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Leave the World Behind ending explained – Dexerto

No one is ready for the potential end of the world – but fans are definitely ready for new Netflix apocalyptic drama Leave the World Behind. Here’s the full ending explained.

Starring the likes of Julia Roberts and Ethan Hawke, Leave the World Behind is based on the 2020 novel of the same name by Rumaan Alam.

Directed by Sam Esmail, the movie’s official synopsis reads: “A family vacation on Long Island is interrupted by two strangers bearing news of a blackout. As the threat grows, both families must decide how best to survive the potential crisis, all while grappling with their own place in this collapsing world.”

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Leaving viewers guessing at every turn, there are a lot of questions to be answered – here’s the Leave the World Behind ending explained in full. Warning – spoilers ahead!

Leave the World Behind ending explained: Family vacation gone wrong

Frustrated advertising executive Amanda Sandford (Julia Roberts) wakes up one morning and spontaneously decides to book a trip to Long Island. She tells her husband Clay (Ethan Hawke) that the family deserves a break, packing up their two children – one of whom is obsessed with the TV show Friends – and heading out. They arrive at a luxurious house and soon head to the beach. Their youngest child Rose (Farrah Mackenzie) notices a boat on the horizon, which soon gets so close that it rocks up on the beach. Fleeing back to the house, Amanda wants to find out what happened, but all internet, phone, and TV service has gone down.

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Later that evening, G.H. Scott (Mahershala Ali) and his daughter Ruth (Myha’la) arrive on their doorstep, claiming to own the house. Because of the day’s events – which seem to be repeating themselves around the country – the pair ask if they can stay in the downstairs of the house for 50% of the price. Amanda is immediately suspicious, interrogating G.H. over his every statement. While Clay is much more easygoing, Ruth makes it clear that they deserve to be in their own house. In the middle of the conversation, a national emergency broadcast takes over every TV channel. While Amanda stews over what happens, Ruth gets the feeling that G.H. knows more than he’s letting on.

The TV references that a mysterious cyberattack has swept the nation, with the Sandfords and Scotts still none the wiser the next morning. A flock of deer gathers in the garden, unnerving Rosie as she tries to watch Friends. Amanda tells Ruth that she received news alerts on her phone suggesting hackers are behind the outage, encouraging Ruth to keep what is happening between the adults. Ruth disagrees, stating that she doesn’t think what is happening is “nothing.” G.H. and Ruth discuss where Ruth’s mother might be, as she is working away from home.

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There are more questions than answers

Ethan Hawke in Leave the World BehindJoJo Whilden/Netflix

G.H. drives over to their neighbor’s house while unsuccessfully trying to text his wife. When he gets there, the house is completely trashed and vacant. Meanwhile, Clay drives away from the house in the hopes of getting cell signal. While he steps out of the car, a radio report announces there has been an environmental disaster in the south of the country, which impacts animal migration patterns. Rose tells brother Archie (Charlie Evans) about the deer she saw, claiming she thought they were trying to tell them something.

Clay comes across a terrified woman who only speaks Spanish but drives on as she continues to panic. G.H. finds the dead bodies of the Huxleys on the beach near their house, while Archie and Rose check out an abandoned hut in the woods behind the house. These three events happen simultaneously, with Clay also being followed by a plane emitting red confetti. While G.H. is at the beach, another plane crashes into the house out of the sky, almost killing him. Amanda and Ruth stay by the pool, where tensions rise.

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Back at the house, G.H. chooses not to explain what happened at the Huxley house to Amanda in front of Ruth, but later tells her in confidence, stating that he believes that this is something bigger than they realize. A high-pitched electronic tone rings through the house, cracking windows in the process. After it stops, Amanda manages to relocate the kids. The adults agree to stay inside until Clay comes back, with Amanda and Ruth nearly coming to blows. Clay returns unharmed, but figures the red confetti has text reading “Death to America.”

The answer isn’t exactly clear-cut

Mahershala Ali in Leave the World BehindJoJo Whilden/NETFLIX

The Sandfords leave to stay with Amanda’s sister in New Jersey, while Ruth tells G.H. that he should have told her about the plane. The family drives up to a blockade of cars crashing themselves on autopilot. They return and slowly bond more with the Scotts. G.H. tells Amanda that he believes no one is actually in control while suggesting that some of his friends are conspiracy theorists. Clay and Ruth also come up with their own theories, while Rose is beside herself with not being able to see how Friends ends.

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A flock of flamingos appears in the house’s pool, with the high-pitched noise returning once again. Overnight, it seems as though there is an eclipse, with Archie’s teeth falling out the next morning. G.H. suggests the group visit survivalist Danny (Kevin Bacon), who Amanda first saw at the grocery store on arrival. While Archie starts to vomit blood, Rose is nowhere to be seen. G.H. and Clay take Archie to Danny, who only seems interested in protecting his own family. Ruth and Amanda are surrounded by deer in the forest while trying to find Rose, refusing to move when the pair try to scare them away.

The ending of Leave the World Behind shows Clay reasoning with both G.H. and Danny after they turn on each other, getting medication for Archie. Each of the three has their own conspiracy for who is behind the attack, concluding they America is on the brink of all-out invasion. G.H. explains he believes a three-pronged strategy of isolation, synchronized chaos, and civil war is being implemented to bring down the country’s government from the inside. From the forest, Amanda and Ruth see New York go up in a cloud of smoke in the distance.

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The final scene in the Leave the World Behind ending shows Rose in a house alone, finding an emergency system that says the White House is now under attack by rogue armed forces, with radiation levels increasing. Going to the TV, she finds a Friends box set and finally watches the last episode.

Leave the World Behind comes to Netflix on December 8. Check out our other Netflix hubs below:

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