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Series / Hemlock Grove

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Hemlock Grove is a Netflix Original Series based on the novel of the same name and executive produced by Eli Roth.

The series is set in the town of Hemlock Grove, Pennsylvania. The town is a mixture of extreme wealth and poverty, as the closing of the town's steel mill many years earlier caused many to lose their jobs. The town's main sources of employment are now the Godfrey Institute for Biomedical Technologies and Hemlock Acres Hospital. Heading the Institute - which is rumored to conduct sinister experiments on a daily basis - is the imposing Olivia Godfrey (Famke Janssen), while Hemlock Acres' lead psychiatrist is Olivia's dead husband's brother, Dr. Norman Godfrey (Dougray Scott).

As the show begins, the town's rumor mill turns even more twisted, as two teenage girls are brutally killed and their bodies left for unsuspecting people to find the next day. Peter Rumancek (Landon Liboiron) a 17-year-old Romani boy, is suspected of the crimes by some of the townsfolk; he is also rumored to be a werewolf (something that turns out to be true). He sets out to clear his name and solve the mystery of the murders along with the heir to the Godfrey estate, the troubled Roman Godfrey (Bill Skarsgård).

Rounding out the main cast of characters of the first season are Norman's daughter (and Roman's cousin), the beautiful Letha Godfrey (Penelope Mitchell) who claims the father of her unborn child is an angel from Heaven; and Christina Wendall (Freya Tingley), a lonely girl who becomes interested in Peter.

The show premiered April 19, 2013. The second season premiered on July 11, 2014. The third and final season was released on October 23, 2015. Netflix announced on September 21, 2022 that all three seasons of Hemlock Grove will be removed from the service on October 22, 2022. Shortly after, the first season became available to stream for free on Hoopla worldwide, and the entire series is available free with ads on Tubi in Canada.

This series provides examples of:

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  • Abandoned Warehouse: The abandoned Godfrey Steel Mill is an important location.
  • Accidental Murder: Roman accidentally hits Destiny so hard that she falls through a glass table when she confronts him about her fiancé's death, then breaks her neck since she's already dying. Peter later finds out the truth about his cousin's death, leading to their final fight where Peter kills Roman for good at the cost of becoming a wolf for the rest of his life.
  • Adventures in Comaland: Roman spends more than an episode in a coma, where he faces various inner demons represented by people from his life. His good-hearted sister appears as a guardian angel of sorts.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Olivia has murdered scores of people and ultimately only cares about herself, but her final death manages to make her rather pathetic, being reduced to an insane, deathly ill vampire biting chunks off her own body while cradling her daughter's charred corpse and babbling nonsensically to figments of her own imagination.
  • The Alcoholic: Chasseur had been so before and gotten sober, but the stress of the vargulf's attacks had driven her back to her old ways.
  • All Therapists Are Muggles: Subverted. When Roman tells his uncle Norman (a clinical psychiatrist) the truth about the werewolf terrorizing the town, he asks his uncle if he's gonna call for the men in white coats. Norman chooses to believe him, given all the bizarre stuff he's already witnessed.
  • Always Identical Twins: Nope, Alexa and Alyssa Sworn are fraternal, but not exempt from Finishing Each Other's Sentences and Speak in Unison on occasion.
  • Ambiguous Situation: How early did Christina know that she was a vargulf. and is everything we see through her eyes and memories real, or is some of it hallucinations.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Jury's out with Destiny; she's more than happy to have sex with anyone as long as there's cash involved, but she seemed to really enjoy her time with Chasseur. She gets a new boyfriend in Andrea in the second season.
  • And Show It to You: Olivia rips out Norman's heart after he turns against her, complete with corny Bond One-Liner.
  • Angry Mob: Towards the end of the season, the town is whipped into a frenzy against Peter.
  • Anyone Can Die: By the end of the series Olivia, Roman, Johann, Norman, Marie, Destiny, Letha, Chasseur, Christina, Dr. Spivak, Annie and Miranda are all dead.
  • Arc Words: "I have seen the dragon."
  • Auto Cannibalism:
    • Werewolves eat the flesh and skin they lose after turning.
    • One of the infected lab rats in the archive footage Johann finds in season three resorts to this after killing and eviscerating his cagemate. This was an early test of Dr. Spivak's virus intended to wipe out the upir, and the infected upir also suffer the same violent frenzy and then self-consumption. Olivia, in her final moments, takes a bite out of her own arm before dying.
  • Bad Cop/Incompetent Cop: Most of the scenes featuring the Hemlock Grove deputies have them being abrasive, thick-skulled, and quick to fall victim to mob hysteria against either Peter or the Godfrey's.
  • Beautiful Dreamer: Olivia watches Roman sleeping in the first episode.
  • Became Their Own Antithesis: Roman utterly despises his manipulative mother Olivia and did everything possible to distance himself from her, but he ends up becoming a remorseless, selfish predator quite like she with just as little regard for human life or collateral damage.
  • Bedlam House: Averted in the case of Norman's hospital, although patients can still meet grisly ends.
  • Beef Bandage: Peter has one after bullies beat the crap out of him.
  • Bittersweet Ending: For Peter, who avenges Destiny by killing Roman, but is now doomed to spend the rest of his life as a wolf.
  • Break the Cutie: Christina, Peter, Shelley. Roman is more of a Break the Haughty type until after his coma. The sheriff after the murder of his twin daughters may also count.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Roman somehow ends up sleeping with two different half-sisters. The first time, he was brainwashed and had no recollection of the incident. This resulted in pregnancy, but she later died in childbirth. The second time, the other sister—who was a vampire just like him—knew that they were siblings but chose not to tell him until after the fact.
  • Brain Uploading: Dr. Pryce devises a method of mapping a person's entire neural network and then download it into other bodies. He specifically designed a lab-grown human with a Blank Slate mind for that purpose, as it tends to wear off when applied to people with existing personalities.
  • Bury Your Gays: The very first person to die in the TV series is a teenage girl who is on her way to a liaison with her female teacher. Additionally, one of the few main characters who die is Clementine Chasseur, whose introduction shows her in bed with another woman.
  • Came Back Wrong: strongly hinted at with Francis Pullman, at least in terms of its effect on his mental state.
  • Cleanup Crew: Much to his chagrin, Dr. Pryce keeps getting ordered to dispose of bodies whenever a member of the main cast who has him on their payroll kills someone. Since this allows him the leeway to conduct his experiments without interference from above, he grudgingly obliges.
  • Compelling Voice: Roman has some sort of hypnotic effect on people, where he can order them to do anything if he says so very forcefully. It's dependent on eye contact, so someone who's familiar with his power set warns him at gunpoint not to look in her direction.
  • Convenient Coma: Roman is in one for a few episodes. It also occurs in the novel.
  • Coordinated Clothes: While the Sworn girls don't wear the exact same outfits, they usually have the same theme with color variations.
  • Daddy's Girl: Both Letha Gordfrey and the Sworn Twins.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Peter is quick with a retort to any insult or question that he finds silly.
  • Death of a Child:
    • Shelley dies in infancy and is resurrected/reconstructed.
    • Olivia killed her first daughter, Juliette. It's very likely she also killed Shelley but J.R. had her resurrected.
    • Not only Juliette. When showing the murder of Juliette, it clearly states there were more than one. "Juliette and many like her came, all of them disappointments." There were more babies, and more murders, until she had the child with the caul.
  • Decapitation Required: One of the few ways to kill a werewolf or an Upir.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Letha dies when giving birth to her baby, thereby ending the relationship between Peter and Letha for good.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Unlike her sister, Alyssa Sworn spent her last seconds being held by her father.
  • Died on Their Birthday: In the Season One finale, "Birth", Roman opts to slit his wrists and commit suicide on his birthday, rather than kill his and Letha's baby daughter. However, bleeding out and dying from this causes Roman to reawaken as an Upir.
  • Disappeared Dad: Neither Peter nor Roman have a father. Except Norman was suspected to be Roman's father by J.R., and has been largely serving in a version of that role for him and his sister throughout the series.
  • Downer Ending: Olivia, Roman, Miranda, Destiny and Johann all die in season 3. Peter survives, but will spend the rest of his days as a wolf for turning against the moon in order to defeat Roman. Only Shelley really gets a Happy Ending.
  • Erotic Dream: During his Adventures in Comaland, Roman's messed-up sexual life is showcased when a classmate he had previously hypnotized and raped appears nude to taunt and fondle him, before turning into his mother Olivia.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Roman's first scene shows him having sex with a prostitute, while showing an unnatural interest in blood, and coldly paying her to pretend it never happened afterwards. Christina introduces herself by awkwardly trying to strike up a conversation with new kid Peter, and instantly shows herself to be an Agent Mulder when she notices and blurts out how he displays a sign of lycanthropy. Destiny is shown dressed provocatively, taking some money to have a threesome with a couple, and then fakes being possessed to scare them away, and shifts to happily greeting Roman and Peter when they arrive at the door right as she's chasing those clients out.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Alexa and Alyssa are among those who seem to believe Peter may be a werewolf, but when they see a group of bullies beating him up, out of that same paranoia, they yell for them to stop (in the novel, one of them also yelled out a warning to Peter when one of the bullies was about to grab him from behind]].
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
    • One of the few redeeming features of Roman, Johann and Norman is they all genuinely care about Shelley.
    • Olivia loves her son perhaps a little too much. It's effectively a love-hate relationship with her trying to turn him into her own spitting image, so it might be driven by narcissism on her part more than anything.
    • In the second season, as Olivia is beginning to become more human than upir, Olivia shows much more love towards Shelley after she is found by Norman.
  • Eye Scream: A part of Peter's transformation involves his eyes falling out of their sockets.
  • Facial Horror: Peter wasn't kidding when he said he had to sacrifice his human face.
  • Familial Body Snatcher: Towards the end of season 3, Doctor Johan Pryce develops the ability to upload someone's mind into a new body. His employer Olivia, who is dying of a vampiric disease, has him transfer her into an unsuspecting billionaire's body. However, the upload soon decays and Pryce explains that genetic compatibility is an issue. Desperate, Olivia then makes repeated attempts to download herself into all of her three children, each of whom rebuff her or fight her off.
  • Flaying Alive: Clementine Chasseur dies after Olivia (a vampire) rips off and eats her entire skin, save her face. She's still alive but can't move because her neck is broken, so Dr. Pryce gives her a Mercy Kill.
  • Friendless Background: Neither Roman nor Peter had friends before they met each other. The former because of his upper class background and a mother who taught him not to mingle with "lessers", and the latter because of his lower class background and necessity to keep moving places so people won't find out that he's a werewolf.
  • Functional Addict:
    • Olivia uses some sort of drug in the form of eye-drops and is fine unless she doesn't have them.
    • Roman smokes, drinks, snorts cocaine, self-mutilates and still manages to make it through the day until he flies off the handle and ends up in a coma.
  • Fur Against Fang: There's a Snobs Vs Slobs dynamic between the aristocratic Godfrey (vampire) and the lower class Rumancek (werewolf) families. A lot of antagonism and mutual resentment, but no open conflict by and large. Also notable for its curious bromance/frenemy relationship between the two leads Roman and Peter.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Most of the deaths happen off screen, or are shot in such a way so that we don't see things.
  • Grand Theft Me: When Olivia becomes terminally ill due to an anti-Upir virus, she plans on hijacking someone else's body with her downloaded personality. She first attempts it with a billionaire CEO, but the imprint becomes damaged due to their lack of genetic compatibility. She then successively tries to download herself into all three of her children.
  • Grave Robbing: Done by two conflicting groups with the same grave on the same night.
  • Groin Attack: In season 2 a drug dealer who works out of a pig farm punishes two of his underlings for losing 20,000 dollars in a scam by Peter and then failing to get his money back by removing one of their balls from each of them.
  • Hands-Off Parenting/Hippie Parents: Many young characters have one or a mix of these.
  • Harmful to Minors: Peter had to slice off his dead grandfather's head with a sword and Roman saw his father's corpse on the living room floor.
  • Healing Factor: Only happens when a werewolf has to basically regenerate his or her entire body. Otherwise, they heal and feel pain just like normal people do.
  • Hemo Erotic:
    • Roman tends to cut himself during sex so he can lick up the blood. His partners aren't always up for this: some of them consider it kinky, but one of them was so freaked out that she ran away screaming (though with good reason, since he literally carved up his whole chest and was dripping blood on her face).
    • In season 3, Roman (after he's become a vampire) and Annie (also a vampire) break into a blood bank to feed on the stored supplies. They both end up dousing each other in blood while having sex. For added uncomfortableness, it's later revealed to be incestuous: Annie is Roman's much, much older vampire sister.
  • Heroic BSoD: Several characters fall into this after loved ones die.
  • Home Porn Movie: Andreas and a Croatian mob girl get the bright idea of shooting a porn movie while they're both conspiring to rip off her boss. This obviously comes back to bite them both when he discovers the tape, and uses it to convince Peter that Andreas has crossed them both and become a liability.
  • I Hate You, Vampire Dad: Literally with Roman's volatile relationship with his mother Olivia. She's a centuries-old vampire (named Upir) who planned on turning him from the day he was born so she would have someone to spend eternity with. He kills her immediately after becoming a vampire when Olivia commands him to kill his own infant daughter, although she's later resurrected.
  • I Miss Mom: Combined with a declaration towards their surviving parents by the Sworn Twins as their dad leaves their room while trying to keep a good watch during a full moon.
    Alyssa: She sees. Mom. She sees what you do for us.
    The three of them hug.
  • Incest Subtext:
    • Olivia's a little too touchy-feely with her son, Roman.
    • Peter and Destiny are also quite flirty with one another.
  • Jedi Mind Trick: In the novel, Roman uses something similar to influence people and get himself out of trouble. Works in the TV show, too.
  • Joggers Find Death: In the pilot, a jogger finds the dead and raped girl.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Roman snapped and raped a girl but because of his ability, nobody ever found out about it.
    • Olivia in the second season finale. She's devoured her own daughter new body, murdered her lover after he discovered all the horrible crimes she has committed, and gets off scot-free. The next season premiere even shows her feeding, and then killing, the sheriff who only wanted to avenge his sister's death (who had also been murdered by her).
  • Kick the Dog: From Christina to Chief Tom Sworn, when both Alexa and Alyssa are both mutilated/murdered horribly by the vargulf, considering Chief Tom Sworn was always so kind to the murderer. Made worse when later Christina is killed, but is possibly alive, as she screams from in the grave even though she was the killer, he didn't know that and he saw her as a daughter.
  • Killed Offscreen: Miranda. We only learn her fate when Roman and Peter find her body a few episodes later.
  • Kill the Cutie: Several times, but Letha stands out as the most prominent example.
  • Kissing Cousins: Implied in the novel and the show. Until it's revealed that Roman and Letha are half-siblings and that Roman is the father of Letha's baby.
  • Luke, You Are My Father: In season 3, Annie reveals that she's Olivia's daughter, the result of her brief romance with a gypsy boy centuries ago.
  • Man, I Feel Like a Woman : Gender-inverted. Olivia Godfrey kidnaps a billionaire so she can replicate her mind onto his since her own body is already dying from a terminal illness. After 'waking up' in her male body, she immediately inspects her package.
    Olivia: Is that really all there is to it? Kind of overrated if you ask me.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Destiny: Can tell the future.
    • Peter the Werewolf calls to mind "Peter and the Wolf".
    • Shelley seems to reference Mary Shelley, since Shelley the child is a Frankenstein's Monster-like resurrection/creation of Olivia's dead daughter.
    • The last name Rumancek translates to "Chamomile". There's a particular kind of chamomile known as Roman Chamomile. This implies that there's some sort of familial relationship between the Rumancek and Godfrey families. It's confirmed in the novel that Roman's mother Olivia gave birth to a child that was given to the Rumanceks to raise.
    • Letha is, in Greek mythology, "The river of forgetfulness, one of the five rivers in Hades." and "A condition of forgetfulness; oblivion."
    • GOD-frey, just as Norman's wife says, "Godfreys get what they want" when asked how she and Norman got together.
    • Chasseur means "hunter" in French.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: Inverted in season 1. There are only two male characters that die in Season 1, and JR's death happens in a flashback. Evened out in season 3, as basically everyone dies or suffers a Fate Worse than Death.
  • Mercy Kill: Pryce is forced to suffocate Dr. Chasseur after Olivia broke her neck and skinned her alive.
  • Motifs: "You must make your heart steel/become stronger", Olivia ONLY wears white (Letha also wears white a lot)
  • Mind Manipulation: Roman can't read minds, but he can implant suggestions and make people forget recent events.
  • Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: Shelley is treated like shit by the kids at school but is as kind as she is quiet.
  • The Mole: Isaac is hired by Roman to find Miranda and Nadia. But is really on Olivia's payroll.
  • My Beloved Smother: Olivia's on the completely disturbing end of the scale. She's extremely controlling of and judgmental towards both her children, although Roman is more assertive in standing up to her than his malformed sister.
  • My Sister Is Off-Limits: Roman gets incensed whenever someone gets involved with his cousin Letha, although he eventually warms up to her relationship with his friend Peter. Interestingly, it's later revealed that they're actually half-siblings.
  • Mystical Pregnancy:
    • Letha thinks an angel impregnated her. Her parents just assume that she was raped and is trying to suppress the memory. She was actually impregnated by her cousin Roman because they were both hypnotized at the time.
    • Miranda doesn't get pregnant, but being around baby Nadia causes her to lactate.

  • Nightmare Fetishist: Christina. She likened the sensation of a transformation arising to an orgasm and turned herself into a werewolf so she could "have experiences."
  • No Pregger Sex: Averted, Letha has sex with Peter whilst pregnant.
  • No Zombie Cannibals: Upirs cannot feed on the blood of other Upirs because it is poisonous to them. Those affected by the anti-Upir virus become ravenous cannibals who only prey on their own kind.
  • Occult Blue Eyes: The baby Nadia has these. They look really unnatural.
  • Of Corsets Sexy: Norman once tightened Olivia's corset after a routine hookup.
  • Offing the Offspring: Olivia Godfrey seems to make a habit out of this. She's murdered numerous infants that she herself bore because they lacked the sign that marked them as future vampires. She devours a clone of her own daughter to revitalize herself, and tries to pull a Grand Theft Me on all three of her living children.
  • Sheriff Sworn has a lot of this attitude towards his daughters and Christina.
  • Police Brutality: Sheriff Sworn shot Shelley twice from behind with no warning.
  • Redemption Failure: In the second season Olivia Godfrey starts to regain her emotions and tries to make amends for what a horrible person she's been when she learns that she's dying, even deciding to give up her own life so her daughter Shelley can be happy. Nobody buys it, and her lover Norman is so livid when he discovers that Olivia killed his wife that he decides to rub her miserable fate in her face. Olivia then decides to screw over everyone out of spite and go back to being the same murderous, cold-hearted bitch she was before.
  • Rich Bitch: Good lord, Olivia Godfrey. She's snobbish, haughty, shamelessly elitist, and controlling and manipulative to the point where even her own relatives hate her. But as the richest woman in town, she can usually get away with a lot of crap. When her husband died, the newspapers even called her "the most beautiful and despised woman in Hemlock Grove".
  • Sanity Slippage: After Olivia contracts an anti-Upir virus, she slowly starts to lose her mind until she's actively hallucinating people who aren't there.
  • Screw Yourself: After Olivia downloads her personality into a male body, the first thing she wants to try out is to have sex with herself. Even the amoral Dr. Pryce is disgusted by her blatant narcissism.
  • Self-Harm: Roman is shown cutting himself with a razor blade several times, not always when he's alone. In his case, it probably starts because he likes blood.
  • Self-Immolation: Annie does this to prevent Olivia taking her body.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: The way Shelley's emails seem. In this case it is unlikely that the character is trying to show off or be perceived as unusually smart, rather she's taking full advantage of the medium of writing to communicate in a way that is normally impossible for her because of her muteness. As such, it's not annoying from a character standpoint, but still comes across as the writers trying too hard to make her seem intelligent and sophisticated.
  • Shell-Shock Silence:
    • Roman could only stare while Peter and Christina fought.
    • Peter was completely still when they found out Letha had died.
  • Shooting Superman: Roman and Peter continue to shoot at Dr. Spivak, even when it is obvious that the bullets are having no effect on him.
  • Sinister Minister: The Bishop in charge of the Order of the Dragon gradually comes across as this.
  • Slowly Slipping Into Evil: Roman slowly becomes more immoral as time goes on. Early episodes where he shows his depravity such as him raping a girl from his school are initially offset by his horrible domestic situation and his perpetual self-loathing. By the end of the series he's become so unhinged that he's simply murdering people left and right, forcing Peter to finally turn against him.
  • Smoking Is Cool / Smoking Is Glamorous: There are more characters that smoke than there are that don't. Roman practically goes through a pack per scene.
  • Straight Gay: Dr. Johann Pryce. He's not just completely unremarkable, one might even get the impression that he's actually asexual before he displays an interest in men in later seasons.
  • Teens Are Monsters: The cruel schoolkids who harass and mock Peter, Roman, and especially Shelley.
  • Theme Twin Naming: Alyssa and Alexa Sworn. Also probably Family Theme Naming as there mother was named Alisha.
  • There Are No Psychologists: Somewhat subverted; Norman is a successful and empathetic doctor. However, all the patients we've seen him personally treat have ended up dead. He sleeps with Olivia for the first time when she visits him professionally, too.
  • Three-Way Sex: Roman and Peter have a spontaneous threesome with Miranda in season 2. They both feel weird about it the next morning, while she's just like "it's the 21st century, guys!"
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Alyssa and Alexa Sworn are fairly catty early on, and mock Shelley a little, but show a more tender and loyal side when Christina is going crazy, making sure to be there for her, and also attempt to intervene when Peter is getting beat up by students convinced he's behind the killings.
  • Tongue Trauma: Roman bites Olivia's tongue out! Pryce later manages to surgically reattach it, however.
  • Tragic Bigot: Olivia is shown to hate gypsies because much earlier in her immortal life she fell in love with a gypsy boy and ran away with him from her aristocratic family, only for him to steal her belongings and leave her for dead.
  • Transformation Horror: This show has some of the goriest werewolf transformation sequences in all fiction. The person doesn't just grow a lot of hair, canine teeth, and stretched limbs, it's more akin to a butterfly transformation with their entire human body getting ripped off so the wolf underneath can burst out.
  • Transformation Sequence: Werewolves have extremely gruesome ones.
  • True Companions: Roman and Peter. They do have their fights, but will pull through for each other.
  • Twofer Token Minority: Chasseur is both black and a lesbian! Then again, she's not necessarily a token gay character; the pilot features a lesbian victim, Pryce is revealed to be gay, and Destiny is probably bisexual.
  • Vampires Are Rich: Most vampires seen in the show are pretty wealthy. Olivia Godfrey comes from actual European nobility and married an American bioscience tycoon. Roman inherits his father's empire when he turns 18 and becomes the youngest CEO alive. In season 3 Roman runs into other vampires, who are all upper class or bourgeois.
  • Vampire-Werewolf Love Triangle: Zigzagged. Vampire Roman Godfrey and werewolf Peter Rumancek were already best friends before they met the human Miranda. When she convinces them to have a threeway with her, they both feel weird about it the next morning, but they're never shown fighting over her. Also, downplayed with Letha in season 1, when Roman is revealed to have slept with Letha while hypnotized, and shows ambiguous romantic interest in her, while she and Peter sleep together willingly.
  • Vegetarian Vampire: After spending several seasons dealing with the hunger, Roman discovers that most Upir refrain from hunting and instead seek occupations like working in blood banks or morgues so they don't attract too much attention. Or if they do hunt, then criminals are generally fair game.
  • Wham Shot: In the last episode of season 2, Miranda jumps off the White Tower with the baby Nadia. Suddenly, a clawed hand ends up catching them both. The shot pulls back to reveal a dragon-like creature, revealing that another supernatural entity has entered the game.
  • Working-Class Werewolves: Werewolf Peter Rumancek lives in a dilapidated trailer and tends to wear the same outfit every day (partly justified in that his family are gypsies, so not having a steady job and moving around a lot comes with the lifestyle). He's contrasted with upir (a type of vampire) Roman Godfrey, who's absolutely rolling in dough (to the point where his mother once casually rented out an entire theme park for him and his cousin for a night).