Gabriel Gray was a watchmaker obsessed with the idea of being special. While working in his father's shop he was approached by Dr Chandra Suresh, who believed that Gray might be "Patient Zero". After some tests, however, he determined that he had been incorrect and left. Angered, Gray tracked down the next person from Suresh's list and, finding that he had a complete understanding of the man's telekinesis, murdered him and copied it for himself. Intensely remorseful about this murder, he nonetheless contacted Suresh again, and the pair worked together for some time, tracking down various other powered individuals. However, Suresh eventually realized that Gray was murdering everybody that they located. Confronted by Suresh, Gray murders him as well, and sets off on a nationwide murder spree, tracking other powered individuals and acquiring their powers.
Sylar was created by Jeph Loeb for the popular television series Heroes. He made his first appearance in the third episode of the first season, "One Giant Leap".
Major Story Arcs
Sylar's pattern of serial homicides begins to draw the attention of the FBI, most of whom do not believe he actually exists. In Texas he encounters Hiro Nakamura, who defeats him in a fight, and who later persuades him to save Charlie Andrews by offering to tell Sylar his future. Sylar does so, but is unhappy to learn that he is destined to die unhappy and unloved. Sylar tries to take the power of Claire Bennet but is prevented from doing so and is gravely injured in the attempt, allowing him to be captured and experimented on for some time by the Company. He manages to escape his confinement, and returns to his quest for new powers. This bring him in contact with Mohinder Suresh, whom he deceives in much the same way as he had his father. Like his father, Mohinder eventually realises Sylar's true nature and incapacitates him, experimenting on him briefly before himself being incapacitated. Resolving to only kill those who do not deserve their powers, he visits his adoptive mother seeking reassurance. When he displays his powers she panics, ultimately resulting in her own death. Sylar concludes he is on the right path and travels to Kirby Plaza where he faces off against a number of heroes. He is stabbed through the stomach by Hiro and collapses, mortally wounded.
He is rescued from his mortal wounding by a woman named Candice Wilmer. After numerous surgeries to repair his wound he awakes to find himself unable to use any of his stolen powers. Despite Candice's assurances that he will recover them he kills her and attempts to steal her power, but fails. He flees and wanders through Mexico for several days before being rescued by fugitive twins Maya and Alejandro Herrera. He travels with them in their quest to meet Chandra Suresh, revealing neither his previous connection to the doctor, nor the fact that he is dead. Maya trusts Sylar implicitly, but Alejandro is less trusting. Eventually, Sylar is able to force Alejandro from the group, and murders him when he attempts to return. He and Maya arrive at Mohinder's home where, after revealing his true nature and engaging in a brief fight, he steals the cure for the disease that is preventing him from using his powers and flees.
The cure works and he regains his telekinesis, but all of his other powers have disappeared. He immediately sets off to acquire more powers, finally succeeding in taking Claire's, although he decides not to kill her. He is soon captured by the mysterious group known as the Company, who imprison him. He meets Angela Petrelli, who offers to rehabilitate him and claims to be his real mother. Sylar becomes dedicated to rehabilitating himself, though he has difficulty controlling his hunger for power, which causes some difficulty in his work rounding up criminal superhumans. He is approached by Pinehearst Industries, who offer to allow him to continue murdering others and stealing their powers, but he declines. Later, he attempts to stop Peter Petrelli from going to Pinehearst, but is defeated and placed in a medical coma. Going to rescue Peter, he is confronted by Arthur Petrelli, who reveals that Sylar is capable of acquiring powers without killing. Soon it is revealed to him that Angela had lied about his parentage and, betrayed and angry, he gave up on attempting to reform. Instead, he traps the Bennet family and Angela in a facility, planning to murder them all. He is stabbed in the back of the head, which prevents him from healing or reviving, and is left alone in the facility, which explodes.
Surviving the explosion when the heat melts the glass in his head, Sylar begins the hunt for his birth parents. To this end he tracks down and tortures a number of people who may have the information, including his adoptive father. During his hunt he is ambushed by agents of Nathan Petrelli, whom he is able to easily defeat. Taking one of the agents hostage, he invades the home of Luke Campbell, who reveals that he knows something of Sylar's real father. The pair travel to a diner that Sylar recalls from his childhood, and Sylar is able to recover memories of his childhood, including the fact that he witnessed his father killing his mother. Sylar finally finds his father, who is dying of cancer, and learns that he inherited his power to take the powers of others from his father. After the pair fight Sylar leaves him to die slowly of his disease. He next joins Emile Danko in his hunt for superhumans, with the obvious ulterior motive of acquiring more powers and killing fellow superhumans. During their first mission he acquires the power to shapeshift, which causes trouble for him as he finds it increasingly difficult to fully shift back into his true form, as well as finding that some of the memories and traits of those he impersonates continue to linger in his mind, driving him to an identity crisis. Impersonating Nathan, he formulates a plan to impersonate the President of the United States. Confronted by Nathan, he defeats him, but is then attacked by Danko, allowing Nathan to escape. He frames Danko for murder and eventually kills Nathan, stealing the latter's power and identity. He is then captured and psychically convinced that he is actually Nathan by Matt Parkman.
Living as Nathan, he begins to recover some memories of being Sylar as well as absorbing unsavoury memories from Nathan's past, which eventually results in him being shot and left for dead in a shallow grave. Reviving, he finds he has amnesia, and wanders until he encounters a travelling carnival that houses powered individuals. Attempts are soon made to recover his memories, and he finds himself repulsed at who he used to be. Soon the Nathan persona reasserts itself and he flees the carnival, seeking aid from his "brother," Peter. The pair are eventually shown the true Nathan's dead body, and together seek Matt Parkman, who was responsible for turning Sylar into Nathan. Matt, meanwhile, is being tormented by Sylar's mind, which has latched onto his own and attempts to force Matt to reunite his mind and his body. Eventually, Sylar manages to take control of Matt's body, though Matt resists and almost manages to commit suicide. However, they are rescued by Nathan and Peter, and Sylar is able to orchestrate the return of his mind to his body despite the resistance of the Nathan persona, which ultimately dies. He next seeks out Claire, and after a discussion with her he determines that removing all of his powers is the only way for him to be happy again. He forces Matt to remove his powers, but Matt fails and instead traps Sylar in a nightmare and locks his unconscious body in the basement of his house. He is joined in the nightmare by Peter, and the pair reconcile over several years of dream time and eventually orchestrate an escape from Sylar's mind.
Brave New World
Newly freed, the pair attempt to leave Matt's home, which Matt allows only after being convinced that Sylar has changed. Sylar and Peter then travel to New York where they rescue Emma Coolidge from Eric Doyle. Sylar reflects that rescuing Emma and defeating, but not killing, Doyle made him feel good. He decides to use his powers for good, and embarks on his career as a hero.
Powers and Abilities
Sylar's original, inherent ability is the power to innately understand exactly how things work, an intuitive aptitude for understanding the workings of things. Sylar used this innate ability to understand and take the abilities of other evolved humans for himself by physically studying their brains. It is later revealed that he can obtain the abilities of others without killing them. It is unknown whether this manifestation is related to empathic mimicry or just a different method of using intuitive aptitude to understand an ability.
With his ability comes a 'hunger' for more knowledge and power. Sylar believes that it is this hunger that drives him to murder others and steal their powers. He is capable of suppressing this hunger but has in the past found it difficult to resist.
As a result of his ability Sylar has held or currently holds many different powers that he has stolen or mimicked. Notable acquisitions are telekinesis, regeneration, and electrical manipulation. The capacity for powers he can hold at once is unknown, theoretically limitless. His ability is known to be blocked by the Shanti virus, and acquiring it deleted almost all of the previous powers he had acquired.
Five Years Gone
Five years in an alternate future, Sylar is blamed by President Nathan Petrelli for an explosion that destroyed New York. Believed to be dead, he murders Nathan and impersonates him, declaring war on all superhumans. He soon learns that a number of heroes are massing to rescue Hiro, and he confronts them. The result is unknown.
I Am Become Death
Four years in an alternate future, Sylar has returned to his life as Gabriel Gray and suppressed his hunger for powers in order to take care of his young son. However he is sought by Peter Petrelli, who needs help using Sylar's intuitive aptitude. A team lead by Claire soon attack hoping to kill Peter, but instead kill Sylar's son. Enraged, he loses control of his powers and causes an explosion which levels the town they are in. His fate is unknown.
Seven Minutes to Midnight
Sylar originally kills Charlie Andrews and takes her power. He is prevented from doing this by Hiro, and ultimately ends up saving Charlie's life instead.
Sylar appears in all seasons of the television show Heroes as a major antagonist. He is played as an adult by Zachary Quinto, and as a child by Joshua Rush.
A parody of Sylar appears in a sketch on the comedy program Robot Chicken. He is played by Zachary Quinto.