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Understanding BioShock Infinite’s ending

This post has been edited by the GamesBeat staff. Opinions by GamesBeat community writers do not necessarily reflect those of the staff.

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The Songbird

Songbird, a massive mechanical bird that protects Elizabeth and that can be summoned and controlled by a whistle-flute thing, always seems to intervene at the last moment and take Elizabeth from Booker. When Songbird does this near the end, Booker tries to rescue her. He hears, through mini-tears in the air, Elizabeth being tortured and brainwashed into becoming the heir to the throne that Comstock wanted her to be.

After going through a tear into another dimension, Booker discovers an old, frail Elizabeth looking out over a burning city. The chaos is her doing. She explains to Booker that this can never happen and gives him a piece of paper to give to the young Elizabeth. He then goes through another tear into a universe where Elizabeth is still being tortured and brainwashed. After rescuing her, he gives her the note. All seems well.

They go on to find Comstock. But after he (Comstock) tries to get Booker to explain why Elizabeth is missing her pinkie finger, Booker kills him, denying any knowledge of it. Elizabeth, however, knows Booker knows something, even if he doesn’t remember.

They attempt to escape, but they are attacked again — this time by loads of Vox. Elizabeth then realizes she can control Songbird by using the whistle. They use Songbird to help kill the remaining Vox. Afterward, Elizabeth gets Songbird to destroy the Siphon; the original source of her power and a device that forces her to remain within Columbia and stops her opening up another dimension to escape into.

After it is destroyed, Booker drops Songbird’s whistle because it becomes electrified, and he panics as Songbird rushes toward them, no doubt about to flatten them both. But Elizabeth opens up a tear into another world, allowing them to escape into a new world.

The world of Rapture.

As they wander through Rapture, they then leave through a lighthouse door and come into a huge, massive, open, infinite space full of neverending lighthouses.

This is where the explanations start.

Beacons to other worlds

Each lighthouse represents a world, a dimension. What are these dimensions? Well, they could be anything, worlds never even heard of, but they are also the outcome of every possible situation and choice.

So, for instance, if you decided to stay at home (and play Infinite) rather than go to work, another dimension would be created for where you didn’t stay home and you did go to work. A new world is created for everything that could have ever been.

We then learn by going through one of these lighthouses that after killing Native Americans at Wounded Knee, Booker got baptized to rid him of his sins. But he refused the baptism at the last moment and went on to live his life. Booker and Elizabeth move on to another lighthouse — to another thing that happened in Booker’s life.

We are now in Booker’s apartment, and there is Robert Lutece standing in the doorway. You hear a baby called Anna in one of the rooms, and after entering it, you see the very young child Anna in a cot. Booker frantically denies that the child ever existed, completely confused as to why this is happening. But to continue he must go through with the scene as it happened before. He hands his child over to Robert, who then leaves, saying something along the lines of “Mr. Comstock forgives your sins.” We then go to a scene where we see Comstock holding Booker’s daughter as he is about to go through a tear into another dimension (the dimension of Columbia). But Booker tries to stop him leaving, begging for his daughter back. Unfortunately, Comstock gets away — but he isn’t quick enough, and as the tear closes, Anna’s little finger gets caught in the closing tear is cut clean off.

It is now obvious that Elizabeth, previously called Anna, is Booker’s daughter.

Now this is where it gets a little confusing. Booker realizes that the Lutece twins, who aren’t actually twins but are versions of the same person from different dimensions who met each other, came to help him after Comstock betrayed them. They came to help Booker get his daughter back from Columbia.

They opened a tear and brought him into Columbia’s dimension. After bringing him through, Booker’s mind created new memories in place of the old ones. He created a new purpose for himself in this other world, and this purpose was what he wanted to do all along: find Anna/Elizabeth and get her back.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t as simple as that.

Before entering the final lighthouse, we hear Booker saying about how they will just go back and kill Comstock in his crib to prevent all this. That, however, actually means killing himself, as you’ll see in the next section.

Booker, who art thou?

When, in the original dimension, Booker rejected the baptism, another world was created in which he accepted it. This is the place they are in now. This is the world where he accepted the baptism.

After being baptised, what did this new, free-of-sin Booker do? He called himself Zachary Comstock and created a city in the sky called Columbia. He was born again — but this time an evil man.

To kill Comstock when he was born, Booker has to kill himself when he turned into Comstock. And that is at the place in another dimension where he accepted the baptism instead of rejecting it.

Lots of Elizabeths appear, and they proceed to drown Booker, presumably in the baptismal basin. After he dies, we see all of the Elizabeths disappear.

Now, this is the end. The credits roll from there. Or is it? There is more. I will go into this after explaining all of the above, though.

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45 comments
Bronson Hall
Bronson Hall

Oh and another question. Can each dimension indeed affect another? Or does each dimension exist in its own reality on its own timeline. So what I am asking is, if I change something that happened on one timeline, how can it affect another reality with ITS own separate timeline?

Bronson Hall
Bronson Hall

Important question here. Why did the Twin(s) make the tear machine in the first place?

Tristra Gyopsie
Tristra Gyopsie

interesting take and you seem to have got it right, all but 1 point.

the twins did not give her the power
both the twins and Elizabeth explain that her power came from being ripped from her original world and was the universe trying to set things right giving her the ability but not the knowledge to go back where she came from.

in the ending shown after the credits she does not have the power, because she is in her home universe and has never left.


this has 1 loop hole and that is booker can not make tears. this may however not be that he can not but that he does not know how, Elizabeth was a baby and grew up with the power as a part of her. she had time to learn.

Dustin Mordica
Dustin Mordica

So is it correct to assume that even when Comstock stole Anna from Booker that she would still lose her finger? She lost her finger because Booker was chasing them. Had he not been she wouldn't have lost her finger and would have no powers.

Walter Hawkins
Walter Hawkins

Details made the ending a piece o' cake to understand.  Brilliant work!

Abhilash MP
Abhilash MP

gr8 one man i had understood the game in pieces and u helped me to join it...... thanks a loot

Max Faga
Max Faga

Booker is still able to exist because only all of the Comstock versions of him were killed. That's why at the end, right before he drowns, he say's, "No, I'm both (booker and Comstock)." He's both because he has neither rejected the baptism to become booker, not accepted it to become Comstock. That's why the Elizabeth's drown him. If they had just shot him (or killed him any other way), they would have eliminated all Bookers from existence past that point, but since they drowned him, they effectively killed him during his baptism. Ie. They killed every Comstock in the 'womb' while still allowing for all of the non baptized Bookers to still exist.

Tj Friestad
Tj Friestad

Biggest question of all does this game show what the meaning of life is and what happens after death, that you never die just live the other versions of yourself or keep redoing a crucial time in your life ooooo spooky o.O

Chris Hewitt
Chris Hewitt

I'm not sure whether it's explicit or not but the baptism ending is 1890.  Elizabeth has taken the 38 year old Booker who saved her back to the moment where he had a choice.  It's his choice not to be baptised, and that starts the infinite loop.  The key to remember is, like No Country for Old Men, we've viewed the entire story from the wrong perspective.  Yes the game is played by Booker but it's not his story, it's Elizabeth's.  

Remember at the end how he wants to be baptised?  That's the inevitability of him becoming Comstock.  There's no choice there, that baptism will result in him becoming the monster he had just toppled.  

Elizabeth finally realises this in this 122nd time line and kills him.  Breaking the cycle.  Booker has no choices here, Elizabeth does.  

Just look at the dates.  


Booker DeWitt    born 19th April 1874

Battle of Wounded Knee       29th December 1890    (Booker aged 16)

Baptism                     sometime after Wounded Knee, presumably 1891

Elizabeth is born           1892

Columbia is launched   1893 (Booker aged 19 - mentioned that Booker used his connections with the US Government - looks like an old man)


It's just not feasible that he's the same person and the split happens at the baptism and two timelines split from there.  At that baptism I think we see a split but we have no idea the man that Booker will become.  All we see is the world when Booker refuses.


Look at the overall story, the Prophecy, the Angel that told him.  That's the game.  That's us playing the game.  That's us living the prophecy.  The Angel is Elizabeth.  


It is the 38 year old Booker who from 1890 onwards seeks to make the prophecy real by building Columbia off what he had seen.  From that moment he dedicates himself to God and his path is set.  Booker is doomed from the beginning.  What changes is that Elizabeth from the future seeing the destruction of New York realises how to fix it.  She pulls Booker to the future after he's been knocked out, tells him how to beat the Songbird and something else .......... she then sends him back to 6 months after the bird has taken her.  Not immediately after he's been knocked unconscious.  I believe there's some mention at that point about when "hope died".  Presumably having suffered the torture herself old Elizabeth knew exactly the moment to best break the cycle.  




I think a lot of people seem to think there's a split at the baptism in 1890.  There isn't.  The story is fundamentally about an infinite loop that is finally broken.  


I also think people have taken the sterility and ageing process a bit too literally.  


A 17 year old Booker doesn't stumble upon Rosalind Futuce.  Age 50 years and looks 70 at 21 where is he declared ruler of flying city.

A 38 year old Booker knows to seek out Rosalind Futuce after the baptism.  Uses his contacts in the Government to build the prophecy.  He begins to age in game, the bleeding from the head, and is made sterile from the jumping around that he does in game, not some out of game piece.


Also I'm not sure he allows himself to be drowned.  I think Elizabeth, having been tortured and realising the truth knows she needs to end it and they collectively drown him against his will.  If you remember the ending I believe he struggles and is certainly offered no choice.  


Yoav Nahman
Yoav Nahman

But if Booker was Comstock and Comstock was Booker, Why in the game they showing that Comstock took her?

like, Booker took or or Comstock? didn't understood this thing.

and also, why Elizebeth Didn't just tell Booker the truth about her finger?


i am still confused even that your explanation was great, but still didn't get the idea of the tale that shows weird scenes all over the game like why the people in the cage took Elizebeth and connected her to a machine and what was the wound on her back after Booker disconeted her from the cable on her back?


Oh, and who's the prophet?

Its comstock right?

William Holmgren
William Holmgren

Doesn't he only stop Comstock from being born in that particular dimension? Like honestly the only thing he accomplished was deleting the Comstock dimension and Elisabeth to instead raise Anna when he's a single father with huge debts. I don't understand what the purpose of killing Comstock before he was born was, like how does that stop Comstock from being born in other dimensions? Seems like he only made a whole dimension dissapear and ended all those lives for nothing instead of just letting them keep living. Yeah sure Elisabeth wouldn't have grown up like that and he would be able to raise Anna but how can that possilby make up to destroy a whole dimension, a whole universe, instead of just letting Elisabeth start over in Paris or w/e. They could still meet eachother since she could make a tear so it's not like he wouldn't be able to see his daughter ever again or anything..

Styrk Finnøy
Styrk Finnøy

None of this needs to make sense. Much because you can't explain fictional laws of nature without other fictional laws of nature, and as the story does, this too loops infinitely. I think the entire story is something that Booker creates in his own mind as he tries to cope with his memories and guilt for failing to protect (selling) his own daughter. "Bring us the girl, and wipe the dept(guilt) away". His regret of not protecting her projects an imaginary hero protector that can fight any challenge to keep his daughter safe. Booker uses salts (alcohol) to drown his memories, while the Rapture ones uses drugs (needles). He creates Comstock to blame his daughters disappearance on him. Comstock is a part of him. All of this is a fight against the part of himself that he hates. In the end he kills himself, thus killing the one guilty(Comstock/Dewitt) for abandoning his daughter. Have you guys thought about how all the other Bioshocks have the father-daughter/protector-daughter relationship as the motive force?  I know I'm onto something. Guys?

Adrian Padilla
Adrian Padilla

Wait, this doesn't make snense. The booker that was killed was the one who accepted the baptism. The booker after the credits scene was the one ago declined the baptism. So why why was that booker surprised to hear Anna crying? Booker said "Ana!" "Ana? Is that you?" Why was he so shocked to see that his daughter was there in the baby crib? If the booker that accepted the baptism died, that would mean that comstock never happened, therefore meaning that the booker who declined the baptism, wouldn't have ever met comstock who took away his baby daughter. So why was he shocked to see that Ana was in her crib? This doesn't add up.

Todd Green
Todd Green

So question. Booker has gone to Columbia over 100 times to take Elizabeth to new work to pay off gambling debt blah blah blah we know that... Did he ever successfully complete this task? Or was it just a non stop cycle of rejecting the baptism and starting over?

I'm confused because I don't get how the cycle keeps going on?

Abhishek Ghante
Abhishek Ghante

listen guys.... this sounds crazy

we see at the end that Booker DeWitt is drowned off by his daughter(s). This supposedly stops Comstock from appearing ever again and we go back to Booker leading a relatively happy life. but they cant change the past from happening. This means that Booker will fight the battle of wounded knee and will be faced with the option of either having a baptism or not, which opens up two other new dimensions where the plot gets played again, again and again


Kirstie Bell
Kirstie Bell

Thank you for your article, but there's one thing I don't fully understand still...what exactly was the deal with ending up in Rapture? Are both the stories supposed to be linked? It's been a few years since I played the first Bioshock game and, although I loved it, I cannot remember it very well.

Phillip Sullivan
Phillip Sullivan

So I don't believe columbia has its own dimension, although, anna was pulled through rip...

Phillip Sullivan
Phillip Sullivan

First, We didn't go through a rip in the beginning of the game. Second, the DLC doesn't add up to the ending of the game. We killed all of the comstocks at the end, but in the DLC, elizabeth calls us comstock, and the twins show up, then our character gets stabbed. Did the developers forget about all of the comstocks dying?

Danish Teo
Danish Teo

i have a question..What If there is another dimension where elizabeth did not drown booker after he was baptised??did u think this through?? As You said , every decision had a diffrent dimension..

Richard Schaefer
Richard Schaefer

Nice explanation. Thanks. However, I still don't get how it is possible for "our" booker to act as the booker that accepted baptism and get himself killed. What happened to the booker of that dimension?

Dan Teuton
Dan Teuton

I predicted quite early on that Elizabeth was Anna, Bookers daughter (AD) but with Booker being Comstock I never saw that coming! I even shouted out HOLY F*CK NUGGETS as soon as it happened.


One of the best single player games I've played in a while. I'm gonna go back and play Bioshock 2 as I missed that one.

Bhagat Singh
Bhagat Singh

Yes I do agree that this plot has a lot of holes in it. One particular thing that caught my attention: The game tries to resolve the issue with Elizabeth killing of the Booker we played that was about to become Comstock who created the future city of Columbia. My question is: During the the alternate timeline where Booker refused baptism after Wounded Knee, thus creating a parallel universe where he had accepted baptism, then wouldn't our playthrough be pointless? As such when Elizabeth kills off our current Booker, who's about to become Comstock should he have been baptised, then wouldn't another parallel universe open up where Elizabeth didn't kill off Booker and he would still end up as Comstock? This would turn out to be a case of infinite regression/loop. I'm sorry if I sound silly but this game really messes with your head.

Kilian mccray
Kilian mccray

 There is a major issue, the first split is not at Bookers Baptism, it was when the Luteces' were conceived. So the split happens there. For their timelines the story continues: there is a Booker, that Booker was faced with what they did at Wounded Knee, they felt guilt they were faced with the choice of being Baptized, one timeline fallows Comstock, one Booker. We now have 4 versions of Booker Two who accepted the Baptism one in each of the Lutece timelines and Two Bookers who did not. The only way to make sure you close up those possibilities is to go back and kill the Lutece' Parents and prevent that birth. 

The claim that you only kill the Booker who was baptized thus cutting off that series of events just creates a lot of loops in logic its self.  It is an odd statement to make because the character of Booker we were playing was the one who didnt get Baptized yet we were the one who was drowned. The other issue with it is it still ends in a grandfather paradox, how can a child from the future kill a parent from the past, if they killed the parent they would not exist to kill the parent. The one way you could resolve that paradox is to claim that the Elisabeth who does kill the "about to be Comstock Booker" is from a different universe such that his death would not effect her existence thus removing the paradox. The issue with that solution is it contradicts what we see in game, and even if it did not then it would still prove that the action of killing Comstock had no effect because Elisabeth still exists as we know her thus rendering the exercise mute. 

You did a great job summarizing the ending and explaining it very well, the issue is that the plot has a lot of holes as it exists. The story can be summarized but it still has a lot of narrative problems. I think they took a big risk trying to use a time travel/parallel worlds story because its so easy to end up with enormous paradoxes or massive narrative loop holes. Lots of well look at all of these splits Would Booker going to the baptism changing his mind, then a week later changing it back count as a third split? does that have 2 splits one where he backs out again? You can fallow those paths literally infinitely and those are extremely challenging waters to sail in when writing a story,

Anna de Keijzer
Anna de Keijzer

You forget the fact that Booker made Comstock this powerful. Comstock is seen as a prophet by his people because they believe he can predict the future, but actually he knows what is going to happen because Comstock is a different Booker. So theoretically there would be a Columbia too where Booker did not go to Columbia. The twins got him there so there is also a dimension where they didn't bring him to Columbia. If Booker didn't go to Columbia at all, Comstock could never have been the powerful prophet the people of Columbia look up to and would never misuse his power as a prophet because there was no false shepherd to predict. So even if he stole Anna like he did in that dimension, it would never turn out the way it did because there would not be Comstock the prophet.

So basically if they could convince Booker to not go to Columbia, or just do not let him go to Columbia (He could only get there with the help of the twins) there would never be a Comstock who would steal Anna away because he didn't need an heir.

Does this make sense?

Matt Emeny
Matt Emeny

 So why does Comstock have slow swimmers, but De Witt is fine? It is pretty much gives purpose to the entire story


Dennis Kranz
Dennis Kranz

Okay, hold on. The moment you get drowned by all the Elizabeth's, it means Comstock will never be "born".. But shouldn't there be a universe where you don't get drowned, meaning Comstock still exists?

r w
r w

I just realized... every time you rez... you say "WTF just happened..." makes sense a new "alt" dewitt just got on scene.

Tony Chinchar
Tony Chinchar

No cause once a decision is made it can't be undone

Lari Strand
Lari Strand

@Styrk Finnøy This is how I might explain myself for writing this kinda stuff for a game plot that is non-transparent and out of this world as this one is. The "fantasy and science fiction" (or who knows ;D) explanation version suits me just fine too, but I always like to think artistic people have ulterior motives for portraying their imagination the way they do, in a way that can be related to the real life and maybe teach us something, remind us of something or make us think about our actions and our way of thinking (like your take on the plot). 

 Ps. Alcohol really makes you feel powerful doesn't it :D

Chizzle ♥
Chizzle ♥

@Adrian Padilla Good question, my only quess is that, some people did remember some thinks (bookers nose bleed and dead soldiers) from previous dimensions, so even tho Comstock dissapeared (and elizabeth) it might be possible that booker remembers something about the other dimensions.

Max Faga
Max Faga

The version of Booker we play as was the first one to succeed and break the cycle. However, there wasn't any actual gambling debt that he had to pay off by bringing Elizabeth to NY, that was a memory he created to make sense of being brought to another dimension by the lutece(s).

"Bring us the girl and wipe away the debt" actually refers to him handing over Anna to get rid of his gambling debt.

Joseph A
Joseph A

But they killed the Booker that chose baptism and the only Booker that keeps on living is the one that rejected baptism

Anthony Lynn
Anthony Lynn

@Kirstie Bell  I think that it serves two purposes.  1. To create a tie-in with the other BioShock games.  2. To show just how infinite the possibilities of realities are.  Elizabeth said something to the effect of "There is always a city, and there's always a man."  I think that this implies that there are other utopian cities in differing realities.  That being said, I think that any two of the utopian cities are not necessarily in the same reality.  That is to say, there was no Columbia in the reality in which the previous two games existed.

Anthony Lynn
Anthony Lynn

@Phillip Sullivan  You did, but you aren't shown it in the beginning.  You are shown it when Booker is remembering everything.

Greg Gettings
Greg Gettings

@Danish Teo You're right. Make a game that follows that storyline. This is just the path the game shows you.

Tony Chinchar
Tony Chinchar

No, because once something happens all of the dimensions would be affected by it. Dies,died, will die. I had to play the game twice to figure out out.

Spicy Curry
Spicy Curry

@Dennis Kranz I think the reason why there were multiple Elizabeths means that every single Elizabeth who ever existed chose to drown Dewitt, meaning that there is no universe where an Elizabeth did not drown him. That's only my guess though...

Jason Copeland
Jason Copeland

@Joseph A But can he not make the decision to still do the baptism later on. Although if he decided to do it at slightly different time it could create huge changes in how he behaves after and may never create a comstock.

Irshad Husain
Irshad Husain

@Danish Teo @Bhagat Singh Yeah, the problem is the creators didn't think this through, and fact is, there will be a dimension where the Good guys win (yay!) and the bad guys win (awww.). Nothing you can do to change that. And that's what happens. Boom. The end. 50% sad, 50% good. That's LIFE.

Irshad Husain
Irshad Husain

@Danish Teo @Bhagat Singh Yeah. What happens is that the creators didn't think this through. There will be one storyline where everything is fine and dandy, and you win at the end. Then there's another where evil wins, and there's nothing you can do about it. At the end of the game, the creators just ignore the fact that there's another dimension. So, that's what happened. That's the main plot hole of the game, but other than that, this was a great story.

Max Faga
Max Faga

No, no more Bookers can choose the baptism, because they eliminated all of the Bookers who accepted it. Basically, they turned his decision from a variable (bird or cage) to a constant (always landing on heads."

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