What Remains of Edith Finch: Story and Ending Explained

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what remains of edith finch

What Remains of Edith Finch

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The story that Giant Sparrow has created for What Remains of Edith Finch is simple, but beautifully told. As Edith, we return to the family home, where the Finches had lived for more than a century after their first house sank just off the shore after they emigrated from Europe. Edith has returned to find out what happened to each member of her perennially unlucky family. She wanders around the house, one that has been built upon repeatedly over the years and looks like an image from a Tim Burton movie, reading stories about how her relatives passed away and how each of them had an impact on her own life.

Beginning on the next page, I will be explaining what happens in each short tale and how each one impacts the overarching plot. I will then try to analyze the game’s ambiguous ending, so you can expect spoilers from this point onwards. If you haven’t played the whole of What Remains of Edith Finch, I would recommend playing it and returning when you have finished. If you need any persuasion, you can read out glowing review here.


What Remains of Edith Finch – Story and Ending Explained

edith finch molly

Molly’s story, the first you play in What Remains of Edith Finch, is both one of the strangest and hardest to decipher in the game. Her death is told through her journal that Edith finds on her cupboard, and sees her locked in her room after been sent to bed without dinner. As she attempts to seek food, she becomes a cat that chases a bird, an owl that swoops after rabbits, a shark that hunts a seal, and a sea monster that eats people. She returns to her room where she is writing about what has happened to her while the monster waits for her under her bed.

The most likely explanation is that some of what she ate (berries, toothpaste, gerbil food) poisoned her and she began to hallucinate these strange happenings, wrote about it in her journal, and died from the effects. Some other theories includes the suggestion that it was a fever dream and she died in her sleep, or that she went looking for food outside her window and fell to her death. However, since she was able to write about what happened to her in her diary, it is more likely that she hallucinated becoming those animals and that she died soon after writing about it.


What Remains of Edith Finch – Story and Ending Explained

edith finch odin

Odin’s story is far simpler and is the origin of the Finch house and how the family came be be as they are. The story of his death is told through a series of images, narrated by Edith, that tell of how Odin left Europe to escape the family curse when his house wrecked off the coast of Washington, drowning him in the process. His daughter Edie, her husband Sven, and Molly survive and begin building the house Edith is now exploring. Odin is the first member of the Finch family to be buried in the new family cemetery.


What Remains of Edith Finch – Story and Ending Explained

edith finch calvin

Calvin is another of Edith’s grandparents who died when they were young. Calvin was just 11 when he died and his story is told through a poem/story written by his brother Sam, and it is one of the most touching in the game. Calvin has always wanted to go over the top of the branch to which the swing down by the sea was connected but he had always been too scared to do so. However, after their sister Barbara’s funeral, they told each other than they wouldn’t be scared of anything anymore so he tried to swing all the way round. The wind picked up and he managed to do it but as he swung round he was flung from the seat towards the ocean and into the rocks below. It is a sad story made even more emotional by being told from his brother perspective. He died trying to overcome his fears.


What Remains of Edith Finch – Story and Ending Explained

barbara edith finch

Barbara’s story is one of the best in Giant Sparrow’s game. Her final moments are shared through a comic book, with perfectly matching creepy music and narration. Barbara was a child star, famous for her scream, but as she gets older she is struggling with life away from the limelight. Suddenly, she is invited to a horror convention so that fans can hear her scream, but it isn’t the same as it once was. The attendees, including her boyfriend Rick, want to scare her so that her scream of old returns and when she returns to the Finch house to look after her younger brother Walter, Rick scares her. Then, many of the horror fans show up to surprise her and as they try to scare her she mysteriously dies.

It isn’t made clear exactly how Barbara dies. It could be that the hoard of horror enthusiasts kill her in their attempts to scare her, or her boyfriend, who goes missing that night, accidentally kills her. Or, it could have been a masked gang that was threatening people in the area that night. The comic doesn’t confirm how she died, but says that the fans were after her scream and that the police had Rick as the prime suspect. Exactly how she dies is left completely up to the player but we are offered a number of possibilities.


What Remains of Edith Finch – Story and Ending Explained

walter ediht finch

Walter’s story is incredibly sad. Not only because of his lonely life and the way he died, but how it involved the whole Finch family. After Barbara died, Walter wanted to get away from everything so built a bunker underneath the house and stayed there unseen for 30 years. Edith was six when he died but she never even knew that he was living under her house all those years. The story, told through a letter written by Walter, portrays an earthquake like shaking that he calls a monster. However, he isn’t hiding from a monster, or any natural disaster, he is hiding from the Finch family curse, the one that already killed his brothers and sisters. He thought that staying underground was the only way to protect himself, even if that meant cutting himself off from his family.

He was right though. After 30 years he’d had enough of the life he was leading and decided to leave and live whatever time the curse allowed him to. As he walked away from the house along some train tracks, into the forest, a train comes towards him and kills him, just moments after he left the bunker. His fear of the family curse was justified and although he’d managed to live past 50, the ‘monster’ was waiting for him as soon as he left.


What Remains of Edith Finch – Story and Ending Explained

sam edith finch

Immediately after hearing Sam’s story, Edith says that it is the one she wishes most her mom told her, but it isn’t made clear why that is. Sam’s story is one of the most simple in the game. Sam and Dawn (Edith’s mother) go on a camping trip and hunt a deer in the mountains. They are both taking photos, through which the story is told, to document the trip but as Sam goes up a hill to attend to a deer Dawn has shot, the animal wriggles and knocks him off the side of a cliff. The sadness of the story comes from the fact that Edith’s mother chose to never share it with her daughter. The way it effects Edith has more of an impact than the tale itself.


What Remains of Edith Finch – Story and Ending Explained

gregory edith finch

Gregory is the youngest member of the Finch family to die in an unfortunate way. Written on Sam and Kay’s divorce contract is a letter from Sam telling of how he felt that Gregory saw things in a way that the rest of the family didn’t. He would laugh to himself when he was alone and reacted to things in different ways. The tale sees Gregory in the bath as he controls his rubber frog as it leaps around the tub, knocking letters off the wall and leading the rubber ducks around in formation. His mother, Kay, is distracted by the phone after she empties the tub of water and Gregory manages to fill it up again. The tub fills as Kay argues with Sam on the phone and Gregory drowns.


What Remains of Edith Finch – Story and Ending Explained

gus edith finch

Gus’ story is told through a poem written by Dawn, who is Edith’s mother, and Gus’ sister. Their father was getting re-married and Gus was against the idea and the fact that the ceremony was taking place on the beach by the Finch house. Gus is flying a kite over the shore, away from the celebrations, when a storm rolls in and chairs and debris begin to be picked up by Gus’ kite as he tells the poem in the sky. Then, he flies the kite into the tent where the rest of his family is sheltered and the wind picks up the tent itself. The wind then takes control and all the debris hits Gus.

Gus wasn’t in control of what happened that day. Instead, the tale tells of how he was killed by the storm at a wedding he didn’t want to attend. The rest of his family were safe in the shelter but Gus was sulking away from them and was killed by the flying debris that the storm had picked up.


What Remains of Edith Finch – Story and Ending Explained

milton edith finch

While Milton’s death is one of the most ambiguous tales in What Remains of Edith Finch, one of the developers at Giant Sparrow has shed some light on his connection to The Unfinished Swan, the studio’s first game. Edie has a castle shaped art studio built onto the Finch house and inside you can see many pieces of iconography from the studio’s other game. The black and white coloring, the yellow foot prints on the floor and the ink splatters around the room are direct hints to Milton’s connection to the world inside the painting. His story is told through a small flick book. He was given a magic paintbrush and he creates a magic door that he goes through and is never seen again.

It is unlikely that he disappeared into a magic painting, since the rest of the stories are grounded in reality once you decipher them, but he probably simply disappeared one day, never to be seen again. However, Ian Dallas says that, “Milton is The King, not the protagonist, in The Unfinished Swan,” and that he considers it to be canon in the Giant Sparrow universe. Maybe, then, Milton did really draw himself into another world, never to be seen by the Finches again. His true fate is something you’ll have to decide for yourself.


What Remains of Edith Finch – Story and Ending Explained

lewis edith finch

Lewis’ story is the most heartbreaking and beautifully told individual tale in What Remains of Edith Finch. From who is telling the story, to how it is presented, it is a perfectly told tale about a troubled young man who struggles to deal with an even more troubled family. After the disappearance of his brother Milton, Lewis began to shut himself off from the world and he was persuaded to see a therapist due to his substance abuse. He got a job a a cannery but his mind began to wander.

He saw himself as a traveler, destined to be king of another world – all of which is presented by a story book tale that begins to take over the screen as Lewis continues to decapitate fish at the factory. The therapist tells of how he began to live his life according the other world in his imagination. According to Lewis his imagination was as important as his body in the real world, and he left like it was somewhere he belonged. He met a princess, built cities in his name, and was being crowned King of the land, yet he continued to live in the real world. It took over his life so much that he forgot to go home after work and his family was becoming concerned about him. As he thought, the only way to be crowned and live his life as his imagination intended would be to end the real world Lewis. As he bends down at his coronation, his head is taken off by a guillotine, representing the machine in the cannery. He’d taken his own life so that he could live the life he felt he should and so that he could get away from the sadness of the real world. He was a young man that had been affected deeply by the death of his family and the curse that was becoming all too real for him. Lewis’ story is the most upsetting of all along Edith’s journey but it is presented and told perfectly.

The Final Night (Edie and Dawn)

What Remains of Edith Finch – Story and Ending Explained

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After Lewis’ death, Dawn decided to get Edith away from Edie and the curse that had taken over the Finch household, but she didn’t tell Edie until the night they left. Edie wanted to tell Edith about the family curse and the stories of how her family lived and died but Dawn blamed her grandmother’s story telling for the curse being reality. She felt that without those stories, the family wouldn’t have been so unlucky in life. She therefore decides that her and Edith should leave Edie and the curse behind with the house, even if Edie insists that they cannot run away from it. They leave with Edie still at the house and they never see her again.

A few years pass and Dawn begins to get sick – cancer or some other terminal illness. She begins to get better but, as many cancer patients do, the sickness returns and she dies, leaving Edith on her own as the sole surviving member of the Finch family.

The Ending (Edith)

What Remains of Edith Finch – Story and Ending Explained

What Remains of Edith Finch ending

That is until Edith realizes that she is pregnant. We first hear of her pregnancy after leaning about Walter’s death. He believed in the curse as much as Edie so Edith speaks about it in her commentary as she explores the grounds and cemetery surrounding the Finch house. She is clearly speaking to her son/daughter as she climbs towards Sam’s room. She says, “maybe we believed so much in the family curse we made it real,” which is how Dawn felt about it the day they left. However, Edith wants to ensure that her child hears about the fate of their family so she writes down everything in her journal once she reaches what used to be her room. Even though she says, “maybe it would be better if all this just died with me,” she knows that the story of her family has to be passed on.

We hear heartbeats as Edith gives birth, her words appearing in what seems like cells floating in a blood vessel. The heartbeats get quicker and come to a halt as everything stops, yet Edith keeps speaking. The image fades to someone reading her journal, and that person takes flowers and the diary to Edith’s grave back at the Finch house. Edith died during childbirth but the diary told her son about what happened to her family. Edith was just 18 when she died, leaving her son alone as the sole member of the Finch family. Her son is all that remains of Edith Finch.

The ending isn’t as clear as some of the stories throughout the game so it is open to interpretation. This explanation is simply what I felt the final scenes were saying about Edith’s life and her family’s curse. It is a beautiful story that becomes even more touching with extra playthroughs. The second time playing you know each character’s role in the story and you are able to link them to what happens to each member of the family and it makes the ending even more poignant. What Remains of Edith Finch is a short experience that should not be missed.

About the author

Twinfinite Staff Writer

Tom Hopkins

Having been Editor on multiple sites, Tom has a wealth of video game knowledge and is now Managing Editor at Twinfinite. He's an expert on Call of Duty, sports games, PlayStation exclusives, and blockbuster action games. If he's not playing the new release, he'll be grinding on EA FC 24.