by a harpoon gun or Hotel Denouement fire (possibly)
Vice President in Charge of Orphan Affairs
- "I'm afraid I have some very bad news for you children. Your parents... have perished in a terrible fire. They perished... in a fire that destroyed the entire house. I'm very, very sorry to tell you this, my dears. Perish means killed."
- —Mr. Poe to the Baudelaire orphans
Arthur Poe was a financial banker who was promoted to the position of Vice President in Charge of Orphan Affairs at Mulctuary Money Management.
He is usually blatantly ignorant and easily fooled by all of Count Olaf's disguises. Mr. Poe is unhelpful and he has never listened to the Baudelaire orphans (Violet, Klaus and Sunny) nor believed them when they were allowed to speak their minds. Mr. Poe continually believes that the children will be safe wherever they are ending up despite the fact that are always found by Olaf. Mr. Poe is so unhelpful that he accidentally called a Vietnamese restaurant instead of the police when the Quagmires were being kidnapped. In The Austere Academy, Lemony Snicket notes, "Mr. Poe meant well, but a jar of mustard probably also means well and would do a better job of keeping the Baudelaires out of danger. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny had long ago learned that the only thing they could count on from Mr. Poe was that he was always coughing."
It is also revealed by Count Olaf that Mr. Poe had a stage name in The End, although it still remains unknown what that name was.
Arthur Poe has two children: Edgar and Albert, and a wife, Polly. His sister, Eleanora Poe, is believed to be a V.F.D. member as well as the Editor-in-Chief for the The Daily Punctilio; she assigned Lemony Snicket to be the dramatic critic for the very same newspaper.
A Series of Unfortunate Events
The Bad Beginning
Poe is the first to bring the news of Bertrand and Beatrice's death to the Baudelaire children. As executor of the Baudelaire estate, he interprets the will's instructions that the children "be raised in the most convenient way possible" as meaning they should remain within the city limits, and arranges for their distant cousin Count Olaf to take custody. Before going to Olaf's, the Baudelaires briefly stay at his house.
When the Baudelaires contact Poe at his bank, Mulctuary Money Management, to report Olaf's abuse, the children call Olaf a madman, mention they are only provided one bed, forced to do many chores, say Olaf drinks too much wine, has many terrible friends, and is always asking about their money. The banker points out that Olaf is acting "in loco parentis", and can raise them as he sees fit, even if they may not like some aspects, even not caring about the fact that Klaus was slapped across the face, angering Violet. Mr. Poe says, "Now, I hate to usher you out posthaste, but I have very much work to do. Posthaste means—” “—means you’ll do nothing to help us,” Violet finished for him, shaking with frustration. Frustrated, the Baudelaires decide to suck it up and leave.
The next morning, Olaf reveals Mr. Poe blabbed to him about their visit, when they expected it to be private.
When Olaf traps Sunny in a birdcage and attempts to force Violet to marry him, Poe invokes citizen's arrest just prior to Count Olaf's escape.
Following these events, Poe successively places the children under the care of Montgomery "Monty" Montgomery, Josephine Anwhistle, Sir, Vice Principal Nero, Jerome and Esmé Squalor, and finally the Village of Fowl Devotees, acting as their temporary guardian in the interim.
When the Baudelaires escape the village amidst accusations of murder (and later arson and kidnapping), Poe is one of the few adults to maintain the Baudelaires' innocence and disbelieve the incriminating Daily Punctilio articles published by his sister Eleanora, especially after they send him this telegram:
- To: Mr. Poe at Mulctuary Money Management
- From: Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire.
- Please do not believe the story about us printed in The Daily Punctilio. Count Olaf is not really dead, and we did not really murder him. Soon after our arrival in the town of V.F.D. we were informed that Count Olaf had been captured. Although the arrested man had an eye tattooed on his ankle and one eyebrow instead of two, he was not Count Olaf. His name was Jacques Snicket.
- The next day he was found murdered, and Count Olaf arrived in town along with his girlfriend, Esmé Squalor. As part of his plan to steal the fortune our parents left behind, Count Olaf disguised himself as a detective and convinced the town of V.F.D. that we were the murderers.
- Meanwhile we discovered where the Quagmire triplets were being hidden, and helped them escape. The Quagmires managed to give us a few scraps of their notebooks so we could try to learn the real meaning of V.F.D. We have managed to flee from the citizens of the town, who want to burn us at the stake for a murder that we did not commit.
- Please reply at once. We are in grave danger.
In The Carnivorous Carnival, Violet attempts to give Mr. Poe a phone call. Mr. Poe was not a wicked person, but he had mistakenly placed them in the company of so much wickedness that he had been almost as wicked as an actual wicked person, and the children were not particularly eager to contact him again, even if it was all they could think of. However, the operator hangs up on Violet.
In The Grim Grotto, when the Baudelaires return to the city to meet up with V.F.D., Poe intervenes on a tip from a "J.S." (initials variously used by Jerome Squalor, Justice Strauss, Count Olaf, Esmé Squalor, and possibly others), saying he should go to Briny Breach. His intent is to clear the Baudelaires' names and restore his role as executor. However, the children refuse to accompany him.
After Mrs. Bass robs Mulctuary Money Management, Poe is placed in charge of the investigation, which leads him to the Hotel Denouement in The Penultimate Peril. He shows up when Count Olaf, Esmé, Hugo, Colette, and Kevin confront the Baudelaire children and Dewey Denouement which leads to an incident where Dewey is accidentally killed by the harpoon gun that a panicking Count Olaf throws into the Baudelaire children's arms which is accidentally dropped. When the hotel is set on fire, Poe is last seen on the third floor. Whether he survives or not is left unanswered.
Behind the scenes
In the film, he is portrayed by Timothy Spall.
In the video game, he is voiced by Daniel Hagen.
In the TV series, he is portrayed by K. Todd Freeman.
- "Seven. Seven. Seven. Seven. Six and a half. Seven. You’re welcome." (during a phone call)
- "'In loco parentis’ means ‘acting in the role of parent. It is a legal term and it applies to Count Olaf. Now that you are in his care, the Count may raise you using any methods he sees fit. I’m sorry if your parents did not make you do any household chores, or if you never saw them drink any wine, or if you like their friends better than Count Olaf’s friends, but these are things that you must get used to, as Count Olaf is acting in loco parentis. Understand?"
- "Goodness! Golly! Good God! Blessed Allah! Zeus and Hera! Mary and Joseph! Nathaniel Hawthorne! Don't touch her! Grab her! Move closer! Run away! Don't move! Kill the snake! Leave it alone! Give it some food! Don't let it bite her! Lure the snake away! Here, snakey! Here, snakey snakey! It bit her! It bit her! It bited her! Calm down! Get moving! Call an ambulance! Call the police! Call a scientist! Call my wife! This is terrible! This is awful! This is ghastly! This is phantasmagorical!"
- Mr. Poe: "You must forgive the children. They tend to see Count Olaf everywhere."
Klaus: "That's because he IS everywhere."
- "Children, I'm very disturbed by your behavior. You look like you haven't washed in a week. You're spending your money on ridiculous items. You run around accusing everybody of being Count Olaf in disguise. And now you've made a big mess of doilies on the floor. Someone is likely to trip and fall on all these slippery napkins. I would have thought that the Squalors would be raising you better than this."
- Mr. Poe: "Don't be absurd! I don't know where you've been, or how you got here, or why you're wearing a picture of Santa Claus on your shirts, but–"
Klaus: "It's Herman Melville. Goodbye, Mr. Poe."
- "Imagination's all well and good for children's books or digital entertainment, but this is real life." (to the Baudelaires)
- "Here's a fun bit of trivia. The architect who built this school was severely depressed." (about Prufrock Preparatory School's design)
- Both his name, and those of his two sons', are derived from poet Edgar Allan Poe.
- Mr. Poe has a persistent cough, which often heralds his arrival into a particular scene. In Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography, someone records a conversation between Mr. Poe and his sister at the Anxious Clown. During the conversation, it is revealed that Mr. Poe has had the cough since childhood.
- Some fans theorize that his inability to recognize Count Olaf's face through his disguises means he may have a form of prosopagnosia.
- In the TV series, Mr. Poe is so inept at taking care of the Baudelaires that he loses them at the end of "The Wide Window: Part Two" (which does not happen in the books). In the beginning of "The Miserable Mill: Part One", he looks at the camera and breaks the fourth wall, saying, "It’s a catastrophe! It’s unprecedented! It’s off-book! It’s unfortunate! The Baudelaires are lost and unsupervised! Do you know what that means?" Mr. Poe says this to the fish head salesperson who is played by Daniel Handler.
- The Bad Beginning
- The Reptile Room
- The Wide Window
- The Miserable Mill
- The Austere Academy
- The Ersatz Elevator
- The Vile Village
- The Hostile Hospital (Mentioned only)
- The Carnivorous Carnival (Mentioned only)
- The Slippery Slope (Mentioned only)
- The Grim Grotto
- The Penultimate Peril
- The End (Mentioned only)
- Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography
- Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (film)
- Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (video game)
- A Series of Unfortunate Events (TV series)
- ↑ Lemony Snicket says "it wasn't Mr. Poe's destiny to be killed by a harpoon gun, at least not this evening in particular." This could mean that Mr. Poe will eventually be killed by a harpoon gun on a different occasion or simply, he just did not die on this particular evening.
- ↑ As implied in the rare edition edition of The Bad Beginning.