All of Us Strangers Twist Ending Explained

By Russ Milheim Posted:
All of Us Strangers, Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal

The cryptic ending moments of All of Us Strangers, starring Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal, might need a little explaining for some audiences to grasp what the movie intended to convey.

What Happened at the End of All of Us Strangers?

Andrew Scott and Paul Mesca
All of Us Strangers

All of Us Strangers follows Andrew Scott's Adam, a gay screenwriter who is working on a screenplay, one which sets him down a path of reconciling with the trauma of losing his parents at a young age.

As he goes through all that, Adam also meets Paul Mescal's Harry, another tenant in his nearly empty London apartment building.

Most of the film juggles those two storylines as it dives deep into an exploration of Adam's multi-faceted character—from the trauma of never coming out to his family or knowing them as an adult to fighting his intense loneliness and feelings of isolation.

Everything seems to be going well for Adam, as he has cathartic and emotional conversations with his parents and grows closer to Harry. But everything takes a turn for the worse after a bad drug trip while clubbing. 

After Adam attempts to take Harry to his childhood home to meet his dead parents (which is historically not a great move), Adam seemingly scares off his new lover. At the same time, the spirits of his parents conclude that their son needs to let them go so he can move on.

Following an emotional scene at one of his favorite places to eat as a child, Adam can do just that as he heartbreakingly says goodbye to his mom and dad.

Sadly, audiences are greeted with a sad twist in the movie's ending: Adam goes to Harry's flat only to find his dead body, which has been decomposing for quite some time.

Much like how he saw his late parents, Adam runs into Harry's spirit (or a mental delusion, if that's how one wants to read it).

While Harry has trouble reconciling with this revelation, the two ultimately connect over their love for one another.

The final shot of the film sees the couple in bed as the camera zooms out from them, the image slowly growing into an endless constellation of stars in an expansive universe—signifying Harry's ability to move on and be at peace as his soul joins the cosmos.

Was Harry a Ghost the Whole Time?

For viewers wondering when Paul Mescal's Harry died during the movie, the answer isn't that he was a ghost the whole time.

All evidence points to his being alive the first time he appears on Adam's doorstep. However, once he's softly denied from keeping his company, he retreats to his room.

It's here where he likely lost his life, either intentionally or unintentionally, and probably due to excessive alcohol and drug consumption.

There are a few pieces of evidence that definitively point to this.

For one, Mescal's character is wearing the same pink sweatshirt in death he wore when Adam first met him. He's also holding the same bottle of whiskey.

Another telling sign is how, in the end, he notes how he "was so scared that night" and that he "just needed to not be alone."

Then, assuming Adam's parents are truly a manifestation of some version of the afterlife, there's no other explanation for why he would have seen them through the door of Adam's childhood home.

That's also probably when Harry realized his circumstances, so he freaked out.

To drive the point home, director Andrew Haigh confirmed that the night Harry first arrives at Adam's doorstep, "he is alive at that point" but that is also "the night that he dies."

Was Adam Dead the Whole Time, Too?

Andrew Scott's Adam in All of Us Strangers
All of Us Strangers

It wouldn't be crazy to think that maybe Andrew Scott's Adam was also dead.

It does feel like it would fit in smoothly with everything else going on.
Perhaps the strangely empty apartment building is a manifestation of purgatory, and both Adam and Harry are restless souls who can't find peace. This would make the final shot of the film even more poignant, suggesting both of their souls were able to move on together after meeting and connecting.

Some fans think Adam could have died at the beginning of the film, as signified by the fire alarm that goes off (suggesting that the character died in an actual fire instead of making it out of the building).

However, this doesn't seem to have been the intent of director Andrew Haigh, who, either way, supports audiences having their own interpretations.

Another element of the story that doesn't line up with Adam being dead the whole time is how he interacts with other people in the real world, such as the waitress at the diner.

What Was the Point of All of Us Strangers?

At the end of the day, All of Us Strangers is about a handful of heavy themes, whether audiences can figure out the logistics of the metaphysical story.

A key pillar of the experience is the exploration of being gay and some of the struggles that can come with it. From feeling like an outcast within your own family to pretending to be someone else to avoid attention, and even having to worry about outdated stigmas (such as Adam's worry about ever having sex due to possibly getting AIDS)—and that's just touching the surface of how the movie handles those topics.

Then, the movie focuses on grief and how all-consuming it can be.

Adam had been unable to fully move on from the death of his parents when he was a child, even late into his adulthood. Being able to nostalgically explore his past and reconcile with his parent's souls, while undoubtedly cathartic, almost led to him willingly getting trapped in that trauma forever.

Needless to say, this is certainly one of those movies that will be further appreciated upon each rewatch.

All of Us Strangers is streaming on Hulu.

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- About The Author: Russ Milheim
Russ Milheim is the Industry Relations Coordinator at The Direct. On top of utilizing his expertise on the many corners of today’s entertainment to cover the latest news and theories, he establishes and maintains communication and relations between the outlet and the many studio and talent representatives.