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Black Mirror: Bandersnatch
Stefan: Now they've only got the illusion of free will, but really, I decide the ending.
Haynes: And is it a happy ending?
Stefan: I think so.

The first official Black Mirror film. note 

It's 1984. A young programmer named Stefan Butler (Fionn Whitehead) attempts to make the fantasy Gamebook Bandersnatch, written by the infamous Jerome F. Davies (Jeff Minter), into a computer game. Soon, reality and the virtual world become mixed and start to create confusion as Stefan descends into madness. The film is interactive — viewers select Stefan's actions through timed choices on the Netflix interface, and Multiple Endings can be achieved based on these decisions.

Starring Fionn Whitehead, Alice Lowe, and Will Poulter. Directed by David Slade.

The film was released on Netflix on December 28, 2018. The trailer, released only the day before the film, can be found here.

Tropes have no control:

  • 100% Completion: Not only can you rewatch the whole film, before you reach the credits it lets you choose other pathways from all your decisions. There’s a lot. Netflix's tracker bar will show you how far into the entire footage you are — if you finish the film in a Minimalist Run, it'll look less than a quarter of the way through, because it is.
  • The '80s: Set in 1984, complete with characters wearing huge glasses, video games with 8-bit graphics, and an electronic soundtrack.
  • Alice Allusion: Bandersnatch makes numerous references to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland:
    • The title itself is named after a creature from the poem "Jabberwocky," featured in Through the Looking Glass, And What Alice Found There.
      • Although creatures called Bandersnatches also appeared in the Larry Niven novel World of Ptavvs - in which they were the only creatures immune to the mind control exercised by the rules of the galaxy.
    • Colin Ritman evokes the White Rabbit. In one particular scenario, the viewer is given the option to have Stefan "Follow Colin." Immediately after that choice is made Colin tells Stefan that he is "in the hole," referencing the rabbit hole Alice falls down into Wonderland, they then take drugs and have a crazy Wonderland sequence. Visually, Colin's platinum blond hair looks almost white in some shots.
    • In one story path Stefan steps through a mirror, similar to how Alice does in Through the Looking Glass.
    • Stefan's rabbit started this whole mess.
  • All Just a Dream: The discoveries made by Stefan could be dreams or delusions, or a scary truth. He's right about at least one thing...
  • All Myths Are True: If the dimension-hopping is real, then all potential explanations as to what's plaguing Stefan are valid (haunted story, government conspiracy, being a fictional character, etc.), but tragically, Stefan winds up getting confused as to which universe he's in.
  • Alternate Timeline: Possibly the reason for the multiple paths. Colin is very gung-ho about life and death; his reasoning being that if he dies in this one, he's probably alive in another one.
  • Anachronism Stew: How is the hospital named for St. Juniper when he wasn't canonized until 2015?
  • And Starring: "and Will Poulter".
  • Arc Number: We catch up with Stefan every 17 days while he's making the game. Among other things, seventeen has been determined as the least random number, suggesting that things really aren’t your own choice.
  • Arc Symbol: The lambda (λ) symbol from "White Bear" makes a reappearance, this time used in a different context. In this case, the symbol represents branching alternate realities created by differing choices.
    • It appears throughout the film, like in blood on the walls of Jerome F. Davies' room, and on the wall of Stefan's house where it’s formed by the shape of the windows, in blood on the wall of Stefan's house, and later appears very briefly on Pearl's computer screen in the Distant Finale ending.
    • On the inside of Stefan’s house, when he goes to get the rabbit, the windows visible form half the symbol, showing only one path.
  • Arc Words: "Pac". Colin claims the "PAC" in Pac-Man is an acronym for "Program and Control", which later ties into a later storyline where Stefan uncovers evidence that he is a participant in a "Program and Control Study" (P.A.C.S.). This reflects the film's themes of control and free will.
  • Artistic Stimulation: In one path, Colin and Stefan use LSD to get around a creative block.
  • Aspect Ratio Switch: From the second time the viewer reproduces the movie and so on, there will be a section which recaps the events up to the point where the viewer stopped. This section will be in a 4:3 format until the last scene they watched, when the screen format will slowly change to the previous screen format of 1.78:1 (or 2.20:1 if it's being watched in UHD). This change helps the viewer to regain immersion in the story as it resembles them regaining control over the movie.
    • The 4:3 format is also the one from Stefan's childhood flashbacks.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Tragically, between Stefan and his father. It can be that at first Stefan only describes how much he hates his father and suggests that it's reciprocal because of his mother's death. It may be one of the main impetuses for killing his father (which is difficult to avoid no matter what path you choose). However, if Stefan ever chooses to be honest about his mental collapse, most of the time his father is obviously overwhelmed with worry and comforts him several times. Of course, it doesn't appear in every version of the film, with his father in some being downright manipulative of his mental state.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Invoked in the viewer; think it's frustrating that you're only given the option "No" when your mother asks in flashback if you're coming with her on the train? One path does give you the option to choose, and given your foreknowledge of the consequences it's an inherently Sadistic Choice.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: An extremely disturbing version. One of the options you can select as the sinister force controlling Stefan's life is...a Netflix viewer.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Even some of the better possible endings in this film feel rather unsatisfying. Two of them involve Stefan finishing the Bandersnatch game, but without having to deal with any (additional) conflicts or drama regarding his mental illnesses; resulting in the game being released as a rushed, sloppy product that is panned by critics. But on the bright side, Stefan doesn't die nor end up getting other characters killed, and it's implied that he continues to live a normal (if boring) life. See Multiple Endings for more details.
  • Black Comedy: In the right mindset, the sheer amount of meta jokes tucked within the multiple, miserable narratives in this scenario that poor Stefan can go through are hilarious.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Stefan, when getting stabbed by Jerome F. Davies.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
    • Throughout, Colin does a fair bit of this, likely deliberately — making references to going forward/back, choosing the right path — with all the other characters "accidentally" doing it. There's more if you've had to go and redo a choice, too.
    • Go through the cycle enough times, and you get this quick exchange in the office before Stefan watches the documentary:
      Colin: Skip to the next bit.
      Stefan: What?
      Colin: For fuck's sake, I'll skip it for you. *claps*
    • Depending on the path you take, if you try and make Stefan destroy his computer, he'll fight back and demand to know who's controlling him... at which point you can choose to be yourself if you choose "Netflix".
  • Brits Love Tea: As it's set in Britain, there's naturally a lot of cups of tea, several of which have choices and plot points attached to them.
  • But Thou Must!: Certain choices often lead to the same result, no matter which option you choose. This plays into the film's theme of the illusion of free will; that there are forces beyond our control making our choices for us.
    • One example is when Colin offers Stefan a blotter strip for a psychedelic drug. If you pick "Yes," Stefan takes the drug and the scene of Stefan's drug trip proceeds; if you choose "No," Colin puts the strip in Stefan's tea, which he drinks, and the same scene follows.
    • Another blatant example is in one flashback to the day when Stefan's mum dies. Stefan can't find his rabbit toy and his mum insists that it's time to leave. The only option Stefan is given in that scene — given that it's "already happened" — is to say "no." Until it isn't.
    • When Stefan's therapist asks if his life should be more entertaining if he is in a TV show, the choice that appears is either "Yes" or "Fuck yeah", which lead to the same outcome.
    • Regardless of your decision for Stefan to bite on his nails or pull his earlobe at the shrink's office, he will resist the viewer's command.
    • A more subtle one happens when you're asked to pick between the Thompson Twins or Now! II when Stefan is putting on his Walkman in the bus. You do get different songs, but the Thompson Twins selection is "Hold Me Now", which was also released on the Now! II cassette note . Regardless of the choice, Stefan will eventually encounter the song!
    • In-universe, the "true" ending of the story where Bandersnatch becomes a bestseller has Stefan admit that he pulled it off by making most of the choices fake and forcing the player on a preset path.
  • Call-Back: Stefan will watch an ad for whichever cereal you chose later on.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: At one point Stefan gets annoyed with his father and tells him to fuck off.
  • Cassandra Truth: If you decide to tell Stefan that you're watching him on Netflix and then make him see his therapist, she will spend a while convincing him that the idea is ridiculous.
  • Casting Gag: Jerome F. Davies is played by Jeff Minter, an actual 80s videogame author (and one of the relatively few still active as an independent).
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The dog that's digging up Stefan's dad's flowerbeds early on can land Stefan in prison in some of the endings.
  • Christmas Rushed: invokedIf you so wish, you can agree to crank out production on Bandersnatch to get it done for Christmas. You'll get a 0/5 for it, though.
  • Continuity Nod: The film has references to past episodes.
    • Colin's latest successful game is called "Metl Hedd", and he's currently working on one called "Nohzdyve". The Tuckersoft website reveals other games: "Roachbusters" and its sequel "Terror on Rannoch B", "Rolling Road", "Pig in a Poke", "Valdack's Revenge" and "White Bear", all with further nods in the game pages themselves.
    • The lambda symbol from "White Bear" appears again.
    • The gaming company is called Tuckersoft, a combination of TCKR Systems from "San Junipero" and something like Microsoft.
    • The Saint Juniper Hospital, where Dr. Haynes works, to "Black Museum"note . Also, it's not necessarily mentioned in the film, but Stefan's dad who may be a mad scientist is called Peter, too.
    • Stefan is making a video game with a Christmas deadline, and believes he is trapped in a world which he can’t control, like "USS Callister". He also has the choice to kill his hero coder, like Nanette.
    • Stefan becomes a 19-year-old sympathetic murderer, though likely more sympathetic than Kenny in "Shut Up and Dance".
    • The film itself was already referenced in the episode "Playtest" where a videogame magazine promises a review of Bandersnatch. Yeah, the film has a lot of reviews of the game available.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: Stefan has no control of his destiny. He is only a puppet, who is controlled by us.
  • Cosmic Plaything: Stefan is this to you, the viewer. Whilst you don’t really have a lot of control over the overarching plot, in-universe Stefan certainly believes he is in an And I Must Scream situation.
  • Desk Sweep of Rage: Stefan does it at his shrink's office when the choice is made to spice up the action.
  • Dismembering the Body: One of the endings has Stefan kill his father and chop up the body in an attempt to cover up the murder, a sure sign that he's gone off the deep end.
  • Door Stopper: In-universe, the book Bandersnatch is very thick. One major challenge Stefan has is the memory limitations on software from this time period forcing him to do major surgery on the prose from the book to fit it into the game.
  • Downer Ending: It wouldn't be Black Mirror without having at least some of these. In the worst possible endings (which are most of them), something really terrible happens; such as any of the endings where Stefan dies in a freak accident, or goes to prison for committing murder. See Multiple Endings for more details.
  • Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting: The (In-Universe) BLAM Fight Scene that you can do shows that Haynes, Stefan, and then Stefan's dad, have some amazing fighting skills.
  • Executive Meddling: In-universe. When Mohan gives Stefan the initial offer, he proposes him time until mid-November to deliver the game for Christmas. This means entire group of people working on the project. But if Stefan refuses, the deadline is set on 12th of September, while he has to do the entire workload all by himself and deliver a finished product.
  • Fictional Document: The eponymous Bandersnatch Gamebook that Stefan is trying to adapt into a video game.
  • Flash Sideways: Stefan and Colin both remember certain events from alternate timelines, even if they haven't happened in their own yet.
    • For example, in the first run through of the story, Stefan won't know what's wrong with Colin's game when it crashes. In the next run through he will, surprising Colin and Mohan.
    • Colin will also remember meeting Stefan even if, in that timeline, they haven't met yet. If he jumps from the balcony, his last words to Stefan are "See you around." Restarting back to their first meeting leads to this exchange:
      Colin: We've met before.
      Stefan: No.
      Colin: We've met before. I told you I'd see you around, and I was right.
    • After seeing Colin jump to his death, if his wife visits Stefan at his home, Stefan will remember meeting her, but she has not met him yet.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Colin creating the game Nohzdyve in his opening scene, where the player jumps off a balcony to collect multi-colored balloons, is one to the scene where he makes you have either him or Stefan jump off a balcony, high on acid.
    • Right at the start of the episode, Stefan's dad is locking up a room when Stefan comes out of the bathroom, looking a little bit suspicious. You can explore this room later to find secrets.
    • When Stefan demonstrates his game to Mohan, we see an encounter with a government agent where the options are to "BACK OFF" or "KILL AGENT". Later, the viewer has a similar pair of options in a confrontation between Stefan and his own father.
    • Early on in the movie while Stefan and his father are having breakfast, a dog begins to dig a hole in their backyard, to which Stefan's father says "that dog will be the death of us". If you choose to kill Stefan's father and bury him, this same dog will dig up the body, resulting in Stefan being sent to prison.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Other allusions to previous episodes are blink-and-you'll-miss-it.
    • To "Black Museum": Dr. Haynes's office is in a medical building named "Saint Juniper", and if you look at her door when Stefan comes out, you’ll see her first initial is 'R'. The villain in "Black Museum" is called Rolo Haynes, and had a brief stint at St. Juniper's hospital (which is itself a reference to another episode).
    • In the endings where Stefan is arrested for murdering his father, other stories on the newspaper reporting the incident are the creation of "a futuristic love machine" by BRB softwarenote , the release of a new installment of Space Fleet, and a 15-million talent team appearing on the show "Hot Shots".
    • In the ending that jumps ahead to the present day, news tickers shown include:
    • The person at the end remaking the video game into an interactive Netflix film is Pearl Ritman, which you might remember is mentioned as Colin's daughter, if you followed him earlier.
    • The Philip K. Dick poster in Colin's room is for Ubik, a novel about the nature of reality.
  • The Game Plays You: Stefan starts to develop a version of the game...and then realises he's being played by the viewer.
  • Gamebooks: An interactive film with multiple endings. Every so often, the viewer is given a series of choices, usually with a ten second window of time before the timer runs out and a default choice is made. It gets deconstructed in certain endings.
    • In-universe, the original dead-tree Bandersnatch was a surreal, literary version of a gamebook created by Jerome F. Davies.
  • Genre Deconstruction: Of Gamebooks, regarding the illusion of choice. The viewer is given many paths to choose, but the paths are limited in certain aspects. For example, there is no ending in which Stefan can create a perfect video game while still maintaining his sanity. This is acknowledged in the ending in which Stefan's game Bandersnatch becomes critically claimed as Stefan admits that he, the game's creator, gets to decide what the players can and can't do in his game. In-universe, Stefan is a Cosmic Plaything of the viewer, and his choices are ultimately not his to make.
  • Girls Love Stuffed Animals: A gender-inverted example with Stefan, at the age of five, being very attached to his toy bunny, much to his father's chagrin.
  • Give Me a Sign: Stefan calls out for the audience to reveal themselves to him.
  • Groin Attack: In a physical fight against his father, Stefan can either karate chop him or knee him in the balls.
  • Hard-Work Montage: At least twice do we get a montage of Stefan sitting on his computer, working hard on completing his video game.
  • Higher Understanding Through Drugs: Colin's prescience regarding alternate timelines and lifetimes seems to have come from his drug use; and things go downhill when Stefan takes acid with him.
  • History Repeats: Stefan himself is following in the footsteps of Jerome F. Davies; both are creating works titled Bandersnatch which feature branching story paths and parallel realities, and both slowly go mad in the process. Both end up murdering someone important to them - Davies his wife, and Stefan if the viewer goes through with the option of killing his dad. The path then ends in the present day, where Colin's daughter Pearl, now a Netflix programmer, is attempting to adapt Stefan's game into an interactive film and begins experiencing the same hallucinations as Stefan and Davies.
  • Hollywood Darkness: When the protagonist sneaks into his dad’s room at night, he and his sleeping dad are lit by so much blue light that it may as well come from a spotlight. This contrasts with the dad’s office in the next scene, which is lit by an orange lightbulb.
  • Interesting Situation Duel: Haynes and Stefan in their Hollywood fight scene for the purpose of, literally, making a Netflix entertainment show have more action. As stated by Haynes, in-universe. It's in a small, plain, office.
  • It's Short, So It Sucks!: In-Universe, if Stefan accepts the offer to work in the office, the game will end up rushed and get a 0/5 note for being short. It's also the shortest path to the ending.
  • Laughing Mad: Stefan laughs insanely talking about his friend from Netflix in the ending where he kicks his therapist's ass.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • When giving his 0/5 rating, the game reviewer notes that the developers of Bandersnatch should have gone right back to the start to try again. In a later 0/5 review he mentions that if there were second chances in life, he hopes the developer would've chosen differently.
    • If you accepts Mohan's offer to develop the game in Tuckersoft with a professional team, he then reveals that they will need to streamline the game, while Colin tells Stefan that he made the wrong choice.
    • At one point, Stefan says that he feels like his actions aren't his to control, that he's being directed by someone who he can't see or hear.
  • Lock and Key Puzzle: One that you can "replay" to get different information and better/worse storylines is trying to get Rabbit. It's visualised by Stefan's adventure game writing guidebook, "Look Door, Find Key". He must then go find the key from dad, unlock a literal door, then use a code to open a safe.
  • Logging onto the Fourth Wall: Netflix also made the Nohzdyve game featured in the episode, though it's hard to find, and an advertisement for Tuckersoft that said it was hiring, with links to Netflix's job advertisements (as well as a full website that really looks like a fan's/Mohan's personal attempt to write a history of the company). See: 1980s website and History website. Said History website has pages on the company's titles (i.e. Bandersnatch, Nohzdyve, Metl Hedd), full of Black Mirror Mythology Gags.
  • Mad Artist: Jerome F. Davies was considered a visionary author, but he also went mad and murdered his wife. It's suggested that the ruminations on alternate universes in Bandersnatch drove him crazy, and Stefan skirts closer and closer to this as he continues to adapt Davies's novel into a game.
  • Medium Awareness:
    • If you "screw up" at a certain decision, you hit the dead end pathway and are forced to start again. From this point on, Stefan and Colin are aware of the actions they performed and the choices you made on the last run. Sometimes, they're very aware, for others they just think they have Déjà Vu.
    • Throughout the story, Stefan notices certain actions that the viewer makes on his behalf. He even begins to defy actions that would otherwise derail the story.
    • It even gets to the point where Netflix itself is heavily involved in two of the routes.
  • Meta Fiction: Unavoidable, given that the film is a Mind Screw-y choose-your-own-adventure story centering about a programmer trying to create a choose-your-own-adventure game. Stefan begins to have crises about alternate timelines and the illusion of free will.
  • Mind Screw: The existence of alternate timelines, how one traverses through them, and what is really true about Stefan's life, isn't wholly explained nor clarified in any of the paths.
  • Missing Mom: Stefan's still reeling from the death of his mother in his childhood, which he believes he and his father inadvertently caused.
  • Multiple Endings: Par for the course of a choose-your-own-adventure tale. Stefan's story can end in many different ways, depending on the player's choices. The possible endings (which can have varying details depending on additional choices) include:
    • invokedIn the simplest (and most anti-climatic) ending, Stefan accepts the job offer from Tucker, but ends up having his Bandersnatch game "streamlined" by Tuckersoft, resulting in a poor 0/5 rating. And this is perhaps the most (relatively) "good" ending you can get. Sure, Stefan's game sucked, and he's disappointed by it; but at least he's still alive, relatively sane, not in prison, and nobody else had to die or suffer because of his actions.
    • A bit later during the film, you can get another ending (similar to the above) by forcing Stefan to continue taking the anti-psychotic pills that his psychiatrist prescribed. As with the above scenario, the Bandersnatch game is a critical failure, though nothing else of note happens.
    • Another early, premature ending involves Stefan, while under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs and Colin's crazy suggestions, voluntarily jumping off a balcony to his death. Bandersnatch is later posthumously released to terrible reviews.
    • Later on, there's a crazy twist ending that can also result in Stefan's death. Stefan (seemingly) travels back in time, finds his toy rabbit, happily joins his mother on the ill-fated train ride that killed her... and is revealed to have actually died in his therapist's office while reliving that flashback, much to the utterly confused horror of his father and therapist.
    • In the most complicated ending routes, Stefan finally snaps due to his increasing insanity for one reason or another, and consequentially murders his own father, resulting in him going to prison for it. Depending on your choices, he can also kill Colin or Tucker as well; the release and reception of Bandersnatch following the murder(s) will also vary (the game can either get a 5/5 rating, a 2/5 rating, or never be released at all); and some other details regarding Colin's fate (along with what happens to his wife and daughter) might also be shown or mentioned.
    • In a very metafictional ending, Stefan is revealed to be a fictional character, played by an actor named Mike; who is slowly descending into his own madness, believing himself to actually be Stefan.
  • Mundane Horror: At its most base and normal interpretation, the movie is about an ambitious and depressed programmer who literally works himself to death vis-a-vis exhaustion.
  • Mushroom Samba: Stefan will take acid at Colin's, and its effects are visualized by visual distortions in the world around him.
  • Neck Lift: In the fight scene, Stefan's dad does this to him, throttling him as he goes.
  • Nested Story Reveal: In one ending, it's revealed that Stefan is a fictional character, played by an actor named Mike.
  • No Fourth Wall:
    • In one path, you can have a long conversation explaining Netflix to Stefan.
    • In the epilogue, Pearl has made a Netflix film based on the events of the film, and thus starts to play the film (that you just watched). It's like an in-universe documentary. She must then destroy the computer.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: The route where Stefan accepts Mohan's offer plays like this, as it ends the film much earlier than the other routes and several Leaning on the Fourth Wall lines from the characters encourage you to try again. Ironically, this is probably the best (or least bad) ending in the film.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: Colin mentions that all people remembered of Jerome F. Davies was him decapitating his wife while forgetting that he also was a visionary author.
  • One-Hit Kill: Stefan's dad takes one lame whack to the temple.
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish": Stefan can have an opportunity to open his father's safe, and the password is always a three-letter word relevant to the route at hand.
  • Percussive Therapy: Stefan smashing his keyboard. Can also happen to Pearl Ritman in the 2018 timeline where she smashes a monitor with her keyboard.
  • Proscenium Reveal: Played for Drama in one ending, where Stefan, in the middle of confronting his therapist, goes "off-script" and turns out to have been filming a show for Netflix; his actor Mike appears to have gone too deep into the role.
  • Punny Headlines: If Stefan murders and chops up his dad, it will appear in a newspaper story with a subheading referencing the victim being chopped into 8-bits.
  • Rewatch Bonus: There are whole scenes that will only trigger after you've seen certain dead ends and gone back to an earlier branching point.
  • Sanity Slippage: While already mentally unwell at the beginning In-Universe, the mounting pressure of the Bandersnatch release and his increasing paranoia about his own lack of free will continue to tear away at Stefan's sanity.
  • Self-Deprecation: The characters think that the film is boring.
  • Shout-Out:
    • To The Matrix. In one story branch, Stefan is offered a drug (implied to be LSD), the drug in this case allows him to perceive a higher level of reality. The Matrix also shares references to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and a character who in one scenario discovers that they are part of a mind-bending conspiracy.
    • Colin considers Pac-Man to have no free will.
    • The idea of "roaming a maze while avoiding a creature named Pax" is a part of the actual game Prisoner 2 — which, although it was released in 1992, was based on an earlier game from the 80s, and was notable for including Mind Screw elements. (They were both based on The Prisoner (1967))
    • The film echoes Donnie Darko in many ways. Both are stories set in the 1980s about young men trying to cope with whether they have free will or can control their future. Therapy sessions figure into both. Both featuring liquid mirror images. Both characters have bunnies central to their stories.
    • Jerome F. Davies' original book, a Mind Screw piece of Meta Fiction where characters in the various nested narratives get driven insane by engaging with the multilayered nature of reality, is highly reminiscent of House of Leaves. (The biggest difference is that House of Leaves, though it is a Door Stopper that encourages flipping back and forth, has no actual Game Book elements.)
    • In terms of gaming history, the story of a legendarily surreal work of literature being adapted into an even more legendarily surreal computer game in the 1980s is highly reminiscent of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1984), although neither the subject matter nor the real-life circumstances were nearly as dire as Bandersnatch. The Hitchhiker's game was even, like Bandersnatch is in-universe, a notoriously Troubled Production due to Douglas Adams sharing Stefan's problems with deadlines. Infocom's followup to the HHGG game, Bureaucracy, was an even more troubled production that reflects Adams' paranoid view of a surreally hostile universe to an even greater degree (invoking real life Conspiracy Theorist culture along the way), thus making it an even stronger parallel.
    • The "Groundhog Day" Loop with Stefan waking up to his alarm clock.
    • The title itself is a shoutout to a rather famous-in-the-80s vaporware from Imagine Softwarenote .
    • The Netflix route has some similarities to The Stanley Parable: Stefan finds out he's being controlled by a Netflix viewer (you) in the same way the narrator of the game finds out that Stanley is being controlled by the player (also you) in the "Real Person" ending. Also, the therapist suggesting that Stefan's life would be more exciting if it really was a Netflix film and then suddenly turning everything into an action-packed sequence resembles the narrator teleporting Stanley to "better games" if he refuses to follow the orders and then fails to play his "Save the Baby" game.
    • Colin has posters of Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon and New Order's Power, Corruption & Lies hanging on the wall of his flat, and a print of a page from AKIRA laying against a wall.
  • Significant Reference Date: Stefan's first day at Tuckersoft is July 9th, 1984, which is the day that Imagine Software — the company who were developing the real Bandersnatch game — shut down.
  • Slipping a Mickey: If Stefan refuses to take acid with Colin, Colin will slip it into Stefan’s tea when he’s not looking.
  • The Stinger: A certain ending has a post-credits scene with Stefan in the bus playing differently: he puts in the Bandersnatch cassette, which expectedly only makes weird noises. Which do work in a ZX Spectrum the game was supposed to be played on...
  • Suspiciously Apropos Music: 'Making Plans for Nigel', an 80s-era Brit Pop song that plays in the car as Stefan is tricked into going to therapy. It's about a young man being pressured to conform to society. Follows this trope as it's extremely appropriate for both story possibilities: either Stefan's circle is trying to help him return to a state of social normality, or they're manipulating and controlling him as part of The Conspiracy.
  • Take That!:
    • The shortest path to the credits can be interpreted as a potshot at big-budget video game publishers. An independent game developer with a fresh, revolutionary idea sells himself out at the prospect of hitting it big, only for his brainchild to end up "streamlined" and Christmas Rushed for maximum profit by a guy who clearly doesn't have the slightest clue about what gamers want. The result is a soulless, critically panned dime-a-dozen product that nobody is happy about. It's even lampshaded In-Universe.
    Colin: Sorry, mate. Wrong path.
    • Alternatively, the rest of the story can be taken as a middle finger to all the overambitious, endless beta indie games that are sold on similar slogans of "endless possibilities" and "free will of the player", while in reality being simply modelled into a scenario where players think they have a choice, rather than being railroaded.
      • The "mad genius visionaire" game dev is also shown what it most often really is: an overworked, single guy who just can't deliver, because the project is too big, too ambitious and in the same time too much constrained by technical limitations. It definitely doesn't sound like anyone in particular.
  • Too Clever by Half: Combined with Wrong Genre Savvy; this is why people who work on Bandersnatch go insane. They have no way of knowing if the dimension they're in is the one where their suspicions are vindicated or simply misguided. For example, in one timeline, a government conspiracy theory might be government conspiracy fact, but you might have gotten a clue to it from a universe where the machinations don't exist, making you think that the sinister municipal goings-ons are constant throughout rather than unique to that strain.
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore: The in-universe book Bandersnatch appears to be this. Anyone who delves too deeply into it tends to go insane. Jerome went mad writing the original version, Stefan slowly goes insane adapting it to a computer game, and Pearl is implied to start experiencing her own hallucinations as she makes a film version of it.
  • Transformation Discretion Shot: One possible ending features Stefan opening his dad's safe and finding the toy rabbit that was taken from him when he was a child. Stefan's dad then appears in the room - sporting a haircut he hasn't used in decades; cut to a shot from Stefan's POV as his view of the world abruptly shifts downwards... and then cut to a wide shot of the room, revealing that Stefan has once again travelled through time and become his five-year-old self.
  • "Truman Show" Plot: One story branch has Stefan slowly uncover evidence that he has been watched and recorded his entire life, and that the trauma of his mother's death was manufactured in an attempt to pacify and control him.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Invoked to such a point to be deconstructed. In hindsight, it appears that the happiest ending for Stefan is for Bandersnatch to be rushed out for Christmas and fail. No one dies, but Stefan insists on using the choose your own adventure feature to go back in time to do things differently. From there, it's near-impossible to make a choice that isn't horrible for Stefan. It's often invoked, such as when Stefan needs to choose between chopping up or burying his father's body.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: Colin's video games have titles such as Nohzdyve and Metl Hedd.
  • You Bastard!: What's driving Stefan insane? Is it his lingering feelings of guilt over his mother's death? Is it the creature haunting his dreams? Is it his growing awareness of the alternative timelines? Is it the PACS? No, it's you, the viewer, watching and making Stefan's misery for entertainment! And he gets pretty mad at you for that.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: The path where Stefan goes back in time, finds the rabbit, and chooses to go with his mum on the doomed train is revealed to be happening in his head, as he sits in Dr. Haynes' office reliving the memory. From her perspective, he just closed his eyes and... died.
  • You Should Have Died Instead: Deconstructed. Stefan holds himself, and his father, responsible for his mother's death. While they're shown to have a strained relationship, Stefan's father is extremely protective of him and doesn't ever seem to wish this. In fact, when Stefan chooses to go back and try to save his mother's life, he fails. It doesn't matter if young Stefan found Rabbit or not, his mother was always going to be late for her regular train and be forced to take the ill-fated 8:45 train, resulting in her death.