Mythology of Heroes

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Heroes includes a number of mysterious fictional elements that have been ascribed to science fiction or supernatural phenomena. Tim Kring and the creators of the series refer to these fictional elements as part of the mythology of the series. Kring confirmed that although the show does have a unique mythology, he doesn't want to sink too deeply into it. Rather, Kring has used volumes to wrap up ongoing plot lines, rather than carrying them over long periods of time, as in Lost.[1] As far as the overall mythology of the series, Kring said "we have talked about where the show goes up to five seasons."[2][3]


Ordinary People Discovering Extraordinary Abilities was the promotional campaign for the series, before and after its debut. In an interview conducted by Lost producer Damon Lindelof, Kring states "'s a show about characters dealing with extraordinary things happening to them. That is the central premise. So my sense is that if one can assume that dealing with their extraordinary abilities is something that these characters will always face, then their stories can bend and morph and evolve forever."[3][4][5]

Within the first two volumes, it was implied that these superpowers were genetic; however, in several interviews, Tim Kring has shied away from discussing the origins of the characters' abilities.[6] Kring has given his own personal theory on powers, stating, " original theory was that we’re living in such a fucked-up world and things are so awful that Earth needed to populate itself with people who were going to do something about it." When asked in the same interview to give a direct answer, Kring responded, "I’m not going to give an answer to that because that becomes a really fun part of the show."[7] In the third volume, "Villains", it is revealed that some characters' powers, such as Nathan, Tracy, and Niki, are synthetic, having been artificially created by a special formula.

Different characters have different levels of control over their abilities; for example cellular regeneration is always active, Maya's power can be brought on by stress, and telekinesis can be controlled accurately. Furthermore, some abilities have been shown to be able to extend beyond the possessor to their clothing, personal items, or even other individuals who do not share the power. Such examples include phasing, teleportation, shape-shifting, time travel, invisibility, and cellular regeneration (through a transfusion of blood).

Force and compasses[edit]

In the fifth volume "Redemption", the idea of a force is introduced through old footage from Chandra Suresh during his time at Coyote Sands. This apparent force of small energy emanates from people with abilities. When two or more such individuals are close to each other, this force amplifies exponentially which causes a sense of attraction like magnetism. This is emphasized further in several episodes with a compass and centers around Samuel Sullivan. He gives out compasses to all members (and some prospective members) of his carnival, all of whom are people with abilities, and these compasses are based on this magnetic force which emanates from people with abilities. It was revealed in "Brother's Keeper" that Samuel can somehow increase his abilities a thousandfold by being close to a specific large number of people with abilities, however it is still somewhat unclear as to whether or not this is related to the force. It is shown that Samuel's powers are weakened by a lack of people with abilities around him as in "Brave New World" he was rendered powerless when all but four other people with powers had been teleported away by Hiro Nakamura.

Recurring elements[edit]

There are several elements and symbols that appear repeatedly throughout the series: the helix, the scar, the eclipse, and the cockroach.

Activating Evolution[edit]

Activating Evolution is a book that exists in the show's universe written by Chandra Suresh. It describes Chandra's discoveries and predictions about the emergence of humans evolved with special abilities. It has been read by or given to many of the characters within the series and is considered a source of information in regards to their abilities.[8]


A solar eclipse has been a recurring image in the series itself, and is also used as the series' logo (a photograph of the "Baily's beads" phenomenon). A terrestrial eclipse (an eclipse in which the Earth covers the Sun, as viewed from an observation point away from the Earth) is used in the series' title sequence. Tim Kring stated that the eclipse should be regarded as a global event which parallels the concept of connectivity which runs through the series.

Teaser commercial clips by NBC aired after "Villains" declare that an eclipse was the cause of superhuman abilities, and that it was about to happen again with an unknown effect. In the episode "The Eclipse", another eclipse occurs, removing the superhuman abilities of everyone for its duration.

During the Dark Matters webisode and Heroes Reborn there was an eclipse shortly before a deadly explosion that killed thousands of people, including many with powers. While the powers of the people in the area did stop working, both that effect and the eclipse were caused by the powers of Phoebe Frady who controlled and generated darkness.


Cockroaches have appeared and have been mentioned several times in the series, particularly in relation to Sylar. In the pilot episode, Mohinder Suresh refers to the cockroach as a superior lifeform, stating, "if God has indeed created himself in his own image, then I submit to you that God is a cockroach." Tim Kring has stated that the cockroach represents survival.[9]


The helix

The "helix," as it is referred to by the writers, is a symbol that first appears in the episode "Don't Look Back", and resembles a section of a DNA helix. It was shown to be Takezo Kensei's symbol, a combination of two Japanese characters which writer and co-producer Aron Coleite has translated as "God sending great ability";[10] various characters refer to it as "Godsend". The symbol frequently occurs on certain plot-significant items and in many of the webcomics. In an interview within The Post Show on G4, Kring stated that the secret behind the meaning of the Helix was to be revealed in the first episode of Heroes: Origins, however, due to the 2007 Writer's Strike and Origins' confirmed cancellation, Kring stated that the secret may have to be revealed down the line.[11] Ultimately, it would be forgotten after its Heroes mothership was canceled in 2010 due to diminished viewership and high production costs, and Kring's presumed subsequent leaving out of his Heroes universe.

A Double Helix is the symbol of Arthur Petrelli's Organization, Pinehearst, in the Villains volume, and is used during a special opening for Season 3 Episode 8 (named "Villains") that shows a double helix instead of an eclipse and says Villains instead of Heroes, and is largely composed of past events.

In episode 11 of second season, when Peter destroys the vial with the virus, ash forms this symbol on his palm.


A scar consisting of two black parallel lines has been shown close to the neck of several super-powered characters. The scar is the mark left by the two-pronged needle of a pneumatic injection device,[12][13] which, as revealed in a biography of Hana Gitelman in the Heroes 360 Experience, injects a radioisotope to allow tracking by the Company.[14]

Peter's scar[edit]

Peter Petrelli, the character who has the ability to mimic other people's abilities, has mimicked Claire's ability of cellular regeneration. However, Heroes shows future timelines, one being replaced by the other as the characters change the present. In two of these timelines, we see different versions of Peter in the future, with a scar across his face. Tim Kring has said that the scar has to do with the character Hiro Nakamura, and a sword.

Prophetic paintings[edit]

Tim Kring has gone on record stating, "Every painting we've had on Heroes has come true, but don't forget, sometimes the true meaning of a painting has been misinterpreted." Joe Pokaski and Aron Coliete have also stated that Isaac's paintings are not "absolute."[15] Isaac Mendez paintings were first introduced in the pilot episode of the series. Tim Sale is an American Eisner Award-winning comic book artist and is responsible for all the paintings shown on Heroes.[16][17] Although Santiago Cabrera's character was written out of the series by the end of season one, Isaac's paintings still played an important role in season two.[18] The concept of Isaac Mendez came when Tim Kring wanted to create a character with the ability of prophecy, but do it in a different way.[19] The paintings of the show correlate with the idea of the comic book style series that Heroes is.[16] Over 50 Tim Sale paintings have been presented in the series.

The Company and The Company founders[edit]

The Company is first introduced in season one of the series as a fictional covert international organization whose primary purpose is to identify, monitor and study those individuals with special genetically derived superhuman abilities. In season one, Noah Bennet and Primatech Paper Co. are the face of the Company. It is later revealed that Bennet takes orders from Thompson, who in turn, takes orders from the company founders. In season one, the ongoing story-arc of the New York City explosion was derived and plotted out by the Company and some of its founders, most notably Mr. Linderman and Angela Petrelli. Hiro Nakamura makes it his destiny to stop New York from exploding. Hiro's father Kaito Nakamura, was also a founder within the Company, although he and Company co-founder Charles Deveaux do not support the plans.[20][21]

It is revealed in season two that Adam Monroe founded the Company with twelve other founders. A photo of the group is later shown, revealing who the twelve were, including Arthur Petrelli, (father of Peter and Nathan Petrelli and husband of Angela Petrelli); Angela Petrelli; Maury Parkman, father of Matt Parkman; Victoria Pratt, who experimented on and mutated the Shanti Virus; and Bob Bishop, who takes over as head of operations for the Company following Linderman's death. The four remaining founders, Paula Gramble, Suzanne Amman, Harry Fletcher, and Carlos Mendez (confirmed to be Isaac Mendez's father[22]), have yet to appear within the series, except in photographs. Kring confirmed that these characters had been cast by the same actors in the photograph, and would eventually appear in the series.[23]

Adam Monroe, also known as the legendary warrior Takezo Kensei, was the one who brought the Company founders together, and attempts to kill several of the founders in an act of revenge after he was locked up for trying to release a deadly strain of the Shanti Virus. He has only been confirmed to have killed two founders: Kaito Nakamura and Victoria Pratt.

In volume three, Angela Petrelli takes over as head of operations following the death of Bob Bishop at the hands of Sylar.

The Legend of Takezo Kensei[edit]

In an interview with writers Joe Pokaski and Aron Coliete it is revealed the Kensei legend[24] is, "Absolute fiction inspired by the vague recollections of various swordsman legends (Including Mr. Musashi)' by...Michael Green."[25]

Hiro mentions the legend of Takezo Kensei many times in season one, though little is actually related until he trains in kendo with his father in the episode "Landslide". Previously, in "Godsend" and "The Fix", Hiro mentioned that the sword — which he was working to steal from Mr. Linderman — helped Kensei focus his power. He also said that his father used to tell him stories of Kensei, presumably including the many that Hiro tells Kensei in season two. When training with his father for his part in "saving the world" before the showdown with Sylar in New York City, Hiro relates the story of "Kensei and the Dragon" and realizes that, if he wants to win, he must be strong enough to sacrifice himself.

In the 17th century, civil war threatened Japan; behind it was the warlord "White Beard." Kensei found a sword frozen in the snow. He was not, however, a good enough fighter to wield it, so he went to see the dragon of Kiso Mountain, who could teach him the sword's secrets. The dragon agreed to do this in exchange for Kensei's love. Knowing that Japan would fall under the rule of "White Beard" unless he took action, he had to agree to the dragon's demands even though he loved a princess.

After saving Japan in a great battle, the dragon came to Kensei to claim his end of the bargain. The dragon demanded the life of the swordsmith's daughter, the princess Kensei loved. Instead, Kensei cuts out his own heart and handed it to the dragon, saying, "My love is in here. Take it," and he died.

According to the mockumentary "Sword Saint", presented on the official Heroes 360 website, the dragon was touched by how much the warrior was willing to offer for his people and love, and restored Kensei's heart to him. Kensei then ran away with the princess.[26]

In "Out of Time", it is revealed that Hiro Nakamura is the Takezo Kensei portrayed in legends, or rather the source behind the tales, having used his own knowledge of the stories to inspire the real Kensei to create the legends and creating an ontological paradox. The real Kensei becomes a villain after Yaeko falls for Hiro, and after Kensei's defeat she spreads Hiro's tale under Kensei's name.

The Blade of Takezo Kensei[edit]

The katana first appears in "Collision", strapped to Future Hiro's back. The sword later appears in one of Isaac's paintings depicting Hiro confronting a dinosaur. The sword has the appearance of a traditional katana with a black hilt and black sheath. The most notable feature is a golden emblem of the symbol attached to the hilt.

In "Godsend", Hiro and Ando find the sword in a New York Museum, which also has information on the sword's origins. According to an ancient Japanese scroll, the sword belonged to an ancient samurai warrior named Takezo Kensei. According to the scroll, the warrior possessed strange powers but had no control over them. One day he discovered the sword frozen in ice and, after claiming the sword, suddenly discovered that he had mastery over his abilities. With this control and wielding the sword, the warrior became a powerful leader and hero. Hiro believes that the sword somehow helped focus the samurai's powers, and with it in his possession he may be able to finally master his own abilities. However, after stealing the sword from the museum, Hiro discovered that the sword was actually a replica only used for display. The real katana was in the hands of Mr. Linderman.

In "Parasite", Hiro tries to sneak into Linderman's hotel but is stopped by security, until he meets Nathan Petrelli. Nathan tells the guards Hiro is there to deliver a package to Linderman and they let him pass. Hiro gives the vault curator the ripped painting of Hiro and the dinosaur. When the curator leaves the room temporarily, Hiro finds the sword in the computer system. As he is about to take it, the curator returns and calls all the guards in the hotel to come help. Ando, dressed as a guard, responds first and knocks out the curator. He tells Hiro he had been following him for some time. They take the sword and Hiro teleports himself and Ando to escape the rest of the hotel's security. In "Five Years Gone", Hiro travels to the future where his sword is confiscated by Parkman. When Future Hiro is killed, Mohinder takes the sword from his dead body and hands it to the remaining Hiro.

In "The Hard Part" the blade of Hiro's sword is broken by Sylar with his freezing ability. The damaged sword doesn't seem to affect his power, as he teleports away with Ando moments later, still holding both pieces of the sword. In "Landslide", Hiro's father explains that he had known of Hiro's powers from the beginning and that the sword was not the source of his increased powers; rather, it was the journey that restored them.

In "How to Stop an Exploding Man", Hiro saves Ando from Sylar and takes him back to Japan. Though Ando wants to return to New York with Hiro, Hiro tells Ando the next part of his journey must be traveled alone, to protect him. Hiro thanks his friend for teaching him the true meaning of bravery; Ando reminds Hiro of how his whole life he's obsessed over and talked about the heroes he wished he was, but that now one day people will tell the story of Hiro, and assures his friend that he "looks badass." When Hiro goes to leave to fight Sylar, he leaves Ando with the sword, saying that he does not need it, and that this way Ando knows he'll come back. He then takes the nagamaki Ando had bought and teleports to Kirby Plaza. When Peter and Sylar face off Hiro stabs Sylar in the chest and is thrown towards a building by Sylar. Before impact Hiro teleports to 1671 Japan, right at the beginning of an ancient battle. It is then seen that the leader of one side is the samurai Takezo Kensei, wielding Hiro's katana as the original owner.

In the episode "Four Months Later...", Hiro learns that Kensei did not discover the sword encased in ice, as the legend told. Instead, the sword was created by a swordsmith in the town of Otsu, and given to Kensei by the man's daughter in order to protect the town from bandits. When Kensei failed to keep his side of the bargain, the swordsmith's daughter took back the sword. In the episode "Kindred", Hiro leaves messages for Ando in the hilt of the sword, which Ando (in possession of the sword in present-day Japan) receives hundreds of years later.

Shortly after first obtaining the sword, Hiro Nakamura states in one of his online blog entries that Kensei called the sword Jiyūtō (自由刀, lit. "Freedom Sword"), and considers renaming it Jiyūtō (時遊刀, lit. "Time Travel Sword") as a pun.[27]

In Heroes Reborn the sword acts as the key to Miko Otomo's ability to transport herself into and out of the video game Evernow. The sword was initially lost in Evernow during Game Over after Miko rescued Hiro with Miko emerging from the game without the sword, but it was later retrieved by her friend Ren in Project Reborn when he rescued Tommy Clark from the game. Tommy, Hiro's step-son, wears the sword on his back as his step-father once did as he saves the world from an extinction-level event. Tommy also uses the sword to end the threat of Erica Kravid forever by cutting off the watch that allows her to be transported through time with the sword. With the watch cut off, Erica was stranded in a future that soon ceased to exist, her along with it.

9th Wonders! and Uluru[edit]

9th Wonders! is a metafictional comic-book series in the NBC drama Heroes and is written, illustrated, and self-published in the series by Isaac Mendez. In reality, Tim Sale is the illustrator. In some instances, it has been confirmed that the stories that take place in 9th Wonders! are a direct reflection of Mendez's own precognitive visions. Whether or not Mendez has always been aware of this is unknown.

Uluru is a fictional rock monster that first appeared in the series in the pilot episode. Joe Pakaski and Aron Coliete have stated that Uluru is the native name for Ayers Rock in Australia. They encouraged fans to look into the mythology of Uluru.[25] Uluru has appeared in paintings and graphic novels, but has never appeared in the Heroes universe outside of artist depiction’s. Uluru has barely been mentioned in the series. On one occasion D.L. Hawkins mimics Uluru to Micah. In May 2007, Kring commented in an interview that he and the writers had not yet decided on how to deal with the Uluru characters.[28] However, in an interview a couple of months later, Kring commented that Uluru "only existed in the pages of the comic book."[29]

The virus[edit]

The Shanti virus is a fictional life-threatening disease, first introduced in season one, which attacks the blood cells. Its first victim was Shanti Suresh, Mohinder Suresh's sister. Other victims of the virus include Molly Walker and The Haitian. Sylar and Niki Sanders also had the virus, but it was shown in the series that they were injected with it, through a series of circumstances. One of its side effects is that it prevents evolved humans who have the disease from using their abilities and ultimately ends in their death. There are several variants and mutated versions of the virus; most created to the credit of the Company. Strain 138 is the most dangerous, as it also affects unevolved humans, and was the central plot for Volume 2,[30] when Peter saw a future where 93% of the world's population had died from the release of the Strain.[31][32] The spread of the Shanti virus is shown in detail in graphic novel Quarantine.

Family connections[edit]

Throughout the series, family connections have been seen. On several occasions, parents possessing powers produce children who also possess a power. Together, Nathan Petrelli and Meredith Gordon produced Claire Bennet. Although Nathan has the ability to fly, and Meredith has the ability to generate fire, Claire was born with the unrelated ability of cellular regeneration. The same can be said about D.L. Hawkins, Niki Sanders and their son Micah. The Heroes creative team has confirmed that, "similar powers do not mean a genetic link. We've seen that the existence of powers may be something passed on, but the powers themselves are completely random."[33] However, this was the case for father/son Maury and Matt Parkman, who have similar abilities in telepathy, with Bob even commenting that Matt can do the same things Maury can do.[31] This is also true for Peter and Arthur Petrelli, both of whom have the ability to absorb another evolved human's abilities (albeit with differing results for the original vessel of the borrowed or stolen power). Meredith Gordon and Flint too are brother and sister who both have the ability to start fire. Meredith creates a red flame, but Flint creates a blue flame (speculated for being hotter than Meredith's, which is what happens to fire). Maya and Alejandro are also a brother and sister with related, though in their case complementary powers. Maya's power creates a deadly poisonous gas when she is under stress, while Alejandro's power is the ability to neutralize hers.

Niki and Nathan had synthetic abilities and had children with powers that were not similar to their own. In all cases where a parent lacked a synthetic power (Matt and Maury, Sylar and Samson, Peter and Arthur) parent and child had similar powers (Peter and Arthur have similar abilities, wherein the method of use may speak directly to their personas, Matt and Maury have exactly the same powers, as do Sylar and Samson).

During Heroes Reborn, Claire Bennet's children Nathan, who was also known as Tommy Clark and Malina both inherited powers from her. Malina had powers resembling those of her weather-controlling great-great-aunt Alice Shaw, while Nathan inherited Arthur Petrelli's power of power absorption, as specifically stated by Angela Petrelli. However, Nathan had a different version of the ability where he could only keep one stolen power at a time like his uncle Peter did with his second ability. Nathan, being Malina's fraternal twin brother, possessed the ability to share Malina's power without permanently taking it from her as he did Claire and Hiro. However, while the bond they shared as twins allowed them to briefly share abilities, they could not control the resulting power and needed their grandfather Noah Bennet, a regular human with no powers of his own, to act as the conduit to channel the power they generated safely.

Crossovers and connections[edit]

Character connections have been an apparent theme throughout the series beginning with the pilot and the eclipse, which Kring described as "a global event to link all of these characters together."[34] Within the series, the characters also acknowledge their own connections with Peter stating, "Look, don't you get it? Everything is connected. We are all connected..."[35] and Matt Parkman noting, "I think it's all connected. Everything. What you and I can do? We're all connected."[36] Kring has described the character connections of season one as "...the idea that there is something larger that they're being drawn to," referring to the prophetic painting of an apocalyptic New York City in Isaac's loft and the characters need to get to the event and stop it.[4] The concept of season two was stripped back down to the concept of season one, which Kring admitted was a mistake. He believed that the fans wanted the same formula as season one, and conceptualized this formula, by spreading and separating all the characters, similar to how they were at the start of the series. He initially thought episode seven was a good place to connect characters back together, but it wasn't responded to well by fans and critics.[37] The characters will continue to come together in small groups and team-ups, however there are no plans to create a Justice League within the series.[38] The upcoming fourth volume, "Fugitives," is expected to finally bring the whole current main cast together for the first time. The season one finale "How to Stop an Exploding Man" only featured most of the main cast for the climactic scene at Kirby Plaza, since Sylar killed Isaac in ".07%" and Simone was shot in "Parasite". In addition, Hiro teleported to 17th-century Japan right before Claire arrived on the scene, although in "The Second Coming", Claire claims to have seen Hiro stab Sylar, who has, to her shock, returned to take her ability. In "The Eclipse, Part Two" two comic book geeks comment on how Hiro was there as a child when Claire was given to Noah Bennet as a baby and they were both at Kirby Plaza during the first season finale, but they had never truly met in person before besides both being in the same location a couple of times.

Number 9[edit]

Writers/producers Aron Coliete and Joe Pakaski have suggested that the number 9 is very important. Although fans have theorized on the number, including its appearance on several objects and its summation of number combinations within the series,[39] Coliete and Pakaski have stated that, "...the number 9 is pretty important in the grand scheme of things".[40] They later expanded their statement and encouraged fans to research the number 9, "...That being said, we did lots of research in crafting our stories - some of which came from Hindu and Indian mythology. Remember how we've said the number 9 is important? Has anyone looked into that yet? If you haven't, start digging."[41] As of the end of Volume 2, the significance of nine has either been minimal or hidden. Coliete and Pakaski have credited the story of Ashoka the Great and the Nine Unknown Men as one of the many influences for the series and as a clue to the mystery surrounding the number.[42]

Discredited theories[edit]

Several of the more common fan theories have been discussed and rejected by Tim Kring and the show's creators.

Lost-Heroes connection[edit]

Rumors of a Lost-Heroes connection began to spread when a Gannon Car Rental brochure appeared in "The Fix," and had also appeared in several episodes of Lost. The rumors grew after "Unexpected" aired and Adrian Pasdar's character Nathan made the comment " a lab on some island in the middle of the ocean" when referring to what would happen to the Heroes if people found out about their abilities. The creators of both shows have debunked the rumors that Lost and Heroes are taking place in the same fictional universe and have confirmed that even though the shows are similar, they are not connected, and both stories take place in different years (Heroes 2006/2007; Lost 2004) and on different networks.[43][44][45] Damon Lindelof and Kring are good friends and remain in contact. Lindelof was a writer/producer on Crossing Jordan before he went to work on Lost and helped Kring pitch Heroes to NBC. Jeph Loeb was a writer/producer on Lost during its second season, before coming to Heroes.[46][47][48] However this was called into question after a fictional Abrams brand Slusho! appeared in the second season of Heroes. The drink would later go on to appear prominently in "Cloverfield" and at the beginning of the film, the Dharma Initiative logo from Lost appears for a brief second.

Peter and Claire's relationship[edit]

Although it has been reported that Milo Ventimiglia is dating his Heroes costar Hayden Panettiere,[49][50][51] Tim Kring, Panettiere and Ventimiglia have all debunked rumors that Claire Bennet and Peter Petrelli will be involved romantically in the fictional universe of Heroes. Rumor began to fly before and after it was revealed that Peter Petrelli is Claire's uncle.[29] When Panettiere was asked about a possible relationship between Claire and Peter, she responded, "What's creepier? The fact that he's in his late 20s and I'm 17, or that he's my uncle?"[52]

Powers and abilities[edit]

Several rumors regarding powers had also arisen from fans and the media, which Tim Kring and the creators initially rejected. One such rumor was the notion that Mohinder Suresh had an ability from the beginning. Tim Kring and Sendhil Ramamurthy both went on record denying that claim. Kring needed someone to bring everyone together, and Ramamurthy commented that Kring didn't want to create a Justice League-type group, where everyone had a power. Kring has stated, however, that nothing is set in stone on Heroes. Yet, Mohinder was not originally meant to have a power.[53][54]

According to Ramamurthy: "I'd be sorely disappointed if I got a power at this point—it would just be weird..." Kring also stated in that same interview that Suresh's ability to use his blood to cure the Shanti virus doesn't count as a superpower: "That's still a scientific thing, not a special ability...If it were a power, then there'd be a lot of heroes out there in our world."

As a compromise, in Season 3, Mohinder injects himself with a formula created through studying Maya and her ability. This causes a "bug-like" set of abilities to form in him, which come with various negative side effects that convince Maya to abandon him.[55] By the end of Volume Three, he has since stabilized this ability, and now has a normal appearance but possesses superhuman strength.

Fans have also speculated Sylar and Peter may have Eden's power, due to their voice tones changing. This theory has also been rejected. Aron Coliete and Joe Pakaski have confirmed that the changes in Sylar and Peter's voices are "just for the coolness factor."[42][56]


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