What Happened at the End of Inception?

Written by Rizoh. Posted in Flicks

Tagged: ,

Published on July 21, 2010 with 196 Comments

I haven’t been able to get the ending of Inception out of my head since seeing it last Friday. When that top kept spinning and the screen went blank, everyone in the theater let out a collective groan. By the way, if you’ve never seen Inception, stop reading this and go see it right now. Then see it again. It’s a visually fascinating and brain-stimulating picture that rewards repeat viewing. It also had an inconclusive ending. [MASSIVE SPOILER ALERT]

Earlier we learned that the totem only stops spinning in reality. It never did at the end of the movie and Cobb didn’t seem to care. Or maybe it did a nanosecond before the screen went black. Or maybe it kept spinning. Who knows? One thing Nolan did with the ending of Inception is exactly what Cobb did to his victims in their dreams: plant an idea in their heads. He’s forcing you the viewer to question the reality of that ending. So, what do you think happened at the end? Was Cobb awake or still dreaming?

What happened at the end of Inception?

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*This is the sound of my brain exploding*



Rizoh is the most powerful man in all the lands. He lives in Houston where he earned a BS in Nerf Herding. He's the founder of The Rap Up, the former editor of Roc4Life.com, and is in the Grammy-awaiting band Pervertable Disciples.

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There are currently 196 Comments on What Happened at the End of Inception?. Perhaps you would like to add one of your own?

  1. this movie opened my mind to many new and exiting ideas, but when the scene is cut short i lost all sence of control and got pissed. so i voted “was awake” just to put my mind at ease

  2. even if he was still dreaming … he is gonna notice the spinning top at some point …. then just kills himself :D

  3. even if he was still dreaming … he is gonna notice the spinning top at some point …. then just kills himself :D

  4. I hopped it was reality, I would hope after all that he would still get to see his real kids…

  5. Why are most of you guys who claim he’s dreaming, totally skip over the ending scene between Cobb and Saito. That right there, should tell you he’s awake. Cobb reminds Saito that his world (Limbo) is not real and thus Saito grabs the gun and shoots both him and himself and thats how they get back to reality.

    How do we know you can get out of limbo by killing yourself? Because that is how Cobb and Mal did it. The only problem is, once you are in limbo, you think that you are in reality.

    The movie starts with the very first scene when Saito is in limbo. Everything else is a flashback, so rest of the over analyzing of the movie is pretty irrelevant.

  6. he was awake. remember he had to search for Saito in limbo. He made Saito remember the arrangement as when they were saying each other words. Saito pulls out the gun to shot him and Cobb and they wake up inside the plane GOD THIS IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE MOVIES SO Original THE SOUNDTRACK IS A GOD GIFT

  7. Aough i didn’t read all the comments the few i did… yr all wrong.. Milan makes us question things without denying us actual closure… memento anyone? The totem was originally his wifes.. if you noticed they made sure to show us many shots of his left hand throughout the movie.. if you pay attention youll see every time he’s dreaming there’s a wedding ring while its gone every time he’s in reality.. at the end its gone as is mal.. mal died and came back within the dream before so why wouldn’t she be there this time if it was a dream/limbo? ALSO the kids are played by different actors so they are older, its just very subtle (interestingly enough three of the child actors are siblings). The top was a watchamacallit.. a red herring. Well i don’t know if i forgot anything but there you go. Great movie. Great ending. Kinda forces you to see it more then once but once you do if you pay attention youll see a happy ending that’s more interesting then mushy. :)

  8. THE TOTEM WASN’T HIS! So, the fast that it fell at the end means nothing. That totem was Mal’s, Not his; using hers defeats the purpose of the totem.

  9. At the end of the movie when he walked into the house, just before he saw his kids it showed the totem top thingie was spinning on its side.  A top only does that when its about to stop. Yet after you see the top and after he runs up to his kids you can see it again and it is spinning normally. Sooooo…… i guess the top was going backwards…..maybe…….ok now im going to walk away before my brain explodes. Go ahead. Sh*t bricks.

  10. Well, re watch the movie after the blackout you can hear the totem stop waddling. Besides, look at the kids’ shoes. They look different in the dream than after the dream. The kids he saw in the dream are the only scrap of information he remember about his kids. How could he see something different? He remembers what they look like and it was different shoes. Plus, Saito was holding the pistol in his limbo. Cobb was there and wasn’t old like Saito. Saito held the gun. We don’t know what he did but come on! A guy with a gun. What will he do? They skipped the conclusion of that scene but it’s obvious. Also in a dream the totem spins and doesn’t waddle, only in reality it starts waddling slowly, plus if it was a dream he would have his city of limbo. So if it was, then why didn’t he see it? The answer is obvious. He wasn’t dreaming, if he was then all those would be his projections! Projections attack the dreamer. But they didn’t attack him or interacted inappropriately! If it was a dream why would he conclude with his friends that survived? The answer is simple. Either the director didn’t show us what happened with the survivors or this is all real. But honestly, what is more likely to happen?

    That is my opinion.

  11. I think he is still in a dream because the seen he saw in a flash back was of his kids, and now he sees the same exsact “dream” forget about the top, he supposidly hasn’t seen his kids for a long time and in the end they haven’t aged at all. So how is that possible to see your kids a few weeks, months, years later and them be the same as they were when you saw them last?

  12. There was no little sound to symbolize the spinning top(?) [Spinning- whatever] fell. It wobbled, yes- but did not fall (in video or audio). go ahead and amplify the audio and isolate the sound fragment from when the spinning thing wobbles to the music to mark the end. No sound depicting the spinning thing fell.

  13. NOT TRUE, the clothes are the same, but the shoes are different. The costume creator even states this. At the ed of the movie the shoes are different than the entire rest of the movie. He was awake.

  14. it wasnt his totem… it served no purpose for him. it never kept spinning for him either way.

  15. how the totem was still spining T T i felt for the film and its miserable.

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