Kevin Thompson was born with a degenerative neurological disease that would have left him brain dead before he was 12. But his parents, scientists Albert and Louise Thompson, were determined to save him. Their only hope was an experimental study using a virus to repair his damaged DNA.
The treatment involved subjecting Kevin to a series of neurological exams, brain biopsies, and agonizing spinal fluid extractions, all of which were recorded on video for the Thompson’s files. The procedures left their son traumatized. He was convinced that his parents were torturing him and trying to turn him into a freak.
Ultimately, the cure worked, but with unexpected side effects—Kevin could now make people do whatever he wanted them to do, just by telling them to do it. Resentful of his parents and lacking any self-restraint, Kevin used his powers to abuse his mother, making her burn half of her face with a hot iron.
Albert and Louise Thompson ran away in terror, leaving their son to fend for himself. Kevin spent years trying to find them to enact revenge. Along the way, he renamed himself Kilgrave and used his powers to further his ends or simply indulge his perverse whims. Countless men, women, and children were his victims. Among his victims was the super-powered private investigator, Jessica Jones, for whom he developed a deep, deranged obsession.
Kilgrave’s mind-control ability is the result of a unique virus that he emits—micro-particles released into the air that render everyone around him susceptible to his commands. His parents were convinced that they could produce a vaccine, but they were never able to find the missing ingredient—until they met Jessica Jones, who had developed an immunity to Kilgrave’s powers.
Kilgrave is not unstoppable, however. His mind control is limited by distance and time—a maximum of 80 feet and 12 hours, respectively. The range eventually increased to 100 feet and 24 hours after Kilgrave forces his father to give him a major power boost.
Additionally, Kilgrave’s voice commands do not work if they are spoken over a microphone.
His other weakness is surgical anesthesia, such as Sufentanil or Propofol. Unlike sleep, the drug shuts down certain brain functions, so that when he is under its influence, he cannot maintain control over his victims.
Meetings of the Mind
Kilgrave’s most notable enemies and victims, other than Jones, include the super-powered hero Luke Cage, prison counselor (and Cage’s wife) Reva Connors, radio talk-show host (and Jones’s best friend) Trish Walker, Jones’s neighbor Malcolm Ducasse, attorney Jeri Hogarth and her spouse, Dr. Wendy Ross-Hogarth, and NYPD officer Will Simpson.
Kilgrave has no true allies, since nearly everyone with whom he interacts has no choice but to do his bidding. In fact, he has admitted that he can never be sure whether people are doing something they genuinely want to do or because he is telling them to do it. The closest he has come to forming a genuine alliance with someone is Jessica Jones. For a brief period, he agrees to allow Jones to teach him how to use his powers for good. It turns out, however, that Jones is just biding her time until she could take him down. After all, Kilgrave is her abuser, rapist, and tormentor.
A World of His Own
Kilgrave first encountered Jessica Jones on the streets in New York City. He witnessed her use her superhuman strength and fighting abilities to save Malcolm Ducasse from a mugging. Immediately fascinated by Jones, and seeing the value of having a super-powered person in his thrall, he took over her mind and made her his constant companion and slave. Jones later described it as rape.
While Jones was still under his control, Kilgrave also took over the mind of Reva Connors, who possessed a flash drive containing the video recordings of young Kevin Thompson enduring his parents’ treatments. Fearing for her life, Reva had hidden the drive in the concrete of a building under construction and left instructions for her husband, Luke Cage, on how to retrieve it if anything happened to her. Kilgrave forced Reva to reveal where the drive was hidden, and ordered Jessica to dig it out. Once the task was completed, Kilgrave told Jones to “take care of” Reva. Jessica hit Reva in the chest at full force, killing her. He then ordered Jessica to leave with him, but Jessica managed to resist and walked away from him. Enraged, Kilgrave followed but was hit by a bus. Kilgrave was badly injured, and Jones left him behind, assuming he had actually been killed. Authorities investigating the bus accident also assumed that the bus had killed Reva.
Kilgrave’s kidneys were damaged in the accident, and he needed a transplant. He compelled Jack Denton, the ambulance driver, to donate both of his own kidneys, leaving him to a miserable existence. Kilgrave also forced his surgeon, Dr. David Kurata, to perform the operation without giving him anesthesia, as it would nullify his mind-control powers. Kilgrave then ordered Kurata to create a death certificate for him. As far as Jessica knew, Kilgrave was dead and buried. In the meantime, he blamed her for leaving him to die and became obsessed with finding new ways to make her suffer.
About a year later, Kilgrave resurfaced, having taken over the mind of NYU student, Hope Shlottman. When Hope disappeared for an extended period of time, her parents flew in from Omaha, Nebraska, to find her. Kilgrave arranged for the Shlottmans to hire Jessica to help them. Jones took the case and ultimately recovered Hope—but discovered along the way that Kilgrave was still alive. Kilgrave was responsible for Shlottman's disappearance and had gotten Hope pregnant. Jessica also learned that she had become the object of Kilgrave’s obsession. As a sadistic coda to the Hope Shlottman case, Kilgrave ordered his slave to shoot her parents to death as they were getting ready to go home to Nebraska. Hope was arrested, and Jessica was determined to prove that Hope was not acting of her own volition.
Kilgrave sent NYPD Officer Will Simpson to kill Trish Walker after she made disparaging remarks about him on her radio show. Jones showed up and faked Trish’s death, using anesthesia she intended to use on Kilgrave. Convinced that he had carried out his orders, Simpson left, but was then ordered by Kilgrave to jump off a building; Jessica managed once again to intervene. Trish, under pressure from Jessica, apologized to Kilgrave on the air to get him to back off.
Kilgrave also compelled Malcolm Ducasse to move into Jones’s apartment building and spy on her. Malcolm would take hundreds of photos of her every move and send them to Kilgrave on a daily basis. Under Kilgrave’s influence, Malcolm became a drug addict. Kilgrave called Jessica and offered to leave Malcolm alone if she would send him a photo of herself every day at 10 A.M., without fail. Although she was reluctant to feed into Kilgrave’s obsession, Jones agreed to protect Malcolm.
Using the more than $1 million he won by cheating in a high-stakes poker game, Kilgrave bought the house where Jones had lived as a child and redecorated it to make it look exactly the way it did back then. Around the same time, he broke into Jessica’s office and forced her neighbor, Ruben, who had come to visit, to slit his own throat. Jones took the blame for Ruben’s death and turned herself into the police, hoping it would lure Kilgrave out into the open. It worked—Kilgrave took over the entire precinct to get Jessica freed from police custody. Jones, he said, made him experience love for the first time, and he wanted her to feel the same way about him.
Luring Jessica to her childhood home, Kilgrave promised not to touch her again until he gained her genuine consent, wanting her to accept him willingly. Jones tried to convince him to use his powers for the benefit of mankind and had him stop a dangerous hostage situation with no fatalities. Kilgrave told her that he could not be a hero without her at his side.
But Jessica’s truce with Kilgrave was a ruse. At the first opportunity, she knocked Kilgrave out with Sufentanil and imprisoned him in a cell where he could only be heard via microphone, rendering his powers useless. To torment him, she subjected him to the films of himself as a boy being experimented on. Jones intended to enter the cell and record on video Kilgrave demonstrating his powers on her, to be used as evidence against him that could also get Hope freed from prison. To that end, she brought in her frequent employer, attorney Jeri Hogarth, who was representing Hope in her murder trial. At the time, Hogarth was going through a brutal divorce from her spouse, Dr. Wendy Ross-Hogarth, and was desperate to get the final papers signed. Kilgrave picked up on Jeri’s dilemma, and played upon it when Hogarth was the only one around for him to talk to.
Kilgrave refused to confess on camera and pretended to be powerless. Jones set out to track down his parents and use them against him. She found them and learned that they had genuinely loved their son. They only wanted to save his life, but he became too dangerous to be around. Jessica brought the Thompsons to Kilgrave’s cell, at which point Louise attacked her son to put an end to his evil. Kilgrave responded by telling his mother to stab herself to death, which she did, as Hogarth had cut the failsafe that would have shocked him into stopping. He tried to do the same thing to his father, but Jessica managed to save the elder Thompson. In the chaos, Kilgrave escaped. During his escape, he was shot by Trish, but only wounded. In return for helping him escape, Hogarth expected Kilgrave to help her get her divorce finalized.
During Kilgrave’s escape, Jessica realized that she had become immune to him—she no longer felt compelled to follow his orders. Albert Thompson noted that she could be the missing ingredient for the vaccine against Kilgrave’s mental powers.
While Wendy, Hogarth’s wife, tended to Kilgrave’s gunshot wound, Hogarth revealed that Hope had been pregnant with his child. She added that, at Hope’s insistence, she had arranged for the girl to have an abortion. Hogarth also told Kilgrave that the fetus was being stored in a lab. As he left to search for his father, Kilgrave ordered Wendy to give Jeri a “death by a thousand cuts.” Wendy stabbed Jeri repeatedly, until Wendy was killed in self-defense by Jeri’s assistant—and lover—Pam. Jeri survived the attack.
Returning to Jessica’s office, Kilgrave offered her a deal: he would compel the authorities to release Hope from prison, but only if Jones turned his father over to him. Jessica knocked him out again, tied him up, and gagged him. But Ruben’s eccentric sister, Robyn, who didn’t like or trust Jessica, showed up with members of a support group of Kilgrave’s victims. Robyn, thinking Kilgrave was an innocent victim, freed him, unaware of who he was and what he was capable of. The support group attacked Jones and knocked her unconscious.
Kilgrave picked up Hope from the correctional facility upon her release, then lured Jessica and his father to a restaurant where he held four of his previous victims—including Malcolm and Robyn—captive, all poised to hang themselves at his command. Jessica saved them, but Hope killed herself so Kilgrave could no longer hold her life over Jessica’s head. Now, Hope reasoned, Jones would be free to end the pain caused by their mutual foe.
Kilgrave escaped with his father and set his sights on Jones’ ex-lover Luke Cage, whom Kilgrave forced to blow up his own bar. With his father now his captive, Kilgrave made the old man develop a way to boost his powers. To achieve his goal, Kilgrave stole the fetus of Hope’s aborted child from the lab where it was being kept. Albert Thompson was able to enhance his son’s abilities significantly.
Kilgrave then pitted Cage, who remained under his control, against Jessica. At the end of a vicious battle, Jones had no choice but to shoot Cage with a shotgun to the head at point-blank range. Even with his unbreakable skin, Cage was seriously injured, though he would eventually recover.
Kilgrave compelled his father to make him even stronger. Once he got what he wanted, he forced another of his victims, a man named Justin Boden, to cut off his father’s arms. Jessica tracked down Kilgrave but he had already left the scene. Albert Thompson, dying on the floor, warned Jones with his last breath that Kilgrave was more powerful than ever.
Kilgrave lured Jessica to the Hudson Ferry Terminal for another confrontation. Upon her arrival, Kilgrave, backed by a team of armed police officers under his control, was convinced that he had her at his mercy. But it turned out it was actually Trish Walker disguised as Jessica to serve as a decoy. The real Jessica appeared, and Kilgrave ordered the police to open fire on her. Jones evaded the gunfire and pursued Kilgrave onto the dock. Kilgrave headed for a yacht to make his getaway. To distract Jessica, he gathered a group of people and told them to kill each other. Fighting broke out all over the dock, but Kilgrave abruptly ordered it to stop. Jones appeared to succumb to Kilgrave’s now-magnified power.
Kilgrave had doubts, so he took Trish hostage and forced her to kiss him passionately. He told Jessica that he would take Trish with him and make her his new slave. If Jones came after him, he would have Trish slit her own throat. When Jessica made no move to stop Kilgrave, he became convinced that she was once again susceptible to his will. He approached her, ordering her to tell him that she loved him. Jessica said the words—to Trish Walker. Then she grabbed Kilgrave, picked him up, and broke his neck, killing him instantly and freeing everyone who had been under his control. Kilgrave was finally dead—though his memory would live on and continue to haunt Jessica Jones and the many other victims of his evil deeds.