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The Midnight Sky Ending Explained Vs. The Book Ending

The Midnight Sky is a post-apocalyptic film that had a giant twist ending — here it is explained, vs. the book ending.

the midnight sky

The Midnight Sky is a visually stunning sci-fi film that stars George Clooney, Felicity Jones, David Oyelowo, and Caoilinn Springall. It tells the tale of a lonely scientist in a post-apocalyptic world as he races to stop Sully and her fellow astronauts from returning home. 

Trust me when I say that there is a major twist at the end, that can be quite confusing. So here is The Midnight Sky ending explained, and the book differences and ending as well. But be warned, there are major spoilers ahead for both the film, and the book.

Warning: Major Spoilers Ahead for The Midnight Sky
(Movie & Book)

The Midnight Sky tells the story of a lonely scientist, Augustine, who is left in the Arctic to help warn any spaceships who are coming home that were out looking for other livable planets about “the event”. We don’t know too much about “the event” except that it is spreading radiation throughout the Earth and it is now a very dangerous place to live.

Most people are hiding in bunkers underground, but he volunteered to stay on the surface because he is dying anyways. He discovers a little girl also living there, who must have been left behind. She doesn’t speak but the two do bond and enjoy some time together. 

When they realize one of the ships, Aether, is on its way back, they rush to get to another antenna that will be able to reach them so they can send that message and stop them from coming home. On the ship are a pregnant Sully, Adewole, Mitchell, Sanchez, and Maya.  They go through their own issues on their way home, and have no clue what has happened to Earth.

the midnight sky

THE MIDNIGHT SKY (2020) George Clooney as Dr Augustine Lofthouse.

The Midnight Sky Movie Ending

In the final moments of the film, when Augustine gets to actually have a conversation with Sully, a lot is revealed. We know that he has been imagining that little girl Iris the whole time. She was never there. At the beginning, when that woman was looking for her daughter, her daughter must have really gotten on the helicopter.

Iris is a figment of Augustine’s imagination yes, but that is not all. Sully tells Augustine that it was him that inspired her to join NASA. She knew of his work and that he had known her mother. Her name, is Iris. 

All throughout the film we got flashbacks to Augustine as a younger man. We see that he is working on finding a livable planet, but also his love life. The woman he is with becomes pregnant, although she lies to him at one point and says it was a false alarm. Later, we see her with a little girl, who she tells Augustine he can introduce himself to, but he doesn’t. 

So Sully IS Iris. And the little Iris that has been with Augustine is just someone he was imagining to keep him company while he was alone. This is likely why she didn’t talk. 

At the end of the film we are left with just the pregnant Sully, and her boyfriend Adewole, going back to K23 – one of Jupiter’s moons – where they believe it can sustain life. As for the other crewmates one died, and two have gone back down to Earth via shuttle. And Augustine? He seemingly dies while talking to his estranged daughter.

the midnight sky

Good Morning, Midnight Book Ending

The book that this is based on has a different name, but is very similar. It is called Good Morning, Midnight and is written by Lily Brooks-Dalton. It is very similar with a few minor differences. In the book Augustine is much older. This is a minor enough change that it does not really effect the story, especially since the Augustine in the movie is also very sick.

One of the biggest differences is that Sully’s daughter has already been born and is on Earth in the book. However, Felicity Jones was pregnant when filming in real life, so they changed this story around, just a little. The biggest difference in the ending is that the Aether actually lands on Earth, instead of turning around to colonize K23. 

Other than that the ending is pretty much the same. We learn that Iris was just imagined by Augustine, as he tried to make up time for lost time with his daughter. And of course, Sully is actually his daughter, Iris, who was inspired by him to become and astronaut. 

the midnight sky

Read my The Midnight Sky review here.

About The Midnight Sky

In the aftermath of a global catastrophe, a lone scientist in the Arctic races to contact a crew of astronauts with a warning not to return to Earth.

Watch The Midnight Sky on Netflix now.

Robert Goodwyn

Thursday 24th of December 2020

Thanks for clearing that up. I watched it and went to bed trying to figure out what I missed. The whole concept of imagining Iris threw me, along with a couple of other key moments- Iris not talking, Her mother leaving with a child.

Mama's Geeky

Tuesday 29th of December 2020

The story of Iris was weird... and hard to follow... but once you get to the big reveal it makes sense. Sort of.

The Midnight Sky Review: Is It Worth A Watch?

Thursday 24th of December 2020

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