Why Harlan Killed Mothers (not just Umbrella Academy)


Why did Harlan kill the mothers of the Hargreaves Siblings in Season 3 Umbrella Academy and why were the other 43 women caught up in his massacre? To say that Umbrella Academy’s antics in 1963 had unintended consequences would be an understatement of Luther’s scale. By letting their future father see what a mess his Umbrella Academy had become, the Hargreaves siblings pushed Sir Reginald to create Sparrow Academy instead-an entirely new team (with the exception of Ben, whom Reginald had never met) in a completely new reality. Undoubtedly, this means a complete catastrophe for the space-time continuum, right?! Obviously not. After careful consideration, Number Five decides that this modified timeline is perfectly acceptable as long as no one encounters their doppelganger.

And therein lies the problem. The original Hargreaves siblings have no counterparts in the Sparrow timeline. This means that their presence is a paradox, and this paradox creates a kugelblitz that causes the apocalypse of season 3 of Umbrella Academy. As Victor soon discovers from Elliot Page, these doppelgangers have gone missing because Harlan Cooper killed umbrella mothers (plus a bunch of other women from the original 43 births that occurred spontaneously around the world) before the babies were born. Why would sweet, innocent Harlan arrange this maternal massacre — especially for those whose children were not at Umbrella Academy — and how is such a feat actually possible?

The death of his mother at Umbrella Academy was recorded in 1963, when Victor accidentally gives Harlan powers, saving the boy’s life. Attempts to remove them failed, and Harlan spends the next 50 years trying to contain the awesome power of the White Violin. As the incidents with rabbits and bullies have shown, emotional situations confuse Harlan and he loses control, causing a destructive vibration similar to Victor’s. Since Sir Reginald has been suppressing Victor’s powers for so long, old man Harlan is much more aware of their gift and explains that they can “feel” the vibrations of other super-powered children. So, when Sissy passed away on October 1, 1989 — the day when 43 children were due to be born — a heartbroken Harlan feels Victor. Mentally reaching out, he instead finds Victor’s mother shortly before giving birth. His grief combined with her fear causes Harlan’s biggest explosion. Quite unintentionally, its vibrations cause hemorrhage in the brain of Victor’s mother and 26 other people.

Why did Harlan also kill mothers outside of Umbrella Academy?

It makes sense that at the darkest moment, Harlan turned to Victor-the only person he loved besides Sissy. It also makes sense that, feeling the overwhelming fear inside Victor’s mother, Harlan freaked out and accidentally killed her, as did the pet rabbit that bit him in the montage of memories. But how does season 3 of Umbrella Academy explain the total of 27 corpses left behind by Harlan Cooper?

The science behind the deaths of mothers at Umbrella Academy is predictably vague and deliberately vague. Think of the 43 children and their respective mothers as a network, each connected to the other through vibrations. Harlan and Victor’s power manipulates vibrations, including resonance from their super-powered siblings. When Harlan turned to Victor’s mother, he automatically connected to each mother, creating a chain reaction from one to the other. The mothers of Umbrella’s six children, whom Harlan met in 1963, probably died first because their specific vibrations were familiar to him. This could explain why all the mothers of the Hargreaves’ siblings died. From there, the order could have been completely random or based on physical proximity to Sissy’s hospital bed in California. Harlan eventually cut the connection, but if he hadn’t regained control, all 43 Umbrella Academy mothers would have died.


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