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|“||There is only one law: The Law of Nature! The survival of the fittest! And we need to take this world back from the humans, not placate them with billboards and PR campaigns while they destroy it! That is not authority, that is abdicating authority!||„|
|~ Russell Edgington|
Russell Edgington is the primary antagonist of the third season and later the secondary antagonist of the fifth season of HBO's popular TV series True Blood. A former human druid and a vampire of nearly 3000 years old, Russell is the Vampire King of Mississippi and a firm opponent to the use of the artificial "Tru Blood." He favours domination by vampires over mankind, which he deems inferior. Russell is the oldest, and thus the strongest vampire featured in the series. He is portrayed by Dennis O'Hare.
It must be noted than the True Blood character is much more malevolent than his counterpart from the book series Southern Vampire Mysteries, which inspired the TV show.
Russell was an ancient Celtic druid who lived in the Carpathian Mountains in around 900 B.C.(2,912 years old.) As a vampire, he first served as a mercenary in the Roman Legions and travelled across the entire Roman Empire. At some point, he became the leader of one, if not several, packs of feral werewolves, which he feeds with (his own) addictive vampire blood to better control them, and which he he secretly used to spread death all around the world, which is against the vampires' laws. His werewolves appear to have been responsible for several unexplained cases of attacks of "canine animals" that caused many deaths and plagues across History, such as during the Fall of Constantinople and the war between the Spanish conquistadors and the Aztec Empire, each time serving the invaders against the falling nations.
Around 1000 years before the start of the story, Russell's werewolves slaughtered the family of the young viking and future vampire Eric Northman, with Russell himself, though wearing a hooded cloak that concealed his face, warning Eric not to do anything reckless. (Russell claims that he slaughtered Eric's family for his father refused to give him goats for his werewolves.) This would ignite in Eric a strong desire for revenge, a revenge that would serve as a major plot instrument for the third season.
During World War II, Eric and his maker, the teenage-looking vampire Godric, hunted Russell's werewolves, and learned that they were commanded by a vampire, without knowing said vampire's identity.
In True Blood, Russell has become the Vampire King (the highest vampire authority in a country or state) of Mississippi. He appears as someone refined and courteous, but he is in fact a machiavellian and power-hungry vampire supremacist who opposes the idea of feeding with the artificial "Tru Blood." His ultimate goal is to unite vampires, werewolves, shape-shifters, faeries and every other supernatural species, in order to dominate the human society which he deems inferior and unworthy.
Russell then recruits Bill Compton, the vampire lover of the primary female protagonist Sookie Stackhouse, and appoints him as Vampire Sheriff (ruler of the vampire community of a defined area) of Area 2, planning to use him against the Vampire Queen of Louisiana Sophie-Anne Leclerc. Meanwhile, Sookie witnesses Russell feeding his werewolves minions with his blood prompting Russell to seek her death.
Russell eventually manipulates Sophie-Anne to marry him, so that he would expand his area of influence, before having her imprisoned, much to the dismay of Talbot, Russell's 700-years-old vampire progeny and male lover, who feels neglected and grows jealous. Russell then coerces Magnus, the Vampire Magister (Justice Enforcer) of the United States to marry him and Sophie-Anne, despite Magnus' warnings that the Supreme Vampire Authority will never acknowledge this marriage, and later kills Magnus before witnesses.
Russell also manages to gain Eric Northman's trust and obedience, but Eric eventually opposes him when he plans to have Sookie killed. At some point, an angry Talbot begins to destroy many of the possessions that Russell has gained over the centuries (most of them by murdering their rightful owners) and attempts to have sex with Eric, to punish Russell for neglecting him. However, Eric recognizes a crown that belonged to his father among Russell's possessions and understands that it was Russell who had his family killed. Yearning for revenge, Eric kills Talbot to pay Russell back for taking his family away from him 1000 years ago.
However, when Russell discovers his lover's death, he notices that Eric took back the crown and in turn swears revenge. Russell's grief causes his sanity to decrease. He begins to carry a crystal urn containing Talbot's remains everywhere with him, speaking to it as if it were Talbot himself, and promises that he will avenge him.He then sneaks into the studios of the main TV channel and interrupts news about the progress in polls in favour of the Vampire Rights Amendment (which would grant vampires the same rights as humans) by brutally stabbing the newscaster with his bare hand. He then delivers a hateful speech to the entire population of America, hailing the superiority of the vampire kind and promising that the "true" vampires will soon destroy mankind. This obviously causes major anti-vampire riots and hate crimes all over the United States, prompting Nan Flannagan, the vampiress who rules the vampire society of America to denounce this act as a isolated terrorist attack from a demented vampire.
Russell, who has been deprived of his position of power by the Vampire Supreme Authority, is now on the run. He eventually confronts both Sookie and Eric to enact his vengeance.
Having drank some of Sookie's blood, he becomes able to resist sunlight for a while, given Sookie's faerie inheritance. Eric, who drank Sookie's blood as well, manages to handcuff himself to the former Vampire King and goes outside, planning to burn alongside his enemy once the effect of Sookie's blood wears off, and both vampires exposes the reason of why they want revenge on one another. Sookie (who got healed) ultimately manages to save Eric and to bring him inside the vampire pub of Fangtasia. Having been told by Godric's ghost to renounce his vengeance, Eric asks Sookie to save Russell as well. (Godric destroyed himself by exposing himself to sunlight near the end of season 2, but unexplainedly appeared to Eric as a sort of mirage or as a remnant of their former bond.)
Russell, horribly burnt and disfigured is then condemned to be buried down in cement for 100 years as a punishment for his crimes, but not before promising Eric that he would eventually return and enact his revenge at last. At the end of season 4, it is revealed that he escaped and is now at large.
- Russell being a vampire supremacist can be regarded as an opposite counterpart of some sort to Steve Newlin, one of the main villains of the second season, who is an anti-vampire fanatic.
- In the book series Southern Vampire Diaries, Russell Edgington is still the refined and courteous Vampire King of Mississippi, but he simply marries the Vampire King of Indiana out of love rather that out of interest, as it is common among Vampire Royalty.