Dear John Ending Explained (In Detail)

By Miguel Fernández
Published: July 31, 2023
Dear John Ending Explained

We discuss the ending of the 2010 movie Dear John, which contains significant spoilers and plot twists.

In Dear John, Channing Tatum plays John, a member of the US Special Forces who meets Savannah (Amanda Seyfried) while on leave during the spring of 2001. The two quickly fall in love during their two weeks together and promise to send letters to each other during John’s last year in the Army.

But after 9/11, John decides to stay in the Army for two more years, leaving Savannah devastated back home.

Eventually, she sends a letter to John saying she’s found someone else, throwing John into a mental crisis. He decides to keep re-upping his time in the Army until he’s notified that his father, who is assumed to be autistic (but never diagnosed), suffered a stroke and could die soon.

Back in America, John meets back with Savannah, who confesses that her new husband, whom John was friendly with back in the day, is very sick with cancer. John and Savannah don’t immediately reconnect, but it’s only the first step before they finally reunite in the film’s final scene.

Dear John Ending Explained

Do they end up together at the end of Dear John?

Yes, while not explicitly said, the final scene heavily implies that after John gets back from the Middle East (now with facial hair!) and sees Savannah in a coffee shop, the two will stay together and probably raise Alan, Tim’s son and Savannah’s stepson, together. 

Savannah never says that she knows John covered some of Tim’s medical expenses, but the fact that she wrote a letter to John to tell him as much also indicates that she suspects this was the case. The two of them raising Alan also concludes their respective arcs, as Savannah had to give up her dream of setting up a camp for kids with special needs so she could take care of Tim, while John can use everything he learned about autistic people when growing up with his father.

Do they break up in Dear John?

Savannah and John break up during part of the story of Dear John when she mails her a letter saying she is now engaged (we later learn she is engaged to Tim). However, the final scene of the film implies that the two will get back together for good.

Of course, if we learned anything from the film is that you can’t really plan anything in life and expect things to go your way, but things are looking good for the two of them. John is now a civilian with no major compromises, and Savannah has probably been dedicating her days to looking after Allan, and perhaps eventually, she’ll go back to the idea of setting up a camp for kids with special needs.

Why did Savannah marry Tim?

After John left for the Middle East, Savannah was devastated and realized she couldn’t go on another day, spending all of her energy thinking about John and whether or not he’d be OK. She eventually found some refuge in Tim and Allan, and when Tim was diagnosed with lymphoma, she left everything for him. 

We assume that Tim was diagnosed after the two got married, but it’s never really clear. What we do know, however, is that Savannah found some solace in looking after Tim and Allan, even if she never loved her husband as much as John, and he knew that. Tim was probably happy that Allan would grow up with a mother figure, after all.

Why did Savannah cheat on John in Dear John?

There are several reasons for this. One is that Savannah didn’t know when John would come home or if he would, so she realized that she had to move on or she wouldn’t be able to live her life as she deserved. That happened shortly after Tim realized that Allan needed a mother figure, so perhaps Savannah and Allan started spending even more time together, which meant Tim and Savannah spent more time together. The two of them probably found the partner they’d been waiting for in each other, even if it was never the one they wanted.

Savannah’s arc mirrors John’s earlier in the film, as they both had a plan for things going back to normal, but then something unexpected happen, which forced them to break their promise. In a way, Savannah didn’t betray John more than he initially broke his promise, even if they both thought they’d be OK at first. 

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