Spoiler Alert! This article will contain spoilers for The Fall of the House of Usher.In the weeks before Halloween 2023, The Fall of the House of Usher graced Netflix with its presence, combining Edgar Allan Poe’s ingenious gothic contributions with Mike Flanagan’s modern creative mindset. Building upon Poe’s canon to incorporate references into new characters and Flanagan’s characteristic fresh spin on old stories, the resulting show is his final series with Netflix.
The downfall of the extended Usher family coincides with that of their company, Fortunato Pharmaceuticals, as family members keep losing their lives in gasp-worthy and gruesome ways. Mike Flanagan’s vision of Poe’s historically horrific works truly proved to be a dangerous and deadly combination. If you dare, let’s discuss who might be the most doomed characters on Netflix’s The Fall of the House of Usher.
Annabel Lee was Roderick Usher’s first wife and the mother of his firstborn children. True to her mystic, unreachable form in Poe’s original poem, from whence she came, Annabel Lee’s characterization in Flanagan’s show also ends in sadness. Being one of the less flashy and gruesome character endings within the show, her death by suicide in the final episode is truly tragic and gutting, but it also cements her as a character whose actual main priority is her family.
Napoleon Usher, also known as Leo, was one of the many Ushers who died as a result of their vices. Convinced that he’s responsible for the death of his boyfriend’s black cat, Pluto, Leo ventures out to get a replacement kitty, who jump-starts Leo’s downfall. His story with Pluto unfolds in tandem with the finality of his drug addiction, which ultimately causes Leo’s death in his high-minded pursuit of the cat that may or may not even exist.
Camille L’Espanye meant business from the moment she stepped on screen. In her line of work, she has to – especially as Fortunato Pharmaceutical’s PR princess in their time of need. During her deep dive into Victorine’s experiments and new technology, she discovers the fallibility of the simian experiments she’s conducting. When she comes into contact with Verna at the lab, Camille’s death comes as a result of sticking her nose where it does belong.
Prospero Usher “Perry” might have fallen victim to the most visually disgusting manner of death throughout the entire show. The loose cannon of the family, his wild way of life encourages him to nurture his penchant for partying and his carefree belief that he can dodge any real difficulty. Well, the second episode of Usher begs to differ – the outlandish rave that Perry throws in an old Fortunato property goes disastrously wrong, resulting in a pile of corpses (including his own) melted into the floor.
Morella Usher married into the family, becoming known as Frederick Usher’s wife and Lenore’s loving mother. After Perry invites her to his rave, she makes an appearance, tragically getting caught in the fray as the “water” intended to rain down on the guests turns out to be acid. Horribly burned and scarred from that night, her fate becomes even worse when she lands back in Frederick’s care, but thankfully, her sweet and fiery Lenore advocates for her proper treatment.
Tamerlane Usher really embodies the uniquely scrutinized experience of being the eldest daughter of the family, especially a family as intensely fated as the Ushers. The destruction of her successful image – showcased in front of her husband and a massive audience as they unveil Tamerlane’s Goldbug wellness box – begins to draw her life to a close. It’s only when she’s on her own and looks upwards into the mirror that she really faces her destiny for the last time.
Victorine LaFourcade, Roderick Usher’s older illegitimate daughter, exemplifies pure ambition through her dedication to her work – but as a Poe character, her success turns much more sour than it appears. As she works towards perfecting her heart mesh technology, she continues to conduct hideous experiments on living beings to get things just right. But the moment that her father sees what she’s actually doing, destroying the well-intentioned reputation of her work, she dies by suicide.
Dr. Alessandra Ruiz is Victorine’s romantic and professional partner. Though she isn’t part of the Usher family by blood, she unfortunately becomes entangled in their tragic destinies by association. During the development of their proprietary heart mesh, Dr. Ruiz unwillingly ends up giving more of herself to the experiments than she probably ever anticipated. When the tests on animals prove fruitless, Victorine eventually utilizes Alessandra’s almost-lifeless body to finish the job, ending the show’s fifth episode with a haunting sound.
Frederick Usher is the oldest child of Roderick Usher’s family line (before Roderick started branching off), becoming one of the more egregious living continuations of their tragic cycle of familial and substance abuse. His cruelty towards his wife and daughter through Morella’s recovery eventually earned him a real nail-biter of a death. Verna makes sure to face it with him, as his Poe-inspired death becomes impossible to get up from.
Audiences follow Roderick and Madeline all the way through their lives, from their unfortunate childhoods to their last moments on Earth. As a shrewd business professional for most of her life, she fights for herself and her ends at all costs throughout her life. Madeline’s death – Roderick’s doing – evokes a primal sense of fear for viewers who have read Poe’s original source material, since her fate rings true to her character’s classic ending.
As the Usher family’s esteemed patriarch, Roderick Usher has always remained at the heart of the action. While he recounts his past, sitting across from C. Auguste Dupin in crumbling domestic ruins, it becomes clearer to audience members exactly how doomed he has always been. As the long-standing puppeteer of his family’s many tangled strings, he can’t even escape the wrath of his own sister in their actual final moments on this mortal coil.