Doctor Merlot (pronounced Mer-lou) was the main antagonist of the video game RWBY: Grimm Eclipse. He has yet to be mentioned or appear in the show itself. He makes a minor reappearance in RWBY: Combat Ready, starring in an objective titled "The Return of Dr. Merlot".
Merlot is an elderly man with disheveled gray hair, a matching mustache and beard and prominent eyebrows. His left eye is robotic and glows red and around it are noticeable claw marks, likely from his Grimm experiments. His right arm is also robotic and is dark and metallic and has red inner circuits.
He wears a light gray jacket with a high collar and a red shirt underneath. On each sleeve of the jacket is a dark gray hexagon shape.
Merlot is portrayed as a smug and overly confident man who believes even Grimm, the most powerful creatures can be controlled to make the world better for humanity.
He is implied to have a mild god-complex as he firmly believes that nature and evolution has failed to perfect the Grimm and that his science can fix it's failures, with his theme song even having him call himself the "god of the Grimm".
His research appears to be the only motivating factor in his life. This is best shown by his reaction when Ozpin brings up the destruction of Mountain Glenn. Merlot fully admits that the events of Mountain Glenn were a regrettable tragedy for everyone involved, but feels that the destruction of his research was the greatest sacrifice. This shows that Merlot has a very "ends justify the means" mentality.
Throughout the game, Merlot is shown to possess a very calm and reasonable demeanor, never outwardly showing any signs of anger towards RWBY or JNPR for destroying his research with even Pyrrha noting that he’s being much too nice to them given the circumstances. The only time he seems to lose his temper is when they defeat his ultimate mutant Grimm and even then he gives them plenty of time to escape his laboratory before blowing the building up.
He also seems to have a sarcastic sense of humor, as he recites mocking emulations of a public address system at Team RWBY and Ozpin and refers to the former as "visitors" while they're invading his laboratory.
Doctor Merlot was the founder of Merlot Industries, a research and development corporation based out of the ill-fated settlement at Mountain Glenn. At some point, Merlot gained an unhealthy obsession towards the Creatures of Grimm, believing them to be a "superior species" and that due to their "unbridled raw aggression and lack of sentience" they would make "the perfect vessel". Said fascination led to him falling out of favor with Professor Ozpin.
Merlot was personally familiar with Ozpin, whom he called "Oz". However, they were on bad terms, with Ozpin believing that the world would have been better off had Merlot died in the disaster that he had caused. According to Ozpin, the other professors at Beacon Academy had a similarly low opinion of Merlot.
Undaunted, the corporation began performing experiments on Grimm, research which Merlot believed was vital to the future of Remnant. However, when they began running out of specimens to experiment on, they started attracting Grimm to the city in order to acquire more, with disastrous results. After the fall of Mountain Glenn, Doctor Merlot was presumed dead.
However, Merlot, in fact, survived the destruction of Mountain Glenn, though he would later admit to Ozpin that its loss continued to upset him. He transferred his operation to a highly remote island at an unknown location, and continued his experiments at his new secret laboratory, creating new forms of mutant Grimm using his serum, a toxic glowing green substance.
Years later, Team RWBY would lead an investigation of mutated Grimm traced back to Merlot Industries, eventually arriving on Merlot's island. His operations uncovered, Merlot reveals himself to the team as well as to Professor Ozpin, conversing with them remotely and taunting them. However, after Team RWBY infiltrates his laboratory and destroys his mutant Death Stalker, he self-destructs the laboratory.
After the destruction of his laboratory, his whereabouts and status are unknown.
If the player has successfully picked up at least 30 artifacts, Merlot's laugh can be heard after the ending credits indicating that he is still alive and is still at large.
- Merlot is a type of grape most notably used in making the red wine that shares its name.
- The character of Doctor Merlot may allude to the science fiction novel The Island of Doctor Moreau by H. G. Wells. Apart from the similarity in name, the story features an eccentric doctor living on a remote island and performing morally questionable experiments on animals. The seventh chapter of the Grimm Eclipse's campaign mode seems to support this with the level being titled "The Island of Dr. Merlot".
- The terminals in his lab used to open doors and activate elevators have the text "Process status: 78% completed Mutant Grimm Experiments: -Creep -Beowolf -?? Beacon will fall"
- In Grimm Eclipse if the player(s) pick up at least 30 artifacts, Merlot's laugh can be heard after the ending credits.
- One of the Objective Cards in the board game RWBY: Combat Ready is "The Return of Dr. Merlot", which when selected has the players fight a menagerie of enhanced Grimm.
- Merlot shares his voice actor with Dr. Pietro Polendina.