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The Minions: The Rise Of Gru Ending Explained

When a new, oddball animated feature called "Despicable Me" came out in 2010, none other than Roger Ebert himself predicted the film would soon build itself into a franchise, calling it "teeth-gnashingly venomous," but in a good way. The Minions (voiced by Pierre Coffin and others), he described as looking like "yellow exercise balls with one or two eyes apiece," and now those rubbery stress-relievers are starring in their second "standalone" film — in actuality the fifth installment in the franchise, and second prequel — "Minions: The Rise of Gru."

Since being added to Netflix, "Minions: The Rise of Gru" has been regularly appearing in the streaming giant's Top 10 Movies of the Week as parents and kids are looking for some family-friendly fare to enjoy together inside while avoiding the cold winter weather. As expected, the movie traces a time period when Gru (Steve Carell) was looking to move up from his petty crimes of childhood into the exciting world of supervillainy now that he's firmly aged up to tween.

It's frankly a lot of treachery to keep track of, so we're here to look at everything that happens in "Minions: The Rise of Gru," break down the major story arcs, and see just how this latest film fits into the "Despicable Me" timeline.

Gru gets a taste of the big time

Unsurprisingly, "Minions: The Rise of Gru" is about Gru maturing into new levels of infamy. Whereas at the start of the film, Gru is but a boy with a cheese ray, by the movie's end, he has bested his former idols, the Vicious 6, in a battle over the Zodiac Stone, spent several days under the expert tutelage of his favorite bad guy, Wild Knuckles (Alan Arkin), and recruited Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand) as his own personal mad scientist.

It's 1976, and Gru's machinations are mainly limited to childish pursuits like skipping to the front of the ice cream line and having the run of the arcade until he gets a chance to interview with the Vicious 6, his favorite supervillain team. He loves palling around with the Minions, but this is his dream. When Gru's turned down, he swipes the Zodiac Stone, only to have Otto the Minion lose it. Furious, Gru fires all the Minions.

Gru tries to go it alone but is immediately abducted by Wild Knuckles, former Vicious 6 leader. In a twist of fate, Gru and Wild Knuckles form a connection, and Gru sees what an asset it is to have henchmen — not only to do things for you around the house but also to keep you company. When the Vicious 6 are defeated through teamwork, it's that rediscovered bond with his Minions that inspires Gru to rehire them.

Wild Knuckles lives again (and again)

Cheating death is what Wild Knuckles is all about. At the start of "Minions: The Rise of Gru," the other members of the Vicious 6 literally cut him loose, letting him fall hundreds of feet into the water near where he recovered the Zodiac Stone for them. Despite the fact that Wild Knuckles is later seen openly living in a house designed as a giant W on top of a giant K in the middle of San Francisco, his old team is shocked to hear he's alive. Worse still, he has Gru, the last person seen with the stone.

Before his former cohorts can try to knock him off again, though, Knuckles is nearly eaten by his pet crocodiles, then almost dies again when his fake heart attack (a distraction made during a heist at the Bank of Evil) is met with a real defibrillator. And when the Vicious 6 turn their attention back his way, Wild Knuckles only escapes being crushed because he's out with Gru, his new partner in crime, happily passing on his villainous knowledge.

Finally captured by the Anti-Villain League at the movie's end as the only remaining non-rodent member of the Vicious 6, Wild Knuckles' days seem numbered. He was badly hurt in the battle and leaves in an ambulance. A mournful Gru holds a reverent graveside service for his funeral, only to soon discover that the coffin is filled with bananas and that Wild Knuckles is still alive. Again.

Gru's mom keeps on grooving

At the start of "Minions: The Rise of Gru," Gru's mom (Julie Andrews) is into some hatha yoga with a flexible guy who smells like cabbage. She's got her own interests and pursuits that definitely don't take Gru into account. As far as she's concerned, he can be left to his own devices as long as he leaves her to do the same.

Gru's mom has always been like this, though. She always dances to the beat of her own drum. She has no interest in villains, but if they burst through her roof, they had better pay to replace it. She'll let Gru keep a hundred of his weird yellow friends in her basement, but only if they pull their weight. And if Wild Knuckles wants to kidnap her son, she might pay him to keep Gru out of her hair.

Rest assured, when she gets untied from the break-in by the Vicious 6, she'll go right back to finding her mojo with any number of sweaty men. A woman has needs, after all. Gru can probably take care of himself.

Kevin, Stuart, and Bob find their inner beasts

The three leads of the "Minions" film are Kevin, Stuart, and Bob, and they are the focus of about half of "Minions: The Rise of Gru" as well, while Gru's time with Wild Knuckles generally makes up the other half. Kevin (tall with two eyes) is Gru's right hand most of the time, so when he witnesses Gru's kidnapping, he takes it upon himself to lead a rescue team with Stuart (middle height, one eye) and Bob (short and round) in tow.

Unfortunately, the trio is no match for Wild Knuckles' henchmen, who corner them in Chinatown. They are saved by Master Chow (Michelle Yeoh), a kung fu expert (Yeoh is a badass even as a cartoon), whom they beg to instruct them. With the Minions being as uncoordinated as they are, however, it doesn't go well.

When they attempt to save Gru from the felonious five, the supervillains have used the Zodiac Stone to turn into supernatural animal forms from the Chinese Zodiac: a dragon, a monkey, an ox, a tiger, and a snake. Kevin, Stuart, and Bob are also transformed by the stone, but into the less intimidating rabbit, rooster, and goat. They are each able to access their inner beasts, however, and kick the bad guys up and down the neighborhood.

When the dust settles, a triumphant Gru happily returns them to their Minion form and rehires them all so that the despicably goofball adventures may continue indefinitely.

Otto rocks

All Minions are accident-prone by nature, but Otto (tall, round, with braces) is a bumbling idiot even in Minion circles. When he trades the priceless Zodiac Stone for a Pet Rock, Gru is so upset that he fires all the Minions and tries to go out on his own. If not for his immediate abduction by Wild Knuckles, that might've been the end of the story.

Kevin, witnessing the kidnapping, rallies the other Minions and has Otto describe the boy he traded the stone to. When they track the kid down, the lead Minions are inside talking to the boy while Otto is left outside and spots the boy's uncle (RZA) riding away on his chopper motorcycle wearing the stone around his neck. Panicking, Otto hops on a Big Wheel and pursues him. Somewhere in Death Valley, Otto collapses, and the man he was looking for finds him and brings him to San Francisco, where Belle Bottom (Taraji P. Henson) snatches the stone away again. 

But while Kevin, Stuart, and Bob are using their inner beasts to defeat the Vicious 6, Otto goes to the clock tower to free Gru from being torn in half. Safely on the ground, Gru grabs the stone from Belle Bottom and turns the five felons into rats. Otto is rewarded by getting to perform the lead in "You Can't Always Get What You Want" at Wild Knuckles's funeral. Then he and his Pet Rock live happily ever after.

The Vicious 6 are caged like the rats they are

Founded by Wild Knuckles, the Vicious 6 of "Minions: The Rise of Gru" are rounded out by Belle Bottom, Jean-Clawed (Jean-Claude Van Damme), Stronghold (Danny Trejo), Svengeance (Dolph Lundgren,) and Nun-Chuck (Lucy Lawless). They kick out Wild Knuckles after he gets them the Zodiac Stone, and Belle Bottom takes over the spot of head honcho. On the day of the Chinese New Year, they plan to release the power of the Zodiac Stone onto themselves, cementing their status as the most powerful villains of all time.

These notorious criminals have no use for Gru, whom Belle Bottom calls a "tubby little punk." When Gru gets hold of the stone, though, they chase after him and have far more trouble catching him than they anticipate. They then discover Wild Knuckles is alive and also has the kid, so they try to kill him again by destroying his home — only, he's not there. Angry and betrayed again, Wild Knuckles faces his old gang down in the film's climax and only survives thanks to the aid of Gru and his Minions — particularly Kevin, Stuart, and Bob. 

The Vicious 6 (now 5) are brought down by that tubby little punk after all, and he uses the Zodiac Stone to turn them all into scrawny and pathetic rats who are caged up and taken away by the Anti-Villain League, never to be seen again. (Probably.)

The Anti-Villain League lies low

Despite not appearing again in Gru's life (as far as we know) until the events of "Despicable Me 2," the Anti-Villain League obviously maintains its operation and surveillance from before the start of "Minions: The Rise of Gru" through all the intervening years.

Although Belle Bottom out-maneuvers them early in the film, Silas Ramsbottom (Steve Coogan) and company arrive on the scene for the climax. Strangely, the Anti-Villain League doesn't manage to fight off the villains in any way. They leave that to Wild Knuckles, four Minions, and Gru. But the AVL is there to clean up the mess afterward, hauling the Vicious 6-minus-1 away in a rat cage. They also cart off Wild Knuckles in an ambulance, as he was hurt pretty badly in the (literal) firefight.

The Anti-Villain League walks away with a big win that night, but in reality, it's Gru who saved the day. It's no wonder the League comes looking for him years later when he changes his despicable ways.

Mr. Perkins fails upward

It's unclear whether management at the Bank of Evil would consider being robbed a good thing or a bad thing. Given their clientele, it's hard to say if they would encourage that type of behavior or not. What is clear is that despite (or maybe because of) being robbed in "Minions: The Rise of Gru" while working as a bank teller, Mr. Perkins (Will Arnett) manages to work his way up to the high position of authority at the bank he holds in "Despicable Me."

In the first film of the franchise, Mr. Perkins decides whether or not to finance Gru's moon theft proposal (and it's his son Vector, voiced by Jason Segel in the original film, who has the shrink ray Gru needs). So one way or another, Mr. Perkins is positioning himself higher and higher in the company as the years go by.

As Perkins is only a teller at the time of Gru's heist with Wild Knuckles, naturally Gru doesn't remember him after he's grown up and trying to get a loan from the man. Nor does he remember the framed photo of Vector that Mr. Perkins kept at his bank window, though it can be assumed he never stops thinking Vector is one weird-looking kid.

Master Chow is surprised nobody died

Master Chow didn't choose the kung fu life, the kung fu life chose her. When we first meet her in "Minions: The Rise of Gru," she is calmly performing acupuncture on a sleeping client and catches sight of Kevin, Stuart, and Bob being pummeled outside by a bunch of henchmen. The henchmen work for Wild Knuckles and have chased the three Minions away after finding them trying to rescue Gru. Without pretense, Master Chow emerges from her storefront and asks if the henchmen like beating up little guys. Then she shows them what's what with an aerial display of kicks and punches, wiping the floor with them.

Grateful and in need of her kung fu knowledge, the Minions ask her to teach them, but she's given up that life. Only their insanely persuasive puppy dog eyes can convince her to change her mind. Still, even an entire movie montage worth of training isn't enough to get them into fighting shape, so when they prematurely run off to save Gru, she's right to assume they'll be killed.

However, if the end credit illustrations are anything to go by, Gru and his Minions have dinner with Master Chow at least once after the events of the film, surely shocking her. But while the Minions survived, Master Chow will probably stick to her acupuncture pins from now on and keep her kung fu knowledge a secret.

Dr. Nefario gets a new job

We first meet Dr. Nefario working the counter at Criminal Records near the beginning of "Minions: The Rise of Gru," as he directs the young upstart to the secret entrance to the Vicious 6's lair by way of a non-working listening booth. He clearly has an eye for evil, as he notices Gru right away and taps him on the shoulder with his brand new Sticky Fingers invention.

It's this invention that serves Gru so well in the Vicious 6's lair, allowing him to steal the Zodiac Stone, and the kooky device serves him again when he and Wild Knuckles are robbing the vault at the Bank of Evil. Gru's obviously adept at gadgets himself, as he already has a couple of different ray guns, a fart bomb prototype, and a turbo-booster bicycle before he even meets Nefario, but he clearly likes the doctor's ingenuity and imagination.

Considering that a villain can never have too many gadgets, Gru shows back up at Criminal Records after the Vicious 6 are arrested at the end of the film and offers Dr. Nefario a job as the head mad scientist of Gru's eventual evil empire. With so much in common, how could Nefario say no? They ride off back to Gru's house in the giant flying silver rocket car Gru's still sporting as an adult in "Despicable Me."