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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.
Dead Space
The Marker is Sealed Evil in a Leaky Can
So, however many millennium ago, the Black Marker and it's Necromorph-generating properties existed, and was fought against by some form of precursors. For whatever reason, these precursors couldn't or wouldn't destroy the Black Marker, and instead, they sealed it away on Earth- modifying it with the external carvings, the base, and some other things which create the Dead Space effect and the additional psychic effects (see below). The carvings on the outside, which describe the Necromorph DNA, are basically a hazardous material warning, complete with a detailed description of the contents, and which human researches only tend to be able to partially translate (continually missing some of the important bits, like "Recommended Containment Protocols" and "Why you shouldn't let this get loose"). The Dead Space effect helps keep the Necromorphs contained while it is buried, so that none of the bacteria or worms and whatnot that come in direct contact with the marker get converted.

The reason why the psychic influence of the Marker seems so contradictory is because there are, in fact, two distinctly different entities present. There is the Marker's Necromorphic Hive Mind, which wants to spread the Necromorph infection, and then there is what was placed there by the precursors, which wants to contain the Necromorphs. The Hive Mind psychic influence tends to be basic but broad- it makes everyone in the radius suicidal and violently psychotic, so that there are more dead bodies. The psychic influence from the seal is much more complex but narrow- it can only affect one or two people at a time, and it gives them complex hallucinations of dead loved ones that give them advice or guidance.

The real problem arises from the fact that copies of the Marker were made- imperfect, man-made copies that didn't understand the fundamental makeup of the combined artifact, and thus recreated both the original Marker and the additional seals in unison, as a single piece. This has caused the two psychic entities to be partially merged, despite their diametrically opposed natures, and thus, essentially, schizophrenic. While the Marker/Seal combination in Dead Space 1 was relatively consistent, presumably because it was a fairly high quality copy, the Titan Marker was much more confused, presumably because it was more poorly made.

Nicole isn't dead.
During the Necromorph attack of the Ishimura (Naturally after we see her in Extraction), Nicole decides to take her own life so that she doesn't have to live through the ordeal. She sends a message out to Isaac to show how much she loves him, and injects herself with a poison to complete the message of her suicide.

Except that in the midst of everything, she grabbed the wrong syringe. Maybe the Marker was affecting her, maybe she didn't see what the contents of the syringe were, or something else happened; but the end result was that she survived. However, in her unconscious state, the Marker has less resistance from her subconscious and it drove her insane.

The logical extension of this is that in Chapter 7, Nicole really is opening the door, but Nicole is insane due to the Marker. The Hive Mind knew this, and that's why it sent the necromorphs to kill her in this scene. The transmissions of Nicole on the other hand are hallucinations cause by the Marker to get Isaac to trust Nicole. After all, she is giving Isaac the Marker's advice of "make us whole".

Of course, by Chapter 11, she has managed to fight the Marker's influence, just like Isaac did in Dead Space 2. This makes Nicole useless to The Marker, and it chooses the easier option of causing Isaac to hallucinate Nicole and get him to do what it wants. Naturally, this leads to Isaac having to do everything, as Nicole really isn't there. The real Nicole is actually back on the Ishimura fighting for her life, because the markerís influence is no longer protecting her.

In Dead Space 2, it is revealed that after Isaac killed the Hive mind, the Ishimura survived the planetís explosion, which means that Nicole is still on board at this point. (Side note: Aftermath shows that Aegis VII also survived the explosion.) The necromorphs turned into the sludge (as stated by audio logs in Dead Space 2), so Nicole doesnít have to fight to survive anymore, and the Necro-Nicole is a hallucination caused by Isaac being insane as revealed in Dead Space 2.

Dead Space Salvage spoilers ahead: At this point, the Ishimura drifts aimlessly into space, with almost non-existent systems, and is later retrieved by a group of Magpies (The Main cast of Dead Space: Salvage). When the Magpies board the Ishimura, Nicole doesnít know it due to that systems; and the Magpies never found Nicole before, or during, the bloodbath, since the Ishimura is over 1.5 kilometers long. They eventually find marker shards on the hull of the Ishimura and start spoiler: killing themselves, but the Shards donít bother Nicole, since they are small enough that they can only be a problem to people if they touch the Shards, which the Magpies did and Nicole didnít.

Earth Gov eventually finds the Ishimura and takes it back to the Sprawl. Since the cover-up regarding Aegis VII is a terror attack, Earth Gov restores the Ishimura to working condition to show the people that they wonít be influenced by terrorists, including installing an escape pod to replace the one that Hammond used to suck out a necromorph in Dead Space 1, which Isaac then later uses to escape the Ishimura in Dead Space 2. Of course, a science team is sent aboard to investigate the evidence left by the Marker, because the Marker is a powerful thing.

While restoring the Ishimura, Nicole makes herself known, either by accident or because she heard someone. Someone recognizes that she could be useful in studying the Markerís influence on people, and Director Tiedemann makes her one of the patients in his plan to save The Sprawl by the research grants supplied by rebuild the Marker(s), along with Isaac and Stross. Since Patient Six from Dead Space 2 is revealed to be female, it would be unknown if Nicole was Patient Six or not. If she was, then the odds of her surviving The Sprawl are nil, given that Patient Six couldnít "feed, drink, or even bathe herself".

If, on the other hand, Nicole was not Patient Six, then odds are that she escaped from the mental institute where all the Patients were held in the original outbreak, similar to how Stross escaped as well. Her knowledge of necromorphs from her time on the Ishimura, although limited, would be enough for her to make her way to one of the many escape shuttles that left during the evacuation that Tiedemann ordered.

Naturally, the logical conclusion is that it is possible that Nicole is still out there somewhere in the Dead Space universe, though she probably wonít see Isaac again because; A) the galaxy is a large place, and B) the escape shuttles, in the event of an evacuation, would most likely head to Earth where Nicole would be locked back up in an asylum. If the shuttle went to a nearby colony instead, then anyone who was insane (like Nicole) would be locked up, or sent back to Earth to be locked back in an asylum.

Of course, there is always the possibility of Isaac finding Nicole on Earth if he goes there to destroy the original Black Marker, as Dead Space: Martyr says that the Black Marker is at the bottom of the ocean in the wreckage of a research facility that Michael Altman (Yes, that Michael Altman) himself destroyed to stop the Marker. The ĎDead Space Game set on Earthí theory seems probable given that the Black Marker was as damage resistant as, if not more than, the Red and Yellow Markers encountered in Dead Space 1 and Dead Space 2. Of course, Isaac finding Nicole would, on the surface, be a Contrived Coincidence and maybe some Retcon would be required so that it would be believable, so donít expect it to happen outside of FanFics

What does this mean for the Dead Space series? Nothing really; if Nicole is still alive, then EA Visceral canít put her into a story since everyone thinks sheís dead. They could probably add some throwaway comments in the Extended Universe that hint at Nicoleís status as being alive without actually confirming anything, but it really doesnít make that big a difference. It would be a big deal for Isaac, being his girlfriend after all. But since he thinks sheís dead, heís not suffering from dementia anymore, and Ellie has survived the Sprawl as well, he probably will have moved on by the time we see him in Dead Space 3.

Isaac knew Nicole was dead all along.
When he first got the video, he watched it all the way through. He was sad, but still went on the repair mission to Ishimura because it's his job, and he watched the video continuously out of grief but always stopped right before the end because he couldn't bear to watch Nicole kill herself again. Kendra saw him keep watching the video, but didn't know he already knew the ending, hence her "This time, watch it all the way through" comment at the end.
  • This troper after getting to the end, assumed that Isaac had watched to the end, only for the trauma of Nicole's death to sink into such deep denial that he is just going through the first game on some sort of PTSD auto pilot. Notice how he never says anything to the rest of the repair crew, always setting off to do whatever Kendra and the Captain tell him to. It is only after having the proof that Nicole was gone thrown into his face once more that he is forced to deal with it, hence the marker!Nicole at the end. Its even worse after the second game reveals that Isaac convinced Nicole to sign onto the Ishimura, adding a layer of guilt. Dead Space 2 has him talking again and back to mostly normal because he has snapped out of his denial and whether he wants to or not the Marker Codes/Signal or whatever in his head are making him either get over it or die.

Let's face it: Nicole being Dead All Along is not much of a reveal. From the moment she utters the first cryptic "Make us whole again," it's obvious she's not right, and presumably Isaac also has the feeling that what he's seeing isn't right. But nonetheless he can't help but be affected by visions of his dead girlfriend, and he follows her directions because everything the Marker has him do is stuff he was going to do anyway—up to and including putting the Marker back on the pedestal, which Isaac already intended to do before his dead girlfriend started showing up around it as soon as he learned it would contain the Necromorphs.
  • It was heavily foreshadowed when several logs contain people mentioning either talking with dead loved ones themselves or commenting on other crew-mates who talked about talking with dead loved ones.

The Hunter is Jason Voorhees
  • That would explain the Healing Factor, and the fact that it comes back to get Isaac personally after being incapacitated the first time.

The necromorph virus is SCP-610.
They both create mutated zombie monsters out of humans, they both have "static" forms as well as mobile, aggressive forms, and they both have a desire to infect as many humans as possible.
  • Denied by the SCP-610 author who said it's based on blacklight.

Isaac is a decedent of The Engineer.
This is why, even though he's an engineer, his skill at killing things beats a fully armed warship and his engineering skills specialize in turning things into lethal weapons even though the way he does it doesn't make any sense. His father (or great x a fuckton grandfather) is the Engineer.

Going with the Sliders version of alternate universes, the Necromorphs are an alternate version of Flood.
Sliders states that there is an alternate universe for everything. Dead Space is a universe where the Flood evolved differently and the Forerunners and Precursors never existed (or maybe they did), nor did any alien life seen in Halo. The Flood and the Necromorphs have a lot in common (I wouldn't be surprised if they had finished a Halo marathon right before coming up with them). They both use biomass to create forms, they both also use this biomass to transform the walls of a place into a similar fleshy homes, they both are controlled by a tentacled hive mind also made out of biomass and they both have an affinity for turning body parts into weapons. Oh, and Redlight might be another evolved differently version of them.

The Hive Mind and the Marker are competing for control, both sending you hallucinations.
During the scene where you're fighting off the Necromorphs and keeping them away from Nicole, she's opening a door for you. This doesn't make sense, as Nicole is a hallucination and the Necromorphs shouldn't be able to see her, let alone attack her as she's opening a door. But if everyone's a hallucination in that scene, it suddenly makes sense: the Marker's mind-controlling tool of influence is being attacked by the Hive Mind trying to take over. The door was open the whole time and you spent a few minutes shooting a wall.
  • An excellent theory, except that the Necromorphs in that sequence still drop money and ammunition that you can pick up with Kinesis afterwards.
    • Easily explained by Gameplay and Story Segregation.
    • Or, those items were already scattered about, and the hallucinations just incorporate them; Isaac can't see them until he's "killed" the "necromorphs," which then "drop" the random useful stuff they were carrying when they were infected, just like all the necromorphs he's seen so far.
  • Alternate theory: Let's assume that "Nicole" is a physical manifestation of the Marker's influence that only Isaac can see, and that the Hive Mind is vaguely aware of. During the scene in question, "Nicole" is accessing a panel that, in a roundabout way, will lead Isaac to returning the Marker to where it needs to be. The Hive Mind obviously doesn't want that, so it sends necromorphs to take care of it, with maintaining the illusion of Nicole still being alive entirely incidental.

The Marker telepathically took control of Nicole's infected corpse.
And alternative to the above theory. Nicole isn't actually a hallucination, she was infected and turned into a Necromorph after committing suicide, and the Marker, after realizing that Isaac could help it, mentally dominated her corpse to aid him. It uses a normal hallucination to make the corpse look believable and talk. This explains how she was able to physically open a locked door for Isaac and why necromorphs are able to attack and kill her, and is also supported by the fact that a Necromorph with Nicole's face attacks Isaac after the Marker is destroyed, thus losing control over her.
  • With the Hive Mind dead, Nicole should have died (stopped working?) like all the other Necromorphs.
    • That image of Nicole at the end could easily have been a hallucination. Everything else in the theory makes sense, though.
      • In most stories with a hive mind, the death of the hive mind causes the drones to go crazy, entering a rage state, sticking to the last order they were given, defaulting back to their normal behavior, etc. So, the final moment of the end of the game could be the slasher that used to be Nicole just defaulting to "kill mode" or following out its last order: kill what killed us. However, keeping in mind the horrible events Isaac has just survived, the "actual hallucination" theory holds up, too.

Unitology is the evolution of Scientology.
After it faded into obscurity in the late 21st Century, it was assumed that the world had seen the last of it. Many centuries later, it was rediscovered by Michael Altman. Liking what he saw, he decided to resurrect it. With this and the Black Marker, he began the religious movement known as Unitology.
  • Jossed. Dead Space: Martyr tells us that Altman never worshiped the thing, hated being revered as a prophet, and was actually killed by one of his own "followers" while they planned to use this new cult for their own agenda.

Doctor Mercer is related to Alex Mercer.
Well, both are related to fleshy, viral eldritch abominations. Of course it makes sense.

Concordance Extraction Corporation, owner of the Ishimura, is a future version of Clamp Enterprises from Gremlins 2: The New Batch.
They both have a similar symbol, at least.

The Twitcher dosen't reverse the effects of stasis
The Twitcher emits a field of stasis that slows down everything around it. It just appears to be fast because it's using stasis on Isaac and any other necromorphs around it.

The Black Marker is Alex Mercer or James Heller
Working off of one of the previously listed WMGs, Alex Mercer is the original black marker. Several decades after the events of Prototype, the epidemic created by the Blackwatch viruses has spread to the point where Alex can no longer control it, and it develops an autonomous hive mind. To combat the ever-increasing epidemic, Alex sacrifices most of his considerable power to seal away the viruses, becoming the black marker in the processes.
  • Alex Mercer was consumed by James Heller after the final battle in Prototype 2. It might even be someone else if it happens again. It could even explain the hive mind, if being consumed doesn't kill completely kill someone.

A grand unifying theory
Long ago, the Precursors (whoever they are) suffered from a biological weapon, or created this weapon, which we now know to be the necromorph infection. The necromorphs are engineered to keep their neural cells in their extremities, rather than their main body, and at first their neural tissue remains hidden. But, as they grow, their neural tissue grows into these big shiny yellow things that are exposed to the outside.

In any case, the biological weapon got out of hand, so the precursors then built the original marker - perhaps even a big series of them. Aware that the necromorph infection might take a bit of effort to stamp out, they design the marker(s) to be capable of mind-controlling other species, and putting necromorph DNA in the runes so that people can figure out a cure. Eventually, it was too late so they decided to completely blow up a planet, sending the marker as well as a lot of necromorphs flying. After a few million years, both the marker and the necromorphs land on Earth, and the rest is history. The reason why it seems like the marker(s) cause the necromorph infection is because of the actions of Markoff and his version of Unitology, who only translated the marker symbols that describe the necromorph infection itself without translating anything else and believe it's a way to achieve eternal life.

Also, the reason why the hallucinations seem so disjointed and what not is because the aliens who built the marker didn't know anything about humans, much less how their brains worked, and thus the marker's mind control is... let us say... inefficient.

Another Crazy Theory
The markers are pure evil. It's the pedestals that are good, and which are trying to prevent the infections.

The characters you play as in Extraction have vestigial twins growing out of them, or perhaps an extra set of limbs they aren't in full control of.
In two-player mode, characters only ever refer to you as a single person, and there's never a mention of anybody that could be considered a Player 2 following you. despite how there's two guns being used, two damage bars, and each side gathers ammo separately. Either you have a vestigial twin with two hands that can use guns, but is still considered just 'you,' or you have four hands, but the other two aren't fully under your control. Fortunately, they do want to live just as much as you do. Separate health bars indicate enough damage to that portion of the body to incapacitate it.

The infection is centered in limbs and buboes because each Necromorph is a miniature version of the Hive Mind.
Rather than take over a subject's nervous system, the infection creates its own system connecting the subject's limbs via numerous redundant channels made through the victim's body. Just as the Hive Mind is stronger the more Necromorphs it controls, individual Necromorphs are more durable the more limbs they have to divide amongst. Pulping the body destroys the connections between limbs, but this isn't as efficient as simply lopping off arms and legs to disrupt the mini-hive-mind. Likewise, in more powerful Necromorphs, while the body becomes insanely durable due to other effects of the infection, the infection centers become bloated and comparatively quite vulnerable. Most Necromorphs simply keep those limbs out of the way or guarded to become basically unstoppable. Isaac seems unusually capable of goading these weak points into the light because...

Isaac is The Chosen One.
The reason most boss Necromorphs are dangerous—outside of the Slug—is because they don't flash their vulnerable members when Isaac isn't around. Isaac has been chosen by the Marker due to possessing a rare genetic marker/psionic sensitivity/unique strength of character/incredible willpower/a higher power is invested in his survival. Either: he exerts psychic influence on boss Necromorphs that compels them to expose their weak bits, only he can see where the weak points are and take advantage of them, only weapons in his hands can actually lacerate a Necromorph's weak points, or his presence offends more-intelligent Necromorphs so profoundly they are compelled to beat him to death with their own nerve systems.
  • Alternatively, necromorph gathered the memories of all they killed, and, not having any ability to control the bodies they possess well enough, or even think clear enough to fly a ship, decided to choose him to create a new marker, with the attacking necromorph just acting out of instinct, in discord with hive mind they support.

Dead Space is set in an alternate universe to Mass Effect .
Think about it, an alien relic found on Earth that was theorized to be within the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs. It has a hidden DNA within its coding that when applied to human flesh, it turned them into monstrous abominations. The relic itself keeps these creatures subdued within the confines of its 'dead space'. A man-made attempt at this relic only made the effects worse, this particular copy also causing hallucinations and madness within the living. Can anyone say "indoctrination" yet?

Let's face it, if we suddenly saw Turians or Krogan blasting their way through the Ishimura coated in Necromorph spew, we wouldn't be half surprised.
  • Or maybe it's set after Mass Effect 3 destroy-the-Reapers ending, with the markers as pieces of Reapers or part of the R&D that went into them. The ME timeline currently stops in 2186 while the DS timeline starts in 2214, so that gives around only 28 years to work with.

Isaac is a Wood Elf, or at least a Half-Human Hybrid of such
How else does he manage to stay so clean, even when being showered by blood and guts from the Necromorph he just killed and walking over (and stomping on) rotting corpses? He has to have that Elven "Force-field of Cleanliness" thing going on!

Dead Space takes place in the past of Warhammer 40k
The non-upgraded pulse rifle being the weakest weapon in the first game is an ancestor of the las-gun,and the marines in the game ,their entire ship and crew getting killed by one slasher are the ancestors of the imperial guard.The marker was made by nurgle to spread the necromorph disease.

Dead Space is a prequel to Sins of a Solar Empire
Humanity eventually becomes the TEC, while the Advent are descendants of an ancient Unitologist sect - even now, their religion is known as The Unity. The Vasari have been running from an endless necromorphs pandemic.

Dead Space 3 will have references / shout-outs to John Carpenter's The Thing out the wazoo. Bonus points for a parody of the blood testing scene.
Rumors so far say that the main setting of DS3 is a planet completely covered in ice and snow. I'd honestly be shocked if they didn't do this.

Isaac is obsessed with getting Ellie back because she's his Second Love.
After the events of the last game, odds are Isaac finally found a way to begin to move on. And with him losing contact with her early in the game, he's going to try and find her as quickly as possible so that his relationship with her isn't a repeat of Nicole.

John Carver is an Hallucination
With how co-op is handle in the game with the drop in and drop out, and why EA say Dead Space 3 is too scary to play alone. Playing by yourself is basically what is really happening. Playing with co-op is John being a Hallucination in Isaac's mind. It's Isaac way of coping with the horror or the Marker is helping Isaac again like the first game.
  • This troper poses the theory that John Carver is a hallucination like the Nicole from the "protect her while she opens a door" sequence in the first game and is a more solid manifestation of the Marker's will projected from with Isaac.

Final battle in Dead Space 2 is a hallucination
Think about it, we constantly getting attacked, and have to shoot Nicole to open up a marker's heart. But is it all in our head? What if instead, Marker trying to prevent it's own destruction by sending hordes of necromorphs at us. And in order to confuse us (for we could actually remember where the marker is), he makes us believe that everything that we see is in our head! So Isaac is confused, he doesn't know which direction the marker is. Illusion fades only when he shoots Nicole. So when we see shooting heart of the marker, we actually destroying it's base. That's why when Isaac is freed from said illusion, we see that base of the marker blown to bits. All this time we were shooting at it, while trying to survive hundreds of necromorphs. That explains why despite it's surreality, destroyed ghosts still dropped the ammo.
  • This troper assumed as such after the whole needle through your eye machine jiggle Isaac's brain meat/ injected him with something. I only that damn Regenerator was just a hallucination as well.

Electronic Arts will kill the franchise even though Dead Space 3 left questions and plot-threads unresolved
Because that sort of dickishness is par for the course for EA. And they mentioned that if Dead Space 3 didn't sell five million copies (the previous two games only sold about half that each), they'd kill the series. So it is depressingly likely that we will never get to see Isaac's survival or what will be done about the other Brethren Moons still out there in the cosmos.
  • According to rumors, confirmed based on sales. That said I won't be that upset about not getting more information on the Brethren Moons. Ancient horrors from beyond imagining become much less interesting when they're explained to the viewer. Much as I like the series and agree it sucks that it's over, 3 was a decent enough stopping point; we see the end of Isaac Clarke's story.
  • EA has denied that they're killing it.
Markers ARE a great source of energy... when properly handled
Earth Gov seemingly only had issues with outbreaks because of "marker heads" sabotaging things.

People joined unitology out of despair.
Considering Dead Space setting is a Zee Rust Crapsack Galaxy it makes sense people would initially join it after crossing a despair event horizon.

The glowing weak points were intentional engineered in by one of the scientists in a last ditch effort to sabotage the project.
Without this and other engineered weaknesses the necromophs would be unstoppable.

The orange tint of some hallucinations is a persons mind trying to fight against them
They are in colour in dead space 1 because Isaac doesn't recognise them as not real and in colour at other times because they have penetrated a persons mental defences.

The Necromorphs aren't evil.
Prior to Dead Space 3, I came up with a theory that handily explained many of the first two games' unexplained features. The basic idea is that the Markers were designed by a dying alien race in an attempt to resurrect themselves at some point in the future. They functioned by reshaping dead biomass into various organisms from the aliens' home world, which explains why many Necromorphs share similar features. Unfortunately, due to a combination of time and faulty human engineering, the Markers malfunctioned; instead of re-creating alien creatures, they made the half-formed Necromorphs. The closest a Marker ever got to succeeding in its mission was the Ubermorph, which has virtually no human features and has much greater intelligence than other Necromorphs. The Necromorph "hive mind" was an attempt by the Markers to ensure that their creations didn't all kill each other immediately after being created, which explains why Necromorphs will attack humans (which the Markers perceive as alien threats), but not each other. The Markers were also supposed to download memories into the brains of the aliens they resurrected so they could rebuild their civilization, but malfunctions and differences between alien and human brain structure produced the hallucinations and insanity experienced by those who had prolonged contact the the Markers.

Issac often heard thumps as he rode the tram
With a ship that infected, the tram probably ran over many necromorphs.

Woman singing in CH 10
It's probably just an auditory hallucination, but I always wondered who was singing twinkle twinkle little star in chapter 10. My theory was that a woman sealed herself in a small control room at the beginning of the outbreak. Slowly, she started going insane and started singing into the intercom.

The Brethen Moons attacking Earth were a hallucination
There's always the possibiity that the Moons were only hallucinations, and the Terra Nova is actually about to crash into Earth's Moon; the Luna Colony (which was experienceing a Necromorph outbreak last time we saw it). Since Earth Gov practically doesn't have much power anymore, I doubt they were able to supress the Marker and/or the thousands of Necros created when Danik destroyed the Marker Shroud.

It's entirely possible the moons haven't arrived yet, and the ones the pair saw were just hallucinations and they were hallucinating the actual Moon was one of them as well.

So they basically crash land in the middle of an outbreak and have to get to Earth or something to warn everybody that the Moons are coming.

Dead Rising 2WMG/Video GamesDead Space 2

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