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The Umbrella Academy: Is Klaus Responsible for Ben’s Death?

WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for The Umbrella Academy Season 1, streaming now on Netflix.

Though showrunner Steve Blackman's adaptation of Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá's The Umbrella Academy differed in some ways from the source material, it still presented an action-packed adventure with the dysfunctional group of heroes working through family issues in order to stop the apocalypse.

But one particular change the Netflix show makes left fans on Reddit buzzing: The fate of Justin H. Min's Ben Hargreeves. One particular theory posits that Robert Sheehan's Klaus, aka Number Four, was responsible for his death, and when you parse through the 10 episodes, there are actually a few hints in the TV series that soundly back this piece of speculation up.

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In the comics, Ben, aka The Horror/Number Six, plays no part at all, bar a mention here and there. In the three volumes so far -- The Apocalypse Suite, Dallas and Hotel Oblivion -- he's a footnote at best. In the very first issue, released in 2007, we learn Ben died off-panel, with no further details forthcoming, and he's never popped back up since, not even as a specter as in the show. It's always felt like Ben never existed at all, to be honest.

On the Netflix series, Ben also died in the field of battle as a kid, but here he's found haunting Klaus at every turn, sort of like his brother's Jiminy Cricket, endorsing or criticizing the Seance's decisions. While the manner of Ben's death is a mystery barely acknowledged, just like in the source material, he factors in far more prominently. Ben ends up saving David Castañeda's Diego/Number Two from a falling chandelier when their mansion comes apart, and in the season finale, Ben fully manifests and uses the monster inside him to destroy the temporal assassins hunting his family. All his siblings see him in this fleeting moment, and now they know he's with them in spirit. Sadly, no one brings up how he passed away because the season ends right after, leaving us wondering about what or who really killed him, and why Klaus was the one he was attached to all along.

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It stands to reason that he's at his brother's side because Klaus was responsible for his death. After all, when Klaus brought all of Hazel and Cha-Cha's victims from the afterlife to haunt them, we learned that in this universe, the dead stay with the folks who kill them. Thus, there is a good chance Ben is lingering around Klaus as he's the one who killed him as a teen.

The second clue comes in the form of drugs, his kryptonite. Klaus (who's been battling with drug abuse ever since he was a teen) could have given Ben some of his pills, or a post-adolescent Ben may have simply found Klaus' stash and overdosed. After all, we learn early on that Ben was depressed over his monstrous ability and didn't want to keep killing criminals. This is illustrated most clearly by him drenched in blood and looking sad in the Umbrella Academy's first group shot for the press. He could easily have tried to follow Klaus' method of coping, only to succumb to death via overdose. This theory is further backed up by Ben chiding Klaus every time he uses drugs, and why he keeps urging his brother to sober up. At first, Ben's advice seems to be given so Klaus could use his powers properly, but there's a distinct possibility Ben just doesn't want to see the same fate befall his brother.

Ben's protective relationship struck an obvious chord with Klaus fans, who loved how much he tried to change his supernaturally-gifted sibling into a more responsible hero. While Klaus doesn't quite achieve that level of clarity and often ignores Ben, it's all too obvious that he does care and truly feels guilty about... something. Klaus may have been a breakout star, but this dynamic with Ben runs deep and is sure to continue to fuel the series when it returns for its second season.

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Now streaming on Netflix, The Umbrella Academy Season 1 stars Ellen Page, Mary J. Blige, Tom Hopper, Cameron Britton, Robert Sheehan, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Adam Godley, Aidan Gallagher, David Castañeda, John Magaro, Ashley Madekwe and Colm Feore.

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