You are the best thing that's ever happened to me in my life. I want you to know that whatever happens, I love you more than anything in the world.

—Ethan to his son, Shaun

Ethan Mars is one of the main protagonists and four playable characters (the other three being Scott Shelby, Norman Jayden, and Madison Paige) in Heavy Rain, and the central character of the game overall. Up until 2009, Ethan lived an idyllic and happy life as a successful architect alongside his loving wife Grace Mars and his two sons, Jason and Shaun Mars. However, Ethan's life took the first of two tragic turns when his son Jason was hit by a car and killed. Heavy Rain, set two years later in 2011, focuses on Ethan during the kidnapping of his second son, Shaun.

Ethan is voiced by and modeled after Pascal Langdale.


Leading Up to Events of Heavy RainEdit

The main narrative of Heavy Rain picks up two years after Jason's death. Ethan was in a coma for six months after the accident, and he is shown to be heavily plagued by guilt and remorse over Jason's death. In fact, if Jason had been Ethan's only son, it is possible that Ethan would've committed suicide (as is evident when Ethan commits suicide if Shaun also dies). Also, the events at the mall have given Ethan agoraphobia (intense fear of crowds) and blackouts where he loses consciousness.

It is Shaun Marsdisappearance that causes Ethan's life to take a darker turn, and causes him to be sent into more worry. Fortunately, the kidnapper of Shaun - the Origami Killer - has not killed Shaun and is holding him captive. He is given Ethan a phone that has a hangman with various blank lines. These underlines are actually unknown letters; by completing trials sent from the killer, Ethan will get a set number of letters. This is what shapes the game's central question, "How far are you prepared to go to save someone you love?" These trials become increasingly difficult and morally taxing, and Ethan logically reasons against all five of them in his thoughts.

Start of GameEdit

A normal day of Ethan's life is shown in "Prologue." Then, in "The Mall," he and his family go shopping at a very crowded mall. When Grace and Shaun go into a shoe store, Jason runs off to a clown -- when Ethan finds him, the clown sells him a balloon, but before Ethan can pay the $2 for it, Jason runs off. Wasting a considerable amount of time paying the clown, Ethan runs off incredibly worried about Jason. He and Jason eventually meet on opposite sides of the street; however, Jason runs toward his father without noticing the car coming up the street. Ethan rushes towards Jason and tries to push him out of the way; however, Ethan is too late, and Jason is seemingly hit by the car at full impact, whilst Ethan is also hit though unseen where, and is plunged into a 6-month coma. From here, the game time-skips to two years later, as Ethan is picking Shaun up from school, which begins the main story.

Chapter AppearancesEdit


Ethan has the most possible endings (7) of any character. These are, from worst to best, all his endings.

  • Helpless - Ethan is imprisoned after he is accused of being the Origami Killer, and is completely devastated over Shaun's death. Filled with remorse and severely depressed, Ethan hangs himself in his cell. In his cell, there are dozens of origami figures; it is possible that he went mad with grief after losing Shaun and made the origami figures himself.
  • Origami Blues - Ethan sits alone in a motel room, with neither Madison or Shaun at his side. Filled with grief over Shaun's death, he shoots himself in the forehead with the pistol from the shoebox. As in "Helpless," there are dozens of origami figures in his room.
  • Tears in the Rain - Ethan and Madison visit Shaun's grave. Madison begs Ethan to move on and start a new family with her and he asks her for a moment to say goodbye. Madison complies and goes off to wait in the car, but turns around just in time to see Ethan draw a pistol out of his pocket and shoot himself in the head. Unable to stop him, Madison cries hysterically over his body as the scene zooms out.
  • Ethan's Grave - Shaun and Grace mourn over Ethan's grave. If Scott and/or Madison are alive, they'll be seen separately in the background, quietly observing them.
  • Innocent - Ethan is released from prison after his name is cleared. Shaun and Grace greet him at the police station and it is implied that Ethan and Grace will try to re-establish their relationship.
  • A New Start - Ethan and Shaun move into a new condominium together and both look genuinely happy for the first time in years.
  • A New Life - Ethan, Shaun and Madison move into their new condominium. It is implied that Madison and Ethan are married/dating. Madison tells Ethan that, with time, they'll learn to forget the horrible things that happened like they were just nightmares and that they've earned the right to be happy.

It should be noted that Ethan will always commit suicide if Shaun dies.


Main article: Trials

During the game, Ethan must partake in five trials to obtain groups of letters of an address that will ultimately lead him to his son's location.

  • The Bear - Drive against traffic on the highway for five miles within five minutes.
  • The Butterfly - Crawl through a tunnel filled with broken glass, then go through a maze of electrical capacitors.
  • The Lizard - Cut off the last section of one of his fingers in five minutes.
  • The Shark - Kill a man. (In Ethan's case, the target is a drug dealer named Brad Silver.)
  • The Rat - Drink a bottle of poison that will kill him in 60 minutes/one hour. (The poison doesn't really kill him and is more a test of will from the Origami Killer to see if he is capable of making the sacrifice of himself to save Shaun.)

People KilledEdit

  • Brad Silver (if he chooses, after avoiding Brad long enough for him to run out of ammo)
  • Scott Shelby (if he makes it to the old warehouse and Norman is not present; he must choose to kill Scott if he makes it to the warehouse alone)
  • Himself (if Shaun dies)

Possible Deaths Edit


Main article: Madison and Ethan romance

Ethan can develop an intimate relationship with Madison Paige, and the player later has the option of consummating their relationship. If (forgiven) Madison and Ethan survive and Shaun is saved, Ethan will be married to Madison in "A New Life" and purchase a home, the three of them living happily ever after.


  • Ethan's French dub voice actor, Bernard Gabay, is also the French voice actor for Genji in Overwatch and has also voiced Zhao in the French dub of Avatar: The Last Airbender.
  • Ethan's Japanese voice actor is also the Japanese voice actor of Martin Li/Mister Negative in the PS4 version of Spider-Man. Ethan shares a possible similarity to Martin Li; in the comics, it is theorized that Li suffers from dissociative identity disorder. In the game, Ethan describes symptoms typically associated with the disorder.
  • Ethan's zodiac sign is Virgo.
  • Ethan is the only main character to share a birthday with the actor portraying him.
  • Ethan's first name means "firm, strong, enduring, and long-lived." These meanings can fit with how he endures and survives many dangerous tasks that he undergoes to save his son. His last name, Mars, means "war," as it is associated with the Roman god of war. This meaning can be associated somewhat with his trials, as through completing them he in a sense goes to war with the person responsible for kidnapping his son.
  • The color blue is often associated with Ethan in the game. His eyes are blue, and he wears a light blue shirt in "Prologue", a darker blue hoodie in "Father and Son," and a sweater that appears to be either blue or gray for the remainder of the game. The color blue can symbolize loyalty, which fits with Ethan as his storyline focuses on his loyalty to his son.
  • Ethan is similar to Lucas Kane from Indigo Prophecy/Fahrenheit: they both are survivors, have extraordinary experiences, and found an important woman in their life to love. (Madison Paige is optional, but Carla Valenti is fated.) In the game’s best ending, it is theorized by some players that Ethan knows Lucas.
    • Ethan also shares similarities with Jodie Holmes, the protagonist of Beyond: Two Souls. Both Ethan and Jodie attempt to or actually do commit suicide by shooting themselves, both go on the run, and both have secrets somewhat connected to their family that are revealed at the end of their games. (Jodie finds out that the entity linked to her since childhood, Aiden, is her twin brother in the chapter "Black Sun," while Ethan, should he make it to the warehouse alone, finds out that Scott Shelby witnessed Jason's death and Ethan's attempt to save him.)
  • Ethan's storyline is similar to that of Kara in Detroit: Become Human. Ethan is a father attempting to save his son, while Kara takes on the role of a mother protecting her daughter. Both can perform acts of self-sacrifice to keep their respective children safe: Ethan can take the poison in the Rat Trial in order to save Shaun despite being told it will kill him in an hour, and Kara may sacrifice herself at the Canadian border to allow Alice to pass through safely. (Kara even says something to Alice similar to what Ethan says to Shaun before the poison is revealed to be a trick.) Should Kara and Alice be taken to the recycling center in the final chapter of Detroit: Become Human, Kara will shout for Alice repeatedly, perhaps a nod to how Ethan shouts for Jason and Shaun repeatedly. A YouTube user has even made a video comparing the two, editing the scene where Kara calls for Alice to make it similar to the "Press X to Shaun" glitch.
  • Ethan is the second of four Quantic Dream protagonists to go on the run at some point in their games. The other three are Lucas Kane, Jodie Holmes, and Kara. Of them, Ethan is the only one able to be permanently arrested; getting arrested is a fail ending for Lucas and will force the player to restart, Jodie will use Aiden to help her escape each time she is caught, and Kara will die if the player fails to escape.
  • Two years before the release of Heavy Rain, Ethan's house was depicted as being much smaller.
  • The loading screen for "Father and Son" is different from any others that Ethan appears in.
  • Ethan, being a family man, is not a trained fighter and gets involved in fewer fights than Madison Paige, Scott Shelby and Norman Jayden.
  • Out of the four main characters, Ethan has the lowest number of deaths in the game, although he has the highest number of epilogues ("Helpless," "Origami Blues," and "Tears in the Rain") in which he dies. The only chapter in which Ethan can die is "The Old Warehouse."
  • Ethan has the lowest number of causes of death, as three of his four possible deaths involve getting shot and two of those involve him shooting himself.
    • The only death that does not involve Ethan getting shot occurs in "Helpless," where he hangs himself with a rope.
    • Three of Ethan's deaths involve him committing suicide. The only one that doesn't occurs in "The Old Warehouse," where he gets shot by the police if he goes to the warehouse alone or if Madison fails to warn him when all three characters go.
  • He is one of only two main characters (the other being Scott) who cannot die before "The Old Warehouse." However, unlike Scott, he can end up skipping one chapter: "The Rat" (if he is imprisoned). This leaves Scott Shelby as the only main character who cannot skip a chapter (not counting "Goodbye Lauren").
  • Ethan crosses paths with Madison numerous times, Norman four times, and Scott twice: once in "The Mall" (which is revealed in the final chapter) and once in "The Old Warehouse," although the latter chapter is the only time Ethan confronts Scott in person.
  • Ethan is the only playable character who does not say his full name at any point in the game; he mentions only his first name to Madison in "First Encounter."
  • Ethan is 5' 10" (1.78 m) tall and weighs 164 lbs (74 kg). Of the four playable characters, he is the second shortest.
  • The only chapter where Ethan appears as a non-playable character is "Under Arrest."
  • Ethan owns a 1986 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale, and will also drive a 1995 Pontiac Sunfire (and possibly a 1995 Chevrolet Lumina) throughout the course of the game.
  • During the early stages of Heavy Rain, Ethan's blackouts were originally going to involve dreams, including him swimming underwater, trying to save Shaun, and seeing John Sheppard. These dreams were removed due to the lack of story progression.
    • Ethan's blackouts were also going to have been caused by a psychic link formed between himself and the Origami Killer due to the killer having been present during the accident that killed Jason and put Ethan in a coma. This psychic link allowed Ethan to access the killer's mind whenever he killed a child; the blackouts were actually representative of the killer's memories. This was later taken out of the game due to being a paranormal element, which would have been an issue as director David Cage wanted it to remain centered in reality.
    • While not directly relevant to Ethan in the final version of the game and thus considered non-canon, Ethan's blackouts may have hinted at some semblance of precognition (likely from seeing the Origami Killer's memories and thoughts), as in the blackout he experiences at the park, he encounters Shaun. Afterwards, Shaun is kidnapped by the killer. On another note, Shaun (at least in the few bits of the scrapped scenes in videos including Heavy Rain: Cutting Room Floor) is the only child Ethan sees in a blackout that speaks to him; the others do not, which may be foreshadowing or referencing Shaun's determinant fate, as the only Origami Killer victim who can be saved. In addition, at one point in one of Ethan's blackouts, a chair can be seen which is exactly like the one the killer throws to knock Norman Jayden into Paco Mendez's fish tank during their fight several chapters later in "Fish Tank."
    • As it is a scrapped concept, it is not exactly known why or how Ethan's and the killer's consciousnesses became linked, or what effect - if any - this may have had on the killer. Some players believe either Ethan, the killer, or both may have possessed some sort of psychic ability that caused this link. In the case of this applying to Ethan, some players have theorized that being hit by the car while attempting to save Jason somehow manifested a dormant form of telepathy which caused him to link his mind to the killer's. While somewhat unlikely, it is possible that the "psychological damage" Ethan's psychologist mentions may have also referred to this, though it is more likely he was talking about Ethan's depression.
  • If the concepts mentioned above (telepathy, precognition) are taken into canon (i.e. if the concept had not been scrapped) and the former is applied to Ethan, this would mean that three Quantic Dream protagonists (Lucas Kane from Indigo Prophecy/Fahrenheit, Ethan, and Jodie Holmes from Beyond: Two Souls) have supernatural or psychic abilities. If the former were applied to the Origami Killer instead or as well, this would mean that two Quantic Dream antagonists (The Oracle from Indigo Prophecy/Fahrenheit and the Origami Killer) have supernatural/psychic abilities.
  • It is not clear if Ethan attempting to save Jason was what gave the Origami Killer the inspiration to begin the murders, or if it simply gave him an idea for a later victim. The murders did start in 2009, but it's not shown when in particular (though the killer's dialogue in the final chapter implies that they started after the accident).
  • The only scenes from Chapter 1 where Ethan does not appear are "Sleazy Place," "Crime Scene," and "Hassan's Shop."
  • Ethan is the only playable character not to at any point appear in the Blue Lagoon nightclub, likely because he was still doing the trials by that point.
  • Ethan is the only main character to be playable in other characters' chapters. He is playable during one of Norman's chapters ("Welcome, Norman") and three of Madison's chapters ("First Encounter," "The Nurse," and "Fugitive").
    • Scott is the only main character not to have Ethan make a playable appearance or even a cameo in his chapters.
  • Ethan was voted #11 on Game Informer's "30 Characters Who Defined A Decade."
  • Even though Ethan suspects himself of being a schizophrenic, the symptoms he describes are actually more typical of dissociative identity disorder -- often wrongly associated with schizophrenia. However, he is never given a definitive diagnosis throughout the game.
  • He appears in 21 chapters, more than the other three characters. The only one in which he cannot be played is "Under Arrest." He is also partly playable in "The Old Warehouse" if he gets to the warehouse.
  • Seven of the epilogues are based around him. He also appears in one of Madison's epilogues, "Dead Heroine," in which he will be seen mourning near her grave if he is alive. This gives him the largest number of endings, even though three of them revolve around him committing suicide.
  • It is often believed that Ethan's storyline is the saddest, most depressing, and the most likely to induce crying. Some surveys have shown that 35% of women and 10% of men who played Heavy Rain cried at least once.
  • Ethan is the only playable character who cannot be (directly) killed by the Origami Killer. He is also the only playable character who does not directly fight him at the warehouse.
  • Ethan and Lauren are the only characters who Scott makes no effort to prevent from killing him. If Ethan arrives alone, Scott tells him that he can kill him. If Lauren kills Scott in the epilogue "A Mother's Revenge," Scott doesn't stop her from doing so and only listens to her speak before she shoots him.
    • Coincidentally, both Ethan and Lauren were Scott's victims in some way. Ethan is the ninth father to be tested by the killer, while Lauren lost her son to the Origami Killer and seeks revenge.
    • Ethan and Lauren can both kill Scott by shooting him, though Ethan shoots him in the chest and Lauren shoots him in the head.
  • Ethan shares his first name with a character from another game who loses a finger throughout the course of his game: Ethan Thomas from Condemned: Criminal Origins.
  • Ethan is similar in both personality and appearance to Harry Mason from Silent Hill.
  • Ethan and Madison are the only playable characters who can take a shower in the game (though Norman Jayden, during one of his chapters, can resist his Triptocaine addiction by sitting in a running shower).
  • Ethan only murders two people, neither of whom he is required to kill. This makes him tied with Madison as the least murderous of all four characters.
  • Ethan's penis can be fully exposed through an unusual glitch during his shower scene.
  • Ethan is given a stainless steel Taurus PT92 by the Origami Killer to use in the Shark Trial.
  • If Ethan arrives at the warehouse alone and chooses to shoot Scott, he will have a justified expression on his face after killing him, showing that he does not feel remorse for killing Scott. This is in stark contrast to the Shark Trial, in which Ethan will vomit from the shock and gravity of killing a man if he chooses to shoot the drug dealer, and later be upset to the point of crying about it in "On the Loose."
  • In the trophy list, 24 trophies are directly related to his chapters. This gives him the most trophies connected to him.


  • "One second. The blinking of an eye. A breath. Enough to change the course of a life. We only know how much we love someone when we know what we're willing to sacrifice. I never asked myself that kind of question without knowing why, without asking myself how far I would be prepared to go for love.'s better not to know." - Ethan's narration in the Gamescom 2009 "For Love" trailer.
  • "Everything I did, I did for love."
  • "SHAAAUUN!!!"
  • (Choosing not to kill the drug dealer.) "I'm a father too... But I'm no killer."
  • (Choosing to kill the drug dealer.) "I'm a father too... But I have no choice."
  • "Where are you Shaun?"
  • "I gotta get out of here, I gotta save my son."
  • "I don't know what to say."
  • "I thought I meant something to you."
  • (After discovering Madison is a journalist and kept notes on him and the case.) "I should have guessed. All this time, and I had no idea...."
  • "You're a pretty good nurse for a fucking journalist!"
  • "You lied to me, Madison! All this time you fucking lied to me! I thought you wanted to help me, but you were only thinking of writing a fucking book?"
  • "What kind of article were you going to write? 'My life with a serial killer?' No, no, 'How I caught the Origami Killer?' Maybe you'll get a book deal. I hope it was FUCKING worth it!"
  • (If he rejects Madison after discovering she is a journalist.) "You lied to me. I trusted you and you used me. I will never be able to trust you again."
  • (Apologizing to Madison for his anger towards her.) "Listen, I'm sorry I didn't trust you. I was only thinking about Shaun and I thought...."
  • (To Madison.) "If you want to help me, leave. Leave me to do this on my own."
  • (To Madison, if they are the only two at the warehouse and he rejected her or didn't kiss her earlier.) "What are you doing here? Still looking for a story?"
  • "You had a right to be angry, I wasn't nice to you either."
  • "To the last Origami figure, the last letters then I know where Shaun is."
  • "The last Origami figure, the last trial."
  • "I'll find you Shaun, I'll figure out a way, and I'll come and get you."
  • "I'm nowhere and I'm out of time. Damn fucking shitty letters from this fucking, fucking address. Come on! There's gotta be a way to do this!!!"
  • "Several different addresses fit these letters... God. They're scattered all over the city, I don't have time to check them all."
  • "I may only have time for one address. If Shaun's not there, I'm done. It's a crapshoot."
  • "If I succeed I'll get more letters for the hangman. It's my only lead. No turning back now."
  • "I can do it, I'd do anything to save my son."
  • "No one's gonna stop me from saving my son."
  • "All those murders, just to find a father capable of saving his son?"
  • "You got what you wanted. I finished your trials, now let us go."
  • "Shaun! Shaun, can you hear me? Daddy's here. I'm gonna get you out of there."
  • "I finished your damn trials, now give me back my son."
  • "Cut off a finger?! No way!"
  • "I kidnapped my son. But I can't remember what happened."
  • (To Blake about Shaun's whereabouts.) "I told you, I don't know. I would already have saved him if I knew where he was!"
  • "I'm the only one that can save him. If you keep me here, Shaun is going to die."
  • "You're mad! You're completely FUCKING MAD!"
  • "Jason, NOOOO!!"
  • (To Madison, if he chose to spare the drug dealer in the Shark Trial, or failed the trial altogether.) "I couldn’t do it. I was supposed to kill him to save Shaun, and I couldn't do it."
  • (To Madison, if he chose to kill the drug dealer in the Shark Trial.) "I......I killed a man. I had no choice.....I had no choice!"
  • (To Madison, after she tells him that she can prove he is not the Origami Killer.) "That changes nothing. Saving Shaun is all that matters now."
  • (To Scott, if he chooses to spare him when he goes to the warehouse alone.) "You manipulated me but now it's over. I have my son. You have no power over me anymore. You're going to have to face up to your nightmares on your own, now."
  • (To Shaun in one of his endings, when he asks Ethan to promise he'll never leave him again.) "I promise, son....I never will again."