|“||Finished, delivered, everything. I’ve been trying to give the player too much choice, so I just went back, stripped loads out. Now they’ve only got the illusion of free will, but really, I decide the ending.||„|
|~ Stefan, after murdering his father in the "History Repeats" ending.|
Stefan Butler is the main protagonist of the 2018 Netflix interactive movie Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, and one of its most prominent possible villains. A talented but troubled young game designer living in the early days of commercial game design, Stefan's greatest ambition in life is to design a game based on his favorite book, the classic choose-your-own adventure novel Bandersnatch by Jerome F. Davies. Unfortunately, long-standing mental trauma, mounting deadlines from his employers, a problematic relationship with his father and the difficulty of adapting the notoriously complicated book to the relatively new medium begin to wear on Stefan's mind as his self-imposed mission continues. Over time, his stress is exacerbated by the fact that he appears to have experienced the events of the last few days before, and continues to relive them whenever he finds himself unable to overcome a problem. Ultimately, these trials may drive Stefan to dangerous extremes - including murder.
He was portrayed by Fionn Whitehead, while his younger self was played by A.J. Houton.
Prior to the Series
Stefan Butler was born in England, likely during the early 1960s, and enjoyed a relatively unassuming childhood up until the age of five. By this time, the young boy had become attached to one of his toys, a knitted rabbit doll that his mother had made for him when he was a baby - known simply as "Rabbit"; his father Peter openly disapproved of the toy, believing that he should have grown out of it long ago. Over time, this became the subject of numerous arguments between Stefan's mother and father, particularly when the in-laws began commenting on it as well.
With a visit to the child's grandparents being planned, Peter was in no mood for another lecture on permissive parenting from his father-in-law, and decided to act: stealing Rabbit from Stefan's room, he hid it where his son would never think to look for it and believed that would be the end of the matter. However, Stefan proved more attached to the toy than his parents expected, and took up so much time looking for it that he ended up delaying their departure from the house, causing them to miss the 8:30 train they'd intended to catch; in the end, he refused to leave at all, remaining behind with Peter while his mother took the 8:45 train alone.
Later that day, both father and son witnessed a news report revealing that the 8:45 train had derailed on en route, killing almost everyone aboard - including Stefan's mother. Both were grief-stricken by the death, but Stefan took it particularly hard: believing that his mother would have survived if only she'd taken the earlier train, he blamed himself for causing the delay, but he also blamed Peter for the deception that ended up prompting the delay in the first place. As a result, the relationship between Stefan and his father became increasingly strained, until they rarely spoke to each other unless they absolutely had to.
Over time, the trauma and neuroses caused by the accident grew to the point that Peter was forced to sign Stefan up for regular appointments with a psychiatrist. Though the name and nature of his condition isn't specified, it was apparently considered severe enough for Stefan to be regularly medicated, with dosages being doubled in the event of stressful situations. At the start of the film, Stefan's current therapist is Dr. R. Haynes. The two of them having been seeing one another long enough to work up a reasonably amiable rapport.
At some point following his mother's death, Stefan decided to investigate her belongings, among which he found a copy of Bandersnatch, one of the most famous choose-your-own-adventure novels in literary history. The last and greatest work of notorious science-fiction author Jerome F. Davies, it was a sprawling, interconnected mass of potential storylines, incorporating fantasy elements, science-fiction elements, government conspiracies, a metafictional demon known as Pax, and multiple endings; its creation had proved so stressful that Davies had concluded the writing process by decapitating his wife and daubing symbols across the walls with her blood. Though Stefan's mother had not found the opportunity to read the book before her death, making any sentimental attachment to the book relatively minimal, Stefan soon found himself enraptured with Bandersnatch. Immersed in its multiple narratives, he fell in love with the sense of free will it granted him - perhaps feeling that it was this power and agency he lacked in real life.
By the time he turned nineteen, Stefan had also grown interested in game design for the Z-X Spectrum and other early computers, likely due to his earlier positive experiences with choose-your-own-adventure books. Having studied both coding and adventure game architecture, he perfected his skills until he felt confident enough to begin making his own games: thus, he set out to build a video game adaptation of Bandersnatch - a fully-graphical incarnation of the narrative that would afford players the same degree of choice that the book did, complete with a simple binary set of options at each fork in the story. Once he'd completed the initial demo, he made contact with booming software company Tuckersoft, offering to go into business with them. Tuckersoft accepts, arranging a meeting between Stefan and company CEO Mohan Thakur for July 9th, 1984.
The Tuckersoft Deal
The film begins with Stefan awakening at 8:30 AM, on the morning of his meeting at Tuckersoft. After exchanging a slightly disconnected conversation with his father at breakfast, during which they discuss the book and Peter yells at the neighbor's dog for digging up the flower beds in the back garden, he sets off for the gaming company's headquarters, where he first meets Mohan Thakur - as well as his idol, game designer guru Colin Ritman. The presentation of the demo goes well, and Thakur makes Stefan an offer: Tuckersoft will market Bandersnatch and provide a development team to help him complete it at the company offices, complete with Colin's assistance - much to Stefan's delight.
However, it is here that the viewer can make their first truly pivotal choice by having Stefan either accept or refuse the bargain: accepting it results in Thakur abiding by the terms of the deal, but also using his mandate as CEO to have the game streamlined for the sake of deadlines; as Colin puts it, Stefan "chose the wrong path." Due to the executive meddling, combined with additional interference from too many professional designers working on a single project, Bandersnatch never lives up to its true potential, and critics give it zero stars out of ten. Crestfallen despite Peter's attempts to cheer him up, Stefan returns to his room in a huff, declaring that he needs to try again...
Stefan then wakes up on the morning of July 9th all over again, ready to present the Bandersnatch demo for first time. Though he doesn't remember the previous iteration of the day, he seems to unconsciously recall events that occurred during his earlier visit to Tuckersoft: he instinctively names the program that Colin is designing, and correctly diagnoses the buffer error that caused the Nohzdyve prototype to crash; furthermore, Colin feels that he has met Stefan somewhere before. Then, when Thakur makes the offer of assistance in developing Bandersnatch, the viewer will choose to make Sefan refuse the bargain - though Stefan himself clearly isn't sure why he said no. Reasoning that he works best alone, he requests to be allowed to finish his work on the game by himself, much too Colin's approval. Thakur reluctantly agrees to this deal, but gives Stefan until September to complete his work, reasoning that the game must be on shelves by Christmas if it hopes to become a financial success.
Responses to this new opportunity vary: Colin gives Stefan a new list of music to listen to in order to get him "in the zone"; Peter, though initially proud of his son, seems distinctly put-out at the realization that the game will be produced entirely at home and without support; Dr Haynes views Stefan's decision positively, believing it to be a sign that his confidence is beginning to improve. However, her patient only feels more powerless as a result of this choice, prompting a discussion about his mother's death with the psychiatrist. For good measure, Stefan grows increasingly interested in the life of Jerome F. Davies, opting to buy a true-crime novel on his descent into madness while shopping for Colin's recommended music.
As July continues, Stefan commences work on the final version of Bandersnatch, laboriously planning out every possible path the player can take before coding it into the game, while regularly consulting the original novel for more information. As a result, his bedrooms soon become wallpapered in notes, designs and photocopied pages from the true-crime novel. Months pass, and Stefan does little else but work on the game; if he remembers to eat, he does so at his desk; he often delays sleeping until late into the night in order to cram in extra hours of work on the code; oftentimes, he never leaves the house at all. Consumed with the need to finish his code before the deadline, Stefan soon loses interest in anything outside of Bandersnatch. Worse still, he finds himself plagued by a reoccurring bug that prevents the game from even starting, forcing him to review the code over and over again.
In late August, Stefan's work is interrupted by his father, having already given him his regular mug of tea, offering to buy him lunch at the pub. By this time, Peter has become deeply concerned with his son's increasingly isolated behavior, and as he waits for an answer, tries to query him about the problems he's been having; of course,, Stefan is once again preoccupied with the game's failure to start, prompting even more concerned questions. At this, the viewer is given a choice between making Stefan pour tea all over his computer in a fit of rage (which will return the viewer to the fork in the path) or shouting at Peter; upon doing the latter and yelling at him to fuck off, Stefan once again finds himself confused and alarmed, clearly not knowing why he shouted.
The confrontation prompts Peter to put his foot down and insist on having lunch at the pub; however, the clearly sleep-deprived Stefan falls asleep in the car on the way over, and when he awakens, finds that his father has taken him to Dr Haynes' office instead. Believing his son to be more troubled than usual, Peter wants him to discuss his problems with the therapist and not let any unresolved issues go untreated. At this juncture, the path forks once again: Stefan can either agree to a session with Dr Haynes, or, upon spotting Colin Ritman walking down the street not too far away, avoid the appointment and meet up with Colin instead.
In the event that the viewer decides on a visit to Dr Haynes, Stefan reports that he no longer feels in control of his life, apparently getting the subtle impression that someone is secretly influencing his decisions from behind the scenes; his choice of breakfast cereal, the music he listens to, his business decisions at Tuckersoft, even whether he wants to yell at Peter or not - every action feels as though it's been dictated by someone else. Needless to say, Dr Haynes is deeply concerned by this, and though no voices or hallucinations are reported, she worries that this might be the precursor to a more extreme form of mental illness. For good measure, while she is discussing the matter, the viewer is given a choice of having Stefan bite his nails or pull his earlobe out of anxiety - and halfway through following the command, Stefan actually notices himself doing this and forces himself to stop.
One way or another, Dr Haynes ups his dosage for the next few months. However, actually taking the drugs results in Stefan being unable to complete Bandersnatch, resulting in Tuckersoft releasing the game unfinished, prompting poor reviews. It is this decision - coupled with a number of others in the next chapter of the game, that can send Stefan right back to the fork in the road outside the psychiatrist's office.
If the viewer decides to have Stefan follow Colin, though, the two will discuss his difficulties finishing the game; realizing that Stefan is "in the hole," Colin takes him home to his apartment in Trellick Tower, where he introduces him to his wife Kitty and his infant daughter Pearl. As part of his efforts to help his fellow designer out of his problems, he takes him into the den and gives him a joint to puff on, before offering to share some tabs of LSD with him for good measure. Regardless of whether the viewer has Stefan accept the drug or decline it, he will end up getting extremely high - if only because Colin spikes his tea with a tab in the latter case. While Stefan spends a happy evening giggling maniacally and watching as decorations on the wall appear to warp around him, Colin rants on about the true nature of the world, explaining that actions in one reality can effect events in multiple universes, that it's possible to redo past decisions via flashbacks leading to parallel worlds, and that mirrors are secretly portals in time; he also monologues at length about conspiracy theories, claiming that the government is monitoring everyone, drugging their food, paying spies to impersonate their relatives, and even inserting secret clues in video games - like PAC-Man, a reference to Program and Control.
The evening ends when Colin decides to demonstrate the repetitive aspect of reality by taking Stefan onto the balcony and stating that one of them will have to jump, claiming that if either of them die, they will be able to simply try again in another reality. Here, the viewer can either make Stefan jump to his death or insist that Colin go in his stead. In the case of the latter, Colin will vault over the balcony railing and fall twenty stories to his death, causing Kitty to respond with grief and horror; however, Stefan will then experience a vision of the demon Pax appearing before him, and suddenly wake up to find himself back in his father's car while en route to Dr Haynes' office. However, in this pathway, Colin is inexplicably missing from the plot and will remain so until the ending despite Kitty and Thakur's best attempts to track him down - suggesting that Stefan's accidental jumps across the multiverse are causing unforeseen repercussions.
On the other hand, if the viewer prompts Stefan to jump, he will die in Colin's stead; with its designer having been killed in "a tragic accident," Tuckersoft will try to have Bandersnatch finished by other programmers, but the inconsistent tone of the game results in a bad rating from critics. In the end, the viewer will be forced to send Stefan back to the balcony decision, or back to the psychiatrist's office - where he is once again faced with the decision to follow Colin down the street or see Dr Haynes. For good measure, if he has already been to see Dr Haynes for the second time in the film, Stefan is struck by a distinct feeling of deja vu over the course of the appointment and rushes through the session in the belief that they've already discussed the subject before.
Whatever the case, Stefan's medication will be doubled, and he must flush his medication in order to progress to the next chapter of the film.
At Breaking Point
On delivery day, Stefan returns to Tuckersoft with the apparently-finished version of Bandersnatch in hand. However, it turns out the last-minute addition of the book's immensely-intricate conspiracy theory plotline kicked off another series of bugs, and now the game can't even load a start-up screen; Thakur suggests simply removing the plotline entirely, but Stefan is adamant that nothing has to be removed. Though frustrated, Thakur agrees to give him the weekend to fix the problem. Furthermore, Colin (or, if he was chosen to jump, a substitute acting on his behalf) provides Stefan with a taped documentary on Jerome F Davies for inspiration.
While listening to an account of Davies' final days, Stefan continues working, but still finds himself unable to fix the bug in the program, and the player is given the option to either destroy his computer or thump his desk. The former results in Stefan suffering a breakdown and having to be comforted by his dad - followed by a return to the divergence point. The latter results in Stefan once again becoming aware that something is influencing his actions and becoming extremely nervous, particularly when he begins to notice the unsettling parallels between him and Jerome F Davies. Like him, Davies struggled to complete work on his masterpiece, having particular difficulty in capturing all the possible choices available to his readers; and like him, Davies began to suspect that a malevolent force was beginning to control his decisions - ultimately leading him to murder his wife in the belief that she was a pawn of the demon Pax, and then daubing his lambda-like symbol all over the walls in her blood... a symbol that closely resembles the forks in the road that Stefan has been drawing on his diagram of the game's story.
In an effort to regain his composure, Stefan looks to his possessions for a way of calming himself down, and the viewer must choose between either a family photograph or his book on adventure game design; one way or the other, he will sit down on his bed to study the photo or read the book, and eventually drift off to sleep. However, at some point during the night, he will awaken suddenly, and what he does next depends entirely on the viewer's decisions so far - beginning with the most recent.
If Stefan fell asleep while studying the photograph, he will go to the bathroom and look at himself in the mirror; if he has heard Colin's monologue about how mirrors can be used to travel through time, he will find that the mirror is suddenly as permeable as water, and will climb through to find himself emerging as his five-year-old self on the opposite side (if not, the mirror will simply break). Here, he once again relives the events that led up to his father taking Rabbit; however, this time he is able to see that Peter took it back to his study and hid it somewhere behind the locked door.
On the other hand, if the viewer chose the book, Stefan sneaks into his fathers room, steals his keys and uses them to unlock the door to his study. Finding the room fairly otherwise unremarkable apart from the electronically-locked safe, he decides to investigate the safe, and tries to enter the three-character code - the options for which will once again depend on past viewer decisions: if the viewer chooses PAX, then the safe will reject the code, and the demon Pax will once again appear before Stefan and attack him; if JFD is chosen, another incorrect code will be identified, but this time the ghost of Jerome F Davies appears.
However, if Stefan has heard Colin's rant about the Program and Control conspiracy, the viewer can enter PAC as a code: this time, the safe opens, revealing a massive hoard of evidence confirming that someone is indeed controlling Stefan's actions - namely, his father. As part of a Program and Control study conducted on behalf of the government, Peter Butler has been manipulating Stefan his entire life, having him spied on the street and recorded at his sessions with Dr Haynes, who is also in on the conspiracy. Most shockingly of all, the death of Stefan's mother was a hoax all along: video footage reveals that Stefan was drugged and then led onto a sound stage where the actress playing his mother acted out the request for him to leave, before exiting into the soundstage where Stefan had secretly been brought up; all of this has been arranged to traumatize Stefan in order to make him easier to control. At this point, Peter will suddenly appear in the doorway, softly apologizing, prompting Stefan to demand further answers; when none are forthcoming, he grabs an ashtray and kills Peter with it.
Regardless of whether he chose the mirror or the safe, Stefan will suddenly awaken the following morning as if from a nightmare - though given the repeated concept of multiple realities, it may have been anything but a dream. Returning to work, he still finds himself unable to overcome the bug in Bandersnatch, prompting the viewer to decide if Stefan should destroy the computer or pour tea all over it; however, he once again resists direction. Appearing to sense someone's presence, he addresses the viewer directly, demanding to know who they are and virtually begging for a sign.
The decisions that follow this ultimately decide the conclusion of the game:
The "Netflix" Ending(s)
In most playthroughs, this option is available automatically unless viewers chose to enter the PAC code at the safe. Here, by choosing the Netflix logo on the screen, the viewer will communicate with Stefan via text on his computer screen, revealing that he is being watched and controlled, and that his entire life is just a program on Netflix; for good measure, the viewer also has the opportunity to explain to Stefan what Netflix is, resulting in even further confusion on his part.
Immediately thereafter, the fourth-wall breaking conversation ends, and Peter stops by to check on his progress; when Stefan explains what happens, he naturally takes him to see Dr Haynes. At the psychiatrist's office, Stefan does his best to explain what happened, though Dr Haynes is understandably skeptical. However, she eventually brings up the point that, if they are all someone else's entertainment, the situation seems a little too mundane to be interesting; she suggests that the hypothetical viewer from the future might want a little bit more action.
The viewer has two choices: Yes, or Fuck Yeah. Either one will result in Stefan throwing coffee in Dr Haynes' face and going on to ruin everything on her desk; Dr Haynes will draw two batons and challenge him to a fight, demonstrating heretofore unknown martial arts skills. If the viewer chooses to accept the challenge, the two of them will be drawn into a short brawl that ends with Stefan knocking her out by tossing her across the table - whereupon Peter bursts in, also exhibiting inexplicable hand-to-hand combat skills, and is able to outfight Stefan by grabbing him by the neck and hoisting him into the air. Though Stefan is able to break the hold by either karate-chopping him or kicking him in the balls, Peter is still able to drag him away; Stefan is last seen being hauled out of the building, laughing maniacally about how him and "my friend from the future" were able to "fuck up your day good and proper."
However, if the viewer opts to have Stefan leap through the window instead of fighting Dr Haynes, he will suddenly find himself on a film set where everyone he knows are just actors playing roles in a made-for-Netflix movie. It quickly becomes clear that he is also an actor by the name of Mike, and according to the director, he has actually gone off-script: he was supposed to fight Haynes instead of trying to escape via the window. However, Mike believes that he is actually Stefan, prompting the director to call a medic while the confused actor looks at the world around him in confusion.
The "Program And Control" Ending
If the viewer was able to open the safe in the "dream", the viewer has the option of making the words "Program and Control" appear on the computer screen when Stefan asks for a sign.
Faced with evidence that what he witnessed last night was real, Stefan responds with immediate anger and distrust when Peter stops by to check on him. Accusing his father of trying to control him, he storms downstairs to the kitchen, ignoring all attempts to calm him down.
There, in a fit of rage (entirely independent of viewer choice), Stefan snatches up the ashtray from the kitchen bench and attacks Peter with it, dealing a fatal wound to his skull and causing him to bleed to death. Looking down at his father's bloodied corpse, Stefan struggles with the decision of what to do next, eventually opting to call Dr Haynes in the belief that she is involved in the conspiracy as well.
With the viewer's help, he is able to call Dr Haynes' number, only for her receptionist to answer on the grounds that the psychiatrist is currently attending her sister's wedding. Still enraged over the control being exerted over his life, Stefan furiously orders the bewildered receptionist to tell Dr Haynes that he has killed his father and he will be coming for her next. As soon as he hangs up, she naturally calls the police. Back at Stefan's house, he disposes of his father's corpse by burying him in a shallow grave among the flower beds in the back garden. No sooner has he finished, the police arrive to arrest him, leaving him cornered in the yard as the sirens slowly close in.
By contrast, if he fails to enter the correct number, Stefan will simply bury the body and get back to coding the game. However, the habits of the neighbor's dog remains constant, and Peter's corpse is dug up the following morning, prompting a visit from the police.
Whatever the case, Stefan goes to prison, Bandersnatch is released incomplete, and the game receives a rating of two and a half stars out of five (only recommendable out of morbid interest). For good measure, it isn't known if Peter and Dr Haynes were really part of the Program and Control Study, or if Stefan had actually received genuine information from another reality and mistakenly believed that it applied to his as well.
Stefan is last seen in his cell, watching the negative reviews on TV while drawing a plot diagram composed of lambda-like symbols on the walls, suggesting that he has become aware of the decisions that led him up to this point - possibly leading to an opportunity to go back to the divergence point and change things, if the viewer can still do so.
The "Jail" Ending
As with the Netflix ending, this is open to all viewers regardless of their decisions. Here, when Stefan asks for a sign, the viewer has the option of projecting the image of Jerome F Davies' lambda symbol on the computer screen.
Now confronted with a symbol indicating a lack of free will, Stefan appears to suffer a nervous breakdown, realizing that he truly has no control over his life. Concerned, Peter arrives to check on him, but Stefan is unable to explain himself and runs downstairs to the kitchen in a blind panic, frantically babbling that he's "not in control." While his father tries to comfort him, Stefan notices the ashtray sitting on the bench, and desperately warns Peter to stay away from him, repeatedly protesting that he isn't safe and isn't in control.
At this juncture, the viewer has the option to either let Stefan back off, or force him to murder his father. In the former case, he will keep as far away from the ashtray as possible and eventually break down in tears, allowing Peter to comfort him and sending the viewer back to the divergence point. In the case of the latter, Stefan will take up the ashtray, and - while still insisting that he isn't in control of his own actions - kills Peter in much the same way as he did in the Program and Control ending.
This time, however, a distraught Stefan asks the viewer for advice on what to do next. In this ending, the viewer instructs him to bury the body; however, while he's digging a grave in the back garden, Thakur calls for an update on Bandersnatch. If the viewer chooses to inform him of negative progress, Thakur will lose his temper and show up at Stefan's house some time later, demanding answers... only to notice the body that the game designer was just about to drag outside; Thakur is immediately killed as well.
On the other hand, if Stefan claims that the game will be ready by the end of the day, he receives a different visitor - though it depends on what happened on the night he spent at Trellick Tower. If Colin is missing following the events of the LSD jump, Kitty will visit, looking for information on her husband's disappearance; though Stefan spares her life, he ends up looking immensely suspicious no matter what response the viewer chooses for him. If Colin is still around, he volunteers to check on Stefan's progress; upon noticing the signs of escalating madness, along with the knife in Stefan's hand, Colin will very calmly accept whatever decision he makes: if the viewer opts to kill him instead of letting him go, he will even give Stefan a trophy to beat him unconscious with so he won't feel his throat being cut.
Regardless of who Stefan kills or spares, he will bury Peter's body in the back garden among the flower beds, then return to work. However, the following morning, he discovers that the nextdoor neighbor's dog has accidentally dug up the corpse while digging up the flower beds; as a result, the police are summoned to the scene, and Stefan is immediately arrested.
As a result, Stefan goes to prison, and Bandersnatch is never released. Tuckersoft struggles with the financial dire straits that ensue, and things will be even worse if Thakur or Colin were murdered - though Colin will also end up getting arrested for drug possession if he survived. Eventually, Tuckersoft closes its doors for good, and Bandersnatch is only remembered for the crimes surrounding it.
As with before, Stefan is last seen in his cell, watching the news report and scrawling plot diagrams on the wall; depending on viewer choices, he may even hear Colin's interview suggesting that Stefan needs to "try again," once again paving the way for another return to the divergence point if the viewer can still do so.
The "History Repeats" Ending
In order to find this ending, the viewer must have followed the previous option up to the aftermath of Peter's murder. This time, Stefan is instructed to chop up his father's corpse. Clearly revolted at the prospect, he is once again able to resist the viewer's decision and tries to call Dr Haynes in a desperate attempt to seek guidance - and in the process, inadvertently manages to avoid a phone call from Thakur and the investigation that would have have led to the Jail ending. Unfortunately, he soon learns that Dr Haynes is busy with a client at the moment and cannot come to the phone; despairing, Stefan opts for an appointment on the following morning.
With no other options available to him, he reluctantly drags Peter's body upstairs to the bathroom, where he tearfully dismembers it with a hacksaw. Then, he returns to work; however, his demeanor has noticeably changed, and he seems to be working more efficiently this time around.
Next morning, Stefan arrives at the psychiatrist's office in a surprisingly happy mood. Claiming that Peter is visiting his sister in the south of France, he admits that he's actually happy to have the run of the house, revealing that the privacy has given him the time and peace needed to work with "a real sense of purpose." No longer bogged down as he once was with all the usual frustrations, he has actually finished Bandersnatch and successfully delivered it to Tuckersoft.
With his father no longer around to distract him, Stefan was able to discover what was wrong with the game in the first place: he was giving the player too much choice, and the systems requirements of including all the branching narratives included in the original book ended up overwhelming the system. In the end, all he had to do was strip away most of the choices available to the player, instead providing a convincing illusion of choice via subtly rigged decisions and false options; regardless of the player's decisions, Stefan decides the ending - an ending he believes is a happy one.
While Dr Haynes congratulates Stefan, we cut back to a scene of him at work in his room: the walls have been smeared with bloody replicas of Jerome F Davies' lambda symbol, and Peter's severed head is sitting on a chest of drawers just across from the desk. Stefan is last seen at the center of the carnage, seated in front of the computer, smiling contentedly over his work.
Soon after, Bandersnatch is released to the public, and awestruck reviewers give it five stars out of five, ratings that not even Colin Ritman's games ever achieved. Unfortunately for Tuckersoft, though the game's critical success is guaranteed, its bestseller status does not last long: police eventually discover a bag containing Peter's severed limbs dumped in a patch of woodland not far from the Butler house. With Stefan having been persisting in his lies concerning his father's whereabouts ever since Peter was declared missing in October, it doesn't take long for the police to put two and two together.
Stefan is arrested on December 16th, 1984, and the newspapers attribute the murder to a psychotic episode on his part. In the controversy that ensues, Bandersnatch is pulled from the shelves and all copies of the game are pulped, guaranteeing the game's place in history - but only for the crime that occurred during its creation, and unlike the original novel, it doesn't have the advantage of still being praised for its content.
However, this information is conveyed in a televised news report set decades after the events of the film, which then goes on to reveal that Colin's now-adult daughter Pearl has discovered her father's old copy of Bandersnatch and plans to remake the game for streaming platforms like Netflix.
In the middle of building this new adventure, Pearl begins experiencing similar glitches to Stefan, and the viewer is given the option to either have her pour tea all over the keyboard or destroy the computer entirely. Whatever option chosen brings the film to an end.
The "Train" Ending
In order to reach this ending, the viewer must have already traveled back in time via the mirror, and then reached of the previous endings, allowing them to return to the divergence point where Stefan chose what to do before bed. Here, Stefan automatically chooses the book instead of the family photo: thus, when he wakes up in the middle of the night, he heads for the study - knowing from his previous trip back through time that this was where Peter was keeping Rabbit.
Once again, Stefan attempts to open the safe, but this time around, the viewer is given the option of entering the passcode "TOY." Upon doing so, Stefan discovers Rabbit inside. However, he is interrupted by the arrival of his father's past self; suddenly, Stefan finds that he has been once more been transported back through time and is a five-year-old child again. Though perturbed to find his son sneaking through the office cabinets, Peter decides to let Stefan keep Rabbit and tells him to put the toy back where it belongs. Young Stefan puts Rabbit back under his bed and settles back to sleep, while his future self looks on impassively.
As a result, when the time comes for the visit to Stefan's grandparents, he is able to find Rabbit very quickly; however, the two of them end up delayed anyway. This time, Stefan is given a choice on whether or not to join his mother on the journey that will eventually kill her: refusing will simply return Stefan to the present and any one of the endings mentioned above. Accepting will result in Stefan and his mother bidding farewell to Peter and leaving for the train.
Young Stefan is last seen on the train with his mother, aware of his imminent death but clearly happy to be with his mother one last time. The scene then cuts back to the present, apparently during the first therapy session of the film: Stefan has apparently lost consciousness in mid-conversation, and a medic is pronouncing him dead as Dr Haynes and Peter cry over his body.
It's not known if this is the consequence of time travel affecting other realities, or if the entire game was just a dying dream Stefan experienced after passing out at the psychiatrist's office; however, given the multiple realities discussed and potentially visited over the course of the game, either one is possible, and like "History Repeats," this can form the basis of a conclusive ending to the game.
- The canonical outcome of the film is dependent on viewer choice; however, Tuckersoft's website can actually be visited, revealing that Bandersnatch was cancelled before its release. Given that no later games are mentioned in the product lineup, it can be assumed that Tuckersoft collapsed soon afterwards. With this in mind, the "Jail" ending may be considered canon, though the "Train" ending may also be a possible option: because Stefan died before his present self could begin work on the game, it can be assumed that nobody was able to replicate his work.
- Stefan is reportedly nineteen years of age, but the news article seen in "History Repeats" claims that he is twenty-one - though this is possibly intentional, given that the article is from The Sun, which has become infamous for inaccurate details; similarly, the article claims that Dr Haynes' first name is Patricia, but the placard on her door confirms that her first name begins with an R.
- The game of Bandersnatch is actually based on a real game planned by Imagine Software in 1984; however, due to the demands of allowing so much player freedom, the game proved too difficult to produce, would have required additional hardware to play on ordinary Z-X Spectrum consoles, and cost more than double the acceptable rate for any game of this caliber. In the end, Imagine Software went bankrupt before Bandersnatch could be released, and the few remaining fragments of the game are believed to have been incorporated into the game Brataccas. The film incorporates several elements of the game's history, including the starting date of the film being the date when Imagine Software closed its doors, and Tuckersoft staking its future on the promised game - and in some cases, going bankrupt as a result.