Undertale has released in 2015 and it was among the best RPG games to date. The game features special world, world interaction mechanic which even includes saving, loading, and resetting the game. It also includes fascinating characters with unique stories which we’re all interested in. And among all Undertale characters, Chara seems to be the most mysterious character. As the players progress, it seems that Chara is a shady and malevolent “being”, especially in the Genocide Route. All lead us to questions: “Who is Chara exactly? What is her purpose?” So with no further ado, let’s try to find out!
* Note: Chara’s gender seems not to be clear so here we will refer Chara as “her”. While many people refer Chara as “them”.
*Disclamer: The credits go to Undertale fans, researchers, and enthusiasts; it doesn’t involve our subjective analysis.
*** WARNING: HEAVY SPOILERS ALERT! ***
Before we go into the theories themselves, let’s take quick round-up about what we know of Chara in Undertale.
1.1. Underground, Land of the Monsters
The story began with the war between humankind and monsters, eventually humankind emerged victorious. Monsters, the losing side, were trapped in the Underground and couldn’t get out. In order to prevent the monsters from escaping, wizards of the humankind created a barrier which was said to be only destroyed by the power of 7 human SOULS.
1.2. The Royal Family of Asriel and the Fall of Chara
While humankind dominates the above land, the monsters live peacefully in the Underground without concerning about humans. That said, it doesn’t mean that Monsters society is chaotic, it actually has proper ruling royal family with king and queen: King Asgore and Queen Toriel. Together they rule the Underground and give birth to Asriel.
One day, a human mysteriously falls from Mount Ebott to the Underground and get adopted by Asgore and Toriel. That human is Chara. Since then Chara lives with the royal family and becomes close friend of Asriel. But the peaceful life doesn’t last long with the death of Chara. Before Chara’s death, she insists to see golden flowers from human village. To fulfill her wish, Asriel decides to absorb Chara’s SOUL and together they come to the human village. They succeed in finding the golden flowers; however, the human villagers suspect that Asriel, as a monster, killed the human child. Therefore they attack Asriel and mortally wound him. Asriel manages to return to the Underground, but he can only last a little bit longer before his death.
Enraged by his son’s death, Asgore swears that he will kill every human comes to the Underground. Later on, there are 6 other humans also mysteriously fall into the Underground and die. Asgore collects their 6 SOULs and waits for only one more human to get the last SOUL. Once he gets all 7 SOULs, we will be able to free the Monsters and get his revenge on the humankind.
1.3. The Fate of Asriel and Chara
After his death, Asriel’s body becomes dust, and later on a garden of golden flowers. Meanwhile, due to her objection against Asgore’s plan of revenge, Queen Toriel decides to leave Asgore’s side and goes to the Ruins. She also brings Chara’s body and buries the body there.
Without the knowing of the others, Alphys secretly injects the Determination to one of the golden flowers in the garden. This gives birth to Flowey, a mindful being with essence and memory of Asriel. However, he doesn’t have a SOUL, therefore he is emotionless. Later on, Flowey is obsessed with the idea of “kill or be killed”, eventually becoming a malevolent being who tries to kill the protagonist in the game.
1.4. Chara and Frisk, the “Main Protagonist”
Long time has passed since Asriel’s death and the 6 humans who fell into the Underground; one day, the main protagonist, who named by the player, falls into the Underground. As the player progresses, it is revealed that the main protagonist also has another name: Frisk. Depends on how Frisk (or rather, the decision of the player) interacts with the world of Undertale, Chara will have different roles as the game progresses.
The Happy Ending/True Pacifist Route
If the player/Frisk follows the “Happy Ending Route”, or to be more precisely, True Pacifist Route, he will find the tapes recording the life of Chara with the Asriel’s family. It is revealed that when Chara was alive, she came up with a “plan” but Asriel didn’t agree with it. During the battle between Frisk and Asriel, Asriel gradually remembers his first encounter with Chara and how Chara became a member of Asriel’s family. At the end, Asriel recognizes the main protagonist as Frisk, not Chara.
At the end of the game, Frisk can get to the chamber where coffins of the 6 humans’ body lie. Frisk also finds a mummy wrapping in Chara’s coffin.
The Bad Ending/Genocide Ending
If the player/Frisk follows the “Bad Ending Route”, or Genocide Route, Chara will control Frisk’s body and kill Flowey. At the end of the game, there is only black screen with Chara makes her only appearance in the game in body. She reveals that thanks to the main protagonist/Frisk’s SOUL and Determination that she can return and “realize” that the purpose of her return is power. When the main protagonist/Frisk gains STATS, that STATS is actually for Chara, not Frisk. After explaining, Chara offers main protagonist/Frisk two options:
- If the main protagonist/Frisk chooses to Erase the world and she will reply that the main protagonist/Frisk is her true partner, along with her last line: “We will be together forever, won’t we?”
- If the main protagonist/Frisk chooses Do Not to erase the world, she will tell that the main protagonist/Frisk is never in control. Chara will then come to the screen and perform a jump scare with her freaky laugh.
After the main protagonist/Frisk’s choice, the game will crash. When the player starts the game again, but this time only black screen appears. The player has to wait 10 minutes; afterwards, Chara will appear and offer a deal: restore the world with the price of Frisk’s SOUL. If the player agrees then the world restore, but there will be different outcomes. If the player doesn’t agree then the game turns black again and player has to wait another 10 minutes for Chara to appear with the same offer.
The Corrupted Ending/Corrupted Pacifist Ending
This happens when the main protagonist/Frisk follows the Genocide Route in the previous run. The ending seems to carry out as normal. But when the main protagonist/Frisk chooses to stay with Toriel, Chara will appear instead of Frisk and look at the screen, followed by a laugh similar to Flowey.
If the player chooses the option: “places to go”, in the final picture, all character faces will be crossed out, except for the main protagonist/Frisk being replaced by Chara.
Bad Ending/Genocide Route… again…
If the main protagonist/Frisk follows the Genocide Route again then everything plays out as usual but with a small twist. Chara will tell that she is “the demon that comes when people call its name.” However, she can’t comprehend the motive of the main protagonist/Frisk of restoring the world, only to destroy it once again. She comments that it is due to the main protagonist/Frisk’s “perverted sentimentality”. After all that, she offers the main protagonist/Frisk the same two choices: Erasing the world or Do not do it.
And again, no matter how the main protagonist/Frisk chooses, everything will occur as the same to the first Genocide Ending. The difference is Chara will remind the main protagonist/Frisk that he already makes his choice, followed by the same jump scare and then the game crashes, again.
Due to the game’s mysterious stories and endings, it is quite hard to determine the true identities of Chara. Therefore, even now, most people can only give out speculations and theories, as the result; there is no concrete or 100% true theory. And since it is unlikely that the author will reveal the truth about this matter, so for now we can only come up with theories or follow on of theories at best.
One thing which is interesting about Undertale is its characters complex and its blurry fourth wall. Therefore, it is unclear that how these 3 entities play their role in the game: the player, Frisk (the main protagonist controlled by the player), and Chara. Depend on different opinions about the role of these 3 entities and the how people interpret the game’s story, there are several theories about Chara:
2.1. Evil Chara/Genocide Chara
During Undertale first came out, this theory was the most popular and it is still a popular theory even now. Basically, the theory says that Chara is inherently evil. She is the true antagonist and unlike other enemies, there is no way she can redeem herself.
There are several ways to interpret this theory: If the player is Frisk himself then Chara is trying to corrupt Frisk/the player along the way. In that case, the Genocide Ending happens due to Chara’s influence, not by Frisk or the player. Another way to interpret this theory is that the player only plays as a neutral entity who can decide whether Frisk wins (Happy Ending) or Chara wins (Bad Ending).
Followers of this theory base on various facts in the game and determine that Chara is inherently, notably:
- In the True Lab, it is said that Chara once had a “plan” but Asriel opposed to it. Presumably that plan was not something good which made Asriel felt uncomfortable with it.
- Asriel admitted that there was “something” about Chara and she wasn’t perfectly good.
- Chara hated humankind.
- In the second Genocide ending, Chara says that she is “the demon that comes when people call its name.”
Also, many Evil Chara theory followers use knowledge about real-life psychology to explain the potential influence of Chara upon Frisk, or potentially the player. However, according to some in-depth research of other theorists, this is also what weakens Evil Chara theory since it mostly bases on the outside psychological analysis to support the entire theory, or rather the in-game evidences.
2.2. Redemption Chara Theory
This is a “better approach” of the original Evil Chara theory, which says that Chara is inherently evil but she can be redeemed. This theory matches the basic idea of Undertale: a RPG in which no one has to die and there is absolution for all characters.
The main idea of the theory is pretty much similar to Evil Chara theory in case of Genocide Ending. But in Happy Ending Route, it is believed that thanks to Frisk’s effort (or possibly the player’s effort), Chara can redeem herself and become good.
One of the major evidences for this theory is the narration throughout the game. The narration will become more and more grim and pessimistic in case of Genocide Route, while in case of Pacifist Route, it becomes gentler and more supportive. This implies the change of Chara, who will emerge as an evil, or become better as a good person.
That said, unlike Narrator Chara Theory which will be showcased down below, this theory seems not to have concrete foundation. As the result, Narrator Chara Theory has the higher strength and it seems to overcome this theory.
2.3. Chara Summoning Theory
This is another version developed from Evil Chara Theory, or rather, an extreme version of Evil Chara Theory. It says that at the beginning of the game, Chara isn’t awake yet. But thanks to Frisk (or could be the player), Chara manages to return and gradually leads Frisk to the evil path.
The reason why this version is much worse than Evil Chara is that it still believes that Chara is inherently evil. Not only that, it portrays Chara as a fearsome demon who gets more power from other characters’ death.
The difference of this theory from the Evil Chara is that it emphasizes the action of Frisk, or rather the player, in the game. Chara only returns due to the crimes of Frisk/the player, if not, Chara will never appear. However, this theory gives out quite an uneasy feeling to fans as it pushes Undertale into a much darker path.
2.4. Narrator Chara Theory
Narrator Chara Theory is kind of a developed version from Redemption Chara Theory, in which it puts Chara into neutral role right from the beginning. It also puts Chara in a tight relationship with Frisk, or could be the player, and depends on how Frisk/the player acts, Chara will follows the storyline according to those actions.
This theory has become more and more popular, alongside with Evil Chara, and it gives a refreshing perspective about this character. According to this theory, Chara is like a close friend to Frisk/the player who tells the story and guides Frisk/the player according to how Frisk/the player interacts with the world. That gives two interpretations:
- Chara is neutral. She only follows the flow according to how Frisk/the player interacts with the world. If Frisk/the player commits evil deed, she will just follow that direction and gives out darker and darker narration.
- Chara is neutral and like a close friend to Frisk/the player. As Frisk/the player commits evil deed, Chara is also corrupted and she just follows what Frisk/the player does.
In overall, Narrator Chara Theory has quite an impact as it sticks to the basic idea of Undertale. It puts more relaxing approach, and more importantly, puts responsibility upon the player.
2.5. Player Chara Theory
This is probably the first theory ever came out and it gives out quite an interesting fourth wall interaction between the player and in-game characters. This theory says that the player actually plays as Chara not Frisk, or Chara and the player shares the control of Frisk. In that case, Chara and the player are like Frisk’s unconsciousness which leads Frisk for most of the time without Frisk’s awareness. The only times Frisk can control himself is during the cutscene.
This theory is pretty intriguing as it both emphasizes the responsibility of the player, and also creates a special fourth-wall bond between the player and a virtual character. This theory also makes sense when Player Chara theorists concern Undertale author: Toby Fox who recommended people to name the main protagonist as themselves.
In addition, this theory can also share similar idea with Narrator Chara Theory. It means that both the player and Chara share a bond: one controls Frisk while the other acts as narrator/spectator.
As interesting as this theory might be, it could’t stand a chance when the Evil Chara Theory came out.
2.6. Passive Frisk Theory
This one seems not to be among the most popular theories; however, it gives another interesting interpretation for the story. Its idea is that Frisk himself doesn’t have any control over his body. There are various possibilities for this idea:
- First, Frisk is possibly dead due to the fall and Chara possesses Frisk’s body.
- Or second, for some reason Frisk is blind or enable to do anything by himself. In this case, Chara acts as his “eyes”.
- Or third, Frisk is actually the second life of Chara and she lost all of her memory.
This theory gives a pretty simple explanation for Chara. That said, many in-depth theorists don’t approve this theory since it mostly bases on speculated scenario, not in-game evidences.
And so those are some of the most popular theories about the origins of Chara. But since those are theories, there are still lots of controversies and opposing sides about the true identity of Chara. Moreover, it is unlikely that Toby Fox will give out any definitive explanation. In the end, players have to decide the story by themselves.
That said, it is actually interesting to see how players deeply involve and try to explain what happened to the game in general and Chara in particular. To some extent, it is similar to the story of Dark Souls which plays out the similar manner: an unclear world with unclear stories and origins. It is like a real world with full of unknown histories, and the players can only guess what happened base on their own assumption and perspective about the world.
As the results, it leads us to the question: In the end, what do we truly believe in? Or particularly, what is our true belief about Chara? Feel free to share with us and for now, thank you and stay tune for more news in the future!
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