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This is a "Wild Mass Guess" entry, where we pull out all the sanity stops on theorizing. The regular entry on this topic is elsewhere. Please see this programme note.
Alan Wake
It's all in Alan's head.
Hartman was telling the truth, Alan had a bit of a psychotic episode after Alice drowned, the people he kills are not Taken, but innocent people. Barry is not in Bright Falls either, but still in New York, the Barry we see is a figment of Alan's imagination.
  • Plausible? Might be, let's just say not all Bright Falls natives are really reacting to Barry (see the whole walk in the trailer park). Could be that Wake himself is just gibbering and he projects it on his imaginary friend.
    • This Troper considered this as well during the lodge scene, but latched onto one subtle piece of evidence that disproves anything Hartman tells you about being insane, and had him going, "No, this is a lie, you're a lie, and it's all real." throughout Hartman's diatribe: the scene where you wake up in the clinic? It's in the pages that supposedly don't exist, before you ever wake up there.
    • Also, the only solid evidence that it's all in Alan's mind comes from Hartman, and he is the least trustworthy character in the entire game. Aside from him (and the Dark Presence when it's very obviously grasping at straws), the game never really plays with the idea that it might all be a hallucination.
    • The big piece of evidence that disproved it to me is that the island is missing.

The Signal does NOT take place in reality.
Rather, It takes place in the Dark Place that was briefly visited in the endgame, which Alan is now trapped in, the Taken attacking him are the Dark Presence's method of physically tormenting Wake, and the presence of Barry, and possibly other friendly characters is It's way of psychologically tormenting Wake.
  • Partially confirmed Alan is indeed still trapped in the Dark Place, but the events of The Signal actually seem to take place in his head, with him apparently undergoing some sort of self-loathing-powered psychotic episode.

One of the previous writers lured to Bright Falls was Frank Miller.
His manipulation by the Dark Presence was depicted here.

Tom Zane is not as benevolent as he'd like you to believe.
Sometimes, the way Tom says things strikes me as a little... off. For a really early example, during the tutorial, try not immediately picking up the gun. His response ("TAKE THE GUN") is a little on the aggressive side. His manner of speech in general kind of sets off some alarms. It's always very rapid-fire and disorienting, which is good for getting you into Alan's poor confused head, but also makes me question his motives somewhat. He's a writer; he knows how to use words for effect. If he were really trying to help, he perhaps wouldn't be quite so jumbly.
  • And considering the only thing we know about Our Friend Tom other than that he is a poet who dives is that he stabbed his girlfriend in the heart, uh, I'm not full of confidence in our friendship.
  • Also considering that the Alan you see via TV states that the story has to be internally consistent or it loses believability (and by extension, the Dark Presence uses plot holes in the story for its own ends - Zane's writing back of Barbara Jagger with no real plot reason to do so allowed it to possess her and she came back "wrong") leads me to believe that Zane isn't what he appears to be. TV-Alan says he wrote Zane into the story to help him, but gives no real reason or any sense to why he's even there or how he came back. The Dark Presence has to work within the confines of the story, but if something is not stated plainly or is a gaping plot hole it has free reign to do what it desires as long as this does not contradict the rest of the story. Zane is the perfect puppet for the darkness - he can appear anywhere, is ostensibly the darkness's enemy, and appears friendly to Alan as he went through the same years ago - but it is my belief that the darkness doesn't necessarily control him; he figured out how to exploit the plot holes for his own ends and is working to free himself by using Alan as a pawn in his chess match versus the darkness. Zane supposedly died or at least disappeared in the lake, and the lake's water seems to have powers that are not connected to the Dark Presence itself.
  • There's also the whole Mr. Scratch thing. Zane just mentions it offhand and tells Alan to not be alarmed, but Mr. Scratch is another name for the Devil.
    • And considering Scratch's actions in American Nightmare, alarmed is what Alan should be.

Mr. Scratch has a bigger role than we thought.
  • Consider Mr. Scratch. Zane brings him to life and says "He'll meet up with your friends" or something like that, but at the END Alice finds no trace of Alan at all! Not even a doppleganger! What does this mean? From after the dive into the lake, you play as Mr. Scratch, who for all intents and purposes, was Alan and Zane's avatar within the story. Since you can't be both places at once, Alan typed that Zane made Scratchy here, who went through the course of the game, weakening the Dark Presence so Alan could win his mental battle against it. When you REALLY control Alan, you know it, because you can see the words of his story floating around, ready to become reality. All the other times? You're Mr. Scratchy.
    • Watch the scene when Alan meets Mr. Scratch. Who has the bandage on his head, like the one we've had since waking up in the car? It's Mr. Scratch.

Thomas Zane created Alan Wake who created Thomas Zane who created Alan Wake...
Zane, knowing from his experience in the darkness that he was written into the story by Wake, wrote Wake into the story to ensure his own creation. Neither character is "real" in the true sense, they're both creations dreamed up by each other as a sort of Deus ex Machina. The story, somewhat paradoxically, is the result of a Stable Time Loop in which Wake and Zane endlessly write each other into reality..
  • It's more like that Thomas Zane wrote a story about himself and a future writer named Alan Wake (and gave him a lame pun for a name) and in that story the writer Alan Wake wrote a story about himself and Thomas Zane. So Thomas Zane is writing Alan's story while also allowing Alan to write a story within that story. A kind of meta-collaborative effort in which both are writing the game's events. Zane is the more powerful because he wrote the story, while Alan is still capable because he's writing the story within the story. In other words, there are three levels: Zane's story, Alan's story, and what we play in Alan Wake. Likely, Zane's story was called "Alan Wake."

Zane and Jagger had a child in the 70s
There is a toy rocking horse in the cabin, Why would a bestselling poet and a woman in her 20s have such a thing?
  • It might be a family heirloom.
  • They may have had a child, but does it really make any impact on the story if they did?
    • Ah, but where did the kid go? The couple was too young to have a kid grow up and move away, so the death of his mother (and subsequent murder/suicide of both parents) would leave him a very young orphan. It also might give validity to a "Zane is Wake's father" WMG.

The Anderson Brothers are the Odin and Thor.
Seems a fairly obvious one. Odin and Thor sense a dark presence in Bright Falls, go to confront it and are able to seal it for 30 years. Who else but the Norse gods would have that kind of power? Not to mention Odin's missing eye and Tor's obsession with hammers.
  • Or that they started out as regular people, and their music (fueled by the power of Cauldron Lake) gave them the powers and personalities of Odin and Thor. It was also stated that they changed their names for a Norse theme with their band, so they didn't start out as the Old Gods we know today. Zane's incident was around 1970. Odin didn't lose his eye (by his own hand) until at least 1976, but their band had been around since 1971. If he truly had gained the mythological aspect of Odin at that time, his casting out of his eye may have granted him the wisdom to realize the situation for what it was, and allowed them to fight back. Odin said that they had only "opened the door a crack" in reference to letting the darkness loose, unlike what Zane and Alan did which was to "open it all the way". Their other two band members were likely affected by the lake as well, as Bob Balder died in 1980 while they were still a band (like his namesake, who also died in mythology) and Loki Darkens had a personality much like his namesake. Some of this detail is in supplementary info and not in the game proper.
    • But perhaps the Andersons being ordinary people was written into the story by the Dark Presence to remove their power and shrivel them from gods into relatively harmless old men. It makes sense that Thomas Zane would assume there was a mundane explanation to the Andersons' resemblance to the gods and write it in without a thought for the greater implications, not knowing he was an Unwitting Pawn.
  • The dark ravens could be a result of Odin's meddling with powers he didn't understand, as he states that "she took my ravens, Memory and Thought" (as such it is implied that the darkness made his mythological pets "wrong"). The Alan Wake Files hints that the ravens existed prior to Alan's coming to Bright Falls (referring to them only as "a ravenous local species of bird"), so they're not necessarily his creation. Their powers may have been usurped by the darkness, as Tor also states "she took my thunder, the hag". If they had any actual powers, they appear to have lost it with their fight against the darkness or the dissolution of their band as they ceased to create art that could be manipulated.
    • As Thor is the god of thunder, and more broadly, storms, the strong wind effect when Taken are nearby and the tornado aspect of the darkness could be a direct result of it using Tor's former powers granted by his band's music's interaction with the powers of the lake. Music tends to be much more open to interpretation and less concrete than storywriting so the Dark Presence could use its own interpretation but overall be less effective as there was no real story to follow.
  • Barbara Jagger's modern appearance could be influenced by them as well as they refer to the Dark Presence in "Children of the Elder God" as a "scratching hag" with claws and crooked teeth, as well as just generally calling her "Baba Yaga" when talking to Alan. (Incidentally, the Baba Yaga of folklore was said to reside in a moving hut with bird legs - note the similarity to Bird Leg Cabin.) Zane even comments on how she looks so old now, but if she was Taken (and effectively dead) she shouldn't age.

Thomas Zane is Alan's father.
Everyone comments upon the resemblance between Alan and Tom. The Andersons even believe them to be one and the same! This resemblance may be no coincidence. It is said in The Alan Wake Files that Alan often writes about men who have issues with absent fathers and one of his short stories correlates this. It's about a man who resents his father until he realizes the man is caught in a terrible curse and is only trying to protect him from a crew of undead sailors. This mirrors how Alan sees Zane as a figure of some mystery and menace until he realizes Zane granted power to the Clicker so that Wake could survive his battle with the Dark Presence. The rocking horse in the cabin suggests that Zane may well have fathered a child there, perhaps with Barbara.
  • Zane took his last dive 40 years ago, and Alan is only 32.
    • Alan thinks he's only 32. Remember Lindsay from Arrested Development? It's possible he's older than that.
    • Unless Zane is Alan's father in the metaphorical sense, meaning Zane wrote Alan into existence and vice-versa, all leading back to the previous WMG.
  • Doesn't really work; Zane lost his wife, but it's Alan's father who was gone. That would mean that Alan's mother would have to be Barbara after becoming the Dark Presence's avatar, which clearly doesn't work (she's obviously not normal, and besides, why would she give him the Clicker?).
  • Alternatively, Tom isn't Alan's father. Alan is actually Tom's Mr. Scratch. This is entirely based on the Andersons continuing to call him Tom - gave the impression that they look quite similar, if not identical.

The sequels will show how Bright Falls, the surrounding countryside, and its populace are slowly being destroyed from the crossfire between Wake and the Dark Presence over the course of the series.

Think about it: the Dark Presence's strategy is horrifically costly to the extreme, and the actions Alan and his allies take in self-defense is often highly destructive in and of itself. The Dark Presence's very strategy by its very nature takes a prodigious toll on human life and a slightly lesser one of machinery over the course of the game. In the parts of the game we can consider authentic (IE not the Prequel nightmare or the Signal DLC, you encounter and/or kill well over a hundred human Taken, the VAST majority of whom are probably residents of Bright Falls and nearly all of whom are certainly from the surrounding areas, which are certainly fairly small towns where losses of this magnitude will be noticed and felt, even outside of the area itself (as people start to notice those going there for vacation start going missing and a string of small time murders also happen). Comparatively, the economic damage would be far less severe but still VERY noticeable (considering that several bulldozers amongst other things go missing in the middle of the Night). And since the series shows no signs of moving elsewhere or lessening the damage, that situation is only going to get worse. And since Remedy love Deconstructing things very much, they will run with it.

By the time of the second game or some of the later DLC, Bright Falls and the neighboring areas will wake up to the fact that about 200 or so of their number plus several dozen tourists have gone missing without a trace and very, VERY disturbing rumors about what happened, with some people even packing up and fleeing elsewhere with no corresponding inflow back in because Bright Falls and the general countryside gains the reputation of a Doom Magnet, making it even HARDER to repair the damage incurred by the next bouts while the toll on manpower likely means that more and more people run headfirst into the Dark Presence and its minions and either die or Go Mad from the Revelation, further screwing things up for the town as urban legends become widespread rumors become well-known knowledge. And since a modern town depends on connection with the rest of the world to obtain goods and other services and the surrounding area becomes more and more taboo and isolated, the plight of the locals grows even more as the area faces first economic collapse and then simple demographic extinction. By the end of the games, the region around Bright Falls will effectively be a giant wasteland populated by a few hardy and lucky survivors scared of their own shadows and afraid of so much as walking in the Dark or getting near the surrounding woods with a fifty foot pole and who are effectively trapped amongst the hordes of the Darkness and are slowly picked off, which will double as a wonderful warning about exactly what would befall the world if the Dark Presence managed to actually escape.

The Alan we see on TV during the end of the signal was watching Twilight.
His reactions seem typical of most men watching the film. "IT'S IN MY BRAIN!" "IT BURNS!"

Alan crafted everything in the plot
The entirety of the plot was created by Alan retroactively. For Alan has a suspiciously prophetic dream at the beginning of the game, that accurately predicts useful information for the rest of the game, including Thomas Zane, and his diving suit (once as a light, and once as a poster with 'TOM THE POET' showing the suit below the text). Even Alice could've been created for the story.

One theory is that Alan was a struggling writer, with a girlfriend named Alice, who decided to go to a small town in the middle of the nowhere. They stay at cauldron lake, and trigger the dark spirit who was killed Alice. (Or he could've been alone, and just made contact with the Dark Presence) And sensing Alan's writing ability the presence it used Alan to write a story that it would use to gain power, or acted like a Djinni and promised Alan it would grant a wish (that Alan could create a story that would come to life) but would use it for it's own ends. Alan decides to write a wish-fulfillment story, where he is a successful writer with lots of fans, and revives his girlfriend who becomes his wife (or created her whole cloth), and has a good friend who would risk his life for him. But realizes that the dark presence would use his story for it's own ends, and creates a horror story so that it can turn the dark presence into a physical being that he can defeat. The creation of Thomas Zane is used to help make the story more compelling, creating a history for the dark presence and also creating several twists throughout the story, and to help fill some plot-holes (i.e. manuscript pages). Thus it wasn't Thomas who created Alan, but rather Thomas was created to help Alan. He also wrote in his Dream so that he could give himself the knowledge that could help him defeat the Darkness (and to fill a plot hole).

The Dark Presence is Ahriman from Prince of Persia (2008)
  • After Ormazd's forces gain enough power, they manage to push him away from the old world and in desperation he withdraws to unknown lands where no one knows of him. Dark stories, which happens to be his true source of power, are not shared in these lands; thus, he grows weak and goes into a deep sleep. The people of the old world reach these lands thousands of years later, and without knowing, a gifted poet among them, a powerful story teller and an -unintentional-follower of darkness like all of his colleagues, tells a story on Ahriman's nest, finally waking him up.

Alan Wake takes place on the eve of Gehenna in the Old World of Darkness
Brightfalls is actually the resting place of the Lasombra Antediluvian. It summoned Alan, an awakened Mage (who is unaware of his true power) to warp reality in order to free it. The human and animal taken are Ghouls that have been altered irrevocably by drinking an antediluvian's blood, which explains the shroud of Obtenebration around them and their vulnerability to light.

The meaning of Thomas Zane's poem
In Episode 1, Zane recites a poem to Alan during his nightmare. To recap:
For he did not know, that beyond the lake he called home,
There lies a deeper, darker ocean green,
Where waves are both wilder and more serene.
To its ports I've been.
To its ports I've been.
The key word in this poem is "ocean". Oceans play no direct part in the plot, but references pop up in two other places, and, like this poem, are symbolic references. The first is in "Children of the Elder God", where Odin and Tor say, "You've (the Dark Presence) been taking slaves/like ocean waves,/now feel the ocean seethe." The second is the ending, where Alan says, "It's not a lake... it's an ocean."

The lyrics in "Children of the Elder God" point to the "ocean" being the slaves Taken by the Dark Presence. Unlike Thomas Zane, Alan escaped, became the Spanner in the Works to all the Dark Presence's plans, and is thereby making it "feel the ocean seethe". In Zane's poem, the "he" refers to the Dark Presence, of all things; the lake is where it calls "home". The "deeper, darker ocean" is the state of mind artists can find themselves in while in the Dark Place; this is where Alan is in "The Signal" and "The Writer". Waves are both "wilder" because, with enough determination, artists can break free of it, and "more serene" because they're easier for the Dark Presence to manipulate, being almost completely insane. Thomas Zane, in spite of being trapped in the Dark Place, is able to help Alan even outside of Cauldron Lake; he's been to its "ports". In the ending, Alan's quote means he can feel what's coming, and possibly knows of other artists trapped by the Dark Presence.

  • Maybe... But after Tom tells Alan his poem, he asks Alan in the most meaningful way possible, "Do you understand?" (To which Alan plainly has no clue what Tom's talking about, much less what's going on.) I think the poem is really Tom trying to lay the foreshadowing on Alan, here, hoping he has enough talent to pick up on it, and telling him that Alan is going to end up trapped at the bottom of the lake...long enough to call it "home," but not to lose hope or despair because that's not the end of it—there IS a way out; Tom's been there and back.

The state of the townsfolk after it's all over.
Let's assume that the straight interpretation of the game is what happens: Alan Wake goes to an idyllic mountain town, gets roped into helping a malevolent entity, rebels against it and so on and so forth. Basically, everything is taken at face value. So, once he's rewritten the events, and Alice emerges from the lake but he doesn't, would that mean that the people who were taken or killed by the Dark Presence are restored? Or, would they remain dead or in its thrall, since Alan spoke of balance and only had one life to trade for one person (himself for Alice)? If that's the case, then would the town be wracked overnight with mass disappearances?

  • In the Alan Wake files, Clay Steward goes to Bright Falls to dig around a little deeper, supposedly after Alan was there, and people are rather cagey, and just generally miserable. When Clay tries to ask around about what happened, he doesn't get a lot of cooperation, he says almost as though they were threatened to stay quiet. What bugs me about all that, though, is that totally contradicts the supposed happy ending that Alan wrote for the town at the end of the main game.

The Dark Presence was created by Alan (or others) with the power of the lake.
That is, the lake has the power to change reality but it isn't 'intelligent' in any way and simply gives the power to change. However, poets, writers, and rock gods all tend to share a common mythology of being dark and tortured in their writing. So it was through their own inner turmoils combined with the lake making things happen that created the DP because they (the artists) needed something to 'fight' and personify the craziness that was happening.

Alan is the lake.
The lake has given self-awareness to a part of itself; it knows only Bright Falls and such and took the form of things that Thomas write for it. The game itself is not reality but simply scenes within the lake. Thomas, as suggested by his poem, is trying to 'teach' the lake how to do things constructively, to see things beyond itself since, as a reality warper, there's no real incentive to see things outside of its own experiences.

Alan is Tom/Tom is Alan.
Tom wrote himself out of existence. But the Dark Presence warped this desire so that Tom became a 'fictional' character that exists only in a realm of fiction... which includes T Vland and dreams. As well, the DP made it so that Tom (or a part of him) became Alan, again, so it had a way 'out'. So Alan and Tom only exist in disjointed fragments - the parts that show up on TV to others, the parts in a dream, the parts to each other, the parts in the lake, and the parts in the game itself (the game being the story written with a self-aware character, rather than 'reality' proper).

The whole story is an allegory for death.
After all, you are always heading towards the "light".

Alice is having an affair with Barry.
Think about it. Because of Alan's Jerk Ass attitude, their marriage is falling apart. As a result, she goes to Alan's friend, Barry, and they have an affair together. The part where Alice not liking Barry because she thinks he's a bad influence on Alan is just a facade that she and Barry are creating so that Alan will not know about their affair.

Alan is a homosexual
Stolen from someone on a forum I go to.

"I'm progressing through the game, just hit the fourth chapter. And it seems as though the darkness could be a metaphor for his homosexuality creeping up on him. He tries to fight it off while trying to rescue his wife, which accomplishing would retain the image of a straight man that society expects him to be, being a famous author and all. But as the game progresses, the "darkness" becomes stronger and stronger, harder to fight off. Perhaps the more Alan realizes that saving his wife (and his heterosexuality) is becoming more and more improbable, the "darkness" becomes more and more powerful, because it would just be easier to fall into the darkness (homosexuality) than to struggle for his wife (heterosexuality). I mean, the guy does seem to really enjoy that Barry fellow's company, even though he seems like a total douche. And in the beginning when that waitress was flirting with him, he didn't even give her a second look. I mean, I get that he's married, but he wasn't even flattered. Even the guys who have girlfriends, wives, or whatever, know that they check out other girls. Especially when they get hit on. But with him... nothing.

My friends said that the ending was a shocker... So that's my guess at the ending; that Alan Wake comes out of the closet. Please, no spoilers. I want to see if my guess is correct."

  • Um...not likely. Can't a guy just be straight and not react to every "biggest fan" nut-job that throws themselves at him?

The happy ending was a fabrication of Rose's as she becomes a Taken
Part of Rose's interview in the Alan Wake Files has her saying how the light hurt her eyes. This is symptom of becoming a Taken, as shown by Jake Fischer in the live-action prequel episodes. However, the ending has Rose taking the place as the Lady of the Light, as shown by her clutching a lantern.

Let's assume that she is becoming a Taken, and therefore is very sensitive to the light. The fact that she was out at midday, holding a lantern, no less, and was only looking a bit uneasy casts doubt onto whether the scene actually occurred. It would also explain why the scene is so unusually upbeat when compared to rest of the game. It could be a delusion of refuge, much like Wake's lighthouse.

The entire scene could represent her battle against the Presence. She's trying to avoid becoming a taken, one that was started when Jagger possessed her to trick Wake. The upbeat scene is a defense mechanism, she's fighting back by staying in an area that is absolutely bathed in light. This explains why she's so nervous when she senses Nightingale, assumed to be the new face of the Presence. The fact that he is there means that she is losing the battle and the darkness is encroaching on her mind.

Everyone in Bright Falls survived.
In "The Signal" Alan states that he "wrote a new, happy ending" for the story, and there's a celebration going on in Bright Falls. No one seems to be bothered by the countless people that may have been killed, which indicates that when Alan was writing the ending, he brought everyone back to life, and made sure to do so in a way that would keep the Dark Presence from possessing them.

Barry and Alice would team up in the sequel.
Even so, they would still blame each other for being a bad influence on Alan. If he is given a Sadistic Choice to save either of them, the one who is not chosen will sacrifice his/her life when the Dark Presence attacks. This starts a Tear Jerker where Barry and Alice finally forgive each other, and either of them who is dying tells one to take care of himself/herself and Alan.

The lyrics for "War" are about....
The lyrics of the song talk heavily of the speaker being faced with a long war in which the speaker has been fighting for no real purpose, and that he fought the war alone - only to discover whoever he's talking to to be fighting alongside him and giving him a reason to fight again.
The speaker in this case is Thomas Zane, talking about his long struggle with the Dark Presence and being lost in the Dark Place beyond reality. The person he's speaking to is Alan Wake, whose arrival and subsequent battle against the Dark Presence both gave Thomas Zane a reason to help him and an ally to work with in containing the presence. This may tie in with the WMG mentioned up above about Zane possibly being Alan's father, with the line about "destinies intertwined." it also gives Zane extra reason to believe that Alan gives him a reason to fight.
The song is also a reassurance to Alan Wake that he doesn't fight alone and that Zane is beside him as well through all of his struggles.
  • War wasn't written for the game, though, from what I can gather (though the video clearly was created to tie in to the game). It's a real song, by the real band who played the O Go A.

Alan Wake takes place in The Dresden Files
Alan Wake has wizard talents; this is why the power constantly goes out around him, why he has to rely on a typewriter, and why he's so sensitive to the Dark Presence. It's also why his flashlight constantly needs new batteries, his cell phone goes dead all the time, and all the other issues technology has around him.
The Dark Presence is some form of Nevernever entity trapped within Cauldron Lake, which is probably a confluence of ley lines like Demonreach and Chicago in general.
  • Yeah, no. Electricity works perfectly fine around him, or else he'd never survive the showdown at the Old Gods of Asgard stage. Alice brings a typewriter because (I think) then they don't need to plug in a computer or laptop, and, gameplay-wise, the developers have the pages right there and don't need to worry about printers before Alan starts finding them. He's sensitive to the Dark Presence because he was trapped inside it for a week. His flashlight only needs new batteries when he focuses it on Taken; otherwise, it'll work forever. His cell phone rarely goes dead. None of this fits.

Taken cannot be permanently killed, and there are a limited number of them.
Notice how all the Taken that Alan fights over the course of the game tend to wear the same clothes, and no one seems to notice all the apparent victims of the Dark Presence. One conclusion that can be drawn is that the Taken are actually very limited in number, maybe a few dozen total, and every time Alan "kills" them, they're just driven off briefly until the Presence can regenerate them and send them back at Alan. This may explain why the Presence can only send a few Taken at a time, as those are all the Taken it has available. This is probably also why it was snatching up Sheriff's deputies and all those people on the roads throughout Bright Falls, because Alan was just mowing through them so fast it couldn't replace them quickly enough.
  • Alternately, it dresses them the same to save RAM, so to speak. No point in generating unique clothing; just overwrite their old appearance and shove 'em out the door.

The second game will be "A. Wake".
You play as Alice, looking for Alan and trying to figure out what's going on. The third game will be simply "Wake", though I have no idea who you'd play as. Maybe both Alan and Alice, to call back to Max Payne 2?

Cauldron Lake/The Dark Presence is the present day Sea of Black Tears
Their methods are rather similar, including taking the form of someone trapped beneath the lake, and they have both been fought against with The Power of Metal. Also Alan's last line in the game: "It's not a lake...it's an ocean." The Sea just got smaller over those thousands of years due to plate tectonics or some other geological crap that made land form around it. People who drank the Anderson's moonshine didn't become Tear Drinkers because of all the alcohol they put in it, but the water was still potent enough to make them trip balls.

Alan Wake is true.

Alan Wake pulled a Thomas Zane when he swapped himself for Alice by erasing his entire life off the face of the Earth, apart from one thing: His entire experience with the Dark Presence is a videogame in the world he created. This is to help other people fighting the Dark Presence and a back-up plan if he can't escape from the Dark Place.

The first Taken you meet (the one that speaks lucidly) was only freshly taken and the events occurred when the DP just barely started to escape.
At the start of the game when Alan wakes up in the car, this is just after the week in the lake. So at this point, nothing yet had been changed in the real world. Since Alan's the focal point of the whole thing, him 'coming to' basically then triggered the DP to start coming out too.

Alan Wake is a Terminator.
Okay, Alan has rarely show other emotions other than love and anger. The Terminator has killed the real Alan and took over his life. It doesn't know how does Alan has his relationships with Alice and Barry. When she shows it a typewriter to write some stories, it got angry with her because it doesn't have the knowledge to do that. The Heroic Sacrifice in the end is the Terminator's cover up to escape.

The Dark Presence is the entity that possessed the Overlook Hotel.
After the Overlook Hotel is destroyed by the boiler, the Dark Presence has moved to Bright Falls where it manipulates the writers into doing wrong decisions. Have you seen the part where Alan calls out Alice for getting him to write again while on vacation? There, that's the sign that when they stayed in that cabin, the Dark Presence has controlled Alan in to doing that just like what happened to Jack when Wendy suggests of leaving the hotel.

Alan is possessed by Thomas Zane.
That would explain the blackout of surviving in a car crash.

Alan is the reincarnation of Thomas Zane.
If we could assume that Alan is born from the day Zane has written himself out of existence, the age roughly matches. His writer's block and calling out Alice for making him write again has made it possible for Zane to take over. Zane, unaware of what's going on, panics to see he existed in a different body and tries to write himself out of existence again, but it failed. This is because he is on Alan's body. Realizing this, he writes the Departure story to help him on his quest. While he drives in a car, Zane gets a shock that he returns to Alan's subconsciousness. Alan then wakes up from a black out, surviving the car crash and pages of his story is spread around town.

Zane gave Alan his name as a clue
Throughout the story he has to deal with the possibility that he is dreaming or having a psychotic episode. Zane wrote him into existence with the name "A. Wake" as a subtle/unconscious clue that it's all really happening to him.

Address Unknown and possibly Max Payne itself were written by Alan Wake.
Purely on the basis that Alan is a mystery/horror writer, Remedy loves their Continuity Nods, and it only makes both games more surreal.
  • Confirmed. Max Payne is Alan Wake's story. In the beginning of Episode 2 of Alan Wake, the player can find the manuscripts of Max's final moments.
    • Actually, only half-true. Wake didn't write Max Payne as far as we know, but he DID write a near-exact knockoff called Alex Casey, which is what you can find and read excerpts of.
    • this troper would say that you can still say Alan wrote Max Payne, even if the names are changed, I would say that the "The Sudden Stop" is what Remedy's "real" Max Payne 3 would be as opposed to the apparently canceled Rocktar developed Max Payne 3.

The entire game is either All Just a Dream or a Dying Dream for Alan.
Either Alan is placed in a coma or died after a car crash. Therefore, all the new characters (except Alice and Barry) are aspects of himself.
  • Himself = Self/Ego.
  • Agent Nightingale = his Id
  • Sarah Breaker = his Super Ego
  • Cynthia Weaver = his Anima
  • The Dark Presence/Barbara Jagger = his Shadow Archetype

Alan Wake IS the true villain.
Think about it. Isn't it odd that everyone he met gets possessed by the Dark Presence and kills them? Isn't it strange that no one else would notice the Dark Presence? My theory goes like this:

Zane has become obsessed with bring Barbara Jagger, prompted by the Dark Presence. To prove if he's worthy, he begins a murderous spree of having people possessed by the entity and kill them after using a light on them.

At this point, much of Zane's writing has become the work of a deranged mind. He's unaware of what he does when he's the entity itself, only seeing the aftermath, just as Alan would. Finally, he takes his own life by having the Dark Presence possess Jagger to kill him, ending the killings.

Then Alan moves into the same cabin Zane has stayed before. Here's where things get complicated. It is possible that he learns of Zane's dark secret and found his corpse BEFORE his wife Alice brings him into that cabin.

It is implied that he went to Bright Falls before. He thinks a vacation there is uneventful but I believe his memories of going there is false to keep him from remembering of what happened there. While there, he was touched by the darkness of the town and learned of Thomas Zane, the previous comer in the place.

According to Sheriff Breaker, the cabin in Cauldron Lake doesn't exist. Alan is not locked in, he locked the rest of the world out. He clearly doesn't get along with people well, evidence by his short-temper and so has sealed himself in a cabin with Zane's writing. The pages of the writing are in fact left by his own hand. He rediscovers them because his subconscious is trying to force him toward a revelation and show him he's not in control.

Then the victims of the Dark Presence. Alice's disappearance is the most shocking, but it's heavily suggested that Alan has marital problems with her. When Alice tries to get him to write again while on vacation, it causes causes some kind of break in his mind and the Dark Presence appearing means that it tries to possess him into murdering her for making such move. When it appeared that Alan left, it turns out he begins the attack on Alice. His assault on her is motivated by sexual frustration. Therefore, she's been dead all this time.

Ben Mott knows too much and is the only survivor of the Dark Presence so it tries to get Alan to kill him but doesn't until the time is right. He lures him into writing down the whole manuscript. Alan has began to see him as a sociopath, so he orchestrated the Dark Presence into possessing Mott and kill him.

Agent Nightingale is another one of the survivors of the entity. The Dark Presence has pleasure of taking his life, but has to wait at that time. The moment he locked him away was planned by Alan himself. Alan, directed by the Dark Presence, drags him outside the police station and murders him.

The climax of the game, on my opinion, is Alan confronting himself. We get to see Alice, or rather a vision of Alice. The Dark Presence is really Alan himself trying to tell himself what he cannot bear to know.

Zane was the one who wrote "Departure".
That would explain of why Alan didn't remember of writing this story.

American Nightmare will have a repeat of the stage defense scene.
In the manuscript page Alan reads in the teaser, one of the lines mentions a boom box playing a Kasabian CD, as well as space debris knocking a satellite out of orbit. This implies some kind of connection between the two. How cool would it be to have a second version of the "Children of the Elder God" defense while satellites rain from the sky around you?
  • Jossed, though Club Foot can be heard playing as Alan flees from the burning oil field.

Three possibilities this could happen.
  • He finally accepts the imaginary version of himself into dying.
  • The Dark Presence knew that Alice would be destined to save Alan so it would try to possess him once Nightingale is out.
  • He has plans to use the Dark Presence's power into becoming a Well-Intentioned Extremist.

There are two forces with in the world vying for power.
  • The Light in the form of the Lake it's self where it holds the The Power of Creation and the Dark in the form of the underworld and the Taken who want the power to create and destroy at it's leisure.
  • This made evident that the light is a healing, guiding, and powerful force and it exists in the world that Alan wrote into existence other wise the whole world would never see the sun, light, or have the power to beat back the darkness.
  • The dark entity has the power to escape the dream-realm conjured up by the light but only in short bursts, it requires the full power of creation to become immune to it's foe long enough to take over a world. There is evidence in this with both Alan Wake: Bright Falls & Alan Wake it's self that the darkness is able to walk amongst the mortal realm with ease but only in very short bursts and only during twilight.
  • The light creates whatever someone envisions and saves (writing being the most obvious way to save something) so that it, as a sort of wish-granter, is driven to make this world creation in order to make others happy. By that notion the dark wants to tear that world down and bring misery however it also wants power and to walk amongst men and be their master.
The sequel will happen in Virginia.
I'm guessing this mainly because one of the songs in American Nightmare has a bakwards message. Said message says "It will happen again, in another town. A town called Ordinary." The only town called Ordinary I know of is in Virginia.
Alice will use the power of the Dark Place in the sequel. It may even be called Alice Wake.
Alice is a photographer and filmmaker. In the manuscript in American Nightmare, Alan explains that writing is a powerful way to use the power of the Dark Place in those places when the barrier between it and the normal universe is weak, since it is more 'concrete' and less open to interpretation than, say, music or interpretive dance, although it still leaves gaps than can be filled at random, or by other parties. Photography and filmmaking may turn out to be even more 'concrete'. Alice may be even able to end the problem once and for all.
One of the endings of the final game of the series will involve the permanent destruction of the Dark Place... with dire consequences.
If and when this happens, it will turn out that the Dark Place's ambient effects on the world resulted in the creation of fiction by humans. The Dark Place's destruction means the end of the creation of fiction, resulting in a very different world, especially if the effect is retroactive.
Alan's method of rewriting reality in American Nightmare works because of a decidedly meta reason.
It's established that simply using the Dark Place's power to write a Deus ex Machina is a very bad idea. But by American Nightmare, Alan has developed a way: write a decently written scene in which a Deus ex Machina happens, then manually set things up to match the description of the scene. Why is this better? How does this work within the story's internal logic (the breaching of which is the problem with simply writing a quick resolution)? Because Alan's still writing his return. He's writing his entire journey. Which means that, although the Dark Place (and/or one of its denizens) makes him forget the details, he's still living through a manuscript he wrote, like in the original game. Which means that his method of writing Deus ex Machinas is part of the story and its internal logic. And, as per the rules of drama and narrative, it requires effort and success is uncertain. So technically, it's not a Deus ex Machina any more.
The Dark Place came first.
The Dark Place is a realm of mind and thought. Relative to the 'normal' universe, it is a place of chaos and madness. Relative to the Dark Place, the 'normal' universe is a still point, an unnaturally dull lump of reality... the perfect blank canvas for whatever denizen of the Dark Place can manage to get inside, control it and monopolize it. The Dark Place is not a strange part of the 'normal' universe, it's the other way around. It's not a lake... it's an ocean.
  • Cauldron Lake is a protrusion of the Dark Place - the actual real world - into the universe. The universe is like a self-sufficient underwater cavern. For he did not know that beyond the lake he called home...
  • The reason it is so difficult to return from the Dark Place is that it requires an unnatural step backward. It much much harder to unlearn than it is to learn.
  • This is all pretty much confirmed by the Alan Wake 2 teaser blog. "The lake was an opening to dark place that was much bigger than the lake itself, in fact, much bigger than the whole universe we live in." "The nature of the dark place was such that anything dreamed up there, any dream or a work of art, would come true, just as true as anything in our world can be."
In the Night Springs episode about the immortality machine, the machine works by killing everyone in at least the room simultaneously when someone dies.
This is based on quantum immortality theory. Basically, according to the theory, you will never experience death. Your consciousness will merely branch off into a timeline in which you didn't die. The machine thus creates an all-in-or-none-in situation. The other timeline can worry about all the fatalities.
Mr. Scratch is a Mist Claimer
He's literally an embodiment of all the perverse and dark desires Alan has but doesn't act on, spun out of a dark fog, but is both his own entity and has a completely different personality, acting as a herald to an unseen and maleficent force. That's pretty darn clear. My guess is that the Dark Place is some kind of oubliette Alan got stuck in.
Barbara Jagger was pregnant.
That's why there's a rocking horse in the cabin; she was expecting. Zane was likely planning to marry her soon as a result. Tragic, yes, but as for what happened to the little one...
After claiming her body, the Dark Presence gave birth to Barbara's child, which will appear in Alan Wake 2.
He/she/it will have special, dangerous properties as a result of being the child of a Dark Place entity and a creative person.
The structures of the games' gameplay represents Alan's quest to regain control of his life.
The original Alan Wake was originally intended to be an open-world game, but was later changed to be more linear. This resulted in Alan frantically running through unknown territory toward simple goals, even if he wasn't sure what he'd do when he got there. In the first half of the game, he instinctively heads toward lit places. Past that, he becomes a little more proactive in his goals. In Ameriican Nightmare, however, the environments, while smaller, are more open. Alan is taking control of his life and situation and formulating plans, and the player, no longer guided by a generally linear path, must act with purpose.
That wasn't always Thomas Zane, if ever.
The final post of the teaser blog for Alan Wake 2 reveals that the Light Presence - officially called the Bright Presence - isn't Thomas Zane, but something that took his shape while his true essence - his soul - sank further into that deeper, darker ocean green with Barbara's. Using the power of the Dark Place, he created a new 'baby universe' where he could live with Barbara happily ever after. Meanwhile, the Presences of the Dark Place continued their terrible, ruthless battle.
  • This means that he used the exact same trick the Dark Presence pulled on Thomas - taking the form of and pretending to be someone trustworthy.
  • This also explains why he was acting slightly sketchy in The Wrtier. When accused of manipulating Wake by writing the page about the Clicker, the stumbles as he tries to claim that he didn't and then changes the subject. That's because he doesn't know.
The paradise created by Zane for himself and Barbara became known as...
Earth.
Alan Wake 1 was Departure, American Nightmare was Return, and therefore, Alan Wake 2 will be...
Initiation. The second-last entry of the Alan Wake 2 teaser blog consists of the title page of Return (the manuscript of which American Nightmare consists), with notes by Alan. According to the notes, Alan Wake has realized that his journey has been following Cambell's Monomyth, except he's forgotten an important part - the Initiation, the transformation that the protagonist must undergo. He's undergone an initiation, but in order for it to count in the story, he has to write it. Perhaps it'll be a case of better-late-than-never. Or maybe...
Alan Wake 2 will consist of a new Departure and Return with an Initiation in between.
Face it, his writing was a bit crap. Maybe he'd be better off starting over...
Alan wrote the Night Springs episode 'An Absence of Creativity'.
Alan's first real writing gig was writing for Night Springs. At the start, trying to fit the show's formula of the strange an unexpected, he tried writing an episode in which an old woman shows her friend something strange she'd found in the basement. However, he drew a complete blank as to what it could be. In a fit of frustration, he wrote a rough draft in which the thing was a blank spot in reality and in which he himself told the ladies that he'd completely run out of ideas. He realized that this is exactly the kind of thing that belongs in the show and developed it into the episode seen in the game. If only he knew how prescient it was...
The series will end with Alan becoming a Presence.
He will seek to succeed where the Bright and Dark Presences failed, and embody a new cosmic third option. The series will end with someone using not a flashlight, but a flashwake.
Balance Slays the Demon
In the end, it's never just the light he needs; when balance slays the demon, he'll find peace.

Alan's journey won't come to a happy ending if he tries to purge himself of all of his darkness. He has to accept the shadows that his light casts. While Mr. Sc***ch is his inner darkness given form, what's to say that a "light" counterpart wouldn't be just as damaging to his reputation or the lives of others?

Alan Wake (the franchise) has been subject to multiple levels of Adaptation Decay and Distillation.
First, approximately, there was Alan Wake, the novel, which was about Alan Wake writing Departure and fighting the Dark Presence. Then, it was made into a television miniseries, which compressed some characters and scenes to fit the story into only a few episodes, while making short versions of the Night Springs episodes presented as asides in the book. Then it was made into a video game, which added in loads more combat and some other game tropes, while cutting out even more dialogue and plot. Also, the Night Springs were cut down to little more than highlight reels.

You can even add another layer at the bottom, with the Alan Wake book being an adaption of Thomas Zane's poems into a more coherent narrative.

The bulk of the Taken died in the lake at different time periods.
Here's my toss-in for why no one seems to notice the lack of a few hundred people in a small rural town; only the Elites were freshly taken. Everyone else was accumulated over time. The final level explicitly states that the Dark Presence is tossing stuff at Alan that was in the lake. You see all sorts of items: a plane, train cars, a school bus, etc. All of that junk in the tornado came from the lake. No way it was all just refuse. That small plane? There's a dozen Taken. Your average school bus could supply another two or three dozen (presumably carrying teenagers or maybe chartered for adults). Car crashes, drownings, accidents? Mountains are dangerous. Over the course of 40 years, the Darkness would have had ample time to take all of the people who ended up in the lake.

Barry is unknowingly making things worse for Al.
By signing the Old Gods of Asgard and getting them out of retirement and writing music again he's giving the Dark Presence another foothold into the world that lets it bolster its strength independent of Alan. It's still focusing its attention of Alan because it wants revenge, because his writing seems to be a better source of power for it than their songs (probably because it has so much more to work with in a novel than in just a few verses), and maybe because Odin and Tor just seem to be very good at wiggling out of its influence without anything too bad happening, but having them out there making works and gaining fame is still giving it an edge it would have lacked in its fight against him.
AgentWMG/VIDEOGAMESAlien Swarm

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