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The Midnight Sky ending explained: was Iris real?

Confused? We unpick the climax of George Clooney's Netflix sci-fi epic.

Published: Wednesday, 23rd December 2020 at 10:00 am

The latest film from beloved actor-turned-director George Clooney has arrived on Netflix just in time for Christmas, with a stellar cast and an intriguing post-apocalyptic premise.


The Midnight Sky is a space epic set shortly after an unspecified catastrophic event on Earth, with Clooney starring as isolated scientist Augustine Lofthouse, who must attempt to get a message to the crew of the spaceship Aether to warn them of the danger awaiting back on their home planet.

Augustine's mission is complicated both by a terminal illness and by a meeting with Iris, a mysterious young girl who barely talks and whom he assumes has been accidentally left behind on his Arctic base by one of his erstwhile colleagues.

Throughout the film, we are also treated to a number of flashbacks to Augustine's younger days, showing his previous relationship with Jean (Sophie Rundle) which had ended partly as a result of his dedication to his career.

This all culminates in an emotional climax in the final moments, and if you're still looking for answers we have you covered – read on for everything you need to know.

The Midnight Sky ending explained

Towards the end of the film, Augustine is finally successful in contacting the crew of Aether after an arduous trek to a base with a more receptive antenna, with Iris in tow.

There he informs crew memeber Sully (Felicity Jones) of the catastrophe that awaits them on Earth, and tells them to turn round their ship and return to K23, the habitable moon which they had visited on their recent scouting mission, to start a new life.

Crew members Sanchez (Demián Bichir) and Mitchell (Kyle Chandler) refuse, instead pledging to return to their families on the ruined Earth in a shuttle, taking with them the body of the recently deceased Maya (Tiffany Boone).

Felicity Jones as Sully
Felicity Jones as Sully Netflix

However Sully and Commander Adewole (David Oyelowo) decide to take up Augustine's advice, and in her final exchange with Augustine, Sully realises who he is – telling him that he had inspired her to join NASA and that he had known her mother, while also revealing that her first name is Iris.


At this point all the strands of the film come together: the Iris that Augustine had found on the base was not real, but just a hallucination of the daughter that he had had with Jean but never known. That daughter was Sully herself – and this exchange is the first time the two have actually spoken.

The Midnight Sky is available to stream on Netflix from Wednesday 23rd December. Looking for something else to watch? Check out our guide to the best series on Netflix and best movies on Netflix, or visit our TV Guide.

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