Coraline (Movie) Ending Explained

This post includes a brief plot summary and an explanation about the ending of the film Coraline (2009). Beware of spoilers.

Directed by Henry Selick, the 2009 fantasy drama stars Dakota Fanning as Coraline. The film is based on a novel of the same name written by Neil Gaiman. Today’s post is solely based on the film, not the novel.

coraline (2009) plot explained

Coraline tells the story of a girl (Coraline) who moves into a new house with her parents. The place is called “Pink Palace Apartments” and it has some pretty interesting neighbours: Mr. Bobinsky, a circus mice trainer, and Miss Spink and Miss Forcible, former burlesque performers. During a walk near the house, Coraline befriends a black cat and Wybie, the landlady’s grandson. The boy gives her a doll that looks exactly like her.

What Happens in Coraline? (Plot Explained)

One night, Coraline stumbles upon a place known as the “Other World”. There, she finds a woman cooking for her. The “other mother” looks similar to the real one, except she has buttons instead of eyes. Also, her “other parents” seem much more attentive to Coraline’s needs. After dinner, Coraline goes to bed and awakens in the real world again.

Later on, Coraline learns from Wybie that his grandmother’s twin disappeared in the apartment as a child. The sinister discovery does not phase Coraline, and she continues to visit the “Other Word”. There she meets the other versions of her neighbours, silent Wybie and a talking black cat. Meanwhile, the “other mother” wants Coraline to stay indefinitely.

Plot Twist: The “other mother” is actually a demon (Beldam) who lures children to her place. She tricks her victims into giving up their eyes and souls under the promise of a happier life.

When Coraline refused to stay, Beldam imprisoned her. During captivity, Coraline learns what happened to other victims. Thanks to the “other Wybie”, Coraline returns to the real world, only to realize that her parents are missing. She seeks help from her neighbours, Miss Spink and Miss Forcible give Coraline a tool for finding lost things. Later that night, the black cat shows Coraline where her parents are: in a mirror.

In order to save her parents, Coraline goes back to the “Other World”. She plays a little game with Beldam and successfully brings her parents back to the real world. However, the latter have no recollection of what happened. At night, the spirits warn Coraline that Beldam is coming back for the key.

The girl heads to the woods to dispose of the key. Out of nowhere, Beldam’s hand ambushes her. However, with the help of Wybie, the two children fight off the hand. After defeating Beldam, Coraline and Wybie toss the demon’s hand into an old well and seal it.

coraline plot summary


Coraline by Neil Gaiman (Book)


The Ending of “Coraline” Explained

The ending of Coraline shows Coraline’s parents hosting a party for their neighbours. Together, they are joining efforts to regrow the communal garden. At the gathering, Wybie introduces his grandmother to Coraline. Also, the black cat is still alive, although he disappears behind the sign that says “Pink Palace Apartments”.

One could say that Coraline (2009) has a happy ending. The protagonist fought an evil entity, won and got her parents back. What is the meaning behind the final scene? The ending of Coraline means that the main character learned to appreciate her “real life” and “real family” more. Coraline realized that although her parents are extremely busy people, they truly love her.

coraline (2009) ending explained

Other Theories About The Ending of Coraline

Due to the sinister nature of the film, a couple of “conspiracy theories” are circulating out there debating the true meaning behind the ending of Coraline (2009). For instance, some believe that Coraline never escaped, in other words, everything that the viewer sees in the ending scene is not real.

In this theory, Beldam uses her powers to create another sweet illusion for Coraline, so she stays longer in the “Other World”. However, there is not much evidence in the film supporting this theory. Although it’s an interesting idea, it doesn’t seem to fit the film very well. If that’s true, then what’s the point of the story?

How Did Wybie Know That Coraline Was In Danger?

Wybie’s grandmother definitely knew about Beldam and her appetite for little children, hence, her initial refusal to rent the house to couples with small children. The brick wall covering the entrance to the “Other World” was probably her idea too. Therefore, it’s probable that the landlady instructed her grandson to look after Coraline just in case she ran into Beldam.

Having said that, it’s no coincidence that Wybie appeared at the right moment. There are some hints throughout the film indicating that Wybie knew what was going on in that house: maybe not the entire story, but parts of it. Also, no one rides a bike with tong clamps unless they are ready to fight someone.

Why Did Coraline’s Parents Forget About Beldam?

There are two ways to read their reaction. One, Coraline’s parents did not change at all, they learned nothing from the whole ordeal. Two, Beldam’s powers work in both worlds, and she cast a spell on the parents.

The first interpretation of the aftermath means that Coraline’s parents are still oblivious and neglectful of their daughter’s needs. In other words, the parent’s short-term memory loss is just a reflection of what they have been doing this entire time: dismissing what is really going on.

Now, the second interpretation is less depressing. In this theory, Beldam cast a spell on Coraline’s parents to ensure her own safety. This means that her powers work in both worlds, which would explain how she could get her hands on the parents.

The main reason why Beldam kidnapped the parents was to lure Coraline back to the “Other World” and find new ways to trap her there. As powerful as Beldam appears to be, she has no interest in others knowing about her existence.

Not wanting to draw too much attention to her “illicit activities”, would explain why the demon chose to cast a spell on the parents. In addition, can you guess what the adults would do once they found out there was an evil entity in the house? They’ll probably move out or go after her. Either way, it’s no good for the demon: no kids, no souls to eat.


Coraline (2009) [DVD]


What Is the Message of Coraline?

The story of Coraline (2009) serves as a cautionary tale for parents who take their children for “granted”. Not only that, but it also teaches that the grass is not always greener on the other side. At the end of the day, it’s important for parents and children to communicate with each other, otherwise, their relationship will suffer.

The only reason Coraline was so fascinated by the “Other World” was her less than perfect reality. Coraline’s parents put all of their attention on their jobs instead of making their daughter a priority. That made Coraline somewhat unhappy about her life, which made her the perfect target for Beldam.

Coraline (2009) is a fascinating story that explores the dark side of wish fulfillment. The “Other Mother”, a sinister creature who lures Coraline into a parallel world, represents the dangers of escapism and neglect. Meanwhile, the buttons, the key and the cat are symbols of deception, control and freedom. Altogether, they convey an important moral lesson, which is to appreciate what you have and face your problems.

What are Beldam’s powers?

Beldam or the “Other Mother” is a shapeshifting demon that feeds off children’s souls. Her victims are the fuel that makes Beldam grow stronger. The way the demon lures children is very simple: she gives them what they lack. Actually, Beldam creates the illusion that she is giving them what they need. In Coraline’s case, Beldam tried to lure her to the “Other World” under the promise of good food and loving parents.

What is the significance of buttons in Coraline?

The buttons in Coraline are a tool to control one’s identity. In the victims’ case, they lost their souls and freedom when they let Beldam replace their eyes with buttons. However, the demon actually uses the same anonymity to her advantage. In her case, the buttons conceal her sinister nature, which helps Beldam lure her victims with ease.

What is the moral lesson of Coraline?

The moral lesson in Coraline is that appearances can be deceiving and that love shouldn’t be transactional. After her wild adventure in “the Other World”, Coraline learned that not everything is what it appears to be. Beldam was only treating Coraline “nice” because she wanted her soul. In addition, one cannot buy love, it is based on mutual trust and respect.

Final Thoughts

Can I be honest for a second? Before watching Coraline (2009), I thought that it was just another cute little horror story. Make no mistake: Coraline (2009) is not a film for little children. Though it’s an animation film, it’s not the best idea to show it to a younger audience unless you want the little ones to develop a phobia against buttons, dolls and spiders.

As I said before, Coraline (2009) is a very creepy film. It gave me the shivers when I watched it, and I’m an adult. However, that shouldn’t be seen as a negative remark. Seriously, the film is really good and memorable. The viewer won’t forget about Coraline and Beldam for days after watching the film.

What set Coraline apart from Beldam’s previous victims? There are a couple of factors that might explain why Coraline managed to escape: smarts, age and help. First of all, Coraline is a smart girl and she quickly realized that there was something off about the “other mother”.

Second, she was a bit older than the other kids. Having said that, her critical thinking might be more developed compared to the other victims. Once someone asks you to sew buttons in your eyes, it’s time to run. Third, unlike the others, Coraline had help, from both “Wybies”.

One of the things that stands out about Coraline (2009) is the film’s ambiguity. Having said that, the viewer is the one who’s going to finally decide whether Coraline (2009) is a simple or complex film. As I said before, there are a couple of popular conspiracy theories circulating out there, but then again, theories are not facts.

The colourful world that Beldam created for Coraline was not real, it was just a sweet illusion to keep the girl in the “Other World”. Fortunately, Coraline was smart enough not to fall for the trap. In the end, the girl realizes that her parents are not perfect, but at least they are real.

Overall, Coraline (2009) is a very noteworthy watch: I mean, you have to give credit to films that are memorable and have interesting stories to tell. Those are usually the ones that really make an impression on you. By the way, I believe the soundtrack elevated the film’s tension and made it scarier. That ending song in Coraline (2009) really helps to cement the film in a person’s head — it was the cherry on top of the cake.