Professor Van Ark

Professor Ernest Van Ark artwork by Crimson Sun

Ernest Van Ark

First Appearance


Last Appearance

Something Good, 08


Philip Jennings








White- haired

Professor Ernest Van Ark was one of the people partially responsible for creating the Grey Plague while performing research on cell regeneration with the final aim of discovering a way for humans to become immortal. Despite being bitten by a zombie, he did not turn due to a blood cleansing treatment that he had developed. Professor Van Ark mentions someone named Matilda and is said to have a violent temper. He reportedly inherited money and used it to build a house that featured nearly award-winning modern architecture. 

Season OneEdit

Van Ark is first mentioned in Paula's CD for Maxine. It is revealed that Van Ark's patient 29 was the "patient zero" who first displayed symptoms of the zombie plague. It is also revealed that he ordered his employees to destroy proof that the apocalypse was connected to Pandora Haze.

Season TwoEdit

Professor Van Ark was revealed to be behind the attack on Abel. He was responsible for many of the fast zombies in the area, and had discovered a way to control certain zombies using sound patterns.

Professor Van Ark infects Paula with the zombie virus to keep her invested in finding a cure. He tortures and kills Archie Jensen, and he pulls Runner 5 behind his Jeep and then later experiments on them. The exact nature of his medical experimentation on Runner 5 is still unknown. He also reveals that he was not the one who shot down Five's helicopter.

When Van Ark attempts to conduct further experiments on Runner 5, Sara Smith handcuffs him and injects him with Maxine's serum. The serum renders Van Ark vulnerable to attack. However, the serum takes several hours to work. In the mean time, Van Ark cuts off his own hand to escape the cuffs. He destroys the plasmaphoresis machine Sara needs and escapes to his plane, which Runner 5 shoots down with a rocket launcher.

In season 2, it is revealed that Van Ark can't cook. Sara begins to say "You can't make an omelette without breaking some eggs," but he interrupts her halfway to say, "No, I really can't [make an omelette]" and then laments that he hopes someone who can cook survives the apocalypse.

Season Three Edit

Paula reveals that Van Ark was highly suspicious of Comansys, and that he may have had a lab in Dedlock territory.

Season Four Edit

The episode "Who Are You?" reveals that Veronica McShell has been in contact with Van Ark since before Day Zero. He appears to have been her mentor. Veronica later reveals that Van Ark's wife is none other than The Minister of Recovery, Sigrid Hakkinen.

Season Five Edit

Sigrid tells Runner Five the story of how she and Van Ark met. Sigrid, an Erasmus exchange student from Helsinki and a member of the running team, was trying to set a personal best on the running track at Cambridge. Van Ark (then a PhD student) wandered onto the track, holding a pile of books, and Sigrid ran into him. He told her she should have watched where she was going, because he had more important things on his mind. He claimed he was working on something to improve the human race and disparaged her for pointlessly running around the same length of track. Sigrid retorted that she was going to be the prime minister someday, and then she would be in charge of Van Ark's funding. Van Ark asked how much good that would do her when he was in charge of life and death. Sigrid called him the most absurd man she'd ever met, to which he replied that she was the most insufferable woman that he'd ever met.

When Sigrid was a graduate student in political philosophy, the two realized they were both followers of Professor Holloway. Sigrid had spoken to Holloway many times and knew his daughter. Sigrid and Van Ark were both invited to a dinner after a lecture. Sigrid describes Van Ark as a "dashing young man." The two became friends and met again a year later at a genetics conference in Paris. Sigrid was 25. Van Ark invited her to a nearby bistro, but it began storming while they were on their way and they had to run. They sheltered in the doorway of Notre Dame, and Sigrid noted that she hated cathedrals because they represented wasted peasant labor for a nonexistent god. Van Ark agreed that religion was one of the greatest prisons for mankind and then asked why Sigrid was planning on returning to Finland, because the Wakened Land needed her to be prime minister. She told him that she couldn't stay in the U.K. once her student visa expired. They both express that they will miss each other, especially their great conversations. Van Ark gets down on one knee and proposes to Sigrid, "Just for the visa."

Sigrid almost said no, but at the present believes it was the right choice. They got married and lived as friends in the same house. It was difficult for Sigrid when Van Ark brought his girlfriends home, because she was in love with Van Ark. Moonchild, who was friends with Sigrid, encouraged her to break up with him. Sigrid finally left a note saying that she was going home to Finland and wanted a divorce.

Sigrid expected the virus resurrection to take at least a decade. However, she was as surprised as Van Ark and Moonchild to realize they shared a patient. However, while Van Ark was horrified by what he'd created, Sigrid pointed out that this was what they wanted—the land was Wakened. During the initial outbreak, Van Ark went to his lab to try to slow the virus down, while Sigrid went to the Ministry to put into action her plans to rebuild the nation in a new way. Van Ark said that the people would need someone to blame (him) and someone to trust (her). They exchange "I love you"s and then part ways. That was the last time they saw each other.