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Sylar claims to be able to take the powers of other evolved humans. Much is unknown about the actual process and mechanisms Sylar uses in order to take adopt these powers. However, it is likely that removing brains has something to do with acquiring new powers.
When Sylar goes to Chandra's apartment, Chandra eventually turns him away since Sylar has no dicernible power. Later, Sylar encounters Brian Davis, an evolved human with telekinetic powers. After killing Brian, Sylar goes back to see Chandra. This time, he has a newfound power — telekinesis.
At Primatech Paper Co., Mr. Bennet tells Sylar that his organization is interested in Sylar because he has multiple powers; all the other evolved humans that have been encountered have had just one power each. Sylar tells his captor that this is what makes him special. Mr. Bennet further theorizes that Sylar's infusing so many changes to his DNA to absorb these powers has driven him insane. Sylar counters that he has one more power to collect — Claire's.
Since Sylar has only removed the brains of evolved humans (or those he mistook for evolved humans) so far, it is presumed that removing brains has something to do with absorbing powers. Indeed, Sylar learns many things from Dr. Suresh and his book:
- Chandra tells Sylar that the brain controls every action.
- It is unclear whether or not Brian Davis ever had his brain removed. Sylar (as Gabriel Gray/Gabriel Sylar) killed him, and shortly thereafter acquired the same powers as Brian. We presently do not know how this was accomplished.
- In an interview, Zachary Quinto said, concerning how Sylar absorbs the powers of others, "They haven't told me. The impression I was operating under was he actually ingested them, but I don't know."
- It appears that if the brain is invovled in power absorption, the brain must be intact, but not necessarily living.
- Eden kills herself by shooting herself in the brain, intending to prevent Sylar from gaining her power of suggestion. Indeed, in Fathers & Daughters, Mr. Bennet confirms that Eden stopped Sylar from taking her "gift".
- James Walker was frozen in mid-bite, and his brain seems to have been removed after his death.
Please refer to Theory:Ability theft for fan-created theories and other speculation.