‘Leave the World Behind’ ending explained
(Credits: Netflix)


‘Leave the World Behind’ ending explained

Are you a fan of heart-pounding, apocalyptic thrillers that can keep you on the edge till the end? If so, Netflix’s Leave The World Behind should be at the top of your must-watch list. 

Starring powerhouse actors Julia Roberts, Ethan Hawke, Mahershala Ali, Myha’la, and Kevin Bacon, the film weaves a tale of two families thrust together in the face of an impending disaster that threatens to shatter their world and civilisation as we know it.

The Sam Esmail apocalypse thriller taps into our collective fascination and fear of the unknown and our primal instincts for survival. Whether it’s the adrenaline rush of chaotic action or the exploration of human nature under extreme circumstances, this film resonates on all grounds.

In Leave The World Behind, the suspense builds as the Sandford and the Scott families learn to overcome their inherent distrust of each other in order to navigate a world teetering on the brink of collapse. The building tension, combined with taut performances, keeps you hooked until the final moments. But the end does a rushed job explaining the whys and hows of the blackouts.

What happens at the end of Leave The World Behind?

As the story unfolds, the tension reaches its peak when Amanda and Clay Sandford’s (Julia Roberts and Ethan Hawke) son, Archie (Charlie Evans), falls ill and starts losing all his teeth. Their daughter Rose (Farrah Mackenzie) also mysteriously disappears after announcing she is done waiting for answers or help to arrive. 

Their desperate quest for help leads George (Mahershala Ali) and Clay to a neighbour, Danny (Kevin Bacon), whose initial refusal thrusts them into a tense confrontation. Danny eventually relents and provides medicine for Archie. He conjectures that America is under attack from a foreign threat from Korea or China. 

George, drawing from his defence background, proposes heading to the nearby bunker that Danny tells them about. George suspects a looming civil war or coup orchestrated by a foreign power. He mentions a three-pronged attack system that can internally destabilise a country: severed communication, misinformation (like the plane-dropped flyers), and the use of radiological weapons. 

George explains to Clay that they are potentially in the last stage of this coordinated attack. George predicts societal breakdown, emphasising, “Whoever started this wants us to finish it.”

But things end on a slightly more positive note as we see Rose has stumbled upon the well-stocked bunker—replete with food, water, and all the 1990s entertainment one can want—and Amanda and Ruth (Myha’la) are close to finding her in the house Danny mentioned to Clay and George earlier. So, we can assume the Sandfords and Scotts found their way to the bunker’s safety and survived any immediate fallout.

What did the deers symbolise in Leave The World Behind?

The deer’s symbolic significance in Leave The World Behind remains open to interpretation. In the past few years, deer have become the foreboding harbingers of impending doom in films (like in Get Out), but here, it foreshadows that the Sandfords and Scotts will find a way to survive.

“Deer are peaceful creatures,” Esmail told Tudum. “To turn that sweet image into now this sort of ominous, menacing, almost warning—I thought was really interesting. That’s the trick about this movie. We always tried to take the things that we never really considered a threat and then turn it around on them.”

When Clay and Amanda spot the deer on the Scotts’ property for the first time, Clay mentions how seeing deer is good luck. “That’s a good omen. Seeing deer. At least according to Mesoamerican mythology,” he tells Amanda.

The two families spot flocks of birds flying away and flamingoes in the pool, but the deer are seen more than once. In both the movie and the Rumaan Alam novel it’s based on, the deer are portrayed as migrating, possibly sensing the impending disaster, much like animals do before natural calamities. This interpretation aligns with environmental disasters affecting animal migration patterns, including birds and, prominently, deer.

You can watch Leave the World Behind on Netflix and read our review here.