"I'm Franz Hopper. I'm the one who created Lyoko...and XANA too..."
#49 Franz Hopper
Used last name:
Franz Hopper's diary is a key element of season 2.
Our heroes find it in a train station locker, using a key that was inside Mister Pück. It is burned onto 13 encrypted CDs, in the form of video clips recorded by Franz while he was working on the Supercomputer, in which he tells of the progress he makes in his research. But it is only until much later that the heroes are able to read those files. As a security measure, Jeremy saves the diary's data in the Supercomputer. A salutary move, since XANA, who doesn't appreciate seeing the diary falling into its enemies' hands, Xanafies Jeremy and destroys the CDs!
Jeremy spends much of season 2 trying to decode the contents of the diary, using data recovered from Sector 5. For instance, it's in the diary that he finds out how to use the neuronal headset (episode 38 “Temptation”). It's in episode 51 “Revelation” that Jeremy finally takes the plunge and activates a tower in order to decode the diary. Though the attempt was on the verge of failure because of XANA, Franz Hopper lent a hand and the mission was a great success! Jeremy then learns much about Franz Hopper and Aelita. Indeed, that's the moment when he understands that there was no virus, but that instead, Aelita was missing a fragment of herself.
"I did a little research to find out who that old house belonged to. (...) I found a deed signed by a mister Franz Hopper!
(...) So I did a search on Franz Hopper, and guess what? He was a science teacher right here at Kadic Academy!"
#28 Unchartered Territory
As our heroes learn in episode 28 “Unchartered Territory”, Franz Hopper used to be a teacher at Kadic Academy when our heroes were still very young; when Sissi sees a photo of Hopper, she remembers seeing him. In the original (French) version, the discipline he teaches is not specified right away, but one can deduce that it was a scientific discipline or mathematics.
Indeed, Franz suddenly left his job and was replaced by Ms Hertz. The circumstances of his departure are fuzzy, but it is likely that the date matches his departure to Lyoko with Aelita. In episode 90 “Wrong Exposure”, the principal says that he “disappeared one day without a trace”.
Franz also fulfils more official functions since he was part of “Project Carthage” before he learned that it was a military program. Once again, it's a part of his life we don't know much about, except that at this time, he still used his actual first name (Waldo) and last name (Schaeffer).
"Huh? But that's impossible! If Hopper's daughter were on Lyoko, I would've definitely known, I...!"
The great revelation of season 2 is about Hopper's family, since we learn that Aelita has never been an artificial program, but Hopper's “natural” daughter!
We still lack information about Aelita's mother: we don't even know if she and Franz were married. If they were, it was when he moved into the Hermitage that Waldo changed his name and took on his wife's maiden name: Hopper. This woman, named “Aèl” in the writers' documents, looks pretty much like Aelita, especially because of her pink hair. We are quite sure that she conceived Aelita with Franz and raised her until she was around five years old...and then suddenly disappeared! The reasons for her disappearance are also unknown. We can guess that it is somehow connected to her husband's secret activities, although some elements indicate that he started his research and work later. Franz continued to raise his daughter alone, before he had to flee to Lyoko with her. To his utmost misfortune, he lost her as well when he had to deactivate the Supercomputer.
In the end, Aelita finds out about her kinship with Hopper and regains her memories of their past life when she is given back her missing fragment (episode 52 “The Key”). However, she never gets back her everyday life with her father.
"XANA is too powerful. (...) I've got to shut down the Supercomputer..."
Saying that Aelita and XANA are the two entities who ruled Lyoko is untrue... There is a third, and it's none other than Franz Hopper!
One again, we lack facts (yeah, I know, it's recurrent!).
As he says in episode 57 “Aelita”, Lyoko still needs to evolve and it seems that Hopper intended to make this happen from within the virtual world.
We don't know exactly to what extent he would have modified this world because the creator was overthrown by his creation, XANA, and its minions don't leave us with a very bright image of Franz Hopper. His avatar doesn't even allow him to fight back XANA's monsters and he has to hide in the Network to get away from them.
However, Hopper has more than one string to his bow. We learn later that, like XANA, he has the ability to activate Towers (episode 50 “Contact”) and that those activations take priority over XANA's (episode 51 “Revelation”). He can even “Hopperfy” people the way XANA Xanafies. In that same area, we saw Hopper take control of two of XANA's Mantas (episode 52).
He was also able to bring Lyoko back to life and give Aelita's missing fragment back to her, which is not a petty achievement!
As we said, he is not capable of attacking XANA's creatures, but on the other hand, his digital avatar is resistant enough to endure many shots. Furthermore, it keeps its shape in the Network's infinite energy flows that usually crush anything that are unfortunate enough to fall inside.
XANA seems to know less than he does. While Hopper created Lyoko and shows Jeremy how to do it (episode 65 “Final Round”), XANA was only able to create mimics of the Sectors: the Replikas.
Still about knowledge, it's Hopper who gives Jeremy the elements he needs to complete his anti-XANA program.
Therefore, concluding that he matches up XANA would be inaccurate.
Hopper is a full-fledged master of the digital world.
"Franz Hopper's helping us!"
Since the beginning of season 2, Franz Hopper has been an enormous mystery.
Reading his story may look simple, however our heroes struggled hard to find out what we know about this character. It's only when Aelita gets back her memory that we really find out anything about one part of his life.
For the viewer, Franz Hopper is a topic of intense questioning, and even more so when we understand how deeply he is connected to Lyoko, XANA...and Aelita!
When XANA gets the upper hand and our heroes are in a dire pinch, Franz Hopper appears as a saviour, or as one might say, a deus ex machina. Without him, episodes 51 and 52 would have met a tragic conclusion! He appears when nobody expects him to do so and turns the situation upside-down in a spectacular turn of events. Since episode 50 “Contact”, the heroes know that he wishes to establish contact with them.
When Aelita becomes human again, Franz gets a little less mysterious and is now too weak to help our heroes, so they decide to bring him back. It is vital to Aelita and what's more, Franz Hopper is an invaluable ally in the fight against XANA.
Franz reappears as a saviour after the cataclysm of episode 65 “Final Round”, allowing our heroes to bounce back. After they discover the Network, XANA's destruction becomes a top priority, even above finding Hopper. As for XANA, it's the other way around: Hopper's death is now its primary objective.
In spite of this crucial importance, Hopper keeps a very low profile and only reappears in crucial moments, as usual: one time to save his daughter, another time to provide our heroes with the key to XANA's death.
Ultimately, Hopper embodies the tragic aspect of the series when he dies, taken away by this major mistake that was XANA.
"Someone's watching me! Someone wants to get rid of me!"
#52 The Key
Hopper's psychology evolves quite a lot depending on which part of his life you look at, and he was never seen in the series in flesh and blood except through flashbacks, so it's complicated to give a precise and unerring view of his personality.
When he lived with his wife, it seems Franz Hopper was a warm, unworried man who was caring towards his daughter; quite a happy man! We saw him playing piano with his daughter.
Shadows were quickly cast on those days. After the disappearance of his wife, the diary shows us a new Franz. Darker, more nervous, more mysterious. The more his works progressed, the more his psychological condition seemed to worsen.
Hopper becomes quite a disturbing person: a megalomaniac, having delusions of grandeur when he mentions his “Great Project”! He looks agitated, develops signs of paranoia, endlessly repeats that someone is trying to make attempts on his life... His psychological degradation is likely to be caused by his constant stress; he surely suspected the plans of the men in black, and feared for his own and his daughter's lives. We can also think of the neuronal headset: remember Jeremy in episode 38 “Temptation”!
He probably still found some reassurance at home with his daughter. We know that he never abandoned playing the piano, which may have been his means of escape.
However, Franz' determination remains intact: he still intends to go and live with Aelita in his digital paradise! When the men in black finally find him, he remains impassive and stoic during their escape to the factory. We cannot say the same thing for the moment when he learns of XANA's rebellion: he sounds completely panicked because he knows that his daughter and his own futures are in even deeper jeopardy.
All that psychological instability leaves us with uncertain ideas of the state in which Franz Hopper would have been seen if Jeremy had managed to bring him back to Earth.
"I just received a coded message. A message directly from the Internet, and it's signed (...) Franz Hopper."
#65 Final Round
While Franz Hopper's recent past is cloudy, his distant past is totally unknown.
Given his intellectual abilities, he is bound to have been a bright student, although...genii are known for sometimes being underrated...
We don't know when he met his wife or if they got married, but they both seem young during the end credits.
Their child Aelita brought much happiness into their life until she was around 5 years old. They are sometimes seen in a chalet in Switzerland, which implies that they spent some time cut off from the world, or that they simply could afford holidays. But while everything is going well, destiny strikes. Aelita's mother disappeared. Death? Disappearance? Still unknown...only one thing is for sure: it's a serious blow for Franz.
Though it remains a mere guess, one can suppose that this is the moment when Hopper started his mysterious works within the “Project Carthage” team. Hopper was most likely a low-ranking scientist who didn't know about the true nature of the program: a military program. It is likely that he was manipulated.
Then one day, Hopper finds out that “Project Carthage” was a program designed to block enemy communications. Surely upset and furious, he sets himself free from his team by fleeing, in all likelihood. Then he created Lyoko, the famous digital world, using the Supercomputer, in a hidden laboratory in a deserted factory. All those elements fit in a period of 5 or 6 years, until Aelita was 12.
Franz Hopper learned many things on the Supercomputer and its abilities. He created XANA, a multi-agent program, in order to destroy Carthage.
Unfortunately, he couldn't escape his dark past forever and he soon had to face the facts: someone was watching him and wanted to get rid of him! One day, the frightening men in black showed up at his home. Giving up on his terrestrial life, Franz escaped with Aelita to the factory. After dealing with the last details, he virtualised himself with his daughter. He had had this idea in mind for quite some time: living as absolute masters on Lyoko, far away from his past, with all that he still had: Aelita. If only everything hadn't changed...
Once he set foot (metaphorically speaking) on Lyoko, Franz explained to Aelita that he still had to work on the virtual world. But his explanations were brief: XANA rebelled against its creator straight away and attacked Aelita using Kanrkelats. Franz tried to negotiate to convince XANA that they could coexist peacefully, yet he failed and was also attacked by Hornets.
So he shut down the Supercomputer, outing himself, his daughter and XANA in a kind of deep, inactive sleep...
We don't know what Hopper did during and after the time when the Supercomputer was inactive, but it seems he was a prisoner of XANA; we don't know where nor how he managed to set himself free in order to intervene.
During this long period (over a year), the heroes found and followed some leads. They (and we) learned how important Franz Hopper was in episode 49 “Franz Hopper” during which XANA sent them a polymorphic spectre that gave them precious information in the guise of the professor. A little detail on that:
In this episode, XANA activates 5 towers. When our heroes get to the factory, they find a man deactivating the towers without going to Lyoko. When they ask him to identify himself, he answers: “I'm Franz Hopper. I'm the one who created Lyoko!” Then he tells them that he had created Aelita (as the guardian of Lyoko), Lyoko and XANA, but that he had lost control of the latter. When he is asked where he has been all that time, he says he was “a kind of prisoner”. After listening to them explain their fight against XANA, he says he is worried by their extended exposure to scanners. Indeed, he says, scanners can cause cellular degeneration. By examining Odd, Ulrich and Yumi, he “finds out” that Yumi has some problems and is at risk of cellular disintegration.
He turns the rest of the team (except Aelita) against Jeremy, who had told them that the transfers were harmless. Franz continues working at the factory in order to find an anti-virus for Aelita. He manages to do so and organises an expedition to Carthage to get the necessary data. Jeremy wants to help, but Franz rejects him.
When Jeremy finally puts two and two together and figures out that Franz Hopper is just one of XANA's polymorphic spectres, he manages to stop it with Aelita's help. At the end of the episode, he reveals that the real Franz Hopper is actually a prisoner somewhere on Lyoko, but the exact location is not mentioned...
XANA hoped to get rid of our heroes in this attack, one of the most subtle of the series; however, its enemies made it out after it had given away vital information... Should they be able to make good use of it...
The opportunity to do so soon presents itself! In episode 50 “Contact”, our heroes witness Sissi being controlled by some mysterious entity. Positive that XANA is not involved, they discover a white tower in the Forest Sector, which XANA tries to deactivate at all costs using Megatanks. And as an extra precaution, it Xanafies someone to get rid of Sissi. She gives our heroes a coded message before the white tower is deactivated and then passes out. When he decodes the message, Jeremy learns that the mysterious entity that tried to contact them was none other than Franz Hopper, who says that he wants to help them.
The reason why Hopper didn't appear before then still remains unknown. One again, there are several possibilities: he has just set himself free from XANA's clutches, or he finds a way to communicate in spite of his imprisonment...
From that point on, he helps out our heroes more and more often. First in episode 51 “Revelation”. Jeremy, who wants to decode the data in the diary once and for all, activates a tower without anticipating that if XANA were able to control it, it would be able to access all of Jeremy's data. At the very moment when XANA's attempt is about to succeed, Hopper takes control of the tower without any difficulty and runs the decoding program at full speed.
When Aelita dies, we see the incredible scene of Lyoko's Apocalypse, when the digital world shuts itself down completely, from Carthage to the edges of the four other Sectors. Fortunately, Hopper didn't see things in the same way, and at that moment he reveals how great his power is! He activates all the Towers on Lyoko and brings the digital world back to life, as well as his daughter, to whom he gives back her memories: an incredible achievement that costs him, according to Jeremy, all of his energy, right down to the very last drop.
We don't hear anything more about Hopper until the middle of season 3, when Aelita brings the subject back up and asks Jeremy if he could rematerialise him. In the end, after a few fights and disagreements, Jeremy and Aelita discover a trace of the scientist in Carthage (episode 57 “Aelita”)!
He is still alive, although very weak. Jeremy needs time to develop a new program to localise Franz Hopper but he manages to do so; when the program is finally ready, it finds Franz Hopper, Jeremy launches the rematerialisation procedure, and...too late!
William destroys Lyoko before Jeremy can finish the job.
We don't know exactly how Franz Hopper survives, but he takes refuge in the Network. What's more, he seems to be in better shape than he was on Lyoko, since he is able to send an encrypted message to Jeremy (episode 65 “Final Round”).
This message saves the day by enabling his daughter and her companion to reprogram Lyoko.
After that, he maintains radio silence. Maybe he just keeps a low profile since XANA, now controlling the Network, is most likely dreaming of getting rid of its creator on top of planning world domination.
Yet Franz has to resurface (wow, this is what I call a pun!) to save Aelita when XANA drops her into the Digital Sea. Holding Aelita's data inside himself, he draws her out of the water and brings her back onto dry land, where XANA's troops are waiting for him and try to kill him. With the help of his daughter and her friends, he barely escapes with his life by diving back into the Digital Sea.
Hopper was probably valuing his digital life less than his desire to see his daughter's suffering and the threat of XANA brought to an end: he comes back for a final stand. When Jeremy finalises the multi-agent program to eliminate XANA, Hopper reappears on Lyoko and helps him to complete the code. But when they try to launch it using Carthage's interface, it appears that they lack the energy to end the fight; Hopper then provides the missing energy. However, while doing this, he remains a sitting duck for the Mantas that have opened fire on him right before his daughter's eyes.
Aelita was most likely the last image he sees, because the flying monsters finally kill him, a few seconds before the program is launched and eradicates every trace of XANA in the Network.