|“||He who hesitates is lost.||”|
— Widdershins' personal philosophy
He claims to be the stepfather of Fernald and Fiona, although it is possible he is lying and that he is their biological father. He continually tells Fiona that her mother died in a "manatee accident," though Fiona doesn't believe it was an accident; indeed, towards the end of the book, it is revealed that Widdershins was wrong (or lying) about this.
He is described in the book as being an enormous man dressed in a shiny suit made of some sort of slippery-looking material with equally slippery-looking boots on his feet. On the front of the suit was a portrait of Herman Melville. Widddershins had no beard, merely a very long mustache curled up at both ends like a pair of parentheses.
In the TV series, he does have a white beard was modeled after Barry Sonnenfeld.
He has a rather peculiar way of speaking, often making redundant comments and interjecting them with the word "Aye!"
He feels a great need to remain in control, objecting when anyone makes a statement that could be even slightly construed as a command.
He cares very much for Fiona and refuses to discuss any of V.F.D.'s secrets in front of her. This, he believes, will keep her from harm. It is clear that he knows many of said secrets, and it is known that he taught Olivia Caliban (Madame Lulu) how to read coded stains on maps.
At some point, Widdershins was recruited into VFD. He trained alongside Lemony Snicket, who attempted to lead a sort-of coup of the younger students that almost got him kicked out of the organization. Widdershins found this impressive. He also trained alongside Olivia Caliban.
|“||That sounds like apprenticeship to me. None of us are certain of anything.||”|
— Widdershins, When Did You See Her Last?
Unknown Points in Time
It is mentioned in The Grim Grotto that he helped burn down Anwhistle Aquatics. He later allowed Jacques Snicket to blame the arson entirely on his stepson. Fernald left him after this, and Widdershins raised Fiona on the Queequeg, telling her that her mother died in a manatee accident and that her brother disappeared. He discouraged Fiona's interest in mycology, wanting her to focus more on Herman Melville. He also refused to tell her many VFD secrets, such as what was inside the sugar bowl and what the Great Unknown was.
Pre-The Grim GrottoCaptain Widdershins searched the wreckage of the Baudelaire Mansion and discovered the Duchess of Winnipeg's ring, only to lose it later in a storm at sea.
When Josephine's house collapsed, Widdershins and Fiona gathered all of her materials that they could before they could be destroyed by the lake.
Widdershins and Fiona followed the story of the Baudelaire Orphans- Violet, Klaus and Sunny- but Widdershins told Fiona that they weren't to do anything about it, and instead they had to search for the Sugar Bowl. Fiona then managed to track the Sugar Bowl to the Stricken Stream. Around that time, they stopped receiving telegrams from VFD.
While investigating the Stricken Stream, Widdershins sees the Baudelaires clinging to a toboggan; after they give him the password of "The World is Quiet Here", he lets them into the submarine. Once there, he immediately puts them to work, telling Violet to fix the telegram machine, Klaus to study tidal charts with Fiona, and Sunny to cook with Phil.At the end of the day, Widdershins asks for reports, and Violet informs him that the telegraph is not broken, and the machines on the other end must be the problem. Klaus and Fiona managed to trace the Sugar Bowl to a cave under Anwhistle Aquatics labelled GG. Before they can investigate further, Widdershins spots Count Olaf's submarine on the sonar and orders everyone to shut off the submarine to avoid detection. Olaf's submarine only leaves when the Great Unknown appears and scares him off. Afterwards, Klaus realizes that GG is a cave, and Widdershins is so excited that he says if Klaus finds the sugar bowl, he can marry Fiona, and they can marry Violet off to Fernald when they find him. The Baudelaires are not too keen on this, and Fiona is embarrassed. Fiona figures out that GG is the Gorgonian Grotto, filled with a deadly fungus, but Widdershins is not deterred and sets a course anyway.
They arrive the next morning, but the cave's entrance is only big enough for the children to fit into. Widdershins suits up Fiona and the Baudelaries and send them off. While they're gone, he and Phil set up to celebrate Violet's fifteenth birthday, but then a woman arrives and convinces him and Phil to abandon the submarine and the children.
After The Grim Grotto
In The Penultimate Peril, Kit Snicket mentions she intends to meet him at a certain clump of seaweed, and if she does, both of them will be at the Hotel Denouement on Thursday. She waterskiis towards Captain Widdershins, then later, waterskiis away from him.
According to Kit, she and Widdershins reunited with Fernald on Fiona aboard the Queequeg, when Hector's Self-Sustaining Hot Air Mobile Home crashed into it. The Great Unknown appeared, and Widdershins chose to take his chances with it. It is unknown what happened to him after this; though it is unknown how accurate Kit's story is- and, if it is true, whether the Great Unknown saved or ate him and the other castaways- Snicket did say that Widdershins would never live to see Fiona's mycological studies put to good use.
TV Series Divergent CanonCaptain Widdershins does not physically appear in the TV except in a portrait and a family photograph. According to The Incomplete History of Secret Organizations: An Utterly Unreliable Account of Netflix's A Series of Unfortunate Events, he was removed because a major theme in season 3 is that next generation of V.F.D. must take up the torch in the absence of parental figures. Fiona mentions he left one day to answer a distress call from a manatee and never came back. Instead, Fiona has taken over his role.
After Fiona reunites with Fernald, they go on a mission to locate their missing stepfather. While having dinner with their stepfather's portrait, they hear his voice on a radio.
- "Widdershins" is a rare word for going counterclockwise, considered unlucky; it literally means "against the direction of the sun."
- A fan theory is that he is Friday Caliban's father. In this speculation, the assumption can also be made that his first name may be Thursday, and that he and Miranda Caliban were together and broke up, with Miranda presumably also being Fernald and Fiona's mother.
- Fernald, Fiona and Friday are all names beginning with F, which could support this theory.
- Another fact supporting this theory is that most siblings in the series come in groups of three, and even on the rare occasions that only two siblings are known of, the existence of a third sibling is usually hinted at (such as the White-Faced Women). The only known siblings in groups of two (aside from Fiona and Fernald) are from All the Wrong Questions: Pip and Squeak Bellerophon, Kellar and Lizzie Haines, Zada and Zora, and Tatiana and Treacle Cozy.
- Something against this theory could be that Kit Snicket believesThursday is alive and well, and mentions dining with him the day before meeting the Baudelaires. The day before meeting the Baudelaires, Captain Widdershins was with them on his submarine, and by the time Kit was discussing Thursday, Kit believed the Captain to be either deceased or in mortal peril due to the crash of the Queequeg and arrival of the Great Unknown.
- He wholeheartedly believed and shared the false news report of Lemony Snicket's death to Beatrice Baudelaire and several other members of VFD.
|Captain Widdershins||Mrs. Widdershins †||Unknown|
|A Series of Unfortunate Events (Books)|
|1. The Bad Beginning (1999):||Absent||7. The Vile Village (2001):||Absent|
|2. The Reptile Room (1999):||Absent||8. The Hostile Hospital (2001):||Absent|
|3. The Wide Window (2000):||Absent||9. The Carnivorous Carnival (2002):||Absent|
|4. The Miserable Mill (2000):||Absent||10. The Slippery Slope (2003):||Absent|
|5. The Austere Academy (2000):||Absent||11. The Grim Grotto (2004):||Debut|
|6. The Ersatz Elevator (2001):||Absent||12. The Penultimate Peril (2005):||Mentioned|
|13. The End (2006):||Mentioned|
|All the Wrong Questions|
|Who Could That Be at This Hour? (2012):||Absent||Shouldn't You Be in School? (2014):||Absent|
|When Did You See Her Last? (2013):||Appears||Why Is This Night Different from All Other Nights? (2015):||Mentioned|
|File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents (2014):||Absent|
|Other Snicket Books|
|Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography (2002):||Absent|
|The Dismal Dinner (2004):||Absent|
|The Beatrice Letters (2006):||Absent|
|The Hero of the Story (2017):||Absent|
- When Did You See Her Last?
- Why Is This Night Different from All Other Nights? (mentioned)
- The Grim Grotto
- The Penultimate Peril (mentioned)
- The End (mentioned)
- A Series of Unfortunate Events (TV series)