The Umbrella Corporation was a major antagonistic force in the Resident Evil video game series. As far as the public were aware, this multi-billion dollar international conglomerate was the leading producer and supplier of pharmaceutical products and healthcare services in the United States and the rest of the western world. What people were blissfully unaware of, however, was that Umbrella's main purpose was genetic and viral research and the production and sale of Bio-Organic Weapons. The corporation engaged in numerous illicit genetic practices for decades until the company was shut down in 2003 after losing the court cases regarding its involvement with the destruction of Raccoon City in 1998.
Founding and early history
Umbrella was founded in 1968 by Lord Oswell E. Spencer and his associates James Marcus and Edward Ashford following their discovery of the Progenitor virus in Africa. During its early years, the company was almost solely dedicated to research on the Progenitor and its potential applications. Spencer, driven by his misanthropic worldview, became curious how the virus might be used to enhance the human race for the better and built up Umbrella as his means of exploring the possibility of remaking society in his image.
Over the years, Umbrella quickly expanded across the world, establishing itself as the world's leading pharmaceutical enterprise. This was all a cover, of course, and Umbrella's true work revolved around the research and development of biological weaponry. By 1978, the company's co-founder James Marcus had discovered the T-virus after introducing the Progenitor virus to leeches. With the discovery of this new viral strain, Umbrella's genetic research advanced by leaps and bounds.
In 1988, Marcus was assassinated on Spencer's order and his research on the T-virus was passed on to William Birkin. Birkin would later go on to discover the G-virus through continuous experimentation on Lisa Trevor, Umbrella's longest-surviving human test subject.
1998 proved to be a disastrous year for Umbrella. The corporation's co-founder James Marcus, having apparently been restored to life through his Queen Leech, had initiated a plan to exact vengeance against Umbrella. Now able to mentally control swarms of infected leeches, he scattered the T-virus inside Umbrella's Arklay Research Centre and Arklay Laboratory facilities, actions which would later lead to the virus spreading into Raccoon City, dooming the town to destruction.
Though Marcus was finally killed and the Umbrella Research Centre and Laboratory were destroyed by the S.T.A.R.S., Umbrella had to take steps to ensure that the public would never become aware of their illegal activities and went about blackmailing and bribing most of Raccoon's city officials in order to disgrace the S.T.A.R.S. and block their investigation.
Unfortunately, Umbrella could not keep the truth from coming out indefinitely. Viral run-off left over from the Mansion Incident was seeping into the city's water treatment plant, leading to a number of isolated infections occurring in the city. The situation deteriorated rapidly, however, when Umbrella sent in agents to retrieve samples of the G-virus from Dr. William Birkin, who was planning on betraying the company and selling his creation to the US military. Birkin was gunned down in his laboratory and as his dying act injected the G-virus into his own body, turning himself into a constantly-mutating abomination. As his mental state rapidly degraded, Birkin hunted down the Umbrella agents who had tried to take G away from him, murdering each of them. In the process, he also damaged an attache case full of T-virus samples, shattering them and contaminating the sewers with the toxin. Sewer rats would contract the virus and carry it up to the city, leading to the infection of almost the entire population.
As Raccoon City became plagued by zombies and other monstrosities, Umbrella sent in agents to secure the company's most sensitive documents and research materials. They also used the outbreak as an opportunity to field-test several new B.O.W.'s, such as the Nemesis T-Type, which was deployed to hunt down and eliminate the surviving S.T.A.R.S. members.
Despite Umbrella's best efforts, they could not come out of such a large-scale disaster unscathed. Following the sanitation of Raccoon City, the corporation found itself indicted and became entangled in lengthy court proceedings. Umbrella had many ties with key government officials and seemingly limitless financial reserves, allowing them to drag out the proceedings for several years.
Decline and collapse
After the Raccoon City Destruction Incident, Umbrella spent the next five years struggling to stay afloat. As the Raccoon Trials were dragged out, the company's stock prices began to suffer and they had all but lost the trust of the American public. Their international operations were also being threatened as many of their research facilities across the world began to go dark one after another, suffering attacks from various groups and individuals determined to put an end to their bio-weapons research.
By March 2003, all of Umbrella's operations had been shut down and the company had been found guilty on all charges relating to its insidious research and its involvement with the destruction of Raccoon City. Umbrella had folded; the corporation was forced into bankruptcy and its leaders had all either been arrested or had gone into hiding. But even with the downfall of Umbrella and the exposure of the menace of B.O.W.'s to the world, their legacy remained. Many of the numerous bio-weapons and viral agents developed by Umbrella had been leaked on to the black market, allowing both rogue nations and terrorist organisations to obtain them and the means of producing them themselves. A new biological arms race had begun and would lead to several other horrific incidents in the future.
Key Umbrella personnel
- Oswell E. Spencer - President and founder of Umbrella. He was one of three individuals responsible for discovering the Progenitor virus, the basis for all of the company's key research projects. Spencer had developed a highly misanthropic view of the state of the world and established Umbrella as a means of correcting humanity's mistakes. Even when Umbrella collapsed, his vision for the future remained. His most ambitious plan - the Wesker Project - remained in effect so long as his protege Albert Wesker lived. In 2006, Spencer and Wesker met one last time and Spencer revealed the details of his plan to enhance the human race and create a new world. Wesker then killed Spencer and worked toward fulfilling Spencer's vision.
- James Marcus - Co-founder of Umbrella and the man responsible for the development of the T-virus. The paranoid Spencer called for Marcus' assassination in 1988, but Marcus would be resurrected ten years later through his Queen Leech and would enact a plan to take revenge and destroy the company he had helped to build.
- Edward Ashford - The third of Umbrella's three founders. He died in 1968 after contracting the Progenitor virus.
- Alexander Ashford - Son of Edward Ashford and director of Umbrella's Antarctic Base before being succeeded by his daughter, who later used him as a guinea pig in testing the T-Veronica virus.
- Alexia Ashford - Child prodigy and developer of the T-Veronica strain. She injected herself with the virus and was placed within a state of cryogenic hibernation for 15 years as the virus bonded with her cell structure. Shortly after awakening, she was killed by Chris and Claire Redfield.
- Alfred Ashford - Twin brother of Alexia and director of Umbrella's Rockfort Island facility. Mentally unhinged, he was a sadist who frequently punished his staff and prisoners in barbaric ways. He was killed during the incident at the Antarctic base.
- Albert Wesker - Key Umbrella scientist and intelligence operative, Wesker was also an unknowing key component in Spencer's plan for remaking humanity. Believed to have been killed during the Mansion Incident, he had actually faked his death and disappeared, selling himself to one of Umbrella's rival companies as a means of gaining knowledge and resources to further his own goals.
- William Birkin - Former head researcher of the Arklay Laboratory relocated to the Raccoon City Underground Laboratory. Responsible for the creation of the G-virus and causing the T-virus to contaminate all of Raccoon City.
- Annette Birkin - Wife of William Birkin and co-director of the Raccoon Laboratory. She was killed during the Raccoon City Disaster.
- Vincent Goldman - Director of the Sheena Island facility. He was responsible for the island's destruction and perished during the event.
- Sergei Vladimir - Director of the Umbrella Biohazard Countermeasure Force and Umbrella Special Service paramilitary groups. Foremost responsible for the T-A.L.O.S. Project. Was killed by Wesker during the Caucasus Facility raid.
- Alex Wesker - The only surviving Wesker Project subject besides Albert. She worked closely with Lord Spencer for years until Umbrella's collapse, after which she went into hiding.
- Arklay Laboratory - Major B.O.W. research facility located in the Arklay Mountains; the lab complex is hidden underground beneath the Spencer Mansion. This facility was destroyed in 1998 following a viral outbreak.
- Umbrella Research Center - Located in the Arklay Mountains and known to the public, though supposedly committed to medical research and to training future Umbrella managerial staff. Was in fact used by James Marcus as his primary T-virus research facility. Destroyed in 1998 the day before the Mansion Incident.
- Raccoon City Underground Laboratory - Primary B.O.W. manufacturing plant and viral research facility overseen by the Birkins. Destroyed during the Raccoon City outbreak.
- Rockfort Island - Distant island facility overseen by Alfred Ashford, consisting of a training facility for Umbrella paramilitary troops, a prison complex and B.O.W. laboratory. Destroyed following an attack by the renegade Albert Wesker.
- Sheena Island - Site of a Tyrant production facility. Destroyed by Ark Thompson.
- Umbrella Antarctic Base - B.O.W. production and shipping facility and sight of the T-Veronica project. Destroyed by Chris and Claire Redfield in December 1998.
- Umbrella Caucasus Facility - Major B.O.W. manufacturing plant and hub of Umbrella's Red Queen computer network. Shut down in 2003 by anti-Umbrella privateers.
Below is a list of all of the bio-weapons created by Umbrella.