Willie Loomis Character Retrospective

A fan once said that Willie Loomis was everyone's favorite character because he was the most like the average guy. Having read a lot of DS fanfic, I know he's not everyone's favorite. He's been written as a bit of a dunce by some authors.

But he is more like the average person. He's fallible, vulnerable, and at first he's greedy and more than a little unstable. John Karlen gave him an edge and integrity that might not have been there from some of the scripts. He described what happened to Willie when Barnabas attacked him as having the stuffing taken out of him. Suddenly there were a lot worse things in the universe than Willie had ever experienced or expected. All the wrongs he'd done were nothing compared to what evil the vampire could do, but he was able to see the line between right and wrong for what it was, and he no longer wanted to be on the side of evil. Not just because he had no choice, but because Barnabas had destroyed that defensive shell he formed around himself—the one that kept him from seeing or acknowledging the feelings and humanity of others.  With that stripped away, he was powerless to stop the remorse he felt. And of course he felt responsible because he had unleased a vampire on the community.

As time went on, he coped and came to understand Barnabas and even feel sympathy for him. And the courage he displayed when someone was threatened by Barnabas also landed him in the hospital, his memory gone, his psyche scrambled. It's my guess that he remembered nearly everything by the time Barnabas came to get him out of Wyndecliffe, but he wanted out enough to pretend partial ignorance. Also, his mind had closed off the terrible emotions those memories would have evoked in him. He knew it had been bad, but it was easier to focus on the fact that Barnabas wanted him again. Not a very good testament to the skills of the psychologists at Wyndecliffe!

After the hospital, he was different. There was no street-smarts left in him, he behaved with the maturity of a twelve-year-old at times. Also his judgment was gone as evidenced by his taking Maggie to the secret room of the mausoleum to protect her. But at the same time he maintained his strong moral sense. He told Julia that the experiment to create Eve was not just crazy it was wrong. He wanted no part of it, but he was simply manipulated into helping anyway.

His emotional and mental changes are what make him so interesting. And it doesn't hurt that he was a treat to look upon. John Karlen gave him the qualities, the pathos and range of feeling that those of us who notice these things find so irresistible.

Also of considerable note is the version of Willie we saw in House Of Dark Shadows. According to The Dark Shadows Companion 25th Anniversay Tribute he was: "a colder, more bitter, and arguably more a heroic figure." By condensing down a good many of Willie's qualities, this is true. But the Willie of the series was just as heroic at times. Because it was a movie, there wasn't time to develop the subtleties seen in the series. I never got the impression the HODS Willie was ever that street-smart. He was definitely a bitter and disappointed man caught in a terrible situation and hating it, feeling guilty for what he'd done and prepared to risk himself to protect Maggie. It's never stated in the movie, but Willie is obviously more tightly controlled by Barnabas after he makes the mistake of trying to warn Maggie and Professor Stokes and is found out. His physical suffering is more dramatically portrayed, though he was on the series also beaten by Barnabas a few times for the same kind of offense. The HODS Willie is also more straightforward and simpler a character.  His greed was simple, unlike in the series when Willie seems abnormally obsessed with jewels. IMO, Willie didn't necessarily die of that wound at the end. Barnabas flew off, wasn't dead, why not Willie? (Good premise for a story. I know it's been done by Virginia Waldron at least. I'm still churning over the idea myself.)