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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3: Let’s Break Down That Ending

Just me crying over some aliens

The Guardians of the Galaxy walking in Vol. 3

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is now playing in theaters, and it announces the end of an era. Marvel fans have been flying with Peter Quill and his crew since 2014, and now that the trilogy has come to an end, no one knows what’s next for the characters.

So how does Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 end? The bad news is that the team breaks up at the end of the movie, likely for good. The good news is that every major character survives to have new adventures.

So where does everyone end up? Here’s what happens at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

The High Evolutionary is defeated

In a shocking turn of events for a Marvel movie, the superheroes defeat the villain! The High Evolutionary’s crew mutinies as his quest to get Rocket back goes up in flames. Kraglin and Cosmo attack from Knowhere as the Guardians rescue all the children and animals imprisoned on the ship, and the High Evolutionary’s ship is destroyed, killing him.

All the kids and animals, though, start new lives as citizens of Knowhere.

Introducing Captain Rocket Raccoon

Rocket infiltrates the High Evolutionary’s lab, where he finds a cage full of baby raccoons just like the cage where he spent the early days of his life. As he gathers them all up to save them, he sees a sign on the door, marking their species as “raccoon.” Rocket finally gets it—all those times people called him a raccoon, they were telling the truth. He finally understands what he is.

After the High Evolutionary is defeated, Peter names Rocket captain of the Guardians of the Galaxy, and Rocket forms a new team that includes Groot, Kraglin, Phyla-Vell, Cosmo, the fuzzy creature Blurp, and the now-reformed Adam Warlock, who decides to join the good guys after his mother, Ayesha, is killed.

On a deeper level, though, Rocket is finally able to process his grief over the deaths of Lylla, Teefs, and Floor. During his near-death experience, Lylla meets him and he’s able to confess his guilt over failing to save them all. Lylla assures him that all is well, and tells him he’ll fly with them again someday.

Nebula and Gamora find their own fates

Peter finally accepts that the Gamora he knew is gone, and the romance he had with her is over. The new Gamora goes back to the Ravagers, where she genuinely does share a deep, loving bond with the rest of the crew. For better or worse, this Gamora has found her family.

Nebula, meanwhile, takes over stewardship of Knowhere. As the Knowhere residents break into an impromptu dance party, we see Nebula’s first genuine smile ever. She and Gamora are free of their father Thanos and his abuse, and they’re both beginning to heal, find themselves, and find their way back towards friendship with each other.

Drax and Mantis level up

While Drax, Nebula, and Mantis are helping the kids escape the High Evolutionary, Drax taps into a long-dormant skill: being an awesome father. After all the High Evolutionary’s kids are free and living on Knowhere, Drax decides to stay and help parent them. He was never meant to be a destroyer—he was meant to be a dad.

Mantis, meanwhile, realizes that she’s spent her whole life taking orders from someone else: first the living planet Ego, and then the Guardians of the Galaxy. Mantis takes her new friends, the giant slug monsters from the High Evolutionary’s ship, and walks off into the sunset to see who she’s meant to be when there’s no one to tell her what to do.

Star-Lord goes home

When all the excitement is over, Peter decides to go home to Earth to see if his grandfather is still alive. After all, his grandfather lost his daughter to cancer and his grandson to an alien abduction within the span of 10 minutes. Shouldn’t Peter reconnect with his biological family?

Peter goes home to Missouri, and sure enough, his grandfather is still alive. Peter settles into a quiet life of reconnection—and some lawn-mowing.

However, after we fade to black, a tag pops up saying that Star-Lord will return. Even if the Guardians of the Galaxy have gone their separate ways for now, it looks like at least some of them will return for the next Avengers team-up.

(featured image: Marvel)

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Julia Glassman (she/they) holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and has been covering feminism and media since 2007. As a staff writer for The Mary Sue, Julia covers Marvel movies, folk horror, sci fi and fantasy, film and TV, comics, and all things witchy. Under the pen name Asa West, she's the author of the popular zine 'Five Principles of Green Witchcraft' (Gods & Radicals Press). You can check out more of her writing at