Why is there a grave in Animal Crossing: New Horizons?

Today’s Animal Crossing Direct gave us a bunch of new Animal Crossing: New Horizons details, including its new map customization tools and the announcement of free seasonal updates DLC. But there was one new addition that likely passed you by completely — a grave.

Though it only appeared briefly in the Nintendo Direct, an object that looks eerily like a tombstone can be seen in the background while a player is terraforming their island. Hidden behind a tree, the object is also surrounded by flowers.

A close-up of the alleged grave can be seen below:

animal crossing new horizons grave 2

Now, this would be a pretty grim addition to Animal Crossing: New Horizons, but with players able to heavily customize their island, it’s possible that the grave is a purchasable item. Players can decorate their island with a slew of furniture and other miscellaneous objects, so maybe this tombstone is another of those items.

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Thus far, there has been no indication that death exists in the Animal Crossing universe. There’s Wisp, a ghostly series mainstay that is set to make his return in New Horizons, but it’s never been suggested that he is the spirit of a previously living creature.

But if graves exist in Animal Crossing, then death must surely exist, too. As such, fans have been speculating who this tombstone could belong to, with the elderly mayor Tortimer being the unfortunate prime suspect:

Tortimer had retired in Animal Crossing: New Leaf, enjoying his post-mayor life on the titular Tortimer Island. He was looking distinctly more wethered in New Leaf, though we’re somewhat sceptical that Nintendo would let this fan favorite character bite the dust in a family-friendly game.

Nintendo hasn’t confirmed if the object seen in its Animal Crossing Direct is actually a tombstone, or if it’s just something that looks incredibly similar to a tombstone, but we won’t have long to wait to see if New Horizons is set to take a dark turn. Animal Crossing: New Horizons is set to launch on Nintendo Switch on March 20.

The alleged grave can be seen during today’s Animal Crossing Direct at the 22:30 mark:

And you can watch our special GR Reacts episode of the Animal Crossing Direct below: