The sixteen colossi represent the sixteen Pope Benedicts.'Nuff said.
Dionin (the beta worm Colossus) was going to be a Sequential Boss to DirgeMore of a meta guess than a story related one, but this theory has been stuck in my head since I first heard Dionin was going to be the only (known, at this point) Sequential Boss in the game. While it could be said Dionin was retooled into Dirge, it could also be said that they were both intended to be in at one point. Think about it. Dionin moved through the sand just like Dirge, was fought in a giant sand arena like Dirge, and has a body structure similar to Dirge. How could it be a Sequential Boss to any other Colossi besides Dirge? My thought process is that originally Dirge was going to be fought in the wide open arena that Dionin was in instead of the cave it's found in-game, and instead of making it crash into the cave walls to get to its weak point, you had to make it crash into Dionin's dead body to get to its weak point. Considering each time you kill a Colossus the game tries to make you think 'what have you done?', using the dead body of a Colossus that was so similar to the one your currently fighting would really hammer home the You Bastard vibe the game gives off for killing the Colossi.
The Colossi were magical guardians of Dormin's soul fragmentsThe Colossi were autonomous beings that had fragments of Dormin's soul sealed inside them (as 'living' Soul Jars) by, for example, Lord Emon. The idea was that no one could defeat them without the magical sword. I'm not sure which came first - the idols or the Colossi - but judging from what Dormin said, I'd say the idols came first and the Colossi were magically created by Emon afterwards.
Mono was killed with the sword Wander has for most of the game.The sword was originally Emon's. He had someone kill Mono with it. Wander stole the sword and, via the events of the game, Emon reclaims possession just in time to create the vortex and destroy not only the sword, but also the pool, Dormin and (possibly) Wander. When the sword was destroyed, the magical bridge collapsed and Mono woke up. In fact, the magical bridge collapsed and Mono woke up because the sword was destroyed - it was magical and involved with both of them. The bridge had been constructed via magic spell induced by the sword. Mono's death had been done magically. Destroying the magical sword cancelled out all its magic, including Mono's death.
Wander is already dead. From now on, you're controlling Dormin. The baby at the end is a byproduct of Emon's spell.Wander died the moment he was stabbed. He went through the same death sequence the Colossi did. The running figure you control both times in Controllable Helplessness is actually Dormin. The baby is:
Mono has Dormin, or part of Dormin, inside of herMono doesn't show any surprise at all. Not to waking up, not to being in a strange place, not to Agro's presence and/or limp, not to finding a baby horned Wander. When Dormin is resurrected in Wander, only his masculine voice is heard.
Mono is the Queen from IcoIt's about time someone added this theory.
Conversely, Wander is Yorda's father.No rule saying they both can't be at immortal or at least immortal-on-stealing bodies...
The forbidden lands where the colossi dwell is really Where the Wild Things Are.In Maurice Sendak's story, a rule-breaking youth traveling to a faraway land populated by huge, hairy giants and swiftly conquering them... sounds familiar? If you're not convinced, look at the covers◊ and tell me those monsters◊ aren't related.
Dormin was a competitor deity for Wander's religion.Dormin is a nature/resurrection god that's kind of a mix of Pan/Osirus/Mithra et al. There was a religious schism that caused his priests to seal him into giant statues and take up a new religion, with the sword as the key to breaking him out. At the end, Dormin is sealed into Wander, meaning he and his descendants (Ico included) are demigods. Hence the fertility god-like horns they all grow and the reason the witch wants them and they're ostracized from society.
Mono's sacrifice was an attempt to Screw Destiny from one of Dormin's rivals.Related to the above WMG... After sealing Dormin up, many centuries passed, and a young girl named Mono went to see a priest or oracle about something. Dormin's rival detected she would have some relation to freeing Dormin, freaked out, and had her killed. He/She/They just didn't see that Wander would gum up the works, possibly due to Blue and Orange Morality and thus being unable to understand just how far mortals will go for love.
The culture that built the structures in the Forbidden Lands was wiped out by Wander's people an extremely long time ago.The people there were destroyed when Wander's people sealed Dormin, whose power sustained them and the land itself. There are lots of ruins and structures around on the map, some of them with no immediately obvious practical use (the standing pillars and archways in the desert, for instance, or the water-gazebo things past the waterfall), but no real evidence that there was ever any farming going on (lots of individual fruit trees, but no orchards, for instance, or herd animals). It's possible that that culture, which doesn't seem to have even left anything that looks like simple houses, may have been some kind of nature-worshipping, peaceful society whose god watched over and protected them directly. It might explain why the sealing was even possible; they might have welcomed a foreign tribe coming to perform a ritual in honor of their native god and not known what it was really about until it was too late, and part of the reason Wander's people sealed off the Forbidden Lands is that they didn't know Dormin's power was so crucial to their lives. As far as they know, Dormin simply killed all his worshippers when it was sealed up just out of spite.
Team Ico's new game, The Last Guardian, is a sequel to Shadow."Guardian" referring to the Colossi. The griffin is a baby Colossus, and the last one left as the newborn offspring of one of the Colossi from the first game. The boy is a trainee to Amon's group; notice that the clothes he wears are similar. So it's about a young shaman and a young Colossus.
Out of all the colossi, Malus (the final one) was the only one that was downright evil.I mean, his name literally means evil in Latin. But if that isn't enough for you (and why would it be? Pretty much the point of this game was to make you question such labeling) then consider this: all of the colossi were apparently trapped inside the Forbidden Lands. Malus was locked behind a door that could only be opened after all the other colossi were dead. What's the point in making such a thing when the whole place was pretty much a seal? Malus was unquestionably the most powerful of the colossi. My guess is that he became so arrogant that he came to believe he was Dormin or something, and began wreaking havoc rather then just attacking in self-defense or living in peace. Since he was so powerful, Lord Emon and his followers, or perhaps the Colossi themselves, sealed him away behind the door.
The ruins spread out everywhere are much older colossi.
Wander is a hunter by profession
Wander comes from a pseudo-Mongolian culture
Wander wasn't the only one who got possessed by the Dormin
Dormin was always planning on giving Wander his body back.If Emon hadn't interfered, Dormin still would have possessed him, but then released him once they got the rest of their body out of him. The end sequence was the god-bits getting forcibly removed and dragging Wander with them - a bit like the difference between getting stabbed near the heart and open-heart surgery.
The Smokemen in ICO and the similar creatures in Shadow aren't the same things.The Smokemen who haunt the castle in ICO are actual spirits of dead people. The similar things in Shadow are pieces of Dormin. Smokemen have horns and 'eyes' - Dormin's bits have neither. It's okay, even Emon confuses the two.
The Forbidden Land is Hueco Mundo.Dormin is a Hollow that was split into sixteen smaller Hollows. A powerful Hollow can be composed of thousands of souls, and when Dormin was split, the souls he was composed of were split into sixteen soul-blobs, which later became the colossi when they merged with nature. The more souls a blob was composed of, the more power it had, and the higher its "rank" was (#16 was the strongest, followed by #15, #14 etc.). The reason Dormin is the only Hollow in Hueco Mundo is because So TC takes place After the End. The temple is all that is left of Las Noches. The group of people that the Wanderer, Mono, and Emon belong to are the descendants of every Shinigami in Soul Society, who after defeating Aizen in a great war were stranded in Hueco Mundo and started a new society. After a couple of generations, something caused Shinigami to lose their powers, and by So TC, only one Zanpakuto remained: the Wanderer's sword. As for the existence of Agro, we know that there exist Hollow versions of small animals like lizards in Hueco Mundo (sound familiar?). Without Hollows to prey on them, it is not too farfetched to expect some of them to evolve to larger animals, like horses, eagles (eagles can sometimes be seen in The Forbidden Land) and the deer we see in the ending (in the Garden). Agro is a Hollow who was tamed and may or may not be an Arrancar (to explain his lack of a bone mask).
The Colossi were, at some point, mostly normal specimens of their respective species. Except for one thing:They were all hard to kill. My theory is that, back when Dormin was free and powerful, there was a cult that wanted to get rid of him. So, through whatever process, they started using the Sword to seal away bits of Dormin, as the whole would be far too much for any one creature to take. A minotaur roaming the edge of the city, a prize bull, a loyal Knight, etc. They keep sealing all the pieces of Dormin's essence away, until they get to the last piece. The leader of the cult, presumably a very religious man, knows that he will go to his equivalent of Hell for what he has done to get rid of Dormin. So, in a moment of self-sacrifice, he uses the sword on himself, becoming the last Colossus, Grandis Supernis. Dormin's consciousness, along with the 16 transformed creatures, were then locked away inside the Forbidden Lands. The Sword would be passed on along with the history of the Cult, as would the tales of the Forbidden Lands. Until one night, when a young man would take the Sword to those lands once more...
Emon didn't re-seal Dormin, he just set them back.Come on, you expect me to believe that, after the ridiculous lengths someone went to create the Colossi seal, saying a few words over a magic sword is really going to keep Dormin down for very long?
The colossi were once human beings.After each colossus is killed and the idol shatters, a shadow figure in the shape of a human appears. This is because each colossus was once a person, and the pieces of Dormin's soul were made animated by the spirit of the human being in question. Perhaps they were religious followers of Dormin that were killed by Emon as punishment for worshipping evil, or were used as living hosts for the broken parts of Dormin's soul. Or maybe they were individuals who, like Wander, tried to defeat the colossi for their own or Dormin's benefit and ended up being destroyed and possessed in the process (or both; that would explain why some are confined as if to prevent them from escape and others are able to roam freely). We see at the end of the game that when Dormin possesses Wander's body, he takes the shape of a colossus. It makes sense that a piece of Dormin's soul would transform other human bodies, too, just less powerful. Emon also refers to the black shadow people as the spirits of the dead, which wouldn't make sense unless the dead were human beings that were somehow trapped inside the colossi, because they appear only after the colossi idols are shattered.
Mono is part of Dormin's seal.When a colossus is slain, not only is there a shadow-man over Wander, but there is a dove by Mono's body. Dormin never planned to revive her. Instead, they planned to put the female 'voice' (which is gone by the time he is released) into Mono and the male one into Wander. Dormin was meant to exist in two forms from the start, which is why it still refers to itself as 'we', even when it dropped the female-half of its voice in the larger, shadow body. Combining his light and dark aspects effectively handcuffed them and confused their power.
Wander has supernatural powers of his own. Or else a Charles Atlas Superpower.How else to explain Not the Fall That Kills You, Made of Iron and Soft Water? In-universe, I mean. Out of universe explanations can range from Hand Wave, They Just Didn't Care and Artistic License - Physics to Art Major Physics, A Wizard Did It and World Building.
Wander is undead for most of the game.He actually does die when those first tendrils enter his body from the first Colossus, and the between-boss light we see is the tunnel of light before death. Dormin's power is keeping his soul tied to his body, but it's not perfect with the god still sealed. This is why he seems to survive more and more ridiculous abuse as the game goes on - he's already dead, though he can be knocked out by things that should be fatal.
Mono is a bitch and her cursed fate was a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.Starting from the theory that Mono is the queen from Ico, maybe she wasn't that likable of a person in the first place and Wander happened to have a blind crush on her. Going off on my own here, Her supposed cursed fate which Wander may or may not have been enlightened on, involved the return of an ancient demon, if Dormin is as really really really old as we are led to believe maybe the tales of his tyranny were exaggerated like many mouth to mouth tales were.
The Miracle Grow Wander TheoryMono finds a way past that barrier via something in the garden, then rides out with some of the animals. She spends several months taking care of baby Wander, who grows swiftly and remembers much of his past thanks to Dormin, who simply wished to parasite off his energy until They could exist independently of him and take over the world (or what ever it is that malevolent entities with god powers do). Eventually, after these months, his growth slows, as he has returned to the age he was when he started this whole mess, and they find a way out of the forbidden lands. Thus, he and Mono become the progenitors of the horned boys. Now, the line of horned boys eventually melds into a village being subjugated by a body-snatching remnant of Dormin, which recognizes the remnants within the horned boys (which according to Word of God are represented by the horns) and begins demanding them as sacrifices, thus giving us the premise of Ico. Upon killing the Queen, Ico unknowingly defeats Dormin for what is hopefully the last time, and the ensuing descendants of Wander's line will no longer bear the horns.
Emon's ancestors sealed DorminA shaman in the past did the sealing, stories of which have been told and passed down in Wander's culture. The sword used to slay Dormin was passed down to Lord Emon, which Wander stole.
Mono's cursed fate was to be sacrificedMaking this an example of Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.
Agro's Survivalis proof of Dormin's goodness They prevented Agro's fall from being fatal because They were, at best, True Neutral if not actually Good, and this was part of the repayment for Wander's releasing Them.
The Colossi were at least partially corrupted by Dormin, causing them to hold back and to get themselves killed.Ever notice that the Colossi always fall for the same tricks? Even ones that a creature acting only on instinct would know how to counter (such as when you climb into the palm of the hand of one of them and it doesn't just squeeze). Each Colossus may have been the physical incarnation of parts of Dormin, and as such, when they saw someone coming to kill them (read: release the fragments of Dormin they held) they let it happen so that they could be released and eventually reformed.
The Colossi didn't exist (or weren't alive) until Wander came to the valleyWhen he places Mono's corpse on the altar, a lot of shadow creatures appear. He points the sword at them and they turn into smoke. Immediately after that, a lot of thunder strikes places far away in the valley. Perhaps this is the moment when the "souls of the dead" entered the Colossi's bodies, getting released again when Wander killed each one of them.
Half of Pelagia's head is missing.Those nobs at the top of his head are his teeth.
Wander will see Mono again...But not in the current life. Mono is revived by Dormin at the end of the story, but Wander is still dead. What likely happens is that if Dormin are in fact benevolent and reincarnated Wander, they'd give a similar gift to Mono or her descendant. Mono goes on and continues her life, and her descendant grows up to be Yorda, while Wander grows up to be Ico. They remember absolutely nothing, but possess the same soul as their ancestors, and possibly half of Dormin's soul each. The Queen is Emon's descendant and is inheriting the quest to slay Dormin once and for all from her great grandfather, unaware of Dormin's intentions. This plot line will be explored in the next installment of the series, should it get made.
Mono will raise the new Baby Wander into a fine young horned man...And then she'll marry him.Word of God states that Wander is indeed the progenitor of the horned boy line, but that progeny has to get started SOMEHOW, right? My guess is that Mono will live in the Secret Garden where she will raise and care for Wander. It's entirely possible that the garden has more than enough fruits and vegetables to sustain them, so Mono and Wander certainly won't starve to death provided the former is a half-decent farmer. As Wander gets older, he'll likely make excursions into the wasteland in search of other fruits and white lizard tails; hardly a banquet, but certainly enough to survive on. As time goes on and Wander grows up, Mono starts to see him less like a child and more like the man she fell in love with all those years ago. And indeed, as Wander gets older, he starts to remember things about his adoptive mother and his previous life. By the time Wander grows into a young man (let's say 18-ish), he fully remembers his old life as well as his love for Mono. By that point though, Mono will be in her thirties; nearly twice Wander's current age, but that won't matter to either of them.
Mono was inside Wander all alongThat's why you always hear her when you pass out.
Wander isn't his real name.So, we have Mono, Agro, Dormin, Lord Emon, and... Wander. His is the Odd Name Out. Why is that? Maybe it's because it's not a name at all, just an adopted pseudonym for a nameless person. Here's a guess why: he and everyone around him believes that the moment he took the Ancient Sword and ran off to free Dormin and revive Mono, he lost his right to his name for such a heinous act. It's another price he paid for the bargain with Dormin even before talking to the sealed god.
Dormin was sealed for its own protection.In the old land, Dormin was the guardian deity. Then there came signs that something even more powerful was approaching, something too strong even for Dormin to fight off, so the people sealed fragments of its soul in the Colossi, which had either been created to disguise the fragments or were minor guardians serving under Dormin, and fled with the intention of returning once the danger had passed. This force passed over the empty land and Colossi, unable to find the god it wanted to destroy, and then left, but wound up finding the people and imposed itself as the new god. Over time, worship in the new religion led to Dormin being demonized and the old land was labeled "forbidden," so no one wanted to ever go back. Dormin, obviously displeased with this, watched carefully for a long time for the right opportunity. When Wander came along and grew up, the potential he had to kill the Colossi and free Dormin was obvious to the old god, and it used what little influence it had left to "curse" Mono's fate without the new god noticing what had happened, leading to her being sacrificed and thus setting in motion the events of the game. At the end of the game, the new god had figured out what happened, and gave Emon the power to seal Dormin for good and destroy the bridge.
Dormin was not divided into 16 parts.] Every time you defeat a Colossus and are sent back to the Shrine, shadowy figures are seen, one for each Colossus. I think we can all agree that these are pieces of Dormin, but those aren't the only things that show up: a dove appears, too. These doves represent the 16 pieces of the feminine part of Dormin, the part that resurrects Mono. That makes a total of thirty-two fragments.
The Colossi weren't originally created to be seals, but as weapons and guardians Dormin gave to the people of the Forbidden Land.A very long time ago, the people of the forbidden land made a deal with Dormin; in order to defeat their enemies, They would give them the colossi to use as weapons. It's possible the colossi were created by the people on Dormin's instructions and then given life by Dormin. In exchange for this protection and power, the people would worship Dormin as their patron god. The shrine of worship was constructed as a sort of hub for Dormin to control the colossi from through the idols. Each colossus had some sort of role to play; Valus and Gaia and the more humanoid colossi acted as giant infantry soldiers, Avion and Phalanx as an air force, Hydrus and Pelagia attacking ships, etc. Malus was the strongest of these, and could destroy anything that came close to the lands from almost any direction. He was often stationed by the shore to wipe out any ships that Hydrus or Pelagia did not get. However, eventually Dormin required some kind of sacrifice, one that the people deemed too high to pay, but Dormin took it anyway. One possibility is the price was the sacrifice of hundreds, maybe thousands of lives. My theory is that Phalanx's desert used to be some kind of city that Dormin obliterated, possibly using Malus, his most powerful colossus. Another possibility is that They took over the body of the king of the lands to use as a host. Another possibility is that the ruler made this deal with Dormin without his/her people's consent. Whatever the case, the people found Dormin's act to be unforgivable, and so the shamans devised a way of permanently sealing Dormin's power away in the 16 colossi, but not Their consciousness, which stayed trapped in the shrine. These seals also broke Dormin's control over the colossi, but without control the colossi went wild. The people of the land imprisoned the colossi they could, such as bolting Malus' feet to the ground and trapping him behind a wall, or trapping Quadratus on a beach it could not escape from, Gaia stuck on the platform, Kuromori in the coliseum, Hydrus in the lake, etc. The people could not kill the colossi, because doing so would release Dormin's power, but the many battles with the colossi just trying to trap them destroyed much of their civilization, and they could not trap them all, so the people left the land and claimed it forbidden. Over time, the colossi went into dormancy, until being awoken upon Wander's arrival with the magic sword.
How it ties to ICOWhen Wander killed the colossi and broke the seals, Dormin's power took Wander as his new host, but because of Dormin's deal with Wander, the feminine part of Their power went to Mono to revive her. The spell Emon casts at the end of the game not only resealed Dormin's power within Wander, but severely diminished it, with the side effect being that Wander was reborn as a baby with a piece of Dormin's power within him, giving him horns. Mono then raised baby Wander, and eventually he had children who would start the lineage of horned people. It is possible that because of Dormin's power, Mono became immortal, but more corrupted as time passed. It's possible that she did have children with Wander, and the horned children are her descendants as well. But her immortality caused her loneliness as she watched her husband and children and grandchildren all die through the ages. She also learned how to begin harnessing the power of Dormin. When a horned descendant of hers died, it released a part of Dormin's power that she could absorb, and it was this that was prolonging her life and slowly made her more powerful. It is possible that Wander and Mono had founded their own kingdom, or Mono used her power to take control of a kingdom, one that she would rule for centuries. This could explain the statues of the horned people seen in the castle in ICO. Mono would become the Queen, and as time passed she began to demand the horned children as sacrifices so she could continue living. Another possibility is that, rather than being an actual queen of a forgotten kingdom, Mono/the Queen simply terrorized the land kidnapping any horned children she found in some deranged attempt to be reunited with Wander who had died long ago, until it became tradition for people to willingly sacrifice the horned children so that they would be spared her wrath. Either way, it became a tradition, and the horned children were seen as a curse. Mono made her home in the abandoned castle, and waited for each sacrifice to strengthen her and prolong her life. This was the cursed fate for which Emon sacrificed Mono, which would be a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy. But the Queen's body, Mono's body, would eventually begin to deteriorate as the time between each sacrifice became longer and longer, due to the horned children being sacrificed before they could have any children and pass down Dormin's power. The Queen had absorbed much of the masculine part of Dormin, which was another factor to her madness. She thought of a plan and created a new being, her daughter Yorda. It is possible that the Queen had Yorda with one of the horned children sacrificed. The Queen instilled in Yorda much of the feminine part of Dormin, which would cause the Queen to die quicker, so she needed to take over Yorda's body quickly, until Ico got free. In some sense, Ico killing the Queen and escaping with Yorda can be seen in some way as redeeming the acts of Wander and Mono's life as the Queen. Much like Wander, Ico is determined to save a girl he likes, but whereas Wander's deal with Dormin could be seen as selfish, someone unwilling to let go of the dead and going to great extremes, Ico saves Yorda out of pure kindness and selflessness. At the same time, at the end of ICO, we see that Yorda is willing to part with ICO so that he can live. Alternatively, the Queen could also be a descendant of Mono and Wander, rather than Mono herself. The Queen learned of her own lineage and found a way to harness Dormin's power; while the masculine part of Dormin is manifested as horned boys, the feminine part manifests as women with magical power.
Mono is AyeshaThe land is actually ancient Uganda, and Mono, when resurrected, becomes She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed, Ayesha. And Wander was in fact her loved one, and she remembers him as she becomes immortal and rules her kingdom for many an era.
The Colossi don't stay deadSince killing the Colossi freed Dormin, who's to say his death didn't have the reverse effect? In the credits, we see what became of the Colossi, but the process could merely take some time, or maybe the credits didn't take place in the present.
The Colossi are a byproduct of Dormin possessing people.Each time Dormin possesses a person, their soul is fragmented by a dividend of one more that the previous number of colossi, creating a new Colossus that is as powerful as the soul fragment it was created from. The first time this happened was with Malus, which is the largest and most powerful Colossus because it contained the entirety of Dormin's soul. As more people performed the spell to free Dormin, their soul became more fragmented after possessing them, each time creating a new Colossus of power and size proportional to size of the newest set of soul fragments. Cenobia and Celosia are the two most recent Colossi to have been created by this process. Lord Emon, however, attempted to break this cycle by removing the Enchanted Sword from the Forbidden Lands, ensuring that new Colossi could not be created. Wander, not knowing this, stole the sword and headed for the Forbidden Lands to have Dormin revive Mono. Dormin took this opportunity to have Wander perform the spell to free them, thus allowing a new Colossus to be created when they left Wander's body. Emon, however, was one step ahead of Dormin's plan and was able to break the cycle permanently by killing Dormin when they're most vulnerable: Inside a mortal body. Instead of creating a new Colossus, Dormin was killed for good, allowing Wander to keep living (albeit as a baby).