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What Does the Number Order Mean in The Umbrella Academy?

“We all wanted to be loved by a man incapable of giving love.” – Five

Umbrella Academy children 1 through 6.
Umbrella Academy children 1 through 6.

The Umbrella Academy‘s weird tale of the superpowered Hargreeves children entranced us all. The unusual plotlines and even more eccentric main characters capture the audience almost immediately. Season two’s arrival in the summer of 2021 couldn’t have come soon enough. It helped preserve my lockdown sanity as I watched the siblings fight to end another apocalypse. With season three premiering in 2022, now is the perfect time to review every point of the Netflix show with a fine-toothed comb.

One of the first things that stands out about the series is that when the children were young, they did not have names. Instead, they were called by a number. As adults, they interchangeably use their numbers, codenames, and regular names to refer to each other. Reginald Hargreeves, their adoptive father, gave them a numerical title from 1 to 7. But what was the meaning behind the numbers he gave to each one?

The Back Story

To give a quick recap, the Hargreeves children were all special from birth. One special day, 43 were born to mothers who were not pregnant moments before giving birth. Reginald sought as many as he could to harness their powers and train them to save the world. He adopted the seven he found and opened the Umbrella Academy. When the children grew up, a unique innate ability also emerged in each one.

1, also known as Luther or Spaceboy, had super strength. 2, Diego or The Kraken, had enhanced ability with knives. In the original Umbrella Academy comic book by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá, 2 also could hold his breath for an undetermined length of time which has yet to be explored. 3, The Rumor or Allison, could control people when she starts her suggestion with “I heard a rumor.”

4, The Séance or Klaus, communicated with the dead and made their ghost forms tangible. 5, The Boy, traveled through time. 6, Ben or The Horror, had eldritch monsters under his skin via an interdimensional portal that mainly appears as tentacles sprouting from his torso. 7, Vanya or The White Violin, thought she did not manifest powers. However, she can harness sound waves into powerful force blasts. Vanya might be the most powerful of the Hargreeves.

Umbrella Academy all Grown Up
The Hargreeves Siblings all Grown Up.

What Does it all Mean?

Reginald Hargreeves appeared to have the world’s best intentions at heart when he adopted the children. His parenting skills, however, were severely lacking. The children grew into emotionally damaged people. Most of them hated the man who raised them.

Giving the children numbers instead of names, although cruelly efficient, is just the tip of the narcissistic parent iceberg. The numbers are not based on birth order, or even the power level of the child, but on the usefulness of that child’s ability to Hargreeves and his vision for his team.

1, 2, and 3, all have fairly cut and dry powers — easy to use and handy in most situations. Those three kids are also personalities that make them eager-to-please authority figures. Hargreeves put Luther in charge of the team, with Diego as his backup. Allison as number three will often do as she is told to help the group.

4 and 5 were different stories for Hargreeves. Klaus and Five were powerful in their own rights. Yet neither Klaus nor Five would comply blindly with what they were told to do. Their powers may be good in a fight, but Hargreeves couldn’t shake them of their need to question authority. In his rebellion, Five pushed his powers beyond what Hargreeves cautioned and wound up at the end of the world.

Ben’s other-worldly tentacles were dangerous, but Hargreeves found him repulsive and did not know how to incorporate his power into the group. Vanya was completely out of Hargreeves’ control. Vanya killed multiple nannies with her powers before Hargreeves built an indestructible robot mother for the children. Hargreeves also started Vanya on medication to suppress her abilities.

Although the Umbrella Academy siblings seem like a blast to hang out with, they grew up with a less than stellar father. Hargreeves used innocent children to abuse and mold into what he wanted, not what was best for them. Every part of their lives revolved around his whim. Even their numerical “names” reflected how useful he found them.

(featured image: Netflix)

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D.R. Medlen (she/her) is a pop culture staff writer at The Mary Sue. After finishing her BA in History, she finally pursued her lifelong dream of being a full-time writer in 2019. She expertly fangirls over Marvel, Star Wars, and historical fantasy novels (the spicier the better). When she's not writing or reading, she lives that hobbit-core life in California with her spouse, offspring, and animal familiars.