If you’re a pro at binge-watching, you’ve probably already gotten to The Fall of the House of Usher ending. If it left you confused about what you just saw, we’re here to help with additional details on all the deaths and any hidden meanings you might have missed. Spoilers ahead, of course.
Netflix’s latest hit from modern horror maestro Mike Flanagan, The Fall of the House of Usher is up there with the best TV series of 2023, ranking among the best horror series of the decade so far, too. In fact, as we explain in greater detail in our The Fall of the House of Usher review, it’s probably one of the best Netflix series of the past 12 months. Big words, yes, but it’s a show that earns it, and it ends Flanagan’s Netflix-era of the Flanaverse with a real bang.
Speaking of endings, this one’s pretty complex. It ties together a story that spans decades with metaphysical mystical beings, multiple familial generations, and more than a touch of the supernatural. So let’s unpack it all, starting with a breakdown of all the Usher family deaths, and then a detailed analysis of that grand finale. Here’s The Fall of the House of Usher ending, explained.
Every Usher family death explained in grim detail
Every member of the Usher family dies in The Fall of the House of Usher, killed directly or indirectly by the mysterious Verna: so let’s go through each death in chronological order.
The first to die is the daring Prospero Usher. Known as Perry to his family and friends, the youngest Usher was keen to forge his own path and prove his business ability by starting a pop-up exclusive no-holds-barred club for the richest of the rich. The first (and last) of these is hosted in an abandoned Fortunato industrial warehouse, and when Prospero turns the sprinklers on in order to ‘enhance’ the atmosphere, he and all the revelers are showered with harsh chemical acid instead, melting away their skin and turning them into a puddle of flesh and bone. It’s as gross as it sounds.
Camille is the next to go. While on the hunt for dirt on Victorine she visits the Rue laboratories to snap photos of the mistreated chimpanzees locked in cages, and being experimented on. Verna, disguised as a security guard, brings Camille’s plan to a close though when she shapeshifts into an adrenaline-fuelled chimpanzee escaped from its cage, and rips the Usher to shreds.
Camille’s death is followed by Napoleon’s: the other party boy of the Usher family. Still dealing with the aftermath of his over-eager drug habit (the height of which saw him unconsciously murder his boyfriend’s cat, Pluto) he believes the replacement Pluto is out to get him, and he’s right. The cat hides in the recesses of the apartment, leaving dead animals in Napoleon’s space and attacking him whenever it gets the chance, seemingly possessed by Verna. Gradually, the attacks drive Napoleon into a frenzy and in an attempt to kill the cat with a hammer, he flings himself off the edge of his apartment and falls to his death.
The final of the “bastards” to die is Victerine. Driven to madness by the guilt of accidentally killing her girlfriend, combined with the pressure of her clinical trials, she begins to hear a squeaking heartbeat. It grows louder, and faster, eventually breaking Victerine’s mind as the stress grows too much to bear: after nearly killing her father Roderick with a knife, she turns it onto herself, plunging it into her own heart.
Tamerlane Usher has another similarly gruesome death. After hallucinating that a sex worker called Candy (another of Verna’s identities) is replacing her, she sees Candy in all of the mirrors in her apartment. In a state of delirium, she smashes each pane of glass in site, including on the ceiling of her bedroom. The falling glass lacerates her body, with smaller shards tearing her skin apart and bigger pieces impaling her.
The sole remaining child of Roderick Usher is Frederick Usher the heir to Fortunato who most wants to impress his father. After attempting to take revenge on his wife by paralyzing her with a chemical substance, he unintentionally ingests it himself believing it to be cocaine given to him by his brother Napoleon. The effects kick in while he’s overseeing the demolition of the chemical plant in which Prospero was killed, and he’s left prone inside the building as it collapses: conscious of his demise as machinery slices him into chunks.
The Usher children aren’t the only victims, though: Roderick Usher’s grandchild, Lenore, is also murdered by Verna. In a moment of vulnerability, we see Verna struggle with her duty to kill Lenore. Eventually, she sits Lenore down on her bed and simply, peacefully, closes her eyes and saps away her life force.
Roderick and his sister Madeline are the last to go. Roderick takes the body of Madeline to their childhood home, believing that his sister has been poisoned and killed by Verna. Now having lost his mind, he plucks out her eyes and replaces them with ancient gemstones, only to realize that Madeline is still very much alive. In total agony, fury, and disorientation, she tackles Roderick to the ground and wraps her hands around his throat as Verna watches on and their house collapses. In the end, both are ultimately killed when the House of Usher crumbles to the ground.
So what was Verna anyway, and why did she kill the Ushers?
The single biggest mystery in The Fall of the House of Usher revolves around Verna and the precise nature of her existence.
We know that she’s a supernatural being who exists outside of time and space. We also know that she’s a shapeshifter, can turn into animals, and likes to take the guise of a raven… And that’s pretty much it. Verna’s role in the story is as a harbinger of justice, in her own sick way.
She’s the supernatural, demonic manifestation of fate, and in The Fall of the House of Usher, that’s especially relevant after Roderick and Madeline’s pact with her. During the height of their ambition (after killing Rufus Griswald by burying him alive), they exchanged the lives of their future family for the certainty of greater wealth and personal gain, and Verna was there to ensure that the consequences didn’t get forgotten. She promised the pact would lead to the end of the Usher bloodline, and so it did.
Verna’s name is also a deep-cut Edgar Allan Poe reference because, as you probably spotted, it’s an anagram of Raven. The Raven is perhaps Poe’s best-known poem, and the bird has now become synonymous with the author.
The rest of The Fall of the House of Usher ending explained
So that’s all the death, the pact, and Verna explained (at least, as much as they can be); the rest of the conclusion to the story is somewhat neater.
Juno, the wife of Roderick Usher, beats her addiction to Ligadone and dissolves the Ushers’ Fortunato company. Meanwhile, the wife of Frederick and the mother of Lenore, Morrie, recover from her burns after an intensive care program, physical therapy, and reconstructive surgery. She uses a portion of the Usher money to form an NGO which goes on to save literally millions of lives, dedicated to Lenore.
Meanwhile, thanks to Camille’s extensive files and records, Arthur Pym is arrested and imprisoned for the rest of his life: the only person linked to the Usher family who faces legal consequences for their actions. Speaking of which, attorney Auguste Dupin comes to terms with his decades-long feud with the Ushers, ultimately respecting their resilience and brilliance (in their own way) by visiting their graves and keeping their truth hidden from the eyes of the public.
And so concludes The Fall of the House of Usher. It was quite the ride, in the end. For more on the series, see why there definitely won’t be a The Fall of the House of Usher season 2. Or, learn about what else is new on Netflix this month, before seeing our picks for the best horror movies of all time. Alternatively, if you want more Flana-fun, check out our choices for the best thriller series, or learn about the adjacent Wednesday season 2.