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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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What it all means

When Booker was first faced with choosing the baptism, he declined. He then went on to have a baby. Obviously, this decision created another dimension in which he had accepted the baptism, in which case he then became Comstock and went on to create Columbia. Both Comstock and the original Booker existed within their own dimensions, doing their own thing. However, after Comstock needed an heir but couldn’t have a child because he was infertile, he used the Lutece’ twins tearing machine to take Booker’s own child, Anna. Technically, because Comstock is Booker but just in another world, Anna is still biologically related to him. Booker actually sold Anna to him to pay off his debts to him, and I know what you are thinking: Isn’t there just another reality for if he hadn’t sold her? Well, yes — but also no. Because Comstock wanted — needed, in fact — Anna so badly (and it could be only Anna because she was the only child related to him) even if Booker hadn’t sold her, Comstock would have entered Booker’s world and taken her by force. There is no world, while Comstock existed anyway, where Booker and Anna stayed together.

Booker was caught in a never-ending cycle of trying to save his daughter. He had already been to Columbia over a hundred times before. This is proved when he is in Columbia and asked by the Lutece twins to flip a coin. He does, and it is heads. They mark it on a chalk board under “heads” and you see that heads is marked more than 100 times. No tails have been marked down. This means that Booker has been there over 100 times before, flipped the same coin and, as always, had the same outcome. While you can choose, during the story, to kill someone or let them live, that is a choice (no doubt another world is created to accommodate the other choice you had) and not chance. Flipping a coin is chance. He already flipped the same coin every time he had been to Columbia before and, as always, just like all the events there, it was scripted to heads.

Back to where we were before. It didn’t matter what happened; he would always end up where he was. It was impossible to avoid. Because Booker had a daughter and Comstock needed her and he made their dimensions cross and he took her, there were no other dimensions with a different outcome. Every world Booker existed in ended up with him losing Anna and going to save her. A never-ending loop.

However, it does end, here. After Booker accepted he needed to die to kill Comstock, he allowed Elizabeth to kill him. By killing himself at the point in time where he accepted the baptism, he killed off any possibility of a Comstock. Comstock never existed. Comstock never came and took Booker’s baby, and Columbia was never built. Anything Comstock had an effect on or had anything to do with was destroyed and never happened.

This is where a lot of people lose it. They think Booker, Comstock, Elizabeth, and Columbia all died, but they didn’t. Booker didn’t kill himself when he was first born; he killed himself when he turned into Comstock. All that did was kill off any Comstock version of him that there ever was.

After the credits, there is a little, tiny section, where Booker wakes up in his apartment and hears Anna crying. He goes into her room and calls out “Anna?!” That is where the game really ends.

This little part backs up what I am saying.

Because only Comstock was killed and stopped from ever existing, the Booker that declined the Baptism still existed. However because Booker and Comstock’s worlds crossed, all parts of Booker’s life that included Comstock or anything from the Comstock dimension itself was removed from his life. There were no Lutece twins who came to collect his daughter, no Columbia, no Comstock, and no adult Elizabeth in his, or any other, dimension. Ever. He then went back to the last time in his life that was free from Comstock-related madness: Booker in his apartment with Anna as a baby before he met Comstock.

Now people may come back with “But Elizabeth disappeared from the scene after drowning Booker,” and while this is true, it makes sense — and is also one of the most depressing parts of the game despite its happy ending. Elizabeth in that form never existed. The girl you went through the entire story with? She never existed. Anna is Elizabeth, but because every outcome of baby Anna’s life was to end up in Columbia with Comstock in that tower and grow up there, when Comstock died and everything he had done and had effected died with him, the adult Elizabeth also went. There was no adult Elizabeth in any other dimension that Comstock wasn’t in. Because he was in every world she was in, when he died, the adult Elizabeth died too, leaving only baby Anna. This means that while Anna will be free to live with Booker, she will never turn into the same person. She will never be able to open tears, as that was an ability given to her by the Lutece twins in Columbia. She may never be able to pick locks (why would she need to learn to do that?), and a lot of her personality that was influenced by being in Columbia will be different. She will never be Elizabeth. She will always be Anna, a completely different human than the one we got to know. So, in a way, Elizabeth did die. That, to me, is a very depressing thing indeed, as Elizabeth was an incredibly crafted character and the best female portrayal in any game I’ve ever played.

Here’s another quick thing to note, something players may mention: Why did they even bother to stop Comstock? Why not just change what had happened by going back to old memories and parts in time through those lighthouses? The thing is that they can’t. When you go back to previously, already, made memories, you can only relive them — you cannot remake them. Booker couldn’t go back and choose to run off with Anna, because his decision to sell her was made, and he must go through with it even if he went back knowing it was wrong. Even in an alternate reality where he didn’t sell her, Comstock still came to steal her away.

Now, the only slight odd thing about this is: if it isn’t possible to change already made memories and situations, how did Booker allow Elizabeth to drown him and kill off Comstock if that isn’t what happened? Well, while Elizabeth was not in his memory, and could not effect proceedings to do with other people, you’ll notice she can still touch and interact with Booker. So while her control over the scene is limited, she can kill Booker in that scene herself and end it there.

So, there you have it! Ask any questions you want in the comments and I will try my best to answer them!

The Cliffs Notes version

If you want a summary of what happened minus the confusing shit: Comstock was Booker in an alternate reality where he didn’t decline the baptism. Comstock took, either by force or through buying, Booker’s daughter, Anna (also Elizabeth). Booker went on a cycle of trying to get her back that never ended and always ended up the same. In the end, he let himself be killed at the point where he turned into Comstock, and thus everything “Comstock related” died. He became himself in his last pure, Comstock-less memory, which was him with baby Anna.

The end.

P.S: A quick note I forgot to mention: The AD on Booker’s hand stands for: Anna Dewitt. Comstock foresaw Booker coming now doubt because he knew he would try and get his daughter back because he never wanted her to leave.

Since writing this ending explanation, I have since written a new piece answering many recurring questions about BioShock Infinite’s ending. This can be found on my blog (address below or in my GamesBeat bio) so if you have any questions check out that article to see if I answered them!


Thanks for reading and remember to check out my blog (michaelthekyle.blogspot.co.uk) for more exclusive content including the BioShock Infinite Q&A, and follow me on Twitter @mookyst.

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33 comments
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

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.

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.

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.

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