Jurassic Park Ending Explained
Jurassic Park may not be as complex as some sci-fi, but there are layers to the dino-thriller's ending that not all fans caught on first viewing.
The ending of Jurassic Park may not be as complicated as some sci-fi blockbusters, but there are layers to Spielberg’s “theme park gone wrong” disaster thriller that not all fans caught on first viewing. Released in 1993, Jurassic Park was a massive hit for Jaws director Steven Spielberg and became a rare blockbuster to earn both critical acclaim and commercial success. The simple story of a theme park populated with cloned dinosaurs that soon turns into a nightmare, the movie fused commentary on scientific experimentation with mile-a-minute action to great effect.
Author Michael Crichton had previously explored similar territory with the earlier hit Westworld. However, Jurassic Park’s movie adaptation was a more family-friendly blockbuster with engaging characters and some all-time great tense set-pieces. But beneath the movie's tense, fun action, there is plentiful symbolism and commentary on science, technology, and humanity's hubris coming from both the original author and Spielberg.
The ending of Jurassic Park ties its loose ends together neatly and repeatedly revisits the recurring idea that “life finds a way.” The movie’s ending suggests that the park may have been a disastrous failure for humans, but the dinosaurs are still majestic creatures who survived despite the odds. As such, it’s the individual flaws of characters like John Hammond and Denis Nedry that Jurassic Park’s ending condemns while celebrating the dinosaur’s survival and Grant’s character growth, both of which illustrate that life will always find a way.
Why The T-Rex Saves The Humans In Jurassic Park's Ending
The T-Rex’s surprise reappearance at the close of Jurassic Park makes for a deeply satisfying bit of blockbuster action as the music swells and the movie’s main monster ends up accidentally saving the remaining humans from the raptors. It’s a great bit of subverted expectation, as the viewer has by now likely forgotten about the T-Rex, thanks to the tense raptor chase through the visitor's center. But the scene serves more than just a narrative purpose. In thematic terms, the image of the T-Rex standing in the destroyed remnants of the visitors’ center as the welcome banner falls is symbolically significant, as it displays that life will indeed “find a way,” with the T-Rex surviving even as the theme park it was created for crumbles. The life created for Jurassic Park thrives, but the hubris and arrogance that tried to contain this life fall asunder.
Alan Grant's Jurassic Park Ending Is His Greatest Find
Dr. Alan Grant’s character arc in the first Jurassic Park (unfortunately undone in Jurassic Park III and hopefully soon to be fixed by Jurassic World: Dominion) mirrors what the film is trying to say about "life finding a way." The shot of Sattler looking approvingly at a sleepy Grant as the kids rest on his shoulder is the representative of his growth as a character. In the film’s opening, Grant terrifying a kid visiting the archaeological dig proves he’s not good with children, but during the action of Jurassic Park the kids come to rely on him and Grant rises to this challenge. Their sleeping on his shoulder shows he’s a stable father figure now, and Neill’s previously stand-offish character has shown a lot of skill in the parental caregiving role he was forced into. As the movie leaves Jurassic Park's islands behind, life has found a way to mature and develop Grant’s character.
What Happens To Ray Arnold In Jurassic Park
Although his death isn’t seen onscreen, Ray Arnold is very much dead by the end of Jurassic Park’s action. The reason he isn’t seen after leaving to reboot the island’s system manually is that the raptors managed to hunt him down and kill him, a fate heavily implied by Sattler’s discovery of his severed arm. In an odd coincidence, a real-life tropical storm stopped the production from being able to film the death scene of Samuel L Jackson’s character, leaving some viewers to wonder about his fate. Although his dismemberment was never staged, the character is still canonically deceased according to the Jurassic Park/World franchise.
Jurassic Park Was A Failure (But Still Has A Future)
The end of Jurassic Park leaves not only Grant, Sattler, Dr. Ian Malcolm, and the kids alive, but also park proprietor John Hammond (the eccentric billionaire who funded the entire endeavor). This is important, as the movie portrays the park’s failure being caused specifically by Dennis Nedry’s dangerous, malicious decision to compromise the internal systems, rather than because the entire idea of a dinosaur theme park is inherently lethal. Nedry is killed after he causes the park’s failure, and there’s no reason to think the park wouldn’t have worked if he hadn’t intervened. The actions of a handful of bad actors such as Dennis Nedry and Dodgson (soon to return in Jurassic World: Dominion) led to the failure of the eponymous park, so with Nedry neutralized, the ending sets up the possibility of returning to the islands to try fixing his failures in the sequels.
What The Birds At The End Of Jurassic Park Mean
The flock of pelicans seen by the survivors sitting in the helicopter at the end of Jurassic Park serves two metaphorical purposes. They’re the first normal animals the group has seen since the goat devoured by an offscreen T-Rex early on in the movie, so their presence is a comforting reminder that the characters are returning to normality from the madness of the eponymous park. However, earlier in the film, a comparison was also drawn between dinosaurs and birds that evolved from them, so Jurassic Park is also using this shot to illustrate that like the pelicans, the dinosaurs aren’t necessarily monsters but rather just another of nature’s majestic creations (albeit one of the more dangerous ones), and with the humans gone and the island to themselves, they'll soon be returning to "normality" too. Also in terms of practical storytelling, seeing the birds fly away from the island reminds viewers that the helicopter is not the only thing able to leave Isla Nublar, thus setting up the sequels.
What Jurassic Park's Ending Really Means
Jurassic Park touches on the dangers of people trying to play God, but in Spielberg’s movie, the experimentation Hammond does isn't explicitly condemned as much as his profit-spinning is. His decision to trust embittered, underpaid staffers such as Dennis Nedry leads to the theme park's failure rather than the act of cloning dinosaurs itself, and his choice to clone more "exciting" (read: profitable) predators such as the T-rex endangers the park's occupants. The survival of Jurassic Park's dinosaurs suggests that life will “find a way,” regardless of whether Nedry's malicious intent or Hammond's money-spinning compromises the experiments. The dinosaurs themselves are frequently described as beautiful by Sattler, Grant, and the rest of the cast, who have a real reverence for them and are awed by their presence. Thus, Jurassic Park suggests that the dinosaurs aren't monsters but the humans cloning them must be careful, as life will always survive even if the humans trying to control it aren't so lucky. Hammond’s attempts to profit off the majesty of the dinosaurs are punished through the destruction of his park, while Nedry’s attempts to steal the dinosaur DNA are more directly punished with his gruesome death.