Count Olaf is the main antagonist of Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. Count Olaf is greedy, and will go any lengths to get what he wants, even if it involves murder. He appears in every book of the "Series of Unfortunante Events," in some form or another.
He is a very intelligent villain, having the ability to stay ahead of the authorities and know just what the authorities will do in order to hunt him. Count Olaf can fool even the most intelligent person around him and even guardians of the Baudelaires - Some of whom have known Olaf for years - are not above his deceit and villainy.
Count Olaf was ruthless, evil, cruel, and immoral, showing no concerns about physically beating children as young as infants, as is shown when he imprisons Sunny Baudelaire in a cage, and tries to marry fourteen year old Violet Baudelaire, although this is merely for his own financial gain and not for romance - As he plans to kill Violet along with her siblings Klaus and Sunny. He has abused all the Baudelaires in some way, be it emotionally, physically or mentally. Count Olaf was apparently evil from his schooldays, as Lemony Snicket writes that "one day the world will know of O's treachery" and that "the Sun cannot shine through the blackest of skies" and Olaf seems to enjoy flattering people to gain their trust - Examples of which are Dr. Montgomery Montgomery, Josephine Anwhistle, Vice Principal Nero, Sir of Lucky Smells Lumbermill and even Mr Poe, the Baudelaire's banker.
The world has originally been well aware of Olaf's evil acts, as in old newspapers in the books there are cuttings from Italy and Greece about a man resembling Olaf killing a bishop, escaping from prison within five minutes, and then throwing a widow off a cliff. It is likely Olaf's flattering skills stem from his days in the theater, with director Gustave Sebald, a young V.F.D. agent.
Count Olaf assumes different disguises while targeting the Baudelaire children's fortune where each disguise has his one eyebrow and his ankle tattoo covered up by something. Among his disguises are:
- Dr. Stephano - Dr. Montgomery Montgomery's replacement assistant in herpetology who has a long beard, no hair, and no eyebrows. Count Olaf uses powder to cover up his ankle tattoo.
- Captain Julio Sham - A sailor with a peg leg that hides his left foot and an eyepatch to hide his eyebrow. Captain Sham's claim of the peg leg is that he lost half his left leg to the Lachrymose Leeches.
- Shirley T. Sinoit-Pécer - Dr. Georgina Orwell's receptionist who wears stockings that have eyes on them in order to cover up the ankle tattoo. T. Sinoit-Pécer is actually "receptionist" spelled backwards. In the 2017 TV series, the alias is changed to Shirley St. Ives.
- Coach Genghis - A renowned gym teacher that wears a turban to cover up his eye brow and expensive-looking running shows to cover up the ankle tattoo.
- Gunther - A pinstripe-wearing auctioneer from another country that wears a monocle to distort his eyebrow and horse-riding boots to cover up his ankle tattoo.
- Detective Dupin - A "famous" detective that wears ridiculous sunglasses to hide his eyebrow and green plastic shoes with lightning bolts on them to hide his ankle tattoo.
- Mattathias - Heimlich Hospital's new Human Resources director whose only presence is his voice over the intercom.
- Kit Snicket - Count Olaf used this disguise in an attempt to fool the island's inhabitants to no avail. This 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.
- Yessica Haircut- Unique to the Netflix adaptation, Count Olaf only used this disguise in order to trick Mr. Poe in allowing him to be the new guardian to the Baudelaire children. This disguise consists of a fedora and sunglasses to cover up his eye brow and socks to cover up his ankle tattoo (Although Mr. Poe was unaware of its existence at the time anyway).
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 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.
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.
- Main article: Count Olaf (2017)
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