Bob (TV Series)

Bob, or Hrothbert of Bainbridge, is played by the brilliant Broadway veteran Terrence Mann, known for originating the roles of Javert in Les Miserables, Rum Tum Tugger in Cats, the Beast in Disney's Beauty and the Beast, Chauvelin in The Scarlet Pimpernel, and one of the several John Lennon characters in the recent Lennon.

The following backstory is taken from aired episodes and forum posts by Jim Butcher and producer Robert Wolfe.

Hundreds of years ago (some writers say six hundred, some say eight hundred, and on a couple of occasions Harry speaks of Bob having a thousand years of magical knowledge) in a village in North Yorkshire, England, Hrothbert (old English for "Robert") was a wizard who did a great deal of magical experimentation. He wrote several grimoires, the first of which includes a nasty little device called a "Doom Box." When Winifred, the sorceress he loved, died, Hrothbert delved deeply into black magic in order to bring her back. Now he's a ghost, bound to his own rune-covered skull for all eternity, and compelled to serve and obey the person in physical possession of the skull.

As Jim Butcher states, "When it comes to magic, he can't do it himself any more, and he can't interact with anything physically, but he bears a certain amount of professional pride. Oh sure, some of the stuff he did was black as hell, but it was frickin' elegant, dammit. Just look at those formulae! Sure, he was a fool to go down that road, but since he was going down it anyway, he did it in style!" He cannot affect the physical world, but can draw pictures in the air in orange fire that will dissolve if someone walks through them.

At some point, Hrothbert comes into the possession of Harry's maternal uncle, Justin Morningway, and he serves his master well. According to Bob, Morningway held the key to restoring him to mortality. It was Bob who, from the time that Harry was eleven years old, taught Harry how to do magic—Justin being far too busy and important for such things. He let Bob do the teaching part, though he appeared to gain more influence with Harry once Harry became an adult.

Once Harry "self-defensed" his uncle to death, the High Council apparently judged that Bob would be a good Jiminy Cricket for Dresden…and, the way their twisty minds work, they probably planned to use him as a snitch/informer/witness for the prosecution if Dresden started getting out of line again. The Council has at least one artifact to keep track of Bob's location…a small crystal skull which would fit easily in a man's palm. At least one member of the Council disapproves of Harry owning the skull; Warden Donald Morgan feels that it's very dangerous and shouldn't be in Harry's hands. Nevertheless, he tells Harry how to use the crystal skull to find, as he puts it, "the Artifact."

However, Bob remains both a friend and a mentor, and has demonstrated a fierce loyalty on a number of occasions—most notably when Justin Morningway's doppelgänger restores Bob to life with the arrow that killed his Winifred. "Morningway Lite," as Bob dubs him, does this so that Bob can use his "genius" for black magic and bring the original Morningway back to life by removing Harry's life force and transferring it to him. Bob "restores" Justin for about two seconds (long enough for the doppelgänger to replace the real Justin in his coffin, so that he can never bring the original back), then reverses the spell…knowing that he will die as a result. Bob is content to die, as the spell reversal will restore Harry's life force and kill Justin permanently, ensuring that Harry will be safe forever. As Bob is dying, a grief-stricken Harry begs him to live, but the power of the spell is too great. Once Bob is dead, however, his curse kicks in; his physical body vanishes, replaced by his skull and his ghost. "Once cursed, always cursed," he tells Harry with a smile. Harry, also smiling, says that he thinks he can live with that. (Episode 110, "What About Bob?")

On another occasion, when Harry's office/home had been shifted to a realm where the building was surrounded by blackness that was distilled essence of death, Bob went out into the darkness, knowing that it could destroy his very being, but fearing that if he did not agree, Harry (most likely) or one of the other mortals in the building (less likely) would go out there in his place and die. The trip was nightmarish for Bob; he described what lay beyond the darkness as "hell" and said with a shudder that there were things in the darkness that loved him not at all.

Despite not being able to perform spells, Bob is not powerless. He possesses a treasure trove of knowledge, accumulated both during his lifetime and after. He is capable of touching magic or magical spells. He can also transform into an image of a person by touching some part of the person, such as blood, hair, etc. This has been quite useful in determining whose blood was found at what crime scene (Episode 103, "Hair of the Dog"). He seems to be able to change his appearance without touching blood or hair, as he transforms into Harry on at least one occasion (to demonstrate Harry's appalling fashion sense) and into a young man who had made a Faustian bargain on another (Episode 104, "Rules of Engagement"). He can write in the air with glowing golden letters (Episode 101, "Birds of a Feather," Episode 106, "Soul Beneficiary" and Episode 110, "What About Bob") and, by his will, can superimpose symbols that he's written in the air on top of each other (Episode 112, "Second City"). He can also turn invisible and spy on others (Episode 111, "Things That Go Bump").

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 License.