Ulrich Nielsen is a headstrong police officer. He is married to Katharina Nielsen, but has an affair with Hannah Kahnwald. Following the disappearance of one of his children, Mikkel Nielsen, he fiercely attempts to find him, becoming entangled in Winden's mysteries.
Rebellious and resentful as a teen, Ulrich grows to become a carefree and loving (albeit unfaithful) family man. However, after his son Mikkel disappears and memories of his brother's disappearance resurface, he becomes unequivocally committed to finding them. Eventually, he turns reckless and obsessive to the point of attempting to murder a child.
Ulrich is seen as a troublesome youth in 1986. The disappearance of his brother, Mads Nielsen, and the inability of the police to locate him leaves him deeply resentful. He channels this emotion in rebelliousness, from wearing a jacket with the punk slogan "No Future" to listening to loud, aggressive music with lyrics like
- My only aim is to take many lives
The more the better I feel
He becomes friends with young Hannah Kahnwald after both meet during a stormy night at a bus stop. Hannah has a profound crush on him, but he is oblivious to it, and his romantic interests are directed to Katharina.
Jealous of the relationship, Hannah later presents a false testimony to police investigator Egon Tiedemann, accusing Ulrich of rape after seeing him and Katharina have sex. Egon was already suspicious of Ulrich in the case of Mads' disappearance, thinking he might be involved with Satanism. Katharina's physical injuries, actually inflicted by her mother, also seemed to corroborate the report. As a consequence, Ulrich spent several days in jail.
Ulrich is finally released and his mother, Jana Nielsen, vows to get Egon off Mads' case following the unjust arrest. Ulrich, seeing Egon as a drunk incompetent, vows to become a police officer himself to do it the right way.
Ulrich has become a police officer and family man, having married Katharina and fathered three children by her: Mikkel, Martha and Magnus. Beneath this picture of happy family life, however, he has been carrying on a clandestine affair with Hannah.
Following Mikkel's disappearance, Ulrich becomes obsessed with finding him, taking him from Jürgen Obendorf's garage to the grounds of the Winden Nuclear Power Plant, the latter leading to his suspension from the police force. He tries to end his affair with Hannah, but she warns that she will not be gotten rid of so easily. During the course of the investigation, he finds parallels between his son's and his brother's cases, which eventually leads him to conclude a body found in Winden's forest was, in fact, Mads'.
As his marriage and personal life deteriorate, Ulrich further concludes that the elderly Helge Doppler is somehow connected to the disappearances occurring in Winden in 1986 and 2019. He confronts Helge in his room at the nursing home, then later follows him into the Winden Caves.
After following Helge through the forest, Ulrich ends up finding the wormhole and traveling back to 1953. There, he meets the childhood Helge and, convinced he can change the future by preventing Helge from kidnapping his brother and son, attempts to kill him. He fails to kill him, however, and paradoxically sets in motion the events that would lead Helge becoming Noah's henchman.
Ulrich also encounters the younger Egon, but his ranting and raving lead the police to think he is a maniac. He is arrested on suspicion of being connected to the disappearance of Helge Doppler; he refuses to say where he left Helge's body, or who he is, and is beaten up in his jail cell.
He is eventually committed to a mental asylum, where he is subjected to wearing a straitjacket, and the administration of heavy medication. Hannah from 2019 travels back to visit him, and Egon takes her to the institution. Bitter that Ulrich still loves Katharina instead of her, however, she leaves him there instead of helping him return to the future.
Ulrich spends the next 34 years locked in a psychiatric hospital, gaining a bit of notoriety among the patients and staff who call him the “Inspector” since no one knows his real name.
He is eventually visited on 22 June 1987 by an elderly Egon, who is revisiting his old cases, trying to understand the unusual events that unfolded in Winden. Egon shows Ulrich a picture of a boy—who unbeknownst to him is his son Mikkel. This causes Ulrich to lose his temper, and make plans to escape the institution to find him.
Ulrich finds Mikkel at the Kahnwald residence, where Ines Kahnwald has taken him in, and Mikkel recognizes him as his father. Ulrich attempts to return to the Winden Caves to take him back to 2019, but is stopped by the police and Ines. An enraged Ulrich vows to kill Egon, before he is seen back at the hospital, strapped down to his bed. It is likely he died not too long afterward, as he would have been 83 (1970-2019, then 1953-1987).
- He is the only character to appear in all of the 10 episodes of the first season.
- → See 90 images of Ulrich Nielsen at Images of Ulrich Nielsen.
- ↑ Ulrich was 15 in November 1986, placing his year of birth 15 or 16 years prior (1970 or 1971). However, in S01E02, Katharina tells Martha that Ulrich's brother, Mads, was three years younger than him. Mads was born on December 4, 1973, placing Ulrich's birth year necessarily in 1970.