Paracelsus, born John Pater, is, so to speak, the recurring main antagonist during the first and second seasons of the 1987 TV series The Beauty and the Beast.
He was portrayed by the late Tony Jay, who played the voices of Judge Claude Frollo from Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Shere Khan from Disney's The Jungle Book 2 and TaleSpin, and Megabyte from ReBoot.
John "Paracelsus" Pater was one of the founders of the World Below (a utopian community without crime and suffering, living in a secret system of tunnels and caverns beneath New York City) alongside Jacob “Father” Wells and a highly respected savant and universal-genius with interests in philosophy, science and even magic.
It was him who originally discovered more than half of the tunnels and vaults the inhabitants still use and live in. He also developed the code-language the community still uses to communicate through the widespread pipe-system via secret knocks.
But after some time he developed a disturbing lust for power and when he forcefully tried to take over the World Below he was banished.
Filled with hate and bitterness he called himself Paracelsus after his role-model, the legendary medieval alchemist, and lurked in the shadows for a chance to take revenge on those who cast him out.
The World Below becomes aware of him again when a dangerous drug he developed costs the lives of dozens of New Yorkers. When Vincent tries to stop his madness his lair bursts into flames as a result of a fight. The source of the drug gets destroyed and Paracelsus is seemingly killed in the fire.
But he survived with severe facial burns which he hides beneath a half-mask of pure gold and kidnaps Catherine and sets a trap for Vincent. When he arrives at Paracelsus' new hideout in purgatorial depths of the World Below, he claims to know much more about Vincent's origin than Father has told him. When Paracelsus tries to burn Catherine at a stake Vincent safes the day but the madman escapes in the darkness.
He strikes again at the World Below's most important holiday when he tries to kill Father with a bomb. Here he demonstrates his astonishing talent for disguising and imitating voices alongside a shocking and sadistic brutality. He almost kills Narcissa the nearly bling fortune-teller and beheads one of the community's ‘world-above'allies to take his place during the festivities.
Paracelsus' final plot is to make Vincent ‘his son' and drive him mad by unleashing his inner beast. During this final confrontation two versions of Vincent's origin are revealed:
In Paracelsus version Vincent is actually his biological son as well as a result of biological experiments he implemented to impregnate his infertile wife Anna. Due to this story Vincent wasn't born the usual way but with his claws ripped his way out of his mother's flesh.
Later it is revealed that the truth is that it was Anna who found Vincent as a baby near St. Vincent's Hospital. She and John always dreamt of starting a family but weren't able to have children of their own, so they decided to raise him as their son. But Anna was worried about the baby because about that time John began to lose himself in his growing hunger for power. He was more and more obsessed with Vincent as ‘his son and heir of his future kingdom' and so she took the boy and gave him to Father to care for him. For this ‘treason' John murdered his wife with poisoned wine before he tried to take over control which was the ultimate reason for his banishment from the community.
It is unclear how far Paracelsus in his insanity believed the tale of the creature, that ripped his mother's body apart to be born, himself but he was successful with unleashing Vincent's beastly inner demons. After this terrible reveal Vincent suffers a breakdown. He loses control and wounds him mortally.
Paracelsus final words before he dies are “At last you are my son…”
Paracelsus appears as a gaunt man in his late fifties or early sixties with thin greyish hair, a beard and dark sharp looking eyes. Most of the time he wears a black 'Mao-style' suit with a stand-up collar and a narrow white seam at the jacket's front, black boots and on his left hand he always wears a black leather glove. Occasionally he is also seen with a common grey suit, a white shirt and a gold-coloured tie.
During the character-development he suffered severe burns on the left side of his face he hides beneath a roughly welded golden half-mask.
Weapons & Abilities
- His favorite weapon is a wrist-blade hidden in his right sleeve. With an inconspicuous movement of his arm he can let it snap out and cause mortal injuries.
- Another addition to his wicked arsenal is the talent of voice-imitation. Seemingly without any effort he can imitate the voices of Vincent, Father and a variety of other inhabitants of Below to fool and trap his enemies.
- The most dangerous weapon he carries is his twisted but still genius intellect. With his sophisticated behaviour and his deep soothing voice he can easily manipulate others to his will and make even crazy things sound wise and reasonable.
Since not even the cleverest and most evil genius is able to fulfil his plans all by himself even Paracelsus needs allies from time to time:
- Erlick – He was a bearded and long-haired muscleman of towering height dressed in roughly stitched-together pieces of fur and leather who could easily compete with Vincent's strength. Paracelsus sent him out to kidnap Catherine. While Vincent and some members of the community followed him to save her, he attacked them and murdered councilmember Winslow (played by James Avery). During the confrontation in Paracelsus' hideout Vincent finally killed Erlick by slashing his throat with his claws during the battle.
Erlick was played by impressive 6-ft 10-in tall professional wrestler Big John Studd (1948 – 1995) in the episode “To Reign in Hell”.
- Tamara – She is a strange sculptor wearing a black evening-dress and heavy make-up living in a dark corner of the World Below outside the community. Her disturbing creations show human faces distorted in all stages of anger, pain and agony. She is the one who provides Paracelsus with the life-like masks he needs for his clever disguises. That's the reason why she's allowed to see his face without his mask but even he feels uncomfortable in sight of her unconcealed fascination for his disfigurement.
Tamara was played by character-actress Anne Haney (1934 – 2001) in the Episode “Dead of Winter”.
- Vulcan – Although he never appeared on screen, he was mentioned by Tamara in the Episode “Dead of Winter” as being the one who constructed and provided the bomb Paracelsus planned to use to kill Father during the community's holiday. He seems to be a very talented craftsman because he created a perfect replica of a chess-box with a silver rose on the lid probably just out of Paracelsus' description.
- Episode 14 - “The Alchemist”
- Episode 20 - “To Reign in Hell”
- Episode 02 - “Remember Love” (In this episode he appears in a vision of Vincent in which Paracelsus actually rules the World Below)
- Episode 04 - “Dead of Winter”
- Episode 20 - “What Rough Beast”
- Episode 21 - “Ceremony of Innocence”
In Other Media
- In 1989 and 1990 1First Publishing published two graphic novels – “Portrait of Love” and “Night of Beauty” based on the TV-series written and illustrated by Wendy Pini. In the first issue Paracelsus appears as the main antagonist including his characteristic golden half-mask, sophisticated behaviour and his vicious wrist-blade.
- Paracelsus is also featured in “Beyond Words, Beyond Silence”, a novel based on the TV-series written by Nan Dibble, published by Image Pub of New York in January 1993.
Paracelsus: "So they call you 'Father' now... I heared it through the pipes. Ingenious idea communicating on those pipes."
Father: "Yes, it was ingenious... of you, John."
Paracelsus: "We could have been gods, you and I."
- - - -
Vincent: "I don't want to harm you but you must leave this place."
Paracelsus: "Leave? By whose judgement?"
Paracelsus: "What does Falstaff say – ‘The better part of valour is discretion'!"
To Reign in Hell
Paracelsus: "I was exiled from my home – from the world I created by the man you call ‘Father'… Even then he wouldn't allow me to live in peace."
Catherine: "I know the story. Fifty people died because of you!"
Paracelsus: "I killed no one… They died because they were fools."
Catherine: "They were weak – there's a difference."
Paracelsus: "Once a person has been visited by violence, everything changes – isn't it so? Nietzsche said ‘That which does not kill me, makes me stronger'… Well, I am stronger now!"
Catherine: "I am not afraid!"
Paracelsus: "You will be…"
- - - -
Catherine: "…Your Vision, your ideals – all wasted."
Paracelsus: "Taken from me!"
Catherine: "Still wasted – Now all you want to do is destroy something – someone you don't even know."
Paracelsus: "Then you perceive my life to be contradictory?"
Catherine: "No, Tragic."
Paracelsus: "Don't you see? It doesn't end with your death, or Vincent's. This is only the beginning.
Catherine: "The beginning of what?"
Paracelsus: "Reclaiming what is mine. After all these years... I've decided to go home."
- - - -
Paracelsus: "Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven. Ay, Vincent?"
Vincent turning towards him: "Paracelsus!"
Paracelsus sneering: "Milton, actually."
Paracelsus: "You were betrayed, Vincent – you call him ‘Father' but it was I who found you – wrapped in rags, starving… It was I who named you Vincent… And it was I who cared for you in all those months. Even ‘Father' didn't think that you would live but I – I fed you and bathed you – and you did live… Don't you see, Vincent? He wouldn't let me take you – when I was exiled, he made me leave you behind! I loved you – you were mine… You don't believe me?"
Vincent "How could you help me believe? That you loved – and are now capable of this?!"
Paracelsus: "Now is the time for retribution!"
Vincent: "Then you never really knew love."
Paracelsus: "There are some who call me by that name…"
Paracelsus: "Here there is – only me!"
Vincent: "No! Pascal – I saw him and heard the others!"
Paracelsus: "All extensions of myself – my eyes and my ears."
Paracelsus: "He shall be the greatest who is the loneliest, the most hidden, the most deviating – the human being beyond good and evil!"
Dead of Winter
Tamara: "It is all so long ago. What has their world to do with you?"
Paracelsus: "Their world is MINE by right! I made them, I taught them... But they have lessons yet to learn."
- - - -
Paracelsus: "It is 35 years ago that I gave Jacob this chessmen as a token of my affection – of our friendship."
Tamara: "Friendship is a wonderful thing – The arming device?"
Paracelsus: "On the lid. Press the rose and the next time the box is opened – checkmate."
- - - -
Narcissa recoiling: "No! You are not Vincent - you are the Evil One!"
Paracelsus: "Down here is neither good nor evil, only strong and weak!" … "There are no friends in the darkness old woman. In the dark all men are enemies."
- - - -
Paracelsus: "Paracelsus! John is dead – killed by you, Jacob!"
Father: "What happened to you, John? You were a good man once – my friend."
Paracelsus: "Spare me the homilies, Jacob! These poor deluded fools may not know what happened but you and I – we remember, don't we?!"
Father: "We – remember differently, John."
What Rough Beast
Paracelsus showing his scars: "He did this."
Paracelsus: "Yes – he left me to burn in the fire."
Paracelsus: "He's beyond men. In his own right he is a god. A warrior. But you see, he tries to be a man and in that denies his own greatness. He's a source of primal rage and secret lurking instinct. He's a killer – That is his greatness! That is his nature… But if he'd have killed you tonight, Mr. Spirko, as I hoped – If he killed an innocent man, I believe he would finally understood and shed the false skin of his humanity… He would become what I always dreamed for him – He would have become my son!"
Ceremony of Innocence
Father: "What is this all about?"
Paracelsus: "What it always has been about – you, me, the child!"
Paracelsus: "How do you propose to stop me, old friend? -Father pulling a revolver and aiming at him.- So this is what it's come to in the end, ay? All your fine talk of love and turning the other cheek?!"
Paracelsus: "It's time for the boy to claim his birth-right!"
- - - -
Paracelsus dying: "At last you are my son…"