‘The Umbrella Academy’: Why Ben Hargreeves Appears Older, Even Though He Died When He Was 16-Years-Old

There’s a lot of mystery shrouding Ben Hargreeves (Justin H. Min) in The Umbrella Academy. Many fans are focused on what happened to Ben during that final, fatal mission. Still, one question bothers some fans even more — why does Ben appear older when he died as a teenager? 

[Spoiler Alert: Spoilers for The Umbrella Academy Season 2 ahead.] 

Justin H. Min as Ben Hargreeves

Ben Hargreeves died when he was 16-years-old 

Though the cause of Ben’s death is still unknown, it is established that he died when he was 16-years-old.

The only other thing known about Ben’s death is that it was the result of a failed mission. During his funeral service, Sir Reginald (Colm Feore) made the remaining Hargreeves siblings aware of the role they played in their brother’s death. 

Typically, ghosts don’t age

In the world of entertainment, ghosts tend to appear the way they were when they died. Sometimes, ghosts’ depictions are gruesome because the way the character died was violent — like in the Sixth Sense. Cole (Haley Joel Osment) saw some horrific-looking ghosts because they had suffered pretty horrific deaths. 

However, with The Umbrella Academy, Ben appears to be as old as his siblings, despite having died when he was 16-years-old. The only time we see young Ben (Ethan Hwang) is in flashback scenes, when the rest of the siblings appear young, too.

So, why does Ben’s ghost appear as old as the rest of the Hargreeves?

Ben’s ghost plays into a classic trope 

As Screen Rant pointed out, Ben’s ghost appears older because he has unfinished business to deal with. For Ben, his unfinished business requires a more mature being. 

In season 1, episode 4, “Man on the Moon,” we saw other ghosts like Ben who have unfinished business while Klaus was being held captive by Hazel (Cameron Britton) and Cha-Cha (Mary J. Blige). Their previous victims communicated with Klaus, seeking retribution. 

For Ben, his unfinished business is slightly different. What’s more, his unfinished business evolved from season 1 to season 2. 

Ben Hargreeves was meant to save the world — twice 

In season 1 of The Umbrella Academy, Ben’s unfinished business was to fight alongside his siblings and put an end to the apocalypse.

The seemingly all-knowing Sir Reginald acquired the seven Hargreeves siblings to create a group of superheroes capable of doing that. However, Ben’s death put a wrench in that plan.

So, even in death, Ben had to age along with the rest of his siblings until the time came for them to stop the end of the world. 

Ben’s job proved to be a challenge, considering Klaus had to get sober and remain that way to channel Ben’s abilities. But he did it, and miraculously they make it out of 2019 and back to the 1960s, giving them plenty of time to put a stop to the apocalypse. 

Except their time jump moved the timeline of the apocalypse. 


‘The Umbrella Academy’: Why Didn’t Anyone Ask Klaus to Communicate With Ben Hargreeves?

In this way, Ben’s unfinished business once again became unfinished. This time, to stop the Cold War nuclear apocalypse from happening, Ben had to use his ghost status to reach Vanya and help her control her powers. 

Sadly, when Ben completed his unfinished business, his spirit ended up getting destroyed in the process. Because he finished what he was always meant to do, Ben was finally free to move on. 

While fans were heartbroken to see Ben go, many found solace seeing an alternate Ben appear as the Sparrow Academy leader.