Exploring the endings of Tell Me Why

“Life goes on in the most beautiful way possible.”

Alyson's car in front of the house in summer.

We hope you’ve been enjoying Tell Me Why! It’s now been a couple of months since the release of Chapter 3 and the end of the Ronan twins’ homecoming, and we’re hoping you found at least one path through the story that was meaningful to you.

But although you’ve probably seen by now how your choices can affect the twins’ relationship, you may be wondering how those choices change the outcome of their story – or how your choices relate to the ending you see!

We reached out to Elise Galmard, lead narrative designer at DONTNOD Entertainment, who wrote the various epilogues for Tell Me Why. Elise provided her thoughts on the ending… and she even gave some tips on how your ending may change depending on how you played the game.

Big spoilers below – if you haven’t finished Tell Me Why yet, turn back now!

 

 

 

Who’s at the House

The epilogue of Tell Me Why will focus on either Alyson or Tyler. If you’re playing as Tyler, the twins have successfully sold their childhood home, and Tyler is locking up the house for the last time. If you’re playing as Alyson, she’s moved into the house and is returning home with groceries.

Tyler stands in front of Alyson's car.

Alyson holding a box in front of the house.

The twin who’s featured in the epilogue is determined by two choices in Chapter 3: If the player confesses to Eddy about Alyson’s role in Mary-Ann’s death OR chooses to believe Tom’s memory of the murder night, then the twins will follow through on their plans to sell the house and Tyler will appear in the epilogue. Otherwise, Alyson will stay at 12 Cannery Road to process and heal from her grief in the place she knows best.

This doesn’t mean an epilogue with Alyson is a “bad” ending, though! Depending on other parts of the epilogue, such as the twins’ relationship and the state of their Bond, Alyson may have all the tools she needs to live a happy life.

Elise made that clear in her thoughts on the ending. “Tyler has made his peace with what went down,” she said. “In a way, Tyler ‘did the work’ already when he was in Fireweed by going through therapy and dealing with what had happened. Going back to Delos was just a way to seal this chapter of his life shut. I think it’s important to see the Ronan house as a cocoon for Alyson, just like Fireweed was for Tyler.”

Elise noted that Alyson isn’t “living in the past” – Alyson is simply coming to terms with her grief and anxiety in the way that works best for her. In fact, if you look closely at much of Alyson’s art in the epilogue, you may find paintings and collage artwork that make use of old pictures and objects from the twins’ childhood. “This is very much the Alyson way of healing and trying to make sense of it all: by channeling all of that energy into creation and art. Life is not over, and it is most definitely not put on hold for Alyson. She is simply going through a period, as all of us do at some point in our lives, where she needs to look within for a little longer before emerging on the other side. And that is okay.”

Alyson looking at collage art hanging over her work desk.

The ending with Tyler is meant to reflect the mirror image of that same theme of hope: “No matter what happens in the game, Tyler will move on from the house. Delos used to be his home, and whether or not Alyson is still there does not change what lies ahead for him. Tyler’s emotional state is underlined by the message he leaves to his counselor Aaron, but it is also meant as a more positive, benevolent message. Grief does go into a circle, and it will come and go in waves. Grief does feel inescapable and overwhelming – as we’ve seen throughout the game numerous times – but after a while, as you heal and make peace with that pain, life goes on in the most beautiful way possible. Tyler’s epilogue is very much about that hope.”

 

The Phone Call

When the twins have their phone call, what tone does it take? Are Tyler and Alyson happy to connect, or is their conversation awkward and strained?

Tyler taking a phone call from Alyson outside.
Alyson: Love you, Tyler. | The twins’ call ends warmly if the twins have a close relationship at the end of the game.

 

Tyler taking a call inside the house.
Alyson: Yeah, goodbye. | The twins’ call ends awkwardly if the twins have a distant relationship at the end of the game.

 

The mood of this phone call foretells the future of the twins’ relationship. Many choices throughout all three chapters of Tell Me Why can improve or damage the way Tyler and Alyson relate to one another. If the player chooses options that bring the twins together, the phone call in the epilogue will show a strong sibling relationship. If the player chooses options that put the twins at odds, their phone call will reflect the distance that exists between them.

“I think it underlines that sometimes, you grow from people you used to be joined to at the hip,” said Elise. “People evolve and change. Sometimes, you simply end up growing apart. It doesn’t mean that you think ill of that other person, or that either of you is at fault. Put simply, you have grown in two different directions, and that is also okay. Putting distance between yourself and loved ones is sometimes the right thing to do.”

 

The Bond

Do Alyson and Tyler continue relying on their Bond, or do they give it up in favor of pursuing their own lives? This part of the ending, like the phone call, is dependent on the nature of the twins’ connection. If the twins have a strong relationship, they will keep their Bond at the end of the game. If the twins have a poor relationship, they will let go of their Bond.

If the twins keep their Bond, the player can find some moments during the epilogue where the twins can connect telepathically.

Alyson: One more jog down memory lane, Mister Ronan?

 

Scenery, Relationships and Hints at the Future

A number of other player choices can affect the epilogue as well:

  • Who in Delos Crossing did the twins choose to keep in their lives?
  • Did Tyler pursue a relationship with Michael, or did the two remain friends?
  • Did you feed the birds in Chapter 1?
  • Which pieces of furniture did Alyson and Tyler save while packing up the house in Chapter 2?

All of these choices and more can have an impact on some of the details in the epilogue, including the kinds of photos and letters that can be found around the house. Many of these items detail the future of not only the twins, but of many of the other residents in Delos Crossing.

As just one example, you might see different photos based on where each twin ends up:

Framed photos of Sam and Alyson, Eddy, and Mary-Ann with baby Alyson.
If Alyson stays in Delos Crossing, she’ll keep photos from her childhood next to photos from her present. (Eddy’s sign reads “I fell asleep after 20 min of VACUUMING.”)

 

Many photos on a counter, including pictures of Michael and Alyson at a roller derby match, the twins with Tessa, the twins and Michael celebrating New Year's Eve 2016, and Alyson at the observatory.
If Alyson moves to Juneau, Tyler will keep some recent photos of his and Alyson’s adventures, regardless of their relationship.

 

…and the photos themselves may change based on the twins’ relationships with the characters shown!

A comparison of two pictures at a birthday party. In the first, Tyler, Eddy and Alyson look happy; in the second, Tyler is scowling while Eddy and Alyson look happy.
The photo on the left can be found if Tyler accepts Eddy’s apology in Chapter 2. The photo on the right can be found if Tyler does not accept Eddy’s apology in Chapter 2.

 

Tyler’s relationships are especially important to his future! If Tyler pursues a romance with Michael, he’ll discover a found family in Juneau, which prompts him to continue his career path as a mentor at the Juneau Coalition for Equality. If Tyler and Michael remain friends, Tyler becomes a park ranger at Shuyak Island, a state park in Southwest Alaska.

That’s not to say that Tyler will only pursue his dream of working at Denali if he stays single, or that he will only become part of a queer community if he’s in a relationship. Both endings for Tyler are meant to reflect the progress Tyler has made since he’s left Fireweed: either he’s learning to rely on others in ways that might have frightened him in the past, or he’s taking steps to achieve his own goals before moving on to whatever’s next.

For Elise, Tyler’s journey throughout the story of Tell Me Why illustrates the power of chosen family – something that can be vital for many LGBTQIA+ people. She believes that no matter where Tyler ends up, his brief return to Delos Crossing will leave him equipped to build the kinds of relationships that will last him a lifetime. “When you’re LGBTQIA+, it’s important to have a supportive group that’s built on genuine friendships, or more – whatever feels right for you at the time. Tyler doesn’t build a found family in three days, but the choices he makes with his relationships bring him to a place where he’s ready to let people in and make those connections.”

A photo of Tyler and Michael kissing in front of a rainbow flag.
This photo can be found in Tyler’s ending if the player chooses to kiss Michael in Chapter 3.

 

This photo can be found in Tyler’s ending if the player chooses not to kiss Michael in Chapter 3.

 

Perhaps the only aspect of Tell Me Why’s ending that remains the same in every scenario, regardless of the player’s choices, is the result of Delos Crossing’s mayoral election: Tom Vecchi will lose his campaign no matter what.

A newspaper with the headline "Veni Vidi Lost!" Tyler: Sucks to suck, Thomas Anthony Vecchi.
Tyler: Sucks to suck, Thomas Anthony Vecchi.

 

Elise explained that the Tell Me Why narrative team had one dynamic in mind as they sought to make the player’s journey as meaningful as possible: empathy.

“We definitely didn’t want any ‘good’ or ‘bad’ endings – we wanted all endings to be on equal footing. We wanted to let people know that things are going to be okay, and we didn’t want players to feel like they had done something wrong. My personal goal was to give an underlying sense of hope, especially during the epilogues. We all make different choices and we all have regrets, but that doesn’t mean that the road we take isn’t just as beautiful as any of the others.”

How did you feel about the ending(s) you’ve seen so far? Let us know on social media – but be careful with spoilers for those who might not have finished the game yet!

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Did you know that Tell Me Why’s original soundtrack by Ryan Lott is available to stream and purchase on several major platforms? Click here to immerse yourself in the sounds of Delos Crossing!

 

Alyson's car in front of the house in summer.
Fondo de pantalla de Tell Me Why