Inception: Ending Explained

At the end of Christopher Nolan’s Inception, was Cobb dreaming or awake? We get to the bottom of it. Support ScreenPrism on Patreon:

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43 Responses

  1. Vanisha says:

    I think it didn't matter to Cobb whether the top fell or not because throughout the movie we see how he felt guilty for not being able to look at his children's faces before leaving as he turned around when the man offered him his tickets just at the moment his children's face turned.. So this time when he saw his kids, he didn't care if it was dream or reality, all that mattered to him was being with them. This is just my take and personally, I do feel he was awake

  2. Ryan Holliday says:

    Whoa whoa…I thought his totem was the wedding ring…in the dream he wears it and in reality he’s not

  3. Mike D says:

    Yeah for Cobb to still be in a dream, it would have to be a yet unseen, military-grade dream contstruct that disobeys the usual cues of it being a dream. Which is possible I guess, and Nolan let's you know anything is possible.

  4. Lemon Head says:

    So to Cobb, it doesn't matter if it is real or not, because he is living his best right now… man that's deep… fine I accept this ending

  5. Sebastian says:

    Watched this on shrooms. Literally felt like I was in a time loop and lived through many lifetimes.

  6. Ed Hernandez says:

    Interesting that they do not mention this: in the final scene, right as the kids turn their faces towards Cobb, what do you notice in the lower right hand corner of the film? They do show this artifact at approx 8:25

  7. Heyons says:

    This was a dumb ass movie

  8. Iliass Regragui says:

    I'm not shading the film but the kids could've just fly to him rather than going through all that shit lol

  9. Quinton Isted says:

    Cobb was the maze all a along trapped and trying to find a way out to finally get his ultimate desire to see his kids faces. HE WAS THE CLIENT

  10. Lee Model says:

    Me: I'm in for a happy ending 🙂
    End: Toy doesn't fall
    Also me: FUUUUUUU-

  11. Nightshift says:

    He is still in the basement in Istanbul dreaming. Remember he fumbles his totem in the toilets there.

  12. Claudia A. Valencia says:

    It is unknown, they decided to show us an ending, where he is still dreaming… where he sees his kids over and over. He's in limbo. We don't know the actual ending. He could have woken after being in limbo for decades, even centuries… and then wake up, and then be arrested

  13. Eric __ says:

    Finally watched this for the first time and I loved it and I think he’s not in reality

  14. N8Monk says:

    He's still dreaming. Being killed in a dream only takes you the next level up. At the beginning when Dom shoots Arthur he goes up one level to the "love shack", not the train. If they killed themselves in limbo they would have just gone one level up the chain.

  15. chuckybob says:

    Just watched this for the first time, huge Nolan fan and now my mind is absolutely fucked up. Hes unbelievable with his films

  16. Azure Nojito says:

    Considering how little sense Tenet makes at certain points, I would not lose sleep over this one. 😉

  17. yeyo1990 says:

    The top is not the totem. Nolan played everyone by using the old bait and switch tactic. The real totem was the dream machine itself. In every scene when anyone came out of a dream within a dream, they were connected to the machine. The only time when someone came out of the dream within a dream and was not connect to the dream machine was at the end, when Dicaprio woke up on the plane, he was not connected. This implies he is still trapped in limbo and comatose on the plane. The top was just a distraction because Nolan knew the audience would be fixated on little trinkets such as the top or wedding rings instead of the obvious, he is a film making genius.

  18. brian turrell says:

    They needed those "kicks" to all happen at the same time in order to ride it all the way up from limbo 4 levels back up to reality. But when him and Mal killed themselves in limbo with the train they did not have repeated "kicks" so they should have only woke up 1 dream above limbo. So he was in fact still dreaming all along.

  19. CheezmeeZone says:

    I loved this movie!

  20. Sarvesh Phansalkar says:

    He's in reality because he was not wearing any wedding ring which he appears to be wearing in his dreams, and he sees the faces of his children which he had forgot

  21. Sock Paper towel says:

    Nah he is in reality. Because the laws of physics were being applied to the top right before it cut. It was beginning to topple, thus he is in reality.

  22. eva giouvanopoulou says:

    You cant approve a dream the way he does because of quantum physics

  23. 9mycool says:

    Open ending there is no real answer for that

  24. BiGBaByBosS says:

    just go to the director and ask was he in a dream or real life him this will end 10 years of questions

  25. Shyrine Valenzona Ejem says:

    I refuse to believe he’s still dreaming

  26. Syed Shah says:

    June 25th, 2021 – What if we all are dreaming in this world?

  27. Pizza PowerXYZ says:

    The top was about to fall over so he's in reality

  28. Eric Paddinge says:

    Cobb was the Whole Time Trying to Understand Reality

    That's why Cobb Forces himself Throughout the Film to get into Limbo


    To Communicate in more Understandable Language:

    The Whole Movie was a Memory of Cobb while he was on the Plane

    Cobb lived his life by Rules, Rules to understand Reality

    But Throughout Time Cobb Forgot Something, Something Important

    But Cobb didn't Understand what that Piece of Information was

    But Cobb knew that Piece of Information was from Extreme Importance of Creating Reality and Knowing what the Real Reality is

    To get to that Piece of Information Cobb Needed to get into Limbo

    He did that by Accepting the Arrangement with Saito

    Cobb found in the Limbo the Piece of Information he was Missing and that Information was:

    Take a Leap of Fate together with an Old Friend

    Because of All of Cobbs Knowledge about Creating Reality and Saito

    Cobb Now knows What to Do

    Take a Leap of Fate

    At the End of the Movie Cobb Woke Up

    Cobb Woke Up Out of Limbo

    That's Extremely Difficult to Do

    But Cobb did It by Waking Up in the Airplane

    You Saw Cobbs Thoughts how Cobb was getting into Limbo while Cobb was on the Plane doing it

    Cobb Woke up out of Limbo With the Piece of Information which was Stored in Limbo

    A Extremely Important Piece of Information to Understand Reality, Real Reality

    Cobb Woke up and Then Cobb Knew This was His Reality, His Real Reality

    Cobb Looked around the Plane to see whether or not this was a Good Reality

    In this Reality everyone is Alive including Saito, Extremely Positive

    Also in this Reality Cobb has Unlimited Access to His Children made by the Choice Whether or Not to Take the Deal with Saito, Significant Positive Outcome

    Also in This Reality Cobb learned that the Brain is Extremely Fragile and Positive Meant Ideas can Cause Death as Negative Outcome

    Also in this Reality Cobb Learned His Emotions, His Emotions Towards Mall Cobb – Miles

    Also in this Reality Cobb Understand his Trauma and Cobb now Knows how to Accept Trauma, his Trauma, Significant Positive Outcome

    In this Reality Cobb Did and Made the Job a Succes, Positive Outcome

    This Outcome, a Positive Outcome of the Job/Arrangement was of Significant Importance whether Cobb has Unlimited Access to His Children in this Reality or Not

    In this Reality Cobb has unlimited access, Significant Positive

    In This Reality Cobb Sees Saito Honering the Deal because Saito is Immediately Making a Phone Call

    a Serious Phone Call

    a Leap of Fate Type of Phone Call

    The only Negative Thing in this Reality is that Cobb Doesn't Know whether or Not Saito is Honering their Arrangement

    But Cobb Does Know what Kind of Human Saito is, a Man of Honor

    And he Knows in This Reality the Advise of a Honorable man named Saito

    An Advise that will Significantly Influences Reality, Cobbs Life, for the Bad but Also the Good

    Cobb also Knows that Honorable Men will Never Break Their Promise

    Cobb also Knows that True Honorable Men Never Brake Their Promise with Friends

    Saito is a True Honorable Man and Calls Cobb an Old Friend

    The Only Thing Cobb needs to do Now in This Significant Positive But also Designed Reality is to Take a Leap of Fate

    And That is what Cobb is Doing at the End of the Movie

    Listening to an Old Friend, a Honorable Friend named Saito


    Taking a Leap of Fate


  29. Maciej Prokop says:

    I have just finished Inception and the best part is that i understand almost anything, but while watching simple films i cant even understand the main plot sometimes XD I love that

  30. edwin soltan says:

    just watched the movie lmao

  31. Doctor haha says:

    At the end seen when he meets his kids for so long, his son said “ we building house on the cliff”
    That house was only built in limbo.

  32. Eserio says:

    the point of the cut at the end is to make the viewer question the reality the same way cobb and mal had to for years and years

  33. sebastiannalfredoo says:

    It does fall. The reason why we don't actually see it falling is because that was never the important thing, thhe important thing is that he found peace and forgave himself

  34. Ash Capulong says:

    2021 gang who here

  35. Quanta_relet um says:

    Nolan succeeded in puzzling us all
    Different theories, arguments
    There is no *real ending to the movie
    All he wanted us was to think like Cobb
    But what matters the most is Cobb got to see his children's faces. The childern who
    never belong to him. Mind creates faces you know and finally it did. And the charm of totem broke. It was *new reality

  36. Sajan Tamang says:

    You dont want to be get a answer…..because at the end of his life……leonardo will known whether he is in dream or reality… view

  37. bleep says:

    I think Cobb came back to reality. Because to say that there are different realities and he just decided to stay in the one that felt truest to him is weird.

    Bc, these ARENT “realities” they are dreams. Dreams created and forged by whoever is dreaming. They specify that many times throughout the movie. Not to mention the fact that the dream will start falling apart the more that it’s altered.

    Another sign is the children, if he was in a dream, he wouldnt be able to make out their faces because the memory always stops before that happens when hes in a dream. but he is able to see them at the end.
    ALSO, if solving his personal issues was the key, staying for another few decades in limbo to find Saito would have been completely unnecessary. Also none of it would change the fact that he is still dreaming, and that he will stop dreaming once whatever sedation hes on is eased.
    Meaning that he never actually got his happy ending for real. even if he stays a lifetime like that, hes still gonna have to face real reality at some point when he wakes up. but none of that makes any sense because he DID wake up and the top stopped when the screen went black. ☺️
    also his kids were in fact wearing slightly different outfits at the end.

  38. Jokelo says:

    I don’t think the in the ending of inception they’re in a dream. The plot wouldn’t make sense in any way. See the whole story was trying to tell us that cob is trying to escape the law enforcement because he was accused of killing his wife. Even when he didn’t. He needed to see his daughter and son again and if cob was still in a dream then it means that the whole thing was a dream

  39. P. ARTHUR RILEY says:

    I have watched Chris Nolan's Inception over thirty times and like many other fans of the film have debated with myself and others over its endings. Like many things, in reality he proof is in small things. Chris Nolan did provide several small clues throughout Inception to lead the viewer to appreciate his themes of subjective reality and the power of love.

    Leonardo DiCaprio's character Cobb's totem is also a psychological anchor to his subconscious guilt over his role in his wife Mal's suicide. Cobb cannot return to his children fully until he comes to terms with his subconscious guilt over her death. A more reliable "totem" for Cobb's return to reality is Michael Cain's character; if Mr. Cain is in a scene with Cobb he has returned to reality and if Mal is present Cobb is dreaming. Cobb is never in a scene with Micheal Cain's character and Mal. The key triangular relationship in Inception is Cobb, his dead wife, and Micheal Cain's character. The final "inception" Cobb uses to get back to his children entails the resolution of the son's guilt of being unworthy of his father's love and the redemption of another character whose death in a dream had them fall into limbo.

    In the closing scene, Cobb takes Mal's totem out of his pocket and spins it. But he doesn't wait for the totem to stop spinning because he is no longer tethered to what it in actuality represented, his subconscious guilty over his wife's death. Cobb looks up and sees the faces of his children with Micheal Cain's character bringing them inside to greet him. Cobb has resolved his subconscious guilt over Mal's death and can now rejoin their children.

  40. orange chucky says:

    I Think he was in reality, if you look at the top closely, the rotation isn't as smooth as it would be in a dream it would be sort of a perfect endless balance. But when you look by the end it begins to wobble almost as if it's trying to stay uprights. Now about the concentration is completely false, if a person is in a turbulence state in reality there's the possibility that the top may not spin in the dream world because of the user internal struggle. One thing I do find weird is the reflection of the top( the shadow) in the dream world there isn't suppose to be one, but in reality it's suppose to cast a Shadow.

  41. Vasanth Saro says:

    I have a doubt – are we in limbo

  42. eilís says:

    He can’t be in his wife’s dream bc she is dead

  43. The Take says:

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