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Ellen Ripley is the protagonist of the Aliens series of movies. She is most famous for being the woman responsible for introducing humanity to the xenomorph species, as well as being one of the few people to survive an outbreak.
Ripley is introduced in Alien as a warrant officer aboard the USCSS Nostromo, a spaceship returning to Earth. Placed in stasis, she awakens after receiving a transmission of unknown origin from a nearby planetoid. Following their landing, an xenomorph infiltrates the ship, and gradually kills nearly the entire crew one by one. Ripley is the only member to escape from the Nostromo prior to its explosion, which she deliberately started to kill the monster. However, she discovers that the xenomorph is also aboard the ship's shuttle, but expels it into space before putting herself in stasis for the return trip to Earth.
In Aliens, set fifty-seven years later, Ripley, is rescued and awakened from her stasis. Her testimony regarding the Alien is met with extreme skepticism, and she loses her space flight license as a result of her "questionable judgment". However, after contact was lost with the colony on LV-426, the planet where her crew first encountered the Alien eggs, Ripley is requested to go with Colonial Marines aboard the Sulaco to LV-426. They find the planet infested by many xenomorphs, who kill almost all the marines. Ripley finally escapes the planet with Corporal Hicks, Bishop, an android, and Newt, the last surviving colonist.
Back on the Sulaco, they are soon attacked by a surviving Xenomorph Queen, which is finally expelled into space by Ripley. Ripley enters into hypersleep alongside the three other survivors for a new return to Earth.
In Alien 3 (1992), the Sulaco launches an escape pod containing the four survivors which then crashes on Fiorina 'Fury' 161, a foundry facility and penal colony. Ripley is the only survivor of the crash. Unknown to Ripley, an alien egg was aboard the ship. It is born in the prison and begins to kill inmates and guards, but strangely refuses to kill her. After having rallied the inmates and prepared the defense, Ripley discovers the embryo of an Alien Queen growing inside her, explaining why she wasn't attacked by the creature. After having killed the Alien by thermal shock, Ripley kills herself just as the alien Queen begins to erupt from her chest by throwing herself into a gigantic furnace to prevent the Weyland-Yutani Corporation from using it as a biological weapon.
Despite her death two hundred years earlier, Ripley is "resurrected" by clonage in Alien Resurrection (1997), aboard the spaceship Auriga. The unborn Alien queen is surgically removed from her body to breed Aliens. Ripley, who survives the operation, has been affected by the Alien's DNA: she has enhanced strength and reflexes, acidic blood, and an empathic link with the Aliens. She relearns to talk and interact with humans for some time but soon Aliens escape their confinement and kill most of the crew. She escapes from her cell as well, and later meets and joins a group of mercenaries, developing a close relationship with their youngest member Annalee Call. After being captured, Ripley's human DNA is mixed with Alien Queen, which gives birth to an Alien with human traits, who recognizes Ripley as its mother. After escaping the Auriga in the Betty, Ripley kills the newborn Alien by using her own acidic blood to burn a hole through a viewing pane, causing the creature to be sucked violently through the small hole and into the vacuum of space, saving Call. In a deleted scene, the Betty lands on Earth and Ripley and Call discover that Paris is desolate.
Ripley's life and career has been extensively expanded on in various spin-off comics and novels, many of which discount her death on Fiorina 161, instead providing a chronology continuing on from the end of Aliens. One version stars Ripley as an advanced synthetic clone, who overcomes her memory problems to help human survivors re-take the Earth from xenomorphs. The Ripley Clone plays a central role in the three-way Dark Horse Comics crossover, Aliens vs. Predator vs. The Terminator.
Although Sigourney Weaver initially expressed interest in reprising this character in further installments of the Alien franchise, the releases of Alien vs. Predator and Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem have led the franchise on to a different path away from the central story of Ellen Ripley.
An Audio-Animatronic Ripley appears in the Alien scene of The Great Movie Ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World.