The latest Animal Crossing: New Horizons Nintendo Direct delivered almost 30 minutes of exciting information, making it the biggest Direct for the game yet. It makes sense; the highly anticipated game is going to be released in less than a month, so the thrill is in the air.
Except… it isn’t regarding one thing — a rather discreet item that wasn’t commented on in the Direct. At approximately 22:31 in the Feb. 20 Direct, you can see a tombstone at the far right of the screen, tucked under a tree.
Even with the deluge of information being thrown at them, many viewers were quick to spot it. A tombstone in an Animal Crossing town? It’s pretty unheard of. It’s clearly meant to be a graveyard, with the white flowers surrounding the grave and what seems to be a small plant on the tombstone itself.
Regardless, chaos has ensued in parts of the Animal Crossing community as players are left wondering: Is the beloved elderly Mayor Tortimer dead?
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Mayor Tortimer has been a series staple since the very beginning. Serving as the mayor of your town, the elderly tortoise has been ever gracious to you and his people. In the original Animal Crossing, he would get up early on Sundays to do aerobic exercises with the townsfolk. He has captivated people with his “heh heh horf” laugh, which is objectively, inarguably, and undoubtedly as legendary as the laughs of, say, The Joker or Final Fantasy 6‘s Kefka.
Even in New Leaf, when you took his place as the town’s mayor, he was present. He had retired and begun living on Tortimer Island, because he’s such an icon that the series’ generic island became named in his honor. An Animal Crossing game without Mayor Tortimer seems unimaginable — or, at least, it once did. But with no Mayor Tortimer in sight throughout all the promotional material for New Horizons thus far, fans are anxious that the elderly figure has finally passed after all this time since 2001.
But all hope is not yet lost. Not in a positive way, but in a, “it might not be Tortimer who’s dead” way.
One of the new faces that showed up in the Nintendo Direct is Daisy Mae, an adorable baby boar. She seems to be the latest addition to the line of several traveling villagers in every Animal Crossing game that will occasionally stop by the town to provide fortune telling readings, ask you to clean their car, or, in this case, sell you some turnips.
But there’s already someone in Animal Crossing games who would sell you turnips. Her name is Joan, and she’s an adult boar who has been said to sell turnips for 60 years. It’s safe to say that, in the turnip selling throughout different villages industry, there’s likely no one better than Joan.
So, then, why is Daisy Mae selling turnips instead of Joan? It seems likely that the two are related; maybe Daisy Mae is Joan’s daughter. Maybe Joan isn’t dead. Maybe Joan just wanted to train Daisy Mae to follow in her footsteps and continue the business. Maybe she’s decided to retire after all her hard work. And in a relentlessly capitalist world, we should celebrate that. God knows less elderly people in the world should be working because they can’t afford retirement.
But, combined with the appearance of the tombstone, fans have cause for concern, as well. Additionally, even if Daisy Mae is her prodigy, why is Joan subjecting her child to doing this kind of labor when she’s clearly a baby? Are they so badly off that this is necessary? Can we at least set up a GoFundMe for Joan to help? Because it’s what she deserves.
There is one last theory that doesn’t involve either of these beloved people to have passed. Another new face in the trailer is Wisp, an extremely cute ghost who is shown to be easily spooked.
Fans have expressed the hope that the tombstone belongs to Wisp rather than any actually dead villager, which would make perfect sense. Otherwise, it’s hard to guess why a ghost is inhabiting your town — and how and from where.
Or maybe the tombstone is just a decorative item since you can place items outside in New Horizons. Maybe the villager of that town is really morbid and wanted a grave at the far edge of their town. They set the flowers around it, made it look legit, and felt it completed their ideal image of a town.
But this hasn’t quelled the anxiety. At the end of the day, two elderly figures in the Animal Crossing series haven’t been seen in New Horizons. While it’s likely we can only know the truth until the game’s launch on March 20, it’s understandably a source of great anxiety for Animal Crossing fans on Twitter, who are investing and/or making memes to cope.
WAIT! IS THAT A TOMBSTONE IN ANIMAL CROSSING ?! pic.twitter.com/8kAQZ8t0ML
— Tom Nook on New Horizons (@Nook_Inc) February 20, 2020
me laughing at joke posts abt the grave in the animal crossing trailer being tortimer and then realizing that the appearance of daisy mae instead of joan means that time has passed and tortimer very well could have died pic.twitter.com/1byUfM1dGR
— despicable meat (@manglegrove) February 21, 2020
I was watching the Animal Crossing Direct, I saw there’s a new turnip salesman, and I shit you not, a grave with what looks like a spoiled turnip laid across it.
Joan, the 70+ year old Turnip saleswoman, is dead.
RIP Joan you made me wake up at 9:00 AM every sunday you son of a pic.twitter.com/upyF2G3l3r
— Codeman (@ChampionSmeltz) February 20, 2020
And my personal favorite, for even if he’s not dead, it’s true: Tortimer is an LGBT ally.
Tortimer: “lgbt community stand behind me”
the entire lgbt community: “but tortimer…”
Tortimer: “STAND BEHIND ME!!”
the entire lgbt community: “Tortimer!” pic.twitter.com/SPHqcQSMKn
— Robbie @ FF7R Countdown (@Venrosonitas) February 20, 2020
I, and many others, just hope he isn’t dead.