Fish and Cherries Productions

Creative content from a mad mind.


Five Nights at Freddy’s: The Truth Behind the Terror

Five Nights at Freddy’s. This game series has been sweeping the internet for the past year and earning a reputation as both a nightmare factory and a perfect laxative to those who play it. If you’re not into gaming, avoided the craze, or have been living under some kind of rock, let me explain the premise. The Five Nights at Freddy’s series casts you as a security guard working the night shift at a low quality children’s restaurant called Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza (the internet refers to this type of establishment as Suck E. Cheese’s). Unfortunately, for some reason or another, the extremely creepy sideshow animatronics are out to kill you, so your goal is to monitor them on your security camera display to keep track of their locations, make sure that they don’t get into your decidedly unsecure security room, and survive until 6 AM… then do it for four more nights to increasing difficulty. The really amazing thing about these games is how different they are from other games. There’s no moving about the pizzeria or weapons to defend yourself with, just you inside the security room. What this does is deliver a great sense of claustrophobia and helplessness, making you raw to the scares of the stalking animatronics. The fact that it was able to deliver such an experience with a limited budget and crew, just like the first Paranormal Activity, makes it all the more impressive. So suffice to say, it’s a fun fright fest for those brave enough to try and survive the nights.

But is that all it is? A lot of YouTube personalities have certainly shown us the scares and even profited off of them, but several eagle-eyed players have noticed that there is a narrative in the background. Those who piece it together reveal a tale of sorrow, murder, and restless haunting, yet there are quite a few details that are left ambiguous enough to have devoted fans guessing and piecing together theories about the truth behind the terror. After watching Markiplier play through all three games (which you should all totally do because Markiplier is one sexy human being as well as an amusing one) and looking around the internet, I’ve come up with my own theory which I think holds up really well. Sit back, grab a slice of pizza, and let me tell you a terrifying tale.

I’m going to start with the indisputable facts, which means going through the games one by one. I think it goes without saying that there will be many unmarked spoilers of the games that follow. You have been warned. If you’re already familiar with the story back to front, feel free to skip ahead to the bold text.

We begin in 1993 (judging by the amount paid and what minimum wage was at the time) with a newly hired security guard named Mike Schmidt. He is greeted on his first day by a prerecorded phone message from the previous guard (who is referred to as the Phone Guy), telling him the ins and outs of the job, letting him know about the dangers of the animatronics, firmly establishing how inept and unscrupulous the management is, and casually mentioning “The Bite of ’87.” The full details are never revealed, but the Phone Guy says that it’s amazing that the body can live without the frontal lobe and that this is the reason why the animatronics aren’t allowed to walk around during the day. Keep that event in mind. It’s going to be important later.

So Mike survives the nights against four animatronics, Freddy the bear, Chica the duck, Bonnie the bunny, and Foxy the fox. There’s another known as Golden Freddy, but it’s less of a physical being and more of an apparition that will crash the game by its very appearance. By looking through the security cameras around the place, one can find several easter eggs in the posters, fliers, and newspaper clippings, some of which allude to the imminent closure of the Freddy Fazbear business. However, the real kickers are the news snippets that tell a grizzly tale of five children getting lured into a back room by a man dressed as one of the mascots and murdered. A man was charged, but the bodies were never found… except that some people later noticed that some of the animatronics had blood, mucus, and a foul odor coming out around the eyes and mouth. You can probably put two and two together to figure out what happened here, but back to the present.

Mike survives his nights, but is fired after the seventh night for… ah, right, maybe I should explain. Five Nights at Freddy’s has a bit of a deceptive name as there are two secret nights after the game’s “end” (only one extra night in the third game). This may seem innocuous, but it will come into play later. The point being, after the seventh night where the player (and by extension Mike) tampers with the animatronics in one way or another, he is fired and Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza is now behind him, destined to fade as a bad memory. But not for us, because Five Nights at Freddy’s 2 was soon to follow.

The sequel takes us through the journey of Jeremy Fitzgerald, who takes over the night security job after the previous one got moved to the dayshift (he’s also greeted by the Phone Guy from the first game, which people found odd since the animatronics killed him during his message in the first game’s fourth night). The stakes are higher because not only are there six more animatronics to worry about (dolled up versions of the originals, Balloon Boy, and the Puppet), but the security room doesn’t have the doors that protected the security guard in the first game. Instead, Jeremy has a hollow Freddy head that he can use to disguise himself, since the animatronics have faulty facial recognition software that’s supposed to detect predators.

The survival is the same throughout the nights, but something new happens when a game over occurs. Occasionally, the player is treated to an Atari-style minigame that seems to take place in the pizza establishment during the daytime. There are roughly four different variations, but they all have a theme of dead kids and a mysterious purple man who murders them, all the while having cryptic messages spelled out in a deep, distorted voice. Except one of them, where the player takes control of the Puppet and puts masks on the dead children surrounding him, the instruction given being, “Give Life.” Said masks are the heads of the animatronics. This basically says what some of you may have already deduced, that the animatronics aren’t acting up due to faulty mechanics, but because they are possessed by the souls of the murdered children.

Then comes the real hitter. At the end of the fifth night, Jeremy’s paltry check is given to him, revealing his name for the first time. The hammer falls, however, when you look at the date, which reads November 12th… 1987. As in, the Bite of ’87. That’s right, Five Nights at Freddy’s 2 has been a prequel this whole time, one that has taken us back to the year of the murders. In fact, on the secret sixth night, the Phone Guy alludes to a vague, horrible something that happened during the daytime involving someone taking a yellow suit. In fact, the Bite of ’87 is implied to happen the next day, when a birthday party is taking place and Jeremy will be moved to the dayshift to work it. All in all, this is a very informative game for the overall narrative.

The seventh night is unrelated to all of this, just another custom night to make the animatronics more docile or more brutal. Jeremy is not present for this, instead making the security guard one Fritz Smith. He is promptly fired for tampering with the electronics (on his first day on the job, no less), so this bit is fairly unimportant… possibly.

That brings us to Five Nights at Freddy’s 3. The guard in this game, who goes unnamed this time, works at a horror attraction called Fazbear’s Fright: The Horror Attraction, meant to capitalize on the mystique and terror of the original establishment that had closed thirty years ago. It does a great job of capturing the atmosphere of the pizzeria… perhaps a little too well. The wiring is so faulty that the ventilation itself shuts down on occasion, causing our security guard to hallucinate about the old animatronics. Everything else seems fine until the management finds the one thing that can make this a truly authentic Freddy Fazbear experience: an old, decaying bunny animatronic called Springtrap. And yes, he is just as homicidal as the ones that came before.

Why is he called Springtrap? Well, according to a recording, there were originally suits that could be worn by people, but they were put out to pasture when it was discovered that the spring-loaded mechanism in the headpiece could be potentially fatal to the wearer. In fact, certain freeze frames captured from the game revealed a rotting corpse peeking out from Springtrap’s exposed areas. What’s the deal with this? Well, said deal is revealed in another set of minigames that take place after each night. Four out of five of those games involve leading one of the four original mascots through the restaurant to be killed by the purple man from the previous game. The final game, however, takes control of the Puppet on the same route, but instead of the purple man coming to kill him, we find the ghosts of four children blocking his escape route. Terrified, the purple man gets into the suit that he lured the children with, only for him to die very gruesomely to the sound of a snap. Said suit happens to be that of a bunny. You starting to put the pieces together yet?

Now this is the only game that has multiple endings. Whether you get the good or bad ending at the end of the fifth night depends on if you completed five additional minigames hidden throughout the different nights, each one concerning a different animatronic bringing cake to a crying child. The third ending (if it can technically be called that) comes at the end of the sixth and final night, which is simply a news clipping of how Fazbear’s Frights mysteriously burned down. And thus, the saga of terror comes to an end.

At least on the surface. But one must wonder if things were as simple as all that.


First, a small bit of fun trivia. The number five actually crops up all over the series even in the ways that you don’t expect. Apart from the obvious five nights, there are five dead children, five original mascots hunting for you in the first game, five in each series of minigames in the third game, and even five total secret nights spread out among the trilogy. Also, let’s take a look at 1987, the year that started it all. If you add all the numbers together, it comes out to twenty-five. What’s the square root of twenty-five? Five. Nothing important here, just looking at some fun forethought the creator put in.

Now let’s get down to the deeper stuff, specifically the animatronics. As we’ve covered earlier, the animatronics are possessed by the murdered children, the Puppet being the one that put them there. However, that poses an interesting question: what’s possessing the Puppet? It’s entirely possible that it could be another dead child murdered at the previous establishment that was mentioned offhand, but the fact that it has the ability to channel and direct forlorn spirits suggests something else, something more powerful. I don’t have enough info to come to a hard conclusion, but I would hazard a guess that it’s either an adult or some kind of spirit, demon, or poltergeist, given the amount of control it has with both the other spirits and the other animatronics. Honestly, though, given the state of disrepair and creepiness that permeates through the restaurant, my money’s on one of the CEO’s making a deal with the Devil to make the place successful regardless of incompetent management, the Puppet being the unforeseen catch of the deal.

But wait, you ask, weren’t the dead children controlling the animatronics? Yes, but remember, the murder didn’t happen until before the sixth night in game number 2. So the other animatronics were operating on that facial recognition software… right? No. Remember, this took place in 1987, so such technology didn’t exist yet. Something must have been controlling them and I’m willing to bet it was the Puppet, being that several cut scenes and minigames indicate that he is the mastermind behind everything that goes on with the animatronics. It is amusingly ironic that it is the Puppet who’s pulling the strings.

Here’s the thing, though, that facial recognition software thing I mentioned earlier might not be as much of a red herring as we think. The Puppet may very well have sent the animatronics after some type of predator. Someone dangerous. Someone the Puppet could recognize darkness in, possibly even before he himself found it. Someone acting as the wolf in the henhouse who had access to certain privileges, areas, and items that would let him do horrible things. Someone who the children could only identify by occupation, thus dooming who knows how many filling his position to hauntings, nightmares, and brutal mutilations.

The murderer.

Jeremy Fitzgerald.

You see, things didn’t start getting weird until Jeremy arrived at his job. But according to the phone messages, the animatronics only act strange and stare at people during the daytime. Jeremy is the only one they actively seek out. Now why might that be unless they saw him as a threat or some kind of intruder? And apart from the Bite of ’87, the only time we’ve ever seen them attack people is other security guards. The spirits don’t know him by face, but they know his uniform and occupation (or at least where he is/was on a regular basis), so they keep coming after the night shift guards without understanding that they’re all different ones. Then there’s the way that the animatronics could have killed Mike Schmidt in the first game, by forcing him into one of the suits which had enough wires and crossbeams in them to shred every part of a person but their eyeballs and teeth, the same areas that the blood and mucus leaked out of back when the murders first happened. It isn’t faulty programming, it’s their attempt at revenge.

Jeremy also probably had custodial keys to all the rooms and closets and a pretty good understanding of the building’s layout after looking through the cameras for five nights (at Freddy’s), so it would have been easy to access the Springtrap suit and find a good place to lure the kids. Also, recall that his defense mechanism against the “facial recognition software” was to wear a hollow Freddy head, so he probably got real comfortable looking through those eyeholes. The big question then is why did he do it? It’s entirely possible that he’s just a very sick man who’s killed before, but I have a different idea. The pressure of keeping the animatronics in check, hiding from them, and doing everything he could to survive caused him to snap and try to punish what he felt to be the source of his problems: the kids who kept Freddy Fazbear’s in business. I’d even go further to say that he did it in an effort to get the place closed down, because that’s what happened soon after the murders. The Puppet may have seen the potential for evil in Jeremy, but in acting preemptively, he would up creating his own monster.

Of course, someone had to pay for the crime and according to the Phone Guy on Jeremy’s sixth night, someone did. But let’s recall that the murderer met his end inside Springtrap, so the other guy must have been a patsy that Jeremy planted evidence on or something like that. This sadly means that an innocent employee got the death penalty. Murdered children aren’t things that you get only a slap on the wrist for, after all. That employee may not have been the only innocent to take the fall. Remember, Jeremy was moved to the dayshift to work the birthday party that the Bite of ’87 happened on and I’m willing to bet that he was the intended target. But Jeremy’s reflexes had gotten quite good after six nights diverting the animatronics in different ways, so he dodged to the side, leaving either a kid or a parent to have their frontal lobe bitten off, and got out of there to call management.

After that, as we know, the animatronics were kept from moving around during the day, so Jeremy could keep working the day shift in perfect safety. But as we also know, karma would eventually catch up with him. Originally, I thought that karma would come in the form of a bite to the frontal lobe, but if he’s the killer, we know how it ends for him. As for the nitty gritty of the moment, I’m willing to bet that the incident happened just before the restaurant’s final closure, right around the time of Mike Schmidt’s employment. Jeremy was probably on duty for packing things up when he came across the Puppet, who instantly recognized his foe and freed the spirits of the kids to come at him. Terror swept over him and he realized what was going on and that his past was coming back for him. In that instant of panic, he tried to retreat into the suit he wore when killing them to attempt to frighten the spirits away. But in his haste, he forgot about the spring mechanism in the mask and wound up doing himself in. Story’s over, right?


The ghosts may have been released from their animatronic shells and gotten their justice, but I’m willing to bet that they were still restless and tormented. After all, their entire lives were stolen away when they were in a place that probably made them really happy. Besides, the “bad ending” screen of the third game shows the eyes of the animatronic heads lit up ominously, meaning that it could all happen again, so there must be something holding them back, right? Lucky that new night shift guard came along to play those minigames* and free them…

*At this point, I must confess that I’m at a loss to what the games represent. I have a hard time believing that the guard of the third game was playing retro arcade games while Springtrap was hunting for him and the ventilation was going haywire, so I’m willing to bet it’s a metaphor for something else. As to what, I’m afraid I don’t know.

…well, luck may not have anything to do with it. You see, something has been bugging the fanbase for a while concerning the third game. According to the layout, the exit to the building is within walking distance of the guard station, so he could logically take off when it became clear that this place was a health hazard in the worst way. But think about this: what if this person took the job for something more than a paycheck? What if they had a personal beef with this place and was staying for a personal quest, like, say, freeing the kids?

And what if he wasn’t a new face either? What if this was a returning face? The reason I think that is the hallucinations of the old animatronics. At no other point do those characters appear, which means the guard must have some frame of reference of seeing them like this. My first thought was that Mike Schmidt had returned, as he certainly has the images of those monstrosities burned into his psyche. But that theory fell apart because aside from hallucinations of Freddy, Foxy, and Chica, there are phantoms of Balloon Boy, the Puppet, and Mangle (a dolled up version of Foxy in the second game that I didn’t mention by name). Mike wouldn’t have any basis for those characters, as there only the five were active during his tenure, so it would have to be someone else. Someone who had close encounters with all of these nightmares.

Someone like Fritz Smith.

That’s right, you forgot about him, didn’t you? The night shift guard for the custom night in Five Nights at Freddy’s 2? Welp, if my theory’s correct, he’s back and ready for Freddy.

I’m willing to bet that Fritz was a young man working one of his first jobs, possibly with a bit of an edge because he tampered with the animatronics on his first day on the job and was promptly fired for it (Management even pointed out how much of a loser he was for being fired on the first day). Either he set them all too low and decided to kick back through the evening or set them at their highest in a defiant “come at me, bro” gesture, but either one indicates the actions of a teenager going through a rebellious phase and not yet at full maturity. The fact that one of the reasons for Fritz being fired is odor serves to drive the point home. Regardless, Fritz only had one night in the pizza place from Hell and probably didn’t have enough time for it to sink in past the point of just being a bad dream or a crazy campfire story.

Not so much with Mike Schmidt, who spent an entire week in that pit. He had probably been heavily affected by his time there and might have even tried to write a tell-all book about his experiences. I doubt it would have been a best-seller, but hopefully it could have at least paid for a year’s worth of groceries. All would have been quiet for quite a long time until Fritz, probably with a spouse and kid at this point, was browsing the internet when something prompted him to search for the old restaurant he got fired from. From there, he came across Schmidt’s book. Curious, he looked into it and suddenly found himself reading something similar to what he went through.

Spurred by this revelation that he was not crazy, Fritz would have contacted Mike and gone through several correspondences to compare notes about their experiences. The two then would have been able to piece together a vague outline of Freddy Fazbear’s dark past and not a moment too soon. All it would take was an announcement of the upcoming Fazbear’s Fright attraction with authentic equipment from the old establishment for them to realize that the nightmare wasn’t over yet. One of them had to go back and put an end to this whole shebang, but since Mike was too old at this point (and possibly nursing an unhealthy amount of PTSD), it fell to Fritz to acquire the night job at the new establishment at put the children to rest.

And how would he know to do that? Why, the Puppet, of course. Apart from Springtrap, the Puppet is the only animatronic to be transferred over to Fazbear’s Frights. As for why he would do that, I’d bet that whatever was possessing the Puppet recognized Fritz. Seeing how the only time the two met was when Fritz tampered with the animatronics, the Puppet probably saw him as a fellow manipulator and reached out to him, telling him how to send the children on. Why did it have to be Fritz and not the Puppet? Perhaps because one security guard doomed them to a purgatory on Earth, only another security guard could set them free. It’s a bit of a stretch, but I’ll go with it.

The way the Puppet was able to communicate how to free the children was through dreams that told their story from long ago. In game terms, these dreams were represented by the minigames in between each night. After all, why else would they be there other than to tell the story of that fateful day to both the player and the guard? Something I didn’t mention before is that in each of those dreams, there are cryptic clues of how to unlock the minigames that set the children free, which could be the Puppet communicating how to free each soul. If we assume that the good ending is the official one (in most games, it is), then we can be sure that Fritz finally freed the ghosts from their torment, giving them one truly good night at Freddy’s.

There’s just one loose end to tie up. Springtrap, now haunted by Jeremy’s vengeful soul, was still out for blood. This time, none of the other tricks will work. There’s no mechanics to tamper with to slow it down and no way to appease the ghost by giving it what it wants, given that what it wants is to murder. The fact that it might know that the children he murdered were set free probably increased his ire, which sure enough led to the 6th and final night entitled Nightmare Mode in game number three. So there’s no reasoning with it, no tampering with it, and when the attraction finally opens, those who enter the attraction are most certainly dead. What is there for Fritz to do?

Sometimes, the crudest method is the most effective.

Some people have noticed that the phantom animatronics appear burned and feel it alludes to some premonition of the building’s final fate. I agree, but I think the premonition comes from residual psychic energy from the Puppet rather than Fritz himself. After all, if we go with the self-fulfilling prophet idea that I subscribe to, then it stands to reason that the being inside the Puppet had some sort of precognitive powers.

Suffice to say, the nightmare was finally over. So ends the tale of the enduring survivor Mike Schmidt, the vicious murderer Jeremy Fitzgerald, the unlikely returning hero Fritz Smith, and, of course, the one pushing everything behind the scenes, the Puppet. With the burning down of Fazbear’s Frights, the last remnants of Freddy Fazbear, that wretched mother of nightmares for children, adults, and former parents alike, are nothing but ash. That said, the newspaper clipping at the end mentioned a few salvaged items getting sold off at a public auction, but I’m sure that’s nothing… yeah… nothing at all…

I’m sure my theory isn’t 100% percent flawless and there are sure to be a lot of conjectures that other people have come up with to unravel the mystery behind the haunted Suck E. Cheese’s. In fact, it may be possible that a fourth Five Nights at Freddy’s game will come out and debunk all of this, which would be perfectly fine. If I’ve sparked some kind of idea or you have your own theory about the game, share it in the comments below. Thanks for joining me on my journey through true terror and until next time, beware of animatronic bears.

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