Early last year, Netflix released The Umbrella Academy, based on the comics written by Gerard Way and illustrated by Gabriel Bá. The story follows six adopted siblings who were raised to be superheroes by eccentric billionaire inventor Sir Reginald Hargreeves. When the team was formed, there were seven siblings, but one met an unfortunate fate at a young age.
While the Netflix adaptation deviates from the comic book source material, there are some plot points that were translated directly, including the death of Ben Hargreeves (played as an adult by Justin H. Min), about whom viewers are told little. So, let’s breakdown what happened to Ben, and why it remains such a mystery.
With the ability to summon a tentacle monster from within his body, Ben was shown to be one of the most powerful of the siblings, yet he was the only one to die as a child. From context within both the comics and the show, audiences are told that Ben’s death was gruesome. Aside from the “disappearance” of time-traveling Number 5, the death of Ben impacted the family more than anything, confirmed by the statue erected in his honor.
From what little is known about Ben’s death, audiences can estimate it has something to do with Luther Hargreeves, the leader of the Umbrella Academy. At several points throughout the first season, it’s clear Luther holds a lot of guilt about what happened to Ben. That could be because he’s the leader of the team and feels the most pressure, but there’s also the possibility he was directly involved. Given the severity of the missions the team would go on, there’s a chance that Luther pushed his brother too far.
With little else to go on, fans have theorized that Ben might have lost his life to suicide. Some have noted that Klaus’ ghosts have a visible indication of how they died, and because Ben appears unharmed, it’s possible he took his own life. That could be due, in part, to his ability which was depicted on the Netflix series as something he despises. While thwarting a bank robbery, the other Hargreeves children are having fun and playing around with their abilities to take down the criminals, but Ben had to be forced to use his power. Ben could have taken his own life due to his family repeatedly forcing him to use his ability to kill.
While all of these are nothing more than theories, it’s been hinted that Season 2 might give a definitive answer to what happened to Ben. If that’s the case, it would come as a welcome addition for fans of the series because Min’s portrayal of the character was a standout for many.
Starring Ellen Page, Tom Hopper, David Castañeda, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Robert Sheehan, Aidan Gallagher and Justin Min, The Umbrella Academy’s second season begins streaming on July 31, 2020. Steve Blackman will continue to act as showrunner and executive producer, with Sylvain White serving as a new director. Season 1 of The Umbrella Academy is currently available on Netflix.
With the second season of Netflix's The Umbrella Academy right around the corner, let's look back at how the show handles the death of Ben Hargreeves.