|"Some ideas are too big and too important to let other people stand in the way."|
|— Dr. Burrows, as he launches himself off of Smoking Jean in Freefall|
Dr. Roger Burrows is Will's adoptive father, a scientist who loves researching the past as well as digging his way to it. He is the major influence on his son's interests, and both of them enjoy archaeology and digging. He discovers a way into the Colony, and eventually heads deeper. Will and Chester go after him, and in the process, have many adventures in the Colony and the Deeps. Dr. Burrows wants to become a great explorer, and always keeps his journal with him during his travels.
He met his wife, Celia, in college. It is mentioned that he took her on a date to an Indian restaurant when he was just starting to work as the curator of the Highfield Museum.
Later it turned out that he and Celia couldn't have children, so they adopted a three-year-old little boy, which they named Will. When Will was four years old, the Burrows adopted a second child - as it turned out, the Styx had arranged everything in the adoption center to make sure they adopted the girl they wanted to put in their family. This girl was two-year-old Rebecca, a child Styx whose objective was to spy the Burrows.
It was revealed in Spiral, that both Roger and Celia had been Dark Lit in the past (probably somewhere in between Will's and Rebecca's adoption), implanting in their minds specific behaviors.
The family, unaware of the real origin of Will and Rebecca as well as the hand of the Styx in their lives, continued to live peacefully until Will was nine and Rebecca seven years old. At this moment, the behavior encoded previously in the head of Roger was activated and he became a maniac excavation, which developed almost into an obsession. As a counterpart, Celia became numb and started watching TV all day, doing nothing besides that and behaving aggressively when someone tried to snap her out of it. Rebecca, aware of what was really going on, started taking care of all the household responsibilities without complaining, taking some kind of power over the house. Roger, as the Styx had planned, quickly infected his son with his interest in archaeology.
In the series Edit
Dr. Burrows and Will are first observed exploring an old, underground train station. Dr. Burrows reveals his desire to not share its location so that the credit for its discovery is not stolen as other discoveries of his were. He then proceeds to tell Will how to improve the conditions of the tunnel and exits the tunnel. After that, Dr. Burrows is observed in the Highfield Museum where he is the curator. While there, Oscar Ember brings him what is later determined to be a Light Orb. Dr. Burrows then stops off at a newsstand to pick up three archaeology related titles and walks into a "man in a hat" (Colonist). This confuses him and reveals his dislike of confrontation. He is next seen by Will in the Burrows household, where he is revealed to have gone to the basement. Dr. Burrows then goes in search of one of the mysterious men and ends up on the property of Mrs. Tantrumi, where he finds articles that appear to belong to the men. Mrs. Tantrumi denies knowing their origin. He then is engaged in an argument with Mrs. Burrows, and goes missing. After this point, Dr. Burrows is underground and is soon followed by Chester and Will, who find his discoveries.
Dr. Burrows spends Deeper exploring the Deeps. He becomes involved with a Coprolite settlement, as well as discovers artifacts left behind by an ancient civilization. This includes references to the inner world and the Burrows Stone. He also meets dust mites, who once gang up on him. At the end of the book, he ventures down the Pore.
After going down the Pore, Dr. Burrows finds a Rebecca and learns she is a Styx. They end up meeting Will, Elliott, Chester, Martha, and the other Rebecca in a confrontation. After an explosion set off by Elliott, Will and Dr. Burrows are separated from the rest of the group, and head Topsoil. They first come across a Russian shelter and end up surfacing in Norfolk. Topsoil, they go to Highfield and find life has changed. Dr. Burrows is attacked when they visit Mrs. Tantrumi, only to be saved by Will. Immediately after, they meet Drake, who Dr. Burrows shows contempt for. They get shot at by the Styx when observing Mrs. Burrows, but then escape to a safe house. Later, they collect Mrs. Burrows and tell her about the events in the earlier books. She and Dr. Burrows engage in another argument before Dr. Burrows expresses his desire to leave Will Topsoil. However, they both end up going back underground, where they reunite with the others. He, Will, and Elliott end up leaving Martha and Chester behind to leap into the giant hole Smoking Jean, at the end of which they find the inner world, or the Garden of the Second Sun. They discover a set of pyramids, as well as three mounted skulls. At the very end, Dr. Burrows spots a German bomber plane flying overhead.
While in the inner world, Dr. Burrows studies the pyramids and landscapes. He gets help from Will, who is often annoyed by his father's attitude. On one outing to the pyramids, he and Will are cornered by the Styx but end up in a pyramid. Inside the pyramid, they meet the bushmen spotted earlier by Elliott. Dr. Burrows manages to communicate with them, and they tell him that Will and Dr. Burrows are guilty of trespassing, and try to kill them. Before they can, the Styx attempt to blow their way into the pyramid. This startles the bushmen, causing them to lead Will and Dr. Burrows outside the pyramid, much to their confusion. While being led outside, Will and Dr. Burrows realize they nearly met in Deeper. Dr. Burrows states that he is proud of Will and happy to be in the inner world with him. As soon as they understand they are outside of the pyramid, Rebecca confronts them. Will is knocked out, while Dr. Burrows is taken to the top of the pyramid, only to be led down once Will is awake and superficially wounded. During this, Elliott watches from a treetop. The Styx attempt to negotiate with her, claiming that if she fires her weapon twice and brings them the Dominion virus, they will allow the three of them to leave. She agrees, but shoots Tom Cox. In retaliation, the Styx change the conditions to only allow two of them to go. Dr. Burrows believes them to be bluffing and volunteers himself to be killed. Rebecca Two empties a pistol into his back on top of one of the pyramids in the Inner World.
It is revealed by Eddie that for the duration of the series, Dr. Burrows was under the control of the Dark Light. His desire to explore was a result of Styx conditioning and the reason he originally found the Jerome tunnel was because the Styx gave him its location and instructions to discover it. Eddie describes his actions during the series as, "Not something a man in his right mind would ever contemplate."
Dr. Burrows is known to be very adventurous, and enjoy exploration throughout the series. He is also considered to be overly trusting and accepting of the Styx by most of his companions, as well as overly centered on his work and inconsiderate of other people.
He used to write everything down in his diary, fascinated by his discoveries. When he was in the Colony, the Styx considered him as 'harmless' and allowed him to walk around the city. That's why after experiencing a "nice visit", Dr. Burrows was convinced that the Styx were kind and peaceful. He even said, referring to the people the Styx killed that 'they've probably done something that might have offended them', considering the behavior of the "White Necks" understandable and even defending them.
When his son told him that the Styx are actually murderers, Dr. Burrows rebuked him for racism and stated that the defense of their rights and their territory is completely understandable.
- "I HAVE TO KEEP WORKING. I MUST DECIPHER THIS WRITING! IT IS THE CLUE TO WHO LIVED DOWN HERE! I HAVE TO KNOW. I HAVE TO…" (Journal entry, Deeper)
- "One of the smaller children handed me a marble. It was lighter than I expected, and I dropped it a few times to start with (still not used to the gloves) and then, (..) the gray sphere suddenly came to life! I have to say, I was so astounded, I dropped it again. It had similarities to an armadillidium vulgare, a pill wood louse, but on steroids!" (Another journal entry, on dust mites)
- "Will, your mother and I were going to tell you. But we wanted you to be old enough to deal with it, to understand what it meant. I promise you that. And now you know, does it really make any difference?" (referring to Will being adopted, Freefall)
- "Hey, gunslinger — whatever your name is — you said we shouldn't hang around here?" (to Drake)
- "It's a bit like my job in the museum. I had to do it because I needed to bring in enough money to keep us all afloat, but it was never me. All the time I knew I could do something better... something exceptional. And sometimes relationships — marriages — are the same. People stay with what they've got, although, underneath, they're not really happy."
- "I'm trying to do something to make people proud of me. I'm trying to make you proud of me."