The Revenant Ending Explained
8 mins read

The Revenant Ending Explained

Warning: Contains SPOILERS for The Revenant!




  • The Revenant’s ending shows Hugh Glass not getting revenge, highlighting the destructive nature of vengeance.
  • The film challenges Western tropes by portraying Native Americans sympathetically, subverting racist stereotypes.
  • Despite hints of Glass dying in the end, the true story reveals he lived on after the events depicted.

Alejandro González Iñárritu’s 2015 film The Revenant is one of the director’s most well-known movies, and here is the ending of the movie explained. The Revenant is one of the most critically-acclaimed and memorable films of the 2010s, with it being the movie that finally won Leonardo DiCaprio his Best Actor award at the Oscars. The Revenant has managed to maintain its status as one of the iconic modern Westerns and revenge stories, but the deep themes leave a lot to be unpacked. So, here is everything there is to know about The Revenant‘s ending, explained.

2015’s The Revenant tells the true story of Hugh Glass, a frontiersman from the early 1800s who becomes stranded in the woods after being betrayed by his party and attacked by a bear. Despite this, Glass manages to crawl his way through the woods in an attempt to hunt down those that betrayed him and get his revenge. The Revenant features some pretty big-name actors, with Leonardo Dicaprio starring alongside Tom Hardy, Will Poulter, Domhnall Gleeson, and more. The Revenant‘s ending is one of the most well-known parts of the film, and here is what happens and what it means, explained.

What Happens In The Revenant’s Ending

Alejandro González Iñárritu’s The Revenant starts out by setting up a pretty tragic situation for Hugh Glass, with his party betraying him by leaving him behind after he is mauled by a grizzly bear. The party’s abandonment of Hugh Glass means that Hugh’s son Hawk has to go with them, but he refuses. As Hardy’s Tom S. Fitzgerald attempts to kill Glass, Hawk tries to stop him, leading to Fitzgerald stabbing Hawk to death. Thus, Glass is left for dead, with him slowly regaining his strength before beginning to crawl through the wilderness and hunt Fitzgerald down.


Where Was The Revenant Filmed?

Alejandro Iñarritu’s The Revenant incorporates a range of spectacular landscapes into its story, making the movie’s locations a crucial element.

By the end of the film, a search party finds Hugh Glass, barely clinging on to life, with Glass explaining that Fitzgerald was the one behind Hawk’s murder. Thus, they head out on a hunt for Fitzgerald, eventually running into him. Glass and Fitzgerald eventually find each other alone, leading to a fight. Although Glass has the chance to kill Fitzgerald, he instead pushes him in the river, allowing him to float downstream to a group of Arikara Native Americans. The Arikara kill Fitzgerald and Glass leaves, with Glass then having one final conversation with the spirit of his wife.

Does Hugh Glass Die At The End Of The Revenant?

Leonardo DiCaprio as Hugh Glass gets mauled by a bear in The Revenant.

The Revenant ends on a strange note, with the final scene featuring Hugh Glass as he talks to the spirit of his wife. Although his wife is mentioned throughout the film, this ghostly apparition has some odd implications, with it possibly hinting that Hugh Glass actually died. After all, Glass is on the brink of death for most of the film, with his desire for revenge being the only thing that kept him going. The Revenant‘s ending could be read as Glass finally allowing himself to peacefully die, joining his wife and son in the afterlife.

However, this isn’t the case. The Revenant is based on the true story of Hugh Glass, and the real figure didn’t die after the events that The Revenant covers. The Revenant takes place in 1823, and Glass didn’t die until a decade later in 1833. After the events of the film, Glass returned home and continued going on expeditions. The appearance of the spirit of Glass’s wife does not represent his death, with it instead being a symptom of the true familial desires that drive his revenge.

Hugh Glass Doesn’t Get His Revenge At The End Of The Revenant

Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) covered in injuries looks out a window in The Revenant.

Despite revenge being the thing that drives Hugh Glass throughout The Revenant, one of the interesting parts about the film’s ending is that he didn’t really end up getting his revenge. In every scene that Hugh Glass is in, his main goal is to reach Fitzgerald and presumably kill him, with his rage being the biggest factor behind his ability to survive the bear attack and crawl his way back home. In a more traditional Hollywood film, the moment that Glass reaches Fitzgerald would be the triumphant moment in which Glass kills him – but that doesn’t happen.

Instead, Glass decides to send Fitzgerald down the river, allowing the Arikara to do the job for him. This proves that Glass has realized that vengeance is not the key to happiness, with his desire for revenge only leading to disappointment. Although Glass does know that Fitzgerald will end up dead, the decision to leave him for dead does parallel Fitzgerald’s decision to leave Glass for dead, with Fitzgerald’s arc acting as a foil for Glass’ arc.

The Revenant Is A Western That Goes Against The Genre’s Racist Tropes

The Arikara tribe attack the trappers in The Revenant.

One of the most interesting parts of The Revenant is its handling of Native Americans, with the film being a Western that goes against the genre’s racist tropes. The Western genre has historically portrayed Native Americans in a negative light, with Westerns negatively portraying Indigenous people as violent villains. The Revenant subverts this on its face, with Hugh Glass’ son being half-Pawnee, and his murder being at the core of Glass’ revenge story. Racist remarks are constantly made about Hawk, but the film goes out of its way to prove these wrong.

On an even deeper level, The Revenant turns into a revenge story for Native Americans, with Hugh Glass literally giving up his revenge arc in order to let the Arikara get thier revenge. Throughout the film, the Arikara are scapegoated and murdered, with Fitzgerald using them as an excuse to abandon Glass. Although they are antagonistic at points, The Revenant paints them in an incredibly sympathetic light, going against the tropes of other Westerns. The Revenant famously portrayed the Arikara incredibly accurately, further cementing this positive representation.


Film Disasters: 10 Things That Went Wrong While Making The Revenant

Filming on location can often cause all sorts of problems, and here are 10 ways in which the production of The Revenant was a complete disaster.

The Real Meaning Of The Revenant’s Ending

The Revenant waterfall scene

At its core, The Revenant is a film about revenge. Iñárritu asks questions about if revenge is worth it and who actually deserves revenge, while cementing that the desire for vengance will only bring about destruction and disappointment. Revenge stories are often portrayed as heroic, but The Revenant‘s revenge story subverts this, using the tale of Hugh Glass to point out the dangers in these quests for vengeance. While The Revenant is a popular film that plays into many tropes of Westerns, this main thematic point is what really makes the film so great.

The Revenant Movie Poster

The Revenant

Inspired by the true events in the life of Hugh Glass, The Revenant is an action-drama movie that sees Leonardo DiCaprio in the starring role. Betrayed and left for dead by one of the members of his hunting group, Glass finds himself contending with some of the harshest elements imaginable while tending to his deadly wounds, as his will to carry on and need for revenge push him to carry on in this gripping tale of survival.

Alejandro González Iñárritu

Release Date
December 25, 2015

20th Century

20th Century

Alejandro González Iñárritu , Mark L. Smith


$135 million

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