As we sprint to the approaching release date of Resident Evil Village, it seems like a good time to look back over the series’ long 25-year history and write some refresher courses for fans both new and old looking to catch up beforehand. This piece in particular will cover the characters of the Resident Evil universe and summarizing their adventures across the Resident Evil series for the sake of a quick catch-up. You never know what events or details might end up being important to understanding Resident Evil Village, after all. I’ll try to cover every major character here, so buckle up! Let’s start at the beginning, and work our way forward!
Characters will be listed with major canonical appearances, including Resident Evil games, manga, stage productions, and animated films (not the live-action Resident Evil films). Note: Some of these characters have appeared in games and media not listed, but I’ve excluded non-canon games (Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D) and games where they appear canonically, but are simply retellings of stories they already appeared in. This is also taking into account the main series canon, and not that of the 2019 and 2020 Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3 remakes, which are reimaginings, existing in their own canon (as they directly contradict multiple plot points from the other games).
An ex-air force pilot turned police officer, Chris Redfield was a member of Raccoon City’s Special Tactics And Rescue Service (S.T.A.R.S.) until the twisted events of July 1998, known as ‘the Mansion Incident’. Along with his team, Chris discovered an insidious experiment to use man-made viruses and genetic manipulation to create biological weapons; the perpetrator of which was a household pharmaceutical giant known as the Umbrella Corporation. Barely escaping with his life and a few other members of S.T.A.R.S., Chris sought to destroy Umbrella and rid the world of the virus once and for all. Along with the surviving S.T.A.R.S. members, Chris helped form an anti-Bio Organic Weapon (B.O.W.) organization that would one day become the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance (B.S.A.A.), and eventually helped bring about the end of Umbrella. Over the years, he’d become involved in numerous terrorist plots and globe-threatening events, saving the world countless times over.
Chris’s heart burned with the desire to protect life and see evil defeated, but the hero found himself conflicted when presented with the new Umbrella Corporation — a military unit promising to use Umbrella’s technology to fight back against the horrors the corporation had caused.
A master lockpick and steadfast soldier, Jill Valentine was Chris’s partner during the events of the Mansion Incident. Jill survived, along with Chris and a few others, only to come face-to-face with the horrors again just a few months later when the virus struck Raccoon City, nearly wiping out the populous and seeing hordes of Umbrella’s monsters fill the streets. Umbrella targeted Jill for execution using a new and improved B.O.W. called Nemesis, which very nearly killed her via viral infection, but she ultimately overcame the beast and escaped the city mere moments before a government-launched missile wiped it from the map.
Years later, Jill would help form the B.S.A.A. with Chris, and served with him and others for years until her kidnapping at the hands of former S.T.A.R.S. captain turned terrorist, Albert Wesker. Wesker used trace elements of the virus in her system in order to control her via a mechanical device attached to her body, sending a now brain-washed Jill to carry out dirty work behind the B.S.A.A.’s back.
In a shocking showdown, Chris managed to rescue Jill from Wesker’s clutches, dismantling the brain-washing device, after which Jill returned for evaluation and rehabilitation. While Jill has remained in quarantine for years since, she’s eager to rejoin the fight with her comrades at her side.
A brilliant and cunning man, Albert Wesker was an Umbrella agent who managed to infiltrate and manipulate the Raccoon City police department, to eventually become the captain of S.T.A.R.S. Wesker deliberately lead S.TA.R.S. into the Spencer mansion during the events of the Mansion Incident, seeking to record data on the B.O.W.’s combat with a militarized team, which resulted in the deaths of more than half of the unit. Wesker’s plans extended beyond Umbrella however, and he faked his own death with the help of a specialized viral agent, escaping with new and enhanced abilities that saw him more powerful than any human alive. Wesker manipulated both heroes and villains from behind the scenes, tipping over pawns one at a time in his quest for unlimited power — eventually helping to destroy Umbrella for his own gain, without Chris or Jill’s knowledge.
After years of careful planning and acquisition of a multitude of viruses and Biological agents, Wesker sought to confront the man responsible for it all, the founder of Umbrella Corporation: Oswell Spencer. Wesker’s world crumbled, however, as Spencer explained that all of Wesker’s careful planning and manipulation had, in fact, been programmed into him as part of a plan to force human evolution, revealing that even his birth had been genetically manipulated. Wesker had never truly held any power, only carrying out a carefully considered series of patterns as part of Spencer’s plans. Wesker, in a fit of rage, executed Spencer and chose to carry out a new plan that would see Spencer’s dreams of forced evolution come to fruition.
Wesker would ultimately be destroyed at the hands of Chris and the B.S.A.A., however, his legacy and plans would continue to hold the world in a death-grip for years to come.
An old partner of Chris’ from the air force, Barry Burton is a kind and loving friend, who puts others before himself — to a fault. Manipulated against his will by Wesker to betray his friends during the Mansion Incident, Barry proved himself in the end when he saw through Wesker’s plans and rescued his friends from certain death. Barry left Raccoon City behind in order to care for his family, but returned just in time to rescue Jill before the city was destroyed.
Years later, Barry’s daughter, Moira Burton, went missing. Barry carried out a solo mission in order to rescue her, where he managed to save her along with an orphaned girl named Natalia, whom he adopted.
The youngest member of S.T.A.R.S., Rebecca Chambers is a brilliant chemist who graduated college at the tender age of 18, and became the lone survivor of the first team that was sent in to investigate the Mansion, just before Chris and Jill arrived. Rebecca barely managed to survive one night of terror with the help of wrongly accused criminal Billy Coen, only to be thrust into another harrowing fight for survival once the other members of S.T.A.R.S. arrived. Leaving Raccoon City behind, Rebecca fought against Umbrella in her own way — from the laboratory, seeking ways of curing their viral infections and saving lives.
Rebecca would eventually become tangled up in multiple bioterror attacks afterwards but managed to survive thanks to the help of her old friend Chris Redfield and the B.S.A.A.
A rookie member of the Raccoon Police Department, Leon Kennedy arrived late to his first appointment as a police officer thanks to a nasty hangover. This carelessness saved his life, as he missed the initial wave of infected and monsters that decimated Raccoon City, in the events following the Mansion Incident. However, he was still left to fight his way out of the city once arriving, after meeting a young woman named Claire Redfield. Upon escaping to the city’s police station, Leon encountered a mysterious woman named Ada Wong, who was searching for her boyfriend amongst the chaos. However, Ada was in fact a spy, working for a competitor of Umbrella’s and seeking to acquire a sample of Umbrella’s latest bio-weapon, dubbed the G-Virus. Ada was eventually exposed, but couldn’t find it in her heart to betray Leon, who had placed his trust in her for the entire night. After an encounter with a ferocious B.O.W., Leon was forced to leave her for dead, and he eventually managed to escape the city with the help of Claire.
After surviving certain death, Leon was immediately recruited by the United States government, which forced him to join a special organization working under the direct order of the President. Leon would continue to work with this agency for years to come, becoming involved with multiple bioterror attacks and events. After losing countless teammates and seeing bioterror attacks only grow, Leon began to lose his boyish optimism, becoming increasingly demoralized as his efforts continued to make seemingly little difference.
Sister to Chris, Claire Redfield is a steadfast and brave woman who came to Raccoon City to search for her brother, only to find herself in the midst of the viral outbreak. Claire managed to fight her way through Raccoon City with Leon Kennedy, arriving at the police station where she encountered a young girl named Sherry, who became infected with the sought-after G-Virus. With Leon’s help, Claire managed to cure Sherry, and escaped the city, leaving her in Leon’s care, still searching for her brother. Her quest eventually lead her to Rockfort Island, an Umbrella-operated prison camp, where she met a young man named Steve. Together, they uncovered the horrible underbelly of Umbrella’s operation; a legacy of madness and evil. Steve became infected but managed to overpower the virus’s control, committing suicide rather than harming Claire.
Eventually escaping the island, thanks to her brother Chris (who had been investigating Umbrella off the radar), Claire temporarily left behind a life of monster-fighting and joined up with multiple government and private organizations in order to combat the people responsible for the virus. This didn’t stop Claire from becoming involved again, however, as she was thrust back into the midst of multiple bioterror attacks and events, surviving again and again.
The daughter of one of Umbrella’s top researchers, Sherry Birkin barely survived the Raccoon City outbreak on her own before crossing paths with Leon and Claire. After becoming infected with a new virus developed by her father, Leon and Claire raced to manufacture a cure for her, just barely making it in time and saving her life. After escaping the city, Sherry was left in the care of the United States government — who took advantage of Sherry’s age and exposure to the virus to carry out experiments on her in captivity for over a decade under the guise of “safety”.
Eventually, Sherry was offered the chance for freedom, in exchange for working as a government agent. Sherry joined the Division of Security Operations (D.S.O.), working to combat bio-terror. Eventually crossing paths with the mercenary Jake Muller, the two would work together to take down a new bioweapon and uncover government ties to a new breed of bio-terrorist group.
A mysterious woman with a past shrouded in darkness, Ada Wong worked as a mercenary for a variety of organizations, scheming to breach Umbrella’s security in order to steal viral samples to sell to her employers. On a mission to procure the same virus that infected Sherry, Ada crossed paths with Leon Kennedy, tricking him into believing she was a civilian. Eventually exposed, Ada couldn’t find it within herself to betray Leon after a romance began to bloom between the two, and after a bio-weapon attack was left for dead. Barely making it out of the city alive, she found herself in the employ of Albert Wesker, after he saved her from the city’s destruction in exchange for a sample of the virus.
Over the years, Ada crossed paths with Leon multiple times, as she was hired to acquire a sample of the latest bioweapons, while Leon sought to destroy them. The pair’s star-crossed romance has continued to go unfulfilled as the two continued to sit at opposite ends of the conflict.
A young and determined guerilla fighter turned mercenary, Carlos Oliveira worked for the Umbrella Corporation’s Umbrella Biohazard Countermeasure Service (U.B.C.S.), sent in to “rescue” civilians during the Raccoon City outbreak. Carlos, unaware that his employers were actually at fault for the disaster, was left the lone survivor of his squad after fellow U.B.C.S. mercenary, Nicholai Ginoveaf, carried out orders to betray them in order to record combat data to sell back to the company. Carlos teamed up with one of the last civilians left alive in the city, Jill Valentine, and the two fought their way out of the city and were eventually rescued — escaping moments before its total destruction.
The evil at the heart of it all and the master puppeteer, Oswell Spencer was the co-founder of Umbrella Corporation. Using his family fortune, Spencer worked with his partners James Marcus and Alexander Ashford in order to pursue unlocking the secret to immortality through viral research and genetic experimentation. Eventually betraying all those who helped him, Spencer designated himself to be the ruler of a new race of genetically superior humans that would supplant humanity. Part of this plan was the Wesker program, which saw the birth of Albert Wesker, as well as the T-Virus, which would go on to destroy Raccoon City. Spencer, through the Umbrella Corporation, has been the source of nearly every tragedy in the Resident Evil series, even long after his death.
Chris’ partner during a B.S.A.A.-lead sting-operation in Kijuju, Africa, Sheva Alomar is a skilled and loyal soldier, fighting to the bitter end in order to end the reign of bioterror that took her family from her at a young age. Sheva was an integral part of the rescue of Jill Valentine from Wesker’s clutches, and worked with Chris to put Wesker down for good.
Helena Harper is a CIA operative turned Secret Service agent who, along with her sister, was kidnapped by secret organization working under government official Derek Simmons. With her sister’s life in danger, Helena was forced to use her position to aid in the assassination of the United States President. A bioterror attack occured in the American town of Tall Oaks, and Helena’s path to rescuing her sister was cut off. She joined forces with Leon Kennedy to attempt a rescue her sister, but without telling him everything. Eventually, Helena’s sister was killed when a virus infection took hold of her. Afterward, Helena chose to expose the organization to Leon, and the pair hunted him down and eventually destroyed Simmons in the midst of an outbreak in China.
Jake Muller was a mercenary working for the highest bidder with no regard for the politics of the organizations he worked for. What he lacked in morals, he made up for in skill. Running into Sherry Birkin in the midst of a revolution gone sour in the small Eastern European country of Edonia after a viral outbreak, Jake was hired to return to the US, so his blood, which carried a viral agent, could be used to make a cure. Unbeknownst to him, this was revealed to be due to Jake’s true father being Albert Wesker, whom he had never known. Jake and Sherry fought for survival, eventually escaping and parting ways on good terms — Jake’s stance on the world and what was worth fighting for having changed.
Jumping off the radar, Jake would work in the shadows to help protect bioterror-stricken against the mutated hordes of bioweapons — shirking his previously high bidding price in exchange for food.
A dedicated B.S.A.A. soldier, Piers Nivans worked as Chris’ partner for years, assisting in multiple operations across the globe, eventually giving his life in order to defeat a new form of bioweapon, and save Chris from certain death during the events in Lanshiang, China.
Alex Wesker was the only other survivor of the Wesker Program instated by Oswell E. Spencer, who disappeared after being contacted by her ‘brother’, Albert, in order to carry out experiments without Spencer’s watchful eye. A cunning and startlingly cruel woman, Alex sought to escape her mortality much like Spencer did, but took a very different approach. By transferring her brain pattern into a new host body, Alex hoped to achieve a form of immortality by being reborn in a new body.
Alex’s experiment was a success, and unbeknownst to anyone else, her mind had been copied into and replaced that of Natalia Korda, a child survivor of the same incident that saw Moira Burton kidnapped. ‘Natalia’ was adopted by Barry Burton and his family, and is now seemingly waiting for her moment to strike.
Mia Winters worked as a transporter and operative for an underground B.O.W. dealer known as The Connections, until she became wrapped up in an outbreak caused by a sentient B.O.W. called Evelin. Eveline killed Mia’s partner and took control of her mind, secreting her away behind the walls of a secluded mansion in Louisiana, owned by a family known as the Bakers. Eveline would control Mia, and the Bakers, for years.
Ethan Winters, Mia’s husband, seemingly had no knowledge of her criminal occupation and had given her up for dead; that is, until a mysterious message arrived directing him to the Baker mansion in Dulvey, Louisiana four years after Mia’s disappearance. Ethan arrived alone to discover a house of horrors and fought for survival to rescue his wife and escape the estate. Eventually, Ethan managed to defeat Eveline, and the pair of them were rescued by Chris Redfield and the new Umbrella Corporation.
Since then, they’ve seemingly lived an idyllic life, having a child together — Rose Winters, living away from the horrors that they just barely survived. That life is about to be turned upside-down however, and Ethan will soon awaken alone on the outskirts of a dark and mysterious village…
Ethan and Mia’s story, along with that of Chris Redfield, will continue in Resident Evil Village. We have just a few more days until it releases on May 7th across Xbox systems, PlayStation 4/5, PC, and Stadia.