In the more 20+ years since the original released on PC and the original PlayStation, there have been nine mainline Resident Evil games – not to mention a few remakes and plenty of weird ports and wild spinoffs. Now that Netflix has announced a Resident Evil Series, we thought it was worth providing an up-to-date summary of the franchise’s story and take a look at just how Netflix’s eight-episode arc, focused on “the Wesker sisters”, could fit into the established lore.
We’re only going to look at “core” games in the series (sorry Zombie Buster mobile games!), though it’s possible that the show will take inspiration from spinoffs or “non-canon” games as well (like the time Leon and Claire had to bust all those zombies). Given what we know about the Netflix series so far, though, we could be in for an entirely new spin on Resident Evil’s brand of survival horror as well.
Before the Games…
While the Resident Evil games don’t begin, chronologically, until the late ‘90s, the events leading up to that first night in the Spencer Mansion actually bring us all the way back to the discovery of the Progenitor virus in the 1960s.
The three key figures most important to the early Resident Evil timeline are virologists Edward Ashford, James Marcus, and Oswell E. Spencer. The three men cultivated the Progenitor virus from a rare West African flower called Stairway to the Sun, eventually co-founding Umbrella Pharmaceuticals in 1968 to disguise the true nature of their endeavors – using their research to develop biological weapons.
During this period of time, Spencer contracted architect George Trevor to design and construct the Spencer Mansion, the gothic estate and secret Umbrella laboratory that our heroes eventually stumble upon in the Arklay Mountains. Upon completion of the mansion in 1967, George’s wife Jessica and daughter Lisa were abducted by Umbrella and subjected to tests for the Progenitor virus. Over the course of Umbrella’s research on Lisa Trevor, which spanned over a decade, Birkin would discover a mutant strain of Progenitor eventually dubbed the G-virus. If you’re playing Resident Evil 2 for the first time, Birkin and the G-virus will be important names to remember.
The same year Umbrella was founded, the company built the Umbrella Executive Training Center in the Arklay Mountains, which Dr. Marcus reluctantly took over as director. The point of the program was to train researchers for the highest ranks of Umbrella, but Dr. Marcus mostly used the position to focus on his Progenitor virus research. Tensions bloomed between Marcus and Spencer in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Marcus grew suspicious of Spencer’s intentions and attempts to steal his research, and wished to overthrow him as head of Umbrella.
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In 1978, a year after student virologists William Birkin and Albert Wesker joined the training facility, Dr. Marcus had a major breakthrough. By combining Progenitor with leech DNA, he was able to create the t-Virus, a series of mutated Progenitor strains which, when combined with Ebola RNA, is capable of turning those infected into zombies. If you’re new to Resident Evil, that’s probably the most important one to remember.
That same year, Spencer – unhappy with Marcus and seeking more control over Umbrella’s bioweapons efforts – shut the training facility down and moved Wesker and Birkin to the Arklay Laboratory beneath Spencer Mansion. Marcus remained in the abandoned facility to continue his research. In 1988, Wesker would assassinate Dr. Marcus on Spencer’s orders and Birkin would begin his research on the first Tyrant. Birkin was on a roll: at this point, his G-virus research had earned the approval of Spencer, who ordered construction on a massive Umbrella laboratory underneath Raccoon City a few years later.
In 1993, Birkin officially transferred his G-virus program, approved by Spencer, to the Raccoon City Underground Laboratory, or NEST. Umbrella’s control over Raccoon City wasn’t solely covert. The corporation not only funded major elements of the city’s infrastructure – its police chief, Brian Irons, began receiving bribes from them in exchange for his silence over Umbrella’s illicit operations beneath the city.
In 1996, the Raccoon City Police Department establishes the S.T.A.R.S. (Special Tactics and Rescue Service) division, headed by Wesker.
And the games begin…
Resident Evil Zero + Umbrella Chronicles: Beginnings
In July 1998, the Umbrella-owned train The Ecliptic Express comes under attack by a swarm of t-Virus infected leeches, infecting everyone on board.
Bravo Team S.T.A.R.S. officer Rebecca Chambers discovers the train after her team’s helicopter crash lands on the way to investigating some grisly murders in the mountains outside of Raccoon City. After meeting up with convict Billy Coen, the pair end up at an abandoned facility used to train upcoming Umbrella execs. At the facility, Rebecca and Billy discover that Dr. Marcus was responsible for the t-Virus.
During this period, Wesker and Birkin realize they can’t contain the unleashed virus, and Wesker decides to abandon Umbrella to join its rival company. He asks Birkin to join him, but Birkin refuses in order to complete his G-virus research.
Wesker tells Birkin of his plan to “lure the S.T.A.R.S. members into the mansion” in order to use them as combat training test subjects. Birkin decides to blow up the facility. Rebecca meets up with her team captain, Enrico Marini, who informs her of an old mansion where the rest of the Bravo team are planning to meet up.
Meanwhile, Wesker is confronted by Colonel Sergei Vladimir, Spencer’s right-hand man and Umbrella’s Captain of the Guard, who accuses him of screwing up and taking no responsibility for it. Vladimir sets a tyrant on Wesker, but Wesker is victorious.
Rebecca and Billy are reunited and eventually meet up with Queen Leech, Marcus’ final experiment, who entered his body and reanimated it, imbuing itself with all of Marcus’ knowledge and memories. After killing Queen Leech once and for all, the building self-destructs. After escaping, Rebecca gives Billy his freedom and heads towards the mansion to find her fellow S.T.A.R.S. members. Wesker and Vladimir also head towards the mansion separately.
Resident Evil + Umbrella Chronicles: Rebirth
On July 24, 1998, the S.T.A.R.S. Alpha team is sent out to figure out what happened to the Bravo team. After landing, S.T.A.R.S. member Joseph Frost is killed by a mutant dog, prompting pilot Brad Vickers to flee in the helicopter.
Jill Valentine, Chris Redfield, Albert Wesker, and Barry Burton make a mad dash to a mansion spotted in the woods. Depending on which character the player chooses to control, either Jill or Chris spends the night exploring the mansion, discovering the fates of other S.T.A.R.S. members and a few dangerous secrets about the nature of the mansion – the Spencer Mansion, as it turns out.
Enrico Marini tips off the player character that someone on Alpha Team is a traitor. Jill/Chris eventually uncovers the fact that the Umbrella Corporation was behind the illegal experiments resulting in the horrors roaming the mansion’s halls.
Jill/Chris eventually makes their way down to an underground lab, where they discover that Albert Wesker was the aforementioned traitor. Wesker infects himself with a mutant strain of the T-Virus in order to give him a survival edge, before introducing the remaining S.T.A.R.S. members to the Tyrant. Wesker is fatally wounded by his monstrous creation, and the team defeats the Tyrant with the help of Brad, who heroically returns with a rocket launcher and the escape helicopter just in time.
Thanks to the T-Virus running through his body, Wesker survives. As he tries to escape the self-destructing facility, Wesker is confronted by Lisa Trevor, who has been heavily mutated through decades of G-virus testing. Wesker defeats Lisa, and eventually joins Umbrella’s rival organization as planned.
Resident Evil 3: Nemesis (Part 1)
Immediately after the events of the “Mansion Incident,” the remaining members of S.T.A.R.S. return to Raccoon City to demand an official investigation into Umbrella, which colluding Chief Irons rejects. Chris, Jill, Rebecca, and Barry to decide to go rogue and investigate the Umbrella conspiracy themselves, with Chris heading off to Europe solo and Jill staying in the city to learn more about Umbrella’s secret underground lab.
In September 1998, Raccoon City becomes overrun with zombies after the T-virus contaminates its water supply, infecting much of its population. Umbrella sees the outbreak as an opportunity to test its new bioweapons, and sends down the experimental B.O.W., Nemesis T-Type, with a mission to kill off surviving S.T.A.R.S. members.
At this point, the events of Resident Evil 2 begin to unfold…
Resident Evil 2
While Jill tries to survive the outbreak, rookie R.P.D. officer Leon S. Kennedy and Chris Redfield’s younger sister Claire both arrive in Raccoon City. After meeting and pairing up to survive a zombie attack, the two are almost immediately separated by a car accident, so Leon and Claire agree to meet up at the police department. Unfortunately, the building is also infested by zombies. Claire runs into Sherry Birkin, a young girl being pursued by a monstrous weirdo who turns out to be her Dad and Umbrella leading scientist, William Burkin.
Turns out ol’ Billy B had planned to betray Umbrella and sell his new G-virus but was gunned down by Umbrella. Before dying, William managed to infect himself with the G-Virus and allowed the virus to spread into Raccoon City through the water system. Nice one, Willy.
Meanwhile, Leon runs into Ada Wong, an FBI agent who’s looking to obtain the G-Virus to prove Umbrella’s corruption. In the sewers Leon and Ada run into William’s wife Annette, who is… not a big fan of law enforcement, to say the least. Leon and Ada chase her to a secret Umbrella underground facility called NEST in pursuit of the G-Virus.
Claire also arrives at NEST in search of a vaccine for a now infected Sherry. Leon manages to obtain the G-Virus sample but runs into Willam, who in his freakish form mortally wounds his wife. Annette tells Leon that Ada is actually a mercenary who’s looking to sell the G-Virus to the highest bidder. Ada demands the G-Virus, But before Leon can hand it over, Annette manages to shoot Ada. She falls to her death, dropping the G-Virus sample.
Claire finds the vaccine and gives it to Annette to cure her daughter while she tangles with William. Sherry is cured, but Annette eventually dies of her injuries. The facility is set to self-destruct, and Claire and Sherry board a train to escape with Leon. With NEST destroyed, the crew finally manage to escape the nightmare and on the outskirts of Racoon City vow to continue their fight against Umbrella.
Resident Evil 3 Continued
Elsewhere in Racoon City, Jill Valentine is infected with the T-Virus. Fortunately, Carlos Oliveria, a merc hired by Umbrella is on the scene to not only cure Jill, but help find the vaccine. At this point our heroes find out the unfortunate news that the U.S Government plans to wipe out Raccoon City with a missile strike, hoping to eradicate the infection.
Carlos and Jill head to ANOTHER underground lab, this time creatively called NEST 2. Unfortunately, Nemesis is still alive and very much still in pursuit. The two manage to take out the abomination once and for all, and with the vaccine sample in hand manage to escape the city before the missile strike.
Unfortunately, Nicholai, Carlos’s former colleague turned secret operative is waiting and manages to destroy the vaccine vial. Jill and Carlos take down Nicholai, leaving him for dead and escape just before the missile arrives to completely floor Raccoon City for good. And as expected, our hero vows to take down Umbrella…
Resident Evil: Code Veronica
Three months after escaping from Racoon City, Claire Redfield – in search of her brother Chris- attempts to raid a European Umbrella facility before being captured. Claire is taken to an island prison commanded by Alfred Ashford, a grandchild of one of the founders of the Umbrella. An outbreak occurs (of course) and after being freed, Claire gets to work looking for Chris and escaping the island.
Finding no sign of Chris, however, Claire escapes on a plane. Ashford – who it turns out has a split personality disorder and often believes himself to be his twin sister, Alexia – takes control of the plane remotely and crashes it into ANOTHER Umbrella facility, this time in Antarctica. (It’s also worth noting that during the crash, Claire spends a period unconscious here. During which she has a dream that turns out to be the plot of Resident Evil Survivor 2. Fun!)
Alfred has also flown over in a quest for revenge and after he’s fatally wounded he frees his Sister Alexia who is cryogenically frozen and riddled with a new virus called T-Veronica.
Meanwhile, back on Rockford island, wouldn’t you know it, Chris has shown up looking for Claire. Instead, he runs into his old pal Wesker, who’s still alive, super strong and on a mission to find the T-Veronica sample. They both make their way to Antarctica and Chris finally reunites with Claire who then defeats a now very powerful Alexia before escaping as the facility self-destructs.
Oh, and Chris and Claire vow to take down Umbrella…Seeing a pattern here?
Resident Evil 4
Six years later Umbrella is long gone, due to a combination of government oversight and subsequent stock value crash – basically, the least awesome way possible.
Leon Kennedy, the once RPD rookie is now a government agent who’s sent on a mission to rescue the president’s daughter, Ashley from her kidnappers in rural Spain. He discovers that not only are her kidnappers a cult called Los Illuminados, but they’re also all infected by a new mind-controlling parasite called Las Plagas.
During the rescue, Leon coincidentally bumps into his old flame Ada Wong, who is not dead and once again on the hunt for the virus.
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After rescuing Ashley, Leon confronts the cult’s leader Saddler and, with the help of Ada, they manage to defeat him. Ada, once again showing her true colors, takes the Las Plagas sample and escapes via helicopter, but not before setting the base to – you guessed it – self-destruct.
Leon and Ashley manage to escape and Jet-ski their way home.
Resident Evil 5: Lost in Nightmares DLC
Two years later, with Wesker still on the loose, Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine are working together for the new Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance. Following a lead towards Umbrella’s founder, Oswald E. Spencer, the pair finally come face-to-face with their old boss-turned-arch-nemesis Albert Wesker, who has killed Spencer.
Wesker, seemingly even more powerful than before and now dodging bullets for fun, is more than a match for Chris and Jill. To save Chris’s life, Jill sacrifices herself, sending both her and Wesker to their deaths. Chris, understandably, is sad.
Resident Evil 5
Almost three years after Jill’s death, Chris is tasked with apprehending terrorist Ricardo Irving, who is selling bio-organic weapons in Africa. Along with his new partner, Sheva, Chris discovers that the locals are infected by something similar to Las Plagas, later discovered to be called Oroboros. He’s also informed by the BSAA that Jill could still be alive.
After defeating a mutated Irving, Chris and Sheva learn that Tricell -the company that funds the BSAA- had taken over Umbrella’s seedy work in conjunction with a still alive Wesker and have been conducting human experiments. Unfortunately one of his victims is Jill, who is also still alive and now under Wesker’s control.
Chris and Sheva manage to subdue Jill and remove the mind-control device before it’s too late. Wesker tries to flee on a bomber which crash lands in (of all places) a volcano. After some boulder punching, Chris and Sheva finally defeat Wesker once and for all and all is well in the world… for now.
Resident Evil 6
This one features three interwoven storylines, so strap in. In 2012, a new virus surfaces from a company dubbed Neo-Umbrella and led by someone who looks an awful lot like be Ada Wong.
Series newcomer, Jake Muller is believed to be the key to a vaccine to said virus due to his antibodies, which are a result of Jake being the heretofore unknown son of Albert Wesker.
In 2013 the American President decides enough is enough and it’s time to spill the beans about what really happened in Raccoon City. However, before he can there’s another bioweapon attack, and the President, (now a zombie) has to be taken down by his loyal agent and series favorite, Leon Kennedy.
Ada Wong then arrives and tells Leon that National Security Advisor, Derek Simmons, is affiliated with Neo-Umbrella and behind the terror attack that zombified PotUS and that he’s whipped up a new strain of biological nastiness known as the C-Virus. Leon heads to China in pursuit of Simmons.
Chris Redfield, now wracked with PTSD and a thirst for revenge after his team was slaughtered by Ada, also heads to China in pursuit. As does Jake because, you know… big finale.
To get through it quick as we can: Chris finds out Jake’s true identity and despite an awkward moment when Chris tells Jake he killed his dad, they mostly work it out. Simmons dies, Chris’s mate Piers is wounded, then grows a new arm with thanks to the C-Virus and saves Chris. Jake kills his boss (who’s honestly not worth talking about), and we also find out there’s two Adas – one being an imposter called Carla, who explains all the costume changes – and, finally, all the good guys win and go their separate ways. Basically, there’s a lot going on and it’s not very good, right? Maybe skip this one in the series replay.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
In 2017, Ethan Winters is looking for his wife Mia who’s missing. His search leads him deep into Louisiana and he finds her imprisoned by a very odd and very disgusting family, The Bakers.
Ethan is captured by Jack Baker and forced to join in with a vomit-inducing family dinner with his wife Marguerite, son Lucas and an old eldery woman. After escaping and managing to kill Jack and Marguerite, Ethan finds his wife and develops a serum for Mia.
They try to flee on a boat but it’s knocked over by a mysterious creature that turns out to be a girl called Eveline, a bio weapon that Mia – who apparently is a secret agent – was tasked with escorting. Turns out Eveline was responsible for the Baker family’s mind altering infection because she was desperate for her own family. You know, like all bioweapons are.
After injecting Eveline with a toxin she reverts back to her true form: the old woman at dinner with the Bakers. It turns out that she’s been rapidly aging – but not for long, as Eveline mutates into a giant blob (like all classic Resident Evil bosses) and after a final confrontation with Ethan – with a little help from a recently arrived military squad – she’s finally destroyed.
In a final reveal, the leader of the military squads helps up Ethan and it’s revealed to be none other than Chris Redfield coming out of a helicopter branded …Umbrella? The company seems to have been resurrected once again and now, sporting a fancy blue logo, are on the side of good, working alongside organizations like the BSAA to help rid the world of bioterrorism.
Resident Evil 7 Not a Hero DLC
After Ethan escapes, Chris and his team pursue Lucas Baker, who actually was never under Eveline’s mind control due to a serum provided to him by a new shadowy organization called The Connections.
The Connections were behind Eveline’s creation and Lucas has been gathering data on her for them. But, like every villain in the series, he also planned to betray his masters – though it doesn’t pay off as, after working his way through a series of traps, Chris manages to confront and kill a mutated Lucas. The expansion ends with Chris returning to base for an urgent call…
(We also get a look at Chris in the trailer for next year’s Resident Evil 8: Village, though he seems very different from the idealistic hero we know and love – you can check out our theories for that in the video above)
Considering that the only imagery we have from the new series is a picture of a script, there’s not much concrete info to go on – but we do know a few things:
The series will focus mostly on a character named Jade Wesker and her sister Billie.
The plot will focus on the “dark secrets” of Jade and Billie’s father.
There are two timelines: one focused on Billie and Jade as teens set in “New Raccoon City” and another following an adult Jade’s survival in a post-apocalyptic future where <1% of humanity has survived a T-virus outbreak.
According to showrunner Andrew Dabb, “The series will be complete with a lot of old friends… and some things (bloodthirsty, insane things) people have never seen before.”
Since the official information is so limited, there are a bunch of directions that this could go in – and based on that quote from Dabb coupled with the synopsis, it seems like the series might exist outside the canon of the core Resident Evil games. For example, while the games never reached a full-on global apocalypse, the movie series did; perhaps the Netflix show is incorporating some of those ideas as well, with Jade taking the place of Mila Jovovich’s Alice.
However, it’s more fun to guess at how this plot could come about if the show were, in fact, set in the world established by Resident Evil I – VII. Here’s our guess at what that might look like:
We think it’s very safe to assume that Billie and Jade are the daughters of Albert Wesker. His son Jake was introduced in RE6, it’s entirely possible that Albert had other children (ones that he actually knew about) before he went full-on Batman villain at the end of RE1.
New Raccoon City is built on the ruins of the original; with Umbrella (before their national disgrace and collapse in 2004) having stepped in to rebuild.
Billie and Jade never know about their father’s work (or maybe we get some brainwashing/memory-alteration stuff from the movies and/or RE5), but begin to suspect something is up once dear old dad comes home one night after being stabbed by a giant monster and nearly exploding.
Before they can really get to the bottom of what’s going on, they see on the news that the president’s daughter got kidnapped and Dad suddenly disappears off to Africa.
There’s another world, of course, in which Albert wasn’t the only Wesker working for Umbrella – or perhaps New Raccoon wasn’t built until the mid-late 2020s and Jake Muller somehow ended up following in the footsteps of dear old dad before fathering two daughters…
Regardless, fast-forward past the volcano fight, the 2012 outbreak, and whatever’s gonna happen with… werewolves(?) in Resident Evil 8 and SURPRISE! “Good” Blue Umbrella is, in fact, still evil and accidentally zombifies most of humanity. Bummer.
What happens from there is anyone’s guess, though, since the mainline RE game timeline currently taps out around 2017. Those “old friends” Dabb mentioned could be appearances from other Umbrella scientists, or perhaps the Redfield/Valentine/Burton trifecta makes an appearance before or after the end of the world. Either way, here’s hoping Ali Larter comes back as Claire.
We’ll surely learn more about the series in due time, and whether it falls closer in line with the games or the movies – or if it tells its own story in a third Netflix-specific universe. Until then, let us know your theories about its plot in the comments, and check out everything we know about the upcoming Resident Evil 8: Village.
The Resident Evil games can be as silly and weird as they are scary and we hope you enjoy them as much as we do.