  • Ascended Extra: After showing up in several episodes in Season 1 and being almost entirely absent from Season 2, Varian becomes one of the characters with the largest amount of focus in Season 3.
  • The Atoner: In "Rapunzel's Return", his scheme is revealed to have traces of this - he hates himself for everything he's done and wants everything back to the way they were, but feels he's done too much to make amends and tries to get everyone to forget instead. Near the end of the episode, he even intends to sacrifice his life to "clean up [his] own mess"; thankfully, Rapunzel doesn't let him. In "The King and Queen of Hearts", he attempts to help Rapunzel bring back King Frederic and Queen Arianna's memories, but he hasn't been successful.
  • Badass Adorable: Varian's exterior appearance is certainly cute and he frequently has moments of being endearing, though he has displayed his vast potential numerous times.
  • Badass Boast: "And I'll stand up and fight 'cause I know that I'm right, and I'm ready, I'm ready, I'm ready! Ready as I'll ever be."
  • Badass Normal: In a world where magic is highly involved, Varian stands out in terms of skill and effectiveness.
    • In "Queen for a Day", he manages to travel a long distance from Old Corona to the castle in the middle of an extremely dangerous life-threatening blizzard, in spite of just being a 14-year-old and having no-one accompanying him, with noting but his courage and inventions.
    • In "Be Very Afraid", he is the one who personally saves Corona from Cassandra's red rocks, which includes climbing a very long height, facing his worst fear, and tossing the substance needed to encase the red rocks back into his hand when it falls on his foot.
    • In "Once a Handmaiden...", he constructs a huge firearm that destroys the black rocks and comes very close to defeating Cassandra on his own.
    • Finally, in "Plus Est en Vous", he rebuilds the machine used by Demanitus to banish Zhan Tiri, and his plan to reimprison her would've legitimately worked under different circumstances. Also, his precaution mecanism manages to stun the effects of a mind controlling artifact.
  • Bait the Dog: Inverted; he's introduced wearing a bulky welding suit with his voice deepened by the metal helmet in a dark room, making him seem like a very intimidating presence. Then he lifts up his helmet and reveals he's very boyish and has a gentle voice.
  • Baleful Polymorph: When trapped in Limbo in the series finale, his hairstripe turns into a snake.
  • Beard of Evil: Parodied; He draws a goatee on his chin in the Season 3 premiere. Lance wipes it off once Varian cements his Heel–Face Turn.
  • Berserk Button: Do not mess with Varian's inventions, or even touch them without his permission. Lance ignoring Varian's warnings, which results in Varian's machine exploding, causing Varian to yell at him.
  • BFG: In "Once a Handmaiden...", he constructs a huge firearm that destroys the black rocks and comes very close to defeating Cassandra on his own.
  • Big Bad Slippage: Varian initially is a geeky ally of Rapunzel, but his obsession to impress his father ends up leading him to unintentionally freeze his father in amber during an argument. Since Rapunzel is unable to help him due to Zhan Tiri's blizzard curse on Corona, Varian is unfairly ejected and returns home, blaming those who turned their backs on him when it was really his own fault which he refuses to believe. Come the last few episodes of season 1, he's become a full-fledged bad guy and won't let anything stand in his way, even going all out to abduct Arianna as revenge.
  • Big Good: In the finale, Varian comes up with the plan to banish Zhan Tiri back to where the demon was imprisoned, but that gets shot.
  • Brainy Brunette: Has brown hair and is a budding inventor.
  • Breakout Character:
    • Being one of the most (if not the most) beloved and frequently discussed characters of the series, Varian being almost entirely absent from the second season raised a fair amount of complaints, with the majority of the audience desiring for his story to continue on. As a result, the third season upgraded him to one of the most prominently featured characters, returns him to his Arc Hero role, and gives him his own plot regarding his Character Development, adorableness, and desire to make up for his past mistakes.
    • A concept rejected by Disney was for Varian to have his own spin-off series, conceived by two of the show's animators, titled Varian and the Seven Kingdoms. The plot consists of Varian temporarily leaving Corona to seek answers about his mother Ulla after discovering Quirin's secrets and lies, and introduces new characters such as Yong, Princess Nuru, Hugo, Donella, and Varian's own long-lost cousins. Despite this concept never coming to fruition, it remains immensely popular with fans, circulating amongst sites such as Tumblr.
  • Break the Cutie:
    • Pretty much his entire subplot in "Queen for a Day". He loses his father to the mysterious rocks plaguing the kingdom, and Rapunzel ends up breaking her promise to help him while she's busy with her own problems.
    • In "Be Very Afraid", he becomes traumatized over the red rocks making him see his worst fears: his father being encased in amber again and and the citizens of Corona hatefully proclaiming that it's what he deserves for his past treachery. However, he manages to tackle his fear and save Corona from those red rocks.
  • Brutal Honesty: He certainly isn't afraid to speak his mind.
  • Bungling Inventor: Poor Varian. One way or another, his inventions keep exploding, whether it be his fault or not.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: In "Queen for a Day", he calls Quirin out on lying to the King and ignoring the problem regarding the black rocks in spite of them threatening the kingdom's safety.
  • Characterization Marches On: In his first appearance, being hit by a magnifying glass on the head causes him to bleed. Later appearances, particularly from the third season, tend to have him Made of Iron, coming out entirely unharmed from being hit multiple times on a chest by multiple dull edged black rocks, being imprisoned in a cage in mid-air, nearly falling to his death, jumping from a high height, or standing next to the explosion of an invention that was felt throughout all of Corona. The only instance where he's shown going through physical pain is when Zhan Tiri is using the Decay Incantation on Corona.
  • Character Development: His experiences have definitely rendered him a stronger individual.
    • He undergoes this by the time of Season 3. He realizes the error of his ways, takes responsibility for his actions and downfall, becomes more emotionally mature and stable, and tries to fix his mistakes. He even dons a new outfit and becomes noticably taller, as a way to reflect this.
    • In Season 3, Varian understands that just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. As of "Flynnpostor", he finally understands why limits need to be placed and why one needs to listen and not ask questions when dealing with something potentially dangerous, and Lance is the one who disobeys him.
    • In the first season, Varian put his own desire to free his father over the safety of Corona, even vowing to make the people pay for turning their backs on him. In the series finale, Varian has taken to willingly harming his father as a result of the risky possibility that he's been mind controlled, knowing full well the danger him being controlled would pose.
    • Also, while Varian was originally haunted by his past misdeeds, shown in "Rapunzel's Return" and "Be Very Afraid", he eventually manages to make peace with them and forgive himself, shrugging off a joke by Eugene in relation to the threat he once posed to Corona.
  • Cheated Angle: Whenever Varian turns his head, his side-swept bangs never turn with his head, instead they flip to the other side.
  • Childish Pillow Fight: "Day of the Animals" has him attempting to throw a pillow back at Angry/Kiera with a mischievous grin on his face after she had thrown it at him, then scowling when Rapunzel takes the pillow from him.
  • Childish Tooth Gap: Varian has buck teeth and while not childish, he is quite nerdy.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: No matter what, Varian will stop to help someone in need.
    • In "What the Hair?!", he risks his life to save his fellow villagers from his exploding inventions, despite that it could've gotten him killed.
    • Unfortunately, Angry uses this against Varian in "The Lost Treasure of Herz Der Sonne" by setting up a dummy of a Royal Guard in distress to hijack his balloon.
    • In "Cassandra's Revenge", he refuses to tell Cassandra the third incantation to protect Corona, despite the fact that she could've tortured him for the information.
  • Clarke's Third Law: Varian believes that magic is just a science he doesn't understand yet. In fact, he believes the Black Rocks have behaviors and properties that are observable, and he thinks he can replicate the effects of the Saporian Wand of Oblivium.
  • Clothing Reflects Personality: Varian’s choice of wardrobe is noticeably darker and duller than the rest of the cast, considering he’s always messing things up and wants to impress his father, but also reflects his eventual Face–Heel Turn when he vows revenge on Corona after being turned away during the blizzard. The new outfit he dons in Season 3 has several shades of brown and red, and his new apron is khaki instead of black, to reflect his change of heart.
  • Complexity Addiction: In "Day of the Animals", he mistakes upside-down English language for more complicated ones, before being corrected by Rapunzel.
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror: After everything he went through during the series, the traumatic events that happen to him in the third season do little to faze him.
  • The Conscience: Varian tries and fails to act as Cassandra's external conscience during their duet in "Nothing Left to Lose", drawing on his own past experiences with losing his mind and telling her everything she does not want to hear about her current life choices.
  • Contrasting Sequel Antagonist: To Mother Gothel after his Face–Heel Turn. Both are willing to go to extreme lengths to use Rapunzel and her magic hair to achieve their goals. But Gothel was a Vain Sorceress who was willing to ally herself with the Stabbington Brothers to recapture Rapunzel, whereas Varian relies on no one but himself and his raccoon. Additionally, their goals differ: Whereas Gothel was selfish and wanted Rapunzel to keep herself looking and feeling young forever, Varian has the much more nobler aspirations of trying to free his father from his crystal prison; he just went too far trying to achieve them. Additionally, Gothel was a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing to Rapunzel, while Varian legitimately was Rapunzel's friend until she refused to help him free his father. Finally, Varian performed a Heel–Face Turn, whereas Gothel died as a villain and an enemy of Rapunzel's.
  • Control Freak: As of Season 3, Varian seems to have developed this attitude in regards to his inventions due to their tendency to backfire/explode, often having to tell others not to touch them, and becoming enraged when they are tampered with.
  • Cool Loser: Despite being an intelligent, kind, and brilliant mind who builds technologically advanced inventions on a regular basis, Varian is regarded with fear by the people of Corona, who regard him as an ill-intentioned and dangerous wizard, to the point where he's an outcast. Justified (somewhat), as his inventions tend to backfire and cause destruction or harm, plus he later undergoes a Face–Heel Turn and conspires against the kingdom of Corona, along with its royal family and citizens.
  • Cosmic Motifs: Stars. It's not very obvious, but his blue streak resembles non-Sun stars shown in Demanitus' flashback, and Rapunzel gives him a You Are Better Than You Think You Are speech when he considers himself ordinary to her, "the mystical sundrop", getting him to be bright in his own way.
  • Costume Evolution: He ditches his ragged alchemy getup after his Heel–Face Turn, instead going for more adventurous steampunk appearance. Also, his apron ties at the waist instead of covering his entire torso, and his gloves feature wristbands with little pressure gauges mounted to them. The only thing he retains is his signature goggles.
  • Creepy Good: Though his scariness is primarily limited to his time as Season 1's Arc Villain, he displays unnerving traits before his Face–Heel Turn and after his Heel–Face Turn as well.
    • In "What the Hair?!", he straps Rapunzel to what looks like a torture device while attempting to help her discover the mystery behind her regrown hair, and Eugene mistakens it that way as well.
    • In "The King and Queen of Hearts", he has King Frederic and Queen Arianna strapped up, his lab is tainted in red, he lets out an Evil Laugh with his mask on, and he displays a Slasher Smile while advancing a controller, all of which scream Mad Scientist. It turns out he's just trying to restore their memories.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: On the surface, Varian may seem like just a clumsy and dorky child who makes a lot of mistakes, but he is extremely capable.
    • As a hero, he proves to be competent enough to get rid of Cassandra's red rocks, to the point of overcoming his own worst fears that already happened. If it wasn't for him tossing the substance needed to encase the red rocks back into his hand when it falls on his foot, all of Corona would've been Taken for Granite. There's also him volunteering to stay on the ship and sacrifice his life to make up for his mistakes in order to stop the Separatists of Saporia (Rapunzel didn't let him, though), and being the one to give Rapunzel the 4th incantation needed to defeat Cassandra.
    • As Season 1's Arc Villain, by contrast, he manages to put up a strategic plan to abduct Queen Arianna, as well as outsmart and overpower Corona's forces and royal family with his inventions and substances; the only reason he was defeated was because Rapunzel's hair reacted when it did.
  • Curtains Match the Window: In addition to his blue eyes, he has a blue hairstreak.
  • Cynicism Catalyst: As a further push to his Face–Heel Turn, the solitary circumstances he gets into following the loss of his father lead him to become further gone into a path where he is unwilling to solve things peacefully, and with good reason.
  • Dark Is Evil: After his Face–Heel Turn, his dull-colored clothing matches his newfound sinister and ruthless intentions well.
  • Dark Is Not Evil:
    • As dark and dull as his clothing is, he's a compassionate and helpful young scientist. Up until his Face–Heel Turn, that is, where it becomes more of a case of Dark Is Evil.
    • Not long after his Heel–Face Turn, he dons a new outfit that, while not as dark as his previous one, isn't exactly light-colored either. Regardless, he actually becomes quite heroic.
  • Darth Vader Clone: For starters, he tends to wear a mask that makes him look and sound intimidating. In terms of his character, he is a gifted, aspiring individual, but not without faults, some of which causes others to lack faith in him. Said lack of faith causes him to take determined, yet questionable acts that only build up to his fall. His fall is sealed when he loses a loved one, with said loss contributed to by his own actions. And for added flavor, the weapon he fights with is red. In the Season 3 premiere, Varian attempts to take this further by adopting a black longcoat and wearing his goggles and a scary teeth mask to look threatening. But, Varian being an emotionally unstable Nerd in Evil's Helmet who tried too hard to look intimidating brings to mind Kylo Ren.
  • Daydream Believer: Thanks to Eugene using "Flynn Rider" as an alias for years, Varian seems to believe Eugene is the real-life version of the character from the Flynn Rider books.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Following his Face–Heel Turn, he can occasionally be a lot more sardonic than before. He seems to retain this trait even after his Heel–Face Turn.
  • Deconstructed Character Archetype: Of the Teen Genius. Varian is very, very intelligent and knows how to make inventions that would be huge technological advances for Corona... but he's also an impulsive 14-year-old kid who doesn't always plan things out, and often overlooks any dangerous flaws in his agenda and inventions, often ruining his reputation because of it. His young age also gives him a pretty serious case of Moral Myopia, making him think he's just paying unto evil when really it's Revenge Before Reason and his own inability to admit his fault in the tragedy of his father's encasement. It also means his ultimate goal, to use Rapunzel's unbreakable hair to free his father, doesn't work and he suffers a full on breakdown because he doesn't understand how his plan could have been based on an incorrect assumption (that Rapunzel's hair, being unbreakable, should be able to break the equally unbreakable amber). In the end, Varian's brains don't override the fact that he's a very young, emotional teenager who's not as logical as he thinks he is.
    • Becomes a Reconstructed Character Archetype as of Season 3, in which his intelligence and inventions prove essential in helping Rapunzel and he undergoes Character Development, becoming less emotionally unstable and no longer seeming to cause trouble with his inventions. He is also shown to have become genuinely helpful towards Corona, such as saving the kingdom from the red rocks in "Be Very Afraid".
  • Defiant to the End: In "Cassandra's Revenge", after being drugged and abducted by her, he refuses to tell Cassandra what she needs to know due to knowing the danger telling her would pose, despite having absolutely no reason to believe she won't torture or murder him otherwise.
  • Didn't Think This Through: It's made clear that Varian hadn't considered what his father would think of his misdeeds once he's freed from the amber, at least until "Rapunzel's Return".
  • Dissonant Serenity: In "The Alchemist Returns", he casually tells Rapunzel about how he had to be on the run due to the people of Corona believing he attacked her.
  • Distressed Dude: Subverted in "Cassandra's Revenge". Though Varian is the one Cassandra abducts in order to obtain the Moonstone incantation and to lure Rapunzel, he ends up holding off Rapunzel and Eugene when they come to rescue him due to having solved the fourth incantation, and it was him solving it that led to his liberation (and Zhan Tiri's).
  • Ditzy Genius: Many of his inventions and plans have been known to be questionable, and have a chance of causing trouble. Following his Face–Heel Turn, he wants them to cause trouble.
  • The Dog Bites Back: After being denied assistance by everyone in Corona (including Rapunzel) when he seeks their help in freeing his father, Quirin, the bitterness at being snubbed motivates his Face–Heel Turn and plotting of Revenge.
  • Doing In the Wizard: Played with. For all his strange reputation, Varian's "alchemy" is clearly regular chemistry and engineering, albeit with some mad science thrown in, and he doesn't believe in magic (at first) despite being friends with a princess with magic hair. However, when he attempts to apply it to something that is explicitly magical in origin, he fails miserably at every turn: when he doesn't get no reaction at all, he at best gets undesired reactions for reasons that he repeatedly fails to understand.
  • The Dreaded:
    • Even before his Face–Heel Turn, he was falsely rumored to be a dangerous wizard due to his inventions' tendency to backfire.
    • In the Season 1 finale, it's clear Corona's forces are scared at the prospect of fighting him, considering it a do-or-die situation, and he's even outright stated to be the most dangerous threat the kingdom has ever faced.
    • In "Happiness Is...", Rapunzel hallucinates him greeting her evilly and trying to harm her father.
  • Driven by Envy: In "Secret of the Sundrop" Varian, as The Chessmaster, manages to implement his Evil Plan, only to find that it was All for Nothing because of circumstances completely out of his control. Then, while Varian sees his father still imprisoned in Amber, he sees that Only the Leads Get a Happy Ending when Rapunzel is reunited with her parents. Then he invokes his Last Villain Stand.
  • Driven to Suicide: In the third season premiere, he tries to have the Saporians' air balloon explode with him in it, due to wanting to clean his own mess by saving Corona, and because he now thinks there's truly no way to save his father. Rapunzel isn't having any of it and doesn't let him do it.
  • Drunk on the Dark Side: By the end of Season 1, Varian has become ruthless and vengeful in his demeanor. As he later points out in his post Heel–Face Turn song, "Nothing Left to Lose", he dug himself deeper and deeper into villainy because it felt good to him, but that once this feeling wore off he became fully aware that it had left him empty and alone.
  • Dumbass No More: Varian was never stupid, but he becomes far wiser and less impulsive in Season 3, even if he can still make shortsighted decisions. He's also gotten much better with his inventions.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After the Trauma Conga Line he, a teenager, had to suffer through throughout the series, Varian is able to make his father proud, gains a devoted and protective circle of friends, finally manages to genuinely help Corona with his inventions, and becomes the royal alchemist.
  • Easily Condemned: In "The Alchemist Returns", Rapunzel tells Eugene that she doesn't even know what he is anymore, even though he only tricked her to get the Sundrop Flower so he can save his father, not caring about what he's been through. And in the following episode, she calls him extremely unstable.
  • Easily Forgiven: Downplayed and justified. Varian's motivation for wanting to erase the kingdom's memories is because he believes the people of Corona can never forgive him for the things he's done, with even Rapunzel and Eugene being initially hesitant to trust him. He's done quite a bit of things to make up for his past misdeeds, such as helping Rapunzel save Corona or attempting to restore King Frederic and Queen Arianna's memories. Even following his Heel–Face Turn, the citizens of Corona seemed to still have lingering distrust for Varian, that is until he saves all of them from the red rocks.
  • Emotionally Tongue-Tied: In "Rapunzel's Return", he finds himself unable to express his remorse to Rapunzel for what he did to her verbally, but his expressions and actions speak for themselves.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: On both sides of the coin. While he did commit a ruthless betrayal against Rapunzel in "The Alchemist Returns", she was the one who betrayed his trust first by not checking on him and his father after Zhan Tiri's blizzard was over.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Well, his reason for becoming evil is driven by a desire to free his father from the amber, after all.
  • Evil Chancellor: Gets to briefly be one - though mostly offscreen - when he and the Saporians take over Corona in Rapunzel's absence, addling Frederic and Adrianna's minds until they believe him to be their "most trusted advisor." He uses this to make them order the kingdom to mine materials for his experiments... which he will use to wipe everyone's memory of his misdeeds.
  • Evil Costume Switch: For the beginning of Season 3, he wore one of these, but it was more of a teenager's idea of an evil costume.
  • Evil Feels Good: In "Nothing Left to Lose", Varian outright admits that while the path of hatred and darkness may seem wrong, it feels right.
  • Evil Former Friend: He legitimately was Rapunzel's friend until she refuses to help him free his father and he vows revenge against Rapunzel and Queen Arianna. Subverted after his Heel–Face Turn.
  • Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: He used to have a crush on Cassandra. So in the season 1 finale, he, in a giant mech suit, grabs her and says, "I always knew I could sweep you off your feet!"
  • Evil Laugh:
    • He lets out a few of these in "Secret of the Sundrop", though he doesn't go overboard with it.
    • Subverted with him trying to restore the king and queen's memories at the beginning of "The King and Queen of Hearts". The rather devious cackle he emits was really from Ruddiger tickling him.
    • He also does this over... hot cocoa.
  • Extremely Protective Child: After his father becomes trapped in the amber, Varian does whatever it takes to free him and clearly won't rest until he's free. He also swears Revenge on Rapunzel and the kingdom of Corona because he blames them for his father's imprisonment. When he himself has to harm his father, he's devastated.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Pulls one at the end of "Queen for a Day" by swearing revenge on the kingdom and more specifically the royal family for not helping him after his father Quirin is encased in crystal. Later becomes fully realized by the climax of "The Alchemist Returns" as he betrays Rapunzel, and pushed to a new extreme in the season finale.
  • Fatal Flaw: Pride and hubris. Varian is more intelligent than a lot of adult characters in the series, but he still has the emotional maturity of a teenager. Starting with his debut episode, he's shown to enjoy making big scientific breakthroughs as his passion, but when it comes to the dangerous side effects and consequences that can ensue, he often doesn't consider them at all or he's so confident in his own genius and foresight that he doesn't believe anything can go wrong - charging ahead recklessly despite several other characters voicing their concern. In "Queen For A Day", the inevitable happens: Varian bites off more than he can chew and gets burned, with his father Quirin paying the price. Due to a two-way combo of his grief and his hubris - that refusal to believe he could be wrong that continues to be his downfall - Varian chooses not to take responsibility for his predicament and shifts all of the blame onto Rapunzel, making her a scapegoat after she betrays him. In "Secret Of The Sundrop", he seems to be desperately clinging to the idea that everything about his wrecked life is all Rapunzel's fault, to avoid facing some ugly truths about himself. Varian doesn't start to grow as a person until Season 3, when he finally starts to own up to his actions in the past and in the present and starts taking responsibility for them. He also seems to have learned his lesson about how science can be dangerous and unpredictable, and is usually the first one to warn the others to be more careful with his inventions.
  • Five Stages of Grief: The pattern can be seen throughout his character arc after he loses his father.
    • Denial. His father gets stuck in a crystal after one of Varian's experiments with the rocks goes awry so he goes to Corona for help and gets nothing as Rapunzel is busy trying to sort out a county-wide crisis. As he trudges home though the snow, he sings a reprise of "Let me make you proud," though he has no idea about how to save his father and there is no guarantee that he is still alive. After finding his father fully encased in the amber, Varian denies his hand in that, shifting the blame to Rapunzel and her kingdom.
    • Bargaining. He becomes hell-bent on getting his father out of the amber, at any cost. If he does, everything will go back to normal, right? Right?
    • Anger. He vows revenge on everyone who turned their back on him. Later, as he fails to save Quirin in "Secret of the Sundrop", he declares, "If I can't have a happy ending, then neither can you!", and attempts to murder Arianna, Cassandra, and Rapunzel.
    • Depression. In "Rapunzel's Return," he seems to have given up trying to save his father, partly because nothing he came up with worked and partly because he has realised that while he only ever wanted to make his father proud, if Quirin had witnessed what his son has done these past months, he'd be ashamed. He also believes that people of Corona will never forgive him.
    • Acceptance. He finally gives in and rejoins Rapunzel's side, and helps her save the kingdom and is eventually reunited with his father at long last.
  • Foil:
    • Becomes one for Cassandra as of "Rapunzel's Return" - they're both friends of Rapunzel that ended up losing faith in and betraying her, and she feels like she failed them. But unlike Cassandra earlier in the episode, Rapunzel is able to talk Varian down this time and convince him that he can redeem himself. Their motives also contrast, as Varian became evil in order to save his father, while Cassandra sought validation and envied Rapunzel. They both fall from Cassandra's tower near the end of "Cassandra's Revenge", but while Varian has his friends to save him, Cassandra has no one left and is forced to save herself, reflecting what redemption has done for Varian in contrast to what pursuing hatred has done for Cassandra. Additionally, Varian is the son of an important and respected figure in Corona, but Cassandra is the daughter of the witch who kidnapped Princess Rapunzel for 18 years. Their Heel-Face Turns also differ, as while both voiced their remorse to Rapunzel while imprisoned with her, Varian already turned back to the side of good beforehand, whereas Cassandra only had her My God, What Have I Done? moment after being Brought Down to Normal and imprisoned alongside Rapunzel. Therefore, unlike Varian, Cassandra only switched sides when she lost and it was convenient for her.
    • To Rapunzel. Both are talented, artistic, and creative people who are somewhat isolated from the outside world, are raised by a single parent, and have a tendency to be naive, but while Rapunzel gains a status as a princess, becomes beloved by her people, and keeps finding new adventures, Varian becomes an outcast among Corona's citizens due to a false rumor, loses his father, and suffers a dark descent into villainy, eventually becoming imprisoned for his crimes.
    • To Eugene. Both are former criminals who have betrayed others, discovered things about themselves, and have attempted to pull Heroic Sacrifices, but while Eugene grew up as a thief, Varian grew up as an inventor seeking to help his kingdom. Also, unlike Eugene, Varian had a father to raise him.
    • To King Frederic. Like him, he has undergone the loss of a loved one, which ended up impacted him mentally and emotionally. Said loss caused him to make desperate, yet questionable decisions along the way, and hoped against all odds that the things he would do would bring his family member back. It's no wonder Queen Arianna felt sorry for Varian, knowing well the pain he is going through.
    • To Queen Arianna. Both of them have a knack for creativity and wisdom, not to mention their daringness has led to them getting in trouble. They've also both been captured by a villain (ironically, Varian himself in Arianna's case), and have attempted to appeal to their captors and sway them back on the right path.
  • For Science!: He tends to make inventions and do experiments that have a chance of putting everyone in danger out of scientific curiosity. Case in point, one invention destroyed his village, and another almost leveled the entire kingdom.
  • Free-Range Children: Implied. "No Time Like the Past" has a much younger version of him walking throughout Corona (and licking a lollipop while being a Silent Snarker) without supervision.
  • Friendless Background: Has this even more blatantly than Cassandra does. Throughout Season 1, it's made clear that Varian only has his father and his pet raccoon in his social range, particularly due to the other citizens of Corona finding his alchemical pursuits weird and/or mistaking him for a dangerous wizard. And when he's left all alone and orphaned (despite being a young teenager) when his father is encased in amber, it's evident that he has no one to turn to for help, nor does anyone check on him.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Might count as this, as he's invented a chemical compound to keep out vermin humanely. It says something about Varian's kindness when his pet raccoon is undyingly loyal to him. He also helps out Owl in "Great Expotations", is friends with Pascal, and rides Fidella in the final two episodes.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: After his father is encased in crystal, he completely snaps, going from a geeky stranger to completely furious and hard-hearted, setting him as the Arc Villain for the remainder of the season. When Cassandra gave Rapunzel warnings that he's "dangerous" and "not good", she wasn’t completely off the mark.
  • From Zero to Hero: Varian may be a commoner, but come Season 3 he's the one developing means to better defend Corona, especially since the kingdom is in no shape to defend against the Moonstone.
  • Genius Slob: Varian isn't well organized, that he gets his bath bombs mixed up with his chem orbs. This seems to have dissolved as of "Race to the Spire", as he makes known items of his that are not to be touched.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: Spending the next few months in complete isolation following the events of "Queen for a Day" caused the already vengeful Varian to become even more insane.
  • Good Cannot Comprehend Evil: In "Cassandra's Revenge", he thinks he can get through to Cassandra, believing she has similar reasons as him to be angry, and warning her what the path of hatred will do to her. It didn't occur to him that Cassandra's reasons are far more self-centered than his were, and that she'd consider his Heel–Face Turn a sign of weakness, instead choosing to continue pursuing her path as she believes it will be worth it.
  • Good Costume Switch: After his Heel–Face Turn in Season 3, he begins wearing his current costume.
  • Go Through Me: At "Cassandra's Revenge" Varian tries to stop Cassandra from destroying the picture of Rapunzel and the lanterns. This is the last straw and Cassandra uses violence against him.

  • Heel–Face Turn: Ultimately turns back to the side of good when learning that the Saporians lied to him and are not using the quirineons to erase the kingdom's memory, but to destroy it. Rapunzel also apologizes for turning her back on him during the blizzard, and promises that he can change and find forgiveness. Since then, he's even been trying to find a cure for the King and Queen's memory loss.
  • Heel Realization: Even though he did a Face–Heel Turn and became the Arc Villain of Season 1, as shown in "Rapunzel Returns", he's become self-aware enough to realize how he took things too far with trying to save his father. He wanted to erase everyone's minds to rid himself of the guilt, but ends up truly making amends with Rapunzel to stop the Saporians from destroying Corona.
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation: Suffers from this in "Be Very Afraid". It's revealed he considers himself ordinary in comparison to Rapunzel, in spite of having accomplished many alchemical and scientific achievements despite just being a young teenager. He also retains a large amount of guilt over his terrible actions, despite having already done everything he can to make up for them.
  • His Own Worst Enemy: Not as extreme as Cassandra, but Varian's personal issues stem from his impulsiveness, recklessness, insecurities, Heroic Self-Deprecation, and in Season 1, willingness to blame others for his somewhat self-inflicted tragedy, and even his misdeeds. Part of Varian's Character Development is him learning to overcome these issues and faults.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: "Cassandra's Revenge" has Cassandra dosing him with his own Truth Serum that he used in "The Alchemist Returns", forcing him to reveal to her the third incantation that can control the Black Rocks.
  • Humble Hero: Despite being The Ace and a brilliant inventor, Varian treats his fellow villagers like equals, and addresses the royal family with respect.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Downplayed towards Rapunzel as of Season 3. In both "Be Very Afraid" and "Cassandra's Revenge" (two of the most action-oriented episodes of the season), both Rapunzel and Varian are the heroes of the episode, but while Rapunzel plays a huge part in saving the day in both episodes, Varian is ultimately the key to the problem being resolved, from pouring the amber solution on the black rocks to giving Rapunzel the fourth incantation.
  • If I Can't Have You...: A twist on the usual trope - when he is unable to free his father, yet Rapunzel is able to free both of her parents, Varian flips his lid and declares that if he can't have a happy ending, neither can anyone else.
  • I Have Your Wife: In "Secret of the Sundrop", he threatens to encase Queen Arianna in the same amber his father is imprisoned in if Rapunzel doesn't let him use her hair as a drill to free him.
  • Improbable Age: Don't let the fact that he's a wholesome teenager fool you. He's a talented inventor who wants to improve the kingdom and has scored several successes in Season 3, to the point where he has independent authority within Corona's leadership besides the King, Queen and Rapunzel.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: He appears to be a caricature of his actor, Jeremy Jordan.
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: Varian is blue eyed and well meaning (save for his time as the Arc Villain of the latter half of Season 1).
  • Insistent Terminology: He's insists on telling people he's "an alchemist, not a wizard".
  • Intelligence Equals Isolation: Varian is the smartest guy around, but it's clear he does not have that many friends (human ones at least), and noticeably has trouble relating to others and listening to them. For starters, he spends too much time in his lab. Most of the time though, it's usually that his lack of restraint and common sense make him a danger to others.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: He's good friends with Rapunzel's gang, who are adults years older than him. At the same time, he's given younger friends as well in the form of Angry/Kiera and Red/Catalina.
  • Irony: In "Secret of the Sundrop", he briefly holds Cassandra hostage during his time as Season 1's Arc Villain. Fast forward to "Cassandra's Revenge", and she is the one who holds him hostage.
  • It's All My Fault: In the Season 3 premiere, it's revealed that he's finally come to this conclusion, and is only still a villain because he believes he can never make up for what he's done unless everyone else loses their memories of it. This attitude is carried further in "Be Very Afraid", where we see his greatest fear is causing another disaster like what happened to his father before... and feeling like it would be a well-deserved punishment for the bad things he has done. And then we have his duet with Cassandra, "Nothing Left to Lose", where he makes it even more clear that his attempts to dodge responsibility for the bad things he did only made everything worse in the long run.
  • I've Come Too Far: At least he feels he has, so much that he wants to erase all of Corona's people's memories so they will forget all the things he has done. This is subverted as he later redeems himself in "Rapunzel's Return."
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Varian is cocky, snarky, and overconfident, but also pleasant, helpful, and understanding. This is significantly toned down after his Face–Heel Turn, but even then it's more of a case of him having to resort to increasingly desperate measures rather than a subversion of the trope. And then, following his Heel–Face Turn, though he somewhat retains his sarcastic nature, he is still very kind, friendly, and compassionate towards others, puts a ton of effort into making up for his misdeeds, and actively focuses on ensuring the well-being of Corona.
  • Karmic Jackpot: As Varian seeks to make up for his misdeeds, he becomes increasingly fortunate.
    • In "Rapunzel's Return", he pulls a Heel–Face Turn and helps Rapunzel save Corona. Soon after, Rapunzel is able to free his father from the amber, reuniting them.
    • Minor example in "The King and Queen of Hearts", where Rapunzel assures him he did his best after he tries and fails to restore her parents' memories.
    • In "Be Very Afraid", he tackles his fears and saves Corona from the red rocks. This leads to him gaining more trust and praise from the people of Corona.
    • "Cassandra's Revenge" shows that pursuing redemption and friendship has enabled him to fall in the arms of friends after being blasted off of Cassandra's stronghold, unlike Cassandra (who had to save herself).
    • In "Plus Est en Vous", he makes a big effort to save Corona from Zhan Tiri. Following her destruction and Cassandra's own redemption, Varian is made the royal alchemist, working for the same family he ruthlessly conspired against. He also gets to work with his dad (and Ruddiger), who is clearly much more supportive and patient with him and his inventions.
  • Knight of Cerebus: When he turns to the dark side, the series goes with him for the remainder of Season 1, especially in the finale where he is a legitimately menacing threat.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: In "Once a Handmaiden...", he, Eugene, and the rest of Corona flee the castle when it's made clear they won't be stopping Cassandra.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Played with.
    • In "The Lost Treasure Of Herz Der Sonne", he now knows how it feels like to be on the receiving end of the "dummy trick". Of course, this was only part of a race.
    • In "Cassandra's Revenge", Varian is subjected to several of his crimes and misdeeds from Season 1, courtesy of Cassandra, when she kidnaps him, drugs him and uses him as bait for Rapunzel. That being said, he proves far more instrumental in saving himself and the others than Queen Arianna did as his captive.
  • Likes Older Women: Varian appears to have a thing for Cassandra, who is clearly older than he. He even acknowledges this in the season one finale - right before attempting to murder her. It really comes back to bite him when Cassandra comes back and kidnaps him.
  • Love Makes You Evil: His father being Taken for Granite breaks Varian's already brittle sense of restraint and drives him to plot revenge against Corona's royal family.
  • Made of Iron: On more than one occasion, Varian has brushed off disasters or attacks that should have seriously injured him, such as standing right next to an explosion felt throughout Corona in "Flynnpostor".
  • Mad Scientist: Varian is a brilliant scientist, but he's kind of a whack-job who doesn't always think through the consequences of his inventions. He plays the part well in "The King and Queen of Hearts".
  • Magic Versus Science: Out to prove the superiority of alchemy over magic, to he point where he implies that he doesn't believe magic was involved in the series' events.
  • Man Behind The Curtain: Non-villainous example. He's built up and said to be a wizard who is dangerous and intimidating and wore a mask to give him that appearance, but much to Rapunzel's disappointment, he's just a whiz-kid who happens to be an alchemist. However, he turns out to be a nut-job who doesn't seem to know what he's doing, so in a way, he is dangerous and only becomes moreso later on.
  • Manipulative Bastard: He personally manipulates Rapunzel in "The Alchemist Returns" for an attempt to save his father, and then is able to manipulate her father and his guards from a distance in "Secret of the Sundrop".
  • Meaningful Name:
    • The name "Varian" is French for "Variable", which means not consistent and having a fixed pattern, and liable to change.
    • "Varian" is also Latin for "fiddle", which reflects on his nature of fiddling with forces beyond his understanding or control.
  • Missing Mom: Though we are introduced to his father Quirin, his mother hasn't been shown yet, aside from a portrait.
  • Moral Myopia: Varian makes it clear he will do anything to save his father and seek justice. Apparently, he didn't factor himself in the equation, abducting the queen to lure the princess because the queen is the weak link of the Royal Family who wouldn't be able to fight back.
  • Multicolored Hair: His hair is mostly brown with a teal-grey streak and lighter brown highlights.
  • Mysterious Past: Downplayed. Varian's past isn't particularly "mysterious", at least in the sense that it isn't important, and we know his father. But we have little information about Varian's life prior to the events of the series, and it's left unknown why his mother isn't in his life.

  • Never Bareheaded: Prior to "Cassandra's Revenge", not once do we see him without the antique goggles he wears (not even when we see him as a little kid in "No Time Like the Past").
  • Nerd in Evil's Helmet: In the Season 3 premiere, Varian tries to look more intimidating by adopting a long black coat, and wearing his goggles and a mask with razor-sharp teeth printed on it, and gets a Beard of Evil to complete the look. Underneath all that, his beard is fake, and is still a clumsy dorky kid who can't tell the difference between bath bombs and chem orbs.
  • Nervous Wreck: Downplayed. Varian is sometimes unable to let out full sentences, especially when flustered, and has stuttered on few occasions. It's part of what makes him cute.
  • Never My Fault: Played With. The reason for his Face–Heel Turn at the end of "Queen for a Day" is because he blames Rapunzel and the entire Kingdom for letting him down. But really, he brought it on himself by tampering with the spikes, especially after being repeatedly warned by his father not to, although this is more his dad's fault than his own for never explaining why, and Rapunzel didn't exactly check on him after the blizzard was over. Plus, him refusing to take the blame for his father's imprisonment in amber is understandable, considering how badly it'd affect him if he had to admit he was responsible for the loss of his only remaining family member, especially with him being a young teenager.
    • This flaw of his grows worse in the season finale, where he blames Rapunzel for his failure to use her hair to free his father, while she herself is able to reunite with both her parents.
    Varian: It's not my fault! None of this is! It's her fault!
    • When he's imprisoned with Rapunzel for turning against the Saporians, he later reveals this was mainly to cover It's All My Fault.
  • Nice, Mean, and In-Between: Eugene (nice), Cassandra (mean), and Varian (in-between). He's not as loyal or selfless as Eugene, but had much more justified reasons for performing his misdeeds during his villain arc than Cassandra did throughout hers.
  • Not Afraid to Die: In the series finale, Varian is unsure whether he and the others will make it out of the battle against Cassandra and Zhan Tiri alive, but doesn't appear to be bothered.
  • Not So Different: In a way, he and Cassandra are similar, despite their contrasting methods of approach. Both of them are driven to earn the respect of others, especially their fathers. But in being so obsessed with their desire to prove themselves, they end up causing more harm than good. Things take a darker turn when they both end up betraying Rapunzel in order to pursue their own goals. The similarities between them are finally acknowledged in-universe during their duet in "Nothing Left To Lose", where Varian comes closer than most characters to talking some sense into her but still fails to manage it - partly because Varian's downfall was brought about by his hubris, while Cassandra's main character flaw has always been her envy.
  • Oh, Crap!: He tends to freeze in fright whenever confronted by life-threatening danger.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: This is what Varian thinks he is doing with Corona, its royal family in particular - he fully acknowledges that he's "sunk pretty low", but believes that the victims of his villainous actions deserve to suffer.
  • Photographic Memory: It's implied Varian has very keen memory. Once he's able to look at and translate the Demanitus scroll, he's able to memorize it all. Once the scroll is memorized, it doesn't matter anymore now that the Scroll has been destroyed.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Varian isn't particularly tall, but his physical feats and durability are remarkable.
  • The Pollyanna: Come Season 3, there's a surprising tendency for him to remain cheerful and strong regardless of the further trauma he goes through. Case in point, he is willing to help rebuild the throne room without his father there with him despite being separated from him for over a year (thus expressing willingness to move on), reassures himself that everything will be fine numerous times when he and Rapunzel venture to stop the red rocks, overcomes his Trauma Button and Redemption Rejection fears with Rapunzel's encouragement, isn't at all fazed by being trapped in a cage by his former crush at an extremely high distance above the ground and nearly falling to his death, continues to fight Cassandra even after his amber gun seemingly malfunctions, and is determined to save the day in the series finale with his friends and family by his side.
  • Positive Friend Influence: He tries to help Cassandra give up her newfound path of anger and darkness, claiming he went through the same thing and therefore understands her.
  • The Power of Friendship: It was his refusal to give up on Rapunzel when she was using the Decay Incantation to free his father that snapped her out of it.
  • The Prankster: Varian is implied to have a light mischevious side, as he playfully tricks Eugene into thinking that him touching a part of the hot air balloon he built will cause it to explode.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: As of the second episode of Season 3, Varian makes an appearance in the theme song along with showing up as a drawing in Rapunzel's journal.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Not being able to free his father as predicted but seeing Rapunzel reunited with both her parents is what pushes his anger to its highest point, and emerges in his giant automaton.
  • Redemption Rejection: In "Secret of the Sundrop", he rejects Queen Arianna's attempts to get through to him. Thankfully, this is subverted when he does end up pulling a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Red Herring: The series dropped various hints that Varian is connected to the Moonstone, though this is debunked in the series finale.
  • Red Is Heroic: Varian seems to be mainly defined by the color red, and he is often tinted in red.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni:
    • The Red to his father Quirin's Blue. Varian is impulsive, emotional, and talkative, whereas Quirin is more stoic and secretive.
    • The Blue to Cassandra's Red. Varian is significantly more calm and polite than Cassandra, who is a tomboyish Blood Knight. Even their actions as villains had these tendencies, as Cassandra relied on personally engaging in violence using her powers, while Varian, though he definitely didn't shy away from violence either, relied on strategic moves.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: Justified. Varian has a good number of inventions that are very effective, and he tries to avert this trope. The problem is, some of his inventions destroyed his village more than once, and another nearly leveled the castle, so it's no wonder no one can trust their lives with him or his inventions. This is darkly played with in "Rapunzel's Return", as he wants to create the substance to erase memories, but it just explodes. And that's good enough for Andrew and his cronies: hey, they can level Corona! Averted later on, where once the threat of Cassandra becomes too great, he has spearheaded several projects to help and defend the kingdom from such threats. And fully averted after the finale, where he's the Royal Engineer who has started the development of advances to Corona's infrastructure, one of which is running hot water.
  • Reformed, but Not Tamed: Played with. While Varian has definitely changed for the better following his Heel–Face Turn, on top of having had understandable motivations for his villainy, he still displays villainous mannerisms on occasion, though mostly as a gag.
  • Reformed, but Rejected: "Be Very Afraid" reveals Varian believes everyone in Corona except Rapunzel and his father hate him for the terrible things he's done. Subverted, however, as the citizens actually admire him for his heroic accomplishments, including saving Corona from the red rocks. Of course, he still had to prove his change of heart.
  • Rescue Romance: Develops a crush on Cassandra after she rescues him in his first appearance, lasting into Great Expotations. But ultimately subverted in the end: after his Rage Breaking Point, he tries to kill her the same as Rapunzel and her mother (then again, she did charge at him with a sword).
  • Revenge: "And I swear right now, that no matter what comes of me, anybody that stands or has stood in my path, they're going to pay!"
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge:
    • After he's been left to stew in his inner demons for months on end, Varian has gone insane by the Season 1 finale, "Secret Of The Sundrop", and is driven by spite, resentment and revenge as much as his desire to save his father. He implies to Arianna that once he's gotten what he wanted from the royal family, he will terrorize the people of Corona anyway.
      Arianna: And after you've freed your father?
      Varian: (laughs) After? Oh, well I'm afraid Corona will pay for turning their backs on me, and that's when you should start worrying, your majesty.
    • As the final part of his Sanity Slippage and Villainous Breakdown, Varian completely snaps once his last-ditch plan to free Quirin fails. He decides to kill Rapunzel's mom and her best friend so she can suffer and neither of them can have what they want.
      Rapunzel: That's enough, Varian.
      Varian: It's not enough until you endure the same amount of pain and agony I have!
  • Sanity Slippage: This trope hits Varian hard during the last third of Season 1. Varian's hubris winds up getting his father petrified in amber, with no way of knowing if he's alive or dead inside it. A person thinking that they might have killed their own father would already crush an adult man, and the psychological effects would be even worse on teenage boy. Rapunzel basically betrays him, turning down his cries for help when he needs her the most due to the circumstances, planting a seed of anger and resentment in his heart. No one goes to check on him at all, leaving him to stew in his rage and vengeful thoughts for months, with no one around to keep him company except his pet raccoon and his frozen father (serving as a constant reminder of his predicament). His aforementioned hubris forbids him from taking any accountability about what his actions have done to his father or himself, choosing to blame it all on Rapunzel and the royal family instead. All these different factors combine to twist Varian into a vicious and ruthless person by the climax of Season 1, who poses a real threat to everyone in Corona. After his Heel–Face Turn in Season 3, Varian realizes Cassandra is undergoing her own nasty case of Sanity Slippage, recognizing the signs from experience, and tries to warn her away from her dark path before it's too late for her.
  • Sanity Strengthening: Being surrounded by family and friends once more in Season 3 (not to mention having a better life) has absolutely helped Varian with his emotional and mental health.
  • The Scapegoat: During the final episodes of Season 1, he's wrongly accused of attacking Rapunzel by the people of Corona... before he actually resorted to attacking her.
  • Shorter Means Smarter: Is younger and shorter than his group of friends, yet is also the most intellectual and (as of Season 3) one of the most mature.
  • Simple Staff: Varian is usually seen carrying a staff, but all he does is use it as a walking stick and carry a few potions, some of which act as light sources.
  • Singing Voice Dissonance: Has a rather raspy teenage voice that becomes deeper and more adultlike without the rasp when singing.
  • Slasher Smile: Gives Rapunzel a rather frightening one in "The Alchemist Returns" as he betrays her, fully realizing his Face–Heel Turn. Then again when he confronts Rapunzel and King Frederic in "Secret of the Sundrop."
  • Slowly Slipping Into Evil: Throughout the months following his Face–Heel Turn, his mental state rapidly deteriorates while his villainy rapidly escalates, going from lying and manipulating to outright attempted murder. Even he is aware of this, which he states in "Ready As I'll Ever Be".
  • Small Name, Big Ego:
    • While he's a brilliant inventor and an exceptionally clever thinker, his impetuousness and emotional instability often gets in the way of his success, driving him to start completely losing his cool when things aren't going the way he wants them to go, contrasting with the overconfidence he'd have displayed beforehand.
    • At the end of the day, Varian doesn't have what it takes to be at the top of the baddie chain; at his core, Varian is an emotionally unstable, clumsy nerd. A dead-on indication that he's a wannabe is that he overdid his new look by wearing a black longcoat, wearing his cheap goggles, and a bandana with teeth bigger than his face, and then he draws a goatee on his chin. Plus, his whole plan was to take over the kingdom by wiping everyone's memories so that no one will remember the bad things he did. On the other hand, Andrew had bigger ambitions and thought Varian's goals were too weak and small-minded.
  • The Smart Guy: Is the most intellectual out of Rapunzel's group of friends, especially with him being science-oriented and all.
  • So Proud of You: Lampshaded after the Separatists seize his potions to destroy Corona, he thwarts them, and finally frees his father Quirin from the amber with Rapunzel's help:
    Varian: Dad, the note! (the note dissolves) What did it say? I need to know.
    Quirin: All it said was "I'm so proud of you, Varian." I always have been.
  • Start of Darkness: "Queen for a Day" details his. When his father is trapped in crystal after Rapunzel refused to help due to trying to stop Zhan Tiri’s blizzard, Varian blames Rapunzel and swears vengeance upon her and the Kingdom of Corona. Darkness even literally falls upon him in the moment.
  • Starter Villain: He along with Andrew and the Saporians serve as this for Season 3 in "Rapunzel's Return". Although by the end of the episode, he has repented of his villainy.
  • Stepford Smiler: In "Plus Est en Vous", he is at one point forced to fake a smile to his dad, since he secretly took precautions and rigged his helmet in case Quirin was mind controlled, and has to hide this.
  • The Stool Pigeon: In "Once a Handmaiden...", he freely admits to Rapunzel that Project Obsidian is meant to trap Cassandra in amber, then quickly flees while she chastises Eugene.
  • Stronger Than They Look: While Varian doesn't look too fit and is much more interested in alchemical and scientific pursuits, he has shown on quite a few occasions to have skills in physical confrontation as well. He shows himself to be very good in combat in "Secret of the Sundrop", "Once a Handmaiden...", and "Plus Est en Vous", and is also implied to be athletic, such as by being Made of Iron, demonstrating flexibility, pushing a grown man, and jumping from a high distance in "Flynnpostor". Varian likely takes it from his father, who was a member of the Brotherhood of the Dark Kingdom.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: In "Flynnpostor", he should not have trusted his invention near Lance, Kiera, and Catalina. When Lance disobeys him and adds more flynnoleum, he's had it. Anyone with acute hearing or is skilled at lip-reading would've picked up him saying: "I said one lousy drop! ONE DROP! ALCHEMY IS VERY DELICATE, LANCE!!!"

  • Teen Genius: At age 14, he easily stands out as being the smartest of the cast.
  • Teens Are Monsters: Varian is only 14, making him by far the youngest villain in any Disney Princess-based franchise. But, things were messed up for him to begin with. He's feared, castigated, and doubted by society, and they don't appreciate any of his efforts even if he failed. Plus, he cares about a problem that the King refused to acknowledge, and the tragic incident that took his father pretty much did it all. Basically, all the ill that he experiences only fed his ruthlessness.
  • Tenor Boy: Varian (before and after his descent into villainy that is) is optimistic, innocent, and sweet, and he has the highest voice of the male cast, being voiced by Broadway belter Jeremy Jordan.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: He didn't see himself as evil following his vengeful turn, but eventually decides that if what he's doing makes him the bad guy, then he'll accept that label.
  • Took a Level in Badass: He starts off as a somewhat irresponsible Teen Genius whose substances and inventions backfire more often than not. In season 3, he grows more cautious and responsible. As a result, his inventions become much more stable and useful and make him a formidable Badass Normal. In "Once a Handmaiden...", he constructs a huge firearm that destroys the black rocks and comes very close to defeating Cassandra on his own.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Ham sandwiches and hot coca.
  • Tragic Hero: Varian was an aspiring alchemist and inventor, who wanted to help his kingdom by any means. Yet his downfall was a result of his own impulsiveness, Chronic Hero Syndrome, and lack of caution.
  • Traitor Shot: The very last shot of "Queen For A Day" has him give a glowering Kubrick Stare to the camera while lit as a shadow by the ceiling light from behind.
  • Trauma Button:
    • In "Be Very Afraid", he freezes up at the sight of his father being encased in amber, thanks to the red rocks, and relives his trauma, as he makes clear to Rapunzel. Thankfully, he manages to conquer his fears with Rapunzel's help, rescuing the kingdom and everyone in it from said red rocks.
    • Subverted with everything else. Even though you'd expect Varian to become terrified of things like snow, heights, or prisons, considering his emotional vulnerability and him having had very bad experiences with those things, he surprisingly doesn't develop a fear of them of any sort, further showcasing his major Character Development.
  • Trauma Conga Line:
    • He has to deal with unintentionally being responsible for his father's imprisonment in amber, and is rejected by everyone in Corona when he seeks their help, being thrown into Zhan Tiri's blizzard and left all alone.
    • He's believed to have attacked Rapunzel and is forced to lie low, in addition to having to deal with King Frederic sending his guards after him because he had the scroll.
    • After he organizes a plan to save his father that involves capturing Queen Arianna, the kingdom's forces launch an assault on his home, prompting him to use an army of automatons to ambush them. He is also unsuccessful in saving his father, and is (albeit justifiably) locked up in the castle dungeon for high treason and attempted murder.
    • He's forced to live with the guilt, shame, and remorse for the terrible things he's done, and seeks to become Rapunzel's friend again.
    • He has to deal with his worst fears (that have already happened) thanks to the red rocks, and needs to face them in order to save everyone in Corona.
    • Cassandra drugs him unconscious and abducts him, in addition to imprisoning him inside a cage, with Varian failing to get through to her, and he nearly falls to his death before falling into Lance's arms at the last second.
    • His efforts to protect the kingdom from Cassandra fail as she takes over Corona and destroys the city with her black rocks, which also forces Varian (who is nearly impaled) to flee to the village.
    • He is forced to harm his father when the situation arises, is briefly banished to Limbo, and is also almost killed by Zhan Tiri's genocide attempt on Corona before being just narrowly rescued by Rapunzel and Cassandra.
  • True Companions: With Rapunzel and her other friends.
    • In "Queen for a Day", he pulls Rapunzel aside to keep his promise of maintaining their agreement on the black rocks a secret, despite being in an extremely desperate situation, showing his loyalty towards her.
    • In "Rapunzel's Return", he performs a Heel–Face Turn despite being in a position of power after just hearing Rapunzel's words, and later is willing to sacrifice his life to save Rapunzel and Corona. When Rapunzel becomes lost using the Decay Incantation to free his father, he readily runs over to her side and vows to not give up on her, and the two hug once she snaps out of it.
    • In "Be Very Afraid", Rapunzel's encouragement helps him face his fear and stop the red rocks, and the two of them become closer as friends and more loving than ever after everything is said and done.
    • In "Cassandra's Revenge", after Lance catches him, the both of them embrace in a hug.
    • In "Once a Handmaiden...", he and Eugene are shown to have re-established "Team Awesome" and are working incredibly well together to stop Cassandra in case she attacks them and Corona.
  • Unluckily Lucky: His father is encased in amber as a result of his mistakes? Rapunzel manages to free him with an incantation she discovered on her journey to the Dark Kingdom. He himself is imprisoned for his crimes against Corona and comes to believe he doesn't deserve redemption? Rapunzel convinces him he can redeem himself and doesn't let him sacrifice his life. Cassandra's red rocks make him see his worst fears that have already happened? He succeeds in tackling his fear and saves Corona. He's kidnapped by Cassandra for the third incantation? He has Rapunzel defeat her with the fourth incantation not long after, rescuing himself. Corona gets taken over by Cassandra and Zhan Tiri, with his father getting mind controlled in the process? They are quickly defeated and he is made the Royal Engineer, being the youngest to hold this position. Besides, these traumatic events have taught Varian important life lessons, increasing his wisdom.
  • Unwanted Rescue: Even when Rapunzel and Eugene arrive to free him from the cage made of black rocks Cassandra imprisoned him in, Varian holds them off due to having figured out how to master the fourth incantation.
  • Unwitting Pawn: In "Cassandra's Revenge", Enchanted Girl/Zhan Tiri manipulates Varian into thinking she wants to be his friend, before getting him to master the fourth incantation, which eventually allows Rapunzel to fight back against Cassandra, in a clash of Sun and Moon that releases her from her prison.
  • Villain Has a Point:
    • When Varian accuses King Frederic of "vilifying him", he means when Frederic scapegoated him for "attacking the princess" in "Queen for a Day" so as to keep him quiet and send guards after him because he had the scroll. It's also hard to argue with Varian when he mentions that King Frederic failed to address the danger that threatens their kingdom and kept it all a secret, while he's the only one who cared. Sure enough, the King does take this to heart, and realizes Varian isn't 100% to blame for what is happening.
    • When Rapunzel tries to change his mind about using her hair to break the crystal by saying "I promise it will be all right", he answers with reminding her "what happened the last time [Rapunzel] promised that?" (referring to when she promised the same in "Queen for a Day" but couldn't come through, resulting in his father being encased in crystal.) It's an Armor-Piercing Question for Rapunzel, to which she can't answer; and you can't deny that Rapunzel indeed made a promise to him she couldn't keep and now is about to make the same mistake again.
  • Villain Song: He has two: the Dark Reprise of "Let Me Make You Proud" and his part of "Ready As I'll Ever Be".
  • Villainous Breakdown: When Rapunzel's hair fails to free his father and Rapunzel promptly frees both of her own parents, Varian snaps and tries to kill Rapunzel and her family in a vindictive rage.
  • Villainous Underdog: Varian is a low-level commoner from a backwater village and has no money or power of sorts, and he knows he's at a disadvantage when he's up against the Royal Family and the Royal Guard. But, his main strengths are his intelligence and patience, allowing him to accomplish so much with so little. To this effect, he came up with an elaborate scheme to separate the King, Rapunzel, and the Royal Guard to take the weak link of the Royal Family—the Queen. In doing so, he does a lot of emotional damage to the former two.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: With Lance. Lance's carelessness and disobedience infuriates Varian, who tends to remind him not to mess with his inventions, and scolding him when he does. Lance, in turn, gets irritated by Varian's bossiness. However, the two are very close friends and care deeply about each other, to the point where Varian is overjoyed to see Lance when he catches him in "Cassandra's Revenge", and they are also shown to work well together in the final episodes.
  • Walking Spoiler: What only two episodes can end up doing for a character.
  • We Used to Be Friends: With Rapunzel, Cassandra and Eugene. But his friendship with Rapunzel and Eugene is salvaged in the Season 3 premiere.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Really wants his inventions and alchemy to make his dad proud.
  • Wise Beyond His Years: Downplayed. While Varian isn't emotionally mature, he's extremely creative, not to mention his numerous experiences have rendered him wise enough to almost get through to Cassandra. "Flynnpostor" shows that he's far more mature than Lance, an adult.
  • Workaholic: Implied throughout Season 3 that ever since Rapunzel gave him his new role for the Kingdom, he’s been burning both ends of the candle regarding finding more about the Moonstone and falling asleep on the job.
  • Would Hit a Girl: He holds Queen Arianna prisoner, and later tries to kill both her and Cassandra.
  • Young and in Charge: Varian takes on a Big Good role in the finale, coming up with the plan to reimprison Zhan Tiri. Once all is said and done, he becomes the first Royal Engineer of Corona, meaning he spearheads all the Kingdom's scientific and technological advances, and he's the youngest to hold this position.
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: He gets this reaction twice in "Flynnpostor". First, he does a Face Palm when Lance makes his invention look like an actual rooster. Later, Lance adding too much Flynnoleum to the same invention and causing it to explode results in Varian angrily yelling at him.
  • You Killed My Father: Blames Rapunzel, and by extension Corona, for not coming to him in his time of need and letting his father be trapped in crystal and swears that "" When really, it's his dad's own fault combined with his own personal recklessness.
  • Youthful Freckles: He has this, in addition to Blush Stickers.
  • You Will Be Spared: Implied. In "Rapunzel's Return", it's revealed he modified Frederic and Arianna's memories to make them believe he's their most trusted advisor. This raises the question of what happened to the royal family's original royal advisor Nigel, especially since Nigel was the one who had Pete and Stan drag Varian out of the castle when he came to Rapunzel for help and spread the rumor that he attacked Rapunzel (which was something he genuinely believed). However, "Be Very Afraid" shows Nigel alive and well.


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