John Carpenter's THE THING Ending Explained!?

John Carpenters THE THING Ending Explained!?

John Carpenter‘s The Thing (1982) left viewers with a movie ending that could be interpreted in many ways. Who was the alien parasite, Kurt Russell‘s R.J. MacReady character or Keith David‘s Child’s character or are both men human?

The Thing Movie Ending Explained Breakdown


Watching The Thing (1982) movie clip above featuring the ending, we see Childs stumbling in where MacReady is amongst the burning campground. MacReady looks confused and asks Childs "Where were you, Childs?"

  1. Did you notice that Childs is now wearing a beige/brown jacket instead of the dark blue jacket he wore when he set off to keep watch at the compound’s main entrance?

    • The alien could have easily ripped through the dark blue coat killing Childs in the process and destroying the dark blue jacket. The alien then would have transformed into Childs appearance but had no choice but to take another jacket from the extras by the exit doors.

  2. Back to the exchange between MacReady and Childs, "Where were you, Childs?" Childs responds "I thought I saw a glare, went out after it. Got lost in the storm."

  3. After some more dialogue, MacReady hands Childs a bottle of presumingly liquor. That bottle is however NOT filled with liquor but with gasoline. All of the bottles were filled with gasoline by MacReady and other members of the team so they could destroy the compound.

    • MacReady drank throughout the film every chance he got. Ruling out that one last bottle of liquor remained. MacReady did not take a sip but instead passed it along straight to Childs.

    • Childs takes a sip, and we hear eerie music start to play. MacReady responds with a slick chuckle where Childs does not know any better and drinks without an issue.

    • How would the alien know what liquor tastes like and the taste of disgust if someone was to sip gasoline?

  4. The Thing director John Carpenter and Blumhouse blog writer Rob Galluzzo both teased that there is always a gleam of light in the eye of the humans in this horror film. There are absolutely no gleams of light anytime during this scene in Childs’ eyes.

    • Galluzzo said "You’ll notice there’s always an eye light, we call it, a little gleam in the eye of the actor. It gives life."

    • The Thing - Childs dead eyesChilds "Dead Eyes" amidst all the light around him.

  5. MacReady realizes what has happened and knows what he must do.

  6. Did you notice the covered flamethrower on MacReady’s back the whole time?


The alien Childs now internally filled with some gasoline and having the bottle of gasoline on his person, MacReady only needed to reveal the hidden flamethrower he was concealing the whole time. Setting Childs on fire and putting an end to the alien parasite for good.

Kurt Russell shared with Huffington Post:

"They didn’t know if they knew who they were, but had you seen all the things in the movie, you’ve heard MacReady say, ‘I know I’m me,’ Well, you either believe him or you don’t. And Childs--you know, one of my favorite lines in the movie [is], ‘Where were you, Childs?’ And I think that basically says it all," explained Russell. He continued, "I love that, over the years, that movie has gotten its due because people were able to get past the horrificness of the monster--because it was a horror movie--but to see what the movie was about, which was paranoia.?"

John Carpenter shared:

"[Carpenter] said he never understood where all the confusion came from. The last frame of The Thing is Kurt Russel (sic) and Keith David staring each other down, harshly backlit. It’s completely, glaringly obvious that Kurt Russel is breathing and Keith David is not." {Emphasis his}

Related Article: The Thing (1982) KILL COUNT Video / Horror Movie Quotes

The Thing (1982)

Directed by John Carpenter

Movie Overview | Review | Trailer

Official Synopsis: A US research station, Antarctica, early-winter 1982. The base is suddenly buzzed by a helicopter from the nearby Norwegian research station. They are trying to kill a dog that has escaped from their base. After the destruction of the Norwegian chopper the members of the US team fly to the Norwegian base, only to discover them all dead or missing. They do find the remains of a strange creature the Norwegians burned. The Americans take it to their base and deduce that it is an alien life form. After a while it is apparent that the alien can take over and assimilate into other life forms, including humans, and can spread like a virus. This means that anyone at the base could be inhabited by The Thing, and tensions escalate.

Cast: Kurt Russell, Adrienne Barbeau, John Carpenter, Keith David, Norbert Weisser, Charles Hallahan, Larry Franco, Wilford Brimley, David Clennon, Richard Dysart,…
Genres: Horror, Sci-Fi, Mystery