The Many Different Endings of Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, Explained

Photo: Netflix

If you want to see every version of the Netflix interactive movie Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, you better be prepared to watch many, many permutations of the same story. Essentially a “choose your own adventure” special, Bandersnatch follows Stefan Butler (Fionn Whitehead), a doomed ’80s programmer who slowly begins to suspect that he’s the subject of a conspiracy — unless, that is, he’s actually just losing his mind. Along the way, the viewer gets to shape Stefan’s path, in ways both cosmetic (should he listen to a Thompson Twins cassette or a Now That’s What I Call Music! compilation?) and much more serious, which veer into bloodshed, paranoia, and Black Mirror’s characteristically macabre humor.

Given that interactive quality, don’t be surprised if you wind up asking yourself all sorts of questions after you’ve watched Bandersnatch. Or if you rewind the whole thing to start all over again. Below, Vulture has put together a condensed guide to Black Mirror: Bandersnatch’s main endings and what happens in each of them. While this list covers the major conclusions to Stefan’s story, it isn’t a comprehensive guide to every possible story route in Bandersnatch — there are more than we could possibly recount here — but it’ll help you understand where and how they all end.

The Sudden Ending

The first “ending,” if you can call it that, comes early in Bandersnatch. After Stefan Butler gets the chance to meet his idol Colin Ritman (Will Poulter) and develop his dream video game for Mohan Thakur (Asim Chaudhry), he’s asked if he wants to “accept” or “refuse” an offer to join the Thakur’s team. If you make Stefan accept the offer, Bandersnatch flashes to an ending in which a rushed version of his game gets zero stars from a critic, as Stefan resolves to “try again” — inviting the viewer to go back and make him develop the game on his own. It might seem like a sad ending, but given the carnage of the conclusions to come, this one won’t seem too bad in retrospect.

The Broken-Computer Ending

When Stefan’s father Peter (Craig Parkinson) comes in to his room after the boy’s spent solitary weeks working on his game, you face another choice: You can either force Stefan to shout at his dear old dad, or make him “throw” his tea all over his computer. Yelling is actually the “better” answer here, as destroying Stefan’s computer ends the story. Tea and electronics don’t mix.

The Balcony Ending

When dad takes Stefan to see Dr. Haynes, the kid spots Colin walking down the street. If you decide to make Stefan follow Colin instead of attending his therapy session, a long night of pot, acid, and philosophical musings leads to a terrifying moment in which Colin says it doesn’t matter if one of them jumps from his apartment balcony. (The logic is tricky, but basically, Colin tells Stefan that he believes in multiple realities. If either of them dies in this one, it’s no problem because they’re still alive in another.) The viewer is told to either force Stefan to take the leap, or make him tell Colin to do it. The former choice ends the story with Stefan’s suicide, and his game is finished “abruptly” without him.

The Medicated Ending

One way or another, Bandersnatch pushes the story forward so that Stefan has to visit Dr. Haynes for a session and get a prescription for pills. If you do choose to make Stefan see Dr. Haynes instead of following Colin, she’ll give him the pills and you’ll have to decide whether he should flush them or take them. (If Stefan visited her after seeing Colin, he also gets the pills, but the session doesn’t go nearly as well.) Once you make Stefan take his medication, the story leaps ahead to another sudden conclusion: It’s Christmastime, Stefan has been taking his pills for months, and his game has been released on schedule, but the critic only gives it two-and-a-half stars for seeming like it was made on “autopilot.”

The Broken-Computer Ending, Redux

If you’re tiring of Bandersnatch by now, this is your chance to call it a day for Stefan Butler and destroy his life’s work. As he struggles to finish his game and keeps hitting coding roadblocks, we’re given yet another choice: Should Stefan hit his desk in anger or totally destroy his computer? Doing the latter ends the story in much the same way as pouring tea on his computer did in the earlier branch.

The Meta Ending

In Bandersnatch’s most surprising iteration, Stefan demands to know the truth: Who is controlling him? If you choose to answer honestly — that his life is actually entertainment on “a streaming platform from the early 21st century” — he soon winds up back in Dr. Haynes’s office to tell her all about this futuristic technology called Netflix. The good doctor points out that Stefan’s story would be too boring for such an advanced form of entertainment, but then — surprise! — she leaps out of her chair and challenges him to a brawl! You have to decide whether Stefan should fight her or flee through a window, and if you choose the latter, that’s when the fourth wall totally shatters: The camera pulls back to reveal that Stefan is actually an actor standing on the Black Mirror set, and a director storms over to tell him that he’s “not scripted to jump out, it’s the fight scene now.” The story ends after the actor asserts that his real name is Stefan, marking his final break with reality, and the production is forced to call a medic.

The Bloody Endings

There are several endings in which Stefan is imprisoned for murdering his father. (Depending on the route, he also winds up killing Thakur, Colin, or Colin’s wife, Kitty.) In these versions of the story, you’re ultimately forced to make Stefan kill his father if you didn’t choose to already — even if you select “Back Off” during their kitchen confrontation, it cycles back around to “Kill Dad” — and then you have to decide between burying or chopping up his body. All iterations of burying the body lead to Stefan in jail and Bandersnatch getting trashed by the critic, if it even gets released at all.

The 5-Star Ending

The darkest ending happens after you tell Stefan to chop up his father’s body. Surprisingly, this macabre choice gives Stefan enough time to finish his game, which gets five stars from the critic when it’s released — although it’s pulled from stores soon after Stefan gets caught and sent to jail. From there, Bandersnatch flashes forward to the present day: We see Colin’s daughter Pearl working on a reboot of Stefan’s game for a new generation. As she runs into some of the same bugs that he once did, and perhaps the same obsessions, a familiar question pops onto the screen: Should Pearl throw tea over her computer, or destroy it?

The Train Ending

If you figure out that “TOY” is the password that Stefan needs to recover his beloved stuffed bunny from his father’s safe, he then travels back to that moment in his past and places it under his childhood bed. Alas, even that can’t change fate entirely: His mother still misses her train while Young Stefan looks for his toy bunny, but this time, the viewer is given more than one choice when she asks if he wants to go with her. If Stefan says “yes,” he winds up on the train with his mom when it crashes — and in a surreal twist, we see him simply and suddenly pass away in his therapist’s office. He’s gone back and “fixed” the biggest moment in his life, but it also led to his death. How very Black Mirror.

The Many Endings of Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, Explained