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"Alexis, if you get this, I love you. I would never do anything to hurt you, or our son. After the sessions, I keep seeing you, but... you're so mad, so... angry. You're scaring me. I want you to stop. What's happening to me? Please come get me..."
—Nolan's guilt of killing his wife and his infant son.[1]

Nolan Stross was a senior scientist working with EarthGov who served aboard the USG O'Bannon. He was secretly tasked with retrieving and analyzing any surviving pieces of Marker 3A from Aegis VII following the USG Ishimura incident.

Stross eventually descended into madness after coming into possession of a Marker fragment, and was captured and transferred to Titan Station for further investigation.


The Mission over Aegis VII[]

"They sent you, didn't they? They think that they can control this. They are all fools, can't you see?! It's already happening - Convergence is here, we shall all be made whole!"
—A demented Stross to the Marines from the USM Abraxis.

Prior to the mission to Aegis VII, Stross had been working as the Chief Research Scientist aboard the First Responder ship USG O'Bannon for a little over a year. During that time, he was also clandestinely a part of EarthGov's secret investigation into the Markers. As Stross was already a part of the O'Bannon's crew, the government arranged to have the First Responder sent in after the loss of the USG Ishimura; Stross was secretly tasked with retrieving pieces of Marker 3A with the help of a team of engineers and conduct research on the recovered fragments.[2]


Stross succumbs to the influence of the Marker 3A shard while studying it.


Stross hallucinates his wife as a Necromorph.

After recovering a Marker shard from Aegis VII, Stross began a slow descent into madness under its influence, being telepathically given a blueprint for the Necromorph DNA and growing obsessed with the shard's importance and role in human evolution. He told Captain Campbell that he believed "God" was behind the Marker, and under its hallucinations, he was tricked into exposing a corpse to the shard's signal via his experiments, unleashing the Necromorph infection on the O'Bannon. As the Necromorph that he created slaughtered his assistant and two engineers, Stross fled to his private quarters in terror. Due to his Marker-induced madness, he hallucinated his wife Alexis and infant son as Necromorphs and savagely killed them.

Stross was found by Isabel Cho, a crew member he had been having an affair with, and was taken to the other survivors, whom he ominously told that the Necromorphs were what they were always meant to become. After they found their way back to Stross' lab where the shard was being held, Stross once again stated that the Necromorphs were their destiny and that they would soon "all become one". When pressured by the other survivors into providing a solution, Stross suggested that the Marker fragment had to be thrown into the O'Bannon's reactor core in order to stop its carrier wave and kill all of the creatures. The group moved toward the ship's engines to do so, but Stross grabbed the shard and, seemingly "possessed" by it, could not bring himself to throw it into the core. As he declared the importance of the Marker, Isabel took the fragment from him and destroyed it herself.

Stross and the remaining survivors were apprehended by a rescue team and he was interrogated aboard the USM Abraxis, where he told the EarthGov interrogators that "Convergence is coming" and that he needed to be together with his family "when the change arrives". Since he came into direct contact with the fragment and it seemed to have communicated with him to some degree, Stross was placed in cryogenic stasis alongside another crazed man, Isaac Clarke, and both were taken to Titan Station for research.

The Outbreak on the Sprawl[]

" was just a shard - it was just a shard... but it put so much stuff in my head... so much... shit in my head... There's no more room... for anything. I can't remember what she looks like... Why can't I remember what she looks like?"
—Stross while being interrogated on Titan Station.

Dead Space 2 - Foster Edgars and Nolan Stross

One of Foster Edgars' interrogation sessions with Stross.

During the Necromorph outbreak that was unleashed on Titan Station, Stross briefly encountered Isaac Clarke. Both men were on balconies apart. Before the crazed Stross could explain what was happening, he spotted a Leaper climbing toward Isaac and warned him just in time. Shortly after disappearing among the chaos, Stross continued communicating with Isaac through video feeds by struggling to explain the situation with the newly-created Marker on Titan Station and the steps on how to destroy it. Stross ran into Ellie Langford, another survivor who also met Isaac during the outbreak. Isaac convinced Ellie to keep Stross alive for him as the three journeyed toward the Government Sector.

Madness and Death[]

"Step 4. She'll be waiting. She'll be waiting. She's always waiting. Staring. Asking. I don't know the answer. After the screws, after the needle, she'll be waiting."
—Stross about the Noonlight Diagnostics Machine.
Dead Space 2 Screenshot01

Stross' dementia worsens.

Along the way, Stross became progressively worse for wear in terms of sanity and he was haunted by hallucinations of his dead wife and child. His added delusion over the steps caused him to start acting hostile toward Ellie by biting her on the tram and threatening her with a screwdriver. Eventually, under the belief that she would be able to understand Step 3, Stross attacked Ellie by gouging her right eye out with the screwdriver. Soon after, he attempted to kill Isaac with the same tool, Ellie's eye still attached, but failed. Isaac quickly disarmed him and stabbed Stross in the head with the screwdriver, killing him.

It is possible that Stross recovered his senses after being mortally wounded, just like Sam Caldwell stopped having hallucinations and dropped his hostility during his final moments. He whispered "Oh God..." in a somber tone and briefly raised his hand, as if apologizing to Isaac. An audio log directed to Alexis could be found in his dead body.

Personality and Traits[]

"I just need you to see what I see, Ellie. I promise it won't hurt!"
—Stross as he attacks Ellie Langford with a screwdriver to make her "see" his family.
DeadSpace 2 - Patient

A page of drawings and writing from Stross after he was taken to Titan Station. The symbols translate to: "Cross my heart and hope to die", "If only they knew what I can't unknow", "Life to death to life eternal", "Stick a needle in my eye", and "This darkness is crushing me".

Ironically, Stross was one of the smartest of individuals when it comes to the Marker's true nature when there have been thousands of scientists trying to figure it out. He recognized his mind's suitability for carrying Marker knowledge, and he remarked to Alejandro Borges that the reason he could not see what Stross saw was because Borges was "not a true vessel".

Stross seemed to be somewhat level headed following the events on the O'Bannon, which was very unusual since even the most strong-willed people suffered immensely after the death of a loved one. He appeared to cope with his actions by making himself believe that his wife and son were safe and that he had merely saved them from a pair of Necromorphs, and when questioned about it he refused to recollect the incident in detail. When he spoke to his hallucinations during the Titan Station incident, he acted as if they were still alive and with him, and when they began to make him face the fact that they were dead and that he was responsible for killing them, Stross continued to deny what had happened and insisted that he would never hurt them.

Breaking the fourth wall

Stross implores Isaac to try and escape with him.

For a time, Stross was able to resist the Marker's effects on Titan Station. He knew how to avoid EarthGov's patrols as well as Necromorphs and he was able to hold it together and offer advice to Isaac. His strongest moment occurred when Stross proposed that he and Isaac could destroy the Site 12 Marker. He also seemed aware at the time that the dementia would worsen for him and Isaac, telling him, "Time is running out for me. For us."

However, despite his initial suggestion that Isaac should team up with him to destroy the Marker, Stross was also terrified of the Noonlight Diagnostics Machine, claiming that "she is in there", referring to his wife, Alexis, whom he was deeply afraid to face as part of "Step 4". He eventually became obsessed with trying to get Ellie and Isaac to "see" his wife and son through "Step 3" - the machine's needle piercing the ocular cavity - in an attempt to have them face Alexis for him and tell her that he "didn't mean to do it". After his death, Isaac remarked to Ellie that Stross had been running away from his guilt the entire time.

Nolan suffered from claustrophobia, a fear of small spaces and one of the most common phobias.[2]

Death Scene[]


Dead Space 2 - Nolan Stross Death Scene

  • Should Isaac fail to counter Stross' attack, he will repeatedly stab Isaac in the head with the screwdriver, saying: "Do you see her, Isaac? Is she waiting? Tell her I'm sorry. Tell her I'm sorry!"
  • On the other hand, should Isaac succeed in breaking Stross' grapple, he will wrest the screwdriver off Stross' hand and jab it through the left side of his head, killing him.


  • Just as Isaac Clarke is named after the science fiction writers named Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke, Nolan Stross is named after the authors named William F. Nolan and Charles Stross.
  • In both Dead Space: Aftermath and Dead Space 2, Stross was voiced and modeled after actor Curt Cornelius.
    • In Dead Space: Aftermath, Cornelius shared a likeness with the 3D animated Stross, but did not with the cell-shaded 2D animated Stross.
  • In Aftermath, after Stross releases the Slasher on the O'Bannon, he is seen running away from it with a tool that is similar to a Plasma Cutter with laser saws on the bracers similar to the Plasma Saw in his left hand, though he only uses it to attack his wife and son. Afterwards, he never uses it or even carries it for the rest of the film.
  • On the PC version of Dead Space 2, Stross's attack on Isaac often experiences a glitch, making the game fail to register QTE inputs by the player, effectively rendering the sequence un-winnable. This has a chance of being rectified by restarting the game. If this does not help, it can be fixed by setting the resolution down to 800x600.
  • When Isaac is wearing any of the Security Suit variants, Stross' image can be seen on the holographic display on the suit's chest.


Dead Space: Aftermath[]

Dead Space 2[]