Spoilers: We need to talk about the ending of 'Knives Out'

Who's the killer? Let's explain...

knives out spoilers ending explained killer

We can’t stand it any longer! We’ve been keeping the ending of Knives Out a secret for weeks, but now that Rian Johnson’s new movie is in theaters, it’s finally time to reveal the killer. Don’t worry, we won’t drag it out like Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig), but before we explain the ending, we have to warn you that there are major Knives Out spoilers ahead.

So consider yourself warned, as soon as you scroll past this photo of the movie’s impressive cast, you’re in danger of ruining the ending for yourself, assuming you haven’t seen Knives Out already. Ready to find out who killed Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer)? Let’s dive in.

knives out review
'Knives Out' makes full use of its massive cast.

Ok, let’s get it out of the way. The killer in Knives Out is … Ransom Drysdale (Chris Evans), the spoiled adult grandson of Harlan Thrombey. Of course, the real joy of any whodunnit isn’t in who did it but how they did it. So let’s talk specifics.

Knives Out spoilers: The motive

Ransom’s reason for killing his grandfather is pretty straightforward. After mooching for years, he learns at his pappy’s 85th birthday party that Harlan’s changed his will to give the family fortune to his nurse, Marta (Ana de Armas).

Of course, Ransom’s not the only character in Knives Out with a motive. Almost everyone in the Thrombey family is living off Harlan’s money, and at his birthday party, the family patriarch puts them all on notice. He fires his son (Michael Shannon), who’s been running the publishing business that prints Harlan’s successful series of mystery books. He also cuts off his daughter-in-law (Toni Collette) and threatens to expose his son-in-law (Don Johnson) for cheating on his daughter (Jamie Lee Curtis).

But, at the end of the day, the only member of the Thrombey family actually capable of murder is Ransom, though the way he goes about it is particularly devious…

knives out spoilers ending explained killer

Knives Out spoilers: The plot

Ransom doesn’t kill his grandfather outright. Instead, he decides to pin the blame on Marta, switching the labels on two bottles of medicine in her bag so she’ll inject Harlan with a lethal dose of morphine by mistake. He also swipes the antidote so there’s no way to undo the damage once it’s been done. He’s also aware of a law that killing someone invalidates you from inheriting their money, which means the fortune would revert back to the family.

Sounds foolproof right? Unfortunately for Ransom, things quickly go wrong.

First, Marta accidentally gives Harlan the right medicine (with the wrong label on it) after they both fall on the floor and get switched. After reading the label, she assumes she accidentally killed him and explains that he has minutes to live. Thinking quickly, Harlan uses his last moments of life to hatch an alibi for Marta and then cuts his own throat so the entire thing looks like a suicide.

knives out spoilers ending explained killer

Things hit a boiling point once the family learns that Harlan left everything to Marta. She ends up fleeing with Ransom, of all people, who pretends to help her while subtly pushing her towards confessing. (One moment where he emails Marta from an anonymous account and then casually asks if she’s checked her email is particularly blatant.)

Marta falls for it and confesses, but everything works out when Detective Blanc retrieves Harlan’s toxicology report and deduces that Ransom switched the labels. It’s a bittersweet ending, though, as Marta realizes that Harlan wasn’t actually poisoned and would have been just fine if she just called for an ambulance.

But, hey, at least Ransom gets arrested and Marta ends up with all the money. In a movie full of deplorable, rich white people, she’s the only one who deserves a happy ending.


Knives Out is in theaters now.

Media via Lionsgate