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Whiplash Ending Explained: Is Terence Fletcher Right?


Whiplash ending explained! Well, this 2014 American psychological drama had invited a diversity of interpretations from across the globe. Its strange yet logical plot is the topic of discussion. The philosophy over which this drama was laid had been digested by some, whereas many could not just even swallow it. To understand the ending, one must have to be very well versed with the start of this film. If you could understand what relation was binding Fletcher and Andrew, then only you would be able to understand its ending.

And for this, you have to start from the beginning. When Andrew was trying hard and to his highest level to impress Fletcher. Andrew’s strong determination and hard practice were something that was binding those two souls. And most importantly, the respect and love which was in Andrew’s heart for his mentor Fletcher had made him accept his proposal even when Andrew was well aware of Fletcher’s nature.

The whole drama focuses on the relationship between an ambitious jazz drummer who wants to get felicitation from his master and an abusive, perfectionist bandleader (his master). The drama is written and directed by Damien Chazelle. The production section involves Jason Blum, Helen Estabrook, Michel Litvak, and David Lancaster. And the production companies which were involved in this project were Bold Flims, Blumhouse Production, and Right of Way Films. The cinematography was done by Sharone Meir. And was edited by Tom Cross. The music in this drama was given by Justin Hurwitz.

When Chazelle completed the script of Whiplash, the production companies had helped him to make it eighteen minutes short video out of the script of fifteen pages. Then it debuted successfully at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. All were impressed by the layout and the theme of the project. And hence various investors were interested to carry forward this amazing project. And so, very easily, they got the investors to produce the complete version of the script.  On 16th January 2014, Whiplash premiered in competition at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Where it had received immense praise. Finally, over there, Whiplash had won the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize for drama. Then Sony Pictures gained all the worldwide distribution rights. The film was a huge success. With a production budget of $3.3 million, they grossed over $49 million.

Moreover, the film had received applause from the critics. They praised the film for its screenplay, film editing, sound mixing, direction, and for the Simmons and Teller’s performances. J. K. Simmons rose to the limelight for his role as Terence Fletcher. He won several awards in the Best Supporting Actor category at the 20th Critics’ Choice Awards, 68th British Academy Film Awards, 72nd Golden Globe Awards, and the 87th Academy Awards. Moreover, Whiplash won Best Sound Mixing and Best Film Editing and was also nominated for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay.

whiplash ending explained

A still from the movie

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The cast of Whiplash and their character description

The cast of Whiplash was chosen very selectively. They have kept the thought of perfectionism. One of the protagonists was Andrew Neiman, who was an ambitious young jazz drummer at the fictional Shaffer Conservatory. The actor who got to play this exclusive role is an American actor named Miles Alexander Teller. Another important role was of Terence Fletcher, who was a ruthless jazz instructor or mentor at Shaffer. This role was played by another American actor Jonathan Kimble Simmons.

Then, Paul Reiser had played the role of Jim Neiman, who was the father of Andrew, a high school teacher. The part of Nicole was played by Melissa Benoist. She was a movie theater employee who was also Andrew’s girlfriend, and later plots made her Andrew’s ex-girlfriend. Austin Stowell as Ryan Connolly and Nate Lang as Carl Tanner were other drummers in Fletcher’s band. Chris Mulkey played uncle Frank, Andrew’s uncle. Mr. Kramer was played by Damon Gupton. Suanne Spoke as Aunt Emma, Andrew’s aunt. Travis, Andrew’s cousin, was Jayson Blair. Charlie Ian as Dustin, Andrew’s other cousin. Red Henderson was Henry G. Sanders. And Adrian Rashad Driscoll was Reed, trombonist.

Whiplash ending explained!

Starting from the beginning:

Andrew Neiman was very much devoted to Terence Fletcher. His only goal or can say longing was to receive applause from him. Fortunately, he gets a chance to be a part of his reputed band. This was his only chance to turn his dreams into reality. But this opportunity was not an easy task. He has to give his everything, his whole focus, determination, and hard work. The pressure to live up to the expectation of Fletcher was the hardest task to achieve.

When Neiman joined his band, he got to know about the strict and abusive nature of Terence Fletcher. He was very disappointed, but still, his longing was as strong as his belief. Fletcher had questioned his ability by assigning various tasks. Many a time, he was forced by his destiny to change the path, but he was determined. He started focussing even more. As a result of which, he even had broken up with the love of his life, his girlfriend- Nicole. Once, he was challenged by his instructor Fletcher to prove his talent. With a lot of hard work, he succeeded. And then he was allowed to play the drums in one of the events.

But unfortunately, when he was going there, his bus breaks down. But this wasn’t able to stop him. Andrew rents a car and drove to the concert hall. After reaching there, he realized that by mistake he had forgotten his drum sticks at the car rental office. At this time, Terence Fletcher decided to replace him. But Andrew urged him not to do so. And so, he had to drive back to that car rental office. He got those drumsticks, but on that day, his fate was not on his side. As he was coming back, he met with an accident. On his way back to the auditorium where the concert was going to happen, a truck had hit his car brutally.

But that thing, too wasn’t able to break his determination. Anyhow he got out of the car. He met with serious injuries, despite that he didn’t have accepted any medical aid. And to everyone’s amazement, he started to run towards the concert hall. Anyhow by stumbling and falling, he managed to reach the venue just right before the band started to play. But as already mentioned, it felt as if, on that day, his destiny wasn’t allowing his fate to line his path with any kind of help. Though he was allowed to play the drums, his serious injuries were stopping him from giving his best. Following this, Fletcher had decided to stop the concert so that he can replace Andrew.

On this, Andrew raged over him because he knew that what all he had sacrificed just to come over there, and now if someone would disappoint him by replacing him, then he is left with no other option rather than physically assaulting his instructor. Andrew’s this behavior had stepped him down in the eyes of his instructor- Terence Fletcher. As a result, he dismisses Andrew Neiman from the band.

whiplash ending explained

Andrew Neiman burst into tears following the insult done by Fletcher

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The session with the lawyer:

Following the mental torture which Fletcher had done on Andrew, his father wanted to file a lawsuit against him. And shortly after, Andrew was made to meet a lawyer. Andrew’s father was so raged that he was willing to take action against him. The lawyer whom they met was working on Sean Casey’s case. Sean Casey was one of the former students of Terence Fletcher. Unfortunately, he hanged himself after dealing with a long duration of depression and anxiety. His parents claim that the reason for their son’s depression and anxiety was the trauma that Fletcher had given him mentally and physically. They believe that the wrong and abusive teaching method of Terence Fletcher was the only cause of their son’s sufferings. And also, this was the only reason that why their son had undertaken this big step.

And so, for the betterment of other students, they wanted Fletcher to quit his position. So, they were willing that Andrew should give his statement against. After a lot of discussion and disagreement, Andrew was finally made to testify against Fletcher. As a result of which, the lawsuit made the institution fire Terence Fletcher. But he never felt that it was his mistake. He believes that his teaching method is strict, but it is for the betterment of his students only!

After this incident, Andrew had stopped playing his drums. And for the time, he started working in a restaurant.

whiplash ending explained

Fletcher scolding his students


One day when Andrew was passing through the city, he found his ex-instructor, Mr. Terence Fletcher. He was playing at a local jazz club. When Fletcher saw him, he invited Andrew for a drink. During the conversation, he was trying to justify his teaching methods and techniques. He compared his style of mentoring with that of “Charlie Parker.”

After a brief conversation, Fletcher invited Neiman to perform at the JVC Jazz Festival. He told that they would perform those songs by which Andrew is already familiar. He accepts and also decides that Nicole should also witness this. But now she is his ex-girlfriend, so she hesitated to come there.

Twist came when Fletcher told Neiman that he knows who testified against him. He said this just before the starting of the show. Then Andrew realizes that Fletcher wants to vandalize his willpower by taking revenge for his present petty condition. And so he had given him the wrong musical sheet. He was unable to cope up with the ongoing song, so he left the stage. But very soon, he came back with a new spirit! The discussion which he had with his father had helped him with this. After returning on the stage, he started playing “Caravan.” He started with the slow beats and gradually increased the intensity.

Despite getting frustrated, Fletcher had carried on with his work. When Fletcher hinted at the end of the music, he didn’t stop. Instead, he took the music to another level. All were amazed by his performance. He proved that he can withstand any challenge he comes across. When Fletcher had given a positive response by nodding his head, this was the best moment for Andrew. And this is because he was longing for exactly this moment for a long time. His soul got satisfaction. He used the challenge to show his extraordinary talents. By taking the lead and showing off his ability, he turned the worst thing into an opportunity which once he had missed. And eventually, his master, Terence Fletcher, comes around and starts helping him. And so, the audience has witnessed a happy ending.

whiplash ending explained

A still from the movie

Was Terence Fletcher right?

Well, this is the most tricky, sensitive, and important question of Whiplash. If we look at the ending, then Terence Fletcher was able to achieve what he was willing to do with his students. When Andrew Neiman had rocked the state even after going through a thought task is a matter of pride for his master or the instructor.

This incident must have boosted his confidence that although his teaching techniques are unique and strict, it does works. No matter how much time it needs but one day it would surely give colourful results. In the eyes of Terence Fletcher, he proved that no matter what qualities or talents you possess, you would get those things permanently imbibed within you only after you come across the hardships of this world. The same defines the statement that if you want success, then you have to earn it. Your longing, hard work, and strong determination would surely pay you back.

But was Terence Fletcher? Well, we can not say that he was right. And the reason is that if he was correct, then his techniques should have also worked in the case of Sean Casey. But the reality is different. So we can say that to an extent, he was correct, but his method was not correct. His technique had worked in the case of Andrew because from the very beginning, he had a deep sense of respect for his instructor. The emotional relationship which both of them used to share was the reason for the final success!

whiplash ending explained

Andrew Neiman with his drums

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Written By

From the city of deities- Ujjain, Moumita Nandi is a writer and poet. She is an alumnus of St. Mary's who is currently pursuing B. Tech (CS). She is a senior content writer at Otakukart. Mostly you would find her handling the entertainment and gossiping section. She covers everything which ignites the internet! Her email: (Only for work inquiries!)