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The Ending Of Strays Explained

Contains spoilers for "Strays"

Universal's new R-rated comedy "Strays" brings a star-studded cast together to voice a group of stray dogs who are on a wild revenge mission with a vulgar comedic bite. The film follows Reggie (voiced by Will Ferrell), a naïve but good-hearted dog who's abandoned by his cruel owner Doug (Will Forte) on the desolate city streets. There, Reggie meets a crude Boston Terrier named Bug (voiced by Jamie Foxx) and joins his band of canine allies. Together, they embark on a mission of vengeance against Doug and go many miles to rip off his prized privates.

"Strays" delivers tons of laughs through its main group of canine characters and the wild antics they deal with over the course of their journey. From their constant humping and peeing on nearly everything they come across to their very vulgar way of speaking, it's safe to say that "Strays" isn't your typical family-friendly dog movie. "Strays" isn't just raunchy laughs, though, as it also features some surprisingly tender arcs and uses the innocent and adorable nature of its characters to tug at your heartstrings. That's why it's worth delving into the ending of "Strays" to see how things pan out for the film's central dogs and touch on some of the lessons learned along the way.

What you need to remember about the plot

Before we delve into the film's finale, let's talk about some key things that influence the gruesome yet surprisingly satisfying ending. Although Reggie believes that he's happy with his life under the heel of his harsh owner Doug, he's constantly having to find his way home after Doug abandons him. However, everything changes when Bug gets Reggie to understand that he's become a stray. With Reggie frustrated by this reality, Bug enlists the help of his companions -– superior sniffer Maggie (voiced by Isla Fisher) and therapy dog Hunter (voiced by Randall Park) -– to go back to Doug's home so that Reggie can bite his dick off.

While most of their adventure is sweet and liberating, it eventually leads to two emotional revelations. The first comes from Bug when he reveals why he doesn't like humans. It turns out that Bug was the beloved companion of a young girl named Emma (Aven Lotz) until he bit her after she accidentally stepped on him. Then, when Emma's parents decided to have him put down, Bug escaped and became a stray. The other comes from Reggie, who despite talking a big game about biting Doug actually just wants to return to his old life. Sadly, Reggie believes that he's the problem in their relationship and blames himself for Doug abandoning him. In a fit of frustration, Bug rips Reggie's bandana off and pees on it, causing Reggie to storm off toward Doug.

What happened at the end of the movie

When Reggie arrives back at Doug's house, he sees that Doug isn't there and decides to bury the tennis ball he's brought in the backyard. Eventually, though, Doug returns home and is far from pleased to see Reggie's face. When Reggie confronts Doug, he gives a heartwarming speech highlighting his realization about Doug's abusiveness and his own readiness to become independent. Unfortunately, Reggie's speech falls on deaf ears, and it's not just because Doug can't understand him, but more so because his rage is starting to consume him.

Doug is so fed up with Reggie's presence that he actually now plans to just kill Reggie — that is, until Bug, Maggie, and Hunter all rush in to save him. After Reggie separated from the group, everyone came to different realizations –- including Bug being comforting towards another human. So, they all rush to Reggie's aid, and Hunter whipping off his head cone might as well be the gloves coming off, since these dogs spare no mercy in taking Doug down. They do everything in their power to defeat Doug and even start a small fire during the chaos. It all builds towards the climactic moment of Reggie fulfilling his mission and biting off Doug's penis -– with Hunter adding some extra humiliation by pooping right on Doug's face while it happens. By the end, Doug is left with a burning house, mangled private parts, and a bad taste in his mouth. Reggie's revenge sure is sweet.

What happens with Reggie and his canine cohorts ... and Doug

After the foursome leaves Doug, the film gives viewers a glimpse into how everyone's lives have changed. Hunter no longer wears his cone, but continues to be a therapy dog. He and Maggie are also now in a relationship, getting some strange approval from Hunter's elderly companions. Maggie doesn't live with her uncaring owner anymore and has taken a new position as a police dog, where she's thriving thanks to her amazing sniffing skills.

Bug no longer exists as a stray and now lives a new life with his new companion Riley (Mikayla Rousseau) — the missing Girl Scout the group helped find. He has found a home where he truly feels loved and even has a new couch lover. As for Reggie, he decides to stay a stray and take on a new role of helping other strays become acclimated to their new life. He's seen giving the same rules that Bug does at the beginning of the film, but changes the last one to remind other canines that they are not alone. Despite Bug and Reggie switching lifestyles, though, they still find time to hang out, cuss out the mailman, and play with much nicer humans. And as for Doug, well, viewers see in a brief mid-credits scene that he's being told by a doctor that his injuries are severe and that they couldn't re-attach his penis –- which leads to him letting out a massive scream.

What does the end of the movie mean?

Although Reggie and Bug initially have opposite perspectives, they eventually have moments that allow them to have better and more purposeful lives. While Bug holds a lot of resentment towards humans because of what happened with Emma, he starts to have a change of heart when he meets Riley. When Bug sees Riley crying and scared because she's been lost for so long, he makes his way back to comfort her. It's then that he realizes that -– like Reggie –- there's just this innate purpose within him to comfort people. This time, though, he feels a love from Riley that matches his, and it ultimately leads him to care for people again, starting a new journey on the leash alongside Riley.

As for Reggie, his personal arc is one about understanding self-worth. Even though he secretly wants to go back to Doug to apologize for being a "bad dog" and continue in their cycle — regardless of how abusive it is — he has a life-changing revelation. When he comes face to face with Doug again, Reggie delivers a speech highlighting his realization of Doug's mistreatment and his desire to start a new chapter without him. Reggie finally understands that he doesn't need Doug, and his new purpose in helping other strays find their way symbolizes his growth. So, although Reggie and Bug started out in tragic places, their arcs lead them towards brighter and more fulfilling futures.

A walking reminder

Pretty much from the film's opening moments, it's clear that Doug is literally the dog owner from hell. He constantly curses and yells at Reggie -– who he doesn't even give a proper name -– and tries to abandon him every chance he gets. Doug embodies the worst signs of abusive behavior and harshly shows how animals shouldn't be treated. For viewers, he's a walking, talking representation of animal abuse and acts as a villainous force who showcases a horrifying reality for some animals. Doug isn't the only reminder for viewers of how cruel animals can be treated, though, as there's actually another instance in Bug's story.

When talking about how he was discarded by Emma's family after biting Emma as a reaction to her stepping on him, it's hard not to be emotionally distraught at how Emma's family turned their back on Bug. Pretty much all the good times he had with Emma were discarded, and he was treated like an evil force that needed to be destroyed, rather than an animal who made a regrettable but understandable mistake. Viewers will easily feel gutted seeing the whole process through Bug's perspective. The human characters of "Strays" can really open viewers' eyes to how we treat our supposed "best friends" and deliver necessary wake-up calls about abuse. 

A tale of toxic relationships

There's something about Reggie's horrid treatment of Doug that instantly tugs at your heartstrings, and it eventually leads to some relatable realizations about toxic relationships. Obviously, Doug is super abusive towards Reggie and his constant attempts to abandon the dog in places that could literally kill him are disgusting. Sadly though, Reggie doesn't see it that way and even blames himself for Doug treating him poorly. The scene of him telling his canine friends that he's giving up on his plan to hurt Doug and simply wants to be in this toxic relationship is heartbreaking. But it's sadly a common behavior among people being abused, and it's why the cycle can often last so long, becoming increasingly vicious and dangerous over time.

Thankfully, though, Reggie finds the strength to leave his relationship with Doug and start his own independent adventure helping other dogs like him. Reggie and Doug's relationship defines the heartache and horror of toxic relationships, but also shows how people can get out of them. While it's saddening to see Reggie go through so much emotional turmoil with Doug, it's incredibly fulfilling to see him break away and find a new sense of self-worth within himself — something that others can hopefully gain strength from as well.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

A dog's perspective

What "Strays" does better than any "talking dog movie" that's come before it is actually giving viewers a meaningful glimpse into the perspectives of many people's furry friends. Sure, viewers will see the humorous side of being a dog — including being able to pee on everyone, gnaw on the food that falls onto the ground, and hump pretty much anything in sight. However, audiences also will come to understand the inherent vulnerabilities of being man's best friend, and the many ways that we negatively impact them through our own ignorance. 

The scene of the foursome running from fireworks as they explode over a county fair is a sad reality for dogs that many people probably aren't aware of. Loud noises and big booms can really scare dogs and cause them to shake in fear — which is why it's always important to comfort them as much as they comfort you. Not to mention, there's an immersive feel to seeing Bug nearly get euthanized and Reggie being mistreated by Doug which really hits hard. These scenes leave a deep impact because they make you understand how dogs feel when they're in these anxiety-provoking situations. "Strays" has some eye-opening moments with its central dogs that leave a big mark, hopefully leading viewers to think more about how their beloved animals really think and feel. 

What we can learn

Although "Strays" is a film that's mainly focused on dogs, there are actually a lot of lessons that people can learn from seeing the film — some of which have already been mentioned. As said before, the film offers a unique perspective through its canine protagonists that reflects how cruel humans can be. Reggie and Bug's personal arcs highlight how their tragic lifestyles and betrayals by humans have affected them, acting as a reminder to viewers for their own lives. Their perspective leaves an unexpected emotional blow on audiences and has the potential to leave viewers thinking about how to enact real change. Because of how loveable and relatable the group is, it's easy for dog lovers to come away from "Strays" with a new appreciation for their furry friends. 

Reggie's specific arc touches on toxic relationships and being abused in very personal ways, showing paths forward that can be helpful for those in similar situations. Not to mention, the camaraderie between Reggie, Bug, Hunter, and Maggie is super heartwarming and a great reminder of the important bonds we have in our own lives. So, even though "Strays" is a dog film, there are a lot of necessary takeaways that viewers can have that can impact their lives for the better. 

What does the ending mean for the franchise?

Now it's time for that big question that seems to come after every movie: Will there be a sequel? Currently, there have been no announcements of a sequel to "Strays" going into development, nor any signs that one is on the horizon. Obviously, a great performance at the box office or a positive reaction from audiences could certainly cause a sequel to be greenlit. Frankly, a sequel could even come to streaming instead of theaters if Universal sees a reason to continue this series at a more affordable price. The chances of a sequel are pretty slim, though, mainly because the film doesn't really hint at a potential path forward.

Everyone's stories pretty much end on a conclusive note and there aren't a ton of ways for the story to naturally continue. Unless Reggie and his buds find themselves going on a random new adventure or Doug comes back for some intense revenge, there are no obvious paths forward to further flesh out this story. There's always the chance that a sequel could focus on a new set of stray dogs, of course, but it seems very unlikely. So unless something game-changing happens at the box office for "Strays," it's safe to say that the film is probably a one-and-done deal.