In The End, due to a harpoon wound
O. (V.F.D. alias)
Actor, Arsonist, Criminal Mastermind, Fugitive, Kidnapper, Murderer, Playwright, V.F.D. Volunteer (Formerly)
Count Olaf is said to be a distant relative of the Baudelaires (their third cousin four times removed or their fourth cousin three times removed, though it is not revealed as to whether he is related through Bertrand or Beatrice) and was once their adoptive father. He holds an unexplained fixation with the Baudelaires' inheritance in particular, and has followed them with a dogged obsession. Olaf's most distinguishing marks are a unibrow and a tattoo of the V.F.D. eye on his ankle. He employs his acting skills and various disguises in his plots. His disguises usually do little besides cover his eyebrow and tattoo, which is sufficient to fool most. The Baudelaires are able to recognize his other characteristics, such as his wheezy voice and shiny eyes, but others don't notice these marks, and very few of them believe the Baudelaires' claims to recognize him.
A letter written from Sally Sebald contains a picture of the young boy who was to play Young Rölf in Zombies in the Snow, a film directed by her brother Gustav Sebald. She says that she thinks his name might be Omar (a name that many confuse with Olaf).
Olaf says that his acting career began when he was approached by Gustav Sebald (then a "young director") because he was the "most handsome fellow at school", which would make it a very old movie, since Count Olaf himself (disguised as Stephano) watches the film in theater with the Baudelaires and Dr. Montgomery.
Count Olaf says that when he was a child he loved raspberries. Violet remarks that she cannot picture Olaf as a child — all his features seem to be those of an adult.
Duncan and Isadora Quagmire mention that a man with similar traits as Olaf strangled a bishop and escaped prison in just ten minutes and another report of him throwing a wealthy widow off a cliff. The Baudelaire children agree that it sounds like Olaf and believe him to be the man mentioned in the articles.
When he notices a map of the Mortmain Mountains in Madame Lulu's tent, Olaf makes reference to a coded stain spilt on the Valley of Four Drafts, stating that he was taught to use such stains to mark secret locations when he was a young boy. Olaf at one point was also after the Snicket fortune.
The White-Faced Women hint that Olaf may have been responsible for the fire that consumed their home and took the life of one of their siblings and perhaps the lives of their parents.
Count Olaf mentions that he saw Fiona when she was an infant, which would mean that he saw her thirteen years ago. He goes on to say that he was attempting to throw thumbtacks in her cradle when he saw her.
It is strongly hinted and almost outright stated by Olaf that he burned down the childhood home of Dewey Denouement and murdered almost his entire family.
In The End Ishmael says that Olaf set fire to his home, murdered his parents, and that he locked him in a bird cage (which Ishmael also does to him) though Olaf says that he did not set that fire to his home.
Kit mentions that she was able to smuggle a box of poison darts to the Baudelaire parents before Esmé Squalor caught her. Through a few subtle hints, it becomes apparent that Lemony Snicket was present as well. Later in the book, when Olaf is confronting the Baudelaires and Dewey Denouement, he dares the Baudelaires to ask Dewey what happened that night at the theater, implying that the Baudelaire parents, Dewey, and the Snickets were there for some sort of sinister purpose. Olaf reveals that poison darts were the reason he became an orphan himself, implying that the Baudelaire parents may have murdered his own parents and possibly explaining his hatred for the Baudelaires.
A young Snicket writes to Beatrice about someone he only identifies as 'O'; "The only other student in [Code Class] that I know is O., who is nothing but an annoyance. As I write this he is filling his notebook with anagrams of obscene words. I'm tempted to tell him there is no such thing as 'a wet viper perm' (thought to be an anagram of 'Preemptive War', although this is never confirmed) but after the incident with the bottle of ink and the root beer float, I think its better to spend my time inside 'My Silence Knot' (which is an anagram of Lemony Snicket) whenever that nitwit raises his ugly, one-eyebrowed head." and "The brightest star cannot shine through a cloud of dark smoke, and O is the darkest of clouds I have seen in our skies. One day the world will know of his treachery and deceit, of his crimes and hygiene, but that's far too late for us."
Olaf had something to do with the schism that separated V.F.D. This is hinted the most in a letter Jacques Snicket wrote to Jerome Squalor. The letter explained that a member which he only referred to as O was acting in such a violent manner that his actions have caused the organization to split in two. As the members of the organization often use the first letter of their names to talk about one and another, it is generally assumed O stands for Olaf. Many members of V.F.D., such as Widdershins, often use Olaf's name immediately when talking about the treachery of the fire starting side of the schism. This hints that Olaf has done a great deal of harm to V.F.D. more than most of the other villains involved have, furthering the concept of him being one of the leaders of the schism.
Olaf was involved with the organization for many years and knows many, if not all, of the secrets surrounding the organization that the Baudelaire children seek to know. He is also responsible for numerous fires and deaths of V.F.D., as mentioned by Lemony Snicket himself, and plans on gaining control of all the fortunes of the members in thirst of revenge and greed.
Olaf had a very troubling past and this may be the reason for his bitterness at the world. Olaf had once loved Kit Snicket, Lemony Snicket's sister, and had told her he would kiss her one last time before his and her death.
It should also be known that Olaf may have gone to Wade Academy, as there is graffiti on the tower that bears his name. (Shouldn't You be in School?)
Guardian of the Baudelaires
The Baudelaire orphans are sent to live with Count Olaf, their closest geographically living relative, after a mysterious fire destroys their home and kills their parents. Olaf's involvement in the fire was long suspected by the Baudelaires. When they finally confronted him and accused of him of starting the fire, Olaf did not seem surprised by the accusation but asked them "Is that what you think?" Whether this is a denial of involvement in the event or means something else is unknown.
Olaf was an actor and had an entire group of similarly evil associates who he refers to as his "theatre troupe". He wrote his own plays, under the pseudonym "Al Funcoot" (an anagram of "Count Olaf").
During the time the Baudelaires lived with him, the children immediately saw Olaf as a short tempered and violent man. Olaf provided them with one filthy room and forced them to do difficult chores (such as making them chop wood solely for his own entertainment) as he schemed to seize control over their fortune. Olaf once hit Klaus hard for talking back to him, and picked up and dangled Sunny for saying No! No! No! in response to his demand for roast beef instead of the puttanesca sauce they made.
Later, Olaf had the children participate in a play in which Violet plays a woman who gets married to a character played by Olaf. The children learned that Olaf was using the play to disguise the fact that the marriage will be legally binding and that he will have control over the fortune once the wedding ceremony is complete. To insure that the children cooperate with the plan, Olaf kidnapped Sunny and had her tied up, put in a cage, and hung outside his tower window, threatening to murder her if the children refused to cooperate.
The plan to marry Violet Baudelaire to gain the inheritance went awry. Violet managed to thwart Olaf's plan by signing the marriage with her left hand instead of her right, which as she was right-handed, was the required one to make it legally binding. Olaf was exposed as a criminal and fled, but not before promising to Violet that he would get his hands on her fortune no matter what and then murder her and her siblings with his bare hands. The children were sent to different relatives, with Olaf following in pursuit.
Olaf's plans became more dangerous and murderous in nature. Many of them included the murder of the children's guardians, such as Uncle Monty and Aunt Josephine. His plots also commonly includes burning down buildings, such as the Hotel Denouement, and Caligari Carnival. His plans were often complicated and many of the earlier ones involved him attempting to get the orphans legally into his care. Later, he simply wanted to abduct one child, murder the other two, and use the kidnapped one to blackmail Mr. Poe into giving over the fortune. Regardless of his tactics, Olaf's plans were always aimed at the goal of abducting the children through elaborate methods.
Finally, the Baudelaires accuse Count Olaf of making them orphans, a suspicion that all three siblings had kept in their hearts for as long as they can remember. Count Olaf, however, upon asking the Baudelaires if that's what they really think and receiving Sunny's cold answer, "We know it," retorts that the orphans "know nothing," thus making it uncertain if he was really the one responsible for that particular fire.
At first Olaf only showed that he wanted the children's fortune, it is later revealed that he also desired the Quagmire sapphires, the Snicket file, and the Sugar bowl, although he is repeatedly shown to have a greater interest in the Baudelaire fortune than in any of these other treasures. Olaf also develops plans to gain control of numerous other fortunes from children whose parents are V.F.D. members by burning down their homes and murdering all their parents. Olaf then plans to recruit the children as new "associates" or more appropriately, prisoners, and help him destroy what's left of V.F.D. Olaf's other main goal is to destroy V.F.D in order to eliminate the last evidence of his plans so that he may execute any other scheme he wants to without the worry of the authorities. Eventually Olaf no longer using complicated methods to obtain the children's fortune and just intends on capturing them to get the fortune. His plans were from then on usually aimed at the goal of destroying V.F.D., although his obsession with the fortune is still to him, "the greater good."
Olaf finally shows signs of hesitation at committing crimes and murder. In this volume, he was about to kill one of the Denouement triplets when the Baudelaires begged him to stop and be a noble person. Olaf whispered, "What else can I do?" This gave rise to speculation that Olaf was not entirely evil, but feels obligated to continue his deeds as he has already gone too far from being noble. He is able to flee the burning Hotel Denouement by boarding the boat (then called the Carmelita) with the three Baudelaires.
Olaf wears a new disguise of someone who works under the guardians or works near the area, usually murdering the person who had the occupation previously, that usually fools everyone but the Baudelaires. One or two of his henchmen, also usually disguised, accompany him and aid him in executing his schemes. The following is a list his primary disguises.
- Stephano, Dr. Montgomery's assistant herpetologist with a long beard and no eyebrows
- Captain Julio Sham, a sailor with an eye-patch and a wooden leg (the real Julio Sham is captain of the Prospero).
- a Rabbi, Count Olaf donned this disguise in order to board a train in order to flee Lake Lacrymose's proximity
- Shirley T. Sinoit-Pécer, Dr. Orwell's receptionist (T. Sinoit-Pécer is receptionist backwards).
- Coach Genghis, a 'renowned' gym teacher who works for Vice-Principal Nero who wears a turban to cover his one eyebrow, and expensive looking running shoes to cover his tattoo of an eye on his ankle.
- Gunther, a pinstripe-suit wearing auctioneer. He pretends to come from another country so people believe that he doesn't speak fluent English. Olaf constantly says "please" after and in the middle of every sentence. This is also done by Madame Lulu. He wears horse riding boots to cover up his tattoo, and a monocle to distort his eyebrow.
- Detective Dupin, a 'famous' detective obsessed with what's cool, including ridiculous sunglasses which cover up his one eyebrow and plastic shoes that hide the tattoo of an eye on his ankle. He seemingly murdered the real police chief of the Village of Fowl Devotees.
- Mattathias, Heimlich Hospital's new Human Resources director. His presence is only known from a voice over the intercom, while the previous HR director's fate is unknown. However, it is presumed that she was pushed off a building.
- Kit Snicket, Count Olaf disguises himself as a pregnant Kit Snicket and uses the helmet containing the Medusoid Mycelium as his false baby (this is his only disguise that doesn't fool a single person).
- Al Funcoot, An anagram for and used by Count Olaf (the playwright of The Marvelous Marriage)
It is no longer necessary for Olaf to use any disguises as he murders a man, Jacques Snicket, who was believed to be Count Olaf/Omar at the time. The Daily Punctilio published articles prior to this event that entailed that the man who committed numerous crimes was Count Omar and not Olaf. This allowed Olaf to no longer disguise himself and even use his own name as everyone believed Omar was the villain's name. Even though his need for disguises was minimum, he does so one last time in the Hostile Hospital to gain entry into the area. The eighth book also starts Olaf's open obsession with fire, as he burns down Heimlich Hospital in that book and then Caligari Carnival in the ninth book. Numerous mentions of other fires he started and others he plans to do strengthen the theory that he was the one who burnt the Baudelaire Mansion down and murdered the parents.
Olaf was rejected (due to his unkind behavior) by Friday, one of the inhabitants of a remote island, which he'd named "Olaf-land" after himself, where he was marooned with the Baudelaire orphans after a vicious storm. After a pregnant Kit Snicket was also stranded in another storm, Olaf attempts to disguise himself as her, using a round diving helmet filled with Medusoid Mycelium (a poisonous fungus whose spores cause death within the hour of exposure) to make his stomach bulge as though he were pregnant.
Olaf's personality is significantly different as he is seen as more timid and depressed. This is probably due to the fact that none of his past methods and tactics work on the islanders and that there is truly no place for him on the island. Olaf is also shown to sympathize with the children, telling them that life is unfair and a miserable place. He seems to have gained a reluctant respect for them, calling them his new henchmen and even attempting to convince them to escape with him.
Later, the island's leader, Ishmael, fires a harpoon at Olaf (as Olaf planned) only for it to hit the encased Mycelium against his stomach and causing it to burst so that its deadly spores are released into the air, contaminating all of the islanders as well as Olaf himself. Olaf started laughing, stating that Ishmael has murdered everyone on the island as he has just released a deadly fungus into the air.
Olaf realizes that he has nothing left to live for, having lost all his henchmen, his parents, his girlfriend, his true love, all his plans ruined, and no chance of obtaining the Baudelaire fortune or any other one for that matter. Too depressed to go on living, Olaf at first refuses to take a specially produced apple (which is mixed with horseradish, the cure for the Mycelium), saying that he has lost everything important to him. However, upon finding out that Kit Snicket is going into labor, he eats the healing apple and carries her to where she can better-perform childbirth, thus performing what Violet calls the one good deed in his life (during which he surprisingly kisses Kit on the lips, hinting at a past relationship between the two).
Although Count Olaf was cured from the Medusoid Mycelium, he was still dying from the harpoon wound. He looks at the Baudelaire orphans in pain and helps the Baudelaires bring Kit on to the beach who seems to be dying from the fungus. The Baudelaires help Kit give birth when she recites the poem "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes" by Francis William Bourdillion which is answered by Olaf reciting the final stanza of Philip Larkins's "This Be the Verse". Afterwards, Olaf laughs and finally dies. Kit is buried along with Count Olaf.
Notes: In Lemony Snicket's Unauthorized Autobiography, the VFD members are talking about where to find new headquarters. O. (Olaf) and E. (Esmé) interrupt the conversation. O. Announces that he wants to be called 'T'. It is implied that his real name starts with a 'T'. However, he could only want to be called, "The Count."
In The Bad Beginning Special Edition at the Author's Notes, Lemony Snicket has hinted that the City's official fire department might actually be owned by Olaf, based on the fact there is a large O signage at the fire department.
Olaf is described as tall, thin, unkempt and often dirty. Olaf's poor hygiene is frequent and Olaf mentions that he often goes ten days without a shower. His lack of personal hygiene worsens although Sunny Baudelaire is shocked to see that Olaf has bathed and changed into a new suit.
His other distinguishing features include shiny eyes that frighten the Baudelaires, pale skin, a unibrow, and a tattoo of an eye on his ankle which is a mark for members of VFD, the organization to which Olaf belonged before becoming what he describes as "an individual practitioner." He is depicted with white, receding hair, a goatee beard and a hooked, prominent nose.
Olaf said the same last words that Kit said to the Baudelaires.
Behind the Scenes
- Part of the depiction of Olaf being such a bad person in the narration of ASOUE seems to be from Lemony Snicket's own personal dislike of Olaf.
- Olaf is a Scandinavian name, meaning "ancestor", though whether Handler picked the name for its meaning is unknown. But Handler has stated that part of the reason he picked the name was to keep the location of ASOUE unknown (as the name of the Baudelaire children are from other locations).
- Olaf and Kit Snicket may have once been a couple, judging by the way Olaf said her name before biting the apple in The End.
- In the dark comedy film adaption A Series of Unfortunate Events, Count Olaf is portrayed by Jim Carrey who also portrays Olaf's disguises is the movie.
- Olaf disguises himself as Stephano and Captain Sham in the film adaptation.
- In the film, Olaf's eye tattoo resembles Brett Helquist's earlier illustrations, rather than the V.F.D. insignia seen in later books.
- In the film adaptation the children are taken out of Olaf's care after he nearly hits them with a train (he parked on the train tracks and left them there, locked in the car), and Mr. Poe takes them out of his care because Olaf "let Sunny drive".
- In the film adaptation when Count Olaf saves the children from the leeches they are placed back in his care and then are forced to participate in the play, The Marvelous Marriage, instead of how they left Olaf's care in the first place.
- In the film, it is directly stated that it was Olaf, with a special invention, who burned down the Baudelaire mansion. In the books this is something left ambiguous to the reader.
- His license plate is IH8 ORFNS.
- The Bad Beginning
- The Reptile Room
- The Wide Window
- The Miserable Mill
- The Austere Academy
- The Ersatz Elevator
- The Vile Village
- The Hostile Hospital
- The Carnivorous Carnival
- The Slippery Slope
- The Grim Grotto
- The Penultimate Peril
- The End
- Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
- Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (video game)
- ↑ The Bad Beginning
- ↑ The Reptile Room
- ↑ The Wide Window
- ↑ The Miserable Mill
- ↑ The Austere Academy
- ↑ The Ersatz Elevator
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 The Vile Village
- ↑ The Hostile Hospital
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 The End
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 In the transcript in Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography someone generally believed that Olaf is going by "T."
- ↑ O was his former V.F.D alias.
- ↑ In The Bad Beginning, the author of "The Marvelous Marriage" is said to be "Al Funcoot"; Al Funcoot is an anagram of Count Olaf. Sunny also refers to him as "Funcoot" in The Dismal Dinner.
- ↑ The Jewish Secrets of Lemony Snicket