500 Days Of Summer (2009) Ending Explained

This post includes a brief plot summary and an explanation about the ending of the film 500 Days Of Summer (2009). What is it about? Beware of spoilers.

500 days of summer bed

Directed by Marc Webb, the 2009 romantic comedy-drama stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Tom Hansen and Zoe Deschanel as Summer Finn.

500 Days Of Summer – Plot Summary

The story has a non-linear narrative, showing past and present moments between Tom and Summer throughout the course of 500 days.

Tom Hansen is a trained architect working at a greeting card company as a writer. At his work, he meets Summer Finn his boss’s new assistant.

After a karaoke night, Tom’s co-worker Mckenzie reveals to Summer that Tom likes her. A few days later, Summer kisses Tom in the photocopy room. During the next couple months, they start seeing each other more often.

Tom shows Summer his favourite spot in the city: a park bench with a view of his favourite buildings. After dating for several months, Tom’s friends ask him what’s his relationship with Summer. Tom brushes it off by saying that labels do not matter.

One night, Tom gets into a fight with a man trying to hit on Summer, they have their first argument. They make up, but Summer warns Tom about her personal views on love.

Summer and Tom go see The Graduate, she cries at the end, which leaves Tom a bit puzzled. They go a record store and Summer seems distracted and completely uninterested. Later, Tom invites Summer for pancakes and she breakups with him. The ending of the relationship led Tom to sink into a depression.

Due to his current mental state, Tom’s boss moves him to the consolation department as he’s no longer capable of writing happy content. Meanwhile, Tom goes on a blind date with a woman named Alison. Then, he proceeds to spend the whole night complaining about Summer. Alison eventually leaves Tom all by himself.

A few months later, Tom and Summer meet up again on a train ride to a co-worker’s wedding. They have a good time at the wedding and Summer invites Tom to a party at her apartment. He accepts her invitation with hopes of getting back together. However, at the party Tom finds out that Summer is engaged. He leaves and sinks into depression again.

Tom quits his job and relocates all his energy into architecture, something that Summer always encouraged him to do. Soon he assembles a portfolio and starts applying to job interviews.

On a random day, Tom encounters Summer sitting at his favourite spot. The two talk and Tom notices that Summer is now a married woman. He wonders why and Summer explains: she felt sure about her husband, something that didn’t happen when she was with Tom. Then, Tom confesses that he no longer believes that true love exists. However, Summer stops him and says it does, but she wasn’t the one for him. Before leaving, she puts her hand on Tom’s and says she’s glad to see him doing well. He reciprocates the feeling and hopes that she’s happy.

At a job interview, Tom meets a girl that’s applying for the same job. They find out that they share a lot of common interests and views. Tom invites her for coffee but she declines. However, after some careful consideration, the girl decides to accept Tom’s invitation. He asks her name and she says “Autumn”.

500 Days Of Summer – Ending Explained

What did Tom do wrong? Basically, he tried to forge something that was never there.

500 days of summer ending explained

In his eyes, Summer is a puzzle. But in reality, she is a pretty clear communicator. Since the very beginning, Summer told Tom that she didn’t want anything serious. She wanted to keep things casual. However, Tom didn’t want to listen, Why? Because the boy was crazy in love!

Tom is an architect and likes to build things in his mind. Ironically, he build an imaginary relationship with Summer that didn’t exist. In addition, he only retained the good moments in his head. That’s why he was so heartbroken with the breakup. In his mind, their relationship was perfect. Having said that, why would Summer want to breakup with him? That’s what he thought.

In reality, Summer never saw Tom as a true romantic partner, that’s why she kept saying let’s just be friends. Summer definitely cares about Tom, she likes him but she doesn’t love him. However, Tom refused to accept that answer. That’s why he kept insisting. By the way, Tom’s love for Summer is borderline obsessive. First, he thought this girl was out of his league, then when he finally gets intimate with her, he doesn’t know how to deal with her feelings.

Throughout the entire story, he doesn’t really get why Summer didn’t choose him to be one or why she dumped him. The problem with Tom is that he failed to acknowledge the signs of a dying relationship. He and Summer were not fine as he kept saying, she didn’t dump him out of nowhere. There were signs that she was becoming uninterested. However, he was so deep in his personal fantasy (a perfect loving relationship) that he chose to ignore that things weren’t so good between him and Summer.

Did Summer lead Tom on by inviting him to the party? Yes and no. Summer never had any intentions of hurting Tom. She likes him as a friend. Therefore, she thought it would be nice to invite him for a party to catch up. However, Tom still has feelings for her, but she’s completely unaware of it. Having said that, in Tom’s eyes she led him on when they danced at the wedding, when she fell asleep on his shoulder and when she invited him to the party. It’s complicated.

Now, why did Summer marry the other guy? At the park bench, Summer said she felt that her husband was the one, something she didn’t with Tom. Ouch. However, it happens. Just because someone loves you deeply, it doesn’t mean that you have to reciprocate it. Yes, Tom loved Summer but that doesn’t mean he owns her love.

In the end, Tom wishes that Summer is truly happy. This might a double meaning. First, he really hopes that she’s happy with her husband. Second, he hopes that she doesn’t makes the same mistakes as him, such as tricking herself into believing that her current significant other is the one.

Final Thoughts

Hands down 500 Days of Summer is one of realest films out there about romantic relationships. The film is a very accurate portrayal of how our expectations about love might be very different from reality. In the end, what is love? And how do we know we have found the one?

Summer and Tom have definitely very different views on love. In way, they represent opposite sides of the spectrum and neither of them are wrong. Everyone has a different opinion about it and that’s normal. For instance, Summer was always very honest about never being in love, she liked her former partners, but she didn’t love them the way Tom describes what love is. Tom on the other hand, is a true romantic, he’s the type of person that believes in the concept of true love, the one that will change everything.

The interpretation of the ending scene of The Graduate is a fine example of how different Summer and Tom are. This is how Summer sees the ending of the film: full of uncertainty, they are not happy. However, Tom interprets the same ending in a completely different way: they are together, hence, it’s a happily ever after.

What Tom did to Allison is one of the most common mistakes that prevents people from finding love or at least new connections. Tom can’t quit his obsession for Summer. Having said that, every girl that he encounters will always be sub par when compared to Summer. That’s incredibly wrong and a very toxic way of thinking. Why does he believe that Summer is the one? For no particular reason. He just set it in his mind and that was it.

Overall, 500 Days of Summer is an incredibly enjoyable film to watch. One of the very few romantic comedies out there, that actually teaches viewers something useful.