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The Ending Of The Munsters Explained

In September of 1964, the world was introduced to "The Munsters," your typical, loving American family that just so happened to be approximations of the classic Universal monsters from Transylvania. The series was a sendup of other domestic sitcoms of the time like "Leave it to Beaver" and "Father Knows Best," treating its characters like regular people who have no idea that they're actually terrifying creatures of the night.

There have been various sequels and reboots since its cancellation over five decades ago, all of them either picking up the torch from the original series or trying to reinvent the show for a modern audience (via Syfy Wire). In 2022, musician and filmmaker Rob Zombie turned his lifelong fandom of the series into a movie that serves both as a reboot of the show and an origin story.

We meet the iconic characters so early in their lives that Herman hasn't even been created yet. We then get a great look at just how different life is in Transylvania all the way up to their big move to California, with the film ending in the perfect place for the classic series to begin. The ending of the film is essentially a punchline to a feature-length joke — a joke we're here to examine.

Transylvania: a perfectly normal place

Almost the entirety of "The Munsters" takes place in a fictional version of Transylvania. When the film begins, Lily (Sheri Moon Zombie) is living that single life, looking for a man who really excites her. Meanwhile, Herman (Jeff Daniel Philips) is being constructed by Dr. Wolfgang (Richard Brake) and his incompetent assistant Floop (Jorge Garcia). We see that Transylvania exists in this kind of haunted house theme park attraction reality where the streets and architecture are old, but instead of gas lamps, everything is lit in glowing neon.

This is a world where it's completely natural to encounter a walking corpse while you rob a graveyard, and vendors sell various blood types from their carts. It's the kind of place where vampires like Lily and her father The Count (Daniel Roebuck) can just let loose and be themselves. For them, there's nothing strange or eerie about this place — it's just their home.

This is, of course, in direct contrast to the rest of the real world as we know it. "The Munsters" TV show played around with the idea that Transylvanian transplants would be totally out of place in suburban America, but this movie doesn't dwell on that. Instead, it meticulously builds up to that exact scenario by giving us copious amounts of backstory first.

Love at first sight

Dating hasn't been going very well for poor Lily. The one date we see her on with a grotesque (even for Transylvania) vampire named Orlock (also played by Richard Brake) was awkward, uncomfortable, and gross — plus the guy just assumed he and Lily would be hooking up that night. But at the same time, the mad Dr. Wolfgang is creating what he believes will be the world's most perfect man, not knowing it's actually the man of Lily's dreams.

Things don't go quite as planned for Dr. Wolfgang, but Lily is smitten with the massive, loud, and dimwitted Herman Munster the instant she sees him on television. That's how bizarre this film's version of Transylvania is: a woman can just instantly fall madly in love with a reanimated corpse (made up of several corpses) and spend the rest of her life with him. It all goes into emphasizing just how different their world is from our own.

Herman, for his part, flips over Lily the second she shows up at his dressing room door. Here's a complete stranger who's tracked him down after watching him on television, and he isn't bothered by this at all. On the contrary, he's as thrilled as can be, struggling to contain his excitement. Of course, that might have something to do with the goofy brain in his flat head.

Honeymoon spot in Paris

After Herman and Lily court for about two seconds, they get married at The Count's castle. With the rest of their lives ahead of them (which could be a very long time, seeing as they're both technically undead), the newlyweds head off on their honeymoon to Paris. This is the first time they encounter any adverse reactions to their appearances, but they're too lost in each other's gaze to really notice.

At one point, they walk into an idyllic Parisian square where the lights twinkle, diners quietly enjoy their dinners, and a mime puts on a show. When the Munsters arrive, everybody panics. The mime screams, the other customers practically trip over each other to try and escape, and a baffled Lily and Herman are left alone wondering what just happened. All Herman can say is, "That's the loudest mime I've ever heard."

They read in the paper that there's a monster prowling the sewers, and instead of laughing it off or making sure to stay far away, they head straight down there to meet the little guy. What they find is an adorable little dragon that fans of "The Munsters" series will come to know as their pet Spot, who lives under the stairs at Mockingbird Lane.

Lester gonna pester

If you've ever wondered why Lily and Herman's only child Eddie would be a werewolf when Lily is a vampire and Herman's an undead monster man, then you probably forgot about Lily's brother Lester. Just like in the series (where he was played by Irwin Charone), "The Munsters" movie features Lily's scheming, shyster brother (this time played by Tomas Boykin) who is very much of the lycanthrope variety. Does it make sense? Not really, but it's "The Munsters."

Lester owes a woman named Zoya (Catherine Schell) a lot of money, and the only way he can get out of paying her back every cent is to convince his father to sell her the family castle. When he tries to pitch this to The Count, it doesn't go well — he knows what a terrible businessman his son is and wants nothing to do with his investment schemes. When Lily's trying to find Herman, her offers to show her where he is, for a price.

So it's set up from the get-go that Lester isn't exactly a stand-up guy. This goes along with the overall idea that the film is set up like a joke — Lester's arc doesn't go quite where you expect it to, resulting in a last-minute twist.

Best served cold

What Lester doesn't know (at least, he doesn't appear to know anything about it) is that Zoya has ulterior motives for forcing him to get The Count to sign over the castle to her. She is enacting her own scheme that she keeps hidden from Lester and the audience until the big reveal at the end of the movie's second act. Just like in the series, The Count is a bit of a womanizer. There's even an episode of "The Munsters" series all about how he's had so many wives that he can't remember all of them.

It turns out that Zoya is one of those wives, and things ended so badly between them that she wants revenge. The way she goes about it is to put Lester in a position where he has to get her the castle because she knows that his self-preservation instinct will kick in and he will do whatever it takes to get her what she wants. When he finally manages to secure it for her, she writes the Count a letter, rubbing it in his blue face that she has taken everything from him. This results in the Munsters having to move.

Herman's head

When Dr. Wolfgang is assembling the creature who will become Herman Munster, he discovers that two very different brothers have recently passed away. One is a hack comedian who was mauled to death by an unruly heckler. The other is a genius. When the news reports on the brothers' deaths, they make sure to emphasize that the only way anyone could ever get these two brothers confused is if they are complete idiots. So, of course, Floop gets the wrong brain.

After sneaking into the morgue, he sees the last name on the toe tag and just starts cutting the dude's skull open. When Dr. Wolfgang unveils his creature on television, he expects him to be an intelligent, cultured man with an incredible physique. Instead, he's a monosyllabic dope who smashes the piano he was supposed to play like a pro.

Thanks to the moronic brain in his head, Herman is a sweet, delusional man with a penchant for horrific puns. He is also very easy to manipulate, making him the perfect target for Lester's scheme. Just before Herman marries Lily, Lester convinces him that the castle belongs to him now as well, so he can sign it over to Zoya and help the rest of the family out by making them a ton of money. Herman, not knowing any better, signs (in big, blocky letters) and seals his family's fate.

Hollywood Herman

Since Herman isn't the superhuman genius his creator hoped he would be, Floop gets the idea that they should capitalize on Herman's television appearance by turning him into a rockstar. Almost overnight, Herman is playing shows in Transylvania and Floop is wearing gold suits, soaking up Herman's fame. Herman appears to give all that up for Lily and settles for the quiet bliss of domesticity upon returning from Paris.

When The Count finds out that they're being evicted from their home, Herman has the bright idea that they should move to Hollywood so he can become a big star. The reason he thinks he could make it big in America is because of Zombo, a pale, monstrous-looking man with a successful TV show. Fans of the series will know that Zombo is just an actor in some makeup, but Herman doesn't know that.

He assumes that since he already made a name for himself in Transylvania and Zombo has his own show, then he's got what it takes to make it in the international entertainment business. This leads to another encounter with terrified strangers. While sitting alone in first class (since the rest of the passengers have fled to the back), Herman has trouble getting service from the flight attendant because she's so frightened of them that she jumps out of the plane, and the Munsters don't even notice.

Shocked by her appearance

In a surreal change of pace in her career, Elvira actress Cassandra Peterson appears in the film as a totally normal real estate agent. She's not an undead airhead with innuendo-laden dialogue — she's just a woman trying to make a sale. The one quirk about her (in the Munsters' eyes) is that she decides to wear her Halloween costume when meeting them because she's going to attend a party afterwards.

When the Munster's show up at her door, they think nothing of her grotesque green face and witch attire. She, on the other hand, is horrified by them and passes out right there on her office floor. Again, the Munsters simply explain away her reaction instead of looking at each other and wondering, "Is there something wrong with us?" In a lot of ways, this is where Rob Zombie's film really starts to resemble the original series, with situations springing form the frightened reactions of unsuspecting Americans. This is appropriate, because the film is on the verge of reaching that final punchline.

A happening neighborhood

The Munsters are looking for a house on Mockingbird Lane in the neighborhood of Mockingbird Heights. On any other day, Mockingbird Heights would appear to be the perfect neighborhood for middle-class Americans looking for a quiet life away from the city. It's like something out of Tim Burton's worst nightmare, with uniform, pastel-colored houses, neatly trimmed green yards, and happy, smiling citizens enjoying their slice of dull mediocrity.

This isn't any other day, though — it's Halloween, and the people of Mockingbird Lane are celebrating the holiday with gusto. Sure, the houses might look kind of strange to three folks (and The Count's servant Igor, a bat who used to be a man played by the wonderful Sylvester McCoy) from Transylvania, but the people (all dressed up in costumes) appear to be no different than their friends and neighbors back home.

Their realtor wants to sell them one of the humdrum monstrosities everyone else has, but the Munsters get one look at the pile of sticks and cobwebs at 1313 Mockingbird Lane and demand to buy it on the spot. Herman assumes he'll need to haggle, but she agrees to his terms right there, because nobody wants to buy that house. Still, the Munsters have no idea that they're not going to fit in here at all.

Broke champions

Since it's Halloween and Mockingbird Heights is throwing a huge block party, the Munsters fit right in at first. They boogie down with their new neighbors and have an absolute ball. Not only does Herman get a job offer from the local funeral parlor, but the whole family wins the costume contest. Naturally, the Munsters think they've one a beauty contest, but the important thing is that they've won 1,500 smackers.

The reason this is such a big deal is because they're flat broke. They had enough money to make it to the states and buy their dream home, but that's it. With that prize money and Herman's new job, they can at least stay afloat until they start bringing in an income. Now, this is at odds with the Munsters we know from the series — although a shocking number of episodes feature the family trying to make money quick, they're still incredibly wealthy.

Since so much of this movie has been about getting Herman, Lily, and the Count to the place they were on the series itself, how can they be poor? Well, that gets explained just before we reach the credits.

Not in Transylvania anymore

The following day, Herman is ready to start working at the funeral parlor. He says goodbye to his wife and father-in-law and steps outside the door to start his brand new life. Only Mockingbird Heights doesn't look the same anymore. Instead of monsters and cobwebs and all the comforts of Transylvania, the neighborhood is populated by happy, grinning monsters without a single boil or fang in sight.

Now we get to the punchline of the whole film: the Munsters are petrified of their neighbors. Suddenly, all the time we spent in Transylvania makes perfect sense. We needed to see them in their element before shocking them with what the rest of the world is like. Sure, everyone outside of the old country is scared of the Munsters, but no one ever considered what the Munsters thought of us.

By the time the series begins, Eddie has already been born and Marilyn is living with them. They've had time to adjust to the unsettling appearance of everyday American suburbanites. The movie shows us their first time encountering them, and it's a disturbing experience. This brings them one step closer to being more like the characters we know from the show.

The end of the beginning

Scared and heartbroken, the Munsters are poor and surrounded by monsters. Who should happen to show up at their lowest moment? None other than Lester, the conniving bozo who got them into this mess to begin with. Upon seeing him, Herman loses his cool, letting all his rage and frustration out on the brother-in-law who tricked him into giving up the only home the family had ever known.

Lester isn't such a bad guy after all, it turns out. He hasn't shown up to beg them for a place to stay or for money. Instead, he's there to give them money. He went to Vegas with some of the money he made from the deal with Zoya, and he's turned up at Mockingbird Heights to give the Munsters their cut of his winnings. With this money, all of their financial problems are over. The Munsters are rich once again.

So, they've made the move to California, they've bought the house on Mockingbird Lane, and they have financial security again. Even if Eddie and Marylin aren't there yet, these Munsters are finally where they're meant to be. At this point, the garish colors fall away and we see 1313 Mockingbird Lane in glorious black and white, just like the old days. The iconic theme music kicks in, and the three main characters recreate the opening titles from the show's second season, letting us know that the Munsters have finally arrived.