Kingdom Hearts 3 ending explained - What do all those endings really mean for the future of the series?

So this is it, the last chapter of the Dark Seeker Saga, and time for the emotional payoff for fans of the series who've sunk hundreds of hours across more than ten spin-off games. Although it doesn't answer every question that's been posed along the way, the Kingdom Hearts 3 ending at least resolves enough issues to ensure that veteran fans are left satisfied.

Now the dust has settled, we've had time to gather our thoughts on the Kingdom Hearts 3 ending, to put together some cohesive theories on where the characters and the series as a whole has ended up in the wake of the explosive finale. Read on as we share our knowledge and speculation to give you the lowdown on the conclusion to Kingdom Hearts 3.

*Beyond this point there are major story spoilers for Kingdom Hearts 3 - but that's why you're here, right?*

Graveyard Showdown

Sora and the gang head to the Keyblade Graveyard to meet up with Xehanort and his 13 vessels to initiate the keyblade war. At this point, Sora has rescued both Aqua and Ventus, meaning there are seven keyblade wielders ready to meet the 13 vessels of darkness. Sora faces off against a gauntlet of foes. Important to note is that whilst we see everybody die, the game makes a point of showing you that one of the boss battle participants, Xigbar, escapes. Sora then rescues Roxas, Xion and Terra and defeats the main three villains of the entire franchise, namely Young Xehanort, Ansem and Xemnas. 

As Sora heads to the final fight with Master Xehanort, he murders Kairi in front of him. Xehanort then forges the x-blade, opens Kingdom Hearts and fills it with darkness. 

Scala Ad Caelum

After a series of boss battles, you best Xehanort, but he has still won. Kingdom Hearts has been consumed by darkness. That is until Eraqus appears, an old friend of Xehanort and mentor of Terra, Aqua and Ventus, who has been hiding in Terra’s heart since Birth By Sleep.

Eraqus reminds Xehanort of the chess matches they used to play as children, in particular, a game where Eraqus was on the back foot but told Xehanort that there is “more to light than meets the eye”. This game Eraqus is referring to is a chess game they played as children that, for all intents and purposes, forms the basis of the entire plot of the Kingdom Hearts series. This game is alluded to throughout Kingdom Hearts 3 in cutscenes from the opening to the end. This is Eraqus’ winning move in the chess match, the final play of the game they’re playing, and by proxy, the game series as we know it so far.

Xehanort fully yields, sees the power of the light and entrusts the x-blade to Sora and his friends. Later, in the Keyblade Graveyard, Sora makes a bold decision to strike out on his own and go after Kairi, who was the main casualty of the battle.

Not got any of these story sections yet?

Kingdom Hearts 3 secret ending - how to unlock the epilogue in Kingdom Hearts 3

Aqua, Ventus and Terra mourn Eraqus’ passing once more at the place where they trained under him, the Land of Departure. Ventus sees his Chirithy, the one that spoke to Sora in the afterlife. (Ventus was a member of the Dandelions, a special keyblade union from a previous era meant to travel to a separate timeline to protect the light after the first Keyblade War. Each Cross-era wielder received a Chirithy.) This is interesting, as it confirms that this Ventus is the same Ventus from that timeline, so he’s been involved in some kind of time travel mumbo jumbo.

Riku visits Radiant Garden and meets up with Namine, who has been reawakened by the scientists using one of the spare vessels. We then cut to another ending video. In this one, all members of the main cast are seen on the beach of Destiny Islands.

We then cut to see Sora and Kairi sitting on a branch of the iconic Paopu tree. Suddenly, a tear rolls down Kairi’s cheek as Sora’s form starts to disappear and he fades into nothingness. Kairi is back, but Sora is… gone.

The Epilogue

After that bombshell, we cut to the epilogue, where a hooded figure receives the fallen Xehanort’s keyblade, No Name, after the events of Kingdom Hearts 3. The figure picks it up, and four of the Foretellers (union leaders) from the ancient era before the Keyblade War appear in front of the figure.

After some squabbling, the hooded figure is recognised as Luxu, the sixth Foreteller who was chosen by their collective master, the Master of Masters, to go on a secret mission, taking the keyblade No Name (which contains the master’s all-seeing eye) and passing it down from master to apprentice so that he can see the events of the future. He was also entrusted with a Black Box, the contents of which we are yet to understand.

After more protesting, the hooded Luxu then reveals himself to be Xigbar, who we thought perished during the Skein of Severance. It’s suggested that Luxu has taken many forms across time, but his main form has been Xigbar, who has been lying in wait amongst Xehanort’s ranks, a double agent serving the Master of Masters, out to usurp his keyblade once he falls so he can become the new ringleader and continue the mission. 

"It all suggests the Foretellers will fall to darkness"

That time is now, and it looks like the greater plan the Master of Master’s had for Luxu is about to be revealed. Unfortunately, Xigbar is fairly tight-lipped about this.

We then return to Young Eraqus and Xehanort, who are playing chess once more. Eraqus brings out a new game of chess to play after the conclusion of the last one with Xehanort’s defeat. Seven pieces of darkness replace the thirteen, each symbolic of the four Foretellers from the epilogue, the missing Foreteller Ava, Luxu/Xigbar and the Master of Masters. 

Eraqus then places down just one piece of light before the epilogue ends, which appears to be symbolic of our missing protagonist Sora, though the next Kingdom Hearts saga could easily be fronted by a new protagonist. The makeup of this chessboard is essentially the backbone of the next Kingdom Hearts game.

This suggests that the Foretellers will fall to darkness in some shape or form. As for the missing Foreteller, Ava, it’s anyone's guess.

The Secret Video 

In the video, a sleeping Sora wakes up in a puddle. We’re shown the sights of Shibuya, Japan. The famous 109 building has been changed to read 104, something popularized in the Shibuya of Square Enix’s The World Ends With You, a cult JRPG whose characters have previously featured quite heavily in Kingdom Hearts with the 3DS title Dream Drop Distance. 

After Sora, we cut to Riku, and we see somebody watching Riku from atop a tower, and it turns out to be Yozora, the protagonist of the game Verum Rex that was teased in the opening movie to the Toy Box world earlier in Kingdom Hearts 3. Verum Rex is a fictional in-universe game that takes a lot of inspiration from Final Fantasy Versus 13.

Specifically, it is evocative of Nomura’s vision for that game before it was amalgamated into the Final Fantasy XV we know now. You can see it in the character designs of Verum Rex, with all of them looking parallel to Noctis and his pals. You can also hear a tinge of Somnus in the Secret Video score near the end.

We then see the Master of Masters on a rooftop making a box and then a heart gesture with his hands over the moon on a Tokyo rooftop. We can surmise this is the Master of Masters as there is no reason for any other character to hide with a cloak anymore, what with the reveal of Luxu as Xigbar.

As for where that leaves us: It looks like Sora is missing in the Shibuya of 2007’s The World Ends With You. Seeing as Kairi appears to be alive as per the ending movie, perhaps Sora had to sacrifice himself to save her, which has pushed him into this new world. 

Riku, after an unseen rendezvous with Namine, has gone after Sora, supposedly to rescue him, and has landed in the world of Verum Rex. 

Where are the Hidden Mickeys?

Kingdom Hearts 3 Lucky Emblems locations - where to find all of the hidden Mickey Mouse-shaped icons

Our guess is that this is the next chess game that Eraqus and Xehanort are playing, the next saga of Kingdom Hearts, with the Foretellers as the villains and Sora (or another protagonist of the light) in the hot seat. It looks like the next game will take us to Square Enix worlds rather than Disney ones, or perhaps a mix of both. 

Xigbar/Luxu could well have manipulated all of the Foretellers into aiding with his mischievous plan during the meeting at the Graveyard, parallel to how Terra-Xehanort recruited the scientists at Radiant Garden into Organization XIII. This would explain why they are on the darkside of the chessboard. The Foretellers have always been misguided and of questionable morality, as they were at the whim of the Master of Masters, a nefarious character who we still know little about. 

There is also the conundrum of Subject X, a character referenced in passing throughout Kingdom Hearts 3. Subject X was one of the experimental subjects of Ansem the Wise. Via the Kingdom Hearts 3 battlegates Secret Reports, we learn that X is from the age of fairytales and was taken from the dungeon of Radiant Garden by a person with an eyepatch, most likely Xigbar/Luxu. Perhaps she is in the mysterious Black Box. This is suggested to be another Dandelion from the old era, as they can remember four friends, so it could easily be Skuld (or even Ava, but that’s far more tenuous.) We also hear from Strelitzia, another Dandelion who was killed during the events of Union Cross by an unknown assailant. They are the ‘Nameless Star’ in The Final World (basically the Kingdom Hearts afterlife), looking for their brother Lauriam, another Dandelion who is the human version of the Nobody Marluxia.

We also learn from the Secret Reports that one of the Dandelions was an imposter not chosen by the Master of Masters who allowed the union leaders to escape into the modern timeline. Perhaps this is Ventus, who we know is the same Dandelion Ventus from the Union Cross era. If you recall, his own memory is terribly hazy prior to the events of Birth By Sleep. Now that we know he’s been around longer than most of the main cast, questions do start to linger!

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