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Nocturnal Animals Ending Explained: Why Edward Stood Susan Up?

Nocturnal Animals follows Susan morrow, an affluent art gallery owner. Susan is rich, sad, and bitter and lives most of her night awake. Her guilt for a past mistake keeps gnawing at her, making her life that of a miser. One day she receives a manuscript for a novel written by her estranged ex-husband Edward Sheffield. Morrow left Sheffield for a rich man 20 years ago. In the present day, Sheffield has also sent an invitation to Morrow for dinner when he comes to Los Angeles.

Susan starts reading the novel, which follows a very dark and disturbing plot. Being in a failing marriage, she increasingly gets invested in the novel. The novel is also titled “Nocturnal Animals,” a nickname that Sheffield used to call Susan with. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Amy Adams in leading roles, Tom Ford has helmed the gorgeous-looking film. The ending of Nocturnal Animals doesn’t have an explicitly explained conclusion. To avoid spoilers, watch the movie before delving into this read.

Who does amy Adams play in Nocturnal Animals

Amy Adams play the rich, bitter, and sad Susan Morrow/Nocturnal Animals.

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What was Edward’s Nocturnal Animals Novel About?

Nocturnal Animals, the novel, follows Tony Hastings, a family man on a road trip with his wife, Laura, and their daughter, India. The trip seems to be going pretty well until they encounter a sadistic trio of men — Ray, Lou, and Turk. The three men coerce Tony into swerving the car off the road. A powerless Tony sees Ray and Turk kidnapping his wife and daughter while leaving him with Lou. He is forced by Lou to drive Ray’s car to the end of the road, where he abandons him. When Ray and Lou return to Tony, he has already fled to the nearest farmhouse, where he contacts the police.

With the help of Detective Roberto “Bobby” Andes, Tony discovers Laura and India in a shack. Both of them were raped and then killed by the three men, leaving Tony broke and guilt-ridden. A year later, Andes bags Lou on charges of being an accomplice in Laura and India’s murders. Meanwhile, Turk gets in a crossfire following a robbery gone wrong and dies. This leaves Ray as the only culprit still out of the clutches of justice. Andes eventually arrests Ray too. However, the evidence for Ray’s involvement in the crime is only circumstantial. And so Andes has to let him go. Andes and, not to mention, Tony, are understandably dissatisfied.

Does Edward die in Nocturnal Animals

Tony and his family encountering Ray, Lou, and Turk.

How did the Novel End?

Close to retiring and suffering from terminal lung cancer, Andes teams up with Tony to take matters into their hands. Together, they abduct Ray and Lou. But when the two attempt to flee, Andes manages to shoot Lou down. Meanwhile, Ray successfully escapes. However, Tony tracks him down on his own. They end up at the very shack where Ray and his accomplices raped and killed Laura and India. Ray admits to his crime and calls Tony weak. Tony eventually gets Ray with a fatal gunshot. However, Ray also hits Tony on his head with an iron bar before he dies, leaving Tony blind. As Tony falls onto his gun, he accidentally shoots himself with it and dies as well. This marks the conclusion of the dark story of Nocturnal Animals novel.

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Edward and Susan’s Divorce Explained

After finishing Nocturnal Animals, the novel, Susan starts to reminisce about her life with Edward. She met him in college, where they fell for each other and started their relationship. However, Susan’s mother didn’t approve of Susan’s relationship with the working-class artist. Saying that he lacked the motivation to pursue and achieve his goals, her mother advised her to call it quits. However, Susan ignored her mother’s subsections and eventually married Edward. However, their marriage slowly succumbed to fractures as Susan grew more and more distant from Edward’s aspirations. The views her mother once championed, Susan had adopted herself now. The marriage ultimately ended up with Susan cheating on Edward with the affluent Hutton. Following that, she divorced Edward and married Hutton. Edward tried to mend things and get back with her but stopped when he discovered Susan secretly aborted their child.

Why didn't Edward turn up at the end of Nocturnal Animals

A still from Nocturnal Animals (2016).

Nocturnal Animals Ending Explained

The ending of Nocturnal Animals sees Susan excitedly dressing up for her dinner date with Edward. Cheryl sets the restaurant and orders a cocktail waiting for Edward. As both the glass of her cocktail and the restaurant empty up, Susan remains alone at the table, awaiting Edward. So what does this ending signify? The most logical and popular explanation is that this was Edward’s revenge on Susan. He had deliberately concocted this plan, including the novel, to get back at Susan. He wanted to show her how rejection or betrayal feels. As Susan remains to wait at the restaurant, Edward never turns up, feeling what he felt all those years ago. The ending to me seems like unnecessary overkill and a tad bit misogynistic. Sure, Susan wronged Edward earlier, but he stood her up with a petty plan when she was at her worst and vulnerable already.

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Rishabh couldn't ask for a better job than writing about the eclectic bunch of pop culture content that he consumes with a worrying fervor everyday. You can reach out to him at

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