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The Sad Detail About Dolores From The Umbrella Academy

Netflix's The Umbrella Academy has more than its share of eccentric characters. There's the spirit medium Klaus (Robert Sheehan) who has abused just about every intoxicating substance known to humanity, and in season 2 of the series starts a cult to keep himself living in luxury. There's Diego (David Castañeda) who has a Batman complex so bad, you end up looking for his cape. And of course there's the "mother" to them all — Grace (Jordan Claire Robbins), the robot. That's not a metaphor. She's literally a robot. 

One of the strangest and most mysterious of them all is Number Five. Played by Aidan Gallagher, Number Five is a man in his fifties or sixties (his precise age is unclear) stuck in the body of a boy in his early teens. With the power to teleport through both space and time, Number Five unintentionally winds up in a post-apocalyptic future at the age of 13. He is unable to travel back to the present for over 40 years and — somewhat reminiscent of the one-sided flirtation between Will Smith and the mannequin in 2007's I Am Legend – he makes a companion out of a mannequin he names Dolores. He spends decades in the ruins of the future with Dolores, carrying on full conversations with her. When he finally makes it back to the present day he finds Dolores in a department store, and even risks his life to save her from the pair of assassins who show up to take him out. 

Fans have always been curious about Dolores, including many (via Digital Spy) who theorize she's more real than she appears. In particular, one fan on Reddit shared a small observation that could add another level to our understanding of the relationship between Number Five and Dolores.

Dolores' name adds a new level of our understanding of Number Five

In late 2020, the Reddit user Doggo_Noodle shared a sad observation about the name that Number Five chooses for his lifeless companion. Doggo_Noodle wrote, "I was taking a Latin test and I saw the word 'Delores' so i was like 'ey nice.' Then i found out the meaning= pain. Maybe Five called her that on purpose?"

A quick trip to the Latin-English Dictionary of Latin-English.com pretty much confirms Doggo_Noodle's translation, listing the word "dolor" as translating to "pain, anguish, grief, sorrow, suffering." So the next natural question is whether or not Number Five is the kind of guy who would know how to say "pain" in Latin.

Considering what we know about him, it would actually be more surprising if Number Five didn't know Latin. Not only does Number Five display the kind of genius-level intellect that could devour new languages like snacks, but from what we see of Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore) — the Umbrella Academy's strict and snooty mentor and guardian — he's definitely the kind of guy who would consider Latin proficiency necessary for growing superheroes.

Not to mention, isn't it the perfect name? What else could Number Five claim as his companion when he's lost in a dead future for decades without any human contact? Perhaps Dolores symbolizes the idea that in order for Number Five to survive his anguish, he has to learn to love it. This may also explain exactly why Number Five brings Dolores back to the department store and has his break-up scene with her at the end of season 1's penultimate episode. Leaving Dolores for good may — symbolically, at least — be Number Five's way of recognizing he has his family back and he no longer has to carry the pain of his post-apocalyptic trauma.