The following contains spoilers for The Umbrella Academy.
Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy wasn’t lacking for mysteries in its debut season.
Fans (of which it turns out there were many) want to know exactly how Pogo the chimpanzee came to be an esteemed English-speaking genius, why 43 women across the world suddenly and unexpectedly gave birth in 1989, and where the Hargreeves children are headed in their upcoming time travels.
Still, one question looms over all, since it seems like it should be so easily answerable. How did Number Six a.k.a. Ben Hargreeves a.k.a. “The Horror” die? We see Ben (played by Justin Min) as a specter that only his brother Klaus can observe. Ben died sometime before the series began and his death was likely the impetus for The Umbrella Academy’s end.
But how did he die? HOW, DAMN IT!
“Oh, you know I can’t talk about that, Alec,” Justin Min told us (or me, rather) via phone.
Min doesn’t want to tell anyone not because he is a meanie but more likely that he, himself, doesn’t know the answer.
“I think no one really knows,” Min says. “(Umbrella Academy creator Gerard Way) has even admitted that he, himself, does not absolutely know. I think we’ll all find out together and it’ll be really exciting when we all do. If that time comes,” he adds.
The Umbrella Academy‘s most tantalizing mystery is a mystery to everyone it would seem. The Umbrella Academy comic, now five issues into its third volume, has yet to reveal the cause of Ben’s death. For the practical purposes of the performance, however, Min says that portraying a dead person differed little from playing a living one, aside from the fact that most characters onscreen ignore him.
“I think, at the end of the day, we just decided that there was really no need for him to put on any sort of aspect that he’s actually dead,” Min says. “He could really just focus on this real relationship that he has with Klaus. For me, as an actor, I wasn’t really playing any of that. I was still an active part of Klaus’s life and I could talk and interact with him in the way that I used to when I was alive.”
Like Reginald Hargreeves, Ben Hargreeves is more of a story catalyst. And as such, he may sadly be more important to the story in death than in life. It was Ben’s death that drove The Umbrella Academy apart and Reginald’s death that brought them back together. Which is funny, of course, since the Hargreeves kids generally loved the former and hated the latter.
“I’m excited to see the show explore that because, obviously, that is a huge motivation behind why the family broke up and what started all of this in the first place with them all being separated,” Min says.
Still, Min’s denial and hope that the show will eventually cover Ben’s death is not going to stop people from asking Min how Ben dies. It appears as though we weren’t the only ones to.
Thankfully, there is quite a bit about the show that Min can talk about: The Umbrella Academy Season 2…or at least his hopes for it.
“If we do get a season two, I would hope that Klaus and Ben would continue their relationship and now that Klaus has discovered this newfound aspect of his powers, that it would allow Ben to have a little more independence and agency and interact with Klaus in a more active way, instead of being a passive bystander. As you know, we’re going back in time and time travel can change anything and everything. So, we’ll see what happens,” Min says.
Plenty of mysteries remain surrounding The Umbrella Academy. We don’t know where or when season 2 will take place. It’s nice to know though that Ben and Klaus will continue to be spooky best buds.