The Ending of ‘Goodbye Earth’ Is Happier Than You Think

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: April 27, 2024 (Last updated: 3 weeks ago)
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Goodbye Earth Episode 12 Recap and Ending Explained
Goodbye Earth | Image via Netflix

The cleverness of Goodbye Earth is exposed by its ending, which refuses to cop out in the way a great many stories would. The premise claims that in 200 days South Korea will be devastatingly leveled by an asteroid, and, well, it is. Everyone dies, as promised. But that isn’t the point, and Episode 8 of the limited Netflix series proves that it’s not how much time we have left, but what we do with it that counts.

The twelve episodes take in many diverse perspectives, including a selfless middle school teacher, various public service employees, and tellingly a priest for a bit of color. The coming asteroid, which can’t be deflected or destroyed, leaves these characters with precious little time to decide how to spend their final days, and ultimately moments.

Does the asteroid hit?

Let’s not beat around the bush here. I know what you’re thinking, what you’ve surely been thinking since first reading the premise. Does the asteroid really hit?

Yep, it does. Oops.

This also gives the season finale a bit of an unusual structure, since it’s mostly about saying goodbye. Sure, there are subplots and suchlike, but the hook here is that everyone is involved in the same predicament. The ultimate outcome is the same for everyone. More so than ever, the journey ends up mattering more than the destination.

20 Days Remaining

The final 20 days of the countdown represent the final few grains of sand tumbling through the timer. It’s here we find people coming to terms with their fates and getting on with things, though admittedly making the decisions that they perhaps might not have under different circumstances.

Seong-jae leaves the priesthood, for instance. In-ah leaves the military, deciding instead to travel. I’m not sure how much you can really take in on a whistlestop tour before a celestial body smashes the Earth to bits, but it’s worth a go.

Se-kyung and Yoon-sang live out their final days as a married couple. This, one supposes, would be the most common choice for many. The madness dies down eventually. When people realize they can’t change a thing, or stop it from happening, they retreat into the safety of their loved ones.

Se-kyung Does What She Has To

Se-kyung’s arc throughout Goodbye Earth has been that of a protector, someone willing to do whatever’s necessary to save as many people – especially young and vulnerable ones – as possible.

The difficulty of doing this is as obvious in the finale as anywhere else in the series.

Before leaving, In-ah gives Yoon-sang a magazine for his unloaded gun, imploring him to protect Se-kyung. Ironically, it’s this firearm that finds its way into Se-kyung’s hands to do what’s necessary for her students, who’re being targeted by a group of thugs whose leader offers them up in exchange for a seat on a departing aircraft.

As the season closes, Se-kyung takes the gun to the thug leader’s club. She’s holding him at gunpoint when the camera zooms out to reveal the asteroid hurtling toward Earth. A gunshot closes things out.

A Glimmer Of Hope

The ending of Goodbye Earth offers a snippet of hope and a heavy dose of emotion through Se-kyung’s narration, in which she bids farewell to… everything. Images of the people she loves float by and the students are seen floating away on a hot air balloon, smiling as they’re serenaded by the adults on a rooftop, waving them goodbye.

It isn’t a happy ending, but it is a striking one. The strength of the human spirit comes through in how everyone ultimately resigned themselves to their fates, and while some naturally tried to exploit the situation, most realized what was most important to them and clung to it in their final moments.

In some ways, maybe it was a happy ending after all.


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