The Murphys were a happy family that resided at 548 Primrose Lane in Detroit until Alex was killed in the line of duty by Clarence Boddicker and his gang. Following his funeral, Ellen and James moved away to "start over," but remained in the Detroit area.
She was devastated by her husband's death, refusing to even leave her bedroom for several months. In the interim, she saw hypnotists and sought harmonic treatments.
However, they eventually were stalked by cyborg police officer RoboCop and Ellen took legal action and learned that RoboCop had been constructed from her late husband's remains. She visited RoboCop, but he insisted that he was not Alex and that his face was synthetically made in his honor. Ellen burst into tears and left.
Ellen's first name is never spoken in either of the three original films, only mentioned in the ending credits of the second and third films. In the ending credits of the first film she is listed as "Murphy's wife".
Ellen appears only in flashback in the first and third films.