Ruth Schröder

Ruth Schröder is a no-nonsense scholar of the supernatural from the Czech Republic and widow of the late Wilm Schröder: Germanic vampire hunter of some renown. She has come to Dornie at the request of Adler and Dina Ross to act as a consultant for Duncan Rowntree and his militia when confronted with threats to the settlement that are magical in origin.


Full Name: Ruth Schröder (née Hirsch)
Age: 35
Hair: Dark Brown
Eyes: Blue

Status: Alive
Occupation: Scholar
Origin: Jeseník, Czech Republic
Allegiance: Independent

First Seen: Unless Expected
Last Seen:



  • Annegret Hirsch - mother
  • Erich Hirsch - father
  • Tobin Hirsch - brother
  • Wilm Schröder † - husband
  • Liese Schröder - daughter

Portrayed by: Giovanna Mezzogiorno


Ruth was the second of two children born three years apart to Erich Hirsch, a labourer, and his wife Annegret, a seamstress. Jeseník, the settlement where she grew up, owed its existence to the coal mine it had been built around several generations earlier — most of the settlement's men, Erich included, worked in the mine to provide for their families and for their community. Without them, Jeseník would be unable to produce its chief export: fuel. Unfortunately, when Ruth was four, her father was injured in a mining accident that killed a dozen other men, including her uncles, who were the only other members of her family in any condition to work. Her grandparents on her mother's side lived in a different settlement several hundred miles away, and her grandparents on her father's side were reliant on Erich and Annegret for support. Although she was too young to understand it then, her grandfather was suffering from the early stages of lung cancer, a disease he developed after spending most of his adult life working in the same mine as his sons.

Annegret wrote to her parents asking for help, but her letters went either unanswered or undelivered. Faced with an inability to provide medical support for Erich's father or Erich himself during his recovery, the Hirsch family was in danger of losing their home and all their physical property just to pay their debts, leaving Annegret and Erich no other choice but to hope for a miracle. Their prayers were answered in the form of Marcus Rowntree, an arms dealer who routinely did business with Jeseník's community leaders, trading firearms and ammunition for the settlement's precious coal. Marcus had heard about the Hirsch's plight, and when he was told that their son, Ruth's older brother, was magically gifted, he offered to help Annegret and Erich with their debts in exchange for custody of the boy.

It was not a difficult decision for the Hirsches to make; Marcus promised that Tobin would be well looked after and be raised alongside his own children back in Scotland, reminded them that they were in no position to feed and clothe one little one, never mind two, and that is how Ruth became an only child.

In an attempt to overcome their grief, the Hirsches erased every trace of Tobin's existence, and in time Ruth's memories of her brother faded. By the time she was the age Tobin had been when he was taken, she had forgotten that she ever had a sibling. Neither her parents nor her grandparents ever did anything to remind her. Erich eventually returned to work at the mine, and when Ruth was ten, her grandfather succumbed to his cancer. The Hirsches set aside some of the material wealth left to them by Marcus in order to help Ruth attract a husband, which she did. Wilm Schröder was fifteen years Ruth's senior, but he came from a respectable family, and he was interested in using her dowry to help fund an expedition into Russia. The only reservations Annegret and Erich had when it came to marrying their daughter off to Schröder involved the hazards of his occupation — in his twenties, Schröder had traveled Eastern Europe, following stories of vampires, ghouls, and other supernatural terrors that were rumoured to plague German-speaking settlements, and developed a reputation as an expert in how to destroy them.

The week after the wedding, Ruth, Schröder and his team of hired guns and horsemen set out for Russia. It would be five years before they returned to Jeseník; in that time Schröder taught Ruth much of what he already knew, and was so surprised by the young woman's willingness to learn that he began to treat her more as an apprentice than his wife, and then more as a partner than an apprentice. By the end of their first year together, it was Ruth who was responsible for educating the people of the settlements they visited, allowing Schröder to take a more hands-on approach in his systematic evaluation of local burial rituals and sites. Before they left, they ensured that the bodies of criminals, victims of suicide, violent deaths, and disease epidemics were decapitated before internment, and the head buried separately to ensure the deceased did not rise again. Other methods, Ruth stressed, such as tying a handkerchief around the corpse's throat, placing a stone in its mouth, or pinning it in place were not reliable, and if the dead did rise, either cutting off the vampire's head, or piercing it through the heart with a stake made of ash wood were the only options. Evidence of supernatural activity did not always guarantee the presence of vampires or ghouls, however; they encountered rabies and the occasional instance of premature burial as well, and addressed the former from a similar but more scientific standpoint. Those suffering from the disease were immediately put down and their bodies burned, along with all animals in the settlement that were potentially exposed.

Looking stern.

The pair might have been content to continue their travels indefinitely if Ruth hadn't become pregnant and given birth to a daughter she and Schröder named Liese, and then they only stayed in Jeseník long enough to pass Liese off to Annegret and Erich, who promised to raise the girl in Ruth's absence. Neither she nor Schröder had any desire to be parents, to the point that they abstained from sexual relations entirely after Liese was born. Just as common as vampires were reports of witchcraft; Schröder's desire to expand their operation (and infamy, for Wilm was a very vain man) took them to nearby Slovakia where many of the stories originated, but his work with Ruth was not always moral or just. On more than one occasion, they incited entire settlements to round up, torture, and execute dozens of people accused of being mages and performing malicious magic on their neighbours. Although Ruth suspected that not all the condemned were guilty or even gifted with supernatural abilities at all, the thought of letting someone who was walk free repulsed her so thoroughly that she was willing to let a few innocents be killed for the sake of the greater good.

While in the mountains of Russia, Ruth shot dead a skinwalker who had been taking the form of a leopard and stalking children from one of the nearby villages, and took the pelt for herself. In Austria, she and Schröder devised and successfully executed a plan to slay a Cave Dweller using several crates of dynamite. Inevitably, the risks taken by Ruth and her husband caught up with them while they were on the trail of a man-eating pack of wolves closer to home. Believing that the wolves might be a group of skinwalkers like Ruth's leopard, husband and wife followed the pack's tracks into the forest. Only Ruth walked back out of the trees.

Schröder's death would have been easier for her to stomach if they'd been right about the wolves, but in the end they were just that: animals. Their team, although sympathetic to Ruth's situation, refused to follow the orders of a woman despite her demands that they continue on without her husband — she could damn well pay them — and instead escorted her back to Jeseník. Shaken by the experience, Ruth opted to take some time to decide what to do next, and made a brief attempt at playing a more active role in her daughter's life. She moved her Annegret, Erich, and Liese into the Schröder family's home and started work on a book that chronicled her work with her late husband but eventually fell into a deep depression when the words would not come and she discovered that she'd made the correct decision in leaving Liese to be raised by her parents. Ruth lacked the patience and compassion that motherhood required, so she was received when she received a letter from Scotland asking if she would come to a settlement called Dornie and take work as a consultant for the militia there.

With no other opportunities on the horizon and eager to extract herself from her household, she accepted.


Prickly and aloof, Ruth prefers to keep to herself and rarely socializes with others outside of her work, which occupies most of her time and almost all of her energy. Even before her husband's death, she was disinterested in developing close relationships with other people, and although she has many associates and colleagues, she has very few friends and is unlikely to use the word unless pressed. It isn't that she's misanthropic — if she was, she wouldn't be as concerned as she is with using her knowledge to save lives and protect the ones that her position entrusts to her — but her priorities are different than most. Ruth is happier lecturing or hunched over a writing desk with a quill pinched between her fingers than she is having a conversation with another human being because conversations require establishing a real connection, and that's something she hasn't quite figured out how to do yet. It might be for lack of trying, and the lack of trying due to lack of interest.

While she may come off as cold or unnecessarily curt, she is not the type of woman who usually means to be unkind, and on the occasions that she does she makes no secret of her feelings. She has no qualms when it comes to telling someone that she does not like them, but is professional enough that she can continue to work alongside them provided that the other person is able to do the same. Sometimes the words just come out wrong; English is not Ruth's first language, or even her second, and she's still in that place where doesn't always realize how blunt she's being when she speaks despite earnest attempts at civility — emphasis on the word attempts. Most of the time, Ruth can keep her temper in check, but anger is the one emotion she will not hesitate to put on display under the right circumstances. One of the reasons she ultimately left Jeseník was her inability to control herself around Liese when the girl would deliberately disobey or disrespect her. Lashing out and striking Wilm or one of his men during a heated argument sometimes made her feel righteous. She quickly discovered that hitting a child had quite the opposite effect.

For more, see: Character Notes for Ruth Schröder