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This Resident Evil Village Theory Changes Everything For Ethan Winters

Now that many players have made their way through "Resident Evil 8," a few final mysteries must be teased out as gamers begin to anticipate the next "Resident Evil" game. One of the biggest unanswered questions finally has a solution, thanks to a photo mode mod from Otis_Inf

Spoilers for "Resident Evil 8" to follow.

At the end of "Village," an adult version of Ethan's daughter, Rose, goes to visit Ethan's grave before returning to her work of (presumably) monster hunting. As Rose rides away in an unmarked black SUV, players can see a man walking down the road in the distance. Now, gamers have an answer to who that man is: none other than Ethan Winters.

Gamers have been interested in defying the perspective of "Resident Evil" since the first person POV was introduced in "Resident Evil 7." This time, that experimentation led to a potential hint at what's next for the franchise, however. After using the Otis_Inf photo mode tool, which allows the camera to detach from the first person player perspective and freely roam around the map, IGN has confirmed that the man in the distance was Ethan, bandaged hand and all. The problem with Ethan's appearance is that for all intents and purposes within the game he should be dead.

What happened to Ethan?

After saving Rose and helping Chris Redfield's mission by volunteering to blow up the titular village, Ethan found himself at the center of an explosion meant to take an entire city off the map. He should be dead, but the ending of "Resident Evil 8" suggests that he might still be alive — or has become something worse. After all, this wouldn't be the first time Ethan Winters came back from the dead.

Earlier in the game, Mia tells Chris something about Ethan that was previously unconfirmed. "I tried to keep this a secret," Mia says. "You don't understand how special he is." 

The game immediately cuts to Ethan, waking up after presumably being killed by Karl Heisenberg. Even though the blast should have killed him, Ethan feels more or less fine, though he's confused about what happened. Players then come to understand that Ethan has been dead throughout the entire game. Sort of.

The man that won't stay dead

The final act of "Village" reveals that Ethan is composed entirely of Mold, the creeping black substance that manipulated the Bakers in "Resident Evil 7" and allowed Mother Miranda to conduct her experiments in "Resident Evil 8." In other words, Ethan has technically been dead for years, his body essentially puppeted by the Mold that he tried so hard to defeat.

It's possible that Ethan's body continues to live on after the battle in the village, but that doesn't mean his consciousness stayed intact. While the explosion Chris instigates at the end of "Resident Evil 8" should have killed all traces of the Mold, along with Ethan's body, it's possible that the Mold is stronger than players initially thought. After all, it's kept Ethan alive through countless meme-worthy hand injuries, as pointed out by Polygon.

Ethan's resistance to death is vital to his survival throughout "Resident Evil 8," as the game is more violent than some fans expected, and even necessitated a toned-down version for its Japanese release. Without some sort of regenerative ability, it's unlikely that Ethan would have made it as far as he did. Med kit juices can only heal so much before something else has to be involved.

Fan theories and the future of Resident Evil

Fans have their own theories about what happened at the end of "Village." One player said, "I would like to think that in all these years Rose growing up, Ethan has been protecting her from the shadows as a guardian angel." Another player speculated that in the final scenes, Rose is much younger than she appears, doomed to age rapidly like Eveline in "Resident Evil 7." Another viewer simply offered the age old wisdom that anyone could be a survivor in these games, "until you see a body." Since players did not actually see Ethan die, it stands to reason that he could theoretically still be alive. No one knows what happened in the village after Chris and his team left, except for Ethan himself.

Meanwhile, Game Rant has theorized that Capcom never intended for this reveal. It's possible that Ethan's character model may have simply been used to animate this scene.

The end of "Resident Evil 8" indicates that future installments in the series will focus on Rose, Ethan's daughter. While "the father's story" may be done, his appearance at the end of the game, albeit in the distance, suggests that there might be more to Ethan's tale. Hopefully, Ethan's existence means more creepy details for fans to uncover in his future adventures.

"Resident Evil 8" continues to spark fan discussion, as the game brings up more questions than answers. Fans have a few more years to craft theories, at least.