If you’re a fan of Netflix’s Umbrella Academy, it is no surprise to you the superhero drama’s second season kicks off with yet another apocalypse. The Hargreeves siblings can’t eat breakfast without stirring the winds of armageddon. Yet, there is one unexpected cog in the wheel of season 2’s end of days threat: President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Or, more specifically, the 1963 assassination of JFK, which forever altered the course of American history.
As we learn in the first two minutes of Umbrella’s season 2 premiere, “Right Back Where We Started,” something caused the Cold War to escalate to nuclear, world-ending proportions. Considering the fact that President Kennedy arrives in Dallas — the central setting of Umbrella Academy’s retro season 2 — days before the apocalypse, it seems obvious these two events are connected. Particularly since one member of the Umbrella Academy, Diego Hargeeves (David Castañeda), is positively obsessed with stopping the murder of JFK.
The addition of the Kennedy assassination tosses Umbrella Academy — a series already bubbling with paranoid characters — into one of the most enigmatic and enduring conspiracy theories of the last century. It makes for a season where everyone comes off at least a little bit suspicious, from core personalities like Hargeeves dad/actual alien Reginald (Colm Feore) to bit players like Jack Ruby (John Kapelos). Then, finale “The End of Something” leaves the mystery of Kennedy's killer in an even twistier place than before. But, we’ve figured this whole murderous, time-jumping mess out. Keep reading for answers to the burning President Kennedy questions you’ll inevitably have while watching Umbrella Academy season 2.
Who killed JFK?
Early Umbrella Academy season 2 episodes drop a few references towards the conspiracies around President Kennedy’s assassination. First there’s the inclusion of Jack Ruby as Luther’s (Tom Hopper) boss. Ruby is a central figure in the real-life Kennedy assassination and the many theories around it (more on him soon). Similarly, second episode “Frankel Footage” reveals video proof that an umbrella-wielding Reginald was at the Grassy Knoll site of Kennedy’s shooting. One conspiracy theory posits a man fired a deadly dart at JFK from the tip of his umbrella. Later season 2 episodes even suggest Adult Five (Sean Sullivan) was dispatched by The Commission to the assassination.
However, the official IRL story involves far less time travel and alien intrigue. Lee Harvey Oswald shot President Kennedy in Dealey Plaza in Downtown Dallas on Friday, November 22, 1963. The 35th president’s ’s motorcade car turned off of Main Street into the plaza, as we see in Umbrella Academy season 2. He was then shot at around 12:30 p.m., the Kennedy presidential library reports.
In 1976, the House of Representatives’ Select Committee on Assassinations confirmed that President Kennedy’s murder was a “conspiracy” and that it is possible “two gunmen” were involved in the crime — although they could not go into further detail at the time.
Oswald, a Texas School Book Depository employee, was arrested for the assassination almost immediately after JFK’s 1963 shooting. Oswald was then shot and killed two days later by Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby, who committed the murder directly in front of cameras. Ruby’s very public execution of Oswald has fueled decades of conspiracy theories of Ruby’s own involvement in JFK’s death. Many believe the mafia wanted President Kennedy out of office and either used Ruby as a gunman or had him eliminate Oswald as a favor. Despite the fact that Ruby appears in Umbrella season 2, he is never directly involved in Kennedy’s death.
Umbrella Academy, Diego, Vanya, & JFK
Three Umbrella Academy siblings are integral in understanding the series’ take on President Kennedy’s assassination: Diego, Five (Aidan Gallagher) and Vanya Hargreeves (Ellen Page).
Diego arrives in Dallas in September 1963 and instantly becomes fixated on stopping the JFK assassination, due to his proximity in geography and time. Umbrella Academy suggests Diego’s obsession is mostly selfish — saving JFK will have no bigger effect on the fate of the world at large. Diego only wants to protect the president because he is convinced success will prove he is a “good man” and the hero his father never believed he could be ( Diego grew up No. 2 to Luther’s No. 1).
Five spends Umbrella Academy season 2 more worried about stopping the apocalypse than saving the president. That is because Five is promptly met with nuclear destruction when he first travels to 1963. In the eighth episode, “The Seven Stages,” Diego realizes the Kennedy conspiracy and the end of the world are connected. The cause of the new 1963 apocalypse is the recent escalation of the Cold War, which only happens because the United States assumes Russia attempted to assassinate JFK in Dealey Plaza via an explosion in the nearby Dallas FBI building.
This fact brings us to Vanya, the lynchpin in yet another Umbrella Academy apocalypse. By looking into the future, Diego learns it is Vanya who will cause the Cold War to become very, very hot. Vanya is the explosion at the FBI building. Vanya is captured by the FBI and tortured right before President Kennedy’s Dallas appearance. The agony of the experience — and her decision to finally accept her previously repressed memories — will cause Vanya to unleash a building-breaking amount of energy. The Americans will incorrectly take Vanya’s explosion as an act of Russian aggression.
Who Killed JFK On The Umbrella Academy, In The End?
Although Umbrella Academy relies heavily on the intrigue of the Kennedy assassination to power season 2, the series isn’t particularly interested in figuring out the true killer. In the penultimate episode “743,” ghost sibling Ben (Justin H. Min) sacrifices himself to stop Vanya from emitting the blast that convinces the Americans to begin nuclear warfare. This decision reopens the possibility for the JFK assassination to go down “properly,” leaving JFK dead and the apocalypse averted.
And it does work out. Although Adult Five is sent by the Commission to ensure JFK dies, he jumps back in time before firing a single shot at the president. Murder-happy “Young” Five also doesn’t fire at JFK. Similarly, while the Umbrella Academy’s dad Reginald was videotaped at the scene of the assassination, “743” confirms he wasn’t the shooter. Instead, as Diego learns to his horror, Reginald sent a non-violent robotic decoy to the scene of the crime. Still, someone shoots President Kennedy dead.
Umbrella Academy’s finale confirms Lee Harvey Oswald is arrested for the assassination, although the series does little explore whether he really committed this crime. Instead, the series shows us the people pulling the strings on the conspiracy: The Majestic Twelve, who are introduced earlier in the season, thus suggesting they are more important than whomever actually pulled the trigger.
In fourth episode “The Majestic 12,” the shadowy “Deep State” insiders complain that JFK is making “inquiries into Roswell and the other crash sites.” For this perceived threat to alien-related secrets, the Twelve have JFK killed. A member of the Twelve also says they’ll have “their people in place” for the assassination, suggesting more than one person — completely outside of the Umbrella Academy’s chaos — was enlisted to kill President Kennedy. Apparently, Oswald didn’t act alone.
Although Umbrella Academy never reveals the identity of those on-the-ground conspirators, it does tell us the Twelve celebrated JFK’s death with little tiki beverages. Only The Umbrella Academy.