Netflix

Every Character You Need To Know Before Bingeing On A Series Of Unfortunate Events

There are, like, 6 billion of them

In 1999, the first A Series of Unfortunate Events book by unknown author Lemony Snicket (later revealed as Daniel Handler) debuted. Two decades later, the franchise has spawned 13 books, a four-part prequel series, a feature-length movie, and, premiering Friday (January 13), a new Netflix show.

Following three orphans placed under the care of an evil relative who only wants their fortune, the series's first season makes its way through the first four books — The Bad Beginning, The Reptile Room, The Wide Window, and The Miserable Mill — and a hint of Book 5 (The Austere Academy) in the finale.

The show's campiness and deadpan one-liners perfectly nail Handler's whimsical writing, and it's way more diverse than the 2004 film adaptation starring Jim Carrey. In case you need a refresher because it's probably been a hot minute since you've read the books, here are all the main characters from the first season (sans spoiler-y ones) to get you started before you binge.

  • Lemony Snicket (Patrick Warburton)
    Joe Lederer

    The narrator of our sordid tale, Snicket frequently pops into the frame and breaks the fourth wall, giving anecdotal info about the Baudelaires' lives. He's been researching their saga for a long time.

  • Count Olaf (Neil Patrick Harris)
    Joe Lederer/Netflix

    The vile villain of the story, the unibrowed Count Olaf (with his evil horde of thespians) will stop at nothing to get his hands on the Baudelaire orphans' fortune. The tattoo of an eye on his left ankle is his most defining characteristic.

  • Violet Baudelaire (Malina Weissman)
    Joe Lederer/Netflix

    The eldest Baudelaire is an avid inventor with a knack for mechanical engineering.

  • Klaus Baudelaire (Louis Hynes)
    Joe Lederer/Netflix

    The middle Baudelaire is a voracious reader and researcher, as well as a walking dictionary.

  • Sunny Baudelaire (Presley Smith)
    Netflix

    The youngest Baudelaire speaks a language only her siblings understand and has a penchant for biting hard things.

  • Mr. Poe (K. Todd Freeman)
    Joe Lederer/Netflix

    This clueless, gullible banker is in charge of the orphans' affairs after their parents die, and he never stops coughing.

  • The Bald Man (John DeSantis) and the Henchperson of Indeterminate Gender (Matty Cardarople)
    Joe Lederer/Netflix

    They are two of Olaf's trusty henchmen. The former is a tough guy, while the latter is the comic relief.

  • The White-Faced Women (Jacqueline and Joyce Robbins) and Hook-Handed Man (Usman Ally)
    Joe Lederer/Netflix

    The rest of Olaf's theater troupe involves these freaky sisters and a man without hands, the latter sometimes acting as Olaf's second-in-command.

  • Justice Strauss (Joan Cusack)
    Joe Lederer/Netflix

    Olaf's neighbor from The Bad Beginning is a high court judge and wannabe actress.

  • Dr. Montgomery Montgomery, a.k.a. Uncle Monty (Aasif Mandvi)
    Joe Lederer/Netflix

    In The Reptile Room, he takes over the children's guardianship. Uncle Monty's a successful herpetologist who discovered the Incredibly Deadly Viper.

  • Stephano (Neil Patrick Harris)
    Joe Lederer/Netflix

    Olaf disguises himself as Stephano, Dr. Montgomery's new assistant, in The Reptile Room, after getting rid of Dr. Montgomery's actual assistant.

  • Josephine Anwhistle, a.k.a Aunt Josephine (Alfre Woodard)
    Joe Lederer/Netflix

    The children's new guardian in The Wide Window, a dowager, is afraid of everything and obsessed with grammar.

  • Captain Julio Sham (Neil Patrick Harris)
    Joe Lederer/Netflix

    Sham is Olaf's alter ego in The Wide Window who "runs" a shady sailboat rental business.

  • Charles (Rhys Darby)
    Joe Lederer/Netflix

    An employee at Lucky Smells Lumbermill in The Miserable Mill, Charles is passive and gives in to whatever his business partner, Sir, demands.

  • Joe Lederer/Netflix

    He becomes the orphans' strict new guardian who puts the children to work in the mill. In the books, Sir's entire face is hidden behind a cloud of cigar smoke.

  • Phil (Chris Gauthier)
    Joe Lederer/Netflix

    Described as an optimist, Phil's a fellow worker at the mill who takes the orphans under his wing.

  • Dr. Georgina Orwell (Catherine O'Hara)
    Joe Lederer/Netflix

    She's an optometrist who practices near the mill, helping Olaf with a scheme. (Fun fact: O'Hara played Justice Strauss in the movie adaptation of the books.)

  • Shirley St. Ives (Neil Patrick Harris)
    Netflix

    Olaf dons a wig and dress to become Shirley, Dr. Orwell's secretary.

  • Eleanora Poe (Cleo King)
    Joe Lederer/Netflix

    She is Poe's wife and the editor-in-chief of The Daily Punctilio.

  • Jacquelyn (Sara Canning)
    Joe Lederer/Netflix

    Jacquelyn has a few pivotal scenes that suggest she was adapted and renamed from a minor character in the books into one who plays a much bigger role in the Baudelaire mystery. For the sake of spoilers, we'll keep her part hush-hush, but know she's on the orphans' side and moonlighted as Poe's secretary for a hot second.