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Vice Principal Nero

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I'M A VIOLINIST! I have no time to be making exceptions!
~ Vice Principal on first meeting the Baudelaires
Hee hee hee!
~ Vice Principal Nero's Evil Laugh at the Baudelaires

Vice Principal Nero is the main antagonist of the book The Austere Academy by Lemony Snicket in the book series A Series of Unfortunate Events. Vice Principal Nero is the tyrannical dictator of Prufock Preparatory School where the Baudelaires enrol in perhaps the worst episode of their lives.


As Nero is of the same generation as Lemony Snicket and his family, he may have been recruited by V.F.D. as a child, but from Nero's love of burning wood, its probable he despised V.F.D and joined with Count Olaf to destroy it. Along with Olaf, Nero may have been one of the founders of the V.F.D Schism.

Sometime he became Vice Principal of Prufock Prep, ruling it like a dictatorship. It's always unknown who really runs the school - if Nero is the Vice Principal, he should have a superior who is the real principal. Given Snicket's sense of humour, its likely there never was a principal to begin with and Nero chose this name as he thought it made him sound grander.

Nero invented incredibly cruel punishments for the slightest misdemeanour - for instance, being late to lunch entailed students to have their silverware snatched away from them and drinks poured in puddles. If the students missed Nero's nocturnal violin concerts (which were torture) they had to buy him a large bag of chocolate and watch him eat it in front of them. Nero was very unwelcoming to newcomers, especially orphans, in his evil regime.


The Austere Academy

When the Baudelaire orphans arrived, seeking a place free from Count Olaf's evils, Vice Principal took an immediate displeasure in hosting them. He said that they would "get an education if they had to break their arms to get it." He then went on to say that if he saw them in his administrative office again he'd have them expelled or punished. He then crossed the Moral Event Horizon in minutes of his first encounter by employing Sunny Baudelaire as his secretary even though Nero knew she was only a baby and such work was beyond her. This inevitably disgusted Klaus and Violet and to add insult to injury Nero said no matter, Sunny would still be punished just for showing up to work in the administrative building! This was so unfair Violet and Klaus wanted to scream at him, but, given Nero had already mocked everything they said already, they knew it was best to just bite the bullet.

When Nero finally proclaimed he was too busy to make exceptions the Baudelaires got the Hell out of his office. But when he thought he was alone, Nero snickered - the most evil sound the Baudelaires had heard.

What had pissed off the Baudelaires especially was that Mr Poe had promised them that Prufock Prep was a very well mannered and sophisticated place with sympathetic teachers and interesting students yet it turned out to be the exact opposite, almost all the students there were cruel bullies apart from the two Quagmire triplets.

Before hand, Nero had shown the children a picture of Count Olaf he had on his computer so he could recognize him if he showed up - what Mr Poe always forgot to mention was how Olaf was always in disguise. So when Olaf did show up as the gym teacher, the Baudelaires were shocked but pretended not to notice because they believed this would give them more time. The Quagmires also learned he was Olaf and decided to see Nero about it.

As the Baudelaires visited Nero the next morning it was a disaster because Nero refused to listen to a threat of a serial killer in his school. ("The only thing under my nose, is my mouth which is telling you to leave!") Vice Principal Nero then believed every single lie Count Olaf told him of the Baudelaires deliberately flunking class (when in reality the count had made them run endless laps and thus had deliberately put their careers in jeopardy) and Nero yelled at them that aside from not giving Carmelita Spats ten tips (which in Nero's insane mind consisted of diamond earrings) and not attending Nero's concerts they had also apparently become the worst students the school ever saw. Nero promised to expel them if they didn't succeed in their upcoming exams the next day.

Fortunately, the Quagmires were there to help the Baudelaires and the Quagmires said they would double as the children and run laps for them when they studied. Nero arrived next morning triumphant when the Baudelaires had been up studying all night and making staples. Sunny had to staple extra thick booklets, and Violet and Klaus had to answer exam questions. Finally, Mr Remora, the English teacher, said there was no point in continuing. Mrs Bass, the maths teacher, also said Klaus was a formidable mind. Nero was impatient because he wanted to punish the children, having "never had to expel anyone before" and he was looking forward to it. But then, Count Olaf came marching over the lawn saying how he had been tricked and had put the Quagmires into the cafeteria whisking eggs. When Mr Poe arrived on the scene with the tips, he examined Olaf but failed to recognize him. Olaf then said he needed his running shoes for running and fled, abducting the Quagmires as he did so. On his way out, the Quagmires told Klaus about a horrible secret, "V.F.D." and then Count Olaf abducted the Quagmires and disappeared with them.

Vice Principal Nero was at his most selfish and cruel here, demanding Nero remove the Baudelaires from his care because "his finest gym teacher was now gone and had taken two students with him!"

In between

Vice Principal Nero hired Kit Snicket as the English teacher to replace Mr Remora who had eventually choked on a banana. Mrs Bass got arrested for bank theft, (implied to be the Baudelaire fortune) and Count Olaf never showed up again. Lamenting the loss of his finest gym teacher, Vice Principal Nero sat in his office enthusiastically playing violin in preparation to be the finest gym teacher in the world and he changed the school's motto from Memento Mmori (meaning "Remember you will die") to "Memento Nero" or ("Remember the greatest violinist in the world - a mistranslation, for the original meaning ought to be "Remember black.")

Halfway through her stay, Kit decided to recruit two orphans for V.F.D and ran across the school holding the children's ankles in a manner reminiscent of how Olaf captured the Quagmires. Nero thought this was odd so he told Carmelita's parents but on the plus side it gave him more time for the violin. He had the gloomy looking kids sit outside under a CCTV camera he installed out in the yard.

The Penultimate Peril

Nero returned in the penultimate book, along with many other figures both good and bad from the Baudelaire's past. Nero was with his colleagues, Mr Remora and Mrs Bass, who had sacks of coins in the foyer, implied to be the Baudelaire fortune as it was from Mr Poe's bank. In this book, Nero was eager to reach fame in Count Olaf's party after the court trail. He said that rich men would be welcomed and given a free gift. He mentioned how Mrs Bass was running from the law and how Hal's turban reminded him of Count Olaf's turban, but he was still referring to Olaf as Coach Genghis, being mentally stubborn.

Vice Principal Nero told Sunny, who was disguised as a concierge, to go off and get napkins for him, because "just because he wasn't eating doesn't mean I can't get food on my chin," which was clearly a lie to get rid of Sunny. Nero never recognized Sunny when she was disguised because of her shades. Also Nero insulted Indian culture by saying it was dangerous to eat chocolate from foreigners. He also seemed to believe Indians had chocolate in their cuisine.

Later, when the trail took place after Dewey Denouement's death, Nero said that the Baudelaires were unquestionably guilty, wanting to imprison them and have the real guilty people go free. Nero handed over secretarial manuscripts as evidence of the Baudelaire "guilt."

He presumably perished in the fire as he was still in the hotel when it caught fire, as a signal to V.F.D set by Sunny.


Vice Principal Nero was a typical villainous teacher. He was a spoiled brat, not caring about students or other teachers. Once he threatened to fire Mr Remora or Mrs Bass on the spot if they so much as disagreed with him. Vice Principal Nero loves power, and will do anything to keep it. He will betray his own associates, taking the phrase "business is cutthroat" a little too far. Nero was extravagant, however, and dressed in a brown suit, and liked his hair in pigtails. He however liked hideous ties, as his had snails crawling on it as an image. Nero was a weird man, probably with paranoia or some mental illness, he believed everyone was out to get him and that only men like Count Olaf could be taken seriously.

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