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The Character Whose Fate Was Very Different In The Umbrella Academy

Though it feels like it's been around longer, Netflix's wildly inventive, hyper-violent superhero fantasia The Umbrella Academy has aired but 20 episodes over two seasons on the streamer. Perhaps the series' seeming longevity is the result of its singular narrative ambition, with those 20 episodes having already delivered enough action-packed thrills, shocking plot twists, and heart-wrenching personal dramas to fill up several seasons of a more traditional series. Fans of The Umbrella Academy can no doubt attest that the series is anything but traditional, though. And even as far-out and narratively dense as the show has been in its first two seasons, series creatives are likely about to go even bigger in the upcoming third season.

Whether or not that means The Umbrella Academy will continue to diverge narratively from the series' source material remains to be seen. And while many of the diversions from Gerard Way (of My Chemical Romance) and Gabriel Bá's Eisner-winning comic books have been more or less for the better, there have been more than a few serious deviations to date. There have also been a handful of smaller-scale changes that only die-hard fans of The Umbrella Academy books might've picked up on. One of those is undoubtedly the grim fate of the one and only A.J. Carmichael

If you're more of a casual The Umbrella Academy fan, Carmichael was the sharp-tongued, chain-smoking goldfish with the robotic body who took control of The Commission in season 2. And it was his removal at the hands of Number 5 (Aidan Gallagher) that allowed The Handler (Kate Walsh) to seize control of the nefarious organization. As you might recall, she also ended Carmichael's reign by eating him alive. However, a completely different character actually did that dastardly deed in the books.

Carmichael wasn't eaten by The Handler in The Umbrella Academy comics

So which character from The Umbrella Academy's gonzo rogues' gallery did the deed in the books? As much as the act seems very on-brand for Way's psychotic versions of Hazel and Cha Cha, the original culprit was indeed Number 5 himself. That should hardly shock fans of either the books or the series, as 5 probably has more blood on his hands than any single character in the entire Umbrella Academy universe. And yes, as much as that blood was earned on several decades' worth of orders from his timeline-controlling bosses at the Commission, one would almost rightfully assume 5 gobbled up Carmichael as retribution against the organization for more or less destroying his life and his mind.

While that may or may not be entirely true in the books, it seems Way's source material also featured a far more specific reason for Number 5 to chow down on Carmichael, which is that the irritatingly posh, insanely intelligent fish-bot thing actually altered 5's DNA to a dubious end in the original story — which obviously makes the vicious kill far more personal for 5, if no less crazed. While the change certainly helped soften Number 5's character in the series (especially after he literally gutted the entire Commission brain trust), it also just makes more sense for The Handler to consume Carmichael in the adaptation.

That's because Carmichael spends much of the season smarmily trying to put The Handler in her place after her miraculous, post-bullet-to-the-brain return to the Commission workforce. Carmichael had become keenly aware of The Handler's power-subverting behind-the-scenes scheming as well, so she had some extra incentive to take him completely out of the picture — and yes, doing so in such brutal fashion is about as Handler as it gets.