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The Ending Of Transformers: Dark Of The Moon Explained

The third movie in a long-running franchise is often a tricky thing to pull off. After the first movie has set the stage and the second one has raised the stakes, the third has to find a way to bring something new in the mix without jumping the shark, while still keeping things adequately open-ended for future installments. Of all the intellectual properties out there, Transformers must have felt this more than most. After all, the original movie and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen already explore — and explode, these being Michael Bay films – the "giant robots fighting other giant robots" concept pretty thoroughly. 

Taking this into account, Transformers: Dark of the Moon is an admirable effort to breathe new life in the franchise, while taking into account the various things that need to happen in every Transformers movie. The movie introduces a brand new Decepticon threat in the devious Shockwave (voiced by Frank Welker). We also meet Optimus Prime's (Peter Cullen) predecessor, Sentinel Prime (Leonard Nimoy), who promptly continues to build on Revenge of the Fallen's thesis that the supposedly super cool Prime robots are just about the most unreliable hunks of metal out there, with a full-on invasion force of Moon Decepticons to back up the point. The film ends like every Transformers movie should — in a massive battle between the heroes and antagonists. However, there's also a number of plot points that lead the film series to a new, surprisingly grim direction. Here's the ending of Transformers: Dark of the Moon explained.

Things get dark for Optimus Prime

Transformer characters come and go, to the point that the film series' only true constants are Optimus Prime and voiceless Autobot underling, Bumblebee. For the latter, Dark of the Moon is largely business as usual, but the same can't exactly be said for Optimus. The ending of Transformers: Dark of the Moon isn't an easy one for the Autobot leader or, for that matter, the viewers who have cherished memories of the leader as a kindly figure. Thoroughly fed up with the predictably treacherous Megatron (Hugo Weaving) and the rather more surprisingly unreliable Sentinel Prime, Optimus opts for extreme measures and brutally kills both villains. This is especially dark considering that Megatron saved the Autobot's life in the preceding battle and was actively negotiating an armistice between Autobots and Decepticons — while Sentinel Prime was utterly defeated and helpless by the time Optimus was done.

The movie arguably comments on Optimus' actions with stunned looks from key characters, and while the mood soon shifts to flag-waving happy ending mode, the heavily damaged robot is visibly burdened by these deeds. As such, Optimus' drastic decision acts as a neat nod at the franchise's upcoming, darker direction. After all, the Transformers' hunted fugitive status in Transformers: Age of Extinction and Optimus' own stint as Nemesis Prime in Transformers: The Last Knight are far easier to take in when you remember the grim foundations this movie subtly builds.  

Whatever happened to the humans?

Transformers: Dark of the Moon is noteworthy for being the last Transformers movie featuring Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) and the gang, with Mark Wahlberg taking over the leading man duties in Age of Extinction. Apart from the fact that this is the last time Sam finds himself in the middle of an apocalyptic robot battle, this means that the movie is the sole outing of Rosie Huntington-Whiteley's Carly Spencer, who is introduced as Sam's new girlfriend after previous leading lady Megan Fox fell out with director Michael Bay. Sam and Carly both survive the events of the movie in fairly straightforward action movie character style, but since their story ends pretty abruptly and the pair doesn't return in the franchise's next installments, it's anyone's guess how they live the rest of their lives. Or is it?

Though it's tempting to assume that the power couple spends their post-franchise lives in the luxury of not having to save the world every few years, a dive in the Transformers lore reveals their fate might not be quite so rosy. Per Transformers Wikithe Carly most closely associated with the Witwickys in the Transformers cartoons marries the closest thing to Sam in that corner of the franchise, Spike. However, even if this carries over to the movie versions of the characters, and Sam and Carly get hitched, there's a decent chance that their love story still ends in a tragedy. After all, Transformers: The Last Knight casually reveals that Sir Edmund Burton (Anthony Hopkins) is the last surviving Witwicky, which implies that Sam (and possibly Carly) meet a grim fate at some point after Dark of the Moon. In a 2014 interview with Yahoo! MoviesWahlberg even jokingly claimed that the Witwicky family died in a tornado.