The ending of It explained

The newest adaptation of Stephen King's It has introduced yet another generation of kids to their worst nightmares. The 1990 TV miniseries scared the jorts off every early millennial with a VCR and four hours to spare, and the 2017 version moves the setting to the late '80s, when milk cartons paraded pictures of missing children and the New Kids on the Block were every teen's guiltiest Walkman pleasure.

Through a wildly entertaining funhouse of fright, the Losers Club comes together to do what the adults can't and banish evil. But do they really put an end to their shared plight? Let's take a look at what actually happens at the end of It.

The Losers Club is strong ...

There's an undercurrent of teenage rebellion that informs the story of It. Here we have a group of misunderstood, underappreciated, and in some cases even abused kids who, on their own, are self-described Losers with a capital L.

Bill Denbrough (Jaeden Lieberher) has a stutter and bears the guilt of his little brother's disappearance. Beverly Marsh (Sophia Lillis) has developed a wholly undeserved reputation, just as her father asserts dominion over her girlhood in creepy and possibly even violent ways. The delightfully foul-mouthed Richie Tozier (Finn Wolfhard) is content to spend every second of his spare time in the arcade. Stanley Uris (Wyatt Oleff) is constantly picked on for his yarmulka, though he can barely recite Hebrew enough to feign interest in his own bar mitzvah. Mike Hanlon (Chosen Jacobs) is the home-schooled kid who's still considered "other" thanks to his race. Eddie Kaspbrak (Jack Dylan Grazer) is whip-smart, but constantly demeaned by his mother. And Ben Hanscom (Jeremy Ray Taylor) is the new guy whose pudginess and affinity for the library makes him an easy mark for the nastiest of town bullies. 

By coming together, they ignite a uniquely fearless force field against the demonic force that's plagued their town for years.

... But they are not impenetrable

Unlike other kids, who are perhaps less subject to daily torture by their peers, the Losers have been made to face their fears almost daily. From bullies to oppressive parents to a lost siblings, they've already been through the worst life can throw at them. So Pennywise, despite all Its tricks, can only do so much to them … especially when they're united. 

However, they do seem to have a tendency to break apart a little too soon. As we see throughout the movie, Pennywise/It constantly tries to separate them to individualize the aggression, since he needs their fears to feed, but that doesn't work so well when they're attacking him as a unit. Together, they can at least hurt him; apart, they're completely vulnerable. At the end of It, they agree to reunite if the occasion calls, but they'll go their separate ways in the meantime … which can't be good news for the next victims.

Parents fare worse than the kids this time around

With the exception of Georgie, Patrick Hockstetter, and the other missing kids from the movie, the Losers seem to come out of their battle with Pennywise relatively unscathed. Book readers and fans of the miniseries will know that Stan Uris isn't going to heal—inside or out—quite as well as the others. But for the most part, the Losers emerge okay after everything that happens to them.

The parents, on the other hand? They're a little worse for wear. Not only does Henry Bowers knife his dad in the neck, but Beverly fends off her dad by greasing him with a toilet lid. On a less deadly note, Bill has almost completely disregarded his parents' sensitivities over their lost son, and Eddie defies his mother-doctor's orders and trashed his placebo prescriptions. Part of the point of this story is to subvert the whole "parents know best" philosophy, and they've done just that.

How the Losers shed their fears

Without the whole Ritual of Chud and multi-verse turtle concept in Stephen King's book, the process of the Losers destabilizing It in the final act of the film is actually pretty simple. They're able to stymie and even overcome the monster because of their united front and, in a battle of wills, they each display little to no fear that It can feed off to strengthen itself. It isn't just their group status that allows them to table their terror; before they make way into the sewers one last time, they each have to conquer something in their individual lives.

Beverly defends herself against her father's sexual and emotional violence; Eddie decides not to take the useless medication and hovering of his mother anymore; Ben reveals his secret adoration of Bev; Mike gets used to the bolt gun at his slaughter house; Richie's grown numb to his fear of clowns; and Bill finally accepts that his brother is dead. Once they've faced their individual fears, It has very little left to use against them.

They also believe in themselves

An important part of the book that comes through in a very subtle way is the fact that they believe in their strength. After defeating Henry and his gang in the rock battle, they realize they've got strength when they're all together. It's that belief in themselves that ultimately wins the day against Pennywise—even though Mike's bolt gun isn't loaded, it delivers a crucial blow because they collectively will it to. In the book, it was a silver piece that was slingshotted at It; here, it's the farmyard tool. In both cases, it's not the power of the weapon itself that matters, but rather their belief.

Henry Bowers is MIA, but don't count him out just yet

Another minor to seemingly meet his maker in the movie is Henry Bowers (Nicholas Hamilton). After being coaxed into killing his old man, his sudden sense of social supremacy takes over as he goes on the offensive against Mike.

Mike manages to stave off certain doom by slapping away his own bolt gun before it can strike him and pitches Henry into the abyss of Pennywise's well, which is immeasurably deep. But we shouldn't count Henry out just yet—if a character's death isn't shown onscreen, you're better off assuming it didn't happen. Anyone familiar with King's story will know Bowers plays an interesting part in future events, so his rage will likely linger just as long as that terrible scar he sliced into Ben's belly.

What about the floating kids?

When Bill and the rest of the Losers come back together to rescue Beverly from It, they discover her floating mid-air with her eyes glazed over. After they spring her from unconsciousness, they learn that she felt like she was no longer alive while under the spell of the deadlights.

After the Losers manage to scare Pennywise away, the rest of the kids that have been floating in It's underground lair start to drop. Considering all the "missing persons" signs plastered throughout town, there's a good chance that these are some of the children who've recently gone missing. Will they too emerge alive? It certainly seems that way, but we'll have to wait and see if there are other sewer survivors from this generation.

Georgie is still a goner

Whether or not the Losers have just made dozens of worried parents happy and whole again by defeating the monster that kept their kids as hostages, it looks like little Georgie Denbrough won't have a happy ending.

Just as with previous It-erations, Georgie really did lose his life after being sucked into the storm drain. At the end of the film, just as other lost children are potentially being dropped to safety or at least absolution for their folks, Bill's left to grieve over the yellow raincoat Georgie wore while captaining his paper boat on the street.

Why Georgie met such a sad fate while others were left to hover without a scratch is a mystery. The #JusticeForBarb crowd will know exactly how that feels for sure.

Beverly chooses herself...kind of

Apart from beating us over the head with metaphors about her reaching adolescence, It also lays on the love triangle element with Beverly Marsh pretty thick. Not counting her grotesque father, Beverly is the apple of not one but two pairs of eyes: "January Embers" scribe Ben and the group's de facto leader, Bill.

It's Ben's kiss that summons her from her Pennywise-induced coma, but it's Bill's lips she chooses to smooch before her departure to her aunt's, now that she's a self-made orphan. But neither of these fellas, nor her dad, are important enough to keep her around Derry. Now that she's dispelled her dad, Ben and Bill are just roadblocks to her retreat from town … ones she happily bypasses, by the way. The bad news is that anyone familiar with King's writing will know Mr. Marsh isn't the only guy who'll hurt her before it's all said and done. To be continued…

It isn't done … and neither are the Losers

Although the Losers do manage to defeat It at the end of the movie, even they know the fight isn't over, which is why they make a blood oath to get the band back together if more Derry disappearances star happening in the future.

Even though we get a glimpse of It falling apart, the creature clearly isn't dead. As the news articles Ben has so carefully assembled indicate, It's hunger strikes again every few decades, so it's just a matter of time before It comes back to claim another slew of victims.

Part two is coming

Stephen King scholars will no doubt be quick to point out some of the most severe deviations from the source material—werewolves are only hinted at in passing, the deadlights are barely shown and never discussed, no one seems to even know what a slingshot is anymore, and the sewer train scene (you know, that one) is completely ignored.

Perhaps the most significant difference, though, lies in the nature of the titular creature. It takes on many forms throughout the movie, from Stan's "The Scream" painting-esque visions to the cockroach-style pincers that go after Mike to the very realistic face of Bev's abusive father. However, we never get to see the true form of the evil that lurks below the Well House.

In the book, It is really a spider-like being that uses intoxicating deadlights that stun its prey into submission—an odd appearance that's obviously either being saved for Chapter Two or altogether ignored. And whether or not the creature's plans for spreading its terror beyond the town limits come into play, there's clearly more to the story as we move forward onto the next chapter of the Losers Club's history—and the It sequel, which is already in the works.

The forgetting has already begun

An essential part of why It will be able to return 27 years later is that the Losers will forget what happened down in the Derry sewers … and everything they'd accomplished individually and together, too. While Mike Hanlon stays and attempts to uncover more of the town's deadly history as new deaths take place, the rest are long gone from Derry and have no memory of each other or what they'd been through. As a result, some will fall into old habits: Beverly will have an abusive husband, and Eddie will still be a hypochondriac. Others will sidestep their pasts almost completely — Bill completely suppresses his brother's fate, while Ben gets into good shape.

The ending of It lays the groundwork for that to happen, as Beverly mentions that she doesn't remember anything from her moment in the deadlights. It's just a touch of foreshadowing, but it'll become more important in the sequel to come.