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Turning Red ending explained - what happens at the end of the new Pixar movie?

Turning Red, the new animated Disney Pixar movie starring Sandra Oh, has now been released on Netflix — but what happens at the end?

turning red ending explained

Turning Red is the latest animated Disney movie, and is a colourful fantasy comedy that follows 13-year-old Chinese Canadian Meilin ‘Mei’ Li as she navigates puberty, relationships, and the small matter of transforming into a panda whenever she feels strong emotions.

Set in the 2000s, newcomer Rosalie Chiang leads the cast as the voice of Mei, while her mother is voiced by Killing Eve star Sandra Oh. Other notable voice actors include Never Have I Ever star Maitreyi Ramakrishnan as Mei’s friend Priya and Jordan Fisher as one of the members of boyband 4*TOWN. Turning Red is the third Pixar movie to be directly released on streaming service Disney Plus after family movies Luca and Soul in 2021 and 2020 respectively. 

The film makes history by having Pixar’s first female director, with Domee Shi, who previously directed Academy Award-winning Pixar short Bao, making her feature-length directorial debut. As one of the most highly-anticipated coming-of-age movies of the year, you may be wondering: how does Turning Red end? We’ll tell you everything you need to know, but be warned: spoilers ahead! 

what happens at the end of turning red?

After Mei decides to let her friends take the fall for all the shenanigans she and her friends had been getting up to — including paying her classmates to take photos with her as a panda and even attending a party to raise money for concert tickets — she’s left questioning what she really wants.

With the ritual to get rid of her ‘panda’ taking place the same time as the concert, Mei has to pick between two different lives: continuing to live for her family and oppressing her inner ‘panda, or letting her ‘panda’ run free and doing what she enjoys with her friends.

For a while, it looks like Mei is set to choose the former, but she decides against getting rid of the ‘panda’ at the last minute: instead choosing to embrace her wild side and go to the 4*TOWN concert with her friends. This chain of events leads to Mei’s mother’s ‘panda’ accidentally getting released.

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Unlike Mei, her mother is unable to control her ‘panda’ (who is a lot larger than Mei’s) and is overcome with rage: destroying the concert venue. To get her mother’s panda back under control, Mei and her other female relatives all release their respective ‘pandas’ in order to perform the ritual one last time. After the ritual, all the women, except Mei, decide to get rid of their ‘pandas’ once again — but with their familial relationships healed, they’re a lot more accepting about it. 

does mei get rid of her panda at the end of turning red?

The question of whether Mei would ‘get rid’ of her panda like her other female relatives did was one of the biggest conflicts of the movie’s second act. The only way to get rid of the ‘panda’ is through a religious ritual during a blood moon which involved contacting Mei’s ancestors to take the ‘panda’ back — and there’s only one chance to get the ritual right, or else you live with the ‘panda’ forever. 

turning red ending explained 1

However, as Mei waited for the next blood moon to come around, she learned to control, love, and live with her ‘panda’ side — and arguably also changed for the better. This led to her ultimately deciding to forego the ritual (twice) and keep her panda side as part of her — despite her mother’s reservations.

will there be a turning red 2?

With no post-credit scenes or cliffhangers, Turning Red is a very self-contained movie: ending very neatly with a short epilogue after the climax in order to give us a glimpse of how Mei, her family and her friends’ lives have been since the climactic events at the concert. 

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In the epilogue, everyone seems to be very settled and living peacefully. There doesn’t seem to be any remaining conflict or loose ends that need addressing — although Mei does express that she misses how things were sometimes. But that doesn’t mean that there’s more to explore: the point of Turning Red was about embracing your ‘inner panda,’ and now that Mei has done that, there doesn’t seem to be anything else that needs addressing. 

turning red ending explained 2

She also resolved her relationship with her mother (as her own mother did with her mother — Disney loves their generational trauma) and her friends and has a much better work/life balance compared to the start of the movie, so there really doesn’t seem like there’s anything else to say. 

Shi hasn’t said either way whether she’d consider a sequel, so while it isn’t explicitly off the table, our implicit guess is that they might leave Mei’s story here.