Dr. Wilhelm Rolf isn’t one of the best-known characters in the history of DAYS OF OUR LIVES, but the man has played a very important role for many of Salem’s residents! The doc has been played by actor William Utay since the character was first introduced back in 1997, and while he died in 2003, he returned again for another stint from 2007-2008 and continued to appear here and there in the years that followed. But in July 2022, it was announced that the role was being recast with actor Richard Wharton who continues to make appearances to this day.
Dr. Rolf first appeared as the man working on a cure for Roman Brady, but it turned out he was also responsible for helping Stefano DiMera turn Hope Brady into Princess Gina! After an adventure in the jungle where he helped cure John and Peter, Rolf journeyed to Salem with Stefano and got mixed up in a crazy scheme to switch Hope’s child with his niece, Marlo’s. Stefano also had the doctor transform Hattie Adams’ appearance to look even more like Marlena Evans’. When news of the evil deeds began to come to light, Rolf detonated bombs all over Salem to cover his tracks!
Wilhelm became a professor at the university to keep an eye on the children of Salem, including the Gemini Twins, Cassie and Rex Brady. He programmed the duo to kill anyone who came near the DiMeras and was later revealed to have been involved in their conception and birth. When Rex confronted Rolf, the doctor was killed when a crate fell on him.
But four years later, Rolf was revealed to be very much alive and serving as personal physician to an ailing Stefano. He had Sami Brady kidnapped so he could use stem cells from her unborn baby to keep Stefano alive, but instead discovered she wasn’t actually carrying EJ DiMera’s child! Andre DIMera stole the liver of Benjy Hawk so Rolf could transplant it into Stefano and save his life.
When John was hit by a car and killed, Rolf revived the guy and brainwashed him to become Stefano’s pawn again. When John became violent, he attempted to kill Rolf, but Stefano managed to stop him. Rolf was arrested along with his boss, and John agreed not to press charges against Rolf if he became his butler and shut down his lab. Marlena requested the doctor’s help in restoring John’s memories, offering to vouch for him if he did the right thing.
Rolf resurfaced in 2017 when it was revealed that he had brought Will Horton back to life and later concocted a serum that would restore the young man’s missing memories. He popped a cyanide capsule to take his own life, but in 2018 it was revealed that he had been brought back to life by Kristen DiMera, and had perfected his serum to restore people to life. It was used on EJ and Vivian Alamain, and it was later revealed he’d also brought Jack Deveraux back from the presumed dead. Like Will, Jack had lost his memories, and his loved ones urged Rolf to recreate the serum that had helped Will remember his past.
When Kristen wanted to steal Sarah’s embryo and implant it into herself, she naturally went to Dr. Rolf, but he soon discovered that she was somehow already pregnant with Brady’s baby. He also injected Kate Roberts with something which brought her out of her coma and saved her life, knowing it was what Stefano would want. Unfortunately, he had to tell Gabi Hernandez that there was no spark of life left in Stefan DiMera so his formula wouldn’t work on him. He also turned Hope back into Princess Gina and a year later, implanted a chip with Stefano’s essence into Steve Johnson!
Rolf was arrested and sent to prison after he refused to help perform surgery to bring Steve back. When Gabi ran into a guy named Jake Lambert who was a dead ringer for Stefan, she confronted Rolf, who eventually caved and admitted he’d brought Stefan back but like the others, he had amnesia. He offered the serum to restore Stefan’s memories if Gabi would get him out of jail, and she quickly agreed. Of course, that was just a fake, so it didn’t work. But even from behind bars, he’s been working with Gwen, providing her with the drug that has been making Abigail hallucinate!
In October 2020, Rolf managed to escape prison after Orpheus knocked out the power, and quickly headed to the DiMera mansion. Upset to learn that the chip containing Stefano’s essence had been destroyed, Rolf then abducted Kayla to try and use her as a surrogate to birth a new Stefano! Thankfully, Steve rescued her before he could begin. Rolf also supplied an antidote to the mind-altering drug that Kristen had used on Sarah, although initially, Gwen swapped it out and made Sarah’s condition even worse before she was eventually helped.
After receiving a pardon, the first thing Rolf did upon being released from prison was to steal Jake’s body and transplant his heart into a comatose Stefan, bringing him back to life! Under orders from Kristen (who was pressured by Li Shin), the doc brainwashed Stefan into believing he loved only Chloe Lane, not Gabi. When Orpheus stole a toxin and poisoned Marlena, Kayla, and Kate, Rolf gave Kristen the last remaining orchid that could be used to create the antidote. Confronted by Gabi, Rolf admitted he’d brainwashed Stefan, but then tampered with her memories so she’d forget their encounter! Li arranged for Rolf to flee to Indonesia, but Wendy Shin and Johnny DiMera tracked him down there, hoping to find out what Li was really up to.
Stay tuned to DAYS to see what the mad scientist gets up to next!