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Knives Out ending explained – Who is the real killer in Daniel Craig’s murder mystery?

Knives Out ending explained – Written and directed by Rian Johnson, the movie traces private detective Benoit Blanc investigating the mysterious murder of bestselling author Harlan Thrombey.

Knives Out ending explained – Who is the real killer in Daniel Craig’s murder mystery?
Daniel Craig in Knives Out

Last Updated: 07.51 PM, May 25, 2024


The suspense-packed whodunnit Knives Out is among the most witty murder mysteries of all time. Written and directed by Rian Johnson, the movie traces private detective Benoit Blanc investigating the mysterious murder of bestselling author Harlan Thrombey. Apart from Craig, the star-studded ensemble includes Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, LaKeith Stanfield, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martell, and Christopher Plummer.

Knives Out plot

The plot of Knives Out revolves around the suspicious murder of Harlan Thrombey, a wealthy mystery novelist, who is found dead in a pool of blood after celebrating his 85th birthday. When detectives rule out Harlan’s death as a suicide, a twisted string of lies unfolds after private detective Benoit Blanc is anonymously hired to investigate the murder. Set in a Massachusetts mansion, investigator Blanc unravels that Harlan had strained relationships with most of the Thrombey, who become key suspects in his death. Whether he uncovers the suspected homicide is what forms the crux of the story.

Who is the true killer in Knives Out mystery in the ending?

Knives Out’s surprise ending is one of the reasons the movie garnered critical acclaim, apart from its flawless execution and witty narrative. The movie revolves around a series of investigations through which Benoit discovers that each family member vaguely fits the criteria of a suspicious or unknown killer. From marital infidelity to financial debts, each member harbour their own secrets. However, over time, it also becomes clear that only one person is responsible for the murder disguised as suicide.


In a classic murder mystery climax, the movie follows a series of flashback sequences bouncing back to the night of the actual murder. When Fran (housemaid) suffers a deadly attack after blackmailing Marta with a toxicology report, it is revealed that Ransom (Harlan Thrombey’s grandson) has teamed up with Marta to save her from the murder accusation and, in turn, strikes a deal to retain a portion of the money or inheritance that Marta acquired after Harlan’s death.

Amid a chain of twists and turns, it is revealed in the end that Ransom is the killer who hatched a meticulous plan to kill his grandfather after overhearing a conversation in which Harlan announced Marta as the sole owner of his affluent lifestyle, including his luxurious mansion and other properties. He later has a fierce argument with his grandfather on the night of his birthday party and leaves in a fit of rage. This is his alibi. However, during a flashback montage, it is revealed that he returned to the house by climbing through a window to watch his grandfather die, and he was also the one who switched his medications, which is how Marta accidentally gave him the wrong pills.

Knives Out still
Knives Out still

The backstory shows how Harlan tries to save Marta after she frantically confesses to giving him the wrong medications by suggesting that he would slit his own throat. Ironically, he also laid out a plan for his own suicide, just like in his mystery novels. He even helped Marta clear her tracks by helping her escape from the back door.

How does Marta prove her innocence after wrongfully framed for murder?

Knives Out’s unconventional ending, with a hint of humour and satire in this murder mystery tale, is what makes it compelling to watch. The layered story won’t let viewers unfold the true motives of the killer throughout the watch, thus making its narrative well executed and precise. During the climax of the movie, we witness how the innocent Marta almost falls into Ransom’s trap to confess to the murder, thus losing the inheritance as per the slayer rule.

However, things take a surprising turn when Marta reaches the medical examiner's office and discovers Fran struggling to breathe after a fire accident. When she tries to save Fran, Ransom’s plan derails as Marta and Benoit Blanc team up to expose Ransom and his evil motives.

In the end, Blanc denounces the twisted mystery as a carefully hatched murder by the jealousy-driven Ransom, who is the mastermind behind his grandfather’s killing.

In an iconic ending, Marta tells Ransom that Fran survived the fire accident and would implicate Ransom. This shakes his confidence, and he blurts out that his lawyers would save him from the murder accusation. Following this, Marta vomits on Ransom, which indicates that she lied to trap him into confessing, thus sending him to jail.

The post-credits scenes reflect the unexpected twist of fate, with the poor nurse becoming the heir of the mansion and looking out of the house from her new balcony, while the people who lived in the mansion look at her with greed and jealousy as they stand outside.

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