The children's novel series A Series of Unfortunate Events features a large cast of characters created by Lemony Snicket. The series follows the turbulent lives of the Baudelaire orphans after their parents, Bertrand and Beatrice, are killed in an arsonous structure fire.
The author of the series is Lemony Snicket (the nom de plume of Daniel Handler), who plays a major role in the plot himself. Although the series is given no distinct location, other real persons appear in the narrative as well, including the series' illustrator, Brett Helquist, and Daniel Handler himself.
Count Olaf is the main antagonist and one of the primary characters of the series, making an appearance in each installment, alongside the Baudelaire children. Olaf is an eccentric criminal and is known to have committed many crimes as a member of the fire-starting side of V.F.D., a Volunteer Fire Department that eventually branched into a massive secret organization, prior to the events of the first book in the series. Olaf is repeatedly described as extremely tall and thin and having a unibrow, a wheezy voice, gleaming eyes, and extremely poor hygiene. He is often distinguished by the tattoo of an eye on his left ankle.
Following the death of their parents, the Baudelaire orphans are placed under his care, and he proves to be a horrible guardian who is only interested in the fortune left behind by their parents. After Olaf loses his guardianship over the children, he begins a series of attempts to steal the fortune by wearing various disguises and murdering Gustav Sebald, Montgomery Montgomery, Josephine Anwhistle, and Jacques Snicket, among scores of other related and unrelated victims, as well as attempting to murder Charles and countless others characters.
Count Olaf's aliases have included:
While the Baudelaire children are always able to see through his disguises and intentions, the adults around them remain completely oblivious to the villain and fail to aid the children, forcing the Baudelaires to unmask Count Olaf and his various schemes numerous times throughout the series.
With the death of Jacques, who is mistakenly identified as the count by The Daily Punctilio, the target of the police manhunt for Olaf shifts to the Baudelaires, who are framed for the murder of Jacques. Olaf uses his newfound immunity to burn down Heimlich Hospital and Caligari Carnival without repercussions. When he and the Baudelaires burn the Hotel Denouement down, however, they are forced to flee the authorities by escaping to sea, where they shipwreck on the island on the coastal shelf. In an attempt to take control of the island, Olaf threatens to release the airborne pathogens of Medusoid Mycelium on the colonists, but is harpooned by Ishmael. Olaf lives long enough to help Kit Snicket safely deliver her child, then he softly kisses her on the lips, events the Baudelaires refer to as the "one good thing" in his life.
Al Funcoot - Al Funcoot is an anagram of "Count Olaf". He uses it as his nom de plume when writing The Marvelous Marriage, in addition to The Most Handsome Man in the World, its sequel, Why, I Believe I've Become Even More Handsome!, and One Last Warning to Those Who Try to Stand in My Way, as referenced in The Unauthorized Autobiography.
Captain Julio Sham - A sea captain with an eye-patch and a wooden leg (the real Julio Sham is captain of the Prospero).
Shirley T. Sinoit-Pécer - An optometrist's feminine receptionist - T.Sinoit-Pécer is "receptionist" spelled backwards.
Coach Genghis - A sweatsuit-wearing gym teacher with a turban, covering his one eyebrow, and expensive looking running shoes, covering his ankle's eye tattoo.
Gunther (/ˈɡuːntər/ GOON-tər) - A pinstripe suit-wearing auctioneer. He pretends to come from a foreign country so that people will believe that he doesn't speak fluent English. Olaf constantly says "please" after and in the middle of every sentence in this disguise. This is also done by Madame Lulu in "The Carnivorous Carnival". 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 eyebrow and green plastic shoes with yellow lightning bolts on them to cover his tattoo. The alias name is a reference to C. Auguste Dupin.
Mattathias MAT-ə-THY-əs - Heimlich Hospital's new Human Resources director. The only sign of his presence is his voice over the hospital intercom.
Kit Snicket - Olaf used this disguise to fool everyone in The Island in The End but failed. The disguise consists of seaweed hair, Esme Squalor's dress which she wore in The Slippery Slope, and a diving helmet with the Medusoid Mycelium to make it look like Olaf is pregnant.
- In the 2004 film as well as its video game adaption, Violet is played by Emily Browning.
- In the 2017 TV series, she is played by Malina Weissman.
- In the 2004 film as well as its video game adaption, Klaus is played by Liam Aiken.
- In the 2017 TV series, he is played by Louis Hynes.
- In the 2004 film, Sunny is played by Kara and Shelby Hoffman. In the video game adaption, her vocal effects are provided by Karis Campbell.
- In the 2017 TV series, she is played by Presley Smith with Tara Strong providing her baby vocal effects.
- In the 2004 film, Lemony Snicket is portrayed by Jude Law where he is shown writing the story on a typewriter inside a clock tower. In the video game adaption, he is voiced by Tim Curry.
- In the 2017 TV series, he is portrayed by Patrick Warburton who appears as the onscreen narrator that is shown in different outfits to go with specific scenes.
- In the film adaptation, Montgomery Montgomery is played by Billy Connolly. Klaus sees Uncle Monty with a spyglass similar to the one he found in his father's desk drawer, and later finds one that belongs to Aunt Josephine. Klaus also found a picture with his parents, Aunt Josephine, Uncle Monty, and other presumably VFD members, all holding spyglasses. He is older and one of the more sympathetic characters in the movie. He gives the children a wonderful home, but faces the same fate as the other sympathetic guardians. In the video game adaption, he is voiced by Bob Joles.
- In the 2017 Netflix television series, he is played by Aasif Mandvi. Monty is also shown to have a ticket taker ally who spliced the film footage so that Monty can copy down the remaining message. In addition, he fought off the two White-Faced Women's attempt to capture him while thinking that they were helping Stefano to steal his research for the herpetology society.
- In the film adaptation, Aunt Josephine is played by Meryl Streep. In the video game adaption, she is voiced by Donna Bullock.
- In the 2017 Netflix television series, she is played by Alfre Woodard. She had her first encounter with Count Olaf where his theater troupe posed as random civilians talking about him.
- In the film, the Hook-Handed Man is portrayed by Jamie Harris. He is British and as revealed in the deleted scenes, is obsessed with pirates which is something that annoys Count Olaf. The Hook-Handed Man seems to relish in his use of his hook hands. In the video game adaption, the Hook-Handed Man is voiced by Jay Gordon.
- In the Netflix series, he is portrayed by Usman Ally. He has scars on his face, is bald-headed, and his hook hands have claws. He has the most interaction with the Baudelaires and makes constant threats. Though he also does not appear to have any problem understanding Sunny. As a nod to the books, he likes to play cards and does so with Sunny while he is guarding her. However, just like the Bald Man, the Hook-Handed Man too appears to be comically unintelligent.
- In the film, the Bald Man is portrayed by Luis Guzmán. He is shown to be the least sinister with no long nose but a short one, and for that matter least intelligent, of the troupe. The deleted scenes reveal that he wishes to have a prominent role in The Marvelous Marriage, but Count Olaf makes him the effects man instead. In the video game adaption, the Bald Man is voiced by S. Scott Bullock.
- In the Netflix series, the Bald Man is portrayed by John DeSantis. He is shown to be rather large and intimidating with a short nose instead of long one. In addition, the Bald Man has a deep bellowing voice. Despite this, he is shown to be just as unintelligent as his movie counterpart. Also, he was the one who caused the blackout that enabled Count Olaf and his theatre troupe to get away and his Foreman Flacutono alias was used by the Hook-Handed Man instead.
- In the film, the Person is portrayed by Craig Ferguson. Most of the Person's dialogue is cut from the film, the Person possess a Scottish accent and surprisingly they too are unsure of their gender, though Count Olaf calls them 'Eliza' even after referring to them as 'he.'
- In the Netflix series, the Person is portrayed by Matty Cardarople. The Person is the youngest member of the troupe and unlike the books, actually talks a lot. However, the Person's speaking is prone to mumbling and mostly consists of rather educated observations that tend to agree with the Baudelaires' arguments. In the episodes adapted from "The Reptile Room," the Person poses as Nurse Lucafont while his follow troupe members pose as members of the sheriff's department putting Uncle Monty's house under quarantine following Uncle Monty's death.
- In the film, the White-Faced Women are portrayed by Jennifer Coolidge and Jane Adams. They are both rather vain and seem to have a slight attraction to Count Olaf. As revealed in the deleted scenes, they seem to be slightly reciprocated. In the video game adaption, the White-Faced Women are voiced by Jocelyn Blue and Kari Wahlgren. The White-Faced Women in the video game adaption are named White-Faced Jen and White-Faced Jane after the actress that portrayed them in the film.
- In the Netflix series, the White-Faced Women are portrayed by Jacqueline and Joyce Robbins. They are twins, they both wear glasses, and are both elderly. They admire Count Olaf and are always finishing each other's sentences. The first part of "The Reptile Room" episode had them attempting to capture Uncle Montgomery only for him to thwart their plan.
- In the film, she is played by Deborah Theaker.
- In the television series her character is combined with Eleanora Poe.
- In the film, Justice Strauss is portrayed by Catherine O'Hara. In the video game adaption, she is voiced by April Stewart.
- In the Netflix series, she is portrayed by Joan Cusack. Her library is shown to have a book on secret societies. At the end of the second part of "The Bad Beginning," she pushes the book on secret societies that was partially pulled out back in sometime after the Baudelaire children were transferred to Uncle Monty.
Alonso - Not much is known about Alonso except for the fact that prior to living on the island, he was involved in a dreadful political scandal. He is named after a character in Shakespeare's The Tempest.
Calypso - She is named after the sea nymph Calypso from Greek mythology.
Erewhon - A former inhabitant of an island far away from the castaway's island. Erewhon was the one responsible for orchestrating the mutiny on Ishmael. She is named after the utopia in Samuel Butler's book of the same name. It is also an anagram of Nowhere.
Finn - A young girl who assisted Omeros in picking the wild onions. Finn once found a typewriter in one of the shipwrecks. She is named after Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn.
Miranda Caliban - The mother of Friday and the husband of Thursday. Miranda covered up the fact to her daughter that her father left the island by stating that he was killed in a manatee accident. Though Miranda stated that it was better that she and Friday remained on the island. She is named after a character in Shakespeare's The Tempest.
Omeros - He is possibly named after the Greek epic poet Homer, whose Iliad and Odyssey deal extensively with sea voyages and shipwrecks; another possibility is the 1990 poem of the same name by Derek Walcott, which is partly a retelling of the Odyssey set in the Caribbean.
Rabbi Bligh - The castaways' residential rabbi. He is named after Bounty captain William Bligh.
Thursday - The father of Friday Caliban and the husband of Miranda Caliban. He was an islander for a short time before the events of book. Miranda covered up the fact to her daughter that her father left the island by stating that he was killed in a manatee accident.
Weyden - A red-haired woman who first arrived at the island on a raft. She is named after Humphrey Van Weyden, a character in Jack London's The Sea-Wolf.
Willa - She is possibly named after writer Willa Cather who refers to a shipwreck in a notable quotation.