The Umbrella Academy is the new superhero show in everyone’s life. Based on the comic book created by My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way, it tells the story of a family of troubled superheroes who reunite after the death of their father. It’s also stuffed to the brim with clever Easter eggs and references to other superhero media. Have you discovered all of them? Here’s 40 of the best hidden details. Spoilers ahead!
40. What’s the deal with Ben?
Ben, the mysterious Number Six of the family, died before the series began. Only Klaus, who can speak to the dead, can see him, yet he’s clearly got a shadow, which ghosts shouldn’t have. This consequently sparked a few good theories on Reddit. “It coincides with my theory that Klaus’ true power, at its fullest, is to truly bring people back to life,” wrote user Gregoryhuckaby.
39. Early foreshadowing
In episode 2 of the series, Number Five flashes forward to the end of the world. There he discovers the bodies of his adopted siblings lying in the rubble… except for Vanya, the sister who apparently has no superpowers. Was she somewhere else when the apocalypse took place? Or was she the one who caused it?
38. A reference to Ellen Page’s career
Back in 2009, Vanya actress Ellen Page appeared in Whip It, a film about a teen who takes up roller derby. There’s a secret hidden reference to that movie in The Umbrella Academy. During the scene at the newsstand in episode 4, a poster for roller derby can be seen placed above a magazine called “Whippet Snippets.”
37. Five in the wallpaper
After encountering the apocalypse and getting stuck in the future, Five starts lugging around a mannequin he calls Dolores just so he can have a friend. And a Twitter user called @f**kfeelingsE observed that Five and Dolores happen to show up on the wallpaper in the Hargreeves nursery. “There’s stuff like this planted all over the place. You have to watch for it!” actor Aiden Gallagher tweeted in response to the post.
36. Hidden art directors
In episode 4, Allison observes a magazine that displays her ex-husband and her young daughter on its front page. In among the sting of tragedy for Allison, it’s easy to miss the side article: “How I Became a Star: Ahn Mur Tells All.” Ahn Mur is actually an assistant art director for the show. And another assistant art director, Aleks Cameron, shows up on Five’s list of four people who could save the world by losing their lives.
35. Don’t kiss a boy!
At the very beginning of The Umbrella Academy, we meet a teenage boy and girl at a swimming pool in Russia. The two share a (cheek) kiss, and right afterwards the girl jumps in the pool and finds herself giving birth. “When you think about it, the girl’s interaction with the boy is an inspired little spin on that old sex-based myth about a boy getting a girl pregnant simply by kissing her,” noted Forbes in their review of the show.
34. Vanya bears a strong resemblance to other famous world-destroyers
Vanya is a quiet young woman who just so happens to possess apocalyptic powers, access to which has been secretly denied to her for fear of what she might do. Comic book fans may well be reminded of X-Men’s Jean Grey and the Dark Phoenix Saga, which would appear to be the influence for Vanya’s story. And of course, Ellen Page was in the X-Men movies too.
33. Five’s favorite sandwiches
In episode 1, it’s revealed that Vanya would lay peanut butter and marshmallow sandwiches out for the missing Five. When Five returns in that same episode, he immediately fixes himself a peanut butter and marshmallow sandwich. To be fair, they were probably in very short supply when he was wandering around the post-apocalyptic future.
32. Chekhov’s Ben
In episode 2, there’s a flashback to the early days of the Umbrella Academy, where Ben is still alive. He’s reading a book by Anton Chekhov, a hint that his role in the story is a “Chekhov’s gun” – a literary principle that states that if a loaded gun appears in a first act, by the third act it must have gone off, or the audience will be unsatisfied.
31. The series was influenced by Doom Patrol
In 2007 Gerard Way told the New York Times about his inspirations for The Umbrella Academy. “When I was in high school, working in a comic shop, I discovered [Grant Morrison’s] work on the Doom Patrol,” he said. “I realized there was this other way of telling superhero comics, almost anti-superhero comics.” Several years later, the adaptations of The Umbrella Academy and Doom Patrol would premiere on the same day.
30. The Academy’s motto has a secret meaning
Visible throughout the series, and on the school uniforms of the children, is the motto of the Umbrella Academy. It’s Latin and it reads “Ut Malum Pluvia,” which translates to “When evil rains.” It may not be very good Latin, but the meaning is clear – only an umbrella can protect you from the rain.
29. A codename is featured in an episode title
Few of the original Umbrella Academy codenames from the comics made it into the show. However, Five’s codename of “The Boy” is featured in an episode title – episode 2 is called “Run Boy Run.” And for bonus points, the fifth episode of the series focuses on Five and is called, naturally, “Number Five.”
28. The dance scene is a callback
In one of the most memorable moments in the series, Luther and Allison suddenly find themselves dancing to Toploader’s “Dancing in the Moonlight” beneath fairy lights. But we’ve seen those lights before, in the secret hideaway they had as children. Also, it’s ironic that Dancing in the Moonlight should be their song, as the moon (and Vanya) is about to cause the end of the world…
27. Hargreeves was monitoring Vanya
In the first episode of the series, we get a flashback to Hargreeves and his terrible parenting skills. He’s monitoring all of the children via camera as they sleep – including Vanya. Why would he need to keep an eye on Vanya if he thought she had no superpowers? Why indeed…
26. Technology is all over the place
The world of The Umbrella Academy is a curious one. There’s technology beyond what we in the present day could even dream of (robots, talking monkeys etc.), yet there are no cell phones. Whenever anyone wants a long-distance conversation, they have to use a pay phone. There are also old TVs and VHS players instead of our modern flatscreens and DVDs.
25. Many monkeys
There are a lot of monkeys and monkey-related things in The Umbrella Academy. There’s Pogo, of course, and there’s Luther’s ape-like body. Allison’s daughter even has a cuddly monkey, which is ironic considering her mother’s relationship with Luther. Perhaps it’s because monkeys (both in space and otherwise) are a tried-and-tested sci-fi trope?
24. Mom and the Moon
In episode 3, Mom (a.k.a. Grace) is seen doing needlepoint. But if you look closely at what she’s making, it appears to be an image of the Moon with a chunk taken out of it. And in the finale, that’s exactly what happens to the Moon. Is it a hidden detail or a hint that she knew what was to come?
23. The Eiffel Tower incident
In the first episode, there’s a curious newspaper clipping on display in Hargreeves’ office that references the Eiffel Tower. This is actually a nod to the original Umbrella Academy comic books, in which the academy fight a robot Eiffel Tower and an undead Gustave Eiffel. Perhaps unsurprisingly, none of that was featured in the show.
22. Vanya’s powers might control the weather
Vanya is powerful enough to cause the apocalypse, so it’s maybe not far-fetched that she has some control over the weather too. When she’s practicing her powers, the wind starts getting stronger and stronger. And right at the beginning, when she learns her father is dead, it begins to pour down. Is she the rain the Umbrella Academy needs to protect the world from?
21. Five changes the future
Time is complicated in The Umbrella Academy. Five works for something called the Commission, which manipulates events to ensure that everything in the timeline happens how it’s supposed to. While working for the Commission, Five apparently causes the Hindenburg disaster, kills Stalin and assassinates Franz Ferdinand. But he opts not to shoot John F. Kennedy. So in this world, did the president die some other way? It would seem so.
20. Some frames look like comic panels
Reddit user airguitar bandit pointed a clever thing out about the directing in episode 4. “When Luther and Diego go to the library time jumps subtly as the camera pans up the floors similar to how comic books works – all the panels (or square openings in the architecture) are on the page (screen) at the same time, but the passing of time is implied between them.”
19. There’s a reference to a My Chemical Romance video
Every episode of The Umbrella Academy has a nifty title sequence. So in “Extra Ordinary” we see a group of bystanders on the street open their umbrellas, with the title appearing on the only blue one. This shot just happens to mirror one from the My Chemical Romance video “Helena.”
18. Pogo’s history
During the funeral scene for Hargreeves, Pogo the talking monkey speaks up and says, “In all regards, Sir Reginald Hargreeves made me what I am today.” However, fans of the original comic will sense a deeper meaning to that line: in that story, Pogo is just one of many talking chimps, as Hargreeves granted the whole species human-like abilities. Perhaps we’ll see some of Pogo’s fellows in the future?
17. Some of the siblings have their number displayed in their introduction
Reddit user jbarron pointed out on the TV Details forum that most of the siblings have their number in their introduction scene. Luther is in Moon Station 01, Diego is seen with two lights behind him, Allison is at the premiere of a movie called Love on Loan 3, and Klaus sees the news of his father’s death on Channel 4.
16. A villain from the comics gets referenced
When young Harold is playing Umbrella Academy by himself, he makes a reference to “the evil Dr. Terminal.” Dr. Terminal is actually a cannibalistic villain in the original comics. According to Comic Vine, his master plan was “to eat Finland, or stop the Umbrella Academy, whichever came first.” He hasn’t made an appearance in the TV show yet…
15. Klaus’ umbrella
Obviously, umbrellas are important in The Umbrella Academy. You might have noticed that everyone at Hargreeves’s funeral is holding an umbrella, for example. All of them have somber black ones… except Klaus, who has a pink one. Perhaps it’s meant to symbolise his individuality? As of now, he’s the only LGBTQ character in the series.
14. Ben’s face can barely be seen at first
When Ben first pops up, he’s wearing a hood which that half his face. But as Klaus gets more and more powerful and less reliant on drugs, Ben loses the hood and becomes more and more corporeal. Eventually, he’s able to reach out to the land of the living, thanks to Klaus.
13. Bending street lights
In a moment of high emotion, Vanya bends over a bunch of street lamps by accident. Eagle-eyed viewers may realize that they’ve seen bent-over poles before: during the apocalypse when Five is walking around, broken power lines form part of the backdrop. Another hint that it’s Vanya who causes it all…
12. There are a couple of Watchmen references
Watchmen, the acclaimed comic by Alan Moore, is pretty influential to the superhero genre. So there are a couple of references to it hidden away in The Umbrella Academy. Klaus meets his dead dad in a barbershop called Nite Owl. And the shot of Agnes and Hazel kissing is very reminiscent of a similar scene from Watchmen.
11. Phantom of the Opera plays a role
In Vanya’s first scene, she plays a magnificent Phantom of the Opera medley on the violin. Perhaps it was foreshadowing, as later on a chandelier falls on Luther, just like in a famous scene from Phantom. Or it could have been foreshadowing the end of the series: Vanya herself goes on to become an “angel of music” of sorts, using her violin to create blasts of energy.
10. One of Klaus’s lines indicates something deeper
When Five unexpectedly returns from his trip through time, Klaus asks if anyone else can see the kid or just him. That’s a common thing for characters to say in insane situations, but in Klaus’ case, it’s a genuine question. He can see things others can’t, namely the dead, and probably thought he was seeing a dead Five.
9. The same woman keeps showing up
The red-haired woman from the bowling alley keeps popping up in different scenes. She sees Klaus on the bus, she’s dancing at the rave Luther goes to, and she was even in the flashback bank robbery scene. We can consequently ask what her deal is. Fans have theorized that she may be an agent of the Commission.
8. Two writers get a cameo
As Allison drives towards Vanya in episode 8, viewers might be distracted by her turmoil. But look closely at the umbrella-themed billboard she goes past. It’s advertising “Wolpert and Nedivi law partners.” Those names belong to Matt Wolpert and Ben Nedivi, writers of The Umbrella Academy episode 3.
7. A team name in more ways than one
Twitter user Gianna_Barnes observed the scores when the Umbrella Academy went bowling. Allison won; Klaus lost. But best of all, they named their bowling team “Umbrella Team.” Perhaps not a creative title, but maybe a sign that they were finally after all that time and trauma coming together as a group.
6. Vanya’s orchestra has a hidden meaning
Vanya’s love of music leads her to seek it out as a career. She eventually gets a job playing the violin in the St. Pluvium Chamber Orchestra. And “pluvium” just so happens to mean “of or relating to rain.” Rain features heavily in the series… as, of course, do umbrellas.
5. “I Think We’re Alone Now” foreshadows later events
The first episode of The Umbrella Academy features an unexpected dance sequence where everyone gets down to “I Think We’re Alone Now.” But there’s a hint in there to the end of the season. One of the lyrics is “the beating of our hearts is the only sound,” and how does Vanya escape her prison in the end? By listening to nothing but the sound of her heartbeat.
4. There are interesting notes in Hargreeves’ diary
Viewers get only a brief glimpse inside the private journal of Hargreeves, but it’s an interesting one. Once you decode his spidery handwriting, you realize he’s talking about Vanya’s thought-to-be-non-existent powers. “Astonishing! Absolutely astonishing!” it reads. And on a sadder note, the diary mentions Number Six (a.k.a. Ben) was “crying in sleep.”
3. “Barracuda” is an apt song
Vanya’s at a dark place at the beginning of episode 10. And the song choice for her in that moment is a particularly good one. It’s “Barracuda” by Heart – a song written by Ann Wilson in anger after her record company spread rumors about her sister. One of Vanya’s closest relationships on the show is with her sister Allison… who has the power to make rumors come true.
2. The show borrows plenty of comic book plots
The Umbrella Academy isn’t afraid to mix up comic-book tropes into a big, surreal story. A character who comes back from the future to fix it? Straight out of X-Men. A character destined to cause the end of the world? That might remind some of Hellboy. And most intriguingly of all, the backstory for Hargreeves seems reminiscent of the Superman mythos.
1. Gerard Way exists in this universe!
When Vanya examines a copy of her book, the audience gets a quick glimpse of the endorsement on the back. It says, “An incredible read… A revealing portal into the amazing life of Vanya Hargreeves and the life she has lived. I couldn’t put it down!” And the person the quote is attributed to? Gerard Way.