Lore Speculation

A Fearful Reflection – there are two Aftons!


Some theories will not be put to rest; even if you are sceptical when you first encounter them, they come back again and again. The thought I’m about to go into in this discussion is one such theory. The more books I read in the series, the more validity it gained, like a fact Katamari that grew as I went along until it could no longer be ignored.

As with any theory which makes a significant discovery, I made every attempt to disprove it but found that the more I sought to discredit it, the more robust it became.


Let’s begin by discussing Afton himself and what I know about him. Anything I state here I have found through my exhaustive research; as such, this may differ from what the fandom as a whole seems to believe, but that has never been something I take into account when forming my theories. If the facts I uncover lead me to a thought, I will pursue that thought to its logical conclusion regardless of whether what I find annoys other people (or myself).

William Afton is the antagonist of the FNAF series. He is the central driving force behind the adverse events as we understand them.

He is present in the novel trilogy.
He is present in some form in every game.
He is present in the Frights, both in metaphor and parallel and more literally in the stingers and scrapped stories.
He is present in the Tales from the Pizzaplex in parallel (and debatable in Dittophobia).
He is present in the movie(s).


The fandom of late has shown an almost absurd aversion to the concept of a parallel, but this is ridiculous. FNAF itself is ultimately a literary puzzle. Many multimedia experiences (such as ARGs) exist based on solving mathematical or coding puzzles using mathematical tools. These puzzles exist within FNAF to a minor degree, but the majority of the data FNAF provides us is in the form of text.

Therefore, the tools we would use to “solve” these puzzles are literary. These tools have been used for centuries and are the fundamentals of academic studies. Themes, parallels, metaphors, context, the role of the author, characterisation, and so many other elements are powerful tools we can use to understand the shape of the series, and I am going to deploy them in my theorising so you can expect to encounter them as we go through this discussion.

We encounter Afton across the span of his life throughout the series, from the photographs we see of him with Henry in the Silver Eyes, where he seems to have a good friendship with his partner, to the murder of Henry’s daughter, on through the missing children incidents and beyond. Most of our time with him is in the games, and the novel trilogy is after the murders. We see him as Dave, the sickly-looking mall guard, Springtrap, his villainous persona, and finally as himself in the fourth closet. The novel trilogy before the movie was where we gleaned the most solid comprehension of William as a character.

He is proud and insecure, two traits which appear to be contradictory but can easily coexist; he wants to be the best at what he does and to solve the problems he feels it is his right as a genius to solve, but falls short over and over again, constantly comparing himself to Henry. Truly proud individuals do not compare themselves to anyone as they do not need to.

His relationship with his family is complex and nuanced, and through the times we encounter him in the movie and the novel trilogy, we understand that he manipulates his children through the well-documented and understood cycle of abuse.

We see him at both extremes of this cycle, from when he harms Elizabeth in her flashback and outbursts of aggression towards Circus Baby to his more kind treatment of Elizabeth (in telling her Circus Baby was made for her) and in his softer moments with Circus Baby as she tends to him. We even establish that he gives gifts to his children (such as the plane he gives to Vanessa in the movie) regardless of how gruesome these may be.

He is not a flat character who utterly hates or loves his family. He appears to have shallow empathy and therefore relates to them as extensions of himself; any failure on their part or harm they come to is a failure in himself, and any loss of control he feels is unacceptable. His children become part of his work because his work is part of who he is. It feels like a logical decision for a man of his psychology.

There is a strong likelihood that William is ultimately what we would formerly call a sociopath, a term which now falls under the antisocial personality disorder umbrella. William displays all of the hallmarks of the disorder, ranging from his recklessness and impulsivity to boredom, along with emotional coldness and detachment. He appears to be aware of this emotional shallowness in himself. Though he does not address this directly in the context of the games or novels, I believe he perceives this lack of emotion as one of the barriers keeping him from the greatness of his (highly emotional) partner, Henry. If I refer to sociopathy in error at any point, please know that I am referring to ASPD simply by an outdated term.

I think this is the fundamental meaning of what William says when he speaks to Charlie in the silver eyes. “We both wanted to love.” “Your father loved, and now I have loved.” he means that he has taken those emotions for himself now; he feels through the murders and the accumulation of other people’s emotional energies, he has cracked a code and has control again.

Beyond the Text

The stated understanding of William is what we formally know. All I have said above can be substantiated with direct novel quotes, game scenes or moments from the movie. What follows is what we understand from the short stories.

The short stories have numerous characters with clear potential to be linked to William Afton. From Bob in Bunny Call to Jack, the belligerent owner of a failing restaurant, to the murderous Martin Copper in Submechanophobia, there are a ton of characters with apparent elements of their character which tie them to William Afton. These characters are glimmers of insight into Afton’s personality and relationships.

Now, I want to establish with this that I am not saying William Afton IS Bob from Bunny Call in a verbatim way. However, the more I see repeated themes, elements and relationships, the more validity I will give to a character regarding what they tell us about Afton. Imagine a points system or overlaying transparent character shapes one on top of the other and focusing on the areas with the most overlap. When an element accrues sufficient points or starkness, I give it more credence in my perception of the characters beneath.

Utilising this method, minor incongruities such as hair colour, name and gender cease to matter. Still, larger sweeping strokes such as personality traits, interrelationships and even thematic decisions become more evident.

Through this method, I noticed a very stable trend that came up over and over.


Throughout the short stories, one consistent and repeated theme initially confused me. Characters are constantly “replaced” with other versions of themselves. This isn’t a one-off but a critical throughline of the series. To show you how prevalent this is, I am going to (with the assistance of Shock) list every story that we can find with this theme present in some fashion.

Into the Pit – the Pit Monster replaces Oswald’s father, and only Oswald himself can see his true monstrous nature. The others see his father.
To Be Beautiful – Sarah finds her body replaced by junk, and Eleanor steals her old appearance.
Lonely Freddy – Alec is replaced by Lonely Freddy, who copies his appearance and goes to make amends with his family in his stead. Alec himself is thrown away.
The Cliffs – Robert loses his son after giving him a Tag-Along Freddy, but the ending is ambiguous. We aren’t sure if he gets his son back or something else instead.
He Told Me Everything – Chris and his classmates are replaced by a Faz-Goo version of themselves. Once again, the replacement behaves better than the original, and the original students’ scraps are thrown in the garbage.
The Puppet Carver – Jack, the owner of an animatronic pizzeria, enters a wood carving machine and is replaced by a nicer version of himself. The original Jack is left as essentially mulched leftovers and is thrown in the garbage.
Sea Bonnies – Mott swallows a Sea Bonnie, then slowly transforms until he is entirely composed of Sea Bonnies. He melts in the rain. His brother’s fish, Fritz, also becomes Not-Fritz and shares the same fate.
B-7 and B-72. Billy slowly replaces his parts with robot parts. The robot part is surgically removed and takes some pieces of his flesh. It becomes its own entity and wants to merge with him again.

As you can see, even keeping this to the most direct stories, these are a LOT, too much to go into on a story-by-story basis. For our purposes, I will detail only the most relevant stories to my realisation of this theory, and I’ll do my best to keep it concise.

What does it mean?

The constant repetition of the replacement theme has been telling us something that seems obvious when you say it out loud but is often met with knee-jerk rejection due to how surreal it appears.

At the present point in the series, there are two William Aftons.

I think that one is whatever remains of the man himself, the man who tells us, “There isn’t a way out anymore. All that’s left is family.” He is still not a good person, but humanity is possibly left behind.

I think the other is the reflection of his Agony that he has wrought, a monstrous thing created from anguish, suffering, hatred, fear and jealousy—a ghost of memories and emotions born from Afton himself and which killed him in the process.

We will go into much more depth about why this is and how this could have come to be, but for now, I think this is what has happened. The short stories give us context on how agony functions and what it does to people, with Hide and Seek providing the most direct look at how agony operates.

From this story, we can infer that jealousy and desire drive someone to desire something out of their reach; in this story, a boy named Toby wants to be better at arcade games than his accomplished brother. In desperation, he cheats before finding that even cheating doesn’t make him good at it. In frustration, he destroys the entire game and has a nightmare of being on an operating table and having something sewn to his back. His shadow haunts him, now with rabbit ears and sharp teeth. The shadow starts to grow in power, diminishing Toby in turn. He tries to resolve his anger with his brother and finds the shadow weakened. Realising it seems to be feeding on the anger itself, he returns to the game and faces it down, understanding that he can forfeit the game itself and release the shadow, setting him free.

But he can’t do it. He needs to win the game and plays on instead, in the end, impaling himself on one of the props on the wall, taking the shadow out with him.

As we can see, Agony feeds on emotions, and in this story, Toby provides us with a parallel for William. He is not enough and desires nothing but being the best, no matter what it takes. Even faced with the option of reconciliation and forgiveness, he chooses vengeance and anger instead. William Afton is no different; he seems to choose over and over the furtherance of his research at all costs, terrified to “lose” to Henry or some other arbitrary measure he holds himself against.

Toby separates into two entities, the boy and the shadow, and William separates into the man and the shadow.

We even see similarities between “Dave” and Toby’s manifestations of the shadow’s influence.

“Toby stared at himself in the mirror. Really stared at himself. His skin was paler than he’d ever seen it. His cheeks were sunken in. His eyes looked like dark pits in his face.”

“There was something almost immediately off-putting about the man. He was tall and slightly too thin for his uniform, which bagged at the shoulders and waist as if he had once been a more robust man but had lost his form somehow to illness or tragedy; his name tag, reading DAVE, hung askew on his chest. His skin was sallow, and his eyes were undercut by heavy lines, adding to the impression of longstanding ill health.”

I think that in his pursuit of being “the best”, it is possible that William found some way to “haunt” his own body with Agony but found out the hard way the results of this and experienced inevitable degradation of the physical form that results. Mike ends up going the same way in Sister Location, and we see him succumb to Agony in an even more brutal way as his body is “haunted” by a possessed machine crawling inside him. We don’t get to see the positive side of Agony, but we have to assume it is in some way linked to immortality or the resurrection of the dead, as William has motivation for both.

In Sergio’s Lucky Day, Sergio comes to a similar ill-fated end to Mike, which is once again a result of reaching for an unattainable wish.


It is no coincidence that one of the songs played in Ultimate Custom Night, a game that depicts William’s idea of hell within his own prison, is called Eisotrophobia. This is a fear of mirrors; we have every reason to believe William would have cultivated a fear of mirrors. In Hide and Seek, Toby sees the shadow most clearly in the mirror. Mike in Sister Location sees his true nature directly in the mirror.

Mirrors repeatedly appear throughout FNAF, from the Security Logbook and its faint text reading WHAT DO YOU SEE? Beneath a mirror to the mirror mazes, William has his animatronics chase people through. A mirror duplicates the sights on one side of it, but in the FNAF world, they often show something more besides.

So where does the concept of William separating from his Agony shadow come from?

B7 and B7-2

It is impossible to avoid going into some detail on B7 and B7-2, though I will keep them as tight as possible.

I want to establish with this story that there is overlap between the characters; some elements might apply to multiple individuals. Of all the stories in the series, this is one of the most flexible. Billy could be many characters, and he might even represent elements of William of the past, while his grandmother represents his future self. I make no firm statements about any of this; I am simply seeking to establish why I read this story and realised there was a possibility that vague suspicions I’d had might be true.

B7 tells the story of a little boy (Named Billy, short for William no less) who suffered a traumatic incident in his youth and began to think he was an animatronic. At first, it appears childish, but it goes far beyond the scope of play as he insists he is a robot. Child psychologists tell them to indulge him as much as possible. However, it causes a lot of problems as he drinks oil and struggles to maintain healthy relationships, straining his parents until his father leaves. It hinders his life more and more and continues well into adulthood. His mother kills herself, and he’s left alone, progressing from behavioural modifications to modifying his body with the assistance of a surgeon who lost his license due to some substance abuse. Billy completely changes his body with multiple painful surgeries. Towards the end of the story, he looks in the mirror; looking at his reflection, he realises that he is not and was never an animatronic, overtaken by despair. He leaves, heads to a junkyard, and climbs into a compactor. As the car is crushed around him, he is reminded of his humanity.

I’ve seen plenty of interpretations of this story, but for me when I read it, I was immediately aware of the main character’s name. Seeing the name Billy, I didn’t immediately think it was William, but typically, seeing a “main character” name in the Frights or Tales means we are looking at a canon-important story.

B7 could be a story about William or his kids, but overlooking the story’s shape makes it feel a little more like William than the other options. Billy is convinced he is inhuman, and I think that William struggles with this feeling around his sociopathy, confident that he is missing some fundamental part of himself. I also think William himself experienced some physical and emotional abuse as a child, differing from B7’s medical emergency but no less traumatic. All the horrible things he does, he does in pursuit of a misjudged ideal. I think it is very likely that at some point, William had a realisation that he could experience emotions, that he was more than he realised, but by then, it was much too late, and he had already damaged his life beyond repair. The final scene of the car collapsing could be the springlocking scene.

Of course, I am not absolute in this thought, and we could also be looking at Michael going through a similar experience, down to being scooped or the Crying Child dealing with the fact they are essentially trapped in a robot. However, as things are, I’m leaning towards William based on the follow-up.

B7-2 commences with Billy waking up in a hospital. He shouldn’t have survived the compactor but has been saved, and the story we are given for why that is is wild, to say the least

“Well, to start with,” Dr. Herrera said. “Dumb luck, apparently. No one is sure why you survived the machine, but you did. And you were found just in time because the junkyard owner is a bird-watcher. He said he spotted a rare bird on the hood of the station wagon.

The first part of the story mainly covers Billy getting ready to go home with his grandmother. However, this progress is interspersed with horrific glimpses of Billy’s robotic parts, which appear to have a mind of their own, with his flesh still clinging to them. He hears it speak to him and pleads to join them back together, playing on his insecurities. He goes back to live with his grandmother, and they grow closer, with Billy taking his first steps towards a relatively everyday life. His grandma seems to speak to someone at the same time every night on the phone, and this concerns Billy, who is uncertain what it can mean.

The longer she talks, the thinner and weaker his grandma becomes, and eventually, Billy interrupts her while she’s talking about something. He finds her in her bed with the metal and plastic thing, twisted up with the drying pieces of his flesh and tissue. The thing is creeping over her, but his grandma is encouraging it, coaxing it closer, telling it that they have bonded, and it doesn’t need to be alone any more. It horrifically overtakes her, and she commands Billy not to interrupt.

//“I wanted to be with you, B-7,” the thing said to Billy. “That’s where I’m supposed to be, but you wouldn’t invite me back in. I sought out your grandma so I could be close to you through her.”//

Billy is horrified but realises as the thing seeks to fully merge with his grandma that she is terminally ill and has opted to take the monster with her.

“Don’t waste your tears on me. I’ve had a good life. I’m ready for this.” She grimaced as she wrestled with the still-thrashing metal and plastic. “This morning, I woke up and knew today was my last day. I want to do this one last thing.”

She does as she intends, and the thing is killed as she passes on. Billy is troubled, and the story ends with him heading to Peru to find his father.

This second part of the story blurs the interpretation for me, with the possibility that Billy’s grandmother might represent William in this part, making Billy Michael? I am not sure, as Michael also ran into Ennard. If this is the case, who in this extended metaphor took the assimilation to deal with it?

Billy may still primarily represent William, and the grandmother might be someone else (such as Henry) taking the fall to save him. It could go either way, but presents a curious glimpse at a possible resolution. After all, Henry already attempted to take the Agony out with him in FNAF6.

A Living Exoskeleton

Regardless of how we interpret the complex character inter-relationships and themes of B7 and B7-2, the main thing I want to note is that B7 creates an entity from his own stalwart belief in a delusion.

This establishes a precedent that this is possible.

On multiple occasions throughout the series, William has demonstrated that he almost considers Spring Bonnie a persona, demonstrating different behaviour and cadence of speech when wearing the mask. When he shows Jessica his Springtrap illusion, he speaks fondly of that version of him. I don’t think he has any DID; he clearly states that he considers himself an actor (much as Dave was an act) and that these characters are purely performances.

The fact they are performing personas does not diminish their importance; William appears to perceive Spring Bonnie as an idealised self and goes on to imbue this version of himself with acts of horrific violence and murder, which we know in this world is entirely capable of imbuing objects with power of their own. We see this in the Frights Stingers with Phineas and his haunted objects.

“Haunted” was not a term he himself used. Usually used as a word to refer to something embodied by a ghost, the word could also mean part of what Phineas knew to be true of all things. “Haunted” could mean showing signs of torment or some kind of mental anguish. And this was the more important definition of the word. These items on Phineas’s shelves weren’t possessed by ghosts; the ones that were truly haunted were energized by agony.”

If we were in a circumstance where William had created an exoskeleton which was ultimately haunted by his horrific acts, it would explain in some way the mute and strange behaviour of Springtrap in FNAF 3 as he patiently comes after us, capable of nothing but groans.

In Ultimate Custom Night, some of the tormenting spirits hint at the existence of this twisted reflection. Nightmare speaks to William directly and says the following.

“The Shadow fears me.”
“I am your wickedness… made of flesh.”
“I am here to claim… what is left of you.”

The shadow it talks about here is unclear, and I do wonder who exactly this refers to, though it’s beyond the scope of this article to speculate at the moment.

What is important here is the assertion, “I am your wickedness made of flesh”, which is what the suit ultimately becomes, a concentrated force of wickedness, cloaked In flesh, that in UCN has come to torment the thing that remains of Afton.

Nightmarionne used interchangeably with Nightmare, also has some ominous lines.

“I-I-I am the fearful reflect-ection of what you have cr-crea-ated.”
“This t-time, death cannot save you-ou-ou.”

The first is clear; as we have said, the fearful reflection is a copy mirroring something William has created. Whether this means the puppet or William’s suit isn’t clear, but the main point is that it means these “fearful reflections” exist.

The second line is interesting as the words “this time” imply that death DID save Afton previously from some retribution or peril to his person. Does this mean the Springlocking was an accident and the ghosts didn’t mean for it to happen? Was it an escape? This would curiously line up with the movie where William seems defiant even as he realises he will die.

Fearful Reflections

Throughout the series, we see the theme of horrific events spawning mirrored nightmare versions several times. It appears that the Fredbear bite generated a nightmare version of that incident, along with the murder of Charlotte, in turn spawning a nightmarish alternate. We see a shadow iteration of Freddy (or Fredbear) in the novels as Charlie and the others follow it through the forest, implying that Michael’s murder also created its own nightmare version of the incident.

We have Nightmare Fredbear, and I think that Springtrap very possibly is – and has always been – Nightmare Spring Bonnie.

This is why we have “dark Springtrap” in the games. It is a clue that we are looking at a “shadow” or a “nightmare”. This is why he is never called directly by Afton’s name. It is possible that this “dark Springtrap” becomes Ennard down in Sister Location. Again, I am not saying I am entirely sure of this; it is speculation, and I hope it helps foster a dialogue.

In the Flesh

Another story that illustrates the concept of William creating a living entity from suffering is In the Flesh, where an unpleasant VR developer named Matt channels his resentment at his own life and divorce into the game he is creating.

“Matt was no murderer, of course. If he were, he wouldn’t have had to do so much research. But Matt knew what it was to feel rage—to feel so wronged, so ill used, that he burned with the desire to destroy, to smash, to teach the people who had wronged him a lesson they would never forget.”

Despite creating it, he can’t even seem to succeed at the game itself, finding himself sought out and killed repeatedly by his Springtrap AI. It’s worth mentioning there is a distinct hall of mirrors in the game, said several times, yet another nod to the overall theme of mirrors.

Out of spite, Matt tortures Springtrap, sending him on a futile pursuit of a hopeless quarry. Drunk on his power, he sets out to trap Springtrap in a loop of torment.

“Matt found himself laughing louder and harder than he had laughed in a long time. Sure, the rabbit might be able to kill his avatar, but that was nothing compared to the way that Matt could alter Springtrap’s reality, could control time and space and mete out a cosmic punishment like some kind of ancient, vengeful god.”

This is more than a little reminiscent of William’s hubris about tormenting the trapped children’s spirits, unable to remember who they were or break out of his prison.

On returning to the game (which he left running at super high speed), Matt realised that Springtrap’s solution to this problem had been to repeatedly clone himself and kill his previous iteration. He can’t find Springtrap in the game, with the character nowhere to be found.

“Matt searched the game’s VR for Springtrap. He searched parts of the game where Springtrap wasn’t even programmed to be. After having spawned and killed half a million versions of himself over the course of the night, the rabbit seemed to have disappeared. Except that he couldn’t really disappear. It wasn’t possible.”

Matt looks for Springtrap and finds him looking dead, his torso split wide open. Something has escaped from within him. Matt touches the empty shell/exoskeleton and feels a jolt of power.

“Springtrap’s lifeless body lay around the maze’s next bend. It was splayed on its back with its torso split wide open. Matt kneeled for a closer look. Springs and gears protruded from the edge of the gaping wound. How could something so mechanical manage to look so dead? Springtrap’s blank, sightless stare was horrible to behold. Matt reached up to the rabbit’s eyelids to close them. As soon as he made physical contact, Matt felt a sharp sting combined with a mild electrical jolt that reminded him of the pain of getting his fraternity letters tattooed on his ankle in college. He pulled the avatar’s hand away. “

It is worth pointing out that when Matt finds Springtrap here, something has already exited his body and departed. It is unquestionably the shell that infests Matt with what is to come. We know Springtrap was cloning itself as part of playing the game. This means there would have been two Springtraps on the map at any given time. Matt finds the loser and is infested with Agony by the “dead” one.

So where is the winner of the game? Where is the Springtrap that finally won the “contest?”

Carrying an agony being with him, Matt finds himself hungry and drained, and he begins to experience strange symptoms. At the same time, we are introduced to a separate character who is remarkable by how little he features elsewhere in the story. This is not typical for short stories, where the authors tend to keep it to an economy in terms of characters.

Gene is a hacker, and upon entering the game, he finds the Springtrap body, but when he touches it, nothing happens. In the real world, he looks at the code and sees that Springtrap has been extracted from the game by a program called Its_a_boy.exe.

In the end, Matt cuts a horrific (but strangely grateful) Springtrap out of himself and dies. The police arrive to find Matt’s body torn open in the kitchen but have no idea what could have happened.

This story gives us insight into what happened to William in UCN, that he went toe to toe with half a million versions of himself and his sins (we do face Springtrap in the game, after all) and escaped.

However, in the process, he could also have honed whatever dark reflection exists of himself to escape its confines. This story also implies that part of William might have gone digital and gives us the chilling implication that this digital iteration can recreate itself almost infinitely from human hosts. It zeroes in on Matt in the story in question, but there is nothing to say it did not use the hacker kid “Gene” to escape in other ways.

Dreadbear and Glitchtrap

So, considering that we just went over a short story where a rage-imbued Springtrap departed an AI prison into code format and then directly into human flesh, let’s talk about another rabbit we know who appears to have done the same thing.

Glitchtrap appears in Help Wanted, a VR game, and we are led to believe that he somehow escaped from some circuit boards retrieved from the FNAF 6 inferno. This would have been where he’d have been being kept in an endless loop of suffering by his captors in UCN.

Then, he moved into VR, which aligns with this story, and on into a human host, aligning with what we see in the game. It seems simple to me. Glitchtrap is part of Afton, and this story, alongside Prankster, gives us a good glimpse into the chaos he could easily wreak once he’d infested the game development company’s VR equipment and developers themselves.

When he escapes he plays the same victory music we hear in FNAF2 when Afton succeeds in his plans there.

Whether this escapee represents Afton’s “human” element or whatever Agony reflection exists remains to be seen. It could have been both of them, and they could have ended up in different places. The potential of the suit being a separate entity raises exciting possibilities.

It could be that the Afton Agony blob we see in Princess Quest and Burntrap, the Withered Spring Bonnie suit-wearing endoskeleton are two different entities.

In B7-2, the exoskeleton wants to reunite with its original body, and in Breaking Wheel, the exosuit carrying the destroyed body of his enemy tangles up with the protagonist. It is certainly possible that if the suit-thing were out there, it would be looking for William to reunify with him. Why do I think this?

Baby spends most of the novels looking for Charlie’s life-imbued doll, desiring a life of her own. It seems the haunted machines want some power source or soul to sustain them. It would only make sense that it would want William back, or – as the case might be – another pure-created spark of life in the form of the Crying Child or Gregory.

Glitchtrap being an AI conversion of what was once “Nightmare Spring Bonnie” would also leave room for Dreadbear to be an AI conversion of his long-time counterpart. However, it seems that in this setting, something is wrong with Dreadbear; he is having his mind tampered with, and so too is Helpy into Helpi.

I could go into much greater depth on this, but I think we’ve covered enough ground on this topic for now. The point was to establish some reasoning behind the concept of a “split” William Afton.

And there is a great deal more out there.