The Umbrella Academy Season 3 Ending Explained

An unusually conclusive Umbrella Academy season 3 finale delves into Reginald Hargreeves' motivations but does it get things back to "normal?"

Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore) in The Umbrella Academy season 3
Photo: Netflix

This article contains spoilers for the ending of The Umbrella Academy season 3.

As far as Umbrella Academy finales go, season 3’s “Oblivion” is unusually, well…final.

With the respective conclusions of its first two seasons, The Umbrella Academy finished on chaotic, potentially world-threatening cliffhangers that would need immediate addressing at the top of the following season.

The ending of season 1 saw the unfortunate destruction of planet Earth with our heroes escaping to parts (and times) unknown with only seconds to spare. Season 2 then brought the Hargreeves children back to the “present” only to discovery that something had gone horribly wrong as “The Sparrow Academy” were unwelcome intruders in their own home. By contrast, season 3 leaves things off with quite a few plots settled.

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Reginald Hargreeves seemingly achieves one of his biggest goals and his “children” get the opportunity to start their lives over, albeit without the crutch of their powers. Some questions do remain like “Where is Sloane?”, “How will the gang get back their powers?”, and “Will anyone give Klaus a hug?” but for the most part the Umbrellas have a blank slate to work with.

How did the Hargreeves family get to that blank slate? And what will they do now that they have it? Let’s examine it by breaking down the ins and outs of The Umbrella Academy season 3 ending below.

Did Luther and Klaus Die?

Yep, they sure did. At the tail end of season 3’s penultimate episode, “Seven Bells,” Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore) fatally stabs his “Number One” son Luther (Tom Hopper) in the chest with one of his sharp alien fingers. That’s right: Reginald is a space alien, as first revealed in season 2 and reconfirmed here. Then, not content with his dickish behavior just yet, Reginald closes the portal to Oblivion right before Klaus (Robert Sheehan) can follow his siblings in, telling him “You’re just more trouble than you’re worth.”

So yeah…Klaus and Luther die. Thankfully though, death in The Umbrella Academy universe is not as final as one might think. Earlier this season, Klaus recently discovered that not only does he have the power to communicate with the dead but to return from the dead as well. After much cajoling from Luther, Klaus returns from the afterlife and catches up with his siblings in Hotel Oblivion. He’s able to bring Luther along as well but only briefly as a ghost. Luther eventually fades away after speaking with his new wife Sloane (Genesis Rodriguez). That should have been a series wrap on Luther Hargreeves if it not for an event that we’ll get into a little bit later.

What Is Hotel Oblivion?

In addition to being the name of the third volume of comics upon which The Umbrella Academy is based, Hotel Oblivion plays quite a big role season 3. As we see via 1918 flashback in episode 8, Reginald Hargreeves chose a very specific location on Earth to build what would become his Hotel Obsidian. That’s because Hotel Obsidian is merely an external artifice covering up a metaphysical failsafe location known as “Oblivion.”

Though Reginald Hargreeves is intensely focused on tangible concepts like math and science, he does leave some room for superstition. And in this instance, that investment in superstition is vindicated. Reginald believes that the creators of reality, whoever they may be, would undoubtedly create some sort of accessible failsafe device to rescue that reality when all other options have failed. As he puts it: “Whoever or whatever wove space and time, they left a way to put things back together if the universe faced annihilation.” 

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That way resides within the dimension he knows as “Oblivion.” And that’s why Reginald built the Hotel Obsidian directly atop it – so that he and the children could gain access to it whenever they needed it the most. Speaking of the children…they play an important role in all this.

What Are The Seven Bells?

Every wonder why Reginald Hargreeves only adopted seven of the 43 children born with extraordinary abilities on Oct. 1, 1989? The comic series explains that Reginald could only find seven of the 43. Now the TV series seems to imply that he only ever needed seven in the first place.

Part of the reason why Reggie believes in the concept of Oblivion is because of an ancient prophecy referring to “The Seven Bells.” In fact, there are all sorts of prophecies from around the world that refer to a need of seven something. As Reggie notes, The Norse had seven sleepers and the Blackfoot had seven stars. Where Hargreeves came from (whatever cosmic location that might be), they had seven bells.

As Five (Aidan Gallagher) correctly deduces when things are really going to shit in Oblivion, the children are the seven bells. By standing on certain locations in Oblivion previously revealed by a map, the children’s powers will be accessed and consolidated to open up a sort of computer terminal that can “reset” reality.

Though Reginald began with only seven children, thanks to the introduction of Lila and the sideways universe Sparrows, he now has plenty to choose from. Ultimately Klaus, Ben (Justin H. Min), Sloane, Viktor (Elliot Page), Lila (Ritu Arya), Diego (David Castañeda), and Five fulfill the role of the Seven Bells. Reginald tells Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman) to hold back because he knows the experience will kill her and he promised that she could be reunited with her daughter. Say what you will about Reggie, but he’s a man of his word in addition to being a complete monster.

What Was Reginald’s Plan? 

All of this – Oblivion, Seven Bells, etc. – appears to have been Reginald Hargreeves’ plan this whole time, maybe even from the beginning of season 1. As previously established, Reginald is a space alien with no real love for his children. But that doesn’t mean that he can’t experience love at all. At some point during his long life, Reginald lost his wife, Abigail. Unable to let her go, Reginald preserves her corpse and tries to find a way to bring her back. In fact, it’s her body on the moon that Luther was unknowingly protecting his whole time up there.

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Reginald didn’t want to use Oblivion merely as a failsafe to “save” reality but rather as a tool to regain his lost love. To that end he adopted all these children, trained them up, and spent his time studying the mysteries of Oblivion.

The real interesting angle to consider here is how much of the events of The Umbrella Academy did Reginald Hargreeves foresee? By killing himself prior to the beginning of the series, did Reginald know it would set forward a series of events that would find his children: blowing up the Earth, going to 1963 Dallas, returning to a Sparrow-ified universe, and finally accessing Oblivion? Or did the old alien just kill himself because he could no longer take the pain? Perhaps we’ll never know.

Where Does The Umbrella Academy End Up?

Just as they did in the conclusion of season 2, The Umbrella Academy ends up in a timeline that is extremely close to the one they started out in…but not quite identical. Allison pressing some buttons on Oblivion’s doomsday computer somehow starts things over and boots the Umbrellas back to a “normal” universe.

Allison heads back to Los Angeles where she is reunited with her daughter Claire. Meanwhile, her siblings Luther, Diego, Klaus, Five, Ben, Viktor, and Lila end up in a garden that was once the location of Hotel Obsidian. In its place is a plaque commemorating the “Obsidian Memorial Park” in Reginald Hargreeves name. Reginald, meanwhile, is reunited with his wife as they overlook a city in a looming tower.

Everything seems to be ok, save for two little details. One is that none of the Hargreeves have their old powers. Another is that Sloane appears to be missing. Is it possible that this new reality couldn’t make room for Sloane because she came from a false reality herself? That would make sense if not for the second Ben Hargreeves making the cut.

What’s Up With That Post-Credit Scene?

It’s become increasingly common for superhero stories to feature post-credits scenes, particularly now that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has made it to television. In its third season, The Umbrella Academy follows this trend for the first time. The thing is though, season 3’s post-credit scene is uncommonly short and weirdly enigmatic.

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Over the span of only a dozen seconds or so, the post-credit scene catches up with a glasses-wearing Ben Hargreeves as he sits on a Korean subway train. We hear the words “This train is bound for Yeoudio Station.” Ben smiles and then that’s it. End scene. End season.

So why exactly was this included? And what does it mean for the show going forward? Our guess is that it serves as a tidy bookend for the season, mirroring the season’s opening scene in which Ben was unexpectedly born to his mother on Oct. 1, 1989 on a Korean train.

In addition to that, this might be the show’s way of slowly turning the Sparrow Academy Ben into our Ben. This Ben smiles, meaning that either the Sparrow Academy Ben is learning to chill out or that this really is the Ben of old. And if that is true, that might mean that Five’s prophecy has finally come to pass and there might be extra versions of all the Umbrellas out there in the world. That could make for an interesting season 4 conceit. Speaking of season 4…

Will There Be a Season 4?

Our official prediction is that yes, there will be an Umbrella Academy season 4, though Netflix has not officially confirmed one yet. As to what that season will be about is anyone’s guess. The show has now run out its comic book source material, but we get the sense there is still some story to be told. Stay tuned for our conversation with Umbrella Academy showrunner Steve Blackman tomorrow where he’ll discuss more of his vision for the series yet to come.