“Welcome to the Indoctrination Theory. The biggest collective house of cards conspiracy fan circle jerk I have seen” — Smudboy of YouTube

Oh, Indoctrination Theory. You have no quit in you. Despite the advent of the Extended Cut, which should have been the final nail in your coffin, you persist. You gotta give the Theorists credit; if nothing else, they are persistent.

Codex Indoctrination

They are also delusional. Don't take that as an insult; believing in the Indoctrination Theory at this point matches the very definition of what a delusion is: believing in something with strong conviction despite overwhelming contrary evidence. This fits the IT to a T. I'm not going to bother trying to debunk inane gibberish, so let's just try to get a few laughs out of them, shall we?

Crazy Quote Compilation

“Continuing argument as Indoctrination Theory supporter like Newt Gingrich campaigning in Massachusetts. Waste of resources. Outcome already determined.” — Vromrig, BioWare Social Network

I decided to compile a few quotes from Indoctrination Theorists here and respond to them, for the hell of it. These are actual things that actual people said, believe it or not. These quotes were gathered from BSN forums, YouTube, and even MEWiki. Maybe we could get a few laughs from them?

Indoctination Theory Claim
“Ending is not exactly fake, it's just not the end.”

Because that totally makes sense.

“Not really, EC actually helped IT a lot, and Bioware seems to keep on proving IT points, like Shepard being on Earth.”

Yeah, because it's not like they've tried to refuse it at all, right? Also, who said Shepard was on Earth?

“Also note all the dead body piles that appear after you get shot by Harbinger.Something Bioware put in purpose.Just subtle hints that make things feel like there not right.”

Excellent point! I mean, what else could a pile of corpses be doing in a war zone? What else could cadavers mean except "I'm being indoctrinated"?

“That was before EC, and you're kinda contradicting your arguemtn because earlier you said Bioware flat out denied IT. A little while ago, idk how long, some Anti-ITs were demanding Bioware to move IT into fan-fic threads, they defended it and said it is valid and will stay in the canon forums.”

Yeah, because it's not like they were talking about the forum thread itself or anything, right?

“No, MAX EMS DESTROY breaks the attempt, all other endings lead to a form of indoctrination.”

Riiiight. The fact that the endings look nearly identical is all part of the conspiracy.

Wait... how many "forms" of indoctrination are there?

“Visions of hope, as for refusal, it is resisting the Reapers, but at the same time it is giving up your only hope.”

I love it when an answer can mean literately anything and nothing at the same time! Which isn't contradictory at all. Totally.

“So yeah, it just jumps into peoples minds, I think that the signal explanation is a much more logical inference because it requires less "speculation" than yours what with your magic Prothean hologram and what not.”

Totally right. Because a magical hologram that can "jump into peoples minds" isn't speculation at all; established facts from the game are, however.

“If they indoctrinate the galaxy's "Hero" they could seriously undermine them and it would be a major demorializing blow.”

What a sound and completely non-convoluted plan! They could show everyone in the galaxy (via magical Reaper television) a video of Shepard walking around as a husk! Then everyone in the galaxy will just give up. How could we not see all along that this was Harbinger's master plan!?

“It's not a chance, if you've payed attention to the narrative and the themes from the beginning, you'd expect the Reapers to try to indoctrinate Shepard, and you'd also know that the only true choice is destroy.”

It's not like the themes were about unity, racism, alliances, synthetics, or destroying an alien race of Elder Gods; the entire Mass Effect trilogy has been about brainwashing this whole time! Also, what's "player choice"? Sounds stupid!

“Also, IT says there is no ending yet. What happened in reality is Shep charges the conduit, gets knocked out by Harby's laser, then cut straight to the breath scene. That's it.”

Yeah, putting an ending at the end of the story is too "mainstream".

“Object Rho simply accelerated the indoctrination process, it didn't indoctrinate Shepard. And like it or not, Arrival is canon, because one of the comics talked about Shepard destroying the relay. You can choose to play without Arrival, but that's a non-canon alternate reality. Just like it's canon that Anderson is made councilor in ME1, because it's in one of the novels. You can also choose Udina, but once again, it's non-canon.”

Because player-choice is for chumps. Also, it's not like the game itself ever stated that a unit of soldiers activated the project instead of Shepard. Right in the beginning. When talking to Anderson. Besides, Mass Effect books are never wrong, right?

“Actually what they said was they were planning a segment where you would physically lose control of Shepard, and they cut that, not anything about cutting indoctrination. Actually, that just proves it was something they were thinking of.”

"Cut content"? what does that mean?

“Well, as far as only getting destroy goes, if you only have destroy, then you don't get the breath scene, so basically, because you didn't rally everyone, and didn't prove yourself a useful leader for the galaxy, the Reapers have no intrest in indoctrinating you, so they just leave you to die. That's one that comes up a lot, and at first seems to be a good arguement, but isn't. In fact, it's actually a great argument against the literal endings, because it's ridiculous that the Starbinger would only let yoy destroy him and the Reapers.”

So... what's the point?

“Also, that a Catalyst doesn't get changed, therefore the kid was lying and is not the Catalyst, that should've tipped you off that he was lying”

Absolutely right. Because according to Science Fiction rule #387, if something's nomenclature doesn't match every scientific definition exactly, it's automatically a lie. Also, it's a good thing the Leviathan DLC doesn't mention the AI or anything.

“A catalyst doesn't get changed. At all. The kid said "The Crucible changed me". That means he has to be lying. The Citadel explodes. That's a change. Neither are the Catalyst.”

Jumping to conclusions is always fun! Faulty reasoning ho!

“What makes a catalyst a catalyst is the fact that it doesn't get changed while causing an event. If it was simply something that starts an event, there are plenty of other names for those. A catalyst has to stay unchanged, therefore, either he's lying, or BW didn't check their facts.”

Because something can't be named for trivial reasons like "it sounds cool" or "it matches one of the definitions. Just like the Conduit.

“Well, there IS no ending yet, according to IT. Shepard runs at the beam, gets knocked out by Harby, then wakes up sometime later in the rubble. It'd be like if the Matrix cut off after Smith shoots Neo, and he dies, but then Neo takes a breath and cut to credits. IT only works if there is no ending on disc because otherwise you'd pick control or synthesis, learn it's bad, then just reload from the decision room and pick destroy without actually thinking about what just happened. IT is like Fight Club, the Sixth Sense, or similar movies.”

I love paying extra to get the whole plot! Stories are so much better when you have to pay ~$70 to hear them, plus an additional five or ten dollars to hear how it ends.

“I get that some people don't have an internet connection, but like it or not, that doesn't change anything. Those are NOT the people that companies make games for. It's the same as complaining they don't make a game for Windows 98. But what about all the people with W98? What about them? :/”

I don't think I have to say anything in response to that. If you can read the above and not immediately ascertain why it's insanely idiotic, do Mankind a favour and don't reproduce.

“Well, there is no Deus Ex in IT, because the kid is Harbinger.”

Leviathan DLC? What's that?

“Like, why you think BW being bad writers is better than them actually being amazing writers and successfully fooling you.”

Lying to your audience=being a good writer?

“IT isn't an ending, it's hit by Harby's beam, time passes, Shep wakes up.”

Right. It just happens to be the very last thing that happens in the story. Wait, what's the definition of an ending again?

“In IT BW isn't indoctrinating Shepard, they're indoctrinating the player.”

You'd best call a contractor; the fourth and possibly fifth wall has just been demolished.

“Even then, it's supposed to be a community effort, which it was been.”

Even in a single player game, you have to take part in the totally-civilised forums and discuss (civilly) with other fanboys in order to appreciate a story. Works of art should never be able to stand up on their own. Right?

“Remember the note "Lots of speculation for everyone!"? BioWare wants us to speculate, how much have you been doing?”

I've been speculating how much my time is worth.

“Day 1 DLC, what more needs to be said. They've already slated this game with dlc that gave great insight and significance to the plot. Sure, people complained, but people love Javik so it's okay. Just like they will love this ending should it come to fruition, so then that would be okay also. Combine this with all other topics in this thread and get a really genius way of sctructuring the finale of the Reaper war.”

Yep. Making people pay for things they already is own is always OK. Making people pay more than the base $60+ is brilliant! Why don't more companies do this?

“This angst and pain everyone who hates the endings feels right now. That's part of the battle, and another way of BioWare trying to put you in Shepard's shoes and feel how they may or may not feel.”

Because angst, paint, anger, frustration, and apathy are the best emotions to feel. I can't wait for future gaming technology that shoots us in the kneecap any time your character gets shot. Immersion!

“Therefore, that's why if they leave the "win" ending until the last piece of dlc. Then that dlc will act as their goodbye to the series, giving proper closure to all the characters we've come to love across the trilogy.”

Want to beat the game and enjoy the end of the story? Too bad! It's gonna cost you 50 bucks. Oh, and you have to wait an entire year after the game releases. Because buying a finished product is too mainstream, yo.

“Look at everything that has happened, it's just the way the dots connect.”

Yeah... that doesn't sound crazy at all....

“Of course the game doesn't recognize it, because in that playthrough you didn't do it. My point is that if you don't do it, your playthrough is non-canon, or at least, has non-canon elements.”

Oh, well it would have been nice if BioWare warned me that my entire playthrough was completely moot. Wait... so if my playthrough is non-canon, why does Shepard still get indoctrinated? Oh... this wasn't really thought through was it?

“And complaining you didn't get a full game is like complaining when a TV show ends a season on a cliffhanger.”

Not if that show is Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. But then agaian, it's not like Mass Effect 3 is the end of a trilogy or anything.

“Even then, it's supposed to be a community effort, which it was been.”

I play single player to get away from screaming fanboys. I shouldn't have to deal with tl;dr's, insults, lying, confusion, and the general idiocy that infests Internet forums just to understand what the hell is going on in the story.

“After you "Wake Up" you are walking really slow and also everything looks like a dream sequence.”

Shellshock? What's that?

“I realize this is a theory, but it is based on nothing but facts and is the only way everything works.”

You have a very loose interpretation of the word "facts". That, and the word "theory". and "works".

“Well, as far as only getting destroy goes, if you only have destroy, then you don't get the breath scene, so basically, because you didn't rally everyone, and didn't prove yourself a useful leader for the galaxy, the Reapers have no intrest in indoctrinating you, so they just leave you to die.”

So... the bizarre dream sequence was for poops and giggles then?

“He keeps fighting, it doesn't suggest it will go the same way as the dream, it just suggests it is not over, anything can happen, even more games.”

So... what was the point of all that!?

“I'm not going to sit here and explain when it is all in the videos I linked you. End your ignorance.”

I don't want to live on this planet any more.

The Overwhelming Evidence to the Contrary

“Every point of view is useful, even those that are wrong - if we can judge why a wrong view was accepted.” — Legion

So, for the hell of it, I decided to list a few of the things that completely debunk the IT, and why it's the most idiotic ideas in the history of storytelling since... this.

One Way Out

This is the first and foremost piece of evidence against the Indoctrination Theory. If your Estimated Military Strength is very, very low, the player can be left with only one option: Destroy. If Destroy is the only way to beat the Reapers, and Destroy is the only option available to you, why would you be in the dream sequence if you're guaranteed to win. Why are you guaranteed to win? Why do people think this theory is so flawless?

Now, I've heard people say that choosing Destroy with low EMS means the Reapers don't indoctrinate you at all; you just die. Even though it's the same choice, you get a radically different result. So... what's the point? Why show the exact same dream sequence if you can't be indoctrinated? If you have to make things up and rationalise something for it to be true, it's a bad idea from the start.

Virmire indoctrinated salarians 3

And another thing: why does the Catalyst AI mention destroy at all? What magical unwritten rule says the Catalyst, an AI, must give Shepard the option to resist? If it's trying to indoctrination Shepard, why even have that option? It's already far-fetched enough that the amount of ships we have somehow impacts the amount of options we have in our mind, so why doesn't the Catalyst simply say we can't pick destroy? Why bring it up at all? Why does Shepard even have a choice? Since when is having Stockholm Syndrome a choice!?


“Visions of hope, as for refusal, it is resisting the Reapers, but at the same time it is giving up your only hope.”

For many level-headed reasonable Men, the "refusal" or "reject" ending, whilst undoubtedly a giant middle finger to the fan base, would at least serve as the final nail in the IT's coffin. However, the most delusional have proven us wrong, and continue to wallow in self-pity and buyer's remorse.

Let's just jump right into this. Why would "rejecting" the Catalyst AI yield the same result as "accepting" their philosophy? Destroy is also interpreted as a rejection of the Catalyst's ideas, yet it has a completely different result? This whole thing isn't very well thought-out is it?

Test or Twist?

“You don't die, you become indoctrinated, if done right, both Shepard and the player will believe they are right, this is the twist IT wishes to provide.”

Forget the fact that IT is impossible. Really, it's all a moot point, because the IT is just bad storytelling.

Most people say that it's an excellent twist. Why is it so brilliant exactly? The story was never about that, and to have Shepard become so suddenly brainwashed in such a contrived way is jarring at best. We don't know a lot of the specifics of indoctrination; most of the IT is just speculation and subjective interpretation. It has been stated that Shepard has the willpower to resist indoctrination. In other words, plot armour. You either get brainwashed by Space Cthulu, or you don't. It's just that simple.

Here's what confuses me. Many Indoctrination Theorists say that it's supposed to be a big surprise. I won't bother trying to explain that a twist ending isn't necessarily good simply because it surprises you; it has to actually fit in the narrative. A twist isn't mind blowing because just because you didn't see it coming. Mass Effect 3 was never about Shepard's subtle indoctrination. There is no real foreshadowing, just paranoid people jumping to conclusions.

“If you could figure out you were being indoctrinated, it would defeat the entire purpose. You're not supposed to get it until after.”

However, at the same time, others say you're supposed to look at "clues" from all three games. It's something we're apparently supposed to ascertain beforehand, thus knowing that Destroy is the only right answer. If this is true, how can it even be called a twist, when it's something that players should already know? Also, how is that exactly fair to people new to the franchise? What about people who just want to enjoy the story?

Do you belive in the Indoctrination Theory?

The poll was created at 06:50 on October 21, 2012, and so far 183 people voted.


“Of course there's no absolute evidence, because that's the point. It would make it obvious, thus ruining the attempt at indoctrinating the players.”

In an episode of Bones, I remember Dr. Temperance Brennan explaining that Mythologists aren't really scientists, because they start with a conclusion, then look for evidence to back it up. Instead, one should start with an open mind, look at the evidence, and then draw a conclusion. Indoctrination Theorists are essentially the same as mythologists. They start with an asinine assumption, then work backwards in search of evidence. Of course all the evidence makes sense to them; they've already decided that it's true.

I've already said it before, but it's worth saying again. Indoctrination is pointless. It adds nothing to the narrative, and leaves the conflict unresolved. It creates more problems than it fixes, but people don't want to listen, to admit that the theory is nothing but a bad fan fiction gone wrong. There numbers are few now, and that seems appropriate. The hype has died down, and only the most radical theorists remain. I'm not complaining; it's funny to listen to these people ramble. I know you might be tired of blogs related to the ending, but I hope that we can at least get a few laughs from the ridiculous things these people say. If you can't teach them, laugh at them.

Shepard ME3

In the end, I'd say the Indoctrination Theorists seem to have the same problem BioWare’s been having: they can’t get their story straight.

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