Only spoilers from S4 and 5 will be hidden, including character affiliations, so beware spoilers if you're not up to date on the episodes.
The Magnus Institute
First Mentioned: MAG 001A mysterious institution dedicated to researching the paranormal and cataloging paranormal artifacts. Officially, they're even more boring, staid, and unremarkable than any organization with that stated purpose should be.
Officially. There are occasionally hints that it's more than it appears, but exactly what is uncertain. Their most common activity, as shown in the podcast, appears to be taking statements of observers of paranormal occurrences and then investigating.
- Artifact Collection Agency: It's downplayed considering that their most prominent activity appears to be taking statements and investigating them, but it's mentioned several times that they have an artifact storage room.
- Eldritch Location: The building is built atop a network of catacombs. Disturbingly organic catacombs.t
- Lack of Empathy: Working in the archives for any length of time, especially as Head Archivist, leaves employees rather numb to the experiences of those giving the statements. For those who are being changed and warped by the Beholding, they're often more eager to observe suffering rather than provide aid. The founder of the institute at one point received a letter from an old friend begging for protection from supernatural forces, who he could easily have helped... but he preferred to do nothing in favor of seeing what would happen.
- Haunted Technology: Tape recorders seem to serve as a kind of monitoring device for the Beholding. At first, they are just used because digital recordings of the statements are always scrambled. Then they gain a habit of turning themselves on without any human aid. By season 3, they're not even trying to be subtle anymore and just appear near people whenever something relevant is about to happen.
- Mysterious Benefactor: Has one in the form of the Lukas Family, who are, well... not exactly trustworthy. And honestly kind of unsettling.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Their status as odd but harmless academics is a facade. While they're ostensibly a laughingstock among paranormal investigators, the Institute itself actually serves The Beholding, an extradimensional entity of unimaginable power.
Jonathan Sims, The Archivist
First Mentioned: MAG 001
The new Head Archivist for the Magnus Institute after Gertrude Robinson's untimely death. This position involves less library science than you might think, and more slow transformation into The Archivist, a monster who serves the eldritch horror that uses the archives as a front.
- Action Survivor: Before his Avatar powers fully developed his encounters with supernatural threats consistend on him running and hiding away from them.
- Agent Scully: To an extent that might unsettle even Richard Strand - no matter how overt the circumstances of a statement are, he often discounts any possible paranormal influence.
- This turns out to be a deliberate subversion. The Archivist is afraid that something is watching him and that it will get angry if he doesn't play up the skeptic angle. He admits in Episode 39 that he actually believes all the stories he's recorded are real. After that, he ditches the skeptic angle entirely.
- Ambiguously Human: This comes with the job title, if you embrace it...which Jon has been doing by accident. As of season 4, he is now introducing himself solely as "Jonathan Sims, The Archivist", and is able to heal all the lingering damage from his coma simply by reading a statement. When he tries to cut off one of his fingers as an anchor to draw him back out of the coffin, the wound keeps healing. Even Helen pulls a Not So Different on him, claiming that he is currently as much "Jonathan Sims" as she is "Helen Richardson".
- Amicable Exes: Is this to his former college girlfriend Georgie.
- And Then John Was a Zombie: After waking up from his coma at Season 4, he officially became an Avatar.
- And This Is for...: Punctuates each stab at Elias with the names of Sasha, Tim and Gertrude, whose death he was responsible for, either directly or indirectly.
- Anti Anti Christ: A variation where he only learns about his Antichrist status only when he is tricked into ending the world, but after that he goes on a mission to kill Elias and fix the world, all while rejecting the Eye's temptantions It's played straighter when he decides to kill Elias/Jonah and take his place as the Eye's pupil to killoff the Fears instead of going with the Web's plans to pass then on through the multiverse.
- Apocalypse Maiden: As the series go on, it's revealed that everything that happened to him since he was promoted to Head Archivist was part of an elaborate plot to get him to bring the Powers into our reality, kickstarting The End of the World as We Know It.
- Asexuality:Melanie: According to Georgie, Jon doesn't... Like, at all.Basira: Yeah, that does explain some stuff.
- He's not, however, aromantic, as he definitely falls in love with Martin.
- Badass Bookworm: He is an Oxford graduate and used to work at the Research department before getting promoted. In the series itself his main solution to deal with the supernatural threats he and his team face is to learn more about it and as The Archivist his powers revolve around knowledge.
- Beneath the Mask: In "Infestation" he admits to Martin that he puts on the skeptic act to mask how scared he is of how recording the statements makes him lose himself and of feeling watched.
- Berserk Button: Go ahead and mock his losses. And please, go ahead and threaten Martin or remind him that you murdered Sasha. It will not end well for you.
- Bookworm: As a child the only thing that kept him still was reading but due to his picky tastes his grandmother had to buy books en masse from charity shops.
- Cassette Craze: At first it is out of necessity, as the most bizarre statements cannot be reccorded digitally, but in Episode 39 and 40 he reccords Prentiss invasion and it's fallout out of his own violation, and in Season 2 he starts to reccord supplementals about his investigation of Gertrude's murder in case anything happens to him. As his Archivist powers develop, he begins to spawn reccorders out of nowhere and gets the compulsion to reccord statements whenever he can.
- Compelling Voice: When The Archivist asks a question, even other monsters have no choice but to answer truthfully. It's less useful than you might think, as most beings connected to the Powers are well aware of this and will take measures to ensure he doesn't finish his questions, which tend to be rather painful for Jon. As of episode 141, it seems that Jon may also be able to compel specific actions.
- Conveniently an Orphan: Jons parents died under questionable circumstances, and he wasn't close with the grandmother who raised him. Leaving him with no close ties to notice he's been claimed by The Beholding, or to distract him from his obsessive need to sort through and devour stories.
- Covered with Scars: Over the course of the podcast, he suffers quite a few injuries at the hands of the Powers, most of which leave him marked in some way. He gets an assortment of pockmark scars from Jane Prentiss's worms eating into him, a stab wound from Michael's hands, the flesh of his hand melted by Jude Perry, another stab wound from Melanie King, and two ribs pulled out by Jared Hopworth.
- Cowardly Lion: Admits to not being a brave man but keeps pushing through horrifying stuff either to satiate his curiosity or to help the people he cares about.
- The Danza: Played by Jonny Sims, who lamented in one of the Q&As that he brushed off Alex "Martin" Newell's suggestion that he should maybe not name The Archivist after himself.
- Dark and Troubled Past: His parents died when he was a little kid, leaving him to be raised by his grandmother, who was quite emotionally distant and couldn't hide her resentfulness towards him. When he was eight, he came across a web Leitner that nearly got him killed, only to be accidentally saved by his childhood bully and then watched him be devoured by a Giant Spider in his place, leading to his arachnophobia and Survivor's Guilt in the present day.
- Deadpan Snarker:
- Defrosting Ice King: Starts the podcast as cold, arrogant and scornful of others -specially towards his assistant Martin- and didn't have many connections. Through the series, he warms up to the people around him and falls in love with Martin.
- Despair Event Horizon: Causing the reshaping of the world, despite not being at fault for it, drives him to hate Jonah Magnus so much that he's willing to destroy the world Jonah envisioned, and everyone in it. The pragmatic reason for this is to avoid dooming who knows how many other universes to the Powers, which is the Web's Plan B, but Jon's tirade against Jonah at zero hour implies more than a bit of vengeful anger factors in his ultimate, tragic decision.
- Determinator: Jon may be neurotic and frightened, but when push comes to shove, he won't let anything stop him from finding out what he wants to know... including the very real threat of death at the hands of monsters he interviews. This obsessive need for knowledge is what made him an ideal servant of The Beholding from a very young age. Not every child would, upon escaping a near-fatal encounter with a demon spider, chase after its new victim in order to see what will happen.
- Distressed Dude: He has a knack for getting into trouble he can't get out of and then being rescued at the last second.
- The Dog Bites Back: After spending the whole podcast being manipulated, used and violated by Elias/Jonah, Jon brutally stabs him to death while the other tries to beg him for his life.
- Dream Walker: Jon's bad dreams aren't merely a reaction to trauma. They're what makes The Archivist as monstrous as the other avatars. When Jon takes a statement directly from a victim, he causes them to have recurring nightmares, and enters their dreams to watch them suffer over and over again.
- Fantastic Drug: As he takes to the role of Archivist more and more, the statements become this for him. Without the opportunity to record a statement, either from a transcript or in person, he goes into withdrawal, to the point that taking statements might well qualify as Abstract Eater.
- Forgot About His Powers: Inverted. Later on in Season 5, Jon has become so used to his powers that he does not know how to react when a question is not immediately answered, has to be reminded by Martin that beating Magnus to death is totally within their power and is not necessarily a hopeless venture, and when he cannot find where Martin has gone and is in a panic, Melanie has to sit him down and remind him that he does not need his powers to think and reason things out.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Jon is the Melancholic, with Martin, his partner, being the Phlegmatic.
- Free-Range Children: As a kid he had the habit of wandering off through his town and being taken back home by the policemen at night.
- Healing Factor: As of the end of season 3, he heals quickly, even more quickly if he reads a statement. When he tries to cut one of his fingers off the wound heals instantly, and in the end he has to turn to Jared Hopworth for help in permanently removing one of his ribs.
- Humanoid Abomination: Became one the second he took the Archivist position, but has fully transitioned into one come Season 5, where he is able to wander untouched in the hellish world he was partially responsible for bringing into existence, and able to destroy other Avatars by making them See all of the fears they were feeding on from the perspective of their own victims.
- I Cannot Self-Terminate: In the Grand Finale he asks Martin to stab him so the group can complete the plan to send the Fears away from their world, as the Eye won't let him do it himself.
- Insufferable Genius: Particularly in Season 1, where he tended to be very condescending and scornful towards the statement givers and snide with those he viewed as incompetent, like Gertrude and Martin.
- Jon is implied to have mild arachnophobia following his first encounter with the supernatural, involving a Leitner book with connections to The Web. Not only is The Web on fairly good terms with the Beholding (to the point where it seems to have moved into the Magnus Institute in some capacity come Season 4) but it sends John a gift in the first season in the form of a metal lighter with a web design on it.
- Jon starts the show with an extremely dim view of Martin and ends up falling in love with him.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Starts out as mostly a Jerkass with him being arrogant, pompous, short-tempered and snide but is shown to be someone deeply caring and protective of his fellow men and tries his hardest to hold onto whichever humanity he has and keep his moral code as he grows more and more into his role of The Archivist.
- Laughing Mad: Reduced to this at the end of the Season 4 finale, after he witnesses the apocalypse he's unwittingly unleashed upon the world.
- Meaningful Rename: Stops introducing himself as "Jonathan Sims, Head Archivist of the Magnus Institute" and begin introducing himself as "Jonathan Sims, The Archivist", reflecting his increasingly inhuman nature at the start of S4.
- Omniglot: The Archivist can understand languages he has not learned, though he doesn't gain any particular ability to speak them.
- The Omniscient: As he grows more and more into his role as The Archivist for the Beholding, he gains powers that allow him to simply "know" things; at least, things the Eye will share with him.
- In Season Five, after the Beholding takes over the world, he truly becomes able to know exactly everything that it can know in the world.
- However, these powers are often shown to have limits. As stated earlier, he can only know what the Eye is willing to share, and it will sometimes try to hide sensitive information from him. Also, other Powers that are antithetical to the Eye, specifically the Dark and The Stranger, have certain natural defenses that blocks the Eye from seeing their territories.
- The Paranoiac: Very much becomes this in season 2 after the body of his predecessor, shot three times, is found in the tunnels under the archives.
- Painting the Medium: It's subtle, but whenever Jon uses his Compelling Voice unintentionally (such as getting Melanie to blurt out that she's started going to therapy) there's slight static on the recording.
- Physical Scars, Psychological Scars: As the podcast goes on, he gets more and more scars from his encounters with the supernatural, matching with his declining mental state. This turns out to be a plot point. Each scar is a mark from the entites, filling him with the fear of that event and turning him into a battery for all 14. This turns out to have consequences
- Properly Paranoid: Jonathan is right to be paranoid about being attacked by whoever was behind Gertrude's death, although he doesn't express that paranoia in very productive ways.
- Raised by Grandparents: Jonathan was taken in by his grandmother after the suspicious deaths of his parents.
- Romantic Asexual: Used to date Georgie at uni and enters a relationship with Martin at the end of Season 4.
- Seeker Archetype: Is mostly driven by his unsatiable hunger for knowledge, monsters be dammed.
- Self-Deprecation: When recounting his childhood he calls himself a "deeply annoying child".
- Sleeps with Both Eyes Open: As of the apocalypse, Martin notes this about him, even in places more cut off from The Eyes power like Salesas house or the cults tunnels.
- Stalker Without a Crush: In Season Two he starts stalking his assistants due to suspecting them of killing Gertrude, from going through their belongings to taking pictures of Tim's house.
- Superior Successor: Jon to Gertrude, as Archivist. Largely because Gertrude spent her time actively plotting against the supernatural instead of feeding The Beholding, with all evidence point to her deliberately sabotaging the Magnus Institute. Played straight as we get a more accurate picture of Gertrude, whose lack of friends or attachments would have caused her to fall into despair where Jon will not.
- Tragic Hero: By the end of the series, Jon has developed into this. His fatal flaw is his ego, and his inability to even potentially doom another person to the guilt he carries, as well as his series-long insistence on rushing forward to do everything himself, results in the worst possible ending - he breaks his promise to save himself if possible, makes Martin kill him, AND the Web still gets what it wanted in the end.
- True Sight: Jon uses this to counter the Unknowing and save the world. A season later, he uses it to see through the Lonely and find Martin.
- The Undead: Enters a state of reverse brain death after being blown up in the S3 finale. His body is dead, but his brain activity is off the charts.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: He's the one to unleash all the Powers and end the world in the S4 finale, all because he read the wrong statement.
- Vengeance Feels Empty: Comes to this conclusion during Season Five. after he kills Jude Perry and Jared Hopworth, he reflects that it didn't make him feel better and their realms are still torturing their victims without them. Not when it comes to Jonah Magnus, though.
- Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Refuses to kill Callum Brody, avatar of the Dark after realizing doing so wouldn't help their current situation, i.e, saving the children being preyed upon in his domain.
- Wrong Genre Savvy:Invoked almost word for word in Episode 78, in which he destroys the table binding the Not-Them, thinking it was their source of power.
- Younger Than They Look: He is in his early thirties but comments that people are always surprised upon learning that fact due to his greying hair. Melanie King at one point even feels the need to ask Jonathan if he is aware of what a "meme" is.
First Mentioned: MAG 001
One of Jon's assistants. Jon starts the series with a dim view of his competence.
- Action Survivor: Manages to survive being trapped in his apartment by the entity formerly known as Jane Prentiss for about two weeks.
- Adoring the Pests: Really likes spiders, even finding the bigger, hairier ones cute.
- Boss's Unfavorite Employee: Jon had a very low opinion of him in the first season.
- Bumbling Sidekick: How Jon perceives Martin until Prentiss.
- Crazy Jealous Guy: Shows some definite signs of this with regards to Jon, to the point where his coworkers openly wonder if the interest is more than professional.
- Doubled down in season 5 when he asks Jon to kill Oliver Banks because he's jealous. Jon (fondly) calls him out on this.
- Crazy-Prepared: Traces back to his being an Action Survivor. When Jane Prentiss attacks the Institute, Martin proves to have prepared for such an event, even thinking outside the box in terms of preparing to remove the worms. In season 5, he's immediately prepared to go confront Elias the second Jon is, and has packed bags for it including several things that are no longer necessary, such as maps, because "you never know".
- The Dog Bites Back: Successfully executes a plan to take down Elias at the end of Season 3, after all of Elias' employees get sick of his shit. He also gets rightfully angry at Peter Lukas and ruins all his plans by refusing to do what Peter asked of him.
- Fatal Flaw: In the end, his fear of losing Jon results in him telling the girls to ignite the gas tunnel earlier than planned after noticing that Jon was missing and then refusing to leave Jon as the Pupil while he tries to kill the rest of the world, leading to Jon asking him to cut the tether, releasing the Fears upon the multiverse and possibly killing them both.
- Human Sacrifice: Peter Lukas is grooming him into one for the Lonely's ritual, to stop the birth of The Extinction.
- Iron Woobie: Stays empathetic and cheerful no matter what the Institute throws at him. Which is a lot.
- Love Martyr: Towards Jon, particularly in earlier seasons, and his mother.
- Meaningful Name: Martin's surname, Blackwood, translates to "Schwarzwald" — the location where Jonah Magnus first encountered the supernatural.
- Older Than They Sound: One might assume from Martin's voice and his general nervous, timid personality that he's a teenager, or at least the youngest of the archival staff. He's actually twenty-nine.
- Pay Evil unto Evil: When Jon gains the ability to destroy at least some of the avatars in season 5, Jon is deeply conflicted and terrified of the implications... while Martin points out that the avatars are objectively hurting people and deserve to die, and that they should absolutely go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
- Single-Target Sexuality: Has only ever evidenced interest in Jon.
- So Okay, It's Average: Martin writes poetry. Martin's poetry is derisively compared to Kant by Jon in season 2 and described as "aggressively mediocre" by the writers.
- Spiders Are Scary: Averted by Martin, who is willing to walk into a creepy cobwebbed basement because he likes spiders. And he is right to do so. Eldritch spiders horrors are relatively benign compared to some of the other monsters out there. Sure, they sometimes eat people, but they also bind, suppress, and devour other supernatural forces.
- Uncertain Doom: The end of the series sees him kill Jon to force the Powers out of his universe and into some other one. While the execution of this plan requires the death of the Pupil, aka Jon, there is no guarantee Martin actually died, or if he got sucked into another dimension but is otherwise fine.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Wants validation from his distant mother.
- You Are Worth Hell: Stays with Jon in the latter's final moments when he could run and be safe, killing him and either dying as well due to the blast set off by the others or being pulled into another reality.
First Mentioned: MAG 043
- Action Girl: While most of her cases don't involve violence, merely the aftermath of it, she's prepared for the ones that do.
- Badass Normal: Manages to defeat the dissociative illusions of the Stranger during its attempted apotheosis just by reasoning to herself.
- Big Damn Heroes: Shows up just in time to keep Daisy from murdering Jon.
- Emotionless Girl: In the early episodes of season 4, she seems to have totally shut down emotionally. It's unclear if it's due to the traumatic events that occurred in between seasons (i.e. a colleague and one of her best friends dying, another friend ending up in a coma, multiple Eldritch Abomination attacks on her place of work, yet two more friends being slowly taken away from her by other powers, and having to make sure the department runs in the bargain), her being claimed by the Beholding or both.
- Friend on the Force: To the Archives. She brings Jonathan tapes that were confiscated during a police investigation so he can listen to them for clues.
- Initially subverted, as she was just pretending because she thought Jonathan killed Gertrude and wanted a way to surreptitiously investigate him, but then for real. Until she quits.
- Hidden Depths: She handles being bound to the Institute better than anyone and seems to quite enjoy researching in the latter's library. As Jon puts it "maybe she just suits the academic life".
- Mercy Kill: She is forced to keep her promise to kill Daisy after the latter gives in to the Hunt completely in order to defend the Institute employees from Trevor and Julia.
- Morality Chain: Her fellow Sectioned cop Daisy Tonner has gone almost full He Who Fights Monsters. Basira is the only reason for the "almost".
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Eventually quits the force, because she's so disgusted at the way her superiors handled a coverup, and says the best way Jon can thank her for her help is for her to never hear about any of this again. It doesn't stick.
- Sole Survivor: In a sense. By the end of the podcast, she is the only one of the Institute employees who both survived the events of the series and did so without grievous bodily harm or severe mental damage, although having to kill Daisy definitely counts for trauma.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: While it's reasonably understandable considering everything she goes through, Basira becomes extremely hostile to Jon in season 4 from the outset, and comes off as unsympathetic to Daisy following her escape from the Buried.
First Mentioned: MAG 001
The former Head Archivist for the Magnus Institute. Initially a mysterious figure whose chaotic management of the archives infuriates Jon, her successor. As the story progresses we learn much more about her own handling and use of the Archive's statements and her efforts to thwart the Powers, including the Magnus Institute itself.
- Big Good: Played With She single-handedly foiled the rituals of the Powers for decades, defending humanity but also was incredibly ruthless while doing so, having no issue with manipulating or killing people to achieve her goals.
- Foil: To Jon, as his predecessor. While Jon sacrificed his humanity in service of his friends and became a monster torn apart by his empathy, Gertrude remained human but gave up connections to others in order to so so.
- Good Is Not Nice: Gertrude was determined to stop the rituals that would help the Powers to warp the universe. Among other things, she sacrificed Michael Shelley to the Distortion/Spiral in order to bind and constrict it and murdered Jan Kilbride to use his dismembered corpse to stop the Buried's ritual.
- Heroes Love Cats: Once asked why she worked so diligently against the powers, she states that a cultist of the Lightless Flame killed her cat. Word of God pointedly refuses to confirm if this did indeed happen or if this is Gertrude's idea of a joke.
- Manipulative Bastard: Deliberately engineered sympathy and loyalty in Michael Shelley, so that he would do anything for her — because he trusted her.
- Obfuscating Disability/Obfuscating Stupidity: Pretended to be much frailer than she actually was in front of her assistants, letting them believe she was a harmless older lady who needed help and protection. Likewise, the bad archival skills Jon bemoans at the beginning of episode 1? Entirely deliberate sabotage of her ostensible employer.
- Pet the Dog:
- While intimidating Arthur Nolan, she makes clear that Jack Barnabas is to be left alone.
- In "Bloody Mary" (Episode 154), she at least makes an effort to be nice and sensitive to the skin book ghost of her old Institute colleague Eric Delano regarding his death, though she gets a bit testy when he turns out to know something important.
- Despite her general willingness to sacrifice her assistants for the greater good, when she learned that one of her assistants deliberately put another one in a situation which got her killed simply to learn more information about the Powers, Gertrude had Agnes kill her.
- Posthumous Character: Jon at first merely bemoans her apparent lack of archival skills, but soon becomes curious about her death.
- The finale of the first season reveals that she didn't just die in unusual circumstances but was actually murdered, as the team discover her body underneath the Institute; we get to hear recordings made by her beginning in the second season; and the third season focuses heavily on her research into, and thwarting of, the Powers. Season Four shows that she was alive two months longer than we had been lead to believe, before being killed by Elias while attempting to burn down the Institute.
- Unscrupulous Hero: Spent her entire time as Archivist investigating other Powers and preventing their rituals, including by sacrificing her employees and liberal usage of explosives
- Walking Spoiler: It's very difficult to talk about Gertrude without spoiling why Jon replaced her as Head Archivist and her relationship with the Powers.
- Willfully Weak: Compared to Jon. Gertrude never embraced her title as the Archivist, and was practically human. This did not stop her from being one of the most feared people by other powers.
First Mentioned: MAG 001
One of Jonathan's assistants.
- Big Damn Heroes: Bolts out of a sealed, relatively safe room during Jane Prentiss' attack on the Archives in the season 1 finale to save Tim. She also dives back into the building with Elias to turn the fire alarms on and get everyone else in the Institute out. This ends up becoming a Heroic Sacrifice, as she's separated from Elias and killed by the Not-Them.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: Flashbacks in season 5 reveal that basically everyone expected Sasha to become the new Archivist, including Gertrude, but Jon was chosen instead, despite him being less mundanely qualified. The audience knows that Jonah/Elias picked based on who would be easier to manipulate into performing his new ritual, but Sasha never learns that. She clearly thinks that her strong qualifications and years of excellent work were ignored because of sexism.
- Grand Theft Me: In the season 1 finale, courtesy of the Not-Them, who go so far as to somehow dispose of cases 0051701 and 0160204, on which Sasha's voice could be heard.
- The Reliable One: Very good at her job. In fact, so good that Gertrude had tapped Sasha as her successor (which is no doubt one of the reasons Elias didn't choose her).
- We Hardly Knew Ye: Due to the format of the podcast, we only get a few moments with Sasha before she gets killed and replaced by the Not-Them.
Timothy "Tim" Stoker
First Mentioned: MAG 001
One of Jon's assistants.
- Accuser of the Brethren: Does not forgive Jon for his association with The Beholding, in spite of Jon's efforts at reconciliation. Though he does thank him for giving him the chance to get revenge for his brother.
- Beleaguered Assistant: What else do you call getting attacked by worms and treated as a murder suspect by your boss?
- Big Damn Heroes: At the end of season 1.
- Break the Cutie: Tim used to be far happier and less bitter from what we saw of him until the season 1 finale.
- Cynicism Catalyst: His brother was killed by agents of The Stranger. This also explains some of his other quirks, such as his familiarity with 19th-century circuses and the work of real-life architect Robert Smirke.
- Even the Guys Want Him: Timothy is noted in season 2 to have police "contacts" in the form of clerks. One female, and one male, who take two different shifts. They allow him access to police records. John notes the usefulness of such "contacts" but is irritated by how indiscrete Tim seems to be about it.
- It's Personal: Joined the Magnus Institute to pursue the creatures that murdered his brother.
- Resignations Not Accepted: Tim comes to hate the Institute, but he feels like there's something there that's preventing him from quitting. He later even tries running away to Asia but finds himself getting sicker the longer he stays away from the Institute.
- The Skeptic: Tended to be dismissive of the veracity of the statements until he gets caught up in Jane Prentiss' attack in the season 1 finale.
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: Downplayed due to the general lack of swearing in the series, but so far Tim is tied with Jon, who obviously speaks much more than him, for the honour of dropping the most F-bombs of any single character (three, and he implies a fourth), and the only cast member who does for some time. No one else says "fuck" until after his death, in fact.
- Sour Supporter: He'll help the Archivist save the world, but that doesn't stop him from hating the Archives and everything they stand for.
- Taking You with Me: Blows himself up in order to stop the Stranger's ritual of the Unknowing.
First Mentioned: MAG 028
Melanie King is an amateur ghost hunter who started to stray from the beaten path of haunted locations after witnessing a co-worker, Sarah Baldwin, peel back the skin off of her arm and staple it back on. She occasionally consults the Magnus Institute for information until she's brought on as Sasha's replacement.
- Badass Normal: After her crew disperses, she goes off hunting war ghosts on her own, regardless of the fact they can actually hurt her, unlike the Grey Ladies she used to investigate. Also tries to kill Elias multiple times, albeit unsuccessfully.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Bitchy, but less visibly hostile than just about everyone in the Institute except Jon and Martin. She also immediately tries to poison Elias upon realizing what a bastard he is, then tries to shiv him. Though she was by this point being infected by the Slaughter, it's ambiguous whether she'd have done it anyway. When the Flesh attacks the institute inbetween seasons 3 and 4, she fights so violently and efficiently that Jared Hopworth, its foremost avatar, actually gets scared and runs away.
- Eye Scream: She ends up removing her eyes with an awl, as this is the only way you can escape the Beholding's influence and quit the Magnus Institute.
- Instant Humiliation: Just Add YouTube!: In later episodes her solo career is ruined like this.
- Jerkass: The first thing she does upon being interviewed is snobbishly chew out the very people trying to interview her, even though she went to them precisely because her coworkers wouldn't even listen to her. One of the things she criticizes is the Institute's policy of looking into stories that lack evidence. When she tells her story and Jonathan does his usual thing and say that the Institute will look into her story, rather than believing her outright, she gets pissed off and yells at him. Even though she arrived with no real evidence. (Although it's implied the abrasiveness is her way of dealing with how much Sarah scared her, and that she's much nicer when she's not scared.)
- Murder Is the Best Solution: Adopts this attitude after she has a bad encounter with a ghost and is drawn in by The Slaughter. She is adamant that killing Elias is the only option they have.
- Not So Different: She and Jonathan don't get along very well, and they have two very different approaches to supernatural investigation, but in "The Smell of Blood", they start nerding out over historical documents she found while investigating in the exact same way, and they're both willing to almost totally disregard their safety in the pursuit of information. Underscored by her joining the Archives.
- Paranormal Investigation: Her YouTube show is about this. She insists at first that it is more evidence-based than the Archives, although they sometimes ham it up because looking at temperature readings isn't very exciting on-camera, but later discovers that her show and others like it have been unconsciously avoiding real paranormal sites.
- Opt Out: Melanie can't actually quit, but she can choose to just not do any work. Which she does, as she believes doing anything that empowers the Beholding is evil. And then when Jon discovers it is possible to unbind yourself from the Beholding by blinding yourself, she takes an awl to her eyes.
- Running Gag: A short-lived one; when she records statements (at least the first few times), she claps her hands as a sound marker when starting to read and finishing reading the statement.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Becomes increasingly aggressive and abrasive over the course of the third season, culminating in a diatribe about how nobody appreciates the struggle she went through to start a ghost-hunting series.
- She takes another level in Season 4. Upon her first reappearance, she nearly attacks Jon, blaming him for Tim and Daisy's deaths, and all but growls at him to stay away from her. In episode 125, Jon realizes this is happening because she was shot by a bullet from an avatar of the Slaughter, which was "infecting" her, increasing her aggression to the point where it nearly consumes other aspects of her identity.
- Took a Level in Kindness: Having the cursed bullet out and going to therapy in the back half of season 4 have helps Melanie do this. Escaping her entrapment in the Magnus Institute and moving in with Georgie significantly improves her mental health and she lets Jon know she sees him as a friend despite everything that has happened between them.
- Too Much Alike: Why she doesn't like Jon. In 191, Georgie says she and Jon are actually pretty similar, and Melanie bitterly quips "at least I hate consistently".
- Unwanted False Faith: In Season 5, she hates being the object of the cult's worship along with Georgie, because of the unbelievable pressure of them taking everything she says as gospel. Also, she hates them calling her the Blind Prophet, but can't manage to talk them out of it.
Alice "Daisy" Tonner
First Mentioned: MAG 061
A detective turned disciple of the Hunt. The metropolitan police force turns a blind eye to her murderous activities, so long as she keeps hunting other spooks.
- Disney Death: When Breekon traps her in the Coffin as revenge for her killing Hope in the season 3 finale, the archival staff have reason to believe she's dead - until it's revealed in the middle of season four that she's alive after all, just trapped in the Buried. Jon's able to get her out. After she succumbs to the Hunt, she is killed off for real by Basira in MAG 179.
- Fire-Forged Friends: With Jon. She originally hates him, believing that he's one of the monsters she's dedicated her life to hunting (to be fair, she's not entirely wrong); she would have murdered him after finding him with Mike Crew if Basira hadn't intervened. But after he goes into the Coffin to rescue her and the two of them end up trapped in the Buried together for three days, they end up becoming much closer. By the middle of season four, they're arguably the only two members of the Archives that genuinely consider each other friends.
- He Who Fights Monsters: There is very little except her friendship with Basira separating her from what she hunts. In the season 3 finale, she goes all the way off the deep end, tearing one of the deliverymen apart with her bare hands, and seems so overcome with bloodlust that she's no longer really a person. As of episode 158, she fully gives into the Hunt in order to defend Basira and Jon as the Institute is invaded by Julia Montauk and Trevor Herbert, though according to Martin's phone call with Basira, she seems to be recovering at least slightly.
- Hidden Depths: When cut off from the Hunt's influence, she reveals herself to be a far kinder and more vulnerable person.
- Hunter of Monsters: Daisy's calling.
- Laughing Mad: Daisy's reaction to The Unknowing is to go berserk while laughing maniacally.
- Killed Off for Real: after her Disney Death in season 4, she's killed for real by Basira in season 5, after fully succumbing to the Hunt
- Morality Chain: Seems to think of Basira this way. Daisy agrees to work for Elias after he takes Basira hostage.
- My God, What Have I Done?: It's not something she talks about a lot, but after she's rescued from the coffin, incarceration in which significantly lessened the Hunt's hold over her, she clearly feels bad about what she did while serving it, particularly because she abused her position as a police officer.
- Police Brutality: Very much so, to the point of having a secret gravesite in the woods for her victims.
- Resurrection Sickness: After she's trapped in the Buried for six months, she's extremely weak and has to undergo months of physical therapy - partly because she'd been unable to move for an extended period of time, and partly because she's lost her connection to the Hunt.
- Sociopathic Hero: Kills monsters, but mostly because she likes killing. However, her love for murder is because she was affiliated with the Hunt, and she expresses regret for her actions after she stops serving it.
First Mentioned: MAG 001
The head of the Magnus Institute and Jon's superior.
- Ambiguously Human: An avatar of the Beholding, one of the Powers. Although he looks human, he's just as monstrous as Jane Prentiss or Michael.
- The Bad Guy Wins: In MAG 160, he successfully completes a ritual that brings not just Beholding, but all the Powers into the world.
- Boxed Crook: After the crew manages to put him in jail, he rapidly gains favor and privileges by using his Beholding powers to help catch other criminals.
- Break Them by Talking: Does this on a regular basis.
- Devil in Plain Sight: Head of the Magnus Institute. Also murdered Gertrude Robinson and Jurgen Leitner, and is not only a vessel for the Eye but actually Jonah Magnus.
- Didn't Think This Through: One of his relatively few errors involves his careless attitude about disposing of the bodies of Gertrude and Leitner—Nikola and her crew are able to break in and strip them of their skins for use in the Unknowing. Thanks to this blunder, Elias nearly loses Jon in the subsequent attempt to stop it, which would've blown quite a lot of his hard work given Jon was the centerpiece of his own, much grander ritual.
- Faux Affably Evil: Perfectly civil with his underlings, even when they tell him to shove it or try to murder him repeatedly. However, he is more than happy to psychically torture people at the drop of a hat as well.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: Was once an ordinary archival assistant. People who knew him then are honestly shocked that he's now the Head of the Institute. Turns out this is both averted and actually Foreshadowing, as the "Elias" the audience knows is actually a bodyhopping Jonah Magnus. The real Elias Bouchard has been dead for years.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: Why, yes, he murdered two people and sees all of his employees as disposable, but that doesn't mean you get to duck out of paperwork.
- The Omniscient: His Beholding powers seem to extend to knowing people's deepest secrets, such as the incident mentioned in Break Them by Talking. Although he says he doesn't know everything, because it would be "exhausting", suggesting he knows things that pertain to him (like Melanie's murder attempt) or that he specifically looks for.
- Not So Omniscient After All: For all his abilities, Elias is unable know everything and has a limited amount of focus. Basira talks to Elias to distract him from Jon and Daisy planning how to get rid of him.
- Play-Along Prisoner: He only went to jail because it was convenient for his plans (being away from Jon meant Jon couldn't accidentally read his mind and find out his master plan) and just walks out when he decides he needs to be back at the Institute.
- Really 700 Years Old: Is actually Jonah Magnus, founder of the Magnus Institute, using the body of Elias.
- Squishy Wizard: He has great powers of omniscience and telepathy granted to him by the Eye, but it doesn't give him any special advantages in a physical fight.
First Mentioned: MAG 11
- Bystander Syndrome: Episode 192 ("An Appointment") revealed that she suspected more than once during her time as Elias' assistant that something was up and thought about speaking up and doing something to help the others, but was afraid to lose her job and didn't.
- Improperly Paranoid: Her story in Episode 192 ("An Appointment") suggests that she was married before coming to work at the Institute, but it was ended by her paranoia.
- Locked Out of the Loop: She is never involved in the ongoing drama with the others much and it isn't made clear if she is even aware of the supernatural events, until Episode 192 ("An Appointment"), when she is revealed to have gradually figured out that something was off about Elias.
- Satellite Character: For most of the podcast, she doesn't get much characterization outside of being Elias' assistant.
Peter Lukas, Avatar of the Lonely
First Mentioned: MAG 033
- Affably Evil: Is quite cordial with everyone he meets, and is quite supportive with his subordinates. Not that it stops him from serving an Eldritch Abomination representing isolation.
- At Least I Admit It: He's quite upfront with the fact that, yes, given the chance, he will absolutely throw the world to the Lonely. But that can't happen for a while, so there's no reason not to be civil!
- The Bet: He likes to make wagers with people; Simon Fairchild speculates that it's because it allows him to easily form temporary partnerships to people without having to get close to them in any way.
- Break Them by Talking: Rather different than Elias' specialty of Mind Rape. Peter, an avatar of the Lonely, tries to do this to Jon once he steps into his "space" to rescue Martin- After Jon initially fails to convince Martin to leave, Peter appears and tells him Martin "made his choice", and that Jon's just as guilty for causing him to make it as he is. He then rubs salt in the wound by asking where Jon's other friends are, forcing him to admit they're either dead, presumed dead, or simply want nothing more to do with him. Peter then claims Jon's the "last one standing", and that while he'd prefer him to leave, it'd be better for him to stay since he can't hurt anyone else if he does. Jon almost does, given his self-deprecation through season - but unfortunately for Peter, Jon doesn't, and instead uses his Archivist powers to force him to answer his questions, eventually leading to Peter breaking himself by talking.
- The Captain: Of the Tundra.
- Famous Last Words: "Leave... me... alone!"
- Godzilla Threshold: How he tries to justify his actions to Martin. Yes, he wants to remake the world in the image of a horrifying incarnation of fear itself. But seeing as the Extinction wants to eradicate all of humanity forever, he and the Institute have a mutual interest in keeping the world going.
- Karmic Death: Under the effects of Jon's Beholding powers, Peter's forced to forced to interact with another person face to face, something he detests.
- Kick the Dog: His first appearance has him dooming a random man to eternal isolation for no apparent reason.
- Meet the New Boss: After Elias is incarcerated at the end of S3, Peter takes over the administration of the Magnus Institute. He's hardly more interested in Institute safety than Elias was.
- No Social Skills: Played with. Despite serving an entity based on a fear of loneliness and isolation, he isn't strictly speaking bad in conversations and is very polite and friendly to people he works with (unless he's being confronted, in which case his friendly facade can drop); it's just that he doesn't like engaging with people directly if he can avoid it.
- Painting the Medium: When he talks to Martin, the recording makes loud, whirring sounds, as if the reels are being spun out of sync.
- The Power of Apathy: Peter's powers literally come from Apathy as a servant of the Lonely.
- Villainous Friendship:
- Has this, or at the very least, Villainous Professional Respect, with Elias.
- He seems to have a similar relationship with Simon Fairchild, of The Vast, both being current patriarchs of families with close ties to one of the powers (though the Fairchilds aren't related by blood) and their respective fears are closely connected. The Lukases and Fairchilds were both involved (along with members of The Dark) in the creation of the space station Daedalus They at least know each other well enough to make bets with each other.
First Mentioned: MAG 023
The founder and namesake of the Magnus Institute.
- Forced to Watch: A twisted inversion. His friend, Barnabas Bennett, crossed one of the Lukases and writes to him for help. Magnus chose to do nothing, not out of malice or an inability to help, but because he wanted to see what would happen to Barnabas.
- Immortality Immorality: Explains in "The Eye Opens" (Episode 160) that his whole goal in summoning the Powers into the world is so he himself can become immortal and rule over what's left of Earth.
- Karmic Death: He bludgeons Jurgen Leitner to death at the end of Season 2, and his ultimate drive was to cheat death; at the end of Season 5, Jon savagely beats him as he begs for mercy, and he's stabbed to death even as he's pleading that he doesn't want to die.
- Kill and Replace: He overwrites the bodies of those he intends to possess when he places his eyes in their sockets, and poses as the overwritten character while they are promoted to his Head of Institute position.
- Laser-Guided Karma: He sustained himself throughout the centuries by killing and possessing the bodies of his employees, all so he could eventually enact a ritual that would damn the rest of the world and make him immortal. While he succeeded, he gets caught up in the Eye with his mind and personality violently taken over, and what's left of him is forced to watch and recount a perpetual vision of terror.
- The Omniscient: After his failed attempt at the Watcher's Crown, he found that he could turn his sight anywhere he wished. This trait remained even as he hopped between various bodies over the years, so long as his actual body remained in the panopticon.
- Posthumous Character: He's long dead by the start of the story. Or at least his original body is. Sort of.
- Soul Jar: Though his mind no longer resides in his original body, destroying it will kill him.
- Walking Spoiler: Talking about him in any detail inevitably moves to the topic of how he founded the Magnus Institute in service to Beholding, as well as the fact that he's actually Elias Bouchard.
- Voice of the Legion: Magnus' voice is this blended with radio static when Jon experiences a flashback of Elias' interview with him.
First Mentioned: MAG 001
The real Elias Bouchard, whose body was taken over by Jonah Magnus.
- Eye Scream: The ritual through which Jonah Magnus took over his body apparently involved removing his eyes and, presumably, replacing them with his own.
- Friendless Background: When he was hired for a research position at the Institute, he was basically alone in the world, with his parents dead, as was his only other known close friend, Allan Schrieber.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: Elias apparently envied students from lesser, non-elite families that did not have such immense expectations thrust upon them.
- I Just Want to Be Special: Episode 193 ("A Stern Look") revealed that Elias came from a privileged family and his classist father taught him that he was special and better than others and had to work hard to prove it. Unfortunately, later in life, Elias either wasn't academically inclined or wasn't dedicated enough to put in the work and performed disappointingly in his studies. He still felt like he was somehow entitled to a higher position in life and thought the position at the Institute would be a stepping stone to that goal.
- Mind Rape: Magnus subjected him to this over the course of an interview for a position with the Institute, to such a degree that Elias feels convinced he must heed the call he feels to the Beholding even though he does not understand why it called him and even after he feels horrific images coursing through them.
- Posthumous Character: Is long-since dead when the story begins.
- The Stoner: During his university years, he was a bit of a pothead.
The PowersThe Powers are a rough grouping of unimaginably powerful entities that exist beside our reality. The Powers manifest themselves in our reality as monstrous phenomena and entities. They and their human (or formerly-human) followers are responsible for all of the case files the Magnus Institute collects as well as for the Magnus Institute itself.
The Powers/The Entities
First Mentioned: MAG 080
- A Form You Are Comfortable With: Inverted in a manner that's intended to terrify it's victims. They exist outside our universe as abstract, incomprehensible concepts. In our reality, they manifest as a variety of horrifying creatures. Although they may also manifest as actual personalities; Antonio Blake potentially refers to the End and the Web as 'him' and 'her' respectively.
- Ambiguous Situation: At times, the Powers seem to bleed into each other (Jon notes that the incident in "Love Bombing" has elements of both the Flesh and the Corruption); several offhand comments suggest that the list of fourteen is only one idea of how they work.
- Anthropomorphic Personification: Season 4 introduces the possibility that the Powers can manifest not just as various monsters and weird phenomena but also as something approaching actual identities. The End is apparently male, and the Web female.
- How anthropomorphic they really are is left up in the air, and most of the characteristics ascribed to them seem to be entirely projection on the part of their worshippers. Their cults usually end up running into the obvious problem with worshipping an Eldritch Abomination: it's so far beyond human comprehension that there's no way to tell what it actually wants, or if it wants anything at all.
- Artifact of Doom: The Powers tend to manifest certain objects with unusual characteristics.
- Bad Powers, Bad People: You feed them, and they feed you. The longer one serves the Powers (becoming stronger in the process), the more alienated from humanity one becomes.
- Big Bad Ensemble: Collectively they make up the ultimate force of evil in the TMA-verse, being responsible for pretty much every supernatural incident heard in the show so far. The Season 4 finale has them finally enter the world physically, setting them (and their summoner, Jonah Magnus) to take the stage as proper Big Bads for the final season.
- Blue-and-Orange Morality: As far as the Powers are concerned, anything that causes the kind of fear they embody is good, anything that reduces that fear is bad.
- Devil, but No God: The closest thing the setting has to a benign faction is the Beholding, and thats only insofar as their body count primarily comes from depraved indifference, rather than outright malice.
- Eldritch Abomination: Eldritch, powerful (to the point of being called The Powers), fear-based entities.
- Eldritch Location: Smirke's dreams were haunted by strange and horrible places, which he believed to be the truest representations of the Entities.
- Enemy Civil War: Not that the Powers represent a united faction per se, but there seems to be some pretty strong hostility between the followers of various factions. The Hive, the Earth and the Stranger have all attempted to invade the Institute at various points. Meanwhile, the Spiral hates the Hive, and the mention of the spiderweb pattern on the table locking down some of one of the Not-Them's power suggests the Web don't like the Stranger. Additionally, even beings touched by the same Power do not necessarily get along: beings of the Hunt are nearly as likely to go after each other as they are anyone else (see: Trevor and the vampires), and religious disagreements among the Lightless Flame get really violent.
- Evil Is Petty: Some of the Powers may be more patient and into playing the Long Game than others, but that doesn't mean they won't prey on or wreck the life of some random civilians on the side. The Beholding and the Web both take time out of their schedules to harass a woman into a paranoid frenzy or to feast on a few actors or teenagers' insides.
- Evil Makes You Monstrous: Spend enough time as the focus of one of the Powers, and your appearance will become increasingly inhuman.
- God of Evil: What else do you call beings of immeasurable scale and power that feed on and embody the primal fears of humanity?
- Greater-Scope Villain: In Seasons 1 and 2, the primary antagonists are Jane Prentiss and Not!Sasha. The Reveal in the Season 2 finale shows that even these entities are mere servants of the Powers, who want to reshape reality itself.
- Hoist by Their Own Petard: In Season 5, they've crossed over into/merged with our reality, and are feasting on the traumatised remnants of humanity. However... in this new world, no new humans are being born or created, so eventually and inevitably the human race will die out — and, due to the aforementioned merging, the Powers will have nothing left to feast on. And so they will die as well, terrified and desperate.
- Hostile Terraforming: There exist Rituals capable of restructuring human reality to make it more amenable to them, with the intent of allowing them through into our world. What form these rituals take vary, as the Powers themselves have no set strictures, leaving it up to their followers to devise an appropriate means and structure, though they tend to involve people being murdered while being subjected to the Power's fear.
- I Have Many Names: The Powers each have several different ways people refer to them—the Spiral is also the Es Mentiras, the Corruption is also the Filth, the Stranger is also I-Do-Not-Know-You, etc. Making things more complicated is when stronger aspects of the Powers appear that have their own titles, yet are still their own beings, like the Piper for the Slaughter, the Distortion for the Spiral or the Archivist for the Beholding.
- In the Blood: Collaboration with various Powers seems to run in certain families. This includes the Hans (the Flesh), and the Lukases (the Lonely). Subverted trope with the Fairchilds (the Vast) as they are implied to be an adopted family.
- Mysterious Backer: Sometimes Powers will save random humans from each other, like in Recluse, when Agnes saves the statement-giver from the Web. In the best-case scenario, this is for the simple satisfaction of putting one over on an enemy, meaning the person in question will probably get left alone afterwards. In the worst-case scenario, like poor Father Edwin, the Power does care, because it wants to use the human for something.
- Personality Powers: Most of the main servants of the Powers are chosen because their personalities suit their patrons. Avatars of The Filth want (to be infested with) a family, avatars of The Hunt love the chase, avatars of The Beholding crave knowledge, etc.
- The Power of Love: Has been shown repeatedly to be somewhat of a weakness of the Powers. If someone has an emotional anchor they can hold on to— such as the voice of Evan Lukas in Episode 12, Andrea Nunis's mother in Episode 48 and the sheath to a beloved Kukri in Episode 129— they can escape alive, if not unharmed.
- Primal Fear: Each of the powers is an embodiment of a primal fear, e.g. fear of the unknown, fear of the dark, fear of being hunted, etc...
- Religion of Evil: A few of the Powers, such as the Desolation and the Lonely, have an organized faction of worshippers that treat their allegiance to their Power very much like a religious faith.
- Sentient Cosmic Force: Of various human fears.
- Sheathe Your Sword: If an Eldritch Location or creature associated with a power can't feed off a victim's fear, it may simply give up and move on—Fiona was a case study for unconsciousness being an effective defense against attacks, and Karolina Gorka survived her experience within a cursed train car by simply laying down and waiting to die. It should be noted that this isn't a safe bet, however. The Anglerfish is happy to take any victim that gets too close, while the Not-Them feeds on the fear of those adjacent to its victims, and vampires, whatever their sacred power, are noted to prefer victims who are asleep or otherwise can't fight back.
- Uncertain Doom: The only thing certain about their ultimate fate is that They're not in this universe anymore, and that wherever they ended up, they're in the same position they used to be, leaking through reality as monsters and evil locations and artifacts, but unable to feast. In fact, it's never clarified if every Power ended up in a given universe as one of fifteen. Some might have only the Slaughter or the Web, if they're luckly.
- Was Once a Man: The eventual fate of those who follow a given Power long enough. Some may appear quite human, but the resemblance is only superficial.
- We ARE Struggling Together: Followers of various Powers seem to be at odds with one another as often as not. The fact certain Powers appear to draw their power from opposing fears doubtless has something to do about it.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Those who serve as avatars of the Powers generally have a tenuous grip on reality as we understand it. (Of course, that's assuming they still have minds as we understand them; "Michael" seems to consider itself more of an appendage than a person, but it's a rather unique case.)
- You Cannot Grasp the True Form: As they exist outside of human reality, its not even clear if they have a true form.
- Episode 160 reveals that this is what has actually been screwing over their own cultists. They're not fourteen distinct manifestations, but a manifestation of human fear that has as many faces as humans have things to be afraid of. Some are too similar not to overlap, like the Hunt and the Slaughter, while others rely on each other to define themselves, like the Buried and the Vast. You cannot be afraid of a world that is entirely vast beyond human comprehension, because then there's nothing to compare it to; likewise, you cannot have a world that is entirely buried, because then there is no such thing as too close. Bringing just one into the world doesn't work - you have to bring them all together.
The Beholding, The Eye, The Ceaseless Watcher, It-Knows-You
First Mentioned: MAG 012
Plays on the fear of being watched, being judged, having your deepest secrets exposed and of learning things you'd rather not know. The Beholding is the true patron of The Magnus Institute, empowering some of its employees to record and observe the supernatural in an unusually focused manner. Its original ritual, conceived by Jonah Magnus, was known as "The Watcher's Crown". Their other, successful one is unnamed.
- Achilles' Heel: Servants of the Beholding have immense difficulty viewing the activities of those who serve the Dark.
- Adult Fear: At its core, the Eye seems to be rooted in a fear of having personal safety and comfort taken away, either by being watched and losing that feeling of privacy, being subjected to blackmail because of some personal dark secret, people around you learning that secret anyway and judging you for it, or learning things you'd be happier now knowing, removing that state of blissful ignorance and forcing you to live with that knowledge.
- Tellingly, the statements of post-Change London relating purely to the Eye feature very mundane situations compared to domains of the other Powers, such as someone going through everyday life and a politician being afraid of losing his comfortable position of power by speaking up for what he believes in, even if it is still all seen through a supernatural horror filter.
- Almighty Idiot: The finale reveals that for all its knowledge, the Eye is actually the least sentient of the fifteen entities; it records without actually understanding what it's looking at. Most of its smarter moves were actually engineered by The Web.
- Batman Gambit: The power of the Eye isn't just to see, it's to comprehend. Trying to fight it is like trying to fight the author who is writing the story you're in.
- Grand Theft Me:
- "Panopticon" reveals that there has only ever been one head of the Magnus Institute: Jonah Magnus himself. He put his original body in the panopticon under the Institute, and has possessed each of his "successors" in turn with some ritual involving his eyes.
- "A Stern Look" reveals that this is the Eye's ultimate plan, swapping out the "pupil" of Jonah for Jon, who it designed its Panopticon for.
- Greater-Scope Villain: While it's never appeared on screen and may not even be capable of doing so, everything in the podcast is ultimately down to its influence and plan to reshape reality.
- Lack of Empathy: Jonah Magnus, founder of the Institute, received a letter from an old friend, pleading for help against malign supernatural forces that were closing in around him. Elias notes that Jonah could easily have saved him, but chose not to, simply out of curiosity for what would happen.
- Logical Weakness: Its manipulative scope is terrifying given how far its powers extend, but there are some ways around it.
- Those of the Dark cannot be reliably observed due to its nature; even when Jon has officially become an avatar with greater powers of knowing, he can't see their hideout.
- While Elias can see pretty much whatever he wants to, he actually has to focus on what he wants to see, and thus if he's busy inflicting Mind Rape on someone, he's blind until he finishes with them and can be Out-Gambitted.
- The Stranger, being a polar opposite of the Beholding, also has some natural defense against it. The Not-Them, one of its servants, had Jon fooled for an entire year, which makes sense: the Stranger's schtick is looking close enough to human that even people who are looking at it won't notice (though as Martin points out in Episode 118 ("The Masquerade"), Elias seems to have seen through the ruse all along).
- Season 5 suggests that The Web's grand scheme is protected from the Eye's all-knowing by its sheer, wide reach. Jon, whose powers of omniscience are at their peak, tries more than once to "know" what the plan is, but every time, all he sees is countless little actions orchestrated by the Spider, but his powers don't enable him to connect the dots and understand what they are meant to lead up to. Whenever he tries to follow the strands, he gets so caught up in it that he gets lightheaded and almost passes out.
- Mind Rape: There's a sliding scale of how badly the Beholding and its servants do this to statement-givers. People who give statements of their own free will (particularly if the statements are written to be recorded later, instead of taken direct from subject) are generally fine, trauma from the original event aside. But if the Archivist forces you to give a statement, you are fully aware you're being forced and can do nothing but calmly tell every last horrible detail. Worse, being Beheld in this way seems to mean you can never move past whatever horrible thing your statement was about, even if you were getting better before. Oh, and that the Archivist can watch you whenever you think about it.
- Nothing Is Scarier: Inverted in the most horrifying way possible. Sometimes not knowing what happened is the better option—and the Beholding isn't going to let you take it.
- The Omniscient: Servants of the Beholding are able to use their True Sight to pierce the veil of several other powers who rely on hiding or obstruction;
- Jon can track down Daisy even in the depths of the Buried's coffin, see through the mind-bending power of the Unknowing with some effort, and is able to accurately locate residents of the Lonely in their own domain once his powers have advanced.
- Gertrude, though she didn't use her powers often and apparently didn't completely succumb to becoming an avatar, may have had this since she was able to build an accurate map to the center of the Spiral's maze, a particularly amazing feat as the Spiral revolves around confusion and deceit.
- Elias is actually omniscient, and can see or know pretty much anything he desires to at any time, from any location.
- Sinister Surveillance: The Eyes schtick, and a primary ability of its followers. Elias has the ability to remotely view multiple people at once, and also to view past events. Jon can see into the dreams of those who give him statements. And, now that he's started hunting, he can watch his victims while they're awake too. Heads of the Magnus Institute, including Elias and James Wright (both of whom were really Jonah Magnus) have been said to be able to see through any eye, even ones in paintings.
- Technopathy: To a limited degree; avatars of the Beholding, such as Elias and Samson Stiller (Episode 148) have been able to manipulate surveillance cameras, both to see through them, make them move in ways they're not designed to be able to move (Samson) and manipulate the footage (Elias).
- Telepathy: Elias is able to look into people's minds, and can forcibly confer knowledge on people. Jon can also read minds and tear statements directly out of other peoples brains.
- Villains Act, Other Villains React: Seemingly least proactive of all the Powers, in keeping with its inclination to simply observe. However it may just be playing the Long Game.
The Buried, Choke, The Center, Too-Close-I-Cannot-Breathe
First Mentioned: MAG 099
Plays on claustrophobia and the fear of suffocation. Its Ritual is known as "The Sunken Sky".
- Achilles' Heel: Its ritual, Sunken Sky, is foiled by Gertrude introducing a body touched by the Vast into it.
- Buried Alive: The fate of several people who encounter it. It's not always literal, however - Episode 129 shows that drowning is under its influence, as are metaphorical forms of burial, such as being buried in debt.
- It Always Rains at Funerals: One of its associated artifacts is a coffin with "Do Not Open" scratched into it, which contains the Buried's domain of power and can compel people to walk into it. Two statements it shows up in involve heavy, downward-driving rain when it's enticing a victim.
- Madness Mantra: The man from "Dig" becomes so obsessed with the word that he felt compelled to dig into the ground wherever he was, eventually digging himself so deep into the ground that his pit collapsed on him and killed him.
- The Walls Are Closing In: Its manifestation as the book The Seven Lamps of Architecture causes people to be entombed within walls when read, unless it's read within a building designed by Robert Smirke. Also seen in "Underground," as Karolina describes the London Underground car shes in being slowly crushed from either side.
The Corruption, The Hive, Filth, Crawling Rot
Plays on the visceral fear of insects, vermin, infection, and decay.
- Alien Kudzu
- Arc Villain: Through the Flesh Hive, of Season 1.
- Festering Fungus
- Bugs Herald Evil: The fear manifests this way, and if you let them get in, they can take you over and turn you into a Flesh Hive.
- Hufflepuff House: The least-known about of all of the powers. The name of its Ritual isn't known, none of its avatars have spoken on recording outside of Jane Prentiss rattling out an "Archivist" in Episode 39, and it has been generally Out of Focus since Season 1.
- I Just Want to Be Loved: Curiously, a strong motivation for many of those who fall under its sway. Much like followers of Nurgle, they associate the creatures and diseases that reside within them as showing them the affection they often lacked in their everyday lives.
- "Instant Death" Radius: Because of the way its powers work, exposure through touch, even slightly, almost certainly guarantees one's demise, assimilation, or both. All you need is one worm to get in, or in the case of more microbial threats, just to touch the wrong surface. Even then, the radius can be bigger than arms' length, given that Prentiss' worms had an astounding ability to leap several feet at high speed.
- The Plague: One of its manifestations in the form of a Deadly Book modeled after Journal of a Plague Year. Its exact effects are unknown, but involve the infection of buildings.
- Plague Master: John Amherst, one of its avatars, spreads horrifically contagious diseases wherever he goes.
- Pest Controller: Ants, wasps, worms...
- The Swarm: Its avatars exhibit Hive Mind on some level, though not to a total degree.
- The Worm That Walks: Jane Prentiss, one of its avatars, takes this form after she was exposed to a "wasp's nest".
The Dark, Mr. Pitch, The Forever Blind, The People's Church of the Divine Host
Plays on the fear of the dark. Its Ritual is known as "The Extinguished Sun".
- Darkness Equals Death: A recurring theme of its monsters is that once you're out of the light, you're as good as dead.
- Grand Theft Me/Back from the Dead: Maxwell Rayner has existed for several centuries, and death doesn't seem to keep him down for long. However, he does appear to switch bodies at several points.
- Light Is Not Good: Servants of the Dark, such as Manuela Dominguez, regard light as destructive and corrupt, and darkness as the true beneficial state.
- The Night That Never Ends: Their ritual, The Extinguished Sun, would create a world of total darkness where light isn't even a concept.
- Murder Water: The Dark is associated with water, and several events associated with it occur in or nearby water. Edmund Halley was converted to a follower of the Dark after several black-eyed followers took him to a pitch-black pool of water in the woods under a canopy so thick the sunlight didn't reach, and the building where Trevor and Julia interrupted some event happening under the Dark's sway was mentioned to be flooded with ankle-deep water.
- Prophet Eyes: Several people influenced by the Dark gain milky-white eyes.
- Serial Killer: The first we see of The Dark is through its servant Robert Montauk, who is one of the most prolific serial killers in the United Kingdom.
- We Used to Be Friends: Apparently had a good relationship with The Beholding at one point. Now, they seem to be closer to Arch Enemies.
The Desolation, The Lightless Flame, Blackened Earth, The Devastation, The Ravening Burn
First Mentioned: MAG 012
The fear of destruction and pain. Its ritual is known as "The Scoured Earth".
- Always Chaotic Evil: It comes with the territory, but the followers of the Lightless Flame relish Cold-Blooded Torture and cruelty for its own sake. Inverted with Agnes Montague their messiah, who at least shows hints of compassion, which lead directly to her suicide.
- Evil Is Burning Hot: Its worshippers have created the Cult of the Lightless Flame, embracing all of the bad associations of fire (destruction, burning), while rejecting its positive associations.
- For the Evulz: Why they do things.
- Humanoid Abomination: Its most devoted servants immolate themselves and become...something else. The something is wax, which is why they don't age or need to eat.
- Jerkass: See the entry for Sadist, below. Every encountered member has been cruel, malicious, and needlessly dickish.
- Sadist: The Cult of the Lightless Flame worships meaningless destruction and cruelty as an end in and of itself. It especially loves to destroy things people love; one of the cultists, Jude, says she chose her first murder victim specifically because his life was looking up and he had lots of people who would miss him.
- Token Good Teammate: Agnes Montague, arguably. She saves the life of a statement giver in Episode 59, and seems to genuinely care for Jack Barnabas in Episode 67.
The End, Terminus, The Coming End
First Mentioned: MAG 062
Plays on the fear of Death. It apparently either does not have a Ritual, or at least has no interest in performing one.
- Chess with Death: Or backgammon or roulette or trivia. It's mentioned chess is generally a bad idea, as the game has zero luck in it and Death will win every time.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: One of its Deadly Books details a series of gruesome deaths throughout the centuries, including the death of whoever the reader is. The more frequently this book is read, the closer and more gruesome the death becomes.
- Eviler Than Thou: Potentially, compared to the other Powers. In Episode 168 ("Roots"), Oliver Banks predicts that, once the End has consumed the last living creature on Earth capable of feeling fear, it will turn its attention to the other Powers, who by that point will have cause to fear their own ends since there's no one left whose fears can feed them.
- Foreseeing My Death: Not his death, but Antonio Blake can see those around him who are fated to die soon.
- Fate Worse than Death: The End has ways to keep certain people around, but they're not exactly alive anymore. Become a Grim Reaper, and you won't be able to eat, or sleep, but you also won't be able to stop. Get stuck in the skin book and you're in for a world of constant pain and being summoned whenever someone wants information you have.
- The Grim Reaper: The Grim Reaper(s) actually exist, in classic skeleton-in-a-cloak sense, all of them being part of a cycle of avatars passing on undeath.
- Leonine Contract: What service to it amounts to. You offer up innocent people to it as sacrifices, and in return you don't die. Yet.
- Necromancy: One of the Deadly Books associated with it, simply referred to as "The Skin Book", is made of human skin and can have the souls of the dead bound to it.
- Non-Malicious Monster: Due to the End's proclivities when it comes to choosing them, most avatars of the End lack a lot of the negative traits of other powers. The worst people affiliated with the End simply amount to being cowards who have proverbial guns to their heads, such as Justin Gough and Tova McHugh. Antonio Blake is downright helpful.
- Not Afraid to Die: If the post-Change world goes on long enough, it will eventually kill every living thing, then the other powers, then itself. It's looking forward to it.
- Obviously Evil: Inverted. Most avatars get the way they do due to prior contact with a Power wherein they felt a draw towards it or a particularly strong fear of it. The End consistently makes avatars out of largely normal people, for no clear reason, and seemingly at random.
- Only Sane Man: Among the Powers, in the sense that it seems to be the only one of them that seems capable of long-term thinking regarding rituals. Before the Change, its followers never attempted a ritual to bring it into the world; Peter Lukas believed this to be because if the fear of death managed to take over the world, it would cause the death of any living creature that could experience fear and in doing so wipe out its own food supply. After the Change, its avatar, Oliver Banks, points out that the way reality has shifted into a closed system of fear, the End's domains will eventually be responsible for the permanent deaths of every living human and achieve the same result.
- Omnicidal Maniac It's one of the two entities capable of longterm planning. Specifically, it's planning to wipe out all living things, and thus all fear, the entities and itself.
- Pragmatic Villainy: Peter Lukas theorizes that the End will never attempt a ritual because the End has no reason to. It's already getting everything it wants—only beings already specifically committed to another Power are immortal, so it has a nice fat piece of the pie—and as the fear of death, if it took over the world it might actually run out of people to be afraid of it.
- Sadistic Choice: Servants of it can (usually) stop whenever they want. They just stop breathing as well.
- Your Mind Makes It Real: The End has more association with dreams than the other Powers— Antonio Blake is able to see omens of death in his dreams and Justin Gough from Episode 113 seemingly loses his ability to kill people through carbon monoxide poisoning after Dekker removes his ability to dream via lobotomy.
The Flesh, Viscera
Plays on the fear of the visceral and being consumed. Unique in that its primary source is animals (it gained strength after humans discovered industrial farming). Its Ritual is known as "The Last Feast".
- Body Horror: While the Flesh is rooted in a fear of being eaten, when it mixes with human body fixations and existential thoughts, the end results can veer into this.
- Evil Is Visceral: A statement outright compares the Flesh to the Demiurge from Gnosticism. Appropriately enough, the Last Feast is held beneath a Gnostic temple.
- I'm a Humanitarian: Cannibalism is a frequent element in Flesh events. As they say, "MEAT IS MEAT."
- Sickening Slaughterhouse: Due to gaining power from the fear of industrial farming created by animals, it has some degree of control over these, as seen in Episode 30. Another similar slaughterhouse appears in Episode 178 ("The Processing Line"), in which humans caught in the Flesh domain are taken through it and processed and slaughtered like livestock.
First Mentioned: MAG 099
Plays on the fear of being hunted. Like The Flesh, this is a fear that is stronger within animals than in humans. Its Ritual is known as "The Everchase".
- Blue-and-Orange Morality: It's not interested in the actual kill; that's the Slaughter's domain. For servants of the Hunt, the chase is what matters. That doesn't mean they won't hurt normal people, but they seem to prefer targets that provide a better struggle, such as vampires or the worshippers of other Powers.
- The Hunter Becomes the Hunted: Naturally. The Hunt's disciples often seem to target other hunters, as seen with the werewolf going after the game hunters, the true-crime group hunting each other, and the monster hunters tracking down servants of other powers (or their own).
- Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: Played with. Members of a true-crime reading group end up doing this, but they only hunt one another.
- It's the Journey That Counts: The hunt doesn't have to be the literal hunting of living creatures— Episode 133 reveals that people obsessed with reaching an undiscovered location like the Northwest Passage, or a non-existent location (such as the Lost City of Z and Sannikov Land) can be drawn into its influence, as their hunt is never-ending, and Victory Is Boring to the Hunt.
- A Lighter Shade of Black: It's by no means sweet, but its servants usually stick to hunting monsters or servants of the other Powers. While the Slaughter is all about wanton violence on the innocent and guilty alike, the Hunt seems more driven by the struggle to survive, and some of the episodes indicate that normal people are less of a challenge than rival worshippers.
- More Teeth than the Osmond Family: Creatures related to the Hunt (such as the one from Episode 31 ("First Hunt"), something that killed an associate of Leitner (Episode 80: "The Librarian") and possibly vampires) are described as having far too many teeth.
- Never Hurt an Innocent: It varies servant to servant. The werewolf in "First Hunt" has no problem going after regular hunters in the woods. On the other hand, Lisa in "Thrill of the Chase" only targets other hunters and rejects the idea of turning her newfound bloodlust on her flatmates because they wouldn't "get it." Likewise, Julia, Trevor, and Daisy are only really interested in hunting things that serve other Powers.
- Our Vampires Are Different: Seem to have some association with vampires (here, silent telepaths more akin to solitary predators than humans), as well as with the people who hunt them.
- Our Werewolves Are Different: One unfortunate hunter finds himself encountering one in the United States, albeit he looks like a normal human. A very sharp, drooling human capable of tracking and running through a forest with ease and surviving two rifles' worth of gunshot wounds.
- Victory Is Boring: For the Hunt and its disciples, the chase is all that matters and once their quarry is caught, they quickly move on to another. Case in point, Episode 112 ("Thrill of the Chase") featured a bunch of people who were possessed by the Hunt and proceeded to hunt down and kill each other with knives. When only one remained, she apparently entered a state of apathy, turned herself in and then died in prison; according to Basira, she just "stopped". This is even present in the Hunt's Ritual, the Everchase: as the name implies, the ritual never ends and simply sends disciples on an eternal chase for something they will never find, with the occasional prey thrown their way to keep them going.
- Worf Had the Flu: Hunters are very difficult to kill, though this is more for ferocity than sheer durability. Robert Mauntauk was apparently violently killed in his cell by Mr. Pitch for turning against the Dark, though this can be attributed to having weakened from being in prison with no way to feed the Hunt.
The Lonely, Forsaken, The One Alone
Plays on the fear of isolation. Its Ritual is known as "The Silence".
- Achilles' Heel: The Power of Love, and being reminded that You Are Not Alone. Three statements that deal with The Lonely (Episode 013, Episode 48 and Episode 150) have those involved escape through some reminder of love— episode 13 has the voice of Naomi Herne's seemingly-dead fiance, Episode 48 has the face of Andrea Nunis's mother, and Episode 150 has Herman Gorgoli coming to the realization that he still loves his partner.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Statement givers who have been victims of the Lonely tend to be people who claim to in some way enjoy solitude or to be seeking it out when the incidents occur - incidents which might end with them being isolated forever.
- Naomi Herne (Episode 13: "Alone") was an introvert.
- Barnabas Bennett (Episode 92 "Nothing but Remains") was generally content with having never married or had children and reminisced fondly of an occasion when he was left alone during a trip to Egypt.
- Adonis Biros (Episode 108: "Monologue") was an actor who mainly got into acting because he liked doing monologues and didn't like socializing with his fellow cast members.
- Herman Gogoli (Episode 150: "Cul-de-Sac") was going through a nasty separation from his husband and was trying to convince himself he was happier living the single life, eventually being saved from getting stuck in a Lonely dimension by his love for his husband.
- Creepy Family: The Lukas family appear to have long-lasting connections with the Lonely, dating back at least as far as the lifetime of Jonah Magnus himself. They appear in MAG 13, at the funeral of their local White Sheep, and Naomi Herne is shocked at the amount of cold disdain and apathy radiating off of them.
- Deadly Road Trip: One of the sub-themes of The Lonely seems to center around travel— many statements involve people getting lost in foreign countries or cities they're unfamiliar with.
- Eldritch Location: Because of the way the Lonely works, quite a few of its manifestations involve warping areas or a victim's perception of an area to a hideous psychological effect, such as turning a drab suburb into a nameless, feeling-less world of inactivity and anonymity, or crowding a street with hundreds of people who have almost-faces and speak an almost-language.
- Irony: One would expect a family serving an entity that embodies isolationist horror to be the body-hopping ones among the Big Bad Duumvirate, but this is not the case—while Maxwell Rayner and Simon Fairchild's "families" are really them pulling Grand Theft Me, the Lukases actually marry and start families. Granted, even this is well-spun towards The Forsaken—having people around that you are supposed to love and have a good relationship with (but don't) can fuel this Power just as well.
- Lonely Among People: The Lonely doesn't necessarily require someone to be physically isolated; it can also target people who have people in their lives, but for whatever reason can't or won't connect to them.
- Space Isolation Horror: Generally based on a fear of isolation. The Daedalus was built to take advantage of this.
- Token Good Teammate:
- Evan Lukas, introduced in Episode 13, was implied to not want anything to do with his family's business of vanishing innocent people. Episode 111 implies that he was killed by the Lukases specifically for this reason. It doesn't stop him from saving his former fiance, however.
- In Episode 159 ("The Last"), Peter reveals that he had four siblings at one point; of those, two sisters disavowed the family and their association with the Lonely and moved away for good.
The Slaughter, The War
Plays on the fear of war, violence, and slaughter. Its Ritual is known as "The Risen War".
- The Berserker: One statement-giver describes a recently-touched fellow soldier as being the most ferocious and savage soldier he had ever seen in the entire war. He clarifies that it is not a compliment.
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: The early twentieth-century poet Wilfred Owen was touched or claimed by the Slaughter. Apparently, his best poetry came about after he "saw" the Slaughter while charging the Hindenburg Line.
- Magic Music: Quite a lot of the encounters with it involve some kind of musical motif— from its manifestation as the Piper to the fact that its Ritual, The Risen War, is played to the tune of several drums and things that sound like trumpets.
- War Is Hell
The Spiral, Es Mentirasnote , It-Is-Not-What-It-Is, Twisting Deceit
First Mentioned: MAG 080
Plays on madness and doubting ones own sense of reality. Its Ritual is known as "The Great Twisting".
- Alien Geometries: A common element of Spiral episodes is warping geometry.
- Eldritch Location: While almost all places associated with the Powers have some level of bizarreness, the Spiral really plays it up.
- Endless Corridor: In "The New Door", the statement-giver ended up in one of these. And has to go ''back''.
- Sinister Geometry: If there's a pattern associated with the Spiral somewhere, it will either drive a character mad or actively try to kill them.
- You Cannot Grasp the True Form: Avatars of the Spiral are, comparatively, rather rare—due to its nature, being understood or contained is inherently antithetical to it. In fact, its manifestations such as Michael are the result of at least one botched ritual—introducing a human, aka "understandable" component messes things up for it and contains it.
The Stranger, I-Do-Not-Know-You
Plays on the fear of the unknown, the unseen, and the uncanny. Its Ritual is known as "The Unknowing".
- Arc Villain: Through the Not-Them and Nikola, of seasons 2 and 3 respectively.
- Avatar: Averted. We have not heard of any Stranger avatars, with its machinations being carried out entirely by monsters or monster-adjacent beings like the NotThem or Breekon and Hope, which look human but never were so.
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy:
- Joseph "Joey" Grimaldi, a famous clown during the early 1800s, is a servant of the Stranger, being remade into the form of Nikola Orsinov.
- Wolfgang von Kempelen, the creator of the Mechanical Turk and a mechanical speech synthesizer, is revealed to have served the Stranger and to have played a pivotal role in their ritual in 1787.
- Chekhov's Gun: In a shorter form, due to the "uncanny" theme, the Stranger lends itself well to early hints that one could go without noticing if they weren't looking. Melanie notices (well before it becomes apparent that she isn't human) that Sarah has an odd smell, and one of the off things about her is that when she "wakes up", she's very sudden about it and shows no sign of fatigue. Daniel Rawlings chain smokes to cover up the same scent, and Alexander Scaplehorn notices that he never makes eye contact some time before the reason for that becomes disturbingly evident.
- Circus of Fear: The Soviet Tsirk Drugoy, or "Other Circus", was a circus of Stranger agents.
- Creepy Doll: As part of their "things that look like people but are not people" theme.
- Doppelgänger: The Not-Them.
- Easy Impersonation: When the Not-Them replaces someone, it doesnt even bother creating a similar replica. Rather, with its Reality Warper abilities, it simply writes the original out of existence, overwriting photographs, videos, and even memories with this new version.
- Eldritch Location: The ritual site of the Unknowing becomes "one long category error" once it's in progress, and anyone not affiliated with it completely loses sense of their reality as their semiotic abilities fail.
- Faux Affably Evil: Manifestations are superficially polite and cheery and sadistically violent (especially Nikola, who seems to delight in pretending to have a civil conversation while explaining how she's going to skin someone).
- Hoist by Their Own Petard: Some of the Stranger's servants murdered Tim Stoker's brother Danny; years later, Tim gets his revenge by blowing up the ritual of the Unknowing.
- Human Resources: When they don't straight-up replace someone with a Not-Them, they use their body parts for disguises. (Nikola, being an actual mannequin, has borrowed a voice box from some unlucky soul — likely Lana from Episode 83 — so she can talk.)
- Murderous Mannequin: Frequent, playing into the 'uncanny valley' aspect. Its head manifestation, Nikola Orsinov, is one.
- Monster Clown: As mentioned, the Stranger at one point operated through a circus, so of course there were some scary clowns.
- Perception Filter - The Generic Guy: The Stranger's various manifestations, when not as polished as a Not-Them, are typically hard to distinguish; people find themselves unable to remember many details about them except that they look "like normal people" or "like you'd expect"; Breekon and Hope exhibit this, as do the Anatomy students.
- Uncanny Valley: In-universe, this is their thing. In addition to their control over mannequins and taxidermy, the Not-Them practically ooze it; even if you don't know someone is one, there is always something off about them. Before Jonathan realizes that Sasha has been replaced, he muses that all the pictures of "her" with her boyfriend look like stock photos for some reason he can't pin down.
- We Have Reserves: The Stranger's ritual is noted to be unusually difficult to destroy, as if you don't hit them at exactly the right moment, they'll just set up shop somewhere else and get it underway again, because all of the required features are flexible. The location can change, new skins can be added, etc.
The Vast, The Falling Titan, The Vertigo, Void
Plays on agoraphobia, vertigo, and the fears of the weather, emptiness and the incomprehensible scale of the universe. Their last know ritual, conceived and enacted by Simon Fairchild, was called "The Awful Deep".
- Eldritch Ocean Abyss:
- The Awful Deep was an attempt by Fairchild to harness humanity's fear of the ocean during the Victorian era. It didn't take, because as it turned out, people cared less about it than Simon had hoped.
- Episode 195 ("Adrift"), taking place in a domain based on the Vast (apparently with some Web influences), features a statement subject stuck at the dark bottom of a deep, icy ocean with some gargantuan monster swimming past them.
- Evil Virtues: The two servants of the Vast who appear in person are both cordial and humble, even if only superficially so. Simon Fairchild explicitly shrugs off a failure that left him having to swim from bottom of the ocean as regretable but not worth dwelling on. If nothing else, devoting one's life to realizing the impossible enormity of the universe appears to give one some perspective.
- For the Evulz: While the servants of the Lightless Flame derive power from wanton destruction and the Lukases derive it from isolating people, the Fairchilds seem to just give people to the Vast just because they can. When Simon Fairchild finally appears, he actually says he may throw Martin off of a roller coaster for a laugh, and only decides against it when Martin says he isn't afraid of them.
- Giant Hands of Doom: Some manifestations of the Vast prominently involve giant hands.
- Antonia Hayley (Episode 51: "High Pressure") saw the shape of a colossal hand while scuba diving and finding herself in an unimaginably deep, lifeless ocean.
- During the attack on Leitner's library (Episode 80: "The Librarian"), one of his assistants was grabbed by a giant hand that burst through the roof.
- Julian Jennings and his mother (Episode 124: "Left Hanging") saw someone get pulled out of a cable car by a grey hand from the sky.
- Humans Are Insects: Even moreso than the other Powers. Say what you will about Desolation or Meat, at least they operate on a human scale. The few glimpses we've gotten of the Vast indicate that humans and their Insignificant Little Blue Planet don't even register as a noteworthy speck.
- In the Blood: Subverted. The Fairchilds — the family most closely associated with the Vast — are not blood relations. Later played with, in that there is only Simon Fairchild, and he has not always been Simon Fairchild.
- Insignificant Little Blue Planet
- Puny Earthlings: Many of the things related to the fear, such as wide open spaces, great heights, deep oceans and intense weather, can be traced to a fear of being powerless against something huge and uncaring.
- Religious Horror: Has yet to be seen fully in the podcast, but Simon Fairchild mentions in Episode 151 ("Big Picture") that he used to play on religion until that lost its conceptual scope. Also, some victims of the Vast are said to have been grabbed by a giant hand from the sky, an imagery which certainly has religious connotations.
- Straw Nihilist: People who follow the Vast have become content with the fact that they don't matter in the face of their Power— and in their eyes, neither does anyone else, so it's perfectly okay to strand them in vast, empty spaces for the rest of their puny existences.
- Weather Manipulation: Has at least some control over storms and lightning.
The Web, The Spider, Mother-of-Puppets, Spinner-of-Schemes
First Mentioned: MAG 081
Plays on arachnophobia, as well as the general theme of entrapment, stasis and being manipulated by an outside force. On relatively good terms with the Beholding. Has also been shown to keep an interest in Jon. It apparently either does not have a Ritual, or at least has no interest in performing one.
- All Webbed Up: Its victims will sometimes end up this way.
- Big Bad: in 197, it's revealed that its one of the few Entities capable of actual intention, and that literally everything that happened in the podcast is a part of its plan to infect the multiverse
- Body Horror: After the Corruption fades out of prominence, this is the Power that takes over that role. A disturbing pattern in statements involving the web is spiders taking up residence inside human bodies, whether be it in the form of incubation for eggs or... worse.
- The Bad Guy Wins: In the end, the Web got exactly what it wanted: it got to escape with the rest of its "siblings" into the multiverse, to sow and reap terror in countless other realities as they are now free from the original world that gave birth to them.
- The Dreaded: Even avatars of the other Powers tend to be terrified enough of The Web that, whenever the Spider starts clearly directing them towards something or asking them for something, they'll just go along with it out of fear that it will use its vast influence to punish them or just force them to do it anyway.
- Giant Spider:
- Appears in Episode 110 ("Creature Feature"), where it eats the entire cast of a film, as well as the director. Bodies of the cast are found washed up on a shore near Los Angeles every February, completely desiccated.
- In Episode 172 ("Strung Out"), one or several giant spiders appear in a theater filled with victims being puppeted around on the stages.
- Hidden Agenda Villain: It seems to have some grand scheme that all of its smaller plans and machinations are supposed to facilitate, but it's anyone's guess what the end point of the plan is, until Episode 197 ("Connected"), when Annabelle reveals the goal of the plan.
- Horrible Hollywood: Seems to have at least some pull over the film industry— two Famed in Story figures associated with Hollywood (a director and a stop motion artist) either served the Web or fell under its influence.
- It Can Think: Season 5 reveals that it's the only part of the overall fear gesalt that's achieved genuine self-awareness.
- The Man Behind the Man: In seasons 3 and 4, it becomes increasingly clear that Jons ascension as The Archivist has been orchestrated and abetted by The Web.
- More Than Mind Control: It has the power to co-opt people's will—not so much making them do things as making them decide to do things. It takes a strong will or a mark from another Power to snap out of it.
- Paranoia Gambit: One of the Web's favorite shticks is to let everyone else tie themselves in knots thinking about whether this or that action plays into the latest game of Xanatos Speed Chess, until they freak out and do nothing at all.
- People Puppets: While it usually sticks to subtly manipulating people and secretly guiding them to commit certain actions, some Web-related incidents have shown that it's equally capable of controlling their physical movements directly:
- In MAG 69 ("Thought for the Day"), the statement giver was at one point compelled by Annabelle Cane into strangling himself, though he survived by knocking her into a wall and throwing her off.
- in MAG 81 ("A Guest for Mr. Spider"), Jon and another boy were both compelled to walk up to a door when reading a book of the Web.
- In MAG 172 ("Strung Out"), a victim trapped in the Web's domain was puppeteered around on a stage by a giant spider with ropes stuck to them with hooks through their flesh.
- Pragmatic Villainy: Peter Lukas points out that, like the End, its followers have never attempted a ritual of any kind. Unlike the End, who claims everything eventually, Lukas speculates that The Web likes the world the way it is, as people can be manipulated very easily.
- However, Episode 160 makes this a bit ambiguous. Jonah mentions that one of the reasons why he made Jon part of his plan was that he had already been marked by The Web and, Jonah figured, the Web directed him to the Institute as an implicit blessing for his plan to enact a ritual that would bring all the Powers into the world. If he is right, then it's possible that the only reason the Web never attempted a ritual of its own is because they, like Jonah, had figured out that such rituals were futile and decided to just let Jonah do the heavy lifting.
- Episode 197 ("Connections") reveals that the Web never attempted a ritual because they had figured out that the only way to do a successful one would be to bring all of the Powers into the world, including the End, which would eventually doom all life and the Powers. Instead, they spent centuries guiding avatars of the Powers, some of them their own, to the location of Hilltop Road in order to force a confrontation between them and widen a crack between dimensions to prepare for an escape when someone did perform a successful ritual.
- The Worm That Walks: Humans sufficiently corrupted become filled with tiny spiders, as Trevor the erstwhile vampire hunter discovers.
- Would Hurt a Child: Of course, this probably applies to all the Powers, but it has targeted children in the statements we hear more than most.
- In "Recluse", it turns out the foster home is run by one of its agents, and kids who "age out" are actually used as hosts for spider eggs.
- In "A Guest For Mr. Spider", the titular children's book not only contains a fly feeding his unfortunate child to Mr. Spider but enchants children to summon the Spider and give themselves to it.
The Extinction, The Terrible Change, The Future Without Us, The-World-Is-Always-Ending
First Mentioned: MAG 134
A new emerging Power. Plays on the fear of catastrophic change and one's world or one's self being replaced with something terrible. So far, statements involving it have touched on nuclear warfare, transhumanism, and The End of the World as We Know It.
...Except maybe not; in Episode 157, Adelard Dekker, the one who has most believed in the emergence of the Extinction, concluded that the fear may not yet be prevalent enough to manifest. Instead, he speculated that maybe such a fear currently only runs through the other fears in an undeveloped state, or that maybe the proper formation of such a fear takes longer and is more complicated than previously believed. It's confirmed in MAG 160 that the Extinction has yet to manifest as its own Power, as Elias is able to complete his ritual without its mark. However, it does get its own domain in the world after the Change, but doesn't cause a grand extinction event as was feared.
- Abandoned Area: Some statements suggest that it tends to manifest in run-down, man-made locations:
- In its introductory episode, "Time of Revelation" (Episode 134), the door to post-apocalyptic Paris appears in an apartment that hadn't been used for almost 150 years.
- In "Decrypted" (Episode 144), it appears near a vacant lot with a rusty old pylon in the middle of a practically deserted rural wasteland.
- In "Reflection" (Episode 156), it appears in an old, abandoned amusement park.
- Ambiguous Situation: Martin notes that a lot of statements involving it could be the work of other powers— the artificial structures in the Amazon might be under the Stranger's influence due to the uncanny human figures, the Amusement Park in Reflections may be the work of The Flesh, The Spiral or Terminus might be responsible for Sergei, and even the Spiral could, at a stretch, be responsible for creating the image of Paris post-Extinction. Episode 157 strongly indicated that the other Powers were at work during those manifestations, and that maybe the fear of an apocalypse is something that the Powers share on an existential level.
- The End of the World as We Know It: Emphasis on "as we know it": unlike the End, a key part of Extinction is that the world we have is replaced with something far worse.
- Eviler Than Thou: Peter sees the Extinction this way, because say what you will about the other Powers, but they at least need to have humans and other living creatures around to feed on. The Extinction, at least according to a theory he seems to subscribe to, aims to wipe out all life as we know it and replace it with something new and different that can fear being annihilated in turn.
- Fetus Terrible: Of a sort. The Extinction is still nascent, making it the closest thing to "unborn" a Power can get. In a way, it's rather fitting, as it concerns itself with the horrors of the world to be found after mankind in its current form, a world itself yet to be born.
- Gaia's Vengeance: It's implied that one of the major drivers of Extinction's emergence is climate change and environmental degradation: much like factory farming spawned the Flesh, mass extinction of animal species has helped spawn Extinction.
- Implacable Man: If you have the misfortune to be sucked into one of the Extinction's...pocket universes? manifestations?...getting back to the normal world is only a temporary reprieve. What exactly it does is not clear yet, but Dekker says that both the people he's taken Extinction statements from were living on borrowed time, and the second one explicitly says he's being followed.
- Real After All: Whatever evidence there was to believe that the Extinction wasn't real or wasn't a proper Power of its own is wiped away as of the Change, where its domain is very much present and very distinctly its own.
- Renegade Splinter Faction: In Episode 134 ("Time of Revelation"), Dekker speculated that the Extinction might have been part of the End back in the time when an end of humanity was considered the end of everything. While the End isn't a force for good, it is fairly passive compared to the other Powers.
- Transhuman: One statement involves a (possible) transhuman experiment Gone Horribly Wrong.
- Unseen No More: In Episode 175 ("Epoch"), we finally get definite, concrete proof of its existence, in the form of its domain in the fearverse.
- Walking Spoiler: The very existence of a 15th Power is a spoiler in an of itself.
Recurring CharactersCharacters who do not work at the Magnus Institute, but play a prominent role nonetheless:
First Mentioned: MAG 077
A friend and colleague of Gertrude Robinson's. He shows up in several statements, cataloging and fighting against servants of the Powers.
- Anti-Hero: He's willing to do some very unscrupulous things for the sake of protecting the world from the supernatural.
- Good Is Not Nice: Though not kind, or empathetic, or merciful, he might be the employee of the Archives that can be best counted on to do the right thing.
- Hidden Depths: Despite his occasionally brutal and cold-blooded way of operating, he is revealed to be at least somewhat religious in "Rotten Core" (Episode 157).
- Occult Detective: Has shades of this, aiding individuals who have encountered the supernatural and taking it upon himself to destroy or contain certain entities.
- Posthumous Character: According to "Rotten Core" (Episode 157), he died in 2013, fighting a manifestation of The Corruption.
- Sadist: When he lobotomizes a servant of The End, the description he gives of it is... very detailed.
First Mentioned: MAG 004
A young man heavily involved in the supernatural. The son of Mary Keay, he appears in numerous statements at various stages of his life including after his own death.
- Affectionate Nickname: I always wanted my friends to call me Gerry.
- Tellingly, whenever Jon talks about him after meeting his skin book spirit, he usually refers to him as "Gerry".
- Badass Bookworm: Though not enough of the latter to stop him from destroying dangerous ones, his mother gave him a very particular form of homeschooling and however it happened he's noted to be a lot stronger than he looks. Enough so that Word of God has described him as a "scrawny goth bookworm" when teasing listeners getting Gerard and Jared confused.
- Deader Than Dead: Gerard died of brain cancer, then had his soul bound to the skin book. In exchange for his help, Gerard demands that Jonathan burn his page, thus rendering him really, really and eternally dead. Probably.
- Disappeared Dad: His father was once one of Gertrude's assistants at the Magnus Institute. His mother killed him after he finally found a way to "quit" to raise Gerard.
- Everybody Has Standards: Horrified by his mothers request to have him skin her alive, binding herself to one of Leitners books.
- Feel No Pain: Subverted after his death. Existence is literally agony for him.
- Goth: Described as one by Jurgen Leitner.
- Hero of Another Story: Unusually for recurring characters in statements not directly tied to the archives. Most of his appearences are either helping someone during their brush with the supernatural or getting rid of the things that cause the troubles in the first place. To the point it's revealed he did get directly linked to the institute, helping Gertrude stop The Unknowing.
- He's Just Hiding!: Though Gerard has been legally dead for several years, Jon stubbornly refers to his death as alleged. Considering Jon's intuitive abilities as Archivist he's probably on to something.
- In season 3 it is confirmed that he is indeed dead, but not gone, having been bound to the skin book against his will.
- I Just Want to Have Friends: Implied to be a Type B. See the Affectionate Nickname entry for an example.
- Mr. Exposition: Spends half of his statement laying out the ways that the Powers function.
- My Beloved Smother: His mother decided even before he was born that he would follow in her steps. He eventually rebels and goes out of his way to track and destroy any Leitner book he can find.
- Necromancer: Helped bind his mother to a magical book of undeath which he himself is now bound to.
- Pet the Dog: He probably has the most of these out of anyone involved with the Powers, repeatedly saving civilians from A Fate Worse Than Death.
- Phrase Catcher: When he appears in a statement he's often described as having poorly dyed black hair and likely wearing black or something leather. Even outside of statements Jon correctly identifies him as being Leitner's "angry goth" due to how consistent his appearance has been and tendency to show up where Leitners were involved.
- Power Tattoo: When he was badly burned a nurse noted that the eye tattoos he had on every joint on his body were the only areas of skin undamaged from the neck down. Considering what eyes represent in this series and his apparent ties to it they are likely a lot more than just an ascetic choice.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: One of the first things he demands upon being summoned by Jonathan is that Jonathan burn his page, effectively killing him. Jon reluctantly agrees.
First Mentioned: MAG 028
The host of the popular What The Ghost! podcast, and colleague of Melanie King. Had a relationship with Jonathan Sims at one point that didnt end well. They seem to have made up.
- Amicable Exes: Is friendly enough with Jonathan to let him crash at her place indefinitely. When they later have a falling out, it's only because Georgie recognizes he's going to continue on a self-destructive path and decides to set boundaries to protect herself.
- Anti-Magic: Her total inability to feel fear means that none of the Powers have any claim on her, and she can even pull people out (although not too many, or the Powers counterattack).
- Cult: Episode 189 ("Peers") revealed that she and Melanie have been pulling victims out of domains and hiding them in the old tunnels; because of Georgie's inability to feel fear, they apparently see her as some kind of Messiah figure and have formed what Georgie and Melanie both call a cult around her.
- Fearless Fool: Averted. She is well aware that her inability to feel fear could lead her to make reckless decisions and get other people hurt. Her attempts to correct for this actually make her too cautious sometimes, which Melanie gently chides her for.
- Heroic BSoD: Suffered this after an encounter with an avatar of The End, and never regains her ability to feel fear.
- Unfazed Everyman: Her response to Jonathans revelations about the existence of monsters and the Powers, and the fact that he is beholden to one is essentially "okay. Justified as an encounter with the avatar of the End removed her ability to feel fear.
First Mentioned: MAG 004
- But Not Too Foreign: Despite being initially presented as a "Scandinavian recluse," speaks with a British accent and admits that he barely knows any Norwegian; apparently, he and his family emigrated to England when he was very young and English has always been his first language.
- Character Death: Beaten to death by Elias at the end of Season 2
- Collector of the Strange: The foremost collector of esoteric and rare books linked to the Powers.
- Decoy Antagonist: Set up as a shadowy figure of influence in the first two seasons, and is hinted to be responsible for the various tomes bearing his name. When he finally appears in season 2 , he is revealed as a vain, somewhat pathetic old man whose only real power was his ungodly amounts of money.
- Didn't Think This Through: Built his library to contain the incalculable power of the books held within it. The thought that the defenses should also be outside never occurred to him.
- Heart Is an Awesome Power: He mentions that his only real talent was shopping, but goes on to explain that's more impressive than it sounds: Leitner had an uncanny knack for not only tracking down supernatural items (specializing books out of scholarly vanity), but for convincing their owners to part with them. Part of this had to do with his resources, but it also required no small amount of networking, social adroitness, and determination. If he had been ethical enough to use his abilities and fortune to fight the supernatural instead of just hoarding evil books, he could have been a genuine force to be reckoned with through the power of smart shopping.
- Non-Idle Rich: Was fantastically wealthy enough to remain a Rich Idiot With No Day Job, but chose to become one of these, collecting all the books he could get his hands on.
- Pride: Admits that this was his primary sin, in thinking he could contain all his books.
- We Have Reserves: Had a very cavalier attitude towards the lives of his assistants.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Subverted. He mentions that he told himself that he was collecting the books to act as a sort of "reverse Pandora", keeping the public safe from them by containing them and studying them. Marking the books as "Leitners" was ostensibly to make them easier to recapture if any got out, but he admits deep down he'd always hoped people would learn of his collection and be suitably awestruck. It was all about pride in the end.
First Mentioned: MAG 004
The owner of Pinhole Books and mother of Gerard Keay.
- Bald of Evil: She keeps her head shaven in undeath, which may be because she can't actually grow hair.
- Came Back Wrong: In her opinion. She blamed Gerard for not helping her complete the ritual that she killed herself doing since her "immortality" wasn't quite what she wanted. Unlike other bound spirits it sounds like she didn't need to be summoned to exist, but she also couldn't stay that way indefinitely.
- Deader Than Dead: Gertrude and Gerard burned her page in the skin book, destroying her for good.
- Deal with the Devil: Averted. She isn't bound to any of the Powers, instead dabbling with all of them as needed.
- Even Evil Has Standards: In a weird way; when she was young, she discovered that a doctor in her neighborhood was killing people and turning them into skin books - and was greatly offended that the doctor had this kind of power and only used it to get financial information from the book spirits.
- Human Notepad: Postmortem example, when she's seen after her "death" she's described as having a lot of tattoos written in Sanskrit. Given how that's the language of choice for the skin book's rituals it's likely a side effect from binding herself to it in an attempt to achieve a form of immortality.
- The Undead: After her supposed death of overdose, she reappears manning her bookshop, through that statement actually appears before the one revealing her death. It's later revealed that she "survived" through a ritual binding herself to the skin book.
First Mentioned: MAG 014
A black-market fence for paranormal artifacts. Little is known about him beyond the fact that he is Samoan and is quite good at his job.
- Affably Evil: He was apparently quite chummy with his crew and is a very friendly host to Jon and Martin when they stay with him for a while in Episodes 180 ("Moving On") and 181 ("Ignorance").
- Badass Normal: He's an entirely ordinary human who, at least so far as the listener currently knows, has escaped ill effects from his immensely dangerous wares. He also survived working for Leitner, whose OSHA compliance was apparently as good as his external security, which is to say nil. And he is to date one of the only people who survives extended contact with the Powers and goes out on his own terms.
- Black Market: Is willing to buy and sell artifacts, both magic and mundane, of questionable origin.
- Benevolent Boss: Surprisingly, the statement giver of Episode 141 ("Doomed Voyage"), who was part of the crew on Salesa's ship for a few years described him as a good boss who treated his workers well, was honest about the legality of the operation and kept things organized. However, he lost quite a few people along the way and he was very strict about only him being allowed inside the cargo bay, throwing a crew member who tried to break into it overboard on one occasion.
- Intangible Price: Some of the items he deals in come with this. Salesa himself deals in cold, hard cash.
- Killed Offscreen: In Episode 194 ("Parting"), we learn that Annabella Cane killed Mikaele and took his invsibility-granting camera.
- Large and in Charge: In Episode 141 ("Doomed Voyage"), he is said to have been a "big guy", but never to have used it to intimidate anyone (though it came in handy in case things ever had to get physical).
- Not Quite Dead: In Episode 180 ("Moving On"), he turns out to still be alive, somehow, and apparently working with Annabelle Cane in some way.
- Posthumous Character: Apparently died circa 2014, if Episode 141 ("Doomed Voyage") is to be believed. Episode 181 reveals that he just faked his death.
- Punch-Clock Villain: Unlike some of the other players in the supernatural world, Salesa's actions seem to stem from a desire for profit, rather than evil. That being said, he will happily sell customers immensely harmful objects without bothering to inform them, and he's not above making bets or jokes out of their effects.
First Mentioned: MAG 026
A 19th century architect whose works and theories somehow moderate or even nullify some of the effects of the Powers.
- Balance of Power: His works and theories give prominence to the balancing of the Powers against one another.
- Balance Between Evil And A Slightly Different Kind Of Evil: His architecture was centered around balance, allowing his buildings to serve as effective countermeasures against the influence of the Powers when correctly tended.
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Smirke is best known for his role in the early 19th century Greek Revival style, as well as his use of concrete foundations. Here, he is a scholar of the arcane, balancing the Powers against one another.
- Historical Domain Character
- Historical Hero Upgrade
- Super OCD: Chastises a former student who forgoes utility for symmetry in his buildings as not being sufficiently obsessed and for using shortcuts.
First Mentioned: MAG 10
Human-like creatures that kill people by draining the blood out of them. They make some appearances throughout the story, mostly in connection with Trevor Herbert, who has spent the better part of his life hunting and killing them. It's unclear what specific Power they might belong to, if they even belong to a single one.
- More Teeth than the Osmond Family: They have several rows of very sharp teeth.
- Our Vampires Are Different: Use their long, bulbous tongues to drain the blood of their victims after using their sharp teeth to rip their throats open.
- Telepathy: Can make telepathic contact with people by making eye contact with them.
Of the Corruption
Jane Prentiss, The Flesh Hive
First Mentioned: MAG 006
A woman seemingly turned into a hive of wormlike... things.
- Arc Villain: Of season 1. Attempts to invade the Archive at the end, and is killed for her troubles
- Hive Mind: To some degree, she is aware of all of her worms.
- New-Age Retro Hippie: Worked at a crystal shop and called herself a witch before her infection.
- Pest Controller: Jane (or the being using her body) commands masses of strange silver worms worms which infest more people and thus kill or enslave them.
- Plague Master: She can infect others with her worms, who can in turn spread it to others. These infectees often don't have long until they turn into a mass of worms and viscera.
- Talkative Loon: Her statement is a barely coherent ramble, and that's before the Hive took over entirely.
- The Worm That Walks: Jane's body and mind are taken over by a colony of silver worms.
- Was Once a Man: Was once an ordinary woman. There's some indication that she wishes she could go back.
John Amherst, Avatar of the Corruption
First Mentioned: MAG 036
An avatar of the Corruption most closely tied to its aspects of disease.
- Immortality: He's supposedly been around as an Avatar since at least 1899 and has been "killed" several times.
- Incurable Cough of Death: He can infect others with diseases that are not only horrifically contagious, but unusually stubborn; one victim of his resorted to amputating an extremity that implicitly continued to show resurfacing symptoms despite repeatedly being disinfected, and at least one artefact in the Institute's storage might be his work.
- Meaningful Name: His last name, Amherst, makes Jon suspect (in MAG 68: "The Tale of a Field Hospital") that he has some connection to Jeffrey Amherst, an 18th century British Army commander who used blankets laced with smallpox as a biological weapon against the Native American population during Pontiac's War. Though it could easily be the same man, considering his apparent immortality, or a descendant, ancestor or other relative (Amherst did actually have a brother named John), Sims' Twitter has clarified that it isn't intended to be the same person and is meant as an entirely fictional monster.
- Pest Controller: He has an affinity for ants and flies, though not to the same degree as the Flesh Hive.
- Plague Master: He spreads horrific diseases everywhere he goes. Even objects he touches can carry the plagues.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: Adelard Dekker gets around his immortality by dumping him in a hole and filling it with cement. A later episode reveals that the lack of fear to feed on made him shrivel up and die.
- The Unfought: One of the few avatars who regularly show up in statements that never appears in person. This is because Addelard Dekker killed him before the show started
- Villain of Another Story: After Jane Prentiss' climactic siege of the Institute, John remains as a silent, looming figure associted with the Corruption that, unlike the Flesh Hive, does not seem to be able to die on a permanent basis. However, his final appearance has him taken out of the picture for good and he doesn't reappear in the Corruption's domain after the Change.
First mentioned: MAG 55
A pest control worker first introduced giving a statement on his encounters with John Amherst, Arthur Nolan and the "wasp's nest" that infected Jane Prentiss.
- Badass Normal: A simple exterminator, who lit one of the stronger avatars on fire. After the change, he handles traveling through a hellscape far better than a local hostile but highly diminished avatar, even if it doesn't end well.
- Hive Mind: His ascension to avatarhood at Jon's hand essentially fuses his consciousness with the local ant monsters' hive mind.
- Irony: One of the victims of John Amherst who narrowly escaped with his life and sanity. Eventually succeeded him as an avatar of the Corruption—working with ants, no less.
- Fate Worse than Death: Whatever was happening to him after succumbing to the Hive Mind was unseen but easily imagined, and undoubtedly horrible. In an effort to spare him from this, Jon entreats the Eye to make him an avatar.
- Kill It Through Its Stomach: He is informed by Lito, a Corruption avatar, that there is no "ant queen" ruling the tunnels. Unfazed by this, he decides to continue looking for a weak point, reasoning that if the colony has no brain, surely it has a heart he can kill instead.
Of the Dark
Maxwell Rayner, Leader of the People's Church of the Divine Host
First Mentioned: MAG 9
The leader of the People's Church of the Divine Host, a cult serving as a front for worshippers of the Dark.
- Evil Old Folks: Is a quite old man with white hair. His mind is even older.
- Historical Villain Upgrade: He is really Edmond Halley, the second ever Astronomer Royal of England and namesake of Halley's Comet.
- The Man Behind the Man: Seems to have directly commanded serial killer Robert Montauk.
- Religion of Evil: Runs the People's Church and its worship of darkness this way.
- Sinister Minister: The priest of a darkness-worshipping cult.
- Soul Jar: Has survived for centuries by transferring his consciousness into new bodies when his current one became too old.
- Would Hurt a Child: At one point, he and his followers kidnap a child so he can try to transfer his mind into its body.
First Mentioned: MAG 57
A physicist and member of the People's Church of the Divine Host who works closely with Rayner.
- Big Bad Wannabe: In her statement, she seems to think of the Dark as the greatest threat to the Beholding and the Institute and was downright arrogant about their upcoming ritual being successful in plunging the world into darkness; little did she know Gertrude had already figured out that their ritual was doomed to fail.
- Chekhov's Gunman: When she appears in the first two statements by crew members of the Daedalus space station, she is just another member of the team. In her own statement, she is revealed to be an active follower of one of the supernatural forces connected to the space station and the only one who was fully aware of what was happening.
- Cult Defector: Was raised by Christian fundamentalist parents. Having seen through their mean-spiritedness and the self-serving way they adhered to their faith, she left them and became a physicist.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: Returned to her spiteful fundamentalist parents only when they were one their deathbeds to tell them about her following of the Dark so they would die fearing it.
- Light Is Not Good: Like other members of the Dark, she sees darkness as the natural state of the universe and light as an invasive force.
- The Dragon: Seems to have filled this role for Maxwell Rayner.
Callum Brodie, Avatar of the Dark
First Mentioned: MAG 073
A young boy rescued from the People's Church of the Divine Host by Basira Hussain.
- The Bully: Callum became a vicious bully after being rescued from the Dark's cult. He continues to be this during the apocalypse, albeit to a much more supernatural, terrifying degree.
- Enfant Terrible: After the rest of the People's Church are gone and presumed dead, the Dark claims Callum as its latest avatar. And from what we see after the Change, Callum willingly acts as its servant, taking charge of torturing and frightening an untold number of children.
- False Friend: How he tricks the children trapped in the Dark's domain: he pretends to be their friend by warning them about the latest terror lurking in the shadows, which causes the children to become afraid of that monster. Ironically that fear makes it manifest, and turns the children into targets of said monster.
- Stuffed into a Locker: Is both a victim of this and a user of this method to terrorize other children. When he was kidnapped by the People's Church, Maxwell Rayner locked Callum in a lightless, suffocating cupboard which deeply traumatized him and left him marked by the Dark. After he was rescued he began locking other children in dark spaces, remarking to Jon that he wanted to make the other children feel as afraid as he did when he was trapped.
- Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Averted. Jon notes that Callum was already a bully before being influenced by the Dark and ascending to the position of its new avatar.
Of the Desolation
Agnes Montague, Avatar of the Desolation
First Mentioned: MAG 008
An unsettling young lady connected to the Lightless Flame; servant of the Desolation.
- The Ageless: Has looked in her early twenties for about twenty years.
- Alas, Poor Villain: The episode "Burning Desire" gives her this, showing she does not quite enjoy her position, and giving her a Last Kiss during which she accidentally mutilates quite possibly the only person who has ever been interested in her for herself.
- Anti Anti Christ: Downplayed: while not actively opposed to her role of giving the world to the Desolation, she's clearly less sure about it then the cult who created her. It's very ambiguous whether her refusing to go through with it was for the tactical reasons she gave, or whether she genuinely had a final burst of conscience.
- Creepy Child: She was marked by the Desolation as a child, strongly enough that she terrified even older supernatural beings as well as normal people.
- Dark Messiah: Created by the Cult of the Lightless Flame to assist with their plan for ascension.
- Driven to Suicide: She convinced the cult that if she tried and failed to complete The Desolation's ritual, they wouldn't be able to try again for centuries. If instead she died cold and quiet, she would return to The Lightless Flame and hopefully be reborn to try again.
- Evil Is Burning Hot: Like the rest of her friends. Her coffee is always piping hot even after she's been sitting there not drinking for forty minutes, to the point it horribly burns a man who wouldn't stop hitting on her; she never needs a coat; skin contact burns so hot that it liquifies the fat in her poor ex's face even when she's not trying to hurt him.
- Evil Is Sexy: Multiple people have noted how beautiful she is. (Jude Perry was even partially attracted to the cult because of her.)
- Evil Redhead: As an adult, she is described as having beautiful auburn hair.
- Evil vs. Evil: She eventually got into a fight with the Web avatar supervising the foster home she stayed in as a child. She won. And kept his hand.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: Her behavior in "Burning Desire" suggests this—she spends the episode basically cosplaying an ordinary woman. The narrator describes her ordering black coffee at the diner as if it's some exciting novelty, and she tells him he's lucky not to have a destiny.
- Pet the Dog: She seemed genuinely fond of Jack Barnabas and even though he unwittingly ruined her role in the Desolation's ritual by introducing doubt into her mind, she asks the cult not to destroy him.
- Pyrrhic Victory: She successfully killed another avatar...but the Web's power in his area of influence left marks that stopped a lot of the cult's progress in its tracks, even with the loss.
- Up to Eleven: Agnes is extraordinarily powerful even for an avatar, to the point that at a young age, even other Desolation acolytes were susceptible to being incinerated by her. The fact that Jack Barnabas escaped contact with her with only extreme facial disfigurement suggests she was holding back a lot.
Arthur Nolan, Leading Priest of the Lightless Flame
First Mentioned: MAG 032
The formal leader of the Cult of the Lightless Flame, at least until the failure of Agnes causes his fall from grace.
- The Ageless: We don't actually find out how old Arthur is, but he's old enough to have recruited Eugene, who himself is over 70.
- Break the Haughty: His patience with Gertrude starts out thin and he very likely would've attacked her, but finding out what she did to Eugene puts him in his place for fear of himself.
- How the Mighty Have Fallen: He was once an influential enough leader to keep the other acolytes on a leash. After Agnes gave up on her messiah duty, no one listens to him anymore and his faith in the Desolation has been shaken.
- Hypocrite: Desolation acolytes are sadists, but apparently not masochists. Eugene's fate at the hands of Gertrude, richly deserved, horrifies him, even though his cult's whole schtick is doing equal or worse to innocents.
- The Unfought: Despite being a bastard in his own right, Arthur is never directly confronted.
Diego Molina, Priest of the Lightless Flame
First Mentioned: MAG 012
A studious and devout cultist of the Desolation who plagues several associates of the Institute.
- Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: Gerard tries to take him out and gets severe burns on 90% of his body for the trouble, though the second attempt takes.
- Deadly Book: One of the few possessors of a known (but unnamed) Leitner tome associated with the Desolation. This is what attracted Gerard Keay's attention to him.
- Supering in Your Sleep: Diego's methods are unusual; he seems to set buildings alight by entering trances and chanting spells, and is immobile enough that he generally fails to leave the scene before being escorted away.
Eugene Vanderstock, Acolyte of the Lightless Flame
First Mentioned: MAG 139
An unusually sadistic man who engaged in cruelty from a young age.
- The Ageless: Age 70 in 2006, but doesn't look it.
- And I Must Scream: He's not dead, but whatever happened to him, he almost certainly wishes he were.
- Human Sacrifice: He was in charge of preparing sacrifices for Agnes, and his methods were utterly nightmarish.
- Jerkass: Jude is abrasive, Arthur is haughty, but Eugene is just a dick.
- Pay Evil unto Evil: He deliberately spares no details of his hideous machinations in the statement he leaves for Gertrude purely out of spite. She would make sure he got exactly what was coming to him.
- Villains Out Shopping: His whole statement describes the rather humorous confusion the cult experienced when trying to raise a child, let alone a messianic ones, when most of their pursuits are far more dramatic.
Jude Perry, Acolyte of the Lightless Flame
First Mentioned: MAG 067
A casually violent woman connected to the Desolation. Although she doesn't appear as often as Agnes nor is she mentioned as much, the Cult is characterized mostly through her.
- The Ageless: Unlike Agnes, she has the standard variant among Lightless Flame acolytes—she immolated herself and was reborn as a living candle.
- Ain't Too Proud to Beg: She mouths off to Jon until she gets a sudden taste of what being under the Eye's gaze feels like, at which point she quickly changes tact.
- Butch Lesbian: Jude is described in traditionally masculine ways, such as being squat, muscular, and with hair buzzed into a close crop, as well as wearing sleeveless tanks. She's also very much into women and never visibly into men.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Jude wildly mischaracterizes Jon in their final confrontation, insisting he's petty and pathetic, but then turning around and declaring him to enjoy the Change and want to rule over it like her.
- Hypocrite: She doesn't take well to being made to feel all the terror and suffering she's inflicted on her victims. Arthur Nolan's reaction to Eugene's fate suggests this is a pitfall of most cult acolytes.
- Ignored Enamored Underling: She had a crush on Agnes, the cult's Dark Messiah, who only had eyes for Jack Barnabas.
- It's Personal with the Dragon: Played with. Jon's only real reason for smiting her over Arthur Nolan (who rules over a much greater portion of the Desolation) is because she burned his hand; killing avatars makes little to no change in their Domains, so he picked the target that it was at least mildly personal for.
- Sadist: All Desolation devotees are this by default, but the slavishly-described torment Jude relishes in warrants special mention.
- Tranquil Fury: Jude's volatility is well-known even to other cult acolytes, but Eugene mentions that her relative quiet in the wake of Agnes' death scares him more than her familiar emotional outbursts do.
Of the End
Antonio Blake/Oliver Banks, Avatar of the End
First Mentioned: MAG 011
A man with prophetic dreams of people's death. He occasionally tries to warn victims of the supernatural. Eventually, he tried to escape the curse of his ability, but failed and has given in to The End and become one of its avatars.
- Affably Evil: Even after he's given in to his role as an avatar for the fear of death, he is still perfectly polite and pleasant to Jon when he visits him in the hospital and to Georgie, who recognizes him for what he is.
- A Lighter Shade of Black: Even though he now willingly serves the fear of death, he doesn't seem to take any sadistic pleasure from it the way other avatars do. The closest we've had so far is in Episode 168 ("Roots"), where he occasionally sends a woman walking towards her death to make contact with different people stuck in the same march to their deaths for the sake of variety.
- The Cameo: In 32: HIVE and 42: Grifters Bone
- Dreaming of Things to Come: A dark variation. In his dreams, his spirit wanders London, where he can see the tendrils that indicate how someone will die. A man who will die of heart attack may have tendrils snaking up his leg into his chest, while a car crash victim might have them piercing their face, arms, and legs. His powers eventually manifest while he's awake
- Heroic BSoD: He attempted to run away from his gift at one point by taking a boat trip to one of the most isolated places on earth. His patron instead had him direct the boat to its doom.
- Shadow Archetype: To Jon, as highlighted by their interaction in 121. Oliver was like Jon, trying to use his gift from the Powers for good. However, Sanity Slippage caused by his powers eventually resulted in him giving in, killing a group of innocent people and completing his transformation into a monster... a choice Jon will soon have to make as well. They even both have their own epithets: Jon is "the Archivist", while he's "the Coroner".
- You Can't Fight Fate: His experience. Once he can see the tendrils, death is not following far behind.
First Mentioned: MAG 029
Beings that roam the world in service to their master.
- Age Without Youth: Their bodies fall to pieces with age, though Death itself continues to move through them.
- All Are Equal in Death: They come for the young, the old, those who deserved it, and those who brought nothing but love into the world.
- Dem Bones: How one of them appears, though as its victim puts it:"To describe it as a skeleton would be to do Death a disservice. For though the robe that sat in that chair contained only bones, it was not the skeleton that moved. It was Death. The bones were old, so ancient and brittle that the slightest pressure or movement would have rendered them down to dust. They did move; Death was no more a skeleton than you are a woolen suit."
- Chess with Death: Those who challenge Death to a game and win will not die. That said, winning is nearly impossible. Death knows every game and every rule. The only games they can lose at are those that depend on luck... or cheating.
- Collective Identity: "Death" is in fact a number of beings that typically operate independently.
- Exact Words: Those who beat them in a game "will not die." That doesn't mean they'll live.
- Fate Worse than Death:
- Nathanial Thorpe considers his existence after being release an aversion of this. In his own words, "a living Hell is, after all, still living."
- The mummy in MAG 64 plays this straight after being sealed in a sarcophagus for centuries, unable to die even as their body shrivels and crumbles with time.
- The Grim Reaper: They certainly play the role, though they don't just appear to those who are already dying.
- Immortality: Death cannot die, and even if they're released from their service when they lose at a game, they remain The Needless and cannot gain any of the satisfactions of a living existence, and still they cannot die.
- Klingon Promotion: If you beat Death at a game, then you take their place as a servant of the End.
- Winds of Destiny, Change: Luck bends in their favor during games of chance, though not to such a degree that their victory is guaranteed.
- Wolverine Claws: When they need to kill directly, they reach into their victims with bone-sharp hands.
Of the Flesh
Jared Hopworth, the Boneturner
First Mentioned: MAG 017
Better known as The Boneturner. A former delinquent who gained the ability to mold and manipulate flesh and bone after encountering The Boneturner's Tale.
- Affably Evil: He's fairly polite and civil with Jon, rib removal notwithstanding. His response to thinking Jon planned to trap him in the Spiral is more or less "Well played."
- A Lighter Shade of Black: While not heroic like Gerard, nor even at all a nice person, he still qualifies by virtue of being one of the very few things associated with one of the Powers that doesn't want the world to end. He likes the world fine as it is, thank you.
- All of the Other Reindeer: He had a growth spurt when he was nine, and his schoolmates started picking on him after that.
- Body Horror: Where to start? He can control his own flesh to the point where he can make his ribs come together like a vice when someone punches him, can attach extra limbs to himself, can remove bone while leaving the skin intact, and can generally cause you supernaturally grievous bodily harm without actually killing his victims. When the Flesh attacks the Institute in between Seasons 3 and 4, Melanie stabs him in three hearts and he doesn't die. By the time John actually meets him in Episode 131, he doesn't even look human anymore.
- Delinquent: Was supposedly an alright person as a kid, but grew into 'a bit of a crook' after he finished secondary school.
- Evil Sounds Deep: When he finally shows up on the show in person, his voice is an impossibly low and grinding baritone. Its more like a controlled burp than a human voice.
- Face Death with Dignity: When Jon and Martin confront Jared in the Mortal Garden, the Flesh's domain in the new world, he initially is willing to put up a fight but quickly realizes he is no match for Jon. So Jared calmly accepts his annihilation, after requesting he listen to Jon make a statement about his human garden.
- Mundane Utility: You have an affinity for manipulating flesh? May as well use it to run a gym and help people get fit!
- Subverted as he later admits he only did it because luring people like that was easier than hunting them down himself and he still fed on the fear produced by their fixation with their bodies, even if they weren't directly afraid of him.
- Offscreen Villainy: Peter Lukas has apparently mentioned archived statements regarding Jared to Simon Fairchild. Apparently they number around half a dozen—but the viewer only hears of three during the course of the podcast.
- Psycho for Hire: Episode 49 ("The Butcher's Window") suggests that Jared spent some time doing body disposal for organized crime as he is seen horribly applying his bone-twisting powers on a screw-up drug mule that had been sent to the butcher shop Jared used as a cover after losing a shipment.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: After the Flesh attacks the Institute between seasons 3 and 4, the Spiral intervenes and locks him in one of its corridors.
Tom Haan, Avatar of the Flesh
First Mentioned: MAG 030A Chinese-born associate of the Flesh who typically plays on the Flesh's fear of being eaten.
- Driven to Suicide: Assuming he died, though apparently they Never Found the Body; when the statement giver of Episode 30 ("The Killing Floor"), David Laylow, found him, he kept hurting himself with the bolt gun used to kill livestock that came through the plant. When Laylow approached, Haan put the gun in his hands, pointed it at his own head and made Laylow pull the trigger, seemingly killing Haan.
- However, Episode 178 ("The Processing Line"), taking place in a domain of the Flesh, features a nightmarish slaughterhouse where humans are slaughtered for meat like cattle. While Haan isn't named as the avatar in charge of it, it's very similar to the one from Episode 30 ("The Killing Floor") and it plays on similar themes to statements in which he played a prominent role.
- I am a Humanitarian: His uncle, John Haan, killed his wife, then butchered the body and sold the meat as food from his takeaway restaurant. Given that Tom had replaced his previous staff six months before that, he was likely involved.
- In general, statements featuring Tom Haan tend to relate to the Flesh's fear of being consumed and the philosophical implications of humans and the animals they eat all essentially being made of meat.
- The Family That Slays Together: With his uncle, John. The uncle's wife, Lan Ying, may even have been in on it since, as Jon learned from Martin's research into the case, she had no defensive wounds and some of her injuries could even have been self-inflicted.
- Sickening Slaughterhouse: Worked in a meat processing plant in Episode 30 ("The Killing Floor"), where he created a sickening vision of a slaughterhouse processing carcasses of humans as well as animals for the statement giver. As stated above, he was also most likely the avatar in charge of the human slaughterhouse in the Flesh domain in Episode 178 ("The Processing Line"), though he wasn't identified as such.
Of the Hunt
First Mentioned: MAG 009
The daughter of notorious serial killer Robert Montauk. Was marked by the Darkness at a young age, but rejected it in favor of hunting monsters with Trevor Herbert.
- Berserk Button: The closed-eye symbol. Given that the People's Church of the Divine Host were controlling her father and murdered him when he pushed back, this is not surprising.
- Bus Crash: Both she and Trevor were mentioned in 160 as missing, with the implication they survived the attack on the institute , and in 176 it is revealed that she was killed by Daisy offscreen, directly confirmed by Jon in 177.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Even after aligning herself with the Hunt and becoming a murderer, she's shown to be capable of genuine love and friendship, viewing Trevor as a surrogate father of sorts. And she does still love her dad, in spite of everything.
- Family of Choice: With Trevor Herbert.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: She spent a lot of time trying to be normal and outrun her father's infamy until she joined the Hunt.
- In the Blood: Jon lampshades that after years of trying to get out from under her status as a serial killer's daughter, she essentially became one herself.
- Jumped at the Call: Started slaying monsters without hesitation once she met Trevor Herbert.
- Killed Offscreen: Julia is killed about a week after the events of Episode 158 ("Panopticon"). Jon explains that Daisy tore her throat out in the tunnels beneath the Institute, with Trevor finding her body a few hours later.
- Smiting Evil Feels Good: Really enjoyed her first kill, and likes monster hunting.
First Mentioned: MAG 010
An elderly vampire hunter. He's spent most of his life homeless and on heroin, but that doesn't keep him down.
- Affably Evil: For an amoral monster hunter and murderer, he's a fairly pleasant man, and he genuinely seems to want to avoid hurting innocents if he can.
- Back for the Dead: Returns in season 5, only to be killed by Basira after he is reduced to being used as bait by Jon.
- Blood Knight: Trevor lives for the Hunt. He doesn't much care what he's hunting, so long as it's a challenge.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: A small measure of evil, compared to other avatars, but he does love Julia.
- Family of Choice: With Julia Montauk.
- The Family That Slays Together: Contrasting with Robert's Evil Parents Want Good Kids tendencies, Trevor and Julia's #1 hobby is murder.
- Jumped at the Call: Killed a vampire as a young teenager and never looked back.
- Oop North: A homeless junkie, murderer, and lifelong Mancunian.
- Outliving One's Offspring: Surrogate offspring, but still applies. Sadly Trevor outlasts Julia when she is murdered by Daisy after Julia and Trevor attack the Institute in season 4.
- The Nose Knows: Trevor can sniff out other servants of the supernatural.
- Throwing Off the Disability: Age, heroin addiction, and lung cancer all seem to have been alleviated by Trevor's devotion to the Hunt.
- Vampire Hunter: Got his start as one.
Of the Spiral
Michael Shelley/Helen Richardson, The Distortion
First Mentioned: MAG 008
- Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Helen once Jon finally catches her in a lie and can focus the Ceaseless Watcher on her in Season 5. She takes quite a bit of time trying to sway Jon from her imminent death in a mounting panic.
- Anthropomorphic Personification: Episode 187 reveals that at its core the Distortion is the embodiment of the fear of false friendships.
- Avatar: Averted. The Distortion is roughly as autonomous as an avatar, but is consistently likened more to the inhuman monsters. In truth, neither one is really accurate; it's a human identity merged with the core form of the Spiral. Both Jurgen Leitner and Simon Fairchild compare them to a hand that can think for itself.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: As episode 187 reveals, the Distortion is the embodiment of false friendships and as such always presents a friendly enough outer layer to hide the manipulations.
- Body Horror: The only consistent feature of them is the appearance that every bone in their body has been stuffed inside its hands.
- Cannot Tell a Lie: Despite being a manifestation of the fear of falsehood, it only twists the truth, never saying anything outright false. It finally breaking this rule and outright lying to Jon is what kills it.
- Creepy Long Fingers: Michael's hands are described as having long, stiff fingers that end in points.
- Faux Affably Evil: In contrast to Michael, Helen is quite polite to John, and carries on a friendly conversation with Melanie. However, episode 187 reveals that this is a front that ties directly into her nature as the embodiment of false friendships. She is friendly so that she can keep people close enough to manipulate and gaslight them.
- Foil: Helen becomes one to Jon through season 4, with her own gradual and willing loss of humanity contrasted against Jon's turmoil over the same issue. By her last appearance in the season she's become decidedly Michael-like.
- For Want of a Nail: Had Michael not intervened early on, word from Sasha never would've got back to Elias that CO2 could be used to kill the Flesh Hive's worms, and Jane Prentiss likely would've succeeded in her attack on the Institute; furthermore, had he not had Sasha kill Timothy while he was vulnerable, he would've become another Flesh Hive and likely would've carried on the attack had Prentiss somehow failed. Essentially, the whole reason for The Corruption's relative Out of Focus after Season 1 (or the reason the Institute still exists beyond one season) is because Michael decided he really didn't like worms.
- Glamour Failure: When looked at directly, Michael appears to be a normal human. However, when seen through warped glass, it appears to be very tall and thin, with a body that appears to have no structure, and hands nearly as big as its torso Averted with Helen. She is never described as looking non-ordinary or different from the vanilla version in any way, barring extremely long Femme Fatalons capable of carving flesh.
- One Steve Limit: Averted, with the other reoccurring (and equally villainous) Michael Crew.
- Reality Warper: Michael is able to make a door appear that leads to an Endless Corridor.
- Sealed Inside a Person-Shaped Can: Michael was once an assistant of Gertrude Robinson's. In order to stop the apotheosis of the Spiral, Gertrude sacrificed Michael, effectively causing the Spiral to manifest in Michael. Enough of the original remains for it to want revenge.
- Wild Card: Depending on what's at stake and whose body it's using, the Distortion can either be helpful to the Institute staff or try to kill them. As revealed in 187, this was truly its only real goal. While the Distortion did not want Jon to revert the world and was manipulating him to try and prevent it, it was engaged in a careful performance even before that was a factor, acting just shady enough to be mistrusted while also being helpful and friendly enough that the Archive crew, Jon especially, had doubts that perhaps they were being too harsh on it. There was never any end to this other than delighting in the fear, self-doubt, and paranoia.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: In episode 101, the Distortion destroys the "Michael" incarnation, because residual hatred for the Archivist temporarily overrode its actual aims, and makes Helen its new avatar.
Of the Stranger
First Mentioned: MAG 001
An entity that uses the bodies of its victims as lures for further prey.
- The Bus Came Back: Though it originally appears as just another Monster of the Week, albeit the first, it shows up again in MAG 054 and later proves to be a key figure in the Unknowing. Some of of the victims it took also have their skins and identities worn by some of the Stranger's mannequins, such as Daniel Rawlings, Megan Shaw, and Sarah Baldwin.
- Human Resources: What becomes of its victims. Some are used as lures to collect more victims. Many, at least in recent history, go towards other purposes, with their skins harvested to be made into "shells," while the rest of them become singers in the Stranger's choir.
- Mind Hive: It seems to control the "shells" it makes from its victims, and Nikola mentions it has hundreds of such shells already.
- Nothing Is Scarier: The entity proper is never seen by the statement giver, only its "lure." Even when it's properly encountered later, we never get an actual description of it.
- One-Word Vocabulary: When the statement giver encountered it in MAG 001, it was apparently only capable of a single sentence: "Can I have a cigarette?" However, it seems to have moved past this by the time it's encountered later, or else its shells are more sophisticated than it.
- Uncertain Doom: It may have been killed when Tim blew up the Unknowing, but we have no way of knowing for certain.
Breekon & Hope
First Mentioned: MAG 002
A mysterious two-person delivery company specializing in supernatural artifacts.
- The Alleged Car: Their primary mode of conveying artifacts is a rusty, permanently grimy white van.
- Back for the Dead: Episode 182 features the return of Breekon where he asks to just be put out of his misery.
- The Dividual: The two of them are so closely associated to one another that when Hope is killed by Daisy, Breekon seems at a complete loss for direction and purpose, and has to force himself to refer to himself as "I" and not "we".
- Enigmatic Minion: Appear to work for multiple Powers in addition to the Stranger. The only consistencies are that they pick up and deliver artifacts, and bad things happen when they do. It's become clearer that they do have a main allegiance in the Stranger, but will help out others if they feel like it.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: They consider themselves to be a unit, almost one person in two bodies, but after Hope dies, it's clear that Breekon is devastated on a very genuine and emotional level, to the point where you can't help but pity the poor bastard.I have never known hate before. I have never known loss. But now they are with me always, and I desire nothing but to share them with you.
- Giant Mook: The guys who work at B&H are big. Like "take-up-the-room" big.
- MacGuffin Delivery Service: Their primary role in the story. They deliver a chest containing what will become the Not!Sasha to the Magnus Archives.
- Mercy Kill: In Episode 182 ("Wellbeing"), Jon and Martin run into Breekon in a Stranger-ruled hospital, where Breekon is stuck serving as a janitor. Between that, missing his other half and no longer being able to serve his calling of delivering things, he asks Jon to put him out of his misery. Jon does so, turning the full power of the Eye onto Breekon and finally killing him.
- The Nondescript: The two deliverymen. The only thing anyone can ever remember about them is their size, their accents (the local lower-class kind, but overblown to the point of parody), and that they "look like you'd expect".
- Nonindicative Name: There was actually only one founder, Breekon—he always wanted to start a family business and call it "Breekon and Sons", but he never had any sons, so he added "Hope" as his own little in-joke. The name is even more nonindicative than it seems, as the delivery guys have in fact stolen the names "Breekon and Hope" and taken over.
- Really 700 Years Old: The two deliverymen have existed since at least the middle ages, but have not always been Breekon & Hope.
- Those Two Bad Guys: Their deliveries are overseen by two large men with fake-sounding Cockney accents. They're always seen together, and have been together for literal centuries; when Hope dies, Breekon has no idea what to do with himself anymore.
Nikola Orsinov, Danseuse Étoile
First Mentioned: MAG 083
A being created by Gregor Orsinov to serve as the main dancer for the Unknowing.
- Actor Allusion: It's not the first time Jessica Law has voiced an inanimate, humanoid object with a stolen voice box and a love of violence.
- Arc Villain: Of season 3.
- Character Death: She was destroyed when her ritual was blown to hell.
- Dead Person Impersonation / Desecrating the Dead: Poor Gertrude Robinson's legacy after spending her life stopping countless rituals was to end up having her own skin peeled off her corpse and used in the Stranger's own ritual.
- Gender-Blender Name: Nikola Orsinov is a woman (inasmuch as a mannequin created to enact an apocalypse can have a human gender, anyway). She has the male ending because it's originally her father's name; she took it after she murdered him.
- Genuine Human Hide: How she takes on other identities. For her role as main dancer in the Unknowing, she wears the skins of Gertrude and Leitner.
- Human Resources: The main material in her creation was a clown in the Circus of the Other.
- Faux Affably Evil: She's relentlessly chipper and cheery, which only makes it more unsettling when she mocks and threatens.
- Monster Clown: She takes on her old identity as Joseph Grimaldi, London's most famous clown, for special occasions.
- Murderous Mannequin: Her current form, though she's been other forms in the past as it suited her, like a doll or a taxidermy.
- Repulsive Ringmistress: Nikola may not be a literal ringmistress, but she's in charge of the Other Circus and she dresses like one.
- Voice Changeling: She "borrowed" a voice box from a woman she murdered in order to gain the ability to speak. Her natural voice is quite high and breathy, but she can use the voices of those whose skins she's donned as well.
First Mentioned: MAG 003
An entity of the Stranger that kills victims to take their place. In a twist, it doesn't take their appearance, but instead rewrites all evidence of its victim to match its false guise.
- Affably Evil \ Faux Affably Evil: Not-Them is always exceedingly polite, and in The Good Mother even replaces a harsh and domineering woman with a far kinder and motherly persona. Of course, it does this only after it kills a victim to wear, and when it gets bored and moves on, it is not afraid to kill others around it who might cause it trouble afterwards. It also seems to delight in tormenting those who can see through its disguise, not actually threatening them but leaving the knowledge that something has replaced their friend or loved one, could easily do the same to them, and worst of all they're the only ones who realize or would believe it.
- Arc Villain: Of season 2, in the guise of Sasha.
- Brilliant, but Lazy: Or rather, "Extremely Powerful, but Lazy". As Gertrude notes in Episode 77 ("The Kind Mother"), the power it possesses must be incredible since it can rewrite so many people's memories and recordings (with some exceptions) almost on instinct, but seems to be content just staying in one location for long stretches of time and selecting just one person to unnerve the hell out of.
- Cassandra Truth: Invoked, There is always a person who can see that Not-Them is not the person they are pretending to be, but nobody else sees this and so this is always dismissed as ridiculous.
- Humanoid Abomination: Its true form is significantly less human than its disguises, which leaks through when it's riled up to kill.
- Kill and Replace: The Not-Them's MO. The twist is that the form it takes actually looks nothing like the original person, but it alters records of them to match its new appearance.
- Karmic Death: Jon forces her to experience the agony and pain she caused her victims.
- Killed Off for Real: In MAG 165, Not-Sasha confronts Jon and Martin at the Stranger's carousel. After invoking Jon's ire by threatening Martin, Jon turns the Ceaseless Watcher on her, to predictable results.
- Leaking Can of Evil: Jon's mistake in thinking that the patterned table was its Soul Jar is understandable in the face of Dekker's apparently poor bindings, as it is still capable of attacking and replacing anyone who gets close enough to the table.
- Lean and Mean: When it's out for the kill, it looks like its disguise identity after being "stretched out."
- Let's You and Him Fight: She is released from her imprisonment as a distraction by Peter at the same time Julia and Trevor attack the Institute. In chasing down Jon, it runs into them, and is quite happy to try and kill them as well. They shoot it, but wise up when this doesn't work.
- The Mole: It was delivered to the Magnus Institute in order to provide intel to Nikola.
- Ret-Gone: What it does to its victims, writing over their existence with its own. It can't manipulate audio recorded on magnetic tape, however, and it always leaves one person unaffected so it can feed on their fear as they recognize a stranger has replaced someone they know.
- Sealed Evil in a Can:
- In 2001, Adelard Dekker bound it to the web table, sealing away most of its power and trapping it nearby the artifact... at least until our good Mr. Sims destroyed the table under the mistaken assumption that it was in fact the Not-Them's Soul Jar.
- Leitner uses a book of the Buried to seal it away in the end of season 2. Peter Lukas frees it again as a distraction in season 4.
Of the Vast
Michael Crew, Avatar of the Vast
First Mentioned: MAG 04
A man who sought out Leitner books - his name is fairly common in any statement involving them. He's the vessel of The Vast.
- Affably Evil: When Jon goes to visit him, he's a very polite host, and only attacks when he's asked a question he finds prying. Also probably because prying questions are extra prying when coming from the Archivist, which has to be uncomfortable if you can tell it's happening. Even then, he answers the question and makes sure his attack isn't fatal.
- But for Me, It Was Tuesday: By this point he has screwed up so many lives in the service of the Vertigo that he can't actually remember most of them.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: While he appears in multiple statements, his actual appearance in person is immediately followed by Daisy beating him to death.
Simon Fairchild, Avatar of the Vast
First Mentioned: MAG 21
The old patriarch of the Fairchild family, which has close ties to the Vast.
- Affably Evil: Similarly to Peter Lukas, Simon is outwardly quite cheery and pleasant, but he is gleefully evil and far more likely to make outright threats.
- Brought Down to Normal: The Finale states that Simon survived the collapse of the ritual but was left without powers. It's not explicitly said what happened to him when his former victims found him, but it was suggested that it wasn't pretty.
- Dissonant Serenity: Although many avatars have a noted apathy towards the people around him, Simon's is distinct due to arising primarily from his chosen patron's influence. Absolutely nothing in the universe is truly permanent or important, and as such, nothing within it bothers him, enabling him to kill as easily as have a pleasant conversation and vice versa. The idea of the whole world being destroyed and remade by the Extinction doesn't cause him to so much as blink.
- Evil Feels Good: Seems to love being an avatar and currently mostly just hurts and kills people for the hell of it.
- Evil Old Folks: Even ignoring his actual age of hundreds of years, he still presents as an old man.
- Karma Houdini Warranty / Offscreen Karma: A conversation between Basira, Melanie and Georgie in Episode 200 ("Last Words") after the Powers have left the world hints that some of the people who Simon tormented caught up with him and, now that he was no longer powerful, exacted revenge.
- Kill and Replace: He has only gone by the identity "Simon Fairchild" for 80-90 years; he disposed of the real Simon Fairchild and stole his identity for his fortune.
- Long Game: Apparently, he and the Vast are fairly inactive these days because, in today's society, the world feels too small for a fear of emptiness to be effective. Instead, Simon has his eyes set on space, even though it will be at least a century before he can actually do anything with that.
- Miniature Senior Citizens: He is four or five centuries old, presents as a man approaching the age of 100 and is described as "tiny, pink skeleton of a man" in Episode 51: "High Pressure".
- Nigh-Invulnerable: The first time he is properly encountered, he mentions that he was once sent plummeting to the bottom of the ocean, and given that he's still around, it's clear it didn't kill him. He also makes sure to mention that he is extremely long-lived, and later, after the Change, he survives falling from untold thousands of feet at high velocity only to get up a moment later with a cheery hello.
- Obfuscating Disability: Walks with a cane in order to keep up his appearance as a frail, old man, though episode 124 ("Left Hanging") revealed that he doesn't need it at all.
- The Power of Apathy: Inverted. Simon's powers as discussed seem to make him apathetic to others—the whole thing about the Vast is the insignificance of humankind. Simon has tried to get others to experience his own elation with his patron, but not really being able to consider them worth the time makes that difficult.
- Really 700 Years Old: He was originally an apprentice under the 16th century Italian painter Tintoretto, placing his age around 450-500 years.
- Straw Nihilist: Considers all of existence on Earth to be pointless and sees human lives as insignificant because of the enormous size and long timespan of the universe as a whole.
- Villainous Friendship: With Peter Lukas, even though they serve different Powers; as he points out, the Vast and the Lonely are closely related and can easily bleed into each other.Simon: After all, the larger the space you find yourself alone in, the more isolated you feel.
Martin: And being aware of how lonely you are can make anywhere feel more empty.
- While Rome Burns: Discussed in relation to The Extinction. Peter's rather concerned about a possible human extinction event, but as Simon puts it to Martin, why would he care? So the Extinction comes and wipes out all of mankind—it's not like they mattered to begin with. If it does happen, and he doesn't die, he's quite ready to adjust and move on, and as such isn't that committed to fighting it.
- White Hair, Black Heart: Is described as having "stark white" hair and is thoroughly evil.
Of the Web
Annabelle Cane, Avatar of the Spider
First Mentioned: MAG 069
A woman associated with the Web who seems to have a special interest in Jon.
- Abusive Parents: Claims in her statement to have had an emotionally manipulative mother.
- Awesome Anachronistic Apparel: In her first appearance, the statement giver of "Thought For The Day" describes her looking like "a vintage store exploded on her".
- Because Destiny Says So: Invoked; she says there isn't really such a thing as free will, people just think there is because they can't comprehend all the factors that affect their choices.Annabelle: Let it never be said I do not dance the steps I am assigned.
- Because You Were Nice to Me: She tells Martin that because Salesa had been acomodating to her in his house during the Change, she gave him a peaceful Mercy Kill in his sleep.
- Body Horror: Her skull is full of spiderwebs, and her joints are...wrong for someone with her number of limbs.
- Contemplate Our Navels: Most of her statement in "Weaver" consists on her philosophising about the existence of free will (or lack thereof) to Jon.
- Dark and Troubled Past: If we can trust her statement Annabelle was raised by a neglectful father and an abusive mother, and as a kid she had an extremely traumatizing encounter with the Web, which led to her developing an extreme case of arachnophobia and becoming the test subject of an ethically dubious ESP experiment, leading to her avatarization.
- Dark-Skinned Blonde: In "Thought For The Day", the statement-giver describes her as standing out because she is this, and also because of her vintage fashion sense.
- Faux Affably Evil: In her statement, she sounds almost polite, though there are sinister and sometimes condescending undertones.
- The Ghost: Actively avoids being seen in person, leading to even the episode detailing her backstory lacking her physical presence. She finally meets Jon and Martin in episode 180.
- Hope Crusher: In Episode 196 ("This Old House") she tells Martin that her original plan was to fill him up with spiders to push Jon into Despair Event Horizon, but the complexity of their bond made her change her plan.
- Irony: As a human, she was extremely arachnophobic. Now...well.
- Lean and Mean: Described as "rail thin" in "Web Development" (episode 123).
- Manipulative Bastard: As the chief servant of the Mother of Puppets, this is, of course, her thing. It has been ever since she was a child, when she would instigate fights between her siblings or deliberately injure herself to get them in trouble, and planned to run away from home to make everyone pay more attention to her (behavior she learned from her emotionally abusive mother).
- Massive Numbered Siblings: According to her statement, she's the youngest of eight kids.
- Meta Guy: She constantly talks about playing her "part" and not disappointing her audience, comments on the structure of the statements, and refers to the possibility of her death as her "exiting the stage"
- Not Me This Time: Despite her extensive history with manipulation and mind control she had nothing to do with Jon's compulsion to take live statements from unsuspecting victims. It was just Jon all along.
- The Runaway: She ran away from home as a kid, thinking her absense would destabilize her family and allow her to claim her place as the most important child, which led to her encountering the Web for the first time.
- Troll: Instead of just talking to Jon she went to the trouble of stealing stationary and his recordings to set up a mocking tableau for him, and then extensively makes fun of him before telling him to stay away from her house.
- Uncertain Doom: The last time we see her, she's in the house on Hilltop Road, transformed into a spider monster and sitting directly atop the crack between universes. Listeners have no way of knowing whether she was sucked through along with the Fears, or was left behind and died when the Spider departed without her (it's unlikely she can survive without her powers, since when she became an avatar half her skull got bashed in).
- Unreliable Expositor: Invokes this on herself at the end of her statement in "Weaver", saying that she could have made it all up in other to manipulate Jon into acting in favor of the Web's plans.
- Unseen No More: Finally contacts the main characters directly by calling Martin in Episode 166 ("The Worms").
- Appears in person in Episode 180 at Upton House, to offer Jon and Martin rest.
- Villainous Friendship: Has on with Mikaele, whom she lives with at Upton House after the Change. Because of this, she honours his wish to Mercy Kill him after stealing his apocalypse-proof camera.
- Villains Out Shopping: She enjoys cooking.