Is Strickler from Trollhunters the Next Snape?
So in the little Trollhunters fandom, I’ve heard some buzz about Strickler being compared to Snape from Harry Potter…and this I find very interesting indeed! So let’s talk about it!
Severus Snape is the most popular Harry Potter character. He was a rough teacher who bullied his students sometimes to the point of degrading them but (spoilers) in the end turned out to be constantly saving Harry’s life and acting as a double agent for Dumbledore. He puts his life in danger over and over to protect Harry out of love for his mother Lily. Basically he’s the jerk who turns out to be a hero out of love for the main hero’s mother. And despite all the horrible things he did, the fans love him for his deep romantic love, heroic deeds, and rich character complexity.
On the surface, Strickler seems to do the same thing. He is a villain going against the hero while also falling in love with his mother and ends up siding with the hero because of that. Heck, he’s even the hero’s school teacher. The similarities are apparent. And the fans have reacted similarly. Strickler is one of the most popular characters in the Trollhunters franchise, well-loved by fans. Fans ship Stricklake even harder than the canon ship Jlaire. (…I don’t get you people sometimes.)
It seems like Strickler serves the exact same purpose as Snape: a jerk with a heart of gold changed by a woman’s love. He even cares for the hero as his teacher and initially puts the woman he loves in danger with his actions. (Strickler binds Barbara to him magically, and Snape is the one who told Voldemort the prophecy.) But are these two characters actually equivalent?
Okay, Snape, be nice. It’s not absurd. But…I do think Snape and Strickler are not equivalent. In fact, I think the truth is much more interesting! I’d argue that Strickler is the exact opposite of Snape!
Let’s break it down:
As a teacher, Strickler is a gentleman, kind to his students, taking personal interest in them and wanting to see them succeed. His exterior that he shows the world is that little bit of good in him. And Jim was his favorite. It tugs your heartstrings.
Snape, meanwhile, was a bully. He was constantly unfair to his students, allowed them to suffer embarrassment by any means possible if he didn’t like them, and bullied and ridiculed a student so badly that he became that student’s worst fear. And he hated Harry.
While competent, Snape is a horrible teacher, cruel to his students and
hating the hero he’s also protecting, while Strickler is the opposite; he seems like an
almost ideal teacher who is fatherly toward the hero he ends up trying
to kill. One has the worst of himself shown through his teaching while
the other shows his good side with his students. And yet the bad teacher wants to protect the hero and the good teacher, while initially protecting hero, ends up wanting to kill him.
there’s their missions. Strickler’s initial mission is to free Gunmar, which would destroy humanity (Jim and Barbara included). Later he wants Jim dead and have Changelings (and
himself) rise to power. Strickler’s missions are ultimately
self-serving for himself and his kind, and he seems to care little for
who is lost along the way. He kills two innocent people - a guard he fed
to Bular and the principle he killed with his
- and, while he cares for Jim, he’s more than willing to get an assassin
to off the boy when it becomes the most useful thing for his goals.
(This assassin, we may recall, ended up killing numerous trolls,
including Aaarrrgghh!!!. Yes, Aaarrrgghh!!! is dead because of
Strickler’s arrogance and wish to kill. …Just thought I’d point that out.) And through it all, Strickler remains polite and genial to those he’s hiding from and those who are not in his way.
Meanwhile, Snape, for all his cruel and bullying nature, spends all of the Potter series trying to protect Harry.
That’s not to say his motives a wholly good; he does completely ruin Lupin’s life by revealing he’s a werewolf just to get even for a childhood grudge. He’s as cruel to the people around him as he is his students.
But the only person we see him kill in-series is Dumbledore, who asked
him to do it, and he spends a good portion of his time trying to prevent
others from dying. He’s cruel and never polite, but he’s not evil. It’s the complete opposite of how Strickler behaves.
And finally…there’s the love interest.
And here we see the significant differences between these two: what a makes a hero vs. what makes a villain.
Let’s start with Snape this time. Because of his eternal love for Lily, Snape swore to protect her son. His love for her never died, never waned. It was a bit of a selfish love; when he first asked Dumbledore to protect her, he could care less if he also protected James and Harry until Dumbledore tells him off. But it’s still a love strong enough for Snape to give up his life and his happiness to protect and save a boy he hated and bring down his once Dark Lord. Lily’s love inspired Snape, a cruel and angered man, to be a hero.
there’s Strickler. While there may have been genuine attraction there at
one point, Strickler mainly starts dating Barbara to get to Jim, and
it’s only in the process that he starts to fall in love with her.
However, this love doesn’t stop him from binding their lives together, thereby putting her at great risk to save his own skin, nor does it stop him from getting a very
deadly assassin to hunt down her son. In fact, he doesn’t turn to the
hero’s side until they have a common enemy and his own life is in
danger. And finally, when given the chance to be selfless and split his
bond with Barbara, he won’t agree to it until Jim gives his word that
he will be protected. He won’t risk his own life to save hers.
Strickler’s greatest flaw and most villainous attribute is his own
selfishness, which, despite caring for others, allows him to murder
without remorse and put the lives of others at risk for his own sake.
Snape and Strickler are not parallels; if anything Strickler is Snape’s mirror. Snape was truly not a good human being, but he was a hero in the end who did the right thing out of love. Strickler has all the trappings of and a true potential to be a good person, but his selfishness was his limitation, and it made him a villain for most of the series and, even now, he’s at best a shaky ally you cannot fully trust if his life is on the line. Snape allowed love to make him self-sacrificing; Strickler is unwilling to ever give his life for another, even someone he loves.
Yet regardless of how they compare, we love them both anyway…because morally grey characters are always the most fun. ;)