Umbrella Academy S1 Hints That Reginald Hargreeves Was Never A Villain


Though he’s frequently presented as a problematic and potentially antagonistic character, The Umbrella Academy season 1 proved definitively that he shouldn’t be considered the show’s villain. Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy adapts the comic series of the same name by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá to the screen, bringing its dynamic characters to life through engaging and visually-arresting storytelling. Of all The Umbrella Academy‘s many interesting characters, one that’s easy to overlook is Sir Reginald Hargreeves, the titular Academy’s adoptive father and eccentric billionaire (who also happens to be an alien in disguise).

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When 43 women around the world simultaneously gave birth without warning (or established pregnancies), Sir Reginald Hargreeves made it his goal to adopt as many of the children as possible. His seven adopted children became known as the Umbrella Academy, super-powered siblings who perform various missions and undergo rigorous training under the watchful eye of Hargreeves. Though the Netflix show does explore the Umbrella Academy’s younger years at times, it primarily follows their adult selves as they attempt to avert an impending apocalypse (or several). Season 1’s story begins with Sir Reginald Hargreeves’ death, so he’s initially only seen through flashbacks, but later seasons introduce alternate versions of the character. Every version has one trait in common: Hargreeves clashes repeatedly with the Umbrella Academy.

Though Sir Reginald is often characterized as an antagonist (at least, that’s how the Umbrella Academy most often sees him), he’s actually not a villain in any real sense of the word. In fact, the very first episode of The Umbrella Academy establishes the events surrounding Five’s disappearance, which becomes an integral part of what ultimately causes the apocalypse. However, Umbrella Academy‘s Sir Reginald Hargreeves subtly proves in this early interaction that his intentions are pure, and the misfortunes experiences by the Hargreeves siblings are all in fact the result of their ignoring Reginald early on.

Not Listening To Hargreeves Is The Umbrella Academy’s Worst Mistake

In the moments leading up to Five’s disappearance in time, Hargreeves warns him about the dangers of testing his abilities (and of time travel in particular). Five ignores him, but luckily learns of an apocalypse and dedicates himself to warning his family in the hopes of preventing the cataclysm. However, defying Reginald not only ruined Five’s life, but it also subtly caused the apocalypse too, because Five’s decision had a knock-on effect.

After Five’s disappearance, Sir Reginald never fully trusted the remaining children with their abilities, which undoubtedly contributed to his mistreatment of Viktor Hargreeves, whose powers in Umbrella Academy had been proven almost impossible to control. Had Five listened to Hargreeves, he may have treated Viktor with more trust and respect, meaning that the Umbrella Academy’s most powerful member could never cause the apocalypse as seen at the end of The Umbrella Academy season 1.

What’s more, this tracks even further, because each subsequent apocalypse and reality-ending event was the direct result of the previous one. The cause-and-effect nature of The Umbrella Academy‘s stories makes it possible to trace everything back to Five’s defiance of Sir Reginald, subtly painting their adoptive father as a wise and somewhat heroic character (despite his otherwise standoffish behavior). Had the Hargreeves children listened to Sir Reginald Hargreeves from the start of The Umbrella Academy, they never would have had to save the world from the certain doom they caused.

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