Unconfirmed Theory Under Review

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James and his late wife, Mary

This is a theory into the "Leave" ending from Silent Hill 2 being theoretically a likely candidate for the canon ending.

The Book of Lost Memories states that James Sunderland came to Silent Hill to "take his own life in a place of memories".[1] Because of this statement it's often assumed that the "In Water" ending is the truest to the story.

But what if during his experience in Silent Hill, his motives changed?


James is drawn to Silent Hill by a supposed letter written by his late wife, Mary Shepherd-Sunderland, requesting him to meet her in their "special place", with a glimmer of hope of finding his wife alive. Unfortunately unbeknownst to him at that moment in time, he was the one who killed her, and he is merely repressing any memory of what he did.[2] This is observed in his actions leading up until to his eventual revelation of what he has done.

An important element here is that Mary's body is in the back seat of James' car, this at one point was merely a fan theory, and later speculated on in the Book of Lost Memories.[3] But Ito has since confirmed this (with some hesitation however) on Twitter [4]. This has long been attributed to be about James' potential suicide, and is something which the voice actor for James, Guy Cihi, explained as potentially being "Shin-jyu" (family suicide) [5], where the husband or wife kills their partner, and any children present, with the common means being drowning or suffocation. And is shortly followed with the one remaining family member killing themselves in a high speed car crash. That theory fits in perfectly with the In Water ending; however, with one minor issue — James isn't dead at the start of the game (unless you subscribe to the theory that he's in purgatory, but that's another theory entirely).

Now this, as discussed earlier, is down to his repressed memories; therefore, it's highly likely that the motive for killing himself is non-existent at the start of the game either. This begs the question of why have his memories been repressed? Is it really because of all the pain and suffering of the ordeal, or is it Silent Hill's way of testing him, making him re-discover what he has done, and re-evaluate his actions afterwards? What is known for sure is that James enters Silent Hill with no prior knowledge of what he has done, and if this is the case, perhaps there is hope for him after all.

To Link/Edit (In Progress)Edit

James' standpoint on suicideEdit

One of the most important points validating the "Leave" ending is James' second meeting with Angela Orosco in the Blue Creek Apartments. The encounter brings one aspect of James' morality to surface; he doesn't believe in suicide.

Angela is laid down in front of a large mirror in Room 109 of the apartments, with a knife in one hand, seemingly contemplating suicide, whereupon James enters the room. Once he realizes what she is doing he will mention, "I don't know what you're planning, but there's always another way". Remember this is man who has come to Silent Hill to kill himself, strictly speaking he is being hypocritical. But as mentioned earlier, because it's safe to assume he doesn't remember his true reason for coming to Silent Hill, then it's likely that these are James' actual views on suicide. During the scene he will even ask Angela if she wants him to look after her knife for her, so she doesn't do anything stupid to herself. Once again he is looking out for her best interests, because he doesn't believe suicide is the answer. If he feels so strong about Angela's, a stranger's, interests, then what about his own?

Flesh Lips Death Scene

Flesh Lips Death Scene

Moving on, there is something of interest that occurs during the Flesh Lips battle in Brookhaven Hospital. There is a unique scene where if James dies the Flesh Lips will wrap it's legs around James' neck and pull him upwards, representing suicide by hanging. This could represent foreshadowing of his own future demise, but as the monsters are a manifestation of his own psyche, you could think of it as him killing himself. In order to progress he must defeat the Flesh Lips even to get the "In Water" ending, so it's as if he is fighting against his own will, and attempting to negate his own death.

Handcuffs are symbolic of restraint, the inability to escape either physically or metaphorically. The handcuffs are attached to a prison gate, and a wall valve, rendering James unable to use the valve to progress. In order to unlock the handcuffs, James has to complete the Free the Innocent Man puzzle. As the name entails James has to find the innocent Man, which involves pulling the correct noose of whoever was wrongly persecuted, if the correct person is chosen, James is awarded a key which can be used to remove the handcuffs, turn the valve, and continue on. Removing the handcuffs could be symbolic of James casting away his shackles, casting away his desire to be punished and his feelings of guilt/remorse. Turning the valve further implies this as it's a symbolic reference commonplace across the series, which is often associated with "Rebirth" and "Renewal", and in this case could be linked with James starting anew.

Now in regards to the grave stones.... there is one big difference between James's and the other two. Angela's and Eddie's are filled.... James's is left open, and as we know it is instead a hole which he must jump down in order to delve deeper into his subconcious. The game is basically saying Angela's and Eddie's fates are sealed... but James's still isn't. To be fair this doesn't disapprove either theory, but instead keeps it rather ambiguous.

At the end of Labyrinth there is a graveyard, four of the tombstones are of significant interest. One of them in the Walter Sullivan's, one of them is Angela's, one of them is Eddie's and also another is James'. Let's look at it from it's most obvious meaning, tombstones are symbolic of death, anybody with their name on a grave is sure enough probably resting six feet under. Which means if there name is on the grave then they're most likely fated to die right? Well possibly, but there is a subtle feature between how the graves are arranged, and what is currently happening at that point of the story in time.

Angela, Eddie and James are still alive, but Walter, as we know because of the newspaper article, is dead. Observing the graves, one might notice a few features, Angela's and Eddie's grave are partially filled, Walter's is fully covered, and James' is open. Angela's and Eddie's partially filled graves could represent that of those who are not dead yet, but are not free from redemption as Eddie is soon after killed by James, and Angela's final sequence indicates possibly suicide, although this is never confirmed. Walter as we know is dead, hence why it's neither partially filled or open. But James' is open, which could possibly indicate he still has a chance to redeem himself, and his guilt.

In the basement of the Otherworld Lakeview Hotel, James encounters Angela once again, on a burning staircase which one would assume depicts her "Otherworld". Angela at this point in the game is very confused, mistaking James for her mother; however, after realizing who he really is, she thanks him for saving her from her own intentions earlier in the apartments, but believes that it may have been the wrong choice. After a momentarily lapse of insanity, she asks him to give her knife back, but he refuses, to which she responds "Saving it for yourself?". Now let's recap the story of the game so far; James has learnt that he was the one who killed Mary, from a videotape he recorded previously to the events of the game. But when Angela asks him that question he responds, "No, I'd never kill myself". If he knows of the crime he has committed, then wouldn't this be around the right time for him to start thinking of suicide? But why would he if he is so against it?

One of the most important scenes is the just before the final battle between the twin Pyramid Head's. James utters the line "I was weak thats why I needed you, needed someone to punish me for my sins, but that's all over now. I know the truth.... now it's time to end this"'. This could indicate that he has no more desire to be punished because he understands the truth and has come to terms with what he has done. The fact he says "I was weak" indicates that he has had a change of heart, he was weak, but he is stronger now.

A lot of people have tried to prove that "In Water" is correct, because Ito confirmed that Mary's body is in the car. But as we see in the "Leave" ending he is walking through Toluca Graveyard with Laura, it's likely he laid her to rest in her "Special Place" which is the same for the "In Water" ending, but instead she is resting deep under Toluca Lake.


  • Suicidal Symbolism
  • In Silent Hill 4, it's mentioned that Frank Sunderland's son (who is confirmed to be James) disappeared in Silent Hill years ago. This could suggest that James killed himself or went into hiding with Laura or Maria.


  1. "XI: Justice - Letter from Silent Heaven". Silent Hill 3 公式完全攻略ガイド/失われた記憶 サイレントヒル・クロニクル [Silent Hill 3 Official Strategy Guide / Lost Memories: Silent Hill Chronicle] (in Japanese). NTT Publishing Co., Ltd. 2003-07-31. p. 98. ISBN 4-7571-8145-0.
  2. "XI: Justice - Letter from Silent Heaven". Silent Hill 3 公式完全攻略ガイド/失われた記憶 サイレントヒル・クロニクル [Silent Hill 3 Official Strategy Guide / Lost Memories: Silent Hill Chronicle] (in Japanese). NTT Publishing Co., Ltd. 2003-07-31. p. 98. ISBN 4-7571-8145-0.
  3. "XI: Justice - Letter from Silent Heaven". Silent Hill 3 公式完全攻略ガイド/失われた記憶 サイレントヒル・クロニクル [Silent Hill 3 Official Strategy Guide / Lost Memories: Silent Hill Chronicle] (in Japanese). NTT Publishing Co., Ltd. 2003-07-31. p. 98. ISBN 4-7571-8145-0.
  4. Masahiro, Ito (adsk4). “The Mary's body is on the back seat of James's car, not in the trunk, if I remember correctly.” 30th April 2012, 2:54 p.m. Tweet.
  5. Cihi, Guy. "I was recently reminded of a dark and taboo social practice in Japan called "shin-jyu."....." 27th September 2012, 4:51 p.m. Facebook.

Silent Hill 2
Major Characters
James Sunderland - Mary Sunderland - Maria - Laura - Angela Orosco - Eddie Dombrowski
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Ernest Baldwin - Amy Baldwin - Rachel - Thomas Orosco - Jennifer Carroll - Patrick Chester - Harry Mason - Mira - Greys
Bubble Head Nurse - Creeper - Lying Figure - Mandarin - Mannequin - Prisoners
Abstract Daddy - Flesh Lips - Mary - Pyramid Head
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