Leave the World Behind Ending Explained – What is responsible for the blackout?

By Romey Norton
Published: December 8, 2023 (Last updated: December 12, 2023)
Leave the World Behind Ending Explained
Leave the World Behind | Image via Netflix

Leave the World Behind surrounds a family on vacation on Long Island. Their holiday is interrupted by two strangers bearing news of a blackout and insisting on staying as they own the property. As the threat grows, both families must decide how best to survive the potential crisis, all while grappling with their place in this collapsing world. The film is excellently shot and crafted, however, the long runtime does make the plot and storyline feel dragged out, and it builds to a lackluster and unimaginative ending that’ll leave you wanting more.

Let’s unpack that ending here, go over the questions it raises and the answers it gives, and see where we stand on the story after some close-up analysis.

Leave the World Behind Ending Explained

Two different families have to learn to survive a worldwide meltdown, from animals acting strangely to planes falling from the sky. Things then change when Archie’s teeth suddenly fall out one morning and Rosie goes missing; prompting the others to leave the house and look for answers.

How does Leave the World Behind end?

The neighbor Danny (Kevin Bacon) is a survivalist, and after a serious altercation is forced into giving them medicine for Archie. He speaks of a bunker. Towards the end, Rose stumbles upon the house that Danny had referred to, where she soon finds the aforementioned bunker. With plenty of supplies, instead of leaving to find her family, she finds the Friends box set and huge DVD collection and settles down to finally watch the final episode (She’s been desperate to watch this since the blackout started.) We have a final shot of her face as she’s watching the TV, and the film ends with the upbeat Friends theme tune, “I’ll Be There for You” by The Rembrandts, playing.

The irony is that when the world is turning on itself no one is actually there for you. 

Whilst I enjoyed this ending, it doesn’t feel full circle or fulfilling, but it’s edgy enough to leave a mark. That you’d rather watch Friends at the end of the world than be with your family — is this showing how dysfunctional we’re all becoming with our attachments to watching things online, or that’s just how bloody good Friends is as a show?

What is responsible for the blackout?

They all begin to think it’s hackers causing the chaos, even speculating that it’s a couple of teens maybe in the Philippines. GH believes enemies have wiped out the satellites in space which is causing the planes to fall from the sky. 

Clay shows Danny a leaflet that reads “Death to America”, which leads him to believe that Iran is responsible for the cyber attack. However, Danny counteracts with reports of the words being printed in either Korean or Mandarin – which leads Danny to believe America’s various enemies have now teamed up to attack America. 

RELATED: Will there be a sequel to Leave the World Behind?

GH reveals to the group that his worst assumptions have all but been confirmed. He’s studied the cost-benefit analysis of various military campaigns, and one that was most terrifying was a simple three-step maneuver “that could topple a country’s government from within”. The first step is to wipe out communications and transport systems, then to terrorize the public with misinformation. Then the third step will happen on its own, as now the population will turn on their government and each other, leading to a civil war. 

With the ending, we don’t get a clear answer to why. The world is basically going down the drain, with supernatural and spooky things happening, and regardless of what has started it, this film shows how in a real crisis, no one will help one another and it’s every man for themselves.

What did you think of the ending of Leave the World Behind? Comment below.

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