|“||I am the Shade.||„|
|~ Bertrand Zobrist|
Bertrand Zobrist is an antagonist in Dan Brown's novel Inferno and its 2016 film adaption. He is a billionaire transhumanist scientist who is bent on solving the world's population problem. To accomplish this, he created the titular Inferno virus to cause a massive population culling. Stopping this plan is the goal of the protagonist, Robert Langdon, although Langdon soon realizes that Zobrist has a powerful ally on his side.
Zobrist rose to become one of the world's leading geneticists, biomedical engineers, and millionaires. He openly promoted transhumanism and encouraged people to support his views. At one of these conferences he was visited by a young Sienna Brooks. The two bonded and had sex afterwards, and Sienna became his protege.
One day, he approached his colleague Dr. Elizabeth Sinskey on his population control scheme, but she dismissed him for being a madman. Zobrist, however, had agents from the World Health Organization and the Consortium at his heels; they tried to kidnap Sinskey but were foiled when Robert Langdon entered the conflict. As a result, Zobrist drove himself underground beneath Florence because of the hatred he was garnering.
Zobrist contacted his employees through webcam, using the Dante death mask and a plague doctor costume as his cover. He said he had no fear of death and would end up like Jesus as a matyr and that he was only trying to save humanity, not kill it. He nicknamed himself "the Shade" because of his suicidal views and his ability to remain invisible.
When the Consortium pursued him through Florence one morning, he ran up onto a church roof. When cornered at a window, he said they would never find his virus. With that, he stepped off the roof to his death.
Bertrand is a brilliant scientist and a madman who is obsessed with Dante's Inferno. He intends to solve the world's overpopulation problem by releasing the Inferno virus. As the conflict progresses, it is revealed that the clues he left behind were merely to taunt those who tried to stop him but were too late. He is insane and believes that he is doing a good by releasing a virus on the world (although since it is a sterility plague, he may be less villainous than he appears).
The movie adaption turns Zobrist into a clear-cut villain with goals of wiping out half the world's population with a killer virus. He is also shown to have a very intimate relationship with Sienna Brooks, with the two going out to cafes and making out after playing treasure hunt games.
- It can be argued that Zobrist is an anti-hero rather than a full villain, since the end of the novel reveals that his Inferno virus merely sterilizes part of the population (instead of fully killing it off). This is averted in the movie, where Inferno is a mass culling plague created by a clear antagonistic Zobrist