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Series / The Umbrella Academy (2019)
aka: The Umbrella Academy

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"Everything about our family is insane. It always has been." note 

"As much as you must strive for individual greatness, and strive you must, for it won't come to you of its own accord — you must also remember that there is no individual stronger than the collective. The ties that bind you together make you stronger than you are alone."
Reginald Hargreeves
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The Umbrella Academy is a 2019 Netflix original Television series, based on the comic book series of the same name created by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá, published by Dark Horse Comics.

In 1989, 43 extraordinary children were all spontaneously born on the same day. Of these children, seven are adopted by the wealthy inventor Reginald Hargreeves and groomed into superheroes. However, Hargreeves does not prove to be a good father figure and his inability to give emotional warmth to the children, along with his unwavering ambition to push them past their limits, inevitably scars them all in ways that last into adulthood.

Following Reginald's death years later, the siblings return to their childhood home, but the memorial is interrupted by the sudden return of their long-lost brother Number Five. The dysfunctional brood of ex-superheroes must now work together to solve their father’s mysterious death and stop the apocalypse that Five claims is imminent without coming apart at the seams due to their traumas, divergent personalities, and abilities. And if that wasn't enough, they also have to keep the Commission, Five's former employers who are devoted to ensuring the end of the world proceeds as planned, off their backs.

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The Hargreeves siblings are played by Tom Hopper (Luther), David Castañeda (Diego), Emmy Raver-Lampman (Allison), Robert Sheehan (Klaus), Aidan Gallagher (Five), Justin H. Min (Ben), and Ellen Page (Vanya). Colm Feore plays their adoptive father Reginald, while Kate Walsh, Mary J. Blige, and Cameron Britton feature as employees of the Commission.

Two seasons are available, with a third ordered by Netflix.

Teaser Trailer, Official Trailer


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The Umbrella Academy provides examples of the following tropes:

  • The '60s: Season 2 mostly takes place in 1963, as the Hargreeves have brought the apocalypse with them. Several hallmarks of the era, such as hippie cults, the Civil Rights movement, and the Kennedy assassination, come into play.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Aside from the standard practice of casting very good-looking actors to play highly stylized comic-book characters, there are two major examples:
    • Mom in the comics had no arms, a wire-mesh skirt instead of legs, and visible organs. Here she's practically indistinguishable from a human, looking like one of the Stepford Wives instead.
    • A rare case of this applying to a statue. Ben's memorial statue in the comics shows him in his superhero get-up with his power emerging from his chest. The mass of tentacles is also larger than his whole body and makes you wonder why the statue doesn't topple over under its own weight. The series uses a much more tasteful black marble statue of Ben in his Academy uniform as a teenager. This helps keep the specifics of his power vague until they're revealed late into the first season.
  • Adaptational Diversity: While the Hargreeves siblings were all Caucasian in the comics, the show makes Allison black, Ben Asian, and Diego Latino. In addition, Cha-Cha is played by a black actressnote , Five's boss is a womannote , and Diego's Friend on the Force is Eudora (a black woman)note .
  • Adaptational Mundanity: The show compresses and adapts out the more surreal aspects and events — for example, Allison's superpower is more of a Compelling Voice and less of reality warping. It doesn't take all of them: Klaus dying and meeting God, for example, remains, though here the latter is a little girl on a bicycle instead of a cowboy on a horse.
  • Adaptational Superpower Change: Some of the powers present in the comics aren't here or are otherwise altered.
    • Luther's gorilla body is the result of a special serum rather than a body transplant.
    • Diego's ability to hold his breath indefinitely isn't shown in season 1, and the closest thing to that in season 2 is him just not reacting to Luther farting in an elevator. His power seems to be the ability to curve the trajectory of projectiles.
    • Allison's powers are limited to the Compelling Voice and not the Reality Warper abilities. Of course, since she isn't too fond of using her powers, there may be more to them. Season 2 shows her exploding heads (although she doesn't know that since that timeline was averted) and Lila mimicking her ability to make her stop breathing.
    • Klaus can commune with the dead but apparently has no telekinesis and levitation. However, his drug and alcohol abuse may have simply suppressed these powers like with his power to channel the dead. Played with in season 2, where he appears to levitate but it's really just Ben lifting him in the air.
  • Adapted Out: The Apocalypse Suite, a group that tries to end the world through music and recruits Vanya to do so. In the show, they don't appear, and the Apocalypse is brought upon by Vanya herself.
  • Adult Fear:
    • Take away the whole "Grace is a robot" issue and the discussion of if she's okay becomes eerily familiar and heartbreaking for people who have aged/declining parents.
    • It's revealed that Allison emotionally abused her daughter and that's why her husband divorced her.
    • Allison is worried when she identifies Leonard as a creep, and Vanya refuses to listen to her.
    • Sissy and Carl's struggle over Harlan brings this up repeatedly. Each believes the other is trying to kidnap their child. Even worse, he has an Ambiguous Disorder – resembling autism and heavily stigmatized in 1963 – so Sissy is terrified of Harlen being institutionalized and "treated," while Carl seems to think that Sissy's holding Harlen back from getting help he desperately needs.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The siblings wonder whether their android mother figure, Grace is responsible for murdering their father. Grace's programming is wearing down, and she might not fully understand what she's doing. Several siblings also wonder if she's ever been responsible for her actions, reasoning that everything she does could just be extensions of the programming created by their father.
  • Alternate History:
    • Set in an era where superheroes existed as a result of a Bizarre Baby Boom. See also Retro Universe.
    • A more straightforward example comes from the start of season 2, as Five witnesses the climax of US-Soviet armed conflict on US soil: nuclear armageddon as the USA and USSR simultaneously launch nuclear attacks all over the world. Because of the lack of context for how this started, part of the mystery for season 2 is figuring out why the US entered an actual war with Russia in the 1960s.
  • Alternate Timeline:
    • Due to all the meddling the team made in the 60s, namely meeting their father and empowering Harlan with telekinesis, when they return to 2019 in "The End of Something," they find they made a divergent timeline with The Umbrella Academy now being The Sparrow Academy and more shockingly Reginald and Ben still being alive.
    • The Commission's entire purpose is to avert alternate timelines. From assassinating the president to killing unlucky innocents, everything they do is (supposedly) to preserve the proper flow of time and stop time travelers or free will from dramatically changing the future.
  • And Starring: Colm Feore is given "and" credits after the rest of the main cast.
  • Apocalypse How:
    • The first post-apocalyptic future Number Five spent decades in appears to have had a planetary scope, and, as far as he knows, a Species Extinction-level severity, since while plants are seen growing, he never encountered another person until the Handler came to recruit him. Judging by the events of the ending of season 1, it can be inferred that this scenario came to pass because Vanya either fiddled everything into oblivion or went on a rampage after she destroyed the Umbrella Academy.
    • The other apocalypse that happens in the final episode of the first season when the Moon crashes into the Earth is planetary as well, but this time it's a Total Annihilation-level event: While they managed to prevent the apocalypse from Number Five's future, they screwed up just enough to produce another one in its place.
    • In season 2, their actions cause another worldwide apocalypse (a nuclear one this time) and again figuring out why this came to happen and how to prevent it is the focus of the season.
  • Arc Symbol: Umbrellas. The titular Superhero School Sir Reginald attempted to establish is called the Umbrella Academy, and its members have umbrella tattoos. During his funeral in the first episode, the siblings are all appropriately carrying umbrellas, and they feature in a couple of the title sequences. "The White Violin" shows that an umbrella store somehow featured into Reginald's backstory. When the siblings finally time travel back to 2019 in season 2, the deliberate absence of umbrellas from the academy crest and Reginald instead forming the Sparrow Academy is a major sign that something has drastically changed in the timeline. During the lead-up, the same sparrow symbol appears frequently throughout season 2, a small foreshadowing that something is dramatically changing.
  • Arc Words: "Ordinary" and "Extraordinary."
  • Bad Future: Five accidentally time-jumped to a post-apocalyptic future where the world went up in flames and he was seemingly the only human left alive. When he returns, he's dead set on preventing it from coming to pass.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Considering how the members' bodies returned back to their younger selves when Five was preparing them to go into a time travel loop, it was rather easy to guess that they are traveling back into their younger years at the end of season one. But they actually went into the 1960s, in different years separately, while keeping their current bodies.
  • Big Fancy House: The Hargreeves mansion. Sir Reginald was an eccentric old coot and had a large, well-furnished, old-fashioned house to match.
  • Book-Ends: Vanya is introduced in the very first episode playing her violin to an empty theater under a bright blue light. The final battle of season 1 between her and her family happens in an empty theater, with her playing her violin and surrounded by light.
  • Brick Joke:
    • In Episode 2 of season 1, Klaus poses as Five's dad so he can talk to the Meritech employee. In Episode 10, Klaus and Diego are mistaken for Five's fathers.
    • Also in Episode 2, Klaus muses about how his fictional relationship with Five's fictional mother would have begun and decides that they met in a disco. In Episode 6, his first kiss with Dave occurs in a disco in Saigon.
    • Literal brick: the fire extinguisher Klaus hurls through the portal in the first episode plays a pivotal role in a season 2 fight.
  • Cassandra Truth: Vanya refuses to listen to any of Allison's concerns about Leonard, with devastating results in both the main timeline and the Bad Future in which Five got stuck.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The ornate box whose contents Klaus carelessly tosses in the first episode turns out to contain Reginald's notes on Vanya's powers. Harold Jenkins finds the journal and uses it to emotionally manipulate Vanya, setting up the conflict.
    • Vanya's debut as a first violinist. Turns out that this is the event that causes the apocalypse. Vanya has already snapped and is extremely powerful but still wants to do her debut, so she goes to her presentation and the music works as fuel to her powers.
    • Incident 743 is mentioned by AJ as a reason to demote the Handler from her old position as a sign of her defiance of Commission authority. It's treated as a Noodle Incident at first but revealed in the penultimate episode of the season that Incident 743 is the case when the Handler forged AJ's approval of Five's assassination of a British couple in 1994 so she could abduct their superpowered child, Lila, to raise as her own child soldier.
  • Colour Coded Time Stop: The Handler's arrival is visually indicated by everything freezing and washed in a saturated vintage filter.
  • Color Motif:
    • Vanya usually wears dull or dark colors. At the point where she's closest to Leonard, they're both wearing bright green, and spend a lot of time in a very green forest. This is fitting, as Vanya has always envied her siblings being seemingly more special, as has Leonard.
    • Klaus often wears bright colors, befitting his flamboyant style. At one point, he wears a tie-dyed T-shirt in the colors of the pansexual Pride flag.
  • Comic-Book Movies Don't Use Codenames: Barring Luther getting called Spaceboy at times, the group's codenames are generally not used. Klaus’ code name can be seen on a sign in the crowd during one origin flashback. They do, however, use their numbers instead of their names every now and then.
  • Compressed Adaptation: The first season of the series is a combination of the Apocalypse Suite and Dallas arcs of the comics, tying in Cha-Cha and Hazel's search for Five with the overarching plot of Apocalypse Suite, including Vanya's Face–Heel Turn and the impending apocalypse.
  • Create Your Own Villain:
    • While not fully his fault, Reginald's mistreatment of Harold is what eventually causes him to decide to take revenge on the Academy.
    • The entire Academy is at fault on the Vanya front. In a mix of their dysfunctional dynamic, bad parenting, and not knowing how to deal with it, the members of the family unknowingly contributing to Vanya snapping over the course of eight days and causing the apocalypse. Not even Vanya is blameless in her own Face–Heel Turn. She sees her siblings as the villains of her story, and there are multiple points where her blatant refusal to listen to what they had to say either kept her from hearing crucial information, drove her further toward Leonard/Harold, or caused her to lash out in violence.
    • Reginald forming the Umbrella Academy at all is to have a team of soldiers ready to prevent the apocalypse when it eventually comes, and he drugs and brainwashes Vanya under the assumption her powers will cause it. It's these exact actions that lead to Vanya's inability to regulate her powers and emotions at age 30 and, subsequently, her loss of control that causes the apocalypse.
  • Creator Cameo:
    • The cover of "Hazy Shade of Winter" in the official trailer is performed by none other than Gerard Way himself. It also plays at the end of the last episode. A specially recorded cover of "Happy Together" is also featured in one of the episodes.
    • In season 2, Gerard Way's cover of "Here Comes the End" plays over the Handler's discovery of one of the most potent timeline-changing events/people in the form of a superpowered Harlan.
    • Gerard is also quoted on the back of Vanya's book.
  • Cult: Klaus starts a new age cult in the 1960s, with both the name ("Destiny's Children") and all his sage advice ripped off from songs that haven't been released yet.
  • Cutting Corners: Hazel and Cha-Cha are contract killers with access to weapons and technology from any given time period, but budget cuts and general lack of respect from the Commission mean they end up riding around in a mid-80s powder blue Volvo 240 and staying in progressively cheaper motels.
  • Decomposite Character: Carmichael from the comics is split into the Handler (Five's immediate superior with a personal connection to him) and AJ Carmichael (a Commission higher-up and talking goldfish).
  • Deconstructed Character Archetype:
    • Sir Reginald Hargreeves deconstructs the Sink-or-Swim Mentor and Tough Love. Not only do his abusive training tactics fail to register with his adoptive children, but they end up making the Academy so maladjusted in their interactions with each other and society that they fail to stop The End of the World as We Know It twice. In fact, his abuse of his children, especially towards Vanya, is what causes the Apocalypse he was trying to prevent with them in the first place.
    • Luther was chosen as The Leader of the Umbrella Academy by Sir Reginald, and he desperately wants to prove he's capable of being Number One. Unfortunately, he was so isolated from much of the world for most of his life that he lacks the social skills to properly lead. He can't read a room to save his life, easily gets flummoxed during confrontations, lacks the confidence to maintain morale, and quickly falls apart when under significant amounts of pressure. He also can't seem to recognize that none of his siblings even want to be led, let alone by him, and his inability to realize this is his Fatal Flaw. He often cites him being Number One as proof of his leadership status, even though their number designations weren't ranks, and were assigned to them arbitrarily when Reginald bought them from their birth parents. His decision to lock Vanya up in a cage because he decides she's too dangerous to even exist and his refusal to reconsider even when all the other siblings protest causes Vanya to snap and catalyzes the apocalypse.
    • Klaus deconstructs I See Dead People; seeing ghosts nobody else can, especially with Sir Reginald locking him up in a mausoleum for hours as part of his training, has traumatized him to the point where he's become an Addled Addict, as the effects of alcohol and drugs are the only way he can suppress his powers and not see ghosts. His siblings, whose powers aren't nearly as out of control, typically dismiss his visions as attention-seeking at best and cruel tricks at worst, particularly when it comes to the logical but painful fact that he's been communing with their dead brother for the past ~15 years.
    • Vanya deconstructs The Team Normal and The Runt at the End. For her entire life, Vanya had to deal with being the only "ordinary" child in a family of superheroes. She received the lowest number in the family ranking system, was ostracized by her siblings, was deliberately left out of the family portraits, and overall was regarded as something of a nuisance. Because of this, she ended up having severe self-esteem issues and a strong desire to be special like her siblings, which enables her to be taken advantage of by people like Harold Jenkins who feign affection towards her to get what they want. Things get worse when it turns out Vanya did have Psychoactive Powers all along, which Sir Reginald and Pogo brainwashed her into forgetting about when she was young using an unknowing Allison and fed her with antidepressants in order to suppress them because Hargreeves insisted that she couldn't control her powers normally. Her discovering all this, combined with Luther's poor decision to lock her up, results in her lashing out towards her family and becoming the Apocalypse Maiden.
    • Pogo deconstructs Accomplice by Inaction. While he didn't approve of what Sir Reginald was doing to his adoptive children, his belief that he owes complete loyalty to Hargreeves for uplifting him kept him from interfering with the abusive treatment. This includes helping with Vanya's imprisonment, brainwashing and suppression, sending Luther to the moon for four years on a Snipe Hunt to help him find purpose in life after his Ape Man transmutation, and helping Hargreeves with his suicide in an attempt to reunite the Umbrella academy. Not only does his complicity in Hargreeves' abuse cause the siblings to lose all trust in Pogo, it becomes the main reason why Vanya murders him at the end of the first season.
  • Deconstructor Fleet: The series deconstructs numerous tropes associated with the comic/superhero genre, such as the Super Family Team actually being a dysfunctional group of adopted siblings who were all forced into the role and resent it either openly or secretly, the Mentor Archetype and Team Dad being a distant and aloof figure whose cryptic lessons, motivational lies, and Sink-or-Swim Mentor attitude really did more harm than good, abilities such as Compelling Voice (Allison uses it for selfish ends and creates chaos in her personal life because of it), I See Dead People (Klaus is traumatized by his visions and uses drugs to cope), and Psychoactive Powers (Vanya was sedated and made to forget her powers as she was too emotionally unpredictable and dangerous as a little girl), going back into the past to Set Right What Once Went Wrong (Five ends up screwing over several chances to avoid the apocalypse altogether through his own Time Travel interference). Because of all the Umbrella Academy's issues and misunderstandings, they even fail to Save the World, although they plan on trying again.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: The team is in Dallas during The '60s in season 2, and the show makes it clear that it was not a pleasant time to live for anyone who wasn't white, heterosexual, not suspected to be a communist, passably mentally healthy, and male (Luther is the only team member who is in all of those categories, so he has the easiest time fitting in).
    • Klaus and Vanya are subject to violent homophobia. Dave was an Armored Closet Gay before joining the army because his uncle is a Heteronormative Crusader obsessed with manliness.
    • Vanya is suspected of being a Soviet spy and is tortured by the FBI for it. A news report also blithely asserts that Diego is Cuban without any evidence, another reference to Communist paranoia.
    • At the start of the season, Diego is locked up in an insane asylum where they beat, drug, and straightjacket the patients. Carl and Sissy are also at a loss about what to do with their implied-to-be-autistic nonverbal son. Carl wants to put him in an institution but Sissy is against this because she knows that whatever institution Harlan ends up in, it will be a death sentence for him. Vanya notes that in her time, mental health practices have developed to the point where Harlan could actually get help.
    • Allison is subjected to harsh racism against African-Americans, and it's shown that the Civil Rights Movement was an uphill battle for those who participated in it.
    • At one point, Carl tells Sissy "I never blamed you for the kid", a reference to how back then, the mother was automatically blamed for any disability (especially mental disabilities) that her children were born with.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The siblings' increasing worry about Grace's bizarre behavior and forgetfulness, culminating in an argument about whether or not they should let her continue carrying out her duties in the house, is heavily reminiscent of dealing with a parent with dementia.
  • Due to the Dead: While he was by all accounts an abusive father, Sir Reginald still did the right thing for the children he lost along the way. Ben's grave is on the academy grounds and a tasteful marble statue stands upon his gravestone. Five, missing and presumed dead, has a portrait hung upon the wall as a memorial. The series also starts with the children doing their filial duty by attending Sir Reginald's funeral.
  • Ensemble Cast: There's no single protagonist. Although Vanya's storyline is the most immediately plot-relevant in the first season, the surviving siblings all get their own focal plots and character arcs.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Most of the team get their moments in a montage set to a medley featuring a symphonic rock remix of The Phantom of the Opera.
    • Luther wakes up with his alarm in his Moon base, lumbering awkwardly through the small confines of the base due to his overly muscular frame. The first thing we see him do after waking up is to pick up a watering can (which looks tiny in his enormous hands) and water his plant.
    • Diego disrupts a home invasion, handily mopping the floor with an entire gang of criminals and saving the lives of a family, genuinely caring despite his glowering, brooding demeanor.
    • Allison walks the red carpet for a premiere, clearly very comfortable in front of the cameras... only to suddenly grow troubled when people start asking questions about her family.
    • Klaus is in rehab, offering smart-ass commentary to fellow patients as he departs, eventually being discharged by staff who clearly expect to see him again very soon. Sure enough, he then buys drugs, immediately overdoses, and has to be resuscitated by a paramedic - whereupon he bolts upright, giggling maniacally at the adrenaline rush and high-fiving the paramedic, whose expression all-but implies that they've done the same routine before.
    • And throughout the montage, Vanya masterfully performs the violin part of the medley alone on stage...only for it to be suddenly revealed that she's performing in front of an empty auditorium.
    • Outside the montage, Five makes his character clear by suddenly arriving back at the Academy as an adolescent, then coldly refusing to answer questions in anything except snark and technobabble - all while casually teleporting around the kitchen in search of ingredients for a peanut butter and marshmallow sandwich.
    • Earlier on in the first episode, Sir Reginald Hargreeves arrives in Russia in a private jet, studies one of the newborn children resulting from the Bizarre Baby Boom with utter fascination, and promptly asks the mother "How much do you want for it?". Eccentric, wealthy, and distinctly lacking in empathy.
    • Zig-Zagged with Ben in that his first appearance is actually more of an establishing moment for Klaus' powers. In his first on-screen appearance, Klaus is completely stoned and thus has his powers stunted. As a result, Ben has his hood up and is silent. His second appearance plays the trope straight. Now that Klaus has sobered up and his powers are less inhibited Ben shows his face and attempts to steer Klaus towards making healthy life choices.
    • They get a second set during the dance sequence in 1x01, as both individuals and a family:
      • All of them reluctantly but fondly start dancing along when the song starts - but none of them realize their siblings are doing the same.
      • Luther's dance moves are goofy and knock things over, indicating his awkwardness and discomfort with his own body, but he grins broadly throughout the whole sequence, showing he has a fun side.
      • Diego closes the doors to make completely sure no one can see him - then busts out surprisingly advanced moves; suggesting he's a lot softer and more complex than he appears.
      • Allison is the most graceful of the siblings and grabs her childhood pink feather boa, although by the end of the sequence she is jumping up and down on her bed; showing that despite seeming aloof, she can relax and let off steam as well.
      • Klaus' dancing is pretty weird and flamboyant including cradling Reginald's urn while spinning slowly around the kitchen, reflecting his kooky personality and connection to the dead.
      • Vanya's dancing is awkward and self-conscious, showing her lack of confidence.
      • Five interrupts them all by bursting through a time portal long after they thought he'd been lost; indicating how powerful he is. The fact that he's the only one who doesn't get to participate in the dance montage subtly emphasizes his aloofness, "I-have-no-time-for-this-shit" personality and the huge disconnect between not only himself and humanity but even from his pretty-weird-themselves adopted family.
    • Five's real ECM doesn't come until the end of the first episode, where we see that he has the skills to back up his arrogance by casually shredding an entire squad of adult mercenaries in rather violent fashion, effectively demonstrating both how deadly he is and that he's inherited some of Hargreeves' casual lack of concern for human life.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The time that Five experiences between assassinating Kennedy (before the series started) to meeting himself late in Season 2 is just 14 days, meaning each season is about a week.
    • Played with in that the siblings all left 2019 at the same time but landed in Dallas as far as 3 years apart from one another.
  • Fake Guest Star: In the first season, Justin H. Min (Ben), Jordan Robbins (Grace), and Sheila McCarthy (Agnes) are credited under "Guest Starring" in the end credits, though they appear in every episode. In contrast, Mary J. Blige (Cha-Cha) and Cameron Britton (Hazel) are credited with the top cast for every episode, including the episode in which they don't appear. Min was upgraded to a lead for the second season.
  • Family Portrait of Characterization:
    • The beginning of the first episode shows four paintings done of the kids over time, showing them becoming increasingly fragmented.
    • The first portrait of the siblings as crimefighting kids that hangs in the mansion. Not only does it contrast with their present-day dysfunction, but Sir Reginald also forbade Vanya from joining it as she didn't have superpowers. The flashback that reveals this is one of many instances that characterizes her as The Unfavorite.
  • Family Disunion: The series is kicked off when the siblings gather for their father's funeral, and find out they have to help stop the apocalypse. But their various traumas, addictions, neuroses and resentments combine very badly to the point where they end up being the ones who cause the Apocalypse in the first place.
  • Fight Clubbing: Luther participates in underground cage fights throughout season 2.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: In season 2, the 30-year-old siblings from 2019 are dropped in The '60s and have to adjust to their new lives.
  • Five-Token Band: As a result of being assembled from adopted superpowered babies from all over the world, the siblings of the Umbrella Academy are more diverse than most sets of siblings, consisting of three white men (one of whom is pansexual, and the other two of which are both unique in odd ways), a white bisexual woman, a Latin American man, a black woman, and an East Asian man who is currently a ghost. The other members of the Hargreeves household are a robot who looks like another white woman and a chimpanzee with a British accent.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Vanya opens the show by playing a remix of songs from The Phantom of the Opera. The musical is about a man manipulating a woman, which is what Harold later tries to do to her.
    • When Vanya watches the Coincidental Broadcast announcing Sir Reginald's death, it starts raining. Empathic Environment? Yes, but later episodes also use sudden rain as a symbol of her powers manifesting.
    • When Five finds his siblings' bodies in the post-apocalyptic rubble, Vanya's corpse is not among them, hinting that she's got a bigger role to play — specifically, she causes the apocalypse.
    • On the topic of the moon:
      • Double subverted. Luther mentions that his time on the moon must mean something for the apocalypse, since Reginald sent him there. Then it turns out to not be anything, as Reginald sent Luther there to get rid of him and there was nothing wrong with the moon. However, the moon does end up causing the apocalypse, as Vanya destroying it results in pieces of it falling to Earth as extinction-level meteors.
      • Grace can also be seen working on a cross-stitch depicting the moon breaking into pieces in episode 3.
    • "I Think We're Alone Now," the song prominently featured in the pilot, contains the lyrics "I think we're alone now, the beating of our hearts is the only sound", foreshadowing Vanya's imprisonment and the manner in which she escapes.
    • When Hargreeves is monitoring the children in their sleep, Vanya's sensor starts going haywire, hinting that there is more under the surface than the audience is told.
    • In the very first episode, there's a shot of Reginald's notebook, in which he's written notes about all of the siblings. Five's entry is missing, much like him at the beginning of the show , and Vanya's entry is considerably longer than those of the other siblings.
    • When Five asks The Handler to save his family from the apocalypse, she asks if he means all of them, and becomes notably more evasive once he insists on that point, since it would obviously be difficult to save Vanya from the apocalypse when she had to be there to cause it.
    • Lila's nature as one of the 43 children is hinted to the audience by establishing that she's 4 years old when the Handler meets her in 1993, implying that she was born in 1989 just like the main characters and Leonard. The indication that she actually is supernaturally gifted, unlike Leonard, is her ability to give Five the slip with seemingly unnatural speed; she's not actually running, she's copying his ability to teleport.
    • In season two, Allison mentions knowing seven languages. Five quotes a passage from The Odyssey in fluent Ancient Greek and later understands the message left in Swedish, pointing this out to Diego and Luther. They don't question him, which would imply they could also understand even if that alluded them for a moment. All this leads up to Vanya blurting out an answer in Russian to her FBI captors, validating their belief that she is a Russian spy and leading them to torture her.
  • Forgot About His Powers:
    • Diego asks why Allison isn't using her powers against Cha-Cha, and Allison says that she's intentionally not using them because she's so angry. It's later revealed that she is secretly plagued with regret over her morally questionable uses of the power and actively avoiding opportunities to use it.
    • Again with Allison, during the meeting with Reginald in season 2, she could easily have forced Reginald to be truthful with them and tell them everything he knows, but she does not. This is made even more awkward by Diego lampshading her Holding Back the Phlebotinum excuse only for her to reveal she is willing to use her power again... she just doesn't. Given the reveal of Reginald's true nature, it may not worked on him, and Allison likely knew that from childhood.
    • After finding Leonard dead, Klaus (who at this point is largely sober and capable of doing so) does not even attempt to summon the victim's ghost to question the circumstances of their death. The group simply makes some assumptions and goes to ask Vanya. However, we don't know the full capacity of Klaus's ability to summon ghosts.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • Vanya's book has a review by Gerard Way on the back, and one of the few inner pages we see mentions that Allison used to paint Klaus' nails when they were kids.
    • The pages of Reginald's journal occasionally refer to the kids by name, suggesting he may have cared about them more than he let on.
  • Genre Deconstruction: Of superheroes, most prominently of the "Big, Screwed-Up Family superhero group" (a la the Batfamily) or the "mentor training a group of kids to become heroes" (a la the X-Men) flavors. Hargreeves is a blatant manipulator who sees his family members largely as extensions of his will, justifying their Training from Hell as a means of preparing them to "save the world." The kids, as a result, grow up so maladjusted and distant from each other that their dysfunctional familial relationship ends up enabling the apocalypse (several times over) rather than preventing it.
  • Hero Ball: Several examples:
    • Allison's power could easily have won the battle during Cha-Cha and Hazel's home invasion and then would have proven effective for the purposes of interrogation. Later, she explains that she has sworn off using her power and seemingly only uses it against Vanya as a last resort.
    • The end of episode 5 has Luther, Diego, and Klaus flee from Cha-Cha and Hazel, despite the fact that they were unarmed, outnumbered, and possessed no superpowers themselves. This seems particularly against the natures of Luther and Diego (perhaps doubly so for the latter as moments before he was adamant in attacking them). This encounter would have been easily won, and the family could have captured two subjects to interrogate.
  • Historical Domain Character: Jack Ruby shows up as a minor supporting character in season 2, having hired Luther as an underground fighter/bouncer. He mainly is there as another example of how the siblings' lives have all been entangled with Kennedy's impending arrival in Dallas and his assassination in 1963.
  • Holding Back the Phlebotinum:
    • Allison's Compelling Voice is one of the strongest powers among the siblings, and would be capable of solving quite a lot of problems effortlessly. However, she refuses to use it due to being wracked with guilt from using it on her daughter. Raymond pushes Allison on this in season 2 when he learns about her powers, as she could have used Mind Control to make the white community be more tolerant instead of using the slow and painful methods of civil disobedience. Allison is briefly convinced... and immediately goes overboard by compelling one of the racist servers at a whites-only cafe to burn his hand, showing that she really cannot be trusted to use her power responsibly.
    • Five's teleportation is perhaps the second most impressive power after Allison's Compelling Voice, but it's also seemingly the only one that can "run out", with him occasionally trying and failing to teleport in several fight scenes, explaining why he can't just Teleport Spam to win every fight he's in.
    • In season 2, Vanya's powers are godlike and would solve most fight scenes easily, but is held back by Vanya getting Easy Amnesia right after she arrives in Dallas, forcing her to relearn their powers over the course of the season.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Hazel, Cha-Cha, and the unnamed mooks fire hundreds of rounds at close range without hitting anybody. Particularly egregious at the bowling alley, where they are unable to take down people running in straight lines down the bowling lanes.
    • Lampshaded when the Handler gives Hazel and Cha-Cha a "Reason You Suck" Speech.
      Handler: Look at the two of you. Given a one-day assignment to eliminate Number Five, and instead you kill a tow-truck driver, a cleaning lady, and a cop, burn down two buildings, and bring unwanted attention on yourselves and the Commission. What's worse is Five is still alive, on the loose, and trying to stop the apocalypse. Makes us look like a gang that can't shoot straight.
    • Taken Up to Eleven in the finale of Season 2 when the Handler summons an army of agents to take down the Hargreeves. Despite there being thousands of them firing across a completely flat piece of farmland, none of them come close to hitting anything.
  • In Spite of a Nail: Despite the siblings' efforts, Vanya still causes the apocalypse, albeit with a few differences from when it first went down. Five resolves to try again with a different "nail" this time — namely, going back in time so Vanya can get a grip on her emotions from earlier on.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Hazel and Cha-Cha's preferred method of obtaining information for folks.
  • Kid from the Future: In season two, the siblings repeatedly try to convince Sir Reginald in 1963 that they're his children from 2019, adopted in 1989.
  • Live-Action Adaptation: Comic book, to be more specific.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: There are eleven main stars, and that's not even getting into recurring characters.
  • Malt Shop: An old-timey diner is a centerpiece of Allison's storyline in the 1960s-set season 2, but not for the nostalgia factor. It's part of the setting's Deliberate Values Dissonance as it deliberately excludes people of color, and so she and her local group of activists stage a sit-in there as a protest.
  • Meta Twist: After Vanya's Power Incontience causes the apocalypse in season one, and everyone is very worried about the same thing causing the apocalypse in season two, one might expect something else to be responsible this time. Nope, it's a Vanya freakout once again.
  • Mind-Control Eyes: Whenever somebody is under the effect of Allison's Compelling Voice, their eyes turn glassy.
  • Mistaken for Spies: As season 2 is set during the Cold War and the protagonists arrive with no background or proof of identity, the possibility of them being seen as Russian spies is present. Raymond accuses Allison of being a planted spy for the movement, while more seriously, the FBI tortures Vanya when they become convinced she's a spy.
  • My Hero, Zero: Downplayed. In season two Diego repeatedly tries to christen their Sibling Team "Team Zero", as a way of breaking from the numbers Reginald had assigned them. It doesn't stick, however.
  • Mythology Gag: The first episode is named after one of the comic issues, and the In-Universe comic books all have art from the original comics.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • One of the most direct examples from the first season. At the end of "The Day That Wasn't", Five steals some information from The Commission and then time-travels to where the episode began, setting up the timeline we follow to the finale. In the original timeline, the whole family is doing much better emotionally, and Vanya discovers Harold's machinations much earlier. It's entirely possible that Five's meddling is directly responsible for the Apocalypse.
    • In the penultimate episode of season one, Luther finds Vanya genuinely distraught, believing she killed Allison in a fit of rage. He knows it was an accident, but he's mainly thinking that the girl he loved almost died. Because of this, he chokes Vanya unconscious and locks her in the anechoic chamber in the basement, not knowing that this will cause her to snap and go on a world-ending rampage.
    • In the final episode, Allison is slowly walking towards Vanya, who smiles upon seeing her. Just as it looks like Allison can talk her down from ending the world, Luther and Diego charge her, driving an already unreasonable and emotionally unstable Vanya completely off the rails and destroying their last chance to save the world.
    • Hargreeves arranges his death to bring the family together to prevent the apocalypse. This leads to Klaus stealing the case, which sets in motion the events which cause the apocalypse.
  • No Equal-Opportunity Time Travel: When the family ends up in 1963, they experience different levels of prejudice. Luther fits in relatively easily. Klaus falls in with hippie free-loving liberals who accept and celebrate him, but also deals with a violent, homophobic bigot. Vanya's Russian name makes people think she is a Soviet spy, and her attraction to a woman is considered a disease. Diego is arrested and put into an insane asylum. Allison is almost lynched by racists right after she arrives and is constantly in danger.
  • Noodle Incident: Cha-Cha and Hazel occasionally refer to past missions with vague terms.
    • In Episode 4 they talk about a mission in Trinidad:
      Cha-Cha: Remember Trinidad? We worked that guy solid for what? Two days, two nights?
      Hazel: How could I forget Trinidad?
    • In Episode 5, a 1902 mission in Manila somehow involved an ice bucket.
    • Hazel tells Five that he admires the work the latter did in Calhoun, but doesn't elaborate any further.
  • Not Quite Dead: Hazel shoots the Handler in the head at the end of Season 1. It doesn't stick.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping:
    • Tom Hopper's hold on his American accent is shaky in the first half of the first season.
    • In the second episode, Robert Sheehan’s “This is my best outfit” comes out very Irish-sounding.
  • Our Time Machine Is Different: The Commission briefcases can open portals that their agents use to travel through time.
  • Our Time Travel Is Different: Seems to be an example of Instantaneous Time Travel; once Five figures out how to do so, he just steps into a time portal and winds up in another time. The same goes for the Commission's agents and their time-machine briefcases.
  • Patricide:
    • Luther suggests that one of his siblings may have had a hand in their father's death. The others, Diego in particular, take this suggestion badly.
    • Leonard Peabody/Harold Jenkins, on the other hand, did kill his own father.
  • Platonic Co-Parenting: Reginald platonically raises his seven adopted kids with a realistic android mother named Grace and his talking chimpanzee butler Pogo. note 
  • Poor Communication Kills: The reason the siblings take so long to band together and consciously try to stop the end of the world as a family. Because of their pasts, they are off doing their own things and act vitriolic and distant with each other when their storylines do intersect.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The series tones down more outlandish elements from the comics that would be difficult to translate to live-action, such as Klaus's levitation, Luther's gorilla bodynote , and a new female character as Five's boss, a separate character from the talking goldfish.
  • Putting the Band Back Together: The estranged siblings reunite as adults in order to investigate the circumstances of their father's death. The same setup happens again in season 2, only this time, they've been separated by their experiences of landing at different times and acclimating to the 1960s for a certain amount of time.
  • Race Against the Clock: Twice in fact! The first season has Five time travelling to the day of their father's funeral and informing his siblings they only have eight days to help him prevent the apocalypse from happening. In season 2, Five once again witnesses the end of the world, only in 1963 this time via nuclear war, with the new deadline of ten days with even less information to figure out what triggers nuclear armageddon.
  • Red Herring:
    • Luther makes a big deal of Reginald's monocle going missing after his death and claims it means that there is more to their father's death than is initially apparent. Shortly after the funeral, Diego, whom Luther suspects, is seen holding it. However, while Luther is right that something's up with Reginald's death — it turns out that he killed himself. The monocle's disappearance didn't mean anything.
    • The villain of the comic is The Conductor, and there is a character who shares his name, but he doesn't play a part in Vanya's turning into a villain herself, even if there is a scene in episode 5 that implies it may happen.
  • The Reveal: There are a number of reveals throughout the series, but some of the most plot-relevant ones include:
    • Leonard has been manipulating Vanya and is, in fact, the owner of the glass eye.
    • Vanya not only has powers but is the cause of the apocalypse.
  • Retro Universe: Despite the show being set in 2019, cellphones seem nonexistent. Many plot points revolve around not being able to find or contact someone in a timely manner (a non-issue if cell phones were available). CDs and DVDs also seem non-existent as we see characters using record players, Walkman tape players, VCRs, and old-fashioned computers. The fashion is also all over the place; some characters like Grace and the Handler dress in vintage fashion, others like Allison and Klaus have more modern outfits.
  • Rule of Three: Five time travels on his own power three times throughout the first season, with each attempt having major consequences. First he strands himself in a post-apocalyptic future for several decades without working powers, second, an error in his calculation results in his de-aging, and third, in order to save his family from the apocalypse he flings them across several years in early 1960s Dallas, setting up season 2.
  • Save This Person, Save the World: Played with.
    • Inverted in the case of the innocent people Five considers killing in order to stop the apocalypse, and in the case of Leonard Peabody/Harold Jenkins — protecting this person will end the world, which is what the Commission wants.
    • In the end, the siblings realize that the apocalypse can possibly be prevented if Vanya gets a handle on her emotions.
  • Saving the World: The Commission wants to ensure that The End of the World as We Know It happens, and it's up to the Hargreeves siblings to stop it.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy:
    • Sir Reginald adopted seven children so he could train them to prevent the apocalypse, but his abusive attitude with both raising and training all of them, especially what he did to Vanya, is what causes the Apocalypse in the first place.
    • Hargreeves arranged his death so the siblings could reunite to prevent the apocalypse. However, Klaus raids his office and steals several of his stuff to pawn as soon as he shows up back at the mansion, which helps bring about the Apocalypse because it allowed Harold Jenkins to get his hands on the information needed to unlock Vanya's powers.
  • Setting Update: The original comic was a Period Piece set in 1977, but the adaptation takes place in the present day with the Bizarre Baby Boom itself happening in 1989, after the setting of the comic entirely. However, the effect is actually downplayed overall, as this is a Retro Universe with the technology level be about that of 1997.
  • Seven Deadly Sins: Some characters in the show fit at least one sin:
    • Envy: Leonard Peabody is envious of the Hargreeves siblings (without Vanya) superhero life in their childhood and want to be like us. This fact is actually is a precursor to the apocalypse.
    • Gluttony: Klaus is a drug addict with important overconsumption issues which act on his power development (not allowing him to attain his full potential).
    • Lust: The Handler. Being flirtatious with Five and having a strange obsession to him as well though he outsmarts occasionally. Her lust for power just in general too.
    • Pride: Five. His cleverness and his confidence in his powers make him very arrogant towards other people. This conducted to a long temporal isolation unfortunately.
    • Sloth: Allison in how she raises her daughter. She uses her Compelling Voice because it's more easy than actual education. Consequently her ex-husband moves her away of their daughter.
    • Wrath. Vanya. Being always saw as the ordinary one out her siblings made her accumulate anger through years. Became worse when she learns she has powers like her siblings. Her anger explodes as her powers grow which causes the apocalyse.
  • Shout-Out: When Grace appears in the house for the first time while the protagonists are all three or four years old, she is designed specifically to be able to manage them all properly. She is also dressed like Mary Poppins.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Crops up several times.
    • Five's fight with a bunch of mooks is set to "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" by They Might Be Giants.
    • Hazel and Cha-Cha's attempt to gun down Five is set to "Don't Stop Me Now" by Queen.
    • The attack on the Academy - including Hazel's fistfight with Luther and the brawl between Allison, Cha-Cha and Diego - is set to "Sinnerman." Of course, it also features Klaus clowning around in a Modesty Towel and headphones, so it's probably what he was listening to at the time.
    • The scene in which a stoned Hazel and Cha-Cha burn a prosthetics lab to the ground is set to "Shingaling" by Tom Swoon.
    • Because they're driving an ice-cream truck, Diego and Klaus's attempted charge on Hazel and Cha-Cha is conducted to a melodic chime remix of "Ride Of The Valkyries," making it sound exactly as ridiculous as it looks.
    • Diego and Klaus have a Bar Brawl with some war veterans to calm country music.
    • Harold's miserable childhood (including the death of his mother and his father's abuse) is set to "One Is The Loneliest Number", pretty upbeat despite the lyrics.
    • Cha-Cha and Hazel's violent fight in "Changes" is set to Lesley Gore's "Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows".
    • The montage in which the Academy's nannies are murdered in "Changes" is set to "L'empereur, sa femme et le petit prince" - the same song the first nanny was singing right before she was flung to her death.
    • In Episode 10, mooks from the Commission attack the siblings in a bowling alley and accidentally turn on the sound system, meaning in-universe "Saturday Night" by the Bay City Rollers plays during the fight.
    • Late in Season 2, Five duels with himself, 14 days out of sync. The soundtrack cuts to, "Dancing With Myself."
  • Shrine to the Fallen: There's a statue of the deceased Ben in the Hargreeves mansion's courtyard. Sir Reginald also kept a portrait of Five above the mantel, and it's implied his room was kept up in the seventeen years following his disappearance. Reginald believed him to simply be missing in action.
  • Stalking Is Love: Leonard comes on strong with Vanya, going so far as to break in (he did have her keys at the time, but not her permission) to her apartment to leave flowers. Vanya thinks this is adorable and blows off Allison's concerns. Subverted, however, as not only does Allison turn out to be right, she wasn't worried enough, and his behavior is clearly meant to be concerning despite Vanya's lack of objection even before we learn just how bad he actually is.
  • Superhero: It's both a Deconstruction and an Affectionate Parody of the genre; it embraces the absurdity of old school comics while showing the psychological effects that being groomed into being a superhero would be.
  • Superhero School: Reginald intended the Umbrella Academy to be a training ground for superpowered individuals, hence the name. He was not quite successful.
  • Superpower Lottery: The members/siblings of the Umbrella Academy possess powers such as hypnosis, Lovecraftian Superpower, Super Strength, and speaking to the dead. However, it turns out that The Team Normal, Vanya, possesses near-godlike telekinetic, energy-based powers guided by sound. She was made to forget she had powers by their adoptive father/mentor, Sir Reginald Hargreeves, because she was so powerful that he felt she proved a threat to her brothers and sister and the world at large. This inadvertently ends up creating the apocalypse Hargreeves was trying to prevent in the first place because the constant neglect and abuse she suffered ends up turning Vanya into the supervillain, the White Violin.
  • Systematic Villain Takedown: Season 2 introduces the Swedes, a trio of Swedish siblings and assassins that are sent to kill the Hargeeves siblings. Over the course of the season, they are neutralized as threats one at a time. The youngest is taken out first, by an explosive trap set by the Handler to look like it was from Diego, prompting the other two to become much more aggressive in looking for revenge. They later try to off Allison and her husband Ray, but Allison fights back and rumors the older one into killing his own sibling. In the Season Finale, the older one kills The Handler after figuring out she was manipulating him and his siblings, and Five and him agree on a cease fire, which lets him leave and no longer be a threat to the family.
  • Time Police: The Commission is comprised of agents out of time who are devoted to preserving the timeline. Case managers oversee events happening as planned, while field agents ensure that they come to pass, often by eliminating someone.
  • Time-Shifted Actor: Child actors play the siblings in flashbacks to their younger years. Since Five was physically de-aged from his trip back to the present, he retains his child actor for the majority of the series, although an older actor plays him in the scenes where he is an adult in his fifties.
  • The Time Traveller's Dilemma: Hazel is conflicted about letting the apocalypse happen and eventually has a Heel–Face Turn through The Power of Love, turning on the Commission to help Five.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: Common throughout the series, since the Commission's time clearly doesn't align with Earth's. When Five notes that it's been three days since he last saw the Handler, she responds that it's been much longer for her.
  • Title-Only Opening: There's no theme song, just the camera focusing on an object that has the shape of an umbrella for a few seconds near the beginning every episode.
  • Touch the Intangible: Klaus can see and converse with the ghosts of the deceased. In "Changes", Ben's ghost manages to punch him in the face, marking the first time Klaus has ever been able to physically interact with the ghost world. Both characters are caught by surprise.
    Klaus: You just Patrick Swayzeed me. How did you do that?
    Ben: Uh, I... I didn't. You did.
  • Tracking Chip: The Commission uses a chip to track Five on multiple occasions, sometimes without his knowledge. He cuts it out in the first episode and leaves it outside a diner.
  • Trapped in the Past:
    • Inverted with Five. He ended up trapped in the future the first time he attempted time-travel, and was stranded in a post-apocalyptic world for decades before the Handler recruited him.
    • In Season 2 the Hargreeves' are all stranded in the early 1960's, arriving in different years. They spend a significant amount of time stuck in the era, ranging from three years to a couple of months, until Five arrives on November 15th 1963.
  • Traveling at the Speed of Plot: The car ride from the Hargreeves mansion to Leonard's cabin takes Allison and her brothers the better parts of the respective episodes in which they make the trips, but the siblings can drive all the way back in time to save Allison's life after the brothers find her bleeding out on the floor.
  • Tube Travel: The Commission sends out messages to its operatives via a pneumatic tube system that is seemingly everywhere.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: When Hazel and Cha-Cha attack the Academy, Grace doesn't so much as look up from her cross-stitch. This is actually a clue that something's wrong with her; the siblings later discover Hargreeves altered her programming so she wouldn't interrupt his suicide, and apparently wasn't too careful, if her sewing through her own arm is any indication.
  • Waxing Lyrical: Exploited. In season 2, Klaus starts a cult, and his sacred teachings and words of wisdom are all stolen from famous songs (e.g., "As long as I know how to love, I know I'll stay alive"). Because the cult is in the sixties, predating all these lyrics, they think he's the real deal.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The identities or fates of the other 36 superpowered babies from spontaneous pregnancies are never addressed in the first season, although it is mentioned that not all of them survived past birth. Leonard/Harold isn't one of them, but Lila is. And who knows who the members of Reginald's new "Sparrow Academy" are?
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: The city where the bulk of the first season takes place is not named, nor are there any overt clues as to where it is besides Allison taking a plane from Los Angeles to get there. Season 2 does reveal that it's somewhere near the US East Coast as Luther's bus trip for an attempted meeting with Reginald takes him up from Dallas to Pennsylvania before fading out.
  • Who Shot JFK?: Initially, an alternative Kennedy assassination is a throwaway moment in episode 5 — Five lines up to take the killshot, but becomes distracted, and someone else kills JFK. However, it becomes the focal point of season 2, as when the siblings land in the sixties, they bring the apocalypse with them, and they realize their new lives are increasingly intertwined with the assassination — as is Reginald, who appears to be part of some conspiracy regarding it.
  • Wrong Time-Travel Savvy:
    • As a thirteen-year-old, Five believes he's ready to time travel. Hargreeves forbids it. When Five does it anyway, he becomes trapped in the future.
    • When Five returns to the present, he messes up the calculations and ends up in a much younger body.

Alternative Title(s): The Umbrella Academy

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