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The Ending Of Teen Wolf: The Movie Explained

The wolves are back in town — the town of Beacon Hills, to be precise. 2017 seemed to be the end of an era when "Teen Wolf" closed the doors of Stiles' jeep for what seemed like the last time after six seasons. Though fan-favorite "Teen Wolf" cast members Dylan O'Brien as Stiles Stilinski and Tyler Hoechlin as Derek Hale were largely absent from the show near the end of its run, both returned for the finale, offering some closure. Yet both Stiles and Kira Yukimura (Arden Cho) are missing from the film despite being the two characters closest to the Nogitsune storyline the movie reprises — dismantling some of that closure. Kira doesn't even get a mention, and the characters largely avoid talking about Stiles.

Like most teen-centric shows, the gang splits up in the series finale, but fans leave on a hopeful note with a slightly bizarre adult reunion at night in the parking lot of Beacon Hills High. "Teen Wolf: The Movie" picks up with the core group now in their '30s. Most of the key players have been estranged for years. But with 15 years to cover since their last appearance, the film mostly chooses not to worry about it.

Between the confusing and sometimes clunky exposition to connect the current plots to the characters' missing years, absent fan-faves, a confusing resurrection, and the nuances of a tortured character's fiery end, the ending of "Teen Wolf: The Movie" needs some dissecting.

Have we met Eli's mom?

One of the most significant questions fans had going into "Teen Wolf: The Movie" was the identity of Derek's son's mother. In typical "Teen Wolf" fashion, the timeline wasn't completely obvious, so fans attempted to play detective to figure out which of Derek's many toxic relationships resulted in Eli (Vince Mattis). However, that was before we discovered the 15-year time jump. There's a significant chance that fans never even met Eli's mom during the show's run. And hey, as long as it's not Kate Argent (Jill Wagner) — the woman who groomed Derek and burned his family alive — the fandom could probably live with any other choice ... but preferably not Jennifer (Haley Webb).

Almost immediately, it becomes clear that the identity of Eli's mother doesn't matter. Through his son, Derek is the leader he was always capable of but never quite managed to be. Derek finally has his sense of family back, and that means everything to the wolf. Eli's mom isn't in the picture for whatever reason — either from death or bailing on her son. But it's not essential. The dynamic between Derek and Eli is what matters. Malia's (Shelley Hennig) care for her second cousin matters. The rebuilding of the Hale line matters. Everything else is filler.

We know that Eli is a Hale by blood, given that he's a born wolf. And watching Derek be a good (yet stern) and loving dad is all the fandom needed. Derek has had nothing but tumultuous relationships since his first love, and it's lovely to see him choose himself and his son over a woman. He's come so far since his two-word grunts and stalking teens in the forest.

What's the deal with the relationship statuses?

One of the most frustrating things about "Teen Wolf: The Movie" is also one of the most realistic. High school sweethearts aren't usually known for their longevity. It makes sense that a movie taking place 15 years after we last see the group together would have more than its fair share of partner swaps. Hell, the group traded love interests like candy even during high school. Naturally, with the pack parting ways, most couples the show ended on wouldn't stay stagnant. That's a mistake the "Gilmore Girls" revival made, and it stole 10 years of happiness from more than a few characters.

However, we don't get so much as a throwaway line about what happened between certain pairings — old and new. Scott (Tyler Posey) and Malia were doomed to fail before they started, but we never get closure on what happened outside of an awkward reunion that doesn't resolve anything. Noah Stilinski aka the Sheriff (Linden Ashby) seems to be alone again, although Melissa (Melissa Ponzio) and Chris (JR Bourne) have somehow stayed together despite the series teasing Melissa and the Sheriff from the beginning.

Of course, the most jarring (and frankly disturbing) relationship introduction is a naked Malia quite literally pouncing on Parrish (Ryan Kelley) out of nowhere. Malia refuses to define the relationship, but there's hope for a deeper connection between the two when she mentions that they can talk about "the look" at the end of the movie. Still, without any context for their relationship and no organic introduction, that's not exactly a win.

Derek's fiery sacrifice

Derek's sacrifice to protect his son is the most impactful moment in the movie, but it's also one of the most frustrating scenes. On the one hand, Derek honors the family he lost to the fire that he blames himself for by sacrificing himself in the same way for Eli. Sure, it's poetic in its own right. Derek has spent decades punishing himself for what Kate did to his family. No amount of hatred hurled toward Derek could top his own. Between living in condemned buildings and pushing away any drop of kindness, Derek wouldn't let himself be happy ... until Eli.

For the sake of his son, Derek honed his communication skills, found work that he enjoyed, and built a life for himself in Beacon Hills. Not only is he an active member of the community, but he allows himself to develop close relationships with people like the Sheriff and Malia. And though it seemed like Derek had tucked away his self-sacrificing martyr card to honor those who lost their lives by living his own, he's quick to step up to the chopping block. Derek gives his life for an action that doesn't exactly seem necessary.

Why can't the Hikari's (Amy Lin Workman) fox fire help Parrish hold the Nogitsune down or at least protect Derek? Instead, Derek goes down in a blaze of martyr glory while his son looks on. He forces Eli to carry on the Hale family tradition of watching their family burn alive and spend the rest of their life blaming themselves for it. Couldn't he have at least made Scott cover Eli's eyes? Come on, Derek.

Derek becomes a True Alpha

There's no denying Derek made deadly mistakes as an Alpha. It's pretty shady to turn a bunch of misfit teens into werewolves. In Season 1 of "Teen Wolf," Derek builds up an underage army of kids that sacrifice themselves for a cause they never really understood when they signed on. Any isolated, vulnerable kid would say yes to the idea of an instant family and superpowers to boot. But Derek, more than anyone, knew just what kinds of sacrifices they would make. To make things right, Derek willingly gave up his Alpha status because he knew he wanted it for the wrong reasons and actively worked to become a better person (and wolf).

By the time Derek shifts into his full-wolf form, no one deserves Alpha status more than the lone wolf — not even True Alpha Scott. During his time as a werewolf, Scott manipulated Derek into killing someone for him, ditched his friends when they needed him the most, and left his human best friend, Stiles, vulnerable to getting kidnapped and hurt weekly.

And though lore established that there could only be one True Alpha at once, Derek receives this honor in the final moments before his death. Yes, his sacrifice is frustrating in many ways, but it's still a sacrifice — and the moment, as fleeting as it is, brings Derek's character arc full circle. But this is Beacon Hills, so what's dead doesn't always stay dead. We're looking at you, Allison (Crystal Reed).

The highway to hell (and the way back?)

As it turns out, ancient demons aren't that easy to kill. Red tape, right? The riddle-loving Nogitsune is supposed to be unkillable if we go by the lore presented in its Season 3 arc. With a Nogitsune-possessed Stiles, the entity quickly became the show's most effective and terrifying villain, and no other villain quite topped Nogitsune-Stiles. Yet without Dylan O'Brien's subtly menacing performance to bring the villain to life, the movie's Nogitsune is more comical than creepy. The mental games and never quite knowing who's afflicted make the Nogitsune scary, not yelling words like "chaos" while spitting black goo out of its mouth. Ultimately, Nogitsune-Stiles was terrifying because he was wearing the face of the fandom's most-beloved character. That messes with the psyche.

It seems like Parrish kills both the Nogitsune and Derek when he rains hellfire on them, but does he really? As hellhounds are members of the Wild Hunt in "Teen Wolf" lore, Parrish has access to other dimensions. The full scope of his powers is never quite realized, and Parrish might have burned the Nogitsune and Derek before trapping them in another dimension — perhaps the Nogitsune's own dimension. If that's the case, a rescue mission could come along in a possible sequel. Alternatively, Scott biting the Nogitsune and turning him into a werewolf hybrid of sorts could have sparked a weakness in his immortality, allowing Parrish's fire to kill Derek and the Nogitsune in one fell swoop.

It's complicated: ft. Roscoe

Let's be real: No one has "complicated feelings" for a car — but you might have complicated feelings for the person driving it. When Stiles first meets Derek, the werewolf is instantly drawn to the Sheriff's son despite acting aggressively toward him. Yet whenever Derek is in trouble, he doesn't go to Scott — an actual werewolf — for help. Nope. He goes to Stiles.

It makes perfect sense for a fugitive to seek refuge in the Sheriff's house, right? But despite Stiles' room being the riskiest possible place for Derek to hide in Season 1, he seeks Stiles out. Why? Because, for some reason, he trusts him. And for the longest time, Stiles is just about the only person Derek trusts. The series happily baited a relationship between Derek and Stiles that the fandom knew would never reach canon status. Still, an errant hope here and a bridal carry there kept the Sterek (Stiles and Derek) shippers coming back for more. Without Stiles, the writers had to do something to keep that spark alive.

So Roscoe serves as a reminder of what Derek likely could have had if he had gone for it. Whether people take the Sheriff's statement platonically or not, it's clear that Derek loved Stiles. Derek fixed the Jeep and chewed Eli out for driving it. His son undoubtedly reminds Derek of a young Stiles, and that stings. The Sheriff knows it, too — which is why he gives Eli the keys to the Jeep and subtly alludes to just how much Derek cared for stiles with the dreaded Facebook status sentiment: It's complicated.

Scotty doesn't know (how to raise a bereaved teen)

Don't tell Scotty. Scott's desire to have a kid is established early on in the movie when he rescues a young girl and a dog from a deadly fire. He's clearly having a pre-midlife crisis throughout the film, lamenting that he doesn't have someone to settle down with. Enter his dead girlfriend. We never get full clarity on what happened to Allison way back in Season 3 of "Teen Wolf" and the 15 years that have passed since she seemingly died. After a few throwaway lines about bardo (a stasis between life and death), the gang just has to do a simple spell, and boom — hello, Allison.

So naturally, what is a 30-year-old to do when his previously dead 17-year-old girlfriend gets her memories back? Adopt a 15-year-old orphan, obviously. No matter that Allison just went from a resurrected ruthless hunter with little memory of her life to a devoted girlfriend in the span of a day. Clearly, these two need to add a grieving teen into the mix. Sure, they mean well, but they still don't know if Allison has any lingering residual side effects from getting brought back to life. Additionally, Scott and Allison haven't been together since they were teens, and technically, in all but physicality, Allison is still a teen. These two need to figure out their own lives before bringing a vulnerable kid into the picture.

The home that should have been

Despite the fact that the Sheriff served as somewhat of a grandfather figure for Eli and has known the youngest Hale for his whole life, Scott and Allison adopt Eli. Not only do they drag him away from the only home that he's ever known, but they take him away from Malia — his only remaining family member. Malia may be aloof and seemingly unfeeling at times, but she cares for Eli in a way that we've never seen her protect anyone before. She loves that kid in her own way, and it's cruel to both Hales to take that bond away from her.

Instead of living with his loved ones, Eli is subjected to living with people he barely knows. No matter that the Sheriff had ample experience dealing with his own troubled and grief-stricken kid. At the very least, if Scott and Allison want to randomly become parents five seconds after rekindling their relationship, they could at least move back to Beacon Hills, so they don't further alienate a teenager who just lost his entire world.

The Stiles-shaped hole

It seems like a weird choice to have a Nogitsune-centric movie without Stiles and Kira. Given that Dylan O'Brien was the Nogitsune's host in Season 3 and Arden Cho's character Kira Yukimura introduced the kitsune plotline that opened the door for Nogitsune lore, their absence is palpable. Cho turned down an offer to appear in the movie when she was offered significantly less money than her female co-stars (via The Cut). And that's after the show slowly phased her out of the series while claiming there wasn't enough plot for one of the most interesting supernatural creatures the series had seen. Meanwhile, O'Brien was well on his way to becoming a movie star during the show's initial run, and his appearance in "The Maze Runner" led to a Stiles-light final season. O'Brien told Variety he tried to make a movie appearance work, but it fell together too quickly.

Yet without those core characters, this particular plot feels empty. Hikari seems like a last-minute replacement for what Kira's story would have been. We never even get a solid reason for Stiles' absence, either, other than a few throwaway lines about how busy he is. At the end of the day, if Stiles' friends are in trouble, he would come running, and more thought should have gone into both of their absences. There's no way in hell Stiles would miss Derek's funeral, either. Would it have killed them to have a stunt double standing by Stiles' Jeep Roscoe when Eli takes it for a ride? Flowers? A card? Anything? Derek's sister Cora's (Adelaide Kane) absence from Derek's funeral also stings.

A deadly premonition

It's never fun when a show retcons a happy ending from a series finale in a reboot: Think "Veronica Mars" and "The X-Files." When shows spend the bulk of the series' teasing a specific relationship, fans are understandably disappointed when a ship sinks after the couple walks into the sunset at the end of the series. In "Teen Wolf," Stydia (Stiles and Lydia) isn't everyone's cup of tea. There's certainly a case for the show waiting too long to pull the trigger on the pairing, and the canonization happens rapidly even after both characters develop more of a sibling bond than that of love interests.

But regardless, they're endgame in the show's initial run before having it yanked away in the movie. For Stydia fans, that's gotta sting. But why do they need to break up, to begin with? Stiles isn't even in the show, and Lydia isn't paired with anyone else. Virtually nothing would change if Stiles was just off on some undercover FBI investigation where the pack couldn't reach him. In fact, that would make more sense for his character. Instead, Lydia explains their breakup toward the end of the film when she describes what she believes to be a car crash premonition that leads to Stiles' death. Instead of just ... not driving with him, she ends things and ditches her power. Why? So she can be sad for the Nogitsune, apparently.

However, she does embrace her banshee wail to give Allison back her memories, which hints that this might not be the end for Stiles and Lydia. Love it or hate it, these two crazy kids might make it work after all. Lydia clearly isn't over the breakup — however long ago it happened.

Harris returns from the dead

The return of Mr. Harris (Adam Fristoe) is bizarre, to say the least. Unlike Allison, the former chemistry teacher doesn't exactly have a harem of friends who would care whether he lives or dies. No one's risking life or limb to bring this guy back from the dead. Despite his bravado, he isn't as intelligent as he thinks he is. Yet when Harris becomes the Darach's third sacrifice in Season 3, he's the only one whose dead body is unaccounted for. However, later that season, Harris appears on a blink-and-you'll-miss-it pan over the Sheriff's murder board, suggesting that they likely found his body.

Despite Harris' seemingly endless exposition, we don't learn much from his dialogue — except that he probably survived the sacrifice. He never says they killed him, just that they served him up as a sacrifice. His survival actually makes sense when you think about it. Jennifer became powerful by seemingly completing four out of five of her ritual sacrifices. But if the fourth sacrifice failed, that explains why Deucalion (Gideon Emery) easily overpowered her and why the Nemeton didn't restore her strength, allowing Peter (Ian Bohen) to finish her off.

Like most hypocritical villains, Harris is quick to blame the pack for the sacrifice that gave him a pretty gnarly scar, but he was the one working with Jennifer in the first place — and the one who gave Kate Argent the means to burn Derek's family alive. Like most villains, he opts for misplaced vengeance rather than self-reflection, which leads to a not-so-cozy sentence in Eichen House. And if Season 3 taught us anything, it's that the creepy doctors in that hospital are worse than the monsters outside of its walls — and within.