Many theories exist about the central themes of DHMIS, and though I think a lot of them hit on interesting observations, most are disjointed, incomplete, contain significant contradictions, or are otherwise dissatisfying. I can't claim to assuage any of these things, but I will attempt to outline my own theory as comprehensively as possible.
I should also note before beginning that I won't be touching on the social commentaries of the series, as they are often self-contained within their respective episodes, and I'm mostly concerned with the consistent elements and overarching narrative. With that, strap in, because this is a long one. Here it goes:
June 19 has appeared in myriad forms throughout the series, consistently being the date that each episode takes place, or so it seems. The meaning of the date is hotly debated, but there's no doubt to its significance beyond being the end date of DHMIS's kickstarter campaign. The biggest question is, how can so many things happen all in one day, and how come the cast seems to mentally reset at the beginning of each episode? At the beginning of ep5, with Harry/Red Guy being gone (albeit his aetherial omnipresence as red objects throughout the episode), the others can only sense that something is off. Even looking at pictures of their missing friend doesn't clue them in at first. How could they have almost completely forgotten their friend, despite having gone on numerous adventures with him THAT VERY DAY? Themes of brainwashing are consistent throughout, though it doesn't explain why the cast seems to be reliving the same day over and over. For that, let's talk about purgatory.
As part of the kickstarter campaign, short videos (with a camera timestamp of 19.06.55) depicting the main cast being held by a kidnapper was used to promote the fundraiser. Allusions to it being Roy's house are made (though that's a whole other can of organs to open later), but the important thing to note for now is that these are either the final moments of the cast before they are killed, or yet another instance of time resetting on 19-06 in a different place and scenario, in which case, they are all already dead.
This isn't the first theory to suggest the whole "they were dead the whole time" thing, and it won't be the last, especially after episode 5. However, not everyone agrees which episodes are before they die, which are after, or if all three are dead, etc etc. I'm here to make the case that every main episode is post-mortem, and that possibly even the kidnapping video is them reliving their final moments alive.
Whatever the actual cause of death may have been, June 19 is the last day that the characters were alive before they went missing. Their naivete and susceptibility to distractions makes it easy for them to get stuck as ghosts in a perpetually resetting version of their final day, unaware of their own deaths. In other words, they have been trapped in limbo, designed to distract and obfuscate the truth of their deaths in order to keep them there. Essentially, to move past June 19, they would have to "move on" in the way ghosts stereotypically do when they let go of their earthly attachments. This becomes more plausible given the ending of ep4 and the entirety of ep5, where Harry / Red Guy has an epiphany that has him (literally) pop out of purgatory, and into the next plane of existence. Throughout ep5, he tries to contact the other two from beyond purgatory to tell them the truth, which is why "reality" seems to keep bending, as the forces of purgatory and the attempts of Red Guy clash.
Harry / Red Guy had an abrupt realization that his world was an illusion in episode 4, because he quietly wanders “out of bounds” while the central forces of purgatory believe they have trapped them all in an endless loop of Digital Dancing. Duck Guy’s realization is much more difficult, as Red may not realize that his attempts to contact the others has agitated the violence that purgatory uses to keep spirits trapped there.
You may have noticed in ep4, the last thing the tape recorder says before Red Guy’s head explodes is “you are not invited to the party,” something that had no clear meaning until episode 5’s elaborate and innacurate house/organs analogy.
In ep5, we learn that healthy food is “invited to stay for a party,” and that “bad, unhealthy foods are very rude, and must leave through the catflap.” On the surface, it’s a comically bad analogy about food in the digestive system. But to go back to that final moment in episode 4, we realize it’s a much more accurate analogy to what is happening to the souls of the main characters, and may offer a clue to why they may have been killed in the first place.
To continue with the food analogy, it would appear that the limbo their souls are trapped in serves some sort of purpose, to satiate someone or something’s “hunger”. To this end, it’s likely that Duck Guy’s soul did not escape successfully and was instead devoured by whatever force is keeping them there. He wasn’t perceptive (rude) enough to escape in time, and as the confetti thrown over his entrails would suggest, he was “invited to stay for the party”.
You may have noticed by now that I haven’t referenced eps1-3, but it’s not because they don’t fit the theory; they just fit it in a different way. I think that DHMIS grew into this narrative over time, but there are elements from the earlier episodes that, given how they are referenced in later episodes, retroactively made them clues to them being trapped in purgatory. There are also elements that, even without being clear indicators of the overarching theory, are small details that definitely suggest that something is off:
Inanimate objects with eyes are seen throughout the series. Notable examples:
-Block shapes in all episodes watch silently from shelves and counters in the background.
-Episode 1’s brief 3D sequence shows that they are being filmed by giant eyeballs with yellow duck feet. The eyeball camera and scene marker are seen again at the end of ep4.
-Episode 2’s final shot, things seemingly return to normal after the three rapidly age and decay. Everything, that is, except for a dislodged eyeball still on the floor beside the rocking chair.
-Ep3’s “Heaven” has trees with eyes, as do numerous other inanimate objects (not counting the clouds, rainbow, etc).
-The carpet under the table in Ep4 has an angular eye-like shape in the center, similar to Malcom’s from Ep3. The carpet and board game’s corners look very much like the Computer’s eyes. Similar square eyes are on the board game’s pieces.
-Everything has eyes in episode 5. Moving on.
-Episode 2 and 4 have doors with real (or at least non-felt fabric) mounted animal heads hanging above them. These animal heads are the only “real” objects in the set decorations throughout the series. Given that one such corresponding door leads Harry “out of bounds,” it may be a clue that going through these doors would be symbolic of facing death, hence hanging the actual dead faces of animals above them.
-The red door in the organ house in episode 5 is likely part of Harry’s attempts to tell the others to move on.
-This one’s a bit of a Hail Mary, but the glitter on the heart in episode one is similar to the glitter on the broken body and Duck’s guts in episode 5. This serves to connect the episodes enough to convince me that the puppets were dead since the beginning.
- This clearly doesn’t mean anything.
Speculation on Episode 6:
As this will be the final episode, I’m pretty sure it will be centered around the fate of Manny’s soul, and the theme may have something to do with morality, or some higher-concept subject that lends some explanation to how or why they died. A line that stuck out to me from episode 5 was Meat Man saying “...Need to know what’s right from wrong”. It’s a stab in the dark for sure, but whatever the subject is, it will likely start with only Manny left in the house, and the nightmares will either start early, or, even spookier, he’ll be sent off on a “happy” note that will actually be some kind trick that we never see.
Speculation on Death and Roy:
I have zero proof to this, but I think that Roy and Manny are one in the same. Roy may be a mentally unstable adult that assumes the role of a child version of himself when interacting with others. I think that he befriended Harry and Duck as Manny, later killing them to appease his schizophrenic voices, before killing himself. The demons of Purgatory know that Roy is the key to corrupting his two victims, so they create a world to appeal to his Manny alter ego. During moments of clarity or resistance from the three, Roy is often seen watching from the sidelines. Episode 6 may feature family as a main theme, where Manny may have a Fight Club - style realization that his dad is actually his real self.
Alternatively, Roy may be a cultist who sacrificed the three to a soul-eating god, or he could be the soul-eater himself. Whatever the case, I think Roy holds the key to many mysteries regarding the series.
Never be creative again
The future doesn’t exist
Forget about anything you ever knew
Oh look, Nothing… Nothing… Nothing...
But… Something’s wrong… I need to go...
Typing all this made my teeth go grey. Please poke holes in this thing. Thank you.