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'Imaginary' ending explained: What's real and what's ... imaginary?

“If you’re making a movie called ‘Imaginary,’ you better believe we’re going to mess with your perception of reality,” director Jeff Wadlow says.
DeWanda Wise as Jessica in "Imaginary."Parrish Lewis / Lionsgate

Warning: This post contains spoilers for “Imaginary.”

The horror movie “Imaginary” adds a new toy to the growing list of harmless-turned-creepy childhood figures. This time, instead of a doll, it's Chauncey the teddy bear. 

Produced by Jason Blum and directed by Jeff Wadlow, “Imaginary” takes a deep dive into the darker side of a child’s imagination — a “fertile idea for a film,” as Wadlow puts it to

“If you’re making a movie called ‘Imaginary,’ you better believe we’re going to mess with your perception of reality,” he says. 

After moving back into her childhood home with her family, children's book author Jessica (DeWanda Wise) begins to fear for her youngest stepdaughter’s safety. 10-year-old Alice (Pyper Braun) befriends a teddy bear she finds in the basement, and their relationship becomes increasingly disturbing as the two begin a scavenger hunt around the house together. Jessica teams up with her older stepdaughter, Taylor (Taegan Burns), to save Alice from the danger Chauncey presents.

Parrish Lewis / Lionsgate

From there, the line between what is real and what is, well, imaginary, becomes quite blurry. That’s where the fun (and horror) begins.

“Everyone was a child who had this very strong imagination so, to see in a different way it could be interpreted, in a more scary and creepy way, I think that’s a really cool idea,” Burns tells  

A film that focuses on imagination is bound for some twists and turns. Read on for a breakdown on all the gasp-worthy final moments of "Imaginary."

Who is Chauncey and what does he want?

There are a few shock-worthy twists in the second half of the film — the first having to do with Chauncey’s physical presence. 

After suggesting Alice see a therapist to discuss why she attempted to hurt herself under Chauncey’s watch, Jessica watches part of the recorded session. What she sees (or doesn’t see) is disturbing. 

Pyper Braun as Alice in Imaginary. Photo Credit: Parrish LewisParrish Lewis / Lionsgate

The teddy bear she watched Alice pick up and bring into the therapy session is not visible on camera. Jessica’s realization that Chauncey is in fact imaginary and not a physical teddy bear that everyone can see is a bombshell for the audience, too — the stuffed animal we had been seeing on screen up to this point has not been visible to anyone besides Jessica and Alice (and us).

After realizing that Chauncey is only visible to Alice and her, Jessica begins to unlock pieces of her childhood she seemed to have blocked out. While living in the same home, Jessica had an imaginary friends named Chauncey, too.

Turns out the two imaginary friends are one and the same, and the raggedy teddy bear is back with one goal: To reclaim the imagination he once fed off of. 

Who is Gloria and what happens to her?

Jessica meets her neighbor and former babysitter Gloria (Betty Buckley) after moving back into her childhood home. Jessica doesn't remember her former babysitter, but Gloria reminds her of the imaginary friend she used to have.

She reveals later on that she's spent her life researching and writing books on the concept of imaginary friends after witnessing Jessica's disappearance into Chauncey's realm when she was younger.

Gloria agrees to help Jessica and Taylor rescue Alice from the Never Ever, but she turns out to be in it for other reasons — she wants to experience the realm of never ending imagination. She closes the only door, and gets killed moments later. Once you die in the Never Ever, you can never return.

How do Alice, Taylor and Jessica get out of the Never Ever?

After rescuing Alice, Jessica and her stepdaughters try to escape the Never Ever, a scene that is anything but predictable.

“That whole bit was something I was super excited for. And I was just like, that was so good. It caught me off guard,” Burns shares. 

After encountering Chauncey in various forms — one being a monstrously large version of the stuffed animal — and meandering down trick halls and doorways, Alice and Taylor escape the Never Ever. However, Jessica gets stuck before finally making her way out and joining her stepdaughters.

Or at least that’s how we perceive the string of events. 

In what appears to be a happy ending scene, Jessica visits her father in the hospital and reads him her new book with her family beside her. It’s all perfect. Maybe a little too perfect.

We realize that Jessica has not escaped the Never Ever yet — that idealistic ending was only something she imagined while held hostage in Chauncey’s imaginary realm.

“I thought that was really exciting,” Braun says. “Because it’s like, ‘Oh yeah, it’s the end of the movie.’ But she’s still in the Never Ever! That’s always a fun thing to know. You think the movie’s ending but there’s a whole other section.”

What happens to Jessica's father?

Jessica's father Ben (Samuel Salary) has a complicated backstory, one that is slowly explained throughout the course of the film. We learn early on that he lives in a nursing home and has little memory of who his daughter is.

Later, we discover that when Jessica was a child, she was rescued by her father. He looked into Chauncey's eyes and saw all of the world's imagination — too much for one person to take on.

He risked his life to save his daughter, and the missing puzzle pieces of Jessica's childhood are rediscovered through this realization.

Who is the boy at the end?

After escaping the Never Ever, Jessica and her stepdaughters leave their home in an attempt to move on from Chauncey.

In the final scene, we hear a young child tell an adult that his imaginary friend is real. The camera then shows a raggedy teddy bear once again, suggesting that Chauncey will return and continue to haunt someone else, even if Alice has escaped his grasp.

Will there be an 'Imaginary' sequel?

The last shot of "Imaginary" leaves the door open for a sequel — the power of the imaginary friend is still present. We don't know for sure if we'll see more of Chauncey in the future, but we can imagine what's next.