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The Entire Hellboy Timeline Explained

"'What makes a man a man?' A friend of mine once wondered," recalled the intrepid FBI Agent John Myers (Rupert Evans). "Is it his origins? The way he comes to life? I don't think so. It's the choices he makes. Not how he starts things, but how he decides to end them," Myers continues, answering his own question. Hellboy's (Ron Perlman) story is one that posits that monsters aren't a species but a collective of evil beings, humans or creatures alike. The brooding demon at the center of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense (B.P.R.D.) is one individual who makes a choice to subvert the judgments of others being a force for good, not the evil we so commonly associate with the demonic. In fact, "Hellboy" is a cautionary tale that teaches how important is not to judge a book by its cover.

If Hellboy had it his way, he and his aquatic pal Abe Sapien (Doug Jones) would be kicking back a few brewskis with the rest of the fellows in town and living their best lives. But given their nature, they live under lock and key in an ultra-secretive site where they are cared for by B.P.R.D. agents and taught the ways of the world and moral philosophy from the father-like figure Trevor "Broom" Bruttenholm (John Hurt). And when things go bump in the night, the B.P.R.D. unleashes its otherworldly agents to "bump back" as Broom would cheekily affirm. In the world of "Hellboy," magical beings live in the shadow of humanity. The timeline of events in director Guillermo del Toro's iteration of the character spans more than a century. Strap in as we examine the chronological events that occur between 2004's "Hellboy" and 2008's "Hellboy II: The Golden Army" and lay the foundation for Hellboy's story.

A distant ancient time

The world of magical creatures is just as old, if not older than, humankind. But like most fictional tales of humanity and other highly intelligent beings, these races loathed each other. They'd brutally slaughter one another in horrific campaigns of violence and bloodshed. Ancient tales of the wars between humanity and beasts of the magical variety tell of an elven king that led the inhuman creatures to war against mankind. His name is King Balor (Roy Dotrice). In an effort to vanquish their foes and bring an end to the war, the king commissioned the creation of an ancient robotic army powered by magic. This army of golden soldiers is practically invincible and incredibly devastating when put to use.

King Balor saw the rampant destruction that the Golden Army unleashed. Horrified and regretful of his own actions, he separated the crown that is intrinsically linked to the army. The king then struck an accord with humankind to end the bloodshed. They made a truce that would relegate magical creatures to the dark corners of the Earth and among the forests, while humanity would rejoin their civilizations and leave magical creatures be. He then gave one piece of the crown to the humans, kept a piece for himself, and granted the third piece to his daughter, Princess Nuala (Anna Walton). His son, and Nuala's twin brother Prince Nuada (Luke Goss), hated the truce and only saw his father as a failure who gave up. He abandoned his kind and went into exile bitter.

Hitler's rise (1937-1943)

Fast forward to the 20th Century, one that sees humanity at war with one another amid great global conflicts. The year is 1937. A history is told in the present day (2004) when Professor Broom enlightens a young fresh-faced Agent Myers regarding the truth behind Adolf Hitler's rise to power and what that meant for the world. In 1937, Hitler joined the Thule Society. And for the record, the Thule Society is a real collective that actually studies and performs activities within the occult (via Encyclopedia.com). This German society is, of course, also linked to the political sector. Adolf Hitler did, in fact, have ties to the Thule Society in real-world history.

In "Hellboy" lore, Hitler then acquired the spear of Longinus. This is the fabled spear that pierced the side of Jesus Christ during his crucifixion. Apparently, because of this connection it is imbued with power and grants any who claim it a level of immortality and strength, not necessarily just physical but also in terms of influence and prestige. Seemingly, this is the "Hellboy" explanation for Adolf Hitler's rising through the ranks to become the führer. Because of the threat Hitler posed to the world from a supernatural point of view, President Roosevelt responded by creating the B.P.R.D. in 1943. This agency's entire goal is to thwart the Nazi regime's attempts at gaining power from the occult.

The height of World War II (1944)

In 1944, the B.P.R.D. find that the Nazi occultists are planning something big on a remote Scottish island. The Allied forces accompany Professor Broom to the island where they find Grigori Rasputin attempting to summon the Ogdru Jahad, a group of "Hellboy" comic book villains (gods of chaos) that will bring about the apocalypse. Rasputin is notably still alive despite perishing in 1916 in real-world history. Professor Broom highlights his fabled death that only came after he was poisoned, shot, stabbed, clubbed, and castrated. He finally succumbed to death when drowned. But, of course, he's got his hands in the pockets of the occult and his resuscitation was imminent, thus explaining how he survived such brutality.

He's accompanied by Karl Ruprecht Kroenen (Ladislav Beran), Hitler's best assassin and leader of the Thule Society. After opening a portal, the Allies attack. Professor Broom throws a grenade at the portal which closes it before sucking Rasputin in. Kroenen shows that he, too, is seemingly unkillable given that he survives gunshots and being impaled by a metal rod against a pillar. The soldiers note that he disappeared short moments later. Since the portal was open for a long time, Broom is worried that something came through. After a search, they find an infant with a stone arm and a red complexion. Given his appearance, the men name him Hellboy. And thus, Hellboy's journey begins under the care of Professor Broom.

Christmas Eve (1955)

In 1955, Hellboy and his adoptive father, Professor Broom, appear to be living in a remote trailer away from civilization. It's Christmas Eve and Broom is attempting to put his son to bed teasing that Santa can't come down the chimney if he's awake. Of course, Hellboy retorts that they don't have a chimney, to which Broom explains that the big jolly man has his ways. So, in an effort to get the youthful Hellboy to get some shut-eye, he tells him the age-old story of the Golden Army and King Balor.

Wondrously listening with intent, Hellboy asks how such an army can be so powerful. Of course, the young boy treats the whole narrative as nothing more than a fairy tale. But decades down the road, he'd come to learn how very real the elves are thanks to the return of Prince Nuada from exile and his attempts to destroy humanity with the mystical Golden Army.

The end of the occult war (1958)

You've heard of the Cold War, right? You know, that post-World War II era that saw the build-up of militaries and weapons development between the United States and the Soviet Union in fear of another massive war breaking out, one with nuclear implications? Well, apparently, there was also an existing "occult war" for a time. It was a different kind of arms race but was one started by Adolf Hitler. According to "Hellboy" lore, he began seeking supernatural artifacts to grant him power over his enemies. President Roosevelt got word of this and responded in kind by establishing the B.P.R.D. to monitor Hitler's movements on the occult front.

Well, that war ended with Hitler's death since he was the prime purveyor of occult artifacts in the name of world domination. His death in 1958 brought about this end according to Professor Broom. The newest B.P.R.D. agent, John Myers (Rupert Evans), attempts to correct Broom stating that Hitler's death was in 1945 as we all know from the history books. But Broom smirks at the naïve agent saying, "Did he, now?" before introducing Myers to Hellboy. It seems there's something the U.S. government didn't want the general public to know.

Grigori Rasputin is resurrected and FBI Agent John Myers joins the B.P.R.D. (2004)

Out in the far reaches of the Birgau Pass in Moldavia, Ilsa Haupstein (Biddy Hodson), Rasputin's lover who was bestowed with enduring youth by the mystic sorcerer, and the perpetually immortal Kroenen find an ancient site where they can resurrect Rasputin. Unfortunately, for the poor soul who is their guide along the path, it's his blood that is used to open the gateway for Rasputin's return.

Across the world, Professor Broom is receiving the most disconcerting diagnosis from his doctor. He has a malignant cancer that is aggressive enough to be labeled terminal. Broom asks that his agents don't reveal his pending demise to his son, Hellboy.

Meanwhile, FBI Agent John Myers is transferred to the B.P.R.D. in Newark, NJ from his station at Quantico. Unsure of what he's about to find at the secretive government black site, he meets the fish-like man, Abe Sapien. After this, Professor Broom explains the origins of the agency and then introduces him to Red (aka Hellboy). While the relationship between the agent and the demon is murky at best right at the start, they eventually form a bond based on trust before the final curtain call. Myers' admission to the B.P.R.D. is also crucial to thwarting the sinister plot enacted by Rasputin and his shadowy counterparts.

Rasputin conjures a creature named Sammael that is unstoppable (2004)

Just after Myers' induction into the B.P.R.D., the agency gets a call about a monstrous entity terrorizing the security guards at a museum in New York City. Hellboy and Abe Sapien along with other B.P.R.D. agents arrive under the cover of a sophisticated garbage truck. Basically, it's a garbage truck on the outside, and a special transport unit on the inside. After Hellboy enters the museum and seemingly dispatches of the creature, Abe informs him that the entity is called Sammael and is known by many monikers, one of which is the hound of resurrection. During the fight, Hellboy is knocked out into the back alley where he sees Rasputin who calls him son. He informs Hellboy that he ushered him into the world and knows his true destiny as its destroyer. Just as quickly as he appeared, he disappears.

Hellboy eventually kills Sammael, but later examination by Abe reveals that Rasputin conjured the creature and bestowed upon it an eternal cycle of life, one where two copies of the creature replace it every time it's killed. Furthermore, Sammael is leaving eggs just about everywhere. So, the inevitable doom of the world seems rather imminent given the rapid reproduction of the monster.

The death of Trevor Bruttenholm (2004)

Later, Abe, Hellboy, and other B.P.R.D. agents return to the sewers beneath the museum to look for eggs that could have been left behind by the creature during its fight with Hellboy. Kroenen is lurking in the shadows and manages to kill almost all of the agents in the sewer. After killing Clay (Corey Johnson), an agent who had been rather close to Hellboy, Kroenen lies down next to his body and simulates defeat. The B.P.R.D. recovers Kroenen and later attempts to learn how his body mixed with flesh and mechanical parts functions.

Meanwhile, Hellboy leaves to go see an old flame, Liz Sherman (Selma Blair). Her ability to conjure fire had grown out of control and she left the team some time ago to find rehabilitation for her condition. Hellboy's affection for her is strong despite her penchant to push him away. After Liz returns to the agency, Myers takes her out for coffee while Hellboy stalks jealously on the rooftops.

When Liz, Hellboy, and Agent Myers are away, Kroenen reanimates in the laboratory. Rasputin appears to Broom and shows him Hellboy's future destined to destroy the world in hellish apocalyptic fire. Despite this vision, Broom reaffirms his love for Hellboy as a son. Rasputin then commands Kroenen to give Broom a quick execution out of respect that Broom preserved Hellboy instead of destroying him all those years ago. As expected, Hellboy doesn't take the news of his adoptive father's death very well.

Liz Sherman joins the B.P.R.D. and Hellboy learns of his destiny (2004)

After Liz's relapse causes a devastating fire at the rehabilitation center she was staying at, she rejoins the B.P.R.D. team understanding that they can help her manage her abilities. Following the death of Professor Broom, Hellboy, Liz, Agent Myers, and the rest of the B.P.R.D. head to Moscow after locating Rasputin's mausoleum. The team packs double-core Vulcan-65 grenades in order to wipe out Sammael's nests entirely. What are double-core Vulcan-65 grenades you might ask? Well, we don't know either, but let's just say they're ridiculously devastating. Upon arrival, Hellboy resurrects a corpse in the cemetery that can help direct them to the mausoleum.

Hellboy finds Kroenen's lair. The two fight, but Hellboy manages to finally kill the assassin. Meanwhile, Agent Myers and Liz find Sammael's nesting grounds. Instead of using the Vulcan grenades, Liz finds herself having to use her pyrokinetic powers to vaporize the creatures and their eggs. Reunited with Hellboy, Liz is grabbed and threatened by Rasputin in order to force Hellboy into compliance. His stone arm is the key to unleashing the apocalypse on the world. For Liz's safety, Hellboy accepts his destiny which enables his horns to grow. He then inserts his arm into an ancient obelisk as a key he turns with his fist in order to release the Ogdru Jahad. But, of course, Myers manages to talk some sense into Hellboy reminding him of his humanity and tossing him his father's rosary.

Hellboy defeats Rasputin and the Behemoth (2004)

Listening to Myers' pep talk, Hellboy stops the process and breaks off his horns. He then proceeds to stab Rasputin with his horns fatally wounding the mystic sorcerer. Rasputin has the last laugh, though. He explains that the Behemoth, a remnant of the Ogdru Jahad is inside him and that it will emerge to rain down terror on the world. Sure enough, the Cthulu-like creature rips out of his body. As it grows to an enormous size, it crushes both Ilsa and Rasputin, ending them once and for all. Hellboy gets Agent Myers and Liz to safety and takes a Vulcan grenade belt with him to combat the beast.

After being tossed around by the Behemoth, Hellboy finally lets the beast consume him. He then activates the grenade belt inside the monster's body blowing the Behemoth to smithereens. Being impervious to fire, Hellboy emerges unarmed (mostly) by the grenade blast. Ending Rasputin's campaign brings Liz back to the realm of the living despite having seemingly been dead after Rasputin removed her soul from her body.

Prince Nuada gathers pieces of the crown to control the Golden Army (2005)

Approximately a year after the events of the first film, Prince Nuada begins laying the foundation for Hellboy's next major conflict. He has returned from exile after many centuries deciding that he is going to take control of the Golden Army and rid the world of humankind so that magical creatures can live in peace. He works with his troll sidekick, Wink, to begin collecting the three pieces of the crown necessary to control the fabled army. We first see Nuada infiltrating an auction where he takes the crown piece up for sale and unleashes swarms of tiny magical creatures known as "tooth fairies" on the public. These aren't as wondrous as they sound. In fact, these little buggers eat people but typically go for the teeth first, hence their name.

Prince Nuada later finds himself before his father, King Balor, petitioning him to hand over his piece of the crown so that he can wage war on the humans in the name of magical creatures everywhere. Balor refuses, considering the move treasonous as it goes against the ancient pact the elves made with humans all those centuries ago. Therefore, Nuada sees no choice but to kill his own father and take it. He does so by viscerally executing all of the guards that attempt to stand in his way. With Balor dead, the only remaining piece is the one held by Nuada's sister, Princess Nuala. She flees knowing that her brother is nothing but trouble and attempts to find safety and aid within the B.P.R.D.

Hellboy outs himself to the public while investigating Nuada (2005)

When Hellboy, Liz, Abe, and the rest of the agency investigate the incident at the auction, they find that no bodies have been left behind. This is, in fact, because the swarms of tooth fairies consumed everyone in the building. After the tooth fairies attack the B.P.R.D. agents, Abe accidentally discovers that Liz is pregnant with Hellboy's child when placing his hand on her. Asking that he keep things secret for the time being, they continue to investigate. Abe discovers that the boxes that the tooth fairies were delivered in contained an ancient royal seal. Ever so knowledgeable, Abe reveals that the seal is only delivered as a declaration of war.

Meanwhile, Hellboy intentionally allows himself to be outed to the public after Liz causes the entire place to go up in flames in an effort to destroy the tooth fairies. The blast sends Hellboy out of a window onto the crowded street below. He purposefully wanted to step into the spotlight as he was tired of living life secretly. His actions, however, have consequences.

Johann Krauss takes over the B.P.R.D. (2005)

Because of Hellboy's public outing, an enigmatic individual by the name of Johann Krauss (Seth MacFarlane) is brought in to oversee Hellboy and his activities. For those unfamiliar with Johann's comic book origins, he is actually an ectoplasmic spirit that inhabits a containment unit to walk normally among people. He is also known to have psychic abilities. He was once human, and a top-notch psychic medium. However, after a séance went awry, his physical body was destroyed while his spiritual essence was preserved as ectoplasm. Technically, the lore behind his story insinuates that he's not actually "dead." But rather, he just doesn't have a body. So, he's not a ghost if that's what you're thinking. It all gets a bit hazy.

Johann uses his ability to revive a tooth fairy and find out where it came from. The team is guided to a secretive troll market tucked away underneath the Brooklyn Bridge. Wink finds and confronts Hellboy. During the clash, Wink's metallic arm is caught in a grinder and he is killed which later angers Prince Nuada. Abe also finds Princess Nuala in the market and instantly has a resonating connection with her. He vows to keep her and the crown piece safe.

While Nuala is taken in by the B.P.R.D., it doesn't take Nuada long to track down his sister given the connection they have as twins. Nuada attempts to convince Hellboy that humans will never appreciate him let alone like him. Hellboy rejects his pleas to join Nuada and the prince stabs Hellboy with a spear shard.

Liz, Abe, and Hellboy pursue Nuada and the Golden Army (2005)

Nuada takes Nuala with him and tells the B.P.R.D. that if they ever have hope to see her again they'll deliver the piece of the crown she had hidden from him. Furthermore, the spear shard can't be removed from Hellboy without killing him. Each time Abe tugs on it, it buries itself deeper toward Hellboy's heart. So, Liz and Abe bring Hellboy to the location of the fabled Golden Army in Ireland. There, they find a goblin who offers to bring them to one who can help Hellboy. 

The Angel of Death states that she can remove the spear. However, she warns Liz that if Hellboy lives, he'll destroy the world. Uncaring of this yet unfulfilled prophecy, Liz demands he be saved. The Angel of Death removes the shard and Hellboy recovers after Liz tells him that she's pregnant. The goblin then leads the crew of misfit heroes to the exact location of the Golden Army. There they find Nuada ready for a fight. However, Nuada has more leverage than the team realizes.

The team defeats Nuada (2005)

Just like Hellboy was once compromised by matters of the heart when confronting Rasputin, Abe finds himself in the same predicament. Having fallen deeply in love with Princess Nuala, he gives Nuada the piece of the crown in exchange for her safety. Nuada then uses the final piece to resuscitate the slumbering Golden Army. It all seems pretty dark and dreary at this point as Nuada commands the army to kill the agents. But Hellboy stops Nuada in his tracks by issuing a challenge by combat over the command of the army. When Nuada asserts that Hellboy has no right to a challenge because he is a nobody, Nuala states that he is Anung Un Rama, son of the Fallen one making him royalty in Hell. Hellboy assures Abe that he won't kill Nuada as that would also kill Nuala given their link.

The two engage in combat and Hellboy is the victor but spares Nuada's life. However, Nuada still attempts to kill Hellboy after he disengages, but Nuala puts an end to Nuada's campaign once and for all. She stabs herself which, in effect, fatally wounds him before he's able to strike Hellboy. In his dying words, Nuada tells Hellboy that the humans will tire of him and that he will have to choose between them or magical beings. Meanwhile, Abe confesses his love for Nuala before she passes into the great beyond. Liz then takes the crown from Hellboy and melts it causing the Golden Army to fall into shambles. As they emerge from the underground, Hellboy, Liz, Abe, and Johann all resign from the B.P.R.D. just in time for Liz to reveal that she's pregnant with twins. Oh, the look on Hellboy's face.