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Every Black Mirror: Bandersnatch ending explained

Black Mirror helped ring in 2019 with Bandersnatch, bringing a new kind of experience to Netflix. Though the streaming giant had experimented with interactivity before in children's shows, Bandersnatch is their first foray into more mature interactive entertainment. The resulting effort is unlike anything most viewers have experienced. Marrying a statement on free will with another one of Black Mirror's signature speculative takes on the horrors of technology, Bandersnatch has proven to be a successful venture for both the series and Netflix itself, premiering to positive reviews and strong ratings.

Viewers have flocked to the dark adventure since its premiere, searching for every loose thread and alternate ending they can possibly find, which has certainly proven rather difficult — though the average viewer takes 90 minutes to complete the story, there are several hours of different loops of footage that fans can keep cycling through until they find every potential answer. Looking for a guide to each and every one of Bandersnatch's endings, even the ones that loop you back so that you can keep playing? Look no further. Let's break down each of Bandersnatch's endpoints, even though the director himself, David Slade, has said there are some scenes no fans will ever be able to find.

Make the game at Tuckersoft

Set in 1984, the story focuses on Stefan (Fionn Whitehead), a wannabe video game programmer who wants to bring the choose-your-own-adventure book Bandersnatch to life in a brand new video game. In the very first scene, he tells his father that he's pitching this exciting new concept to the minds at Tuckersoft, a local company that has previously produced some of his favorite games. Once he arrives, he meets studio head Mohan Thakur (Asim Chaudhry), as well as enigmatic designer Colin Ritman (Will Poulter). Here, Stefan (or rather, the audience) is immediately given his first important choice (after a few inconsequential options like which breakfast cereal to eat or which cassette to listen to on the bus): accept Thakur's offer to work on the game at Tuckersoft, or refuse it entirely.

If you accept, the game ends quite abruptly; Colin tells Stefan he picked the "wrong path," and viewers find themselves and Stefan transported to Christmas, watching as his game gets a zero-star review. Telling his father he has to "try again," Stefan storms off, and the story reroutes you back to Thakur's offer, having directly told you that you made the wrong choice by accepting in the first place. Interestingly, when you relive Stefan's first meeting with Colin, Stefan seems to know more about Colin and his newest game than he should, indicating that timelines are already starting to converge.

Throw tea on your computer instead of yelling at your dad

Once you've made the "right" choice and set off to make the game at home, you'll be treated to a montage of Stefan locked away in his room, working on the game by himself. As he continues to run into trouble with the coding and hit dead end after dead end, Stefan's dad (Craig Parkinson) will appear to check in on his son. As viewers know by this point, the death of Stefan's mother has created a strong divide between father and son (Stefan blames his father for his mother's death in a train accident). Though Stefan's dad does his best to be understanding and simply tells Stefan he's concerned, viewers are given a choice: toss tea over Stefan's computer, or yell at Stefan's father.

This should feel relatively intuitive, but, well, computers and liquids don't mix, and choosing this option abruptly ends the game while rerouting the viewer back to the same choice. Even though Bandersnatch is truly a "choose your own adventure" viewing experience, this is where you may begin to realize that the game will get you to go exactly where it wants, and the concept of free will in this world may actually be illusory.

Jump off the balcony instead of Colin

If you do choose to yell at Stefan's dad, his old man insists that he revisit his therapist, Dr. Haynes (Alice Lowe), who viewers met once before, upon learning about the death of Stefan's mother). However, on his way to her office, Stefan catches a glimpse of Colin, and if he chooses to follow Colin, he's in for quite the night. Over at Colin's luxurious apartment, Stefan meets Colin's wife, Kitty (Tallulah Haddon), and baby daughter, Pearl, before falling down a trippy, drug-fueled rabbit hole (even if Stefan and the viewer refuse Colin's offer of acid, Colin laces Stefan's tea with it anyway).

Once their trip is well underway, Colin launches into a monologue that will come to define one of Bandersnatch's central concepts — that it doesn't matter if someone dies in one reality, because they're always present in another, parallel plane of being. Out on his balcony, Colin offers both Stefan and the viewer a terrifying choice: either Stefan jumps, or Colin jumps. Again, this may seem intuitive, but there's truly only one option to be had here, as Stefan jumping means that the story abruptly ends, cutting to an epilogue that informs viewers that Bandersnatch was ultimately and "abruptly" finished without Stefan, premiering to negative reviews.

Destroy the computer

Faced with a brand new bug in the game, Stefan begins to crack under the pressure, and after an embarrassing blip at the Tuckersoft headquarters, Stefan asks for one more weekend to complete the project. Thakur is frustrated, but agrees, noting that Colin has vanished and is nowhere to be found (this is after Colin jumped off his own balcony, while insisting that he would live on in an "alternate reality"). An intern gives Stefan a tape marked "JFD," which he says is from Colin.

Viewers will be familiar with those initials by this point, as Stefan has already purchased a book about the famous JFD — Jerome F. Davies (Jeff Minter), the disturbed author of the original Bandersnatch book who decapitated his wife amidst a series of mental disturbances and delusions. The tape contains a documentary that reveals eerie parallels between Stefan and Davies. As Stefan keeps working, his game crashes once again. If he takes out his frustration by simply hitting the desk, everything proceeds as normal. But he could also destroy his computer, which will reroute the viewer, as it is clear that the story is not yet finished.

Take your medication

Though the acid trip with Colin is, in the end, essential to the overall plot, so is your visit to Dr. Haynes. By this point, Stefan is having disturbing thoughts, feeling like someone is choosing what he eats for breakfast or what music he listens to or whether he should toss tea on his computer (truly, Stefan is nothing if not clever). His visit to Dr. Haynes sends him home with a stronger prescription no matter what, but the timing of other events informs your next choice.

If Stefan follows Colin before his visit with Dr. Haynes (and, most importantly, tells Colin to jump instead of him), he wakes with a start in his father's car, believing that the acid trip was simply a dream. Once he arrives home with his brand new pills, the only provided options are to flush them or throw them away. However, if Stefan visits Dr. Haynes before his trippy encounter with Colin, he is given an option to take the pills — and if he does, the story leaps ahead to Christmas and the release of Bandersnatch. The game receives a two-and-a-half-star rating for seeming like it was "made on autopilot," and the film reroutes you once again.

Tell Dr. Haynes about Netflix, fight her

Perhaps the most interesting and crucial point in all of Bandersnatch is when the viewer is presented with a seemingly impossible choice: destroy Stefan's computer or throw tea over it. No matter which one the viewer chooses, Stefan does neither, and begs a higher power (or, really, the viewer) to tell him who is actually controlling him. If the viewer chooses one of the only two options available to the viewer — "Netflix" — it opens up an opportunity to try to explain the 21st century concept of Netflix to a horrified Stefan, who immediately tells his father that he'd like to return to Dr. Haynes' office.

When Stefan tries to tell Dr. Haynes about Netflix, she seems fairly nonplussed, and that's when things take a major turn. Wouldn't this all be more interesting, she asks Stefan, if it was really some futuristic form of entertainment? Spurred by her suggestion, Stefan throws coffee in the good doctor's face, causing her to immediately leap to her feet and challenge Stefan to fight her. If he chooses to fight her, a totally ridiculous battle ensues between the two, culminating in Stefan's father dragging him out of the office amidst a full psychotic break, with the viewer rerouted to a previous fork in the road.

Jump out the window

Choosing "Netflix" when asked about a higher power triggers at least one definitive ending, although surprisingly, it does not follow the "fight" option. Once a baffled and frightened Stefan begins learning about the streaming service, all options lead you to Dr. Haynes, who will still regard you with the same polite puzzlement, asking why an audience wouldn't want these proceedings to be far more exciting than they currently are.

Viewers might not gravitate towards the "leap out the window" option, but it actually leads to one of the funniest and cheekiest possible endings. If the viewer chooses to leap out the window, the scene comes to a screeching halt, shattering the fourth wall entirely — a voice calls "cut," the filming of Black Mirror abruptly stops, and a director rushes towards Stefan, telling him that he's not supposed to jump, as they're working on the fight scene now. Even more bewildered, Stefan insists that he's not acting (even as the director calls him "Mike,") and a medic is called to the set, ending the narrative in one of Bandersnatch's few closed loops.

Take the train with your mother

One of the saddest throughlines in Bandersnatch is the tragic story of Stefan's mother, who was killed in a massive train accident when he was a young child. Though the two were supposed to visit Stefan's grandparents together, Stefan refused to leave without his toy rabbit (which his father had confiscated), making his mother late for her original 8:30 train and causing her to switch to the doomed 8:45.

Though Bandersnatch frequently tells the viewer that the past is immutable, we soon find out that's not true. Through a series of seeming hallucinations, Stefan is able to access a mysterious safe in his father's locked office, with up to four codes available to the viewer (though two are frightening dead ends). If the viewer chooses to enter "TOY," Stefan finds his rabbit, and is miraculously able to hide it back in his room, where he is asleep as a young child. 

Upon discovering the rabbit, a young Stefan is finally able to choose whether or not he wants to accompany his mother. If he doesn't, the story continues as normal. If he does, they get on the 8:45 train, and the grown-up Stefan peacefully passes away in his therapist's office. It might not be the happiest ending, but it at least provides closure for Stefan (and, despite involving the death of our main character, isn't even the darkest option).

Find out about PACS, kill Dad

"TOY" isn't the only safe lock combination with consequences. "PAX" (which triggers a disturbing vision of Pax, the demonic villain of the original Bandersnatch book) and "JFD" (which shows a frightening specter of Jerome F. Davies) are both dead ends. "PAC," however, shows Stefan a video tape indicating that every part of his life is nothing more than a government simulation, and his parents aren't even his parents. When Stefan wakes from what he assumes is a dream and begs to know who is controlling him, the viewer may now choose "PACS," which gives Stefan a reason to believe that his dream was real.

Furious and frightened, Stefan confronts his father, ultimately bludgeoning him with an ashtray. After he calls his therapist, he is imprisoned for murder. Thakur may also show up at the house, and Stefan will kill him too, though this depends on the player's previous actions. The game is released, and Stefan passively watches its middling reviews from jail.

Kill Dad and bury him

Because this is Black Mirror, darkness is inescapable. Stefan will brutally murder his father with the ashtray — even if you choose to "back off," you'll find yourself repeatedly rerouted until you finally settle on murder. From here, the viewer has two extremely unsettling choices: bury your father, or chop him up.

Choosing "bury" could lead the viewer down a few different paths, although the differences may seem extremely small. Burying your father always leads to you getting caught, but there are a few different scenarios you can encounter from here, and some involve an unexpected visitor. As Stefan drags his father's body through the house, the doorbell rings, and he will be confronted by one of three people (depending on the viewer's previous choices): Colin, Kitty, or Thakur. 

Kitty will always escape with her life, but Stefan will kill Thakur and will be given the choice to either kill Colin or let him go. In any case, after a call to Dr. Haynes, the neighbor's dog digs up the body of Stefan's father. Even though Stefan ends up in prison, an investigation is opened into Tuckersoft, which is ultimately dismantled. However, the game itself will never be released, nullifying all of Stefan's work up until this point.

Kill Dad and chop him up

If the viewer is feeling particularly sadistic, they can choose the more demented option of the two once they've killed Stefan's father — chop up the body, which imbues Stefan with new inspiration for the game and allows him to finish it (albeit with his father's severed head hanging out in his room while he does). Though the game is released to a five-star review, it is pulled from shelves after Stefan is eventually caught and imprisoned for his father's murder, and it becomes a dark, notorious legend in the gaming community.

Years later, we catch up with Colin's grown-up daughter, Pearl (Laura Evelyn), who is now working as a game designer. Having found a copy of Bandersnatch among her father's belongings, she wants to revive the game for a new generation, and is even in talks to adapt it for a streaming service like Netflix (meta much?). However, when her work hits a snag, Pearl stares at her faltering computer, and the viewer is offered one last choice on her behalf: pour tea on her computer, or destroy it. Cutting to black, the story builds its longest ending to one inevitable point — that no one truly has any control over their life.