|First appearance||Cigars of the Pharaoh (1934)|
|Full name||Roberto Rastapopoulos|
|Partnerships||List of main characters|
|Supporting character of||Tintin|
A visual prototype for Rastapopoulos appears in Tintin in America, where he is among the assembled dignitaries at a Chicago banquet held in Tintin's honour. Here he is seated next to the actress Mary Pikefort, an allusion to the real-life actress Mary Pickford. Michael Farr asserted that this was indeed a depiction of Rastapopoulos, and that it would be expected for a film director to be seated next to a Hollywood actress. The name "Rastapopoulos" had been invented by one of Hergé's friends; Hergé thought it was hilarious and decided to use it. He devised Rastapopoulos as an Italian with a Greek surname, but the character fitted anti-Semitic stereotypes of Jews; Hergé was adamant that the character was not Jewish.
Hergé first introduced the character of Rastapopoulos in Cigars of the Pharaoh, which was serialised in Le Petit Vingtième from 8 December 1932 to 8 February 1934. Tintin runs into him at the start of the Adventure aboard the M.S. Isis, a cruise ship docking at Egypt. Here, Rastapopoulos bumps into the Egyptologist Sophocles Sarcophagus, and threatens to beat him until Tintin intervenes. He then shouts at Tintin, accusing him of being an "Impudent whipper-snapper!" Tintin recognises Rastapopoulos, commenting that he is "the millionaire film tycoon, king of Cosmos Pictures... And it's not the first time we've met..." Later in the story, Tintin runs into Rastapopoulos again, this time running into his desert film set, interrupting an apparent assault on a young woman before realizing that it was only part of the film. Although many of the actors are annoyed, Rastapopoulos is affable, and invites Tintin into his tent where, over a pot of Turkish coffee, Tintin informs him of everything that has happened to him since leaving the cruise ship, Rastapoloulos subsequently providing him with clothes and directions to another village. Farr noted that this idea of the hero mistakenly trusting the villain was one that had been used by John Buchan and Alfred Hitchcock, the latter of whom was an influence on Hergé.
Rastapopoulos reappears— this time disguised in a trench-coat and hat— at the end of the story, where he and a fakir kidnap the crown prince of Gaipajama in vengeance for the Maharajah's war against the opium trade. Tintin pursues them, and a car chase ensues, before Tintin encounters the still-disguised Rastapopoulos on a rocky mountainside, with the criminal boss apparently falling to his death when the cliff-ledge he is on breaks under his foot.
Hergé reintroduced Rastapopoulos in the following adventure, The Blue Lotus, which was set in China and dealt with the Japanese invasion of Manchuria. In one scene, Tintin hides in a Shanghai cinema that is screening The Sheik's House, Rastapopoulos' film that Tintin witnessed being filmed in the preceding story, later learning that Rastapopoulos, currently staying in the city, was the last person to see a famous doctor who Tintin believes could cure the dangerous poison of madness (Although he accepts Rastapopoulos' story that he dropped the doctor off at his house after a party). At the end of The Blue Lotus, Rastapopoulos is exposed as the leader of the international opium smuggling organisation that Tintin had previously battled in Cigars, and is subsequently imprisoned.
Rastapopoulos subsequently resurfaces in the guise of the Marquis di Gorgonzola, a millionaire magnate and slave trader in The Red Sea Sharks, having been forced to assume a new identity after he was arrested for his previous crimes. When Tintin, Haddock, and Skut end up on his yacht (a caricature of Aristotle Onassis luxurious yacht Christina), he tricks them into getting on Allan's ship, which he later tries to have torpedoed after the crew evacuate and a plan to destroy it in a fire fails. Rastapopulos fakes his death by making his boat sink, while escaping in a submarine from the bottom. He later kidnaps the millionaire Laszlo Carreidas in Flight 714 to gain the number of his multi-million Swiss Bank account, concluding that it is easier to steal Carreidas's money than make his own fortune all over again. When he is accidentally injected with truth serum by Dr. Krollspell, he reveals various evil deeds, such as his plan to kill Dr. Krollspell afterwards. He is taken hostage by Tintin. Like Krollspell and Carreidas, he is tied up and gagged with sticking plaster. Throughout the course of the story he suffers more and more injuries. First when Haddock breaks his gun chasing Rastapopoulos, he throws part of it away, and it hits the hiding Rastapopoulos on the head. When he continues to run away and is called to by Allan, he is distracted and crashes into a tree. He experiences pain to the face when Allan pulls the sticking plaster off. When Allan is about to throw a grenade at Tintin and Co, he remembers that Rastapopoulos wants Carreidas alive and throws it away. Rastapopoulos is caught in the blast, leaving his clothes in tatters. When Allan pulls Carreidas' hat from under a stone head, he accidentally elbows Rastapopoulos, giving him a black eye. Later his bump on the head goes away, which he takes as a good omen. However a piece of rock falls onto his head just after he notices this as the result of an earthquake, causing another bump. When explosives are used by the gang to break through a stone barrier, a volcanic eruption is set off, forcing them to flee from the Island in a rubber dinghy. He and his gang are hypnotized by Mik Kanrokitoff and taken onto a UFO. What happens next to them is unrevealed. In the unfinished Tintin and Alph-Art, a character often thought to be Rastapopoulos in disguise—under the name of Endaddine Akass—appears. Although a page revealing Akass to be Rastapopoulos was started (and printed in the 2004 Egmont edition), as the book was never completed, Rastapopoulos' fate following Flight 714 is unknown.
Rastapopoulos also appears in Tintin and the Lake of Sharks, an animated feature which was adapted into a similarly titled book in which Hergé had no creative input. In this story, Rastapopoulos is a criminal gang leader directing operations from a secret underwater base. He is behind numerous robberies of valuable items around the world and plans to steal a duplicating machine invented by Professor Calculus, allowing him to replace the items with perfect fakes so that nobody will know of his crimes. However while trying to escape by submarine after his activities are exposed, he is captured by Tintin and Haddock, and arrested by the Syldavian Police.
Michael Farr argued that the relationship between Tintin and Rastapopoulos was akin to that between Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty in Arthur Conan Doyle's stories. Farr thought that Rastapopoulos was the one enemy who "it must be feared, might one day get the better of him."
- Assouline, Pierre (2009) . Hergé, the Man Who Created Tintin. Charles Ruas (translator). Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-539759-8.
- Farr, Michael (2001). Tintin: The Complete Companion. London: John Murray. ISBN 978-0-7195-5522-0.
- Farr, Michael (2007). Tintin & Co. London: Egmont. ISBN 978-1-4052-3264-7.
- Peeters, Benoît (2012) . Hergé: Son of Tintin. Tina A. Kover (translator). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-1-4214-0454-7.
- Thompson, Harry (1991). Tintin: Hergé and his Creation. London: Hodder and Stoughton. ISBN 978-0-340-52393-3.