Ellen Ripley is the central character in the Alien franchise, played by actress Sigourney Weaver. She first appeared in Ridley Scott’s Alien in 1979, then James Cameron’s Aliens in 1986, David Fincher’s Alien 3 in 1992 and followed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Alien Resurrection in 1997.
Ellen Ripley was born on January 7, 2092 at the Olympia colony on Luna. She gained a Masters in engineering at the New York Aeronautics University and went on to serve in the US Merchant Navy on a ship called the Zelazny where she was the co-pilot. At some point, she had a child called Amanda. After that, she tried to take a leave of absence from her job so she could spend more time with her daughter. Ripley and Weyland-Yutani came to an arrangement where she could take her leave of absence after she had served with the Nostromo.
Nostromo Xenomorph Encounter
Ripley came aboard the Nostromo in 2122 along with seven other crew members. The crew came out of their stasis and found out the ship had woken them up because it had detected a distress signal emanating from a nearby moon called LV-426. It was stated in their contracts that they had to investigate any kind of extra-terrestrial life so the crew landed on LV-426, damaging their ship in the process. Captain Dallas, Executive Officer Kane and Navigator Lambert were part of the team that went to investigate the distress signal while the rest of the crew stayed on the ship to work on the ship repairs.
Medical Officer Ash observed the ground team from the ship as they came across a Derelict spacecraft. As Dallas, Kane and Lambert entered the Derelict, their radio signals were interrupted cutting them off to the Nostromo. Soon after, Dallas and Lambert bring an injured Kane back to the ship. He had an unknown parasite on his face – a Facehugger so Ripley refused to allow them entry onto the ship citing quarantine protocols. Ash had overridden the door by himself and let them in. Lambert later hit Ripley for refusing to let them back in.
Ash and Dallas attempted to remove the Facehugger from Kane but it was wrapped around him too tightly and removing it would probably kill him. They tried cutting off one of its digits and acid spilled out and burnt through the deck. Later, the Facehugger mysteriously fell off Kane and disappeared. Ripley, Dallas, and Ash search the infirmary and find the creature dead. Kane regained consciousness and the crew had one last dinner before they went back into stasis. As they were eating, Kane started to have a seizure and a Chestburster burst out of his chest and disappeared into the ship.
The crew said farewell to Kane before shooting his body out of the airlock and prepared to find the alien creature. Brett made a cattle prod and Ash made a motion tracker to help them. Parker, Brett and Ripley took off to find the Chestburster while Dallas, Lambert and Ash stayed behind. Ripley’s team detected a signal but realised it was just Ripley’s cat, Jonesy. Brett inadvertently let it go but Ripley and Parker told him to go and find it so that they wouldn’t detect it again. Brett follows the cat and finds a shed skin. He finds the cat but now the Chestburster has grown into a much larger creature – an adult xenomorph, and it attacks him. Ripley and Parker get there just in time to see if scurry off into the vents.
The crew regrouped and realised the creature was using the air ducts to get around the ship. Parker made a few flamethrowers while Dallas agreed to go into the air ducts and drive the alien to the airlock. Parker and Lambert used the ship’s tracker to guide Dallas and tell him where the alien was. The plan seemed to work and they closed off some parts of the air ducts. The alien seemed to appear and disappear on the motion tracker and before Dallas realised, it attacked him.
Parker found the flamethrower but no trace of Dallas’s body. The remaining crew got back together and discussed where to go from here. Lambert suggested escaping in the Narcissus shuttle but Ripley explained that it could not support four people. Later Ripley asked the Nostromo’s computer system, Mother, what to do about the creature. It refused to tell her but she did find out about Special Order 937 which was to recover the alien and keep it alive.
Ripley goes to find the other crew members but Ash locks her inside. He attacks her and shoves a magazine down her throat. Parker and Lambert came just in time to save her. Parker knocked Ash’s head off with a fire extinguisher and realised he was an android all along. Ripley reactivated Ash to get information about the special order but he didn’t really tell them much. They left and Parker set fire to Ash.
The three remaining members of the crew could now use the Narcissus to escape. Parker and Lambert go off to collect supplies while Ripley goes to collect her cat. The alien attacks Parker and Lambert, killing them both and Ripley finds their bodies. She activates the Nostromo’s self-destruct mechanism and gets to the shuttle. In the Director’s cut of Alien, she finds Brett and Dallas cocooned and transforming into something. Dallas begs Ripley to kill him so she torches them with a flamethrower.
When she reaches the shuttle, she finds the alien blocking her way so she returns to try and deactivate the self-destruct. Despite turning the cooling back on, the ship still finalises the self-destruct mechanism. Ripley rushes back to the shuttle and escapes the Nostromo explosion. She prepares to enter hypersleep when the alien reveals itself hiding in some pipes. She gets to the closet and puts on a spacesuit. Ripley gets to the control unit and opens the airlock to get rid of the alien. It flies out hanging onto the entrance but Ripley manages to use a harpoon gun to get rid of it. She closes the airlock and fires up the engine, and the alien is blown into space. Ripley gives her final report of the Nostromo and enters hypersleep.
Mission to Hadley’s Hope
Aliens takes place in 2179 and Ripley has been floating in space in hypersleep for 57 years when a Tripast Salvage ship recovered the Narcissus. She is sent to the Gateway Station to the medical section to recover from her ordeal. She soon talks to a Weyland-Yutani representative called Carter Burke who informs her that her daughter Amanda had died two years before Ripley was woken up from hypersleep. Ripley is brought before an enquiry who wishes to know what happened to Nostromo and why she armed the self-destruct mechanism.
She tried to convince them that an alien had attacked the crew but the court denied the existence of it and the special order to retrieve it. Ripley tells them to go to LV-426 for themselves but the court tells them that a terraforming colony has been living there for years. The court decided that she acted with ‘questionable judgment’ and revokes her flight license. She begins working as a Powerloader operator on Gateway but Ripley continues to have nightmares about what happened on the Nostromo. Burke tells her that they have lost contact with the colony on LV-426 and he convinces her to go there with a team of Colonial Marines to find out what happened to them.
The team travel there on the Sulaco spacecraft and comes out of hypersleep. When they sit down for dinner, Ripley realises that Bishop is an android who tells him to stay away from her, given what happened with Ash on the Nostromo. Burke tells Bishop that the previous android malfunctioned and a few deaths were involved but Bishop tells Ripley that this is impossible with the new models. The team prepare by getting supplies and going down to LV-426 in an APC which is in a dropship.
The marines enter the colony ‘Hadley’s Hope’ and search through the medical and operation sections and find the place deserted. After the complex was secured, Ripley, Lt. Gorman, Burke entered the facility. They discovered two alive Facehuggers in stasis tanks in the med lab and realised the colonists had discovered the Derelict spacecraft. The team continued to explore the complex and discover something on their motion tracker. It turns out to be a little girl who escapes into the vents. Ripley follows her into the vents and corners her. She convinces her to come back with her and the Marines. Ripley discovers that she is called Rebecca Jordan or Newt, and her family are dead. She’s been surviving all this time by hiding in the vents.
The Marines soon discover that all the colonists are grouped together in the atmospheric processing center which is a huge terraforming reactor pumping oxygen into the air. They travel in an APC and the Marines go inside the station in search of the colonists. Ripley, Gorman and Burke keep in contact with the Marines over the radio and via their video links. The marines come across the aliens’ nest and their communication signal gets weaker. Ripley and Burke tell Gorman that the Marines are under the cooling tower and in turn, Gorman tells the Marines to hand over their pulse rifle ammunition and grenades so they wouldn’t rupture the reactor.
The Marines discover the cocooned colonists, along with some Alien Eggs and dead Facehuggers. One of the colonists is alive and starts to convulse. A Chestburster emerges from her chest which Apone kills with the flamethrower. This causes lots of warrior aliens to attack the Marines. One alien takes Corporal Dietrich causing her to fire her flamethrower at Private Crowe who falls to his death. In the chaos, Private Wierzbowski is taken by an alien while Vasquez and Drake open fire on the aliens with their smartguns. Apone is then attacked by a xenomorph which causes Gorman to panic. Ripley takes over and drives the APC into the alien hive.
Hicks, Hudson and Vasquez escape in the APC but Drake is sprayed with acid. The APC gets damaged and Gorman gets knocked out by some falling boxes. The group discuss how to proceed and Ripley suggests leaving for the Sulaco and destroying the colony from orbit. They send a signal to one of the dropships to pick them up but a xenomorph snuck aboard and kills Spunkmeyer and the pilot Ferro. This causes the dropship to crash into the Marines’ APC. The group then decides to barricade themselves in the colony complex.
The group managed to salvage some weapons, ammunition and four sentry guns from the APC. Hicks tells them that they have to wait at least 17 days before rescue comes for them. Hicks gives Ripley a tracker so they can locate her if she gets lost and later Ripley gives it to Newt in the medlab. Bishop tells the team that the fight with the xenomorphs has damaged the reactor and they have a few hours before it completely explodes.
They agree to pilot the last dropship from the Sulaco so they can escape but they discover the radio link is down inside. Bishop agrees to go outside and pilot the dropship while the rest of the marines seal off every entrance to the colony to prevent the aliens from getting in. The aliens soon attack and the sentry guns’ ammunition almost runs out. Ripley discovers that Burke ordered the colonists to go to the Derelict and she tells him that she won’t allow him to take an alien back to Earth.
Ripley goes back to Newt in the medlab and goes to sleep. She wakes up and notices that the two Facehuggers have broken out of their stasis tubes and attacks them. They both realise the door to the medlab is locked and Ripley’s pulse rifle is outside the room. She fails to break the glass with a chair so she triggers the fire alarm with a lighter. This gets the attention of the marines who break the glass, and save Ripley and Newt from the Facehuggers.
Ripley realises that Burke had trapped them in there in an effort to infect them with an alien embryo so he could sell them to Weyland-Yutani. He was planning to kill all of the marines in hypersleep. As they confront Burke, the colony loses power and figures out the xenomorphs have found a different way into the complex. Hudson is tracking the aliens coming towards them but doesn’t know where they are. They realise they were using the air ducts to move around and they attack them from the ceiling. Hudson and Burke are grabbed by aliens in the battle while Newt guides the rest of the group through the airducts.
Vasquez and Gorman sacrifice themselves in the air ducts with a grenade which causes Newt to fall in some water. A xenomorph grabs her before Hicks can get to her. Ripley and Hicks escape the facility with Hicks getting injured in the elevator. They tell Bishop to land the dropship near the cooling tower. Ripley refuses to leave Newt behind. She takes a pulse rifle and flamethrower, and she uses the tracker that she gave to Newt earlier to find her in the alien hive.
Ripley uses an elevator to go down many floors and reach the alien hive. She sees no aliens around and drops flares to find her way back to the elevator. In a deleted scene, she catches up with a cocooned Burke who tells her to kill him. She finds Newt’s tracker device and suspects that she has been killed. Just then, Newt, now trapped in alien resin, sees an Alien Egg open and Ripley hears Newt’s cries for help nearby. Ripley kills the Facehugger and frees Newt.
They are about to escape when they enter another section where they find lots of alien eggs and an Alien Queen laying the eggs. Some xenomorphs were about to attack Ripley and Newt but the Queen directs them to back off when it realises Ripley is threatening to destroy the alien eggs with her flamethrower. Ripley backs away and destroys the alien eggs, the xenomorphs and fires grenades into the Queen Alien’s egg sack. The Queen tore free from the egg sack and chased after Ripley and Newt.
Ripley and Newt reach the elevator just as the reactor explodes. They escape in the elevator just as the Queen Alien appear and when they get to the cooling tower platform, they realise the dropship is gone. Meanwhile, the Queen was coming up to them in the elevator but Bishop arrives in the dropship to rescue them just in time. They take off for the Sulaco just as the colony is destroyed in the reactor explosion.
When the group gets to the Sulaco, Ripley thanks Bishop for rescuing them but just then, the Queen impales Bishop through his chest with her tail and rips him apart. The Queen descends from the dropship after it has hidden there from the cooling tower platform. Newt hides under the floor grates while Ripley goes into a storage area. As the Queen is about to grab Newt, Ripley emerges in a Power Loader suit to battle the Queen. She dodges its attacks and manages to push the Queen into the airlock along with the Power Loader suit. Ripley escapes up a ladder despite the Queen holding onto her and activates the airlock. The Queen Alien is sucked out into space. Ripley climbs out of the airlock and disables the airlock. Ripley, Newt, Hicks and Bishop enter hypersleep as they make their way back to Earth.
Fiorina “Fury” 161
After the remaining crew enter hypersleep, an alien egg hatches and unleashes a Super Facehugger. It attacks Ripley in her cryotube which causes the Sulaco to eject all of the cryotubes into an EEV which then crashes onto Fury 161. Hicks is killed by a support beam, while Newt drowns in her cryotube and Bishop is damaged even more. Fury 161 contains a prison facility – a Class C Work Correction Unit, who salvage the EEV and rescue Ripley. The prison’s doctor explains to Ripley where she is and suggests shaving her head as they have a lice problem in the prison.
She convinces Clemens to perform an autopsy on Newt as Ripley was worried she was carrying an alien embryo but she wasn’t. They have a funeral for the deceased and their bodies are incinerated in the leadworks while a prisoner called Dillon recites a poem. Prison Warden Andrews is unhappy at the disruption having a female present is causing in an all-male prison. Ripley later goes to the scrapyard to get what’s left of Bishop but many prisoners attempt to rape her. Dillon saves her and beats them off her. Ripley tries to repair Bishop and temporarily reactivates him. He tells her that an alien was on board the entire trip and caused the Sulaco to eject them in the EEV. Ripley disconnects Bishop and goes to see Clemens.
During this time, the same Facehugger that was aboard the EEV, infects a dog (or an ox depending on which version of Alien 3 you watch). During the funeral, the alien emerges from the dog and quickly grows into a large xenomorph. This time, the creature actually borrows traits from its host so it walks on all fours like a dog and is generally more agile. It killed three prisoners leaving Golic alive who is later restrained in the infirmary. As Clemens is seeing to Ripley, he is killed by the xenomorph.
Ripley runs to the mess hall to warn the others but Prison Warden Andrews is grabbed from the air vent and killed by the creature. The prisoners regrouped and tried to figure out a way to kill it. Their idea was to fill the ventilation system with toxic waste and set it alight in an attempt to force out the alien. The xenomorph unfortunately struck and caused a huge explosion, killing many prisoners. Ripley starts feeling sick and asks Aaron to run a scan of her in the EEV. She discovers that she is carrying a Queen Chestburster inside of her. Ripley then asks Dillon to kill her which agrees to but only after she helps kill the alien.
They plan to trap the alien in the prison’s leadworks so the prisoners start luring it into different sections and sealing it in. Eventually, most of the prisoners are killed leaving Ripley, Dillon, Morse and Aaron left. The xenomorph gets trapped in the mold with Ripley and Dillon and Dillon stays behind to distract it while Ripley climbs out. The alien charges at Dillon killing him and Ripley tells Morse to pour the lead into the mold. The alien was still alive and jumped out covered in molten lead.
Morse tells her to turn on the sprinklers which causes the alien’s body to crack and explode. Ripley prepares to kill herself with the help of Morse. People from the Weyland-Yutani company arrive to help Ripley and remove the Chestburster from inside of her. One of them is Michael “Bishop” Weyland, the person who allegedly designed the Bishop androids and used his likeness. Weyland told her that they could remove the embryo and it would be destroyed.
Ripley refused to believe him and Aaron attacked Weyland proving that he was human after all. Aaron was shot dead by Weyland’s team while Ripley and Morse moved off the platform. Bishop tells Ripley not to do it and that he must have the alien. Ripley sacrifices herself and falls into the molten lead just as the Chestburster erupts from her chest. She grabs onto it and she falls into the lead and dies.
After Ripley sacrificed herself on Fury 161, samples of her blood were recovered from the planet. In 2379, two hundred years after the events on Fury 161, military scientists aboard the USM Auriga spacecraft attempted to clone Ripley in order to extract the alien embryo from her. After seven attempts to clone Ripley, the eighth attempt is successful. Known as Ripley 8, the company extracts the Chestburster from her body. As a result of the cloning procedure, Ripley 8 has part alien DNA inside of her which gives her enhanced strength, acidic blood and a special connection to the xenomorphs.
In the meantime, the military has raised a Queen Alien which has begun laying eggs. A group of mercenaries arrive on the Auriga in a ship called the Betty and deliver many kidnapped humans in stasis so the military can use them as hosts for the aliens. A member of the Betty, Call, attempts to kill Ripley 8 so they couldn’t extract any DNA but it was too late. The xenomorphs have also gained a huge amount of intelligence through the cloning process and escape their containers. They begin killing the crew and Ripley 8 and the Betty crew decide to escape in their ship and destroy the Auriga to prevent it from getting to Earth. Along the way, Ripley 8 discovers a room containing all the other failed Ripley clones and sets fire to them all.
The group swims through a flooded kitchen and tries to escape two xenomorphs. Hillard and Christie are killed and Call is fatally shot. Call reappears at the top of the shaft and reveals herself to be an advanced android. Ripley 8 tells Call to interface with the Auriga and tell the ship to set a collision course with Earth hoping to destroy the xenomorphs in the crash. Ripley is captured by the aliens who witness the Queen Alien give birth to a new creature known as the Newborn which has a mixture of human and alien DNA. The Newborn kills the Queen and believes Ripley is its mother.
As Dr. Gediman distracts the creature, Ripley 8 uses the moment to escape to the Betty. With Ripley on board, Call goes to the cargo bay to shut the hatch and discovers the Newborn is on the ship. She hides away while Distephano is killed when he comes into the cargo bay. Ripley 8 goes back there and hugs the Newborn. She then cuts her hand on it and spills her acidic blood onto the window. Call and Ripley manage to hang on but the Newborn is sucked out of the window as she cries. The Auriga crashes into Earth causing a huge explosion and the Betty lands in a now-destroyed Paris. Ripley 8 and Call are discussing life on Earth and Ripley tells her that she is a stranger here herself.
- Sigourney Weaver is the only actor/actress to appear in all four Alien films.
- Veronica Cartwright originally auditioned for the role of Ripley, but the filmmakers went with Sigourney Weaver.
- Sigourney Weaver wasn’t too keen to reprise her role as Ripley after Alien and rejected many offers from Fox to do any sequels. However, after reading James Cameron’s script, Weaver was so impressed with it that she agreed to do the film.
- For Alien 3, Sigourney Weaver had a clause in her contract that said Alien writers Walter Hill and David Giler should write the final shooting script. Weaver felt that those two and James Cameron were the only people to understand the character. David Giler later stated that he regretted writing Alien 3 as it caused numerous problems between him and director David Fincher and 20th Century Fox.
- Sigourney Weaver mainly signed on to do Alien Resurrection because of the scene where Ripley 8 discovers her other clones.
- Sigourney Weaver was paid $11 million to do Alien Resurrection.
- In Alien Resurrection, Sigourney Weaver actually made the basketball shot from behind in the very first take.
- 20th Century Fox wanted to cut the scene in Alien Resurrection where Ripley gets sucked into the Alien hive due to its sexual nature. Sigourney Weaver threatened to not promote the movie if they cut it out.
- Sigourney Weaver reprised her role as Ellen Ripley for the 2014 video game Alien Isolation for the Last Survivor and Crew Expendable DLC.