Biggest Sci-Fi Mystery Unveiled: John Carpenter's The Thing Finale Has One Clue Hinting at True Ending

Biggest Sci-Fi Mystery Unveiled: John Carpenter's The Thing Finale Has One Clue Hinting at True Ending
Image credit: Universal Pictures

It's safe to say that the answer has been there all along.

Few horror and sci-fi fans have not seen John Carpenter's cult classic The Thing. The horror has an open ending, leaving viewers to wonder if Kurt Russell's character managed to defeat the cunningly mimicking alien, or if the Thing finally tricked the man and took the form of the second surviving companion.

The movie's open ending has haunted more than one generation of viewers. Everyone is trying to figure it out. There are a number of unofficial and semi-official sequels to The Thing – comic books, video games, and short stories, each offering its own interpretation.

No one involved in the making of the film has ever directly revealed the main mystery of the finale, but from isolated hints from Carpenter himself and other members of the team, it can be concluded that MacReady is not infected at the end of The Thing, which can’t be said about Childs.

In 2004, Carpenter revealed that he had come up with a plot for a sequel to The Thing. It was to begin with the rescue of Childs and MacReady – the director wanted to explain the aging of the actors by frostbite. But the studio was not interested in the idea.

In 2016, cinematographer Dean Cundey recorded an audio commentary for the two-disc Collector's Blu-ray edition of The Thing, in which the secret of the film's ending is revealed.

Cundey says that during the filming of the movie, a special trick was used in key scenes to make it possible to understand which of the characters had become the Thing and which had remained human.

The creators of The Thing called it the "glimmer of light" in the eyes. It's the subtle glow in the actor's eyes that, as Cundey puts it, gives them life. An example of this is the blood test scene, where the human characters have this "glimmer in their eyes," while the eyes of the person who turns out to be the Thing are in shadow.

As for the ending, Cundey states that the creators did not try to show the same trick in that scene, but if you watch the episode again, you can see that MacReady's eyes are glowing, while the other character, Childs, has no glimmer in his eyes.

John Carpenter himself said that he intentionally left the open ending. But if you are not satisfied with such a finale, then you have every right to believe that the main character of the movie remains a human, while Childs is definitely the Thing.