A thought-provoking and chilling take on the concept of multiple realities is Netflix’s very own interactive psychological thriller called “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.” The movie uniquely questions the everyday choices of Stefan Butler (Fionn Whitehead), a 19-year-old programmer adapting a gaming book into a video game. While creating the video game, Stefan goes through a series of failed attempts at its completion that need to be perfected, but less is in his hands than the user who is controlling his decisions. Named after a creature in Lewis Carroll’s book, ‘Bandersnatch’ was supposed to be an original video game planned by “Imagine Software” in 1984. In the film, this idea is cultivated through another tech company known as “Tuckersoft,” which is interested in developing Stefan’s unfinished video game.

“Bandersnatch” has a highly complicated plot that also halted its production for a while due to its difficult execution in terms of production. It was supposed to be the fifth season of the Netflix series “Black Mirror,” but its prolonged making made it hard to execute, resulting in a separate project. It does justice to this idea as the storyline is profoundly technical, with new possibilities of how the next few minutes will go. Users’ choices affect the course of the events that result in the film’s non-linear screenplay.

Apart from its wondrous science fiction and thriller elements, the movie is renowned and critically acclaimed for its multiple endings. Although Netflix has officially said that the movie has five main endings, the makers of the film suggest otherwise. Russell McLean, the film’s producer, said there are ten to twelve endings while its director, David Slade, said that there are some golden endings that are hard to retrieve.

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (2018) Summary and Synopsis:

In 1984, a young British programmer named Stefan Butler was working on an adventure game called “Bandersnatch,” written by Jerome F. Davies, who went mad after killing his wife. His dad, Peter Butler (Craig Parkinson), inquires about the book he is adapting, which is the same name as the one written by Jerome F. Davies, and it is revealed that it belonged to his late mother. The awkwardness between Stefan and his father can be noticed.

The Tricky Adventure Game

After picking up his cereal for breakfast, Stefan tells him that he will pitch it to the video game company called “Tuckersoft” and visit its office building. He meets Mohan Thakur (Asim Chaudhry), the company’s owner, who introduces him to Colin Ritman (Will Poulter), an established video game programmer Stefan admires a lot. Mohan becomes interested in Stefan’s idea and offers him the chance to finish the game in the studio with them, which he accepts. Five months later, he gets disheartened over the bad reviews of his video game and tries again.

We are back to the scene where Mohan gives Stefan a choice, and this time, he decides to work alone at home, to which Mohan agrees. As he is tirelessly working on the game, he treats his father rather rudely. Peter decides to take him to Dr. R Haynes (Alice Lowe) for therapy. Dr. Haynes brings up his mother’s approaching death anniversary, which, according to her, may be a reason for his uncontrolled, agitated behavior. She encourages him to talk about his mother, and he narrates his mother’s death incident.

Stefan explains that when he was five, his father ruthlessly confiscated a stuffed bunny he had always carried along. He kept finding his toy and eventually refused to go without it, which delayed her mother’s train, and she died in an accident. Stefan blames himself for her death. Dr. Haynes consoles him, saying he was only five and didn’t know about this tragedy. She prescribes him pills that he takes. But three weeks later, the game gets terrible reviews, and he tries again. This time, he flushes down the pills. He works hard on his game once again and finds similarities in his work with Jerome F. Davies while struggling to control his life.

Collin’s Secret

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (2018) Movie Themes & Ending Explained
A still from Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (2018)

Stefan screams in his room at the walls, calling out someone who is controlling him and asking for a sign. The computer screen flashes, and a text appears that says that he is being controlled by a user in Netflix, a streaming platform from the 21st century. When he recounts it to his father, he takes him to Dr. Haynes. The two start the session smoothly, but after a heated argument, Dr. Haynes attacks him, and he runs for the window to jump out suddenly, the director says, “Cut,” and he figures he’s on a set where Dr. Haynes is a fellow actor while his dad is the director.

Stefan finds Collin walking on the street and stops him to ask him about his condition. He says he understands him and invites him to his flat, where he meets his girlfriend Kitty and his newly-born daughter Pearl. He tells him to relax, and they both consume drugs. Collin tells him how PAC stands for Program And Control. He reveals that the government controls everything, and you do not have much choice in your actions. They pay people to be your relatives and film you. To test this, he takes him to his balcony and asks who will jump. Stefan jumps and dies. This leaves his video game unfinished, and it gets bad reviews. So he tries to change his decision and, this time, tells Collin to jump. Collin jumps and dies. Stefan wakes up thinking it was all a dream, but Collin goes missing in real time.

Stefan Butler or Jerome F. Davies?

Stefan goes back to making his video game, but he gets distracted thinking about the similarities of his working patterns with the notorious and mentally unstable author. He even gets to experience a nightmare where Jerome ends up in his room with a knife and stabs him, but he wakes up. Feeling burdened by it all under the pressure of the impending deadline, Stefan tells his father to stay away from him as Stefan can barely control himself. Acting out of control, he holds up a knife and kills his father.

As he thinks about what to do with the body, the doorbell rings, and he finds Kitty, who asks him about Collin. He sends her away and buries his father in their garden. He then completed his video game, which turned out to be a huge success. For the first time, Stefan feels content and can be seen driven mad among a pile of papers with his father’s bloody head lying in his room with his body parts cut. Stefan also ends up in prison like Jerome due to the allegations of his father’s murder.

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (2018) Movie Ending Explained:

What Are the Five Endings Of the Film?

  1. Stefan visits Dr. Haynes and tells her how he successfully finished the video game as he chose not to give too many options to the player. He achieves this after killing his father like Jerome did to his wife. In this scenario, the film cuts to 2018, when Pearl Ritman, Collin’s daughter, is working on a reboot of Bandersnatch, which is rumored to be released on Netflix. She explains in an interview that she is carrying her father’s legacy. Like Stefan, Pearl goes through uncanny events. The code on her screen disappears and she is given similar choices like Stefan to either break the computer or spill tea on the keyboard. This ending demonstrates how the cycle continues, and now Pearl will suffer the same fate as Stefan because she is no longer in control of her choices.
  2. Stefan becomes his younger self and opens a safe by entering the password “TOY.” The safe opens, and he finds his stuffed bunny that his father hid. He becomes his 5-year-old self again. He hides his bunny and keeps it from where he finds it in the morning, joins his mother for the journey, and dies with her in his childhood. This results in his death as an adult in the therapy session that he was in at the film’s start.
  3. In the third ending, Stefan goes to his father’s safe and enters the password PAC. He finds the “Program and Control” files and finds out that his father is an agent who is working with Haynes. They both are drugging and recording him. He confronts his dad, kills him, and buries him in the yard. The game resets again. Stefan’s computer screen flashes when he says, “Give me a sign.” The text “PAC” appears on the screen. His father walks in, only to be killed by him again. He then calls Dr. Haynes and tells the receptionist that he is coming for her. He is arrested before he can do it, and his unfinished game receives a poor rating.

    Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (2018) Movie Themes & Ending Explained
    Another still from Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (2018)
  4. This ending is the one where everything appears to be a movie set. The user can end Stefan’s pain by making him an actor who does not have anything to do with programming. His life is completely different as an actor. Haynes is not his therapist but another actor, while his father is the director of the movie he is starring in.
  5. The last ending can be the one where Stefan transforms into a version of Jerome F. Davies after killing his father. His video game gets a perfect rating, but he loses his mind.

Are There More Endings of Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (2018) Movie?

Yes! While Netflix has narrowed down the endings to five, there are other possibilities where the story can take you to a whole different ending. Starting from the very beginning of the film, Stefan spills tea on his keyboard in anger when his video game glitches. All his work is gone, his efforts wasted, and there will no longer be a game called “Bandersnatch”—another end may be when Stefan swallows his pills and breaks his computer in anger. Once again, it all went down the drain, and no video game will ever exist.

The user’s choices do not end here. When Stefan attempts to escape from the window at the film set, he can decide to quit the act and fight off Haynes. In this way, he will not discover the futility of the window, which leads to the exposition of the set he is on. Moreover, in all the instances where Stefan heated up and killed his dad, Stefan could just cool down, and his father would live. He won’t have to go to jail, he won’t lose his mind, and the video game will be successful. Last but not least, the movie ends with the first decision Stefan makes. He picks a different cereal for breakfast, which could change the course of the entire film.

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (2018) Movie Themes Analysed:

Free Will

The most evident theme in the film is free will, which is portrayed as an illusion. Jerome F. Davies opposed the idea of free will, saying that everything we do is not under our control. It has been depicted in multiple ways. Stefan kills his father, jumps off the balcony, spills tea over his computer, and destroys his work, all due to the loss of free will. It even drops a philosophical point of view of whether murder is okay if whatever we do is not in our control. The conspiracy theory of the non-existing free wills is given by showing how we lose control over our lives when we are given limited choices. Stefan’s PAC files are proof of him living a lie, the truth Collin once revealed to him. Years later, we learn that Pearl suffers from the same fate as she loses her free will.

Multiple Realities

One decision can impact our whole life. From picking a cereal to murdering his blood, every action Stefan makes leads him to two different choices that will further expand and multiply realities. It is not a secret how the theory of the multiverse exists, where our very own versions will make opposite choices and lead a different life. Stefan’s life is no different. His realities include his career ending as a programmer after he spills tea on the keyboard, going to jail after murdering his father with a five-star game, dying with an unfinished game, and dying as a child. Not to forget how these realities are interconnected, as we can tell when baby Stefan dies, the older Stefan also dies.


Stefan’s enthusiasm to achieve perfection is a less-talked-about theme in the movie. He goes through all of his realities just to create a flawless video game that can receive perfect reviews. He obsessively follows a mentally ill author who killed his wife and went to prison because he considered him a genius. Throughout the movie, he aspires to be like him and have the perfect video game, but he ends up (in one reality) exactly like him in the worst way. One can say that all the realities in the film are born due to Stefan’s elusive goal of attaining perfection.

Read More: Everything Coming to Netflix in June 2024


Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (2018) Movie Links: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Wikipedia, Letterboxd
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (2018) Movie Cast: Fionn Whitehead, Craig Parkinson, Alice Lowe, Asim Chaudhry, Will Poulter
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (2018) Movie Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Runtime: 1h 30m
Where to watch Black Mirror: Bandersnatch

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