Lisbeth Salander (Movie version) (Noomi Rapace take) huge platform boots

Lisbeth Salander, the girl with the dragon tattoo

“She has an extremely hard time relating to other people. I thought she had Asperger’s syndrome or something like it. If you read the clinical descriptions of patients diagnosed with Asperger’s, there are things that seem to fit Lisbeth very well, but there are just as many symptoms that don’t apply at all. Mind you, she’s not the least bit dangerous to people who leave her in peace and treat her with respect. But she is violent, without a doubt. If she’s provoked or threatened, she can strike back with appalling violence.”


Millennium is a Swedish crime/espionage series of novels, which was adapted as a movie trilogy a few years later. Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the first in the series, was adapted to an American version with mixed critical reception (partially due to the American car chase added to the story).

As can be guessed, the books had encountered enormous success through an unusual mix of marketing and word-of-mouth.


The core of the story is an investigation by journalist M. Blomkvist, but the breakout character was his ally the punk hacker Lisbeth Salander. Lisbeth is a quasi-superheroine who’d fit in well in many modern super-hero settings.

The history section here is a detailed, chronological account of her personal history, her father’s history, and the conspiracy against her (since you can’t understand why some of the events happen to her without it).

It has a huge number of S P O I L E R S if you have not read the original trilogy written by Stieg Larsson, so go read it now.


  • Real Name: Lisbeth Salander.
  • Other Aliases: The Wasp, Irene Nesser, Monica Sholes, Gunilla Hansson, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: Alexander “Zala” Zalachenko AKA Karl Axel Bodin AKA “Ruben” (Father, deceased), Agneta Sofia Salander/Sjölander (Mother, deceased), Camilla Salander (twin sister), Ronald Neidermann (half-Brother, deceased), presumably more half brothers and sisters by her father.
  • Group Affiliation: Milton Security, Hacker Republic.
  • Base Of Operations: Stockholm, Sweden; occasionally mobile.
  • Height: 4’11” Weight: 90 lbs.
  • Eyes: Black Hair: Red, Dyed Black


Powers & Abilities

While technically a dropout from the formal education system, Lisbeth is extraordinarily intelligent and incredibly adaptable. She recalls virtually every moment from her entire life in perfect detail, and solves extremely advanced puzzles as a hobby.

For example, she solved a math equation that took mathematicians hundreds of years to solve (and it took the help of a supercomputer). Lisbeth solved it on her own over the course of a couple of weeks in her head. She has the mind of a savant and is a phenom in the truest sense of the word.

In addition, she is a supreme hacker who is well respected within the international hacker community. She’s also an unparalleled investigator. Once she’s on the trail, there’s virtually no secret (regardless of how personal or private) that she can’t uncover.

She uses a combination of computer hacking, traditional detective legwork, and her own observations to draw unparalleled conclusions.

Lisbeth Salander escorted by guards

While she’s not a physically strong combatant, Lisbeth is no stranger to violence. She was a regular sparring partner for a world champion boxer when she was 17. Her blows did little damage, but she proved good practice due to her speed, and could land far more blows than she took.

She’s extremely cunning, and can be unrelenting when she has even a slight advantage. She can turn her losses into victories often by manipulating the circumstances in ways her oppressors never fathomed possible; or responding with a shocking amount of violence against her attackers, often escalating in ways that couldn’t be anticipated.

More than anything else she is a survivor who knows how to beat the odds.


Official English-language trailer for the 2009 movie.


Sins of the father…

Lisbeth Salander’s father was Lt. Colonel Alexander “Zala” Zalachenko, a Soviet GRU assassin/spy who defected to Sweden in 1976.

He had been born in 1940 in Stalingrad but his parents died (or at least disappeared), and he was raised by the state with a military education from the earliest age, as part of an attempt to create an elite cadre. Zalachenko was particularly talented, and by the time he was 15 he underwent training similar to Spetsnaz, the Russian elite troops.

In 1958, he was moved to Minsk and trained as a GRU military intelligence operative. By time he turned 20, he was sent to Cuba for field training. He was there for two years including the events of the Missile Crisis and Bay of Pigs.

He then went back to Europe for additional training assignments, and by 1965 he received a promotion to lieutenant and was posted to Rome on an undercover assignment. He moved to London in 1967 and over the next 10 years became one of the GRU’s top agents.

He led assignments and agents in several assassinations (including those of defected agents). By 1975 he made lieutenant colonel.

Lisbeth Salander works with a hacker friend

In 1976, he botched a mission in Spain. In disgrace, he was summoned back to Russia; but ignored the order and ended up killing an attaché sent to retrieve him. This led to him defecting to Sweden.

His knowledge of the KGB and GRU espionage networks led him to believe that they would not look for him there, whereas they could find him if he defected to the US or England.

He walked into a police station on Election Day and asked to speak with the Security Police, the Säpo. Gunnar Björck was on duty at the time. Thinking it was a standard refugee case, he took Nils Bjurman (who was in a trainee legal position at the time) with him as a legal advisor and note taker.

Upon realizing what he was dealing with, Björck contacted his superiors. He didn’t call the normal heads of the Security Police, instead he called Evert Gullberg. Gullberg was secretly in charge of a sort of internal affairs department of the Security Police, called “The Section for Special Analysis” or nicknamed “The Section.”

Based on who Zalachenko was, and Sweden’s inexperience with handling such high level defectors, special measures needed to be taken. A small, secret (and unconstitutional) group was created within The Section exclusively to handle Zalachenko.

They decided to keep the number of people who knew of him as limited as possible, so Björck and Bjurman were retained as members despite their inexperience. They soon gave Zalachenko a new identity, Karl Axin Bodin.

The intelligence provided by Zalachenko was a huge boon for the Säpo, and made Gullberg a star amongst his peers (especially with the information brokers within the CIA). But, Zalachenko proved to be irksome personally. He doled out just enough information to keep himself useful.

In the meantime, he started his own clandestine affairs and had a few run-ins with the law; which The Section occasionally had to hide to keep his identity from being compromised.

…are to be laid upon the children.

Zalachenko started an on again off again relationship with Agneta Sofia Sjölander, much to the frustration of The Section, as he revealed his real name to her before his cover identity was assigned. When he refused to marry her, she went so far as to change her name to Salander to make it closer to his real name.

On Walpurgis Night (April 30), she gave birth to Lisbeth and her twin sister Camilla, further complicating matters. Additionally, Zalachenko proved to be an abusive misogynist, especially when it came to Agneta. He not only physically beat her, but would threaten her with a gun, and psychologically tortured her.

While The Section discouraged his visits, he continued to occasionally turn up to drink, have sex, and beat Agneta throughout the 80s.

Lisbeth Salander and a hacker friend

The girls’ reactions to the abuse of their mother were as polar opposite as their personalities. Camilla blocked the abuse from her mind and disavowed its existence. On occasion, she even consoled her father after he finished beating their mother.

Lisbeth smoldered with rage that grew as the beatings grew. It became apparent to others in her antisocial demeanor when the girls went to school.

The lovely Camilla proved charismatic and outgoing with other children. She was often the center of attention and had excellent grades. She became quite popular, while Lisbeth withdrew and isolated herself. Lisbeth became a solitary creature who was ostracized and a pariah, especially when her rage would occasionally erupt.

Lisbeth would often refuse to even answer questions in class. On one occasion when she did, the answer in the book was wrong. The following altercation with the teacher resulted in Lisbeth throwing the book at her teacher’s head.

Lisbeth’s violent temperament was balanced with a sense of justice that left her with no tolerance for bullies. For example, when one bully beat her up, she brought a bat to school and beat him into submission.

She threatened to kill him if he ever touched her again. Her classmates would remember Lisbeth with fear as “an introverted eccentric who had great difficulties adjusting.”

“All The Evil” that happened.

In 1991, when the girls were twelve, Zalachenko visited as usual. This time, Libeth had enough. She interrupted the beating and attacked Zalachenko with a kitchen knife. She stabbed him five times before he took the knife away and punched Lisbeth.

While he wasn’t hurt critically, the incident prompted a hospital visit and civil services tried to intervene. The Section quickly moved to prevent a leak, and demanded that Zala stop seeing Agneta. That lasted about six months.

This time, perhaps in reaction to Lisbeth’s attack during his previous visit, the typical violence quickly escalated and he beat Agneta into unconsciousness. Lisbeth arrived home from school just as he was leaving. He laughed, taunting her, thinking she was helpless to stop him.

However, Lisbeth had prepared for his return. When he got into his car, she followed him. He opened the window to say more, but Lisbeth interrupted by dousing him with a milk carton full of gasoline, and then set him on fire.

The fall out of the events created quite a dilemma for The Section. Agneta suffered brain damage and dropped into a coma from which she would never recover. Zalachenko managed to escape the car and was hospitalized with severe burns. He would have a foot amputated, but would survive.

As the girls knew Zalachenko’s real identity, The Section moved into a full cover-up and quickly classified all the police reports, removing them from the public record.

Lisbeth Salander's wasp neck tattoo

Camilla wasn’t a problem and seemed cooperative. So they moved her into foster care in Uppsala. Lisbeth, on the other hand, wanted to see Zalachenko punished and seemed unlikely to keep secrets for anyone. Luckily, she had developed a suspicion of police since they had been unable to do anything about the continued beatings of her mother.

Gunnar Björck arranged to have her committed to St. Stefan’s Children’s Psychiatric Hospital with the help of psychologist Dr. Peter Teleborian. They went as far as to write a false report assessing her mental state to make sure the courts would agree to have her committed, citing her history of violence as proof that she was psychotic.

While having a public reputation as a caring psychologist, Teleborian proved to be a sadist in addition to a liar. After falsifying the reports to get Lisbeth committed, he tried to get her cooperation with her treatment. When she refused, he had her restrained.

On her thirteenth birthday, Lisbeth made a pact with herself not to speak with psychologists ever again since they didn’t listen (this pact also seems to apply to the police). In response, Teleborian had her strapped to a bed in a dark sound-proof room, citing her outbreaks as being due to “overstimulation.”

Lisbeth would later describe this experience as sensory deprivation torture after researching the subject.

This went on continuously for a year. He visited her regularly to take pleasure in restraining her. Although he never touched Lisbeth sexually, she could tell how excited he was by this power in making her feel helpless.

Lisbeth Salander riding her bike, comic book

In the meantime, the courts appointed Advokat Holger Palmgren as Lisbeth’s legal trustee to handle her finances. The Section had little to do with this decision, since typically these sort of lawyers rarely got directly involved with their clients, and she was committed.

However, Palmgren eventually decided that if he was her trustee, he should meet her. As a result of these meetings, he pushed to convince the courts to release her from St. Stefan’s. He managed to get her out and into the foster system by time she was fifteen.

Floats like a butterfly, stings like “The Wasp”

Lisbeth didn’t react well to foster care. She ran away from multiple foster families, taking up with older men and getting by on the streets. On each excursion she was eventually brought in by social services.

In the meantime, she hung out with punk bands like a group of women called “Evil Fingers.” It was at one of their events where she met her occasional lover, Miriam “Mimmi” Wu, who would become one of her few close friends.

While it is unclear exactly when she took up hacking, it seems likely it was also during this time that she first started exploring the online community and fell in with Hackers Republic with the help of an expert hacker who called himself Plague.

After the third family, Palmgren explained to Lisbeth that if she couldn’t adapt and stop running away, he would have no choice but to let them put her back in St. Stefan’s. She stayed with this foster family and over time, built a strong relationship with Palmgren. She even came to trust him and look on him as a father figure.

She would need this surrogate father soon. When she was seventeen, she began to try to track down Zalachenko. She did manage to find Camilla and confronted her. If Camilla knew where Zalachenko was, she refused to tell Lisbeth and the two fought.

Around the same time, Lisbeth had an additional run-in with the law. She violently beat a pedophile who attacked her in the subway (he presumably thought she was younger and weaker than she was). Since they couldn’t have her snooping after Zalachenko, The Section and Teleborian used this incident to try to have her committed again.

Palmgren blocked the effort, but the courts placed the condition that she be declared incompetent and Palmgren be her assigned guardian, despite her being an adult.

Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) working on a computer

Perhaps because of the attack, Lisbeth decided to learn to box. She went to a gym where Paulo Robertson, the world champion, was training the youth. When the small, thin Salander showed up, the guys all laughed at her. She put on a pair of gloves and got in the ring with Paulo. He jokingly made a jab in her direction, when she unloaded on him.

Caught by surprise, she landed several blows before he could react. When he did start blocking, she kicked him. While she was too weak to do any real damage, the champ recognized that she was as “quick as a lizard” and completely fearless. He felt ashamed that he had made fun of her and quickly came to respect the spirited Salander.

She began to learn to box with the girls. During her matches she often lost her temper and entered what the other boxers called “Terminator Mode,” until she had to be restrained. The girls’ trainer kicked her out, so Paulo took her on as a student.

He matched her up against men and created a game (originally a bet) based on her hitting the guy in 5 different places before he could land a punch anywhere on her. Lisbeth usually won this game, earning the men’s respect. They nicknamed her “The Wasp,” a moniker that became her online alias as she perfected her hacking skills and inspired a tattoo on her neck.

Palmgren got Salander a job at Milton Security as a favor from Dragan Armansky, its CEO. Initially, this was general office work such as copies and getting coffee. Salander’s typical rebellious behavior prompted Armansky to call her to his office.

Lisbeth Salander angry face closeup

Planning to fire her, the conversation where Armansky was leading up to it to an unexpected turn. It turned out she knew far more about one of the investigations than the staff detective, himself, when she wasn’t even supposed to be aware that the case was going on.

She made some claims that, if true, could change the course of the investigation. He gave her a few days to prove her information and she returned with an astonishingly detailed report. He took her on as an investigator and researcher. She proved to be his best detective by far.

The Dragon Tattoo

Palmgren suffered a stroke. Lisbeth attempted to visit him, but the doctors refused to talk to her since she wasn’t a blood relative and Lisbeth left the hospital with the impression he had died. The stroke prompted the court to appoint another guardian for her.

Learning from their past mistake, The Section arranged for that guardian to be Nils Bjurman, thinking this would make it easier to keep tabs on her, and have her committed if it proved necessary. However, Bjurman demanded oral sex on his first meeting with Lisbeth, making it clear that in return for giving her any (of her own) money, he expected sexual favors.

She soon broke her computer and needed to replace it. She visited Bjurman’s home, and hiding a small camera in her bag, acquiesced to his demands. She planned on blackmailing him with the video she was recording, so she’d be able to access her own money unfettered.

He proved to be a much bigger sadist than she imagined. He handcuffed her to his bed and raped her repeatedly.

Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) during a trial

Based on her previous experiences, Lisbeth had no interest in speaking with the police. Instead, she took matters into her own hands. Lisbeth returned to Bjurman’s home a few days later, making him think she needed money again.

This time she tased him, tied him up and showed him the video she had made. She beat him, raped him with a sex toy, and tattooed, “I AM A SADISTIC PIG, A PERVERT, AND A RAPIST” across his torso. She explained that he would no longer go anywhere near her, and he would give her full access to her money.

He would turn in his reports on time describing her as a model citizen, building up to him asking the court to reinstate her competence in a year. If he failed to do any of this, or if anything happened to Lisbeth, the video of him raping her would go viral.

She also explained that she would be keeping an eye on him and if he ever had another woman in his apartment, willing or not, Lisbeth would kill him.

Shortly thereafter, Lisbeth Salander met and became lovers with Mikael Blomkvist, a famous reporter, through her work at Milton Security. She helped him solve a mystery involving a serial killer, and even saved his life in the process.

Blomkvist had recently been jailed and humiliated for libelous allegations he made against a corrupt financier named Hans-Erik Wennerström without adequate proof.

Through her hacking channels and using several assumed identities (including Irene Nesser, which would continue to prove to be useful alter ego), she not only gave Blomkvist the proof he needed to exonerate himself, but managed to steal millions of kronars from Wennerström’s secret accounts.

Finding herself falling for Blomkvist, and afraid the feeling wasn’t mutual, Lisbeth disappeared from the country. She traveled around the world for a while and returned after about a year. When she returned, she learned of her mother’s death.

While she had often visited her mother in the care home, her mother was rarely lucid. Even when she was, she usually confused Lisbeth for Camilla. She also discovered that Palmgren had not actually died, but was in a care facility slowly recovering from his stroke. She began visiting him as she had her mother before her death.

Playing With Fire

She checked Blomkvist’s computer to see what he had been up to, and discovered a lead on Zalachenko. A young journalist researching the sex trade had discovered references to him and was going to publish a book with the help of Blomkvist.

It seems that Zalachenko had established his own criminal empire in the human trafficking and sex industry. She approached the journalist and his fiancé (a lawyer doing the same research), explaining why she was looking for him. Meanwhile, Bjurman had contacted Zalachenko in an attempt to have Lisbeth killed.

After speaking with Lisbeth, the journalist tried to contact Bjurman, since he made a connection between Zalachenko and Lisbeth’s guardian.

Zalachenko sent his son from another woman, Ron Neidermann, to kill Lisbeth, Bjurman, and the researchers. Bjurman had become a loose end since he knew who Zalachenko was and the researchers had contacted him looking for Zalachenko.

Niedermann used Bjurman’s gun for all the murders. Based on the circumstantial evidence and her history of violence, the police suspected Lisbeth for these crimes and a manhunt ensued.

Lisbeth Salander stands before a fire

As the police tried to track down Lisbeth, Blomkvist began to unravel the story through his own research and the occasional breadcrumbs provided by Lisbeth. Lisbeth managed to track down Bjurman’s secret files on her, including the trumped up psychological files from 1991.

Meanwhile, in an attempt to find Lisbeth, Neidermann kidnapped Mimmi Wu, only to have Paulo Robertson interfere and rescue her at the last minute. Niedermann retreated and the police discovered several bodies buried in the area where Niedermann had taken Wu.

Blomkvist managed to convince them to investigate Niedermann as a suspect for the murders Lisbeth was accused of, as well.

Lisbeth tracked Zalachenko through Niedermann and went to his farm to confront him, but was shot in the head and buried by her father and half-brother. Blomkvist followed similar leads and also headed to the farm. Lisbeth managed to dig out of her shallow grave.

She scared the terrified Niedermann into fleeing and fought her father, grievously injuring him. Blomkvist arrived just in time to administer first aid and summon the authorities and medical help, saving Lisbeth, and probably Zalachenko as well.

Kick the Hornet’s Nest !

Lisbeth and her father were hospitalized. The Section went into a flurry of activity to mitigate this disaster. They sent an agent to speak with Zalachenko. He gave them an ultimatum which was essentially, “make all this go away or I expose you.”

They began tying up loose ends and entered the biggest cover up in the history of the organization. Evert Gullberg, being a much older man and dying of cancer, decided to be the fall guy and went to the hospital. He assassinated Zalachenko and attempted to shoot Lisbeth as well, who was saved by the quick thinking of her lawyer (Annika Giannini, Blomkvist’s sister) who barred the door to the room.

Meanwhile, they also had Björck killed and made it look like a suicide. They then took steps to once again have Lisbeth committed.

With The Section following him, his sister, and his staff, Blomkvist continued to investigate until he eventually caught the attention of other forces within the Security Police. They had started to realize that there was some sort of conspiracy going on within their organization, and that Blomkvist was several steps ahead of them in unraveling it.

When he presented his evidence to a few trusted members, they went to the highest levels of the government to begin a formal investigation. They soon began to gather evidence on the conspiracy within their own ranks with the help of Blomkvist.

Meanwhile, Salander recovered in the hospital and wrote her autobiography on a Palm that had been smuggled to her (as she was still under arrest). She also contacted her hacker friends (Plague, in particular) and got them to start helping Blomkvist with his investigation.

Lisbeth Salander tinkering with power boxes

Ultimately going to trial for the attempted murder of her father (and other lesser crimes during her manhunt), her autobiography was presented detailing the conspiracy, the false report committing her, and the extreme abuse she went through at the hands of Teleborian and Bjurman in particular.

The prosecution used Teleborian’s testimony to discredit her story as psychotic fantasies. Her history of mental illness to backed it up and they appeared to have a well executed attempt to discredit her. The defense responded by playing the video of the Bjurman rape, showing clearly that it was no fantasy.

By this point in the trial, the Security Police had gathered enough information on The Section to begin making arrests. Blomkvist published an exposé detailing Lisbeth’s story and the constitutional abuses piled upon her on the same day.

Teleborian was arrested in the courthouse for child pornography on his computer (discovered with the help of Hacker Republic), and was completely discredited. At first the court was willing to release Salander pending her psychological evaluation; but she refused, not willing to compromise her freedom in the least.

She and her lawyers insisted that she be completely exonerated, citing the forged psychological evaluation. The courts succumbed to the pressure and Lisbeth was released with full competency.

Lisbeth, being the last heir in Sweden (Camilla evidently left the country shortly after Lisbeth last encountered her), inherited some land from Zalachenko. While she didn’t want it, Annika insisted that it was hers and she had to do something with it. Going to see it, Lisbeth discovered a warehouse where Niedermann had fled after their altercation.

Fighting Niedermann, she managed to nail his feet to the floor with a pneumatic hammer. Going through her “risk assessment” model, she refrained from killing him, even though he was helpless. Instead, she informed a biker gang he had double crossed of his location.

Watching from a distance, she called the police to the scene shortly after the bikers arrived. The bikers killed Niedermann and a shootout with the police ensued, killing most of the bikers.


Lisbeth is a short and painfully thin woman who appears fragile and adolescent to most observers. Lisbeth’s body is covered with tattoos and piercings, most notably an inch long wasp on her neck and a large dragon on her back and left shoulder.

Her natural red hair is most often dyed black, to match her pale make-up and black eye-liner. When she’s fully dressed up, she also wears black lipstick and spiked leather. When she’s not, she usually has punkish t-shirts, and a hoodie. She always wears combat boots, regardless of the occasion.

Lisbeth Salander comic book portrait

Lisbeth has an incredibly serious but withdrawn demeanor. She rarely talks unless spoken to and even then may not answer, avoiding eye contact. She does not understand subtlety easily and she often complains that people should be more direct.

To some she comes off as shy and to others as stuck up. However, Lisbeth still has an attractive face (especially on those exceedingly rare occasions she smiles) and in another life might have been a model.

Later in the series, she has her wasp tattoo removed since it’s hard to cover. When she first starts traveling abroad, she has breast enlargement surgery in an effort to give herself a more adult silhouette. She remains a waifish teenage looking woman in most people’s eyes, but it does add to her apparent self confidence.

As Irene Nesser, she removes her piercings and covers her tattoos. She wears sunglasses, a blonde wig, a padded bust line, and designer clothing that all give her the appearance of an heiress. She maintains the air of a billionaire’s mistress. Few people would be able to reconcile how the two women could know one another, much less be the same person.


Lisbeth is an antisocial loner who compartmentalizes her feelings to adapt to the world, becoming overly rational at times. She can react violently to any perceived threat, often escalating when others would merely respond in kind.

Due to her run-ins with the law and her time at St. Stefan’s, she has an extreme distrust of police and psychologists. She refuses to speak with them since it does little good. She evaluates all of her decisions in a “risk assessment” model.

This ultimately means her actions are determined in terms of the direct cause and effect on herself and others rather than concern for social constructs or typical morality.

She has suffered a fair amount of abuse in her life, and she is quite vengeful especially to men who oppress or abuse women. However, she doesn’t actually hate men (other than her father), and has even defended men whom society would call perverts if they weren’t hurting anyone.

She’s not above a casual fling with a man (or woman), and doesn’t understand how some people tie emotional entanglements to such encounters. She even pulls herself back when she begins to have emotions for Blomkvist. However, if she thinks a man is abusive or sadistic in any way, she will make it her duty to expose the man’s secrets and exact revenge for his victim.

She becomes this self-appointed defender even if the victim is a complete stranger. Her hacking activities seem to revolve around this “Robin Hood” mentality, and her theft of Wennerström’s millions is rationalized as a way to punish his illegal activities and his abuse of his mistresses.


“He hates the nickname, which is understandable. Somebody’d get a fat lip if they ever called me Pippi Longstocking on a newspaper placard.”

“I think you’re wrong. It’s not an insane serial killer who read his Bible wrong. It’s just a common or garden variety bastard who hates women.”

(Explaining why she didn’t read all Blomkvist’s notes) “My dear Mikael — you have ten years of correspondence, emails, agreements, travel arrangements, and God knows what on that hard drive. I don’t find Wennerström so fascinating that I’d cram six gigs of garbage into my head. I read through a fraction of it, mostly to satisfy my curiosity, and that was enough to tell me that he’s a gangster.”

“One more man who hates women.”

Lisbeth Salander and M. Blomkvist

“Shut up about the victimization ! He almost killed you. He raped and murdered and he enjoyed it. He had the same chances as us to choose what he wanted to be. He was no victim. He was a sadistic motherfucker who hated women.”

“No compromises.”

Mikael Blomkvist: “Something happened when you were 12 ? I’m sorry, that’s none of my business.”
Lisbeth Salander: “I tried to kill my father. I burned him alive. Got about 80 percent of him.”
Mikael Blomkvist: “ow…”
Lisbeth Salander: “I’ll make some coffee.”

Mikael Blomkvist: “What are you doing ?”
Lisbeth Salander: “Reading your notes.”
Mikael Blomkvist: “They’re encrypted.”
Lisbeth Salander: “Please.”

Mimmi Wu: “Stupid of me. You never joke about anything, Mr. Spock.”
Lisbeth Salander: “I’m not going to apologize. I’m just being honest. If you want me to leave, just say the word.”

Lisbeth Salander: “Oh, by the way… You’ve had two guys spending a month protecting that actress Christine Rutherford from the nutcase who writes her threatening letters. You think it’s an inside job because the letter writer knows so many details about her.”
Armansky stared at Salander. An electric shock went through him. She’s done it again. She’s flung out a line about a case she absolutely cannot know a thing about.
Dragan Armansky: “So… ?”
Lisbeth Salander: “It’s a fake. She and her boyfriend have been writing the letters as a publicity stunt. She’s going to get another letter in the next few days, and they’ll leak it to the media next week. They’ll probably accuse Milton of leaking it. Cross her off your client list now.”

DC Universe History

She would fit right in with Batman’s gallery of sometimes allies/ sometimes enemies. She has hacking skills that would rival Oracle’s and investigative skills that might even be considered in the same general class as Batman, himself.

She sometimes has a misguided belief in right vs. wrong stemming from her past, much like Jason Todd. But like The Dark Knight, himself, she has learned that killing is against her own personal code.

She’s could be an interesting replacement for an “Oracle” role in a world where Barbara Gordon is still Batgirl, or for characters who aren’t on such good terms with Barbara and the Bat Family. She’d fit in well with just about any group of anti-heroes despite her antisocial streak.

Marvel Universe History

Larsson might have been a Marvel fan, or he and Marvel might have been drawing on the same sources. Zalachenko’s early back-story is so similar to Black Widow (Natalia Romanova)’s (at least her Stan Lee retcon) that one instantly suspects he may have had Red Room memory implants similar to hers. They were almost certainly colleagues.

(The following assume a good familiarity with the Black Widow’s origins, check the link above if that’s not the case.)

He was born in Stalingrad in the early 40s; or that’s what he remembers, just like Black Widow. He was orphaned and taken in by the Soviet military (perhaps by General Karpov) to an orphanage, much like Natalia’s relationship Ivan Petrovich. While Natalia also has memories of being a ballerina, Zala exclusively remembers excelling in military training as a youth.

Whether these memories are true, or memory implants is uncertain. If true, it’s quite possible he knew Natalia even as they were growing up together. She was probably one of the only people to outshine him, starting his deep seated hatred for women; or perhaps he and she were close, making his eventual sadistic streak almost certainly the tragic result of his training.

It seems likely he was part of the Super Soldier “Red” programs and/or at least considered for the Wolf Spider program. He was possibly exposed to some variation of the Super Soldier formula and/or the Kudrin treatment.

Even his violent and abusive attitude towards women and inability to be controlled by his handlers plays into this; since similar behavior was ultimately why the Wolf Spider program was discontinued.

The Wolf Spiders and Black Widows were trained by and/or alongside the Winter Soldier, and this timeframe coincides roughly with the time Zala was training with “something similar to the Spetsnaz” and his espionage training for the GRU. This could hardly be coincidental.

Lisbeth openly speculates at the fact that all Zalachenko’s children seem to be genetic freaks of nature. His DNA or at least his reproductive systems may have been affected by whatever processes he underwent. Perhaps the Kudrin treatment does not cause the same sterility in men as women.

Another possibility is that the Kudrin treatment by itself doesn’t cause the sterility, but that the Soviets added the sterility treatments to the operatives when they realized the effects on offspring. They didn’t want any potential loose cannons.

With the anti-aging affects associated with these treatments, it might also explain why Lisbeth looks so young for her age, and how all of the family can seem to survive an astonishing amount of punishment.

Interestingly, Zalachenko defected about the same time the Soviet Super Soldiers encountered the Champions while trying to retrieve Black Widow and Ivan Petrovitch. The ensuing battle culminated in the defection of Darkstar and the interference of former Commissar Alexi Bruskin, who died defending the traitorous defectors.

While Zalachenko told the Swedes that he had botched a mission and killed an attaché in Spain prompting his decision to defect, perhaps he had been the team’s handler and was blamed for the disastrous results. The story about an assassination in Spain might be easily believed considering that country’s movement towards democracy at the time, and would serve as a good cover story.

This might also explain why he chose not to defect to the US or the UK, since the superhero community was much stronger and possibly hunting him in both of these areas.

Zalachenko’s past and his ties to the intelligence community caused havoc once the news reports of his death and the publicity surrounding his daughter’s trial spread. Dangerous ears pricked with interest.

While Zala had outlived his usefulness to the Swedes with the end of the Cold War, if he had knowledge of the varying Super Soldier programs (or had some sort of treatment in his system), the Black Ops community would definitely have reason to at least inquire on the situation.

Nick Fury and The Red Room probably both sent agents to investigate. Either of the Black Widows and/or Captain America (Barnes) might also have taken a personal interest in Salander based on their interactions with Zalachenko. Anyone with a grudge or who considered themselves an ally would come calling to check out the daughter who took down Zalachenko.

This would easily play into the theme revolving around Lisbeth that she’s not paranoid (even though she appears to be) there really are all kinds of shadow forces who are out to get her.

Almost certainly after the end of the books, Lisbeth began investigating and taking down Zala’s criminal sex trafficking network piece by piece. If The Red Room had discovered Zala’s hiding place in Sweden, they may have used him instead of killing him.

It’s possible that some of their “swallows” were smuggled into other countries using his network. If anyone could discover such a connection, it’s Lisbeth Salander.

Once Salander gets exposed to any of these forces, it’s just a matter of time before Salander finds out about the Red Room and the abuses the young girls go through in their training.

Once this happens, it’s easy to think that Salander might take on the remnants of the program in order to free whatever girls are still involved and take vengeance on all of those responsible, regardless of what they are doing today, or how long ago they were associated with the program. A Wasp vs Widow encounter is highly likely.

Misc Universe History

Zalachenko was operating in London as a spy and assassin for nearly a decade in the late 60s and early 70s. It’s hard to imagine him *not* coming into conflict with MI6 and their most famous operative, James Bond, at least once.

Niedermann would easily work as a Bond henchman. The entire Millennium series could easily be set in the same universe as Bond.

Perhaps the hacker known as “Trinity” is, in fact, the new Q moonlighting and cultivating his own online network through the Hacker Republic. MI6 might try to recruit Lisbeth as an asset for her investigative skills and obvious intelligence. She’d make an incredible analyst. Besides, Bond bears a striking resemblance to Blomkvist.

Additionally, “Hacker Republic” seems to be a very similar of the famous hacker community “Anonymous.” Anywhere you need a group supporting “getting the truth out” or “the public should know.” Lisbeth could easily be involved as an X-Files style informant doling out clues like breadcrumbs.

Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG

Tell me more about the game stats

Lisbeth Salander

Dex: 06 Str: 02 Bod: 04 Motivation: Seeking Vengeance/Justice
Int: 09 Wil: 07 Min: 07 Occupation: Researcher/Hacker
Inf: 06 Aur: 06 Spi: 07 Resources {or Wealth}: 012
Init: 023 HP: 060

Recall: 09, Mind over Matter: 09, Shrinking: 01

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • All powers are Skilled and Innate.
  • Shrinking is always on and reflects her small stature and waifish frame.
  • Mind over Matter functions only after Lisbeth has made a Desperation Recovery.

Artist (Actor): 05, Charisma (Intimidation): 06, Detective*: 09, Gadgetry: 04, Martial Artist (not EV or Techniques): 07, Martial Artist (EV): 03, Medicine (First Aid): 03, Military Science (Cryptography)*: 09, Scientist (Research, Computer Science, and Hacking)*: 09, Thief (Stealth, Forgery, Security Systems): 08, Vehicles (Land): 04, Weaponry (not Heavy or Missile, but including Exotic)*: 06


  • Attractive.
  • Familiarity (Finance, Computer Hacking, Chess).
  • Scholar (Disguise, Mathematics, Motorcycles).
  • Iron Nerves.
  • Luck.
  • Omni-Scholar.
  • Language (Swedish native, English, German, Norwegian).
  • Schtick (Wound Rejection – High).


  • Plague, a master hacker (High).
  • Mikael Blomkvist, a high profile journalist (High).
  • Dragan Armansky, owner of Milton Security (High).
  • Holgar Palmgren, a social worker and lawyer (High).
  • Paolo Roberto, a world champion boxer (High).
  • Miriam “Mimmi” Wu, a student and part owner of an adult boutique (High).
  • Trinity and Bob the Dog, London hacker experts at surveillance (Low).
  • Hacker Republic (High).
  • Evil Fingers, an all girl punk band (Low).


  • Minor Irrational Attraction (Retribution, especially for crimes against women).
  • Mistrust.
  • Socially Inept (Serious).
  • Creepy Appearance (tattooed goth-punk).
  • Enemies (Zalachenko, Dr. Peter Teleborian, Nils Bjurman, Ronald Niedermann, “The Section” of the Security Police – she’s not paranoid, they really are all out to get her).
  • Minor Irrational Attraction (Cigarettes).
  • Serious Irrational Attraction (Her oath of not talking to psychologists or the police).
  • Misc. (Throughout the books she is legally a ward of the state).
  • Serious Irrational Hatred (Zalachenko).
  • Misc.: body mass is 1 AP.



    • Hand-Held Taser [BODY 01, Lightning: 04, Ammo: 02, R#3. Bonuses & Limitations: Lightning has no Range].
    • Mace [BODY 01, Chemical attack: 04, R#03].
    • Video Cameras with Motion Detectors [BODY 02, Telescopic Vision: 04, Recall: 07, Radio Communication: 05, Detect (Movement): 04. Bonuses & Limitations: Recall is visual only, Radio communication only functions in areas with an internet source.] These cameras come on when they detect movement, record what they see, and broadcast via wifi to Lisbeth’s computer..
    • Kawasaki 125cc Ninja (Honda CB350 in the US films) [BODY 06, STR 03 Running: 07, R#02]. This is a motorcycle that Lisbeth personally souped up for better speed.
    • Mac Power Book Laptop Computer [INT 04, BODY 02, Data Storage: 16, Split: 03 R#03. Bonuses & Limitations: Split limited to mental tasks only.] Lisbeth’s sacred Mac Power Book. She requires a high end computer for all her research and other activities.
    • Asphyxia 1.3 [Split: 01, Data Storage 16, Security Systems 05, Mind 01 R#03. Bonuses & Limitations: Split and Data Storage limited to computer hard drives, exists only in cyber space.] This computer program is designed to mole into computers and copy their hard drive into an external location.
    • “Sleeve” [BODY 02, Split: 01, Data Storage: 16, Radio Communication: 05 R#03. Bonuses & Limitations: Split and Data Storage limited to computer hard drives]
      Built by Lisbeth’s friend, Plague, this is a physical attachment that must be placed on the physical internet connection of the victim’s computer and acts much like a wire-tap for their internet connection. It slowly copies the victim’s hard drive while they communicate through the internet.
      Eventually, the person will be communicating with the Sleeve rather than their own hard drive. It has the advantage of not needing to be installed on the computer (or even being in physical proximity since it can be attached to a data or phone line the computer accesses frequently).

    Design notes

    • There was some debate over her raw Intelligence and Skills linked to that attribute. With her perceptive nature and raw intelligence, there is some indication that her Int might be a 10, but 8 is usually considered a high score in more realistic genres. The score of 9 seemed to be a good compromise.
    • This assumes the Security Systems Subskill and the Scientist Skill cover computer programming and hacking. If your house rules utilize a separate Computer Science Skill with its own Subskills, she should have appropriate APs of that Skill (9 APs). Her Gadgetry is intended to represent her mechanical knowledge.
    • Her Actor Subskill presumes that you can use this skill to create disguises and to fool people in direct interaction as much a performance. This is the best demonstrated use of the skill.
    • A Desperation Recovery for a negative Body can only be raised to 0 according to the rules, which is still leaves the character unconscious. Obviously, Lisbeth manages to recover from a negative body long enough to take on her captors at one point in her story. This necessitates the addition of Mind Over Matter. In a campaign where one could recover to the point of acting more normally (ie recovering to a positive Body score), this power could be ignored. It seems possible that any genre that uses automatic Killing Combat for guns, knives and explosives may have such a rule. It should be noted that she was not stabilized and was still dying despite her consciousness due to the Killing Damage she had taken (at least until Blomkvist administered First Aid to stabilize her).
    • There are cases where Lisbeth winning an Intimidation check seems unrealistic, such as facing thugs who aren’t aware of her reputation and are twice her size. In these cases it is entirely consistent for the thugs in question to suffer the same mechanical effects of Intimidation, but react with laughter rather than fear. This usually prompts Lisbeth to get angry. The thugs won’t like Lisbeth when she’s angry.

By Adam Fuqua.

Source of Character: The Millennium book series by Stieg Larsson, as well as the Swedish and American movies. Movie versions portrayed by Noomi Rapace and Rooney Mara, respectively.

Helper(s):, Sébastien Andrivet, Tom Eilers, Darci.

Writeup updated on the 26th of June, 2013.