Vernon Schillinger

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Vernon Schillinger is a fictional character played by American actor J. K. Simmons on the HBO series Oz. TV Guide included him in their 2013 list of The 60 Nastiest Villains of All Time.[1]

Schillinger is one of the most powerful and feared inmates in Oz. As leader of The Aryan Brotherhood in Oz, Schillinger controls most white inmates and has a reputation for ruthless brutality and rape. He is shown to be a high-ranking member of the Aryan Brotherhood outside of prison, thus giving him power outside of Oz through a vast network of allies. This is shown when Karl Metzger and other prison guards are seen receiving orders from and showing deference to Schillinger and his friendship with Mayor Wilson Loewen.

Character overview[edit]

Prisoner #92S110. Convicted October 21, 1992 – Aggravated assault in the first degree. Sentence: Eight years, eligible for parole in five. Convicted in 1998 of conspiracy to commit murder and sentenced to ten additional years without the possibility of parole.

Schillinger is the head of The Aryan Brotherhood in Oz. An ardent racist, he is serving an eight-year sentence for aggravated assault for beating up a black drug dealer with a crowbar for selling drugs to his sons. Schillinger indulges in varying degrees of sexual sadism, especially toward fellow inmate Tobias Beecher, whom he rapes to "initiate" him into prison life. In addition to Beecher, Schillinger commits several acts of rape over the series against weaker white inmates; ironically, he is virulently homophobic. Schillinger is also quick to have the Brotherhood kill other inmates to prove that the Aryans in Oz are a legitimate threat to the rest of the inmate population.

Schillinger has a number of major family issues throughout the series: his father, whom he hates, taught him everything he knows about racism; his sons are both amoral drug addicts; he has disowned his sister for marrying a Jew, and his daughter-in-law is a prostitute.

Schillinger has been raised by his father, Heinrich, to believe in a white supremacist ideology, developing a hatred for blacks, Jews, and other non-Aryan people. Throughout the series he uses ethnic slurs to refer to blacks, Jews, Hispanics, Arabs, and Italians. Many of Schillinger's underlings in the Aryan Brotherhood are imprisoned for hate crimes (James Robson, Mark Mack, and Wolfgang Cutler, among others) and readily affiliate themselves with the Brotherhood under Schillinger's leadership.

Despite often committing extremely cruel and sadistic acts, Schillinger does show a humane side in the show. He seems to have genuine affection for his sons and at times, blames himself for the way they turned out, remarking "they became the men I made them." Nevertheless, when his eldest son rejects him, Schillinger arranges for him to overdose on heroin and he doesn't hesitate to use his younger son to carry out a kidnapping and murder for him. Despite his status as a leader, he seeks approval from his superiors such as former mentor Wilson Loewen, who views him as having "a big ego and no balls to back it up."

Schillinger strongly objects to his name being mispronounced, averring that it should be "Schilling - ur", not "Schillin - jur". Few characters on throughout the show's run actually pronounce it properly; Kareem Said, Nikolai Stanislofsky and Tobias Beecher are the few characters who do.

Season 1[edit]

Schillinger is the head of the Aryan Brotherhood, a gang of white supremacists. Their main goal is to instill fear in darker-skinned inmates who wish to take advantage of any whites in the prison. Schillinger begins Season 1 as a cellmate of Tobias Beecher, a white lawyer imprisoned for vehicular manslaughter, who is also an educated family man unfit for prison life. After Beecher is harassed by his larger, threatening black cell-mate Simon Adebisi, Schillinger offers to let him move into his cell as long as he does not implicate Adebisi to Unit Manager Tim McManus. Beecher naively accepts the offer, unaware that Schillinger is a jail-house rapist and that the Aryans only pull moves like this to make sexual slaves, or "prags", out of the newer inmates. As a result, Schillinger takes advantage of Beecher's weakness once inside the cell and rapes him, then burns a swastika on his right buttock.

Throughout this season, Schillinger is wary of the high-profile leader of the Muslim prisoners, Kareem Saïd, because of Saïd's ability to gain access to and sometimes influence McManus and other prison officials. He fears that Saïd could mobilize the black inmates in a takeover of the prison.

Schillinger frequently humiliates and rapes Beecher, once getting one of the drag queens to dress him like a woman. Beecher later sings in the prison talent show in drag. To cope with the rapes inflicted on him, and the degradation, Beecher begins using drugs, much to Schillinger's disgust. Schillinger forces him to wear a T-shirt bearing a Confederate Flag in hopes that Beecher will be harmed or murdered by prison black inmates. Beecher, however, after taking some PCP, flies into a rage and throws a chair at Schillinger, shattering the "pod" (cell) glass and hitting Schillinger in the eye, temporarily blinding him in one eye. Once out of the hospital, McManus transfers him to "gen pop" (general prison population).

Following the transfer, Schillinger threatens Beecher in the gym. Beecher, however, reacts fiercely, beating Schillinger unconscious with free weights before defecating on his face in front of some of Emerald City's most powerful inmates. This gains Beecher the respect of several inmates, such as Ryan O'Reily, Miguel Alvarez and even Adebisi, and harms the Brotherhood's reputation. Consequently, Beecher is sent to the hole. Meanwhile, Schillinger realizes how vulnerable he has become in "gen pop." He tells McManus how badly he wants to be paroled in his upcoming review so he can be with his family. McManus reluctantly allows him to move back into Emerald City.

In Emerald City, a riot breaks out, during which Schillinger lies low, allowing biker inmate Scott Ross to command his Aryan troops. During the riot, Schillinger sees Correctional Officer Diane Whittlesey shoot and kill Ross after the SORT team supplies her with a gun.

Season 2[edit]

An investigation of the riot is led by law school dean Alvah Case. Despite the offer from Case for a letter of recommendation for parole, Schillinger covers up several details using his knowledge of Scott Ross' killing to blackmail Correctional Officer Whittlesey. All of the prisoners have been moved to General Population as Emerald City undergoes repairs.

Later, when Emerald City is reopened, Schillinger is up for parole and Beecher begins taunting him and threatening to ruin his chance at freedom. Fed up, Schillinger goes to various inmates and attempts to hire one of them to kill his former whipping boy. Every other gang in Oz (the Bikers, the Italians, the Latinos, and the Homeboys) refuse, and mock Schillinger for being too weak to do his own dirty work. Beecher soon learns of Schillinger's actions and, with the help of CO Diane Whittlesey and unit manager Tim McManus, not only gets Schillinger's parole hearing canceled, but also extends his sentence by 10 years with a charge of conspiracy to commit murder as well, and he is moved out of Emerald City permanently.

In the meantime, Schillinger's sons, who are in their late teens, have been kicked out of their grandfather's house for their general bad behavior and drug problems. Schillinger is then brutally attacked by some black inmates in general population who find out about his role as a weakened leader of the Aryan Brotherhood. He and a fellow Aryan, Mark Mack, then decide that the Brotherhood's reputation is at stake, feeling that the other inmates no longer fear them. They then decide to commit a "road kill"; a random killing of a non-white inmate to get the respect of their fellow inmates. They target Jewish inmate Alexander Vogel, then kill him hanging his body upside down with the word "JEW" carved into his chest. Warden Leo Glynn naturally suspects the Brotherhood, but Schillinger points out that any inmate or gang could have done it with the intention of framing the Aryans. Schillinger further more insults Glynn's racial background, telling him his "people" (i.e., blacks) are just as anti-semitic as the Aryans, in addition to humming a song praising slavery during the interrogation. Glynn cannot find any evidence to support his suspicions and the Aryans are not prosecuted for the murder. As a result, the Aryans are once again respected and feared in Oz, and Schillinger renews his plan for revenge against Beecher. He employs Chris Keller, a bisexual serial killer who once served time with him in another prison, to play a sick mind game on Beecher to break him down. As the plan goes forward, Beecher is informed of his wife's apparent suicide, and later Schillinger taunts Beecher about it, implying the possibility that Schillinger had her murdered and made it look like a suicide.

At about the same time, Cyril O'Reily, the intellectually disabled brother of Irish inmate Ryan O'Reily, arrives in Oz and is put in Unit B. Schillinger promises to take Cyril to see his brother in Emerald City but instead takes him to a storage closet where he is gang raped by Schillinger and the other members of the Aryan Brotherhood. When Ryan realizes what has happened, he orders Cyril to assault him and as Ryan is hit, Officer Joseph Mineo takes Cyril to Ad Seg, isolated but safely away from Schillinger. After his release, Cyril suffers terrible flashbacks and nightmares of being raped by Schillinger.

Meanwhile, Keller seduces Beecher, who then falls in love with him. However, this is all part of a master plan initiated by Schillinger to help break Beecher, by getting him to relapse into alcohol (which caused Beecher to come to Oz in the first place), as well as Keller seducing Beecher. When Beecher is emotionally at his lowest, Schillinger, Keller, and Aryan Brotherhood prison guard Karl Metzger ambush Beecher, revealing all that has happened to him as part of Schillinger's revenge plan and then proceed to break both his arms and legs.

Season 3[edit]

This season starts off with Correctional Officer (and covert ally to the Aryans) Karl Metzger assaulting Busmalis for allowing Mack to die in a tunnel from which they were going to escape. Beecher gets out of the hospital, and Keller tells Beecher that he is sorry for hurting him, but Beecher only agrees to believe him if he confesses and testifies against Schillinger and Metzger. Metzger attacks Beecher and Beecher responds by slashing his assailant to death with his fingernails, which he had filed to razor-sharp points. McManus does not bother to investigate Metzger's death after learning that he was in fact a full-fledged member of the Brotherhood. When Augustus Hill testifies against Malcolm Coyle for murdering an innocent family, Kareem Said asks Schillinger, among other inmates, to help protect Hill. Schillinger agrees because he also is a family man and respects the fact that one member of the family died while serving in Vietnam.

Murphy starts a boxing tournament in Em City and Robson agrees to box for the Aryans. Robson and Schillinger continuously taunt Cyril O'Reily for allowing them to get away with raping him. Before the match between Cyril and Robson, Ryan O'Reily pours chloral hydrate in Robson's water thus allowing his brother to win the fight. The Aryans then leave Cyril alone.

Just prior to the execution of female inmate Shirley Bellinger, she tells Father Ray Mukada that the father of her child was Satan in the form of a man. Mukada asks which man, to which she gives him a hint "neither rain nor snow". Mukada reveals that this is part of the motto for the U.S. Postal Service and suspects Schillinger is the father because he is in charge of the mail service in Oz but Schillinger denies it. Schillinger later tells Robson that he was very fond of Bellinger and she reminds him of his late wife.

Schillinger's son Andrew subsequently arrives in Oz for his part in the lynching of a black man. Schillinger, upset that Andrew is a heroin addict, tells the Brotherhood to ignore his son until he is drug-free. Ryan O'Reily, Keller, and Beecher devise a plan to turn father and son against each other. Ryan stops selling Andrew heroin and tells him that the only way he can now purchase drugs is through the non-white inmates. Beecher befriends Andrew and helps get him off drugs. Their growing friendship angers Schillinger, who confronts Andrew in effort to renew their filial relationship, only to hear his son reject everything he stands for and start to assault him. Feeling that Andrew has betrayed him and his beliefs, Schillinger arranges for his own son to die of a drug overdose in the hole courtesy of Officer Len Lopresti, a Brotherhood sympathizer, who secretly provides Andrew with a highly potent package of heroin.

Beecher, after counseling from Said, tells Schillinger that Andrew's death was a setup. Schillinger attacks Beecher, who is now protected and defended by both Keller and the Muslims. Schillinger and Beecher both end up in the hospital ward as a result of mutual stab wounds. When Schillinger is discharged from the ward, the racial tension is very high in Em City and he realizes that Adebisi is plotting something against the white inmates. He asks all the other whites, including Beecher, Keller, and a Russian Jew, Nikolai Stanislofsky, to form a bond of solidarity — albeit only a temporary, opportunistic one — to prevent the blacks from taking over the entire prison. As another race riot is brewing, Glynn locks down the prison.

Season 4[edit]

Glynn tells the white, Latino, and black inmates separately that if one incident of racial tension occurs, the prison will be permanently locked down. Schillinger still feels that the black inmates are up to something and remains wary. In the mean time, his younger son, Hank, visits; Schillinger is actually happy until he later finds out that Hank is only there because Beecher paid him to come. Thinking back to the plan Beecher had with Andrew, Schillinger turns the tables on Beecher, paying Hank to kidnap Beecher's kids. The FBI investigates, but the agent, Agent Pierce Taylor, blames Keller for the kidnapping. Taylor wants Keller on death row for kidnapping, raping, and murdering three gay men, and charging him with the kidnapping proves an opportunity. Schillinger then pays Jewish inmate Eli Zabitz to tell Beecher that Keller is responsible for his son's death, so the two of them go to war while the kidnapping takes place. As this is happening, Schillinger has Hank remove the hand of Beecher's son and ship it to Oz. After Gary's death Father Mukada asks Schillinger to give up Beecher's daughter after telling him that Beecher had no evil intentions with Hank rather he did what he did to try to make up for what happened to Andrew. Hank returns Holly but the FBI arrests him on the spot. Schillinger is concerned about being given up on an interrogation. Hank, however, is freed from the murder charges on a legal technicality, and Vern begins to breathe easier. Unknown to Schillinger, however, Beecher hires the Italians to murder Hank.

Hank's wife, Carrie, then comes by and tells Schillinger that he is going to become a grandfather. Over the next few months, Reverend Jeremiah Cloutier comes to Oz for embezzlement and comforts Schillinger helping him let go of his previous unhappiness and to focus on the birth of his grandchild. Schillinger then asks Sister Peter Marie to be involved in the interaction sessions, much to Beecher's surprise. During the session, however, Officer Jason Armstrong takes Schillinger to Glynn's office. In the office, Glynn tells Schillinger that the Massachusetts State Police have found Hank's body in the woods and he has been found to have been dead for several months. Convinced Beecher is behind his son's death, he enlists Robson to kill his old foe. Keller, however, convinces Schillinger that he is responsible.

Carrie gives birth and Schillinger is indeed happy — until a new inmate, Curtis Bennett, approaches him. A black pimp, Bennett tells Schillinger that Hank owed him some money over drugs and paid it off by allowing him to pimp out Carrie. He even points out that Carrie's "clients" included black men, and that the child could very well not even be Hank's. Furious, Schillinger demands the truth and forces Carrie to get a paternity test.

Just prior to Shirley Bellinger's execution, Father Ray Mukada asks who the father of her miscarried baby was. She tells him the father was Satan in the form of a man but refuses to name the man. She gives Mukada a hint "neither rain nor snow". Mukada recognizes this as a part of the motto for the U.S. Postal Service and suspects Schillinger is the father because he is in charge of the mail service in Oz but Schillinger denies it but admits that he found her attractive and desired having sex with Shirley. After her execution Schillinger tells Robson that he attempted to see Shirley one last time but couldn't. He also says that Shirley reminded him of his deceased wife.

As his lieutenant, James Robson, is to stand trial for murder, Schillinger sends the only witness a disturbing letter in solitary that drives him to kill himself. Schillinger also warns Cloutier not to get involved with anything involving the Brotherhood again, but lets him go unharmed. Freed from the murder charge, Said savagely attacks and beats Robson, forcing Warden Glynn to consider locking Oz down. Schillinger then agrees for peace through Cloutier and for the time being there is a truce between the Muslims and Aryans. Beecher, meanwhile, is up for parole, and Schillinger vows to get it denied. Beecher gets provoked by the Aryans and Bikers until Said approaches Schillinger, warning him not to interfere with Beecher's parole. When Beecher's parole is denied, Schillinger attempts to rape him, but Said stabs and nearly kills both him and Robson.

Season 5[edit]

This season starts out with Carrie proving that the baby is Hank's. However, she is killed in a bus accident on the way to Oz. The baby survives and is sent to live with Carrie's parents in Montana.

A war is about to erupt between the Muslims and Aryans until Sister Pete has a series of Interaction sessions between Beecher, Said, and Schillinger. Schillinger does not go to war with the Muslims, but Robson taunts them continuously. Another war does erupt with the Aryans, however, when FBI Agent Pierce Taylor visits. Taylor tells Schillinger that an Italian mobster named Gaetano Cincetta has confessed to murdering Hank and gone into the witness protection program, because he is testifying against Chucky Pancamo. The Aryan Brotherhood then attacks the Italian Mafia in the gym; Robson and Schillinger hospitalize Pancamo and the Italian Mob seeks revenge, led by Peter Schibetta, who makes an unsuccessful attempt to stab Schillinger. Schibetta is beaten and gang raped. During the rape the Aryans taunt him with racial slurs, references to his previous rape by Adebisi, and Schillinger taunts Schibetta about comparing Schillinger's penis size to Adebisi's. As this war is occurring, the Aryans do not realize that either outcome will make the black inmates stronger as Burr Redding, the Homeboys' leader, can now muscle the Italians out of the drug trade. If the Aryans lose, the Muslims also grow stronger, proving the effect of both outcomes. Meanwhile, two new inmates, Adam Guenzel and Franklin Winthrop, arrive. Winthrop is sent to Unit B where black inmate Clarence Seroy tries to rape him. The Aryans save Winthrop, only to turn him into their sex slave. The Aryans also want to rape Guenzel, but Italian gangster Frank Urbano stops them from doing so in the gym after Beecher asked the Mafia to protect Guenzel.

In the interaction sessions, Schillinger shares Said's homophobia, but Said points out that Schillinger has committed sodomy many times, having raped Beecher and Cyril O'Reily, among other inmates. Schillinger denies that he is homosexual and denies raping anybody, Beecher attacks him in a rage. At another counseling session he convinces Beecher that he is truly sorry for raping him, but is insincere; he plans to get Beecher's friend, Guenzel, transferred to Unit B so he can rape him. Schillinger offers Beecher a job delivering mail to protective custody (an opportunity to see Keller) if he allows Guenzel to be transferred, unprotected, to Unit B. Beecher accepts the offer, as he now wants nothing to do with his former friend, who was sent to prison for rape. Guenzel is transferred and immediately beaten and gang raped. Meanwhile, James Robson has a toothache and must get his gum tissue replaced. Schillinger suggests that Robson see Dr. Faraj, the Muslim prison dentist. Robson hurls racist insults at Faraj during the visit, and Faraj gets revenge by replacing Robson's tissue with that of a black man. As the whole prison population learns of this, outside Aryan Nation leaders order a reluctant Schillinger to kick Robson out of the Brotherhood.

Beecher feels remorse about what has happened to Guenzel, so he attempts to get Sister Pete to talk to him. Guenzel is later killed after Schillinger convinces him to escape, however. Beecher testifies against Schillinger, who is moved to solitary confinement. Before he is sent to solitary, Wolfgang Cutler, a man imprisoned for decapitating a homosexual, wants to join the Brotherhood.

Schillinger tells Cutler he must prove his loyalty to the Brotherhood by killing a black inmate. He targets Said, but is unsuccessful, as black inmate Omar White attacks him and nearly kills him.

Season 6[edit]

Schillinger is released from solitary on a 6-1 vote (it is assumed that Sister Pete is the one dissenting vote) under the condition that he does not rape any more inmates. He immediately rapes Winthrop, who offers him a deal. Winthrop will murder Beecher's father if he can join the Aryans. Schillinger accepts this deal, and Winthrop kills Beecher's father after paying the guards to lock him in a corridor. In the meantime, a family friend of Schillinger's, Mayor Wilson Loewen, is on trial for allegations that he assisted the Ku Klux Klan in the racially motivated murder of two young black girls in 1963. This trial leads to a full-scale race riot in the city, which spreads into Oz, putting the entire prison in lockdown.

When the lockdown is over, Loewen is sent to Oz and is put in Unit J with Beecher. Beecher saves his life, and Schillinger is so grateful that he agrees not to interfere with Beecher's parole, which is ultimately successful. But Keller, whose death sentence is overturned, intervenes, and gets Beecher sent right back to Oz. When Beecher tells Keller that he wants nothing to do with him after coming back to Oz, Schillinger decides to call a truce with Keller.

In a desperate attempt to win back Beecher's love, Keller devises a plan to get rid of Schillinger. During the prison production of Macbeth, in which both Schillinger and Beecher have been cast, he replaces a prop knife with a real one so Beecher will actually stab Schillinger. Before the play, Schillinger's sister visits, telling him that their father is dying. As he hates his father, he claims that he doesn't care. He does realize, however, that he has been set up at the last second after Beecher stabs him in the play's climactic scene (unbeknownst to Beecher himself), and sees that he is going to die, cursing Keller for betraying him. New warden Martin Querns and Sister Pete investigate and declare that Schillinger's death was an accident and Beecher is never charged with Schillinger's death.

Despite (and perhaps, because of) all of Schillinger's brutal attempts to make the Aryan Brotherhood the most feared gang in Oz, the group is practically destroyed by the end of the TV series. Schillinger himself and most of his lieutenants are dead by the end of Season 6, due to one cause or another, and because the Aryans were pulling mail room duty at the time, the anthrax bomb delivered to Oz at the end of Season 6 wiped out even more of them. James Robson was the only one of Schillinger's inner circle who survived to the end of Season 6, but he contracted HIV and thus faced a limited life expectancy; moreover, Schillinger formally cast Robson out of the Aryans when he found out Robson had allowed himself to be raped in order to infect an enemy with HIV. The only other named Aryan is Skezz Henke, a fairly minor character in Season 4, but he may have been among those taken out by the anthrax bomb. Ironically, despite taking no active role in their downfall, Tobias Beecher managed to personally kill Schillinger (albeit by accident) and even survived to see the downfall of the Aryan gang itself.

Murders committed[edit]

  • Alexander Vogel - Killed by Schillinger & Mark Mack, by hanging his ankles in the gym and carving JEW on his chest. Vogel had not done anything specific to offend Schillinger, he simply needed to make a kill - any kill - to restore his reputation after Beecher beat him up.


  1. ^ Bretts, Bruce; Roush, Matt; (March 25, 2013). "Baddies to the Bone: The 60 nastiest villains of all time". TV Guide. pp. 14 - 15.

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