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Don’t Look Up Ending Explained: A Pessimistic Reality

Don't Look Up Ending Explained Comet

Don’t Look Up is a satirical comedy written and directed by Adam McKay, which explores the human response to impending doom in the form of a planet-killing comet. Read on unveil the meaning behind the Don’t Look Up ending and it’s famous post-credit scene. 

The movie follows two astronomers, Kate Dibiasky and Randall Mindy, who embark on a mission to inform the world of the inevitable disaster and persuade them to take action.

As the movie progresses, we witness the ineffectiveness of human action as the web of characters are consumed by their own agendas.

Ultimately, the movie’s ending leaves the audience with a pessimistic resolution, highlighting the triumph of human connection with a streak of bitter irony.

Don't Look Up Ending Explained Leo

Blissful Apathy and Human Connection

Despite Randall’s adulterous behaviour earlier in the story, the protagonist reverts back to the foundational simplicities of family life and returns to his wife, with his colleague Kate, for what they all know will be their final dinner on earth. 

Interestingly, this sequence is textured with a positive tone. Instead of emerging from optimism, though, this arrives simply as each character has come to accept their own powerlessness.

Adam McKay uses this to deliver cutting irony in a final reflection of our own impotence and helplessness to our global situation, represented by the characters enjoying their evening in blissful apathy.

The Failure of the BASH Mission and Randall’s Atonement

As one may have expected, Peter Isherwell’s ambitious BASH mission fails, which prompts him and President Orlean to flee in a private jet that was secured in case of disaster.

Whilst in his family home, Randall receives a call and is presented with a final choice as President Orlean offers him a place on the jet to escape to a planet in the “Goldilocks Zone.”

Randall’s rejection of the offer once again nods to the value of human connection, but it also represents a symbolic acceptance of responsibility for mankind’s failures.

In other words, Randall’s decision to remain on earth can be seen as atonement for the environmental crisis that humans have created.

All of this is embodied in the subtext of the final line of dialogue as Randall says, “The thing is, we really did have everything, didn’t we? I mean, when you think about it.”

Don't Look Up Ending Explained Final Dinner Scene

Don’t Look Up Ending: The Post-Credit Sequence

As a final satirical edge to complement the movie’s commentary on human apathy, a post-credit scene depicts a starship bearing the wealthy and elite landing on a seemingly habitable planet after the Earth’s destruction.

Despite their hopes for a new beginning, the passengers quickly realise that they are not alone on the planet and are soon surrounded by deadly, predatory creatures, one of which immediately devours President Orlean.

With this, McKay implies that the seeds of human civilisation are unlikely to survive in the far reaches of space.

The sequence serves as a pointed criticism of the concept of relocating humanity to other planets. This idea has gained traction in recent years, particularly with Elon Musk’s efforts to take human civilisation to Mars.

The scene suggests that even if such a mission were successful, the same problems and human flaws that led to the Earth’s demise would simply follow humans to its new home.

Don't Look Up Ending Explained Post-Credit Scene

Don’t Look Up Ending: A Helpless Reality

In conclusion, the Don’t Look Up ending offers a biting commentary on humanity’s collective failure to act on the environmental crisis.

The film’s pessimistic resolution is a poignant reminder of the consequences of inaction whilst also reflecting our ability to shelter ourselves from the truth of the environmental crisis.

For a deeper dive into the Don’t Look Up ending and how this is contextualised by the movie’s relationship between character and theme, click the button below to watch my video essay on the screenplay.

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Nick Fore Script Doctor / Script Consultant

Nick Fore is an experienced script consultant who reads screenplays for the British Film Institute.

He has written comprehensive coverage on over 1,000 scripts and has helped screenwriters get their work into development with production companies such as Imagine Entertainment and Screen Ireland. 

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