Follow TV Tropes


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

Go To
"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

The Umbrella Academy is a 2019 Netflix original series based on the comic book series of the same name created by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá, published by Dark Horse Comics.

On October 1st, 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, who is somehow still a teenager after being missing for seventeen years. 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 that the end of the world proceeds as planned, off their backs.

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 Elliot Pagenote  (Viktor, formerly Vanya). Colm Feore plays their adoptive father Reginald, who raised them along with their robot-mother Grace (Jordan Claire Robbins) and chimpanzee-manservant Pogo (Adam Godley). Kate Walsh, Mary J. Blige, and Cameron Britton feature as employees of the Commission.

Three seasons are available, with the latest being released on June 22nd, 2022. On August 25th, 2022, it was announced that the show had been renewed for a fourth and final season, later confirmed on October 1st, 2023 to come out sometime in 2024.

Teaser Trailer, Official Trailer

The Umbrella Academy contains examples of:

  • The '60s: Season 2 mostly takes place in 1963, as the Hargreeveses 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.
  • Actor Allusion: Robert Sheehan is once again playing an eccentric wild-man who has resurrective immortality and conmunes with the dead, much like Nathan in The Misfits.
  • 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 , Diego's Friend on the Force is Eudora (a black woman)note , and Vanya's counterpart Viktor is bisexual and transgendernote . (Though Viktor’s more a case of Real Life Writes the Plot due to his actor transitioning IRL.)
  • 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 Name Change: The Commission was called the Temps Aeternalis in the comics.
  • 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. In season 3, contact with Harlan upgrades Allison's powers to remove the "I heard a rumor" requisite needed to activate it.
    • 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 Viktor to do so. In the show, they don't appear, and the Apocalypse is brought upon by Viktor himself.
    • The Hotel Oblivion storyline had significant changes to its screen adaptation so various characters like the imprisoned villains and John Perseus were all removed since Hotel Oblivion is not an alternate dimension prison built by Reginald, but a machine built by Precursors to manipulate the universe.
  • 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.
    • Grace's version in the Sparrow timeline is far worse. She inexplicably begins to worship the Kugelblitz (which is causing an apocalypse) as a deity and violently attacks whoever tries to eliminate it.
  • 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.
    • Season 3 reveals that the consequences of their jaunt in the 60s has led the Hargreeveses to be blamed for Kennedy's death.
  • 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 Viktor either fiddled everything into oblivion or went on a rampage after he 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.
    • The third season features the Kugelblitz, created from a Grandfather Paradox of the Umbrella Hargreeves sticking around in the timeline they changed via Harlan to result in their mothers' deaths on October 1, 1989 and subsequently not be born. The anomaly is described as a black hole that threatens to implode the entire universe by slowly wiping out small things at a time in regular intervals before escalating to outright annihilation of everything in its path after it breaks out of Christopher. It actually succeeds in destroying everything and the only reason the siblings managed to live is because they successfully reboot the universe.
  • Apocalyptic Log: In Season 3, when Five takes a look at the Infinite Switchboard, he finds a recording in which Herb explains that there's been "a rip in the space-time continuum" that's swallowing everything, including multiple members of the Commission, and that he could not find a way to prevent the timeline from collapsing. The video ends with Herb himself being consumed by the Kugelblitz.
  • 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."
  • Artistic License – Physics: A Grandfather Paradox wouldn't cause the universe to, like, implode. A paradox, in a thought experiment, means you have attempted something that is impossible. Either you would fail to prevent your birth (because the fact that you exist proves that you were born in spite of your attempt, so any time travel is already part of a Stable Time Loop), or you would create a new timeline in which you were not born without erasing your own timeline in which you were, averting the paradox.
  • Ascended Meme: In Season 3, Sloane is impressed by Luther having lived on the moon, and Luther is surprised and mentions that usually no one finds it cool, which seems to be a reference to the "DAD SENT ME TO THE MOON" memes that Luther's detractors in Season 1 used to make fun of him. Additionally, Diego says "I'm the daddy here" at one point, which feels like a nod to Five's identical quote in Season 2 that also became a meme in the fandom.
  • 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:
    • Viktor is introduced in the very first episode playing his violin to an empty theater under a bright blue light. The final battle of season 1 between him and his family happens in an empty theater, with him playing his violin and surrounded by light.
    • Season 2 begins with Klaus and Ben discovering that they are in 1960 and simultaneously exclaiming, "Shit!" It ends with the six siblings returning in 2019 only to discover among a different set of Hargreeves is a very different version of Ben as a jerkass; the six Umbrellas once again exclaim, "Shit!"
    • Season 3 starts and ends in a Korean subway, that being the birthplace of Ben in 1989 regardless of timeline shown at the start and where Ben is shown to have started a new life at the end.
    • It is also done in Season 3 Episode 4: Kugelblitz. The episode opens with a cover of The House of the Rising Sun and features a montage of Harlan and Sissy Cooper lives, as Harlan struggles to get a hold of his powers, along with extreme bullying and constant moving. With the conclusion, Harlan breaking down in grief once Sissy dies on October 1st 1989. The episode ends with the same scene recontextualised, with a different cover of The House of the Rising Sun by Jeremy Renner, a montage along with The Reveal, that in trying to reach out to the Umbrella’s he accidentally killed their mothers and subsequently ensuring the Umbrellas were never born on October 1st 1989.
  • 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.
  • Caretaking is Feminine:
    • A young Viktor regularly murdered women hired to be the children's nanny as a young boy. Finally, the kids' adoptive father built a robotic nanny named Grace whose look was based on his Motherly Scientist ex-girlfriend, except she's styled to resemble a midcentury housewife. In the present, the Hargreeveses still consider her their mother.
    • The only female Hargreeves sibling, Allison, is also the only parent among them (and thus the only one motivated by being able to care for a child).
  • Cassandra Truth: Viktor 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.
  • The Chain of Harm:
    • Seasons one and two examine The Chain of Harm that comes from Reginald being abusive to his seven kids: family abuse is detrimental to everyone, in the long run, caretakers and children alike. It can't be addressed overnight, but acknowledging that you've been traumatized is the first step. Luther is the favorite, but Reginald sends him on a fool's errand because of the Emergency Transformation to save his life. Ben died in his twenties, and can only watch his siblings deteriorate through Klaus's drugged-out lense. Diego lets his obsessiveness to fight crime get in the way of relationships with others, Klaus is a drug addict, Viktor was wrongfully medicated for a condition he didn't have (confirmed in season 2 where he is shown as fine without the meds), and Alison nearly repeats the cycle with her daughter. Five is the only one who avoids most of his dad's emotional abuse, and that's because he faced worse trauma that shapes his worldview.
    • The Season Two finale shows that political injustices also cause The Chain of Harm, especially when authority figures sanction them. Within the time Commission, the Handler's coup sends shockwaves, leading to Herb joining the resistance because he knows she must have done something to the Board. Five uncovers that she ordered the hit kill on Lila's parents specifically to adopt her, ruining her childhood and stealing the normal life Lila would have had. Meanwhile on Earth, Carl uses his contacts to get Viktor arrested when he tries to run off with his wife and son, without registering that Sissy is glaring at him and doesn't believe him when he claims Viktor is a spy. She soon gets the shotgun to show what she thinks of his entitlement. This event leads to Viktor blowing up the FBI building while tripping on LSD and reaching the zenith of his power, only to start World War III by accident. His attempts to make up for it fail in the third timeline as he and his siblings fight a pointless battle that ends in nuclear eruption. (Even worse, torture via LSD was an actual practice in a quest to gain mind control.)
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The ornate box whose contents Klaus carelessly tosses in the first episode turns out to contain Reginald's notes on Viktor's powers. Harold Jenkins finds the journal and uses it to emotionally manipulate Viktor, setting up the conflict.
    • Viktor's debut as a first violinist. Turns out that this is the event that causes the apocalypse. Viktor has already snapped and is extremely powerful but still wants to do his debut, so he goes to his presentation and the music works as fuel to his 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:
    • Viktor usually wears dull or dark colors. At the point where he'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 Viktor has always envied his 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 Viktor's Face–Heel Turn and the impending apocalypse.
  • Conditioned to Be Weak: On top of taking pills that restrained his Make Some Noise powers, as in the original comic, Viktor note  in the series was also brainwashed into forgetting his powers and believing he was "ordinary" by his sister Allison's Compelling Voice and the family's subsequent ostracizing of him as the "ordinary" one. This belief subconsciously held back his powers, his violin playing, and his entire personality until he discovered the truth and became the most powerful of the Umbrella Academy.
  • 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 Viktor 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 Viktor snapping over the course of eight days and causing the apocalypse. Not even Viktor is blameless in his own Face–Heel Turn. He sees his siblings as the villains of his story, and there are multiple points where his blatant refusal to listen to what they had to say either kept him from hearing crucial information, drove him further toward Leonard/Harold, or caused him 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 Viktor under the assumption his powers will cause it. It's these exact actions that lead to Viktor's inability to regulate his powers and emotions at age 30 and, subsequently, his 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 Viktor'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 Viktor, 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 Viktor up in a cage because he decides Viktor is too dangerous to even exist and his refusal to reconsider even when all the other siblings protest causes Viktor 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.
    • Viktor deconstructs The Team Normal and The Runt at the End. For his entire life, Viktor had to deal with being the only "ordinary" child in a family of superheroes. He received the lowest number in the family ranking system, was ostracized by his siblings, was deliberately left out of the family portraits, and overall was regarded as something of a nuisance. Because of this, he ended up having severe self-esteem issues and a strong desire to be special like his siblings, which enables him to be taken advantage of by people like Harold Jenkins who feign affection towards him to get what they want. Things get worse when it turns out Viktor did have Psychoactive Powers all along, which Sir Reginald and Pogo brainwashed him into forgetting about when he was young using an unknowing Allison and fed him with antidepressants in order to suppress them because Hargreeves insisted that he couldn't control his powers normally. His discovering all this, combined with Luther's poor decision to lock him up, results in him lashing out towards his 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 Viktor'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 Viktor 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 (Viktor was sedated and made to forget his powers as he was too emotionally unpredictable and dangerous as a child), 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 Viktor 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.
    • Viktor 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 straitjacket 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. Viktor notes that in his 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.
  • Double Standard Rape: Female on Male: Downplayed, Allison's attempted rape of Luther in Season 3 is portrayed as being a horrible act, but she is quickly forgiven for it and it's suggested that it's partly Luther's fault for being insensitive to her feelings.
  • 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 Viktor'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, Viktor masterfully performs the violin part of the medley alone on stage...only for it to be suddenly revealed that he'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.
      • Viktor's dancing is awkward and self-conscious, showing his 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.
    • In Season 3, Five tells the others he stopped two apocalypses in the last 21 days and needs a break.
  • 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. John Magaro (Leonard) is also top-credited despite him not being in two episodes. 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 Viktor from joining it as he didn't have superpowers. The flashback that reveals this is one of many instances that characterizes Viktor 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 transgender man, 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:
    • Viktor opens the show by playing a remix of songs from The Phantom of the Opera. The musical is about a man posing as a friend and mentor to a woman in order to manipulate her, which is what Harold later tries to do to him.
    • When Viktor 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 his powers manifesting.
    • When Five finds his siblings' bodies in the post-apocalyptic rubble, Viktor's corpse is not among them, hinting that he's got a bigger role to playspecifically, he 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 Viktor 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.
      • Season 2 then reveals that Reginald in the 1960s was making a deal with the Majestic 12 to help them with the space race in order to gain access to the dark side of the moon. This culminates in season 3 when an unknowing Luther in flashback stumbles upon the Hargreeveses' barrier to the dark side of the moon because it is where Reginald's deceased wife in cryogenic stasis has been placed.
    • "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 Viktor's imprisonment and the manner in which he escapes; and, to a much lesser degree, the nature of the relationship between Luther and Allison.
    • When Hargreeves is monitoring the children in their sleep, Viktor'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 Viktor'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 Viktor from the apocalypse when he had to be there to cause it.
    • When Sissy scolds Carl for using foul language around Harlan, Carl jokes that if Harlan says "son-of-a-bitch" he gets a BB gun, and everyone will get a Cadillac if he says anything at all. By the penultimate episode of the second season, they both hear Harlan say, "Vanya," during Viktor’s Super-Power Meltdown in the FBI building. When Harlan accidentally kills the 27 women who were originally part of the Bizarre Baby Boom, he is able to speak from at least that time forward.
    • 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 in "Valhalla"; 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 Viktor blurting out an answer in Russian to his FBI captors, validating their belief that he is a Russian spy and leading them to torture him.
    • Eagle-eyed listeners might notice a discrepancy in the introductory lines of season 3, where sixteen, not the previously-established forty-three, supernatural babies were mysteriously born. This sets up the reveal in the next episode that the Umbrella Academy members were not born in this timeline, with their mothers dying without giving birth to them.
    • In addition. Season 3 Episode 2. When Viktor is reading up on how history perceived the Kennedy 6. He discovers Sissy Cooper dies on October 1st, 1989 in Oakland California. For viewers who remember, it is also the same day the Umbrellas were born or were supposed to be born and in The Reveal, Harlan in grief over his mother’s death sensed the Umbrellas or rather he sensed their mothers just before they were to give birth and unintentionally killing the Umbrellas mothers with brain hemorrhages, ensuring they were never born.
  • 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 Viktor. However, we don't know the full capacity of Klaus's ability to summon ghosts.
    • Arguably more agregious because everyone was present at the time, when everyone finds Luthor dead, no one seems to think of asking Klaus to summon him as a ghost and ask him how he was killed.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • Viktor'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.
  • Good Is Not Nice: The Sparrow Academy is a group of Super Heroes. Though they engage themselves in petty theft, animal cruelty, and are seen to enjoy hurting others.
  • 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 Viktor 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.
  • A Hero Is Born: The show's premise is built on how a Bizarre Baby Boom resulted in several non-pregnant women around the world spontaneously giving birth to superpowered children. Seasons one and three open with the births of two of the protagonists (Viktor in Russia and Ben in South Korea respectively) before segueing into how Reginald Hargreeves adopted a group of them and trained them into superheroes.
  • 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.
  • Historical Figures in Archival Media: John F. Kennedy and his wife both appear in footage of themselves in season 2; additionally, they both appear early on in the season 1 episode "Five" in a flashback sequence.
  • 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, Viktor's powers are godlike and would solve most fight scenes easily, but is held back by Viktor getting Easy Amnesia right after he arrives in Dallas, forcing him to relearn his powers over the course of the season.
  • Hollywood Healing: It's never explicitly stated that the superpowered characters all possess a Healing Factor, but the members of the Academies frequently suffer injuries that would require weeks of recovery and are somehow back to full functionality within a day at the most. Among other things: Diego is shot in the arm and has to wear a sling... only to recover full use of his arm within the next couple of episodes; Five suffers a life-threatening shrapnel wound to the side that puts him down for the rest of the day, but after medical attention, he's up and about in the morning next episode; Allison has her throat slit by an out-of-control Viktor and not only survives a long car trip back to the Academy, but also refuses to rest at any point in the following episodes though it does take her several months to regain the use of her voice; Diego gets stabbed in the chest by Sir Reginald's past incarnation and not only survives ersatz surgery but also returns to functionality next episode... and so on.
  • Hunting the Rogue: Number Five was one of the Commission's best agents, but he figured out the secret to time travel while on a mission and bailed on them to return home to his family and stop the apocalypse. In turn, the Commission sends Hazel and Cha-Cha to hunt him down.
  • 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.
    • Exaggerated in the finale of Season 2 when the Handler summons an army of agents to take down the Hargreeveses. Despite there being thousands of them firing across a completely flat piece of farmland, none of them come close to hitting anyone.
  • Important Haircut: Viktor cuts his long hair for his coming out as transgender in Season 3.
  • In Spite of a Nail: Despite the siblings' efforts, Viktor 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 Viktor can get a grip on his 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. By season 3, it turned out to work too well as Reginald decides to change the future by adopting a different set of children. Not that he had much choice, as the mothers of the original children, except for Ben's mother, all died of brain hemorrhages before they could give birth in this new timeline.
  • Kill the Parent, Raise the Child: Invoked. The Handler had Lila's parents murdered so she could turn her into a Tyke-Bomb.
  • Live-Action Adaptation: Comic book, to be more specific.
  • 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 Viktor'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 Viktor freakout once again.
  • Metaphorgotten: In Season 2, Klaus attempts to console Allison by reminding her of the fable of the Scorpion and the Frog. After he completes a fairly decent retelling of the story, Allison asks Klaus what his point is, he replies "the point is, frogs are bitches, and we do not negotiate with terrorists."
  • 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 Viktor when they become convinced he'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.
  • Near-Rape Experience: Allison seeks out her sometimes-love-interest/brother Luther for Sex for Solace. He turns her down: One, because he has a new love interest now, Sloane, and he intends to be loyal to her. Two, because he thinks she's just using him and he's a second choice to her. In a fit of rage and pain, Allison uses her powers to make him stay and want her. At the very last moment, she reneges.
  • Never Trust a Trailer:
    • In the trailer of Season 2, the Handler is not present, but AJ Carmichael is. Fans who knew that Carmichael was the Handler's equivalent in the comics could've easily deduced that her role had been replaced by a more accurate counterpart, especially since the Handler had apparently been killed in the end of Season 1. It turns out, however, that the Handler survives and is the main villain of Season 2, while AJ's participation is minimal.
    • The trailer of Season 3 and other promotional material extensively focus on the Sparrow Academy and their confrontations with the Umbrella Academy. In the season itself, however, they have very few fight scenes and their presence as antagonists is limited, with the main source of conflict being yet another impending apocalypse. Most of them receive little characterization and exploration, with three of them dying throughout the first three episodes.
  • 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 Viktor 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 Viktor genuinely distraught, believing he killed Allison in a fit of rage. Luther knows it was an accident, but he's mainly thinking that the girl he loved almost died. Because of this, he chokes Viktor unconscious and locks him in the anechoic chamber in the basement, not knowing that this will cause him to snap and go on a world-ending rampage.
    • In the season one finale, Allison is slowly walking towards Viktor, who smiles upon seeing her. Just as it looks like Allison can talk him down from ending the world, Luther and Diego charge at him, driving an already unreasonable and emotionally unstable Viktor 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. Viktor's Russian name makes people think he is a Soviet spy, and his attraction to a woman while being perceived as female 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.
    • Season 3 states that Umbrella Ben died in the "Jennifer Incident" but never fully elaborates on what that is.
  • Not Quite Dead: Hazel shoots the Handler in the head at the end of Season 1. It doesn't stick.
  • "Not So Different" Remark:
    • Diego pegs that in addition to Lila being one of the children infused with powers, that she's lashing out from anger and grief at losing a loved one, in this case, her parents. He talks her down by telling her he knows how she feels, that she's not alone.
    • Klaus believes that he and Five are much more similar than meets the eye. As Klaus points out, Five too is addicted to a drug, but in Five's case it's the apocalypse. When Five angrily denies this, Klaus tells him that his denial is the first sign that he's right and that he doesn't know who he is without said drug. Inevitably, Five gets angry about this and storms off, and it's clear that he's pissed not because he thinks it isn't true, but because it very much is.
  • Official Couple: Several Hargreeves siblings have prospective love interests over the course of the show.
    • Luther shows some attraction to his adoptive sister Allison but it's quickly shot down over the first two seasons. He and the Sparrow Academy's Sloane almost instantly have a mutual attraction to each other, which becomes a running thread in season 3 and culminates in their wedding at the Hotel Obsidian right as the universe is about to end. Unfortunately for Luther, though he was resurrected after the universe is recreated, Sloane inexplicably disappears and leaves him in anguish.
    • Diego is initially in an on-off again relationship with Eudora Patch in season 1, but later falls for Lila in season 2 with season 3 confirming their romance as Lila admits that Diego left her pregnant and all of her and Stanley screwing with him was a Secret Test of Character to see if Diego would be a good father. The two leave together in the season 3 finale to live a happy life together.
    • Allison was married to Patrick but marital strife over their daughter Claire and Allison's powers lead them to divorce. She then finds much happier love with Raymond in season 2, but tragically has to leave him behind in the 60s as she leaves with the rest of her family for the present day. Having neither Claire nor Ray in her life at the moment because of time travel drives much of Allison's instability and arc in season 3, but gets her happy ending when the universe is rewritten to allow Allison to have Ray around in the present day as her husband and father of Claire.
    • Klaus has many flings as part of his lifestyle but eventually falls truly in love with Dave Katz when he gets sent back in time to the Vietnam War. Dave dies and Klaus in season 2 tries to interfere with history to prevent this, he believes he fails and decides to accept what has happened in the past for what it is.
    • Viktor initially falls for Leonard Peabody, only to discover he's only dating Viktor because he's a sociopath bent on revenge on the Umbrella Academy and Viktor kills him in a bout of emotional stress. He then meets Sissy in the 60s and connects with her but also has to leave her as Sissy doesn't want to leave her son Harlan or her time period behind. To Viktor's grief, Sissy died 30 years ago on the same day he was born, but meeting Harlan again allows Viktor to have some solace in reconnecting with him and avoids the same emotional instability as Allison over losing his love.
  • 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.
    • Tom Hopper again sounds somewhat British playing a concussed Luther in the first episode of season 3.
  • 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.
  • Party Scattering: The premise of Season 2 is the siblings getting separated in time and space and them trying to make it back to the present.
  • 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.
  • Pineapple Ruins Pizza: In the episode "Oblivion", Klaus and Luther find themselves watching strange documentaries on TV while eating pizza, though Klaus is clearly annoyed by the fact that the pizza is Hawaiian. He spends most of this scene picking the pineapple chunks off his slices and throwing them away. The twist is that the two of them are dead, courtesy of the big betrayal in the previous episode; while Luther is shocked once he realizes that he's dead, Klaus (no stranger to the hereafter) knew it from the very beginning, and is just irritated by the fact that he's ended up in an afterlife where Hawaiian pizza exists.
  • 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. It's a very frequent occurrence that one or two of them are in possession of a Plot Coupon but don't share this knowledge with the others, causing them to waste time on a pointless Fetch Quest.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: At the end of Season 3, it is reveled that there is a machine disguised in Hotel Oblivion that can restart the universe. The machine is powered by particles that exist in the bodies of the 43 superpowered children, requiring seven of them to step on star sigils to activate the device. Reginald fuels the machine using Diego, Klaus, Five, Viktor, Lila, Ben, and Sloane. They are almost killed in the process, until Allison interrupts it by killing Reginald, though the machine had already been powered enough to create a reset button for the universe.
  • 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.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Due to Elliot Page's transition from female to male after Season Two, the character of Viktor transitions from his former female identity of Vanya in Season Three.
  • 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 Viktor's turning into a villain himself, even if there is a scene in episode 5 that implies it may happen.
  • Restart the World: In season 3, this is the only option left to deal with the Kugelblitz after it goes haywire and starts rapidly destroying the universe as proposed by Reginald. This requires them to enter the Hotel Oblivion and activate a sigil powered by any seven of the 43 children, which will give anyone access to a machine that can effectively recreate the universe from nothing. It's not a reset to the original status quo: everyone is depowered, Allison gets both Ray and Claire as her family members despite the temporal impossibilities of that family unit in the previous universe, Sloane seemingly vanishes from the group, and Reginald has his formerly deceased wife Abigail back with him on Earth.
  • The Reveal: There are a number of reveals throughout the series, but some of the most plot-relevant ones include:
    • Leonard has been manipulating Viktor and is, in fact, the owner of the glass eye.
    • Viktor 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.
  • Ruder and Cruder: Downplayed, since the show has never had nun-friendly language in the slightest, but there was only one "fuck" in the entirety of the first two seasons. Season 3 on the other hand, is much more lenient with the f-bombs, and Lila even drops the c-word, though that word, while still incredibly vulgar, is nowhere near as charged for Brits as it is for Americans.
  • 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 Viktor gets a handle on his 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 Viktor, 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 things 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 Viktor'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.
  • 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.
  • Sinister Sweet Tooth: The assassins Hazel and Cha-Cha love unwinding from assassinating and torturing people in the name of the Commission via regular visits to the local donut shop. Ironically, this ends up forming the basis of Hazel's redemption when he falls in love with the owner/chef.
  • Slobs Versus Snobs: The contrast between the Umbrellas and the Sparrows in the third season. The Sparrows are put together, operate out of a pristine headquarters, and are beloved by the public, but have unsaid tensions simmering between them. In contrast, the Umbrellas are ragged, undisciplined, and are forced to operate out of a podunk hotel, but have grown to genuinely love each other and work as a team. Lampshaded when the Sparrows make several comments about the Umbrellas' lack of hygiene.
  • Stalking is Love: Leonard comes on strong with Viktor, going so far as to break in (he did have Viktor's keys at the time, but not his permission) to his apartment to leave flowers. Viktor 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 Harold's behavior is clearly meant to be concerning despite Viktor's lack of objection even before we learn just how bad Harold 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. The Sparrow Academy is shown to be much more successful in season 3 with a much stricter training regime, greater fame, and continuing their missions, but are later shown to have their flaws underneath the gloss.
  • Superpower Lottery: The seven members of the Umbrella Academy, their counterparts in the Sparrow Academy, and Lila and Harlan all possess powers, but they're not equal winners of the lottery:
  • 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.
  • Talking Animal: AJ Carmichael took over the Commission after the Handler's presumed death. For some unexplained reason, he's a sentient Shubunkin goldfish piloting a robotic human body within a fish tank with a speaker.
  • A Taste of Power: In the Fake Action Prologue of Season 2, the siblings fight an army using powers far more advanced than those that had been previously established: Luther's body can withstand a rocket missile, Diego can deflect bullets, Allison can rumor people into having their heads exploded, and Klaus commands an army of ghost soldiers. In the actual timeline the season is set in, however, they're all still in their previous power level.
  • Temporal Abortion: After going back in time to the 1960's and returning to the present, the Hargreeves siblings find that they were never born in the new timeline because Harlan killed all of their mothers on the day they were meant to give birth to them.
  • 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. In season 3, this is changed to have both a sparrow and umbrella being focused on, reflecting the two academies being the focus.
  • Too Kinky to Torture: When Hazel and Cha-Cha kidnap and torture Klaus, standard beatings don't work... And strangling literally gets him off. Even when they try waterboarding him, he just takes the opportunity to get a drink. Subverted when they find his drugs and realize that they can use those as leverage to get him to talk.
  • 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.
  • Training Montage: After Klaus helps Sparrow Hargreaves wean himself off the drugs his kids had him on, he repays the favor by helping Klaus learn how to use his powers... by repeatedly killing him by having him stand in traffic and trying to catch a ball upon reviving. At first Klaus is reduced to crying and screaming upon reviving with very little motor function and it takes him about 22 min to revive. After a few tries he starts to get it and almost eagerly throws himself in front of cars and busses. By the end it only takes him a couple of minutes to revive completely after dying and he's immediately alert. The entire sequence is treated as a bonding experience with Klaus dubbing it "bus ball"
  • 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 Hargreeveses are all stranded in the early 1960s, 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.
  • Unspecified Apocalypse: Whatever disaster Sir Reginald adopted the Hargreeves siblings in order to prevent remains unspecified for the first two seasons.
  • Virgin-Shaming: When the show opens, both Luther and Viktor have never had a romantic relationship before. This is not framed as embarrassing per se, but it is framed as a sign of arrested development for both of them, and an indication that their father really messed them up. Luther's brothers tease him about being a virgin, and — while it's more subtle — Allison also makes a dig at Viktor for never having been in a relationship. In contrast, Diego and Klaus turned to promiscuity, and that's also a reaction to their dad's treatment of them. Allison has been married twice before any of her other siblings marry even once, and then Five has a mannequin head he considers his wife.
  • 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.
  • Wham Line: One of the first lines of Season 3 is one.
    Pogo: On the 12th hour of the first day of October 1989, 16 women around the world gave birth.
  • 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. Season 3 reveals six more of them, which were adopted (along with Ben) by Reginald in an alternate timeline to form the Sparrow Academy.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: The city where the bulk of the first and third seasons 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. Seasons 2 and 3 show it is within or somewhere near Pennsylvania; Luther's bus trip for an attempted meeting with Reginald takes him up from Dallas to Pennsylvania before fading out, and the city is close enough to a Pennsylvanian Amish community that Five and Klaus can make a trip there and back within a day. But when Reginald Hargreeves is shown visiting the area in 1918, it is nothing but farmland at the time, even though all major cities in the northeastern United States were well-established by then. Most likely this would have just been a rural farm town, but Reginald's machinations led to its urban growth. A cancelled check that Klaus once discovered to his birth mother in the original timeline lists the city address as "The City" with no United States ZIP code.
  • 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. In Season 3, it's revealed that the siblings are now historically known as the "Kennedy 6", an alleged group of communists that conspired to assassinate JFK.
  • While Rome Burns: After the failed attempt to seal the Kugelblitz inside Christopher, the team gives up on stopping the apocalypse. Luther and Sloane get engaged and throw a wedding party, in which most of the cast decides to spend what's presumably their last moments getting drunk and partying. Even Five, who has invested most of his time in the story doing everything to prevent the apocalypse, accepts the fate of the universe and parties with them. Reginald specifically references this trope when he and Klaus arrive at the hotel, berating them for metaphorically fiddling while the world is destroyed.
  • The Worf Effect: In Season 1, the Commission appears to be an all-powerful institution that exists outside of time and has effective control of everything that's supposed to happen in time. In Season 2, even though they're vulnerable to issues such as coup d'etats or having their entire board of directors assassinated, they retain their powerful status, and all of their problems are internal to the organization (in fact, the ones responsible for causing havoc within the Commission are either current or former members: Five and the Handler). By Season 3, the Commission is completely helpless against the Grandfather Paradox, and Five and Lila discover that the entire organization has been eradicated by the Kugelblitz, leaving nothing but a deserted building.
  • 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.
    • He does manage to get better after receiving some advice from 60s Hargreeves. Instead of jumping himself by years and decades, his father recommends trying seconds first and points out even a couple of extra seconds can be the difference between life and death.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): The Umbrella Academy


Klaus Hargreeves

Despite his traumatizing powers, Klaus remains a witty, funny, deliberately ludicrous Sad Clown, even in the face of further trauma. However, accidentally travelling through time leaves him suffering from an extended case of PTSD and in no fit state to joke - or do anything but cry.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / BreakTheComedian

Media sources: