|“||Is that a plum or a persimmon? My eyesight isn't what it used to be, I'm afraid... Oh good. I was not in the mood for a persimmon.||”|
— Hal to Violet Baudelaire
He is an elderly man who wears glasses because of his worsening eyesight.
The Hostile Hospital
In The Hostile Hospital, Hal gives the Baudelaires jobs at the the Library of Records when they claim they are the volunteers he asked Babs for. He is unaware that they are accused murderers on the run. Hal is disgraced by the Baudelaire children when they steal his glasses and trick him into giving them the keys.
After hearing the news the Baudelaires are murderers, he accuses the Baudelaires of ruining the Library of Records and setting the hospital on fire to destroy evidence of their crimes. The Baudelaires try to apologize and explain their innocence, but Hal does not accept it. In the end however, he forgives the children.
Between The Hostile Hospital and The Penultimate Peril
When Dewey Denouement's partner went to the remains of the burned hospital to find any information/evidence, she found Hal in a dismal state, for the Library of Records was destroyed and there was no place for him to go. She then gave him shelter and a job as both cook and researcher at the Hotel Denouement.
The Penultimate Peril
He returns in The Penultimate Peril, working as the owner of an Indian Restaurant at Hotel Denouement when Sunny Baudelaire brings Vice Principal Nero, Mr. Remora, and Mrs. Bass to the restaurant. His food is terrible to the point where one person was heard stating that he couldn't sleep after eating the Indian food. Sunny catches him in the middle of a suspicious conversation with one of the Denouement triplets. It is hinted that Hal may be a V.F.D. member, as he says the code "I didn't realize this was a sad occasion" to Mr. Remora, who failed to understand and quoted "it won't be a sad occasion if you don't feed us."
When Dewey is killed, Hal claims that the Baudelaire children aren't criminals. During the trial of the Baudelaire children and Count Olaf, Hal submitted some paperwork as evidence.
It is unknown if he survived the Hotel Denouement Fire.
Hal's role is the same in the TV series. After the Library of Records is destroyed by Esmé Squalor, he gets depressed and works at the front of the hospital. Hal meets Arthur Poe and has him fill out some paperwork to get himself checked for hay fever. After Klaus' identity of Dr. Faustus is exposed, Hal enters the operation room stating that he feels that the Baudelaires deceived him. When Count Olaf in his alias of Mattathias Medicalschool states over the intercom that the Baudelaires started a fire in the Library of Records, Hal is among those who assist the Henchperson of Indeterminate Gender in chasing them. Before the fire at Heimlich Hospital can get worse, Hal walks by a narrating Lemony Snicket in a depressed state.
Although Hal doesn't appear in "The Penultimate Peril: Part One" and/or "The Penultimate Peril: Part Two," he is mentioned by Count Olaf during the trial when he asks Babs on who stole Hal's keys and is shown in a newspaper clipping with Mr. Poe.
In the books, he is described in the books as being 'the oldest man' the Baudelaire children have ever seen. He has white hair and a beard. He has poor eyesight and uses the tiniest pair of glasses the orphans have seen, with each lens "scarcely bigger than a green pea". Perhaps due to the very small size, the glasses do not help Hal's eyesight. When he went to go work at the Hotel Denouement, he started to wear a turban.
In the TV series, he is dark-skinned. Instead of tiny glasses, he has regular-sized glasses with a couple small magnifying glasses attached to each side.
Behind the scenes
- He is portrayed by David Alan Grier in the TV series.
- His name, Hal, could be a reference to a computer in the novel/movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.
- He may be a member of V.F.D as Heimlich Hospital could have been one of V.F.D's Safe Places. "Hal" is also written in a VFD tunnel.
- He may have had bad eyesight due to his very tiny glasses.
- The Hostile Hospital
- The Carnivorous Carnival (Mentioned Only)
- The Penultimate Peril
- A Series of Unfortunate Events (TV series)