The Blue Butterfly appears in the girls bathroom of Blackwell Academy in Episode 1: Chrysalis, and optionally in the ending montage of Episode 5: Polarized, as it's likely to be the same one due to the symbolism and unusual geographic appearance.
Following the end of her photography class, Max Caulfield retreated to the girls bathroom for a moment to herself. When she was feeling discouraged about her entry for the Everyday Heroes Contest, she tore the picture in two and discarded it, throwing it to the floor.
Moments after destroying her picture, she noticed a blue butterfly drift down from somewhere near the ceiling that flies into the corner. Curious, Max followed the butterfly into the corner stall at the far end of the bathroom.
Before taking the picture, Max notes that the butterfly doesn't look like any butterfly she'd seen before and thinks the wings are glowing. After she takes a picture of the butterfly with her camera, Max believes the air is moving around her in the presence of the butterfly, which gives her the impression that it feels like a spirit.
After Max takes the picture and the butterfly departs, Nathan Prescott enters the girls bathroom, followed by Chloe Price. When Chloe is shot, Max's rewind ability manifests and she undoes the events that transpired in the bathroom. When she goes to prevent her death, she retraces her steps in the bathroom. The blue butterfly appears a second time, and Max is able to prevent Chloe's death.
In the Sacrifice Chloe ending, a blue butterfly lands on Chloe's coffin. Max seems to look at it and slightly smiles afterwards.
Butterflies in fiction and folklore often represent a personification of transformation or consequence. In one instance, puberty or maturity experienced by young girls between being a child and a teenager are often associated or compared to the process of chrysalis, a maturing butterfly.
In China and Japan, the appearance of a single butterfly is thought to be a representation of a person's soul, whether they are living, dying or dead. In some instances of Japanese and Chinese culture, one or two butterflies represent love or a loved one. They can be seen as a sign of comfort at funerals or as a guide for those who are having difficulties with life decisions.
Butterflies are also a universal symbol of beauty.
The Butterfly Effect Edit
Elements of Life Is Strange are based on the theory of the butterfly effect, "in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state". The name of the effect, coined by Edward Lorenz, is taken from the metaphorical example that the flapping of butterfly wings could change the formation and path of a hurricane weeks before it happens.
Ray Bradbury's A Sound of Thunder uses the theory of the butterfly effect when a character, named Eckels, changes the course of his past and present after crushing a butterfly in the late Cretaceous era with his boot. The blue butterfly is present when the chain of events that trigger Max’s ability to manipulate time occurs. Ray Bradbury's novel The October Country is also mentioned in the second episode of the game.
After making a choice, a warning at the top left corner of the screen reading, "This action will have consequences" is displayed next to an animated sketch of a butterfly flapping its wings. Choices in Life Is Strange follow the idea of the butterfly effect, creating diverging paths in the story that create changes to circumstances in the core plot surrounding the disappearance of Rachel Amber and the arrival of the storm.
- Though Max does not recognize it, the blue butterfly resembles that of a Morpho or Morpho didius, a neotropical butterfly found largely in region of South America. It also resembles a Ulysses Butterfly (Papilio ulysses) which is commonly found in Australia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
- The first episode name is "Chrysalis", which means the pupae of a butterfly.
- It's speculated that the blue butterfly is the personification of Chloe's spirit.
- The art from Breton's album "War Room Stories", from which the song "Got Well Soon" is featured at the End of the World Party, shows a blue butterfly.
- When Max rewinds time "unintentionally" to save Chloe from being shot in the bathroom, the blue butterfly is the only thing apparently unaffected by the rewind. The only other thing not affected by Max's rewind powers being the ghostly doe, it brings the butterfly's true nature into question. However, when Max enters the bathroom a second time (knowing she has powers this time), the blue butterfly can be seen on the sink and is affected by the rewind. It could be argued that the second time the nature of the blue butterfly had changed.