Neil LaBute’s vampire horror drama series Van Helsing premiered in 2016 on Syfy and later became available on Netflix. Fans have followed the adventures of vampire hunter Vanessa Van Helsing and the show’s eclectic supporting cast for four seasons, with a fifth on the way. Here is Courageous Nerd‘s ranking of the top 10 characters in Van Helsing.
In the series, Vanessa (Kelly Overton) is a descendant of Abraham Van Helsing (a character in Dracula). She is also a key figure in the show’s vampire apocalypse – possessing the ability to reverse the vampire bite and turn those she bites back to their original human form.
Throughout the seasons so far, Vanessa has been joined by a number of allies and foes such as ex-Marine Axel (Jonathan Scarfe), awkward medical examiner “Doc” (Rukiya Bernard) and long-lost sister Scarlett (Missy Peregrym), to name just a few.
Portrayed by Jennifer Cheon, Ivory is introduced as a member of the Sisterhood, a powerful and female-only group of vampires who come into conflict with the main characters. Since debuting in Season 2, Ivory has continued to appear on the show to date.
Some of Ivory’s best scenes in Van Helsing came when she was on the road with her subordinate, Scab (Rowland Pidlubny), with the two bouncing well off one another. As the Sisterhood was introduced as a collective, this gave the opportunity to flesh out Ivory as an individual.
As already mentioned, the role of Scab is played by Rowland Pidlubny, who debuted in the first season. Scab is a weak-willed vampire (as he was also a weak-willed human) who has moved from master to master throughout his time on the show. Namely, this includes Julius (Aleks Paunovic), Dimitri (Paul Johannson) and the Sisterhood.
Sarah Carol, better known by her nickname “Doc”, was a Seattle-based medical examiner before The Rising (the start of the vampire apocalypse). Prior to the show’s pilot episode, Doc had been turned into a vampire and was kept locked up for that reason. Vanessa would later restore Doc’s humanity.
Although she has made questionable choices (i.e., leaving Axel to die), Doc has remained one of the core character of Van Helsing, as well as developing a romantic relationship with Jolene (Caroline Cave), another human survivor.
Scarlett Harker was introduced in the second season as a mysterious recurring presence, before being revealed as Vanessa’s long lost twin sister. Played by Missy Peregrym, the character returned for the third season, where she met her end. Prior to this, Scarlett developed a relationship with Axel, who had once shown interest in Vanessa.
Considering that Missy Peregrym was brought onto the show to help facilitate Kelly Overton’s (Vanessa) real life pregnancy, Scarlett was a very different character from her sister. Ultimately, she was taken before her time.
The vampire known as Flesh appears in the first episode, as a goon sent by his master Julius to murder Vanessa Van Helsing. Instead, his humanity is restored by her. Flesh then becomes a supporting protagonist throughout the rest of the series to date.
Before being turned into a vampire, Flesh was a ordinary human named Phil Fleischman, a loving husband and father. Once being turned into a vampire and devoid of any morals, he committed unspeakable acts against his family. Phil’s journey and guilt as an ex-vampire is one of the more interesting to watch in the show.
Mohamad, played by Trezzo Mahoro, is one of the youngest survivors shown in the series, being in his late teens. He develops a close friendship with another main character – one which he later regretted – a deaf man named Sam (Christopher Heyerdahl). The two communicated using ASL, which Mohamad later revealed his grandmother taught him.
*Spoiler Alert* Mohamad’s storyline in later seasons is very interesting, particularly after Sam is revealed as a serial killer and turned into a vampire. Even though he’s no longer human, Sam remains fixated on his friendship with Mohamad. This goes as far as Sam treating another young African-American man, Felix (Bzhaun Roden), as if he were Mohamad.
Played by Jonathan Scarfe, Axel is a former Marine who had been watching over a comatose Vanessa Van Helsing for three years prior to the pilot. Axel’s military training and precision, as well as leadership ability, are useful skills to have for the worst-case situation that he is now in. Like many of the other characters, he had briefly been a vampire before Vanessa turned him back into a human.
As Axel is arguably the most prominent male character on Van Helsing, the audience has spent a considerable amount of screen time with him. Thus, he is one of the more familiar and recognisable characters on the show.
As a high ranking and poweful vampire, Julius served as an antagonist in the first season, with his underlings including Flesh and Scab. However, Vanessa turns Julius back into a human in early episodes of Season 2, gaining him as an ally in the process. Not long after Julius is turned back, his moving origin story and personal circumstances prior to vampirism are revealed.
Aleks Paunovic, who plays Julius, does a good job of showing he can be a brutal, physical force while also – after having been turned back – making sure that Julius’ lighter-hearted, compassionate side also comes across when needed.
Although Vanessa is the protagonist of the show, she claims second place on this list. Why? Well, while Vanessa is the central focus and a well-rounded character, heroes are not always necessarily the most interesting to experience in a story. However, in this case, Vanessa’s ‘gift’ (if you can call it that), places her in the centre of action rather than peripherally or loose association.
As Van Helsing is Vanessa’s story, much of the world and many of the other characters are introduced through her eyes. She is an important viewpoint for the show to have and also is crucial to the overall mythology at work, in the context of the show.
Sam, Sam, Sam. While initial impressions might have made you believe he was a “Lennie Small” (Of Mice And Men) type, he turned out to be much more Hannibal Lecter. It turned out he had even plotted to murder his future best friend, Mohamad, before they had formally met.
After becoming a vampire, Sam of course becomes even more unhinged – and a compelling villain to watch, both scary and unpredictable. Add those elements with a personal relationship to Vanessa (having been allied with her as a human), it all came together perfectly.
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