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My name is Sylar!
~ Sylar

Sylar is the overall main antagonist of the TV show Heroes. He serves as one of the two primary antagonists of the first season (the other being Daniel Linderman), and later a recurring primary antagonist of the rest of the series, up until the end of the fourth season, where he redeems himself and becomes a protagonist.

He is a superhuman who has the ability of Intuitive Aptitude (to understand how things work by just looking at them), but his power comes with a 'hunger' (as it is called in the show) for other peoples powers. Originally, he had to cut his victim's scalps off and examine their brains to take their powers, but he eventually "worked out" that he can duplicate powers of people without killing them. He continued to kill his victims however, as he found it enjoyable.

He was portrayed by Zachary Quinto, who later portrayed Dr. Oliver Thredson in American Horror Story: AsylumCrosby Franklin in Hotel Artemis, John Smith in Hitman: Agent 47 and Charlie Manx in NOS4A2.


Sylar has a slim figure and the build of an average man. Sylar's hair is usually slicked back, because that's the way he prefers his hair to be, although in volume 1 HRG cut his hair, thus making it very short, much to Sylar's dismay. He wears various outfits all throughout the series, but what he mainly wears are dark-colored clothing. Though, he has been shown to wear a suit in some of the seasons.


Sylar used to be an ordinary man, but after Chandra Suresh came to him and told him he was an advanced human, everything changed. In order to prove he was special he went so far as to steal someone else ability, doing this subsequently kill the man, making Gabriel Gray into a murderer. He would later go on to call himself Sylar, because this was his way of getting a fresh start. As time went on his 'hunger' to acquire more abilities drove him to kill countless more people, in the hopes of gaining more power. In volume four Peter Petrelli ended up saving him. He showed Sylar that there was another way, that he could be good, be a hero.


His real name is Gabriel Gray and worked as a watchmaker (which he was good at, thanks to his power allowing him to solve problems instantly). After a visit from Chandra Suresh, a biologist studying people with abilities, he became obsessed with being 'special'.

However, his examination showed that he had no abilities at all. After Dr Suresh's visit, he tracked down Brian Davis, who had the power of Telekinesis. He discovered he can understand how Brian's power works, and murdered him, examining his brain and adopting the power himself.

Some time after, he received a visit from Elle Bishop who was secretly working for an organisation who monitors and finds people with abilites, named Primatech. She saved his life after he attempts suicide and befriended him, while also monitering his behaviour and ability.

After she begins to feel for Sylar more than just a study, Primatech ordered her to introduce him to another 'special person'. She brought Trevor Zeitlan to his apartment and Trevor showed him his ability to shatter objects remotely. Sylar became jealous with Elle commenting on Trevor as 'special' and he began to attack him.

When Elle fought him off with her power to control electricity he became angry at being lied to and through her away, telling her to get out of his apartment. He then killed Trevor and took his power. Elle fled to the truck and remarked that "Primatech turned him into a monster".

Sylar went on a power-hungry rampage and started killing people with powers, taking their abilities and using them to steal other ones. He showed a rapidly changing personality, killing people without emotion but then showing great deals of remorse. His changeable personality finally snapped after killing his mother accidentally after showing her his telekinetic power.

By the end of volume 1 he had ammased a large arsenal of powers, but during volume 2 he became infected with a virus that removes the abilities of superhumans. After the Series ended, he began his killing spree again gaining the ability to Regenerate rapidly from any injury. Despite his power, he was manipulated by both Angela and Arthur Petrelli who, despite opposing each other in the series, pretended to be his biological mother and father, playing on his need for love.

At the end of volume 4 he was brainwashed by another superhuman, Matt Parkman, into believing he was Nathan Petrelli, who he had recently killed. This was helped by Sylar's new power of Shapeshifting allowing him to turn physically into Nathan. After struggling with the two conflicting minds in his head, the Sylar mind won and he began to act as Sylar again. He later joined a group of travelling carnies, but the leader only sought to use him as a weapon.

He later regained his memories, he then wanted to try to find a way to remove his abilities, so he went to Parkman. But he had no intention of helping him, and instead trapped him in a dream world where he was completely alone. Peter then entered that world with the hope of getting his help to save his friend. Little did Peter know, he would be the one to save Sylar and turn him into a hero. Later, they both escaped the dream world and went to save his friend, Sylar then went on to start his life anew.

Powers and Abilities

He has the ability known as Intuitive Aptitude which allows him to understand how things work. He used this in his normal life as a watchmaker, but the 'hunger' that came with it soon drove him insane, and he began killing superhumans to acquire new abilities.

Aquired Abilities that were eventually taken away by the Shanti Virus

  • Telekinesis: Taken from Brian Davis (Six Months Ago) retained even after the Shanti virus.
  • Shattering: Taken from Trevor Zeitlan (Villains) lost to the Shanti Virus.
  • Cryokinesis: Taken from James Walker (Don't Look Back) lost to the Shanti virus.
  • Eidetic Memory: Taken from Charlie Andrews (Seven Minutes to Midnight) lost when Hiro changed the past, preventing him from gaining this power.
  • Liquefaction: Taken from Zane Taylor (Run!) lost to the Shanti virus.
  • Superhuman Hearing: Taken from Dale Smither (Unexpected) lost to the Shanti virus.
  • Precognition: Taken from Isaac Mendez (.07%) lost to the Shanti virus.
  • Radiation Manipulation: Taken from Ted Sprague (Landslide) lost to the Shanti virus.
  • Illusion Manipulation: The ability to create illusions or false images in people's minds, taken from Candice Wilmer. Sylar was never actually able to use this ability due to the effects of the the Shanti virus.

Abilities acquired after he cured himself



  • According to a response in the Sept. 30, 2008 Behind the Eclipse CBR Q&A, Sylar lost the previous abilities he had gained, except for intuitive aptitude and telekinesis, due to his exposure to the Shanti virus and had to start over in gaining other abilities. The lost abilities would include shattering, freezing, enhanced memory (which Sylar later did not steal from Charlie because Hiro changed the past, as shown in Once Upon a Time in Texas), melting, enhanced hearing, precognition, and induced radioactivity. However, Sylar was able to use induced radioactivity and precognition in a possible future (I Am Become Death). In a response in the Oct. 13, 2008 Behind the Eclipse CBR Q&A, it was clarified that Sylar reacquired those powers during the time period in between the present and the future shown in the episode.
  • Clips from the unaired episodes on the Season Two DVD show Sylar getting his powers back and continue killing and acquiring powers. In the episode, Elle tells her father that Sylar has acquired four new powers, though we see only two of the thefts take place: he steals the ability of impenetrable skin from a character named Robert Keep, and the ability of dynamic camouflage from a character called "chameleon girl".
  • In an interview, Tim Kring responded to the question "Are Sylar and Claire's father connected?" by saying "There is a connection between the two, which will become clear in later episodes."
  • Kristin Veitch of E! indicates that Sylar's character "is the opposite of what you'd think it would be."
  • In an interview with Wizard Magazine, Tim Kring states "Sylar's storyline is much cleaner line than a lot of people think. He's literally just a character who wanted to be special and he gets kind of f—ked up and becomes a serial killer. That's all it is."
  • When the apparently dead Sylar revives in The Fix and in The Kindness of Strangers, the familiar "tick-tock" can be heard, perhaps implying he has used his power.
  • The fact that Sylar survived being shot (by Matt and by Mr. Bennet) and that he walked away from a serious fall at Homecoming led to speculation that he possessed some kind of superhuman endurance. However, Aron Coleite and Joe Pokaski stated in an interview that much of Sylar's apparent invulnerability is a product of his telekinesis. Sylar's resistance to bullets was specifically shown to be a specialized use of telekinesis (Parasite).
  • Sylar seems able to levitate himself somehow. He seemingly did this to elude capture (One Giant Leap) and to approach Dale Smither without her hearing any sound of footsteps (Unexpected). He also escapes Virginia Beach police by propelling himself into a tree (Road Kill). Jason Badower stated that the script for Road Kill specifically states that Sylar uses telekinesis to escape the crashing Northeast Brewing Company truck. Whether or not the other instances are also a specialized use of his telekinesis is unclear.
  • Sylar introduces himself to the trucker as "Drew O'Grady", apparently taking the alias from two headlines in a newspaper he had seen shortly before meeting the trucker. The headlines read, "President drew fire for welfare comments" and "O'Grady Farm to be purchased back..." (Road Kill). This is in keeping with the way he acquired the "Sylar" alias, taking the name from a watch as he meets Brian Davis (Six Months Ago).
  • In an interview, Aron Coleite and Joe Pokaski explain that, although unusual vocal effects were used for both Sylar (Distractions) and Peter Petrelli (Unexpected), both were for "coolness factor", and were not an indication that either was using persuasion. They later reiterated the point in reference to Sylar's voice in .07%.
  • The address Mohinder discovers for Sylar in his father's journal is 1146 Trenton Place APT 1B, Queens, NY 11011. (One Giant Leap)
  • In an interview, Zachary Quinto said he purposely chooses to take on the characteristics of Sylar's victims. "[Distractions] was the genesis and then it continued for me as an actor to draw on the characteristics of the other characters that I was killing. There were choices I made in scenes to bring echoes of those characters to what I was doing."
  • In The Butterfly Effect, Sylar tells Elle that she is especially to blame for what he has become. This is likely a reference to the fact that she helped manipulate him into killing more people after he'd acquired his first power and was trying to stop (Villains).
  • Some have wondered why all of Sylar's acquired abilities except telekinesis were lost after he was infected with the Shanti virus. Writers Joe Pokaski and Aron Coleite said in a question and answer session that the telekinetic power remained because it is related to the guilt Sylar felt for killing Brian Davis. "Brian was Sylar's first kill and his power is connected to emotional empathy."
  • Exposed reveals that Sylar was sold to Martin and Virginia Gray in 1980, which shows Sylar as a young child, probably in his preschool years (4-6). This implies that Sylar was born during the mid 1970s.
  • In Into Asylum, Sylar suddenly appears in the back seat of Danko's car. After taunting Danko for a short time, Sylar abruptly disappears, only to be seen seconds later on a nearby rooftop. How Sylar accomplished this feat has not been explained.
  • Sylar's mysterious survival after Dual is finally explained in Turn and Face the Strange: the fire at Primatech melted the glass in his head, allowing him to regenerate.
  • In Pass/Fail, Claire describes Sylar in Redemption as an "emo-apologist".
  • A photograph on NBC's Heroes site shows a birth announcement for a "Paul E. Sylar", dated June 11, 1962. The announcement appears to be pinned next to the map in Chandra Suresh's Brooklyn apartment. However, the casting of 29-year-old Zachary Quinto seems contrary to this information, as does the revelation that "Sylar" is an assumed name. In all likelihood, since the announcement only ever appeared clearly in promotional photos, the character concept has changed since the original announcement was designed and there is no "Paul E. Sylar". This is a remnant from the original cut of the pilot episode (In His Own Image). In that version, the conversation on the Sylar tape can be heard, but it is a conversation between Chandra and Paul E. Sylar. Katherine Pope, an NBC drama development executive at the time, read the original pilot involving the early appearance of Sylar and pushed Kring to put off the character's reveal until nine episodes into the first season.
  • The role of Sylar was originally offered to Christopher Eccleston. He declined the role because he thought it was a cliché for European actors to play villains in American culture.
  • In the first draft of the pilot, Sylar was supposed to appear in an Italian prison. According to Greg Beeman's blog, this version of Sylar was supposed to have long claw-like nails and sharp teeth. He was also supposed to be "way weirder and more monstrous — like Nosferatu."
  • Ando tells Peter that Sylar is like okage which he translates as "boogeyman" (Homecoming). Molly Walker also refers to Sylar as "the boogeyman" ("The Hard Part"). In I Am Become Death, a future Gabriel Gray refers to himself as a "boogeyman" to the time-traveling Peter Petrelli.
  • Sylar taking his name from a watch mirrors one theory regarding the Zodiac Killer who killed several people in the San Francisco Bay Area in the late 60s. One suspect was allegedly given a "Zodiac" brand watch that had the same logo (a crossed circle) that the killer used to sign his letters. Also of note, before one alleged victim died, she was followed by a suspicious man wearing horn-rimmed glasses.
  • Before the airing of "Six Months Ago", the theory that Sylar is Peter had become so stale at 9th Wonders, the semi-official Heroes fansite, that it has inspired a drinking game: whenever someone brings it up, drink.
  • At the end of "Powerless", when Sylar regains his powers, the first thing he grabs with telekinesis is a can of spinach. This is a joke by the writers relating to Popeye the Sailor, who gains his "ability", strength, after eating spinach.
  • According to his case file (password: GGeh81zu) at, Gabriel Gray weighs 150 pounds.
  • "Sylar" is a German surname that literally means "ropemaker".
  • Sylar sounds like Schuyler, which is from a Dutch surname meaning "scholar".
  • Sylar's name that he uses when paired with Noah (Special Agent Andrew Hanson) is a masculine variation of Agent Audrey Hanson, an FBI agent who was tracking Sylar in Season One.
  • Sylar writes with his left hand in "An Invisible Thread". He writes with his right hand in "Pass/Fail".
  • According to Foz McDermott, Sylar was originally supposed to be a tall, thin Hispanic character. Additionally, before Zachary Quinto was cast, stuntman Ian Quinn would portray Sylar, dressed in a hat and jacket.
  • "Gray" is a unit of absorbed radiation dose. In "Nothing to Hide", a murder by intense radiation is mistakenly attributed to Sylar.
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