Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Ending Of True Lies Explained

True Lies was a trailblazer in many ways. Not only did the 1994 flick find Arnold Schwarzenegger re-team with his Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day director James Cameron, but it was, at the time, reportedly the most expensive movie ever made (via Entertainment Weekly). What's more, lead actress Jamie Lee Curtis also won a Golden Globe for her role. 

Sure, True Lies may not be the best or the worst Arnold Schwarzenegger movie out there, but considering the amount of absolute gems and borderline unwatchable terrors in the Austrian Oak's résumé, that's neither here nor there. The comedic action spy movie's massive budget and awards ceremony accolades belie the fact that, at its heart, True Lies is a curious combination of romantic comedy and big-budget action film. True Lies tells the story of mild-mannered everyman Harry Tasker (Schwarzenegger), who's secretly a James Bond-style spy for the Omega Sector agency. After learning that his wife Helen (Curtis) wants some excitement in her life, Harry hatches a plot to give her a taste of a top-secret spy's life — until everything goes awry and they both end up in the middle of a dangerous terrorist plot. 

True Lies is a movie filled with clever thrills and spills, but it's also very much the kind of cheesy-yet-cool 1990s Arnold Schwarzenegger film that happily features a scene in which the main characters kiss while a nuke explodes in the background. As you can probably imagine, a movie like that can only have an equally peculiar ending. 

Here's the ending of True Lies explained.

Helen Tasker, Omega Sector agent

In some ways, True Lies is very much a child of its time. The scene in which a disguised Harry forces Helen to dance in her underwear is probably the movie's most famous one, but it has also made the movie pretty controversial. The same can be said about the movie's casual Islamophobia and terrorist caricatures  — though, to her credit, Curtis has stated that the reason True Lies 2 will never happen is that the first movie's facetious approach to the subject is completely out of the question after 9/11. However, in one very specific way, True Lies is far from your typical testosterone-driven action hero movie because, at its core, it's the origin story of Helen Tasker, super-spy. 

Curtis' Helen starts out bored and desperate, due to the fact that Harry is alienating her with his constant absence. Circumstances (and Harry) conspire to bring more excitement in her life by taking over a fake spy story that super-creep Simon (Bill Paxton) has been feeding her, and turning it into something much more exciting — and, ultimately, real. Though Helen is thrust in the middle of these life-threatening events without training, she learns to cope with the situation. In fact, she proves capable enough that by the end of the movie, Omega Sector has recruited her as one of its agents, and paired her with none other than Harry. 

After Harry successfully kills the movie's big bad, terrorist ringleader Aziz (Art Malik), by firing the missile from which Aziz is hanging during a fight atop a flying Harrier jet, True Lies ends with the Taskers embarking on a new mission. They flaunt their impressive tango skills in a scene that mirrors Harry's earlier dance with Carrere's villainous Juno Skinner — that and shows the viewer that whatever comes next, Harry and Helen are ready to face it as equals. 

Some characters get stuck in plot limbo

The Taskers might end True Lies on a pretty sweet note, and the villains on a decidedly more sour one. However, it's worth noting that many other important characters in True Lies are left hanging. Harry's sympathetic partner Gib Gibson (Tom Arnold) spends the movie as the sidekick — a pretty competent and experienced one, but a sidekick nevertheless. At the end of the movie, we find out that he actually dislikes his supporting role, as he outright complains to the dancing Taskers that he's tired of being the "van guy." Though this is clearly treated in jest, it's not hard to imagine poor Gib's frustration when Helen climbs the ranks and essentially becomes a field agent ahead of him.

Another person who doesn't get his due — though in a very different way — is Simon, the sleaze-ball who tries to seduce Helen with a made-up spy story. Harry intimidates him rather thoroughly, but we find out in the final scene of True Lies that Simon is still up to his old tricks. Sure, he immediately gets another dose of intimidation tactics, but then again, you've already seen that it's not enough to deter the guy for long. 

Still, who knows? Perhaps director James Cameron knowingly left these two plot threads hanging, and both Simon and Gib would have returned in the True Lies sequel the world will never get to see.