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. At one point, RoboCop returned to his former house, which was now unoccupied and for sale. Walking through the home triggered memories of Ellen and their child.
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. RoboCop was chastized by OCP executives for the stalking and said he had no hope of resuming his married life. Shortly after this, she visited RoboCop, saying that she knew he was her deceased husband. Still conflicted from the earlier dressing down, RoboCop said he was not Alex Murphy, rather his face was synthetically constructed in Murphy's image as tribute to his heroism. 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". In the novelization, she is named Jan.
- Ellen appears only in flashback in the first and third films.
- In the TV series she is called Nancy, due to copyright issues.
- In the 2014 remake, Ellen is renamed Clara.
- Ellen and Jimmy are referenced in Mortal Kombat 11 during a battle intro between RoboCop and Scorpion: Scorpion asks "Your wife and son?" and RoboCop replies, "They are lost to me now."