I know I'm a little behind, but I just watched the movie Memento and the ending got me thinking a lot. And when I think a lot I usually turn toward the internet to find the vast majority of solutions available and find the right answer. To my concern I feel that there isn't one out there for this movie that fits what I saw of it. I might be missing something, but please fill me in if you have seen the movie several times and want to correct me on how it actually ends.

(Oh and please stop reading and watch this movie if you haven't already because it is fantastic! and ruining it by reading this would break my heart)

The movie ends with what seems to be an open-ended question on who killed his wife, hinting that he in fact killed her. But I feel that the movie in it's entirety holds the solution. Throughout the movie Leonard explains the story of Sammy Jankis and how his illness is prone to conditional therapy.

I don't know any other way to explain it so I'll just say my theory and explain it after. Leonard is the story of Sammy Jankis, he got into a car accident, his wife couldn't believe that he was faking it or couldn't live with the fact that he wasn't so she devised the test of insulin. There was no murder, there was no rape.

Q: WHAT? How do you explain him knowing about the incident at his house, his last memory?

That was all conditioned. By people like Teddy taking advantage of his condition. By seeing tattoos that his wife was murdered, etc., every time he wakes up. By the reports he dismembered to cause him to want to catch someone. All these things conditioned him to believe that that is why his wife isn't with him anymore. He doesn't even have to think about it when someone asks, he just knows in his memory that she was murdered. Slightly more conclusive proof of him being Sammy that Nolan adds is when he is explaining the story of Sammy in the mental hospital, after the nurse passes by, it quickly changes to Leonard for a split second sitting in the chair instead of Sammy. Sort of like for a split second he remembered that he was actually Sammy.

Q: But if that is true, why doesn't he remember that his wife has diabetes? That would have happened before the 'car accident' or 'murder/rape'.

That got me for a little bit. The reason he doesn't remember it is because he's trying to piece two puzzles pieces that belong to two different puzzles. The image in his mind of his wife is convoluted with conditioned images of her being raped/murdered. All things that never actually happened. That version never had diabetes. His actual wife did. That version of his memory is stored as Sammy Jankis' wife.

So all this time, Teddy was the one assigned to the case that investigated the murder/suicide of his wife. The pieces left out were the pieces Leonard crossed out because he didn't want to know the truth. He lies to himself to make himself feel better. What's left in the report makes it appear that his wife was murdered. Teddy takes advantage of this and gets him to do things for him for personal reasons.

That's how I interpreted the ending. So my question to you, is there any evidence that the rape/murder actually did happen? Did the rape/murder actually happen or was it a car accident? Is there any proof in the movie? Please fill me in where I might be wrong because no conclusion I've read is close to mine (other than he was Sammy but she lived after the rape).

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    Hi. Welcome to Movies & TV. Its kind of hard to know what question you are asking here.
    – iandotkelly
    Commented Oct 29, 2013 at 22:59
  • Hello! Thanks! What is the ending to Memento? I stated what I think it is. I tried googling it and can't really find a solution.
    – ModestMonk
    Commented Oct 29, 2013 at 23:01
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    Hi. Well that question has been asked before .. see movies.stackexchange.com/questions/3234/… - but I don't just want to close your question down, because you've put a lot of work into it. Can you draw any more unique questions out of your work?
    – iandotkelly
    Commented Oct 29, 2013 at 23:06
  • I added an ending question. Did the rape/murder actually happen? Is there any proof in the movie? Let me know if that is unique enough. I haven't found a conclusion that touches this subject and I feel it is the accurate ending.
    – ModestMonk
    Commented Oct 29, 2013 at 23:24
  • In one of the final scenes of the movie they show sammy on a chair in a mental institution and for a second as the frame ends its lenord on that seat i guess in that scene itself nolan has given a hint that leonard is all messed up
    – user33834
    Commented Apr 25, 2016 at 18:44

6 Answers 6


I think there was rape but no murder - only attempted murder. I think the rape/attempted murder scene is really Leonard's last true memory - it's the starting point of all events in the movie and confirmed by Teddy.

The tricky part is that there are two different types of memory disfunction at play at the same time with Leonard. The unability to create new memories - which was triggered by the incident in Leonard's house. And the deliberate blurring of the Sammy Jenkis story in Leonard's memory. I believe that what Teddy tells Leonard in the end of the movie (beginning of the events) is the truth about Sammy Jenkis - it wouldn't make sense dramaturgically to come up with a new, very confusing set of lies at this point.

So Sammy Jenkis really existed, but he was a fraud faking a medical condition that Lenny as an insurance investigator uncovered. Lenny got promoted, and rightly so. Sammy didn't have a wife. Then the incident in Lenny's house happened. Lenny got stuck with the condition that the real Sammy had faked. He killed his wife by injecting her an overdose of insuline.

Now the question is, how could Leonard have made a memory of this to be blurred with real Sammy's story (where the insuline part was not included)? Because the event happened after the damage to his brain had been done. My theory is that himself killing his beloved wife was a memory so strong, horrible and traumatic that even in his condition it somehow stuck in his mind, but was transferred in his memory to the Sammy Jenkis story. Otherwise he wouldn't have been able to live with himself anymore.


The ending (beginning) is that he realizes he is the killer and sets up Teddy for him to discover later. He did suffer the brain trauma, but could not forgive himself and creates a mystery for him to solve to absolve himself. It sounds like you "got" it, but maybe expect more. The story is fairly straight-forward. The story-telling is confusing and captivating.

Also, dealing with an Unreliable Narrator, there is no reason to believe any of his memories are 100% factual.

  • Okay so I am right in saying that there never was an attack on him or his wife, that never happened?
    – ModestMonk
    Commented Oct 29, 2013 at 23:19
  • The attack happened alright..but she didn't die in the attack..she was only raped I believe
    – Travis
    Commented Oct 29, 2013 at 23:22
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    @ModestMonk Because Sammy Jenkins really got into a car accident, but he isn't Sammy Jenkins, he's Leonard. I think there was really another Sammy Jenkins with a car accident in a case that Leonard once investigated, but that one was a simulant and Leonard used parts of his story to cover his own (this is told by Teddy at the end).
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Oct 29, 2013 at 23:42
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    Unreliable Narrator. All of this comes from him. There may have been a Sammy Jenkins. There may have been a car accident. He has confused the cases. And he is actively in denial and collusion to frame another in the brief moments we've seen him discover his own involvement. Commented Oct 30, 2013 at 0:28
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    His subconscious fabricated false memories out of various fragments because the truth was too much for him to handle. At the end he has the option of writing on himself or something what actually happened but instead writes 'Teddy' (I think). He wants to send himself after, pretty much, the only person who could tell him what actually happened because he never wants to know.
    – Stefan
    Commented Oct 30, 2013 at 13:52

Nah, here it is. John said that his wife survived the assault. John said this, not Leonard. Anything Leonard says, you can't really trust, as he explains that he lies to himself to make himself feel better. John explains that Sammie faked his condition for some kind of insurance. They also SHOWED that Leonard had killed his wife by accident. She both tested to see if he was faking and couldn't live with it. The act was a two-in-one. There was also a split second at the end where Sammie is giving the shot and he is quickly replaced with Leonard. Everyone acts as if the ending is hard to figure out. It isn't. The clues are all there. Leonard remembered things differently because he lies to himself so that he isn't unhappy. This is another way of conditioning. He conditioned his memories to show that it wasn't him who killed his own wife. He would rather be a killer than accept that he took away his own love.


I have watched the movie once so far. I do not take anything for granted, thus imagine that the director himself had to rid his mind of any preconception, any hint of a "solution" and mingle everything in the right proportions, just to leave us empty handed, but entertained/shocked/bemused/etc.

My answer to Your question would be that there was murder and rape, but it was not the murder and rape of Leonard's wife... BUT:

I have some objections as to 'Teddy' vel John being an undercover or even a crooked cop. It cannot be confirmed that Teddy was the one who provided Lenny with police reports. He refuses to show his badge to Lenny. He has some dirty businesses (e.g. drug dealing) and plainly uses Leonard as his hitman. Splits the drug money, but then tells Lenny to give him the keys to the Jag, where the second half is in the boot. The girl played by Moss quickly learns about Lenny's condition, and as she learns what had happened and checks that Lenny was but a tool in the killing, easily obtains Teddy's documents (remember: undercover policeman's personal documents) to maneuver Lenny into being her tool and to wreak her revenge.

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    This is a poor quality answer as it is just your opinions and speculation. "The girl played by Moss," and "imagine that the director himself had to rid his mind of any preconception" are not things that are in a good answer. I'd suggest looking at the Tour under the help menu above. Hint: since reading the Tour gives you a badge, and you have no badges, it's obvious you have not read it. Please stick around, but realize this is not a typical forum. Commented Mar 2, 2014 at 2:50

I believe this movie was meant to have more then one ending. I think it works with the persons mind that is watching it. I see Teddy as a Drug Dealer and plainly tells Lenard he was first on scene and lied saying he was a cop or even if he was a cop why couldn't it have been a dirty cop that killed his wife and he killed that girls boy friend that was connected to teddy and teddy and her boy friend worked for the drug dealer there were 2 guys at the house we never see the guys face he shoots they left the ending open to interpretation very interesting. Teddy tracked him down after killing his wife he was lying about being a Cop in my opinion.


I want to pose a completely different hypothesis for the plot, and along with that, the ending. Here's mine:

Lenny is basically a good guy. He WAS an insurance investigator. He remembers correctly that his wife was raped and murdered. He remembers and relates the story of Sammy Jenkis correctly, and in detail, because it happened before his injury.

The tattoo of "Remember Sammy Jenkis" is a trigger for Lenny to remember what happened to him, and to remind him of what he needs to do to cope. The repetition of Sammy Jenkis' story is a plot device to provide the viewer with indirect information about Lenny's condition, and it is also useful to Lenny because he can remember and describe Sammy's story to others in detail, while he can't describe his own story in detail past the point of his injury.

Teddy, on the other hand, is an unmitigated bad guy. Nothing he says is entirely to be believed. He may or may not actually be a cop, although I think he probably was. He may or may not have been the cop who originally investigated the rape/murder of Lenny's wife. (I think he probably was - it's the easiest way he could have gotten all the information he has. It may also be he had some reason for not wanting the second attacker to be found.) He might have killed Lenny's wife, but probably not. He is intrigued by Lenny, realizes there is no risk in befriending him, and then realizes he can use Lenny as a very useful tool. By "helping" Lenny, he can get Lenny to kill whoever he wants, and hhas probably done that repeatedly. How handy to have a reliable hit man that you don't have to pay well, or worry about ratting you out.

Teddy knows Jimmy G and Natalie. Teddy sets Lenny up to kill Jimmy G in order to get Jimmy's drug money. Lenny does this, then gets a clue that he has killed the wrong guy when he hears the dying Jimmy say "Sammy". Lenny realizes then that he must have met Jimmy before, and trusted him, or he would never have told Jimmy about Sammy. Once realizing Jimmy is not his wife's killer, Lenny begins not to trust Teddy.

Natalie is basically a good person, but she is involved with bad and risky people, and she is often in danger herself. She doesn't know who she can trust, and she has had to change her allegiances often in the past. She doesn't know Lenny well, and isn't sure she can trust him. She doesn't know Teddy, but she knows OF him because Jimmy has had dealings with Teddy. She doesn't know that Lenny killed her boyfriend, and when she learns that Jimmy is dead, she becomes very fearful of Dodd, who she fears will kill her trying to find Jimmy's money. She allies with Lenny at that point, both for comfort and looking for protection. She both uses Lenny (fearing for her life), and tries to help him.

It takes Lenny a while to get sure of how Teddy is using him. Once he is sure, Lenny has a difficult decision to make. He is not sure if he has already found and killed his wife's killer of not. (Never trust what Teddy says.) He is not sure he will ever be able to do it without Teddy's help. He is not sure if Teddy might actually BE his wife's killer. But he does know that if he can't kill Teddy, then Teddy will go on using him and he will kill other innocent people. And he is repulsed by that possibility - so much so that he is willing to give up his quest for revenge. Realizes he MUST give up revenge, or he could become vulnerable to others in the same way. So he decides the way out of this is to convince himself that Teddy is his wife's killer - that Teddy is John G. Whether he really is or not. And to get the "I've done it" tattoo so that he won't be deceived into killing again.

Under duress (when Lenny is about to kill him), Teddy throws up all kinds of smokescreens, some of them contradictory. He both says that Lenny killed his wife's killer sometime in the past, and then that he killed his own wife. Says that Sammy Jenkis was a fraud, and then that Lenny IS Sammy Jenkis. I can't believe the hypothesis that Lenny killed his own wife (who would really have killed herself), then learned of it from the police report, and then succeeded in convincing himself that his wife was not diabetic. Convincing himself his wife was not diabetic when he had years of retained memories of her needing insulin would be hard to imagine. I also can't believe he could not bring himself to kill Dodd, but could instantly decide to kill Teddy, a man he believed had helped him - just to give his life a purpose. Why not have done that with Dodd? And if he chose to kill Teddy just to have a reason to keep going, then he would be killing the man he needed to help him keep doing that. Also, if he wants to keep killing, he would not get the "I've done it" tattoo. I believe him when he says he's not a cold blooded killer. And the movie gives us no reason for him to kill Teddy other than 1) he just likes killing (so why wouldn't he have killed Dodd?), or 2) he's convinced Teddy is his wife's killer (but he says he DOESN't believe that), or 3) that he's aghast at having been manipulated into killing innocent people.

There are problems with my theory - most notably why Teddy would tell Lenny that he is a "John G." That would seem stupid - unless maybe he thinks that Lenny already knows that, so it would seem trusting and disarming to acknowledge it while noting there are a LOT of John Gs in the world.

The flashbacks to Lenny giving his wife insulin - those I attribute to momentary doubt, even while Lenny seems very sure his wife was not diabetic.

Also, we don't really know if Lenny gets the "I've done it" tattoo.

  • This doesn't seem to answer the question. "So my question to you, is there any evidence that the rape/murder actually did happen?" It just seems like this is just an extended telling of your "take" on the movie. Commented Nov 17, 2014 at 9:26
  • When taking a straight approach everything you talked about holds wait. It just seems like there are so many hints that link him confusing himself with Sammy in the movie itselfs that makes me believe it has to be different. Why would he not remember his wife not having diabeties? Why would John G call him Sammy? Why would sammy turn into Lenny for a split second in the hospital scene? If John G called him sammy because he heard the story, that seems a little odd
    – ModestMonk
    Commented Nov 18, 2014 at 22:31

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