The V.F.D. eye is the official insignia for V.F.D. The organization's initials are concealed inside of it.
The symbol contains the acronym for the Volunteer Fire Department. It is stylized to look like an eye to represent V.F.D.'s watchfulness. Due to this complexity, there have been multiple designs of the eye over different illustrations and adaptations of the series.
Two versions of the books' variants are:
The eye looks as thus in the Netflix Adaptation:
The eye also appears in the 2004 film adaptation; however, rather infamously, it does not contain the acronym, and simply appears to be a strange eye:
Several members of V.F.D. have this symbol tattooed on their left ankle.
Although the eye tattoo was a requirement in the early years that V.F.D. existed, this was changed later. It is likely because it would essentially be outing an individual as a member of the organization, which would compromise their disguises. It also "is unwise to permanently mark oneself with a symbol when the meaning of the symbol might change at any moment." The eye could mean two different things after the schism, and one can never tell which side of the schism a member is on anymore.
Back when the tattoo was required, it seemed to be administered immediately upon recruitment. For example, the Snicket siblings were recruited soon before or during the schism (when the requirement was dropped), and they all have the eye tattoos. In addition, R has stated that recruits are kept on the run "until their ankles have healed." Seeing as recruits tend to be young children- as young as infants- this brings into question the ethics behind the symbol.
Known members with the tattoo are:
The process of tattooing was a requirement until the schism occurred. Due to this, presumably most volunteers older than or roughly the same age as the Snicket siblings are likely tattooed as well. Members of V.F.D. that were likely tattooed are:
- Gregor and Ike Anwhistle
- Josephine Anwhistle
- Beatrice and Bertrand Baudelaire
- Olivia Caliban
- Dewey, Ernest and Frank Denouement
- Lois Dressing
- Ghede and Gifford
- Man with a Beard but No Hair
- S. Theodora Markson
- Monty Montgomery
- Georgina Orwell
- Mr. and Mrs. Quagmire
- Dashiell Qwerty
- Gustav Sebald
- Sally Sebald
- Captain Widdershins and his wife
- Woman with Hair but No Beard
- Larry Your-Waiter
Even though the symbolic eye does not seem to be tattooed anymore, it still appears in multiple locations affiliated with V.F.D., including:
- The inside of Count Olaf's house and tower
- Georgina Orwell's office in Paltryville
- Caligari Carnival tents
- The Queequeg
In the Netflix Adaptation, the usage of the eye expands to:
- The layout of both The City and The Island
- The V.F.D. Spyglass lid
- Monty Montgomery's hedge maze
- 667 Dark Avenue's stairwell
- The clouds over the Village of Fowl Devotees
- V.F.D. Headquarters
- Some fans of A Series of Unfortunate Events get the V.F.D. eye tattooed on their ankle. Neil Patrick Harris and Patrick Warburton (Count Olaf and Lemony Snicket in the TV series) have also gotten the eye tattoo.
- The V.F.D. eye may be an allusion to the Eye of Providence because the symbolism on both images parallel one another's. The aforementioned eye is a representation of divine providence, a concept that means that God watches over the human race. This is similar to how V.F.D., or at least the fire-fighting side, watches over society and partakes in continuous research.
- 666, the Number of the Beast, can be seen in one variant of the V.F.D. eye. 666 symbolism can also be seen in 667 Dark Avenue. It is unknown if this is coincidental or intentional.
- PROSE: Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography
- PROSE: The Bad Beginning
- PROSE: The End
- PROSE: The Vile Village
- PROSE: Shouldn't You Be in School?
- PROSE: The Miserable Mill
- PROSE: The Carnivorous Carnival
- PROSE: The Grim Grotto
- TV: The End
- TV: The Bad Beginning: Part One
- TV: The Reptile Room: Part One
- TV: The Ersatz Elevator: Part One
- TV: The Vile Village: Part Two
- TV: The Carnivorous Carnival: Part One