Some people know it as one of the most recognizable and influential series in the horror game genre. Others know it as a memorable — if not ridiculously cheesy — action film series starring Milla Jovovich. Regardless of how you know it, Resident Evil isn't a title that one forgets. Having seen dozens of game releases, several different spinoffs, and critically acclaimed remakes, the history of the Resident Evil franchise reaches far and wide.
People certainly recognize the name today, but why is it called Resident Evil in the first place?
Why is it called 'Resident Evil'? Let's break down the origins of the name.
The series began with the release of the eponymous Resident Evil for the original PlayStation system in 1996. It follows S.T.A.R.S. task force members Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine as they try to escape a mansion infested with zombies and other scientifically created monstrosities.
The game is credited for pioneering the "survival horror" genre and is remembered for its innovative gameplay and unintentionally hilarious voice work. It is widely regarded as one of the greatest games of all time.
Success like that is bound to spawn a sequel or two. The series went on to release several more mainline entries and spinoffs, including other critically acclaimed titles, like Resident Evil 4 in 2005 and Resident Evil VII in 2017. The series, which was adapted into a live-action film franchise that lasted from 2002 all the way until 2016, also spawned several animated films. And a brand new live-action series based on the games will begin streaming on Netflix on July 14, 2022.
The celebrated game series has dipped its toes into several forms of media and the name has become a highly recognizable brand. But where did a name like "Resident Evil" even come from to begin with?
The first Resident Evil game was initially developed and released in Japan by Capcom. In Japan, Resident Evil is known under the title Biohazard. While the name caught on in Japan, it had to be changed for international releases.
In a 2009 interview with GamesRadar Plus, then-Senior Director of Capcom U.S. Communications and Community Chris Kramer mentioned that it would be "next to impossible" for Capcom to trademark the English translation of the Japanese title in the U.S.
"As an example, I pointed out that a crappy DOS-based game had just come out in the U.S. called Biohazard ... and that we'd never be able to secure the mark," Chris told GamesRadar Plus. "As a result, the head of marketing held a company-wide contest to come up with a new name for the game."
Among the entries that the marketing team received was the name "Resident Evil." The title was reportedly conceived due to the simple fact that the game takes place in an enormous and dangerous mansion that horrible monsters inhabit. In other words, evil is a resident here. While Chris himself wasn't a fan of the name, he was enthusiastically outvoted by the rest of the marketing team.
Fast forward a few decades later, and the name Resident Evil now belongs to one of the most iconic franchises in video game history.
Take that, Chris!