Topher (Fran Kranz in Dollhouse)

Topher Brink


Topher, played by Fran Kranz, was a major character in the Dollhouse sci-fi/thriller TV series.

If you’re not well familiar with the series, you should first read the character profile for Echo for much-needed context.


  • Real Name: Christopher Brink.
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: None.
  • Group Affiliation: Dollhouse.
  • Base Of Operations: Dollhouse, LA.
  • Height: 5’10” Weight: 135 lbs.
  • Eyes: Brown Hair: Brown


Powers & Abilities

A genius at neural science, Topher has become the leading scientist working on Rossum’s secret imprinting technology. For instance, he took the imprinting time down from two hours to a matter of seconds. And that was within a month of first getting his hands on it.


(More detail can be found in the History of the Echo entries.)

A genius at neural science, Topher was recruited by Rossum to work on their secret imprinting technology. He was based in their Los Angeles Dollhouse. He took quickly to the technology, making great strides in advancing it.

Then an accident turned Alpha into a psychotic killer. Topher had to turn Whiskey, who’d been badly scarred in the incident, into a replacement for the Dr. Saunders Alpha had killed.

He put a lot of effort into creating a rounded personality for her which could endure the extended engagement, and made her question things. An unfortunate side-effect of the personality he gave her was that she despised him. This became an increasing problem once she learned the truth about herself.


Topher’s First Moral Quandry (part 1)

Topher happily went about his work in the Dollhouse. He treated the Dolls as scientific curiosities, treated his assistant Ivy as a gopher, and never had any pangs of morality. His first came when he learned the truth about Sierra.

Priya had come to the Dollhouse with severe mental problems which he was determined to fix. She remained aggressive despite her anti-psychotic medication.

After prompting from Echo, he investigated a repeat engagement which seemed to leave her distraught even after wiping. Topher learned the client, Nolan Kinnard, was responsible for sending her to the Dollhouse. He was a rich doctor whose advances she’d spurned. The medication had caused her state, not treated it.

Topher took it to Adelle DeWitt, the head of the LA Dollhouse. She tried to stop Sierra’s engagements with Kinnard. Unfortunately he had connection high in Rossum, and they ordered DeWitt to have Sierra permanently programmed and sent to Kinnard for good.

Topher’s First Moral Quandry (part 2)

Unwilling to do so, Topher secretly restored Priya’s original personality. This gave her the opportunity to run. She decided to confront Kinnard instead, which ended with her having to kill Kinnard in self defence.

She called Topher, who, with help from the Dollhouse’s head of security, Boyd Langton, cleaned things up (in a messy, dismembering, way). They made it look like Kinnard had left alone.

Priya returned to the Dollhouse, becoming Sierra again. This left Topher to deal with the result of his actions alone.


When the LA Dollhouse came into conflict with the DC branch, Topher accompanied DeWitt to DC. There he met their head programmer, Bennett Halverson.

Topher Brink (Fran Kranz), Echo (Eliza Dushku) and Harry (Boyd Langton)

The pair were instantly, and awkwardly, smitten. But this didn’t go as well as he might have liked when he had to knock her out after learning she’d tried to kill Echo.

His second moral quandary came when Rossum executive Matthew Harding took control of the LA Dollhouse following the DC incident. He assigned Topher to research. He made great leaps which kept him in Harding’s good books, unlike DeWitt who had lost most of her power.

Topher’s Second Moral Quandry

Topher actually got further than anyone expected, having slowed his presentations to give him time to think. Having seen some of what Bennett had been working on for Rossum, he deduced they had the various Dollhouses working on components of a larger device. One which could remotely turn a regular person to a Doll.

He then worked out how to do it, but kept the results secret from Harding. He revealed his work to DeWitt, for advice on what to do with it. She advised him to keep it secret for the moment. He did, only to discover she’d stolen the plans and handed them to Harding in exchange for control of the Dollhouse.

Topher confronted her, calling her ’the coldest bitch on the planet‘. She slapped him, and threatened to send him to the Attic if he didn’t do as told.


On learning the truth about Echo he was only too willing to join in the conspiracy, even when it led to fighting Rossum. He was reunited with Bennett when they kidnapped her to help restore Caroline’s wedge. However, when she found out who’s wedge they were working on, Bennett punched him.

Making a deal with Echo, Bennett reluctantly agreed to help them. She and Topher began working together again. They even kissed, and Topher’s euphoria lasted almost a whole minute. Then Whiskey, reprogrammed by Rossum, shot Bennett in the head.

Forcing himself to finish Bennett’s work, and sending Ivy away to keep her from a similar fate, Topher joined the others in travelling to Rossum’s head office in Tucson. They were determined to destroy the technology he’d given them.

Face Rossum

Initially imprisoned there, they manage to get free and tried to bring Rossum down. Locating the lab where Rossum were assembling prototypes of his technology, Boyd convinced Topher to finish the job. In this way, they could use the weapon on Rossum.

Topher Brink (Fran Kranz) in the lab

Only after he’d finished did he learn Boyd was actually the head of Rossum. He needed Topher there to finish the work his people couldn’t.

Echo’s intervention gave them the opportunity to fight back. While Boyd had the advantage over Echo due to having been imprinted as her handler, Topher used the weapon to turn him into a Doll. They strapped explosives to him and left him with orders to blow the building up.

Future History

The death of Bennett, and the damage caused by his technology, continued to wear on Topher. His mental state deteriorated, along with his coherence. It became common that only DeWitt was able to understand him. He became increasingly obsessed with undoing the damage.

His mental state wasn’t helped when Rossum took him prisoner and forced him to work on a project. They shot a prisoner in front of him every day he failed to achieve their objective. Echo rescued him from them, and he came away with an idea of how to reverse the effects of the technology.

He led them back to the LA Dollhouse. Topher sacrificed himself to detonate the device which restored the minds of everyone wiped by the technology.


Childish, glib and cheerfully amoral. Topher is initially in wonder at the science he’s playing with. He treats the Dolls like pets, not considering any moral or ethical concerns about the Dollhouse. Science is his only interest.

Highly neurotic, as well as slightly arrogant and self-absorbed, Topher dislikes the dark, rats, and travelling outside the Dollhouse. He tends to talk a lot when nervous, which is much of the time.

While happily oblivious to most moral issues surrounding his work, when one sets itself right in front of him he will deal with it. Then he will try to do the right thing. When he does, though, they never seem to turn out right, despite his intentions.

This will result in bodies to dismember, or even a global apocalypse. These pile up on his conscience.

By 2020 he’s become so overwhelmed by guilt (and has the Guilt Drawback) that he can seem a babbling madman to most people. He has become obsessed with undoing his mistakes.

Other traits

He doesn’t have many friends, although he did consider Boyd one. Boyd may not initially have seen their relationship the same way, but did eventually admit to seeing the others as family. Thus, he was proud of Topher’s growth.

Of course by this point his true intentions had been revealed, as well as his culpability in Bennett’s death. This betrayal struck Topher hard.

His most complicated relationship is probably with Adelle DeWitt. Initially he’s probably more deferential around her than anyone else, and a little bit afraid. He nevertheless trusts her, which allows her to betray him by handing his work over to Rossum.

She does seem to have a maternal relationship towards him, though. This is seen when she comforts him after Bennett’s death, and from their relationship in the future. Without the Dolls for her to care for, she takes charge of looking after Topher as his mental state deteriorates, and the pair become close.


“It’s not my fault.”

Dr. Saunders (Whiskey): “One good sneeze could bring on a seizure.”
Topher: “Or even worse, a sneezure.”

Boyd: “So we can give you life after death ?”
Topher: “Only if we really like you.”
Boyd: “Life after death. Where does that end ?”
Topher: “Same place it begins. Death.”

“If I think I can figure things out, is that curiosity or arrogance ?”

“We do bi-weekly drug tests. Just pure… scientific, observation.”

“Somebody’s a grumpeteer today.”

“Of course it doesn’t tell you anything. It doesn’t tell me anything, and I’m smarter than everyone in this room.” [DeWitt stares at him] “But less scary.”

Topher: “Because I was designing a person not a roomba. I needed you to be whole. If you agreed with everything I’d said, we would’ve missed something, and someone would get hurt.”
Dr. Saunders: “You don’t care if people get hurt.”
Topher: “You don’t know me ! That’s the contract. You don’t know me, and I don’t know you, not fully, not ever ! I made you question. I made you fight for your beliefs. I didn’t make you hate me. You chose to.”

Topher: “Maybe Dewitt would even imprint your own identity. You’ve earned it.”
Dr. Saunders (Whiskey): “Because I don’t want to die. I’m not even real. I’m in someone else’s body, and I’m afraid to give it up. I’m no better than you. I’m just a series of excuses.”
Topher: “You’re human.”
Dr. Saunders: “Don’t flatter yourself.”

[To Ballard] “But this is the Dollhouse, frenemy. Nothing happens here without my – what the hell ?”

“Perhaps triggering lactation was a bridge too far.”

Adele DeWitt: “Good news on the coma front ?”
Topher: “Uuuhhhhhhh… yeah. Good news is that he’s in a coma.”
Adele: “I beg your pardon ?”
Boyd: “Just show her what you showed me.”
Topher: [Shows Adelle a brain scan] “This is a brain. A healthy brain. Frankly an overly smart brain. It’s my brain. And this is Terry Karrens’ brain.” [Shows another brain scan] “See these dark areas ? How they extend all the way out to here ? You know why that looks like that ? That’s because Terry Karrens doesn’t use that part of his brain. And that’d be where you find stored such things as empathy, compassion, an aversion to disembowelling puppies. Basically, this is what some of your more famous serial killers’ brains look like.”
Adele: “You’re quite certain of this ?”
Topher: “Certain enough that I have serious ethical problems trying to wake him up.”
Boyd: “Topher has ethical problems. Topher.”
Topher: “Heh. Way to land it.”

Adelle: [to Topher] “The cold reality is that everyone here was chosen because their morals have been compromised in some way. Everyone, except you. You, Topher, were chosen because you had no morals. You have always thought of people as playthings. This is not a judgment. You’ve always taken very good care of your toys, but you’re simply going to have to let this one go.”
Priya: “This secret we have, can you keep it ?”
Topher: “Yes. But I don’t think I can live with it.”
Priya: “I know I can’t. But I don’t have to.”

Topher: “I think they’re trying to build a portable device that would be able to imprint anyone without any active architecture in place, any innocent on the street, with a new personality.”
DeWitt: “That’s unnerving.”
Topher: “What’s unnerving is… I figured out how to do it.”

“I am obsolete. This must be what old people feel like. And Blockbuster.”

(After being told a baseball joke) “That joke went under my head.”

Topher: “I got it from here. You get your chance, you slip out. In the real world, you can write your ticket any place you land.”
Ivy: “I really do want to help you.”
Topher: “Then live ! You have a remarkable brain. I think it should stay in your head. Ivy, don’t become me. Go. Go !”

Langton: “Topher, think !”
Topher: “That’s what got us here in the first place. I’m going for mindless destruction now !”

Topher: “I did all of this. I’m the one who brings about the thought-pocalypse.”
DeWitt: “Thought-pocalypse ?”
Topher: “Is brain-pocalypse better ? I figure, if I’m responsible for the end of the world, I get to name it.”
DeWitt: “I gave the plans to Harding, I’m just as culpable.”
Topher: “Thanks Adelle. You handed someone a piece of paper. I invented it. Which means I have to destroy it.”

(In his unstable phase in the future) “An entire army… in an instant… just from a phone call… that is genius ! Why didn’t I think of that ? Did I think of that ? Oh, God…”

“I can bring back the world.”

DeWitt: “Explosion ?”
Topher: “It does the work for you.”
DeWitt: “You said it could only be activated manually… You’re not coming back.”
Topher: “Small price to pay… I didn’t want to cause any more pain.”
DeWitt: “You don’t have to do it, you know ? At least not alone.”
Topher: “Yes, I do. I’ll fix what we did to their heads. You fix what we did to the rest of the world. Your job’s way harder.”

Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG

Tell me more about the game stats

Topher Brink

Dex: 02 Str: 02 Bod: 02 Motivation: Thrill of Science/later Responsibility of Power
Int: 07 Wil: 08 Min: 05 Occupation: Genius
Inf: 03 Aur: 03 Spi: 03 Resources {or Wealth}: 006
Init: 012 HP: 010

Gadgetry: 08, Scientist: 08, Scientist (Computer Science and Hacking): 07, Weaponry (Toy firearms): 04

Expertise (Biochemistry), Genius, Scholar (Neural Science).

Dollhouse (High).

None demonstrated.

Dollhouse Tech

Topher has developed the technology Rossum use in the Dollhouses more than anyone else, even Alpha.

The primary technology is the imprint chair in which Dolls are seated to have personalities imprinted in them, or in which other individuals sit to have their personalities copied. The chair performs a (slightly painful) Mind Probe on individuals, storing the copy of their mind on removable storage devices called wedges.

As well as the standard imprinting (see the Echo or Alpha entries), the chair allows the mission parameters to be programmed into actives. This gives them an SIA towards the mission parameters, and can also be used to program other reactions into them (Hypnotism).

This has been co-opted by outsiders to use the Dolls for non-mission actions, such as delivering secret messages.

DCH Chair [BODY 05, Hypnotism (Actives only): 07, Mind Probe: 10].
DCH Wedge [BODY 03, Data Storage (Result of Mind Probe): 10].

More tech

Following Alpha’s pioneering of remote wipes, Topher developed a handheld wipe gun. It instantly clears the imprint of any Doll struck by its beam.

Attempts to use a Doll’s biolink (feedback from implants which lets a Doll’s physical readings be monitored during engagements) for remote wiping did not turn out well.

He’s also built a disruptor, which initially knocked out any Doll within 50‘. Then Bennett Halverson pointed out how to direct the beam. [BODY 04, Sleep (target only those with Active Architecture Drawback, Range of 3 AP): 05].

He used it to produce glandular changes and made Echo lactate when she was imprinted as mother to a newborn. However, the effect was strong enough that her maternal impulses survived being wiped. He theorised that using the technology to effect physical changes might allow the technology to fight cancer.

The technology has been used (not by Topher) to link soldiers with active architecture together so they had a group mind. That suppressed individual thoughts from the members (until Echo attached herself to it and basically outnumbered them).

It gives all member Telepathy, limited to each other, and Remote Sensing, limited to using each other as a focus.

More more tech

He managed to hack into the system of another Dollhouse and use his imprint chair as a Ghost Chair. It would override the imprinting process of the other facility’s chair when it was used to give them an asset in that house.

Topher’s designs were also used for the technology which caused the apocalypse, capable of wiping a target’s mind and imprinting it with whatever imprint is desired. In game terms this can be Mind Drain: 10, with the Permanent effect of giving the victim the Active Architecture Drawback.

The imprints used during China’s attack seemed to be of two kinds, a basic one which left the target mindless and unable to do much to look after themselves, and the Butcher, which tried to kill anyone without a Butcher imprint, or even other Butchers if they got in the way.

By Gareth Lewis.

Source of Character: Dollhouse TV series, as played by Fran Kranz.

Helper(s): Darci.

Writeup completed on the 18th of August, 2012.