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This is the article about the character; for the author who writes under this name, see Darren O'Shaughnessy
Darren Shan
DarrenManga.png
Gender Male
Species Half-Vampire
Age 12 (Cirque du Freak - The Vampire's Assistant)
14 (Tunnels of Blood)
20 (Vampire Mountain - The Vampire Prince)
26 (Hunters of the Dusk)
27 (Allies of the Night - Killers of the Dawn)
28 (Lake of Souls)
30 (The Lord of Shadows - Sons of Destiny)
16 (2009 film)
Relatives Desmond Tiny (father)
Angela Shan (mother)
Dermot Shan (adoptive father)
Steve Leonard (half-brother)
Annie Shan (half-sister)
Hibernius Tall (half-brother)
Evanna (half-sister)
Magda (grandmother)
Derek Shan (adoptive uncle)
Darius Shan (Nephew/Assistant)
Larten Crepsley (Sire)
Status Deceased (Book series)
Deceased (Manga)
Alive (alternate timeline at the end of the series)
Alive (Movie)
Background Information
Book Universe The Saga of Darren Shan
First Book Appearance Cirque Du Freak
First Movie Appearance Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant
Acted By Chris Massoglia


Darren Shan (ダレン・シャン Daren Shan) is the protagonist in The Saga of Darren Shan. He's a boy with an interest and love for spiders. Darren was drawn to the Cirque du Freak show because of the spider tamer, and was deeply amazed by the performance; enough so that he stole the spider Madam Octa.

He decides to become a half-vampire and join Larten Crepsley to save the life of his best friend Steve Leonard, as he felt it was his responsibility. Even after Steve vows to kill him one day after becoming a strong vampire hunter, Darren does not tell Crepsley about the threat in order to keep Steve safe, believing that he is still his best friend.

Appearance

Darren is a petite boy with black hair and green eyes. In the manga he wears his standard school uniform, consisting of a white shirt, red necktie and green pants rolled up to his knees. After becoming a vampire, he wears his funeral outfit, consisting of a black suit with black shorts.

After aging up to a young man, he wears a white shirt and black pants. Since Mr. Crepsley's death, Darren dons his long red coat and starts using it regularly.

Personality

Initially, Darren is a kind-hearted boy who tries to stay out of trouble. He is loyal to his friends and puts them before himself, willing to sacrifice himself for his loved ones. He is also stubborn as he chooses to stay with whatever decision he has made and will go through it stoically. Darren is also witty and tends to snark a lot in his internal monologues.

After becoming a vampire, he insists that he doesn't want to kill anybody, as he believes it's wrong. However, as the series progresses and he becomes more affected by the loss of his friends (especially the death of Mr. Crepsley), he becomes filled with hate and resentment and it appears to start influencing his decisions, becoming more vindictive and pragmatic.

In the manga adaptation, Darren acts more like a typical hero compared to his novel counterpart. He's more naive and his insistence on fair play, honor and trying to help everyone will just get even more people killed and will lead him to being crushed by his ideals as the story progresses. He wants everyone to get along, and often is the one to interfere with and settle disputes between people. However, this changes as the series progresses and becomes more cynical. Unlike the novel, Darren never stops considering Steve as a friend and blames himself for his sanity slippage and their broken friendship.

Powers & Abilities

Darren is much stronger, faster, more agile, and tougher than any human. He heals much faster and his senses are sharper, allowing him to see in the dark. He ages five times slower than a normal human. Being one of the sons of Desmond Tiny, he has the ability to command and control animals.

Role

The Saga of Larten Crepsley

Brothers to the Death

When Larten Crepsley is performing at the Cirque du Freak, he sees Darren and Steve and has the feeling those two will end up being the end of him someday.

The Saga of Darren Shan

Cirque Du Freak

« I've always been fascinated by spiders. I used to collect them when I was younger. I'd spend hours rooting through the dusty old shed at the bottom of our garden, hunting the cobwebs for lurking eight-legged predators. When I found one, I'd bring it in and let it loose in my bedroom. It used to drive my mom crazy! »

(Darren recounting his love for spiders)

Before the Cirque, Darren lived a normal life with his parents and his younger sister, Annie Shan. He had a fascination with spiders and was best friends with Steve Leonard, knowing each other since kindergarten.

When their friend Alan brings a poster to school advertising a freak show, Steve manages to raise the money to buy the tickets. However, they were only given two by the sales person, due to Special reservations. They decide to compete for the tickets, or rather ticket, as all of them agreed that Steve deserved a ticket for raising the money in the first place. Darren wins, catching the ticket by chance. They go to the freak show, but Steve realizes that one of the performers, the spider-wielding Mr. Crepsley, is a vampire. After the show Steve stays behind, telling Darren to go home without him, but Darren disobeys. He sneaks up to the balcony and sees everything unfold from above. Shocked to know that Steve wants to be a vampire (and that Steve has evil blood, according to Mr. Crepsley), Darren flees home. That conflict is put aside, as Darren then realizes that he can in fact own Madam Octa, Mr. Crepsley's deadly performing spider.

Darren steals Madam Octa the spider from the Cirque du Freak and develops a telepathic connection with her. However, when he is demonstrating his control over her to Steve, Annie startles him, and his control over the spider is lost, giving Madam Octa the chance to bite Steve. He goes to hospital but none of the doctors can figure out what type of poison it is. Darren goes to Mr. Crepsley for the cure and the vampire gives Darren an offer: Darren must become his assistant in order for him to be given the antidote. Darren agrees and is blooded by Mr. Crepsley. He fakes his own death and leaves his hometown to follow his life as a vampire. After three days, paralyzed in a hospital bed and then in a grave, his actions to save his friend Steve backfires, and on his way he is ambushed by Steve, who is unwilling to kill Darren. He thinks that Darren plotted against him all along, and promises that he will someday find Darren and have his revenge. Darren is devastated, but chooses not to tell Mr. Crepsley about this, still considering Steve as his best friend.

The Vampire's Assistant

With his peaceful life gone, Darren starts anew with his master, Mr. Crepsley as his new assistant. Darren is still struggling with his new life but is beginning to cope up as a vampire's assistant though he refuses to drink human blood. He resents Mr. Crepsley for turning him into a vampire and tries to prove him he can still live as a human. After an attempt to befriend some boys goes wrong and ends up breaking a bully's leg, Darren realizes he can't live with normal people anymore. Mr. Crepsley decides to take Darren to Cirque Du Freak in order to make friends.

Mr. Tall accepts Darren as part of the Cirque and later he befriends Evra Von, a snake boy who is around the same age as Darren. While doing some chores, they spotted a boy hidding in the bushes as if spying on them. They pulled a quick prank on him but backfired. The boy introduced himself as Sam Grest, a village boy living with his parents and lots of pets.

Darren and Evra befriend Sam and he expresses his thoughts of joining the circus with them. The night the Cirque leaves the town, Sam sneaks in as a stowaway. Unfortunately that night, Reggie Veggie (a vegan man Darren had befriended earlier) set the Cirque's werewolf free, because he thought it was cruel to keep it chained in a cage all the time. Of course Darren was partially at fault, since he did tell Reggie that the werewolf wasn't really dangerous. The werewolf mauls Reggie's hands and mortally wounds Sam. Sam then dies in Darren's arms, who then drinks his blood in order to preserve his spirit. Afterwards, he takes a liking to eating pickled onions, as a result of absorbing Sam's soul.

Tunnels of Blood

Mr. Crepsley has to leave on a mission, and takes Darren and Evra Von with him. They arrive at a city, apparently the city from which Mr. Crepsley was born and raised. While Darren and Evra explore the city on their escapades, Mr. Crepsley is secretly busy on his mission. Darren quickly befriends a human named Debbie Hemlock, and they develop a relationship. Darren has less and less time, even more so when he finds on the news that bodies had been found in the city completely drained of blood, to which Darren is horrified, jumping to the conclusion that Mr. Crepsley is behind it all. Like most plots in the Darren Shan series, the situation quickly spirals out of control, ending up with Darren ambushing Mr. Crepsley just as he was about to capture a vampaneze, injuring Mr. Crepsley and greatly agitating him. When Darren finds out what is really going on, he quickly forgives Mr. Crepsley, and starts trying to help him.

Darren, now having even less time for Debbie, is worried. Debbie invites Darren to her Christmas party, but Darren, excepting the inevitable, that he will have to leave eventually, decides to tell them he is moving again. Debbie, greatly disappointed, tries to convince him to stay just that one day, but Darren disagrees. Finally, Darren decides to tell Mr. Crepsley about Debbie, to which he surprisingly finds that Mr. Crepsley is not mad, even delighted that he brought up the topic. After a brief talk with him, they both resume tracking down the vampaneze. However, they meet some bumps along the road. Evra gets kidnapped and when Darren and Mr. Crepsley are searching for him, the two of them get into yet another argument, an ensuing fight leaves the vampires one-up to the vampaneze.

It is then revealed that it was all one massive plan to capture and kill the vampaneze. However, Darren admits that there were certain parts that were left to chance, and that the plan could have failed at anytime. Darren says goodbye to Debbie afterwards.

Vampire Mountain

Darren begins to like Vampires, and does not hate Mr. Crepsley so much anymore. Together, he, Mr. Crepsley, Gavner Purl (an old friend of Mr. Crepsley) and two little people travel to Vampire Mountain. On the way, they meet a pack of wolves, who are naturally drawn to vampires, and they develop a friendship. In particular, the friendship between the feisty wolf cub Rudi and Darren Shan. While Mr. Crepsley and Gavner Purl were away hunting, they are suddenly attacked by an insane bear, and although at first Rudi fends off the bear, he is injured by it and becomes frightened, hiding in a tree for the rest of the battle, although Darren notes that were it not for Rudi, they would all be dead. Then, the other wolves arrive, but they are unable to defeat the bear, being knocked back. They then stay back to comfort Rudi, leaving Darren and the two little people. One of the little people tries to fight the bear, but the bear kills it gruesomely. The other little person is unable to make a difference in the fight, so it is up to Darren. He takes the bones of the dead little person and manages to severely injure and kill the bear. When the two other vampires return, Darren tells them about the bear, and Mr. Crepsley reveals that the bear had consumed the blood of a vampaneze. Darren then finds that the other little person can speak, and that his name is Harkat Mulds. He reveals that he does not remember much, but remembers that Mr. Tiny revived him from the dead, in exchange for his service for an undefined period of time.

When they reach the mountain summit, Darren is introduced to the many aspects of Vampire life that he was not aware of, and finally gets a grip on the Vampire Honor Code. He is introduced to many gruesome rooms, including a group of pale-faced humanoid creatures. He also learned about the oldest vampire alive, Paris Skyle, who resides at the mountain as a prince. He also learns that Mr. Crepsley was once a vampire general (and was almost elected to become a prince), until he quit in search of more interesting things to do. He posed many questions, such as how human blood was collected in these regions, to which was only vaguely answered. He then becomes even more famous when he faces off on the bars against the undefeated champion Arra Sails, and did not admit defeat until he was completely knocked out and received a handshake from Arra Sails for his courage (something that is very hard to come by), and then collapses on top of her. At the next meeting, they discuss Mr. Crepsley's decision to blood a child, something that has not been done in centuries. Mr. Crepsley cannot come up with a legitimate reason, and after a series of arguments and negotiations, the Princes try to find a suitable punishment. Surprisingly, the punishment given was to initiate Darren in the Trials of Death. Thus, Darren decides to take the Trials, and only later finds that the price of faliure is death.

Trials of Death

His first trial was the Aquatic Maze, for which Darren had to find his way out of the maze carrying a heavy boulder half his weight before the constantly pouring water filled up the maze and drowned him. After a day of training, Darren still struggled to complete the trial, almost drowning in the process, but just making it out by the skin of his teeth. The next day, he was assigned his second trial, in which he has to walk through a cave filled with sharp, heavy stalactites. After prolonged training, Darren again struggled to complete the event, impaling himself several times. When he was done, he passed out and was transferred to a hospital. Luckily, the Festivals were the same day, and so he got a three day break from the trials. His third event, arguably his most difficult, was the Wall of Fire, in which he had to stay alive in a room filled with holes, which erupted into searing hot flames.

The aftermath of this competition meant that Darren was in serious condition, barely able to stand let alone handle his fourth trial, the Blooded Boars, having to kill two crazed boars who had ingested vampire blood. Kurda Smahlt managed to convince the Princes to postpone the trials, and after three days Darren faced his fourth trial. He was fighting the boars and seemed to have the upper hand when an injured boar squashed him in place, leaving the other boar to charge at him. At the last moment, it seemed hopeless, but Harkat Mulds, the little person, inadvertently rescued him, thereby disqualifying him from the Trial, and deemed the same as failing.

Although many argued that it was not Darren's fault, and the Trial should be redone, the Princes were unable to disobey tradition, and they seemed to be leaning toward execution at the pits. He is forced to flee the Mountain (with some persuasion from Kurda). As he escapes, he learns that one of the vampires Kurda Smahlt (who is about to become a Vampire Prince) is plotting to betray the vampires to the vampire's blood cousins the vampaneze, in the hopes that he can organize a peace between the species (to try to prevent The War of the Scars).

The Vampire Prince

Darren is nursed back to health by a pack of wolves and, with some reluctance, returns to Vampire Mountain to warn the vampires of the treacherous Kurda Smahlt. He interrupts Kurda's investment and manages to tell the princes of how Kurda murdered Gavner Purl and betrayed the clan. Kurda is then imprisoned and an attack on the waiting vampaneze planned.

Seba Nile, Mr.Crepsley and Darren each take control of a group of the mountain's resident spiders. They flush the vampaneze out of their hiding place and into a group of waiting vampires. An ensuing fight leaves Arra Sails fatally wounded; the one-eyed games keeper, Vanez Blane, loses his remaining eye; and Seba ends up with a limp, resulting from a wound to his leg.

The vampaneze left alive are interrogated and executed, along with Kurda, and the dead are cremated - including Arra and Gavner (Kurda told the vampires where to find Gavner's body). Darren is judged and, since no one wants to kill him, becomes a Prince.

Hunters of the Dusk

Later, Darren becomes one of the vampaneze Lord hunters. He and Mr. Crepsley head for the home of Lady Evanna and, on the way, meet Vancha March. When there, they find the secret of Mr. Crepsley's scar.

Allies of the Night

Darren ends up going back to school, which causes a problem for their search for the Lord of the vampaneze. Along the way he meets Debbie, as a school teacher, and Steve, and invites them to search for the vampaneze Lord. Steve fakes his alliance with the vampires in order to later lure them into a trap, in the sewers, where hoards of vampaneze were waiting for them.

Steve takes Debbie hostage and reveals that he is a vampaneze and had been planning the trap for years-the faking of Darren's enrollment forms to high school and, carving the tunnels in the sewer. R.V is also revealed in this book as having joined the vampaneze, with the edition of adding hooks instead of hands when the wolf-man ripped them off in the second book. By the end Gannon lets Darren, Harkat, Mr. Crepsley, and Vancha leave with Steve (as a hostage) and another hostage because many of Gannon's men were dying. They gave them only a limited amount of time to escape before he set the vampaneze on them once again.

Killers of the Dawn

Darren has been accused of commiting a crime that the vampaneze committed, landing him in jail for a while. But he, Harkat, and Mr. Crepsley escape when Steve, who had been held in the police's "hospital", kills a couple nurses and makes a break for freedom. Later on in the books Darren, Steve, and the supposed vampaneze Lord, have another showdown. Steve knocks Mr. Crepsley on fiery stakes,leading to his demise. Later, Steve reveals to Darren that he is actually the Lord of the vampaneze.

The Lake of Souls

Darren and Harkat are told by Mr. Tiny that they must travel in order to find out who Harkat used to be. They encounter many fearsome battles and in the end they realise that Harkat was Kurda Smahlt in his previous life. Darren then returns with Harkat to the Cirque Du Freak, where they remain for two years. Darren picks up the nightmares that Harkat used to have - and reveals his secret that either Steve Leonard will be the Lord of the Shadows and destroy the world, or Darren will. Mr. Tall tells Darren that the Cirque will be returning to his home town...

Lord of the Shadows

Darren's friend from school, Tommy, sees Darren at the Cirque Du Freak and Darren and Tommy start talking again. Tommy, gives Darren a ticket for the football match. Darren ends up going and then Tommy was shot. Darren was the first to run down the stadium and go to Tommy's assistance. Darren fallows Morgan James and R.V. In the shadows 4 figures appear (Steve, Morgan, R.V, and Darrius). Darren gets beaten up. Then, Darren runs into Little Kenny and Declan who save his life. They take him to Debbie and Alice. Darren's purge starts up again turning him into a full vampire.

Darren learns from Evanna that he might become the Lord of Shadows. Either him or Steve would become the Lord of Shadows. Darren learns that his sister, Annie, has a child who turns out to be Darius. Darius is Steve's kid, aka Darren's nephew. Darius leads Darren, Harkat, Evanna, and Vancha to the old abandoned theatre where Darren has a flash from the past. Steve murders Evra's son, Shancus. This convinces Darren that there's no redemption for Steve and vows to kill him.

Sons of Destiny

« There's almost nothing left of me now. The robes collapse in on themselves completely. The last traces of my spirit hover above the robes and the roof. I think of my family, Debbie, Mr. Crepsley, Steve, Mr. Tiny, all those I've known, loved, feared and hated. My last thought, oddly, is of Madam Octa. I wonder if they have spiders in Paradise? »

(Darren's last thoughts before he dies as a little person)

In the beginning he reunites with Annie and informs her that her son, Darius, has become a vampaneze. Darren then trades blood with him, hoping to turn him into a vampire. Since Darius was already a vampaneze the blood almost kills both of them as vampaneze blood is lethal to vampires and vise-versa. Luckily they survive, but soon Darren, Vancha, and Harkat have to go and fight Steve in the football stadium. Darren sends Annie and Darius to Vampire Mountain to be looked after.

In the end he faces Steve in battle and they both mortally wound each other, both dying shortly after. Darren had the opportunity to kill Steve although at the last second he found a loophole in Mr. Tiny's plan and lets Steve kill him so neither would become the Lord of the Shadows and destroy the world. There is a short chapter or two where Darren describes himself in the Lake of Souls. Darren is brought back by Mr. Tiny as a little person, after being fished out of the lake by Evanna. On the way to Mr. Tiny's lair, Evanna tells Darren she is pregnant with twins, both by a vampire and vampaneze, so one of the races would not be dominate.

After he is changed into a little person, which is described as the most painful experience ever, he is sent back in time and sees his younger self at the Cirque with Steve. He scares himself off so that he doesn't see Steve and Mr. Crepsley, cutting off the original chain of events that made Darren a vampire. He then gives his diary entries to Mr. Tall, (to be given to his human self at a later date and be published as a book) unravels, and dies peacefully on top of the Cirque's roof. Meanwhile the Darren from that timeline lives a normal life locked out of the loop of the world of vampires.

Cirque du Freak Manga

Darren as a child in the manga

« Looking into his eyes now....It's all there. Everything we had....We were an unstoppable duo at soccer....Weren't we, Steve? If only I'd taken a different path here or there....Things wouldn't have turned out this way....If only we could change the past and do life over....We might....have been able....to stay....friends... »

(Darren's last thoughts in the manga before dying at the lake - Volume 12)

In the manga, Darren is more heroic that his novel counterpart, who was more witty and sarcastic. He is extremely idealistic and selfless to the point of being near suicidal. He constantly tries to fight every battle on his own for fear that if he allowed anyone to help, they may get hurt on his behalf. He's also very sensitive and prone to tears. Unlike the novel, Darren never stops considering Steve as a friend and constantly blames himself for their broken friendship. 

During his final confrontation with Steve, Darren is devastated upon finding out he was a pawn in Mr. Tiny's plans and briefly considers giving up and become the Lord of the Shadows. When a repenting Steve apologizes to Darren for everything, it gives Darren the strength to fight against his destiny. He provokes Steve into killing him, mocking him for repenting too late and saying that he took away his dream to become a vampire on purpose. Steve falls for it and stabs Darren, who drags him into the river. As they drown and succumb to their injuries, Darren apologizes for provoking him and thinks about his good times with Steve as he dies.

Darren meets his younger self and a younger Steve.

Years later, Evanna rescues Darren from the Lake of Souls. Darren asks her to save Steve as well, but she refuses because Mr. Tiny's ordered that only one of them could be saved. Darren is reincarnated by Mr. Tiny as a little person, in a deal struck with Lady Evanna, who wishes to save Darren from a fate she does not believe he deserves.

Darren is transformed into a little person and is transported to an alternate timeline in order to cut off the original chain of events that made him a vampire. After doing so, he then gives his diary entries to Mr. Tall and goes to reminiscence on the bridge. Darren has accepted his upcoming death with dignity and is confident that the Darren from the alternate timeline will publish the books in the future. But he's still worried Steve will still become a vampaneze. Just as he says this, he encounters the alternate versions of Darren and Steve happily playing together. He's relieved to see they're still friends and peacefully disappears in front of them.

The Vampire's Assistant Film

Darren in the 2009 film, played by Chris Massoglia

« You know, sometimes it seems like life is all planned out. There's no choice in the matter. We're all gonna end up in the same place, whether we like it or not. But sometimes things aren't so simple. You can end up hurting the people you love the most, betraying the people you want to come through for. »

(Darren reminiscing about his life)

In the film, Darren is a goody-two-shoes who's pressured by his parents to be a model student and they disapprove of his friendship with Steve. He's also very popular at school and has lots of friends. He also steals Madam Octa right after the show ends, not waiting for the next day.

After becoming a vampire and faking his death, Darren is unburied by Mr. Crepsley, but they're attacked by Murlough. They are able to escape, before coming to The Cirque Du Freak in seek of refuge. Upon arrival, Mr. Tall agrees to shelter Darren and he meets all the Cirque's residents. He becomes friends with Evra and a monkey girl named Rebecca, whom he develops feelings for. Afterwards, the vampaneze attack the Cirque and kidnap Rebecca and Darren's family in order to lure him.

Darren and Mr. Crepsley arrive to the theatre, when Murlough and Steve are waiting for them. Murlough is killed by Mr. Crepsley, but then Mr. Tiny appears before Steve can kill Darren. Steve leaves with Mr. Tiny, offering to teach him his ways and promising that he'll fight with Darren in the future someday. 

Once back at the Cirque, Mr. Tall holds a vote on whether or not Darren should be accepted into the Cirque as an official member. Despite the unknowing danger Darren brings, many agree that he should stay, including Harkat, as they all relate to being cast out from the world. Darren joins the Cirque as a real vampire.

Trivia

Darren in an illustration drawn by Takahiro Arai on 2017

  • His fascination with spiders was so big that when he was little, he fantasized about a spider climbing down his throat, laying eggs in his stomach, which then would hatch and start eating him from inside out.
  • Darren's manga design is similar to Seth Stringer from Arago - City of London Police's Special Crimes Investigator, another work by the artist.
  • The 2009 film states he befriended Steve during their first years of elementary school after he saved him from bullies. He's also a model student and gets high scores all the time. However, those facts are non-canon.
  • According to a tweet of the author in 2019, the Darren and Steve from the alternate timeline at the end of the novels got to live normal lives, away from the world of vampires.
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