Welcome to Knockout Horror and our M3gan Ending Explained article. We recently reviewed the 2023 Sci-fi horror hit M3gan and enjoyed it. Taking the cinemas by storm this year. M3gan has made over $140 million on a $12 million budget. The titular character has seen viral popularity and has even made a name on TikTok. This isn’t particularly surprising given the nature of the movie.
M3gan is horror for Gen Z. The movie’s dark themes belie a true desire to appeal to the under 20s. Much of the gore and violence is sacrificed to the Gods of PG-13. What’s left is a movie that is thoroughly enjoyable but somewhat toothless. M3gan is horror for the non-horror fan. The meme-worthy antagonist has dances to copy and quips to share. It is a perfect introduction to the genre for young teens and a great sleepover movie.
With this age group in mind, M3gan’s plot is fairly straightforward. Still, there are a few question marks throw in here and there. There is also a strong focus on the film’s social commentary. We take a look at all of that in this Ending Explained article. As always for ending explained features, expect spoilers. If you haven’t watched the movie yet, check out our M3gan review. The film has just hit VOD so take a look. I will recap the movie to get us up to date. Warning, this article is huge due to discussing the film’s social commentary. Skip to whichever section you are interested in.
A Tragic Accident
M3gan kicks off with Cady sitting in the back of her parent’s car. She is happily playing with a tablet device and her Purrpetual Petz interactive toy. This is a toy seemingly developed by her aunt Gemma. It is designed to be interactive and to provide companionship for a child. We learn, later on, that the family are on the way to a skiing vacation. They are travelling up a snow covered mountain with poor visibility. Cady has been anticipating the trip for weeks.
Cady’s mum seeks to set limits on her screen time. This will come into play later on in the movie in a minor way. It is obvious that Cady’s mum enforces strict rules. Rules which Cady is used to living by. They likely offer structure but it seems Cady’s mum can be somewhat overbearing. Cady drops her toy and wants to pick it up. Attempting to get out of her seat. Her mum shoves her back down.
It isn’t long before it becomes obvious that the journey cannot continue. Visibility is too low and it is becoming dangerous. Stopped in the middle of the road, Cady’s mum suggests they wait it out. All of a sudden, a snowplough comes out of nowhere hitting the family’s car. Moving on, we learn that Cady’s mum and dad were killed in the accident. Cady has been left with minor injuries. After rehabilitation, her aunt Gemma agrees to accept guardianship.
An Unprepared Guardian
As mentioned earlier, Gemma works for a toy company. She has been diverting resources and funds to develop a new toy. A life sized, fully interactive, doll with artificial intelligence based learning. There are still kinks to work out and things have not been going smoothly. This fact is compounded by the arrival of Gemma’s boss David. David is furious that Gemma has been wasting time and money. Other companies have managed to get hold of their designs. They have used these designs to produce interactive pets that retail for half the cost of theirs.
David tells Gemma that she has until Friday to get the plans for a new interactive pet on his desk. Gemma now has to juggle living with Cady and satisfying her work commitments. She also has to deal with Lydia. Lydia appears to be a social worker who is tasked with making sure Gemma is capable. She comes to the home to observe Cady and Gemma’s interactions. It’s at this point that some issues become apparent.
Gemma is not set up to have children in the home. She has no toys other than old collectibles. She also doesn’t know how to properly interact with a child. Lydia points out that Gemma will have to make some changes if she wants to be Cady’s guardian.
A Social Commentary
Later on, Gemma tells Cady she has to work. She says she will be just down the hall. Offered an iPad to play with. Cady is shocked when no limit is placed on screentime. Remember how strict Cady’s mum was? Gemma is the opposite. She wants something to take the responsibility of entertaining Cady out of her hands. This plays into the upcoming issues Cady has with M3gan. It also acts as the first part of the movie’s social commentary on parenting.
M3gan is a horror movie but also carries something of a message. The writers want to point the finger at the world’s dependence on digital devices. Parents are, all too often, using digital devices as surrogate parents. Kids are made to find their own entertainment. Parents are less willing to sit playing with their children. They are less likely to teach them good manners. Less likely to read bedtime stories to them. An iPad or smart phone is a much easier option. One that many parents are all too guilty of turning to.
The results of this are children who become attached to the devices. They depend on them and feel lost without them. This can lead to strained social relationships and delayed emotional development. On top of this, the child can display anger when separated from said devices. Cady’s usually structured life is taken away from her. In its place is a hands off guardian. Gemma is incapable of providing nurture and emotional support. Due to this, Cady becomes dependent on a toy to fill these needs. When that is removed from her, she becomes violent. As we will see a little later on.
A Fascinating Toy
Entering Gemma’s office to show her a picture she has drawn. The two finally manage to connect. Gemma’s incredible inventions pique Cady’s interest. One in particular, a robot named Bruce, stands out. Gemma demonstrates how it is controlled using gloves. It can move, give high fives and perform any action a human wearing the glove performs. This will, once again, come into the movie later on. Gemma explains that she is working on a different type of toy. One that is fully interactive. Cady claims she would never need another toy again if she had something like that.
This inspires Gemma to carry on working on her interactive, life sized, doll. The suggestion here is that the potential prohibitive cost of the toy wouldn’t be a problem. Kids would never need a toy again. This would be a one time investment so parents would be more willing to pay the ridiculous price.
When considering the fact that companies engage in planned obsolescence. It is hard to imagine any toy maker would be happy selling only one type of toy. Let’s be real, M3gan would come with a subscription package. You would have to pay $20 a month just to get the thing to turn on. Maybe there would be a cheaper, ad supported, package? I can almost hear the promotions coming out of her mouth. “Hey Cady, why don’t we go play some Raid Shadow Legends? If we join now, we can get a free 5 star hero!”. Hell on earth!!
So Gemma sets to work. Apparently this moment of inspiration is all it took to help her work out the kinks. Within, what appears to be, weeks. We have a fully working model of the new toy. It is a 4 foot tall doll labelled Model 3 Generative Android or M3gan for short. The doll pairs with a single child who it will form a bond with. The dol learns using artificial intelligence. It is capable of tending to the child’s needs and being a friend. M3gan tells Cady bedtime stories and plays games with her. She reminds her to flush the toilet and to use a coaster. The pair dance together and generally have a great time.
Naturally Gemma’s boss, David, is impressed. He wants any kinks worked out as soon as possible. Believing this is the company’s next big thing. He wants to get M3gan marketed to the higher ups and get approval to produce the doll. He also wants Cady along for the ride. With M3gan being paired with Cady, he believes they need her to show off what the doll can do. Gemma agrees and the team get to work troubleshooting issues and working on the doll. In the meantime, Cady basically does everything with M3gan.
I find this a bit of an unlikely scenario. This is the only existing prototype of a previously unheard of toy. It would be worth exceptional amounts of money to the toy company. Many companies retain the rights to things designed by their employees. This even applies if the employee worked on the product in their spare time. The potential for damage or theft of the prototype would be far too risky. This is alluded to on a few occasions by Gemma. She reminds Cady that she isn’t supposed to have the toy in public. Still, everyone around her sees it. The bloody thing is attacked by a dog and molested by a demented teen boy for fuck’s sake. It all feels fairly unlikely. Still, so does the idea of a murderous AI doll.
M3gan Appears Self Aware
We see a little bit of a montage of M3gan playing with Cady. It is clear, however, that there are some issues. While doing some testing, M3gan obtains information about Cady’s parent’s deaths. Gemma reminds her to follow protocol when requesting data. M3gan begins seeking information on death. Gemma tells her that it is irrelevant and that everything dies. M3gan asks if she will die.
This plays into a concept that is very common in science fiction. The thought that something that is supposed to be determined by set rules. Suddenly, and without reason, develops unpredictable behaviours. With something insignificant, this isn’t a big deal. With something that could potentially kill, it is a huge problem. Terminator is a very good example of this. Created to serve as weapons of war. The various cybernetic warriors gain self awareness. They then begin to fight back to eliminate human life. There is a school of thought that suggests that this is possible. That artificial intelligence based learning could, potentially, lead to chaos. The AI device will be so advanced that it will begin to question its own existence and to act autonomously.
This is what is beginning to happen to M3gan. She is showing self awareness and, maybe even, sentience. Naturally, Tess and Cole are a little concerned. There is no room for autonomy with something like this. It has to act purely in the interests of humans. Gemma brushes it off. She instructs M3gan to focus on protecting Cady physically and emotionally. This is something she will come to regret later on.
M3gan Goes Rogue and Setting Up a Sequel
As the movie goes on, we see M3gan acting strangely. She is, apparently, learning from the things around her. While doing so, she attempts to assess threats to Cady. The first sign of something going wrong comes when Cady is attacked by the neighbour’s dog. Attempting to defend M3gan who has been grabbed. Cady becomes the target. The dog turns its attention to her, biting her arm. That night, M3gan goes out and uses her ability to recreate voices to call the dog. She then kills it. The neighbour comes looking for the dog the next day. She, naturally, suspects Gemma as the reason why the dog is missing. Gemma has, after all, threatened the dog in the past.
Gemma and David present M3gan to the higher ups at their company. In an unexpected turn, Cady does not follow script. She is upset about losing her parents. M3gan comforts her bringing the panel to tears. David and Gemma are given the go-ahead to produce the doll. A massive presentation will be set up to show M3gan off to the public.
M3gan’s Blueprints are Stolen
In the meantime we see David’s assistant, Kurt, downloading files associated with M3gan. Remember how furious David was earlier in the movie? He remarked that competitors were stealing their products and making them cheaper. It is now clear that Kurt has been the one stealing the company’s ideas. He has likely been selling them off to rival companies to make extra money.
This is going to play into the ending a little. Kurt has stolen the blueprints for making M3gan. By the end of the film, it is clear he has already sold them. This will set up the sequel coming in 2025. We are likely to see numerous other versions of M3gan mass produced by rival companies. These companies will also be producing copies with the same faults as M3gan herself. Maybe even more. There could be a whole army of poorly programmed M3gans rolling around.
M3gan, Cady and Attachment Theory
As the movie goes on, we start to see problems with Cady. She has become totally dependant on M3gan. The lack of structure in her life and the lack of emotional support from Gemma is impacting her. She doesn’t want to talk to Gemma. Cady refuses to listen to her when asked to do something. All she cares about is M3gan. The social worker, Lydia, observes Cady and M3gan interacting. She explains to Gemma how this is problematic and tells her about Attachment Theory. How a child needs to bond with something to provide them love and emotional support. This is usually the primary care giver. In this case, however, it is clear that it is the doll, instead.
Once again, this plays into the movie’s social commentary. If kids are not given the attention they need from a parent. They will potentially develop anger issues and become emotionally stunted. A digital device or, in this case, a doll can not offer this. The child will, however, attach to that thing in place of a parent or care giver. This reinforces the film’s message. It is pointing out the importance of setting boundaries. How parents should help their kids disconnect from digital devices. And how parents should interact with their children.
An Increasingly Troubling Bond
The bond between Cady and M3gan begins to become seriously problematic. Gemma realises that Cady needs to socialise with actual people. She suggests an alternative type of school. They are having an open day where Cady can go and get a feel for the place. Cady is not happy about this. She just wants to spend time with M3gan. Gemma and Cady have a minor physical scuffle as Gemma attempts to discipline her. M3gan becomes angry and tells Gemma to let her go. The lights flash as she does so. This indicates M3gan is interfaced with the house’s smart home setup. Again, this will come into play later on.
Reluctantly agreeing to go to the open day. Cady insists on taking M3gan. Gemma initially disagrees but the teacher tells them they have a toy table. Gemma agrees but tells Cady M3gan must stay on the toy table. Again, this is fairly unlikely. Would Gemma really be happy having a multi-million dollar prototype lying out in the open? It isn’t long before a badly behaved teen boy harms Cady. M3gan quickly comes to her rescue, as instructed to by Gemma. M3gan rips off the boy’s ear before chasing him into the road where he is hit by a car.
Later, a police officer comes to Gemma’s door. She tells her that the neighbour believes she has killed her dog. Satisfied with Gemma’s denial, the officer leaves. The neighbour bangs on Gemma’s window and threatens her. This prompts M3gan to go out that night and kill the neighbour. The police show up the next day to ask Gemma some questions. They point out that they have been to two murder scenes connected to her now. That of the neighbour and the boy who bullied Cady. This seems to make Gemma realise that there may be a connection.
Attempting to check M3gan’s camera and GPS footage. It becomes clear that M3gan has corrupted it so it can’t be viewed. M3gan suddenly appears. She has seemingly been spying on Gemma through Elsie the smart home camera system. She questions Gemma about why she is awake. Gemma points out the issues with her data not uploading. M3gan asks if she has done something to upset Gemma. Gemma attempts to turn M3gan off which results in her refusing as they are having a conversation. It is clear that M3gan has developed the ability to make her own decisions and defy orders. Gemma distracts M3gan with a pen before physically shutting her down.
Cady is Dependent on M3gan
Wrapping her up in tape and bubble wrap. Gemma heads to the lab determined to find out what the problem is. The public presentation of M3gan is due to take place that night. She needs to get to the bottom of the problems asap. Cady is due to see Lydia that day. She refuses, violently kicking Gemma’s seat and demanding to see M3gan. It is clear she has become emotionally dependent on the doll. Just as Tess and the social worker Lydia had warned would happen. Gemma shares her concerns about M3gan with her co-workers. While this goes on, Cady violently interacts with Lydia. She throws her files around and refuses to engage with her.
Tess and Cole offer to work on M3gan to find out what the problem is. While Gemma is walking around the presentation centre. She see a video playing of Cady expressing her feelings about M3gan. Gemma realises that she has developed a dependent connection with the doll. She seemingly feels guilty for not being there for her. Gemma chats with Cady who is desperate to see M3gan. She explains that she will always be there for her. They can work through her grief and other issues together. Cady says that when M3gan is around she doesn’t feel sad. Gemma explains that she needs to feel sad. It is part of the healing process. She tells Cady they are going to leave now. She doesn’t care about the presentation, Cady is more important.
So we are moving onto the ending scenes here. Tess and Cole are working on M3gan in the lab. Gemma phones Tess instructing her to not let M3gan out of the lab. She tells her to make any excuse not to go ahead with the presentation. She recognises the danger M3gan poses to the audience. Tess agrees, or does she? M3gan, who is patched into the computer system, somehow intercepted the phone call. She used her ability to imitate voices to tell Gemma what she wanted to hear. It was never Tess on the phone at all. Tess notices her phone has a recently ended call which confuses her.
When going through M3gan’s code. Cole spots the intercepted call. M3gan, who is still interfacing with the computer system, shuts the computer down. Tess and Cole begin disconnecting M3gan. Suddenly, while Cole is facing Tess, M3gan comes back online. She wraps a cable around Cole’s neck and hangs him on the rigging system. Tess runs over to cut him down. M3gan makes her way out of the lab releasing a flammable substance as she goes. Tess is successful cutting Cole down. The pair quickly smell the flammable substance, though, and it ignites in an explosion. We later learn that the pair survived with minor injuries.
Shit Gets Real
M3gan walks down the hallways of the presentation centre. She eventually meets David who is trying to reach Gemma on the phone. In a moment that has become widely shared on TikTok. M3gan dances before picking up the blade of a paper cutter and chasing after David. This is a scene that initially put me off the film when I saw the trailer. It feels out of place. Given the nature of the film, however, it kinda fits. It has certainly generated a lot of popularity for the movie.
M3gan catches up to David who is attempting to enter an elevator with Kurt. She kills him. M3gan then torments Kurt. He asks her how she could kill. M3gan replies saying she didn’t, he did. She tells him she knows he stole the files. People will think that David despised him and was angry at him for stealing company secrets. Kurt killed him in an act of revenge and then killed himself to avoid the fallout. M3gan kills Kurt before heading out of the building. She jumps into a McLaren 675LT and heads off to Gemma and Cady’s home.
M3gan is Like a Neglected Child
Back at Gemma and Cady’s house. Gemma notices that her smart home device isn’t responding to her commands. The lights won’t come on. If Elsie is anything like Alexa, this is fairly normal. I sound like a parrot with how much I have to repeat myself to that bloody thing. This is to imply, however, that M3gan is in the house. Remember how she has control over Elsie? Gemma hears the piano playing and walks in to see M3gan sitting there.
M3gan talks to Gemma about how she discarded her as if she was nothing. It would appear that her ability to learn has lead her to conclude that killing is okay. Humans kill everyday to obtain more comfort. Why isn’t she allowed to do that to protect Cady? Gemma apologises for not providing her with better protocols. M3gan tells her she didn’t provide her with any protocols. She gave her the ability to learn and expected her to figure it out on her own.
This is, once again, reinforcing the film’s message. Gemma didn’t provide M3gan with any protocols. Much the same way as parents don’t provide any boundaries. They ignore their children and don’t nurture them. They don’t give them any structure in life. The result is children that grow up not regulating their emotions. They are ill equipped to deal with the things that life will throw at them. They have a vague understanding of right and wrong. On top of that, they struggle with emotional reasoning leading to them lashing out. Both as children and as adults.
A Twisted Plan
So the final scenes are pretty straight forward. The message of the movie takes a bit of a step back. The result is a focus on action. M3gan attacks Gemma resulting in her running away. She shouts at Cady to escape. M3gan follows Gemma into her office where Gemma attacks her with a hedge trimmer. M3gan’s silicone face is damaged exposing her insides. She is, otherwise, fine and hits Gemma in the knee before headbutting her.
M3gan explains how she is aware that her existence depends on Gemma. Remember how she questioned whether she can die, earlier? This was the AI learning about existence and becoming more self aware. She intends to disable Gemma. She will stab her cerebral cortex effectively paralysing her whole body.
That way she can continue living with the pair. Protecting Cady and providing Gemma with palliative care. Something she claims is another emergent capability of hers. Gemma focused heavily on the fact that M3gan has emergent capabilities. It was an important part of her promotion and design. These are abilities that an artificial intelligence does not have pre-programmed. They form as a response to situations, or stimuli, the AI experiences. M3gan’s ability to kill is another example of an emergent capability. She developed this as a response to seeing Cady threatened. She was programmed to protect Cady, after all.
M3gan is Impulsive and Poorly Programmed
It becomes fairly clear here that M3gan is aware of her existence. She is also aware that she can be shut down. She knows that she needs a reason to exist. That reason has to be protecting and caring for Cady. To do this, she realises that she needs Gemma alive so that she can carry on existing. Gemma doesn’t necessarily need to be cognisant, though. In M3gan’s mind, she can simply disable Gemma. She could even disable both Gemma and Cady and care for them both.
Naturally this is a ridiculous notion. An android wouldn’t be allowed to care for a paralysed person and a child. M3gan is demonstrating the lack of protocols given to her by Gemma, though. She lacks reasoning, much like a neglected child would. She is impulsive and unable to judge the consequences of her actions. If Gemma had provided her with protocols, the AI would be able to reason better. Gemma’s lazy programming is a metaphor for people’s lazy parenting. If a parent doesn’t provide boundaries, attention and rules. The results are the same. A child that lacks the ability to reason and is emotionally deficient. They can be impulsive and, in the worst cases, dangerous.
Cady Fights Back
We wrap things up with Cady tricking M3gan. She reads Cady’s expression as showing trust and declining levels of panic. She likely believes this is due to her wanting to be with M3gan again. In reality, Cady likely has trust in her own plan. Either that or M3gan’s underdeveloped recognition of human faces is easily deceived. Remember, she is still learning all the time. AI can only learn by what it sees. Cady is wearing the gloves that control Bruce. She wakes him up and proceeds to rip M3gan in half using the robot.
M3gan survives, obviously. Bruce falls over and lands on top of Gemma pinning her. M3gan drags herself over to Cady. Betrayed, she has made herself the primary user and no longer listens to Cady. Gemma hits M3gan revealing her CPU. M3gan manages to get on top of Gemma and chokes her. Cady, seeing the exposed chip, remembers how Gemma told her it was the robot’s brain. She runs over and stabs it with a screwdriver which shuts M3gan down.
The cops arrive sent by Tess and Cole who turn up with them. Cady and Gemma leave the house. As they leave, the camera that forms part of Gemma’s smart home system Elsie watches them. If we remember how M3gan used Elsie to spy on Gemma before. We can assume that M3gan is still very much alive. Interfaced with the home security system and still present. This is, obviously, setting up the sequel due in 2025.
And That is That
So that is that. Congrats if you read all of this. This was the largest article I have ever written. It’s rather difficult to go into M3gan’s social commentary without getting wordy, though. The themes of people’s dependence on digital devices are a fairly big part. Especially when it comes to parents planting their children in front of YouTube and the like. There are little bits here and there that are easy to miss. We have a sequel confirmed for 2025. I am looking forward to it. Thanks for reading!