- "Freedom and order, destruction and sustenance. Man is a pitiful creature who cannot escape that cycle."
- —The White, Shin Megami Tensei IV
The White (ホワイトメン, Howaitomen, lit. "Whitemen; White Men") are a group of characters in Shin Megami Tensei IV.
- "The embodiment of the ancient races destroyed by the angels. They've appeared to humans four times now, sharing their memories and knowledge of the past. They claim that whether humans submit to angels or unite with demons against God, history is doomed to repeat itself and the future will never change. Therefore, they aim to obliterate all existence and return the cosmos to nothingness. They show the protagonist visions of two alternate futures - "Blasted Tokyo" and "Infernal Tokyo" - while taking on the appearance of Isabeau and Hugo in order to deceive the protagonist."
- —Shin Megami Tensei IV Official Artbook
Beings who reside in the Expanse. They first appear after the Yamato Perpetual Reactor is activated by Flynn or Walter. They appear within a white void and wish anyone they choose to make a decision and will show the chosen ones alternate worlds so they can make that choice. Jonathan had the same dream as the former two Samurai.
The second encounter is after leaving Blasted Tokyo using the Reactor, with Flynn returning to the white void. There they reveal a desire to show Flynn a world where they did not preserve. However, they tell him not to forget that what awaits mankind is a wasteland of despair for they are merely tools before sending him to that world.
The third encounter with them is after leaving Infernal Tokyo, where they tell of how preserving the world means nothing as God will destroy it if it does not mean his will, while choosing not to preserve will lead to self-destruction. They give Flynn the choice to turn everything to nothing or let it continue.
They are ecstatic when Flynn chooses to end it all and leave only nothingness. They reveal the true purpose of the Reactor and that they created it when choosing this path. The White are overjoyed as they finally have won with the damage done to the Reactor's control device as it becomes a black hole that swallows all. They view this choice as an end to meaningless suffering.
Should he allow it to continue, they will curse his messianic tendencies and leaving the world intact, asking if he will preserve the status quo or destroy it. They abandon him within the Monochrome Forest after he makes his choice, wishing for him to die there. They are revealed to be the aggregate collective of human thought that reside in the Expanse and are the sentient embodiment of humanity's will throughout the multiverse that humans created by repressing their nihilism regarding life itself. The despair they express is the collective will of humanity's despair at being trapped under God's Will. The four must be defeated to escape the forest. Although defeated they will eventually revive so long as humanity exists because they are humanity's collective will.
The White reveal that humans are trapped in God's Scheme with no way to escape because of their imperfections, and that they create God for the sake of their own convenience. The White explain that the reason that Law and Chaos constantly do battle is because the world eternally cycles through a loop of Law and Chaos as per God's will due to humanity endlessly repeating it's mistakes. Demons and God will keep resurrecting because Humanity is too weak to not rely on God's foundation or to keep their desires repressed. Any path to preserve that doesn't align to God's will shall be cast into destruction, any attempt at upheaval will lead inexorably to a path of self-destruction. The only solution, according to the White, is to end all of existence. The White view this solution as a mercy killing because the only alternative is to endlessly continue the cosmic war of Law and Chaos under God's rule. Gabriel tells the player in the challenge quest details after defeating several of them that they had gained knowledge beyond their ken concerning God as an aggregation of human thought, which lead them to this belief in order to continue her preaching of knowledge being evil. Stephen explains they are the aggregate sentience of human thought itself. Lucifer explains so long as the humanity created by God exists then God, herself, and the White will never disappear.
The White also appear in "The Eternal Youth" and "Ancient One of the Sun" DLCs, intending to drive Flynn to nihilism and show him humanity's despair by sending him back to Infernal Tokyo and Blasted Tokyo to fight against Sanat and the Ancient of Days, respectively. They mention their existence is tied to Flynn's; as long as he exists, so will they because they are humanity's collective will.
It is revealed in Shin Megami Tensei IV Apocalypse Hunter Memos DLC that their goal is not possible in the grand scheme of things, as every possibility observed becomes real and branches off into countless parallel universes, meaning that destroying all existence is impossible and futile from the beginning as their plan only destroys a single universe.
The first of the group to appear. He tells Flynn that his atom has brushed across two possible worlds when he returns from a world where they chose to preserve, and a world where the status quo was destroyed. In the White ending he says that they will be saved from suffering and sorrow before disappearing. The second White to be fought in the Monochrome Forest. White K desires to teach Flynn the splendor of nonexistence.
As he falls, he groans about a world betrayed by its faith in God and a world drowned in anarchy, asking Flynn what else is there beyond despair. His last words condemn Flynn's hope.
When battling White K in Monochrome Forest his attacks are mainly pierce (AKA gun) attacks.
When the player beats the Ancient of Days and Sanat, he questions why the player does not despair.
- "Look at my form... it is your friend, Issachar, who was torn asunder in the rift between your people, by your own hand."
- —White Issachar, Shin Megami Tensei IV
The second of the group to appear. He asks the mitochondria within Flynn if he has ever thought about why humans are born or why the world exists. After returning from Blasted Tokyo, he states to Flynn that his desire to preserve was swallowed by a greater will's desire to preserve. He asks Flynn in their third encounter if he will use his power to turn the world to naught as the Messiah. White Issachar calls Flynn the true Messiah before vanishing in the White ending.
The fourth of the White faced in the Monochrome Forest. On the Neutral, Law, or Chaos path, White Issachar comments the fate of humans is to endlessly repeat the same mistakes, thus justifying the White's omnicidal viewpoints. He also says he took on the form of Flynn's dearest friend because Issachar was torn by the way the state of the world after reading the books given to him by Lilith, who was called the Black Samurai at the time, and the White tells Flynn he will show him how powerful one's suffering can be, using Issachar's form as an example. He will also try to guilt-trip Flynn by invoking Jonathan's viewpoints in the Chaos Path, Walter's in Law, and both in Neutral.
Upon his defeat, he asks why Flynn did not save him in the very end in an undistorted and emotional voice to further guilt-trip Flynn by reminding him of Issachar's brutal death. In the Neutral path, White Issachar is denounced by Burroughs, along with the rest of the White, as an entity of unjustified resentment, rash self-denial and self-justification. In the Law path, he is likewise denounced as a coward by Jonathan, and in the Chaos path, it is Walter who brushes aside his arguments. As he dies, he will also ask Flynn where is their salvation, and why he is leaving them in the rift of God, of demons, and of man.
White Issachar attempts to guilt trip Flynn before his death, as he, unlike the others, spoke in Issachar's voice without distortion upon defeat. The real Issachar asked Flynn to give him a mercy killing so as not to prolong his suffering.
When the player beats A.O.D and Sanat, he tells Flynn the only way to fundamentally save humanity is via siding with them and destroying the reactor.
The third of the group to appear. He proclaims that a single atom's revolt will only damage a single cell, while the cell will be healed by the other cells. In their second encounter he mentions that Flynn also has the choice to not preserve and that they shall show him that possibility. The third encounter has him inform Flynn that humans are prisoners of God's expectations and speaks of a way to escape his grasp by turning it all to nothing. In the White ending he says mankind has finally won and then disappears. The first of the White to be faced in the Monochrome Forest. He calls Flynn the fifth son and tells him that he will unmake him since he did not choose nothingness.
When defeated on Neutral, he will mutter humans cannot escape the karma of desires, which are no different from demons. Thus, humans are exactly like demons. His last words condemn desire itself.
When the player beats A.O.D and Sanat, he sends the player back to his own world except he tells him he has yet to save humanity from that which is to come (via doing the nihilism ending)
- "We humans with our demonic tendencies, who create a "god" for the sake of our own convenience... Do you think that ones so weak can carry on living in this quagmire of order and chaos? Such neutrality is beyond redemption..."
- —White Isabeau, Shin Megami Tensei IV
The last of the group to appear. In the third encounter she is the one to bring up the decision they wish for him to make. She mentions that they lack forms, which is why they must entrust Flynn with turning all to nothing. She asks him to free humanity of God's control and to become the true Messiah, thanking him for ending their long and painful journey in the White ending, telling him goodbye before dissipating. The third of the White to be faced in the Monochrome Forest.
When the player beats the Ancient of Days and Sanat, she tells the player even should Flynn try to enkindle the hopes of the people of Tokyo, it would ultimately only result in their despair.
- The White are named after the Great White Brotherhood, a group of enlightened humans in Theosophy. Their views and beliefs are a distortion of the Brotherhoods, having become "enlightened" by learning the nature of God and view existence as something that must end. They also make references to the Root Race by calling Flynn the fifth son in reference to the fifth humanity. This is shared with their fellow Theosophy based being Sanat.
- The White are an inversion of the festival of Passover. Instead of celebrating the freedom through God's will, they espouse nihilism for humanity being prisoners of God's expectations.
- The White are a reference to the Sanskrit term of "Mahatma" meaning "Great Soul" and popularized by the Great White Brotherhood.
- The White's pro-nihilistic arguments seem to be a reference to Friedrich Nietzsche's Genealogy of Morals; a philosophical book in which Nietzsche argues that asceticism and God were formed as a convenience to self-justify the meaningless suffering in ancient civilizations. However, instead of creating their own life-affirming meaning as an answer to nihilism, the White choose the "Will to Nothingness", a philosophical position that Nietzsche warns to be against life itself.
- The White came into existence as a result of the previous four generations of humanity being led to ruin and eventually completely killed off by the angels. Flynn, representing the fifth humanity, is called their fifth son for this reason. The Fifth Son represents ignorance towards tradition; Flynn remains obstinate to the knowledge told by the White if he chooses Law, Chaos, or Neutrality.