Warning: This article contains major spoilers for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3.


Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 is out now in cinemas, and is widely being lauded as the best Marvel movie in years.

The third and final instalment in the trilogy follows the eponymous team as they reckon with a deranged scientist called the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji) whose evil-doing plan is linked to Rocket's previously unexplored backstory, which is slowly revealed throughout the film.

There's a lot to unpack in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 including plenty of new faces, some character deaths and post-credit scenes.

Read on for everything you need to know about the ending of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3.

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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 ending explained

Before we get into the nitty gritty of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3's ending, we should probably recap some context. The film's plot is set into motion when Rocket is almost killed by Adam Warlock (Will Poulter), who leaves him in a critical state before he's chased out of Knowhere by Nebula.

Although they are determined to save their friend, Star-Lord and the team soon realise this is going to be rather a difficult task: a kill-switch has been activated which means he has just 48 hours to live.

This sets in motion a battle between the Guardians and the High Evolutionary, who it turns out wants Rocket dead as part of his long-standing ambition to create a utopian 'Counter-Earth'.

Much of the backstory behind this plan is revealed in flashbacks to Rocket's origins. It turns out he was part of a test batch of anthropomorphic animals bred by the High Evolutionary as an experiment to create a more advanced form of species to populate his new world.

Rocket and his friends Lyla, Teefs, and Floor were merely test subjects along the way, and after the High Evolutionary had finished with them he planned to incinerate them, which caused Rocket to rebel. Despite his best efforts – including clawing viciously at the High Evolutionary's face to the extent that he has to wear a mask forever more – his three friends were all killed.

Rocket in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3
Rocket in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3. YouTube/Marvel Studios

Back in the present, the Guardians team arrives at Counter-Earth to track down a file that will help them save the still-unconscious Rocket. They find the planet is populated by a number of humanoid animals and soon discover it is very much not a utopia – there is much suffering going on and it is clearly an unequal society.

Groot and Star-Lord meet face-to-face with the High Evolutionary on his ship, who tells them that he is not trying to conquer the universe but perfect it, although he admits that his experiment has failed and he will have to blow up the planet and start again.

Amidst all this, he has also sent one of his henchmen – or more precisely War-Pigs – to take Rocket hostage, and a fight begins between the War-Pig, Gamora, and Adam Warlock, who believes that it is his duty and no one else's to get his hands on Rocket.

Eventually, Rocket is saved and Star-Lord and Groot are able to use the successfully retrieved file to bring him back to consciousness – although he briefly flatlines and has a vision of his old friend Lyla in the after-life telling him it isn't his time to die yet.

Meanwhile, in all the confusion, Nebula, Drax, and Mantis had headed onto the High Evolutionary's ship where they stumbled upon a huge number of incarcerated children and young animals, clearly intended to be slaves and the next batch of test subjects for Counter-Earth 2.0. Unfortunately, the trio are soon captured and held hostage.

Realising the danger their friends are in, Star-Lord, Groot, and Gamora go back to the ship to rescue them while they also contact Kraglin, telling him to transport the whole of Knowhere nearby such that they have an easy route home once they have salvaged the other Guardians.

The rescue mission is almost botched by Warlock, who is ultimately saved by Groot after Star-Lord tries to kill him. Meanwhile, Nebula, Drax, and Mantis are able to pacify the monsters that the High Evolutionary had sent to kill them and duly ride to their safety, freeing the villain's new test subjects in the process and leading them to Knowhere.

Will Poulter as Adam Warlock in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3
Will Poulter as Adam Warlock in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3. YouTube/Marvel Studios

During the evacuation, the High Evolutionary and Rocket finally have a face-to-face meeting, during which the latter reveals that his name is not just the sequence of numbers that had previously been assigned to him but Rocket Raccoon (just before this he had seen a litter of test subjects raccoons that made him realise this was the species he belonged to after all).

Rocket knocks down the High Evolutionary as the other Guardians arrive on the scene, but they ultimately decide to leave him there on the floor rather than killing him outright and head back to Knowhere.

But the peril hasn't quite ended yet. During the escape, Star-Lord drops his Zune and decides to go back to fetch it, meaning he is unable to make the jump back to Knowhere and is left seemingly stranded to die in space. Step forward Adam, who justifies Groot's earlier decision to save him by leaping into space and rescuing the Guardian's leader.

The film ends with the Guardians back in Knowhere. Although they have all survived, they realise it is time to go their separate ways: Star-Lord wants to travel back to Earth to see his grandfather, Nebula will become the leader of Knowhere, and Drax will take on a new role looking after the rescued slaves and test subjects.

Meanwhile, Rocket is elected as the new leader of the Guardians, which will now consist of himself, Kraglin, Cosmo, Adam Warlock, and Groot – who ends the film by finally saying something other than I Am Groot for the first time: "I love you guys."

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 is released on Wednesday 3rd May 2023, while other instalments in the franchise are available to stream on Disney Plus. Sign up to Disney Plus now for £7.99 per month or £79.90 for a full year.

Check out our list of the best movies on Disney Plus and best shows on Disney Plus, or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to see what's on tonight.


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