Doctor Charles Ashford is a character who appears in Resident Evil: Apocalypse and plays a pivotal part in the canon of the entire Resident Evil film series. He is a genetic scientist working for the Umbrella Corporation, though he does not share his employers' sinister interests. In the film canon, Ashford is the man responsible for creating the T-virus, the original purpose of which was to cure debilitating illnesses such as the affliction that Ashford himself suffered from and had left him bound to a wheelchair for most of his life. His only daughter Angela suffers from the same illness, but while the virus did not work on the doctor himself, it was capable of letting Angela walk without the need for crutches, although the virus needed to be controlled with regular anti-virus injections to prevent it from causing mutations. While a great medical breakthrough, the T-virus also possessed significant military applications that Umbrella wanted to investigate, and so they confiscated much of Dr. Ashford's research. As the creator of the T-virus, Ashford - while working with the noblest of intentions - is the man primarily responsible for the disaster that befalls Raccoon City in Resident Evil: Apocalypse and the near extinction of mankind in the following films.
Resident Evil: Apocalypse
When the Hive is re-opened and the T-virus is released into Raccoon City, Umbrella begin to evacuate all their major resources and VIP staff, including Dr. Ashford, who is the head of the company's viral research division. Umbrella agents retrieve Ashford from his home and other agents are sent to pick up his daughter Angela from school. The SUV that picks up Angela is blindsided by a speeding cement truck and the agents are killed, but Angela survives and goes back into the school to hide as Raccoon citizens are infected by the spreading virus. Ashford is to be evacuated along with all other major Umbrella staff, but refuses to leave without his daughter. Major Cain assigns Dr. Ashford a work area within the Umbrella safe zone so that he can work on stemming the tide of the infection, but the doctor is more concerned about finding his daughter than anything else. Using a laptop and wireless connection, Ashford hacks into the surveillance cameras all over Raccoon City looking for survivors that might be able to save Angela for him. He discovers former Umbrella security agent Alice wandering the streets with a group of other survivors and hacks the payphones to try and contact them. When Alice finally decides to answer, the doctor offers her and the others access to the last Umbrella chopper out of the city in exchange for finding his daughter. Time is limited, however, as Umbrella cannot stop the T-virus from spreading and have decided to destroy the infection by detonating a nuclear missile within the city.
Alice and the group save Angela and Dr. Ashford informs them to come to City Hall where the escape chopper is waiting. However, Major Cain has been monitoring Ashford's activities all along and prepares a welcome for the survivors. After the survivors are taken hostage, Cain orders Alice to fight against Nemesis one on one. Alice initially refuses, but Cain encourages her to fight by shooting Dr. Ashford right in front of his daughter, despite the fact that he was a valuable asset to Umbrella. Ashford dies from the bullet wound but his body is reanimated by the T-virus as an Undead. As the survivors flee aboard the chopper, Cain is left to the advancing swarm of Undead and Ashford is the first one to take a bite out of the major. Ashford is put to rest permanently when the missile is detonated over the city, vaporizing everything in it.
- It is unclear how Ashford became infected with the T-virus since he was never bitten by a zombie. According to the novelization of Resident Evil: Apocalypse, the virus was capable of contaminating the air to some degree and could even saturate the ground (which would explain - though poorly - the graveyard zombies following Alice's arrival at the church). Another possibility is that Ashford may have tried to cure his own handicap with the virus but it didn't work, remaining dormant in his system or he would have needed to regularly inject himself with the anti-virus to keep himself from mutating.