‘Westworld’ And The Man In Black: Arguments Against The Most Popular Theory

We may be only five episodes into Westworld, but the HBO show already has a following that is fully immersed in the plot and characters. Barely into its first season and viewers are full of theories and speculation about what we’re watching and the true identity of some of the characters – especially the enigmatic Man in Black. There is one theory in particular that is very popular and seems to fit really well, but there is much to disprove it as well. Let’s take a look.

The top theory about the true identity of Westworld‘s Man in Black is that he is an older version of William, the “white hat” tourist. The first, and most obvious, argument for this is that the storyline involving William and his “black hat” friend Logan take place in the past, while scenes with The Man in Black (TMIB) occur in the present. Basically, this theory says that Westworld’s William story is the backstory for TMIB. It says that we’re going to learn how he went from a “white hat” character to The Man In Black. We’ll learn what happened to make him turn, so to speak, and begin his quest for the maze.

This Westworld theory is easy to accept; it seems to fit perfectly with what’s going on, but what if William and Logan are intended to simply be sort of parallel characters to Arnold and Ford? Not strictly parallel, but very similar. For example, as noted by Romper, in each relationship, one man believes that the hosts are just machines, and one believes they are something more.

As Forbes noted, one of the arguments for the theory that Westworld’s Man in Black (TMIB) is William and is related to Dolores. When she has been asked to “start again” with her story, she always starts with William. But Dolores seems to be uncontrollable for the engineers. And Stubbs mentioned how far she has traveled with William around the time he approved the pyrotechnics request from TMIB. This implies that they are actually both in the same timeline.

Reddit user Anjin proposes that the point of showing the story of William and the story of TMIB is to illustrate the differences in experiences of different visitors to Westworld. Having two different stories set in the same time allows the characters of each story to possibly interact at some point in the future, perhaps as a character besides TMIG searches for the maze.

Another Reddit user proposes a different scenario to explain the Westworld Man in Black mystery. This user’s name is MaineCoonKat, and he suggests that TMIB is the person from corporate who was sent to Westworld to check in and see how things are going. Westworld employees have pretty much given him free reign, which would make sense if he’s from corporate.

Finally, check out this video, a promo for future episodes of Westworld. What happens around 00:40 has been used to support the “William is The Man in Black” theory, but it could actually mean something very different.


As you saw, there is a shot in which William is holding a knife that looks very much like the one we saw TMIB with in Episode 5. Many have taken this to mean that the two men are the same person in two different timelines. But there could be another explanation. It could actually prove that they are two different people and that in some future episode they will meet, and William will end up with his knife.

Of course, all of this is speculation, time will tell. There is much about Westworld that leaves it open to speculation and theorizing. Tune in to HBO on Sunday nights at 8 p.m. ET to see what happens.

[Featured Image by HBO]