Outside a London pub, an elderly bearded sage named Doctor Parnassus runs a nearly-bankrupt travelling theater troupe, which includes his teenaged daughter Valentina, a sleight of hand expert and Barker (occupation) Anton, and a dwarf magician's assistant Percy. The troupe's main attraction is a portal to a magical "Imaginarium", a surreal dreamworld that transforms according to its participants' own desires and offers them a choice between difficult self-fulfillment or easy ignorance. After a drunkard is swayed to the latter, Parnassus says he has lost "another one" to Mr. Nick, a suave personification of the Devil, who often appears without warning to taunt Parnassus and gloat over Parnassus's failures. He reminds Parnassus that in three days Valentina turns 16, and her soul will belong to Mr. Nick. Hundreds of years ago, Mr. Nick tricked Parnassus into accepting immortality, after making a wager similar to his current predicament.