Follow TV Tropes

Following

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

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/umbrella_academy.jpg

"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
Advertisement:

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 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 his unwavering ambition to push them to their limits, inevitably scars them all as adults.

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 family of 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.

Advertisement:

The first season was released on February 15, 2019. A second season was announced on April 2, 2019.

Teaser Trailer, Official Trailer


The Umbrella Academy provides examples of the following tropes:

  • 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 looks indistinguishable from a human, looking like one of the Stepford Wives.
    • 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.
  • Adaptational Diversity: While the Hargreeves siblings were all Caucasian in the comics, the show makes Allison black (or primarily played by a biracial actress, at least), Ben Asian, and Diego Latino. In addition, Cha-Cha is played a black actressnote , Five's boss is now a womannote , and Diego's Friend on the Force is Eudora (a black woman)note .
  • Advertisement:
  • 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, and Five's boss is a woman instead of a goldfish in a suit. 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 head transplant.
    • Diego's ability to hold his breath indefinitely isn't shown, if he can do that at all. His power seems to be the ability to curve anything he throws.
    • 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, it remains to be seen if they will develop more in later seasons.
    • Klaus can commune with the dead but apparently has no telekinesis and levitation.
  • 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 a robot," and the discussion of if she's okay is eerily familiar and heartbreaking for people that see their parents declining.
    • It's revealed 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.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The siblings wonder whether their android Mom is responsible for murdering their father. Mom'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.
  • And Starring: Colm Feore is given "and" credits after the rest of the main cast.
  • Apocalypse How: The 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: The apocalypse still happens, even if slightly altered this time (the Hargreeveses no longer die in the Academy's destruction or face Harold). While Harold is dead, this means that The Commission's plans went through with a few minor hiccups, though Five is trying to jump back in time with his family to try again.
  • 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 between her and her family happens in an empty theater, with her playing her violin and surrounded by light.
  • Brick Joke:
    • In Episode 2, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Start of Darkness 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 contribute to Vanya snapping over the course of eight days and causing the apocalypse. Not even Vanya is blameless in her own Start of Darkness. 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.
  • 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.
    • Gerard is also quoted on the back of Vanya's book.
  • 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.
  • Deconstructed Character Archetype:
    • Sir Reginald Hargreeves deconstructs the Sink-or-Swim Mentor and Abusive Parent. 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 Hargreeves, 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 causes Vanya to snap and catalyzes the apocalypse.
    • Klaus deconstructs I See Dead People; seeing ghosts nobody else can, especially with Sir Hargreeves locking him in up 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.
    • 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 portrait, 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 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 Hargreeves and Pogo brainwashed her into forgetting about them 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 she becomes the Apocalypse Maiden.
    • Pogo deconstructs Accomplice by Inaction. While he didn't approve of what Sir Hargreeves 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) and characters becoming a supervillain because of a Freudian Excuse (both Jenkins and Vanya, while having experienced bad childhoods, are portrayed as flawed people whose unhealthy obsession with their past causes them to take it out on innocent people). Because of all the Umbrella Academy's issues and misunderstandings, they even fail to Save the World, although they plan on trying again.
  • 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. Notably we never see any other paintings depicting the other children. 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, 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.
    • 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 sits bolt upright, giggling maniacally at the adrenaline rush and high-fiving the paramedic.
    • 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 she wants 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.
  • Fake Guest Star: 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 the only confirmed non-straight character, and the other two of which are both unique in odder ways), a white woman, a Latin American man, a black woman, and an East-Asian man who is currently a ghost. And also living with them there's 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.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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, Vanya getting a handle on her emotions earlier on.
  • Live-Action Adaptation: Of The Umbrella Academy.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Eleven main stars, not getting into recurring characters either.
  • Mind-Control Eyes: Whenever somebody is under Allison's spell their eyes turn glassy.
  • 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, 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.
  • 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 beyond this.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping:
    • Tom Hopper's hold on his American accent is shaky in the first half of the 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 their father.
  • 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 Five's boss being a talking goldfish in a human suit (instead she's a human woman).
  • Putting the Band Back Together: The estranged siblings reunite as adults in order to investigate the circumstances of their father's death.
  • Race Against the Clock: "The world ends in eight days, and I have no idea how to stop it."
  • 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.
  • 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 Hargreeves 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.
    • Vanya believes her siblings hate her and don't see her as part of the family. On several occasions, this attitude causes her to push them away through anger and wild accusations, which is likely a large part of what leads Luther to see her as a threat in the penultimate episode.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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 Allison's objections turn out to be not only right, but Allison wasn't worried enough.
  • 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 (hence the name) to be a training ground for superpowered individuals. 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 sisters 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.
  • 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.
  • 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: No theme song, just the camera focusing on an object with the show's logo for a few seconds in every episode.
  • Tracking Chip: Used by the Commission to track Five on multiple occasions.
  • 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.
  • Unreadably Fast Text:
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: The city where the bulk of the story takes place is not named, nor are there any overt clues as to where it is.

Alternative Title(s): The Umbrella Academy

Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report