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Ability theft

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Ability theft
Powers sylar tk 2.jpg
Gabriel Gray demonstrates his newly-acquired telekinetic ability for Chandra Suresh.
Ability to: Take the abilities of others

Sylar has shown that he can acquire the abilities of other evolved humans by studying their brains to determine how their powers function. The process apparently requires directly examining a particular part of the victim's brain (The Second Coming). Once he has examined the brain, he is able to duplicate the power himself.


Six Months Ago

When Gabriel Gray goes to Chandra's apartment, Chandra eventually turns him away since Gabriel has no discernible power. Later, Gabriel encounters Brian Davis, an evolved human with telekinetic powers. He introduces himself as Sylar. Using his ability, Sylar determines he can take Brian's ability from his brain.


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.

Later, Mr. Bennet again enters the room just outside Sylar's cell. Sylar claims that they are actually alike, because they both collect. Sylar believes Mr. Bennet abducts people with powers because it makes him feel powerful. Mr. Bennet tells him that they're going to take him apart like a watch and find out what makes him tick.

Eden comes to Sylar's cell with a gun, in an attempt to make Sylar kill himself. Sylar is awed at her power of persuasion. He tells Eden that he is going to consume her power. However, his plan fails, and Eden kills herself. Sylar is visibly upset.


Hank and Mr. Bennet have determined that Sylar has multiple powers. Other than telekinesis, they have been unable to identify what those other powers are.


Sylar meets Zane Taylor at Zane's home, where Zane shows him his power. Later when Mohinder shows for his appointment, Sylar (posing as Zane) shows Mohinder that he can melt objects. Zane lies dead in the kitchen.

Graphic Novel:Road Kill

Sylar says he seems to be able to remember things after meeting a waitress from the Burnt Toast Diner. He then travels to Virginia Beach to steal a power from Zane Taylor.


Sylar, posing as Zane Taylor, meets Dale Smither with Mohinder. After learning of her ability, he becomes excited. Dale notices a change in his heartbeat. Later that night, Sylar returns. Dale notes that she couldn't hear his footsteps. He tells her that there weren't any. After killing her, he leaves her suspended under a car she was working on for Mohinder to find her.


Sylar visits Isaac Mendez's apartment, stakes Isaac to the floor with paintbrushes, and removes his brain. Sylar immediately thereafter begins a crude painting with his newly acquired ability.

Graphic Novel:String Theory

Future Hiro remembers stabbing Sylar, but being unable to kill him because he stole Claire Bennet's ability to regenerate.

Five Years Gone

In addition to the list of powers he has already stolen, Future Sylar demonstrates phasing (presumably stolen from the late D.L. Hawkins), illusion (stolen from Candice Willmer), and flight (stolen from Nathan Petrelli before assuming his identity). At the Petrelli mansion, he kills Claire, seems to remove her brain, and take her power of regeneration.


After calling in the FBI to capture Ted, Sylar finds the FBI truck holding Ted and flips it. After finding Ted restrained, Sylar opens up Ted and steals his ability.


Sylar attempts to use telekinesis on a coffee cup, but finds he cannot move things with his mind. He comments to Candice that he can't use this ability or freeze things, but Candice tells him that until his chest heals, he may not be able to access his abilities. Later, Candice demonstrates her ability several times, and Sylar hits her over the head with the coffee cup. After taking her brain, Sylar attempts to use her ability, but finds that he cannot use it, just like his other abilities.

The Second Coming

After trapping her in her home, Sylar successfully slices open Claire Bennet's head, but not before she stabs him in the chest with a kitchen knife. Despite this, he examines her brain to find the source of her ability. Due to her ability, Claire remains conscious during this time and asks Sylar if he will consume the brain to obtain her ability. Sylar expresses his disgust at this suggestion. After feeling through her brain for something in particular, Sylar seems to concentrate for a moment. He then removes the knife from his chest, and the wound heals, confirming that he obtained her ability to regenerate.

The Butterfly Effect

Elle returns to her father's office to find him dead in his chair with his brain removed. Elle races to Level 5 and releases Noah Bennet from his cell. She gives him a gun and informs him of the situation. Shortly after, Sylar arrives and tosses Elle into the air. Bennet shoots Sylar multiple times in the chest. However, his wounds quickly heal, revealing to Bennet that he took Claire's ability. Sylar then incapacitates Bennet and walks over to Elle, who is lying on the ground barely conscious. Sylar demonstrates the newly acquired ability from Bob, turning the gun to gold. He then starts to cut open her head, but the pain causes her to unleash an enormous amount of electrical energy, which knocks out Sylar and overloads Level 5's power grid, allowing its prisoners to escape.

One of Us, One of Them

After revealing she is Sylar's mother and loosening his restraints, Angela calls in Bridget Bailey and tells Sylar about her ability. He asks her what Bridget is going to do to him, and Angela tells him she's there to "feed" him. As Angela walks away, Bridget is heard screaming.

When Sylar and Noah manage to end the hostage situation in the bank, Sylar locks the doors and proceeds to take Jesse Murphy's ability.


Gabriel and Elle watch as Trevor demonstrates his ability, Elle expresses her admiration. Sylar grows jealous and slams Trevor against a bookcase in anger. Elle shocks Sylar in attempt to save Trevor but Sylar Telekinetically throws her into the other room and orders her to get out. Sylar telekinetically slices Trevors head open and steals his ability. Shocked at what he did, he runs into an empty room, leaving a bloody handprint on the door.

Shades of Gray

Samson Gray reveals that he, like his son, also acquired the abilities of other evolved humans through the use of intuitive aptitude. He later attempts to take Sylar's ability to regenerate by trying to cut open his head. Oddly enough, although Samson has demonstrated that he can still use telekinesis, he tries to use a knife to cut open Sylar's head; apparently, Samson preferred a "hands-on approach".

I Am Sylar

Sylar visits Tom Miller, pretending to be Rebel. After Tom demonstrates an ability to disintegrate objects, Sylar kills him and acquires his ability.

Powers Stolen

Since developing this process, Sylar has used it to steal the following abilities:

At one point, Sylar was infected with the Shanti virus (Kindred). After he cured himself, he resumed using this process, and used it to acquire the following abilities:

Mohinder told the FBI that six people from Chandra's list have been murdered by Sylar (Fallout). Since he murdered at least five more evolved humans before contracting the Shanti virus, it is likely that he possessed at least five additional abilities at the time, before losing them to the virus. It's likely that Sylar acquired an ability from a Chicago victim (possibly named David), although what ability (if there is one) is unknown. (Turning Point)

He tried to use this process to take the ability of illusion from Candice Willmer without success. (Kindred) He lost the use all of his abilities due to his infection, only regaining his base power and telekinesis after he cured himself with a cure (Powerless, also confirmed by Joe Pokaski and Aron Coleite)

In a possible future timeline, Sylar has also stolen the following abilities:

In another possible future timeline, Sylar has reaquired the following abilities:

Samson Gray has stolen the following abilities:

Memorable Quotes

"Everyone else we've met has had only one ability. You've taken on several."

"I guess that's what makes me special."

"That's important to you isn't it — being special?"

"It's important to everyone."

"I think you’re insane. I think the infusion of so many alterations to your DNA has corrupted your mind. All this power is degrading you."

"And yet here I am, alive and well, and as soon as I get out, I’m gonna collect one more ability from your daughter."

- Mr. Bennet, Sylar (Fallout)


  • When speaking with Brian Davis, Sylar seemed to use his original intuitive aptitude ability to analyze Brian's brain--he told Brian that he was "broken", then promised he could fix Brian. (Six Months Ago)
  • In an interview, Tim Kring elaborated on the similarities and differences between Peter and Sylar's abilities, calling them "two halves of a similar coin".

    "Both are able to absorb people’s powers, but in two very different ways. Peter’s is based on his empathy and his ability to connect with people and when he’s around them. Sylar actually has to take your brain and do something with it."

  • Chandra tells Sylar that the brain controls every action. It appears that if the brain is involved in ability absorption, the brain must be intact, but not necessarily living.
  • It is unclear whether or not Brian Davis ever had his brain removed. Sylar (as Gabriel Gray/Gabriel Sylar) killed him, and also acquired Brian's ability through empathy. It is reasonable to guess, however, that he also broke open Brian's skull to examine his brain in much the same primitive manner that he did Candice's, (Kindred) as Sylar was later unaware that he could gain abilities through empathy. (It's Coming)
  • In an interview, Aron Coleite and Joe Pokaski explain that, although unusual vocal effects were used for both Sylar (Distractions) and Peter Petrelli (Unexpected), both were for "coolness factor", and were not an indication that either was using persuasion. They later reiterated the point in reference to Sylar's voice in .07%.
  • In Kindred, Sylar attempts to steal Candice's ability of illusion, but finds that neither this ability nor any of the other acquired abilities work.
  • When examining Claire's brain in The Second Coming, Sylar was able to find what he sought without actually removing her brain from her head. Only the top half of her brain was exposed, indicating that the critical parts for Sylar's examination are in the cerebrum. When he was examining Candice's brain in Kindred and Brian Davis's in Six Months Ago, he made an opening in the back of the skull.
  • Sylar also possesses the ability to empathically steal abilities from people without killing them, although this takes more effort and time. He has used this to copy telekinesis from Brian Davis, electrical manipulation from Elle Bishop, shape shifting from James Martin, flight from Nathan Petrelli and empathy from Lydia, although he ended up killing all but Lydia.

See Also

Fan Theories

Please refer to Theory:Ability theft for fan-created theories and other speculation.

Evolved Human Abilities edit

Ability absorptionAbility replicationActivation and deactivationAdoptive muscle memoryAlchemyAlejandro's abilityAquatic breathingClairsentienceClairvoyanceCloakingCloningCyberpathyDisintegrationDream manipulationElectric manipulationElemental controlEmpathic mimicryEmpathyEnhanced hearingEnhanced memoryEnhanced strengthEnhanced strength and sensesEnhanced synesthesiaFire breathingFlightFreezingGravitational manipulationHachiro's abilityHealingHealing touchHeat generationIllusionImage projectionImpenetrable skinInduced radioactivityIntuitive aptitudeInvisibilityLie detectionLuke's abilityMagnetismMeltingMemory manipulationMemory storageMental manipulationMetal mimicryMicrowave emissionMiko's abilityMist mimicryPersuasionPhasingPlant growthPoison emissionPossessionPrecognitionPrecognitive dreamingPuppet masterPyrokinesisRapid cell regenerationSedationSeismic burstShape shiftingShatteringSound manipulationSpace-time manipulationSpontaneous combustionSuper speedSuperchargingTechnopathyTelekinesisTelepathyTerrakinesisUmbrakinesisWeather control

Evolutions Abilities

Accelerated probabilityAcidic bloodAge transferalAnimal controlBelief inductionCarbon isolation and formationConstrictionDanger sensingDavid's abilityDimension hoppingDimensional storageEmpathic manipulationEnhanced breathEnhanced teleportingExtraskeletal manipulationFireworks creationHealth optimizingInflammationLight absorptionLight manipulationNerve manipulationNon-biological duplicationPhoenix mimicryPlasmakinesisPrimal rageProbability computationRock formationShiftingTeleportationTemporal rewindWater generationWater mimicry

Graphic Novel Abilities

Ability augmentationAcid secretionAge shiftingAppearance alterationAura absorptionBliss and horrorBone spike protrusionChlorine gas exudationCrumplingDehydrationDisintegration touchElasticityElectrical absorptionEnergy absorption, transference, and redirectionFire castingForcefieldsFuture terrorist's abilityGold mimicryGranulationGreen energy blastImprintingLaser emissionLevitationLuminescenceLung adaptationMass manipulationMediumshipNerve gas emissionNeurocognitive deficitOil secretionOmnilingualismPlant manipulationSound absorptionSpider mimicryTelescopic visionWall crawling

See Also: Ability developmentAbility extensionAbility heredityAbility immunityAbility lossBrain examinationBrain penetrationUnnamed abilitiesExamples of simultaneous ability useEye alterationList of abilitiesList of abilities with multiple usersParadoxProphecyRiftPower