Near the end of Total Recall (2012), does the missing symbol on Quaid's arm symbolize that it is all a dream/fake memory? And, if so, why does he just accept it?

  • 4
    can you provide more description of symbol and how it went missing? a still from the movie, maybe?
    – Shiz Z.
    Nov 10 '12 at 4:34
  • +1 for above comment, please explain which/what symbol is missing. The scar on Quaid's hand is still present at the end
    – Origin
    Nov 10 '12 at 9:20
  • @louis - are you talking about the missing scar on "Melina's" hand near the end of the movie?
    – Oliver_C
    Nov 10 '12 at 15:21
  • 2
    He asks about the sign that was left on his arm when he went at the REKALL center in the begining of the movie. The sign appeared on his arm after an injection was done by a woman at rekall before starting the procedure of inserting memories. In the end of the movie the sign wasnt there anymore.
    – nr4
    Nov 10 '12 at 22:19
  • @nr4 - thanks, I used your clarification to write an answer.
    – Oliver_C
    Nov 11 '12 at 11:14

Here is a detailed comparison between the Theatrical and Extended Director's Cut. One of the differences is an additional scene at the end:

Doug looks down and removes the bandage from the spot where the injection tattoo was burned in at Rekall – it cannot be seen anymore.


One could interpret this as a hint that Quaid is still in a dream world. Although, that 'tattoo' might have been just a stamp mark that had rubbed off.

  • 8
    Wow, how could they cut such a crucial element from the movie? IMHO the film would have benefited greatly if there was a more-in-depth exploration of the dream/reality question. Instead, it feels like this element of the story is barely touched.
    – Shiz Z.
    Nov 20 '12 at 18:16
  • 2
    Note: I noticed that the Wikipedia page no longer mentions the alternate ending, so I edited my answer to refer to another source.
    – Oliver_C
    Jan 5 '13 at 15:28
  • @ShaneF. The book upon which both movies were based also left it intentionally ambiguous and up to the audience
    – atk
    Mar 16 '14 at 16:08
  • The extended version is much better in keeping the ambiguity. There's more to this. You have Henry mentioning "you are living a dream" to Doug during the bar scene and a fact of plastic surgery of Doug that took place before he was given new identity witch matches a face of a turned terrorist shown in the news coverage before the rekall visit. Adds some flavor.
    – bcelary
    Apr 7 '14 at 1:01

These set of dialogues has to be especially revised while he is being injected with the Chemicals from the chinese guy.

You could be working for the Resistance. Maybe you work for Cohaagen. Or why limit yourself? Why not both?

You're going to have such a good time, you're not going to want to come back. Look at that. Looks like your wife does have a man who appreciates her. No conflict there. Sorry. Still the best way to get chemicals into the human body.

Let's get this show on the road. Get ready to save the world. Happy trails, man.

And from there on he goes on exactly does that, saving the world.


Everything indicates that he is not dreaming, except for the symbol, but if it's all a dream Quaid´s should never would have dreamt about Melina before he goes to RECALL and that entire first scene doesn´t make sense.

Now assuming that is all real there is no explanation for the symbol. So in my opinion it has the ending wrong.

There is no reference that the symbol is permanent. it could be as simple as an ink stamp and can be erased easily, so imho everything is real or as you say the first scene would make absolutely no sense.


My theory is that Quaid never actually went to the Rekall lounge (where the Asian guy injected him). Cohaagen and his group just implanted that memory into him that he went there. So that's why he doesn't have a scar.

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