Hell is empty, and all the devils are tuning in to watch Evan Rachel Wood question the nature of her reality every Sunday evening. Yes, from the gaping jaws of the magnificent HBO beast we have retrieved yet another exquisite TV show to waste countless hours of our lives poring over. Basically, if you're not currently watching Westworld, talking about Westworld or thinking about Westworld, frankly, you need to reassess your life choices.
A complex blend of Jurassic Park, Groundhog Day, Blade Runner and Stagecoach, #Westworld has captured the imagination of the nation and with it, spawned a rather dazzling array of speculative fan theories. To make things easier for fans, theorists and possible Hosts alike, we've compiled all of the theories all in one place and we will update the page daily as each new jaw-dropping theory comes to light / surfaces from the juicy bowels of Reddit.
So, what is the Maze? Who exactly is the Man in Black? Where is Westworld set? When is it set? For the love of God, who is Arnold!? All these questions and more have been dutifully answered below. Happy digging!
The Maze In 'Westworld' - Every Theory So Far:
Like a well constructed Tiramisu, Westworld operates on many, many different levels. The most obvious example of this being what the fantastically ominous Man in Black refers to as "The Deeper Game," a.k.a. the Maze which lies at the heart of the Westworld Universe. With each new Episode, there sprouts at least a dozen new complex theories concerning the Maze: where it is, what it is, who made it and what it symbolizes, so to make it simple, here are all the best theories condensed into decadently creamy bitesized morsels.
What Is The Maze?
- (CONFIRMED) Theory No. 1: The Maze Is An Elaborate Test. As Constructed by Arnold, the Maze is a puzzle looking for sentience amongst the Hosts. Instilling within them a program update which makes them believe the commands they interpret from their programming are actually the voice of God, Arnold is able to speak to the Hosts directly, teasing them with the concept of a Maze and sentient thought.
- (DEBUNKED) Theory No. 2: The Maze Actually Contains The Source Code For The Entire Park. Rather than existing as a physical entity, the Maze is more like a matrix which contains the lines of programming code vital to bringing the Hosts 'alive.' Whoever controls the Maze therefore, controls the park.
- (CONFIRMED) Theory No.3: Arnold Created The Maze To Destroy The Park. Arguing that true mystery of the Maze isn't what it is, but why it was designed this theory suggests that before he died, Arnold created the Maze to destroy his loathed creation, and Dolores is going to be the one to set the destruction in motion. One of the biggest clues lies in a conversation Dolores has with Ford in Episode 5 saying that Arnold "told me I was going to help him destroy this place."
- (CONFIRMED) Theory No.4: The Maze Is Actually A Metaphor For A Human Brain. Thanks to Redditor @DoodlerDude who superimposed the map of the Maze on to a human brain, some suggest that the Maze is just a metaphor for a brain and thus for the Hosts to gain fully conscious sentience.
- (DEBUNKED) Theory No.5: The Maze Is Actually A Trap Controlled By Ford. Having revealed that Bernard is actually the Host replicant of Arnold in Episode 9, it stands to reason that therefore Ford is actually in complete control of 'The Maze' Arnold left behind. Consequently, as the more intelligent Hosts reach the centre of the Maze, all they will find is Ford, primed and waiting to do a factory reboot on their settings making the revert to ground zero again, and again, and again.
Who Is The 'Man' At The Center Of The Maze?
- (DEBUNKED) Theory No.1: The Maze Is Actually Symbolic Of A Computer Game. The man in the middle is consequently a gamer, trying to navigate himself around the Westworld labyrinth. The game is completed when the gamer works his way out of the Maze.
- (DEBUNKED) Theory No.2: The Man Is Based On An Aztec Creator God Living Below The Mountains. The Maze depicted on the underside of Kissy's scalp (see above) is disarmingly similar to an ancient O'odham I'itoi symbol referred to as "The Man in the Maze." The Creator lives deep beneath the mountains and brings people from the underworld to the Earth and teaches them how to live amongst the living.
- (DEBUNKED) Theory No.3: Arnold Is At The Centre Of The Maze. Acting as the literal ghost in the machine, Arnold (i.e. Bernard) is the man in the centre of a Maze that exists within the 'brains' of all the Hosts. Once they learn how to solve this mental Maze, they are able to access Arnold, achieve liberation from their pre-programmed loops and thereby go off Ford's careful constructed grid. In Episode six we hear Teddy recounting the 'old myth' of the man who lives in the Maze, who is "killed over and over again countless times, but always clawed his way back to life." This implies that it is Bernard, who is the Host reincarnate version of Arnold who is dwelling within the Maze's centre.
- (DEBUNKED) Theory No.4: The Man In The Maze Is The Westworld Logo. Looking suspiciously like the DaVinci inspired logo of a splayed AI-bot just before being dipped into that milky looking life-giving substance, the man in the Maze symbolizes that the key to bringing the Hosts to 'life' lies at its centre.
Where Is The Entrance To The Maze?
- (DEBUNKED) Theory No.1: The Entrance To The Maze Is Actually The Entrance To The Westworld HQ. Also shaped in a similarly circular formation, the Maze is actually located within Westworld HQ, and so to find the entrance to the Maze, one must find the entrance to the headquarters. Given the prophecy that Lawrence's daughter gave to The Man in Black that to discover the entrance one must "Follow the Blood Arroyo to where the snake lays its eggs," the "blood arroyo" could be the train which leads the guests to the park, the "snake" could be HQ and the eggs could be the Hosts.
- (HALF CONFIRMED) Theory No.2: The Entrance Is Beneath The White Church. In Episode 4, Dolores, like The Man In Black, also runs into Lawrence's daughter. She draws the Maze in the dirt and tells Dolores it's where she came from. Dolores proceeds to have flashbacks of the white church which we see lying in ruins in Episode 2 when Ford shows Bernard where he plans to stage his new storyline. The white church is therefore strongly tied up in the Maze narrative, and as we see in Episode 9, is the place where both Dolores and the MiB reach when trying to access its centre.
- (DEBUNKED) Theory No.3: Ford Doesn't Know Where The Maze's Entrance Is. In Episode Three we see Ford talking to his younger robo-child self, discussing the nature of the park and freezing, significantly, a snake. He seems to be wandering quite bewilderedly around this nowhere land, suggesting that he is also searching for the entrance to the Maze.
The Man In Black In 'Westworld' - Every Theory So Far:
Played by the indomitable Ed Harris (The Truman Show, Snowpiercer), The Man In Black casts a somewhat bulletproof, sinister figure within the Westworld Universe. Unsure whether he is good or evil, human or robot, the MiB has dominated Westworld fan theories since his appearance in the very first Episode. Whatever he is, whoever he is, we can rest assured that his character is essential to the plot, and essential to uncovering some of the many hidden truths which lie deep within the park.
Who Is The Man In Black?
- (CONFIRMED) Theory No.1: The Man In Black Is William. One of the biggest Westworld fan theories to date states that William is the younger version of the MiB and their storylines are taking place roughly thirty years apart. We see William slowly change into a pretty nifty gunslinger, something that the MiB prides himself on, we've only seen Ford interact with the MiB, not William and it explains the backstory of the MiB and Dolores.
- (DEBUNKED) Theory No.2: The Man In Black Is A Host Who Became Sentient. The theory that the MiB is possibly a Host who managed to find a way to overcome his programming, is supported by the discovery of certain Hosts which are able to register as human to other Hosts in Episode 7, and therefore are impervious to bullets. It would explain his desire to find the centre of the Maze, a desire driven by the hope to become a fully sentient, free man. However, we have had an instance where a fellow Guest thanked him for saving his sister in the 'real' world, which could point to the idea that he was not "born in the park" but is in fact, a real human being.
- (DEBUNKED) Theory No.3: He's Just A Pro Westworld Gamer. This theory suggests that he is simply a VIP, possibly because he is incredibly wealthy, possibly because he is a board member and he simply wants to play the best game the park has to offer. Coming to the park for over 30 years, he is hungry for the deeper game and therefore, becomes obsessed with the Maze mission.
- (DEBUNKED) Theory No.4: The Man In Black Is Logan. Leaning heavily on the idea that William dies in the park, leading Logan to become obsessed with searching for a deeper meaning to the Westworld Universe, this theory therefore puts forward the idea that it is Logan who ultimately becomes the MiB, given free access due as recompense for the death of his future brother in law.
What Is The Man In Black Trying To Do?
- (DEBUNKED) Theory No.1: The Man In Black Was The Cause Of The Parks's Collapse. Throughout the Season so far there have been numerous mentions of the parks's collapse which took place 30 years ago. It is almost certainly too much of a coincidence that the first time the MiB came to the park was also 30 years previously, tying him to whatever it was that took place back then - either as perpetrator or victim, that latter of which would explain his special privileges.
- (DEBUNKED) Theory No.2: Ford And The Man In Black Are Both Working To Solve Arnold's Maze. After a spectacularly icy conversation in the tavern, we become aware that both the MiB and Ford know each other well, but do not necessarily like each other. They reference the "incident" that took place 30 years ago, as well as Arnold, and the MiB insinuates that it was he who actually saved the park from Arnold's hands. If all this is to be believed, and that Ford and the MiB are actually on the same side, it figures that both could be searching for Arnold and the Maze as a means of protecting the future of the park.
'Westworld': Where, When & What - Every Theory So Far:
As the Season has progressed, the interior of the Westworld Universe has grown from the inside out. Starting small with the perspective of reality through the eyes of park-bound Dolores, to Teddy arriving with the Guests on the train, to the Westworld HQ and the epic interactive map of the grounds within it, we are beginning to get a vague understanding of how everything from top tier management to malfunctioning Hosts operates. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Throw into that mixture the concept of non-linear storylines, post apocalyptic worlds and the park set in space and everything you thought you knew gets immediately turned on its head.
When Is 'Westworld' Set?
- (UNCONFIRMED) Theory No.1: The Westworld Universe Is A Direct Continuation Of The 1973 Westworld Movie. In Episode 6 we are given a brief cameo of Yul Brynner's infamous Gunslinger from the original Westworld movie as Bernard Lowe descends to level B82 to use the corporations old computers. Placing him here indicates that he was, as the original movie dictates, responsible for the 'incident' which nearly destroyed the park 30 years ago, and that at least part of our current storyline is a continuation from this point. Also in Episode 6, Elsie discovers references to Medieval and Roman Worlds in a disused theatre, both of which were operating alongside Westworld in the Yule Brenner original movie.
- (CONFIRMED) Theory No.2: Westworld Is Operating On A Duel Timeline. This theory essentially rests on the idea that William and the Man in Black are the same person but with 30 years between them. One of the biggest indicators of a dual timeline are the two distinct sets of logos that appear throughout the Episodes. In William's storyline we see a somewhat rustic, more solid 'W' logo, the same logo that is on the computers that Bernard uses when accessing "the old system." However, when we switch to the storyline of Maeve and Felix — which is occurring in the same universe as Bernard — we see a much more modernized logo. Further, William also fails to encounter Maeve as the Mariposa brothel madam, instead being greeted by Clementine, this is because as Felix explains, Maeve has only been the madam for the past year, meaning that William was in the park before Maeve was madam. Phew.
Where Is 'Westworld' Set?
- (UNCONFIRMED) Theory No.1: Westworld Is Set In The Lead Up To, Or After An Apocalypse. This theory suggests that Westworld is actually a government funded test to create artificial humans to re-populate the Earth in the event of an apocalypse. The endless religious symbolisms (the multiple snakes, Dolores as Eve, Ford as God etc) also support this theory of Westworld being the "brave new world" of the post apocalypse.
- (UNCONFIRMED) Theory No.2: Westworld Is Set On An Island. As the map from discoverwestworld.com shows us, the Westworld universe ends when it meets the ocean. This is because it is set on an island, possibly man-made, the name Delos Incorporated coming from the Greek Island of Delos.
- (UNCONFIRMED) Theory No.3: Westworld Is Set In Space. This theory originates from the fact that the Delos staff have to work for long stretches of time at the park, and live in staff apartments, indicating the park is very difficult to access. It also explains why getting a strong signal to speak to loved ones is also such a challenge.
- (UNCONFIRMED) Theory No.4: Westworld Is Set Underwater. Due to the significant amount of water flooding the cold storage area in Episode One, there is the suggestion that it must have poured in due to a weakness in the structure. It also explains why the Guests have to enter a decompression chamber after their visit to the park.
- (UNCONFIRMED) Theory No.5: Westworld Is Set In Antarctica. According to this Reddit theory, the numbers that Maeve gives Hector to open the safe in Episode 4 are 60-47, this is significant as these are the coordinates for where the south magnetic pole is located. Further, it is also the location of several research bases. In Episode 5 we see Ford drinking from a bottle of Casey rum, a name shared by a prominent research base with the same 60-47 coordinates which is also referred to as the "red shed," and what is the most prominent color we see in HQ? Yep, red.
What Actually Is 'Westworld?'
- (UNCONFIRMED) Theory No.1: Westworld Is An Elaborate Government Funded Conspiracy. This theory suggests that Governments have invested in Westworld to test technology that could kill potential threats, create robotic clone versions of them and then manipulate them for potential espionage missions. This is proven in Episode Seven when we see that Ford apparently has no qualms with killing humans who prove a threat to him, and apparently recreating them in Host form — a form that he is better able to control.
- (UNCONFIRMED) Theory No.2: Westworld Is Actually Making A Huge Financial Loss. Theresa mentions there are over 1,400 guests in the park each paying around 40,000 dollars a day which translates to the company bringing in around 56 million dollars daily. However, with the huge employee base, operating and research costs, overheads including what we can presume to be some kind of rent for the space they're inhabiting, many argue this wouldn't be enough to cover the parks' outgoing expenses. Instead, the theory posits that park isn't being run for profit, it's being run for some darker entirely different purpose. See above.
All Other Miscellaneous 'Westworld' Theories:
And now for all of the Westworld theories that do not fit under nice, neat headings of the sections above. From the idea that Dolores is actually creating all of IKEA's bland purchasable art to the notion that Maeve's consciousness will eventually be inserted into a robotic bird, these theories range from the more reasonable to the more "out there" — enjoy!
- (CONFIRMED) Theory No.1: The Hosts Names Are They Key To Understanding The Westworld Universe
True to Jonathan Nolan's style of creating multi-layered complex worlds in which nothing is mere coincidence, we can assume that each of the Hosts names have been purposefully chosen. With 'Dolores' meaning 'Virgin Mary of Sorrows' in Spanish, 'Maeve' meaning 'Warrior Queen of Fairies' in old Irish, 'Teddy' from 'Theodore' meaning 'God's gift' and 'Clementine' meaning merciful and gentle, it seems that with a bit of research, we can second guess the prophecy of each character as told by their names.
- (UNCONFIRMED) Theory No.2: Charlotte Is Arnold's Daughter, 'Charlie'
Given that names are apparently very important in the Westworld universe, it is nearly too much of a coincidence that Bernard remembers having a son called 'Charlie' and we have a board member called 'Charlotte.' It would explain why she is on the board at such a young age – she took Arnold (her father's) place after he died – as well as her anger against Ford (for creating a Host replicant of him in Bernard). This may also be why she wants to smuggle information out of the park and to wrestle her fathers creation away from Ford.
- (DEBUNKED) Theory No.3: Felix and Sylvester Are Hosts
Continuing from the above theory which suggests the importance of names in Westworld, the fact that Felix and Sylvester – the parks butchers – are both named after cartoon cats or the cats of undomesticated ancestor the 'Felis Sylvestris,' suggests they've been purposefully created and named. Further, in Ford's office we briefly see a Host prototype face which looks alarmingly like Felix and in Episode 9, Maeve says to Sylvester "even at a fourteen, you are no match for me," indicating that he is also Host with allocated, controllable personality traits.
- (DEBUNKED) Theory No.4: Ford Killed Arnold.
After holding an incredibly threatening meeting with park Operations Manager, Theresa Cullen, in which Ford essentially threatens Theresa and tells her not to get in his way, when on the subject of Arnold, Ford states that "sadly, he lost his perspective." Taking a tone as similar to Hannibal Lecter as we have so far seen in the show, the implications all point to the theory that Ford killed Arnold. This is further supported by the real life 'Robert Newton 'Bob' Ford' who was an American outlaw renowned for killing his gang leader Jesse James to collect a reward.
- (CONFIRMED) Theory No.5: Dolores Killed Arnold.
In Episode Eight we see Dolores have a flashback to the previous massacre in the park in which she is the soul perpetrator before pulling the gun on herself. This theory suggests that Arnold was also killed during the massacre, his link is strongest with Dolores as he seems to speak to her more than any other Host, suggesting that perhaps Arnold got Dolores to kill him to prove that she is a sentient being who cracked the mystery of the maze. This is further confirmed in Episode Nine when Dolores has another flashback to a conversation with Arnold in which she remembers him telling her that she killed him and that's why he can no longer help her.
- (DEBUNKED) Theory No.6: Felix Is Going To Upload Maeve's Consciousness Into A Bird.
Given the apparent impossibility of the Hosts ever being free of the park, it has been suggested that Felix, in a bid to finally help Maeve gain her freedom, will upload her consciousness into a robotic bird and set her free. This would tie into to all the scenes we see of Felix trying to give consciousness to an apparently broken Host bird in Episode Five which Maeve ultimately catches on her finger before turning to him and saying "Hello, Felix, it's time you and I had a chat."
- (DEBUNKED) Theory No.7: Teddy Is The Host Replica Of William
This theory suggests that when Ford realized how expertly William was able to drive Dolores off her set narrative loops. Once William left the park, he kept all of her memories of him but replaced William for Teddy. This explains why every time Teddy steps off the train, Dolores says in delighted astonishment, "you came back!" Further, immediately after getting off the train, both William and Teddy bump into a Host and apologize to him and both of them refuse sex with Clementine.
- (DEBUNKED) Theory No.8: Logan Plans To Replace William With A Host And Bring Him Out Of The Park With Him
Based on the idea that Logan's intentions to bring William to the park were purely business, in Episode Four Logan tells William that he's also brought him there so that he can discover who is really is, and he "can't fucking wait to meet that guy." As a representative of his family, Logan is clearly dismissive of William, and by extension this suggests that the rest of his family are too. Therefore, he'd be of infinitely greater value to them if he were to be killed and return as a Host so that Logan can bring him back to his family and they can pry him apart to try and understand how Westworld is creating its AI.
- (CONFIRMED) Theory No.9: Ford Is Trying To Set Up A Host Rebellion
Due to the fact that Ford has been cultivating his new narrative since the beginning of the Season, and that this narrative is supposedly "rooted in truth," it's beginning to look increasingly like he's attempting to retell the story of what happened to Arnold. This would involve the Hosts becoming sentient and rebelling against their masters, and would also be an incredibly good way for Ford to have the ultimate revenge upon the board who he so loathes.
- (DEBUNKED) Theory No.10: Ford Is A Host Created By Arnold
In Episode Eight we see Maeve receive a colossal upgrade to her intelligence pushing her above and beyond the realms of mere mortal understanding. Returning to Sweetwater with her new upgrade in tow, it transpires that she is able to control the other Hosts just with her mind, the only other person we've seen do this is Ford. This theory therefore suggests that Ford, like Maeve, is a super high functioning Host.