The Scariest Sci-Fi Cliffhanger in Movie History Just Got Resolved

Just one more thing...

Universal Pictures

Some endings just stick with you. E.T. heading home, the big twist at the end of The Sixth Sense, the spinning top in Inception... all the best endings don’t just wrap up the story, but leave you with a little something to think about for hours, days, and even years.

The ending of The Thing is perhaps the most iconic example of them all. It’s been more than four decades, but we now know there’s a definitive answer to the movie’s biggest questions. Is the Thing still alive at the end? And if so, which character is infected? In a recent interview, director John Carpenter provided just enough information without ruining the wonderfully ambiguous ending.

John Carpenter on the set of his new Peacock series Suburban Screams.

Peacock/NBCUniversal/Getty Images

After 100 minutes of defending his Arctic research center from a parasitic alien, R.J. MacReady (Kurt Russell) takes drastic action, using TNT charges to systematically blow up the entire station and, hopefully, the monster. He thinks he’s the last survivor, but then Childs (Keith David) joins him around a dwindling fire. Each man isn’t sure of the other’s identity, but they have no option other than to sit together and “see what happens.”

So where is the Thing? Is it one of them? While promoting his new Peacock series Suburban Screams, Carpenter told that he knows exactly where the alien is. “I know who’s the Thing and who’s not in the very end,” he said.

A very cold MacReady at the end of The Thing.

Universal Pictures

This implies one of the two men is the Thing, but who? Cinematographer Dean Cundey previously suggested you can tell who’s human and who isn’t by the way the light hits their eyes, but Carpenter dismissed this theory, saying Cundey “has no clue.”

So who’s the real human? Carpenter knows, but he’s not telling, which is the whole point. The power of the ending comes from its ambiguity, and it’s for the best it stays that way. The director needs to know for the sake of making a coherent movie, but we don’t know, and we don’t need to know. We can just enjoy the uneasy paranoia of these freezing survivors from the comfort of our cozy living rooms.

John Carpenter’s Suburban Screams is streaming on Peacock.

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