The 2012 adaptation of David Wong's "John Dies at the End" ends without John dying at the end at all. While the core of the film espouses the belief that time is not linear, the word "end" suggests there is a beginning and an end to things.

Why is the movie called John Dies at the End?

  • I only wish you had worded the question "why didn't John die at the end?" I wanted to ask that but you cover much of the same ground.
    – matt_black
    Commented Dec 30, 2013 at 14:56
  • I just finished the first book... amazing! The ending confused me at first - but what was really weird was the cat called Fluffy
    – user9914
    Commented Jun 1, 2014 at 17:08
  • Spoilers: is it possible that John, like Arnie, is an apparition manifested by David following his death at the police station? Commented Oct 23, 2015 at 6:04

3 Answers 3


"John dies at the end" initially was a web novel series by Jason Pargin (aka David Wong), one of the editors of cracked.com. This also is the reason why the book is somewhat episodic at times: It was not written and published at once, but one part after another.

Pargin later got a book contract for the story and it was published under the same title, which then finally was filmed into said movie.

So one likely explanation is that when the web series started under the title "John dies at the end", Wong/Pargin may have planned to actually kill him off and simply ditched the idea while the story developed.

An equally likely possibility is that the title is merely a joke. It certainly fits with the book's overall humor and also acts as a great tool to intrigue a possible reader and keep the tension up while reading ("Will John actually die?").

Major spoiler for people who haven't read the book (Not joking! Read the book first, it's great):

The title also cleverly subverts the reader's expectation in the book, because ultimately it is revealed that David is the one who dies. Unfortunately this twist does not make it into the movie.

One last view one could have on the matter is that, because the story explains time as a nonlinear construct (users of the "soy sauce" drift through time), John might actually be dead at 'the end', wherever or whenever that may be.

Robert Marley: Time is an ocean, not a garden hose. Space is a puff of smoke, a wisp of cloud. Your mind... is a flying corn snake hovering through all the possibilities.

However personally I don't find this to be a very good explanation for the title. I prefer to think of it simply as a clever and funny way to name your book/movie and the title is what actually got my attention and make me watch the movie.

  • 2
    The thing is, John does die during the movie, just not at the end. His body is in the police station during that scene and his voice asks David to try to steal his body via the hotdog phone (and this sentence already contains enough craziness to describe the whole tone of the movie's logic).
    – matt_black
    Commented Dec 30, 2013 at 13:31
  • In the web serial, John gets knocked out at the end of (almost?) every chapter -- so you never knew how close the story was to wrapping up, if you were following along as it was being released.
    – Joe
    Commented Jul 27, 2016 at 15:42

Here's a link to the film and the book
In the film it's implied that John and Dave will not be coming back from their last mission.
The book ends on a similar note.
However, John is in the sequel which is called This Book is Full of Spiders: Seriously Dude, Don't Touch It.
Finally, the genre of the story is billed as horror-comedy-parody so I guess the author is just messing with us by keeping John's status ambiguous and surreal.
I'm leaning towards the title just being ironic

  • 3
    Where in the film is it implied that John and Dave don't come back from their last mission? I watched it two times and it specifically ends with them returning to our dimension. If anything it is left unclear if they actually will return to the alternate dimension to save it. (This is resolved in the book btw.)
    – magnattic
    Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 2:16

The book repeatedly notes that being mortal, in the end, we all die. Duh. The last chapter is the message: carpe diem.

  • 3
    You might be right but I think you would need to elaborate the theme before I vote for your answer. Give us some more detail; show the theme really runs through the book. Convince me.
    – matt_black
    Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 21:41

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