Russell Edgington is a major character on the HBO original series True Blood. Played by American starring actor Denis O'Hare, Russell makes his debut on the episode "Beautifully Broken" in the series' third season. The former Vampire King of Mississippi, an almost 3,000 year old, ancient vampire who was formerly a Chancellor of the newly reformed Vampire Authority, Russell was the main antagonist through the series' third season, and a recurring character through the series' third and fifth seasons. Considered by many to be the oldest, and most powerful vampire in existence, as well as the craziest, Russell met an untimely demise on the episode "Save Yourself", at the end of the series' fifth season.
"Why would we seek equal rights? You are not our equals."
Russell appears to be charming and polite, but that facade can be easily broken, revealing him to be manipulative and almost Machiavellian. He occasionally speaks in an ancient Celt language, denoting his origins. He also cursed to Sookie in German. He believes humans have squandered the Earth and believes in protecting the environment of vampires.
After the death of his consort and progeny, Talbot, Russell's sanity ebbs. He speaks to an urn containing Talbot's remains. His actions seem much more erratic than before, and he goes as far as interrupting a newscast, after brutally killing the newscaster. He is entirely focused upon revenge on the Authority, the American Vampire League, and more importantly, those who have taken Talbot away from him.
"Oh, Daywalking? The old myth. That was around back when I was turned. You're pathetic!"
The human man who would eventually be known as Russell Edgington was born approximately 850 years before the birth of Christ in the Carpathian Mountains into a Celtic community of Pagan Druids, who bestowed upon him the name Korun meaning "Raven" in ancient Celtic.
As difficult as it is to learn concrete facts about Korun's human life, information on how he became a vampire is even more scarce. Suffice to say he was eventually "made" vampire at some point during the later years of his middle-age life, although both the circumstances surrounding this event, and the identity of his Maker are a completely unknown.
One of the few details Russell himself has provided of his early vampire years is that the legend of "Daywalking" existed when he himself was turned. ("I Smell a Rat")
After becoming a vampire Russell spent centuries traveling the globe, and was almost killed in Julius Caesar's Gallic Wars, before traveling to the Roman province of Judea, but was soon forced to flee, due to the Jewish uprising against the Romans.
As a Pagan, Russell possessed a deep love of nature, and believed strongly in the natural laws of the earth, and respect for the power of the elements. As such, he developed an intense disdain for the human race, which he regarded as innately destructive and disrespectful of the environment. In order to counter what he saw as man kind's "race to oblivion" Russell forged an allegiance with a pack of werewolves, providing them with his blood in exchange for their services as mercenaries. Beginning a shadow war against humanity which would last for millennium, Russell set his wolves against countless human civilizations; decimating the Aztec people, causing the fall of Constantinople, and eventually turning his attention to the Vikings of Sweden. ("Everything Is Broken")
Passing through a Viking community in the winter 900 AD Russell meets with the Viking King Ulfrik Northman, and requests the use of a few of Ulfrik's goats in order to feed his werewolf companions. Ulfrik refuses Russell, enraging the ancient vampire, who returns later that same night, ordering his wolves to butcher the Northman family for daring to deny him, and taking Ulfrik's crown as a trophy. Ulfrik's son, Eric was the sole survivor of the massacre, and although he fails to prevent Russell from fleeing he would dedicate his entire life to hunting down his families murderer
During the dying years of the Roman Empire Russell found himself in Byzantium, where he met the Greek Prince Talbot Angelis, with whom he fell deeply in love, eventually turning him when the latter was fatally wounded on the battlefield.
Over the centuries Russell has been acquainted with some of the most noted names in history, including William Shakespeare, who, apparently did not leave a favorable impression, as Russell would later describe him as "impetuous" and a thief who "stole spoons". ("9 Crimes")
At the height of World War II, Russell aligned himself with the Nazis, lending them the services of his still loyal werewolf pack in exchange for helping to put a "dent" in the human population. Russell was tracked to Augsburg, Germany by the now vampire Eric Northman, who was still seeking vengeance over the massacre of his family. Eric was aided in his quest by his own maker, Godric, and while the two were able to kill one of Russell's wolves their true target ultimately eluded them once again. ("Beautifully Broken")
During the years of prohibition Russell became involved in the rum trade, which soon took him to America, where he settled in Mississippi, adopting a local accent, along with the name "Russell Edgington", eventually becoming Vampire King of the State.
Russell spent the next few decades posing as an antiques dealer, and eventually met a young vampire named William Compton, who made a lasting impression on the Vampire King. Determined to expand the boundaries of his Kingdom as part of his plan to salvage the planet from humanities clutches, Russell sets his sights on the neighboring state of Louisiana, currently under the reign of Queen Sophie Anne. Initially seeking to acquire the state peacefully, Russell proposes to Sophie Ann so that the two of them may merge their territories legally. The Queen, however rejects his offer.
Having grown tired of Sophie Anne's rejections, Russell resorts to less legitimate means of accomplishing his goals. He orders his werewolves to abduct the queen's procurer Bill Compton. ("Bad Blood")
The wolves, led by packmaster Cooter, botch the abduction. Bill ends up in Russell's kingdom and soon finds himself face-to-face with the Vampire King himself.
After coldly shooting dead one of his own wolves as punishment for their treatment of Bill during the abduction, Russell and his captive ride on horseback to the King's mansion. They are greeted by Talbot, who is Russell's Progeny, lover and royal consort. ("Beautifully Broken")
She is caged within her day room to make sure she does not try to escape. Russell then helps Eric free Pam from the Magister at Fangtasia. He also forces the Magister to marry him and Sophie-Anne, much to Sophie-Anne's chagrin. The Magister tells Russell that the Authority will never recognize the marriage. Russell eventually beheads the Magister in front of Sophie Anne, Pam, and Eric. ("Hitting the Ground")
Eric and Sophie Anne accompany Russell back to Russell's Mississippi Manor.
Russell and Talbot get into an argument about Sophie Anne moving in and over Russell killing the Magister. Talbot storms off after Eric interrupts to tell Russell that Debbie Pelt is waiting for him in his study. Russell finds out that Cooter is dead and allows Debbie to hunt down Sookie. After Debbie leaves, Eric says that Russell should not get Sookie involved. Russell questions Eric's loyalty. Eric tells Russell that he has been searching for a leader like Russell for a thousand years and kisses Russell's ring in submission.
The next night, Russell and Talbot have another fight and Talbot begins to break things that Russell has collected over the centuries. When Talbot grabs the crown that once belonged to Eric's father, Eric quickly grabs his hand. He volunteers to stay with Talbot while Russell goes to Bon Temps after Sookie. Russell claims to be "positively jealous" of Talbot and Eric spending time together. However when Talbot's back is turned, Russell silently mouths the words "thank you" to Eric.
While Russell is gone, Eric and Talbot have a sexual encounter, which then leads to Eric staking Talbot. He tells Talbot that since Russell took his family, he will take Russell's family. Russell feels Talbot's true death while in Bon Temps about to kill Bill Compton. Russell cries out in agony and then shoots up into the air, heading back to Mississippi. ("Night on the Sun")
Back at his mansion, Russell discovers the remains of Talbot. ("Everything Is Broken") While mourning the death of his husband and progeny, he notices the crown Eric had guarded previously is missing. He makes the connection and swears vengeance upon Eric Northman. He visits Fangtasia with a glass urn containing Talbot's remains and observes Nan Flanagan and AVL guards outside.
Russell infers that Nan is protecting Eric. He promises the urn of Talbot that they will suffer. The king departs from Fangtasia by flying, only to travel to the studios of news network TBBN and rip the spine of newscaster Jerry McCafferty. Still holding the portion of Jerry's spine in hand, Russell takes a seat. He addresses the humans, and, through his longest monologue, gives them a glimpse of vampires that is far different from what the AVL has been promoting to the public.
"Do not turn off the camera! You have seen how quickly I can kill. Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Russell Edgington and I have been a vampire for nearly 3,000 years. Now the American Vampire League wishes to perpetrate the notion that we are just like you. And I suppose in a few small ways we are. We're narcissists, we care only about getting what we want, no matter what it costs, just like you. Global warming, perpetual war, toxic waste, child labor, torture, genocide... that's a small price to pay for your SUVs and your flat screen TVs, your blood diamonds, your designer jeans, your absurd garish McMansions. Futile symbols of permanence to quell your quivering, spineless souls. But no, in the end. We are nothing like you. We are immortal. Because we drink the true blood, blood that is living, organic and human. And that is the truth the AVL wishes to conceal from you. Because let's face it, eating people is a tough sell these days. So they put on their friendly faces to pass their beloved VRA but make no mistake, mine is the true face of vampires! Why would we seek equal rights? You are not our equals. We will eat you. After we eat your children. Now time for the weather. Tiffany?"
In the aftermath of Russell slaughtering McCafferty on live TV, anti-vampire sentiments and hate crimes are sweeping the United States. American Vampire League spokesperson Nan Flanagan publicly denounces Russell as a vampire extremist and terrorist whose heinous act was one of a mad man who does not represent vampires as a whole. Eric tells Bill that he is responsible for Russell's psychotic break and putting the vampire cause back a thousand years. ("Everything Is Broken")
Two nights later Russell has cleared out his mansion and disappeared. He is seen hiring a male prostitute. In a grief-induced hallucination, he sees the man as Talbot and expresses his regret in trusting Eric. Russell then stakes the man and notes that he is glad he could say goodbye. ("I Smell a Rat")
Russell eventually drinks Sookie's blood and is able to walk out in the sunlight. Eric also having drank Sookie's blood, is outside with him. Eric handcuffs himself to Russell whilst burning, Sookie's blood wearing off and says they are going to meet the sun together. ("Fresh Blood")
While the effects of Sookie's blood are wearing off on both Eric and Russell, Eric expresses his desire for revenge on Russell. Russell reveals that he only wanted two goats for his wolves. Because Eric's father refused, Russell slaughtered the family. Sookie rushes outside to save Eric. Much to the confusion of everyone, Eric also asks her to save Russell, having been requested to do so by Godric appearing to him as a ghost.
Russell is last seen being buried in cement by Bill and Eric, to live and go mad for 100 years thinking of what he has done and what he has lost. His last words, directed to Eric are "You will regret this Eric, I will be back!" ("Evil is Going On")
On Halloween 2009 Alcide receives a call from Doug, one of the employees of his construction company, informing him that the parking garage that had been erected over Russell's resting place had been vandalized. Alcide questions Doug as to when the damage occurred, but the man's hazy recollection of the event leads Alcide to believe that he had been glamoured. Arriving at the scene, Alcide discovers the gaping hole that had been dug into the concrete floor, the silver chains that had been used to bind Russell in place lying broken and empty at the bottom. ("And When I Die")
Immediately after learning of Russell's escape Alcide informs Sookie, who clearly wasn't even aware of Russell's continued existence, having been untruthfully told by Bill and Eric that the former Vampire King had met the True Death at their hands over a year ago. Alcide offers Sookie protection from Russell, who will no doubt be craving the taste of her blood. Sookie, however, resolves to deal with the situation herself.
Alcide then phones Eric, and alerts him to the danger that they are now all in.
A dead body is seen being dragged through the corridor of a dilapidated building by an unidentified man, who shoves the corpse into a room where a starving Russell gorges himself on it, splattering the glass door with blood. ("Turn! Turn! Turn!")
After being arrested and interrogated by the Authority Bill and Eric disclose the truth about Russell's fate to the seven Chancellors, and their GuardianRoman Zimojic, offering to hunt down Russell themselves, in exchange for their own liberty.
Russell himself is then seen lying on a hospital bed in the same dilapidated building, still badly disfigured from the trauma he suffered a year ago, but gradually regaining strength. As he slowly licks blood from his lips, the fang taken by Eric as a trophy re-grows. ("Authority Always Wins")
"Do you know the one thing more dangerous than a martyr? A 3,000 year old vampire who hasn't fed in over a year. Suffering doesn't kill the appetite for power, it exacerbates it. I have dedicated my guardianship to the fight for co-existence and I will not see it go swirling down the shitter because of one ancient pissed off psychopath"
While some question the truthfulness of Bill and Eric's testimony, Roman ultimately relents, revealing that the Sanguinista have made Russell their poster boy due to his murder of Jerry McCafferty on national television a year ago.
Roman then recruits the newly turned Steve Newlin to serve as the Authority's new spin doctor, should Russell return to public life and attempt to wreck havoc on the Vampires Rights Movement once again. ("Whatever I Am, You Made Me")
After being equipped with iStakes Bill and Eric are released from the Authority's custody and sent to track Russell down, while the Chancellor's monitor their progress via Apple iPads.
Kibwe Akinjide theorizes that Russell actually is dead as originally believed, and that the ongoing search is simply a ruse for Bill and Eric to buy more time for themselves. Dieter Braun agrees, but suggests that rallying the Sanguinistas is the true reason for the deception. Rosalyn Harris concurs, and Kibwe points out that a mere rumor of Russell's survival would be enough to scupper Vampire Rights bills across the globe.
After questioning their respective Progenies on Russell's escape Bill and Eric decide to enlist Sookie's telepathy to aid them in their hunt. ("We’ll Meet Again")
After successfully persuading Sookie to assist them in the search for Russell Bill, Eric and Alcide approach Doug, an employee of Herveaux Construction, and the only witness of Russell's escape. Sookie uses her telepathy to break through the barriers that glamour had erected around his mind, and forces him to relive his recollections of the event. By doing this Sookie is able to learn that Russell was unearthed by a female vampire dressed all in black, and wearing a golden pendant bearing the symbol of Lilith, identifying her as a Chancellor of the Authority, and drastically reducing the number of suspects. Using Doug's memories to guide them Sookie leads them all to an abandoned insane asylum where they discover dismembered human bodies, as well as living prisoners, one of which directs them to the morgue, where the captives are taken. Once inside they finally discover Russell himself, who greets them casually, commenting on the amount of noise they made while searching for him. ("Let's Boot and Rally")
Russell's wolves come to their master's defense, distracting Bill, Eric and Alcide, and allowing Russell to corner Sookie, who repels him with her photokinetic powers. Eric prepares to stake Russell, but is prevented from doing so by Bill, who suggests that they use him as bargaining chip to negotiate with the Authority. Ultimately the decision is taken out of their hands by Kibwe, who arrives with a squad of V-Feds and takes the enraged Russell into custody.
During his execution, he denounces the Authority as hypocrites (for being as dogmatic as the Sanguinistas) and the Sanguinistas as cowards (for using faith as an excuse for their proclivities). However, the iStake malfunctions and Russell quickly overpowers Roman and stakes him. ("Hopeless")
It opens with Russell having just killed Roman. Russell then tackles Eric and tells him "Me and you together at last." Eric bares his fangs and so does Russell. Then the lights begin to blink on and off brightly. During the commotion AVL guards swarm into the room and using night vision to catch Russell and bring him down using a silver net. He is then placed back into security.
Bill and Eric realize they were being used to bring Russell to the Authority so he could kill Roman. They're trying to find out why Russell's restraints didn't work saying if silver was injected into him there was no way he could've killed Roman so fast. They also wonder why the iStakes didn't work. Molly, who is in charge of the iStakes, doesn't know why either and is in the process of trying to find out. They then are called to meet with Salome and Nora. While standing in Salome's room Nora tries to talk to Eric but feeling betrayed Eric tells her to shut the fuck up. Suddenly Russell makes an appearance and tells them he has been reborn. Nora tells Eric she tries to save him because she knew about Russell but again Eric ignores and shut's nora up. Salome admits to digging up Russell because he was the only vampire powerful enough to get rid of Roman. She says they're interested in sharing their power with everyone and want them to join them. Neither Eric or Bill are interested. Salome tells them of a ceremony taking place the following night, and gives them to option to attend.
Russell tells those at the ceremony he disavows himself of his previous statements and says he loves Lilith. Nora talks about their feeling vampires have evolved from humans and says that that night at the ceremony everybody will drink from Lilith's blood. Then Chancellor Dieter walks up saying that this is blasphemy. He says he has been part of the Authority since Roman first opened it up and that he will not go along with any of this. But before the chancellor can finish, Russell quickly decapitates him, killing him. After that, Russell apologizes to Lilith. Everyone then is silent. Bill asks Eric if they're really going along with it and Eric agrees saying they'll go with the flow. Everybody who drank from Lilith wanders around town in a drunk-like state, intimidating humans in what appears to be the French Quarter. During a private karaoke party Russell appears and starts singing until everyone freaks out. Suddenly everyone else zooms in and the vampires begin to kill everyone. ("In the Beginning")
In the aftermath of the massacre at the karaoke bar, the Chancellors return to the Authority's headquarters, where they revel in the afterglow of their actions.
With Salome now established as Roman's successor, the newly reconstituted Authority sets about planning on how best to dismantle the mainstreaming movement. Russell, however, shows little interest in the matter, preferring to flirt with Steve Newlin. ("Somebody That I Used to Know")
The relationship between Russell and Steve develops a little more. They travel to Shreveport together and Russell tells Newlin some of his history with werewolves. Newlin says he's never had a pet. They walk into a barn and Russell greets JD and the entire pack. Russell bites his own wrist and the wolves flock to him for a drop or two. He notices Martha Bozeman, who is holding Emma Garza. When Martha says she'll never drink from Russell, he grabs Emma and gives her to Newlin as his first pet. ("Everybody Wants to Rule the World")
"Oh please, give me an excuse to kill the both of you! Or hell, why not all of you? I am 3,000 years old! I am stronger than all of you combined! How long did you think I would be your lapdog! I offered you the opportunity to share in the greatest advancement in the history of our race and the small mindedness of your religion has literally kept you in the dark! You can have your Lilith, I will not be constrained by your god or anyone else's! I will have the sun!"
―Russell Edgington, to the Authority Chancellors[src]
Russell is present with the other chancellors when Molly is sentenced to the true death for trying to escape with Eric. After Molly is staked Russell gets up and states that "all this talk of killing" has made him hungry. He and Steve then go out and feed.
Later, after feeding on a room full of innocent humans, Russell and Steve are dancing to Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream." Russell explains to Steve that there is a way they can walk in the sun.
Russell and Kibwe are in the sanctum of the Authority watching Steve on television and Russell comments on Steve's looks. Shortly thereafter, Eric, Nora and Bill walk in. Eric explains how he now believes in Lilith. Eric then kneels before Russell and thanks him for his mercy and forgives him for killing his family.
When all the chancellors are gathered formulating plans about spreading the word of Lilith, Russell interjects. He explains that walking in the day will make them more powerful. He presents a plan to capture and breed fairies and synthesize their blood. Salome refuses it saying fairies are an abomination and the sun is forbidden. He says he wants just one drop of fairy blood to "shove down her pie-hole." Salome then says she can put Russell back into the ground should she choose to. He then throws Salome across the room and asks what is preventing him from killing all of the other chancellors. Russell then walks on top of the table and, in his native central European accent, belittles the vampire religion and professes his desire to walk in the sun. He then quickly leaves the Authority chambers. ("Gone, Gone, Gone")
Obsessed with daywalking Russell travels to Bon Temps, boytoy Steve Newlin in tow. They 'acquire' Jason Stackhouse and glamour him into taking them to Sookie. Arriving at Hot Wings, Russell can smell the fairies but can't see them. The crazed vampire threatens to kill Jason if Sookie doesn't come out. He is confronted by the faery elder who blasts Steve Newlin. Russell subdues the powerful fae and drains her dry. Now able to see all faeries present Russell moves to attack them. ("Sunset")
Overconfident and high on Faerie blood, Russell advances on the other Faeries, claiming their Light tickles slightly and only whets his appetite for them. After getting close and boasting his own power he realizes too late that Eric Northman, sensing Sookie's fear has appeared behind him. Eric grabs him from behind and stakes him. At first his wounds begin to eject a bright light, due to the Faerie blood, shocking everyone including Russell who responds with a "well..." as he thinks the faerie blood would allow him to survive. However, the faerie light ejecting from him soon fades. He then proceeds to decompose and only says "Oh fuck" in a tone that sounds as if this only irritates him. He then implodes meeting the True Death and allowing Eric to gain the vengeance he's craved for a thousand years. ("Save Yourself")
Powers and Abilities
Due to his extreme age, he has been mentioned as the strongest and most experienced vampire in the world. With his incredible speed he effortlessly chained the almost 550 year old Jorge Alonso de San Diego to a table and ripped part of a man's spine out of his body. He has also displayed the ability to fly. Due to his age he is much stronger than younger vampires such as Godric, Eric and Salome Agrippa. The only vampires that could potentially outclass him are Macklyn Warlow (a vampire who is nearly twice Russell's age) and Lilith (the progenitor of the vampire race).
Russell has all conventional vampire weaknesses, however, due his age he is extremely vulnerable to sunlight.