Ever since Persona 3, the Persona games have had both “good” and “bad” endings, asking players to make a pivotal decision late in the calendar year that will determine the ultimate fate of their hero. In Persona 3, seeing your way to the good ending was as simple as refusing to let a friend sacrifice themselves, whereas Persona 4 complicated matters by gating the “true” ending behind several specific dialogue choices on two separate calendar dates—in addition to several variants on the “bad” ending, there was a “neutral” ending as well. The expanded Persona 4 Golden added two more! Badder! Truer!
Persona 5 is not nearly so complicated: There’s one ending that is both good and true—and a handful of bad ones to avoid. The path to the true ending is pretty straightforward, but it’s still possible to stumble into the bad endings by mistake if you’re not sure what to look out for. If you’re the type who’d prefer never to see the bad endings at all, here are some instructions, first in easy, spoiler-free, bullet-point format and then in a bit more detail for the fastidious.
1. Steal the Treasure in each Palace before the deadline.
2. During the interrogation on 11/20, give the first response to the second and third questions.
3. During a conversation with Igor on 12/24, refuse to surrender.
More detail (spoilers ahead!)
The first instruction should be obvious: the game tells you early on that if you fail to steal the Treasure from each target’s Palace by the deadline that’s always glaring at you from the top-right corner of the screen, it’s game over. Don’t do that. Fail to meet a deadline, and you’ll see the consequences of your lollygagging—and maybe even some details that might spoil you on a late-game twist. That’s no fun!
The pivotal date that will set you on the course to the game’s final act is November 20, immediately after you steal the Treasure from Sae’s Palace and replay the casino escape from the prologue. When Sae comes to interrogate you, she’ll offer to strike a deal. It doesn’t matter what your first response is, but when she reads off the list of your fellow thieves, pick “No.” or “Never heard of them.” When she asks if there were other collaborators, pick the first response: “There were no such people.”
That’s it! Don’t sell out your friends, and you’re on your way to the spiraling climax of your whirlwind tour of thievery.
You’re not 100% off the hook, though—there’s one more bad ending that you can accidentally stumble into if you’re not careful. On 12/24, during the various events that make up the endgame, Igor will attempt to convince you to submit to the awfulness that is currently occurring. Refuse! Rebel! Go down fighting! That’ll ensure that you see your way to the ultimate conclusion of the game—and the end of your “rehabilitation.”
Enjoy the ending! You deserve it, you Phantom Thief, you.
Nate Ewert-Krocker is a writer and a Montessori teacher who lives in Atlanta. His first book, an adventure novel for teens, is available here. You can find him on Twitter at @NEwertKrocker, where he mostly gushes about final boss themes from JRPGs.