After their parents perished in the fire that destroyed their home, the Baudelaire children were sent to numerous guardians. Arthur Poe, a family friend and executor of the Baudelaire parents' will, did his best to obey Mr. and Mrs. Baudelaire's wishes by sending the children to various relatives. Eventually no one will take the Baudelaires, who seem to attract danger, so Mr. Poe is forced to look outside the family for a suitable guardian.
1. The Bad Beginning: Count Olaf. He is quickly shown to be evil and proceeds to become the main antagonist of all thirteen books. He was about to be arrested at the end of book one, but managed to escape.
2. The Reptile Room: Uncle Monty (deceased). He was a very kind man whom the children liked very much. Unfortunately, Count Olaf in the alias of Dr. Montgomery's assistant Stephano fatally injected him with the venom of the Mamba du Mal with the Hook-Handed Man in the alias of Dr. O. Lucafont blaming the Incredibly Deadly Viper for the attack. The Baudelaire children expose the truth, but Count Olaf and the Hook-Handed Man get away.
3. The Wide Window: Aunt Josephine (deceased). A timid widow scared of everything from hurricanes to sofas, Josephine Anwhistle nonetheless takes in the children in the third book. Count Olaf, disguised as Captain Sham, threatens Josephine so frighteningly she pretends to jump out a window to escape him. The Baudelaires sail out to the cave she's hiding in to ask for her help in foiling Captain Sham's plans, but she fails to tell them she ate a banana, meaning that the vicious Lake Lachrymose Leeches will smell food on her and attack. Captain Sham rescues the orphans in the nick of time, but pushes their Aunt Josephine over the side to be eaten by the leeches. Some time later, two fisherman find her life jacket in tatters.
4. The Miserable Mill: Sir. His name is so unpronounceable, he insists everyone simply call him Sir. He is an extremely selfish, hardhearted man who owns the Lucky Smells Lumbermill . He treats his employees -some of whom are his cousins- horribly and even illegally. When he takes in the orphans, he forces them to work in the mill. After Count Olaf in the alias of Shirley and the The Bald Man with the Long Nose in the alias of Foreman Flacutono cause all sorts of problems where Count Olaf's accomplice Georgina Orwell ends up killed in battle with Sunny, he blames the Baudelaires and fires them thinking that they will bring more misery to the lumbermill.
5. The Austere Academy: Vice Principal Nero. Nero is the vice principal of Prufrock Preparatory School. He is a very mean man who thinks he is the greatest violinist in the world, while in reality he plays dreadfully badly. He hates being a vice principal and takes out his frustration on the students, nastily mimicking what they say and even forcing a few to live in a crab-infested shed full of straw and fungus. When the Baudelaires perform poorly in classes and "cheat" in the S.O.R.E. exams overseen by Count Olaf in the alias of Coach Genghis, Nero gleefully expels them.
6. The Ersatz Elevator: Jerome Squalor and Esmé Squalor. Jerome is a kind man who wanted to adopt the children as soon as he heard of their troubles, but his wife, Esmé, refused to do so because orphans weren't "in" at the time. Esmé is a selfish woman whose only concerned with what is "in" (fashionable) and what is "out" (unfashionable). As soon as orphans were "in", she became the guardian of the Baudelaires, thinking her friends would die of jealousy once they found out she had three whole orphans. During the course of the sixth book, Esmé reveals that Count Olaf was her acting teacher once upon a time and that she is his girlfriend. She schemes with Olaf in the alias of Gunther to claim the Baudelaire fortune and kidnaps the Quagmire children, running off with the Count at the end of the book. Jerome wants to protect the Baudelaires by taking them far, far away where they'll be safe, but the Baudelaires refuse because they want to rescue their kidnapped friends first. Jerome is not a brave man and is too frightened by Count Olaf to try to track him down. However, Jerome doesn't wish to argue with the children, so he sadly says goodbye to them and tells Mr. Poe to find them another guardian.
7. The Vile Village: Hector. While technically the whole Village of Fowl Devotees is the Baudelaire's' new guardian, they live with Hector the Handyman. The village has very strict rules, with the punishment for breaking any of them is being burnt at the stake. Hector is not happy living in the village and works on a self-sustaining hot air balloon mobile home so he can run away. Violet and Klaus are happy to help him and manage to get it off the ground, so to speak. When they rescue the Quagmires, they all try to escape the village by means of the airborne mobile home. Hector and the Quagmires manage to escape, but Esmé (disguised as a police officer) shoots the rope ladder with harpoons and succeeds in bringing the Baudelaires back to the ground where Count Olaf in the alias of Detective Dupin frames them for the murder of "Count Olaf" (who was actually Jacques Snicket where he was mistaken for him).
8. The Hostile Hospital: Hal. As the Baudelaires are now on the run, they don't have a guardian. But Hal is an old man who runs the Heimlich Hospital library of records and is kind to the Baudelaires, allowing them to help out in the library. While he initially blamed them for the fire started by Count Olaf's associates, he later comes to forgive them.
9. The Carnivorous Carnival: Madame Lulu (deceased). The Baudelaire children disguise themselves as freaks to escape the notice of Count Olaf and his troupe and get hired by the owner of Caligari Carnival, fortune-teller Madame Lulu, as part of the freak show. During the course of the book, they find out that Lulu is a fake fortune teller and that her real name is Olivia. They plan to escape to the Mortmain Mountains together, but Olivia is eaten by lions alongside the Bald Man with the Long Nose before they have a chance to leave.
11. The Grim Grotto: Captain Widdershins. (deceased?) Plucking the orphans from a river, Captain Widdershins makes them part of his submarine crew. He tells them a tiny bit about V.F.D. and is on a quest for the all-important sugar bowl. He's a kindhearted man and plans a small party for Violet's fifteenth birthday before he disappears.
12. The Penultimate Peril: Kit Snicket could be considered the person who looks after the Baudelaires in this book, though she is not their guardian. They are also watched over by hotel managers Frank Denouement, Ernest Denouement, and Dewey Denouement at the time where they worked as concierges at the Hotel Denouement.
13. The End: Ishmael could be considered a guardian in this book. He is the leader of the small colony of castaways on the island the Baudelaires shipwreck on.
After The End: None or unknown
- Most of the Baudelaires' living guardians (excluding Hector, Widdershins, and Ishmael) are brought to the Hotel Denouement in The Penultimate Peril.