‘The Umbrella Academy’ Timeline: What Year Does the Show Take Place?


Netflix’s new series The Umbrella Academy can be a little confusing when it comes to the timeline. The tech doesn’t all match up, so it’s tough to figure out just what year the show is taking place in. The best advice is, first of all, to consider that the show is happening in a parallel Earth, not on our Earth. So the technology is going to be a bit different. This post has minor plot spoilers for Season 1. 

The technology is very confusing on the show. We have smart talking robots, genetically engineered chimpanzees, crazy medical technology that we don’t have in modern society, and Luther even lived on the moon for five years. But at the same time, people still look like they’re using typewriters, no one is texting or calling each other on a cell phone, and much of the tech in the show seems suspiciously outdated. There seems to be no Internet, and searching for information is done on microfiche in the library rather than using a Google search. Most of the cars look outdated too, like they’re from the 1980s. And the security tapes are on VHS.

It’s best to assume this is all happening on a parallel Earth and just accept that the technology isn’t going to make a lot of sense. The comics won’t help either, because those take place in the 1970s, which is not the timeline for the TV series.

In the Netflix series, Luther is shown to arrive in his current home, where the children grow up, in 1928 according to a flashback in the last episode. So he’s been around for a long time. But the children weren’t born until 1989 (which is much later than the comic series takes place.)

The series itself takes place in modern times in 2019. It’s even mentioned once in the show when Grace and Five are talking at the headquarters. Grace says the year is 2019. (I actually couldn’t find this scene when I went back to look for it, but numerous viewers have mentioned it. If I can find the actual scene, I’ll add it to this story.)

Five mentioned on numerous occasions that he’s stuck in a 13-year-old body, which would mean he disappeared around 2002.

Some things might throw you off about the show’s timeline, like the donut shop’s having a sign that says it was voted the best donut in 1997. But this definitely can’t be 1997, because the kids were born in 1989. If the show were taking place in 1997, everyone would only be 18 years old, and they’re all obviously much older than that.

So it’s all a little strange. The technology, the cars, and everything but the clothes make it appear like this is taking place in the 1990s. Meanwhile, we’re told this is 2019. So we’ll have to assume this is a show like Gotham where the timeline doesn’t match up with the real world, and it’s meant to have more of a timeless feeling. The easiest explanation is a parallel Earth. Maybe the births in 1989 somehow had a butterfly effect that changed future tech and styles. Or maybe all their time traveling changed something else that affected technology and styles.

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