‘Sweet Tooth’ ending explained: What happens to humanity?
(Credit: Netflix)

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'Sweet Tooth' ending explained: What happens to humanity?

As apocalyptic sci-fi dramas go, the Netflix fantasy series Sweet Tooth might seem as cute and cuddly as it gets on the outside. But the show is much darker than it looks, and grapples with some especially heavy topics. It certainly doesn’t shy away from graphic depictions of violence, cruelty, illness and death.

Topics don’t come much heavier than the future of our species, after all. The series clearly takes the Covid-19 pandemic, which isn’t exactly the cosiest of themes, as its starting point.

More fundamentally, Sweet Tooth tackles humankind’s relationship with nature, and the fatal consequences of our behaviour towards the other creatures with which we share our habitat. It does so with a novel take on the classic fantasy trope of human-animal hybrids, by presenting these beings as an evolutionary advance in response to a deadly virus killing most people on earth.

The show’s third and final season follows human-deer hybrid Gus and his friends Tommy Jeppard, Becky and Wendy on a quest to Alaska, where they eventually discover the cause of the virus. On their way, they encounter a shamanistic caribou-man named Munaqsriri, who tells them prophetically on his deathbed, “The sun will finally shine again, on a world without humans.”

“People are the disease,” Munaqsriri claims. The virus wiping them out is actually “cure”. After his death, Gus and the others continue on their journey, looking for the remote cave where Munaqsriri suggested they would find the cause of the virus.

When they reach the cave, they find a gigantic tree shaped with branches like caribou antlers. The tree has been cut open with an axe still wedged in its trunk. The axe belonged to Dr James Thacker, the scientist Munaqsriri explained to them had caused the virus with his “greed”.

The sap leaking from the tree, which the group realises is what Munaqsriri was referring to as “the blood of the earth”, turns out to be the source of the virus. The arrival of the remaining antagonists in the series led by hybrid-hating warlord Helen Zhang, leads to an armed confrontation in which Gus’ mother is killed and Zhang pulls the axe from the tree.

Do the hybrids kill off humans?

The humans present begin to die immediately as even more sap leaks from the trunk, before Gus sets the tree on fire to cure them all. The cave containing both the source of the virus and its cure collapses as those who remain from the two warring parties escape.

Zhang’s daughter gives birth to another hybrid, showing that the phenomenon isn’t over with the end of the virus. In fact, as the series narrator tells us when the group begins its journey away from the cave, “those humans would be the last.”

It’s not that the hybrids have violently killed off the last of the human race. They have simply taken over humanity’s gene pool, meaning they will outlast it as a species. And yet, it’s in hybrids that “the best of humanity lives on”.

This narrator turns out to be none other than Gus himself, telling his story as an old man to a group of young children, all of whom are human-animal hybrids. That is to say, in the world of his old age there’s no such thing as humans anymore. We have become extinct.