‘The Revenant’ Ending Explained


The Revenant is without a doubt one of the year’s most brilliant films. Leonardo DiCaprio delivers an Oscar worthy performance that will shake viewers for years to come. While the film is phenomenal, many viewers are still questioning the ending. I believe I can explain it best with my personal theory.

Warning! If you have not seen The Revenant I suggest you come back to this article after you’ve seen the film. Major spoilers lie ahead!

I came to a very simple conclusion when the credits began to roll for The Revenant. I later looked up what other moviegoers thought of the film and saw people debating whether or not Leo’s character Hugh Glass dies at the end. The following is how I believe the movie ended.

Shortly after Glass sends Fitzgerald downstream to endure a horrific death, we see our suffering hero moving forward through the wilderness. Glass looks up towards the trees and sees a vision of his wife looking towards him smiling. Glass looks relieved, but then this vision of his wife begins to walk away from him. Glass then looks towards the scene with a solemn expression on his face and the film cuts to black with Glass breathing heavily.

The Verdict?

Hugh Glass did not die.

Reasons for Glass’s survival at the end of the movie are apparent throughout the film. When facing death all throughout the movie, Glass sees visions of his wife multiple times and even a few with his son. Every time we witness a moment like this; I believe Glass was continuing to knock on death’s door. It’s just like when you hear about people who have had near death experiences. People tend to see loved ones calling for them and witness all sorts of spiritual phenomena near death. I’m not going to get all scientific and go into the powerful effect dimethyltryptamine has on the brain when a person is dying, but I wholeheartedly believe Glass was near death every single time he had a vision of his wife and son. Hell, he even told Captain Andrew Henry that he had already experienced death right before the film’s grand finale.

Before I explain my reasoning for Glass’s survival I want you analyze the following. I want you to compare The Revenant’s ending with the ending of the film Gladiator (if you’ve seen it). During the final scenes of Gladiator, Maximus is mortally wounded by Commodus and begins to die whilst fighting for vengeance. Maximus eventually completes his quest for revenge and spiritually reunites with his family as he takes his final breath. Most of the people I know who have seen Gladiator felt remorse for their fallen hero, but were happy to see him reunite with his family in the afterlife.

Now let’s go back and flash forward through The Revenant and consider everything Glass has been through. Glass is the Maximus of this story. He’s a man who was left for dead and nothing but vengeance to live for. Glass goes through many trials to get his vengeance and when he succeeds, we automatically expect his reward to be for him to waltz into the afterlife with his wife. This is the part where the traditional ending you expect doesn’t happen.

I believe that Glass survived at the end of The Revenant because after he visioned his wife walking away, he comes to the realization that death would still not be coming for him. Glass is then heard breathing heavily because he knows he is going to have to live with everything he’s done until he meets his maker. After all; in this movie everything is left in God’s hands.

It’s as simple as that even though there are a few good theories out there that suggest otherwise. Some people believe that Glass died on the riverbank, but this film isn’t Birdman, and I believe The Revenant’s ending is more clear cut than that.

At the end of the day this is my opinion. When a movie like this is left open ended, people will always come up with their own conclusions. If you think my theory is correct, or you have your own personal take on the ending; please feel free to leave your input in the comment section below!