Vlad isn’t used to being interrupted while working in his
lab. Its walls are reinforced lead and its ceiling is buried twenty feet below
basement level. The room is missing from the building plans, invisible to the
code specs, and inaccessible to any snooping government agents. The Guys in
White’s detection equipment has never found it. They would have better luck
finding some hollowed out space by banging on the side of their own heads.
So when Vlad hears the clatter of tripped-over machine parts
and light, breathy cursing from behind him, he knows no normal person has come
to find him. This makes him crack a razor-fanged smile. Vlad lowers the welding
torch he’d been using to stitch some metal parts together for a new portal hub.
He raises the goggles from off his red eyes, and turns around in mock
“Daniel you should have told me you were coming. I would
have put some tea on for the both of us.”
Vlad is right—Danny is standing at the other end of the lab,
but he doesn’t look how Vlad had pictured. No jumpsuit, no balled-up fists, no
murderous green glinting eyes. Danny is entirely human, and he looks only a bit
bothered, like he’s thinking too hard about what to say.
“Vlad,” Danny settles on.
Vlad’s smile doesn’t waver. He takes a few steps forward,
boots clacking out hollow sonorous beats on the cavernous floor. Danny seeking
him out is almost always a treat. It means he’s done something to annoy or
frustrate or enrage Danny enough to be sought out without any effort on Vlad’s
part. It’s already a victory of sorts for Vlad, and he’s eager to know what he’s
Vlad spreads his arms, as if to encompass the far wall of enormous
floating monitors, the pink-swirling portal in the back left corner, the tables
and shelves filled with cobbled-together metal gadgets. Vlad glances down.
There are three empty toppled paint cans at Danny’s feet, clearly tripped over
and just now settling.
“So, to what do I owe this delight? Have you come to hear about my specs for the new Maddie AI? Or maybe you’d like to hear about my
recent cloning breakthroughs. Or—“ Vlad swoops in closer, circling Danny,
delighting in the way Danny’s head whips about to follow his motions, “—is there
something else even better you’d like to discuss?”
Vlad frowns just slightly. There’s no passion in Danny’s
voice, rare for a kid motivated almost entirely by his unstable emotions. There’s
no fire in his eyes either. No accusation or quick remark lashing from his
tongue. Danny’s eyes are calm, and his tone is simply flat.
“What, then?” Vlad asks, and he loses the traction of their
“I went on a college visit yesterday.”
Vlad pauses. He’s half-stooped over Danny, expecting more to
be said. Vlad finds himself with nothing to go on. “…Okay,” he says.
“I like the place a lot. And people with my grades get in
there all the time. Especially if I keep them up for the rest of junior year I
stand a good chance.”
“Then why are you telling me.” Vlad slides away from Danny.
His hope of being cursed out is fading, and his brow furrows. His face
brightens at a sudden thought, “Did you feel the urge to tell me because I’ve
simply become a sort of father figure to you?”
“I want to go there. It’s three hours away by car. One and a
half by the Fenton RV, but that’s with my dad driving.” Danny’s voice has
become clinical, like the very words are tedious, like he’s talking to a
customer service representative and he’s bored. “And it’s an hour away if I
“Get to the point Daniel. I’m a busy man.”
“No you’re not. You just have a lot of creepy pet projects.”
Danny motions stiffly to the pod-like vats that once contained Danny’s old
clones. “My point is I can’t keep super-heroing if I go there.”
“Ah,” Vlad brightens again. He leans in. “A crisis then? A
conflict of character, of morality, and you’ve come to me for advice? You’re
desperate to know if you can hang up your cape to chase a dream so banal as a
normal college life?”
“God—no—shut up just a minute. Not everything’s that
dramatic.” Danny leans away, sizing Vlad up. “My angsty teenage phase has been
over for like a year. And what are you, like, 40? Chill out for like five
minutes, for once.”
Vlad deflates a little, frowning.
Danny clears his throat to continue. “I’m not ‘hanging up my
cape’. I’m not making any rash decisions. I’m just going to college, because
that’s what I want to do, for me. And I’m doing it. I’ve still got my own life
to live. But that means I’m not around
Amity to help with the ghost patrol.”
“You’d willfully leave them unprotected, hmm?”
“Please. Mom and Dad are still kicking ghost ass in the
meantime. And I’m not that irresponsible.
I’m hiring a replacement.”
Danny snorts. “Hell no. She’s got a full ride to some
college out in Michigan for field hockey. She’s getting the hell out like I am.”
Danny’s face sobers. “No, I’m hiring you, Vlad. You’re going to pick up
whatever slack I leave behind, got it?”
Vlad’s face splits into a grin, and he barks a laugh. Then
he throws his head back and roars, teeth glinting, eyes deeply red and alight.
He regains his composure with a few rolling chuckles, and fixes Danny with a
condescending smirk. “Oh, adorable. You think you can make me do what you want.”
“Yeah, I can.”
“Can,” Danny answers firmly. “Because if you refuse, then I’m
going back home, and the second I get through that front door, I’m doing this.”
Danny straightens his shoulders just a fraction, and a glimmering white ring
splits at his midsection, enveloping him, repainting him as something sallow
and yet bright, cold and yet flickering hot, dead and so monstrously alive. And
in some ways, he looks exactly the same. “I realized I don’t care about keeping
my secret anymore, really. Mom and Dad accept Phantom as a helper way more
often than they ever try to shoot at him, and they’d accept me. And I don’t
think it would really change much anymore. I’m not 14 anymore. I could handle
letting them know.”
Vlad’s jaw is tight. “…So?”
“So that’s where we’re different, V-man.” Danny flashes a
condescending smile to match the one Vlad had worn. “You can’t dare to let them
know. The Wisconsin Ghost? You? God, it would end you. My parents, and the town,
and the government—they’d all be at your throat in an instant. You’d lose
everything.” Danny rocks back on his heels. “And I’ll out you in a heartbeat if
you give me a reason to. Because you don’t hold any leverage against me
anymore, Vlad. I’ve grown up, and I’m over it.”
“I do.” Another flash, and the rings sweep past Danny to
reveal the simple body of a human once more.
“…Just for college?” Vlad doesn’t like the edge in his
voice, the quiet anxiety. “Four years?”
Danny shrugs. “Who knows? Maybe I’ll come back home after
college if it turns out ghost hunting is the thing I wanna do with my life. Maybe
I won’t.” Danny steps forward, encroaching on Vlad, suddenly taller and surer
than Vlad had ever seen him. “I’ll be home during breaks—I’m sure I’ll happily
pick up the ghost hunting then. But maybe I’ll get an internship somewhere?
Maybe I’ll take a term abroad, you know? Maybe I’ll stay a whole lot of years
more and get my PhD in astrophysics. ‘Dr. Fenton’, like my mom. It’s got a nice
ring to it.”
“You wouldn’t…” Vlad mutters. “Who says I’ll keep doing it
that long, hmm?”
“Go ahead. Break your promise whenever. But the second you
do, I’m giving your identity to everyone I know. And besides. You’re not going
anywhere anyway.” Danny takes a few steps back, and motions around him. “This?
Your whole secret lair down here? You’ve tethered yourself to this place. You’ve
got no family anywhere, and you’ve got no ambitions in your life that don’t
involve me or my mom. You’re 40 and you’re sad and you’ve made your bed here
and I know you don’t intend to go anywhere else, even with all your money,
because what purpose would you even have anywhere else, Vlad? You could do this
for the rest of your life, picking up my slack. You just might.”
Danny flashes to ghost form again, and kicks off into the
air, and hovers up to the ceiling from which he entered.
“Me, Vlad? I’m young, and I’ve got my life ahead of me, and
I can still do something with it. I’m everything you’re not.”
Vlad says nothing. He only stares. He hears only static in
“See you later, or maybe never again, Fruit Loop.”
Why were Jack and Vlad ever friends in the first place? They seem to have very little in common other than an interest in ghosts and a love for Maddie. Their personalities are basically opposite.
That’s a good question, and I have a few theories about that.
The first is that Maddie was the reason. We know Jack and Vlad were roommates in college (Jack mentions this during the flashback in Bitter Reunions). Imagine if Jack met Maddie first and later introduced his roommate to her. Vlad’s no stranger to acting friendly with someone to get what he wants, so the idea that he befriended Jack just to get closer to Maddie isn’t impossible.
I tend to lean toward this scenario in particular because these circumstances assume Vlad’s always been kind of underhanded. If Vlad was the one that Maddie met first and that’s what he was always like, I feel like he’d be more inclined to try and keep the two of them apart than bother befriending Jack.
I’m not even saying Vlad would be “evil all along” in this theory. A lot of young people do things like this without thinking. There’s nothing evil about taking an interest in befriending someone because you like who they hang out with. This can even happen without any sort of romantic crush. You might not think you’ll get along with someone, but then you see the kind of people they hang around and realize you’d like to be part of that group.
The second theory is the one I think is the most likely, and it’s that Vlad was just a very different person in college. Despite what his powers have enabled him to do, Vlad constantly mentions that the accident that gave him the powers “ruined his life.” It had a big impact on him, and thinking that he didn’t used to be like that makes him more interesting (and a better foil for Danny).
I also think it makes more sense when you take into account his relationships. Maddie’s not an idiot, and I think the only reason she didn’t catch on to what a scumbag Vlad was sooner is that they hadn’t been in contact for 20 years. That’s a long time, and the three had a lot of catching up to do. It makes sense that they’d all still view each other the same way they did in college. If Vlad was actually a close friend of Jack’s back in the day, it makes sense that they’d trust him initially.
Besides, people with different interests befriend each other all the time. Sam and Tucker are friends, and not just because of Danny. They hang out one on one multiple times. They have a lot of differences, even down to some of their moral views, but they have enough in common to enjoy each others’ company, and what really matters is that they care about each other.
Jack and Vlad could’ve had a similar connection. Maybe they were different in a lot of ways, but friendships don’t always make sense. We know Jack adores Vlad, right down to some of the flaws that he does openly acknowledge. Maybe there was a time when the reverse was true, too. But after the accident and spending years seething in the hospital, Jack’s flaws started to seem a lot less charming and innocent.
The final theory is that they weren’t really friends, and Jack was just oblivious the entire time. Maybe their dynamic was always like it is in the show. Jack took a liking to Vlad and forced his way into his life, all the while unaware that Vlad didn’t like him.
I don’t think that one’s very likely, though. I really don’t think Jack’s that oblivious, and I know Maddie isn’t. One of them would’ve caught on if Vlad didn’t want to be around Jack. Besides, like I said, their friendship being genuine makes Vlad’s character more interesting, as well as more sympathetic.
That does, of course, all hinge on the idea that the alternate timeline in Masters of All Time wasn’t real. So make of that what you will.
There’s no question at how evil Vlad Masters is. I mean like really evil but Jack is an idiot.
1: Oh I built this portal with my girlfriend/future wife let me pour diet soda into it. Yes that was an accident but come on man
2: oh look I rebuilt this portal with my wife and where did I put the on and off switch….inside its inside the portal oh did I mention after 20 years I still don’t know how it works
3: alright sweet weapons closet now to be safe if I somehow get locked inside I better put a doorknob inside….no I’ll just wait for my son who’s already doing poorly in school to do it for me genius!
4: I’ve been “friends” with vlad since college and I still somehow miss every advance he makes at maddie or just laugh it off as friendly banter
5: I built this ghost fighting suit that literally drains the energy from my body and could possibly kill me!
6: …..did I mention I have a dungeon like an actual dungeon in my house
I really hate the opinion that Vlad is run of the mill ‘stuck up rich guy’ because honestly he has a lot of hobbies and seems pretty liberal minded (if not fiscally conservative).
For example, he was in a punk band in college with Jack. He was experimenting with the Ghost Zone portals during a time where no one even believed in ghosts except for Jack and Maddie. He’s heavy into football to the point of fanaticism and has thousands of dollars of merch that literally decorates his home. He’s been known to bake/cook and knit. He is shown playing (and winning) video-games with Danny.
Does anyone really think this guy is like a one-note posh rich dude? He may have money but he wasn’t born into it. He is still a criminal that gained all his wealth, y’know, through stealing.
I’m not saying he doesn’t enjoy his wealthy lifestyle but his defining characteristic even as a villain isn’t anywhere near greed, imo.
*SLAMS FIST ON TABLE* GIVE ME THE MASTERS OF ALL TIME AU WHERE DANNY STAYS BEHIND TO HELP VLAD and like Vlad’s just awful and rude and a little shIT but Danny just rolls his eyes because no matter what age he can take Vlad’s shit and just puts up with it and tells him what’s happening to him and that he’s okay and not dead and –
In college Samantha Manson was very much into the occult, but wanted to study it in a respectful manner. Her friends Maddie and Jack were a little more hands on and didn’t believe (or care if) ghosts had feelings. Sam aided them in their quest to punch into the Ghost Zone, if only to keep the ghosts safe from their scalpels. However Jack inevitably messed up and Sam took the hit from the protoportal. Now gifted with ghostly powers, she abuses them to aid in protests and causes she supports. She doesn’t antagonize Jack any, not really holding him accountable since she was able to recover from the accident well enough, but she definitely does try to interfere with his and Maddie’s experiments on behalf of the ghosts. She tries to sway Danny to join her against his parents to protect ghosts, but Danny knows that some ghosts don’t deserve to win.
Vlad is Danny and Tucker’s somewhat douchey rich boy friend who’s totally rebellious and is going through a gothic phase to piss off his equally stuck-up conservative parents. Vlad lives the good life and doesn’t really concern himself with other people’s problems.
Headcanon that Vlad doesn’t actually believe that the Dairy King is a real ghost and has no idea that he’s living in his castle.
The Dairy King leaves cheese for Vlad in various places whenever he’s in a bad mood to try to cheer the poor guy up but all it does it seriously baffle Vlad. But the Dairy King kinda wins bc Vlad’s too busy thinking about randomly appearing cheese to think on his problems and Vlad does get a little amusement out of it.
The Dairy King quietly taken care of the things that Vlad forgets to do or can’t if he’s injured like switching the laundry, closing the curtains, getting him a glass of water, cleaning up the first aid materials, closing the ghost portal. small things that Vlad always overlooks because he assumes he did it.
The Dairy King being fond of Vlad like a kind of grandson and being incredibly disappointed as he watches Vlad’s life spiral more and more out of control, and being helpless to do anything about it.
The Dairy king trying to sabotage Vlad’s plans by hiding tools and materials from him to prolong how long it takes him to set things in motion.
The Dairy King “accidentally” pushing books off the shelves when Vlads not in the room. its always the same book: the 1981 college yearbook. Vlad hates it. He’s tried move and even hiding the damn book but the Dairy King always knows. and he’ll always toss it onto the floor, open to a picture he knows it hurts Vlad to see. Vlad wants to erase those smiles from his mind. The dairy King wants to show him “Things don’t have to be the way they are now, you can bring this back.”
The Dairy King loosing his hold on the physical world after the first mansion blows up, but he tries his hardest to stay manifested because he doesn’t want to leave Vlad alone. Vlad’s had enough of that already. But he can’t hold on forever, and he knows this.
The Dairy King, when he’s nearly out of power, appearing to Vlad for the first time.
And he just asks, “Why are you doing this to yourself?”
And Vlad doesn’t understand what he means and the King can’t explain before he fades away. Vlad continues with his plans. The absence of all that has become familiar over the years is noticeable. Vlad ignores it. But every once and a while, when he drags himself back into his master bedroom, bones broken and bleeding pink, or after another failed venture to get what he wants, he’ll just slump down.
And wonder, “Why do I do this to myself?”
Because he cant get the infernal question out of his mind, and he can’t answer it.