Professor Abraham Setrakian (aka 'The Jew', appelation assigned by Eichhorst ) is a main character and the deuteragonist of the series and a Holocaust survivor, living in New York as a pawn shop owner. He has a vast knowledge and understanding of the Strigoi and is an essential character and ally in the fight against the outbreak. He can be equated to Van Helsing in Dracula.
In the Novels
Abraham Setrakian was born in Armenia, but was raised primarily in Romania (For Services Rendered in the Television series). As a child, his bubbeh (grandmother) told him stories of the strigoi, or vampires, specifically Jusef Sardu. In the story, it was told that Jusef was a Polish nobleman suffering from gigantism, and who mysteriously became one of the undead during a hunting trip with his brother and a group of others. During WWII, when Abraham was eighteen, his family was driven from their home by the Germans and sent to the Treblinka extermination camp in German-occupied Poland. Before being captured, after urging her grandson to run from the Nazis, his beloved grandmother commits suicide after Abraham keeps her from turning herself in.
Incarcerated in the Treblinka camp, Setrakian works as a carpenter, as his father had taught him the line of work. While awake late one night, Abraham notices a massive, shadowy figure feeding on the sick and elderly around him. Because the creature carried a cane that was strikingly similar to the cane belonging to Jusef Sardu in the stories his grandmother told him about, he quickly deduces that this is really the monster he had been warned about. After weeks of planning, the young man crafts a silver knife (as silver is harmful to vampires), and attempts to draw the monster to him by pricking his finger, drawing blood. The powerful Strigoi outsmarts Abraham, however and after mocking his Jewish beliefs, he crushes his hands, breaking his fingers. After the vampire flees from the rising sun to his lair in the woods, Setrakian is found on the floor and taken to be executed. Luckily, the imprisoned people start an uprising, allowing Setrakian to escape with the help of his fellow prisoners. Setrakian suspected that the Master was hiding in ancient, Roman ruins outside of the camp's forest, which he had heard about from other prisoners. While attempting to avoid the watchful German officers, Setrakian locates the suspected lair. Inside the dark ruins, Setrakian locates the vampire's massive coffin but the monster was not in sight. A Strigoi-turned German officer, Dieter Zimmer (described as a "true sadist"), attacks Setrakian, but the young vampire Hunter manages to kill him with a wooden stake.
The Beginning of the New York Outbreak
Years later, when the elderly and vengeful vampire hunter hears about the "dead" airplane that landed at New York City's (where he runs a pawnshop) JFK airport, Setrakian believes this to be the work of the Master. After looking at the autopsies and confirming this to be a vampire outbreak, Setrakian attempts to get CDC officials Ephraim Goodweather and Nora Martinez to help, instructing them to destroy the bodies. Initially, they do not believe him, denouncing him as a nutcase, and he is arrested on charges of disturbing the peace. While in jail, Setrakian meets a young Mexican thief, Augustin "Gus" Elizalde, accompanied by his ill friend, Felix. After hearing Gus's story of how Felix got injured and why they are in jail, Abraham tells him that the man they killed was actually a vampire and that Felix is infected and must be killed. Before they can talk further, Gus and Felix are moved to another facility. Soon, Dr. Goodweather and Dr. Martinez come to the jail to speak with Setrakian and free him, as they have encountered the Strigoi for themselves, finding Setrakian's story to be true. Since Abraham has disciples and freedom, he takes them to his pawnshop in order to educate them on the strain that they are dealing with. He shows them the armory within his basement and the equipment he uses to hunt Strigoi, telling them about the Ancients; the original, seven vampires (The Master being the seventh).
The Professor and His Pupils
No longer alone in his fight against the Master and his legions of undead, Setrakian accompanies Eph and Nora to the isolation ward of Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, where their friend, Jim Kent, is in critical condition as a result of being attacked by someone who had turned. Setrakian proves to the skeptical doctors that it is too late for Jim, and that he is already infected, by showing them his distorted reflection in a silver-backed mirror. After failing to persuade Eph and Nora to kill their infected colleague and friend, Setrakian tells them to take him to the dead vampire pilot they have hidden away in the locked morgue, but they discover that the body is gone.
After leaving the hospital, the three vampire hunters go to Freeburg in order to check on the family of Emma Gilbarton, the youngest victim of the Flight 753 tragedy. Armed with swords and ultraviolet lights, they storm the house. They discover quickly that the undead Emma has returned and infected her father. After an intense struggle with the two vampires, Setrakian and his new pupils succeed in killing them.
On the third day, after the landing of the Master's plane, Setrakian accompanies Ephraim and Nora to the CDC's Canary project headquarters in order to convince CDC director, Everette Barnes, of the vampire scourge. The bewildered Dr. Goodweather attempts to tell Director Barnes that the undead passengers have returned to their homes as vampires in order to spread the infection but the director responds by showing them a video of Eph and Nora killing the infected Regis 753 pilot Redfern and someone else who looks like them taking the body away. They try to get Eph to confess to injecting Jim Kent with a virus, as well as for murdering Redfern. Setrakian leaves the room abruptly, followed by two cops. Nora and Eph are escorted down the hall by FBI agents and meet the old professor behind a group of FBI agents with his sword pointed at their throats. After warning the CDC and FBI officials that they were pawns in the Master's plan, they escape the building. The three return to Setrakian's pawn shop in Harlem, where the professor discovers that Eph had sent the virus to be investigated by a colleague in Atlanta and also that Ephraim has been pinned publicly as being involved in the disappearance of the airline passengers' corpses. Setrakian views this as, to a degree, good news: the Master and his minions view Eph as a threat. He begins to share his strategy to fight the plague: destroy the Master, who is likely hiding in Manhattan. Setrakian accompanies Eph and Nora to warn Eph's ex-wife, Kelly, their son Zach and her boyfriend, Matt, about the virus. Here, Setrakian tells Nora about how he discovered the existence of the Strigoi in Treblinka.
Setrakian met his end at the hands of the Master, in the Long Island Nuclear Plant. Knowing he must die, anyway, he confronted the Master while the plant descended into chaos. The Master stung Setrakian, draining him of his blood and infecting him, before finally starting to leave. Setrakian felt his body being changed, but knew that his frail body could not handle the drastic changes. He was finished off as the plant exploded.
After killing Eichorst, the professor suffers much the same fate. Mutually poisoned, Setrakian introduces warfarin into Eichorst through his stinger while Eichorst simutaneously infects Setrakian by worms via stinger. Both are then finished by decapitation. Eichorst beheaded by Setrakian himself, Setrakian by Quinlan per request. Setrakian's death did not impede the protagonist group's determination to destroy the master and though not fully agreeing how to proceed the group continued to heed Setrakian's advice and isolate the master from his minions as this would leave him most vulnerable.
World War II
One of the earliest chronological appearance of Setrakian in the series is a young Setrakian being taken, along with his ill grandmother and brother Jacob Setrakian, to the Treblinka concentration camp in German-occupied Poland.
In the television series, Setrakian is depicted as wearing a concentration camp badge of a yellow triangle facing upward and a red triangle facing downward. This indicates that he was put in the camps not only for being Jewish, but also for being a political dissident (a communist, socialist, or social democrat).
Jews interned in Treblinka were not issued with numbers, nor tattooed with them, as they were at other work or extermination camps, such as Auschwitz. This is because Treblinka was intended to be temporary, and was, in fact, dismantled before the end of the war. In the novels, Setrakian does not have a number.
- It may be that the show's canon had Setrakian stay at multiple internment camps, though this is speculation. While it is known that many survivors were shipped from camp to camp, there is no evidence suggesting that Abraham was one such victim aside from the potential oversight of the tattoo.
In episode 2.03, when revealing to Nora Martinez that he consumes the worms to stay young, Setrakian says that he is prepared to go to a "fiery and horrible place" when he dies. The iconic "fire and brimstone" version of Hell is not a belief prevalent in Judaism.
- Many Jews do believe in Gehinnom/Gehenna which is imagined by a lot of people as the typical fire and brimstone type of hell. It is specifically a destination for wicked souls, and a mythic depiction of a real valley south of Mount Zion. 
- Sheol, a 'pit' afterlife in Judaism where people go regardless of their sin or virtue, has also been equated to Hades; in that conflation Sheol now has quite a few depictions similar to the Christian novelty of a lake of fire. It follows other 'hellish' tropes in that it's a land bordered by a gateway, divided into sections layered atop one another, and the dead living echoes of their earthly lives there. Sheol originated as a "place of dust and decay", in keeping with archaic traditions depicting underworlds as places of mist, dust, and wet unpleasantness, but has gradually been associated with Roman and alternate Abrahamic traditions of punishment, itself associated with fire, sacrifice, and ultimately crude forms of reincarnation - which has come up in comparative mythology as parallels to vampire myth.
In Romanian, just before a kill, he says: "Strigoi, my sword sings of silver", wielding this silver sword with hands nearly crippled from his first encounter with the Master, thanks to the blade's unique design which allows the handle to wrap around his forearm to support his grip. Setrakian is an expert on vampire biology and destruction, and recruits Eph, Nora and Fet to his cause. His determination and will are strong, but his physically weak heart has become an obstacle to his lifelong quest.
In the TV show, he boils the Strigoi worms into a solution, so that they are safe to drop into his eyes. He claims that this is what helps his poor vision, and that it has made him appear younger than his frail, old age of 94. He does this in order to stay in the fight against The Master for as long he can.
He proves time and time again to be a very capable fighter despite his age though very few are aware how he is able to at his age.
Quotes by Setrakian
- "Science has come a long way, but the instrument has yet to be invented that can see clearly into the marriage between a man and a woman." - The Strain (novel)
- "These are brutal creatures, my dear. More brutal than any predator one could have the misfortune of encountering." - The Strain (novel)
- "Listen very carefully, son. I know your little friend has a gun and the hammer is cocked, but I don't care. I can control your entire body weight from this pressure point, and this knife is pointed straight at your radial artery. By the time he clears his coat pocket, your artery will be punctured and sliced wide open from top to bottom. You fall down bleeding, I go under the counter, and your friend starts shooting at an empty space. I can guarantee you this: you will bleed out before the 9-1-1 operator answers the phone. That is option one. Option two is you release the bills, your friend gives me the gun - he can keep the bullets, I don't care - and you leave this store. Now, son... you have a choice." - Night Zero (episode)
- "Better to die a man than live as a monster."
- Eichhorst: Put aside your weapon. Accept your fate.
Setrakian: Ah... but I already have.
Quotes about Setrakian
- "He wanted to defy the street. Everyone told him: you don't fuck with the pawnbroker." - Augustin Elizalde
- "I took away his name and gave him a number." - Thomas Eichhorst
- "Until next time... A230385." - Thomas Eichhorst
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