Why does Mal insist on communal suicide in Inception? If they were really still dreaming, she could just die alone and kick Cobb on the level above (if death would wake them up, it means there are no synchronized kicks needed). Murder-suicide would be another option. From her point of view, this would amount to helping a deluded person and her solo suicide as negligence.

Of course, she ends up committing solo suicide, but before that, she first spent weeks/month (?) trying to persuade Cobb and then executed an elaborate scheme that involved having three psychiatrists declare her sane and wrecking a hotel room. The alternatives would have been much easier. Her instinctual resistance to killing her husband would probably have been weakened, because she already did it multiple times during their boundless dream-exploration.

In my view, her focus on communal suicide points more to mental illness as opposed to actually believing they need to wake up.

  • Ummm..... isn't that exactly what she did? Commented May 23, 2022 at 18:51
  • Yes, but after prolonged pleading for Cobb to join her in death. Commented May 23, 2022 at 19:03
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    The time spent after coming back, solo, and kicking him awake maybe translates to him having to continue on for months or years at that dream level without her? It will be interesting to see what folks come up with. Commented May 23, 2022 at 20:18
  • @PoloHoleSet You already came up with something. ;-)
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented May 24, 2022 at 6:31
  • This question is not so much about why Mal doesn't kick him (that's movies.stackexchange.com/questions/81745/… ), but about how she wanted to leave that level/reality. Commented May 24, 2022 at 6:42

2 Answers 2


Maybe Cobb's simple idea that her world isn't real was planted so deeply and so well, and she came to believe it so blindly, that her belief was so at odds with the love of her life that a simple kick wouldn't work on a mind as lost as her soulmate's. He was too far in the depths of limbo; she couldn't risk a kick pulling him out; after all, she believed he didn't even recognise her own children. Cobb did such a good job on his own wife that Mal thought she was doing him a favour and wouldn't leave without him. And that's the gravity of Cobb's guilt — why he couldn't tell his closest pal Arthur, and Ariadne only found out accidentally, and Cobb chose to bring her along so as not to face his guilt at being 'the best extractor'. He was right.


You can't wake somebody up from Limbo with a kick.

The movie makes it clear that, for a kick to work, you need to be able to sense it in the next level down. In Limbo, you have no sense of what is happening in the levels above at all - you are completely removed. You can't simply kick somebody out of Limbo because they can't sense it at all - you have to follow them in.

I have no explanation for why she didn't think to kill Cobb and then kill herself, though.

  • 6
    Didn't she believe at that point that they were one level down from the real world, and not limbo?
    – Laurel
    Commented May 29, 2022 at 21:38

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